Wednesday, 1 February 2017

February 2017: death


It always makes me cringe when people say: “She’s passed away.” Or they put an animal 'to sleep'. 
Why not use the proper words? They died.
We don't like to use the proper words, but we all know what is meant.

As I am getting older, it becomes more and more important for me to prepare for death. A good death.
A good death, in my eyes, includes having a more or less clear conscience. For when you are dying, you realise at last, fully, the consequences of your deeds. The usual excuses and justifications don’t work anymore. That final clear insight must be what is meant by hell, or purgatory.

A good death also means: to be ready. Happy to have finished. 
I always suspect that in many cases people die when they want to. An extreme version of this you find in India, where the Jain ascetics bring about their own death “when normal life according to religion is not possible due to old age, incurable disease or when a person is nearing his end” by gradually reducing the intake of food and drink - a gentle form of suicide. They call this 'sallekhana' [1]. “Jain ideology views this as the ultimate act of self-control and triumph over the passions, rather than simply as suicide.” says the Encyclopedia Britannica. 
In our culture, suicide is usually the end result of unspeakable misery or depression, or the ultimate cry for help. Sallekhana, on the other hand, demands “giving up this body with complete peace of mind, calmness, and patience, without any fear at all” [2].

So what has all this got to do with eating?
When my aunt was in her late eighties she was in hospital and not expected to live long. I had been summoned from England to see her one last time. A nurse came along.
”And what will you eat today”?
“I don’t want to eat anything at all, I want to die”.
“How about some nice ice cream, with custard?”
“.... oh, ok then, I'll have that".
My aunt happily survived for two more years, surrounded by loving family and helpful nurses.

We eat not only because we’re hungry: we eat because we want to go on living.
Either that, or because we feel we have to go on living, say, to look after our dependants, or because we’ve still got things to do.

And what we should realise, is this. If we go on living, this means that whether we eat meat, fish, insects, or plants - something else has to die. “One man’s death is another man’s bread’ we say in Holland, America, and, apparently, Albania. 
Which is why I want to be buried, not cremated. What use are my cremated ashes, compared to the lovely compost my whole body will make? The churchyards may be full, but there are woodland burial sites where your body can feed an apple tree, or woods for walking in. This is little known. There are even guides on how to start up such a site yourself [3].
The last words come, of all people, from Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.“ 

More info at
And is a very interesting website. I agree with everything on there. Does that make me a pantheist? Or just realistic ...... is there a difference?

PS If you have strong feelings about how you should be treated - or not - should you have an accident, or become seriously ill and unable to communicate your choices: make a 'living will'. If you don't want to 'live' as a vegetable because doctors must do anything to keep you alive: make a 'living will'. See or and many more online. 


TO EAT, and live:
Veg: beet, purple sprouting broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, kale, cavolo nero, leek, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
Meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison.
Fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.

TO SOW/PLANT (outdoors):
If the weather is suitable: garlic, broad beans, spring onions, shallots, early peas, carrots, parsnips, green/red cabbage, onion sets. Apple trees, if the weather isn't too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen.


The shops are still full of those lovely winter squashes. See [4] for what else to do with them. 

1 bunch broccoli tough stems removed, olive oil, 3 crushed garlic cloves, chilli powder. 
Bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil. Drop the broccoli into the boiling water and cook for 1 min. Remove and drain. Use right away or hold for future use.
Coat a large frying pan with oil. Add garlic and chilli and slowly sauté. Once the garlic is brown and aromatic, remove it and discard. Add the broccoli and stir in the oil to heat up. Sauté it for a couple more minutes, depending on how well cooked you prefer it. Season if liked.

900g cavolo nero (or kale), stems and center ribs discarded, 240ml finely chopped onion, 1 or more tsp grated coriander seeds, olive oil, salt, pepper.
Cut cavolo into 1cm wide strips across horizontally. Cook in salted boiling water 3 mins or more. Reserve 60ml liquid, drain. Sauté onion until soft. Add cavolo, salt, and reserved liquid. Simmer, stirring, until the cavolo is just tender, 3-5 mins or longer if you prefer. Season. Lovely with game!

225g parsnips, rosemary, fresh (flat-leaf) parsley, 6 chopped cloves garlic, 675g floury potatoes, 675g swede, 225g carrots, salt, pepper, 80ml olive oil, (fresh chives), plenty of grated mature cheese.
Cut up roots and potatoes quite small. Put in cold water with the rosemary and garlic. Cook till soft enough, drain, and mash - catch the water for soup or in case this gets too dry. Mix in salt, pepper, and part of the cheese. Pour some oil over it and sprinkle with parsley and chives. Give more grated cheese separate in case people want it. 

1 shredded savoy cabbage, 2 chopped chilli peppers (or powder), 3 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tblsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt. 
In a large pan/wok, sauté garlic and peppers for 1 minute. Add cabbage and stir-fry for 5 mins, until it starts to wilt. Don’t overcook! Add salt to taste. 

To see more recipes for this time of year, click on 2016 and then February, on the right hand side. 

February 2016: keep yourSELF healthy


We have not lost faith, but we have transferred it from God to the medical profession
 (George Bernard Shaw)

“Take a prescription drug, and you also take a leap of faith: faith that your doctor has made the right diagnosis, that you won’t suffer an adverse reaction, and that the company that developed the drug didn’t conceal anything about it from the authorities. (…) Sadly, the pharmaceutical industry has a shameful track record on this front.”

Says the New Scientist, 19/9/15. [1] 
There are more good reasons to first try an alternative before you grab the pills. Good food, exercise, ’home remedies’ usually do much more than just improve your complaint. They improve your overall health, in body and in mind.
Of course, it’s easier to trust the pharmacy, and doctors. But often our grandmothers were right. Although ‘eating good food’ came more easily to them than it does to us, with all those ads and temptations on the supermarket shelves!
Vegetables. Meat without antibiotics - so, organic or at least free-range. Fruit - good old apples and pears! Walking to work, cycling: not so easy nowadays, but at least we can make a try.
  • “Doctors are advised on pharmaceuticals by Nice (National Institute for Healthcare and Clinical Excellence), but this advice is often based on studies funded by the companies selling the drugs.”
  • “A culture of over-investigation and over-treatment is now one of the greatest threats to western health.”
  • “Only by improving processed foods can we tacle obesity among the young.”
  • “The major corporations, not magazines, are responsible for our increasingly poor diets.”
  • “Keep yourself healthy. Way better than asking a doctor like me to do it for you.”

Interesting? Interested? All these quotes come from Aseem Malhotra, consultant cardiologist.
I found them at, where you can find the full articles. It’s good to hear some sense from the heart of the profession - not many doctors have the time, or the inclination, to look beyond their field to the root causes of so much unwellness. See also [2].
Going to the doctor can be a very good idea. But not at the drop of a hat. Someone once told me the best thing a doctor can ask is: "What do you think yourself?"

TO SOW/PLANT (outdoors):
If the weather is suitable: garlic, broad beans, spring onions, shallots, early peas, carrots, parsnips, green/red cabbage, onion sets. Apple trees, if the weather isn't too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen.

Veg: beet, purple sprouting broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, kale, cavolo nero, leek, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
Meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison.
Fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.


1 large pumpkin, any leftovers, cooking water, herbs/spices.
Chop up the pumpkin and cook in a bit of salted water till really soft, mash with the water, put in plastic box. Now whenever you cook a meal, keep the cooking water and any leftovers (you might want to cook a bit extra for this). Whizz the leftovers in the cooking water, add some of the pumpkin puree from the box, more water/stock if needed, spices/herbs to your liking and season.
Voila: next day's soup.
900g trimmed cavolo nero, 1 chopped anchovy filet, 30ml extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds, chilli/cayenne pepper, 6 sliced garlic cloves, 500ml stock/water.
Saute fennel seeds, red pepper, garlic, and anchovy for 1–2 minutes. Add stock, bring to boil, add cavolo, cover. Simmer slowly until very tender, 40–45 mins, check liquid and stir occasionally.

About 400g cleaned kale weighed after the thick stems have been taken out, 370g pasta, 30ml olive oil, 1 large sliced onion, sliced, 2, sliced garlic cloves, 1/2 chopped red chilli, plenty halved hazelnuts, grated mature cheese, salt, pepper. 
Cut kale into strips; blanch in a large pan of salted boiling water for 4 mins. Take out of the pan using a slotted spoon, and then bring the water back to the boil.
Add the pasta to this water and cook al dente. Meanwhile, saute onion for a few mins and then add the garlic and chilli, after another minute add the kale, heat through and season. Add all this to the pasta when that's been done and drained. Finish with hazelnuts and cheese.

500-600g potatoes, 2 leeks, butter, salt, pepper, 60ml sour cream, 30ml whole milk.Peel and chop potatoes. Put in a pot of cold water with some salt and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, 15-20 mins. Chop leeks quite finely and sautee in 1 tblsp butter. Cover and sweat until they are soft and translucent. Check every so often: they may need a little bit of water.  Add leeks to the potatoes and mash. Add sour cream, 1-2 tblsp of butter and milk. Season.

250g carrots, 250g parsnips, 250g swedes/turnips, 150ml cider, 3 tblsp butter, parsley, ginger optional.This can be done on top or in the oven. Cut roots into bite-sized pieces. Place veg in pan, add butter (ginger) and cider. If roasting, preheat to 220C, cook for 1hr. Or cook on top for 3/4 hr or until very tender. Add salt, strew with chopped parsley. 

potatoes, turnip, carrot, butter, (tarragon, savory, thyme, nutmeg?)
Cut everything up and put on the fire* with some cold water and salt. Cook till everything is soft. Drain, add butter, mash.
For more turnip info and recipes see
*Sorry, this is a Dutchism. I meant: 'put them on', but that doesn't sound so good to me .....

1k potatoes, 660g carrots, 300g onions, butter, seasoning - meat.
Cut up the 3 vegetables. Bring water to the boil with the potatoes in, when it boils add the rest. Cook till everything is soft. Drain but keep the cooking water. Mash, add a lot of butter. Put some cooking water back in if it’s too dry, or use the liquid for soup later!
With any flavoursome meat, though originally it goes with ‘klapstuk’ -  braising steak, not too lean - but you have to cook that for 1 1/2 hour before adding the vegetables. We had it with stewed diced lamb and it was lovely. (Vegetarian) sausages are fine too. Make sure you add plenty of butter, or fat from the meat, at the last moment. This is a winter dish after all!

750g celeriac, 1 tblsp french (or 1/2 English) mustard, 150ml double cream, pepper, (parsley, salt). Peel celeriac, cut into quarters and then into thin slices. Cook for 4 mins: the celeriac should be just tender. Drain. Stir mustard into the cream, add celeriac and season. Heat through, garnish.

February 2015: should I take supplements?


No. If you are regularly eating locally grown food, which has not been sent all over the world and then kept on the shelves for ages, ideally organic, you needn’t take supplements at all.
Unless, maybe, if:
you are old,
or suffer from some form of malabsorption,
or you are pregnant,
or you never get outside [1],
or maybe you are recovering from an illness,
or desperately warding one off,
or you are taking certain medications [2],
or are often very stressed. 
you take sugar, which depletes vitamins and minerals [3]
and/or lots of coffee, which does the same. [4]
That makes all of us?
Not really - and there are major drawbacks to getting your nutrients artificially. 

When you get your vits/mins from whole foods, it is very hard indeed to go over the top. But when you get them from supplements, you easily get too many. Taking too much of, say, magnesium, calcium or vitamin D, is as bad as taking too little and can cause serious trouble. [5] Always start with the lowest dose. 

Many vitamins and minerals interact: if you take supplements of one, you may decrease absorption of another. Whereas natural food provides a whole array of nutrients, geared to work together to supply you exactly with what you need, and help you absorb it. [6]

If you do decide that your intake needs a boost, it’s important to get the right supplements. Here are some websites to help - they are all American, but so far I have not been able to find decent advise in this respect which is not linked to a particular supplier. It is my experience though that, in general,  unfortunately it’s best to go for the expensive ones! 

PS For fitness nerds, gives extensive and trustworthy information, though, again, geared for the US.
PPS: A new company delivers 'organic or locally grown fruit and veg to customers in Chard and surroundings. Give them a try! See

TO SOW/PLANT (outdoors):
If the weather is suitable: garlic, broad beans, spring onions, shallots, early peas, carrots, parsnips, green/red cabbage, onion sets. Apple trees, if the weather isn't too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen.

Veg: beet, purple sprouting broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, kale, cavolo nero, leek, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
Meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison.
Fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.


240ml chopped onion, 2.4l water or stock, 240ml dried brown lentils, about 450g potatoes cut into cubes, 2-4 sliced carrots, 100-200g kale, weighed after you have removed the thick stems; sausages, seasoning, mint.
Chop the kale finely. Cook onion with the sausages, stir until onion is tender. Heat water/stock, add lentils and simmer for 30-60 mins until lentils soft but not mushy. Stir in potatoes and carrots, simmer for 15 mins. Add sausage-onion mixture. Stir in kale 5 mins before serving. With whole grain bread.

20g chopped hazelnuts, 20g softened butter, 300g brussels sprouts, salt + black pepper.
Dry fry nuts until golden. Mix into softened butter. Cook sprouts in salted water until done to your liking. Drain, mix with hazelnut butter, season.

700g floury potatoes cut into 2.5cm pieces, 225g chopped celeriac or sliced celery, 170g cooked chestnuts, 1 large chopped onion, 1½ tblsp butter, 500ml water, celery leaves to garnish.
Sauté onion in half the butter until soft, add celeriac, potatoes, chestnuts water. Simmer covered for 15-20 minutes, or until the veg are very tender. Drain, reserve the liquid, mash.  Stir in the remaining butter, season, and enough of the cooking liquid to achieve the desired consistency. Garnish with celery leaves. This is delicious accompanied by fried slices of cooking apple. 
VEGETARIAN KALE HASH with CASHEWS and BRIE (plain cheddar will work too) 
600g kale after taking out hard nerves, 1k potatoes, 150g unsalted cashew nuts, 200g Brie, salt, milk, lots of butter. 
Clean potatoes and cut up. Wash kale, take out nerves, cut finely. Bring water to the boil, add potatoes, put kale on top, with some butter and salt. Turn heat down, simmer for 20 mins until the potatoes are soft, drain. Grease oven dish. Cut brie in slices of ab.1 cm. Mix in nuts, put in dish, spread brie on top. Put in preheated oven (180°C) for 15 mins until brie has melted. 


200g (butternut) squash cut into 1cm cubes, 150g young kale coarsely chopped, 2 large diced carrots, 225g wholewheat linguine, 2 tblsp olive oil, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 3 sliced shallots or 1 onion, thyme, 240ml white wine, 240g grated mature cheese, salt, pepper.
Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Sauté shallot, garlic, squash, and carrots, in oil, covered, until soft, ab. 7 mins. Add thyme, season. Add kale, cover, cook until kale wilts down, 2 mins or longer. Add wine, cook for 5 mins, let it reduce. Season. Add pasta, 40ml of the cooking water, and 180g cheese. Stir. Top with remaining cheese.

1.2l chopped green cabbage, 4 cubed apples, 120ml raisins, 120ml chopped walnuts, (60ml ground flax seed), cinnamon, 240ml water.
Put everything in a pan and cook on low heat for 15 mins. You could add 1/2 cup of chopped onion and some curry powder.

WHITING (or other white fish) with COCONUT and APPLE SAUCE 
675g whiting fillets, 75 g creamed/shredded coconut; 2 cooking apples; 1 large chopped onion, 1 tsp salt; 300 ml water; 2 tsp curry; 2 tsp coriander; 2 tblsp oil; 1 tsp cumin, seasoning.
Softly fry onion in oil mins until soft. Peel, core and slice apples into pan. Add coconut, salt, water, curry, coriander and cumin. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Season. Cut fish into large chunks, add to sauce and simmer uncovered for 10 mins until it flakes easily. You may have to add a little bit more water. Serve with some grain (like bulgur, millet, rice) mixed with peas.

300g grated cooked beet, 300g diced cooking apples, 100g cream cheese, 185g self-raising flour; 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp nutmeg, 200g brown sugar; 185g melted/cooled butter, 3 eggs, honey, softened butter. 
Sift flour, spices, sugar. Whisk eggs and butter, add grated beet. Add to dry ingredients, stir in gently. Add apple, stir again. Grease cake tin, pour in the mix. Bake at 180° for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Cool. Mix cream cheese, softened butter, honey and vanilla extract or something like that. Smear on, decorate with apple slices if you like. 

[1] Vitamin D is considered very important these days. So don’t always cover up, or slash on the sunscreen. For sunscreen-in-your-food, see Thought for Food April '14 (in the drop down menu on the right hand side). And there is always the oily fish!
[2] They can change how your body processes nutrients. Ask your doctor. 
[5] Email me for info if you're interested.


February 2014: depression

There are many kinds of depression: the looking-out-of-the-window-and-seeing-the-weather kind or, miles removed, clinical depression. What follows holds for both the big and the small. There's no specific diet that works, but

* complex carbs like wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, have a lasting positive effect on brain chemistry, mood, and energy level. Avoid refined carbohydrates, primarily sugar(y foods), for they provide only temporary relief. So does caffeine!

* lack of folic acid deficiency, can cause personality change and depression. Most abundant in spinach, lentils, raw beetroot and sunflower seeds. Easily destroyed by cooking. [1]

* even being just a bit short of B-vitamins may produce subtle changes in mood.
People who are depressed appear to have low levels of vitamin B6 and serotonin. And certain drugs like contraceptives and HRT can interfere with our use of B6 (in spinach, sunflower seeds, potatoes, chicken, mushrooms, kale and garlic), and create borderline deficiency.

* vitamin B12 is not well absorbed as we age. If low, it can contribute to depression and memory problems. In liver, lamb, beef, (shell)fish, yeast, raw egg yolk. [2]

* calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc play a role in the development/prevention of depression, irritability and mood swings. [3]

* eat protein several times a day, and at least three meals including breakfast. Drink plenty of water.

Diet and lifestyle changes are not a cure-all. But as food affects your mood, you might as well eat the good stuff.
For some good (and two fun!) sites on the subject, see below.
And did you know that running releases powerful endorphins which combat depression? This works especially if you run outside, in nature, rather than in a less cheerful gym-environment.

If the weather is suitable: garlic, early peas, carrots, parsnips, green/red cabbage, onion sets. Apple trees, if the weather isn't too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen.

Veg: beet, broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, kale, cavolo nero, leek, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
Meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison.
Fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.

Pumpkin seeds are an easy way to get your minerals, plus many other nutrients. They may help with: prostate problems, stress, depression, sleeplessness, parasites and heart disease. See

Thrive is a national charity that helps people with a disability to start or continue gardening: after a stroke and with heart disease; sitting down and from a wheelchair; with sight loss; with a weak grip; with one hand; if you can't bend easily, etc. See

grate raw, and mix with (cooking) apple. Dress. A delicious winter salad, no leaves needed, though you can add some if you have them (rocket for instance).

100g spinach (best for folate), kale or cabbage,  200g purple sprouting broccoli  • 150g mushrooms • 2 cloves garlic • butter/dripping/vegetable oil • 3 tblsp tamari/soy sauce • 1 tblsp sesame seeds
Slice spinach roughly and chop broccoli into medium-sized chunks. Crush garlic. Chop mushrooms roughly. Heat oil in a wok, add garlic, mushrooms and sesame seeds. Stir and cook for 5 mins, until the mushrooms are lightly browned and their juice has evaporated. Add broccoli. Stir, cover for 3 mins. Add spinach. Cover for 2-4 mins, until it starts to wilt. Remove wok from heat. Serve immediately.

1 lamb kidney, 2 tblsp flour, 1 tblsp butter, 2 beaten eggs, salt, pepper, chopped parsley.
Removing fat and interior sinew, cut into 2cm pieces. Toss in seasoned flour. Heat ½ tblsp butter. Once foam has subsided add kidneys: cook stirring often until brown all over, about 5 mins. Remove from pan, reserve. Return pan to heat, add remaining butter. When foam subsides, add eggs. Once the eggs have begun to set, add kidneys and parsley to one side. When the eggs are to your liking fold omelette in half. Serve immediately with toast.

450g spinach, butter, 15g flour, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, nutmeg, 120ml cream, 60g cream cheese, 1 minced onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 60ml water, (ab. 25g grated mature cheese).
Melt 3 tbls. butter; stir in flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg. Slowly whisk in cream; stir in cream cheese. Whisk until smooth; remove from heat. In 2 tblsp butter, slowly cook onions and garlic until transparent; stir spinach and water into pan. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 mins or longer if spinach is perpetual. Add spinach mix to creamy mixture, stir till hot. Fold in grated cheese if you like - I prefer it without.

250-500g scallops, bunch of spring onions, oil, butter, 2-3 tblsp sour cream.  
Dust the scallops with flour. Chop onions, including the green parts. Heat 2 tblsp olive oil, and 2 tblsp (unsalted) butter, almost to smoking point. Add onions, saute 30-40 secs till they smell good. Keep the heat high, toss in the scallops, just brown them all over, while stirring. When they are slightly browned add cream, stir with a wooden spoon until the scallops are coated. Serve over steamed rice/noodles.

100g uncooked lentils (any type but not orange*), 2 leeks, 5 leaves of kale without the stalks or some spinach, 2 carrots, 1 parsnip, 3 potatoes, 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1tblsp olive oil/butter, 1 tblsp tomato puree, 600ml water, bay leaves, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds smashed, chilli powder, 1tsp yeast extract/soy, salt, pepper. If you have them, add cardamom and turmeric. Putting in a clove while it's cooking helps with flatulence.
Heat oil, saute onion and garlic for 5 mins. Slice leeks into rings. Cut carrots into 1/2 cm chunks; potato, parsnip, kohlrabi into 1 cm cubes. Add them all to the pan with the cumin and saute for a few minutes while stirring. Then add tomato puree, yeast/soy, bay, water and lentils. Stir. Cover and cook for about half an hour till everything is practically done, making sure it doesn't dry out. Then add chopped kale/spinach and cook till that is done as well, not too long. Season, serve!

Half chopped savoy, olive oil, 1 tblsp curry powder, soy sauce, handful sultanas, handful sunflower seeds, lemon juice.
Heat oil and soy, add cabbage, sultanas, curry and sunflower seeds. Stir fry until just tender (keep the crunch). At the end add lemon juice. Serve immediately.

50g kale, 1/3 leek, 150g potatoes, 1/2 small raw beetroot, tiny onion, ab. 40g goats' cheese in pieces, 1/2 smallish apple, ginger, (garlic) salt.
Chop potatoes quite small, take stalks off kale and chop too. Cook in salted water till just done, drain. Chop leeks (garlic) and onion, grate beet, and saute those three together till nearly soft. Then add drained potatoes and kale and stir and fry softly till all is hot and done. Add the pieces of cheese and put a lid on till they start to melt. Serve.

Good websites about depression:
For medication dangers, have a look at

And for light relief(!):

[1] Folic acid is abundant in dark leafy greens (spinach especially), lentils and other beans, sunflower seeds and raw beetroot.
[2] See Thought for Food March 2013 for foods which supply vitamin B12.
[3] See Thought for Food April 2013 for foods which supply various minerals.

Main picture: Allie Brosch. Thank you, Allie.

NEXT MONTH: Be kind.

February 2013: strange foods


Since when do we depend for our very lives on foreign food? Oranges for vitamin C, bananas for energy, we can't seem to live without pasta, noodles, pizzas ....
We can eat from our garden all year round, even the 'hungry gap' (April-May), with proper planning and advise, can be filled. If you don't grow your own it's still easier: just go to the shop. Leeks! Cabbage! Kale! Pumpkins! Beetroot! Potatoes! Carrots! Parsnips! Swede! All you want in the way of vitamins, minerals and carbs to keep your belly full and warm. With some good old butter to help us absorb the goodness .... for remember, it's the diet products which make you fat. [1]
Beetroot, swede, parsnips and carrots can all be grated raw and, with a chopped apple (plus maybe a bit of corn salad, or rocket?) make a lovely and wholesome salad. Who could want for more?

Veg: beet, broccoli, brussels, squash, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, kale, leek, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, celery, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
Meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison.
Fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, whiting.

If the weather is suitable: garlic, early peas, carrots, parsnips, green/red cabbage, onion sets. Apple trees, if the weather isn't too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen. 

If you like 
celery but can't be bothered to grow the proper stuff, try celery leaves, and use them as you do parsley. (
Impatient for new greens? Grow pea shoots: and here are some recipes:

The SWCAA is a non-profit organisation offering help and support to allotment holders and gardeners throughout the country. See

700g diced parsnips, 1 sliced onion, 40g butter, 2 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1.2ltr water, salt, pepper, 150ml single cream, paprika, parsley.
Melt butter, add onion, saute for 6 mins. Add parsnips, saute for 3 mins. Stir in curry powder and cumin, cook for 2 mins. Add water, season, bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until veg are tender. Mash or puree. Season, add cream and reheat but don't boil. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

400g shredded kale, 150g (frozen) peas, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (or some mustard), 1/2 tsp turmeric, chillies or chilli powder, ginger (pref. fresh grated), juice 1 lemon, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, oil.
Heat oil, sizzle cumin and mustard seeds for 1 min, add chilli, ginger and turmeric. Fry until aromatic, add kale, salt, peas and bit of water. Cover and cook for ab. 5 mins until kale has wilted. Add lemon juice, ground coriander, mix, serve.

2 leeks quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced; 1lb floury potatoes, cut into 1" pieces, butter, 360ml water, 40ml sour cream.
Melt butter, add leeks; sauté until just beginning to color, 5 mins. Add potatoes and water. Season with salt. Bring to boil. Cover; boil until potatoes are tender. Uncover; boil until almost all liquid evaporates. Mash potatoes coarsely; mix in sour cream.

400g kale, olive oil, 2 cloves garlic (mince 5 mins prior to heating to maximize the activity of the cancer fighting molecules), splash of balsamic vinegar, (black sesame seeds).
Remove the kale leaves from the stems and chop coarsely. Wash and shake them but leave slightly damp. Heat oil, saute the garlic (do not let it brown), gradually add the kale while stirring until all the leaves are slightly wilted. Cover, cook on low heat until leaves are tender, (5-10 mins depending on age of leaves). Stir a few times, make sure the pan does not go dry (add a tbsp of water at a time if needed). Sprinkle with a dash of vinegar and sesame seeds before serving.

6 large scallops, 1 sharp apple, 2 handfuls of corn salad, some lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper. 
Cut apple in strips. Mix with lettuce, zest, oil, seasoning. 
For the scallops: heat 1 tblsp of oil. Lay scallops on board, pat dry, season one side. Think of the pan as a clockface and add scallops, seasoned side down, in a clockwise order, then fry 1-2 mins. Season other side, flip over and repeat. Squeeze lemon over and shake pan. Divide salad between 2 plates, arrange scallops around each pile. Garnish with remaining zest, serve immediately.

500g shredded cabbage, 100ml double cream, 200ml water, thyme, 25g butter, salt.
Bring salted water to the boil, add cabbage. Cover and cook for 5-7 mins, or until softened, Stir in cream and thyme. Uncover and cook for a few mins, until cabbage is completely softened and liquid has practically evaporated, stir in butter and serve.

This recipe was a question of: what have I got in my larder? So adapt if you like:
Kale: 80g after taking out the thicker stalks; 130g cooked potatoes, onion not too big, 10g hazelnuts, cooking apple, soy, salt, pepper, butter.
Slice onion, cut up kale, cube potatoes and apple. Saute onion and kale in butter, stir till it has shrunk a bit, add potatoes and apple. Halve nuts, add. Stir regularly. Season when done.  

PINK PANCAKES: 6 pancakes, breakfast for 2.   
120ml finely grated raw (or cooked) beetroot, 120ml grated apple, 1 egg, 240ml flour, 2 heaped tsp baking powder, 120ml water, ½ tsp of mixed spice, salt, olive oil, butter, honey.
Whisk egg until frothy. Add flour, baking powder, salt, then water. Give it a good whisk. Fold in apple, beet and spice. Heat oil, drop dessert spoonfuls of the batter into the pan centre. When it starts to bubble up, flip over and cook for 2 mins or so. Don't press pancake down as it cooks as this will press out the air bubbles. When all your pancakes are cooked, put butter on top of each. Serve with honey.

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