How to recover after a flare

heartsee

Inspired by Eileen at Phoenix Helix’s article on How To Survive An Autoimmune Flare, I thought I’d add some tips on surviving a digestive flare.

  1. Go back to your safe zone diet. The foods you know do not cause you any harm. My safe zone diet is now paleo and based on plain meats and roasted or boiled vegetables. I used to go straight to rice based meals after a flare, so this may work for some people. Think about easy and plain foods that you make at home from scratch. These are the safest for people with food intolerances and autoimmune issues. SCD Lifestyle talks more about creating a food safe zone.
  2. Drink water and coconut water to replace any fluids lost, so you stay hydrated.
  3. Try adding some fibre slowly to your diet. Think about flaxseed, psyllium, slippery elm or acacia powder or chia seeds.
  4. Drink a soothing herbal tea, such as Chamomile, or peppermint, which are good for digestion.
  5. Go for a gentle walk, as this will calm the nervous system and aids peristalsis of the gut.
  6. Do either yoga or meditation to create the relaxation response. Aim for 20 minutes each day. This reduce stress and inflammation and releases tension, including the bowel muscle.
  7. Give yourself a tummy rub. Use circular motion around the belly button, starting at the top right and heading left and then down and back. Use coconut oil and gentle essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint and chamomile.

What’s your best advice for surviving a digestive flare?

How to cook toasted cheese and chilli relish sandwich

toasted-cheese

Ok, here’s another easy one I just wanted to knock off my list of recipes for Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge. It’s a toasted cheese and chilli relish sandwich, instead of the chilli relish I used a tomato chutney and boy is it a great combination. I’m glad I tried it, even if it was one of the simplest recipes in the book. Delia calls it “a vegetarian version of Croque Monsieur”.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook pork sausages braised in cider

pork-sausages-braised-cider

Yesterday I cooked two recipes for dinner for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge – Pork sausages braised in cider with apple and juniper, and Perfect mashed potato.

Basically you brown the sausages and onions and apples separately , then you combine them together and stew them in a casserole dish on top of the stove. It took about half an hour prep time, and then an additional one hour stewing, so this isn’t a quick after work dish.

Matt adjusted the pan as it wasn’t sitting on the hob properly in the center. I had to take the lid off to boil some of the liquid off and thicken up the cider sauce.

I boiled two potatoes to have as a side and mash them with a cool device which looks like a spiral on the end of a masher. (I don’t know what it’s called but it works a treat.) I added cream instead of crème fraîche because I couldn’t find any in either Coles or Woolies.

The highlight of the dish was the lovely apple and cider gravy. It was nice but I wouldn’t cook it again. The mash was delicious based on cream, but again a bit of treat since rice milk works just as well without the guilt.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook chocolate and almond crunchies

chocolate-almond-crunchies

The next recipe for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge was Chocolate and Almond Crunchies. I was a little disappointed in how these turned out.

The uncooked biscuit mixture was yummy to taste so I had high hopes.

When I lifted the first batch out of the oven and off the baking tray, half of them crumbled and fell apart. So to remedy the second batch I decided to add some water to the remaining mixture. This was a big mistake because when they came out of the oven they had melded and ran into each other resulting in one big biscuit instead of nine!

The key I think is in the instructions which tell you to let them cool for ten minutes on the baking sheet. This is when they harden up. Oh I forgot, I also put in double the amount of chocolate to make them extra rich and just to use it up. Perhaps that was also a mistake.

Overall a nice biscuit but the instructions need to be followed to the T. There are two variations in the book, so I may give them another go.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook Croque Monsieur

croque-monsieur

OK so Croque Monsieur is basically just a flash ham and cheese toasted sandwich. Delia says it reminds her of the cafes in Paris and that it is “one of the nicest snack meals for one that I know”.

It’s an easy recipe, so I thought I’d knock it off my list of recipes on the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge. I didn’t use grated Parmesan on the outside of the sandwich as I like to keep our sandwich press clean. Instead of Gruyere I used cheddar cheese. It hardly needs a recipe. A quick and easy meal for when you are in a hurry and lacking inspiration.

There are a couple of other people doing cooking challenges, so pop over to their website and cheer them on:

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and chilli

delia-spaghetti-olive-oil

The second recipe I cooked for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge was Spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and chilli. Now if you look closely at the photo you may think that’s a lot of chilli, but actually since I’m allergic (well, intolerant) to chilli I used capsicum instead.

I’ve cooked pasta plenty of times before but I read Delia’s instructions and followed them as closely as I could. One thing I have stopped doing is salting the water, as we doesn’t like much salt in our diet. But in this instance I did and didn’t really notice any difference. I made enough pasta for one for lunch today. I got garlic all over my fingers, but I don’t mind the smell.

I was tempted to test the pasta by seeing if it would stick to the wall when it was al dente, but I’ve recently cleaned the tiles above the stove top so I gave it a miss. I don’t want to clean them again so soon! Anyhow, Delia says the “only real way to tell is to taste it.”

So that I only had one pan to clean up I slightly deviated from Delia’s instructions. I cooked the pasta first and then made the sauce in the same saucepan, while the pasta drained in the sink.

I love Delia’s instructions on how to eat spaghetti and other long pasta. I pretty much do what she suggests, but the olive oil dripped down my chin! Sometimes I like to use a fork to twirl the pasta around on the bottom of a spoon. I think it’s authentic, but perhaps that’s a myth.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

Learning how to cook with Delia Smith

delia-smith-retro

I’ve always wanted to be a good cook so I’ve decided I am going to work my way through Delia Smith’s Complete How to Cook. The book was originally published as three separate volumes with an accompanying TV series. It was released as one complete book in 2009 to celebrate 40 years of writing recipes.

Delia has sold an impressive 21 million cookbooks worldwide, producing more than 20 recipe collections and spent over 30 years on our screens. Delia has a way of explaining complex instructions that make you understand what she means, which is perfect for beginner cooks like myself.

delia-smith-now-then

Photo: BBC

“Delia’s genius is to understand what Middle England wants to eat at any given time, and then nudge it just very slightly forward in a way that seems fresh and exciting rather than strange and intimidating” says Clarissa Dickson Wright in “A History of English Food”.

She continues “Delia’s other great skill is in being straightforward and comforting….. What’s more her recipes work – hence the 1980s joke along the lines of “I danced with a man who danced with a girl who had failed with a Delia Smith recipe”.”

Mary Berry says Delia’s “recipes were inspirational, effective and always worked.”

Delia’s Complete How to Cook was voted as the best recipe book ever published (The Daily Telegraph/www.OnePoll.com). The book has over 700 pages, 350 recipes and step-by-step photography. There are 25 less recipes than in the originals (Delia’s How to Cook One – 137 recipes; Delia’s How to Cook Two – 120 recipes and Delia’s How to Cook Three – 118 recipes). 

I’m going to pace myself and try to complete a couple of recipes each week, so it will probably take me a few years to complete! I’m looking forward to trying lots of new recipes and new techniques with the ultimate aim of finally learning how to cook.

Delia's Complete How to Cook: Both a Guide for Beginners and a Tried and Tested Recipe Collection for Life

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

How to select and store cheese

gfws-cheese

Dairy Australia says to remember the three R’s when selecting Australian cheese.

“When a cheese is Ripe and at Room temperature, it’s Ready to serve.”

They also make the following recommendations for selecting cheese:

  • Where possible, always taste the cheese prior to purchasing
  • Choose one or two perfectly ripened cheeses, rather than a collection of mediocre cheese to feature on a cheese platter
  • If possible, buy cheese freshly cut from a larger wheel or piece.
  • Choose cheese close to use-by date. Cheese is often reduce in price close to the use-by date for a quick sale. This is great for consumers as cheese is often ripe and at its best by then.

Storing cheese

It is best to store cheese wrapped in its original wrapper. Otherwise use waxed paper or loose cling wrap to allow the cheese to breathe.

Avoid using foil for wrapping blue cheese as it will react with the cheese. Instead store blue mould and washed rind cheeses in a covered container to reduce odours in the refrigerator.

Avoid stacking cheeses with rinds on top of each other as this hinders the maturation process.

Tons of turmeric

tumeric

Sunday was perfect weather to get outside and garden. It was a lovely break from the rain and cloudy days we have recently been having.

Matt pulled out the dying leaves of two pot plants and look what he uncovered (above). We thought one of them was ginger, but it seems as if they were both turmeric plants. Matt said

There will be turmeric in every meal from now on.

I thought he was joking, but then discovered my spaghetti bolognese had an orange tinge to. Matt asked me whether I could taste it not. Fortunately I couldn’t!

If you want to grow your own turmeric or ginger simply plant one of the rhizomes (like above) and when the leaves die off during winter, it is time to harvest. Save a few of the rhizomes and replant for the following year. Make sure you get an edible ginger. Both plants are very easy to grow and harvest.

What is a bouquet garni?

peppermint-leaves

A bouquet garni is a french cooking technique for a bundle of herbs tied together with string. It adds flavour and aroma to a dish.

Cooking School Provence says:

A bouquet garni should include a minimum of three herbs or aromatic vegetables, but you can use as many as you like. Add bouquet garnis to stews, roasts and pot roasts at the end of the preparation stage, just before the main cooking starts. Remove and discard the bouquet garni before serving.

There are three main steps to preparing a bouquet garni:

  1. Select a good base with a 4 to 7 cm segment of either celery, fennel or a leek leaf. Alternatively you can use a small square of muslin cloth. 
  2. Add herbs to the bundle. 
  3. Wrap the herbs up in the base and tie up the bundle with a piece of kitchen string. Le Cordon Bleu recommends you “leave a long tail to the string for easy removal”. Some chefs tie the bundle to the pan handle.

Variations

  • classic base: parsley and a bay leaf or thyme
  • meat dish: add celery and rosemary
  • chicken or pork dish: celery, rosemary with tarragon or sage
  • fish dish: fennel, thyme, dill and a bay leaf

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