Posted in cooking, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

October Pumpkin

Yesterday, I decided to cook using Pumpkin – Pumpkin chips and roasted seeds.I had not roasted the flesh of the Pumpkin or the seeds before. This was not an easy cook. You need sharp knives to cut the flesh from the Pumpkin and mine were not, even with sharpening.  I tried peeling the skin away from the vegetables’ flesh but the potato peeler snapped. I was short on time too, so this tested my patience.

Finally, I managed to produce this ( see picture one ) for roasting, cutting the flesh away from the inside of the scooped out Pumpkin. I then used a combination of Rosemary , Sage and Thyme from the garden for the extra flavour garnish.

 Next I prepared the seeds. I had seen recipes for roasting seeds and the secret of success apparently is to wash them well, boil them in water for 10 mins and individually place them on a baking tray. This was the result of 40 mins of baking at 165 degrees C. The seeds should sound dry when you shake them, on the tray, with a crisp sound. 

Family tasting:

David and I enjoyed the chips very much but Kathryn ( Daughter) didn’t. The seeds were certainly crispy and looked nice roasted. The seeds tasted better with fruit today, than on their own. Markus ( Kathryn’s boyfriend) enjoyed the seeds, especially the sea-salt seasoning but Kathryn didn’t. My husband tried them and thought they were OK.

What could have been better?

The seeds had a nice crunch on the intial bite but were a bit chewy  and bitty thereafter. On holiday last week, we tried Pumpkin soup and just had uncooked seeds in this with Pumpkin oil and that was so delicious. The seeds worked well that time. Kathryn thought the chips were a bit too soft. I think I used slightly too much Olive Oil for the roasting and this resulted in a slightly soggy texture. Also with the chips, I sprinkled the herbs on top. It would have been better to have mixed these in more.

However, overall Pumpkin has a pleasant sweet flavour and I enjoyed it. I am glad that I experimented with this and my blog post was the motivating factor to see it through. The cutting was hard but then it showed that I just needed better knives. I don’t think I would roast the seeds again though.

I am writing this post as the children are coming around for Trick and Treat. The end of the month is a busy and colourful time. Tonight, my daughter made Pumpkin soup with the remaining flesh and this was great. You can do a lot with Pumpkin ( I have even seen a recipe for pancakes) and it’s an inexpensive vegetable to do multiple things with.

What have you tried out with a Pumpkin?

Posted in cooking, families, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

October Soup

I wanted to try a new recipe for October using Tumeric spice and this is what I made.

This is not my own recipe and was taken from pinterest ( a site that is becoming a real firm favourite for ideas) which you can find here.  The resulting soup of Ginger,Tumeric and Carrot  was with without doubt one of the most tasty and delicious soups we have tasted in awhile.

Initially, I was hoping to use the vegetable of either parsnip or turnip which are currently  in season, at the moment, but as I wanted to try out Tumeric this recipe looked the most appealing. Tumeric is a much talked about spice. In the cooking and heath circles it is being described as something really quite powerful with numerous health-benefits, including its anticancer properties. You can read more about Tumeric here.

I used one and a half times of carrots, Ginger, orange juice and Tumeric on the recipe given as I wanted to make six portions. It certainly achieved that. Besides, I have a food taster to cook for too and she rang me to say how much she loved it.

Family tasting:

Everyone, as I have said, loved it. The orange tang made it for me. It had a soft and sweet texture to the mouth and it was all gone in one sitting. The roasted hazelnuts gave it an added crunch contrast. With my second bowl, I had quite a few nuts left over and I put the lot in. It was good.

What could have been improved upon?

My taster said:

” A bit more Ginger please.”

The rest of my family were happy just as it was and wants me to make it again.

Next time for the end of the month.

Looking at Pumpkin for Halloween weekend. I had no idea you could roast the seeds or make pancakes and chips with this.

Posted in cooking, Debate, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Home, nutrition

Sausage, Apple and Cider Casserole.

I decided to use apples in a main savoury dish and this is my own recipe, after looking at some ideas on Pinterest. Apples are in abundance in September and whilst I bought my cookers from the supermarket, you will find these being sold from private growers along roadsides and garden corners. The price I saw was 0.50p a bag. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop to buy.

Why we should eat more apples?

The health benefits of apples here on Pinterest.

This will make you two casseroles, so you could have a meal for two days.

12 Tesco finest pork and apple sausages.

One medium sized onion.

Two cooking apples.

1/2 of a butternut squash.( tip: I cut the butternut squash, scooped out the seeds and cut the flesh away from the very tough skin from the inside of the vegetable. Peeling the skin is hard work.)

Potatoes, ( I used six but amount can vary depending on how many potatoes you want in this recipe).

Two carrots,

Five large mushrooms,

Handful of frozen peas.

350 mls of cider divided into two casserole dishes.

Two tablespoons of fresh basil chopped.

1/2 teaspoon of mango chutney mixed into an instant gravy granules gravy.


Simply layer the potatoes and butternut squash covering the base of the casserole dish.

Add the diced mushrooms and carrots.

Fry the sausages for five minutes to give a brown appearance and lay on top of the vegetables.

Fry the onion in the oil used for the sausages and add on top of the sausages.

Place the uncooked sliced apple on top.

Add the cider and pour gravy into the casserole dishes.

Add the handful of peas.

Add chopped basil.

Cooking times:

I have an electric fan oven, so set an intial temp of 200C but then turned the oven down to 180C after about 30 mins. Cook until the vegetables are soft. For me this took about one and a half hours. For the last 15 mins, I left the casserole dish top off to reduce some gravy juice and to give the sausages a final brown.

Family tasting:

Everyone really enjoyed this and we have just finished it up today. For all the cooking I have done recently, either with recipes or without, this has been the most favourite dish to date with a good thumbs up from the family. Generally, it was considered that I had the right flavour combinations and the correct amount of cider. The pork and apples sausages’ flavour was enhanced and there was not one ingredient that overpowered the rest.

What could have been improved?

I would have liked to have added a Yorkshire pudding for a contrasting crunch.Black pudding has also been suggested.

Next month will look at starters and snacks. I want to use Tumeric, as this appears to be one of the most talked about spice at present and its anticancer properties is a hot topic in nutritional circles at the moment.

Please feel free to share your ideas here with apples or sausages.

Thanks for stopping by. See you again I hope next month.

Posted in cooking, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

Blackberry Mousse: blog post 2.

Yesterday, I wrote briefly about a recipe I had adapted ( with a link ) for this blackberry mousse. This is the first dish of a new food series called Seasonal Foods, as I am on the quest to use foods that you would find in any one month of the year. Where ever possible, I am trying to look at cost and to discuss at least one ingredient, and its health benefits, to each dish. Today, we will be looking at blackberries and coconut sugar.

Firstly, coconut sugar is gaining ground in the popularity stakes as an alternative to white granulated sugar. Why is this? Well, it has a lower Glycemic Index- GI (35 compared to 68 for granulated sugar) and is considered healthier as a result. If you not sure what the GI index is all about, take a look at what Diabeties Uk has to say about it and why eating low GI foods are considered important in diabetic care and  part of weight control in one’s diet.

I bought my sugar from The Barn, here at Downham Market and these food blog posts are going to be linked to this shop, to help promote the business . Hopefully, my posts will be shared on their Facebook page very soon. The price of this sugar is £2.75 compared to an average price of £1.25. OK,  over double the cost but I did the maths and the 35 grams I used for this recipe cost 0.38p using the coconut sugar. This worked out at 0.13p a dish given I had made three. I think it was good value for money for the possible health advantages it may bring.

 Thee benefits of eating fresh fruit and vegetables are widely publicised.I decided to use fresh blackberries that were free from the hedgerows rather than frozen ones. Here is a little more information why blackberries are so beneficial for you. 

Family tasting:

The strong blackberry flavour was great but I would definitely recommend eating this in the time stated on the recipe ( see previous post) as this is not a firm mousse. It has a light, slightly fluid texture due to its low sugar content. It took me about 10 mins to make, as I wanted to make sure the egg was whisked well. It was simple to make though and tasted better, with more flavour, than anything we had bought from the supermarkets.

What I could do next time?

I would try lightly stewing the fruit first, reserving some juice for additional topping. The texture was also a slightly nutty one, due to the uncooked fruit. This did not detract from the dish but for a smoother taste I think I would try stewing the berries to see what difference this would make. I would still use uncooked blackberries for the decoration. As you can see by my picture, I used a teaspoon of Greek yoghurt as well, just to give some contrast for the eye.

Next time, I am going to cook a savoury dish. I haven’t finally decided what yet but it will involve either game or a vegetarian dish. The next post to watch out for, in this series, will be towards the end of September.

Thanks for stopping by and happy cooking. What ever you are making.

Posted in cooking, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

Blackberry Mousse. Blog one of two.

I am having great difficulties with my blog posting tonight, and having identified the problem ( and determined to show this link) I have decided to take the unusual step of having to do this in two parts.

I have made a blackberry mousse adapted from this recipe and this is the first post concerning my seasonal food series.This recipe,of which it will not let me shortcut with a suitable header title, is vital to the blog post but so is the finished result. This link is wipping out my photo of the dessert and my post, so I have no other way but to present it like this.

Please bear with me. Having had a whole night’s work completely zapped I am keen to make this work somehow. 

So please tune in to the next post which will show the finished result. I will be sharing with you the information I have discovered about coconut sugar, the financial cost, the benefits of blackberries and what the GI index means in relation to blood sugars.

The photo is nice too and so was the taste. Please come back soon. Thanks for your patience.

Posted in cooking, goals, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

Herbs in my Garden.

I love fresh herbs and have a raised bed in my little garden. This last week I used coriander, thyme and mint in my meals and harvested some garlic.  The flavours in the finished meals seem more distinct somehow.

Today, I am blackberry picking, to have a trial run with my blackberry mousse. I have enlisted a friend who is going to be my food taster, as well as my family, to help me improve any recipe and have decided on my savoury dish for later this month. She loves cooking and is very good at it. She will be an honest opinion that I will truly value.

For now, I just wanted to see how my tablet performs uploading a picture straight to this blog site, as this will be the camera I use to photograph the end results. 

Finally, with chatting about my blog, I have found a new customer for The Barn here at Downham Market ( see my previous two postings.) She would like to buy some of the locally made cake as well as some organic honey, the later is really delicious.

So progress all round and I am pleased. Can’t wait to see how the mousse turns out for tea….

Have a great eating weekend everyone.

Posted in goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Learning, nutrition, Writing

A Potential Blogging Link to a New Local Food Store.

I have made a potentially exciting discovery in my home town of Downham Market, Norfolk. A new specialist food store opened three weeks ago called The Barn and I strolled in to take a look yesterday. It was pleasing to the eye and sold a variety of food products, some of which I had not see in any supermarket chain. 

There was Spelt flour of which I had been searching for, coconut oil and coconut sugar of which I have been reading about the possible benefits off, as well as other ingredients I had seen in several recipes just recently. Here they were, all in one place, and the other attraction for me was ( that it appeared at first glance) a lot of this food was produced locally. I purchased a Norfolk seed, apple and date cake. I knew this would not be my last visit.

As I was paying for my purchase, I struck up a conversation with the seller. I said I liked the shop and that I was trying out some new healthy food ideas. Casually, I mentioned my food blogging and the lady seemed really interested. She told me that they were creating a Facebook group soon and perhaps I would like to link up and share my postings with them. I replied that that would be great.

I went away and had a thought. Why don’t I link the products purchased at the shop with my new spin off to this food blog: a project I had mentioned to one of my closest friends on Facebook only the other day. It’s about seasonal food. I am going to be cooking two specific dishes a month, one fruit and one savoury, starting in September. The ingredients will include at least one food in season for that month and will form part of this blog’s objectives.

So, in addition the writing here could be an additional marketing avenue for this new business and also may attract more traffic to my blog site. I really do hope they set up a facebook group. This will really help my motivation with this work, as I love to have a real sense of purpose in what I am doing and this is definitely it.

For many, these types of food retailers have an image of being expensive. Well, the cake bought certainly wasn’t, at £1.49 but some things did cost more, than say at a supermarket or a shop’s own brand. So as part of my food blogging, one of the objectives is to look at price. The question being: is it possible that paying for an ingredient that is more, for example, coconut sugar be worth it as the end result?

My first dish will be a dessert using the commonly seen and free blackberry that will grace our hedgerows soon. I will be using coconut sugar and intend to make a simple mousse. I will be adapting recipes as well as using others from food sites and these will have links. I hope it will generate some interest.

I just need the September blackberries to show up now…

What do you think to the idea? Suggestions and comments are very welcome.