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CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 15th -21st May 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “Real food v Processed Food” and Saturday Snippets where “Surprise” is my one word prompt.

 

Welcome to my weekly roundup…The month of May …a spring month in the northern half of the world, and a fall month in the southern half. The month of many food days/months…National Asparagus, Egg, Salad, Salsa( today its mango salsa) and Strawberry Month to name a few…all foods I love which means there will be some recipes…We are experiencing our rainy season with some fabulous tropical storms…the trees and the grass are loving it though and it is a tad cooler…My scheduling is going well I have never scheduled so far ahead…

Monday Musings…

One of my favourite posts as I can highlight other blogs or something I have watched or read…last week I shared National Mental Health week which is important to keep in the spotlight especially now people are talking about mental health and not sweeping it under the carpet…it could affect any one of us, there was the Eurovision Song Contest and it may have been a political vote but I see it as solidarity and standing behind Ukraine…plus the UK came 2nd what surprise that was…there were some beautiful images of the Joshua True plus I didn’t know they used to be pollinated by Giant Sloths who ate the seeds of the tree and spread the seeds through their dung…isn’t nature wonderful…

Monday Musing’s 16th May 2022…

Tuesday I invited you to join me in my kitchen and it was a hot one today a lovely Chicken Jalfrezi…hot because the recipe includes green chillies and chilli powder not for everyone I know but some of you like a bit of spice… if you do I hope you enjoy it!

CarolCooks2 in my Kitchen…Chicken Jalfrazi…

A-Z of World Cuisine…this week it was a virtual tour of Croatia…

Croatia is heavily influenced by Italian Cuisine so lots of pasta, truffles, and olive oil not forgetting the seafood but there are also traditional Croatian dishes like Black Risotto which is very popular here…

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 15…Croatia…Famous for its Black Risotto…

Next, we take a trip over to Sally at Smorgasbord Magazine where she tells us about all the benefits honey offers…

Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy – #Honey -#Propolis – Thousands of Years of History and Health by Sally Cronin

I am repeating my store cupboard basics for those of you who didn’t see it the first time around but also because I am hearing more and more about shortages and empty shelves in stores around the world because of the war in Ukraine and the longer it goes on the more it will rebound on us..prices are rising and some products are getting scarce…

There are steps we can take and I know I live in hopes but also know that some will stockpile and that is so wrong…we all have to eat…I also abhor waste..food waste particularly when there are people including children who are still starving and going to bed hungry and waking up hungry…which means we have to put on our thinking caps and decide before we absolutely have to how we can change the eating habits in our household …we need to decide what foods we should be eating which foods we can go without and plan accordingly…we don’t need all the processed foods and sweet treats… if we do this now as gas and fuel prices are rising already …not only will it ease our budget but it will improve your health.

Buy cuts of meat or fish pieces and make a lovely fish stock or pie ..season those cheap cuts of meat with herbs and spices from your storecupboard or garden…we need to start thinking now about where we can adjust before we really have to…

Dried goods keep almost indefinitely, try something you haven’t cooked with before like couscous or other grains and store a packet or two to ring the changes …

This week in my kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 2…Pasta and Noodles…

Processed foods are not all bad…but some are …we need to know the difference…for me in a food crisis because I believe there could be one at some point plus a health crisis…health services around the world are struggling because of lifestyle diseases…diseases that can be preventable if we take ownership of our health instead of relying on medication…of course, I do not advocate just stopping taking subscribed medication but speak to your doctor and ask how can I help myself…it can only benefit you and your health.

CarolCooks2…Friday Food Reviews…Real Food v Processed Food…

Finally, because it is National Salsa Month... mango is in season here plus there are some lovely local grown avocadoes to be had…time to make salsa…

Mango and avocado salsa with red onion.

Ingredients:

  •  1 mango, diced
  •  1 medium avocado, diced
  •  ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (optional)
  •  ½ bunch fresh coriander (about 1/2 cup chopped)
  •  Juice 1 medium lime (about 2tbsp)
  •  1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of black pepper, to taste.

Let’s Cook!

In a medium bowl, combine diced mango, avocado, finely chopped red onion, chopped bell pepper if using and chopped coriander. If you like a hint of spice like me then add chopped chilli.
Squeeze 2tbsp of fresh lime juice over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine and serve.

If not serving right away, cover and refrigerate.

Serve with corn chips or some crispy potato peelings…

Thank you for joining me today I do as always look forward to your comments have a wonderful Sunday xx

Saturday Snippets…21st May 2022…Today’s one-word prompt “Surprise”

Welcome to Saturday Snippets this is one of my favourite posts of the week I learn much from my research and from your comments so please keep them coming…last week I learnt that the conker tree has candles how cool is that all these years and I didn’t know however my muse has been in fine fettle this last week she has stormed ahead and now my brain is in overdrive but it feels good as I have scheduled up until 9th July….I have never scheduled so far in front…but it actually feels good although it was hard work to get it up and running or time-consuming I should say…

Today’s word prompt is “Surprise”

Surprised I was as I didn’t know that “Surprise” is a city in Maricopa County, in the U.S. state of Arizona…of course, I had to ask the question…lol…Why Surprise?

The city is named after a quote by the original landowner. Flora said at one point that “she would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much” and yet today over 120,000 people call Surprise home…so there you go!

Surprise…an unexpected or astonishing event, fact, or thing…which can be pleasant or unpleasant but we will dwell on the pleasantries today…almost from birth we are taught the art of surprise…who hasn’t played peep-bo with a baby that look of wonder on their faces and the laughter and giggles it elicits are priceless …Surprise as someone jumped out of a cake…Surprise as you receive an award or open a present…a bunch of flowers…an unexpected visit…one that I hope will happen very soon when I go to the UK…

Surprise Lillies...Lycoris squamigera, the resurrection lily or surprise lily, is a plant in the amaryllis family,  It is also sometimes referred to as naked ladies. It is believed to have originated in Japan or China.

Aptly described as the leaves die down and then the flower stalk appears…

Did you know?

Amethyst Bradley “Surprise” Ralani is a South African soccer player who plays for Mamelodi Sundowns FC in the Premier Soccer League.

Surprise, Surprise… was a British light entertainment television programme for ITV that originally ran from 6 May 1984 to 26 December 2001 with Cilla Black as the host. …it was regular Sunday evening viewing…my son used to run out of the room when he heard the theme tune it scared him so much…bless him we tease him sometimes even now…

Yes, I know I love Rock and Roll and acapella I also don’t mind listening to some classical music on occasion…

Secluded…pristine…undisturbed. Welcome to the remote high desert valleys of northeastern California- come discover Surprise Valley Hot Springs…Located on a geothermal active fault line, the water at Surprise Valley Hot Springs rises to the surface at temperatures nearing 200 degrees, cooling in pools and lakes. Artifacts found on the property have been dated back 15,000 years, proving that Native Americans made use of these waters long before the white settlers discovered them.

Both my mother and father used to ring the bells at our local church…Surprise methods are connected to the ringing of the bells…many churches ring a variation of Cambridge Surprise Minor…I always remember how pleased my mother was when she had achieved a quarter peel for the time…Bell ringing is an art its not just pulling o the rope it’s how you do it and the timing is very complex…

How glorious is the sound of the bells…

I have been “surprised”…no pun intended as to what I discovered with this word prompt… it’s been revealing…even in cookery lots of recipes include the word “surprise”…Chicken surprise, sausage surprise…sweet potato surprise..lots of chocolate surprises even Pecan Pie Surprise Bars…This recipe was the winner of the Pillsbury Bake-off Contest in 1971…have you made these bars? I am going to have a go at adapting these as I don’t buy cake mixes but they do look deliciously wicked..the nuts are healthy…but hey ho we have to throw caution to the winds and treat ourselves occasionally ..Don’t we?… These I think will be my guilty pleasure…You have the link to get the image but they look scrumptious…please tell me if you have made them?

Most home cooks recognize the Pillsbury Bake-Off as an American tradition — but did you know about its massive impact on the way we bake at home? Common kitchen staples like the Bundt pan and the sesame seed only became widely used and accepted in American homes because of winning Bake-Off dishes! …

 

 

CarolCooks2…Friday Food Reviews…Real Food v Processed Food…

 

Welcome to Friday Food Reviews where I will be covering a different food or product each week and looking at… what are they?  where do they grow, what can we substitute them for in a recipe, are they safe to eat, how to store them, how to use them, cook them, anything connected to that food. or product..all the why’s and the wherefores…it will, of course, be mainly my own opinion or a known fact…good or bad…there may even be a tried and tested recipe…or three…

This week it’s…Real Food v Processed Food…

Sometimes however hard we try to “select” healthy options there is so much hidden sugar that many times we far exceed the recommended guide for sugar per day in one meal…

Adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day, (roughly equivalent to 7 sugar cubes). Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars a day (6 sugar cubes)…now for the scary part 1 teaspoon sugar = 1 sugar cube = 1 sugar packet.

Breakfast:

Whole Oats nothing added …only what we add…

Whole Oats contain several vital nutrients plus insoluble and insoluble fibre that slows down our body’s absorbance and keeps us fuller for longer. If we add a handful of berries like blueberries they deliver antioxidants that help fight toxins in our bodies.

Instant Oats…

Contain on average 11gm of sugar per serving 2.75 tsp plus the glass of processed OJ contains 21 gms of sugar(5.25 tsp) and 0 gm of fibre.

That means the Instant Oat breakfast has exceeded the daily recommended guidelines in one meal and doesn’t include any fibre.

Mid Morning Snack:

Time for a snack!

Plain Natural Yoghurts are full of probiotics that can help maintain a healthy digestive system and provide a boost for the immune system…if you like you can add a few healthy berries or a banana I often do that…

Fruit flavoured Yoghurts…are full of sweet nothing! The chillers in stores are full of them…pretty enticing packaging for both adults and children alike…many brands pack the equivalent of 5 tsp of sugar in that little carton and no health benefits insight…

Lunch:

Most people love a cheese sandwich it’s quick and easy to make at home plus real cheese has calcium, and protein that helps your muscles, bones and nerve function add wholegrain bread and you have a tasty healthy sandwich to which you can add watercress, onion, tomatoes all healthy additions.

Picking up a processed cheese sandwich while you are getting your gas and the picture changes…for one your digestion system only digests that sandwich at about 50% less energy for the afternoon than that same sandwich made with “real cheese” and wholemeal bread…

Some processed cheese only contained 50% real cheese and often less it makes this up with Water, Salt, Artificial Coloring, Flavorings, Lecithin, Enzyme Modified Cheese, Dehydrated Cream, Anhydrous Milk-fat, Phosphoric Acid, Albumin from cheese whey, Acetic Acid, Monosodium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Tartrate, Potassium Sorbate…Just saying…

Time for a drink:

There are so many known benefits for drinking “Green Tea”…brewed properly it tastes wonderful and you don’t get that bitter taste which is often associated with green tea…treat yourself to some loose leafed green tea a pretty pot or diffuser and you will never drink anything else…How to brew the perfect cup of green tea.

I know it is quick and easy to pick up a can or bottle of soda however how long does it really take for the kettle to boil? That 12 oz can of Coca Cola contains 9.75 teaspoons of sugar and even if your weight is normal it can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 29% and lets be frank here Type 2 diabetes can be avoided by being aware of your diet.

Snack time.

Snacking on a handful of nuts, think walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, and cashews all full of healthy fats add a few raisins and you have a snack that provides protein, nutrients and healthy fats…there have been numerous studies that confirm a nut-filled diet has a positive impact on our cholesterol and blood pressure levels they also can lower the risk of heart disease…

A 2 pack of oatmeal and raisin cookies does not mean healthy… you may think it helps you with portion control..think cookie jar and having oatmeal proudly adorning the pack again with the amount of sugar processed cookies have (6 tsp) and at 150 calories per cookie that’s 300 calories that ain’t healthy…if you really want a cookie make your own where you can control the sugar…

Dinner:

Wild-caught salmon:

Omega 3 fats are what our bodies need and 4 ounces of baked or steamed salmon contains at least 2 gms of Omega 3 fats eating fish rich in omega 3 fats like (mackerel, salmon, herring or sardines) are all associated with a decreased risk of numerous cardiovascular problems.

Picking up that breaded fish portion is vastly different it has been deep-fried and then frozen plus it is loaded with sodium, fat and calories…the fish used is also generally cheaper white fish which is not so high in omega 3 fats…

I have just given you a few examples of the differences between real food and processed foods just taken over this one day it shows how the recommended guidelines of sugar alone have been vastly exceeded…I think that is quite scary as I know many people drink more than 1 soda a day and that’s just the soda what else are they consuming no wonder Type 2 diabetes and obesity are on the increase and children’s teeth are suffering…

Thank you for joining me today I look forward as always to your comments xx

Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy – #Honey -#Propolis – Thousands of Years of History and Health by Sally Cronin

There are certain foods that bring more than taste to your diet, rich in nutrients and energy they are worth including in your weekly shopping.

Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.

This week it is the turn of honey which has been providing sweetness to our diet for thousands of years. First, a look at its many health benefits and then Carol is going to work her magic in the kitchen…I love honey and I was so happy to receive a package of fresh honey from my daughter in law…fresh from the comb I take a spoonful every morning sometimes as it is and sometimes in a drink with fresh ginger…In the link below Sally tells how beneficial to our health honey is it has been around for thousands of years and has even been found in some pharaoh’s tombs…please click the highlighted link below to read all about the benefits of including honey in your diet…

honey bee

The Honey Bee

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/05/19/smorgasbord-health-column-food-therapy-honey-propolis-thousands-of-years-of-history-and-health-by-sally-cronin/

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 15…Croatia…Famous for its Black Risotto…

Welcome to my new A-Z …World Cuisines…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…I have Chel to thank for giving me some ideas from which this one took shape…Thank you Chel x

Today I am looking at the cuisine of Croatia!

Croatia is located in southeastern Europe. Croatia is bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the west, Slovenia and Hungary to the north, Serbia to the east, and Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro to the southeast…Croatian food is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. Although Italian and generally Mediterranean food serve as a basis for Dalmatian as well as Istrian food, pasta, gnocchi and pizza are very popular throughout Croatia. For example, there are more Italian restaurants in Zagreb than any other cuisine…

The most wonderful olive oil and truffles are produced in Croatia…as they border the Adriatic Sea there is an abundance of beautiful seafood on offer…Brodetto or Brudet as it is also known is a beautiful fisherman’s stew that hails from Italy’s Marche region. Traditionally, fishermen cooked it over an open fire using the catch of the day. They would add ample vinegar to the pot to preserve the stew for a couple of days. Like Italians, coastal Croatians use a tomato base in this dish…Here in this video chef Gordon Ramsey cooks his version of a fishermans stew…

You can also see how beautiful it is there when you watch this video…

Croatia is also famous for its “Black Risotto”...Known locally as crni rižot, this is made with cuttlefish or squid, olive oil, garlic, red wine and squid ink, which gives an intense seafood flavour and black colour. Popular all along Croatia’s coastline, this dish will turn your mouth and teeth black – but it’s said to be worth it.

Peka!

I love it when I hear that traditional cooking methods are still being used …Popular throughout Croatia, this tender meat & vegetable dish is also called ispod čripnje (under the bell) – literally food that is cooked under a terracotta or iron lid over burning embers. Peka can include octopus, lamb, veal or chicken, and is often accompanied by potatoes…Doesn’t that sound wonderful…?

Truffles…Istria’s Motovun forests contain some of the highest concentrations of truffles in the world. Croatian tartufi are not as well known as Italian, but some say they have a stronger aroma. They’re certainly less expensive than their Italian counterparts – a multi-course meal with a generous amount of truffles costs half what it would in Italy.

Here Gordon Ramsey makes a simple dish of scrambled eggs with truffles…you should see the size of them he rightly says that they are the size of boulders…

Olive Oil…Croatian olive oils received nine awards at the 2016 New York International Olive Oil Convention, six of which were from Istria. A good-quality extra virgin Istrian olive oil has a piquant, peppery taste and a scent evocative of freshly cut grass. Many are produced by individuals or small cooperatives so they have ‘local’ flavours. You’ll find it drizzled on everything…

If you visit Croatia you will find fresh green markets and fish markets in almost every town and city…Produce like green blitva, a type of Swiss chard, ruby-hued peppers, purple figs, multi-coloured carrots and giant green cabbages… it’s a foodies heaven.

Rakija...

In Croatia the distilled spirit is made from fruit, rakija is part of Croatian culture and a symbol of hospitality. It is customary to have a glass before and/or after your meal and to look your fellow drinkers in the eye, clink glasses, and consume the entire shot at once.

Traditional Croatian rakija varieties include travarica (herbal), šljivovica (plum), medica (honey), višnjevac (sour cherry), smokva (fig) and biska (mistletoe)…I think I quite fancy the sour cherry…honey drinks are generally too sweet for me and mistletoe not sure I fancy that but would certainly give it a sample…

Does Croatia have “Street Food” ?….you bet…Ćevapi (or ćevapčići), are small sausages made from pork and beef and are the ultimate Croatian street food. Most stands on the street (look by the bus stops)offer them. The sausages are grilled and then stuffed into a pita-like bread, with red pepper and tomato sauce (ajar), sour cheese, and onions…yummy…

Every culture has some form of soup, and Croatian cuisine is no exception. One of the most popular soups is a peasant soup or stew called Grah, which literally translates to “bean.” It is typically made with smoked sausage and of course, contains a little paprika…

Cheese…every country has its own cheese…Croatia is no different…

Cheese from the island of Pag in the Adriatic Sea is famous. On the island, the dry wind blows the salt from the sea onto the island, and the minerals infuse the few scrubby plants on the island. The sheep have to climb the hills to find the plants, and the lean sheep produce uniquely flavoured milk.

Pag cheese is a protected item…unique to the Island of Pag,,, Its savoury flavour is enhanced by rubbing the cheese with ash and olive oil during production. The salty, spicy aromas are best when paired with some prosciutto, grapes and a deep tannin-packed red wine…

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of the beautiful country of Croatia…next time my virtual tour will land in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo where the food varies widely and represents the food of indigenous people.

Thank you for joining me today I do as always look forward to your comments…Have a lovely day xx

CarolCooks2 in my Kitchen…Chicken Jalfrazi…

We love an Indian Curry …This week we thought as we had some bell peppers to use we would make our version of a Jalfrezi. It is said that Chicken Jalfrazi was invented during the British Raj it is now on every Indian restaurant s menu…so what does Jalfrazi mean?… Jalfrezi’ means a type of Indian technique through which a hot & spicy curry is made with fried meat and vegetables. In Bengali, ‘Jal or jhal’ means spicy and ‘frezi’ means stir-fried…

Chicken Jalfrezi.

Jalfrezi is a spicy curry. It certainly isn’t mild. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the hottest, Jalfrezi certainly sits somewhere in the range of a 7-10. It is hot because the recipe includes both chilli powder and chopped fresh green chilli.

Ingredients:

500 gm of chicken with the skin removed and cut into cubes.

For marinade:

  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and either grated or as I do I blitz it together with the garlic.
  • 4-6 pieces of garlic peeled and grated.
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 -2 tsp of garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste.

For the vegetable mix:

  • 200 gm of onions peeled and thickly sliced or chopped
  • 1-3 green chillies sliced
  • 250 gm fresh tomatoes quartered
  • 2 tbsp ghee/oil
  • Salt to taste.

For cooking curry gravy:

  • 2 tbsp Ghee/oil
  • 1/2-2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

Mix the ginger, garlic turmeric, garam masala powder and salt together. Coat the chicken and marinate for 2-3 hours.

To cook the jalfrezi heat your ghee in a wok then add your sliced onions, chillies, peppers and salt and stir fry for 5 minutes.

Add your tomato wedges and cook until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes half-cooked about 10 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon and set to one side.

Add 2 tbsp of ghee and heat then add your chicken pieces..sometimes I use legs or thighs. Cook on high heat for 5 mins, stirring.

Add the chilli powder and the tomato puree. lower the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked. If it is too dry add some water we prefer a thinner sauce rather than thick and dry. Add the vegetables and cook for 5-10 mins.

smart

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary…We like this curry as we prefer a tomato-based curry like the Jalfrazi …

Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with rice, mango chutney and flatbread or nan bread.

Enjoy!