Been a while…

It has been quite a while since I last posted. There is a reason for that. I became quite uninspired to cook as I went on a diet to try to lose some flab.

The diet itself was not that bad. It was a completely catered for affair where I get my breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as two in between snacks, delivered in an insulated foam box. The frozen stuff had their own section with a large chunk of dry ice to keep things cold, these were things like bread slices, “bacon”, omelette etc for breakfast, and rice bowl, the usual frozen dinners for well, lunch and dinner. The “fresh” stuff were things like fresh fruit, cereal in their individual packets, salads for lunch etc. It’s all nutritionally sound and I am never very hungry. There was just one problem – it was BORING.

There are lots of choices for the food, but after 5 weeks of it, I ended up cheating on my own diet with crispy roast pork on rice!

Friends were supportive, however the general comment was since I could cook well, so why can’t I cook healthy low fat food for myself? So I decided to explore healthier cooking for one, but realise I have one big problem…. I am terrible at portion control!

So I went back to basics and tried to do some research. From various source, I am told I should eat something like 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, if I eat meat – it should only be the size of a deck of cards. And no, UNO cards are not acceptable! I should have about a cup of carbohydrates a day, a small handful of nuts ( something like 10 almonds ), no more than 3 tablespoons of fat etc etc etc. By this time my head had started to spin.

To cut a long story short, I decided that what I WILL do is to cut back my intake of meat to a practically vegetarian level, and cut down the amount of carbs at night to half of what I would normally have. To start with I went off and got a few new vegetarian cookbooks. One of my favourite cookbook in my collection has been the Moosewood cookbook, particularly for their very imaginative salad dressings, so I decided to order a few of the other Moosewoods and a friend pointed me to Deborah Madison’s books. I am particularly in love with Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers and have been reading it in bed. Sad I know.

Anyway – after a few weeks of absorbing ideas from the books I finally started to cook again for myself. This time with a vegetarian slant and I am cutting down my portion size. Time will tell if this works. I will keep you posted on this.

Pasta with braised mushrooms

  • 250 Grams wild mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced – any type of mushroom is fine as long as it is tasty, I used saffron milk caps since it was in season for Autumn.
  • 25 grams butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • glass of fruity white wine
  • 200 grams short pasta
  • salt and pepper
  1. bring a large pot of water to boil, add a generous amount of salt and the pasta. While that is cooking, heat a large frying pan or wok on high heat.
  2. When hot, add the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When melted, add the onion and garlic, cook until the onion is softened.
  3. Add the mushrooms and stir briskly to coat the mushroom evenly in the butter and onions. Add the oregano.
  4. Stir in the glass of wine and let evaporate a little to cook off the alcohol. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Simmer until only a little liquid is left at the bottom of the pan.
  6. When the pasta is cooked, add the drained pasta to the frying pan and toss through the mushroom mixture.
  7. Serve hot, with a little freshly grated parmessan if like.

Serves 3 as a side.

Roasted root vegetables with Basalmic vinegar and olive oil

  • Small bunch of beetroot ( around 4 beets )
  • Small bunch of baby carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • basalmic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oven to 190 Degrees C.
  2. Peel the beetroots – you may want to wear gloves unless you don’t mind pink hands. Cut into wedges – about 1 cm thick.
  3. Scrub the carrots. There is no need to peel if they are small. Cut in half legthwise, and cut into 1.5 inch lengths.
  4. Peel the onions, and cut into wedges. Take off the loose outer skins of the garlic, and leave the last layer on.
  5. Place the vegetables in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons basalmic vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
  6. Pour the vegetables into a roasting tray, drizzle over the oil and vinegar left in the bowl.
  7. Roast in the oven, tossing the vegetables once or twice, for around 1 hour, until the vegetables are tender.
  8. Serve 3-4 as a side. Or let cool, then add 200 grams feta cheese crumbled or chopped into small cubes and about 100 grams walnuts. Drizzle some virgin olive oil and mix well.  Serve as a salad.

Poached Quinces In Cinnamon and Ginger Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar – I used 1/2 caster and 1/2 brown sugar.
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1.5 inch piece of young ginger, peeled and slice thickly
  • 4 medium quinces
  1. For the syrup, in a large pan ( approx 25 cm ) with a lid add 3 cups of water, the sugar, cinnamon and ginger.
  2. peel, quarter and core the quinces. Drop the quince quaters into acidulated water ( lemon and water) to stop the fruit from browing while you prepare the rest of the fruit.
  3. Heat the syrup until it starts to boil, add the drained quinces and bring to the boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low, so that the fruit is at a low simmer.
  4. Poach for 2 hours, until the fruit turns a lovely deep rosy colour and is very tender.
  5. Serve warm with custard as a dessert or with granola and yoghurt for breakfast. The ginger is also yummy.
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