Wednesday, 3 November 2010

How to get what you want

When I was 18 I wrote a list of five things that I wanted.

I wanted to give up speech therapy.
I wanted a boyfriend.
I wanted to be thin.
And I wanted to leave home.

When all those things came true, I wrote a new list.

I want to work in NYC/London. Tick
I want to win an award.  Tick
I want to have a child Tick. Tick. Tick.

Last year’s list is almost ticked off. (Except for one thing: being in nature)
It’s nearly time for a new list.

This is how I do it:
I admit what I really, really want. I write it on a piece of paper and I stick it on a pin-board in the kitchen.

Then I check my actions are in-line with my intentions.  I keep checking for discrepancies.

That’s the hard part.

Have a go.  I’m sure it’ll happen for you. Not quickly and not easily, but in ways you never anticipated. 

Don’t be hard on yourself.  Forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself.

There are good reasons for doing the bad things we do: Ben and Jerry’s Phish food is delicious. Smoking makes us look cool.  Wasting time on Facebook is entertaining.  

But one day, you’ll look at your crumpled-up old list that’s been on your pin board for years and you’ll get it.


Ottolenghi’s Koshieri:


300 g green lentils
200 g basmati rice
Splash of sunflower oil
50g vermicelli noodles
400ml chicken stock
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons sunflower oil
Three onions sliced thinly


Wash and boil lentils for 25 minutes.
Fry vermicelli in oil till brown. Add rice and mix. Add stock and seasonings. Bring to boil and simmer for 12 minutes.  Cover with tea towel.
Fry onions for 25 minutes. Mix onions, lentils and rice together.  

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

How to be happy

Yesterday I picked my daughter up from school and I could tell straight away that she was not happy.
She moaned and snapped and generally abused me all the way home.
I tried asking her about what had happened at school.
I tried feeding her.
I tried shouting and forbidding TV.
I said: “Go to your room and read a book”
She said “In your dreams”
She’s nine.
I don’t know how it happened but somehow we both got to be standing next to each other in the kitchen, peeling the giant pumpkin she grew over the summer.
We cut and sliced with sharp knives. We passed each other boards, graters and peelers. We talked quietly.
We worked hard.  In the midst of growing piles of peel, pulp and neat pumpkin slices, we were smiling at each other.  Suddenly, I realized we were happy.
Funny that.  You think that you’ll be happy when you lose the weight, get the guy, make the money, change the job, go on holiday, go back home, win the Nobel Peace Prize, but instead you get happy when you are peeling pumpkins, washing dishes or sharpening pencils.
It’s hard to remember in the midst of a sliding funk, that the thing to do is not to analyse yourself, distract yourself, practise your chosen compulsion or compare yourself to others.
When you want to lie down, you have to get up. When you want to crawl under your duvet, you have to get back to work.  When you want to put your feet up, you have to put your trainers on.
And in a way, it doesn’t matter where you go or what you do.
Kohellet, one of my favourite books, says this: “Only this I have found is a real good: that one should eat and drink and get pleasure with all the gains that you make under the sun, during the numbered days of your life... Whatever it is in your power to do, do with all your might”
Yesterday it was in my power to peel a pumpkin and turn it into pumpkin fritters which are unbelievably delicious sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
Pumpkin fritters
Two cups of fresh, grated pumpkin
Half a cup of flour
One teaspoon baking powder
Half a teaspoon of salt
One teaspoon of sugar
One teaspoon of cinnamon
One egg beaten
Four tablespoons milk

Mix it all together. Fry spoonfuls slowly in vegetable oil (about half a finger-width in depth).  Turn them and pat them a bit flatter as you do.
When golden brown on both sides, drain on kitchen towel.
Serve with cinnamon and sugar mixed in an egg cup.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The most useful thing I know - part 2

A while ago I wrote about the power of the out-breath. ( March 9 2010)
I wrote that it helped me go further when I ran.
I wrote that I didn't understand why it worked, but that it did.

I recently discovered a whole new dimension to its freaky power.
You can also use the out-breath to improve focus and self-control.

 I'm almost embarrassed to tell you this, but I have started meditating daily.
 For 15 minutes a day anywhere - on the train, on a sofa, in the park, I stop and separate myself from my thoughts, my feelings, my sensations, my worries, my plans and my dreams. 
For a little while, I see me underneath all the stuff.
 For some-one with as noisy a head as mine, it's a huge relief.

Most mysterious of all, it's also a huge pleasure.

This is how I do it:
I use a guide to Mindfulness that I downloaded from Amazon onto my iPod. Written by Dr Zylowska and Goldstein,  it shows me how to use my breath as the anchor for my attention and how to make the other stuff  take a number.

To balance out this slightly esoteric suggestion for better living, I offer you my killer mash potato recipe.
Peel potatoes, cut into threes, and place in pot with lid and about an inch and a half of water, boil till soft, purée with enough salt, crème fraiche and butter.  Serve with fried fish and a good salad.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The difference between Oprah Winfrey and me

Oprah Winfrey is the richest woman in America.  She is strong, powerful, driven, capable, intelligent and resourceful.  She’s truly helped thousands of people around the world.
I am a pleasure-seeker with no willpower what so ever. I can’t organise. I can’t prioritize. I am seriously useless with numbers, details and focus.  I can’t really figure out how to help anyone.
I will never be rich and famous.
Yet I can do something Oprah cannot.  I can stay in-shape.
This is why (I think):
I’m not as rich as Oprah so mostly I don’t let other people cook for me.  Most days, I don’t let chefs in restaurants cook for me, or men in deli’s prepare my sandwiches, or the food scientists in factories make my dinner.  I seldom get take-out.  It’s too expensive.
I am not nearly as clever as Oprah. I have a type of dyslexia that makes me number-blind. So I can’t weigh things or count points or calories. I need things very, very simple.
So I do portion control for idiots - for breakfast I have one of those tiny sachets of whole grain porridge oats. For lunch, I grab a little tin of tuna and a slice of bread and usually borrow someone’s mayo at work.
I don’t have Oprah’s willpower. I don’t even try.  So I make life easy for myself by not having dried mango or Ben and Jerry’s Fish Food or homemade fudge in the house.  (If it finds its way into my house, I do not rest until it is all eaten up.)
Because I am not building schools for girls in South Africa or TV networks in the US, I have more time on my hands. So I can go to the gym often or run or dance or cycle more or less, whenever I want (and not just at five in the morning because waking up that early doesn’t feel pleasant to me)
Sadly, I don’t have Oprah’s social life.  I am not invited to parties catered by celebrity chefs and I am not tempted by mojitos, red wine, sushi and tiny cakes.   I would go and go crazy day and night.
Lastly, I know when it comes to my weight, there is nothing I can delegate, nothing I can buy in and nothing I am entitled too.
My ambitions are small. I am content to tend my family, spend time with my friends and work a bit.
I know how lucky I am to have a roof that doesn’t leak, running water, flushing toilets, and all the vaccinations and medications available in the 21st century.  I am grateful to live in the Digital Age and in a country not at war. I am grateful that the sky is blue today and for my time on our planet right now.  
I realize not everyone gets to be Oprah Winfrey. But no-one else gets to be me either.  
I made this for supper last night:
I baked cod fillets, with lots of butter, lemon juice and salt. I wrapped it in tinfoil smeared with butter and put it in the oven at 200 degrees for half an hour.
I chopped up and fried a carrot, an eggplant, three celery sticks and one zucchini in sunflower oil. Then I threw in loads of chopped parsley, sunflower seeds, Aromat and soy sauce.
I also served noodles. It was delicious.  It was enough.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The secret to being the shape you want to be

Some of the cleverest, strongest, most capable women I meet are not at ease with their bodies.
It makes me sad because it’s not rocket-science that allows people to be in-shape.  
There’s no magic out there.  There's no special metabolism.  Any one can be the shape they need to be.
It clicked for me when I realized this:
Only I decide what I put in my mouth.  No-one else has a say in the matter.  
I don’t listen to smug, over-weight, over-accessorized instructors from Weight-Watchers, or to any diet ever invented, or expensive private dieticians armed with scales, or beautifully designed weekly eating-plans, or Dr. Phil, or Jenny Craig, or the makers of Special K, or a hypnotist, or any of the hundreds of books written on the subject.
 Only I decide what’s going in. (and believe me, I put lots of yum yum delicious things in my mouth on many different occasions)
On the other hand, I know that because I need to be in-shape, I can’t feast every meal.
That’s the bottom–line.  
I hope you throw your scales away, that you never consult another expert or put your hopes in another diet.  I hope you trust yourself to act in your own best interests. I hope it clicks for you. I hope that you eat well and live well.  I hope you realize we are the lucky ones.
Artichokes and Hollandaise Sauce
Cut the top off the artichokes so that they will fit in the pot. Wash under tap. Put artichokes in pot of boiling water for 40 minutes.
3 egg yolks
1 table spoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch salt
1 cup melted unsalted butter
Whisk egg yolks and lemon juice and salt till thick and creamy then place on very, very low heat until tracks form on the bottom of the pan.  Remove from heat and slowly oh so slowly whisk in the melted butter.
Sit around the table with loved ones and enjoy.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Willpower is bullshit

I was bothered about something my running partner said to me recently about her lack of willpower when faced with cakes. She blamed herself unkindly and unfairly, I thought.
Trying to stop over-eating with willpower is like trying to get a French waiter to understand you by speaking English louder.

It's never going to work because that's not where change comes from.
Being the shape you need to be is not about willpower.  It’s not about deprivation. It’s not about pain. It’s not about dieting.

It's about being kind to yourself and still and mindful and waiting for the seasons to change and knowing that when the time is right, you can make the changes you need to make.

I saw a lovely quote recently in Elisha Goldstein’s blog on Mindfulness
He quotes Victor Frankl who says:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
Right now, my response is to make Ottolenghi’s aubergine cheesecake which is unbelievably delicious.

This is how you do it:
2 small aubergines, sliced in 2cm discs
150 gm feta
150 g cream cheese
60 ml double cream
3 eggs
150 gm baby plum tomatoes cut in half
2 tablespoons oregano leaves, torn
Lots of olive oil
Grill aubergine slices with lots of olive oil on greaseproof paper in 190 C oven for 40 minutes.
Whizz together feta, cream cheese, eggs and cream.
Put aubergines, tomatoes, the creamy mix and the oregano in an oiled baking dish. Add salt and pepper.
Bake at 150 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

What we talk about when we run

I’ve had the same running partner for years now. We run together twice a week, up hills, through woods, on roads, on rainy days and sunny days.

 It's like running therapy really.

So this is the one conversation we’ve been having for two hours a week, for years and years and years:

She tells me about her diets.

And I tell her that diets don’t work
That she shouldn’t eat in the car
That she should cook good food properly and take pleasure in eating it with family and friends
That she should eat sitting down with a plate
That she shouldn’t miss meals
That she shouldn’t say mean things about her body

Yesterday, we ran past a pretty young woman who was walking her dog.  The dog was small and fluffy and the woman was very, very plump.
While panting up the hill, I asked my running partner how she thought the woman with the dog got to be so round.

 She told me she believes it’s because the woman eats the skin on her chicken, that she cooks with oil and that she doesn’t diet.

Now while I know for sure that dieting makes you fat, that cooking and eating normally is the only way to love your body, what I realize I don’t have the foggiest idea about is how to change a person’s mind.

On tomorrow’s run, it's my turn on the couch.
I’ll tell you how it works out.

Meantime, here’s the gazpacho I've been making

Blitz together some nice ripe tomatoes
One red pepper
Half a cucumber
And half a teaspoon of crushed garlic
Put it is a tall jug
And add three cups of tomato juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Getting Lost

The other day my husband went on a very long cycle-ride during which his chain snapped. I went to fetch him and got very lost. I got so lost in fact, that I had to pull over to the side of the road and cry.
At times like that I always forget that this is a moment that will pass. I think the sky is falling on my head and I will be lost forever.  I forget that I am in a tunnel and that the tunnel has an end and that the light will shine.
I always forget that Summer comes back, that I will once again run by the brook, that the tide will wash up shells on the beach, that I will laugh with my sisters, that I will make new friends and that I will dance and sing with my children. I forget that I will once again hear Mozart and be amazed by a poem and eat an artichoke and be loved.
I know that I am going to get lost again some time soon but next time will be different, I swear. 
I am going to be still, breathe out and remember that this will pass.
 I will find my way again.

Beef and Broccoli stir fry
3 cups chopped broccoli – bite sized
1 onion chopped
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
4 garlic cloves –crushed
I teaspoon garlic
Bola steak- sliced bite size
1 teaspoon beef stock powder
½ cup water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Fry onion and broccoli in oil for 4 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and steak. Fry for 5 minutes.
Mix the beef stock powder, water and soy sauce in a bowl, then add to the meat and broccoli. Stir.
Serve with rice or angel-hair pasta to which you’ve added 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

What I've learned from 10 000 hours in dance-class

For over 40 years I’ve been shaking my tail-feathers to music in front of large mirrors. I’ve done ballet, jazz, aerobics, step-aerobics, Nia, ball-room, Groove F/X and this morning I did Zumba.

This is what I’ve learned:

Everything looks better when you smile.
No-one is watching you.
Don’t get left behind.
It feels fantastic to move to music.
Let go.
Men sometimes go to classes, but mostly they don’t.
I like to stand in front.
The level of joy in the class depends on the teacher.
A dance-teacher is like sushi. There’s no so-so level that’s acceptable.
It has to be great or not at all.

Talking of food, here’s a recipe I have started to make. The kids love love love it.
(It must be the cream and the sugar).

Cream of Tomato soup

50g butter
Two onions, sliced
Two sticks celery, chopped
2 x 410g tins tomatoes
4 tsps tomato paste
2 potatoes cubed
1 Telma vegetable cube, crumbled
I cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
6 bay leaves
I cup single cream

Fry onions and celery in butter. Add all other ingredients except the cream and cook for 45 minutes.
Remove bay leaves and blitz. Add cream and blitz to mix.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Some dirty words

I got an email today that contained some dirty words. Three dirty words in fact. Those words were weight-loss and diet.  The email came from Woman’s Health, an on-line magazine that generally I find very useful. This is what they said:    

This is what I wished they’d said:
1.       Accept yourself

There was a gorgeous woman in my dance-class today. She looked strong and fit.

We chatted between songs as you do in a class. She said she thought she had a fat-arse.

It was like hearing a lovely, shiny Labrador wishing it was a Whippet.

2.       Seek pleasure
Find your joy. Some people like digging potatoes in their allotment.  Some people like kickboxing like my friend Berenice who can do 100 military style press-ups in a row. Some people like walking their dog along cliff tops. Some lovely people I know like yoga.  It’s all good.
3.       Be normal

It is normal to eat when you are hungry. It is normal to eat at mealtimes. It’s normal to enjoy your food.  It’s normal to eat sitting down at a table with a plate.
4.       Be balanced
Sometimes we eat cake, sometimes we eat soup. Sometimes we drink wine, sometimes we drink water. Sometimes we work up a sweat and sometimes we lie down in front of the TV.
5.       Don’t be unkind to yourself

Don’t watch programmes like America’s Top Model. Don’t weigh yourself.  Don’t compare yourself.  Don’t diet.  

6.       Be grateful
I was once fortunate to meet a special man who stood for justice, freedom from oppression and equality for all.  He literally gave his right arm for something he believed in.  Before anyone complains about their body being the wrong shape, think about what Albie Sachs achieves with his.

7.       Cook

8.       Accept responsibility

You decide what you eat, not a diet sheet, or a diet book or a diet method or a diet company.  It’s up to you what you put in your mouth, not anyone else.

Fried rice
This is the most useful recipe in my repertoire. It’s our classic Sunday night supper.
My children love to eat it. All the ingredients are always in my kitchen at all times.
It’s quick and easy and all food groups are represented.
This is that recipe.
Cooked basmati rice (one cup per person)
Sunflower oil
Eggs (one for each person eating)
Half a cup frozen peas
Half a cup frozen sweet-corn
Soy sauce (loads)

Oil in frying pan.
Rice in frying pan. 
Make well in rice. Fry the eggs in the well. Add veggies. Stir around till all cooked.
Add Soy sauce.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The big picture

 On Friday night I bless my children.  Weirdly, my teenagers who usually scowl at me love this one moment of intimacy.
Instead of shouting at my 17 year old daughter (“watch out for cars”) when she leaves for school in the morning, on Friday night, I whisper in her ear “May God bless you and keep you”
Instead of the usual morning checklist I yell at my son(“glasses, phone, Oyster card, wallet and lunch card”) on Friday night I stretch up and whisper, “May God shine his face upon you and be gracious to you”
Instead of yelling at my little one (“switch off the TV now, no you can’t have more ice-cream, and have you practised the piano?”), I put my arms around her and whisper: “May God turn his face to you and establish peace for you”
I am the one who is blessed.

Chicken soup
I could only make this soup properly when I went out and bought myself an enormous soup pot.
Slug of sunflower oil
Four chicken carcasses
(Go to a butcher for this, not a supermarket)
Three carrots sliced
Three sticks celery sliced
Bunch of fresh parsley
Two leeks sliced
One turnip sliced
Two Telma chicken stock cubes
Lots of boiling water
First put oil in the pot, then veggies, then carcasses, then stock cubes and finally water.
Boil on low for three hours.
Pour soup through a sieve.  Add salt to taste.
Make kneidlach from a pack. Boil kneidlach in salted boiling water. Add to soup.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

What 10 000 hours of practise have taught me

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, suggests that we acquire unique expertise through 10 000 of practise. So I was thinking about the 10 000 hours I have spent as Londonmom and what unique expertise I have from that.
But before I tell you mine, I want to hear about yours.  What do you know that you’ve learned through practise? What do you know that you almost take for granted that other people might find amazingly useful?
Ok, now I will tell you one of mine. I know how to get rid of lice. It doesn’t exactly fit into the focus of this blog, but I can bend the rules a bit, after all you can’t live well with nits in your hair.
This is the secret:
At night, before bedtime, take a huge tub of Queen Helene conditioning cream.
Slather it over your child’s scalp, row by row onto the scalp. (You need to use loads)
Wrap child’s head in Clingfilm. Put a bath cap over that.  Put child to bed.
In the morning, rinse the child’s hair and comb.
Repeat process within eight days to catch the little hatchlings.

In my 10 000 hours, I have learned less disgusting things too, but more of that another day.
To conclude on a nice note, I will give you the best stew recipe I know:
Lamb Tagine
One tablespoon oil
600 gm pack of lamb shoulder chops (at least two per person)
Three stalks celery sliced
Three carrots sliced
One onion sliced
One tin of Canelli beans
One tablespoon Ras El Hanout spice mix
One tablespoon tomato puree
One tablespoon honey
100 apricots halved
Fry lamb in oil till brown both sides
Put lamb in oven dish. Fry veggies. Put in oven dish. Add 500ml cold water, tomato puree and seasonings and put in medium oven for about one and a half hours.
Add honey and apricots and continue cooking for another 30 minutes. Serve with rice.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

What I think about when I'm running

I was thinking about the most useful thing I know
The most useful thing I know is the power of breathing.
In particular, breathing out.
When I think I can’t go another five minutes on the treadmill, I breathe out long and audibly. 
When I think I can’t do another rep on the shoulder press, I breathe out as I pull down. 
When I gave birth, I used breathing out instead of medication. 
It’s a mystery to me why this is, but it works for me every time. The out-breath makes me stronger and allows me to endure more pain.  Has anyone else noticed this? Does anyone know the scientific reason for this?
The other thought was what shall I make for supper.

Eggplant stew
One eggplant cubed
One onion chopped small
Some capers
Some black olives stoned
Some chilli flakes
Teaspoon of sugar
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Sunflower oil

Fry onions in oil till very soft, add egg plant and fry for about ten minutes. Check if you need to add oil, as egg plant needs loads of oil to taste yum yum delicious.  Add all the other ingredients and cook for another ten minutes.  
Although this is my favourite way to eat eggplant, I don’t expect the kids to eat this, but I will offer it to them.  
I am also making cod baked in a hot oven.  As I write this, the fish is in a buttered dish , dotted with butter and salt and I've squeezed the juice of one lemon over it.  The fish will cook for no longer than thirty minutes. 
I also made vegetable soup with barley.  And rice.

Monday, 8 March 2010

where I confess some things


I have an insanely sweet tooth.  
I love sugar in all its yum yum delicious forms including liquorice, toffees, Turkish delight, ice-cream and chocolate.  I only have two rules for myself. I eat the most premium, most delicious, freshest version I can find. And I refuse to think about the teeth, calories and health effects.  I enjoy it with every fibre of my being.
Of all the sweet things I like to eat, this is probably the thing I like to eat the most. For obvious reasons, I only make it very rarely.
My mother’s fudge
 Two tins condensed milk
Three to four tablespoons of syrup
Four cups of sugar
Half a pound of butter
Two teaspoons vanilla essence
One tablespoon vinegar

Stir first four ingredient in a pot on high heat till it comes to a boil. Little brown bits will emerge but don’t panic. Turn on low and bubble softly for about twenty minutes. Now the secret to success: You are only done boiling this when the fudgy mass comes away from the side of the pot. You will know it for sure when it happens. Be patient. It will now be a gorgeous brown colour.  
 Now pour in the vanilla and vinegar and beat the mixture firmly with a wooden spoon to show it who is boss.
Pour into a buttered tray and scrape out sides of the pot. (You need three hands for this)
Cut before it’s entirely cool. Give it away  as quickly as you can.

Another confession
One of the things I liked to do with my body besides running, dancing, eating, hiking and playing badminton, was breast-feeding my children.  
 I loved the closeness with my baby and the fact that I had to sit down and relax for 20 minutes.   
And I like that from the beginning, my children have enjoyed good food made by me.  
 I also read that breast-feeding helps against childhood obesity.   
 I hope my daughters grow up to love their bodies too.
 (This is the article I read but I have to admit I skipped down to the conclusion:

Friday, 5 March 2010

Great food rules (if you've got the time)

Is healthy living a luxury in a time-poor world?
 “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”  Says Michael Pollan in his book “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,”
As prevention against obesity, his other rule is “cook”.
Great,  but let’s say you’re a full-time working mother coming home from your job at seven and with a family of five to feed. Chances are, you’re no stranger to take-out food.
So who shall we demonise for the obesity epidemic? 
Shall we blame McDonalds?
or our children that love takeouts?
or the time-poor mothers?
or the system where unsupported women have to work so hard to earn so little?
As an old boyfriend once explained to me, it’s all about who owns the means of production

Comfort yourself with this yummy soup.
Butternut soup
 Three tablespoons sunflower oil
Two onions chopped
One butternut peeled and diced
One apple peeled and chopped
Three tablespoons flour
Two heaped teaspoons garam masala
Two telma vegetable cubes
Three cups boiling water
One cup milk
Zest and juice of one orange
Salt and one teaspoon sugar

Fry onions in the oil. Add the butternut and apple. Fry for another five minutes.
Add the flour, the crushed cubes and garam masala and stir. Add the liquids, zest, salt and sugar.
Cook for 25 minutes. Blitz with wand.

Take a look at some more great rules here:

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A fresh look at exercise

Oh I just remembered another word I don’t like
That word is Exercise.  Exercise is such a killjoy word.
It smells of P.E at school and duty. 
There is no pleasure in Exercise.   
With all the wonderful things to do with our bodies - dancing, running, rolling down a hill, hiking, walking, cycling, playing badminton and body surfing, to mention just a few of my personal favourites, Exercise doesn’t come into it.
I take great pleasure in chatting, listening to music and being in nature. 
If I combine any one of those with a run, it’s not exercise, it’s ecstasy.

This is what I'm making for supper tonight.  
I'll probably also put rice and spinach (with garlic and cumin) on the table.

Chicken kebabs
 Five chicken breasts, cubed
Four tablespoons oil
Two tablespoons wine vinegar
Four tablespoons honey
Two crushed garlic cloves
Salt, one teaspoon mustard powder
One Telma chicken stock cube
One teaspoon oregano

Thread the chicken cubes onto skewers.
Mix the marinade ingredients and pour over the kebabs. Marinade until needed.
Cook in hot oven for twenty minutes.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

A story about a girl and a fish


Once upon a time
Once upon a time there was a lovely fish called Kingklip that tasted yum yum delicious. Sadly it was over-fished and is now endangered.
Also there was once a blogger who used to live in Cape Town and now she doesn’t.  So I have to make this recipe with haddock or cod but I still call this recipe golden-topped Kingklip in honour of the fish I used to love to eat.

Golden-topped Kingklip
 One and a half pounds of any firm white fish fillet.
(Ask fish-monger to take out bones, cut off head, de-scale but leave skin on)
Half a cup of Salad Cream (or mayonnaise)
One tablespoon chopped capers
One tablespoon chopped chives or parsley
Half a cup grated cheddar cheese
Salt and cayenne pepper
One egg white

Butter an oven-proof dish. Put the fish in the dish with a little more butter and salt on top.  
Put it in the middle of an oven with medium heat and grill for 8 -12 minutes.
Mix the Salad Cream, capers, cayenne, chives, parsley and cheese.
Beat egg white till stiff and fold into cheesy mix.
Spread on the fish that you’ve allowed to cool down
and grill for another five minutes or until topping is golden and puffed.
Serve with rice. 

Another word I don’t like to use

Healthy is a bad word in my book. 
I don’t believe in counting five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. I don’t believe in super-foods. 
I really don’t believe in fat-free.
I believe in delicious.   
I believe in delicious spinach, delicious egg-plant, delicious lentils and delicious food enjoyed at a table with others.  
 I believe in the pleasure of good food with all its glorious colours, textures and tastes.   
And I believe we are the fortunate ones.

Monday, 1 March 2010

A big soup and a tiny rant

Meat soup

Three carrots fine sliced
0ne leek fine sliced
Two sticks celery fine sliced
One turnip fine sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 beef shins (with or without bone)
Two litres water
Two Telma stock cubes (ground up)
One tin (410 g) Canelli beans, drained
Two tablespoons barley
One tin chopped tomato
One butternut peeled and chopped
Salt and one teaspoon sugar

Fry vegetables till softened. Add meat and fry for a few more minutes both sides.
Add water, stock cubes, barley and beans. Cook for 40 minutes. Add tomatoes and butternut and
sugar. Cook for at least two hours or until the meat is very soft. Take out the meat, cube it and return to the pot with salt.

Permit me a tiny rant

There are three words I will try not to use in this blog. Two of these words are fat and thin.

On the other hand, I recognize many people are fat-in-the-head. They see themselves as fat. They weigh themselves every day and judge themselves by the numbers they read. They eat in the car. They eat at the movies. They eat standing up. They eat when they’re bored or feeling stressed or resentful. They miss meals. They diet. They drink diet-coke every day. They deny themselves cookies and cakes and chocolate. They describe themselves as fat.

I don’t think that’s useful. What they really are is fat-in-the head. If your clothes are too tight, wear bigger clothes. Stop weighing yourself. Stop depriving yourself. Stop judging yourself. Stop eating in the car. It’s enough already.

Friday, 26 February 2010

How to fry fish properly and why

The case for home-fried fish
Fried fish is like soup. It has to be home-made to be yummy. No matter how premium the brand, it never tastes delicious. Because I am essentially lazy, I have tried many brands but they all taste eh even sluiced down with ketchup. I don’t like to eat anything that isn’t yum yum delicious. Is that terrible to admit?
Admittedly, it makes your house smell of fish. So open the windows for twenty minutes and get over yourself. And you have to actually make a trip to the fish shop to buy the fresh fish and talk to strange men about what you want but it is so worth it, I promise. Also I think if we eat less fish, but we do it proud when we do eat it, it’s better for the environment.
How to fry fish properly
My mom showed me how to do this. She also showed me how to get what you want in a fish shop, (which is basically don’t be shy, ask for what you want and tip them afterwards).
Frying fish properly starts with a trip to the fish-mongers. In London, I ask for haddock or cod fillets, whatever looks fresher. There’s lots of pointing at this stage.
I ask the lovely Roy (or any of the scoundrels at Stoller’s) to cut up the fish into portions, to take the skin off and to debone it. I also ask them to cut off the flap (but keep it, obviously). The flap is the thin bit on the side of the fillet. So that when I fry it, each piece is all the same thickness.
So far, so normal. Now the secrets. After you’ve washed each piece, dry it thoroughly with paper towel . Heat up about two sideways finger widths of sunflower oil in a frying pan. The oil has to get very hot. Make a bowl of beaten egg and a bowl of flour. Dip the fish into the flour first and then into the egg and then into the frying pan.
Cook each side depending on thickness of the fish piece. I cook each side until it is golden brown which is about ten minutes a side. So basically, very hot oil, enough oil and dry fish before it goes in the flour. (Also flour before egg). Sprinkle with salt. Put on kitchen towel after frying. Serve with cut up lemon.