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Pumpkin, chard & chickpea soup

sweet potato chard & chickpea soup

I sprained my ankle. It was not graceful (are they ever?), I was not drunk (contrary to popular opinon) and it was not a dramatic fall (kind of boring actually). I slipped on some leaves I was kicking- and no the leaves were not soaked in tequilla. It was just a cold Sunday evening and I was out for a walk with the food team and the next thing I knew I was grabbing my ankle in a dizzy sweat by the side of the road. I knew the instant swelling was not a good sign.

Working in a kitchen on one leg is not an activity I recommend doing at home. But this was a big filming week for us, so I knew I had to pull weight, quite literally. I spent the first day sat with one leg on the counter, julienning ginger and chillis. It was not graceful nor elegant- I’m beginning to think these two qualities are not applicable to my nature. So on day two I adopted a different approach- with the bad leg kneeled on a wheelie office chair I wheeled and wove around the kitchen, using my good leg to power me along. Effective, if not slightly luny. But lets just emphasize the effective part. Watch out people the bossy one is now on wheels!

sweet potato chard & chickpea soup

Making dinner after long days of high intensity wheeling is never going to be creative. Filling a bowl with soup I’d made a few days ago and heating it in the hotel microwave is frankly as good at it gets. But this soup is a pretty welcome tummy-filler after a long day working. It’s comforting for the belly and soul if not for the swollen bruised mass that I once referred to as my left ankle.

It’s full of veggies and a little bit of bacon- for uh, protein and flavour. You can leave it out if you wish, but I love the smokyness it brings to the soup. This is one of those soups that I think is best left sort of chunky. Actually, in all honesty the fact that the chard stems turned the liquid pinkish made me quite hesitant to blend it. What colour would it turn out? Plus, I find if I’m having soup for dinner it feels like more of a complete meal if it has some texture to it. So I puree’d a little, just to thicken then stirred through the chard leaves until wilted to serve.

So now that I’m sorted on the working and making dinner thing I’d really appreciate it if someone could provide me with ways to get me back running! The Director down here has been trying to convince me that eating potato chips will mend it nicely….now wouldn’t I love to believe that one!

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Carrot, avocado & cumin salad

carrot avocado & cumin salad

When I fancy a bowl full of health this is my go-to-salad. I can toss it together in a matter of seconds and know that soon enough I’ll be plopped on the sofa giving myself a hefty dose of internal TLC. With all that colour, you know that you’re on to a good thing. If I’m feeling energetic I might tuck some up in a sheet of toasted nori with a layer of hummus. But mostly I just like to sit back on the sofa, pull my cashmere blanket up under my arms and eat it straight from the bowl I made it in. I like the way that the carrots crunch between my teeth, the way the avocado is silky smooth on my tongue and how the mint leaves me feeling refreshed. Don’t forget the toasted cumin seeds, lemon and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for an extra dose of flavour and health. Be warned though, you may just find yourself bouncing off the sofa after a bowl of this.

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Crepecake roll-ups

crepecake roll ups

I seem to have a thing with rolled-up food at the moment. My mouth clearly thinks knives and forks are overrated-hands are the perfect shovel-it-in accessory.  Or perhaps it’s just that I eat far too many meals when I’m working. I’m not and advocate for working whilst you eat- but we all know sometimes it just, well, it’s unavoidable. And at other times- eating with your hands is just way more cool. Talk about being in touch with your food.

I’ve called these crepecakes because they are a cross between a pancake and a crepe. One of my oldest and dearest friends Robin introduced me to them and call me cheesy but it was love at first bite. I’ve invited myself over to her house on countless occasions since for crepes- and as a true friend she’s happy to oblige, even putting the coffee on too. Robin, you’ll note still calls them crepes but I think that’s deceptive. Not that you’ll find yourself unpleasantly deceived- but deceived nevertheless. They are based on a crepe recipe, though- from the Joy of Cooking, so I’m led to believe. Robin’s father took it upon his gifted self to alter the recipe and they morphed magnificently into crepecakes. I love how that happens.

They are thicker than a crepe but thinner than a pancake and I think they’re just divine. You can serve these anyway you like- my favourite is  to spread them with a layer of peanut butter, top with apples cut into matchsticks and rolled up. Don likes to fill his with crispy bacon, sharp cheddar and a drizzle of honey. Either way- you’re on to a good thing!  More recently Robin’s been making them gluten and dairy free and I think they’ve become something even better. She never actually gave me the recipe- I’ve been hassling her for about two years now- but never-you-mind, this is pretty darn close. Although I have to admit, they taste so much better when an old friend makes them for you.

I’m back off to West Virginia tonight for 3 1/2 weeks so please bare with me I will try to post as often as possible!

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no recipe- just nori wraps

nori rolls

Lunch doesn’t really do it for me. Don’t get me wrong- my tummy gets its growl going but I just don’t get enthused for lunches offerings. I know that it doesn’t have to be that way but lunch is usually at work- and often it’s eaten standing at the stove. On the rare (but totally decadent) occasion that I do get to sit and prop my clogs up I’m faced with a crew lunch, which is a far cry, wail and a few stomping fists away from the glamour one would expect on a TV set.

If it comes to ordering out the absolute last thing I will choose for lunch is a sandwich. It’s not that I don’t love a good sandwich, tuna and salad, extra banana peppers, hold the mayo they just don’t love me. If I go the devil route and eat that sandwich I will find myself suddenly slipping off into a peaceful snooze. And it’s hard to enjoy a post lunch snooze when you have someone screaming for a reset down the walkie. So, I stay away from sandwiches- they are my rainy day lunch at home when I know all I have to comply with is a 6ft 3 husband who also wants the couch.

This is something slightly different though- it’s not a wrap with a tortilla but with a toasted sheet of nori. It’s my kind of make-at-home sushi- which doesn’t involve a bamboo mat or a Japanese name. Just toasted nori stuffed with well, whatever your little heart desires. It’s the perfect lunch when you’re pottering around the kitchen all day with lots of little bits of tasters or leftovers that you can stuff inside.

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Gluten-free shortbread

GF shortbread

I’ve been trying to avoid gluten these past few months. I’d heard it can interfere with thyroid function and as I have this beastly little thyroid that has been playing tricks on my metabolism, sleeping habits and general well being for the past six years I thought I’d give it a go.  I’m not sure what I did to piss my thyroid off but it’s may as well have upped and left for all the good it’s doing. Thus far it hasn’t seem to make a difference how much goodness I put into my body my paltry little thyroid gland  sits all high and mighty refusing to work on its own. Well, of course he’s quite happy for me to shell out at the drug store month after month to keep him ticking over but I’m trying to kick his little habit. I’ve called him Fred, because clearly his lack of pro-activeness warrants him male status. I thought perhaps if I starved useless Fred of gluten that he just may start behaving himself again. It’s worked on Don, why not on a lazy thyroid gland?

GF shortbreadOkay, so I’ve never attempted to starve my husband but whilst I’ve been working in West Virginia these past few months he has lost quite a few pounds. Point proven.

Anyway, starving Fred of gluten hasn’t had the desired response I was after. Clearly I need to give him a much more severe beating, the softly softly approach is not going to win him over.

GF shortbread

But whilst gluten-free living hasn’t given my proper thyroid functioning it has opened me up to a whole new world of grains and flours. Quinoa flour, chickpea flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour (!) who knew! All of which, I might add have enjoyed a pleasantly smooth trip through my digestive system without the usual halt in proceedings for a midnight bloating party.
I’ve also been surprisingly pleased with how easy it is to bake without gluten- sure the flavour and the texture is different- but isn’t that what we foodies are always after, something different? I’m sold. This is the kind of shortbread I want to stick a slab of cheddar on and call lunch. But lets be honest, Fred would take that chunk of cheese and find a nice little place for it to nestle down for eternity in my backside. Cheers, Fred- you useless old git.

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Lemon & thyme roast chicken with asparagus & chickpea salad

roast chicken

I’m well aware that asparagus are no longer in season but I’m hoping that you’ll forgive me. I’ve been working so hard at eating in season but a couple of weeks ago I was overtaken by an overwhelming desire for asparagus. They were talking to me loud and clearly and I felt uneasy turning down what they had to offer. I mean who says no to a bunch of glistening green asparagus claiming they would do mind-blowing things in your mouth if you roasted them in a pan or roast chicken drippings with chickpeas. I think you would have picked up a bunch too.
roast chicken Continue reading ‘Lemon & thyme roast chicken with asparagus & chickpea salad’


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