Friday, 7 May 2010

The way the cookie crumbles

When I was living in Manchester I got knocked off my bike and dislocated my shoulder. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital (A&E in Manchester Royal Infirmary is not a place I long to be) where they assessed my head injuries – I had been wearing a helmet – and then made me wait in a cubicle before they could see to me after all the other emergencies – I popped my head out to go and be sick (a dangling arm can do that to you) and saw a man with half a pint glass sticking out of his face. It didn’t help matters.

The nurses were great and the doctor was calm and understanding – with all that violence and trauma going on all around them, they were impressively relaxed and I have only good things to say about them. Him Outdoors collected me with ‘What on earth have you done to yourself now?’ took me home and put me to bed. He had to go to work the next day and I assured him I would be fine.

It’s amazing what I suddenly realised I couldn’t do. I tried to get up in the morning and I couldn’t roll into a sitting position. Being the anal Libran that I am, I always make my bed first thing in the morning; I couldn’t. It took about half an hour to haul my clothes on and I decided to reward myself with a cup of tea (I had not long stopped being a student, after all) but I couldn’t open the carton and dropped it on the floor in my struggle. So I thought I would go and buy another one, but I couldn’t tie my shoelaces.

I broke down in tears and called my sister, who raced to the rescue on her white charger (well, it was a red Golf GTI actually), took me back to her place and looked after me. I tell this story because it is incredible to find what an injury can do to you – how you have to reassess your abilities and find alternative ways to do things (especially if you haven’t got a saintly older sister to help out).

The big things are obvious, but they lead to smaller issues which can be equally frustrating. If you are still able to perform your job, the doctors will say you are rehabilitated and you won’t get any further assistance on the National Health. At the time I was working in a book shop. I could still do that. But I couldn’t do handstands any more. This apparently is unnecessary to lead a full and happy life. I disagree, so I paid to go to a gym to build up the strength in my shoulder so that I can swing from bars, stand on my hands, and box – it was an excellent boxing gym.
Fifteen years later, things are fine most of the time, although my shoulders are slightly uneven and the left one sometimes aches when it rains. But I can’t rub butter into flour to make crumble or pastry. Not a big issue, you might think, but I love crumble – it’s usually so easy to make and comforting to eat – and so I was delighted to find a recipe that doesn’t involve all that rubbing. I serve it at dinner parties and it always gets a favourable reaction. In fact, last week my friend Scally-wag asked for the recipe – so here it is.

Apple and Peanut Butter Crumble

4 cups peeled and thinly-sliced apples
1 cup sugar
1 cup standard flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup crunchy peanut butter

Heat the oven to 180C
Grease a 22cm baking dish
Stir together apples, ¾ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of flour in a large bowl; spread into dish and dot with 2 tablespoons of butter
Combine oats, remaining ¾ cup of flour, remaining ¼ cup of sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl; set aside
Place remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave on high for 30 seconds or until butter is melted; stir until smooth
Add to oat mixture and blend until crumbs are formed
Sprinkle crumb mixture over apples
Bake 40-45 minutes or until apples are tender and edges are bubbly
Cool slightly
Serve warmed with whipped cream or ice-cream