My Dad comes for his dinner with us most Sunday evenings. He will be 81 soon and is surprised he is still here against all odds. He has had heart bi-pass surgery THREE TIMES and the last one was 15 years ago. He was told then he would live about another ten years.
He is amazed that he outlived my mother who died almost seven years ago. Although he has had seven years to get used to the idea of looking after himself, he has never really developed any fondness for cooking. Eating, yes, supermarkets and ovens, no.
It being the dreaded weekend of the putting-back of the clocks, it was dark when he arrived at 5.30 pm so I instinctively planned a comfort-food menu, one that we all like. Each week I send him away with a generous portion of leftovers, a bag of prepared vegetables, and a small pudding. That way he has another good dinner for later in the week.
Recently I found out that when he goes to his youngest sister's house for lunch on a Wednesday, she does the same. That means each week he is getting four good dinners, which is great.
The day before we bought a new slow cooker. I did a standard beef stew in that. Nothing fancy. Cubed braising steak, onions, carrots, green pepper, leeks, courgettes, parsnips. In fact a bit of all the vegetables I had in the fridge, just like my mother used to make. I prepared it and put it in the cooker at 11 am.
Both Nick and my Dad adore blackberry and apple crumble. The blackberries were in the freezer, collected last month. I used proper English Bramley cooking apples (I often cheat and use tinned apples to save time).
The mushrooms were looking good but just needed a few more minutes to brown the cheese.
I cooked the fruit with some sugar before putting the crumble topping on. I love the look and smell of it at this stage.
The beef stew was delicious. I turned the heat control on the cooker to "high" and used some Bisto to thicken it for about ten minutes before serving it. This was the suggestion in the instruction book for the cooker and it worked very well.
The crumbles came out well. And they didn't boil over onto the floor of my newly cleaned oven. What a relief.