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Posts from the ‘Eating In’ Category

29
Apr

Food, Glorious Food!

I am often invited to press events featuring new food lines. The most recent was the M&S Delicious and Nutritious introduction.

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 15.09.48Persian Duck with Basmati Rice, roasted butternut, spinach with pomegranate dressing. £4.49 (350g). One of a range of eleven to choose from, this is the one that hit my tastebuds. Stunning!

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 15.55.10Then Mini Macaroons – six flavours: pistachio, lemon, raspberry, vanilla, strawberry and passion fruit. 12 in a packet £1.50 144g – really great flavours, very very moreish!

[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section]Nikon D2002013/03/07 19:21:14.8JPEG (8-bit) NormalImage Size: Large (3872 x 2592)ColorLens: 17-55mm F/2.8 GFocal Length: 26mmExposure Mode: ManualMetering Mode: Spot1/80 sec - F/11Exposure Comp.: 0 EVSensitivity: ISO 100Optimize Image: NormalWhite Balance: Color Temp. (5600 K) AF Mode: ManualFlash Sync Mode: Not AttachedColor Mode: Mode I (sRGB)Tone Comp.: AutoHue Adjustment: 0°Saturation: AutoSharpening: AutoImage Comment:                                     Long Exposure NR: OffHigh ISO NR: Off[#End of Shooting Data Section]And this, the Summer Fruit Tart, that really ticked all the boxes. The most delicious tart I have ever come across. Crisp all butter pastry, filled with lemon and vanilla custard, topped with a summer fruit compote. A really piquant fruit mix, I detected cherry, raspberry … at £4.99, 530g. It deserves a drum roll! I will be looking for this every visit to my local M&S!

I was specially impressed with one of their ales, Citra IPA Ale. It was light, flavoursome and satisfyingly alcoholic without being heavy.

As you can imagine there was a lot more to try – you can see more on their website. Some are ideal as picnic food, or sitting out in the sun in the garden. Do give them a try  … we can’t rate them highly enough!

Val Reynolds, Editor

12
Mar

Organic, tasty and colourful soups and sauces

Typical Italian pasta with delicious sauce

Typical Italian pasta with delicious sauce

I really like to add fresh ready made sauces to my cooking but making my own is sometimes difficult to make small enough quantities for a meal for two. As I look for as many organic ingredients for our meals as possible discovering some new additions to Tideford organic soups, sauces and a pudding were welcome finds especial for anyone wanting products that are gluten-free, low in salt, low fat, with mainly vegetarian & vegan products and no additives or preservatives.

Of this new summer range the Westcountry Cheddar Cheese Sauce went very well with ham steaks, and the Carbonara with Bacon and Nutmeg was excellent with chicken breasts, new potatoes and broccoli. Both sauces are made with organic, vegetarian Westcountry cheese.

Others to choose from include:

Jalapeno Salsa      Mediterranean Vegetable Sauce     Tomato & Basil Sauce

They all retail at £2.59 with the Ragu a la Bolognese £2.99 and Basil Pesto at £3.75.

Of the two new soups our favourite was the Pea & Mint Soup. There was some left over so next day we added a few frozen peas, grated cheese and more mint and hey, we had a light starter for lunch. The other soup, Minestroni with gluten-free Pasta went down well with the men, can’t imagine why! Must be the chilli! Tideford Organics Pea & Mint Soup

The tasty soup range includes

Farmhouse Chicken with Lemon & Thyme     Italian Tomato with Lentil & Red Pepper     Beetroot with Crème Fraiche & Dill     Spicy Butternut Squash with Sweet Potato     All retailing at £2.79.

We absolutely loved the new Chocolate Rice Pudding, suffice it to say we have  tracked it down and it seems to regularly appear on the shopping list!  It’s delish hot or cold. We love the Classic and Butterscotch Rice Puddings which are also gluten and wheat-free and oh so creamy.

All these super products can all be found at Ocado, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Abel & Cole, Wholefoods, Booths and independent retailers.

It’s possible to follow Tideford on Facebook Tideford Organics Ltd and Twitter @TidefordOrganic.

Have a look at their very informative website. You will get a good look at their products and an insight into their ethos.

Charlotte Singer Guest Cookery Journalist

10
Feb

The Weight Loss Programme that is Working for Me – 38 lbs Lost So Far!

10 February 2013

Screen Shot 2013-02-10 at 15.58.48I have now dropped 38 lbs since I started my weight loss programme. There have been some periods when my weight has levelled off and it has taken real determination to get it dropping again. Four more pounds to go and I will have lost 3 stones.

The effect is really noticeable – I can get into my size 12 clothes – that is the biggest bonus and I noticed yesterday I can cross my legs. Another thing, I can kneel on the floor, something I haven’t been able to do for years! I can get into my sheepskin coat that has been languishing in a cupboard for more years than I can remember. I have been buying cashmere jumpers on eBay at an alarming rate! I go for the auctions of used items. There is a knack to getting what you want, at least I have devised a method where I receive items that are clean and ready to wear. I send an email to the seller asking them to confirm the item has been cleaned and ready to wear. If I don’t hear from them, and that does happen, then I don’t bid for it. I also ask for confirmation the label shows it is what the seller says, for instance one item was described as silk, but turned out to be polyester. Look out for ‘style’ or ‘type’. For instance cashmere type, or silk type, or couture style. I have found it means whatever the item is it is not 100% silk, or cashmere. That’s what I have learned so far – check out detail before you buy. I have made mistakes, mostly with measurements. I get carried away with the photo and forget to actually check the measurements given … this entails returning the garment and that is tedious, especially as return postage is seldom refunded.

One incentive to keep to the weight loss programme I have devised is to aim for couture clothing in size 10! I have to decide whether the investment will be worth it, whether in fact my willpower will ensure I succeed in further weightloss. It is so easy to slip back into old, negative ways. I still have a tendency to overeat when I feel a bit blue, or feeling stressed. I have no trick to get over this. I can foresee getting into size 10 clothes may well be a size too far. Or shall I just keep trying? Probably! I love being able to wear my ebay bargains!

17 November 2012

Most of us who seriously need to reduce our weight, and I’m thinking here of anyone with more than 3 stones to lose, need to spend a long period concentrating on food. Which may seem a contradiction in terms.

One of the biggest challenges during that long period is maintaining motivation.

Sometimes serious health conditions help focus that effort, and most long term dieters are aware of the possibility and danger of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer – just a few of the serious health problems associated with serious over weight.

If assured we would definitely be dead within two weeks through eating more than 1200 calories a day I’m pretty sure we would all make certain we kept under that target, indefinitely.

To begin with controlling our appetite is hard. The trick is to maintain that control – we have to be creative with food, keep meals interesting, colourful, tasty, satisfying and recorded. This in turn can work to prevent a sense of deprivation developing. Deprivation can include resentment, isolation and the downward spiral of eating more than we need to survive.

Sooner or later those of us on the Sainsbury Diet find food becomes less important. Why this is is not clear, but I think it might be a consequence of a smaller stomach that no longer demands food so often. Also the taste of highly sweetened, or salty food is not as attractive as before. It would seem our tastebuds become more sensitive. However fat in food doesn’t seem to lose its attraction, it’s so high in satisfaction. Alarm bells should ring if you start eating more than 20% of your total daily food intake. This is all monitored on the diet so you can quickly see if you are close to making a mistake.

However, like recovering alcoholics, we are vulnerable and have to be vigilant. That’s the reality … food can never be what it was before we took our health seriously.

The importance of exercising can’t be emphasised enough. The making and maintaining new muscle which is heavier than fat can in turn lead to what is referred to as a plateau. No one likes this to happen but it seems an inevitable feature of serious weight loss. The body seems to need time to rearrange itself – well that’s how we see it!

Exercise can become addictive! It stimulates endorphins and adrenaline and although to begin with might be painful it really is worth it to feel more alive, move around more and feel more energetic. What’s not to like?

The Sainsbury Diet Forum is littered with references to hunger. Many of the long term dieters are able to provide sound advice. Onesuch is: If you feel hungry try waiting for 5 minutes – still hungry? Then eat. It’s more likely you no longer feel hungry. Or it could be your body needs fluid. Try a glass of water.

The Forum is a positive self moderating organism – providing support, empathy and down to earth feedback.

I have at last reached a two stone loss after a three week plateau. What a relief … On now to my next stone to lose … I can do it! Yes, I know I can!

Why not join us? If you are serious about weight loss this could be the site for you.

November 5 2012

Tracking Progress

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, as dispiriting as, when following a diet, any diet, reaching a plateau for whatever reason. What is hard to bear is when no matter how hard you try, the weight will not budge. How long will it go on? Can you avoid succumbing to temptation because you feel so low. Jam, bread and butter, cheese, chocolate, crisps, peanuts all raise their profile and the mouth waters.

Recently, on the 8th day of a plateau, I went for a bike ride, 8 miles in an hour. Not as fast as I used to be two years ago, but acceptable.

I returned home absolutely ravenous.

I ate jam on Ryvita, two little tubs of chocolate mousse, biscuits, bits of cheese, two glasses of wine, a biscuit, leftover meat. All eaten out of hunger – the thought of possible weight gain the next day didn’t stop my guzzling.

Next morning: My weight had dropped by a pound!

Ah! But the following week my weight rose by 2 lbs and stayed the same for the next two weeks and no amount of ‘being good’ had any effect. Very, very frustrating but perhaps understandable. I simply couldn’t get back into the swing of restraint and although I kept to my 1200 calories a day I did slip from time to time, especially in the evening with the odd biscuit.

I lost my pedometer down the loo – now this may seem insignificant but it really put me off making sure I covered 2,500 steps a day. It took me 6 days to replace it, during which time I was fairly inactive.

I then restarted using my stationary bike, 5 minutes the first time, then 10 the next day and that did the trick! Phew at last weight loss – miniscule but significant.

With the target of 15 minutes on the bike every day.  I have also been keeping a note of the number of steps with my new pedometer. So that and the bike riding should beat it! Onwards and downwards at last!

Tracking progress 

October 15 2012 – 92nd day

Today the weighing machine shows I have now dropped from 14 stone to 13 stone and .8 of a pound. So close to two stones lost!  My BMI is now 31.9, a drop from 37 since 9 July 2012.

The key to this steady weight loss has been achieved through following the Sainsbury Diet. Using their website I now plan up to 7 days’ meals ahead and make sure I have the food available, so accurate shopping lists are very important. Everything is recorded as it is eaten on the Food Diary. This calculates the calorific value of any food from the weight entered. It’s a very flexible system and works well if I decide to eat less, or sometimes, more, or change my choice of bread to potato. Whatever, the flexibility suits me down to the ground.

Another use of planning is a way I thought up to cope with anticipated social events and others that crop up before the big festive season. I have begun to ‘save’ a few calories each day from my 1200 daily allowance. Difficult to begin with, but I keep a note and watch the total grow, it’s a bit like saving money in a bank account! The plan is to use this accumulation of calories to cover those inevitable, irresistible goodies. Using the saved calories will eliminate that feeling of deprivation when everyone is having what they want and I can’t. Whoopee!

Over the 14 weeks spent on this diet I have identified a sense feeling of deprivation as being key to much of my past indulging and overeating behaviour. I intend eliminating that sensation at every possible opportunity, it feels that important.

My current target is 11 stones 2 lbs … planned to be reached by 1 December 2012. Just over a 2 lb weekly drop, my weekly average has been between 1.5 and 1.75 lbs a week so far, but I’m travelling hopefully … Onwards and downwards is a familiar cry on the Sainsbury Diet Forum! A huge support that reinforces achievement and helps those who lapse from time to time, and that includes me!

Tracking progress 

September 25 2012 – 78th day

Although it has not been a steady drop of 2 lbs a week, overall 22 lbs have gone now in 11 weeks. I am very happy with this result and really amazed how effective the regime is that I’m following.

I’ve had a lot of emails asking which diet I am using. Well, I’m trying out, with what I think the best possible results, the Sainsbury’s Diet. Essentially you weigh and record every single thing you eat during the day. All the hassle is taken out of the recording if you use the Food Diary: enter a food, add the weight and hey presto the result is recorded on your screen diary as carbs and fat in grams and totalled by meal and day. Or you can use a Meal Plan at any time, for any day. This is where everything is planned for you to follow, including a shopping list. When you join the Sainsbury Diet you are given a daily food allowance and every gram is counted down until you reach your target for the day.

The flexibility really suits me. I like to plan the day ahead, depending on what’s in the cupboard/fridge. If I change my mind later about a food, or the amount I want to eat, that’s endlessly adaptable.

If you wish you can request an Exercise Plan. It’s emphasised that reducing your food intake together with exercise – as gentle or strenuous as you want to make it – gives you the opportunity to lose weight faster. It seems to work for me. Over the 11 weeks I have gradually increased the amount of exercise and I have maintained the weight loss.

My current target is to reach a 28 lb loss – due in about 3 weeks. I am experiencing a bit of a plateau but with a bit more table tennis I should manage to get there!

There is a forum where you can vent your feelings, congratulate other participants on their loss and commiserate when things don’t go the way they want.

So far, this diet has worked remarkably well for me … I’m hoping to reach my final target of a 4.5 stones loss by the end of March 2013.

I’ll keep you posted!

August 11 2012 – 34th day

11 lbs gone – and am feeling pleased with myself. Have ‘discovered’ Weightwatchers Chocolate Biscuits! At 89 calories and 4.3 fat and individually wrapped I have to keep them in a box at the top of a cupboard that I can only get to using the steps. To get at them I have to make a real effort and that strategy, together with being out of sight, has meant I have managed to eat just one every other day.

My husband really likes another Weightwatchers biscuit –  Fruit Crumble 89 calories and 2.4g fat.  He likes them so much they’re on the shopping list already! He’s lucky, he doesn’t need to watch his weight, nor does he have the same food cravings I have. Explains why we are like Jack Sprat and his wife!

Onto the next goal to make it 14 lbs lost. Then I will be able to make a new target. This breaking down the whole amount to be lost is a really positive feature of the programme. Bit like eating an elephant, one bite at a time!

August 3 2012 – 26th day

Weight loss chart

8lbs down, just don’t ask how many more to go! But this is progress and I’m delighted. Been shopping in the charity shops and was pleased to find a pair of slacks size 18 that fitted me! Have gone through all my clothes and put them in size order. Some size 22′s have gone into a big bag in the attic to be used for painting jobs. Others I returned to the shops for recycling.

Had a sneaky look at size 10 clothes and there were some lovely dresses. Was so tempted to buy one but resisted … can look forward to that treat sometime next year … in the meantime size 16 is my next target but haven’t found anything in the trouser line yet. It will be my daily walk about the town to get those 5,000 steps in.

I have a pedometer and can note every day’s total in the record ‘book’. So far it is a bit erratic but is gradually improving.

George Foreman Fat Reducing Grill

A new George Foreman fat reducing grill arrived today. I’ve had one for about 8 years and it is still going strong. This new one is slimmer and will stand on its back to give space on the worktop when not in use. It’s really sleek.

I interviewed George Forman on one of his promotional visits about 9 years ago and he is a sweetie pie. The rumble in the jungle was a distant memory even then but he was just as lean and lithe as ever. He still oozed raw energy though and made me jump when he suddenly laughed and thumped the table!

He delighted in showing us how the grill worked and how much fat it removes. I’m looking forward to using this new one especially for its space saving feature. What I like is that it saves having to put on the oven grill, or use the oven thereby saving such a lot of time and costly energy. The grill makes the most delicious toasted sandwiches and cooking vegetables is a breeze.  It comes with a recipe book and a tray for the fat that runs out. It’s easy to clean – to finish off I use a damp sheet of kitchen tissue that removes any residual bits and pieces. The grill is available in stores and on the web. This the one gadget my husband actually uses! He just loves toasted sandwiches.

July 25 2012 – 17th day

Nothing in the wardrobe was suitable for the heat so I went out and bought 3 cotton tops for all of £7.49 from the local Help the Aged shop.

The good news is they are size 20, down from 22 … Although they are just a little tight, I feel I’m on way to success … keeping a tight grip on my appetite, lots of exercise and lots of glasses of water and strict weighing and recording food.

Looking forward to donating the tops back and getting ‘new’ ones size 18 … until I get back to size 12!!! What a prospect!

July 24 2012 – 16th day

5.5 lbs lost so far in 16 days.

Am loving this diet, I’m in control and am choosing all kinds of food, safe in the knowledge that every gram is calorie counted. With a target of 1200 calories a day and exercise built in, I’m feeling confident and optimistic that at last I will be able to reach and maintain a sensible weight for my age and build. If you would like to know the programme I’m following just send an email editorinbalance@me.com. There is absolutely no catch, it’s just that I don’t want to publicise a weight loss programme that I might just not complete or fail at totally. If I do lose the 5 stone I want to shed then I’ll announce it to the world! Plus pictures of before (ugh) and after!

July 15 2012 – End of First week

When I want to eat I have to eat, I don’t want to hang around. So you can see why/how I have always had a weight problem! Monitoring exactly what I eat has been the key to successful weight loss in the past and today, after a week of keeping a very accurate diary, I have dropped 4 lbs in week , a huge boost to my confidence.

Yesterday, feeling very hungry at lunchtime I luckily had ingredients in the fridge ready prepared when it was crucial to eat a sensible meal.

My 323 calorie home made open sandwich

Here are the ingredients of the open sandwich I put together. It added up to 323 calories, well within my lunch target.

Slice of Vogel’s soya and linseed bread  42 g
Generous covering of Sweet Harissa Houmous 58 g
Teaspoonfuls of Philadelphia Extra Light Cheese 28 g
Small tomatoes sliced 37 g
Grated carrot 24 g
Sultanas cut in half 11 g
Sprinkled with squeezed lemon juice 4 g*

This was sufficiently large enough to need a knife and fork to eat it – very tasty and filling too.

Sultanas came from a tub of reduced mix from a supermarket deli section
The tomatoes gave the moisture I like
The houmous gave body and flavour
The carrot was left over from the previous evening which gave crunch and the sultanas sweetness
The Philadelphia extra light cheese gave it creaminess
The bread gave it a satisfying chewiness

*The weight of each ingredient was of course my choice and is endlessly adaptable to suit any appetite

Of course the next few days’ lunches will have similar ingredients but with a bit luck I’ll be able to add different bits and pieces to make them interesting to look at and great to taste.

We have a supermarket just across the road from us and tend to buy most of our food there. Occasionally I nip over about 7 pm to see if there are any ‘Reduced’ items – there generally are. It’s true to say all the ingredients for today’s lunch, apart from the Philadelphia Extra Light and the soya and linseed bread, were at a reduced price.  This access to low cost food could make for overeating, in fact it did until recently. I buy all kinds of unusual things to try, like the harissa houmous. I found some salmon loin and some fillet steak at half price last night. Kept in the freezer with other bits and pieces bought over the last couple of weeks they will give me the opportunity to produce some interesting, low cost and carefully weighed meals.

I have sometimes bought a really high calorific item, like treacle tart which goes in the freezer. This week I found some at the back of the freezer and cut off a very slender slice, weighed it, made a note of the calories* and ate it with a feeling of righteousness! There is some cheesecake in there too … Yummy outlook!

The food weighing machine is the key to success for me. I really enjoy entering an allocation of grams in the diary and then comparing later how the quantity I want matches up with what I have planned. This makes for a really flexible recording system and eliminates any feelings of deprivation. Everything is my choice, including any drop offs from my schedule.

The systematic weighing of food is the most important aspect of the diet for me.  I write down everything I weigh as I go along. The weighing machine is zeroed between each item weighed as it is all too easy to forget the number of grams and I want to keep as accurate record as possible.

There are many calorie recording schemes for dieters on the web. I have used several in the past, especially those provided by pedometers.

This time I’m using a calorie recording diary on the web provided by a supermarket, it requires joining as a member with a very affordable monthly charge.  We’ll see how it goes. There are forums to read other members’ experiences, very useful as I’m a bit sceptical as to the extent of my determination, I have not been hugely successful in the past. Mark Twain’s ironic remark: Giving up smoking is easy, I do it all the time, is all too true of my dieting behaviour!

Right now I’m travelling hopefully – I feel quite good too!

*A little wire bound notebook to write down everything is kept with the weighing machine.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

 

Val Reynolds, Editor

13
Sep

In our Shopping Basket: Some Favourite Buys

Morrisons have created the NuMe (pronounced new me) range of prepared foods. Chilled, frozen and store cupboard products all offer lots of health benefits. With 300 lines to choose from and new ones being added all the time they are great for those following a low fat and calorie controlled diet and anyone wanting to know the ingredient content.

We tried the Beetroot yogurt and mint dip – very tasty – great to eat on crispbread or add to a plain salad £1.19/70g.

The Pea and Mint cuppa soup was surprisingly tasty – we added a few frozen peas to give us something to chew on! 69p – four portions.

 Sea Bass with Spinach and Parmesan Risotto £4.99 – 2 portions, married with Italian Bean Stew £1.75/400 g was delicious.

The whole range is innovative – the ones we have tried very tasty and reasonably priced – highly recommended – look out for them when next you visit Morrisons. We’ll be writing about their Christmas range of foods soon – well worth waiting for!

BerryWhite – an innovative organic range of flavoured teas – we tried Pomegranate and Blueberry with White Tea – a still fruit drink with white tea – which we liked very much. Why white tea? It is the least processed form of tea, made from the youngest silver buds which are gently steam, then dried and thereby contains more nutrients than other teas. Launched this year by Andrew Jennings there are several more drinks to try, see their website for details and where to buy.

Owen Potts has been an inventor of inspired recipes for over 15 years. He has developed recipes for supermarkets, household brands, farm shops over the years and in 2010 alone he developed over 1,000 recipes!

We love the Owen Potts’ range and recently tried the Maple Chipotle Barbecue and Grilling Sauce … Yum, great for indoor and outdoor additions to food. Try it on sausages, meat, anything actually – the older kids loved its spicyness mixed in with familiar flavours! 

Available in most supermarkets – see the website for specific stockists.

And finally, Weightwatchers. Such a range, but we were specially taken with their biscuits.  We tried the pack of 5 Chocolate Biscuits – amazingly good! We will definitely be putting these in our trolley on our next visit to the supermarket. Coated with thick Belgian milk chocolate, 89 calories, 4.2g fat, wrapped separately – excellent we won’t be tempted to eat the whole packet.

We also tried the Fruit Crumble biscuits – apple, blueberry and raspberry – crumbly biscuit base, topped with crunchy flakes. A very definite thumbs up from our tasters who all said they would buy them. Again separately wrapped, 89 calories, 2.4g fat.

Dare we tell you about the new Milk Chocolate Digestives? Have a look on their website to see the other 12 varieties!

As you would expect with such a popular range of foods, they are available in all the major supermarkets.

Kate Campbell, Contributing author

25
Aug

Favourite Best Foods for Health : Honey

Honey: We love Honey and we really love Manuka honey. It has quite a strong flavour but one it’s easy to become accustomed to. Used for a lot of skin problems there is always some in our bathroom cabinet.

Manuka honey mostly comes from New Zealand and has a guide as to its strength, you will see UMF 16+, 25+, 10+ included on the label. UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor, used to indicate how bioactive it is. So which to buy for what?

We keep a pot of Spirit’s Bay Manuka Honey UMF25+ in a kitchen cupboard for burns and cuts. It really works, I wish I had known about it when I badly burned the inside of my wrist some 15 years ago. I still have a scar, whereas now whenever I burn myself – and how easy it is in the kitchen – I quickly dab some on, cover it with a piece of lint and tape to keep it in place and within 12 hours you wouldn’t know anything had happened. It’s that good.

For general wellness we keep a pot of Goldenhills Manuka Honey UMF16+ to eating on bread and butter, or with a hot lemon drink for sore throats.

For particularly sore throats we have some Comvita propolis herbal elixir in the medicine cupboard. It includes Manuka Honey UMF10, multiflora honey, apple cider vinegar, Vit C, and peppermint.

All in all, honey is a unique food and Ogilvy’s are able to provide really unusual honeys – Balkan Linden honey, well known for its lightness and woody scent, is especially good in tea. Other unusual honeys include one from the Himalayan Highlands – light and delicious, remarkably floral. Another we tried comes from the Zambesi Plains. Different again in flavour due to the plants the bees gather the nectar from, this is gathered at the head of the Zambesi River by local beekeepers.

Ogilvy honeys are a special gift for any honey aficionados – yes there are lots of them! You might be surprised if you asked around. Widely available – their website most interesting.

Spirit’s Bay 25+ and Goldenhills 16+ are widely available in health food stores and their websites.

Joan Marshall, Contributing author

17
Jun

At Elizabeth David’s Table – her very best everyday recipes

Most recent edition

Most recent edition

A copy of French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David was on my shelf for years and years, and when it disappeared I didn’t notice for a long time! Enough to say I had used it so frequently it was falling to bits, her philosophy and recipes the basis of my own cooking, with adaptations of course, and gradually I didn’t have need to refer to it very often.

What a joy it was to get a copy of Elizabeth David’s Table – her very best everyday recipes compiled by Jill Norman. Reading it I got that comfortable feeling of meeting up with an old friend and read it cover to cover. The inclusion of some down to earth features she wrote for various papers and publications over the years placed at the beginning of the various sections of the book made it a joy to read. Her distinctive, no nonsense way of describing a recipe and how to make it remains in my memory.

I loved her description of the market town of Cavaillon and history of the surrounding area. Full of imagery, her writing is inspirational.

I immediately started adding PostIt notes to mark recipes, Coriander Mushrooms, Aubergine Chutney, Chicken Liver Pate, Pork and Liver Pate – this recipewas one I used at a party many years ago, although I never got to eat any, it went so fast! Rillettes, Green Gnocchi, Broad Beans with bacon, egg and lemon, so many recipes I had forgotten. Those broad bean recipes in particular stimulated my purchase of some “http://realseeds.co.uk/”>Aquadulce Longpod seeds; well adapted for winter sowing and early spring eating.

I love this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in tasty, no fuss cooking, and wanting to experiment without making a hash of things!

Published by Penguin in hardback and softback editions

Lizbeth Canvey, Contributing author and professional cook

11
Jun

Seduced by Reduced! Making a Bargain into a Real Treat

Supermarket limes

Supermarket limes

How often have you been seduced by the REDUCED label in a supermarket – say ten or more onions, or like today, twenty limes – in your supermarket and find it irresistible and confidently expecting to make something of it? But it gets put to one side, gradually to the back of the fridge, forgotten and then discarded, optimism lost in the chasm of inertia! Well it has happened to me of course. The good news is that it happens less often now. Why? I can explore the web for ideas of what can be done with whatever I have bought.

Today I have twenty limes – these are going to be either made into lime curd (my mouth is watering at the prospect!) which takes very little time, or lime chutney – here’s a Google page with lots of recipe sites to choose from.

I collect jars to re-use and buy new tops from Lakeland. Jam and curd take time but very rewarding and make good standby gifts for many occasions.

A recent cookery course I attended included truffles – three different flavours, one including lime zest* which gives me the excuse to make some. They are so luscious I’m not sure they will get to their intended recipients … we just love ‘em! We rolled the truffles in a mix of plain and toasted coconut.

Lime truffles

Lime truffles

Here’s a recipe I found on the web which is similar to the one I used on the course.

Celeriac, not as often used by home cooks here as they do say in France, is frequently reduced in my local supermarket and it gives me the opportunity to produce Salmon with mustard coating, potato, pea and celeriac mash found on the BBC Good Food website. Again a recipe that works very well.

It’s this time of year when I look out for peaches and nectarines  getting lower and lower in price and especially in the Reduced section. Then I usually reach for Elizabeth David’s cook book – At Elizabeth David’s Table – for her easy recipe Peaches in Wine. She tells us the best peaches for this dish are the yellow-fleshed variety. Dip the fruit in boiling water so the skins can be easily peeled off. Slice them straight into big wine glasses, sprinkle with sugar and pour a tablespoon or two of white wine into each glass. Preparing them too far ahead will make the fruit go mushy.  If you would like to give the glasses an attractive look, before you start working on the fruit, put a little water in a saucer, put sugar in another saucer, holding the glass upside down gently dip the glass in the water, shake it to remove any excess water, dip the glass in the saucer of sugar, shake off any excess. Voila! You can now add the fruit and wine, carefully! This works with lots of different fruits and you could experiment with flavoured liqueurs – Cointreau and oranges, raspberries and pear vodka! Pears and raspberry liqueur, the list could go on … and on. Just experiment, great fun.

By the way, my favourite prune sweet is to use prunes soaked in white wine – could be red – for at least 3 months. I use screwtop jars, covered with cling film and the cap screwed on lightly, no need to tighten hard. This is so easy to do and makes a wonderful treat with custard! or cream or even better fromage frais, unsweetened. I keep them in a cupboard out of sight otherwise they are just too easy to dip into and devour the lot!

* For any recipe using lime zest be sure to remove the wax generally added to citrus fruit, unless marked as unwaxed. The easiest way to do this is to dunk the fruit in boiling water for 5 minutes, twice if needs be.

Katie Simpson  Guest writer, Caterer for the Choosey

6
Feb

Just irresistible! Clotted Cream Ice Cream from Cornwall

Can you imagine missing the chance to try some mouthwatering brandy butter ice cream? We did!

We were sent vouchers to redeem for ice cream and mislaid them. By the time they were found the brandy butter ice cream season had passed … So instead we went for the plain clotted cream variety. Oh dear! Big mistake! Why? Because we now are besotted with clotted!

We have always managed to squeeze in a small portion of something sweet after our dinner and now the clotted cream ice cream is central to our desire.

Oh yum! Irresistible!

Oh yum! Irresistible!

We swirl some fruit juice, or alcoholic concoction such as cointreux, or even tia maria, or sloe gin, over a small dollop, add a little unsweetened low fat greek yogurt for contrast, and on a special occasion add a chocolate or shortbread biscuit. The mixes are endless, we sometimes add fresh fruit, stewed fruit especially apricots, toasted sliced almonds, crunchy chopped hazelnuts that only heighten our anticipation.

OK, so we’re nuts! So what! We make the portions as small as possible, and we use a teaspoon to eat it!

So there you have it. Two very happy, clotted cream addicts, nearly every day.

We’re looking forward to next November when the brandy butter ice cream will be available once more. Think we’ll stock up with a tub or two, or more!

In the meantime the next visit to the supermarket will include buying another flavour – Clotted Cream and Strawberries. Oh God … there’s even another one – Clotted Cream and Honeycomb.

Not sure we should tell you this, the ice cream is made in Cornwall. The website  has lots of recipes. Leave some for us!

By the way there is a competition to win some Devon made Raspberry Lemonade …
Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

26
Jan

It’s marmalade making time!

Seville oranges

Seville oranges

Seville oranges you can use to make marmalade at home are in the shops now.

If you love marmalade, there is absolutely nothing like making your own. You can make it as sweet or as sharp, as thin or as thick as you desire. In the past I have used prepared tinned seville oranges which was good, but making it from scratch is a job that rewards you every time.

Equipment needed:

  • A preserving pan is ideal but not essential, a large saucepan that will take at least one and a half kilos of fruit and three kilos of sugar will do.
  • A long wooden spoon, essential to avoid hot spits of marmalade when coming up to a full rolling boil.

    Marmalade simmering

    Marmalade simmering

  • A sharp knife. This year I used one of my very sharp Novelli knives which did the job but after a while the handle slipped as my hands became wetter and wetter with juice. So I used my new Kitchen Devils Kitchen Scissors – see lefthand side of magnetic knife bar below. They did the job pretty well, the serrated blades really made quick work of slicing the peel, not quite as symmetrical as using a knife, but I didn’t develop aches nor sore fingers from the repetitive job. The handles have a soft touch grip, preventing slipping. The scissors are designed for both left and right handed users. They are dishwasher proof and guaranteed for 15 years.

    Magnetic knife bar

    Magnetic knife bar

  • A jam thermometer is useful but not essential but gives reassurance if you are worried about whether the marmalade is ready to pot. A temperature of 105C/220F is recommended in a recipe I found on the BBC website.

Shopping List:

  •  1.5 kg bag of Seville oranges from Sainsburys
  • Granulated sugar 
  • Lemons – only use unwaxed fruit
  • A small piece of muslin and some string

There are many recipes on the web, from Delia to James Martin to Nigel Slater which look reliable. I  use a recipe I’ve had for years and which is now done by eye I’m so familiar with it. I made three batches to provide us with enough marmalade to last about a year plus some small jars to giveaway. I added 1-2 tbspns of brown sugar to one batch to give it a tawny look and slightly different flavour. Don’t add any more than that, on one occasion when I added a generous amount to a batch of rhubarb jam it tasted like chutney!

Control Kitchen Knife in use

Control Kitchen Knife in use

The Kitchen Devils Kitchen Scissors are available online at Amazon and at Asda, Lakeland, Morrisons, The Range and independent cook stores nationwide.

Kate Campbell, A self taught cook who loves preserving fruit and vegetables 

9
Dec

Christmas Catalogue for Good Life Gifts

The Wiggly Team!

The Wiggly Team!

Wiggly Wigglers is a feel good story. Heather and Phillip Gorringe live and work at Lower Blakemere Farm in Herefordshire and while Phillip runs the farm Heather runs Wiggly Wigglers, the company that started off selling worms to compost food waste.  They do live the good life, with cattle, pigs and hens, and they grow their own fruit and veg.

We bought one of the first Wiggly Wigglers composters years ago when Heather was at one of the RHS shows. We have three Wiggly Wiggler composters now, all different styles and they all work well.

Oak sapling infused with truffle spores

Oak sapling infused with truffle spores

Our favourite Christmas catalogue is the Wiggly Wigglers Christmas catalogue. It’s full of stuff we really want! From truffle spores infused in sapling oak trees – harvest your truffles in 5-7 years’ time, to spore infused logs to harvest your own exotic mushrooms.

Then there is the apple peeler and corer – named on the recent Channel 4 programme Stephen Fry’s 100 Greatest Gadgets as one of the top gadgets of all time. We really must have one! Processing the apples is such a messy, sticky job, but this gadget promises to make it more fun next year. Click here to see it in action.

Apple corer and peeler

Apple corer and peeler

There’s loads of other stuff, bird food, bird feeders, shelters – the catalogue is available by post – phone 01981 500391. However if you are cutting it a bit fine go to their website where everything is available. Remember though that date for last orders is Wednesday 21 December.

Happy Christmas!

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

See our experience of the latest composter we bought from Wiggly Wigglers.
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