You MUST try these recipes!

July 24, 2013

You know I am on a quest to eat better?  Well, when I have a spare moment, I skim the BBC GoodFood website for new ideas so I can expand my repertoire of healthy, meat-free meals.  I have two recipes to share with you because they are easy-peasy and finger-licking good.

BROCCOLI SALAD

I was recently at a bring-and-share BBQ at a friend’s house and someone brought broccoli salad.  I had never seen cold, raw broccoli salad before.  I didn’t like the thought of chomping uncooked broccoli so I took a little, just to try.  Wow, it was FABULOUS.  I went back for a second helping, then a third, then a fourth and I think I ended up eating half the bowl.

images-27I googled a broccoli salad recipe and made it this past weekend.  As I was putting the ingredients into the bowl, I thought ‘This is a disaster.  This looks vile.  Yuck.’  In my head, the ingredients clashed.  I would never have thought raw broccoli and raisins go together, for example.

After tasting my concoction, I was in gastronomic heaven.  The ingredients seemed so unusual and off-the-wall but, when combined, the finished product was delicious.  It felt as if I was eating a kaleidescope.  I ate an entire head of broccoli all by myself in one sitting.  Even Alastair said it was ‘quite good’, which for such a fussy eater, is a huge compliment.

Mix the following ingredients:

  • 2 heads of fresh broccoli
  • 1 red onion
  • 180ml sliced almonds
  • 180ml raisins
  • 120ml chopped bacon (cooked until crispy)
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt

I didn’t measure the ingredients properly – I just eye-balled it (as Paula Deen would say).  I knew this was an American recipe because it said add 125ml of white sugar.  Ewwww, leave that out for sure.

LENTIL CURRY

421 people gave this recipe 5 stars on the GoodFood Website.

It was easy to make and tasted amazing.  I was 30 years old when I had my first lentil and I believe I’ve missed out.  Lentils are a wonderful source of meat-free protein.  Megan loves them.

Alastair said I can make this dish again and he was pleasantly surprised at how good it was (but said that could possibly be because his expectations were so low to start).  He gave it 6 out of 10, which he said is the highest score he is willing to give to any meat-fee meal.  Afterwards I felt comfortably satisfied and I enjoyed not going to bed with a brick in my tummy.

  • 2 tbsp oil (butter or coconut oil is healthiest – will tell you more about that in another blog)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 700g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 carrots, thickly sliced
  • 2 parsnips, thickly sliced
  • 2 tbsp curry paste or powder
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 100g red lentils
  • a small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • low-fat yogurt and naan bread, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Tip in the potatoes, carrots and parsnips, turn up the heat and cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables are golden.

Stir in the curry paste or powder, pour in the stock and then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the lentils, cover and simmer for 45 minutes until the lentils and vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Stir in most of the coriander, season and heat for a minute or so. Top with yoghurt.

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Crazy busy

July 21, 2013

Life seems crazy busy at the moment and I haven’t been in the zone to write blogs.  I am exhausted and a little stressed, which is making me feel skittish and a tad unhinged.

Tired

Megan doesn’t sleep well.  I can’t understand why.  If I am exhausted, why isn’t she too?  She skitters around all day but never seems to burn herself out.  She’s go go go and constantly on the prowl for new things to touch and suck.  She doesn’t sit still long enough for me to give her a prolonged cuddle and sometimes she even breastfeeds standing up on my lap, like she’s leaning over the water fountain, pausing for a quick, refreshing sip.

DownloadedFile-7Megan generally sleeps from 7pm to 6am but can wake up to 5 times in the night.  I’ve figured out she wakes every time she wees which, to be fair, I would too.  At 10 months, I know she should be sleeping through the night.  I think the sensation of urinating wakes her and she can’t self-settle.  She cries and then stands and yells from her cot until I come to get her.  Sometimes I feel as if I am the hired help and she is in charge, like a princess screaming for her butler, ‘Jeeves!  Jeeves!  COME HERE THIS INSTANT! NOW, I say, NOW!’

When I go to her in the night, she suckles for 30 – 60 seconds and only then can I gently place her back in her cot.  I know I should let her cry it out but I haven’t the stamina.  Her interrupted slumber breaks mine too and in the morning I feel tearful and exhausted, as if I haven’t slept at all.  I’ve been diagnosed with an overactive thyroid, which is making me even more washed out.

During the day, Megan refuses to nap without a fight.  When she is quiet in her cot, it is rarely because she is sleeping.  She is either having a leisurely poo, ripping the animals off her overhanging cot mobile or knawing the paint off the railings of her cot.  She also throws her dummies out her bed and then cries for me to retrieve them off the floor.

Sometimes the only way to get her to sleep during the day is to take her for a walk.  I pound the pavements in 34-degree, summer heat while she lies back and dozes as if she is the Queen of Sheba and I am her flushed and sweating slave.  I love my little poppet to bits but, wow, I don’t know where she gets her unlimited supply of energy and exuberance.  Actually I do know – she gets it from me.  I once saw a poster that said, ‘Where do children get their energy?  They take it out of their parents.’

Stressed

We’ve bought a little house.  You would think I would be chuffed about it.  Not at all.  It is stressing us out to the extent that we wonder whether we should have tossed the idea and rented for the rest of our lives.

Alastair and I are inherently risk-averse so this big decision has given us sleepless nights.  What bothers me is that when you buy a house, there isn’t the opportunity to um and ah and stew over the decision.  We have poured our life savings into something we have only seen twice and this makes me twitchy.

If I wanted to buy a new couch, I could go to the shop as many times as I want to inspect it.  I could sit on it for hours to decide whether or not I should take the plunge and buy it.  I could bounce on it, stroke it and examine the stitching with a magnifying glass.  Not with a house.  You look at it quickly and then you must make a decision, relatively chop chop.

DownloadedFile-3When I read the standard purchase contract (in French!), it said we are buying the house as it is, in the current condition.  I called the agent and said I didn’t check to see if everything worked.  I didn’t inspect for hairline cracks in the walls or test drive the built-in dishwasher.  He said a house purchase is always in good faith.  Good faith?  GOOD FAITH!  I am coughing up more money than I have ever spent in my life and doing it in good faith.  WTF?!?!

The worst part of this purchase is that we have to find a replacement tenant for our apartment because we are breaking the lease 6 month early.  It turns out it is not as easy as we expected.  I put an ad on multiple websites and not a soul has expressed interest.  Alastair and I are getting desperate and we both agreed that perhaps we should offer sexual favours to encourage visits.

I noticed that on one website, about 52 people have viewed our ad.  I got excited until I realized that about 50 of those views were me checking to see if the ad still existed, if my phone number was correct, if the wording was sexy enough etc.

For over tens days now, I have willed someone to call me for a viewing.  I’ve waited for the phone to ring and wondered why it hasn’t.  I thought my cell and home lines were bust.  I dialled my number and left multiple messages to confirm my voicemail is not broken.  This loopiness and endless waiting for a perspective tenant to call reminds me of when I was in my twenties and used to sit by my phone, waiting for a boy to ring or sms.  It’s exhausting.

If things carry on as is, we will be paying both a mortgage and rent for 6 months.  GULP.

 


Look for beauty

July 4, 2013

Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favourite writers.  Her writing is so good that it sometimes makes me salivate.  Her books are delicious – I could eat them.  She is one of the most articulate people I know.  I follow her on Facebook and I look forward to her regular, high-quality posts.

Every now and again, she responds to a question from one of her fans.  This week, someone asked, ‘What do you do when you hate your job and your life, and you feel like you have been forgotten by God and by the world?’

images-28I could relate to Elizabeth’s response (see it below).  When I was in my dark pit in London, I hated my dead-end, soul-corroding job.  I hated that I was a number-crunching cog in a vast, uninspiring corporate machine.  I hated British weather.  I hated my commute.  I hated most Londoners.  I hated the pace of my life.  I hated that no one would hire me.  I hated that I was a slave to the daft career choice I made as a naive 18 year old.

I concur that you should let the beauty you love be what you do.  You can’t chase out darkness but you can bring in the light.  I remember I started this blog as a creative outlet in my blackest days of The Great Depression and it has brought me joy ever since.

In hindsight, I am glad I stuck it out in London.  I realize we had to stay long enough for Alastair to get his British passport, which then allowed us to come to Switzerland, and for Megan to be British too.  When no one would hire me, God did.  I got a low-paying job at my church.  I worked there for two years and, funnily enough, it was the best job I have ever had.  Looking back, I realized how much I learned during that literally and figuratively grey time.  Maybe London wasn’t so bad after all.

Anyway, here is Liz’s response to the question ‘What do you do when you hate your job and your life, and you feel like you have been forgotten by God and by the world?’ –

A friend of this page sent in this heart-wrenching question yesterday, and I hoped that we all might be able to help her. I have been there, where she is now, and I suspect that some of you have been there, as well.

I’m attaching a link to an Etsy page with a design of one of my favorite guiding Rumi quotes on it (I wanted to support the artist!), which is: “LET THE BEAUTY YOU LOVE BE WHAT YOU DO.”

Because that is the first thought that came to my mind, when I read this tormented question: Let the beauty you love be what you do. You MUST find something of beauty in the world and follow it, pursue it, wrap yourself up in it, and even participate in it. The great paradox of life is that recognizing beauty is agonizingly difficult when you are depressed — but at no time is the pursuit of beauty more important than you when you are depressed. Because it will save you.

When I was going through my darkest days (the days where I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning already in tears) I remember stubbornly deciding that I must chase light and beauty as hard as I could, with whatever I had left. I would wake up in a full depression and then — almost like as if using an emotional CATscan — I would survey my entire being to see if there was even ONE MOLECULE of light in my body, soul, heart or mind. Was there ANYTHING, any thought, any memory, any wish, that brought even a molecule of goodness, happiness, interest to my mind? It was like looking for a tumor, but not a bad tumor — a good one. A few cluster-cells of beauty. And then, when I found some cells that felt like they had light (even if it was as simple as remembering a book that I wanted to read, or an old friend that I wanted to call, or a movie that seemed interesting, or a tiny act of kindness that moved me, or a course of study that intrigued me) I would commit to building upon that. Take what is good, and add to it. Stubbornly. Very stubbornly.

Remember…YOU CANNOT CHASE OUT DARKNESS; YOU CAN ONLY BRING IN LIGHT. And once you have found a bit of light inside you, no matter how small, cling to it and find a creative way to expand it — until that light grows, and the darkness fades in direct proportion . The God that you feel has forgotten you is hidden in the middle of that tiny bit of light.

Also, I must say…if this is a real depression, and not just a temporary funk, PLEASE find help. Find a counselor, a minister, a sympathetic neighbor, a therapist, a doctor, a support group, a community — somebody good and kind who will assist you. Don’t go through misery alone, trying to tough it out. Solitude will only extend it.

Most of all, though, trust in beauty. Trust in beauty any form — physical, emotional, spiritual, artistic. Trust in beauty, follow it, collect it. Look deep, to discover what you consider beautiful, and then join it. Make something beautiful. A garden, a gift, a cake, a book, an hour of your time donated to somebody in need, a song, a prayer, a dance, a lesson. This need not have anything to do with your job. Forget about your job. Change your job if able to, but if you can’t — never mind. I’ve had shitty jobs, you’ve had shitty jobs, everyone has had shitty jobs. Lots of people have shitty jobs right now and find a way live full lives, anyhow. Show up at your shitty job if you need the money, but then commit the remaining hours and days of your life to the relentless hunt for beauty.

Go find out what is the beauty you love. Then go BE that. God will meet you there, I promise.

(And don’t be too proud to ask for help.)

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