Category: cooking


I take photos of my food.

I do.

And I share those photos on social media.

I share them because I want people to like what the food looks like and even say ‘ooooh purdy food’ sometimes.

mixed

I don’t share photos of all my food – curry and rice is hard to make look like anything but slop, and sometimes my meals are too mono-coloured to be pretty to look at. Also, dinners are hard to photograph because it is dark, and flashes and food do not go well together.

Those exceptions aside, my food does generally  look good. And it tastes good too.

breakfast-and-lunch-8-feb

But I think it tastes good because I make sure it looks good.

 

When deciding on what I want to eat I consider how the colours would look together, how the plate would be composed, what the balance between items would be. The result is that I eat all the colours of the vegetable rainbow pretty much every day. I never overcook anything because grey, soft vegetables just look gross whereas crispy bright ones still retaining their colour look good in photos. A few slices of pepper and some cherry tomatoes on the side of avo on toast takes a green meal into a different realm of colour – and taste and nutrition. Nutritional yeast on a heap of roasted okra and baby aubergines turns the browns into something that both looks tasty and is actually good for me.

dav

I have always been an adventurous cook and that has continued to develop now that I look at new ingredients both in terms of what they may taste like, and what they would look like. My desire to explore new shapes, colours and textures in images has exposed me to new flavours and dishes.

dav  sdr

 

I probably eat less now (but still enough – I used to be a right piglet) because the plates that work well for photos are not huge dinner plates, but smaller, somewhere between side and dinner plate sized. (I think they may be called fish plates – but I dunno really.) If I am hungry I will have four, five, six meals in a day, but all on smaller plates. This smaller, more frequent eating works much better for me than three big meals, with seconds, a day.

 

I also take longer to make my food which stills me three times a day. Rather than a packet of crisps and a chocolate at my desk, I get up and prepare fresh food for myself. I don’t spend hours doing it but I have discovered that stopping for those twenty minutes to make the meal energises me for an afternoon at my desk. I stand, I stretch, I twist, move, bend and pick things up. I also talk to my dogs and sometimes even go outside, notice a new flower blooming, slip into the pool for a second or just breath, arms in the air, while I wait for something to heat, cool, cook or warm up.

I almost always eat at my desk because I spent the time preparing the meal, but I still get time away from work.

I find the process of preparing food meditative. I just stop the noise in my head, calm the thoughts, ignore the work stress, and instead, for a short period of time I just cook, prepare, slice, mix and arrange an attractive plate of food.

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Breakfast is the meal I most like photographing and so, for the first time in my life, I am eating a proper, healthy breakfast every morning. This may be related, or not, but also, for the first time in forever, I don’t get hangry when I get hungry. Maybe having breakfast is something that works for my body and it took wanting pretty photos for me to work that out.

 

I never would have thought that joining the IG and FB food sharing brigade would eventually have this effect on me.
What a win

One of the things I always thought about vegan eating is that it is simply too expensive. I mean have you seen the price of nuts and avos and all those other fancy things one obviously has to have when not eating meat.

R30 a litre of soy milk – you have to be kidding, right?!

How much are nuts? That’s daylight robbery!

Have you seen the price of tomatoes? I am not paying that much per kilo

dav

 

Uh huh – yep, I agree. Nuts are crazy expensive. Like R250 a kilo crazy. I would never buy stuff that expensive!

hear the sarcasm

dav

I certainly can’t often afford to buy a whole kilo of nuts so I buy small bags which are more expensive per kilo but less to shell out. Likewise my meat eating people cannot often afford to buy a whole animal or even a pack of chops or steaks, so they buy single servings.

 

Except R30 worth of nuts, even at inflated prices, is 60g. R30 worth of red meat is 125g of processed ham or similar to eat on a sandwich, or about a 200g sirloin,  250g chicken livers or 2 or 3 chicken thighs.

 

60g of nuts is a lot of nuts – made into vegan parmesan or nut cheese or nut butter I could eat on those 60g for a week. The meat amounts bought – each is a single meal really with maybe the livers being a meal for two.

 

‘Ja, but you eat expensive stuff like avos in a single sitting’

 

So let’s look at a salad we might both eat.

 

dav

We all eat the basics – and my avo is still cheaper than your tuna and cheese.

And it is in colour so I win.

Usually half an avo is all the rich I can eat anyway

 

So tell me again about how being a vegan is too expensive?

No one has to be a vegan – eat whatever makes you happy

But don’t use financial constraints as an excuse or reason

 

*I used the same shop for the prices of all the items in the article – I know you can get everything for less and for more at other outlets, but these are all from the same place.

2017

If you want flowers, plant flowers

nature-collage

that’s my motto for 2017 – I want a good year with positive results, self growth and happiness. so I am planting those seeds right now

this is the year I turn 50 so I refuse for it to be anything but amazing

50

I will achieve Level 50!!!!!!

I have many plans for the year but the first two I am addressing are:

  • eating primarily plantbased meals
  • read primarily authors who are not cis-gendered white men

so expect book reviews and recipes

Last night’s dinner was a winner winner chicken dinner – both literally and idiomatically.

So today’s post is a recipe

Roast chicken portions in coconut curry sauce

dav

This may be the easiest meals you will ever make that has the maximum impact. Feel free to pretend it was way harder than it is

The first prize recipe is obvs the best option, but the options in brackets are actually fine too – just do what you can.

So, you need:

Chicken portions. I use thighs and legs but breasts would work too. Wings may not work so well but they wouldn’t be bad. And you want skin on portions.

A can of coconut milk

1 tsp curry paste. I used green thai curry paste but you could use anything.

1 stalk lemon grass, cleaned and bashed flat  (if you don’t have, don’t panic)

1 or 2 limes – use the juice and the zest  (again, if you don’t have limes you could use lemons. Fresh is the best option but I don’t think the bottled stuff would run the meal.)

1 tsp fish sauce (this gives the meal a deep, satisfying seasoning without blasting your blood pressure through the roof with salt. But salt is okay too)

1 or 2 potatoes – grated (I added this to make the sauce thicker. You could leave it out if you are anti potato, just know the sauce will remain the consistency of the coconut milk)

salt and pepper to your liking.

 

You do:

 

In a bowl, mix the coconut milk, all the other bits and pieces (not the chicken) and the grated potato. Put this mixture in an oven proof bowl or casserole. Put the chicken pieces in, skin side up with the skin showing above the sauce. I like to spray the skin with some olive oil and sprinkle it with salt to up the crispiness but that’s not entirely necessary

Put it all in the oven at 180 for about an hour, until the chicken is cooked

 

And there you have it – roasted chicken portions in a coconut curry sauce

 

I served it with cauli/broc rice with beans.

 

You can make it even more of a one dish meal by putting veg in, around the chicken,

about half way through the cooking. Cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, beans and even baby marrows would quite happily cook partly submerged in the sauce at the same temperature.

And if you are really determined to do a one pot dish, once the chicken is cooked, take the chicken (and veg if you added them) out of the sauce, and stir cous cous into it. Leave for a few minutes and your starch and sauce will be one lovely, gloopy taste sensation. If you plan to do this, omit the potato as the cous cous will do the thickening for you

 

There you have it – an easy, adaptable recipe which is very tasty and truly quick to make

bumsy clugger

I am feeling good – no crazy cravings or anything

Just trundling along – a bit tired but nothing too unusual

BUT

i may be a just a little clumsy. to be honest, i am not the most graceful of people usually – i have been know to fall up stairs, choke on air and fall out of my shoes (which once i realised were on the wrong feet when i got home from a night out!) – so clumsy is not far from words used to describe me.

But i am also a cook and generally in the kitchen i am pretty together. I have cut myself – of course i have. and burnt myself and even dropped heavy shit on my feet but not more, and probably less, than some chefs and cooks I know. in the kitchen is the one time i stop being the bull in a china shop and sort of become the ballet-dancing hippo in fantasia.

So i was beyond gutted at my bumsy blugger moment yesterday. I made 8 glorious litres of bone broth; bone broth that quietly gathered and intensified flavours for 18 hours in my slow-cooker; bone broth which you could smell from the street; bone broth the colour of mahogany.

Bone broth i then decanted into a colander in a large bowl on the kitchen counter. Why i did it on the counter and not in the sink as i usually do, only my sugar depleted subconscious knows. because of course the inevitable happened – the bowl slipped, the hot bone broth cascaded out of it, all over the kitchen counter and up against my body. It was hot so i leapt backwards, allowing all that deliciousness to run off the counter tops, down the cupboard doors, over the drawer lips and onto the floor.

My four dogs, ever lurking at the kitchen door, desperate to be allowed in just in case i dropped something, took the gap and hurtled towards the puddles. I could do nothing but watch as they slurped up the yumminess.

I managed to save 500ml from the bowl, a mere 500ml that had not slopped out of the sideways bowl.

Humans – half a litre, Dogs – 7,5 litres

Sigh

dav

the remains…..:'(

Day 4 and I woke up headache free – but tired, just really really tired. It took most of the morning to stop feeling like I had just woken up and it was 4am. But I had no headache – so that was good.

Also, I don’t know what is going on in my digestive tract. It is like cement and super glue had a baby – and it is not pretty. I know, from last time I tried this, that it’s the milk in the morning coffee that makes my tummy say heelllloooooo, not the coffee. So I guess it is trying to work out what to do now it doesn’t have the dairy irritant. Pretty gross and less than comfortable, but it has to do what it has to do.

On the plus side, I did managed to be out twice in one day and not mess up. In the morning I was in a mall and had to wait for something so I went for a coffee. I have gone from rubbish coffee with sweetened creamer to straight up, proper quality, black coffee. And I didn’t even ‘accidentally’ eat the little biscuit, pretending I may be on the Titanic and it’s the last cup of coffee I might ever have. Those women who didn’t have dessert that last night haunt me, little petit fours floating around their watery faces.

And,

and this is big,

I went to our local pub last night and saw my mates. And drank water the whole night! Yep, I felt like one of those purse-lipped prim women of old, sipping on my water surrounded by heathen drinkers! It was fine actually, but wow, semi-drunk people get really boring, really fast. We talk such repetitive shit when drinking, don’t we?

The moral high ground is quite comfy, thank you very much 🙂

We had dinner there. The chef is a friend so he does what I need for my food. Chicken, calamari and veg – and no washing up. My best end to a meal that!

I am still astounded at the effect no sugar is having. I don’t have a headache, nothing sore enough to be worthy of a title, but I am muggy of head and thought. I was not/am not even a great obvious sugar eater. I don’t add it to anything and don’t eat loads of sugary stuff. But clearly I do. All that hidden sugar I didn’t even know was there. frightening.

And tired. Did I mention I was tired?

 

My meals:

dav

breakfast was a mushroom, tomato and pork shank frittata that wasn’t so keen to come out the pan

dav

lunch was a kale, tatsio and spinach salad topped with leftover prawns

Let’s hope the tired decreases and the brain clears soon

dav

headache had me on my knees

Aaaaah, the headache. The day three headache. The ‘where the fuck is my sugar’ headache. The headache that makes you realise that sugar clearly does something to your brain, and makes you not care at all, that’s how much you want some. The headache that makes you understand why druggies sell kidneys for a hit. The headache that makes you question this whole stupid bloody thing.

For me, the fact that the lack of sugar gives me such a headache is why I need to do this. I need not to be a slave to the sugar, a slave who thought she was a free person making her own decisions. Obviously not if just two and a bit days of no sugar can make me want to kill my partner for simply being there, in his chair, in our living room. How very dare he!!!!!

By 4pm I decided that I no longer had to power through the headache (not sure why I thought I wasn’t allowed pain killers) and I finally took a headache tablet. Sweet relief. In hindsight, I am glad I didn’t mask the pain until it became a question of social sanity, because I need to know and remember what sugar does to me. I don’t want to have to kick it again so the best thing would be to not start eating it again.

But I say that at the start of Day 4 – let’s check that attitude until Day 28 shall we? Easy to be brave when strong.

My meals:

dav

Left over livers and onion, mash potato cake, poached eggs and tomatoes

dav

Salad with lamb ribbies

dav

prawns with veg cabbage (instead of rice)

Not the easiest day but 10% done

On I go

Day 2 was not fun but that’s not the eating challenge’s fault. No siree – its mine. Well, mine and the loads of strange men wandering around my property.

Let’s go back to the evening of Day 1. I had some shaved coconut in a jar I sat and nibbled on after dinner. I may have got carried away by the fact that my until very recently very sore tooth was managing to chew the coconut and I think I ate too much of it.

So Day 2 started okay but my belly got progressively more and more bloated and sore until I wasn’t sure if it was my intestines, my lower back, my uterus or my kidneys that were sore, because everything was.

Put that with the fact that we are having work done on the house, specifically the windows, so at any stage any number of men may be peering into a window. This situation does not make for comfortable toilet trips at all.

So it seems my excretion system has shut up shop with severe stage fright.

A winning combination that ended with a rather uncomfortable midriff.

Aside for the self inflicted agony, the day was a good one. I went out before eating breakfast – rookie error – so got home at 10am hangry as hell. But I didn’t cheat and scoff down something quick and carby. Nope, I bothered to make a proper breakfast – broken fried eggs and all.

I had to modify dinner when I realised I hadn’t thought the beef livers I bought through well enough. No milk allowed and no bacon at the moment until I find one that doesn’t contain sugar, so I used pork shank and fried that with mushrooms and onion and a grated apple, and added the very thinly sliced livers. Was very nice and I am glad I didn’t just decide fuckit and use the bacon, milk. And red wine for a gravy of course. I need to make some good stock to replace the wine in recipes – non-drinkers manage so surely I can.

2 or 30 done and dusted – feeling good and will feel much better once this belly ache is gone

I am sure I just need a huge fart

 

My meals:

dav

breakfast was pork shank instead of bacon with a veggie hash and two fried eggs

dav

breakfast was similar to yesterday’s lunch – coconut crusted chicken breast with salad and home made lemon mayo

 

dav

dinner is often my favourite meal that is the worst pic of the day. a lack of natural light makes it hard to get good pics. this is the liver with pork shank, onion, mushrooms and apple on mashed potato with brussel sprouts. was delicious

I have never been a fan of fasts or cleanses or diets which completely cut any one thing out. Moderation seemed to me to be the answer to most of life’s questions. Then a friend of mine, equally not into silly eating things or juicing or colon cleansing (urgh!) said she had done whole30 and felt bloody brilliant on it. So I thought what the hell, let’s give this a bash.

I did it for 30 days but I realise now I did cheat – a lot. I knew then I was cheating but didn’t quite own how much. I drank wine – because life. I also drank sugar-free soft drink because I hadn’t read the book and didn’t think they counted as sugar. They do. And I ate bacon which I now know has dextrose used when curing it.

Blah blah blah – the fact was that even cheating I felt awesome after the month

I then went back to eating and drinking Every. Thing – and felt just totally crap.

So yesterday I started whole30 again. And this time I am doing it properly properly.  And part of that, always for me, is writing about it. So here goes:

Day 1 – it was easy. It seems pretty easy not to eat grain, legumes, sugar and dairy when you had a cheese sandwich  with hummus and a cup of milky, sweet coffee the night before as a sort of good bye to all that. i know this is the false sense of security and easy that this program starts with but that’s okay – I am enjoying the ease know the rest is coming.

 

My food was great and my tummy does already feel less sore. When I was eating all the food in the world, my IBS-like symptoms came back to say hello. I realised then that they had been gone for a month and their return reminded me that I thought a sore stomach was standard issue for life for an adult. Apparently not.

 

And the eating disorder self-esteem gobbling monster in me had nothing to bitch about as I got into bed to go to sleep. My last thought of the day was not what crap I had eaten and how I was weak cos of it. It was normal stuff like ‘oh my god, did I turn the oven off’, ‘I hope the dogs don’t fall in the pool and drown over night’, ‘remember that stupid thing you said in 1986’… you know, normal shit.

Anxiety issues much?? Naaaah J

This lack of self-beration may be the most important thing to me – I am tired of fighting that voice so maybe one way to beat her is to cut her fuel off. But we’ll see.

So yes, there we are, three meals down and up and ready for day 2. Feeling strong, feeling good, looking forward to the next 29 days.

 

One cannot blog about what one eats without begin that person who shares photos of it

so here you are

dav

breakfast – that’s fried aubergien pretending to be toast and preserved lemon rind on the top

dav

lunch – coconut flour crumbed chicken breasts on salad

dav

dinner – always hard to photograph. venison potjie with veg

 

And for what this eating thing is all about, go check out www.whole30.com

 

I had an organic Karoo lamb shoulder to cook the other day and decided to make slow roast lamb – only the best way to cook lamb!

First I made a mint pesto by blitzing together mint, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil.

I browned the lamb and then smeared it with the mint pesto. In the pan, around the lamb, I put onions and fresh tomatoes. I added a small amount of water, just in case anything wanted to stick, and covered it all in foil.

In the oven at 170C for about 3 1/2 hours and the lamb was moist but falling off the bone.

I took the meat from the pan to rest and blitzed the remains of the tomato and onion and lamb juices to make an amazingly delicious gravy

Yum yum

and #whole30 compliant

lamb