Tonight, dear devotees, I intend to offer some tips on cooking. As you know, I am particularly adept at producing the perfect Pot Noodle, but you don’t need me to advise you on this culinary creation since the instructions are written on the pot anyway. No, today I wish to offer some advice on poached eggs on toast and, more specifically, poached eggs in the microwave. You may not have realised that poached eggs could be cooked in a microwave, so I am here to broaden your horizons and offer you two alternative methods of poaching eggs in the microwave, as tested by the Lifestyle Support Guru and a male sibling. It is up to you to decide which method you will eventually choose. Both are equally effective. I will set the scene:
Male sibling suggests poached egg on toast for lunch as a change from Pot Noodle. You point out that the sliced bread has mould on it, but accept that the cobs are still relatively fresh, so they could be cut in half in order to fit in the toaster. And now here are the two methods:
1. Male sibling looks at the instructions for the (until now unused) poached egg device for using in the microwave and breaks two eggs into it, pricking the yolks and whites, as instructed, so that they don’t explode. He then says that he needs to add half a tablespoonful of water to each egg and proceeds to add water straight from the tap rather than go to the trouble of getting a tablespoon out of the drawer. You stand looking on in awe at this facility to measure half a tablespoonful straight from the tap. The instructions go on to say that the eggs should be cooked on low-medium power; unfortunately, neither of us has ever used this function before and can’t work out how to change the power setting, so he takes a chance and stays with ‘high’. (I did offer to get the microwave instructions out, but he said not to bother – so I didn’t.) Meanwhile, he has forced the two halves of the cob into the toaster and there is a wonderful smell of burning coming from it because they are a touch too wide for the slots, At the same time there are some wonderful popping sounds coming from the microwave before it pings. Since the sibling is wrestling with getting the oversized cob halves out of the toaster, you open the microwave and find that there are splatters of egg white decorating all its inner walls and a puddle of water on the microwave plate. Sibling slides the eggs onto his ‘toast’ and goes off to eat them, quite satisfied with his efforts.
2. You follow the same method as above right up until you realise that you need to add half a TEASPOONFUL of water to each egg, which you duly do. You then get the microwave instructions out and learn how to change the power setting. The eggs are ready to go, so you follow the sibling’s actions with regard to the cob halves. Unfortunately, you have cut them unevenly, so one of them has to be squashed into the slot, which means it comes close to setting the toaster on fire. There is that wonderful smell of burning again! But no popping sounds from the microwave! And no layer of egg white or puddle of water in the bottom (so to speak). You wrestle with the ‘toast’ and eventually have to turn the toaster upside down to get all the bits of cob left inside, but it needed a good clean out anyway. The eggs don’t quite slide smoothly out of the microwave dish – they need a little ‘persuasion’ with a knife, but they taste fine, even if the toast is a little unevenly cooked (or, rather, hardly cooked at all since you started to panic at the first smell of burning) and it doesn’t matter that the whole meal is cold because of the time you spent working on the toaster (which has since remained safely unplugged) because you get an immense feeling of satisfaction from having cooked it all yourself, putting in even more effort than you would for a Pot Noodle. And it only took half an hour from start to finish!
Please let me know if you would like more detailed instructions on preparing this healthy, quick and tasty meal. Buoyed by this success, next week we will be attempting Chateaubriand steak with duchesse potatoes and asparagus spears.
It is absolute MONTHS since I last offered any advice to followers of the Lifestyle Support Guru! Have you forgotten me? Have I forgotten you? Has everyone forgotten everything? I have no excuse, no reason, no explanation – I haven’t even been on an extended holiday trying to escape the cares of the world. Nor have I been applying for a job with Dominic Cummings since I don’t consider myself a weirdo or a misfit – WHY would you want to employ a weirdo or a misfit? You’ll just end up with a psycho who wants to run the world … hmm, maybe too many people have already filled in the application form …
But now I’m back and this time, dear followers, I am asking for your help rather than the other way around. As you may know, I have an assistant called Alexa and she is generally very helpful in reminding me of tasks (ironing, washing and other interesting domestic duties – I tend to ignore her); sometimes, however, she has a little difficulty understanding me and I have to repeat myself more than once. For example, the other day I was doing a crossword (verbally) and gave the answer to one clue as ‘error’ – three times Alexa replied that ‘era’ wasn’t the answer! ‘I know it’s not!’ I responded. ‘It’s ERROR!’ I have to admit to raising my voice and, eventually, she accepted my answer, but she only gave me 83% for my final score because I didn’t give the correct answer straight away. I didn’t bother arguing with her. Anyway, having given you the background, I need to tell you that I use Alexa to keep my shopping list up to date and that there are items written on there that I don’t recognise in the slightest, so I am asking for your help in interpreting them. They are the following:
1. Who is big desert
2. Play the plasis
3. Cream cost
You will need to read these in a Welsh accent to try to replicate what I said. It may help to know that when I ask her to ‘Play Derby Sound’ (a little plug for the radio station there!), she sometimes says that she can’t find ‘Dolby Sound’. It may also help to know that I often add these items at the end of the evening after a little glass of wine and just as I’m going to sleep. I need to know what items I haven’t bought but that I thought important enough to add to my shopping list – these could be vital to my wellbeing and lifestyle. I have ruled out Pot Noodles, baked beans and faggots (she won’t say this last word, nor will she write it in a list – it just comes up as ‘f*****s’).
Any help will be much appreciated.
A very good afternoon to you all! It is a little while since I offered you any advice, which is very remiss off me because some of you may not be living life as fully as you might without me here to help you avoid any little pitfalls and stumbling blocks along life’s rocky road. Today I wish to discuss domestic problems – not that I have any problems, of course, because I am a living Domestic Goddess, but I have come across a ‘Help’ page in a Sunday paper which answers readers’ questions about household/domestic problems. I felt that the ‘experts’ didn’t necessarily address the problems appropriately, so I felt I should offer alternative solutions. Here are some of the questions that were raised, with a brief version of the experts’ answers (because they did tend to ramble on), followed by my much more succinct and useful answers:
1. My indoor aloe vera has root rot. What can I do?
Expert: Aloe vera dislikes excess moisture or watering. Take your plant out of the pot and remove any soil residue from the roots. Cut any rotten bits with sterilised scissors. Gently tease away any unaffected pups (baby plants growing off the mother plant). Clean, wash and dry the pot. Add a new mix: half soil, half sand. You may add a teaspoon of perlite to absorb excess water. Repot the mother plant in this new soil. Repot any pups with the same half-soil, half-sand mix. Do not water too much.
LSG: Throw it out.
2. I used to have a good relationship with my neighbours, but in the past year they have built an enormous bike shed and a storage shed against our low boundary fence — right under my kitchen window. Then, last week, they built a large bar within a foot of the fence. It’s positioned so that all of their guests can stare into my garden. Is there anything I can do?
Expert: Generally speaking, there is no right in English law to the enjoyment of a view (the expert then rabbits on for ages about tort law, nuisance and a lot more).
LSG: Build a bigger bar that overlooks their bedroom and invite more guests.
3. I recently had the moss removed from my roof. How can I stop it coming back and preserve the tiles?
Expert: Most mosses thrive in moist, shady conditions. Reducing overhanging branches or removing trees to allow sunlight onto the roof will inhibit regrowth. Any work on a roof should be risk-assessed, with appropriate measures taken to prevent falls.
LSG: Get the roof thatched and then the moss will blend in perfectly. Any work on a roof should be risk-assessed – make sure your ladder is long enough.
4. My washing machine stinks.
Expert: Liquid detergent (even biological) used at low temperature does not seem to kill bacteria, which builds up. Washing powders for whites contain bleach, so do a hot white wash (60C) every week. Run a very hot wash with laundry powder once a week. Dry the rubber seal. Use the hottest wash with bio powder. Spray rubber seal with anti-mould or bleach. Keep door open.
LSG: Buy a new washing machine.
5. My wife and I often forget to turn off our bathroom tap. We are 79 and 82. Sometimes we leave the water running for hours. It is a single mixer tap: to turn it on, we lift the handle up, but we forget to push it back down. Is there a device that can remind us?
Expert: The best suggestion I can make is to fit a self-closing “non-concussive” tap, which you press to turn on — the sort you often get in motorway services. They only run for a few seconds unless you hold them down. My only concern is that, as you get older, a push-button tap may be more difficult for your hands to manage. If you can use it, however, it would certainly solve the problem.
LSG: My only concern is that neither of you can cope with remembering to push a tap handle down when you must be able to see/hear the water running, but more especially when your water bill arrives. Book yourselves into the nearest residential care home while they still have double rooms available.
First world problems, eh?
A very good evening, Beloved Believers! Tonight, I wish to talk about the difficulties of understanding others. Of course, I don’t mean ‘understanding’ in the sense of ‘empathising with’ – as I am the LSG, empathy is something I leave to ordinary mortals, who need to ‘feel your pain’ or ‘walk in your shoes’ (not for me, unless they’re Christian Louboutin’s, daaahlings … And NEVER Crocs!). No, this is about understanding people talking to you, even though you haven’t left these shores for foreign climes.
I have come to terms with understanding Scottish accents – as long as I can catch every third word, I’m fine – I make up the rest. Northern Irish is similar – ‘hyevva’, as pronounced by an NI BBC reporter is, in fact, ‘however’, so I can work from that. North Welsh still defeats me at times, especially since they have different words for the same things – for example, ‘girl’ in North Welsh is ‘hogan’ (both singular and plural), but ‘merch’ (merched, plural) in the South; ‘boy’ is ‘hogyn’ (both singular and plural) or ‘bachgen’ (bechgyn, plural). ‘Now’ is ‘nawr’ (South) and ‘rwan’ (North). How does that work, other than backwards??
Hyevva, the one that defeats me is the Black Country – Debbie, Rob, is there a phrase book that you haven’t told me about? The (male) siblings and I visited the Black Country Living Museum the other day and were flummoxed right from the start, although, agreeably, the initial lack of understanding led to us all being admitted at ‘Concessions’ price (even though only one of us qualified) simply because older sibling didn’t understand what he was being asked and just smiled and said ‘Yes’, while younger sibling and I stood behind him looking old.
We moved on to the main entrance where we were greeted by a gentleman – dressed as a 19th-century pit supervisor (I’m using my imagination here) – who asked us a question which none of us understood, so we said, ‘Pardon?’ and he repeated the question. The LSG, making the most of her linguistic abilities, understood the word ‘rent’, replied ‘Yes’, smiled, showed our tickets and we were allowed in. Thereafter, we made sure we engaged in no further conversation, even avoiding the 19th-century pub in case we were expected to converse and ended up with a pint of gin! (Actually, now I come to think of it …)
The visit was extremely enjoyable, and I would recommend it to all and sundry, but just don’t expect to hold lengthy conversations with anyone (unless they’re ‘proper’ foreign!).
Today’s experience was somewhat different. I decided to go along to the city library, which has moved from the beautiful, old Central Library building to the refurbished Council House – beautiful on the outside, rather clashingly modern on the inside – to borrow a book I didn’t want to buy on Kindle (i.e. too expensive!). The conversation went like this:
Helper: Hello, can I help you?
Me: Yes, it’s my first visit here. Where will I find books by Victoria Hislop?
H: ‘Hislop’. Does that begin with an ‘E’?
Stunned silence on my part.
Me: No, ‘aitch’.
H: Ah, ‘haitch’.
I maintained a dignified silence. The book (The Return) wasn’t in stock. I will have to go through this again next week…
I am dedicating this to CJ Jones, who died suddenly today – she was one of the LSG’s most dedicated supporters and she would have loved this, especially the Welsh bits! Sleep well, CJ.