<WARNING: LONG RAMBLING POST AHEAD>
These aubergines, albeit slightly failed, have been the highlight of my week.
When you look for property, it’s all ‘Location, Location, Location’. But when you change your eating habits, it’s all about the ‘Planning, Planning, Planning’. I know that, from the few diets I have been on (and which worked, by the way). But last weekend was chock a block with social events and I think I was in denial about my new dietary requirements.
It all started really well, as my doctor had agreed to me eating live yogurt now. So I could make my favourite Overnight Rye Buns, which my friend Maria had taught me to make at her Baking Lab, to which I added some sea salt and caraway seeds.
So I had one for breakfast (sadly without cheese) and one with soup for lunch.
First event of the weekend was a welcome party for the new families at the school. So far so good. Being a gluten free and below average baker, I went to our local branch of COOK and picked up some of their frozen ‘cheats’ tray-bakes: a GF brownie and a Lemon Sizzle. Cheats, because they look and taste homemade.
After that, it was on to a dear friend’s 40th birthday drinks. I had volunteered to bring something, as I do not expect anyone to be able to cater for my very restrictive current quasi veganism. So I prepared a suitable (and very tasty, but sadly unphotographed) version of Vietnamese Summer Rolls. (uncooked rice paper wrapped spring rolls, for those who haven’t tasted this delight yet). This time filled with cucumber, papaya, spring onions, vermicelli, mint and coriander and presented on a gem lettuce leaf each. Sauce was the usual nuoc cham (fish sauce, chilli, garlic, lime juice, coriander and sugar), but with added zing: pureed mango and passion fruit. So I had 2 of those for dinner. And nothing was available when I came home: bad planning. I should of course have eaten something before, or left something in the fridge for later.
The next day, we went to a fantastically multicultural christening for a neighbour’s son. I thought I would just have a lovely brunch beforehand, but the yummy looking and -sounding Smoothie Pancakes in Jamie Oliver’s new book were just too sweet for me. And tasted too much of banana.
It’s basically a smoothie (here banana and figs), to which you add flour, milk and egg and cook as pancakes. A great idea with the original berries, I think, but I was fresh out of berries.
After that, I had of course not planned on having lunch, so a few oat cakes and hummus had to do the trick.
When presented with an African dish of rice and chicken, both J. and I automatically reached for the chicken before remembering. Duh!
I can’t remember what we had for dinner, but I know I promised myself that I had to pull my act together or 3 months would soon star to feel like 3 years…
So Monday night, as I was making fish pie for the kiddies, I wanted to make a hearty version for us grown-ups. Cue a delicious Smoky & Sweet Veg Pie: the mash was a mix of standard spuds, sweet potato and carrots. But the filling was the true star: large butter beans sautéed in onion, garlic and pimenton to crisp them up. I then added some large cubes of butternut squash and deglazed with some wine before adding some tinned tomatoes and the zest and juice of 1 orange. I just LOVE the combination of pimenton and orange! Mmm, I can still smell it! We had enough for 2 days, so the following day I served it with a lovely rucola salad.
I was slowly but surely getting back in the saddle after a socially lovely but culinary speaking dismal weekend (to avoid any confusion: the food served on all occasions was amazing, I just couldn’t eat it. And felt like an ungrateful guest)
Wednesday is Veg Box day, yippee!
With one of the aubergines I prepared yet another Jamie recipe from his new book (I promise, no commission for me when I mention it. I wish!): Harissa roasted aubergines.
It’s actually a brown rice pilaf (I only had white basmati, first mistake), on which harissa smeared aubergines are first steamed, then roasted (2nd mistake, my casserole was too deep, so no roasting too place). But after a quick trip under the grill, it was ready. Not photogenic, but oh my! The textures! The flavours! It was truly a revelation and something that made me believe that I can do this. J. even kept ‘mmm’ ing all through dinner. We agreed it was the first dish where we had not missed meat for a second.
And tonight, Thursday, I was all out of inspiration. I turned to my trusted books (separate post on these some other time) and found a Roast Fennel and Squash Spelt salad in River Cottage Veg Every Day.
It was nice. But it really lacked something. I know I used quinoa (for the protein) instead of spelt, but still. J. thinks it’s a large glass of red wine. I think it was the cheese.
And that’s just it. After almost 2 weeks of almost veganism (I can have eggs and live yogurt), I miss cheese. But not a cheese platter (which my tummy doesn’t agree with anyway), but cheese in food. Mozzarella on a pizza. Feta in a salad. Parmesan on pasta. Cheddar in an omelette. Halloumi in a pita bread.
Other than that, I’m surprised at how full I am after each meal, with smaller portions. I always felt only protein could fill me up. I haven’t really noticed any health changes, but I honestly think that 1/ it’s too early to tell and 2/ it’s more of a detox than a cure.
And I’m starting to think I could quite easily be vegetarian (provided I had CHEESE) from Monday morning to Friday lunch time, and Flexitarian / Carnivore / Omnivore for the weekend. And that’s really what our waistbands, our wallets, the environment and the WHO would like us to do, isn’t it?