Category Archives: Cooking from scratch

Smorgasbord Health Column 2023 – The Body our Greatest Asset – The Brain – Shopping list for the Brain and its support systems by Sally Cronin

Part four – Shopping list for the Brain and its support systems.

The first key element to eating for brain health is to omit industrially processed foods that contain harmful toxins and additives that have zero nutritional benefit and effectively ’empty’ calories. They might supply sugar and trans fats and look appetizing on a plate, but the brain will not recognize them as anything it can process. Processed foods Vs. Industrially manufactured foods

If you eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, some moderate whole grains, nuts and seeds, good quality meats and cold-water fish that have not been farmed, you are doing a great job.

Please if you are like me and are concerned about keeping your brain in tip-top condition as you age then please click the highlighted link below which will take you to Smorgasbord Magazine where Sally tells us about the foods we should be eating…Because my mother has Vascular Dementia I have subscribed to Alzheimer’s Research UK and they have stated that 40% of dementia cases could be due to factors we may be able to influence…That is quite high I think and worth taking action on…See you over at Smorgasbord Magazine x

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2023/01/26/smorgasbord-health-column-2023-the-body-our-greatest-asset-the-brain-shopping-list-for-the-brain-and-its-support-systems-by-sally-cronin/

 

Thursday Thoughts…26th January 2023…Australia Day, Vesna Vulovic fell 33,300 ft and survived…Walnut Brittle…

Welcome to “Thursday Thoughts…today is January 26th 2023…I have always believed that no matter what happens that when your time is up it’s up…Did you know that on this day on January 26th 1972, flight attendant Vesna Vulović survived the world’s highest recorded fall and fell into the Guinness book of records?

She fell 33,330 feet without a parachute and survived!

Australia Day: is a celebration of different cultures, races, religions, beliefs, and views…In 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip and British colonists hoist the Union Flag at Sydney Cove, New South Wales, now celebrated as Australia Day. Referred to as Invasion Day by some First Nations people…

Outdoor concerts, community barbecues, sports competitions, festivals and fireworks are some of the many events held in communities across Australia…the beaches and parks will be heaving and the barbies will be fired up …

I would like to wish my family and friends a Happy Australia Day…

In 1988 “Phantom of the Opera” opens at Majestic Theater, NYC; runs for 4,000+ performances…this is one of my favourite musicals…

January 26th is also National Peanut Brittle Day…Filled with peanuts, almonds, or pecans, this classic candy is a timeless treat …with a crunch that comes from salty roasted nuts embedded in a buttery hard sugar bark and broken into multiple pieces, it’s delicious…there are multiple theories as to its origins and I’m sure that many of you could tell one of them how it’s passed down through the family…

One such theory is it was originally a traditional Celtic dessert. Celts are thought to have served the brittle during holidays, supporting the theory that peanut brittle began in Europe. It’s said that they made the bark by baking a mix of sugar and peanut butter. The candy then made its way from Europe to America in the 1830s by way of Irish settlers coming to the New World.

For me it’s all about adding baking soda that releases multiple air bubbles, giving the candy that delicate and porous texture you look for in a delicious brittle…its not particularly healthy although I do use a good quality maple syrup which is better than corn syrup however a little of what you fancy does you good…so enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup buttercut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups walnut pieces,toasted…or nuts of your choice.
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda.
  • Coarse salt such as Maldon salt(optional)

.Let’s Cook!

  1. Firstly toast your walnuts: Add walnuts to a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly until walnuts are fragrant and beginning to brown. Immediately remove from the skillet to a plate to cool. Set aside.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Then in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, stir together the maple syrup, white sugar, butter, and water until melted and creamy. Once the mixture comes to a boil, do not stir any more (you can gently swirl the pan, if you feel it needs it). Attach a candy thermometer to the saucepan and continue to gently boil until the candy thermometer reaches 300°F or the “hard crack” stage. Immediately stir in baking soda and be careful as it will foam then add your walnuts and stir well to combine.
  4. Then very carefully pour the hot brittle mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it out into a thin layer with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle top with a bit of coarse salt, such as Maldon if desired.
  5. Note: Sugar at this temperature is extremely hot and will give you a nasty burn so please be careful…
Allow to cool completely. Break into large pieces and store in an airtight container…mine
generally doesn’t get as far as storage as they are like vultures here-smile-
Thank you for joining me today for Thursday Thoughts as always I look forward to your
comments…xx

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 26…Fiji a beautiful South Pacific Island…

Welcome back to my A-Z of World Cuisines after the Christmas and New Year break…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…

Today I am looking at the cuisine of Fiji…

After nearly a century as a British colony, Fiji became independent in 1970…a country in the South Pacific, Fiji is an archipelago of more than 300 islands. It’s famed for rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons.

Its major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu contain most of the population. Viti Levu is home to the capital, Suva, a port city with British colonial architecture as you would expect after being a British colony for nearly a century…

Traditionally, the Fijian cooking method uses an open fire or an underground oven dug out of the ground and covered with banana leaves. Still used today, the Lovo or underground overcooking is a thrilling cultural experience for all travellers to Fiji.

Just seeing lovely fresh fish or meat cooked like this would heighten the senses and the food would taste sublime…

Surrounded by water seafood has to be one of the major players in Fijian cuisine however you may also find a curry to die for…Rice, sweet potatoes, taro, coconuts, cassava, breadfruit, and of course, fish, have made up the majority of the Fijian diet for centuries…with traditional recipes passed down through the ages…like the “Lovo” yes that pretty BBQ in the image above is the traditional way to cook a feast of fish, meats and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves… it is cooked in a makeshift underground oven that is dug into the earth, lined with coconut husks and covered with stones.

Having been traditionally prepared to celebrate significant events in the village, like a wedding or a festival. Today, most resorts offer regular lovo feasts for their guests to enjoy…

With so much fresh fish available there has to be ceviche on the menu here it is called kokoda a delicacy made of raw fish marinated in coconut cream, onions, tomatoes and lime…

I am drooling as I type all those flavours are ones readily available here and ones I love…This national dish of Fiji is served in a large clamshell, coconut shell or bamboo in a festive style.

Because roughly 40% of Fiji’s population is of Indian descent…this came about in the late 19th century and early 20th century when Indians were sent to Fiji by their British colonial rulers to work on sugarcane plantations…hence Indo-Fijian food that is like anything you’d find in Delhi or Mumbai, with spicy curries, rice and roti bread…also a small part of the population is of  Chinese descent therefore if Chinese is your favoured cuisine then you will find it here.

Fiji is also rich in tropical and juicy fruits such as sea grapes, pawpaw, banana, various melons and of course pineapple and jackfruit! …Nama or sea grapes or green grapes grow in shallow waters, are similar to caviar (fish eggs), and are served with chillies and lemon… they are something that we eat here on occasion the kids love them…I like them if I can get a look in -smile-

It is also used as a garnish in Fiji and can be added to either a salad or coconut milk. Nama contains Vitamin C and Vitamin A.

Fijians use Nama with coconut to make a thick paste known as kora made by first squeezing the coconut milk from the freshly grated coconut, separating the milk and the grated coconut, packing them in sacks and dipping it into the sea for two weeks or more it is the seawater that gives it its unique taste…This is then served with seafood…and it is apparently most delicious…

Another delicacy is the Sea urchin, locally known as Cawaki, which is the only species of urchin in Fiji that is edible. So much so that it has become a popular delicacy in coastal villages. Cawaki is found in Fiji’s shallow coral reef ecosystem. The women of Fiji provide the main collection process for the Cawaki, after which they take the Cawaki to sell at markets. .. collecting and selling sea urchins is now a source of income for women.

Palusami is popular in Fiji and is made of boiled Taro leaves mashed into a curry and has a stewed spinach flavour. Little to no spices or chillies are used in this dish which is garnished with coconut cream. These leaves are stuffed with meat, sometimes corned beef, with onions and a coconut mixture because fresh meat isn’t always available.​

It wouldn’t be a trip to Fiji if you didn’t sample the Mahi Mahi…although the fish is most often used when making Kokoda… and It is very popular not only with locals but tourists and usually grilled or cooked in a frying pan and served with vegetables…Mahi Mahi Mahi Mahi is a fish sourced from the deep waters around Fiji.

If you have been or are planning a visit to Fiji then don’t forget to try the National drink of Kava…

Kava is described as a drug made from ground-up roots of a South Pacific plant, the Piper methysticum, a member of the pepper family and is taken as a drink. Kava is traditionally made of crushed, ground, or powdered root soaked in water and drunk as tea and has been used by Pacific Islanders for hundreds of years. Kava is used in traditional ceremonies and cultural events in the Pacific region.

When travelling I always head for the markets as that is often where you will find the most amazing Street Food…not so In Fiji…you will find very little cooked food sold in markets partly due to the heat and lack of refrigeration although there is a newish project called “Street Foods Fiji” outside Port Denarau on the mainland side of the bridge that crosses the river to the Island of Denarau about 20 minutes drive from Nadi International Airport, it is as close as the country comes to authentic micro restaurants, selling a variety of traditional and Indo-Fijian snack plates…however, it would still be an experience to wander around the markets trying lovely unusual fresh fruits and drinks…

Thank you for joining me today for this virtual tour of Fiji as always I look forward to your comments xx

Monday Musings…23rd January 2023…Fitness Update…Natural Antibiotics…Echinacea, Toadzilla,Trans Fats and the problem with rice!

Welcome to Monday Musings where my muse pinpoints anything exciting or unusual I have read, seen or experienced during the last week it could be anything that piques my interest…

Natural Antibiotics that work…Echinacea

Pharmaceutical antibiotics are one of the world’s greatest inventions…however, they are often over-prescribed and people get immune to them. They are great for bacterial infections and even for treating some parasites but because of misuse and overuse people build up resistance to them…

Echinacea is known for its antibiotic properties as well as being a popular remedy for colds and flu…Echinacea is available in many forms, including tea, juice, tablet and supplements…As always make sure you consult your doctor before starting to take any supplement.

Archaeologists have found evidence that Native Americans may have used echinacea for more than 400 years to treat infections and wounds, and as a general “cure-all.” using the root, leaves, and flowers of the plant in traditional herb remedies. Its popularity waned with the discovery of synthetic antibiotics. But, there is a growing interest again in the herb because of problems with the effectiveness of specific antibiotics against some bacteria.

Echinacea is effectively used against a variety of infections such as septicemia (infections of the bloodstream), tonsillitis, streptococcus infections, and urinary tract infections…indeed some 18 plus years ago my daughter was advised by her oncologist to take echinacea as he thought it could help to keep her white cell count from going too low he explained that nothing had been proved but many of ladies were taking it and it appeared to be beneficial she took his advice and her white blood count did indeed not drop too low to stop her treatment was it the echinacea we don’t know but her oncologist stressed it would not do any harm to take it … studies are still ongoing…Several laboratory and animal studies suggest that echinacea contains active substances that boost immune function…I was impressed with him as he was obviously looking beyond traditional medicines and agreed that traditional medicine and plant medicines could work together hand in hand.

It is important to choose a high-quality echinacea supplement and to use echinacea as early as possible in the course of a cold, with multiple doses per day for the first few days. Talk to your healthcare provider for recommendations…as always there are many unscrupulous people who manufacture supplements that either have none or very little of what you would expect it is always wise to check thoroughly …the old adage of you get what you pay for still applies in many cases…

There are three species of echinacea that are commonly used for medicinal purposes: Echinacea angustifoliaEchinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. Many echinacea preparations contain one, two, or even all three of these species. Different products use different parts of the echinacea plant, which is why the effectiveness of echinacea may differ from one product to another…

Today 23rd January 2023 a Virtual High-Level Event is being held by WHO (World Health Organisation)…The Fourth Progress Report on Global Trans Fat Elimination.

It will be interesting to hear what the outcome…

Rice is my favourite carb...I eat rice every day…but what is the problem with rice that no one is talking about? This is an interesting video…

Fitness update…

Today I went out for a gentle 5km walk I have learnt from my stupidity and trust me I have been cursing the fact that I am 71 years old and cannot jog/run like I used to…I hate getting old however now I have stopped berating myself for pushing myself too far too fast I have accepted I need to show restraint…hmmmm…hence a gentle walk but having never ever suffered from joint pains and back pains I know I must be sensible… it’s taken me long enough to accept the limitations of this body…and keep it twinge free…so gentle walking it is and then under the guidance of one’s son I will be doing gentle jogging… I’m getting lessons in how I should do it and not break into a run…I need to slow down (apparently)and do as I am told…

Toadzilla...

Awwww R.I. P…Toadzilla

Thank you for joining me today as always I appreciate your visit and your comments I hope to see you on Wednesday when my A-Z of World Cuisine will be back xx

CarolCooks2 weekly roundup…9th-21st January 2023-Monday Musings , #My Culinary A-Z, Thursday Thoughts, Shepherds Pie and from Sally #The Brain and its functions Dementia and Alzheimer’s…

Hello and welcome to my weekly roundup of posts, you may have missed during the week… since closing comments on some older posts that were being targeted by spammers I am also closing comments on new posts after 28 days I cannot believe the difference it has made to spam I’m getting withdrawal symptoms-smile-I have had 3 this week and they weren’t really spamming rather people link dropping although to me they get classed as spam the RV spammers and the others have disappeared I’m sure they will come back and I will repeat the same exercise on the posts they target but for the moment they are gone it’s great…therefore if you wish to comment on an older post please make your comment on a new post and I will pick it up and respond x

Monday Musings.

Welcome to Monday Musings where my muse pinpoints anything exciting or unusual I have read during the last week, or seen or experienced it could be anything…Firstly though I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and encouragement as well as a caution on my venture into jogging…well the update is that I pushed myself too much too soon… I know I was beyond stupid and have been berating myself for being so stupid and am now having to rest up as I tried to work through it and that didn’t work…I am so cross with myself and mad as I really enjoyed it…too much too soon a lesson learnt…

Monday Musings…16th January 2023…Fitness Update…Natural Antibiotics…Spammers…and great news on the one Horned Rhino

I love A-Z’s but that’s no surprise as I have written a few series plus my current one is an A-Z of countries and their cuisines…This A-Z is my very first A-Z and I am very grateful to Sally for repeating it on Smorgasbord Magazine…Thank you Sally you are a star it is also lovely for me to have a recap on what I wrote a few years ago now…This week the letter  O  for Olives, Octopus, Onions and more was featured over at Smorgasbord Magazine.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Carol Taylor’s – Culinary A – Z Rewind – ‘O’ for Oats, Offal, Octopus, Oranges and Oysters.

Thursday Thoughts!

I think Thursday Thoughts has taken the place of Saturday Snippets where I go where my thoughts take me or something prompts me…this week there were “The Three Stooges”, Origami, Popcorn and tin cans plus various other topics…and everyone’s favourite a recipe of sorts for Shepherds Pie…

CarolCooks2…Thursday Thoughts!…19th January 2023…Hot Air Balloons, Shepherds Pie, Origami and Popcorn…

Alzheimer’s and Dementia is subject close to my heart…they are terrible diseases that can strike anyone and sometimes not just the old…however there are steps we can take both dietary and physicaly that can give us a fair chance of not being one of the ever-increasing statistics…

Please if you are like me and want to try and stop this disease from knocking at your door then head over to Smorgabord by clicking the highlighted link below…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2023/01/19/smorgasbord-health-column-2023-the-body-our-greatest-asset-the-brain-dementia-and-alzheimers-disease-by-sally-cronin/

Thank you for joining me today as always I look forward to your comments and thank you for your shares…I hope that wherever you are you are having a great Sunday if it is sunny..enjoy and if it’s cold, frosty, foggy or snowing stay warm and stay on your feet if you venture outside…

CarolCooks2…Thursday Thoughts!…19th January 2023…Hot Air Balloons, Shepherds Pie, Origami and Popcorn…

 

Welcome to “Thursday Thoughts”…today is January 19th 2023…Did you know that on this day, January 19, 1940, The Three Stooges film “You Nazty Spy!” about the Nazis was released with the disclaimer “Any resemblance between the characters in this picture and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle.”

I have always been fascinated by origami and this man takes it to another level…

Did you know?

January 19, 1785, Richard Crosbie became the first Irish man to fly a hot air balloon in Ireland?… I have always been fascinated by hot air balloons…

Today is also “National Tin Can Day” and “National Popcorn Day”

National Tin Can Day is every January 19 and is a day dedicated to the humble tin can that preserves some of our favourite food items. Without tin cans, the process of storage and preservation would have been entirely different and less convenient. The best thing about canned food is that it is accessible to people from all walks of life. Over the years, various countries around the globe have made their contributions to the evolution of tin cans. The fact that this storage item has been used for over a century is proof of its worth.

First Tin Can.

British merchant Peter Durand receives the original patent for the idea of using tin cans to preserve food…and it’s difficult to open a tin without a can opener…

First Can Opener.

Ezra Warner of Waterbury, Connecticut, receives the patent for the first can opener.

Last Thursday I introduced some info on Lithium batteries…BUT

What comes after Lithium?

Most of us are aware that Lithium is mined and the problems both human and environmental that it causes so of course anything that is as good and doesn’t have a human or environmental cost is welcome…

Thursday…that’s today so what is special about Thursdays?

  1. Did you know that in Australia, most movie premiers are often held on a Thursday?
  2. Sometimes it’s easy to wonder if 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40; why can’t Thursday be the new Friday?
  3. Thursday is a day featured heavily in Christian lore, and it’s also the traditional day U.K. elections are held on.
  4. Thursday is sometimes referred to as “Friday’s Friday,” meaning it’s the herald of Friday and, therefore, the weekend.

When it’s nearing the end of a long week, the last thing you want to do is cook…

I certainly start thinking whats quick for dinner tonight it’s getting close to the weekend and it’s been a long week…Shepherds Pie always goes down a treat…its quick and easy and you can chuck in any bits and bobs of veggies, mushrooms anything goes…

I don’t even have a recipe I use minced pork or beef add chopped onions, chopped diced carrot, peas and or sweetcorn, tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic then, add some stock, Worchester sauce, salt and pepper I thicken it with cornflour slurry add some lovely mashed potato top with grated cheese and pop in the oven until the cheese has browned probably 20-25 mins as everything is hot when it goes in the oven and its a pretty forgiving dish anyways…

If you prefer you can use a  fish mixture and a white sauce and top it with potatoes…You can use white potatoes or sweet potatoes, mashed yams whatever you fancy its a quick meal that is hearty and warming…my mother always made one on  Monday with leftover lamb that she minced but as I rarely get lamb here I use minced beef or pork.

That’s all for today as always thank you for joining me and as always I appreciate your comments x