26 October 2009


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.


Cheesey mushrooms

Beef stew with jacket potatoes and vegetables

Apple and blackberry crumble and custard

My Dad loves garlic mushrooms but after having them for weeks on end every Sunday evening they got a bit boring so I copied this idea from a friend. She used portobello mushrooms and did them on the BBQ. I used largeish mushrooms and did them in the oven.

Cut the stalks out of the mushrooms and peel them. Put them stalk side up in a greased baking tin. Put a squirt of garlic paste and sundried tomato paste into each mushroom and a slice of goats cheese or your favourite cheese on top. Bake them in a medium oven until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese browned. Ours was at about 190°C for the potatoes and they were in for about 25 minutes (I think).

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.


  1. The crumble looks amazing! (actually, it all looks amazing!)

  2. Hi Jean, your mushrooms look delish! I like the idea of the squirty garlic and tomato paste, I will use that when hubby and I go on our next hol in motorhome (hopefully to France). PS I too have an elderly dad; wish he ate as well as yours!

  3. Jean, Your meal looks delicious and I bet your dad liked it a lot.

    P.S. As they say in French: "les grands esprits se rencontrent". Why? Just check out my blog today ... I wrote it yesterday before reading yours ;). Martine

  4. Loulou - welcome and thanks for the compliments !

    Stella - cheesey mushrooms would be so easy in your motorhome oven.

    Martine - you're right - great minds think alike.

  5. Your dad looks so convivial in the photo. A good meal will do that for a person. Or is it the glass in his hand?

    I'm with you in hating the dark months. I look forward to Dec 22 when the days start to lengthen.

  6. Jean,
    I follow your blog occasionally and was intiqued by your father.
    Mine is 88 and still rides his bike 5 days a week. He also has no idea of navigating a kitchen or laundry but how fortunate are we to still have them.
    My wife Sue calls them mantle piece men because that's where they belong at that age, along with all the other pieces of precious crockery and ornaments.
    (Melbourne our home)Blog

  7. Carolyn - my Dad has always enjoyed his food and a glass of something to go with it.

    Leon - welcome. my Dad is a miracle and tribute to modern medicine. He is indeed like a treasure to be cherished.