Ah, Sunday…….

Slight change of plan yesterday. After getting home, unpacking, showering and (most importantly) giving me all my pressies, Hubby really wanted a proper beer so I took him to his favourite pub for a pint. Decided to do a quick, no fire, dinner of sausages and Jammy balsamic onion gravy with roast pumpkin. Bet you didn’t get THAT in your 5* hotel, huh?!

Nice, 97% outdoor bred pork sausages with minimal fillers courtesy of Sainsbury’s – though I have been impressed by ASDA’s premium version.

So the braai rolls over to today. Probably a good thing as it’s looking GLORIOUS out there!

First things first – coffee on the veranda while I wait for Monsieur to get back from his run and place his breakfast order 🙂

Ons gaan nou braai!

Hubby gets home this afternoon after 3 weeks away in Asia – yay!!!!! Super excited 😀

I’ve checked the weather reports and we’re due a whole 2 days without rain, and up to a balmy 21°c, if a bit cloudy but let’s not be too fussy here.   Ons gaan nou braai!

Got all his favourites; meat, meat and more meat. Not forgetting the other 50% of the plate; there’s a grilled peach, bresaola and goat’s cheese salad, and minted peas and beans.

For pudding, braai-baked bananas with banana-monkey icecream. (yes, it’s paleo 🙂 )

Hopefully like the surprise and will stay awake long enough to eat all that.


Got nothing on this lot, though: http://ultimatebraaimaster.co.za


A nice quick little chicken dinner – Garlicky Lemon Chicken

After my amuse-bouche of pork scratchings, thought I’d better make sure I had some proper dinner. Fortunately I’d planned ahead and thawed some chicken overnight, so ready to roll. I prefer to use chicken thigh for my cooking as it’s  tastier and more forgiving than breast meat if you slightly overcook, plus it’s cheaper especially if you dismantle a whole chicken yourself.(bones go into a big, zip-lock bag in the freezer until there’s enough to do a batch of stock)

How to dismantle a chicken

Preheat oven to 220°c (adjust if you have fan assist or know your oven temp is dodgy). Put 1 tblsp cooking fat of choice (I use coconut oil but duck fat is even better) onto a baking sheet – don’t use a high-sided roasting tin here or it will just steam – and pop in the oven to melt. Finely chop 3 cloves garlic and add to the fat, along with the grated zest of ½ lemon,1 tsp dried rosemary and some S+P. Toss in 500g diced thigh meat (about 4 large skinless, boned thighs) and combine well with the liquid. Roast in oven 20mins. After 20mins take it out of the oven – it should be quite golden and sticky now – and pour over the juice of ½ lemon (see, it didn’t go to waste) and 50ml chicken stock. Stir well. TURN OFF THE OVEN. Put the tray back in and leave it alone for 5mins. In this time the juice and stock will combine with the sticky bit on the tray and make the most delicious gravy 🙂

Serve with steamed green – I had pak choi so used that. Make sure you work the gravy around the tray to pick up all the marmitey goodness, before pouring over the green. Yum 😛


What do Paelo-eaters have for lunch?

Back in the day, my packed lunch would be a brown bread sarnie with tuna or leftover roast chicken in mayo. Maybe cheese and marmite or pickle. If I was feeling creative, a pasta salad or leftover roast veg with couscous – seeing a theme here?

Now that the baguette is banned and the couscous cancelled, what’s left? I can’t take a plate of stew and sautéed veg to work in my lunchbox; we don’t have microwaves to heat stuff up – long story, let’s just say people did bad things and now everyone has to suffer.

Got to think outside the box (or inside the box – lunchbox).


There’s only so many times you can have tuna and salad (and I use that term to describe the rather sad, English-salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato) before you lose the will and march to the nearest food vendor for something hot and filling. So, there are few tips to keep it interesting:

  1. Keep it seasonal – not just      the ingredients, but a light chicken salad is only going to make you feel      so-so if it’s grey and cold outside (in the UK that can mean any day, not      just outside ‘Summer’ season). Even if you have to have a cold lunch,      adding some roast meat leftovers and colourful veg with a punchy      horseradish or mustard dressing can make the day a little better.
  2. Toppings are your      friend. Pumpkin seeds are good with      roast veg and feta cheese. Pecan nuts with coleslaw. Gherkins with beef.      Some of these are not cheap (like capers) but a little goes a long way,      and they keep in the fridge for weeks. Look out for supermarket ‘Economy’      versions of things like olives; no, they’re not the sort of olives you’d      serve on an antipasti plate, but they make a tuna nicoise look      bistro-good. Don’t forget the seasoning and dressing – think of the      American-style chef’s chopped salad or the beautiful creations at Ottolenghi. These are not English-salad 🙂
  3. Lots of vegetables – more      variety means more colour and ticking off more vitamins. Frozen veg work      well for this, as you can grab a handful and thaw under cold running      water, or just add them to your salad if you’re preparing the night      before. The humble frozen pea, just thawed, is surprisingly sweet. Dress      with chopped mint, or some pesto mixed with yogurt and you’ve got a bit of      wow-factor. Try different lettuces too; doesn’t have to be the expensive      bags of pre-washed baby leaves – just switching to a crunchy romaine or      bitter-leaf frisee can make things more interesting in appearance as well      as taste.
  4. Take inspiration from other      dishes and deconstruct – e.g. breakfast = bacon or gammon, hard-boiled      egg, tomato. Fajitas = chicken, peppers, roast onions, cheese, salsa,      guac, chipotle sauce. Moroccan tagine = roast lamb, butternut squash,      apricots, cinnamon, cumin.


Now, I’m keeping this to cold lunches due to my own work environment but if you do have means to heat your lunch there’s no reason not to have leftover dinner for lunch. I appreciate some people might think yuck, leftovers but given the economics you can’t knock it. Plus, if you’re buying the best quality meat you can afford, and spending time cooking it, makes sense to stretch it as far as possible.

Soups are also a winner, but pre-made versions tend to include beans, rice or pasta to bulk them up or are with thickened with corn-starch. If you get a veggie box delivered, and I cannot recommend this enough, then you’ll always have a variety of bits on hand to whizz up into a tasty soup. If nothing else to use them up before they go from looking a bit sad to turning into mulch and going to the compost bin. (Only downside I’ve found with organic veg – they just don’t last as long as supermarket stuff. Fortunately the flavour more than makes up for it.)

Once a week, normally a Friday as that’s when the next veg delivery arrives, I have cold frittata for lunch. Thursday nights I raid the fridge for any remaining bits of veg (I save off-cuts after making things like zoodles, but you’ll see more about that later) roast or panfry as necessary then combine with eggs and a dash of cream to make a large frittata. If there’s enough of something to make a proper dinner dish then it won’t go in, but anything that’s not-quite-enough is ideal. Small amounts of leftover bacon or ham work well, as does a little feta or goat’s cheese just dotted on top. Baby leaf salad like rocket or spinach that isn’t otherwise going to get used can be stirred thru the mix before cooking. Cool and cut into wedges, then pack with a pot of chutney or salad.

What I had for dinner last night……

With a busy schedule of washing up and ….. not much else to do last night, I set about prepping my lunch for today (chicken with roast med veg, feta cheese, pinenuts and balsamic dressing) while sorting my dinner. One of my favourites; meatballs with zoodles (zucchini noodles) and veggie sauce. Often the sauce is just passata with some S&P but, as I had a few sad looking purple and yellow carrots leftover in the larder, I snuck a few extra veg in. Shhh, don’t tell anyone! Went rather nicely with a glass of vino too 🙂 Ciao!



Managed to wile-away half an hour last night podding broad beans, then blanched and double-podded them. Bit of a faff, and they did go cold, but they look and taste sooo much better. Job done, I had to find a use for them. Was feeling rather lazy last night so went for a 1 pan supper of pesto chicken with peppers and cream, and the broad beans stirred thru at the end. It’s a variation on the recipe link below. Pretty, tasty and only 1 pan to wash up – when I finally get round attacking the stack in the kitchen 🙁

Pesto Chicken

Monday blues

It’s monday, a week to go until month-end, crappy excuse for summer outside – need i go on? 🙁

Actually, shouldn’t grumble. Had a great catch up with a friend last night; about 3 months of activity summarised in 4 hours of coffee! As a single gal (employed, own home, sports car, blonde – orderly queue please) she’s used to the kind of challenges i’ve only really experienced over the last couple of weeks while hubby has been away. How to deal with car trouble, DIY, paleo cooking for one etc. Now, I’ve never thought of myself as being a girlie-girl, and I know how to wire a plug and turn of the water etc., but I don’t think I’d realised quite how much my husband looks after for me. In fairness, I then look after the important things like arranging holidays and, of course, feeding him 🙂 Miss you, B!

Right <pull myself together>. One of the thing we talked about (much can not be published, to protect the guilty!) was how it can be tricky to stay paleo when you’re away from home or just have your normal routine disrupted, and don’t want to eat the same old standbys. Hard boiled eggs can be very convenient, not to mention cheap, but after a few days…… this is in part due to us buying the same sorts of food, every week, in keeping with our habits and traditions, and not always having time spare to get creative. How to break the mould?

In my fridge today I have some chicken, bacon and feta plus green beans in the freezer. This was going to be a big salad, with seeds and lemon zest. I make this sort of thing a lot, and it’s pretty tasty but I could turn it into a proper plate of dinner instead: feta stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon, with a side of green beans and gremolata.

Mmmm, too early for dinner?

What’s your leftovers?

Shopping day lunch

ah, today is sunday. as yesterday i was mostly out shopping with my mum, dodging the puddles and walking oddly in flip flops and soaked jeans (it’s june damn it! i will believe it’s still summer) i was at the mercy of bought food.

this can be a bit of a pain as, having dropped the wheat and grains,  it becomes apparent just how much of the menus are bulked out with pasta and bread buns so i was pleasantly surprised to see on the specials menu at bill’s a salad of griddled asparagus, avocado, goat’s cheese and soft boiled eggs. it’s the second time i’ve been to the restaurant in reading, and the food really is exceptional (for the price – i’m not going to claim it rivals petrus!) so i’ll be making this a regular event. the breakfast is great – full english with decent bacon and sausages, and the bubble and squeak eggs benedict is gorgeous. unfortunately the service is terrible 🙂

i put a smiley there because, although the service is poor, the staff are actually very apologetic and friendly and seem to want to put things right. this might be due to their breakfast menu running until 1pm at the weekend, over-lapping with the lunch menu starting at midday – a bit chaotic for a kitchen preparing fresh food. or it could just be that the waiting staff don’t know what they’re doing – i had to wander off to find my table some cutlery and serviettes! but as i said, the food is good and the staff aren’t rude so it’s still an enjoyable experience.

as i had my mum staying over, i had someone else to cook for in the evening – yay! this is where my cook-it-until-it’s-done or you-eat-when-it’s-ready style of cooking is a little awkward. i didn’t realise quite how much i potter when i’m cooking, so dinner was actually served at about 9pm. oh well, we’re european not yanks 😉

dinner was pumpkin and beetroot, roasted with cumin and chilli and pomegranate molasses, and feta and a salmon ceviche with mango. oh, and a bottle of sauvignon blanc. and a yummy chocolate and passionfruit dessert from sainsburys 🙂



The cost of being paleo

OK, so as I’m not
strictly paleo that’s a bit of a misleading title but I think this applies to
any diet where you are preparing fresh from scratch on a daily basis. The
second thing I noticed after switching to Paleo, the first being the health
benefits and general improvements to my wellbeing, was the shopping bills!

I mean, I know food
is fuel for my body and I should care about what I put into it. And that the
organic food we get tastes better. And animal welfare is important to our
farming industry as well as doing great things for our karma… yada yada…. but
holey moley – there’s no way we spent this much on food before?! So i took a deep breath and consider it.

  1. Yes, we’re buying quite a bit
    of meat – but actually the farm shop is very competitive with our
    supermarket’s prices. Just got to be careful with portion sizes as chicken
    thighs are about 50% bigger than the ones from the supermarket. Plus, we get to
    go visit the piglets at the farm and check they’re getting plenty of fresh
    air and rest 🙂
  2. The veg & fruit we get
    delivered is organic – before we got battery veg, so not really comparing
    like-for-like here. We don’t always know 100% what we’re going to get, as
    we opt out of potatoes every week, but it adds an interesting twist to the
    week’s meals and means we have to eat plenty of veg before it rots and goes to compost =
    wasted ££ 🙁
  3. We have an interesting, tasty
    meal to look forward to every night. Back-in-the-day we would linger in
    town a bit late and ‘may as well stay out for a pizza and another bottle
    of wine’. Or stop in at Waitrose for some extras to perk up a boring dinner, which normally meant
    buying more food than needed, but since when was Waitrose about need? 🙂
    Add to this the canteen and sarnie bar lunches at work. All of this adds up to a lot more ££,
    but no idea how much as it wasn’t on our weekly shop receipt. We have
    started eating out regularly again, after a long time avoiding it (will
    more about this another time) but searching for Paleo options means we are
    quite picky about where we go so it tends to be researched, and something
    to look forward to- not just paying to put food product in mouth. Another
    saving is on snacks – I don’t get the munchies in the afternoon any more,
    and all the typical, easy to get hold of snacks (brownies, granola bars,
    sweets) are off limits anyway.
  4. We’re good with leftovers. Not just coming up with dinner from scraps, but being disciplined at
    keeping useful odds-and-ends to make another meal. My courgette noodles
    (recipe to follow) are a good example of this one; the odd offcuts make perfect frittata filling. No leftover is too small!  If we buy a large joint
    of meat, being just the 2 of, us we’re never going to eat it all in 1
    sitting so we are careful to make sure that if there’s meant to be enough
    for 3 dinners that we don’t have 2 greedy dinners.
  5. My skin has never been better
    and I actually have the energy to go out and exercise, thus saving money
    on skincare products and contributing to money-can’t-buy happiness 🙂  Having
    never run before, and never seen the attraction, I got off my backside and
    trained 2 months for a 5km run. Now, thanks to my damn competitive nature, I’m going to keep doing it until I can improve my time. Too shameful being
    beaten by people twice my age and/or size and I have no bloody excuse!!