The Pull, Part 10

What you see before you might not look like a masterpiece, but I felt it appropriate to share a photo of it here, because this meal – this humble stir fry – is the first one ever to be cooked by my own fair hands. As you might have guessed, Mum used her Yoda-like mastery to guide me so that I would know everything I needed to cook for myself in Winchester. When she announced yesterday that I would be making my own tea tonight, I was filled with a mixture of confidence, intrigue and the fear of the unknown, but now that the meal has vanished from my plate I can safely say that only positivity remains. I am very optimistic that I will easily be able to reproduce it on demand when I am living alone, and this is due in no small part to what Mum did to soothe my inner doubts.

After I had made sure my hands were well and truly washed, I rolled across to the worktop by the cooker to see that the chicken breasts had already been laid out on the appropriate chopping board. Mum explained that in Winchester, it may well be easiest for me to use chicken that has already been diced, but she took this opportunity to make sure I could cut it anyway. Obviously, raw chicken does not put up much of a fight against a knife, so slicing it into smaller pieces was hardly an issue for me. When they had been swept into the wok, to be coated in the hot oil I had poured there, I was surprised by exactly how quickly they all cooked through. There was an instantly noticeable transformation in the appearance of the meat, and I got to see this up close as I tried tossing it about with both tongs and a spoon. I concluded that the tongs were most effective when dealing with chicken, since I could examine and move each piece individually, but when the somewhat slithery vegetables went in, I favoured the spoon to turn them collectively. The grip tongs have on those isn’t quite as firm, that’s for sure!

Then came the noodles, specifically those of the “straight to wok” variety, which Mum had very thoughtfully purchased. They were tightly packed into a large block within their packaging, so it was suggested that I unpick them carefully over the crowded pan. I had expected to immediately drop the lot in with my butterfingers, but I was ultimately able to add them in small quantities – until the last batch, which did fall in a large cube that only narrowly missed the kitchen floor. It was in, however, and now only minutes remained before the contents of the wok would be the contents of my plate. I had never previously realised that cooked noodles did not change colour, so I learnt another small lesson when Mum told me that they only appeared darker in her meals because of the soy sauce she stirs in prior to serving. I used the spoon to break up the last of the noodles that were clinging together and after a couple more minutes, dinner was ready.

The wok is pretty heavy, especially in the hands of someone like me, so Mum initially doubted my ability to lift it and transfer the food to the plate, but I quickly proved that such fears were unfounded by easily tipping it all on. As it sat there steaming away, it was somewhat lacking in terms of presentation, but Mum – as you can see in the photo – had the foresight to try scattering the mangetout in an artistic manner (which might not have worked so well). With that, it was on the table, and in my stomach just as quickly. As I sat back staring at my clean plate, I wondered what else I might be able to accomplish in the kitchen with Mum’s ever-reliable assistance. She tells me that a simple plate of pasta in sauce will be next. A few days ago that might have daunted me, but I suddenly have no fear, and I can clearly see the benefits these new abilities will bring in just a few short weeks. Bring on the pasta!

Mason

The Pull, Part 9

Yesterday morning Mum and I were poised and prepared to go shopping for university, and I for one was very excited. I have never been as eager to write a list as I was when I sat down – once again at the kitchen table – to compile one on Friday night. As I look at it now, it features 15 items, although I am pretty much certain that I will have overlooked others of considerable importance. I was assisted in my efforts by my laptop, and a blog post written by a past student featuring everything that she had put in and around her room. Some were essentials and others were sentimental in nature, but I obviously focused on getting those in the former category down first – although I’m sure some reminders of home will join them before I move. My beloved Scrabble mug will definitely be accompanying me!

The hastily-scribbled selection of items we took was as follows:

  1. Notepads and stationery.
  2. A cheese grater (it may be random for this to be so high up on the list, but Mum insisted I include it before either of us forgot).
  3. Pots and pans.
  4. Cutlery.
  5. Mugs and glasses.
  6. Bed sheets, pillows and cushions.
  7. A doorstop, which is good for sociability.
  8. Toiletries and towels.
  9. A bin, unless one is already provided in my room.
  10. A plentiful supply of wipes.
  11. A selection of wardrobe additions.
  12. Any desired oven trays.
  13. Kitchen utensils.
  14. A kettle and toaster, if necessary.
  15. A microwave lid to go over any food (as an afterthought, we did consider that we might actually need a microwave as well when the time comes).

We came home with most of what we were looking for after a day of frantic but inspired trolley dashes that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Supermarket Sweep. The shiny new haul is now waiting patiently in the corner of my room for the big day to arrive in just over a month, but there is still plenty that needs to join it. The acquisition of what remains will depend on seeing the accommodation when I move in – that currently consists of the stationery, bed sheets, doorstop, bin, wipes, kettle and toaster, and the microwave and lid. Extra thought needs to be put into them anyway, and whatever else I might not have considered – I will keep you posted on my progress. Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated, so please feel free to comment on this post if you think of anything!

Mason