Sunday, 27 February 2011

apple milk tart and thai prawn soup

well hello everyone! thanks for the fantastic response to the article about local farming, it meant a lot to my father, and it's such an important issue - especially for those of you living in the uk. 

i've really been cracking down on my eats lately - after having read Dr Bernstein's Diabetes Solution book. if you are a diabetic (i'm a Type 1), or know one, then i definitely recommend getting a copy. he's such a revolutionary but sensible too. and so far his advice is working out really well for me keeping my levels straight.

his advice is basically to consume lots of protein and hardly any carbs. i'm trying it out to see how it works - whilst also throwing in what i've learnt from doc robbins, the primal/paleo diet research i've been doing and things i've found out about raw food. basically i eat a lot of salad and cooked veggies, and actually since including more meat, fish and butter my skin has got WAY better! the combination of the two works out pretty well for me - my short stint as a vegan was not successful for my diabetes, health or happiness. i've realised there isn't really a cure all, each person is different!

butter bean bake with spinach - simple but delicious and very satisfying. i've made the recipe loads of times before, it's from the tessa kiros book 'falling cloudberries'

thai prawn soup with coconut milk, peas, leeks and avocado and lots of thai paste - this is delicious, and so good for you... i sort of made this up, and can't remember how! i'll be experimenting again with this, and i shall give you the perfect recipe when i've found it, but there are loads of great ones on the web

apple milk tart - this was a very successful experiment!  i found some sweet shortcrust pastry in the freezer (before the recent diet change - now it would be an almond buckwheat crust), and a few hours later...

apple milk tart recipe:
1 lot of sweet shortcrust pastry (i used half wholewheat and part almond, part buckwheat)
8 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1tsp vanilla extract or 1 real vanilla pod if you have it
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 level tbsp cornflour
2 eggs
1 cup milk

1. place the pastry in a flan case, and prebake for about 10 minutes. make sure the edges are up quite high as it will shrink in the oven.
2. place apples in a pan and add the butter, cinnamon, vanilla and a little water. gently heat until the apples change colour and are squishy. then mash it all together in the pan with a potato masher or hand blender (depending on the sort of texture you would like)
3. then add in the cornflour, eggs and milk. mix together and then pour into the pre-baked flan case. cook for about 25 minutes until cooked through - test with a knife, and make sure it doesn't burn. enjoy!

breakfasts are good - orange and homemade dark chocolate banana bread, with green tea (of course!)

i can't wait to share my new eating plans with you all! and tell you if my diabetes is getting more under control on the diet - i love that i get to eat a big salad every day, and i am learning how to make homemade butter and yoghurt (that's this weeks experiment!). you know i don't advocate 'diets', but changing your eating plan without restrictions, only limitations, works well for me.

also if you haven't yet seen my new videos on my YT channel check out: my english accent (a bunch of other bloggers did this 'how do you say these words' tag, it was really fun!), my favourite non-fiction books and why reading matters to your health. and don't forget to subscribe and check out my healthy living series...

currently watching: sex and the city 2 - it's really not the best movie, but SATC is always fun :)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

my dad, the english farmer

this is my dad.

my papi is brilliant. he is a university lecturer in agriculture and he knows everything there is to know about pigs. he is also passionate about making other Brits aware of the importance of purchasing British pork.

he's the one that gave me a love for farm animals, a passion for self-sufficiency, and an understanding of the farming industry.

he truly believes (and so do i) that British meat is the best - the quality is top notch and animal welfare standards are so much higher than other countries. it's also incredibly important to support local farmers. in the UK we've become used to paying low prices for sub-standard meat - so much so that we've lost any connection with how that animal is treated as it grows from a tiny baby to it's slaughter size or how real meat should taste and look.

it angers me to see people thoughtlessly buying the cheapest meat, because everyone else does, or they think they need meat each day to survive, or they just like a 'good deal' (yes, it's in inverted commas, because cheap meat is not a good deal for anyone - the farmer, the animal, or the eater).

here are five very important reasons to support British farmers:
  • without your purchase, the future of British farming is in jeopardy - it's a difficult business anyway (have you ever met any rich farmers in the UK? no? that's because they love what they do, even though it's not profitable - trust me, i can vouch for that)
  • UK standards are the highest in Europe, produce of the EU does not ensure high welfare, and there's a very high chance that a product labelled EU comes from a farming system that is actually illegal in the UK
  • because our country have been farming for so many generations, our livestock is the envy of the world, with the best quality meats available, why would you want anything else?
  • it's healthier for you to eat less higher quality meat with a far superior nutrition profile, than lots of sub standard meat with not much to recommend it nutrition-wise. it's better for your conscious too.
  • think of the UK without cows, pigs, sheep or livestock, without your support this is a sad possibility - how weird would the countryside look?
anyway, i'm sure my dad would have sold this better to you really. he is a legend....

and now for a very cute photo of me when i was little and we lived on a pig farm... that piglet was called Jacob.

i apologise to any vegans + vegetarians reading this post, but i imagine you agree more than anyone that animal welfare standards should be the highest possible? and i also want to mention (in case you didn't already know) that i do eat meat, a couple of times a week, and although not always organic, i do source it from suppliers i trust. but more on meat-eating another time...

and if you live outside the UK, then pretty please consider purchasing locally reared meat with high welfare standards - or even from a local farm you can actually visit to see how the animals are treated. look for good quality food, shelter, large pastures and a slower turnover (there are many tricks to getting an animal to slaughter size faster, so look for farmers that think of the animal before profit)

how do you feel about buying local? do you choose quality over price, or the other way around?

currently listening to: radio 1 on bbc listen live

Saturday, 19 February 2011

of country houses and bridleways

some of you may have noticed a little change on the blog in the last couple of posts...instead of me taking the photos, it's been my little brother jonny. not only is his camera far superior, his knowledge of photography far surpasses mine. if ever i write a cookbook, he would be the one behind the lens.

so, just to embarrass him and share the beauty of our local countryside with you all, here are some of his stills from a dog walk we did on wednesday:

hope you enjoyed gazing at the english countryside as much as i enjoyed walking in it!

and a quick thank you to all my new readers on bloglovin and to my twitter followers 

Thursday, 17 February 2011

chestnut cream and homemade digestive biscuits

as i was going to sleep one day last week i had an epiphany, chestnuts and cream. it sounds simple enough, doesn't it, but something clicked and i had to make it. fast forward a few days, and voila, here it is:

chestnut cream with homemade digestive biscuits

as soon as i finished my portion, i felt like i had discovered something so fantastically new and delicious and it was now my obligation to tell the whole world about it! to say my life has changed would be an over-statement, but it has certainly improved with chestnut cream.

by no means is this an every day sort of treat, but once or twice a year i think would be just lovely, especially if you want to show off your culinary skill at a dinner party with other foodie friends. you could also use the chestnut cream as a filling for a simple sponge, topping for a pie or cupcake, or eat a la mode with a few nice biscuits.

chestnut cream recipe
- simply whip half a tin of pureed chestnuts (about 175g, you can use the other half for a chestnut cake!) with a fork until even and light
 - whip up about 300ml of double cream with a whisk
 - add in the chestnut puree and whip in quickly until even with a little sugar or agave nectar - to taste.
 - refrigerate or serve immediately, depending on how you will serve it.

i used the whole wheat digestive biscuit recipe from Hugh FW's River Cottage Everyday cookbook. it's very simple, and they tasted way better than store bought. they are the perfect companion to a cup of tea and an episode of the West Wing!

if you wondering about the nutritional qualities of chestnut puree, then never fear, check out this awesome Chestnut PDF - they are low in calories, have no fat or cholesterol, are low GI = energy sustaining and high in vitamin C/E/B1/B2/B6/folic acid/phosphorus/potassiam and raw fibre. Beat that!

currently watching: outcasts on BBC iplayer - quite enjoyable actually, despite the bad reviews...

ps. have you seen this delicious recipe for balsamic fig spread over at fresh and foodie yet? it looks gorgeous.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

homemade butter and caraway rye bagels

you know i promised that i'd be more experimental, and less boring. well, there's just so much deliciousness to today, i don't even know where to start! i'm just on the edge of my seat with excitement to tell you all about the most foodie day i've had in a long time (after this one and this one)...

so, i was watching Jamie's 30 Minute Meals the other day (which I love by the way, but that's for another day!) and on it he started making his own butter - wowee! it's something i've always thought would be a cool thing to do, and it totally fits with my desire to be self-sufficient one day. i am just astonished it's taken me this long to do it!

homemade butter is one of the purest joys in the world

now, some of you are probably thinking, oh my goodness, that's not healthy at all! and really, of course it's not - but i really believe in everything in moderation, so having a bit of homemade butter on fresh bread from the oven once in a while is a luxury to me and not a sin. and if you are going to eat it, surely eating your own is the best, right?

it was the easiest thing to create as well - i urge everyone to give this a go (unless of course you are vegan!) . all you really do is whisk double cream until it turns into butter. there's nothing added, it's just one pure simple ingredient. i used the 'k' beater on our kenwood mixer until the whey came out and it started to form one large ball. then you squeeze out all the whey and wrap it up to put in the fridge, or eat immediately :)

we then ate homemade caraway and rye bagels and rolls with the homemade butter, and some homemade soup with homemade chicken stock and homegrown veg. it was such a precious feeling knowing all the effort that had gone into preparing this meal, i felt elated. 

did you all know the secret to perfect home bread baking? well, listen carefully and take heed of this advice. USE A BAIN MARIE. yes, a roasting tin with an inch of boiling water in the bottom of the oven whilst the bread or rolls are baking makes them fluffier, lighter and more moist.

now for some photos of the cutest puppy dog in the world, Bruno - who has now fully recovered from his surgery a fortnight ago. even though he's got the worlds longest dog scar, he's got loads of energy, and is such wonderful company to us all...

i hope you enjoy making your own butter, and trying out the bain marie bread making method! and most of all, just have a splendid day 

and keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful dessert i made today, which will be featured in tomorrows post - chestnut cream with homemade digestive biscuits, scrumptious!

currently listening to: how he loves by jesus culture

Monday, 14 February 2011

cinnamon rolls and sunshine

happy valentine's day to you all!

i am happily spending the day working loads, enjoying good food and walking my puppy dog. there may also be some chocolate involved. 

this year instead of being miserable, i have chosen (yes, that's right, it is imperative to choose) to be happy and celebrate as the Finnish do by being thankful for all of my friends! i am so very grateful for all of the support i get on this here blog, and on my YT channel - it makes me smile so :)

now onto more things that make me happy:

a beautiful walk with Bruno - you can sort of see him near to the right of that massive tree, shuffling around, sniffing the grass! the sun has shone brilliantly a few days in the past fortnight, and it brings me such happiness, i can't help but smile and feel enthusiastic about everything...

plenty of homemade cinnamon rolls - there is a special technique for how i twirl mine; perhaps i'll make a video if you want. they are the most delicious and indulgent treat, which has really seen me through the winter months. and they look so pretty with pearl sugar on top, don't they?

big breakfasts. these are really the best thing ever! boiled 4 minute egg with buttered wholewheat toasted soldiers, bowl of thick greek yogurt with banana, flax and compote and a hot mug of lingonberry tea! ah, perfection.

bacon and eggs. need i say more?

roasted veg and sausages. this is the food of my ancestors, and i couldn't be more proud. 

so, wherever you are, and whatever you may be doing, i wish you all a happy friend's day! may the sun be shining with you, and may you be blessed in abundance.

currently listening to: rolling in the deep by adele

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

plum almond torte and eating nakd

today the air smelt so fresh and dewy, and i swear i could smell a smidgen of daffodils and barbecues floating on the breeze. spring is springing, yippee!

i've been enjoying cooking budget friendly, healthy and delicious meals for a while now, but lately i've really been trying to kick it up a notch. really experiment with flavours and ingredients that both excite and terrify me - my english reservation does often result in bland safe combinations, and it's hard to break that barrier. but, be on the lookout for some really scrumdidlyumptious recipes that will tickle your tastebuds in future posts...

so, onto my latest eats:

plum and almond torte - a plum version of my pear and almond torte - yummy!

beetroot and mozzarella salad - there's all my usual salad ingredients in there too!

last week i was sent some nakd bars to review - and although i'd eaten them a few times before it was lovely to try out these new flavours. nakd bars are fantastically natural and simple in their ingredients list - which is why i love them so much! and if you are a real snacker, like me, then this is a safe and satisfying addition to your storecupboard and handbag. i highly recommend the pecan pie flavour too, it's my favourite! 

our smorgasbord christmas eve dinner table - yes, it's a little belated, but on having realised that i hadn't yet posted photos, i thought i ought to promptly upload this for you all to see. isn't it beautiful? my grandmother did an amazing job! 

what you see is: boiled egg, creamed beetroot, venison pate, meatballs and frankfurters, rice salad, coronation chicken, ham, sild, prawns, potato salad, green salad, olives, cheeses and janssons temptation!

swedish christmas eve is always a phenomenally fun time, with much wine, laughter and good conversation. the food is a highlight, but the drinking games often take centre stage - mostly involving singing to meatballs (there's a whole special song we all sing!), men downing raw fish with swedish schnapps, and plenty of red wine toasts - it's a jolly occasion ♥

currently listening to: heartbreak warfare by john mayer

Saturday, 5 February 2011

chestnut cherry cake

i hope you are all having a great weekend! i just thought i'd interject your fun times with a little recipe for chestnut cherry cake. i felt obliged to write this down asap before i forgot quite what i'd put in it, so i could make it again and again, and keep it here on my online recipe folder.

this cake tastes gorgeous, it has the perfect light texture, and is a fantastic base for additional flavours. i sort of accidentally discovered this one, and i am so happy that i have! another low carb, gluten/wheat free cake to add to my repertoire - and now yours too..

chestnut cherry cake

30g brown sugar
30g agave nectar
50g butter
1 sachet vanilla sugar
60g ground almonds
45g buckwheat flour
3 eggs
2 tbsp greek yoghurt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g marrons puree (pureed chestnut)
bottled morello cherries

♥ mix together the sugars, agave and butter with a fork until smooth
♥ add the ground almonds and buckwheat and combine well.
♥ incorporate the eggs one at a time.
♥ whisk in the yoghurt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and chestnut puree.
♥ pour the batter into a greased/lined baking dish. top with morello cherries and sprinkle over more brown sugar and ground almonds.
♥ bake at 160c (fan) for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
♥ leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, remove from the tin and leave to cool for a further 10 minutes on a wire rack. enjoy warm as is or with a dollop of yoghurt or a spoonful of crème fraiche.

there are numerous ways you could edit this cake. say swap the yoghurt for cream, or the almonds and buckwheat for regular flour, or the different types of sugar for regular sugar. it would also be really nice with any other fruit mixed in, tinned or fresh.

the next time i make it i think i'll try a chestnut version of dorset apple cake, a fond family favorite. a little rye flour and lots of apples, and more spice should work really well with the depth of flavour this cake has. and be complimented by it's airiness.

you could try it with a chestnut cream in the centre, that would be rather delicious too! or mix it with melted chocolate for a real treat and surprise.

Friday, 4 February 2011

caramelised apples and butter bean bake

a quick round-up post for you today, with just a few of my latest eats:

swedish pea soup - (recipe here) this is the traditional thursday dish of Sweden, and it's just so tasty and nutritious i can see why - we try to have it every other week

caramelised butter apples (literally apples fried in butter and a little honey) on bircher muesli with green tea and sild / raw herring on crispbread. an excellent breakfast. also reading the tightwad gazette - a must read for anyone interested in saving money!

swedish creamy mushrooms from the jamie does cookbook, with mashed potato, swedish red cabbage and green beans. one of the best meals i've created in a long time. it was heart and warming, and perfect on such cold nights as we've been having.

butter bean bake with sild and salad. this is one of my other favorite meals of the moment, and it comes from falling cloudberries (my go-to cookbook most days). it's easy and really nutritious and good, proper soul food. i've also been deciding on how to plant the allotment organically for this year...

currently watching: are you a sugar addict by underground wellness

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

radish beetroot salad and rabbit stew

hi, hope you are all happy and well! 

let's go straight to my latest eats, or scroll down for some salad talk:

♥  radish and beetroot salad with mozzarella 

homemade crumpets with scrambled eggs, cream cheese and butter and a mug of lady grey

rabbit stew - it was the first time i've cooked with rabbit, and it was really tasty. i did it in a creamy sauce with carrots, onions and thyme adapted from the game cookbook.

sweet pepper and egg salad with garlic mayonnaise

well, the rabbit may be a little controversial, but i've been thinking a lot about what my ancestors ate. there's a lot of talk in the nutrition world about eating in a more primal way, about how our bodies have developed to live a certain life and eat particular foods. some people groups can survive on cheese and meat, whereas others eat game and vegetables, and others eat fruits and rice.

i can certainly see some merit in using some of the principles you can learn from this - like eating locally grown or homegrown foods, avoiding foods that have travelled half way across the earth, etc. it's hard not to give into temptation though when you are faced with a reduced bag of oranges or dates though...

anyway, mostly today i want to share with you about salads. this may not the most exciting topic for many of you, but now i eat a salad with lunch and dinner, and often as a main course. i have been experimenting with ways to make them more exciting and enticing so that my family are happy to eat them too. here's my tips:

1. nutrition packed base ingredients are usually a combination of mixed greens (spinach/rocket/kale/greens, etc), salad onions, red onions, celery, garlic, tomato and cucumber. 

2. then i'll go with a few more exciting (but not expensive) ingredients that give it character like: beetroot, grated carrot, sliced radish, mozzarella, feta, cooked sweet potato or squash, sweet pepper, cooked egg, noodles, pasta, rice, grapes, apple, mandarin, sprouts, cooked beans, chicken, salami, sausage, beans, peas, dried or fresh berries, nuts, seeds, fish (smoked, tinned, baked), roasted brussel sprouts, fried courgette, prawns, avocado, broccoli (raw or cooked), croutons, meatballs, etc

3. with a sprinkle of flaxseed, drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, sea salt and black pepper on top to garnish. and some sort of herb too...usually dill or parsley. or i'll add mayonnaise, wholegrain mustard, honey or soy sauce. or make a dip for the side.

4. serve with a wholegrain - if it's not in the salad itself, then make sure you get your complex carbs with a homemade tortilla, pitta, rye crispbread, freshly baked roll or side of potato wedges.

5. i always make sure there's protein, so if yours is all veg, try having hummus on the side with some crackers, or a little egg with black pepper, or open up a tin of pre-prepared beans and make a bean dip.

it's important to keep things balanced, varied and interesting, and not to get too stuck in a rut with your choices. try out new ingredients with exciting textures. sometimes the combinations won't work, and sometimes they will be amazing!

so, what is your favorite salad ingredient or combination?

and i hope you like my new layout!

currently listening to: daniel vitalis talk about indigenous nutrition