Ahh… Bisto…!

retro-tinsoxo-tinbisto-tins

I love cooking, and I still love using some of the very British products I grew up with.

I still use traditional Birds custard powder and always have a tin of Tate & Lyle treacle in my store-cupboard, and when it comes to flavouring and thickening gravy I still prefer to stick to my tried-and-tested favourites – good old Oxo cubes and original Bisto powder (always accompanied by cornflour).

These lovely retro-designed tins sit happily together in my larder, constantly re-stocked as necessary – the Oxo tin speaks for itself, and of the two Bisto tins one holds Bisto powder and one holds cornflour πŸ™‚

Daily Prompt: Spicy

spicy

Our kitchen spice rack contains a very personal mix of flavours and tastes that has developed over the years, a blend of my rather plain-cooking northern Scottish UK roots and my husband’s spicier-palated southern Louisiana US roots.

We tend to cook with a fusion of lots of flavours, some spicy and some not so much – black pepper, mustard powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, chilli powder, various constituent parts of curry powder, dried herbs of several persuasions, chilli flakes, soy sauce, chilli sauce, fish sauce – and also all-spice, ginger powder, and even cinnamon powder (all of which work well asΒ  a flavour-enhancer in savoury dishes).

Most sit in very bland-looking but functional containers, considering the non-blandness of their specific contents, but I particularly like the bright colours in these two small metal tins so have chosen them to illustrate my otherwise rather dull post πŸ™‚

Daily Prompt: Spicy

Daily Prompt: Edible & Savour

edible

I missed yesterday’s post for ‘Savour‘, so have combined it with today’s Daily Prompt of ‘Edible‘ to include my favourite individual bread –Β  it’s a focaccia style bread with a topping of goat’s cheese and tomato on top of basil pesto. Decidedly edible, and definitely one to savour – yum yum! πŸ™‚

 

Ditching the Diet of Denial

smoked-salmon-scambled

Today’s lunch of choice was smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on wholegrain toast – and it was yum! I’ve been trying so hard since the end of last month to eat more healthily, but quite simply it doesn’t come naturally to me. Or rather, I find ONLY eating healthy options doesn’t come easily – my problem is eating perfectly wholesome meals at meal times AND still nibbling on high fat/ sugar treats in between times too!

I’m the world’s worst emotional eater – I eat not only when I’m hungry, but also when I’m sad, tired, lonely, bored… you name it, I eat because of it. I grew up swallowing down my disappointments, rewarding myself and healing my hurts with food, and it’s proving to be a really hard habit to kick. For now I’m just taking it all day by day, by keeping an open mind on making any choices about what to eat one meal, one snack at a time.

I’m finding it so difficult to try to change my whole attitude to eating, to recognise and remind myself each time I reach for something tempting to soothe my soul that I tend to use these unhealthy treats to feed my emotions rather than fuel my body. So instead of focusing negatively on the feelings of restriction, on what I’m not allowing myself to have, I’m trying toΒ think in terms of providing positive nutrition while not compromising on taste.

I’ve got a long way to go, but for me it certainly seems to be working to be keeping it simple, breaking it down into bite-sized chunks, planning no further than my next meal. I don’t doubt that ditching the diet of denial is going to be difficult, and I’m bound to falter amd stumble along the way. But somehow every time I do choose sensibly, it builds my confidence to imagine that maybe someday I can change the habits of a lifetime, one day at a time… πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

Daily Prompt: Snack

snack-lunch

Today’s nibbly snack-based lunch… smoked ham, chorizo, cheese, olives, and tomato with ground black pepper πŸ™‚

I’m trying hard just now to make a conscious effort to make healthier food choices, especially as I’m not only an emotional eater but also one of life’s natural grazers, so I have to be really careful not just to be cramming in a constant conveyor-belt of high fat and sugar options without really thinking about it.

The thing is, I do love lots of different foods, not just sweet stuff and deep-fried stuff, so I’m trying hard to move my focus from indulging my emotional needs to tempting my tastebuds with alternative flavours and textures to enjoy. I need to break some pretty long-standing overeating habits though, so it’s not going to be easy.

My middle-aged spread is making itself far too much at home for my liking, especially now I’ve hit menopause – I don’t want to resign myself to being fat and unfit for life just because I’m in my mid-fifties. So I’m just taking it all one day at a time for now, and I’ll see how it goes…Β  πŸ™‚

Daily Prompt: Snack

 

Daily Prompt: Juicy

steak-1steak-2steak-3

The first (and only!) thing that came straight to mind when I saw today’s Daily Prompt: Juicy was big fat juicy steaks. The thing is, in general I’m not a great beef eater – I far prefer lamb, pork, or chicken – but steak is kind of considered to be the king of meat, so I always go with the flow when visiting others who like to serve up a decent cut of steak for dinner.

And a visit to my brother-in-law in Louisiana simply wouldn’t be complete without the big outdoor barbecue grill being put to good use. And before you ask, yes, the steak tasted absolutely wonderful! πŸ™‚

Daily Prompt: Overworked

Overworked shortcrust pastry tends to be tough as old boots – whereas bread dough definitely needs to be kneaded well, with all the muscle you can muster, the trick with pastry is to apply only the barest whisper of fingertip caress when rubbing in, followed by the tenderest of touch to combine it all together into a soft ball before chilling and rolling out to the desired shape and size. Be gentle and respectful in your approach, and you will be rewarded with the most delicious melt-in-the-mouth pastry – yum! πŸ™‚

Daily Prompt: Overworked

Daily Prompt: Capable

I’m quite a capable woman in many things, but one thing I’ve never mastered in all of my 53 years is the art of using chopsticks. I’m quite happy to be taught by anyone who wishes to teach me, and so many patient people in the past have showed me how to hold them, how to maneouvre them to pick up food, then move the food from plate to mouth.

But alas, my fingers do not obey. In desperation, my youngest daughter bought me a pair of chopsticks joined together at the top with a spring, like a giant clothes-peg. But still, I cannot use them, still my food refuses to be eaten and falls to earth before ever meeting my mouth.

As a result, I’ll quite happily ask for cutlery when frequenting any oriental-style restaurant – sometimes my fellow diners may accuse me of being a spoil-sport, although those who know me well appreciate how hard I’ve tried over time to master the use of chopsticks, without success, and tend to find my fumbling foodie foible highly amusing!Β  πŸ™‚

Daily Prompt: Capable

 

Discover Challenge: Superpower

My personal superpower may not be very exciting, but it’s proved to be pretty useful over the years. I’m well known within my family for being a wizard at being able to create a meal out of nothing. It’s never really ‘nothing’, of course, I just seem to have a flair for finding enough store-cupboard/ refrigerator/ freezer ingredients hiding out of sight (and therefore out of mind for many) to make something edible out of whatever bits and pieces are already there, lurking around, waiting to be found.

My own kitchen larder is always stocked with all the basics I might need, so it’s hardly surprising I can usually conjure up some creative concoction or other atΒ home – but I can often do it in other people’s kitchens, too. The thing is, I simply love cooking, so because I know enough about how even the most simplest of things are made at source, and have a basic understanding of which ingredients tend to go together best in which particular ratios, I’m not afraid to experiment and have fun.

So it’s not really a superpower as such, it’s more of an intuitive knack for trusting in a lifetime of trial and error, of having played about with food combinations enough over the years to feel confident in putting myself out there, knowing that you win some and you lose some, but ultimately it’s all part of the never-ending learning curve of life…

Today, for example, I decided out of the blue to make an apple crumble for dessert, and maybe some custard to go with it. But I know my husband really loves chocolate, so I thought I’d maybe add some cocoa powder to the custard powder and make chocolate custard rather than vanilla. And then I thought – hmmm… maybe I could add cocoa powder and a few chocolate chips to the crumble mixture too, and make a chocolate fruit crumble. But apple and chocolate doesn’t sound good, so maybe I’ll use pear instead, we have some pears sitting in the fruit bowl…

Et voila – chocolate and pear crumble with chocolate custard all done and dusted as if by magic, yet all made with basic ingredients I had in the kitchen already – and by the way it was yum, I’ll definitely be making that again!Β  πŸ™‚

Discover Challenge: Superpower