More than 20 years to change and adapt since I had the stroke, when I couldn't think past the time when I could manage to speak, walk, read, write remember, wasn't in the wheelchair.  Cooking after a stroke, let alone One-handed cooking after stroke?  Really?  Well yes, I had to prepare food somehow, cook it after the stroke.  Cooking with one hand whichever hand it was, was indeed possible.

In Spain, the wide, open spaces of our country property allowed me to experiment in the ''cooking theatre'' (a.k.a. the Crocpit) when we lived there.  The challenge is to find the ingredients if I were to cook Malaysian hawker food, or South East Asian cuisine.  Chinese restaurants serving all-you-can-eat, were staffed by mainland Chinese and were about as close to Malaysian cuisine as you're likely to get... well, the our region of Spain, anyway.  Writing and cooking for my cookbook-cum-travelogue became even more of a challenge, as I still had to deal with my lack of memory.

I had decided to make Char Koay Teow (have my own version of this dish in my cookbook TOHC), and do it in the Crocpit.  Noodles (the right kind of noodle), seasonings, sambals, ... all needed to be found.  And then, Chinese pork sausages, lap cheong, the Cantonese name for wind-dried sausages.

Lap cheong is cured, dried raw-meat sausages which are quite hard in texture, and require cooking before eating.  Luckily for us, we had markets stalls with a multitude of sausages on offer for the discerning public every week. 

perleta magic: cooking with one hand
perleta magic: cooking with one hand
perleta magic: cooking with one hand
perleta magic: cooking with one hand

Add to that the amazing choice you get at local Spanish and French supermarket chains.  Once or twice a year, atmospheric, medieval markets spring up, and there you get a different taste of meat-on-hooves.  OK, it's not quite the same as lap cheong, which is sweeter and the fat content slightly higher, but it comes quite close.  We had to go in search of South East Asian stores, or specialty shops, which is a sight-seeing trip on its own merit.  Finally, we had all the ingredients; ready to start cooking... enjoy!


Eventually we returned to New Zealand - it's interesting to note the marked difference from when I was living here before.  Back when I was at university, it was a little bit like Spain of now.  Quite quiet, there were little pockets of Malaysian cuisine I'm sure, but more like Mom & Pop Chinese Restaurants that hailed originally from mainland China, in the main centres of Auckland and Wellington.  The group of us who were Malaysian-Chinese were quite homesick sometimes being at University, that we resorted to doing a cookout once or twice of all sorts of Malaysian fare.  If the ingredients were impossible to find at that time, we substituted with a similar bite/feel/texture/condiment/taste item.  Those were the days.  The population of NZ has changed significantly.  Where there were a handful of Malaysians, there is now communities of Chinese, Britons, American, French, Austrian, Swiss, Malaysian, Italians...

I had it in mind, to prepare: Chicken Yee Foo Mee (from my TOHC recipe book)...  I quite like to mix things up, so, the noodles for this exercise are ''cham'' (Hokkien, for mixed),  mee (yellow egg noodles),  with koay-teow (white rice noodles).  In Auckland it's possible to buy garlic sprouts - we were introduced to it in England, and since it's one of my favourite vegetables, I've put a quantity in the mixture.  Rather than doing yee foo mee as a dish which is served at the table, I want to make it into to a pie, which could be portable.  As a midday lunch, on the go as a snack, a larger portion as dinner, or as picnic food - whatever takes your fancy.  As for the recipe, it's basically a very simple vegetable dish with chicken, noodles, and optional egg.  Vary the vegetables for whatever is in season. 

Jacqui Hynd: cooking with one hand
Jacqui Hynd: cooking with one hand
Jacqui Hynd: cooking with one hand
Jacqui Hynd: cooking with one hand

The internet has a whole lot of recipes for short-crust pastry, flaky pastry, etc... It was a lucky thing that I've taken up pottery again - rolling clay into a slab, takes a bit more effort than rolling the pastry into thin sheets - great stroke-rehab exercise for building-up muscles!  I've used short-crust pastry - voila! - it looks yummy.