Friday, 28 February 2014

Preparing for Spring

It feels like spring in London, so my (slightly) green fingers are getting increasingly impatient to start gardening. It is a bit early to sow anything outdoors, but I have started planning what I want to put into the vegetable patch and even drawn out some plans for rotating the crops. I have been reading up on the importance of crop rotation in 'The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency: The classic guide for realists and dreamers'.

This year, I am attempting to grow some peppers and so far they are looking good. I didn't fancy buying any seeds, so I took some from the gorgeous pepper that came with my organic veg box. I dried them on a plate for a week and then stuck them in some compost in peat pots. Apparently, peppers are particularly difficult to transplant, so it is important to put them in peat pots that you then can stick in a bigger pot once needed without disturbing the roots.

Bring on spring!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Barbie Sauerkraut, Jawohl!

Sauerkraut is sexy food, way up there on the hottie list with liver and bone broth.

Because I have come to love my sauerkraut so dearly, I whip up a batch every two weeks or so. It goes with everything (ok, fine, maybe not ice cream), keeps your gut bacteria extremely happy and tastes bloody awesome. Here's one I made earlier. ;-)

The kraut of queens 

Grate a cabbage (need I say an organic one, please!) very finely. The finer, the easier and faster it starts fermenting, I find.
Add some salt, perhaps one tablespoon.
Get your hands dirty and knead the cabbage with the salt until it starts "watering".
If you have an old sauerkraut batch, add some juice from that to get things going even quicker. For a Barbie look, use your old red cabbage one. :-)

Put a plate on top of the cabbage, with a weight if necessary, so that the "water" covers the cabbage. Leave in a darki-ish and cool place to start fermenting. Check on it once a day. Once it starts smelling a bit sour, put it in jars and refrigerate.

You can add all sorts of stuff to the cabbage, such as ginger and garlic and stuff, plus use all sorts of veg. Start a'googling and go crazy.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Meat and the Internet

We go through a fair amount of meat in our household and I am always on the lookout for quality organic, free range, grass fed meat. The best way to access this meat would be to live on a farm and care for your own animals. Second best would be to live in the country and visit some farms to check them out. If you are a city dweller like me, the digital era has opened up a third option: ordering over the internet and having all the goodness delivered directly to your door. Hooray for the internet!

These guys got recommended to me: Fordhall Farm. They have some great meat on offer and it is community owned.

I went a little crazy with my order and the fridge is now filled with chicken, beef, pork, offal, marrow bones... Don't worry, half of it is for Cecilia. I can't wait to try the Gloucester Old Spot pork!

The End of An Era!

The sun is shining today, both outside and in my heart and head. Yes, ladies and gents, 'tis the end of an era. 2.5 years at my latest agency job, 7 years in London, 12 years in market research for the pharmaceutical industry. Done!

Smug selfie en route to work
In honour of the day, I am donning my "corporate gear" one last time (pearls won't be of use in the stables...) and an infinitely smug smile on my face.

Adiós amigos! :-)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Day 20!

It's day 20, which means that I am 2/3 through the Whole 30. I can't quite believe that 20 days have gone by already and that there are only 10 days to go. On the one hand, it feels like this way of eating has become completely natural and I don't struggle for meal ideas. On the other hand, I look forward to...
1. being a little less awkward as a guest (I'll still be awkward after this)
2. being able to eat out (I'll still be awkward there too)
3. randomly, eating some cured meat (I am sure there are some good chorizo sausages out there that are W30 approved, but I will just wait till the 3rd of March to be on the safe side)
4. ...and maybe having some ice cream

When it comes to my well being, I don't really feel any different and I thought I would by now. My stomach is no flatter and I still suffer from gases. I am still tired and I have days when my legs feel like they are filled with lead. The last couple of days, I have tried to increase the amount of carbs that I eat to get some more energy, but I honestly struggle to get up to 50g per day. I still want protein to be the main feature of my meals, because it is satiating and too many carbs just make me hungry quickly.

Anyway, this was my celebratory 20th day dinner: rainbow trout fillets with sautéed kale, shredded raw veggies and garlic/chilli mayonnaise. It was one of my best dinners yet!

Oh, and here is one of my favourite lunches from a couple of days back: bacon and chicken liver with  fried leaves from a cauliflower (it doesn't get more frugal than that), apple and leek. Yum!

Dairy Fantasy II

Following on from the previous airy dairy post, how lovely to see this article on the pros of raw dairy. I really do hope that it is the start of a revolution!

Funnily enough, the farm they mention is the one selling raw milk at Marylebone farmers market. Unfortunately, the dude below had the gramps stand-in when I was there...

Farmer Dave Paul
Sexy farmer, courtesy of the The Guardian

Monday, 17 February 2014

Dairy Fantasy

I went round to the farmers market in Marylebone on Sunday for some vegetables. As I meandered along, I found a stall selling raw dairy. The sales guy looked something like Stålfarfar:

I like my men hirsute
He gladly shared his best conspiracy theories with me, along the lines of “the government doesn’t want us to know that pasteurization makes dairy poisonous”. After a non-committal reply of “uh-hum”, I was offered lumpy month-old raw milk. Despite my curiosity, I had to decline his kind offer, blaming it on my dairy-free February. I did promise to come back next month though. Which I will. You see, the beauty of raw milk is that it may go lumpy, but as opposed to pasteurized milk, it will not rot, just go sour and still be very much edible. Plus fermented dairy has the added benefit of being easier to digest for people who can be dairy sensitive.

There you go, first item on my “Leaving London Bucket List”. Drink clotted milk.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

False Advertising, Harrumph

My lovely friend Tara knows all about my carnivore preferences, so was kind enough to give me few restaurant options ahead of our Saturday brunch.

I chose Bones. Their online menu looked meat and veg enough for me. Turns out they decided to extend breakfast to 4 pm. Not a bone in sight on that menu...

Porridge Bones? 
In the end, the waitress sweet-talked the kitchen staff into serving me a salad. Bones, schmones, whatevs. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Day 12 - All Downhill From Here?

So days 10 and 11 are supposed to be the hardest days. And strangely enough they were! I had bloating, stomach ache, tingling in arms and legs and general lack of energy on both days. Yesterday (day 11), I reached a low when I thought about quitting and for the first time since I started this adventure, I thought about chocolate. Shock, horror!
Wearing my Nomnom Paleo T-shirt to cheer me up and keep me on track
Today is much better and I feel like I have got myself ready for another week of amazing paleo food. I got my weekly haul of meat, made loads of ghee and a fresh jar or mayo. 

Egg mayo is on the menu for lunch.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Collagen - Get Rich Quick Scheme!

How's this for a fantastic business opportunity? Boil some bones and skin, add some difficult to pronounce ingredients - hey presto, you can retire to the Bahamas!

"Thanks to Gold Collagen, I can now touch my toes, speak Mandarin and dance the foxtrot!"
I call mine the "Pure Golden Pig's Trotter Jello". Any takers?
"I swear it makes me look like I'm 40. Oh wait, I almost am?"

Friday, 7 February 2014

Day 7 - One Week Down

So, today was day 7 of the Whole 30. I am starting to think that I may be doing something wrong, because I only have two 'symptoms' of changing my diet; harder to fall asleep and pins and needles in my legs once in a while. Otherwise I feel pretty much the same as usual. I am also not feeling deprived in any way. I am eating delicious food morning, noon and night and I am being more adventurous than before.

Tomorrow, day 8, we will face our first social gathering during the Whole 30. I have obviously been out in the last week, but the occasional visit to a coffee shop is easy to handle by just having tea. Green or chamomile require no dairy and keep your hands busy. Tomorrow, however, is a 90th birthday party. I will need to eat plenty of good food beforehand and I expect to bat off the obligatory 'have some cake/dessert/...' several times over, hopefully without having to get into any discussions about my dietary choices. Wish me luck!

Today's menu was as follows:

Fried eggs with a beef/pork burger, a chicken liver, lettuce, tomato and sauerkraut

Left over pheasant pie turned into stew with sautéed savoy cabbage and sauerkraut

Baba ghanoush with raw carrot and broccoli
Yesterday's pork belly roast and vegetable gratin turned into stew

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Day 6

Today, my food was a bit pork-heavy and beige. Beige in colour, not in flavour! To be honest, I was amazed by just how tasty my dinner was - it was like I had died and gone to pork heaven. I am loving my cooking right now. Yay!

I have noticed a weird potential side effect from the Whole 30: my legs keep going numb and tingly when I sit cross legged. Very odd. Otherwise nothing to report.

Scrambled eggs with creamed coconut, pork/beef burger, lettuce, tomato and sauerkraut
Coffee with egg, coconut oil and ghee

Chicken liver and bacon with sautéed onions and cabbage, avocado, topped with a few capers

Coffee with egg, coconut oil and ghee

Pork belly with the best crackling ever (recipe)
Celeriac, onion, courgette and apple, cooked in the oven with some stock


Whole Thirty Schmirty (Or How Condiments Saved Me From Committing Bacon Mutiny)

Six days in, and this Whole30 business is getting on my nerves big time. I am having awake dreams of frothy morning coffees and stacks of crispy bacon. But until I get my nitrite & sugar free bacon from the boys at Sheepdrove (or cash in on my first bacon delivery from Cat), I will have to resort to other pick-me-ups: condiments!

Salsa and baba ganoush plus Waitrose's leftover Xmas candles
My kitchen is still without any electrical lighting, and on top of that, smells of paint solvent, but I figured I could whizz up some lovely condiments to go with my MEAT AND VEG, MEAT AND VEG, MEAT AND VEG, MEAT AND VEG, ad absurdum.

Rough guide to not losing your mind I: 
3 eggplants
3 tablespoons of tahini
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  1. Cut eggplants lengthwise, make a criss cross pattern across surface to avoid explosions
  2. Roast at, uhm, I dunno, 180 degrees until they start to get color and the skin blackens further, maybe 30 minutes?
  3. Scoop out insides of eggplants, or leave'em on like I did (how unorthodox!)
  4. Whizz all ingredients together for a party on your plate

Rough guide to not losing your mind II: 
5-6 large tomatoes
Salt and herbs for roasting
Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Half an onion
Fresh coriander
Some cumin to taste

If the tomatoes are gorgeous and in season, skip the first step
  1. Cut tomatoes into halves, season, roast in a pan, see above Rough guide I, point 2 for exact instructions (ehem)
  2. Cut the tomatoes into pieces, mix with loads of coriander, some vinegar/lemon juice, the chopped onion & garlic and dash of cumin

I'm still thinking of bacon though...

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Day 5

Five days in! 1/6 done... I'm going to pretend like that is a milestone. I feel like I am repeating myself  when I say that I feel no different. I'm really enjoying the food though. Check out my pheasant pie!

Scrambled eggs with creamed coconut

One hard boiled egg with mayonnaise
Mug of stock

Massive salad with tin of tuna in olive oil, avocado, tomato, topped with capers and roasted nuts

Pheasant pie* with salad and sauerkraut

*My own pheasant pie creation:
400g pheasant breast (or chicken)
100g bacon in bits
1 sliced onion
Smoked paprika
Fat of choice
100ml chicken stock
100ml coconut cream

1 broccoli, 1 large carrot, 1/2 celeriac - steamed until soft
1tbs mayonnaise
Handful of chopped cashew nuts

Season the pheasant breasts with paprika, salt and pepper, then fry c 2 minutes per side. Set aside and slice into 1cm wide strips. Fry bacon and onion with rosemary. Add chicken stock and coconut milk to the pan, let it simmer for a few minutes. Transfer the pheasant, bacon, onion and liquid to an ovenproof dish.

Make mash topping by blitzing the steamed vegetables with stick blender, then add mayonnaise. Put on top of the meat and top with the chopped cashew nuts.

Bake in oven for c 20 minutes (until bubbling) at 175 degrees.

Cloth Nappies aka Real Nappies

My baby's bum is bigger than yours
I don't pretend to be an eco warrior, but at some point during my pregnancy with Lil T, I became obsessed with cloth nappies or 'real nappies' as we, the converted, like to call them. I shared my thoughts on nappies with everyone around me and sought advice, but no one I knew had any experience with cloth. To be honest, most people looked at me as though I was slightly deranged and were convinced that I would fail in my cloth endeavour.

I researched all the different systems (prefold, all-in-one, pocket, fitted with wrap, etc.), the different fabrics (bamboo, cotton, synthetic) and all of the pros and cons of each. I just knew that cloth was going to be better for Lil T's bum, the environment and my purse. There were plenty of write-ups that calculated both the environmental and economic benefits, which gave me confidence in my choice. And it just made sense to use natural fabrics on a baby bottom – no surprise that I opted for a mixture of bamboo and cotton nappies.

When Lil T was born, she was tiny, for cloth nappies anyway, so I waited a couple of months until she had gained a bit of weight. I knew I couldn't wait much longer than that or I would never get started. Honestly, it was a bit daunting in the beginning, but now it has become second nature.

Yes, I have to do loads of laundry. Yes, I have to deal with dirty nappies. Yes, Lil T's bum is bigger than most of her contemporaries'.

But... There are no chemicals on Lil T's bum. Lil T has not suffered from nappy rash. We don't fill bins (and land fill) with nappies. We don't run out of nappies and have to run to the shop. We don't even use disposable wipes. (I made my own from old towels and they go in the washing machine with the nappies.)

Overall, I would recommend cloth to anyone! If you are interested and have any questions, let me know, because I would love for more people to get involved.
Nappy wash day in the Bishop household

Day 4

According to the Whole 30 website, today I should feel like 'killing all things'. I don't though (at least not more than usual). I feel remarkably normal, I just lacked energy this morning. That was probably down to not having coffee with breakfast and instead having it between breakfast and lunch. I won't be doing that again! Oh, I've also noticed that my sleep is getting a bit worse. I haven't had any trouble falling asleep since Lil T arrived, but I have the last couple of nights.

So this was the menu today:

Frittata with spinach, cauliflower and the very last of the brisket
Served with sauerkraut

Coffee with egg, coconut milk and ghee

Soup with left over mince meat
Side of fried egg and salad (grated celeriac, courgette and green cabbage, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil)

Mug of stock

Pork and beef burgers with salad, tomato and mayonnaise

Monday, 3 February 2014

Day 3

Three days in... And feeling fine. Still struggling with broken sleep, but let's face it, that has nothing to do with the Whole 30. Today, I went to yoga, which means a 45 minute walk in both directions plus an hour of ashtanga yoga. All this felt fine, but my lunch was too early in the day to accommodate my activities and I was hungry before dinner, so I needed a snack.

Frittata with random leftovers (brisket and red cabbage)
Coffee with egg, ghee and coconut oil

Tomato soup with a tin of mackerel, topped with sautéed brussel sprout leaves (I thought they would be nice and crunchy, but it really was not worth the effort)

Mug of homemade stock

Cauliflower fried rice with pulled pork and carrots

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Day 2

So it was day 2 today and I can't say I feel different from yesterday or the day before. Still tired after another night with many wakings and my stomach is as gassy as before. What made me feel better was that I managed to soak up some weak London sunshine while walking back and forth to Cecilia's pad (total 2 hours) and doing some sprints. Cecilia cooked up an amazing Whole 30 approved lunch, which kept us full for hours. Thank you!

This is what I ate today:

Tomato soup: the liquid from the pressure cooked brisket from last night, with some brisket and grated cauliflower added in
Coffee with egg, ghee and coconut oil

Lamb burgers with sweet potato chips, tomato salsa, mayonnaise, baba ghanoush and red pepper.
Roibos tea

Curry flavoured turkey mince with mushrooms, leek, garlic, fresh coriander and creamed coconut
Steamed carrots and brussel sprouts
Large steaming mug of stock

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Doing the Whole 30

Our Whole 30 adventure starts today. So, what is it all about? The official site is here: Essentially, it means cutting out all inflammatory foods for thirty days and eating clean, unprocessed, real food. Doing this for thirty days is supposed to heal your body and reset your health. These are the foods that won't feature in our diet:

Sugar and sweeteners, including natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey.
Alcohol. None whatsoever, even in cooking.
Grains. No brainers like wheat, rye, etc, but also rice.
Legumes, i.e. beans of any kind, peas, soy.
MSG by any of its names (check this list:
Dairy, apart from ghee which has had its milk proteins removed.
Paleo-fied goods like pancakes, muffins, bread, etc.

I feel like I am already following a good diet, but there always seems to be some exceptions and these sometimes sneak in on a daily basis; like a couple of pieces of dark chocolate or some soy sauce or those delicious banana pancakes that sometimes get a dose of maple syrup on top. I guess it all adds up and my gut has been unhappy for the last six months (read: loads of gases). I am also hoping that a couple of other things will improve. I have a seven month old daughter waking me up every couple/three hours a night, so can I gain more energy through dietary changes? My stomach still hasn't returned to its former shape. It has gone from flat to floppy. I also weigh 3kg more than when I became pregnant, although that is definitely my lowest priority.

Simon, Cecilia and my parents are joining me on the Whole 30, which is really exciting and will keep me focused and inspired, as I am sure I will face some tough situations when I will just want to have that little [insert goodie of choice] or when I am in a social situation and I have to go hungry because there isn't anything suitable available.

As for now, we are almost at the end of day one and ... so far so good. This was on the menu today:

Omelette with a side of sautéed green cabbage, leek, swede and left over roast chicken, 1/2 avocado
Coffee with egg, ghee and coconut milk

Cauliflower fried rice with mushrooms, carrot, leek, left over braising steak, ginger, garlic and fresh coriander
Green tea

Snack (there was probably too little protein in the lunch)
1 hard boiled egg
Cinnamon tea

Brisket in pressure cooker, adapting Jamie Oliver's recipe, by substituting red wine with 100ml balsamic vinegar and homemade stock
Roasted beetroot and butternut squash
Stewed red cabbage with apple cider vinegar

Last Night Out (Of Sorts)

I have wanted to introduce Cat to the Remedy ever since I first set foot there a few months ago, so for Christmas, I gave her a night out in the best wine bar in town (ever so slightly biased, I know).

The "before" picture, no "after" picture taken, he he
The Remedy is inspired by the Slow Food Movement, specialising in natural wines and seasonal food from small independent producers. And to people who know jack about wine (I know what I like and what I don't, that's it), David, Renato and Danny are angels.

With this very worthy send-off into Whole30, we now say goodbye to alcohol for the next 30 days*.

*I am telling a white lie. I will be making an exception for my one or two leaving dos that just might fall into February. Bad planning on my part!