Tag: Food

Kitchen Gadgets

I love my kitchen gadgets, and have many, from meat slicers to meat mincers, dehydrators to steam pressure ovens, you name it, I seem to have it. But, I have been looking at getting a Sous Vide water bath cooker. I have always fancied one, and I know that a lot of the top chefs use them. I admit I do have the vacuum sealer and lots of rolls of sealing bags, and I use this quite a lot, not only for preserving things but for when I freeze things too.

However, I have never gone to the expense of a Sous Vide cooker. Yes, a piece of steak may take 20 hours to cook, but the flavour is never lost, and quick flash fry in the pan to add colour makes it is the best steak ever. I dined at a 2 Michelin Star restaurant at the end of November, 17 courses, and I know that some of the food was prepared using the water bath method. Every course was quite literally to die for, and I do not say that lightly, it was a dining experience like no other.

My question to anyone out there who may have experience of a Sous Vide water bath, please let me know your thoughts, and for those that do not have experience, let me know your thoughts about it too. What should I do? Will it be a cupboard item? Is it worth getting and waiting for the perfect bite?

Answers on a postcard, or just below.

Baking with Chairman Mao

I love to bake. I mean bake anything. There is just something so satisfying about the whole process.  I did make sourdough bread last weekend, but to be honest, it was a bit crap, however, that will not put me off, and I will keep going until I get it right.  The instructions for the proving overnight in the fridge was good, but the dough collapsed when I was putting it onto the baking sheet.  The other loaf stuck to the banneton as I had used flour rather than rice flour, so that was crap too.  The other thing I had problems with was the heat in the oven. The instructions said for 500f which is mega hot, and as I was cooking it on a stone dish it just seemed to sear and the crust was tough, so tough it could be in the marines.  It was supposed to bake for 20 minutes at 500f then 30 minutes at 450f, again, mega hot.  I have never cooked any bread at this temperature so it would happen that it was cooked on the outside and slightly doughy on the inside.  Not a bad crumb though.  It also didn’t taste like sourdough does, so I think that was the fault of the leaven as it had not bubbled and matured enough.  So now I know or think I know what went wrong I will try again.  I may do a variation too so that I know I can control rather than using the heat of the sun.

First go at Sourdough Bread

As mentioned, I love to bake, so here are some photos of my other bakes, successful bakes too LOL

Strawberry Shortcake with Strawberry Coulis
Strawberry Tarts (Pate Sablee) with Chantilly Cream and Passion Fruit
Brioche
Irish Wheaten Bread (Soda)

Weight Loss Challenge – End of May Update…

Just over two weeks ago (14th May) I started my challenge, but as with all plans, some things get in the way, this was a public holiday weekend, and for once the sun was out in full force, so much so we have only had rain yesterday, which means we have had 2 weeks of solid sun.  But the holiday weekend we ended up having temperatures of 30c, so the BBQ was in full swing, along with wine and a few beers, oh and some yummy desserts, but I did have salad too ha ha!

  • Start:   14 stone 3 pounds (200lb)
  • Today: 13 stone 6 pounds (188lb)
  • Loss:    11 pounds

I had dropped to 1200 calories, or thereabouts, but lately the past few days I have gone to 1000, and today I have not been hungry at all, and have only had 459.  I have decided that if I am not hungry then why eat and consume calories that I do not need.

I am happy with my efforts so far, but really have to make an effort to rehydrate more.  Today I have only drunk 300ml of water, and I should be aiming at 2.2 litres.  I have achieved it quite a few days, but boy it seems so hard to do, but it is a key to weight loss.

The other thing is that I am going on holiday to Devon next week for 8 days, and I know I will be enjoying the local produce, which includes Devon Cream Tea (Scones with Devonshire clotted cream and preserve), Cornish pasties (a little further to go to the next county), ice cream, fudge and cheese to name a few.  I will also be having lots of seafood as it comes straight from the Atlantic, so watch out all you shellfish, I am coming for you, especially the lobsters.

The drive is going to take about 7 hours to get to North Molton which is on the edge of Exmoor National Park, and as we are taking the dogs with us we will need to stop each hour to let them have a stretch, which means we will be stopping where we can eat and drink, so from next Friday I am going to be a bit of a bad boy, but I will try to reign it in and keep some control, no point letting all this time and effort go to waste is there.  My friend E says that I should just enjoy myself and not worry, but I have to be a little sensible, or it will be like when I came back from Rome, 8lb heavier and I walked each day about 10-15 miles (about 30,000 steps a day for 6 days solid).

Watch this space for my next update…

Cooking for Dogs…

Dogs looking out

Mazikeen and Harper looking out at the Natajack pool

I was talking to the trainer last week regarding the food that I make for the dogs, including the biscuits, and she said that she used to do that but after a few weeks gave it up as she didn’t have time to do it.  This I found odd.  I prep the veg, usually carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage, green beans and broccoli and shove it all into the electric pressure cooker, and press steam.  That’s it!  Not hard or time-consuming at all, it takes all of 5 minutes to prep and the cooker does the rest in 5 minutes.  The only thing that takes more time is cooking the meats.  I usually make them lambs liver, kidney and hearts, turkey, chicken, pork, but even that does not take much time.  I usually just put some olive oil in a large pan, and lightly fry the liver and kidney for about 10 minutes.  The liver I cook as it comes, which is usually slices, which breaks up in the pan, but the kidneys are whole, so I slice them before cooking.  So about 10 minutes whilst the veg is cooking and cooking.  The whole lot get decanted into dishes and popped into the fridge.  I timed it today and it took less than 30 minutes, and that is done every two or three days.  I also do rice in the pressure cooker all of 3 minutes and that too goes into a container in the fridge.  In a week I would spend about an hour to an hour and a half each week to cook everything for them, which in my mind is not that long at all.

The biscuits obviously take longer but when it is raining like today, there is nowhere to go, and so I may as well make a batch for them and put them in an airtight container.

Last week I decided to do the kidneys in their own doggie gravy and added some garlic granules, this went down very well.

One thing I have to keep in mind is that balance is the main thing.

  • High-quality protein (meat, seafood, dairy or eggs)
  • Fat (meat or oil)
  • Carbohydrates (grains or vegetables)
  • Calcium (dairy)
  • Essential fatty acids (egg yolks or oatmeal)

I also give the dogs boiled eggs and add pure salmon oil to their meals, and of course, they get dog vitamins.  All in all, I think they have a healthy intake of food, and I enjoy making them lovely foods.

Local Produce…

I love my food and I love growing vegetables.  I grew up in the country and worked on farms, and I had a career in the agriculture industry, or to be more exact, everything from the ground to the mouth.  But never have I been able to grow a pumpkin like this bad boy.  This was at our local Booths which is a Northern supermarket that only sources local produce and is incredibly green and ethical.

Needless to say, the products they have are delicious.  My all-time favourite is their store baked Mince Pies, which has crispy pastry and the mincemeat inside is amazing.  I have never really liked mince pies and found the Christmas tradition of eating them something that I turned my nose up at, but Booths, WOW.  I bought 8 of them and will be enjoying them later with some extra rich Jersey cream.  I also bought a rather large custard tart, lemon cheesecake and a strawberry cheesecake so it will be a sweet night.

A little of what you fancy?

They say, “You can’t have/do that, it’s bad for you.” “That carcinogenic, don’t eat that.” and much, much more.

I agree on some things, like heroin, smoking, and eating glass. However, on the measure of food, I consider it all hokum. Yes, radical thinking I know, especially in the age of 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, sugar-free, low calory, light, non-GM rubbish.

My grandmother was born in 1883 and died of old age in 1979 at the age of 95 (just before her 96th). She believed in eating what you liked, and would eat the fat off meats, dip bread in beef dripping, smother food with salt and only every use proper butter, no spreads or margarine in her store cupboard that’s for sure.

I know people who have an amazingly healthy lifestyle, no rubbish in their diets, no trans fats, salts, carbs and other fads, yet they are the most unhealthy people I know. One was rushed into hospital after a stroke. This person was fit, did marathons (not the chocolate bars) and worked out at the gym all the time, but no matter what, he ended up with problems. His wife, the same, but again she became ill.

I take pride in eating what I want. Although, I do not eat Gluten as I have coeliacs and just cannot tolerate it, or at least my stomach and bowels cannot tolerate it, but, as for bad foods, bring them on. I am not a chocolate lover, but savory is the fastest way to my heart. I am healthy and happy to smother my jacket potato with a pound of butter (from grass fed cows), drink coffee all the time (freshly ground by me) with two sugars and full-fat milk, eat chops with the biggest rind of fat you can find, and yes, I will suck the bone clean of meat, fat and marrow. I love bacon rind, raw, oh my god is he crazy? yes maybe I am but rind mmmm. I love cabbage cooked then thrown into the bacon fat in the frying pan to give it an extra taste. Coke is a staple along with peanut butter (Whole Earth as it isn’t sweet) which I eat by the spoonful. Ice cream is another staple, especially Ben & Jerry’s.

I had my DNA tested to see if I had to worry about anything in the future, and it would seem that I am going to live forever, unless I get hit by a car, fall off a really high building or bridge, or am shot in the head or heart. My DNA showed I have no markers for anything.

I drink alcohol rarely, but it’s because I am out driving every day, so just don’t want to risk losing my license .
With all that in mind, I believe in having a little of what I fancy, covered in peanut butter with a large side order of fried chop rind/fat. Anyone care to join me?

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