Sometimes, we are hungry, we know we want something, but we don’t know what we want. So we dither in the cupboards, umming and ahhing, irritiating others with our huffs and puffs. Somehow under the illusion that when we open the cupboard for the 18th time, something will have magically appeared, or inspiration will sucker punch us.
It is often said at these times, that you are simply thirsty. So ideally, get a glass of water down you and see if that tides you over.
During pregnancy, I was told that the things you craved were the things you and the baby needed for the nutrients that you were lacking. It was in fact, perfectly natural for the ‘crave levels’ to be quite extreme. Given there were 2 or more of you wanting those nutrients now, causing more deficiencies and more need.
Recently, I was having a chat with Manchild 2, about nutrition and satiety. He seems focussed on calorie intake right now, and whilst I agree its a good marker, the ‘make-up’ of those calories is also important. Using the information on the white and brown bread we had at home, I showed him how they were very much on a par calorie wise, but wholemeal bread was more filling because of the fibre content. We talked about how less of its carbohydrates converted to sugar, making it a wiser choice for anyone that is more backed up than my hairdressers waiting list, or anyone wanting to shift bit of timber.
As with anything, I tend to rather over explain these things to my Son, which I am sure is an irritant. However, I have noticed that he makes judgements based on far more than calories now, and makes wiser choices. Parenting means providing your child with tools for life. This is one of them.
So, I finally get to my point. Today, my Hay fever is horrendous. I am craving soup. Its frigging boiling out there, i don’t want to stand over a stove, but I want Ghostbusters Soup- Recipe Here
So i flicks over to my Ghostbuster Soup recipe I posted a few weeks ago. And that was also a high hay fever day. My little brain starts to crunch information. IS there something in that soup, that my body is craving, because of hay fever?
Is that even possible?
So, I made the soup, and whilst it cooled a little, I looked into the ingredients and their properties for the first time. I am pretty impressed with my internal Doctor!
This soup contains,
Peas– A great source of Beta Carotine. Our bodies convert this into Vitamin A. Vitamin A soothes the mucous membranes preventing irritation and boosts the immune system.
Coconut Milk– A well researched Anti Inflammatory, with lots of Medium Chain Tryglycerides and a dairy free alternative. ( Dairy is believed to cause more mucus production)
Mint– Soothes congestion and blocked sinus.
Hot Liquid– Helps with decongestion. Encouraging the nose or eyes to ‘run’ more flushes out any pollen there.
So, not only do I get to eat this fit soup. It may actually be medicinal!
So perhaps, when we crave something, we should try to understand that the body is telling us what it needs. It is possible, that we get those signals,and interpret them into a meal that we ‘know’, and not always a healthy option! Maybe we should be thinking on a deeper level, working out what the meal we crave contains nutritionally, and then finding something to eat that contains that.
And maybe, when we are doing the fridge and cupboard hunt, and the huffing and puffing, we simply have not learned to tune in to what our body is telling us. But- cravings and grazing urges may be an entirely different thing.
For me personally, I am now intrigued by this, and given that a curious mind must pursue some answers, I have contacted a local Integrative Health Specialist. We will be coming back to you with something more substantial than my brain shooting off on mad tangents. Plus, they have letters after their name, which I don’t, so that makes them far more qualified than me.
Have i just imagined the whole thing? Or could it be time to listen to the internal Doctor? Wine and Cheese? Yes. I will have 2 prescriptions please.
Do any of you get any strange cravings?
I adore sundried tomatoes. I can, and sometimes do, eat them with mozzarella and olives, smothered in their flavoursome olive oil, perhaps with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. They are an absolute treat.
It is no secret amongst my friends that I am always penny pinching whilst trying not to compromise on flavour, and one way I do this is to make my own sundried tomato paste. Sundried tomato paste is utterly beautiful, but alas, it doesn’t last long in my house and it isn’t the cheapest thing to buy.
So here we have my compromise agreement. Using your ‘bog standard’ cheapest supermarket tomato puree and pepping it up.
You will need a processor or blender and
200g Tube tomato puree
Jar of sundried tomatoes in oil ( separate the tomatoes from the oil- reserve the oil)
1 tsp garlic puree
1/2 tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
20 rinsed capers
1 tsp sugar
Put everything bar the oil into a food processor and blitz. Add a tbsp of the sundried tomato oil and blitz again. From this point depending on your concerns regarding oil you can carry on putting some in ( i used 3 tbsp) or you can add water, adding a little at a time and blitzing in between until you are happy with the consistency. It should be a little looser than your bog standard tomato puree.
Spoon it all into a jar, cover the top with oil and pop in the fridge. It keeps for ages. Alternatively you can freeze some ( I use an ice cube tray for this, as I do with my pesto).
I use this paste as a pizza sauce, add dollops to cooked pasta, drop it into chillies,bolognese and lasagne. Spread it onto garlic bread, or use it in your toasties. It is very versatile. You could add olives or anchovies too if you like. Make it your own.
The sundried tomato paste I used to buy is 93p per 100 grams. ( GIA brand- which is lovely) My paste works out at 37p per 100 grams. ( using Asdas own puree, Asdas own sundried tomatoes in oil and my store cupboard ingredients which I included in the costing)
As a bonus you will still have some sun dried tomato oil left in the jar to use for another dish. Always save your oil, including anchovy oil, there is so much flavour packed into them. It is also pointless throwing it away then going out buying olive oil at a later date. Use it to drizzle on salads or garlic breads. Use it for cooking but please make sure the oil flavour is compatible with the dish you are making. You could also put cloves of peeled garlic or herbs into the oil, letting them infuse together beautifully.
Do not be afraid to try a ‘mock up’ version of something you find expensive. The ingredients are always listed in order of quantity, which gives you a guide as to how much or how little to add of each thing. Experiment, and remember, you are making this to your own liking, and we all have different taste buds.
To the absolute dismay of Manchild 2, I was in the kitchen earlier eating little bits of mandarin orange and anchovies. Trying to decide if I was going to chuck them together on a pizza. He declared me ‘gross’, and I partially agree.
For I am one of the worlds biggest anti- pineapple on pizza people. I will happily chuck mango in a chicken salad or into curry, but pineapple pizza remains something that I ‘uuugh’ at. However, after today, I may change my mind. Perhaps I just need to make it myself rather than ordering it elsewhere.
I have been trying to experiment more with flavour profiles, which led me to a plate of black olives, anchovies and mandarin oranges. I tasted bits of them with each other, and in different orders. The result was always the same. I wanted it, and I wanted it hot. Lockdown does funny things to a woman.
The end result was an absolute delight. A thin, crispy round the edges base, smeared with sundried tomato paste and garlic. Sweet mandarins and salty anchovies, broken up and scattered, so every slice would have both. The slight bitterness of the black olives, lightly sprinkled with some herbs and chilli flakes.
The aroma had me hanging around the oven like a smoker behind the school bike sheds. Lingering, impatient.
Sweet, almost sticky, little explosions of warm orange filled my mouth, and its salty companions came along for the ride. I really, really did enjoy this tonight.
Manchild 2 advises me it is Friday, as he ploughs through his college work, online, with worries in his head about getting behind during lockdown. What will happen to his education? and how and when will he ever get back into a classroom? Real worries, not silly ones like ‘why is my Mum so gross’.
For a while at least, his homemade wedges with margarita pizza and my ‘gross’ pizza, brought us around the table, for our daily dose of normal, in a world that is anything but.
Base ( makes 4 thin base individual)
We followed the instructions on the flour packet, this dough is for a large pizza but we love ours thin so we get 4 individual ones out of this)
200g sieved pizza flour, my favourite pizza flour is Cotwold Pizza Flour
5g dried Yeast- I use Fermipan red
125ml warm water/Corporation Pop
The best bread flour and yeast combo available to buy now is Bread Flour and Yeast
Pizza base sauce
2 tsp per pizza base of sun dried tomato and garlic paste.
Toppings (for one base)
1/4 can of drained mandarin pieces
5 black olives, halved
3 anchovies, broken into small pieces
Light sprinkled of grated cheese, I used cheddar.
Pinch of dried mixed herbs and chilli flakes.
Today’s evening meal for one ( too tired now for the dinner/tea debate) needed to be simple, it needed to be quick and it needed to be filling. Because today, was an ‘I can’t be bothered’ day. Sometimes, when a myriad of thoughts are crashing around in your head, the last thing you need is complication.
The star of this is mushroom powder, which is something my kitchen is never without. I buy mine here, Dried Mixed Mushrooms then blend some into powder to use in many dishes.
My blog ‘Dried Up Not Past It’ will tell you more about this wondrous ingredient, how nutritious it is and how the drying process intensifies the flavour so much that you need use very little.
You need ( Single Portion)
1tbsp dried mushroom powder ( i use forest mix) added to 200ml boiling water
2 small bundles or 1 large of dried tagliatelle (approx 70g)
1/2 tsp Wild Garlic Pesto ( you can use garlic puree or half a clove of garlic)
1/4 tub of Cream Cheese- approx 60g
A small hand full of frozen peas ( I used petit pois)
Mix the mushroom powder with 200ml boiling water in cup or bowl. Leave to re-hydrate.
Add the pasta to a pan of salted boiling water and cook as per packet instructions.
Add the mushroom mixture to another pan, along with the garlic and cream cheese.
Stir constantly over a low heat adding more pasta water to stop it drying out if it becomes too thick. Remember when you add the pasta it will suck up the sauce, so it is ok for it to be slightly runnier than you would prefer.
When the pasta is cooked, add the peas to the pasta, just long enough to defrost, and then drain pasta and peas. Add this to the sauce, combine, and serve. I added a little Parmesan on top as an afterthought.
I love this because it is earthy and humble, yet it feels indulgent because of the creamy sauce. The sweetness of the peas just picks it up enough, but a minute dash of lemon juice would have been a nice addition too. The 80p price tag was a bonus. Make it cheaper using dried spaghetti instead of tagliatelle.
The absentmindedness of twirling pasta on a fork, lost in thought, was parried with knowledge that i had looked after myself just enough today. The day marking 7 complete weeks of UK lockdown.
One of my favourite bowls, is one which contains a hearty soup or broth. If it can have dumplings smuggled into it too, then I am a happy girl ( Middle aged Woman). If there is a lack of dumplings then bread torn eagerly fits the bill. Or have more broth. You will be full and content either way.
1 tsp olive oil
3 Carrots- diced.
1 Medium Onion – diced
2 sticks of celery-diced
1tsp mixed herbs
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Bay leaves
1/2 cup or 100g rinsed red lentils
1/2 cup or 50g porridge oats blitzed into flour ( can be put in whole but the soup is less smooth)
1/2 cup finely diced or shredded Gammon/Ham.
Stock ( preferably from cooking the ham) if not- chicken or veg stock will be fine.
The Method and the Madness
Warm the olive oil in a large pan, then add the diced veg herbs, bay leaf and pepper, and cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent.
Add the oats ( preferably blended into flour) and the rinsed lentils. Stir until everything is combined and the oats have had a chance to ‘toast’ slightly. Add your very finely diced /shredded gammon/ham, and pour in stock till everything is covered. When it reaches a rolling boil, turn to the lowest setting and let it simmer for 10 minutes, adding more stock as you go for the consistency you prefer. When it is looking perfect for you, taste it.
Remember that gammon/ham and stock of any kind can be quite salty, they all vary so much. So with this in mind, only add salt at the end if it is needed, in the past i have salted soups only to find that when it has simmered/thickened up the flavour has intensified, and I am not a huge fan of salt. ( High blood pressure family history) I find when I use the gammon cooking stock I do not need any extra stock cubes or salt, if I only have vegetable or chicken stock then I usually want to add some.
This dish is also lovely with scraps of chicken and chicken stock in place of gammon, and as a vegan dish is beautiful with vegetable stock and a tablespoon or two of yeast extract. (Marmite) . Often i have made the vegan version, and simply added some scraps of meat to the bowls of those that wanted it.
One of my favourite things about this dish, is that other than the lentils and olive oil, the ingredients were all grown/raised in the UK. Not only is this vital for supporting our UK farmers and reducing our carbon footprint, it also means they are readily available during lockdown as they are not being imported.
I love getting my fruit and veg box from the local market every week.
The blog below is a little ditty to my childhood on the allotment, getting back to our roots, and learning to be amazed again. Give it a read if you have a few minutes, because I really need to know about the worms!
Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere
Pimp your beans!
This is a tomato soup recipe based on a Syn free one i tried many years ago, when I was still concerned with the size of my ass. As in every kitchen, things get tweaked, until you reach your ureka recipe!
This version has a little dance in your mouth, not a waltz and not a stomp. A happy jig.
Sweet and sour combine for a refreshing zingy but warming soup.
You need ( serves 4 generous bowls)
Stick blender/jug blender or processor
1 tsp garlic paste or a clove.
2 tins of tomatoes ( chopped or plum- your choice)
Tin of baked beans
Tin of carrots
2 tbsp Lime Pickle
1 tsp sugar
Salt + pepper to taste
Blend EVERYTHING bar the salt and pepper. Put it in a pan on a medium heat, keep stirring until it reaches a rolling boil, turn down to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Taste- add salt and pepper to your preference. Serve. Nothing fancy about the recipe or my presentation, but I have always maintained….it is not about that!