Precursor Of The Microwave


Mum had a fall two days ago and injured her arm and ribs. She had spent one night in hospital and was now back home.

Jackie and I drove over to her house at West End late this afternoon.

Mum had begun braising lamb slices for her dinner. Jackie finished the task and prepared and cooked crisp carrots, cauliflower and boiled potatoes.

While this was going on a nurse arrived to dress Mum’s wounds. This required the elderly patient to hold up her arm whilst butterfly stitches were removed. After a minute or two, I grasped her wrist and supported the limb during the rather painful process.

Mum and her dinner

Our mother found the size of the meal placed in front of her somewhat daunting. After yesterday, I had some idea as to how she felt. She did, however, eat practically all of it.

Jackie warmed the plate by placing it on top of the steamer used to cook the vegetables. The saucepan lid sat above that. This reminded me of how Mum had heated our previously cooked meals in the post war days before microwaves were invented. The food was plated up, lidded, and placed on top of a pan of boiling water.

After seeing Mum settled down for a snooze we drove to Elizabeth’s and took her for a meal at Jewels Indian restaurant in West End. The food was excellent and the service friendly and attentive, if a little slow. My meal was Chicken Naga Masala. We shared a garlic naan, broccoli and cauliflower bhaji, and special fried rice. Cobra, Kingfisher, and Chilean Merlot was variously imbibed.


  1. Your mother kept her home ? That has always been a question in our family. The MIL still owns her home, but lives at an independent senior living center. Safety is a factor.

    Very innovative to steam those dinner plates. They always found a way. ☺

  2. Hope your mum will soon be properly mended. Our best wishes to her.
    I’ve long used tops of pans to heat plates (even empty ones prior to serving, so the meal stays hotter while being consumed), and had a similar practice for the now little-practised habit of warming the teapot, by hooking it over the spout of the kettle while it boiled. By the old method, I should explain, you poured a little water into the pot and allowed it to spread through its body, then tipped it away. My way, the steam warms the pot while it boils, saving time, water and reboiling the kettle once the pot had absorbed the heat.
    One of my co-lodgers at the cream-tea village I mentioned last post used to find my efficient method highly amusing: if he remembers me at all, I bet that’s part of his memory!

    1. That tea pot method was also used in our family. Thanks, Paul. Will pass on the good wishes. The fall was caused by a slip whilst cleaning the bathroom – I ask you!

    1. Many thanks LT. My Mum cared for her own mother until she was 98 when she went into a care home because Mum couldn’t pick her up any more. She died one month short of 99

  3. The first thing I noticed was the big plate in front of your Mom and I am surprised that she ate it all. I too remember the “old days” when food was kept warm wrapped in towels and believe it or not, some hot potts have been kept warm in my bed (of course with a lid).

  4. I have to smile to myself every time you say “crisp” carrots or whatever vegetable you are describing 🙂 Would you ever tell us if Jackie had made “soggy” carrots? 🙂

    Surprising that your Mum ate all that plateful. While my own Mother was still with us, she ate like a mouse, but Dad still scoffs down a big plateful and he’s still as thin as a reed as he was all the time of their 60 year marriage.

  5. So sorry your Mum ‘had a fall’. Three little words you don’t really understand until you see the bruises on an older person you love, and witness their bravery in dealing with the aches and pains it brings. I hope she’s soon feeling better and I send my love to you all.

  6. I am pleased your Mum is on the mend Derrick. and yes all meals were re-heated this way on top of a saucepan of boiling water with inverted plate on top.. remember many a dried up meal when I came home late from work after missing the bus that only ran ever hour to our village back then. 🙂

  7. Good on your mum for tackling that meal. I find a lot of the older ladies here lose their appetite if the plate looks very full. They tend to graze in their senior years. Let’s hope she has a speedy recovery. That heating trick was very common in Australia too!

  8. So sorry to hear about your mum’s accident, but happy that she’s home again. It was a good thing you and Jackie were there to support her during the nurse’s treatment.

  9. Oh I AM sorry to hear your mother had a nasty tumble …. She seems like a stoic, game soldier to me and this post touched me deeply. Of particular note is the clear genetic link between you both represented by your twin ability to clear a good plateful whatever the circumstances.

  10. Hope your Mum’s getting better – it can be a nasty experience, and there isn’t always a lot of help available, as you seem to have noticed.

    AS for food – that’s when I officially classed my Mum as “old” – when she started picking at her food, just like her Mum before her…

    My Dad, on the other hand, is still eating and weighing in at a solid 17 and a half stone. (They weighed him when I was at the care home on Saturday – not that he treats it as a care home – he behaves like he’s in a hotel with very attentive room service). 😉

  11. So glad your mum is ok! My brother had been in hospital for two weeks. He was discharged two days ago but there is still cause for concern. Awaiting the results of a biopsy on a segment of the lympthatic tissue. Wish us well!

  12. Until your post, I had entirely forgotten that my own mother used to warm meals for us the same way: with a plate on top of a pot of water. Glad to hear your Mum ate well. For some reason it seems like if someone has a good appetite, then things aren’t all bad. (You must be in exquisite health, by those standards. ahem.)

  13. So glad your mother is recovering. It is wonderful that she can live at home. Not everyone is happy to move to the nursing home. Would be fine with me, but my mother wouldn’t even discuss it.

  14. Aww, so sorry to hear of your Mum’s fall and somehow I missed a few important posts, Derrick.
    You are a true and faithful follower of my blog. Thank you and if you could, try to give a small, gentle hug from me to her.
    I leave at end of October to stay a week at my Mom’s apartment. She will celebrate her #88 birthday on November first. Take care, Derrick!

Leave a Reply