Daily Prompt: Elegance

I’m not a bad cook by any standards, but somehow my version of any given food dish never looks neat and tidy once put on the plate. None of this minimal bite-sized fiddly delicate artistic presentation for me. If I had to find a food-description genre to fit my cooking it would probably be ‘rustic’.

My food offerings inevitably overflow all around the edges, voluptous portions that are heartily satisfying in taste and texture. I particularly love thick creamy sauces and rich gravies poured generously over juicy cuts of meat and chunky vegetables served on solid, robust plates. Edible it may be, but elegant it is not πŸ™‚

Daily Prompt: Elegance

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Serendipitous – Flapjack Cookie Recipe

I’ve always loved flapjacks – there’s something sublime (not to mention sweet and sticky and chewy) about the magical combination of oats, syrup, sugar and butter baked into a bar. So when I saw a recipe for flapjack cookies posted by Ellin Curley on Serendipity, I felt it was simply meant to be!

There are loads of different recipes for flapjacks – some can include flour as well as oats, and all tend to have slightly different ratios of the main ingredients. Ellin’s recipe seemed to fit my expectations, with the addition of a little dessicated coconut which sounded lovely, so this afternoon I decided to give it a go…

I melted my wet ingredients together, added them to my dry ingredients, and mixed thoroughly in a large bowl. But instead of pressing it all down into a flat shallow tin as I usually would, I divided the mix into 24 individual teaspoon-sized heaps, and put the cookies into the oven.

flapjack-cookies-1

From Ellin’s photographs of her finished cookies, they seem flatter, smoother surfaced and much more delicate than mine – more like a regular oatmeal cookie than a fat, chewy flapjack. Although I did follow the recipe exactly, my cookies are altogether thicker and far more rustic looking, more like my usual traditional flapjack texture – definitely less than elegant. I think my rolled oats are a lot chunkier than Ellin’s.

flapjack-cookies-2

And I have to report that flapjack cookies are absolutely scrumptious – just like the rectangular traybake flapjacks I know and love, but far less dense and more crunchy and crumbly because of it. Thank you so much for the serendipitous inspiration Ellin. Yum! πŸ™‚

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

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