Thanksgiving begins…

Planning our Thanksgiving… as a person who moved over to the US nearly 10 years ago, which believe me seems unbelievable, we were happy to adopt Thanksgiving as our own family tradition too, and now with our own two little Americans we celebrate it for them as well as for us.

I love my slow cooker, it is a must have appliance in my kitchen, for soups, casseroles and just cooking a joint of meat, I use it all the time and it is a Thanksgiving must have for all sorts of dishes.  This year I am going to make a warm soup to start of our meal, I want to use cozy Fall flavors, so I’m thinking a light Jamie Oliver cauliflower and coconut soup, cauliflower is a super food in our house at the moment, we are having cauliflower rice as a replacement for carb laden additions to meals and I just love anything with coconut added, so it seemed a perfect choice to add warmth and is sure to give me leftovers for the next few days.

My family are all huge ham lovers, so ham it is, with a little turkey on the side… I do not like handling meat so I will buy a pre-prepared turkey breast.  My plan this year is to cook the meats on the grill outside, it doesn’t matter the weather, snow, hail, rain I plan to fire up that grill, I had enough practice over the summer months cooking everything on the grill, without a kitchen, so it should be fun, and of course less mess in my new oven 😃

I’m a huge cheat when it comes to the potatoes for dinner, Costco do a fantastic tray of the lightest most buttery mashed potato, they even have a tray of sweet potatoes too, and they are both organic always a plus, 8 minutes in the microwave, stir, another 8 minutes in the microwave then stir again… serve, easy peasy. As for the other veggies, they have yet to be decided, it could even be a nice big warm Fall salad, one of my favorite meals when the weather turns chilly.

I will be making another Jamie Oliver recipe Gluten free cornbread, American style, I have become a huge fan of cornbread since moving over here, it’s easy and quick to make, you can add in anything you like for flavor and it all cooks in my cast iron skillets, making it perfect with soups, casseroles and my Thanksgiving  feast.

As for the stuffing and gravy it’s a must, I am a fan of making my own fresh stuffing but my children like the boxed kind, oh well it’s easy, so who am I to argue too much, but the gravy is always homemade, I will be using my own bone broth, and gluten free thickener this year so it should be interesting. 

I have been asked to make a salted caramel apple pie again this year for desert, so who am I to refuse, I’ll cheat a little again with buying a store bought crust and jarred caramel sauce, although both are easy to make, it’s just easier but the apples and crisp/crumble topping will be organic and homemade… perfection!

Finally Black Friday sandwiches have become a tradition in our house, many, many years ago we visited Portsmouth in England for a little shopping trip, right in the center of the Mall was a little stand that had roast meats perfected, they served them in warm bread topped with stuffing and homemade gravy, it was on that day many years before we moved to the US that the Black Friday leftover sandwich was invented, we just didn’t know it back then.  We have been having this sandwich on Black Friday ever since our first Thanksgiving over here, it is more important in our house than the dinner that precedes it, so I always have to make sure there will be enough leftovers which in our house can be difficult. These days this leftover sandwich is all over Food Network at this time of year, but I like to think I invented it way back when many years ago in the little sea town of Portsmouth in England… well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The Black Friday Sandwich my way…

Take all the leftovers, stuffing, meats and mashed potatoes, minus the veggies, drizzle with the gravy and place in a foil baking pan, for ease and no washing up, heat in a 400f oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  In the meantime cut your French baguette in half, ciabatta is also good for this too, once the leftovers are heated place it piled high into the bread, wrap each loaf with foil and put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes… take it out unwrap it, cut into wedges, wrap each wedge of sandwich in kitchen roll, good for handling and cleaning your hands after you’ve eaten, again no clearing up and serve with bowls of the warm gravy (sorry this will be your only washing up)… ENJOY 😋

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving and crazy Black Friday (remember Black Friday is Friday not Thursday, give those poor people who work in retail a break and let them have time at home with their loved ones) ✨

Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

This, that and everything else.

IMG_3486I have always been a person that hates waste, I am known as queen of the leftovers in our house, I am constantly checking dates on food in the pantry, fridge and freezer and trying to use up all the food we have before I restock, well now I am even worse than I was before, I have reorganized my pantry and have itemized each category so that I know each time I use it I need to replace my staple items, pasta sauces, jars of tomatoes, pastas, rices and any grains are just a few items that have made my itinerary.  Another way I have reduced waste in my kitchen is by making bone broth once a week, I have a bag in my freezer for all my veggie scraps, onions, celery, carrots, ginger, anything really that I can throw in that pot of simmering bone broth, I also now try to shop for meat with bones and save any bones from any meat that I buy and cook up.

Friday is the day I throw all my scraps in the slow cooker covered with water and leave to simmer for anywhere from 24 to 48 hours, the reason I chose Friday was because Friday night is always pizza night in our house, so that means my crock pot is always free, as each person comes home in the evening they smell the broth cooking and go over to the pot to see whats for dinner, they lift the lid and pull a face as they look at a pot of scraps of food… its quite funny to watch.

I am a firm believer that we are what we eat, I may not have always practiced this, but as I grow older I want to keep my body in the best possible condition and that includes diet and exercise.  I have never really been one for intense exercise, I had a regular routine of step aerobics before I moved to the US, I had also dabbled in some yoga, and when I established myself here in the US I used to walk a lot around the town I lived in.  Since moving to our house we live in now 7 years ago and having had my two babies I have struggled to get into any routine of exercise, I am the type of person who puts a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect, I have had to learn to let this go, as I strive for perfection I create an image that is hard to maintain so I fail before I even try, and that is so often the case.  I want to be healthy, live in a nice environment and just be happy… but today I have learnt to just be happy with everything I am, and every day is a new learning day, and that is why when I am learning yoga I am not putting any pressure on myself I just do what I can, when I can, I am the same way about most things these days, homeschooling is the same, we do all the things we love to do, when we want to do them, Florence has taken a real interest in mermaids so this week we will look at under the ocean, and if the weather is kind to us we will go visit the zoo again and look in more details at the sea lions and other aquatic creatures that they have there.

I realize in life we need balance in all things, our health, our minds, our bodies and our spiritual well being, so I have decided to look more deeply into Holistic healing… I want to be balanced and it seems that together with learning yoga, holistic health could help balance not only me but make me a better person for each person in my family.  IMG_0635



First snow day of the year…

Now what shall I do with a whole day trapped in the house by the falling snow outside… I am definitely not a winter person, but there is something totally beautiful about a snow day at home, photos of an excited Florrie and Lewis trying to build a snowman,  the fire roaring, a stock pot cooking away with natural ingredients smelling through the house and Disney Junior playing on the tv, and that’s all before 9am.

In the past year health has become a very important issue to me, two members of our house were diagnosed with long term health issues, I am not a huge fan of taking medicines but when you are faced with health issues then you have to do what is best for you, but I do believe that we can do more natural things to help us get better and stay that way, hopefully… And that is why I have been manic about a healthier lifestyle.

We are not totally gluten free in our house but with autoimmune diseases, gluten could be an issue causing leaky gut, these problems need to be addressed to help our bodies heal naturally, and that is something I am trying to do.  With so many people living in our house I always get comments about any new way of eating, but gluten free products are becoming more regular products in my shopping cart each week, of course clean eating with natural good quality products mean that less gluten appears in our meals.  

Bone broth is meant to have fantastic health benefits for every one, even if you do not have on going health issues, bone broth is a fantastic food to add to meals or simply drink alone, so that is why right now on the first snow day of 2016 I have a slow cooker simmering away with bones and vegetables making my first ever pot of healthy goodness… Believe me though, the thought of eating the marrow from those bones grosses me out totally, I know that the health benefits for my family far out way my feeling about this, so I think this will now be a weekly routine for me.  

A friend of mine recently told me of a farm she uses for her natural healthy meat she purchases in bulk, I love this idea, even with a large family I think I could make this work. Buying natural grass fed, organic meat is getting easier these days as I think more and more people are becoming more health conscious, but I really like the idea of knowing exactly where my meat comes from and how the animals are looked after, I am also hoping they can include bone marrow in the meat order too, although all the bones I cook with will be used anyway, it seems you need good quality bones for a really good quality broth.

My new kitchen is on the horizon after 8 months of planning and researching I think I have finally made a decision… IKEA it will be in March when they have 15% off all kitchens, I’ve waited this long I may as well get the discount, it’s a must when you are spending so much money.  I will finally be getting back into baking, cooking and just fun, fun, fun in my kitchen again.  IKEA kitchens are well thought out, the combinations are endless and with a few design touches here and there I feel they can be made to look custom not flat packed and boring.  I have looked at many, many kitchen cupboards, and although the IKEA cabinets are not that much cheaper than other places they do offer flexibility and they look stylish… The only downside that I can see is that they come flat packed, so that is a lot of IKEA instructions, cabinet parts and time needed to assemble them.

I guess today is going to be spent writing a blog, drinking coffee and of course some wine, cooking and eating, on today’s menu is nitrate free organic bacon sandwiches, of course GF bread, with eggs and avocados, dinner will be grilled sausages, creamy potatoes and a warm winter salad.  Florrie has plans to bake some cookies for everyone and maybe we will read a book or two together… But to me snow days mean chilling out with family safe and warm indoors… Whatever your plans today, stay warm, safe and happy.