Smorgasbord Invitation Blog Magazine – Carol Taylor’s Food Column – The wonder tree…Jack Fruit!


The wonder tree…Jack Fruit! by Carol Taylor

Wow, doesn’t time just fly by? I can’t believe it has been a week and what a response I got to the soups so thank you for all your kind comments…I thought I would have a change this week and showcase a fruit of which Thailand is a major producer The jackfruit, they are often cut, prepared, and canned in a sugary syrup (or frozen in bags/boxes without syrup) and exported overseas, frequently to North America and Europe. Made into chips which are very moreish …They are also used in various dishes and curries around Asia…

Many people refer to the jackfruit tree as a wonder tree this is because every part of the tree has its own use. The fruits are eaten, the leaves are fed to livestock, and the wood is greatly valued for the manufacture of wood products because of its termite and fungus proof properties and the roots used in natural medicine to treat fevers, asthma and diarrhoea.

How to prepare the Jackfruit… If I am using green Jackfruit like the recipe below then I just take one from my tree, if I want the ripe arils I generally buy them ready prepared as those of you who have prepared your own Jackfruit know that it has a latex sap…

I have heard and quite recently…my lips are sealed…lol, some horror stories when one doesn’t know how to prepare this amazing fruit.

An old knife and cooking oil…lots of it…

Firstly, coat your gloved hands and a long, sharp knife with cooking oil. A spray cooking oil works well — to protect against that stubborn latex sap.

Cover the work surface with something disposable….lots of newspaper.

Cut the fruit in half lengthwise and then lengthwise again into quarters; the cut skin and core will release the sap. Re-grease the knife after each cut.

Cut out the solid white core and discard any fibrous filaments around the fruit pods.

If you do get ooze on your hands, don’t worry – just put some oil on your hands, and wash them in warm water, it will be gone in no time!

Easy when you know how…Here is a short video for you…I am a visual person and find it much easier when I watch the video…the pause button is a wonderful thing…

I also just prefer to oil my hands as when I use gloves they are guaranteed to stick to the latex…I probably don’t oil them enough…But I prefer oiled hands

In Asia, jackfruits ripen principally from March to June, April to September, or June to August, depending on the climatic region, with some off-season crops from September to December, you may also find a few fruits at other times of the year.

My tree in my garden has started to produce fruit and to stop the squirrels helping themselves I will be covering the fruits in plastic bags… But as you can see they are growing nicely and there are a lot of little babies as well.

The jackfruit’s flesh is very sweet and aromatic and tastes like a combination of banana, mango and papaya.

Because of certain similarities in appearance the oval shape and spiky exterior some people mistake the jackfruit for Durian which is another exotic fruit; however, they are very different fruits.

The ripe jackfruit is eaten as a fruit but unripe jackfruit is prepared as a vegetable. Young jackfruit is used in stews or curries, boiled, roasted; or fried and eaten as a snack. The seeds can also be eaten as a snack after being boiled and then roasted.

Jackfruit is also becoming a popular alternative to meat for vegans, vegetarians and anyone wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle as when cooked the texture is similar to pulled pork.

Today I will be making a spicy jackfruit salad which in Thai is called Tam Khanun or Tam banun it is made by pounding boiled jackfruit with chilli paste and then stir frying.

First step over and that was cutting the Jackfruit…I can guarantee if you use an oiled knife and grease your hands the latex doesn’t stick…You do have to keep re-greasing the knife though but any which attached itself came off easily with the cooking oil..

My jackfruit slices are now simmering gently on the stove…

Once they are tender and cooled down enough for me to remove the outer skin I will be doing so…

Ingredients for Tam Kanun:

  • 400 gm green, young Jackfruit
  • 100 gm minced pork
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 10 Cherry tomatoes cut in quarters.
  • 3- 6 tsp Chilli paste ( depending on your taste)

To serve:

  • 2 spring onions sliced
  • 5 dried birds eye chillies fried
  • 1 tbsp fried garlic.
  • 1 tbsp coriander

Let’s Cook!

Once cooked drain the jackfruit well, pound in a pestle and mortar and set to one side. I had heard cooked this looks like pulled pork and it does…

Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the garlic until it is nicely browned add the chilli paste and stir fry for a minute.

Add the minced pork and stir fry until it is cooked 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and the jackfruit stir fry to combine well add the kaffir lime leaves and remove from the heat.

Serve with sticky rice and the fried garlic, chillies, spring onions and coriander as garnish.
This is the first time I have made or eaten this dish… I was very pleasantly surprised if I hadn’t cooked it and it was put in front of me I would never have known it was

Jackfruit…Truly ☺ What do you think??

Tam Kanun Spicy Jackfruit Salad… we all loved it and I would definitely make it again.

The ripe Jackfruit arils (pictured) below are eaten here with sticky rice just pushed into the centre.

They also make a lovely ice cream which if you swop the whipping cream for soy milk is suitable for vegans.

Jackfruit Ice Cream.

Ingredients:

  • 300 gm of the ripe arils (as above)
  • 10gm sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 120 gm coconut milk
  • 200 gm whipped cream.

Let’s Cook!

Chop the jackfruit and put in a pan with the sugar cook until the fruit turns to pulp about 30/40 mins depending on how ripe your fruit is. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Place the cooled mixture in the blender with the salt, vanilla extract and the coconut milk and blend until smooth… Chill overnight in the fridge.

Next day whip your cream and fold the jackfruit mix into the whipped cream and place in your ice cream maker following their instructions.

If you are not using an ice cream maker then put in the blender and pulse 3 times.

Put into an airtight container and freeze for 6 hours.

Enjoy!

That’s all for this week so until next week when I will be back to European food…Have fun, stay safe and laugh a lot.

And if you have children or grandchildren they might enjoy this video cartoon on the Jackfruit that they can sing along to.

And don’t forget any questions or recipes you want me to find for you please ask…
Carol x

You can find my previous columns in the directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-column-2018/

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!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Connect to Carol

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

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/

My thanks to Carol for showing us how to prepare this exotic if complex fruit… considering the nutrients it contains, well worth the effort. I know she would love your feedback. thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord Review 2017 – Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor – Don’t forget to eat your Purples – The Aubergine


 

This was the most viewed post of the Cook from Scratch with myself and Carol Taylor… I hope many more people are including the wonderful aubergines in their diet after reading these recipes.

Welcome to the series where I provide the nutritional health benefits for a food and Carol Taylor works all week in the kitchen to provide delicious recipes to include in your regular diet. I hope you will go over to her new blog which she has just started: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/ and discover more about her beautiful home in Thailand.

Before we enjoy another wonderful selection of recipes from Carol Taylor it is time to look at the health benefits of this richly coloured vegetable.

Don’t forget to eat your purples! – The Augergine history and health benefits.

There are certain foods that on my shopping list regularly as daily or weekly additions to our diet and others that we might have a little less often.. One of these is aubergines which I love but only eat occasionally as I have a tendency towards gallstones. If you do not suffer from either gallstones or kidney stones then you can enjoy a couple of times a week at least.

We were all encouraged to eat our ‘greens’ when we were children, and we know that the brighter the food colour the more anti-oxidants they contain, but I cannot recollect being told to eat my ‘purples’. But it is this colour which gives this food its uniqueness.

When we are enjoying a moussaka or ratatouille made with this versatile food we don’t tend to dwell on its medicinal properties, but like the majority of fresh produce we eat, aubergines have some powerful health benefits.

The History of the aubergine.

The aubergine has its origins in ancient India and is mentioned by different names in Sanskrit, Bengali and Hindustani languages.  It was grown in China as well but only came to Europe around 1,500 years ago.  There is no Latin or Greek name for it but there are Arabic and North African names indicating that it came to this continent via that trade route.

Americans call it the eggplant, and in India it is known as Brinjal.  In Spain, aubergines are called berengenas or ‘apples of love’ for supposed aphrodisiac properties. Something that I take on faith!  In northern Europe they had a strange notion that eating the vegetable caused fevers and epileptic seizures and named it Mala Insana or ‘mad apple’. It is also known as melanzana, garden egg and patlican in other languages.

The aubergine belongs to the nightshade family that includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes.  It grows from a vine and will vary in size and colour although the flesh of all the different types tends to be slightly bitter and spongy in texture.

When you are selecting the aubergine go for the smaller, smooth skinned vegetable.  Gently push with your thumb and if the flesh gives slightly but springs back it is ripe.  If the indentation remains it is overripe and will be soggy inside.  If you knock on the fruit and it sounds hollow it will be too dry and inedible.

What are the medicinal properties of the aubergine.

As with all plants, the aubergine has a sophisticated defence system to ensure its survival.  When we eat it, we inherit some of these properties and our bodies process and use specific nutrients to benefit our own health. The aubergine has an abundance of nutrients including antioxidants, phenolic compounds including chlorogenic acid and flavonoids such as nasunin.

Nasunin is a potent antioxidant in the skin of the aubergine and has been studied for its ability to prevent free radical damage to cell membranes.  Lipids or fats are the main component of cell membranes and not only protect the cell from damage but also regulate the passage of nutrients and waste in and out of the cell.  The research is focusing on brain cell health and eating aubergines regularly may help protect us from degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  Nasunin may also help prevent oxidative damage to the LDL or the unhealthier cholesterol in our blood that leads to plaque in the bloodstream and blockages in the arteries.

Nasunin also assists with the regulation of iron in the body.  Iron is an essential nutrient required for the transportation of oxygen in the blood and our immune function. However, too much iron can increase free radical damage and is linked to heart disease, cancer and degenerative joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.  Nasunin is an iron chelator, which means that it binds with the iron processed from the food we eat and transports it safely in the blood stream preventing excess iron from causing damage to cells.

What are the benefits of Chlorogenic Acid.

Chlorogenic acid is a phenolic compound and one of the most potent free radical scavengers in plant tissues. It is very abundant in aubergines and very effective against free radical damage to LDL cholesterol. Additionally it may help prevent certain cancers and viral infections.  Like Brussel sprouts some varieties of aubergine can be very bitter and it is thought that this is due to very high levels of Chlorogenic acid, which is also responsible for the rapid browning of the flesh when it has been cut.

Other good reasons to include aubergines in your diet on a regular basis.

The aubergine is a good source of dietary fibre, which not only helps prevent constipation but also helps eliminate waste from the body and prevent the build-up of plaque in the bloodstream leading to arterial disease.  Recent research is identifying some very interesting properties in certain fibres including the ability to absorb and eliminate harmful bacteria from the body without the need for antibiotics.  Fibre in the diet has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer and also regulate blood sugar levels

By eating aubergines regularly you will also be including healthy amounts of potassium, manganese, copper, vitamins B1, B3, B6, folate, Vitamin C, magnesium and tryptophan.  It is what I call a well-rounded food.

Are there any drawbacks to eating aubergines?

The majority of us can enjoy aubergines on a regular basis in our diet and obtain its full health benefits, but as I mentioned earlier, a small proportion of people should avoid eating it.

The aubergine contains relatively high concentrations of oxalates, which are found in all plants and humans. If oxalates are too concentrated they crystallise and form stones in the kidneys and the gallbladder.  If you already suffer from kidney or gallbladder problems then it would be best to avoid aubergines.  This also applies to rheumatoid arthritis and gout sufferers, as this vegetable is part of the nightshade family and could increase the symptoms of these diseases.  This applies to tomatoes as well.  I have found that cooked tomatoes cause me less problems and they are too nutritionally rich to avoid completely.  I suggest you try eating cooked tomatoes twice a week, three days apart and monitor your symptoms.

Now time to hand over to Carol, who despite a very busy week, has as always produced some amazing dishes for us.

Aubergines adding purple to your diet.

Aubergines or egg plants as I know them are eaten a lot here in Thailand…They are made into dips, sauces, stir fries, curries …I also had a beautiful Tian but that wasn’t Thai it was in a lovely restaurant on the beach.

It was very finely sliced egg plants layered with tomatoes and courgettes and cooked until the flavours mingled together …I had it with fish and it was very nice…

I am always being surprised at what I find tucked away when I least expect it.
Egg plant also makes a lovely vegetarian curry when they are roasted and paired with a coconut curry .

Image Pinterest

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Japanese eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Thai chili, sliced (optional)
  • Chopped cilantro, to garnish

How to prepare

  1. Make the curry using coconut milk cooked with fresh ginger, garlic, fish sauce and a little raw sugar and onions…
  2. Sear the aubergine over the BBQ FOR 3-5 minutes then add to the coconut mixture…
  3. Cook for a few minutes until the egg pant has absorbed some of the coconut curry and serve with rice or noodles…

Sally has told us how beneficial they are to our health so I am now going to give you some recipes which I hope you enjoy.

Starting with? Thai Green Curry

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts cut into cubes.
  • 6 Thai egg plant. cut into quarters……They are the larger ones in the pictures.
  • 2-4 tbsp green curry paste
  • Bunch small egg-plant (optional) Pea like size in Picture.
  • 10 straw mushrooms quartered or use button mushroom.
  • 5/6 stems of Thai sweet basil (pick of leaves1 large or 2 small cans of coconut milk

Let’s Cook!

  1. Heat a small amount of oil in your pan and add the curry paste I would start with 1/2 tbsp curry paste …You can always adjust the heat later in your cooking… I don’t know how hot you eat curry so would always suggest start small.
  2. Cook for 1-2 minutes to release the flavour, add tbsp fish sauce cook for a further 2 minutes then slowly add coconut milk and simmer gently.
  3. Add the chicken, cook on simmer for 20 mins then add vegetables and Thai basil cook for further 20 mins.
  4. Serve with Steamed or boiled rice.
  5. If you are making veggie curry just omit chicken and add carrots and broccoli or veg of your choice.
  6. When we had our restaurant, chef always put extra veg in mine as she knew I liked veg so can add to chicken curry as well if you like although that is not the norm just how she did mine.
  7. You can use beef or pork instead of chicken if you like but will req longer cooking.
  8. Garnish with sprig Thai basil and extra sliced chilli… if required.

N.B. You can get curry paste called Nam Ploy from supermarkets in the UK which is a good substitute unless you prefer to make your own paste. We buy ours from local markets which is freshly made and the curry is a lovely vibrant green colour.

Image Pinterest

Aubergines are also nice just sliced, seasoned and put on an oiled baking sheet in a hot oven for 5-7 minutes then brushed with a mixture of herbs of your choice and popped under the grill for 30 seconds. Serve immediately. Nice as an accompaniment to chicken or fish with a nice salad on a summers evening.

Fancy a quick dip for unexpected guests

  • 2 aubergines
  • 100ml natural yogurt
  • juice ½ lemon/lime
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • olive oil , to drizzle

How to prepare

  1. Char the aubergines over a flame or cook in the oven and remove skin.
  2. Tip into a food processor with the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, chilli, coriander and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Blend until smooth tip into a bowl, and drizzle with more olive oil.
  4. For a chunkier dip, the aubergine, garlic and chilli can be chopped by hand and mixed with the other ingredients.

Enjoy!

Aubergine dip the Thai way.

  • 1 medium egg plant
  • 2-4 chillies
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 med shallots
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Big handful coriander

Let’s cook

  1. BBQ your egg plant, shallots, chilli and garlic the chilli and garlic will be done first , pop the chillies into a sealed plastic bag to cool it makes it easier to remove seeds and skin.
  2. When eggplant is soft then scoop out flesh and add all the ingredients to your food processor or just a pestle and mortar like it is done here.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning if required more fish sauce or lime juice.
    Serve with noodles or raw vegetables.

The Greek Moussaka is a beautiful dish with luscious layers of minced meat, tomato sauce, béchamel sauce and sweet eggplants.

Also they make a very nice au-gratin layered with potatoes and goats cheese.

Grilled and cubed with watermelon they make a lovely salad using sesame oil as a dressing.

Eggplants are also used in Indian cuisine and pair very nicely with cumin, garam masala and other Indian spices….

All in all a very versatile vegetable….

Quick and easy Aubergine and feta rolls.

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, trimmed and sliced into 6 1/2-inch-thick lengthwise slices
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled or cubed feta
  • 2 Tbs. chopped pitted Kalamata olives optional
  • 2 Tbs. chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, and basil); more for garnish

Let’s Cook!

  1. Cut aubergines into slices long ways; brush them with oil and season. Grill until the aubergine slices have griddle marks on one side about 3 minutes. In a small bowl combine either crumbled feta or feta cubes and mix with olive oil and herbs.
  2. Put the feta mix or cube of feta on the widest part of the aubergine and roll. Put on a serving dish and sprinkle with olive oil, pepper and herbs before serving.

Egg Plant sauce for pasta

Ingredients – Makes 7 pints or 4 quarts.

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 2lbs egg plants peeled and cubed
  • 8 cups tomatoes peeled and chopped
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp fresh basil
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine

Let’s Cook!

  1. In a very large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic; cook until the onion is soft.
  3. Add tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, tomato paste, basil, oregano, sugar, salt, pepper, and wine; stir.
  4. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Put into hot sterilised jars and seal.
  6. Process the jars of sauce in a hot water bath for 40 minutes.
  7. This is a great sauce served over pasta with Mozzarella cheese.

Baba Ganoush

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 3 garlic cloves finely diced
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flat leaved parsley
  • ½ cup brine cured black olives optional

Let’s Cook!

  1. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.
  2. Preheat an oven to 375°F.
  3. Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill rack 4 to 5 inches from the fire.
  4. Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.
  7. Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl.
  8. Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste
  9. Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well.
  10. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.
  11. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well.
  12. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley.
  13. Place the olives around the sides.
  14. Serve at room temperature.

Once again many thanks to Sally for sharing her wonderful knowledge on the benefits of the Aubergine and allowing me to share my recipes for the Aubergine which I hope you have enjoyed.

As you can see it has been a busy week in the kitchen, and so grateful to Carol for all the hard work that she has gone to again, to make recipes that do the ingredients justice.

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 Archives – The 13 Trolls of Christmas! by Carol Taylor


Time for the second of Carol Taylor’s Christmas posts from her archives and this time something a little darker.. but still fun.

The 13 Trolls of Christmas! by Carol Taylor

What fun..We all love to regale our children and grandchildren with tales from Christmas past…most real, some imagined and we all…Come On…Admit it!

We have all stooped to bribery, corruption or just plain tall tales to make the kiddiwinks BEHAVE!

Forget boring advent calendars….

Icelandic parents enthral their children (and scare) them into being good with tales of the Ogress living in the Icelandic mountains.

She is one scary Mumma, described as half troll/animal and the mother of 13 naughty boys known as the “Yule Lads”. Grýla lives in the mountains with her husband, her thirteen children and a black cat.

And that cat is pretty scary too….

Old Icelandic folklore states that every Icelander must receive a new piece of clothing for Christmas or they will find themselves in mortal danger. An enormous black cat prowls Iceland on Christmas Eve and eats anyone who doesn’t follow this simple rule. This obnoxious feline is known as the Christmas Cat.

The legend goes that every Christmas, Grýla and her sons come down from the mountains: Grýla in search of naughty children to boil in her cauldron and the boys in search of mischief. She can only capture children who misbehave but those who say sorry must be released.

Wow….that story will get the kiddies hiding under the bed covers.

The husband is not as wicked as her… but a bone-idle, lazy slob.

The boys aka “The Yule” lads are naughty and mischievous and have wonderful names…Oh, what stories you could weave….and what fun you could inject into your stories.

And what funny names they have.. Spoon- Licker is tall and thin. He steals unwashed spoons, which he licks clean. and Door- Slammer well as the name implies…. Slams doors which are kept ajar at night, keeping people awake.

Icelandic children place a shoe in their bedroom window each evening in the 13 days before Christmas. Every night one Yuletide lad visits, leaving sweets and small gifts or rotting potatoes(Yuk), depending on how a child has behaved on that day.

I think It’s much better than a boring advent calendar, just think of the tales you can weave and what fun you and the kids could have and such a cool way to keep the little darlings in check.

How about Sausage -swiper he hides in the rafters to snatch sausages which are hung up for smoking.

Nothing is safe from these wicked boys…

What tales do you tell your children?

I was really lucky…because my youngest believed in Santa Claus until she was about 13 years old…she was much ridiculed by her peers but stood her ground and insisted that she had seen Santa.

Well, she had….She was 3 yrs old and one of my son’s friends asked if he could ( while dressed) up as Santa take a little present upstairs and put it in Laurens stocking.

He was told by me in no uncertain terms ” Do NOT wake her up”

Well, she did wake up..but the clever boy put his fingers to his lips and told her to shhhhhh and go back to sleep or I can’t leave your presents.

Which she did, from that Christmas onwards for many years she was insistent to all and sundry when they laughed and told her Santa didn’t exist…..That she knew he did because she had seen him…so thank you Adam.for keeping a little girls dreams alive!

I wish I had known about the 13 trolls though….

©CarolTaylor 2016

Thanks to Carol for putting the Scary into Christmas!  And here is her chosen piece of music…Silent Night sung by the Winchester Cathedral Choir.

 

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 – 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.