It was my turn to cook at Lunch Club. This is a major operation, beginning with a trip to supermarket at 8:30 the morning before. I then spent all day cooking beef casseroles and lemon crunch pies, which spend the night in my fridge and then get transported to church and reheated for the lunch. This week we had forty-two people. Lots of food.
It started fairly badly when I tried to open the condensed milk ready for the lemon crunch pies. We have a Jamie Oliver tin opener, which I am quite fond of as it is not immediately obvious how it works and leaves people looking confused and I can then show them and feel clever. In the past, it has always worked brilliantly. Anyway, my guess is that Jamie Oliver does not use much condensed milk in his recipes (do you still use his recipes? I am more of a Nigella cook -unfortunately am getting the waistline to match!)
This stupid opener would not open the tin, whichever way I held it. All it did was remove a hair sized slither of metal, which then splintered off into my hand. Hurt. And bled. Not a good start.
Now, I have done my hygiene safety course (what a thrilling morning that was) so I knew that blood and catering is a bad combination. I should immediately cover the cut with a blue plaster (blue so that if it falls into the food – gross thought – it is easily spotted.) However, we do not have blue plasters in my house. We only have Postman Pat ones which I buy because I like to hear ‘important-city-worker’ and ‘international – businessman’ both muttering when they cut themselves (I clearly don’t get out enough.)
I therefore decide that I will opt for hygiene rule two and wear plastic gloves. Unfortunately, the only plastic gloves which are unopened (and therefore safe to use with food preparation) are extra large black marigolds, bought to use in the garden. So, there I am, wearing my outsized black gloves, looking at unopened condensed milk cans and thinking bad thoughts about Jamie Oliver.
What do you do when your tin opener does not open tins? I can assure you that a cork screw is both dangerous and does not work. Nor does bashing it very hard with sons penknife. Taking it in garden, wedging it between logs and hitting it with an axe does work, however leaves milk too dirty to use. The only option, as far as I know, is to drive very fast back to supermarket and buy a cheap but effective tin opener. One that actually opens tins. I will suggest to Jamie that really this should be the defining point for any implement he sells under the name ‘tin opener’. Radical thought.
The rest of my preparation went well, though I was completely worn out afterwards. Luckily, both David and Mimi were at work functions in the evening, so Mum had agreed to cook me dinner. I shoved the food in the fridge, fed the animals and drove to Mum’s. As I stood on her doorstep I had a horrible feeling that she might be going to serve me beef casserole/stew (you will understand.) But no, it was very nice scollaped potatoes with sausages and cheesecake for pudding. No tin openers necessary.
The actual Lunch Club was fine. The oldies all ate their beef casserole and vegetables and absolutely huge pieces of lemon crunch pie. All very tasty and hygienic. Some of them bring in plastic containers and take home the leftovers to eat in the week. It’s a nice feeling to cook for them. They have jugs of water on the table and a few of them have started to bring in fruit juice to add to it so it has a flavour. This week one table had a bottle of alcoholic fruit juice. The leader asked if they realised it was alcoholic and they just winked at her! That’s so how I want to be when I’m ninety-five!
Actually, we recently renamed the group. It’s now called Lunch Club (imaginative huh?) We did consider a few possibilities. My personal favourite was Fifty Shades of Grey (this was deemed to be misleading – they might arrive with the wrong expectations!)
We went to visit Noreen in hospital. She has just decided not to continue with chemo, so probably wont live much longer. I was really nervous about going. She’s a friend, so I really felt that we should go but I was worried about getting all emotional, which would be awful for her and upsetting for me. Prayed hard. Arrived at hospital – why are they so beige? Found her ward, which bizarrely is the maternity ward. Apparently ‘womens bits’ are all categorised the same, whether it’s the beginning or end of a life. Actually, maybe that’s better, maybe being on a ‘cancer ward’ would be rather depressing. Anyway, Noreen was still Noreen. She is clearly unwell, but still bright and sparky and fun to talk to. I didn’t get emotional at all. Find that happens a lot when I pray – makes me wonder why I don’t spend more time doing it.
The next ‘Letters to a Sister’ will be posted next Monday.