ME and Ophelia

Thursday, January 20, 2005

But an electric blanket may be a neater solution

A report from the BBC says a study has discovered that house dust mites cannot survive in the warm, dry conditions found in an unmade bed. I wonder why the report does not mention how an electric blanket affects the mites. My electric underblanket is switched on at full blast for an hour before going to bed, it is really lovely and hot when I get into bed.
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January blues day formula

Someone in the comments at the end of a BBC report "I don't like Monday 24 January" writes: "This is the biggest waste of mathematics I have ever had the misfortune to read, and is an embarrassment to anyone who is a member of a British university." Heh. The formula for the day of misery reads 1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA. Read full story.

Yesterday, I noticed how much lighter it was outside at 4.30pm. And today I am feeling a lot cheerier since I've had some visitors over the past few days.

On Tuesday evening, my brother and his son visited here for three hours. I had invited them to dinner to celebrate my brother's birthday. It took me all day to prepare the dinner in five minute stages. Here's how I managed. Get greens out of fridge. Rest. Wash greens. Rest. Chop red and green peppers, celery, cucumber, spring onions. Rest.

Earlier in the morning, the lady who helps in the house on Tuesdays prepared a roasting tray with tinfoil, scrubbed three large baking potatoes in readiness for me to pop them in a hot oven at 4.30 pm. I had taken three rump steaks out of the freezer the night before and at 8.30 in the morning, marinaded them in a large dish with a lid and put them in the fridge.

The potatoes went into the oven at 4.30 pm for 1.5 hours smeared with butter and rock salt so the skins would be crunchy. At the same time, the steaks came out of the fridge to adjust to room temperature. Throughout the day in stages, resting inbetween up until 5.30pm, I laid the table, lit a candle, and made a little centrepiece with some greenery, red berries, yellow mini daffodils from my planters outside and had chilled drinks ready.

At 5.45 pm I served hot pumpkin soup (also defrosted earlier on) onto warmed soup plates with rye crackers (ran out of bread) and butter as a starter. At 6pm I took the baked potatoes from the oven and replaced them with a tray of apple crumble (also defrosted overnight) and set the oven timer for 40 minutes.

Then, I high-fried 3 rump steaks (in a very hot pan with oil) for 12 minutes so they had a nice dark almost charred outside and a tender inside, adding some of the marinade towards the end. i was relieved they turned out extra tender and tasted wonderful. Cooking steaks makes me nervous, as you can't be sure with rump or sirloin of getting them just right. The best cuts of steak are filet mignon which you can't go wrong with, but unless you create a rich sauce, they are not as tasty as other cuts of steak. The key to rump steaks is marinading them for eight hours and storing them at room temperature before cooking (not straight out of the fridge). Another tip with steaks is to let them relax on a warmed plate for at least five minutes after cooking.

The marinade recipe I made up as I went along and consisted of whatever I found in the cupboard: 4-6 tablespoons virgin olive oil, big pinch of salt and pepper, two crushed garlic cloves, two bay leaves, six juniper berries, half teaspoon mustard powder, half a cup of red grape juice, a couple of teaspoons of white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, worcestershire sauce, soya sauce and a shake of Tabasco sauce.

For dessert, I served coffee with hot apple crumble in warmed bowls, topped with thick yoghurt mixed with honey. I was too tired to eat as well as manage conversation, so I ate the plate I set aside for myself an hour after my visitors left. My new dishwasher works like a dream and, along with extra space with the new food freezer, made everything so much easier for me.

Yesterday, a dear friend visited for three hours and brought a whole load of goodies and food for the freezer. On top of the box of shopping was a hot game pie with brown crusty pastry and side salad of couscous mixed with chopped celery, onions, peppers and sweetcorn in a oil and vinegar dressing. While the pie warmed up in the oven, I served my friend coffee and heated up two freshly baked cheese scones that I cut in half and buttered. The impromptu lunch was a real treat and we had a good long chat while Ophelia happily sat out in the rain which was drizzling so fine you could hardly notice. Fine rain is her favourite. She loves sitting on the balcony like a statue getting her fur all damp. Must be like a shower for her.

So, I feel much cheerier now. What a difference a few days and six hours of being amongst conversation and laughs have made. Hey ho.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 1/20/2005
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