Thursday, 31 December 2009

Wild and windy day!

It wasn’t even light here yet and I could hear the wind tearing around the house – yuck! Speaking as an addicted walker, I hate strong winds, they take all the fun out of walking! Not that I let that stop me – as it wasn’t also raining – though very squelchy underfoot! However I can’t say I enjoyed the walk much, though I’m glad I got the fresh air and exercise. We just got a new coffee maker and I drank too many cups experimenting with strength, volume of water etc – I felt quite ill on the way home, jittery and emotional and slightly nauseous – not much fun at all! Still, I think if I hadn’t gone out on foot I would’ve been climbing the walls by lunchtime!

Food today:

Breakfast: Oatso Simple Cinnamon flavour with a snack pack of raisins and some whey protein stirred in.

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Lunch: Turkey and vegetable soup with a hummus and mixed pepper sandwich

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Dinner: Quorn bulgar chilli with brown rice, served with a small salad and some butternut squash ‘chips’.

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OK, I admit it, I had 2 beers tonight instead of my usual limit of 1 – but hey, its New Year’s Eve!!! (We don’t go out or celebrate in any way so that’s a really flimsy excuse there….;-))

Snacks: Protein smoothie, babybel light cheese, huuuuge bowl of air popped popcorn flavoured with garlic pepper – yum yum yum!

Weight today: 10 st 5.4 lbs – that didn’t take long to correct back to before the Thai meal now did it? The only way is down….

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

All entertaining done – and back to real life!

As much as I love them all, and really enjoyed seeing them, I’m not sorry to see the back of the entertaining circus! I know for partying types I didn’t do very much and it was all low key, but we are talking Queen of the antisocial shy people here (or would be if the antisocial shy people could get together long enough to elect a queen ;-)) plus I definitely went overboard on the baking front – next year I’ll either do a lot less, or I’ll start the prep a lot earlier so that very little effort is needed at the time! Right now I never want to bake again (OK, that’s a lie – I was just reading a post on carrots’n’cake and looking through the photographs on Tartine my immediate thought was ‘I want to try baking a buttermilk scone – followed rapidly by NOT YET!!!)

Food today:

Breakfast: All bran with peaches

Lunch: Big huge ginormous salad with prawns; Chavroux goat’s cheese on Nimble bread

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Dinner: Vegetable soup turned into a curry sauce with added vegetables served on brown rice – and it was yummy!

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Snacks: Protein smoothie; 2 dates stuffed with walnuts; snack box of raisins

Weight today was very very nasty – but I don’t hesitate in blaming it on a combination of

  1. stuffing myself with a large volume of food at lunch yesterday;
  2. stuffing myself with lots of reasonably high sodium food at lunch yesterday as well as eating the salt & pepper cashew nuts;
  3. eating sugar in the form of buttercream icing, fruit cake, chocolate, dried fruit etc;
  4. 2 beers, one with lunch and one mid afternoon, with not enough water / herbal tea to prevent water retention

OK, now the excuses are done with, so I’ll come clean….

10 st 7.5 lbs!!!

No, I definitely did not eat 7000 calories over maintenance yesterday – so for once, as much as I cringed and winced on seeing this, I am actually not depressed by it – so there!!!

Tuesday

We had a lovely day when my Dad and his wife came over! Due to dire forecasts of heavy snow – which didn’t materialise of course – they didn’t stay the night, but left around 8:30 pm.

We went to my favourite restaurant in all of Wales (said with very little real knowledge of restaurants because we rarely eat out!) First it was A Thai restaurant, then it became a Thai & Indian restaurant, and when we went yesterday it looked and sounded as if it was reverting to just Thai, under new management and with a new chef. Regardless of these details the quality is always superb, though its a shame we’ve now lost the choice between Indian and Thai as that was quite handy for big groups (Last year we took all our parents and in a party of 8 of us, were pretty evenly split between Thai-eaters and Indian-eaters!)

The only problem they always have is slow service, though its compensated for by the incredible helpfulness and friendliness of the staff. Sadly it gets very little trade (hence all the changes of hands) because its very isolated on the A48 with no local trade to speak of. Hopefully it will continue on in one incarnation or another even so!

Because we were all so hungry by the time the food came I never thought to photograph it even though my camera was in my hand bag. So I’ll just settle for a couple of photographs telling you what we had – sorry! We all ate enough to be stuffed, no-one had dessert, and it was wonderful!

I have to admit I didn’t succeed in controlling my food very well. In the morning I kept nibbling until about 11 am when I finally found something else to occupy my hands. However, I had spent 40 mins on the elliptical walker so it could have been worse! Between lunch and tea I had no desire to snack on anything more substantial than a couple of cashew nuts, and tea was smaller than planned (although it included a small slice of buttercream-iced fruit cake) I was still punished in this morning’s weigh in – but you’ll hear about that later!

Food Tuesday:

Breakfast: All bran with peaches

Lunch: Set Meal D for 4 – plus an extra complementary dish because of the change of chef etc. – or to put it another way, 4 people & 5 meals… no wonder we were stuffed!

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Dinner: A small ham roll, a slice of sunflower spelt bread with Chavroux goat’s cheese, another smaller slice with goat’s cheese & smoked salmon, and the fruit cake.

Snacks: After training I microwaved an apple with cinnamon for 2 mins, topped it with laughing cow and put it back in the microwave for another minute:

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Not pretty, but pretty tasty!

I also ate 2 or 3 after eight mints, 3 of my world peace cookies, a green & black chocolate, a couple of dates stuffed with walnuts, a couple of pieces of frozen banana and a really tiny sliver of the fruit cake. Actually that’s less than I thought…

Weight Tuesday: 10 st 5.5 lbs – so a pound lost over night! If only I’d kept it off…..

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Around the world in 80 meals

As I’ve been pointing out (as if you haven’t noticed) how boring my cooking has been getting lately, I decided to challenge myself to cook new things more often. And this is how I’ve decided to do it! (Yes, I have recently read Around the world in 80 days….)

I’m going to start incorporating a minimum of one meal a week based on the cuisine of different countries around the world (at least based on the recipes available in cookbooks and on the internet, I’m not claiming to be able to ensure authenticity!)

Most of the dishes will be main course meals, possibly with less authentic accompaniments; occasionally they may just be a dessert or baked goods, but I intend to incorporate as many different nations as I can, and will of course include photographs  along the way!  Obviously its likely that I’ll be limited by ingredients when it comes to truly exotic foods given that I live in Wales. I’m going to try very hard not to tweak the recipes for healthiness or calorie control in an effort to make the cooking be about pleasure and interesting food combinations rather than my ongoing obsession with weight and health – the exception possibly being reduction of the quantity of oil or fat used. I hope this is going to be fun for me and a bit more interesting for you than my usual fare!

Let me know if you have any ideas for must cook dishes!

I’ll probably start next week, and at the moment I think dish #1 may be a spicy West Indian Goat curry – I have a pound of kid stewing meat in the freezer!!!

Oh no – wait – the fruit cake I made for Christmas Day (the unhealthy version) – was a St Lucian Wedding Cake – so I’ve already started!!!

As my Dad and his wife will be visiting today and staying over I won’t be blogging later today – but I’ll be back to tell you how we got on tomorrow!

Weight today: 10 st 5.5 lbs – feeling better already!!!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Ouch

For the second day in a row my left shoulder is really really painful. But the ouch refers to this morning’s weigh in. 10 st 6.4 lbs!!! I know it won’t take long to adjust once I get back on track – but getting back on track is the hard part! I’m feeling more motivated at the moment  but tomorrow we’re having lunch at a thai / indian restaurant and then a buffet tea in the evening. Still, I can try to make sure that any gains from that are not piled on top of gains from today…

I’ve just been for a walk into town, rucksack on back and all that… it was very very frosty and bleak this morning, but had warmed up a reasonable amount, and the sky was lovely…

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Food today:

Breakfast: Porridge (OK, its Oatso Simple – Sweet Cinnamon style) with a chopped apple and some whey protein stirred in. I enjoyed it, usually I find the Oatso Simple range too sweet since I mostly switched to plain oats or oat & wheat bran, but that one wasn’t bad at all.

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Lunch: Homemade vegetable soup of course, with added chick peas & cauliflower plus a tea spoon of curry paste.  I heated it slowly through for about 35 minutes so it really thickened up – by the end I could have eaten it as a mild vegetable curry over rice, and it was nice enough that I think I will do that with one portion at some point. I also had 2 slices of nimble toasted and spread with goat’s cheese.

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Dinner: More vegetable soup with added vegetables, nimble, salad and laughing cow cheese. I know its unexciting, but to be honest I’m feeling so much better without the crap today (though I’m still having to fight the urge to attack the fruit cake with a knife) that I decided going very simple and almost unprocessed was the way to go! Once things level off a bit I promise I’ll try to be more interesting!

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Snacks: Protein smoothie; all bran with peaches

Sunday, 27 December 2009

I’ve lost my off switch

Have you seen it anywhere?

You already heard about Christmas Day. Yesterday I had very boring meals – soup, salad, cereal – but grazed all day on other stuff. All sorts. I even took a walk and a long hot bath to avoid eating – but just started again straight away afterwards.

And so far today is going the same way.

Yesterday I had a good walk, and today I trained on the elliptical walker, so I haven’t lost the plot completely, but I am eating when I’m not hungry and eating the unhealthiest things I can find. I think its partly because the stuff is still here and partly because my holiday entertaining isn’t over yet as my father and his wife are visiting on Tuesday – so my brain or maybe my body is thinking that I might as well carry on until then. I am also feeling quite depressed today. I’m not sure if I’m eating because I’m depressed or the crap that I’m eating is the reason for the depression. Or maybe a bit of both. Roll on the New Year…

Food today:

Breakfast: All bran with peaches

Lunch: Vegetable soup with 2 grilled cheese & onion sandwiches (they were lovely, but one would’ve been enough)

Dinner: Not sure yet. I was planning on a vegetable fried rice, but that doesn’t really appeal to me now.

Snacks: So far I’ve had rice crackers, dates stuffed with walnuts * 2, Green & Blacks chocolate selection (3 or 4 chocolates), and a slice of buttercream iced ‘healthier’ fruit cake. And an iced pumpkin cranberry bite. And some more all bran (that was actually planned, the rest wasn’t).

Weight today: 10 st 5 lbs, but I know that is certainly not all real weight.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas Day!

Hope you all had a good one!

I had about 3 hours sleep on Christmas Eve because as usual I was stressing out about what I had to do and whether I had enough food (see below to find out if that fear had any substance!) so I felt pretty lousy when I finally gave up trying to sleep. As a result, once the pot roast was in the slow cooker and the cookies were baked, I went to the gym and spent 40 mins on a summit climb program on the elliptical walker. Its so weird the way that machine boosts my energy when I’m feeling tired and thick headed! Those feelings came back eventually of course, I just can’t get by on 3 hours sleep without consequences, but it helped me get through most of the day!

Food today:

Breakfast: French toast made with home-made raisin bread, served with a drizzle of maple syrup and a stewed apple. A little too sweet for regular breakfasting, but very tasty for a change!

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Lunch: The main event! I always make a 3 course Christmas lunch to mop up the gallons of booze that accompany it – but not all the courses are equal of course!

The starter is usually the same thing – a few dried figs each, each one topped with a mild, creamy soft goat’s cheese and wrapped in proscuitto ham. A lovely combination of salty, sweet, and creamy! I got this off a Nigella Lawson show several years ago, and as well as loving the flavours, I also love its no-cook simplicity!

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Main course: Roast turkey, pot roast beef brisket, stuffing, and roast vegetables. I used to roast potatoes and parsnips and cook other veg separately on the stove top, but decided a few years ago that that was unnecessary last minute work. Now I roast cauliflower, carrots and brussels sprouts as well. I was going to make my own cranberry sauce but decided to use shop-bought instead. And I forgot to photograph this course – probably because I was in a hurry to get it onto the table before it went cold!

Dessert: M and his parents like Christmas pudding, I’ve never been a fan. So I don’t make my own, but again buy one – this year from Waitrose. They generally have it with brandy butter. I had a fruit salad with boozy cream myself – again, for ease of preparation, I bought a selection of chopped fruit salad to just dump in a bowl! I added a big dollop of rum & raisin cream of course!

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Dinner: On Christmas Day I always make an absurdly huge buffet style dinner to cater for different sized appetites. Today’s included smoked salmon and ham finger sandwiches (that’s separate sandwiches, not a mixture ;-) ), pate on toast, cheese and crackers, hummus with vegetables, vegetable crisps and the many baked goods you’ve already heard about – cookies, sweet un-yeasted breads, fruit cake and mince-pies. I figure its better to eat lots and just feel stuffed the next morning then be horribly hung over because the stomach wasn’t lined with food. Of course if people go crazy that leads to a possible involuntary redecoration of the house, but it doesn’t usually go that far ;-)

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Raisin bread and banana ginger teabread – which was a great success by the way! It was studded with wonderfully zesty nuggets of stem ginger – amazing!

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Home made cookies…

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Healthier fruit cake

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Not at all healthy fruit cake!

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The whole spread. Needless to say we didn’t eat anywhere near this amount of food – there’s loads of leftovers, and M’s parents will be taking home cookies, raisin bread, teabread, mince-pies and fruit cake, while I will be keeping half the teabread for when my father and his wife come over on the 29th.

Snacks: I’m sure I don’t need to mention that there are lots of nibbles of nuts, chocolate, rice crackers etc going on all day! No formal plated out snacks required!

M’s father is a keen walker, so he and I usually head out after lunch to blow the cobwebs away and let the food go down. Today I decided to take him through the lanes to see the ostriches that I’ve mentioned before – even knowing that they’re there, there’s something so appealingly disorienting about seeing such exotic wild life in the relatively domesticated Welsh countryside! It was a lovely walk, though a bit slippery underfoot – at one point I looked like a cartoon character, arms flailing wildly as I tried (and succeeded) in staying upright! And as we returned we were walking into a beautiful sunset…

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Of course I did in fact weigh myself, and I was 10 st 3.5 lbs again. Perfectly acceptable given that Christmas Eve was a very nibbly day!

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Thursday, 24 December 2009

Busy busy busy day

MERRY CHRISTMAS

EVERYBODY!!!

I’ve roasted a turkey, baked a loaf of raisin bread, baked maple walnut biscotti, walked into town for a last few bits and pieces (nearly falling on my ass twice!), done laundry, done some tidying up in preparation for my Parents in Law coming for the day tomorrow…  and after dinner, not an hour after telling my mum I was getting a bit tired of cooking so much I got a sudden urge to keep going and decided to make a loaf of banana ginger teabread – not only do I have all the ingredients, but I actively wanted to use up some stem ginger – the perfect recipe to test (if its nice – of course you’ll find out when I do!)

And here it is in pictures (well some of it anyway)

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Biscotti after first baking

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and after second baking

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the raisin bread.

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and the banana ginger teabread – looks pretty good, don’t you think?

I think you know what a turkey looks like, so I’ll spare you that (as I already hacked carved it up so I can reheat the breast in gravy tomorrow (saving last minute carving on the day))

Food today:

Breakfast: Sausage sandwich made with the pork and leek sausages I bought at Devizes Market a few weeks ago. (The sausages were halved lengthways, I didn’t eat 4 of them! and there was another slice of bread added after the photo was taken)

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Lunch: Spicy Jerk Chicken with mango salsa sandwich made with chilli pepper bread (from Waitrose) and homemade soup

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Dinner: Singapore noodles

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Snacks: All bran with peaches; a few world peace cookies; a small amount of rice crackers (this stuff is soooo addictive!!!);

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home made mince pie with rum & raisin cream

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Weight today: 10 st 2.5 lbs. WTF??? No complaints, definitely no complaints, but I doubt if I’ll be weighing that tomorrow somehow! Not that I intend to find out – I’ll be photographing everything as normal, but not weighing myself or posting, so you’ll have to wait till Boxing Day to find out how the main cooking went. I’ll be baking 2 batches of cookies and pot roasting a beef brisket in the morning, as well as prepping root vegetables and brussels sprouts to roast for lunch. Its non-stop action here!!!

Once again…

MERRY CHRISTMAS

EVERYBODY!!!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Family Wednesday

My mum and her OH came for the day today. It was a lovely day, lots of chatting, more food than usual but not obscenely so! I didn’t get any exercise except for baking cookies and a bit of housework today – and this evening it has rained buckets and is now extremely cold, so I doubt if I’ll be able to walk far tomorrow!

I’m quite tired now though, so I’ll get straight to the food!

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on toast

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Lunch: Home made pizzas with home made oven chips. I made 2 pizzas, half a pizza each, all with different toppings. Mine was the vegetable half seen in the top photo! This was followed by a sliver of each of my 2 fruit cakes for everyone – and the consensus of opinion was that both were really good (Yay!!!) so if I feel like making it again next year I can just do the healthier version without feeling like I’m depriving anyone!

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Dinner: ‘High tea’ was a buffet (on small scale) of random nibbles. Mixed sandwiches, rice crackers, vegetable crisps, pork pies, cookies and cherries followed by a mince pie with cointreau cream – which is wonderful by the way!

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Snacks: An apple, a few salted pistachios and a small amount of Nibl Jaffa berry choc.

Weight today: 10 st 3.4 lbs… again!

Tuesday – late!

I started the day with a walk into town to do some Christmas shopping at Waitrose. I wasn’t sure if walking was such a good idea if we’d had a cold night, but the roads were really clear and the snow over the fields was nice and crisp so I enjoyed it! More than these guys look to be enjoying the weather!

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After lunch I also took a walk to a farm shop in a garden centre near us. Its run by the people who farm ostriches near here, and I use it for the nice cheeses they sell. They didn’t have what I actually went there for, but I managed to find some nice looking other cheeses to buy instead. Each of these walks was about 5 miles round trip, maybe slight less to the farm shop because I cut across a nice snowy field

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with views of the Old Severn Crossing in the distance:

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Food today:

Breakfast: home made Bircher muesli. This is one of my favourite breakfasts, discovered on a cruise years ago and sought out on every holiday since (they didn’t do it in Cuba :-( ). Its basically oats soaked overnight in apple juice and milk or cream and eaten cold. The full on version probably uses cream, but I use soya milk – low fat soya milk at that. I also mixed in some plain whey, an apple and some raisins, and topped it with a tiny sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and walnut pieces for some texture contrast! Looks almost as good as it tasted…

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Lunch: Vegetable soup (told you it would look exactly like the last batch!) and a grilled vegetable sandwich, so stuffed with grilled veggies that I had to eat it with both hands to stop the filling falling out!

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Dinner: Hot chilli with brown rice and a side serving of asparagus & green beans – it was going to be a salad, but I decided I would rather have hot vegetables than cold.

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Snacks: I fuelled my morning walk with a mini Green & Blacks butterscotch chocolate bar – my favourite G&B flavour. I also had a protein smoothie, some popcorn (air popped, flavoured with garlic Italian seasoning) and a Babybel lite.

After my second walk, I did some baking. I decided to bake my own mince pies this year, and had lofty plans for making a fancy crust (and using bought mincemeat filling). Then I remembered that I’m not good at pastry and didn’t want to have to make multiple efforts at it to get something good enough for the family so I bought some shortcrust pastry ready made – plain, not sweet, as I figured the filling would be sweet enough. I made 24 normal round pies (over generous with the filling – a theme of my cooking is to be ‘lavish’ – so they bubbled up and all over the place, but who cares if they taste good? The 2 bigger rectangular ones at the front I made in mini loaf tins to use up the filling and pastry, so M and I will be having those on Christmas Eve with some cointreau & orange cream… hey, its Christmas! 

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Weight today: 10 st 3.4 lbs. Wow I seem to have this maintaining thing down these days….