The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Dehydrator update and The Waiting Room game


Photo: Herbacious border detail

Photo: Herbacious border detail

Our cheap and basic dehydrator continues to delight us. I’m reaping the rewards of dehydrating fruit and vegetables when they were on offer or marked down on the CFC. As all the chopping and preparation has been done prior to dehydrating a slow cooked meal can be prepared very quickly.

This week I had to go for blood tests. I think that the doctors in Newmarket might be suffering from blood testitus as the clinic is always packed and you have to arrive early to get in the queue. I wanted to make our slow cooked skirt of beef stew but time was of the essence. So all the vegetables that I used were dehydrated ones – mushrooms, Fenland celery, Chantenay carrots, onions and garlic. I store the dehydrated food in zip lock bags with the original weight and the dehydrated weight written on the outside. This makes the conversions really easy.

I’ve also found that putting all the dehydrated ingredients in a bowl and covering them with boiling water for a five minute soak before they go into the slow cooker seems to work well as they are already starting to plump up when they are added (including the water) to the slow cooker. I was able to prepare this meal in ten minutes. Switched the slow cooker to auto and shot into Newmarket.

In the hospital I grabbed the penultimate number and found an empty chair. Once the number cards are gone the blood test lady has her full quota for the afternoon. There lies the rub. People keep on arriving and being turned away. Some people get very angry and insist that it’s their right to have a blood test. No wonder the blood test lady looks harassed and stressed.

I sat reading my book Restless by William Boyd and playing my hospital waiting room game. If people come in twos or groups I have to guess which one is the patient. This is surprisingly difficult and challenging as everyone looks stressed. If I get one right I feel like Einstein. At Newmarket hospital there is an extra game within the game – who will make a fuss when they are asked to return the next day.

When I finally got home three hours later I was welcomed by the aroma of slow cooked beef stew. Perfect.

Now I am keen to try making beef jerky in the dehydrator. Watch this space!

  Leave a reply


  1. Here too any bloods (or other samples of bodily production!) are taken in your local GP surgery the day they’re wanted and sent off to the hospital. Your local powers that be seem to have made a serious error of judgement.

  2. Cookie Girl

    My local hospital bloods dept operates a similar system except they do keep dishing out tickets for the time they are open – until just before they close – I never waited more than 40mins or so, which has got to be better than 3hrs!

    Am racking my brain for funny comedy moments but am drawing a blank after a long,weary day. Will have a think and post later… TTFN

  3. Danny Carey

    Hi Rachel – regarding the ads, yes indeed they are an attempt to increase our income and hopefully avoid having to sell up and downsize.
    Sorry if they annoy you, but they are targeted at the 6,500 casual visitors who visit here from Google every day and not at our 500 or so regulars. Just ignore them. Even Delia, Nigella and Jamie host advertising these days. It’s the way of the world.
    Actually, that poker video is quite amusing and a good production, IMO. I love poker and have been to Vegas but I doubt it is going to seduce any of us into thinking that one can make money easily at any form of gambling.

  4. sebbie

    Paula the NHS is far from perfect but from what I recall of the statistics I studied last year the cost works out at about £2 per week per person, as a proportion of the GDP it costs us half as much as the US insurance system and it manages to be a universal system to boot so it does have its up sides 🙂

    I may be biased in the NHS’s favour because my dd has tested out several departments in our local hospital and wears glasses and hearing aids (all provided free) and also because I am a student radiographer but I will concede that Fionas hospitals blood testing system is rubbish 😉 .

  5. rachel

    Goodness what a crazy system – my gp or practice nurse takes any bloods and sends them off.

    On another note, I’ve really tried hard to ignore the increasing presence of ads on the blog, guessing thats its an entirely needed income stream and realising they are well chosen and relevant to your followers-but do we really have to have poker/ gambling ads???

  6. Magic Cochin

    Three hours! Good lord, isn’t there a better way…

    So good you had the forethought to get that slow cooker stew on the go – I love cooking with beef skirt, it makes such a deep rich gravy.

    I had to have a whole range of blood tests done the other week, thankfully the nurse at the GPs did it and as I’d arrived early she called me in straight away and I was back in my car and almost home before my appointment time! I’d be one of those hopping mad people if I’d been sent away and told to come back tomorrow!


  7. Who thinks up these ridiculous systems? Anybody with half a brain can see the flaws in that plan! Anyway, glad you came home to those lovely smells. I couldn’t live without my slow cooker. If hubby is off work during the week, I often leave the slow cooker on to torture him throughout the day with wonderful aroma’s. He’s desperate for his supper by the time we all get home! XXX

  8. Giving blood for any reason is never a fun time, and next time I’ll remember your game. It sounds like a good way to distract yourself.

    It’s also interesting to hear about your local health care system. Here in the states, health care reform is a huge deal, and because congress has been wrangling with it, there have been a lot of news stories about how health care systems in other parts of the world. The British health care system is always covered, so it’s interesting to hear that it’s not so perfect.

    I have a dehydrator setting in my wall oven, so I will remember to make use of that this summer!

  9. I am shocked at this deli style take a ticket approach at your local clinic, and believe me I would DEFINATELY be one of the ones making a fuss. In fact you wouldn’t be far wrong if you sat and guessed that I would be the one who was very loud, very rude very waving arms about and quoting the patients charter and have to be escorted from the clinic by security after ranting about paying my national insurance contributions and the state of the NHS was a disgrace and demanding to see the hospital site supervisor LOL.
    Luckily blood tests are by individual appointment in my part of the country and good job too as whenever I go the whole of the gaggle of nurses end up having to have a go at it, normally with me starting off quite bright and breezy about the whole affiar, progressing to a rather paloured grey laying down, to a going to vomit and pass out sort of stage, quite often with having to give up altogether after 10 to 12 collection tubes have been disgarded as they have clotted immediately with contact with the outside of my body. I am hoping you never have such problems as arms covered in yellow and purple bruising and needle marks get you some very strange looks especially in the summer months when you’re in short sleeves. Needless to say I have never been a blood donor!
    Good luck for the results.

  10. danast

    Hi Fiona
    i too am reading Restless at the moment. I belong to a local Book Group and this was this month’s book. I am thoroughly enjoying it and like the way the book moves from past to present and wonder what will happen when the two collide as they inevitably must. I am learning much I didn’t know of British activities in WW2. Anyway I should finish it this weekend. Enjoy.

    Isn’t people watching wonderful???

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