BBC “Today” programme fan-fared changes in Government approach to benefits for disabled people who manage to get back to work: not losing their benefits as soon as they start; possibly not having to endure another Personal Capability Assessment if the job doesn’t work out. But what is their source? There seems to be nothing anywhere on the web about such changes in policy. Of course, it is all very long overdue. People like me working in this field were recommending such changes nearly 20 years ago. On a more positive note, It seems that recipients of PIP will get a 10.1% increase in April.
Wet, wet, wet. Another day of heavy rain, whistling winds and dreariness. It seems distinctly difficult to maintain New Year motivation and positivity.
We seem besieged by bad news: strikes, cost-of-living crises, inflation, Government at odds with the public sector, the risk of the NHS collapsing into privatisation (aka insurance-based), being cold to save energy, the devastation of Ukraine, women becoming non-people in Afghanistan, people taking to the streets in Brazil and Iran, so much more misery out there and even closer to home with friends and neighbours facing their own traumas.
“No News” January seems a bit like hiding one’s head in the sand. But I’m trying to focus more on what is positive. There’s already been an ultra-happy 25th wedding anniversary party (not mine), a new speaking engagement, feeling fitter with the exercise, a potential project concerning visually impaired children, another around sight loss data, supporting some friends, a chocolate cake experiment. Overall, that’s not bad for just the start of January. And the sous-chef is determinedly plugging on with his exam studies and getting more sponsorship for his Alzheimer’s challenge. The house maintenance niggles (leaking shed roof and blocked gutters) are getting fixed with great help. In reality, while we may not be able to change much in the grand scheme, people are doing good things together one-to-one. I’m not sure why it doesn’t translate into the big picture but, at least, on the real human scale, we do have the capacity to survive, swap kindnesses, celebrate the small triumphs, share care and happiness.
On that note, I’m dedicating this week’s roast butternut squash galette recipe to one of the most enthusiastic regular co-cooks from my on-line demos. A word of warning about pastry. My first attempt using ready-rolled shop-bought shortcrust worked. I could easily roll it a little larger so that the pastry overflowed the flan tin, allowing the excess to be flipped back to partly cover the filling. Experimenting with puff pastry (de-frosted from the freezer), proved impossible. The puff couldn’t be cleanly remove from the parchment paper and needed lots of patching up. Filo pastry was more successful. It comes in a roll of large rectangles. Unroll it, take 2 or 3 rectangular sheets together and lay across the flan tin from top to bottom, leaving the ends overlapping the sides of the tin. Lightly brush with a little oil or melted butter. Take another 2 or 3 sheets and repeat laying then over the tin but on the diagonal. Repeat the oil/butter brushing. Take a final 2 or 3 sheets and lay across in the opposite diagonal. The result should be a rough 6 “pointed” star shape of pastry rectangles draped across the tin and onto the work surface. Once the filling is added, the flaps can be flipped back over the filling and brushed with a beaten egg or oil/butter before baking. Sounds complicated but is easy. I made an excellent version containing a cooked and chilled turkey-in-mushroom-sauce mix. Puff or filo pastry is best eaten fresh from the oven while still crispy.