Anyone who knows me, knows that along with my irrational fear of pigeons, I am also very claustrophobic, this has not been helped by having been stuck in a hotel toilet in a very old building in Paris, a toilet in the Tuileries gardens also in Paris, and a lift in an old building in Luxembourg!
You may consider me unlucky, but there are reported to be at least 7,000 people stuck in lifts in Paris every year. This is an old city with old doors and worn bolts, and lifts that operate with pulleys and resemble ornate cages (straight out of ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie!) as the one in my own building.
The wonderful 1920’s lift in my building in Paris, and the proof that people DO get stuck – this is NOT a staged photo
Imagine my horror when last week I was stuck inside my own very modern flat in Liverpool…
I blame Pussy Willow and her Houdini tendencies, making a break for it whenever the front door is open, but instead of going outside like a normal cat, just runs up and down the stairs, stopping at every door that has a dog behind it and tormenting them.
While she was on one of these jaunts, I wedged the door open so that she could come back in, and secured it with the chain.
The wanderer returned and I shut the door (forgetting that the chain was still in place.)
Later that morning, I opened the door abruptly, and the ‘ring’ of the chain (which is actually a triangle – and here lies the problem) got stuck good and proper.
I had no chance of dislodging it with my bare hands, so tried a meat prong, but this was not strong enough and bent under the pressure. I then resorted to a hammer, but the space behind the bar was too narrow to hook the claws around the triangle.
I tried to keep calm, I had air, food, water, a toilet, the phone, internet, television, music, books, the cat! But I was stuck, a prisoner inside my own flat and the only way that the door could be opened was from the inside by freeing this trapped chain. PANIC!!!
I went to the bedroom window and waited for someone to come into the car park below. What seemed like hours passed, but in actual fact was around 15 minutes and my prayers were answered in the shape of a knight on a white horse – well a carpet fitter in a white van to be precise…….
“Excuse me can you help me?” I called from my ‘tower’ to the surprised young man.
He looked puzzled as to what I could possibly want. “Do you have tools in your bag?” I cried.
Well obviously he did, what else would he have in what looked like a carpenter’s bag.
I hastily explained my dilemma and he attempted to climb in through my window, but my window is about 3 meters from the ground and he could not reach.
So he moved his van to right beneath my window, stood on the bonnet, passed me his rather heavy (and rather dirty) bag, then hauled himself up and through the narrow aperture (my windows do not fully open) with the help of me heaving him by the tops of his arms (Rapunzel never had to do this I am sure!)
Then like a veritable Prince Charming, he proceeded to try various tools until one final worked and I was free, white faced and shaking, but free…….
And the moral of this story is I will never put the chain on the door again
“She had been locked away in this one small stone room at the age of twelve. Fifty-one full moons had passed since then, shown by the scars on her wrists. If she did not escape soon, surely she would die.” Bitter Greens (the story of Rapunzel) Kate Forsysth
This recipe has no connection whatsoever with this story, save for the fact that it is ‘comfort food’ and I was in real need of comfort (Prince Charming did actually give me a hug, before driving off into the sunset in his white van)
As usual I have been making use of what I had left over and came up with this surprisingly delicious soup
A leftover portion of Cauliflower cheese ‘blitzed in food processor’
1 medium sweet potato cut into cubes
A good handful of red lentils
1 litre of vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 dessertspoon of crème fraiche per serving
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of dried coriander leaves
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
Sauté the sweet potato in the olive oil
Add the lentils and turmeric
Add the stock and pureed cauliflower cheese
Season with salt and pepper and simmer for around 40 minutes until the lentils have disappeared and the sweet potato is soft enough to ‘mash’ into a puree with a potato ricer.
Add the coriander and simmer for a further 5 minutes
Serve with a spoonful of crème fraiche and a little additional grated cheese (I used a ready grated mixture of Cheddar and Mozzarella from Marks and Spencer )
Comfort food at its best!