Love thy body

I just went to the GP for a check-up. All is well. A machine in the waiting room ( I am not so fond of being seen by a robot but I don’t want to be the woman who refuses to use a telephone or a camera for fear it will steal my soul neither) measure me, took my blood pressure and weighed me.

I am officially smaller than I was when my passport was done and I weigh about the same:

1m67, 64 kilos

This is in the normal range. I am a pretty average person. However that got me thinking. There is an obesity crisis looming in the UK. 20% of children aged 11 leaving primary school are now classified as obese. This is utterly dreadful.

These children will likely suffer from low self-esteem, higher risks of contracting Type II diabetes, knee and articulation problems, infertility, skin issues such as sores and rashes, heart problems etc… The list is endless. This is a national crisis and it seems like Jamie Oliver is the only one who is trying to do something about it. The government is in the hands of corporations and multinationals that sell the poor quality products that have low nutritional values and are pumped up with sugar and salt. We need to rethink what food is.

Food is a social occupation. From cavemen hunting and eating together, we have always enjoyed sharing a meal together. I personally hate cooking and eating on my own, don’t you?

I saw an article in the Waitrose Magazine dated 26th of April 2018 about a new product called Soylent. This is a Californian drink supposedly meant to replace a meal when one is too busy to sit down and eat.

How sad and how counterproductive! We need to grow food with our children, cook together, take the time to sit down, lay a beautiful table and enjoy talking with each other while savouring a good meal without additives, over processing and preservatives… This Soylent is marketed as being a helpful tool for busy professionals who have a lot of work to do….To me this is the best example to show how humans end up thinking with their feet rather than their head. We need to improve our lives, not make it worse. We need to spend less time at our desks and more time being actively producing and cooking our food. We don’t need Soylent, we need a food revolution.

So to sum up this post, we need to be healthy. And to be healthy takes time and money. Sitting at a desk in a start-up in California is not the recipe for happiness nor health.

I am taking the time to make bread, make my own rice pudding, cakes, granola…I grow vegetables in the garden. This takes time and effort but to me it is like money in the bank, it is more years of life and more smiles and contentedness.

Get cooking to live longer people!

 

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Diets and nutrition

A healthy meal for a healthy body

I don’t believe in diets. Scientists and doctors have said many times over that diets don’t work. Yet this is big business. There are millions of pounds and dollars spent in diet books, diet groups, diet drinks every year…This is all wasted though.

I am not going to make money by telling you to eat less and eat better quality products. Being sensible and rational does not sell. However I am here to inspire you to change.

I can only repeat what is basic universal common sense:

THE X COMMANDMENTS OF DOMESTIC CITY LIFESTYLE

  • Boycott low quality food or junk food ( it is not worth buying nor swallowing)
  • treat your body as a temple ( it does not mean become a fussy eater who can only eat gluten, free dairy,  grain-free, joy-free and free-range broccoli!) it means treat your body as a precious vessel that you need on a long voyage. Treat it with care and well. It needs fuel but not junk.
  • bake it yourself ( you will know what gets into your food if you cook it yourself)
  • healthy food costs more money than junk food ( this is a sad fact, poor people have bad diets because they can’t afford avocados, lychees, organic fruits and nuts) If you are lucky to be able to afford good food, please make the most of it!
  • Eat less! We are not involved in heavy physical labour anymore ( unless you are ploughing a field yourself with a rake, male Irish peasant farmers ate from 6 up to 10 kilos of potatoes a day each because they had nothing else to eat and were working outdoors in difficult conditions…the famine hit them hard because they had nothing else to it ) so eat less amount and use smaller plates.
  • Treat yourself of course, sometimes. life is too short to eat only macrobiotic raw vegan food every day…
  • Be moderate ( in everything!)
  • exercise ( not too little but not TOO much, I have met women who ran so often that they had knee replacements in their forties and lost toenails….who on earth needs to do ultra marathons when they have a full-time job and kids?)
  • try an organic, free range vegetarian diet ( I am being controversial here but I am a happy non-meat eater and I just want to share the love)
  • Cook with your children, pass the good habits to the next generation

 

Once you follow these simple rules on a regular basis, you won’t become overweight, you will be more healthy and the world will be a better place. If you don’t believe me give it a try anyway as it won’t hurt.

Below is a simple recipe for an evening meal.

 

Vegetable curry with aubergine and orange peppers

I make curry every week. It is nourishing, warm ( I live in the UK and the weather is mostly damp and cold), tasty and vegetarian. It is easy to make and can keep well in the fridge for a few days. It always tastes better the day after so this is the best dish for well organised people who like to make food in advance on a Sunday for the rest of the week ahead.

This is easy to make. One can just rustle it up with the spices that stay in the cupboard. One needs a mortar ( great gift idea for any cook who likes design, it will last a lifetime), cardamome seeds, curcuma, paprika, tikka massala blend, a few nigella seeds and mustard seeds ( the ones that get crushed in the mortar) , frozen ginger paste and garlic paste. That is it for the curry paste. Then one needs to add oil ( sunflower with a dash of olive oil if you insist) and that is it.

This is your base.

Later on it is up to what is fresh and already in the vegetable compartment of the fridge. I buy red or orange peppers every week, aubergine sometimes, add mushrooms, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, potatoes if you must, butternut squash etc….

Then get some tomato coulis or passata from the cupboard, coconut milk, let it simmer.

JOB DONE

Naan Bread recipe

I invested in a bigger fridge and freezer combo as I would like to be more time-efficient and prepare meals in advance. Now I always have dough in the freezer. This naan bread recipe is ultra simple and the frozen uncooked naans can also be used as a pizza base.

First empty a kilo of white flour in a big bowl. Add two sachets of dried yeast ( fresh yeast is tastier but hard to find in superstores), add salt if you wish although I keep my dough salt free. I believe that adding salt it is a habit that is not compulsory. Stir the dry ingredients well. Then mix tepid water with some olive oil in a jug. If you want, you can add some plain yogurt as well. Make a well and mix the dry and wet ingredients till you get a round ball. A bit of kneading is necessary but I do find it relaxing. The smell of the yeast and the very repetitive movements are almost meditative practice. If you can’t knead well, add more flour because the mixture is too wet. If it crumbles add more water. One needs to do it often so as to feel the dough and adapt the recipe. I never measure amounts but eyeball them. Once the dough is shaped as a ball let it rest for one to two hours under cling film. If you have a freezer, add oil on the kitchen worktop and knead the dough in little balls, with a rolling pin, roll them down so as to obtain flat breads in an oval shape. I usually take a tray and cut squares of baking parchment. each flat bread is piled onto another separated by a layer of baking parchment. Then I put them in the freezer. Whenever I need a naan bread I open the freezer and take one. You just have to cook them for 2 to 3 minutes on each side in a very hot saucepan ( no cooking oil necessary). If kids want pizza for dinner, take one of the frozen dough base with its baking parchment square. Put it on an oven tray, add canned chopped tomatoes and cheddar cheese to make a Marguerita pizza. If your kids have a more knowledgeable palate and open minded taste buds, add fresh garlic, Parmiggiano cheese, basil leaves and mixed herbs. If you eat meat pepperoni, ham or chicken are an easy addition. Put the pizza in the fan-oven for 12 minutes. Done.

PS: I am also partial to a naan bread smothered with Hazelnut spread….

 

 

 

Born with a silver spoon in his mouth

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Ikea white wooden frame which is deep enough to add objects under the glass panel

My other half comes from a tiny cold country in Scandinavia. He is a descendant of the Viking tribe and though he is tall and fair he carries no beard nor axe and is a very peaceful law-abiding gentle man. It is a tradition in his family to buy silver cutlery to a baby as a gift. We inherited the old forks and spoons from his grand-father , Knut ( an ancient royal name which translates as Canute in English) when he passed aged 94. The items are now to precious and fragile to use on a daily basis and after storing them for 5 years in a cardboard box, I decided to use them as ornaments. This goes well with my love of silver and shiny metals too. After a trip to the most famous Scandinavian shop of all ( Ikea) which bears the colours of the Swedish flag, we bought a wooden white frame and inserted the cutlery inside the box. We fixed them with a copper thread after piercing a few holes in the plywood at the back of the frame. We wondered if we should use a bit of wall-paper or paint the background behind the cutlery but as we are always lazy and like simple projects we kept the plywood background as it was. I am really happy with it and it is part of a whole family display in our living room where I have nailed lots of frames containing family pictures.

“Here I am sitting in my tin can…”

I was just reading an article about Russian steel production during the Soviet first five-year plan ( yes, this is the sort of subjects I like to peruse in my spare time) and it made me think about how metals are used in the homes for decoration and building purposes. We all live in homes that contain mostly plastic nowadays. However, steel and metal are beautiful to look at. They are usually shiny and silver. Grey and silver are my favourite colours. I did paint a whole wall silver in my entrance hall. I thought about a short recycling post for today. I use a lot of tins when I cook, it is surprisingly cheap and healthy to use pulses, tomato flesh and various beans from tins. So it is a good idea to keep them once emptied and to clean them well in the dishwasher. Once cleaned, the tins give a subtle and simple industrial look on a desk as a pencil holder or they can also be used to plant some seeds for the children. They will love to check the development of their seeds into young growing plants. The tin you can see in the picture is used in my sewing room. It contains two different pairs of scissors because the orange ones need to remain really sharp to cut through fabric whereas the black ones are used for paper or threads. I am adding a tutorial from the lovely Dana if you are not so keen on the simplicity of metal and want to add a splash of colours to your project.However, i prefer to keep my tins as simple as possible so that I can use them in all the rooms and I can also just dump them straight in the recycling bin when I don’t need them anymore.

TUTORIAL: Tin Can Caddy for Earth Day and Mother’s Day

 

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from a simple tin can to a desk pencil and scissors holder.