Monday, 12 May 2008

Salad for Summer

It's been a hot few days here in York - the sun has been blazing down, the birds have been singing, there are hardly any clouds.

And it's really really really hot.

I do like the summer, really I do. I just don't particularly like wearing summer clothes. That's a lie, actually. I do enjoy wearing summer clothes - I just don't own any. It all makes summer rather sweaty, and red.

Summer does mean longer days, and so today B told me we would be going on a walk once his lectures were over. It was lovely strolling along the footpath (once we'd found it) in the sunlight, and we made it all the way out to the ring road. And all the way back again, via the supermarket to buy salad. In this weather, I'm not eating much else.

The salad was sold out, apart from one lonely bag of spinach, and a pack of stir fry vegetables.

Thankfully, I had a lovely fresh bunch of aspargus waiting for me at home, so I created this:

Goats Cheese, Puy Lentil and Asparagus Salad
Serves 2 (or 4 as a starter)

113g/4oz puy lentils
85g/3oz goats cheese
Bunch of aspargus (however much you want)
Handful of sundried tomatoes
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp sunflower oil

1. Drain, rince and cook the puy lentils according to the packet instruction.

2. Meanwhile, mix the vinegars, oil and lemon together. Season to taste.

3. Rehydrate your sundried tomatoes, if necessary, and chop into small pieces.

4. Dice the goats cheese

5. As the lentils near the end of their cooking time, boil the asparagus for around 3-4 minutes, until just tender. Drain the lentils and refresh under cold water. Drain the asparagus as well.

6. Return the lentils to the pan, and add a little of the dressing. Mix this through the lentils along with the sundried tomatoes. Spoon onto your plates.

7. Toss the asparagus in the remaining dresssing, and arrange on the plate. Top with the diced goats cheese, and drizzle any remaining dressing over the plate.

I've never tried puy lentils, and I haven't eaten asparagus in a long time. I was very pleased with both ingredients, and this is a salad I shall be making and adapting further in the future! It was light and fresh, but still filling - perfect for lazy summer evenings.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Curry, just not so much in a hurry.

My boyfriend is out of town for the weekend. He's off on some Scout leader weekend in Lancashire, skilling and chilling. This means trying to ride a unicycle and juggle apparently. I'm just continually scared he's going to seriously hurt himself on the thing. I have a fear of falling off bikes, and my paranoia extends to my fear of my boy falling off a unicycle. When you've had three fairly serious bike accidents, all involving your head hitting the ground with some force, it's time to wonder if you get back on that bike again.

I usually do. In fact, I bike more than ever.

Which raises the question of whether all those head bumps (I own 5 head x-rays) have done something questionable to my sanity.

Due to my boyfriend wobbling around somewhere on one wheel, this meant I was free to cook curry this evening! I was delighted - curry is perfect on a Slimming World diet, and with B hating it so much, it was the perfect opportunity for a first food post!

Now I'm a poor student, who's boyfriend doesn't eat curry, but thankfully I still have a pretty large cupboard full of spices at my disposal. I don't know where I'd be without my herbs and spices. I have a whole cupboard full - and they're all mine. None of my other housemates use herbs and spices when cooking - I don't get this. How? I didn't have some of the things called for in this recipe, like root ginger, and fresh coriander, but I improvised.

The thing is with Slimming World recipes...sometimes they don't look as good as the real thing, even if they are damn tasty.

Chicken Korma
Slimming World - Family Favourites Recipe Card

Serves 4
Free on Original, 3 syns on Green (Chicken as a HE)


4 chicken breasts
250g very low fat natural yoghurt                           
2 tsp turmeric
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large onions, sliced
426ml/3/4 pint chicken stock
3 cardamom pods
1 2.5/1 inch cinnamon stick
4 black peppercorns
4 cloves
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tbsp root ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
Salt and pepper
Coriander leaves, to garnish.

1. Slice the chicken and place in a bowl together with the yoghurt, turmuric and garlic. Leave to marinate for at least 4 hours (or overnight)

2. Put the onion and chicken stock in a saucepan. Cover, and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat, uncover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes until the onion is tender, golden and syrupy. (Ok, here, I had to keep checking on the pan, because all my stock boiled away and it all went very dark and sticky...)

3. Add all the spices to the pan, cook for 3-4 more minutes. Add the chicken and yoghurt marinade. Cover the pan and simmer very gently for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. (This is where it started looking odd - the yoghurt, unsurprisingly, curdled. I wish I had a gas hob, I really do.)

4. Season to taste and serve with boiled rice.

My photography has a long way to go, I know. I'm more used to landscape photos than food. It's only through practise that we improve, you I hope you will bear with me as I develop my photography, and attempt to find some good lighting in this house...

Friday, 9 May 2008

It's not food, but hey, it's a post.

I haven't miraculously done any blog-worthy cookery in the last 15 minutes or so, but I will fulfill my promise of posting a "before" picture. This was taken over the Easter holidays, in Keswick (The Lake District) where I spent a lovely 2 weeks with my boyfriend. As you can see, rainy days are well catered for in Keswick...

Hopefully, before too long, I will be able to post a slimmer version.

You might as well have a couple more photos, for acquantaince's sake, but I'll try and make them at least slightly food or drink related...

So, it was my 21st birthday party, and someone gave me an absinthe shot, which probably wasn't the wisest of plans, considering how many cocktails I had already had. I couldn't down it. I think I even gave some of it away. Oh alcohol, how you taunt me.

I went to the USA over Easter as well. It's the first time I've been over the pond (well, other than going to Chile, but that's South America so..) I went with my boyfriend and his mum to visit his brother, who was working as a ski instructor at Loon Mountain, Lincoln, New Hampshire. This was taken at The Common Man Inn, and it was incredibly yummy, and incredibly filling. I swear, I could not move after our three course meal. I could hardly even walk back to the apartment. Anyway, if you're ever in the New Hampshire area, I guess I'd recommend The Common Man - delicious, and friendly service!

I admit it, I'm a crazy mad chorus girl who spends her spare time singing Gilbert and Sullivan oprettas. This was Ruddigore, our latest show. Our next show will be The Mikado, in February 2009.

Oh, and it's done - I have joined the Daring Bakers.

A welcome once more.

Ok, so, starting this in January, like many of my ideas and projects, didn't actually materialise. This time though, I am determined.

I am joining the Daring Bakers blogroll to inspire me to post (although I doubt this will be helpful to my diet, it will certainly keep my boyfriend and my housemates happy...)

I am also going to start posting more in general! Hurrah!

Well, a little about me perhaps to get you going. I'm Jackie, I'm 21 (dear Lord, that makes me feel old...) and I'm currently a second year university student at the University of York in England. I have a wonderful, caring boyfriend of, oh.. 9 and a half months, and he loves to eat my food. Except curries. He won't eat curries. Or gravy. I tried. And failed. On the plus side, he now eats onions, peppers and a whole host of new vegetables.

I still have a tempestuous relationship with food, and I'm still trying to lose weight. I go every week to a Slimming World meeting, and although I'm not going to try and shove Slimming World down anyone's throat, it is a wonderful programme, and a lot of the recipes here will be Slimming World compatible (and notated with syn values and healthy extras!)

If you're lucky, you might get some before and after photos. Currently, you'll just be getting the before, but charting my progress should be fun!

I love to eat pizza, pasta and potatoes, and rice - I'm a girl in love with carbs! I love my meat too, even though a lot of the food I eat is vegetarian. The boyfriend and I went vegetarian for Lent, and a habit of eating less meat has stuck. I'll cook anything once. Even twice. Or just continuously.

I need quick healthy food that keeps my brain in gear for studying dull books every day and for leaping out of the door for rehearsals and work. Once I get a job again.

I love South American food (in fact, food from anywhere is alright in my book) and hope to champion the little known food of my adoptive second country, Chile :)

That's probably enough about me. Look out for some posts coming your way in the near future!