Smorgasbord Health – Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor – Meleagris Gallopavo (you can eat if you can catch it) Turkey


This is the last in the current series of Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor.. The good news is that next year Carol will be taking on the role of Food Columnist for the blog magazine.. that is very exciting as I know that we are going to be introduced to exotic foods from Thailand as well as recipes that elevate our everyday foods to delicious and nutritious meals for all the family..

This week… The Turkey.. a bird that was usually eaten mainly at Thanksgiving and Christmas but is available all year in supermarkets and butchers. Before handing over to Carol.. a look at all the health benefits this large bird brings to the table.

Meleagris Gallopavo (you can eat if you can catch it) Turkey

The wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo (something to do with difficulty in catching it I think) is native to North America. The bird was brought into Europe, in the early part of the 16th century, by the Spaniards. The English name “Turkey” arose because of a confusion with Guinea Fowl – which were imported through Turkey, from Africa. Both birds were originally known as “Turks”. Eventually, in the 18th century, it was given its Latin name but the original name stuck.

The Native American Indian used the turkey as a staple of their diet. They introduced it to starving pilgrims, along with their native plants and seeds including corn and squash. The pilgrims were so grateful they celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 where their American Indian friends were guests of honour.

Why is turkey so good for you?

Turkey is first and foremost a lean source of protein – 4 oz. gives you 65% of your daily protein requirement and has about half the amount of saturated fat that red meat does.

We are made of protein and we need it to repair ourselves – a bit like the bionic man – we take animal and vegetable protein, add some amino acids and rearrange the nitrogen from the mix to repair or make parts of our body. Don’t forget we are meat – and still a savoury delicacy in certain parts of the world.

Turkey is very high in methionine, which is an essential amino acid that ensures that any protein that we eat is completely used. This means that we get the maximum benefit from the turkey and is particularly important if we find it difficult to digest food as we get older.

Turkey is very high in the amino acid tryptophan, so it stimulates the B3 vitamin, Niacin, into producing serotonin the neurotransmitter. This has a calming effect, and helps depression (particularly useful after a family festive lunch!) And also helps us sleep well and feel good (afternoon siesta). Niacin is involved in cell health. DNA requires Niacin to be healthy and a deficiency of this B-vitamin – and the other B’s like 6 and 12 – has been linked to DNA damage that can lead to Cancer.

Turkey is very high in Selenium, which is a trace mineral and is fundamental to our general health. It is involved in thyroid hormone metabolism – antioxidant defence systems and our entire immune system health – many studies into this mineral are revealing its positive effect on cancers. As an antioxidant, it encourages DNA to repair cells and damaged cells to self-destruct.

Turkey is richer in calcium than any other meat and has over twice the calcium of chicken or beef. It also contains B6, which is extremely important for blood cell health.

It is also high in phosphorus, which is a fundamental need for bone and teeth formation and the production of red blood cells. Phosphorus is also part of the chemical energy store in each cell and in DNA – so is vital for cell health. One of the things to watch for with phosphorus, however, is that it you eat a great many processed foods you will find that they are far too high in the mineral and can cause an imbalance with other minerals.

So, Turkey is low fat – half the fat of chicken – low in cholesterol, sodium and calories. Finally it is also called a short fibre meat which means that it is very easily digestible for any age group.

How to select the best Turkey

I am a carnivore at heart (apologies vegetarians) and even though I do not eat a lot of red meat, I do eat fish and poultry. However, I was put off for a couple of years from eating Turkey at Christmas or any other time of year following the advert for cigars in 1989. For those who missed it – a flock of turkeys are surveying the darkening skies and flakes of snow begin to fall. They look at each other resignedly and head off into the turkey house where they light up a Hamlet Cigar. It was heart wrenching and I think it was salmon for lunch that year.  Just so that you can all feel the emotion here it is….sorry…..

There is usually some debate around the table on Christmas day as to who is getting the white meat and who the dark. Usually you end up with a bit of both but it is the white meat that is the most prized.

I am reliably informed that in the United States, turkeys are often bred by artificial insemination because they have now grown too large to get close enough to mate, which seems very sad considering they are also destined for the table. You would have thought they might have been granted a little fun along the way. A turkey can grow up to 70 lbs. but the average for a male (tom) is 20 lbs. and for a female (hen) around 12 lbs.

Buying your Turkey

Although I eat poultry I always buy from guaranteed organic and free range sources.  I am also keen that any food that we eat is farmed humanely as possible.  The fact is we as humans have been carnivores from the outset but there is still a long way to go in many parts of the world as to the level of respect we afford the animals we consume.

As the turkey has become more popular all year round, smaller breeds have been developed that weigh around 5 to 8 lbs. and fresh and frozen turkeys are now available at any time.

If the turkey is fresh the meat should be smooth, creamy and soft. If the turkey is whole make sure there are no bruises or cuts in the skin as this can lead to bacterial infection.

If the turkey is frozen it is more difficult to judge the condition of the bird but make sure that the wrapping is still intact.

Now over to Carol to share her recipes for the festive season and as a regular on your dinner table throughout the year.

I am going to keep it simple this week…It is the last post of the year in this series but…
The great news is I will be back with my own column in Sally’s magazine in the New Year…I am beyond excited…

In the UK alone last year over 10 million turkeys were eaten at Christmas so I expect there are quite a few chefs/people stating they have the recipe on how to cook the perfect turkey and a few who will be cooking the not so perfect turkey aka Mr Bean…

To cook the best turkey you need some delicious stuffing…

Mushroom stuffing using porcini mushrooms.

Ingredients:

  • 25g pack dried porcini mushrooms
  • 425ml hot vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp shredded basil
  • 4-6 tbsp grated parmesan

Let’s Cook!

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

Oil a non-stick 12-hole bun tin and line holes with two strips baking parchment, to form a cross. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and pour over the hot vegetable stock. Leave for 20 mins, then strain, reserve the stock and chop the mushrooms, if large.

Heat oil in a pan, add onion and fry for 5 mins until softened. Add the pine nuts and fry until lightly toasted. Add the garlic, rice and cook for 2 mins.

Tip in wine, let it bubble, then add the reserved stock, mushrooms and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 mins, until the rice is just cooked. Remove from heat and cool, then stir in the egg, basil, pepper, and salt, if using.

Fill the tins with stuffing, sprinkle over parmesan. Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden on top. Cool in the tins, or for 5 mins if serving straight away. Remove by pulling up the parchment crosses.

You can make these up to two days ahead. Then reheat on an oiled baking sheet, at 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for 10 mins.

You will find several other recipes from a post Carol wrote for The Recipe Hunter: https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/christmas-recipes-homemade-stuffing/

I stuff the neck cavity and just put onion or a lemon with some cloves and butter in the main body cavity. You could use fresh herbs and butter in all honesty mine does vary from year to year.

A tip is to include a small handful of rice in the stuffing as it absorbs all the raw juices from the turkey creating the most delicious stuffing.

I also cook my turkey breast down as then the juices fall into the breast which keeps it moist and succulent…

The turkey must then be turned over 30 minutes before it is done to brown the top….delicious.

Some chefs also push butter under the skin of the turkey…..

It really is personal choice and I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to prepare your turkey as we all have our own way of cooking this bird and all delicious there is no right or wrong way it’s personal preference so I am just going to give you a few different options..

Cooking Times:

Take the turkey from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven is heating up.

Here is the link to a handy website: http://www.britishturkey.co.uk/cooking/cooking-calculators.html

This recipe is the one I am going to use this year because I don’t trust my oven temperature and I think adding the hot water into the cavity of the turkey will help not only keep it moist but will ensure it cooks properly

The night before roasting, soften some butter and season with salt and pepper mixing well.

I used about 6 oz of butter.

Remove the giblets from the bird and wipe it inside and out with kitchen paper. Remove any feathers… if there are a lot of them you can singe them over a gas flame.

I remember my dad doing that but most of the turkeys now are fully plucked and dressed..ours may not be as it is fresh from the farm so I am guessing it will have a few feathers left to pluck out…

Open the cavity of the bird and season the inside with the remaining salt and pepper. Rub the seasoned butter over the turkey. Take a piece of greaseproof paper twice the size of the breast and fold to give a double layer. Lay this over the breasts (it will protect them during the cooking) and return the turkey to the fridge until morning.

Calculate your cooking times and pre heat your oven… A 5kg bird should take 3 hrs 10 minutes at 180C(fan) 375F/Gas mark 5 approx as it will depend on your oven…

Stuff the turkey neck with your desired stuffing.

Sit the turkey on a trivet inside the tin. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and carefully pour around 250ml of the hot water into the cavity of the bird. Seal with a skewer.

Pour another 500ml of hot water into the roasting tray with some onions and carrots and a few fresh herbs Thyme and Rosemary plus some garlic cloves.

Then cover the whole thing with foil (I use two layers) and make sure that it is well sealed around the edges.

Put the lot in the oven and cook for 20 minutes on 250 C, then reduce the temperature to 180°C/Gas 5 for the remaining cooking time. After 2½ hours, remove the foil and the greaseproof paper and close the door. Don’t open it again until the cooking time is up.

To test whether the turkey is cooked, insert a skewer or knife blade into the point where the thigh joins the breast. The juice should run clear. If it is pink, then roast the turkey for another 20 minutes and test again.

If you are using a meat thermometer then it should read 180F in thigh and 165F in breast or stuffing.

Take the bird from the oven and leave it to rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

Strain the juice from the bottom of the roasting tin into a large jug to settle. The fat will rise to the top, leaving the aromatic turkey and onion juice beneath. Skim off the fat and thicken the juices if you wish, or serve as it is…..

Enjoy!

The turkey Carcass…

I have many happy memories of the luscious soup my mum used to make with the left over turkey carcass…Do you????

Ingredients:

  • Turkey Carcass
  • 2 large Onions chopped
  • 4 carrots chopped and divided into 2 halves
  • 3 potatoes chopped
  • 1-2 cups rough chopped cabbage
  • 3 celery stalks 2 rough chopped and one cut into bite sized pieces
  • A Cup uncooked barley or mixed dried lentils
  • A sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ tsp poultry seasoning
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • Worchestershire sauce ( optional)
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Water to cover carcass .

N.B. You can use any vegetables which you have available sometimes I add some swede or turnip it depends what I have ….anything goes sweetcorn…just some examples ..What do you use?????

Let’s Cook!

In a large pot put the chicken carcass and cover with water add your roughly cut carrot, onion, a bay leaf and thyme sprig bring the water to the boil reduce heat to very low and simmer for 2 hours.

Take the turkey bones out of the pot and pick off any meat. If required chop the meat and reserve. Throw away the bones and strain the broth through a fine sieve reserving the liquid and discarding the cooked vegetable.

In a clean soup pot add the strained broth add the remaining raw chopped vegetables carrot, onion, celery, potato, cabbage) parsley, barley, and simmer for an hour until the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning and add worchestershire sauce if using.

My mum would sometimes add dumplings or we would eat with fresh crusty bread.

It is a lovely soup basically using leftovers and my kids still love this and remind me sometimes of their memories of eating this soup….

I think that is what makes turkey such a special meal..The memories we make…..

My Christmas this year is going to be mixed as my Thai family are coming so it will some of us up the table and some on traditional mats on the floor and I daresay some chilli dips…. I know they will eat the meat and vegetables, they love sausage…The sauces and potatoes maybe not and they tend to like the gravy but we will see …

I hope they will enjoy being sort of part of our traditional Christmas dinner mixed with a few chillies and raw veg…. It will fun and no doubt the traditional whiskey will be lurking around and I know they love my Baileys… well the ladies do…

So this is not so many recipes in this my last post but I hope you have enjoyed it and I hope you enjoy your Christmas….

As always Sally has provided an insight into the benefits of eating turkey and as a meat it is low fat….Her knowledge of the benefits and nutrition of foods is astounding and I wish to thank her for allowing me to complement her health knowledge with my recipes…

Merry Christmas one and all xxxx

And I am very grateful for the wonderful season of recipes that Carol has provided for us and delighted that she will be back next year in the role of Food Columnist… . More on the new columns that will be part of the Smorgasbord Blog Magazine after Christmas.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology.

Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Please feel free to share thanks Sally

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

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Smorgasbord Health – Cook From Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor – Walnuts are all they are cracked up to be!


Welcome to the series where I share the health benefits of some of the healthiest foods in our diet and Carol Taylor enhances their natural goodness with stunning recipes.. This week let’s go nuts!

Walnuts are all they are cracked up to be!

Evidence of walnut consumption was dug up, literally, in Southwest France during excavation on Neolithic archaeological sites dating back over 8,000 years. It appears that there were walnut groves in the hanging gardens of Babylon and in Greek mythology the walnut was highly revered and temples built to honour it.

The Latin name for the tree, Juglans Regia, comes from the Roman civilisation where it was called Jove Glans or the Royal nut of Jove. The nut and the oil have been used since ancient times, both as a food and for dyeing wool and are now worldwide commodities.

Walnuts are very versatile – chopped up on savoury or sweet dishes or used as a snack between meals they give you a very healthy nutritional punch. Omega 3 fatty acids are a special type of protective fat, rather than harmful fat, and it is something that the body does not produce itself. – 14 half walnuts provides you with over 90% of your daily requirement and if you look at the health reasons for taking Omega 3 you will understand how very important this small handful of nuts is.

Omega 3 is known to help protect us from cardiovascular problems, improve brain function, help with inflammatory diseases such as asthma and arthritis and in skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. Walnuts also contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid, which boosts the immune system and protects against cancer.

walnut

What is the most important benefit of walnuts?

For anyone who suffers from elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein that when oxidised forms blockages in the arteries) levels in their bloodstream, eating walnuts is definitely helpful. It is one of those rare occasions when claims that certain foods can help a condition are permissible. In the case of walnuts the FDA in America were sufficiently convinced by scientific research into the benefits of the nuts in lowering LDL cholesterol that they allowed the health claim to be advertised on products containing the nut or the oil. This is down to the excellent levels of Omega 3 in the nuts, which contain the highest amount in 1 oz. compared to other nuts (2.5 g of Omega 3 against 0.5 g in other nuts)

Omega 3 helps prevent erratic heart rhythms and because the LDL, which causes platelets to clot, is lowered the risk of strokes is also reduced.

Omega 3 works on our brain function because our brains are actually 60% structural fat and needs to be supported in our diet by specific Omega 3 fats like those in walnuts, flax seeds and cold water fish like salmon. Part of the reason is that the cell membranes that everything has to pass through are mainly fat. Omega 3 is very flexible, and fluid, and can pass easily through the cell membrane taking other nutrients with it at the same time. This increases the cell uptake of nutrients making them more effective.

Studies of Omega 3 deficiency have highlighted some worrying trends. One of the most concerning is the evidence of depression in children. It has also been linked to hyperactivity, behavioural problems such as tantrums and learning difficulties. This deficiency is on the increase particularly in the United States, and the UK is not far behind.

Other beneficial nutrients in walnuts.

There are several other good reasons to include walnuts in your daily diet as they include the following nutrients:

Manganese; Needed for healthy skin, bone and cartilage formation as well as glucose tolerance. Also forms part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase, which helps prevent free radical damage.

Copper is an essential trace element needed to absorb and utilise Iron. It is needed to make ATP and is also to synthesise some hormones and blood cells. Collagen needs copper, as does the enzyme tyrosinase, which plays a role in the production of skin pigment. Too much copper in the diet can depress levels of zinc and effect wound healing.

Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine; The Master Vitamin for processing Amino Acids – the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. It assists in the formation of several neurotransmitters and can therefore help regulate mood. It has been shown to help lower Homocysteine levels in the blood linked to heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. It produces Haemoglobin the Oxygen carrying pigment in the blood. It helps the release of carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscles for energy. It is involved in the production of antibodies and it helps balance female hormones. It is needed for the production of serotonin along with tryptophan and B12.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is the lowest in terms of levels needed by the body. It is responsible for normal sleep patterns. Vitamin B6 is needed for the formation of tryptophan, which affects serotonin levels. These serotonin levels influence sleep and mood.

During the day, snack on 14 half walnuts that is about 190 calories or indulge by including in these fabulous recipes from Carol Taylor.

Wonderful Walnuts.

The Walnut is probably one of my favourite nuts and I always remember my mum used to make a wicked Walnut and coffee sponge for which she won prizes for at the Women’s Institute….

It is a nut which if you have read Sally’s health part of this post is very good for you in many ways and I always eat a handful of walnuts per day.

My first recipe using walnuts is for a Chimichurri and it is lovely as an accompaniment with grilled lamb cutlets.

Chimichurri

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh mint
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • ¼ cup Niçoise olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Let’s Cook!

Pulse oil, mint, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, anchovies and garlic in a food processor until it has a coarse, rustic texture. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in olives, walnuts and crushed red pepper.

Candied Walnuts:

  • 1 cup walnut halves/pieces (you can also use this recipe for candied pecans)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Let’s Cook

Use a non stick pan over medium heat; add walnuts, granulated sugar and butter.

Remain on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently so your mixture doesn’t burn.

When the sugar mixture starts melting, stir constantly until all sugar is melted and nuts are coated.

Transfer immediately onto a sheet of parchment paper and separate the nuts right away.

Using two spatulas is a faster way to do it.

You don’t want to give the nuts a chance to turn into a piece of inseparable delicious goodness unless you are the only person who will be enjoying the walnuts… Seriously, move quickly from the time the nuts are coated until they are separated out on the parchment paper. Once the coating hardens (5-7 minutes) Make paper cones and fill with the walnuts they then make a lovely little gift.

Home made gifts always seem to be something which most people love to receive it shows a lot of thought and means so much more .

Pasta with walnut Pesto and roasted tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 50 gm/2 oz of shelled walnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 12 cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp snipped fresh chives
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat leaved parsley chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
  • 350 gm pasta

Let’s Cook!

Heat the oven to 220C/Gas mark 7

Snip the tomatoes into 4 bunches and put in a shallow roasting tin with the walnuts and garlic, the drizzle with about 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Season.

Roast for about 10-12 minutes or until the tomatoes start to colour and the walnuts are toasted.

Cook the pasta as per the pack instructions or for 8-10 minutes until al dente.

Put the walnuts and garlic with any juices from the pan in a mini blender with the remaining olive oil.

The tomatoes can be kept warm in the switched off oven.

Blitz the walnuts and garlic for a few seconds then add the herbs and 2 tbsp of the parmesan cheese.

Pulse again until just combined but not smooth.

Drain your pasta well and return to the pan. Fold in the pesto and season to taste.

Serve with the roasted tomatoes on the side and a scattering of cheese.

Walnut Madeline’s.

Ingredients:

  • 90g unsalted butter, plus extra, melted, to prepare the tin
  • 65g plain flour
  • 60g walnuts
  • 165g icing sugar
  • 60g ground almonds
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground coffee beans
  • 4 egg whites (170g)
  • 50ml espresso coffee

For the syrup…

  • 75ml espresso
  • 40g caster sugar

Let’s Cook!

Preheat the oven to 160ºC / Gas Mark 3.

Next, brush the Madeleine shells with melted butter followed by a dusting of flour and then freeze the tin for 5 mins. Repeat this process once more and leave the tin in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. This was a technique which I learnt from the Daily Telegraph some time ago and it worked so I have used it ever since.

In a small pan, melt the butter and cook it until it turns brown and begins to smell nutty, at this point pour it out into a heat proof bowl and set to one side.

Blitz your walnuts in a food processor, or chop them roughly depending on how much texture you’d like in your Madeleine’s.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds, baking powder, cardamom, ground coffee, egg whites, espresso, a ¼ tsp of salt and the melted butter into the mixing bowl, and beat until you have a smooth, thin batter.

Transfer the batter into a jug and stir through the walnuts.

Almost fill each shell of the Madeleine tin with the batter and then bake for 20 mins. The Madeleine’s are done when they spring back to the touch. When they are cool enough to handle, turn them out, shell side up, onto a wire rack.

As the Madeleine’s are cooking, rapidly boil the espresso and sugar in a small pan, until it is reduced and syrupy, this will take around 5 mins. Finally, brush the syrup over the warm Madeleine’s and those shiny shells are ready to eat with a well-earned coffee.

Alternately fill the Madeline’s with a chocolate butter cream either way they are very nice…

Walnut Biscuits

I don’t make biscuits very often…almost never but I food because of the humidity doesn’t last long here it either goes off or the ants take residence. I was guided by the desiccated coconut and the golden syrup which was a gift from afar aka visitors and the rolled oats which I mistakenly bought instead of the porridge oats.

These cookies are my basic recipe and next time will be my experimental recipe I am already planning what I can add to them.

Ingredients:

  • 150gm rolled oats
  • 100gm plain flour
  • 100gm light brown sugar (I used raw sugar)
  • 100gm walnuts chopped
  • 100gm butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp of boiling water.

Let’s Cook!

Set oven to heat at 175C, gas mark 4.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Combine the sugar, flour, walnuts and oats mix to combine well.

In a small pan add the butter and golden syrup and melt the butter. meanwhile, bring the kettle to the boil and add two tbsps of boiling water to the bicarbonate of soda in a small cup. Add this to the melted butter/syrup mix. It will foam a little.

Make a well in the centre of your dry mix and pour in the melted butter/syrup mix. Stir to thoroughly combine and it will form slightly sticky dough.

Roll out balls and put on a baking tray leaving a space as they will spread on cooking (the mix made 15 balls) slightly flatten with your hand.

Put in the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

THE BISCUITS WILL BE SOFT TO THE TOUCH BUT WILL HARDEN ON COOLING.
Don’t make the mistake I made when I first made them and thought they weren’t cooked and gave them another 10 minutes. They were a tad harder than required when they cooled down…ha-ha…I could build a wall with them…Poppas

This is my truly tried tested old faithful recipe for brownies and verified by everyone who has tried it….I don’t know why I have never shared it with you here on WP…I thought I had but never mind I now have shared it for you chocolate brownie lovers to enjoy! This recipe is part of my 20%… If you are wondering it is my 80% healthy eating and 20% indulgence plan….And indulgence it certainly is and very enjoyable BUT if you read the ingredients it is as healthy as a chocolate brownie can be….. Lol

Chocolate and Walnut Brownies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of oil (I use coconut oil)
  • 1½ cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2/3 cup of good cocoa powder
  • 1 cup walnuts roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp of vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Let’s Cook!

Mix oil, sugar and vanilla together and then beat in eggs.Combine all dry ingredients except for walnuts and stir into mixture.Add walnuts.Put batter into prepared baking dish and cook for about 1 hr on 175C/350F.

N.B. I added a ½tsp of dried chilli to my second batch.  Those of you who know me know I just have to ㋡Next time; I am going to add just a few cranberries or blueberries depending on what I have in the cupboard.

I have also used half oil and half melted butter before and nothing seems to phase this brownie recipe it always turns out well and tastes amazing.This is probably the best brownie mix I have made as the top is nice and crispy but with a gooey underneath, just how I like it or maybe just how this temperamental oven of mine works.

That’s all for the walnut and next week it is the Turkey which will be the last post before Christmas so I will try and find some lovely seasonable recipes for you…

Again many thanks to Sally for letting me add my recipes to her wonderful health tips although this week they do seem to be more on the sweet side rather than the savoury but the ingredients for sweet treats are as healthy as they can be..

And I am very grateful for the wonderful season of recipes that Carol has provided for us and the good news she will be back next year in the role of Food Columnist… sharing foods from Thailand as well as foods we might be more familiar with.. More on the new columns that will be part of the Smorgasbord Blog Magazine next year..

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology.

Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Please feel free to share thanks Sally

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

Smorgasbord Health – Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor – The magnificent humble potato


Welcome to the Carol Taylor cooking show… with a bit in the front end on the health benefits of the star ingredients from me.

This week a reminder of why potatoes are so good for us.

Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine and I would like to introduce you to a common vegetable that is definitely on my shopping list.

potatoesThe not so common Potato

You cannot claim Irish ancestry and not be aware of the significance of the potato in our history. For my great-grandfather, as a child in Cork, in the 1830s, the potato would have been an essential and daily addition to his diet.  By 1845 by the start of the great famine in Ireland caused by the potato blight, over a third of Irish people were reliant on this humble vegetable to sustain their families.  My family were lucky in as much as they were close to the sea and had access to other foods but for millions inland it was the most devastating disaster in Irish history.  Apart from those that perished, it instigated a mass migration that was to impact countries around the world.  So why should the potato be considered so nutritionally important to us today?

Potatoes were the most common carbohydrate for most of us in the western world up until after the second world war.  Another ten years and we were starting to develop more exotic tastes and first the Indian restaurants and then the Chinese introduced us to rice in its various varieties. And, over the last 50 years or so they have been chucked in and out of our diet at the whim of “experts” who one minute want us to stop eating carbohydrates, then they are in, then they are out………….

In my mind they should definitely be in and I hope that when you have read all the history of this simple but essential vegetable and all that it offers you too will include in your weekly shop.

The history of the potato.

There are some legends regarding the introduction of the potato into Ireland, around 1600. Some believe that Sir Frances Drake brought specimens back from the West Indies and handed some over to Sir Walter Raleigh who cultivated them on his farm in Ireland. I prefer the far more quirky explanation that potatoes were washed up on the shore after the Armada was sunk and – with typical Irish ingenuity – were transformed into a national treasure and alcoholic beverage.

This humble root vegetable has travelled thousands of miles to adorn our dinner plates and there is archaeological evidence that they were first cultivated in Peru around 4,500 years ago although wild potatoes had been eaten as early as 10,000 years ago.  I would imagine that ancient civilisations would have also eaten them in one form or another.

Wheat and corn could not survive the cold of the mountains in the same way as the potato, and the Inca cultures actually developed frost-resistant varieties and a technique to freeze dry the mature root, providing flour that could be stored for a number of years. Like in Ireland, the potato became the staple food for South American’s living at high altitudes and they even produced alcohol in the form of a beer called chicha.

As I mentioned, in recent years carbohydrates have found disfavour with the diet industry and unfortunately this includes the potato. In fact the potato  has far fewer calories than rice, pasta and bread; provided it is not laden with cheese and butter. It is a highly nutritious, low fat and healthy accompaniment to any meal.

There are over 100 different types of cultivated potatoes available today, and some of the more familiar to us are the King Edward, Maris Piper, Kerr Pink and Rooster varieties. Some older varieties were reflective of the time they were cultivated, such as Irish Peace.

What Are The Health Benefits Of The Potato?

There is a very good reason why the potato has been regarded as a staple food in so many cultures. When conditions are tough, and nothing else will grow, the potato will thrive and provide many essential nutrients the body needs to survive.

Provided you do not eat a pound of saturated fat with your potatoes (a bit of real butter however is delicious!), including them as part of your diet may prevent a number of potentially serious illnesses. Research into elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, poor immune system function, cancer and hormonal imbalance show that the properties in the potato could well help prevent these conditions from developing in the first place. If you need to lose weight, eating potatoes will provide you with a great many nutrients and energy without adding excess calories or fats to your daily diet.

Despite being around for thousands of years this vegetable still holds surprises and recently scientists have isolated kukoamines in potatoes. Previously, these were only found in some Chinese herbal remedies. The main property of this chemical is its ability to reduce blood pressure levels. As elevated blood pressure is becoming increasingly more common, for both men and women, eating potatoes regularly in the diet could be very beneficial.

Potatoes are also high in Vitamin C, B6, Copper, Potassium, manganese and fibre. They also contain phytonutrients called flavonoids and carotenoids that are extremely important anti-oxidants.

Most of us are familiar with the health benefits of Vitamin C especially in relation to our immune system, but this vitamin also protects the harmful cholesterol LDL from oxidative damage, which leads to plaque forming and blocking our arteries.

Vitamin B6 is involved in nearly every major process in the body and is necessary for the health of each cell in our bodies. It also assists in the formation of several neurotransmitters in the brain and helps regulate our mood.

High levels of homocysteine have been linked to heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease and B6 has been shown to lower homocysteine levels in the blood.

B6 is necessary for the formation of haemoglobin, which is the oxygen carrying pigment in our blood, and is therefore linked to our energy levels. B6 also helps balance female hormones so eating potatoes regularly as part of a balanced diet is useful for PMS and other hormonal imbalances.

Copper is an essential trace element needed to absorb and utilise iron. It is needed to make ATP, which is the fuel that we run on, and some hormones and blood cells.

Potassium reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell; it allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain correct fluid balance in the body. Without the correct amount of potassium our heartbeats can become irregular.

Manganese is needed for healthy skin, bone and cartilage formation as well as ensuring glucose tolerance. It is also part of our antioxidant defence system.

It is important that you eat the skin of the potato as this contains a concentrated source of fibre, which our bodies need to remove waste and toxins efficiently. If you buy pre-washed potatoes, remember to clean them before eating as the potato will have become susceptible to fungus and bacterial contamination. Scrub the potato under running water and remove any eyes or bruises before cooking. You can boil, bake, dry roast, mash and dice potatoes. If you want to mash or roast with a little fat, use olive oil and herbs rather than butter or margarine.

Next time you pass the display of potatoes in a supermarket don’t think “fattening”, think “mashed with a little olive oil and garlic” or “roasted with rosemary and Mediterranean vegetables with a little lamb on the side”!

Now I am going to hand over to Carol who is elevating this ‘not so common’ potato to even greater heights.

One of the world’s favourite vegetables… The Potato.

The shape and colour of potatoes vary from brown to red and most that I buy have the light brown skins some are suitable for use in salads like the Charlotte potato which is waxy while floury potatoes like the Maris Piper are ideal for mash and baking. The red skinned potato which is also lower in starch than its brown cousin can be boiled, fried, steamed it has so many uses and also it is down to individual preference we all have our favourites…

My favourite, which I can’t get here, are the Jersey Royals available for a very short period April to July and are delicious just boiled or steamed with a sprig of mint and a bit of butter.

For many years potatoes have been vilified and banned on many diets however common sense is now prevailing in most camps and as it has only about 110 calories and is naturally fat free, has zero sodium or cholesterol and more potassium than a banana it is now encouraged to be part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

That is the potato with nothing on it!

It becomes unhealthy when you load it up with all your favourite things.

The recipes I have chosen to share with you today are potatoes cooked with healthy, fresh ingredients which I hope you enjoy!

My first recipe is a very simple recipe using my favourite new potatoes.New potato Skewers.

Ingredients

  • New potatoes
  • Bay leaves
  • Shallots or salad onions peeled and halved
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil

Let’s Cook!

Gently clean the new potatoes and par-boil for 5 minutes. Thread onto the skewers with the salad onions and bay leaves…I sometimes add a few peeled cloves of garlic. Brush with Olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and BBQ or grill for about 10 minutes turning occasionally until nicely browned.

Serve with a fresh salsa or Greek yoghurt dip or dip of your choice or as I do just enjoy on their own with a little additional salt.

They can also be eaten with fish or meat as a side dish.

Jacket Potatoes

Can be served every which way, some microwave them (yuk) I prefer mine crispy skinned….They can be loaded with coleslaw, cheese, butter and this is where they become very unhealthy…As a treat maybe but I find that now I can’t take the taste and it reaks havoc with the tum..I am not used to so much fat……

I love mine topped with a home made chilli con carne, some prawns with a light dressing, bacon, avocado,salsa and a little cheese, sour cream mixed with horseradish and a couple of prawns or cottage cheese and a roasted tomato…What is your favourite topping???? Answers in the comments please.

Next we have Boulangere Potatoes….

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2km of floury potatoes
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 onions thinly slices
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil.
  • 425ml vegetable stock.

Let’s Cook

Pre-heat oven to 200C/180Cfan/Gas 6.

Slice the potatoes thinly by hand or use the food processor or if you are apt with a mandolin then be careful. Put in cold water while you prepare the onions.

Fry the onions until soft and lightly coloured with the sprigs of thyme this takes about 5 minutes.

Using a 1.5 litre oiled gratin dish or other oven proof dish start by spreading a layer of potatoes over the base of the dish, sprinkle with a few onions then continue layering… finishing with a layer of potatoes.

Pour the stock over the potatoes and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and the top is golden brown and crispy.

Serve with meat or fish and a salad or steamed vegetables of your choice.
Then tell me that you didn’t miss the addition of cream and cheese.

Chicken and Potato Parcels.

Ingredients

4 large skinless boneless chicken thighs

    • 4 medium potatoes thinly sliced
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper to season
    • 4tbsp melted butter or olive oil
    • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
    • Lemon slices
    • 4 squares of foil.

Let’s Cook

On each of the foil sheets arrange the potato slices overlapping them slightly, season with a pinch of salt. Top with the chicken thigh and drizzle with melted butter or olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top each parcel with lemon slices and fresh rosemary. Seal each little parcel.

Cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. I always undo the foil for the last 5/10 mins just to give the top a little colour.

A nice quick meal when you don’t have time or are just tired after a day’s work…Serve with a salad or some steamed vegetables and a nice glass of wine.

Now let’s not forget about the sweet potato.

A root vegetable that resembles a potato, although it is quite different in both taste and texture. The skin is a pinkish orange and the flesh can be deep orange or we have purplish skinned ones here with a purple flesh. They have a slightly sweet flavour and I know my American cousins top them with marshmallows and bake them for Thanksgiving…This I have not tried….

I eat mine baked or mashed and prefer them to what I call normal potatoes although the men folk in my house disagree with me on this…

They are also lovely in a curry…..For the prawn, sweet potato and lime curry

Ingredients.

  • 2 tsp freshly grated coconut
  • 2 tbsp medium or hot curry paste
  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 4cm piece fresh root ginger peeled, cut into long thin strips
  • 1 red chilli, seeds removed (optional), finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g can coconut milk
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 75g sugar snap peas
  • 75g baby corn, halved lengthways
  • 225g raw, peeled jumbo king prawns (defrosted if frozen)
  • 1 bunch spring onions trimmed and sliced
  • 1 lime juice only

Lets Cook!

Put a large pan over a medium heat and toast the coconut for a few minutes stirring all the time so it doesn’t burn. Put in a dish and set to one side.

Using the same pan on a medium heat add the curry paste and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring.

Add the sweet potato, ginger and chilli and stir to combine. Add the coconut milk and the stock and stir until it comes to a gentle rolling boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until the sweet potato is almost tender.

Add the sugar snaps and baby corn and cook for 4/5 minutes or until tender stirring occasionally… Mix in the prawns and cook 2 minutes until they are just pink…remove from the heat. Add the spring onions and squeeze in the lime juice and season to taste.

Ladle in to serving bowls and scatter with the coconut serve with warm flat breads.

For a more substantial meal serve with steamed rice.

One of my favourite Curries is the Thai Massaman curry eaten more in the south of Thailand and not seen as often here in the North so it is just as well that I have the recipe and make my own it is a milder curry and always includes the potato which not many Thai dishes do.

Thai Massaman Curry

Ingredients:

  • 500 gm chicken or 2 chicken breasts cubed. You can also use thighs or the leg which is often used in the authentic rustic Thai Massaman.
  • 3- 4 tbsp massaman curry paste
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • Half cup good chicken stock
  • 1-2 med potatoes cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 100 gm mushrooms quartered
  • 4-6 baby corn halved
  • 50 gm sugar snap peas
  • Chopped coriander
  • Peanuts (optional)

Let’s Cook!

Put a little coconut oil in a pan to heat add your curry paste and a tbsp fish sauce and cook stirring for about a minute.

Add your cubed chicken and stir to coat with the paste then add the coconut milk and stock stirring to combine properly bring to a slow boil and reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook for 10 minutes and then add your potatoes cook until potatoes cook for a further 15 minutes and add mushrooms, sweet corn and peas. Cook for a further 10 minutes.

Add some peanuts if using and stir in some chopped coriander. Cook for a further 5 minutes and then serve with steamed rice.

All the way through cooking taste and adjust your seasoning I add more fish sauce generally and quite a lot of coriander…

But it is personal taste and that is what cooking is all about.

N.B Please note that on my sons recent visit to the UK he was asked to make this curry….His brother said my coconut milk always separates can you tell me why what am I doing wrong???

The coconut milk he was using was not 100% coconut milk which was why…All of ours is here and I was under the impression that the same brands were also in the UK…Not so!

Please check that what you are using is 100% and if it isn’t be very careful that you don’t allow it to boil as it will separate.

Lastly one of my favourites….

Aloo Gobi …Indian potato and cauliflower curry.

Ingredients:

  • 400g floury potatoes (such as Maris Piper or King Edward), cut into medium-sized chunks
  • 1 large cauliflower , cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 small green chillies, pierced a few times
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 lime , juiced
  • small pack coriander, chopped

Let’s Cook!

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Tip the potatoes into a large pan, fill with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5-6 mins until starting to soften but still holding their shape. Drain well.

On a large baking tray, toss the potatoes and cauliflower with the spices and 2 tbsp oil. Season well and roast for 45 mins, stirring halfway through cooking, until the veg is soft and starting to brown.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large pan. Fry the curry leaves and garlic for 1 min, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown. Add the tomatoes, chillies, sugar, lime juice and some seasoning. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins until the tomatoes have broken down.

Add the roasted veg to the tomatoes. Simmer for 5 mins, adding a splash of water if the curry gets too thick.

Stir through the coriander and serve with rice, warm naan bread and yogurt.

This is one of my favourites quite a dry dish and I usually use it as a side and if it just us halve the recipe.

I hope you have enjoyed these potato dishes and again thank you to Sally for letting me add my recipes to her very good advice on the benefits of the humble potato.

Just a bit of Trivia it is called Man Farang here…

And my thanks to Carol for another outstanding collection of recipes that are so easy to follow and we love to hear from you when you try them out.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology.

Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Please feel free to share thanks Sally

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

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Smorgasbord Christmas posts from Your Archives Blogmas 2016 …. A Victorian Christmas by Carol Taylor


Blogmas 2016 …. A Victorian Christmas.

I love Christmas and have many happy memories of Christmas in the past…..I miss Christmas in the Uk… I suppose part of it is that it is not celebrated here so even though some of the larger stores aimed at the expat market do decorate and have a tree…it falls short…. you don’t get the atmosphere and it is the atmosphere which makes everything isn’t it?

The cold, maybe snow, the Carol Concerts, the parties,just a general joyous feeling , christmas is everywhere you look at every twist and turn.

So I have been thinking a lot….dangerous I know…ha ha

About what Christmas would have been like in Victorian Times….Cooking was far more ornate and so were the dresses of the ladies..so beautiful.

…muffled up and carriages to ride in.. it just conjours up a warm feeling of Christmas.

Chestnuts cooked over hot coals on street corners…

Ducks and Geese and lovely fresh local food…There was no refrigeration then just cold larders and I remember my mums and my grand mothers and they were cold but also damp so food didn’t last as long.

But people shopped locally and we are turning the clock back and starting to do that again but it was food in season and locally bought..

Families having fun…I remember waiting for my dad to come home on Christmas Eve just like the children in this photo… All excited to see what goodies he had bought..

.I would love to go back in time and enjoy a Victorian Christmas I think it would fun…Do you????

Thanks to Carol for this lovely post of Christmas Past and we would love to hear your thoughts.

©Carol Taylor 2016.

Carol has chosen a piece of music to go along with her Christmas post this week. Cliff Richard with Mistletoe and Wine

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/

Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

I am now looking for archive posts for the festive season.. short stories fiction and non-fiction, food and recipes, humour, memorable Christmas’s etc.  Please send one or two posts to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.. I will be resuming the regular archive series in the New Year.  Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health – Christmas Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor – The Amazing Apricot


Welcome to this week’s post on the wonderful foods available to us that are not only nutrient packed but also delicious when handed over to Carol Taylor to prepare.  This week the little yellow fruit that has an interesting history and next time you are going to a wedding take a bag with you!

Dried apricots are in season all year around and as you will read in Carol’s part of the post they are important nutritionally too. Since we are now in the run up to Christmas, Carol will also be adding in some suggestions of how to add apricots into your festive cooking.

More about the apricot

The apricot season opens at the beginning of May and goes through to the end of August or early September, which gives us five months to enjoy this highly nutritious and healing food.   This week some friends of us dropped around with a large bag of the fruit straight from the tree in their garden and we are slowly working our way through this delicious bounty.

First though a little history about this luscious golden yellow fruit. In China over 4000 years ago a bride will have not only had something borrowed and something blue but would have also been nibbling on an apricot. It was prized for its ability to increase fertility, which is not surprising, as it is high in nutrients necessary for the production of sex hormones.

The Latin name for the apricot is “praecocia” which means precocious or early ripening. It is part of the rose family and is a cousin to the peach, plum, cherry and the almond. In China it first grew wild in the mountains before being introduced to Arab traders who took it with them along the trade routes to Babylon and Persia where they were called the “eggs of the sun”. Over the following centuries the fruit continued its travels reaching Greece where the juice was known as “nectar of the Gods, then onto Spain, Mexico and North America. It is now cultivated in all warm climates around the world and used as a sweet and savoury addition to a healthy diet.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE APRICOT?

As with any fresh fruit the apricot is packed with fibre and nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamins B1, B2, B6, Vitamin E, Potassium and Iron. Of particular interest from a therapeutic viewpoint are its high levels of carotenoids.

Carotenoids are responsible for the wonderfully rich reds, oranges and yellow colouring of plant leaves, fruits, flowers and some birds, insects and fish such as salmon. There are around 600 carotenoids that occur naturally and the apricot has two in particular that benefit us, Beta-carotene and lycopene.

Beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy sight especially at night. As with any part of the body the sensitive components of the eye are as vulnerable to oxidative damage as any other and Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to degenerative eye disease in many research programmes. It has also shown that eating just three portions a day of yellow and orange fruit and vegetables such as apricots and carrots would lower the risk of poor eyesight as we age.

As an anti-oxidant, beta-carotene protects the LDL or harmful cholesterol from free radical damage that can cause plaque to form in the arteries. A build up of plaque can lead to both heart disease and a higher risk of stroke.

Lycopene is usually associated with bright red fruits such as tomatoes but it is also present in apricots. As well as helping protect the eyes from degenerative disease, lycopene is associated with a reduction in damage to LDL cholesterol and a much lower risk of developing a number of cancers including bladder, breast, cervix, prostate and skin.

There has been considerable interest in the medicinal properties of the apricot kernel for the last 40 years. There has been some controversial claims made about cancer curing abilities that has not been well received by the medical profession or pharmaceutical companies. Hopefully ongoing research will prove that this is a natural alternative to the highly invasive treatments currently available such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Modern scientists are not the first researchers in history to explore the possibilities of the apricot kernel.

WHAT ARE THE MEDICINAL USES OF APRICOTS?

In ancient China over 4,000 years ago, healers used a medicine made from the kernels to prolong life. Additionally the oils from the kernels were used as a sedative, muscle relaxant, in wound healing and as an anti-parasitic.

The apricot’s fibre makes it a gentle laxative; aids weight loss and reduces cholesterol in the blood. Its alkaline properties aid digestion if eaten before a meal and due to the high content of iron it is excellent for anyone suffering from anaemia. Apricots also contain a small but essential amount of copper, which may increase the production of haemoglobin in the blood providing more oxygen and therefore energy for the body.

Over the centuries the juice of apricots mixed with honey has been used to treat fevers and the juice from the leaves appears to reduce the inflammation caused by eczema and sunburn.

So this small fruit has a large reputation and certainly in the fight against the most common modern diseases such as elevated cholesterol, heart disease and cancers it would definitely be worth including in your diet on a daily basis.

BUYING APRICOTS.

Apricots are best eaten when still a little firm. If they are not fully ripe when you buy them keep them in a fruit bowl for two to three days and then store in paper or plastic bag in the fridge for up to three days.

Apart from eating them fresh you can use them in cooking by stewing, grilling, baking or roasting and they are delicious as an accompaniment to meat and poultry dishes or in desserts. As a pre dinner snack they are delicious halved and stuffed with a cream cheese and chopped nuts. For a main course serve in a fresh spinach and walnut salad with roast salmon.

If you want to use dried apricots out of season then do buy guaranteed sulphite free brands as there are many people who react to this preservative. Asthma sufferers in particular should avoid any food containing sulphites including inexpensive wine, baked goods, soup mixes, jams, snacks and most dried fruit.

Now it is time to hand over a bag of apricots to Carol Taylor to turn into fabulous recipes for you to indulge in.

I call it the amazing Apricot as it virtually alongside the doctors saved my life…No kidding about 20 years ago I was very, very anaemic so much so that I was whisked into hospital at a moment’s notice and operated on…Amongst other factors my iron levels were practically nonexistent and apart from medical intervention I was advised to eat dried apricots…They have always been one of my favourite fruits so although I had little appetite I was happy to nibble on those little golden pieces of heaven.

It took a few weeks before I was even close to being human again but I do credit those little apricots with contributing to helping to increase my iron levels.

Anyway, enough about me and…..

Let’s Cook!

Apricots are a versatile little fruit which make a lovely jam and the recipe which I am going to start with as it is the basis for much more than just putting on your toast…

Apricot and Orange Blossom Jam.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg apricots stoned and halved….If the apricots are large then cut into quarters.
  • 750 gm preserving sugar
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp of Orange blossom water
  • A few knobs of butter (optional). The butter helps dissolve the scum on the top of the jam if there is any.

Let’s Cook!

Mix the apricots and the sugar together, cover and leave to stand overnight. I have to stand mine in a tray of water otherwise the pesky ants get into the sugar they don’t like swimming the moat however.

Put a saucer in the freezer.

When ready to cook put the apricots into a preserving pan which is flatter, wider and better for cooking preserves, add the lemon juice and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.

Once the sugar had dissolved then bring the apricots to a rolling boil for about 15 minutes.

Remove the saucer from the freezer and the pan from the heat and spoon a little jam on to the cold saucer, if the mixture wrinkles when it cools then the jam has reached its setting point.

If it is too runny then return the pan to the heat and bring to a rolling boil for 2-3 minutes then add another spoonful of jam to the saucer, repeat until the jam reaches its setting point.

Then skim the surface of the jam to remove any scum which has formed and stir in the orange blossom and the butter if using. The butter helps dissolve any remaining scum.

Leave the jam to cool for 15 minutes before transferring to sterilised jars.

This jam will keep in the fridge for about 6 weeks.

Apricots wrapped in bacon make a lovely accompaniment to your Christmas turkey instead of sausages.

A lovely apricot glaze for your Christmas ham.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Apricot jam
  • 1 tsp of mustard powder.

Mix the ingredients together then brush your ham before you bake it with the glaze and then brush with the remainder of the glaze about 20 minutes from the end of the cooking time.

It makes a lovely ham taste even better.

Dipping sauce for coconut prawns or chicken.

  • ½ cup of apricot jam
  • 2 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp horseradish

Just combine the ingredients and you have a lovely dipping sauce.

Pork Loin is a wonderful thing stuffed with a beautiful homemade stuffing.

Ingredients for Apricot stuffing:

  • 2 tbsp of minced or finely chopped garlic
  • 16 whole cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp of minced fresh rosemary or snip with scissors
  • 16 dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • Oil to cook garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to season

Let’s cook

Cook the garlic cloves in oil until soft and lightly coloured, remove from the oil and retain the oil.

Take your piece of pork loin and slit through the middle length wise so making a long pocket do not take it right to the end.

With a brush coat the insides of the pocket with oil from the cooked garlic. Now the original recipe stated add everything in layers I found this humanely impossible so on my second attempt I mixed all the ingredients together using only 1 tbsp of the rosemary and stuffed the loin..my piece was about 1.5 kilos and I used the end of a plastic sauce bottle to push the stuffing to the end of the pork.

Hubby then tied the pork loin together with kitchen string. I then brushed the outside with the remaining garlic oil and seasoned with salt and black pepper before roasting.

Enjoy!

Apricot Dumplings

My mum used to make apple dumplings and they were really lovely and I have happy thoughts when I think of those ….These Apricot ones now take first place as they are awesome… A recipe given to me by my Swiss friend who calls them Wachauer Aprikosennodel and they truly are delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of cold cooked potatoes
  • 3 ¾ cups of all purpose flour
  • 3/8ths cup of butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 12 whole apricots
  • 12 lumps of sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups of bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup castor sugar
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Pinch of salt

Sauce ingredients:

  • 10 apricot halves
  • ¼ cup of apricot juice
  • ¼ cup of brandy

Let’s Cook!

Grate the potatoes. Measure and sift flour. Measure the butter. Soak sugar lumps in brandy.

Remove stone of whole apricots. Measure the breadcrumbs, sugar and brandy. Measure the ingredients for sauce. Mix flour with grated potato, add salt and egg yolk. Rub in butter and then turn dough out onto a floured board and knead.

Press out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Place a lump of brandied sugar in each half apricot, cover with another apricot half. Cut dough into 4-inch squares. Place apricot in the centre and wrap dough around, squeezing edges of dough together.

Trim off outside. Roll dumpling between palms of hands. Drop dumplings into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Boil gently for 12 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Fry the bread crumbs with the sugar and 3 tablespoons fresh butter until crisp. Roll the dumplings in the bread crumbs and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place onto a heated serving dish.

To make the sauce:

Place apricot halves with brandy and apricot juice into a blender and puree. Heat the sauce gently in a saucepan.

Coat the dumplings with the apricot sauce. Serve the remaining sauce separately.

Enjoy!

Lastly some little Christmas macaroons…

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of sliced almonds
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ cup of apricot jam

Let’s Cook!

Pre heat oven to 350 F.

In a food processor grind almond, sugar and salt (I leave mine a little coarse) add egg whites and vanilla then pulse until the mixture forms a ball.

With wet hands as the mix is very sticky shape a level tbsp of the mix into balls and then make an indent in the centre of each ball with a moist finger.

Bake until crackly and light golden approx 15 – 20 mins depending on your oven.

Cool for 5 mins and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Warm the jam over a low heat and then put a tsp of jam in the centre of each cookie. Leave to cool.

Enjoy!

Thank you once again to Sally for her marvellous information on the health benefits of the humble apricot and I hope you all enjoyed the recipes…If you have a favourite recipe then please let us know.

As you can see in the hands of an expert, even the humble apricot acheives great things.. thank to Carol for all her efforts.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology.

Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Please feel free to share thanks Sally

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

 

Smorgasbord Christmas posts from Your Archive – Pomelo Salad by Carol Taylor


This is from the archives of Carol Taylor. Although not official a Christmas post, as we approach the richness of the food in the run up to the holidays you might think about adding in a few dishes that are light and fresh.

 The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it!  Carol Taylor

Pomelo Salad

Pomelo Salad or as it is known here Yum Som O is a wonderful light refreshing salad made with Thai Grapefruit( Pink Grapefruit) can be substituted and there is very little difference in flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Pink Grapefruit or 1 Pomelo.
  • 12-16 peeled shrimps.
  • Sm.cucumber diced.
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced shallots.
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thai Basil or Mint.
  • 1/4 cup Fresh coriander.
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts/cashews.
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut.
  • 1 Red Chilli finely sliced.

Dressing:

  • Half to 1 lime.
  • 3 tbsp Fish Sauce.
  • 1-2 tbsp palm sugar.
  • 1 -2 red chillies finely sliced.
  • Kaffir Lime leaf very finely sliced for garnish.

Method:

Set a pot of water to boil on the stove. Add shrimp and boil just a few minutes, until shrimp turn pink and plump and firm to the touch. Drain and set aside to cool.

Place shredded coconut in a dry frying pan or wok over medium-high heat and stir until coconut turns light golden brown and fragrant. Tip coconut into a small bowl to cool and set aside.Repeat with shallots frying in a little oil until golden and crispy tip into a small bowl and set aside to cool.

Prepare your grapefruit or pomelo, removing as much of the white peel as possible from the fruit. Break into bite-size pieces – 3 to 4 cups is a good amount. Set prepared fruit in a salad bowl.

Add to the bowl: cucumber, basil/mint, coriander, and fresh chilli.

Combine all dressing ingredients together in a cup, stirring well to dissolve the sugar.

To put the salad together: Add shrimp to the salad bowl, then pour over the dressing. Toss well to combine. Add most of the toasted coconut, shallots and nuts, reserving a little for garnishing, then toss again. Taste-test the salad for a balance of sweet/sour/spicy/salty.

Adjust to your liking, adding more sugar if too sour. For more depth of flavour, add a little Fish

Sauce. Your salad is now ready to serve. Top with reserved coconut, nuts and shredded lime leaf, and ENJOY!

Tip: Like most Thai salad dressings, this is an oil-free dressing, so it doesn’t appear to ‘cling’ as well as oil-based dressings, naturally collecting at the bottom of your salad bowl. This isn’t a problem – just be sure to toss a little more than you would for a regular salad in order to saturate ingredients with the dressing.

This salad is better served and eaten immediately, the fresher the better. If preparing for a party, keep the dressing apart from the salad until you’re ready to eat, then toss them together just before serving.

I do hope you enjoy as this is one of my favourite salads, I do shred my Pomelo much finer though rather than having too chunky. But as with anything, it is personal preference.

©Carol Taylor 2015

My thanks to Carol for sharing this deliciously refreshing salad that would be a welcome change to the sweet and sometimes stodgy foods at Christmas.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/

Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

I am now looking for archive posts for the festive season.. short stories fiction and non-fiction, food and recipes, humour, memorable Christmas’s etc.  Please send one or two posts to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.. I will be resuming the regular archive series in the New Year.  Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Life is short, Smile while you still have teeth! by Carol Taylor


Welcome to the next in the posts from Carol Taylor’s archive..This from 2015 is from Carol’s early days of blogging and now she is juggling two…. great at multi-tasking is our Carol. This week some really cute pictures from the GRP.( Gibbon Rehabilitation Project) in Thailand which is an update on an earlier post, a smile from Carol’s son and her mother.. and of course you always get a recipe. If this does not leave you smiling then you need to get out more!

Life is short, Smile while you still have teeth! by Carol Taylor

I have to start with an update on the tiny baby Gibbon…you can actually see how very tiny she is as she snuggles against the person who is feeding her.

Unfortunately she could not be left with her mother who was becoming increasingly tired and the baby weaker….she is now being hand reared……..GRP made.this decision for both the mother and the baby’s well being. Both parents are being allowed to come to terms with all the trauma before being released back into the wild…which in this case is the right decision for all I think…..This project does such wonderful work for the Gibbons here and are very successful at rehabilitating and returning as many as is possible back to their natural habit.

This little one is now doing much better I wish her well..awwww so cute.

First week of Blogging 101 over enjoyed it in the main especially the interaction on ” The Commons” with other bloggers…awesome.

Just received a picture of my mum with my big boy. taken on Christmas Day before Church.

I miss my mum…..although it’s lovely to chat on Skype when I have a signal…..But my boys over soon and can’t wait…..I might have sun,sea and sand but miss people ..but also it makes you appreciate people more…you don’t take things or people quite so much for granted………. where did that come from…sorry peeps getting maudlin…..

What’s next..thoughts all dried up …….well not really…….been trying all week to get a picture of the buffalo just down from my house…everytime I go by(without my camera) the heron is on her back and it makes such a lovely sight ( when I have ) said camera it’s nowhere in sight…but perseverance that’s my mission I will get that pic…….Sourced the celery ( or my friend did) so promise next blog I will show you how to make bacon without nitrates…..and it only takes 5 days……. and it’s ready! Can smell and taste it already………also found a great recipe on someone else’s blog for Fish Curry and it looks yummy so will be trying that………

But never fear I won’t leave you without a recipe ……. last nights dinner was:


Uncooked prawns with a blow your head off chilli dip.It consists of very finely chopped white cabbage,finely sliced and halved.khiewchanta.

Khiewchanta……arranged round the edge of plate……..Fresh prawns ,cleaned , deveined and soaked in Soda Water…..Fresh mint leaves and finely sliced garlic.

Eaten with steamed rice and very lightly cooked squid in a salad with tomatoes,spring onion,coriander,fish ,sauce and lime juice…… so that was dinner and very nice it was all fresh from the market about an hour before and that’s the great thing about living here everyday there is a fresh market and I love it at my local ones I am generally the only farang but they are getting to know me and love it when I sample the hottest of food sometimes and give it the thumbs up………..and if I speak a little Thai…as my vocabulary is limited at the moment the smiles all round… it really makes my day as it does theirs.

Well short and sweet this one…but it’s children’s day today so everywhere there is fun and games galore….until next time…happy reading x

Thanks for another snapshot of Carol’s day and clearly still feeling homesick…

©Carol Taylor

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/

Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

I am now looking for archive posts for the festive season.. short stories fiction and non-fiction, food and recipes, humour, memorable Christmas’s etc.  Please send one or two posts to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.. I will be resuming the regular archive series in the New Year.  Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health – Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor – Brown Rice – Nutritious and Delicious


Welcome to our weekly look at the nutritional value and health benefits of food that is usually included in our daily diet. This week one of my larder staples and a food that we eat several time a week… in moderate quantities since we are not as active as we used to be.

First a look at the nutritional content and the health benefits before I will hand you over to Carol Taylor who has been creating mouth watering dishes from this simple ingredient.

There is quite a bit in the press about how eating grains can be harmful to your health. I do agree that a ‘white’ diet of refined grains every day does not provide the body with any basic nutrients except for sugars. However, whilst I am on the fence when it comes to wheat which has undergone so many natural and man-made changes in the last ten years, I do feel very strongly that some grains do belong in our diet and for very good reason. Apart from the nutritional content, fibre plays an important role in our lives and to be honest, brown rice is a staple that I keep in my larder the whole time and I always have at least a couple of tablespoons a day even if I am watching my weight. Here is why…..

As the body releases waste and toxins from the cells and tissues it will pass through to the intestines. There are some normal side effects that might occur as this takes place but if you include fibre, particularly brown rice the toxins will be removed quickly and efficiently, speeding up the detox process.

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT BROWN RICE?

Of all rice – any form of brown rice will contain more of the nutrients as it loses only the outer layer of the grain called the hull. During the process that turns brown rice to white rice it loses 67% of its vitamin B3 (niacin) 80% of B1, 90% of B6 – half of its manganese and phosphorus, 60% of its iron and all the dietary fibre and essential fatty acids. Do you realise that to make white rice acceptable as a food it has to be artificially enriched with B1 B3 and iron? It is amazing the difference that processing a food can have on its nutritional content.

Brown rice is a very rich source of manganese –essential for blood health. It is also necessary for bone health and for it’s antioxidant capabilities in preventing damage to cells, particularly blood cells.

Brown rice is rich in fibre, which cleans the system of toxins and harmful deposits in the blood so helps keep your cholesterol down. Like oats it tends to release its energy slowly so maintaining stable blood sugar levels. The fibre is insoluble which means that it works through your system efficiently. This prevents some organs from getting into an overload situation like the liver and the bile duct – a speedy process through the system ensures that the bile duct does not secrete too much bile which can lead to gallstones.

Proteins like turkey are high in selenium but so is brown rice and it is very important for our immune systems and thyroid function – also to help prevent cancer as it encourages healthy DNA repair in the cells.

Magnesium is present in high quantities and this is associated with a number of systemic problems such as asthma – high blood pressure –migraine headaches and reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Magnesium does this because it helps to regulate nerve and muscle tone by balancing the action of calcium. You will see that very often calcium supplements are teamed with magnesium.

Calcium tends to rush around frantically and needs magnesium to curb its enthusiasm. For example if allowed to, calcium will overwhelm the nerve cells in the muscles and they become over activated. This causes the muscle to overwork and wear out faster. This occurs if you have insufficient magnesium in your diet. Another reason that magnesium is so important is for bone health and about two thirds of the magnesium is found in the bones of the human body. The rest is stored for when needed. Brown rice provides nearly a quarter of your daily requirement in one serving.

The human body is over 100,000 years old. In that time the body has developed an incredible defence mechanism called the survival instinct. In some cases it is miraculous. It is only in recent centuries that we have begun to refine our grains.

Recent researchers are maintaining that we ate few carbohydrates in the form of grain but I do dispute this. We would have eaten anything in our path that was in the least bit edible and certainly wild grains would have been a seasonal addition to the meat and fish that were hunted.

So our bodies spent the first 99,900 years eating whole-grains including rice. Wheat only came along about 10,000 years ago. During those many thousands of years our bodies evolved a very precise dietary support system that provided it with everything it needed to survive and be the fittest. It was essential for the survival of mankind that only the fittest made it through. This ensured that each generation was stronger.

If you go back to what I was saying about the loss of nutrients in the processing of brown rice to white rice you can perhaps understand why we are now facing the sort of medical problems that we are. We are depriving the body of not just a food group but the essential nutrients and energy that they provide.

You do not have to eat a plateful every day and for rice I would suggest two large tablespoons. I use wholegrain basmati which is fragrant and has much fluffier grain when cooked. You do not have to restrict your rice to savoury dishes as I eat cooked unsalted brown basmati rice with warm milk and a banana for breakfast from time to time. If you need to sweeten a little then add a teaspoon of honey.

Preparation.

Brown rice needs to be prepared a little carefully – don’t get the easy cook as this has been partly processed. I suggest the real stuff, but put in a large glass bowl before cooking with cold water to cover it and whisk as hard as you can – then drain and then repeat until the water is clear. This gets rid of dust etc.

Now time to hand the raw brown rice grains over to Carol Taylor to work her magic.

Nutritious and delicious Brown Rice.

Brown rice not something I cook with often my first foray into cooking Brown Rice some years ago now was a disaster and liken to just a plate of stodge and not one I repeated….

Back into kitchen for Take Two.

How you should cook brown rice….

For 1 cup of Brown rice use 1 ¼ cups of water slightly less than the 2 to 1 ratio you get on the packet of rice…

Like many cooks before me I used the standard ratio and the one I use for white rice…Big

Mistake!

Bring rice, water and coarse salt…1/4 tsp per cup of rice to the boil. Cover; reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer for about 30 minutes…

Let the rice sit for 5-10 minutes and the fluff it up with a fork.

Result lovely, fluffy brown rice and not the sticky stodge that emerged from my kitchen all those years ago…Yeahh!

The thing I like about rice dishes as well is that they are quick and easy to do…less fuss
Sally’s part of the post is very interesting this week on the benefits of eating Brown rice and I have learnt a lot…I must admit when I cooked brown rice all years ago and it was such a disaster I have steered clear of it…I eat black rice or raspberry rice as some call it here and I believe it is equally as healthy… Do not confuse it with wild rice though they are two different rice’s… some fans of black rice say move over brown rice but brown rice is plentiful here and there are many different brands in the Royal Project shop here and I am going to have fun trying them all.

One thing I remember very clearly on my very first visit to Thailand was the many different colours of rice all in sacks in the markets such a wonderful site and one which stays with me…I suppose as rice is grown here you will get many, many varieties as it is a staple in the Thai diet.

Sally’s idea about eating brown rice with banana and honey for breakfast is a great one and as I have plenty of bananas at the moment a welcome change and one which I think the kids will like…Thank you Sally x

..Mushroom rice pilaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 med onion chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms of your choice or mix them which is lovely.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 2 cups of homemade chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Let’s Cook!

Start by browning the chopped onions and garlic in a large saucepan with the olive oil, add the sliced mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the brown rice and stir to coat in the oil then add your chicken stock.

Bring to a slow boil then reduce heat and cook for 35-45 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Keep an eye on it as I find with brown rice it can easily turn from cooked perfectly to something you don’t want to eat….

At this point you could also add a handful of spinach and what was really nice was my grandson requested a poached egg on his (he has) poached eggs on everything…lol

I like Indian spices so I cooked mine with some cumin, cloves and touch of turmeric….Play with the flavours these dishes are so very versatile and you can add almost anything…
Red peppers or any colour peppers, a handful of nuts, pineapple… as I said play with it…get the kids to join in they love experimenting and like the poached egg suggestion it was actually very nice..

One of my favourite things is Feta cheese (and spice) so these little spicy lamb kebabs went down a treat…

Spicy Lamb and feta skewers…served with Brown rice…

Ingredients:

  • 500 gm lamb mince
  • 1 large red onion, half of it thinly sliced and the other half grated or finely chopped.
  • 1 tbsp Harissa
  • 50 gm Feta cheese
  • Large handful of parsley chopped
  • Large handful of mint chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon/ lime
  • 300 gm cooked brown basmati rice
  • 85 gm black kalamata olives quartered
  • 1 cucumber diced…I use the small Japanese cucumbers
  • 300 gm cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil.

Let’s Cook!

Firstly soak you wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes…saves burning them…

Cook the rice then rinse under cold water and drain thoroughly.

Heat your grill or fire up your BBQ…we can because it’s hot here…lol our summer to your winter…

Now it’s time to get those in the bowl mix that mince with the Harissa, feta, grated onion and seasoning and combine thoroughly…Now shape into little sausage shapes around your pre soaked skewers.

Lay on a baking tray and grill for 6-8 mins until slightly browned and the mince is just cooked.

Mix the remaining ingredients to your brown rice and serve and enjoy…

Nasi Goreng…Is a lovely Indonesian stir fried rice dish…

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 8 oz boneless chicken thighs cut into ½ inch strips
  • 6 oz raw prawns peeled
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chilli bean sauce or 1-2 tsp sambal oelek
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce

To garnish:

  • 3 tbsp chopped spring onion
  • ½ cup chopped coriander

Let’s Cook!

Cook rice, then rinse and drain and let cool for at least 2 hours or overnight…The best rice stir fries are made with rice cooked the day before or well cooled which is something I have learnt since living here.

Add sesame oil and salt to eggs and put to one side.

Heat your wok and let’s cook…. Add the oil and wait until it very hot and slightly smoky…this will heat you up on a cold day…

Add the onions, ginger, garlic, shrimp paste, black pepper and stir fry for 2 minutes squashing down the shrimp paste as you cook as it is quite firm..

Now add your chicken strips and prawns and cook for 2 minutes then add rice and cook for a further 3 minutes…

Getting hot in the kitchen?

Now add the sambal oelek or chilli bean sauce, oyster sauce and dark soy and continue to stir fry for 2 minutes….Finally add egg mixture and stir fry fry another minute.

As Nasi Goreng has many versions this is where one of them kicks in and instead of adding the egg mix to the rice a small omelette is made and then finely cut in strips and add to the top of the rice dish alongside the spring onion and coriander.

I hope you enjoy… Are you thinking you cannot get the ingredients? Most Asian stores carry these around the world as do many of the major supermarkets also on my new blog I have links to Amazon and they can take the pain out of sourcing the ingredients and deliver it to your door…

Brown rice is also a lovely vegan meal with broccoli, spring onions and cauliflower…How vibrant does that look…don’t you just want to eat it whatever your diet?

Like any stir fried rice dish you really can add any meat or vegetable of your choice and it makes a little go a long way so all those leftovers and little bits of this and that …just have a look in your fridge or garden and ENJOY!

Thank you once again to Sally your health benefit tips and advice on the food I am using for my cooking add so much to a recipe and helps us all eat the right foods for our optimum health…

I am sure that you will discover a whole new world of taste by trying out Carol’s wonderful recipes and we look forward to hearing how you get on.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology.

Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Please feel free to share thanks Sally

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – “I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.” by Eleanor Roosevelt. From Carol Taylor


I am now looking for archive posts for the festive season.. short stories fiction and non-fiction, food and recipes, humour, memorable Christmas’s etc.  Please send one or two posts to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.. I will be resuming the regular archive series in the New Year.  Thanks Sally.

Today Carol shares a post from 2015 that explores the choices we make and where they might lead us.. In Carol’s case to Phuket, sunshine and a contributor to a short story anthology…

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.” by Eleanor Roosevelt. From Carol Taylor

Are we all happy with that?

I am, because if I hadn’t retired to Phuket I most certainly would not be blogging, I would not be warm( it’s so hot and sunny here), I would not be making my own ham and bacon, I would not be a published author the list is endless.

Why? I can hear you all saying.

Choices, circumstances, call it what you may….. sometimes we have to just be brave, go with the flow, listen to our hearts, be a little selfish…..yes why not…… years ago and I mean years ago I wanted to study Law…..I got these looks, comments…why Carol? you have a good job, you have a family why…all these puzzled looks…..why? for me, because I wanted to……so I enrolled…… time to study!

” Mum, Can I? Mum, can you? it didn’t stop….

Enter my friend Gilly…….My neighbour, confidant, shoulder to cry on, my independent career driven friend who had no children of her own…and my kids were her kids…..for sleep overs, cooking , story telling and she had plenty of those…..

In she came…..like a stern maiden aunt…..even I was a tad afraid…..” Now listen kids; your mum was herself before she was your mum…….when she is studying…because she wants to….YOU….do not disturb her…anything you want you ask before or after ”

To me she said ” you shut the door and you study, you do not answer any knocks, pleadings, wants ”

” Yes Ma’am ”

I miss you Gilly……. so much but your spirit is with me and your pictures ( the painting), The hot air balloons going up, up and away over Weston, my ” Crazy Dancing Cow “ is on my desk…yes she came with me……..you are in my heart, you are my inspiration and we all have so many memories of fun times shared R.I.P my friend.

So in I go, sat down..books open , pen at the ready….” Knock , Knock, mum”

From me…nada..no response…..it got a bit louder…..then went away……came back and tried again…..but after a few days of this ….they got the message…I got peace and quiet to study…….yehhhh…so I suppose what I have learnt through life is we all love our kids, we want to do our best for them but a door mat we ain’t and we all need our me time and everyone is happier for this and do you know?

35 plus years later.

When one of your children tells you that you are why they are what they are today and they are proud of YOU ……….you know you have done something right among all the things you got wrong…and no one is perfect..not me, not you..no one……….

So good luck with the choices you make..don’t beat yourself up if they don’t turn out quite as you wanted but a little bit of self belief goes along way…you tried…..everyday is a new day.

AND Saturday for me is a big day….I get to see, to hold, to turn the pages of our book for the first time…my very first offerings to the world in print ……… Now who would have thought…if I had written my future 20 years ago I would have got it totally wrong!

I would not be living here in sunny Phuket………..again..choices, some say ” lucky you,” You are so brave ( not sure I get that one), some may think very selfish …we cannot please all the people all of the time.

It all goes back to that opening line;

” I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.”

©CarolTaylor 2015

Please share with us a choice that you made in the past that has led to where you are today.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/

Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

I am now looking for archive posts for the festive season.. short stories fiction and non-fiction, food and recipes, humour, memorable Christmas’s etc.  Please send one or two posts to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.. I will be resuming the regular archive series in the New Year.  Thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Do you know where Loofah’s come from? by Carol Taylor


Welcome to the series where you can share four of your links from your archives here on my blog to a new audience. Perhaps posts that you wrote at the beginning of your blogging experience that deserve another showcase. If you have book promotion posts then please contact me separately for other options. Details of how to get in touch with me at the end of the post.

The next time you are in the bath and about to massage your back with a loofah… give some thought as to the process it has been through to give you a good scrub… Carol Taylor reveals all (well about the loofah anyway).

Do you know where Loofah’s come from? by Carol Taylor

We visited our granddaughters village yesterday in Sakon Nakong which is in Northern Thailand. I was given these brown crispy long things!

Which when shaken sounded like a baby’s rattle. I asked what it was and due to language misinterpretation thought it was one of the long bitter gourds you can buy and which are used for soup.

Another conversation ensued and my grandson was shaking it and banging it and asking what is this for? For me to plant I said.

The conversation then turned to how big was it and these low growing plants were pointed out to me…Oh I said ..they grow like Pumpkins….Yes mum( all the Thai Girls) call me mum.

Some time later …the kids were playing sword fights with them and one of the uncles started to peel this ” thing” and I was amazed at what was revealed

.A loofah…

I have bought many loofahs over the years and always assumed that like sponges they originated from the sea.

How ” wrong” can you be…they are from a plant which is a member of the cucumber family and they grow on vines.

With their skins on, they look like zucchini sized cukes. They’re quite attractive and fast growing. The vines can reach 20 feet if they’re happy, and the fruits form on big yellow flowers.

The luffa, also spelled loofah, usually means the fruit of the two species L. aegyptiaca and L. acutangula. The fruit of these species is cultivated and eaten as a vegetable.

When grown, it doesn’t look like a loofah found in stores. It’s usually a foot long and has a yellow flower that grows with it. The plant produces male flowers first, so the first season does not produce fruit and like a cucumber, gourd or pumpkin, it’s edible,” .It is only edible when young, as when it matures, the fibers dry out, causing the insides to fall out. The hard shell left over can then be used as a sponge. While loofah can be found in stores, it can be fun to grow one. A loofah needs about 100 to 180 days to mature and it grows best if the soil temperature is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

I have lots of seeds as when dry you can bang and the seeds come a tumbling out…so tomorrow I will be planting some and see how they grow.

In the meantime I have my own loofah to use.

Fresh and new from Sakon Nakon, Thailand.

©CarolTaylor 2016

My thanks to Carol for sharing one of her earlier posts and that loofah looks a lot more organic than those sold in the shops… not quite as hard and unforgiving. 

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/

Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

If you would like to share some of your archive posts from when you began blogging, then please send up to four links to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

Please do not send self-promotional book posts as there are several other ways to promote your books here and I will feature your books and most recent review in the post. I am looking for posts on life, relationships, health, creative writing, food, music and travel.. If you have a short story to share that is great too.