A recent discovery of mine, and I can’t get enough! Great fresh recipes, fabulous photos…. check out Naturally Ella. Erin started her blog in 2007, and her website is packed with cooking tips and meal plans.
Naturally,being a food obsessive, I love reading other blogs and gaining an insight into other worlds of food. I was recently involved in a discussion with friends where we talked about the different types of lunch that school children enjoy around the world. That led me to the article http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/school-lunches-around-the-world-10054568.html
In the rather meandering way that I pootle around the net I then came across this blog and was riveted.
The whole concept of what are apparently typical school lunches in France fascinated me. Raw vegetables, a main,a cheese course and fresh fruit. I am on an endless quest to get real, nourishing food down B-G and so with H-G’s eager acquiescence I decided that for a week we would experiment with eating in a prescribed ‘French Family Way’. We would enjoy a raw veg starter; a main with veg on the side, cheese and fresh fruit as a pudding. We would eat together at the table as a family with water to drink and candles. Dinner would be a slow, relaxed, family affair. No matter how busy our days had been, our family meal would be a punctuation in the day. As a starting point though our portion sizes had to be drastically curtailed as there was simply no way we could eat 3 courses daily otherwise. For our Monday main course of chicken paprika for the three of us I would usually cook 2 and a half chicken breasts. This time I cooked 1 chicken breast in total and that made three meals comfortably.
Starter – tomatoes with cucumber yoghurt sauce.
Main- Chicken and red pepper paprika with rice
Cheese course and dessert -1 small triangle Camembert with sliced apple.
B-G ate the tomatoes and dabbed at the sauce. He ate the all the rice,some of the chicken and left the peppers.He ate his apple, nibbled at his Camembert and ate his small sliver of cheddar that I had put on his plate. I was exceptionally pleased with this, as he is usually quite conservative in his approach to food, and the attempt at the Camembert in particular pleased me hugely. We usually eat a single meal each evening, with the occasional pudding of fruit and yoghurt. While we do eat at the table a few times a week-mostly at the weekends it has to be said- B-G initially found it hard sitting at the table for what ended up being a solid 45 minutes rather than the 20 or so minutes we are used to. However by the cheese and fruit course he had relaxed and had started to volunteer snippets about his school day and his teachers.
Starter – raw mushroom and lettuce salad with vinaigrette.(B-G had a honey mayonnaise dressing).
Main – tagliatelle with prawns, chilli and fresh cherry tomatoes
Cheese course and dessert -apples and camembert / cheddar.
B-G was horrified at the raw mushrooms. It is more usually one of the ‘hidden vegetables’ that I have become used to sneaking into his food. He tried one bite.
We then ate our main course and B-G wolfed it down. This was delicious. I just gently heat a cup of olive oil, add prawns, one crushed garlic clove and a tablespoon of dried chillis. B-G had his version without the chillis. Just before serving I stir through diced raw cherry tomatoes.
One of the cats was also keen to partake in the cheese.
Starter – radish and cucumber salad
Main- Salmon fillet baked with pesto, potatos and peas
Dessert – Vanilla ice cream
This radish salad is one of my all-time favourites. I just slice radishes, a spring onion and mix with sour cream a little bit of salt and black pepper. Today I also added cucumber just because. This is perfect on a very heavy dark Eastern European bread. Delicious.
The salmon fillet is easy, but tastes amazing. I just dollop a bit of pesto (from a jar) onto the raw fillet, wrap in foil and bake at 180 degrees celsius for 18 minutes. With buttered boiled potatos and peas this makes a gorgeous mid-week meal.
B-G got a mid-week treat of vanilla ice cream while H-G and I again had apples and a sliver of cheese. It is only Day 3 and already B-G is learning to relax over his meal and that the aim is not to wolf it all down in 15 minutes flat before racing upstairs to watch The Simpsons. Result!
[…. see Part 2 next week…..]
I try very hard to make only one meal for all the family. However there are days when I just know that Baby-Gusto is not going to eat anything on offer and then I am usually scratching my head trying to think of something he will eat. Last night we had potato and spinach curry, and I needed something easy for B-G. I tried something I have never done before but looked easy enough… ham and cheese pinwheels.
These worked really well, and although are probably not too high in nutritional value at least made a change from cucumber and boiled rice which is what B-G would eat every day of his life if he could.
I used puff pastry, then spread it with a mix of mayo and tomato sauce. (I know, I know….. I should have used passata but this was meant to be quick and my energy levels were low). I then topped it with sliced ham….
and then cheese….
roll and slice
then bake in a medium – hot oven for about 15 minutes or so.
This went down very well with Baby-Gusto. Sometimes just getting food into them is a win.
On the other hand Husband-Gusto and I had the world’s quickest potato and spinach curry.
Just potatoes, carrots and onions simmered in light coconut milk with a tablespoon of curry powder. For the last 5 minutes or so spinach was stirred in. This was a bit too soupy and next time I will try a trick that one of my favourite bloggers Annika suggested of mashing half the potato. Annika is from Estonia and I love looking at her adventures and food. Her potato curry recipe is here.
A nice way to spend a weekend morning. Breakfast at The Coast Bar and cafe in Cowes.
It was a busy place to be. The numbers of people pulling suitcases stopping in for breakfast before heading for the RedJet told us that many people were heading for home after spending New Year’s Eve in Cowes.
Despite being local, we rarely go to The Coast and I always wonder why we are so infrequent when we do go. The ambience is really nice… all wood, leather chairs. The staff are friendly – yesterday we had two absolutely delightful waitresses who could not do enough for us – despite the busy morning. Husband-Gusto’s many requests for coffee refills were fulfilled quickly with a huge smile. They even had board games on the counter which kept Baby-Gusto amused.
2016 is going to be my Year Of Tea.
Husband-Gusto’s Full English (minus the baked beans) was very good he said. Although his gold standard is the 7-item breakfast on Red Funnel Ferries, and this was almost as tasty.
But the real standout meal was my Eggs Florentine.
Two softly poached eggs on wilted spinach and English muffins. The hollandaise was absolutely wonderful. It was light, creamy and lemony. This was a total joy.
I could really get into breakfast. 🙂
Two ‘new’ bloggers are blogging from the Isle of Wight also. Rosy has written some desperately funny blogs and her latest details her adventures on the Island.
Reniera has newly relocated with her gorgeous family to the Island and has some fabulous recipes and adventures and stories to recount.
Happy New Year!
We tried the pumpkin curry from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I made a few changes according to our tastes… we used fresh diced pumpkin rather than canned, and yellow lentils instead of red for the bit of extra bite. I also used vegetable stock in the sauce and used light coconut milk. I was really pleasantly surprised with this, as I thought the main focus on pumpkin would be overwhelming but it was a really deep flavoured and delicious.
Served with brown rice, and kale sauteed in vegetable stock.
Our dear friend Rosy is a gifted writer and blogger and has years of experience inviting hordes of people to massive Thanksgiving meals. One mainstay is her now-famed oyster stuffing. Despite the name, the stuffing is not actually cooked inside the chicken or turkey, but is prepared in a pan and then baked in the oven alongside of it. I have been agitating for some time for Rosy to share her recipe, because if you are not a vegetarian, this is truly one of the most extraordinary and unexpected dishes that you will come across. Combining smoked oysters, bacon and cream with rice does not sound like it will result in anything so heavenly. But the flavours come together in a way that is outstanding.
Rosy did not host a Thanksgiving meal this year but very kindly agreed to share her recipe with the Gustos this week. This can be served on it’s own with a salad, or alongside a roast.
1 onion diced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tin oysters john west in sunflower oil
I tablespoon Sunflower or canola oil.
Half pack lardons or six slices streaky bacon chopped into chunks
1 cup cooked white rice. (ready cook instant rice works well)
1 good handful of chopped flat leaf parsley.
3 tablespoons double or single cream
Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Sauté garlic and onions in oil
Add lardons when onions softened
Add lots of cracked black pepper
Cook lardons until cooked through but are still pink.
Add the cooked rice
Stir mixture through the pan so that the oil coats the mixture lightly.
Open tin of oysters and put all the oysters and the oil into the mix. Leave the upturned tin on the top so all the oil can drip out. Keep stirring the mixture lightly so it does not stick.
Put half the bunch of chopped parsley into the mix
Call coronary specialist
No, put the spoon away now
Season with more black pepper
Put the cream away into the fridge as you will need it for the pumpkin pie
Place mixture into an oven proof dish
This will take about 20 minutes in the oven until is lightly browned on top.
Then serve with turkey or chicken or just with a side salad
Drink more wine
This is even better the next day. Newbies to Rosy’s feasts tend to be unaware of just how good this stuffing is, and so bypass it. All the more for us.
** all pictures are copyright ‘Yes! I am Vegan:) ‘ and are used with permission.
As goes without saying, considering I am a blogger, I just love reading food blogs, and one of my favourite blogs is written by the vegan blogger Charanya from ‘Yes! I am Vegan:) ‘.
Chaz blogs from Sydney, and her recipes and photos just look so inviting and gorgeous. Her food is unique, and truly gourmet. Check out the divine looking Plantain koftas in a Fijian Indian Curry. This is one dish I am aching to replicate, and Husband-Gusto has been tasked to locate plantains next time he goes to London.
Chaz very kindly agreed to be interviewed for this blog, and I was extremely honoured that she took the time to chat with me.
1. Hi Charanya! I am just loving your blog. So I guess to start with – tell us a little about yourself!
Before anything else, thank you so much for the interview.
I am an IT lecturer by profession-my students call me Chaz (It’s an Aussie thing to add ‘Z’ at the end-few dear ones take it a step further and call me Chaza). I was born in India and we moved to Australia few years back. I recently got married to the love of my life and we live in Sydney. I love to read books (yep, IT books inclusive), cook and travel. So far, my favorite place is Tasmania and would love to move there for good someday. Looking forward to what life has in store
2. When and why did you first go vegan. Was it a gradual shift or an overnight change?
I have always been heavy (Birth Weight: 4.2 kilos) I got into running when I was young, but asthma put a full stop to that. I loved food. My family is vegetarian and I was brought up as vegetarian as well. Thanks to dairy, I managed to hit 98+ kilo mark when I turned 25. That was it. I decided to lose weight.
First, I went in to see my doc-she suggested to quit all food products that are white in color. ‘No Dairy, egg, white rice, white sugar, semolina’. I was so committed, I decided to go ahead. In my very first week of going vegan, I lost 7.5 kilos. I was amazed what to see what dairy had been doing to me. I stayed strong for 30 days and I had a meltdown. My now husband, then boyfriend took me out and I had paneer (Indian cottage cheese) for entree, mains and dessert. Came back home and threw up. This routine went on for 6 months. I loved my cheat day.
Then, I watched a documentary about treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia. One search lead to another and when I looked up why people went vegan, I saw few videos about what cows had to go through for my glass of milk, my slice of cheese or a spoon of butter. The fact that a calf gets separated within hours of entering this world from its mother; I can never erase the image of that cow’s pain being separated to this date. And that was the turning point. Now, I have been vegan for over 2.5 years now.
3. What was the hardest thing about going vegan?
I have to say, it is learning to live vegan in this non-vegan world. It’s kind of a re-birth. You learn about what to eat, what could be substituted, where to find vegan products, when you go to restaurants-what do you ask them to do. It took me 3-4 months and now, I love veganizing pretty much everything
4. How did your friends and family react, and have they followed suit?
My husband has always been supportive from day 1. He has never pushed his beliefs and I don’t push veganism on people except when someone asks me ‘Why do you do this to yourself?’ My mum and dad were not as understanding and were shocked (Duh!). When I explained to them, it was for my health, mum cooked vegan meals and now, they are proud of what I am today. Also, my husband’s family-they ensure I get vegan products what so ever -to an extent that, when I refused to wear silk for my wedding, they got me ‘Ahimsa Silk’ which means ‘Silk without killing silk worms’. My husband eats vegan food pretty much every day, but once a week leans towards dairy and eggs.
5. what is your first vegan cookbook, and what recipes do you love from it?
I don’t own a cookbook. However, I have a gift my husband’s granny gave me and it was her recipes written and bound as a book. That’s what got me into cooking. I treasure her ‘Yogurt curry’ (I use Vegan Yogurt now) and ‘Minty Vegetable Rice’
6. What are your three fave recipes that you cook regularly?
1. Raw Buckwheat Porridge for Brekkie
2. Cheesy Hummus for lunch /dinner
3. Carrot and Dates Kheer for Dessert
7. When I am tired and can’t be bothered to cook, I just make avocado on toast. What is your no fuss go to recipe?
My Signature Zucchini Chickpea Fritters (takes no longer than 15 mins).
8. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I write a blog on yesiamvegan.wordpress.com where I post recipes that are vegan and gluten-free. After a surprise gift (Nikon D5200), I am thinking about getting my own domain and taking a step further in this Social Media era.
Thanks once again for the interview
Thank you, Chaz. I can really recommend her blog. Her pictures are fabulous and her recipes inspiring. As I said, check out the Plantain Koftas…… seriously….. how good does this dish look?!