Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones

Don't throw away your chicken bones folks...

Don’t throw away your chicken bones folks…

I am taking my new-found conversion to carnivore very seriously indeed: today found me creating bone broth having read so many people enthusing about it online.

Basically, it’s stock – the long, slow cooking of bones and vegetables until you have a densely flavoured liquid you can use either as a flavouring for gravies, risottos, soups or drink it as it is. Enthusiasts claim all kinds of marvellous qualities for broth – immune system bolstering, hair, skin and nail improving, cellulite curing and gut healing.

Sadly, no-one said: “Actually, this truly amazing broth also turns you into THE most skilled writer, capable of rattling off 20,000 witty words a week that everyone wants to read. AND it kills off any desire to drink red wine.”

Still, worth a try for the qualities quoted in the second para if not the third hmm? As is my wont, I researched recipes online and then cobbled something together of my very own, using the world’s most marvellous culinary creation – the slow cooker.

Bone Broth AKA Chicken Stock:

  • 500g (roughly) chicken bones*
  • 2tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots,, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 8-10 black peppercorns, ground in a pestle and mortar (optional, I put these in because I like heat)
  • Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Handful fresh sage leaves

Put all of the ingredients into your slow cooker and cover with cold water. Place on a low setting and cook for roughly 4-18 hours (the longer you leave it, the more mineral content you get out of the bones). You may need to top the water levels up from time to time. Strain once finished and use the liquid for stock or add a little sea salt to taste and drink as a broth.

 

 

*You can store chicken bones in the freezer until you’ve built up enough of a quantity.

 

 

Victoria Beckham Scoffs Enormous Cheesecake…

282045-victoria-beckham

Vickie B – pic courtesy of the International Business Times

A friend of a friend of a friend once told me a story about Victoria Beckham

Apparently, the Beckhams are actually lovely employers (the friend of a friend etc knew someone employed by them), but they do (allegedly) insist on one stipulation from their employees – thou shalt not eat in front of Victoria.

I am intrigued. Is such a rule put in place because Victoria turns feral when faced with people tucking into food? There you are, innocently eating your cheese and ham sandwich and about to dive into that home-made flapjack when suddenly Victoria ATTACKS you. She snatches the sandwich from your lips and wolves it down in seconds. She grabs the flapjack from your hands and crams it into her gob. She finishes the food and howls at the moon, “GIMME MORE!!”

Oh please, let my imagining of this story be true! Anyway, I mention this as I am conscientiously trying to live as Paleo as possible (more of this in the next blog post), so I fear a feral moment of my own may well be coming on soon.

If such a wild deviation from the path of the hunter-gatherer diet did present itself, it would probably take the form of Mama Highheelsandpinkglitter’s white chocolate cheesecake. Don’t bother with that baking cheesecake nonsense and instead create this lovely vision of white deliciousness…

Enjoy – and if you do want to go feral on it, I’d recommend reading the following guide to The Attack on The Cheesecake

White Chocolate Cheesecake (serves 10-12)

Sunflower Oil for greasing
40g unsalted butter
50g dark chocolate
200g packet hob nobs
250 g marscapone
200g Greek yogurt
500g white chocolate (cheaper stuff melts better)
75g castor sugar
284 ml double cream, lightly whipped
Cocoa powder for dusting

Lightly oil a n 8-in loose bottomed cake tin with the sunflower oil. Melt the butter and half the dark chocolate in a pan, then stir in the biscuit crumbs until well mixed. Press on to the base of the cake tin and chill.

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. When it’s melted beat in the marscapone, yogurt and sugar.

Fold the whipped cream in and pour on to the biscuit base.

Grate the rest of the dark chocolate and scatter over the top of the cheesecake, then dust with sieved cocoa. Chill 4 hours or overnight.
 

 

Sunshine and Wild Garlic Anyone?

Even the cat takes advantage of sunny days...

Even the cat takes advantage of sunny days…

Here’s one of the nice things about being a freelancer. A lot of the time you can work round the weather.

I live in a part of the world that isn’t blessed with a great deal of sunshine (and that’s putting it mildly). In common with many of my countrymen and women I have an absolute obsession with the weather forecast and checking it frequently. I look up the five-day forecast on Monday and spot that Thursday has a big yellow sun on display. Hooray! By Tuesday, that sun has been replaced by the cloud and by Wednesday the forecast is cloud and showers. Boo!

So when the sun shines here, it’s almost obligatory to take advantage and roll out the garden furniture, strip off a layer or two or go out for a walk/cycle run. We did that a couple of days ago and, in proper foraging style, came back with a haul of wild garlic and watercress. Wild garlic is pretty easy to spot – your nose will take you there – but general advice around picking is available here.

Post-wedding, the diet is a little less urgent but I used the wild garlic to create a healthy, easy cook dish that I’m sharing here:

Tofu and Wild Garlic stir-fry – serves 2

Chillies, garlic and ginger - yum!

Chillies, garlic and ginger – yum!

160g pkt Cauldron Foods marinated tofu pieces
100g mushrooms, sliced
Half a red pepper, sliced
Half a courgette, sliced
8 spring onion, sliced into 4cm lengths
50g asparagus tips, sliced in half
Large handful wild garlic, rinsed
1 chilli, sliced (keep the seeds in if you like hot food)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1tbsp rapeseed oil

Heat the oil in a wok and add the mushrooms, pepper, courgette, spring onions and asparagus tips and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add in the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for another minute. Stir in the wild garlic and cook until wilted. Add in the marinated tofu and stir-fry another minute or so. Season to taste with a little soy sauce (you won’t need much as the tofu pieces are already seasoned) and serve with cooked noodles tossed in a little bit of sesame oil.

Marital Bliss in 30 Minutes

Today, with just under 11 weeks to go till I wed, I am going to share with you the secret of making a man happy…
[If you would like this in more detail, please purchase my ebook, where for a mere £79.99, you can discover the key to long-lasting marital happiness. Guaranteed. Hurry. This is a limited offer.]*
So, drum roll… It is, ta dah, the following recipe. Create, present to your man, enjoy happiness in excess quantities**.

Potato and Bacon Bake (serves 2)
500g new potatoes, sliced finely
300ml double cream
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Dried thyme (tsp)
125g lardons
60g Edam cheese, grated
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Put the potatoes into a heavy based saucepan with the cream and the thyme. Lightly crush the garlic and add to the pan. Bring to the boil slightly and then turn the heat to the lowest. Cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop sticking.
Fry the lardons in a non stick pan until lightly browned. Add to the potato mix and add salt and pepper to taste. Tip the whole lot into an oven-proof dish, top with the grated Edam and cook in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve with green beans and salad.
*Reader, I mock. Sorry, you will have to forgo the wisdom of moi.
**Erm, do not feed this to anyone on a regular basis. It’s possibly not the healthiest of choices…

A Tale of Two Topics

 

What 500 calories looks like...

What 500 calories looks like…

Today’s blog post focuses on guest lists (urgh) and an update on the 5:2 diet.

When we initially decided to get married, I wanted a very small wedding – close family only and then a party some time later for friends. Simple, non? But working out the logistics of organising two events defeated us and the wedding began to grow arms and legs.

Several months ago, we wrote up the guest list while under the influence of a wine or two. It took on the realms of fantasy – the world and his wife were coming to see me become a wife. My fiance stuck to the sensible, I was scribbling away happily adding the Power Plate guy (I felt I owed him for the stomach muscles I now possess), the people from the corner shop who keep me supplied in diet coke even though I don’t know their full names and several others I haven’t seen in decades.

Needless to say the list was scrapped…

I’d been putting off writing it again, even though I really love writing lists (to do lists feature daily in my life). Necessity has stepped in. The New Lanark Mill Hotel is pretty small and rooms are filling up already. Getting married on a Thursday means people will also need to book time off work.

Plus my sister has been organising my hen party (I’ve mentioned I’d like cheese, wine and possibly chocolate and cakes to be involved and left her to it. It kills me as I’m a bit of a control freak, but if you ask someone to do something for you, best to leave them to it. My sister hasn’t done this before and I think she is finding it quite exciting.) so she’s sent out invites for that. I haven’t yet asked people to save the date so time to face up to my fears of the guest list.

I’ve come to the conclusion that guest lists are easiest when they are either very small (family only) or very large (when you’re a millionaire, say). In between the small and the large is the hell of the ‘who can we cross off this list?’

We wrote them out separately and are excluding children, except for close family. It feels a bit mean, but our numbers are limited to 110 and my theory is that most children get bored at weddings anyway.

Like many people I went to a lot of weddings in my 20s and saw a lot of people marry that I now haven’t seen in at least 10 years. Therefore, I haven’t invited most of them. We’ve decided not to invite most of our cousins either. And we’re rather uncharitably hoping that our currently single friends remain so for the next six months…

And so on to the 5:2 diet! I’m one week into it. The idea is that you eat normally (roughly 2,000-2,500 calories a day) for five days a week and on two days a week you eat 500-600 calories a day. I’d read it described as the easiest and most difficult diet you can follow. Funnily enough, the fasting isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. The second day I did it I felt as if I had greater and sharper mental clarity, which is why fasting is so popular with yogis I suppose.

Cutting to the chase though, I’ve lost three pounds and my stomach feels much, much flatter. Blimey, you don’t get a lot of food for your 500 calories, though! I’ve done it by eating some fruit at lunchtime and then an evening meal and if you’re looking for ideas for low-calories meals, there are some nice ones here. If you’re looking for a great calorie counter try myfitnesspal which has a website and mobile app.

As Christmas and the inevitable over-indulgence rapidly approaches (write cards! Buy presents! Make food! Meet up with various people! Why oh why does December always catch me out?) I thought I’d stick to it for another week or so. Watch this space…