I’ve been really sick, but I’m feeling heaps better obviously and have been cooking my way through Annabel Langbein’s cookbook “The Free Range Cook”. I was going to create another blog for the challenge but I didn’t want the added responsibility and it’s too hard to properly maintain two blogs. SO ANYWAY, in photos, here’s what’s been up:
This is kinda gross and I don’t really know why I’m blogging about this, but the other night at around MIDNIGHT I went to see the Doctor in E.D at the hospital who told me I have Shingles. It’s pretty much the “grown-ups” version of Chickenpox, only worse. It’s spread across my chest and down my left arm/armpit. I’ll be popping pills like it’s my job for the next week, I’m on anti-viral antibiotics which I take 5 times a day for 5 days as well as pain relief which I take every 4-5 hours or so as needed.
I’m so annoyed that this had to happen now because I’ve just started being proactive about my health and fitness, and instead of moping around at home complaining about how unfit and unhappy I am I took action to change. I bought a 10 concession card for the local outdoor swimming pool so I can start swimming since everything else hurts and I bought a soccer ball to play soccer with my friends. I also just got Annabel Langbein’s beautiful cookbook which is full to bursting with amazing healthy and delicious recipes, as well as dragging out mum’s old “deliciously natural” cookbook so I could put together a two-week meal plan for mum and I.
However… It will take anywhere between 2-5 weeks for the Shingles to go away completely, and it’s extremely contagious. I can’t swim because, well… just, EW and I can’t cook because the movement hurts too much. So it’s like Karma just slapped this in my face, sort of reminding me that this is what I get for faffing around with my health for months. It’s as if it’s saying “Hi there! Remember me? Karma? Yeah well I’m back again! Just a friendly reminder that you should’ve maintained your health instead of falling into an emotional and physical rut. I’m just going to give you a hideous virus to deal with for a few weeks while you think about your actions. Bye now!”
Not to mention the fact that we’re in the middle of Mock exams right now :( I have my drama and biology exams tomorrow and it really does not look like I’ll be able to sit them. I think the reason I got this in the first place is from all the stress I’ve been dealing with lately… You only need to look at my poor, torn nail beds to see that…
The last thing I feel like doing is sitting in an exam hall for a collective 6 hours, making a noise every few hours by taking my medication and pain relief. Not to mention the contagious aspect…
Yesterday I begrudgingly and very painfully cooked a Pumpkin Pie for my dear ole’ sis. My sister, her partner and my gorgeous little nephew are staying with us for a few days. She arrived before I was diagnosed so I was feeling good (itchy though- the first sign) and promised I’d bake her a pumpkin pie since she’d never tried one. True to my word, I pump my veins full of pain killers and took to the kitchen. The result was a delicious, perfectly cooked pumpkin pie, with a slightly over-worked crust unfortunately, but hey, it still tasted good. I decided not to cook dinner last night and wound up sleeping for 2 and a half hours in the afternoon.
I’ve really lost my appetite these last couple of days and I’ve been really REALLY tired. I have grasped the opportunity of my lack of appetite to sort of correct my eating habits. I’m trying to lessen the amount of sweet foods I have.
Anyway, that’s what up these days… Who knows how I’ll feel in a few days. Since I caught the virus early with anti-biotics it might now get any worse… hopefully.
Yesterday my amazing Mother bought me this book:
I have wanted Annabel Langbein’s new cookbook since I first saw an episode of her show “The Free Range Cook”. Her recipes just seemed so delicious and simply. And then of course there’s the natural factor, all her recipes she makes with free-range products. (That isn’t really possible for me because I don’t live out in the country with a ENORMOUS garden, but hey, I try).
Today I tried to cook my second Annabel Langbein recipe, the first was her Chocolate Cranberry slice:
Today I made the Busy Person’s Bread.
There is something so, so satisfying about making things like bread, dough and pastry. I’m not sure what it is but those things are probably my favourite things ever to cook. I did quickly learn that I was going to need a bigger bowl than my Pyrex bowl though…
I didn’t have any pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top at the end so I used some others, the name which I forget… It may have been Linseed but I’m not sure. I split the mixture between two loaf pans, sprinkled the seeds on top and put it in the oven.
I swiftly learnt that three pans are better than two as I watched horror as my beautiful dough started spilling over the edge of the pans and onto the racks below. I lost quite a lot of mixture and I could only look on in dismay. In future, I shall use three pans or use two BIGGER pans. It also saves the pain in the ass job of cleaning the oven.
They cooked for 20 minutes at 80 degrees first and then they baked for a further 30 minutes at 210 degrees. However… I noticed that not only were they massively overflowing, but the tops were starting to burn! I turned the temperature RIGHT down and cooked them for a further ten minutes. When mum came home she moved them to a lower rung and told me to leave them for a little while more. Eventually they sounded hollow when I knocked on them so I took them out of the oven and set them on racks to cool.
They do not look pretty and DEFINITELY do not look like the pretty picture in the book, BUT… They taste yummy :D
Overall I was generally happy with the result. There are definitely things I’d do differently in the future but I’m learning all the time :) It’s all part of it. Next time my bread will kick BUTT!
I bought a 10 concession card for the local pools today… I plan to swim or aqua jog. I’ve been really upset and depressed lately because I’ve become so unfit because my knee pain is so bad that EVERYTHING hurts. I decided water is the only way I’ll get in a decent workout without pain. I hate hate HATE swimming though, but it’s something I plan to work on. Now I’ve paid for a concession card I have no choice but to use it. Stay tuned!
In other news,
I’m addicted to this song:
I thought I’d do a video blog for this:
Oh. My. GOD! If you haven’t already figured out what this shining beauty is, it’s Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sundae and it’s AMAZING!
I told mum I was going to make her dinner with a dessert that would blow her mind, and I did it! After seeing Nigella cook up a storm with this recipe on youtube the other day I’ve been hanging out to give it a go. It’s really easy too, just 200mls Condensed Milk, 100g Dark Chocolate Chips and 100g Smooth Peanut Butter all melted in a saucepan. Nom nom nom! If you want an easy and delicious dessert option, I highly recommend this!
For dinner I made pizza bread with rosemary, olive oil, garlic and salt.
It was YUMMY too! Took forever though because there was a bit of drama concerning the dough… I’ve never made dough like that before and I was home alone all day today with no parents to assist me. The dough I made first was great! I kneeded it and it became gorgeously smooth and elastic, just the way it should, so I put it outside in the sun to rise without knowing that UV Rays kill yeast… Epic fail…
So my perfect dough didn’t rise :( SO I decided to try again with some new dough, but the second batch was disastrous, it was flaky and tough and wouldn’t go smooth and elastic the way it needed to. I got so frustrated I just wanted to throw it out the window.. To top that off, the second batch wouldn’t rise either even though I didn’t expose it to sun!!! Oh well, I used the first dough and the pizza bread actually turned out very nice :) It was crisp and tasty and soft on the inside. Success!
It doesn’t look like much but WOW! I discovered this tucked away at the back of my mother’s cookbook cupboard and it’s so full of easy, delectable recipes that I haven’t seen before. I can’t wait to try out more!
Anyway, I’m full so I’m going to go and read more of my insanely addictive book, “Needful Things” by Stephen King. Night!
:O What is that? I hear you ask… Why… It’s BLUE SKY!!!! Lots and lots of glorious blue sky!!!
Blue sky that’s lasted all day :D I’m so happy to see blue sky that I keep looking outside just to make sure it’s still there haha. I decided to spend this beautiful day cooking with all the doors and windows wide open, it was AMAZING. Coco enjoyed it too :D (She went for a swim in her water bowl lol)
Today I baked and ate for the first time ever, a Pumpkin Pie. I made everything completely from scratch including the pastry and since canned pumpkin isn’t available in New Zealand I cooked and mashed a real pumpkin.
All was going well until I read the recipe again and realised we didn’t have any evaporated milk!! I had never used that ingredient in anything before and wouldn’t have been able to complete the recipe without it. I made a mad dash down to the supermarket on Mum’s bike to grab a tin as quickly as possible. It took longer than I’d hoped because I had no idea what I was looking for because I didn’t know what it looked like and even the supermarket assistant didn’t know. Eventually however I spotted the cans hiding beside the condensed milk :) YAY!
Everything went swimmingly after that, although I was terrified the whole time I was making the pastry because I’ve never ever made pastry before. I didn’t want to overwork it and make it tough or put in too much water. It turned out great though! The kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off when I was done though…
The pie went in the oven for 65 minutes, during which I cleaned up the enormous mess and cooked lunch for my Mum and Step-Dad. It was yummy too! It was stir-fried tofu and vegetables with noodles. Nom nom nom. Just as we were sitting down to eat the pie was ready to come out, it was perfect timing, it would have time to cool whilst we ate lunch and then we could have it afterwards.
Now I’ve never made a pie before OR tasted pumpkin pie so I had no idea what this was meant to taste or look like. I think I did a pretty good job though considering!
(It’s gooey at the end because it hadn’t cooled enough) It tasted AMAZING!!! The pastry was really nice too :D I was so so pleased with the outcome.
So there you have it! Successful Pumpkin Pie :) Nana will be proud, it was her recipe I used ^.^ I cooked a fab breakfast for myself this morning, eggs in a basket. It was yummmyyyy.
I don’t think I’m going to do much cooking tonight haha, I’ve been in the kitchen since 8.30 am potting around and cooking things. It’s now 2.30 pm lol.
Have a good afternoon!
Today I finally got around to making the Vege Broth I’ve been meaning to. It took me 35 minutes to chop the truck load of vegetables I had to use, but it was SO worth it.
I have a problem with chopping onions… And today I found a solution :D
After being hunched over the chopping board for ages I finally finished chopping everything up. Then I added 4 litres of water, salt, tamari sauce, tomato paste and dried rosemary (because I didn’t have the real thing).
I brought it to the boil and then lowered the heat and let it simmer for an hour and a half. Once it was ready to come out, I drained it in a sieve and then waited for it to cool. Once it had cooled I put a little bit into ice cube trays and the rest into freezer bags to freeze all of it.
It was so easy and fun to make, you can literally use everything but the kitchen sink in terms of vegetables. I did go out and buy some more veges because we didn’t have any carrots and a broth is simply not complete without carrots.
It tastes SO good!! I tried some and I was so amazed. It smelt fantastic as well.
I’m so pleased to have finally made it. I now have 4 litres of delicious vege broth to use in a ton of recipes.
Nom nom nom :)