Wednesday, 1 February 2017

February 2012: the joys of butter



Butter is delicious. Not only that, it is vital for our wellbeing.
Why then are we always told the opposite?
A lot of money is made in the butter replacement industry, and some of that is being spent on persuading doctors, nutritionists and consumers that low-fat, polyunsaturated 'spreads' are best for us.
Let me tell you about fats.

Saturated fat is supposed to be bad, but at least our body at least knows what to do with it: it's eventually burned for energy (which is why exercise is important).

Polyunsaturates are indeed good for you: they let your cells to eat and breathe, so they're critical for health. Unfortunately, that only applies to natural oils, in their natural state.
When natural oils are refined and hydrogenated, they become trans fats. Trans fats don't exist in nature and your body does not know what to do with them. So they act as poisons: they take the place of fats your body needs, and inhibit the work normally done by natural unsaturated fats. Even at home, when you heat vegetable oil, particularly in a microwave, it changes into trans fat. [1]

Butter is a completely natural food essential to your health. Margarine, on the contrary, is made from chemically processed vegetable oils which have generally been bleached, coloured, deodorised and flavoured to make them more or less edible. [2]
Don't succumb to commercial interests telling you what to eat. Try and include a variety of naturalunrefined, oils and fats into your diet. They will supply you with essential fatty acids for longevity, hormone balance, heart health, sharp vision, glowing skin and energy. [3]

Continue to sow early peas and broad beans in mild areas.

Veg: beet, broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, kale, leek, parsnip, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, celeriac, jerusalem artichokes. Salad leaves, spring greens, chicory, endive, black radish, salsify/scorzonera
Fish: mussels (cheap!), dab, mackerel, cuttlefish, red gurnard, red mullet, whiting, pollack, seabass, cockles, crab, lobster.
Meat: Goose, guinea fowl, venison, mutton,  wood pigeon.  For game recipes etc. see

Read all about  leeks and savoy at
Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut up kale into bite-size pieces, rinse, dry. Toss with olive oil and soy sauce. Put on sheet, bake for 10 mins.

FRIED KALE with SESAME and GARLIC, serves 3.
200g kale, 2 tblsp sesame seeds, olive oil, 3 finely sliced garlic cloves, sea salt, pepper, lemon juice.
Chop kale into 1cm wide ribbons, discarding stringy stems. Toast seeds until golden, stirring often. Turn up the heat, add 2 tblsp of olive oil before throwing in the kale. Stir, occasionally flicking in some water to keep the moisture content up. After 2 mins, throw in garlic. Keep stirring for 3 more mins, until the garlic begins to brown. Transfer to plate and sprinkle with some salt, pepper and lemon juice. Good with roast chicken and goose.

Floury potatoes, sprouts and/or sprout tops, onion, spring onions, butter, (mustard).
Cook potatoes. Coarsely shred sprout(top)s. Slice onions thickly. Cook onions and sprout(top)s in a thin layer of water in a covered frying pan, for 3-4 mins. Remove lid. When remaining water is evaporated add butter and fry some more. Mash potatoes with hot milk and butter. Season with salt, peper and the mustard if you fancy. Add thinly sliced spring onions, stir-fried sprouts and mix.
This goes very well with:

450g peeled cleaned squash, 3 chopped slices of bacon, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper. 
Saute bacon until crisp, remove from pan. Leave drippings in the pan. Add squash, season, saute until  soft and turning brown around the edges. Before serving, add bacon again.

Cook brussels sprouts with some crumbled chestnuts, then mix with butter, crispy bacon, some garlic, nutmeg, finely chopped rosemary and pepper.

SWEDE-APPLE SOUP, serves 3-4.
500g swede, 1 tbsp butter, 1 onion, 1 cubed apple, 1/2 l water, 70ml cream or milk, salt, pepper, paprika, dill if you have it.
From the swede cut 12 sticks 3cmx5mm. Cube the rest. Fry the sticks in butter, stirring until golden. Remove and set aside on paper to drain. Fry the chopped onion lightly in the same butter. Add the apples, water and swede cubes; bring to the boil. Cover and simmer until very soft, then puree. Stir in the cream or milk; add more liquid if it gets too thick. Season. Sprinkle the sticks with salt and place some on each serving. Garnish with paprika, or for a change try chopped apple, yoghurt or sour cream.

ROOTY MASH,  serves 4. You don't have to stick to three roots: you could use 2 or 4. But do include potatoes, to give it body.
500g carrots, 500g parsnips, 500g floury potatoes, 50g butter, 100ml warm milk, salt, pepper
Chop carrots parsnips and potatoes into evenly sized chunks. Put in boiling, lightly salted water, simmer for 20 mins. Drain, leave to steam dry. Mash everything (never put potatoes in the blender - they go gluey), with the butter. Add milk to make a smooth mash. Serve steaming hot with sausages

625g fresh spinach or 450g thawed frozen spinach, 900g butternut squash, 1/2 small chopped onion , 2 minced garlic cloves, 3/4 tsp salt, pepper, nutmeg, 120ml heavy cream, butter, grated cheese.
If using fresh spinach, boil 1" water, add spinach a few handfuls at a time: cook stirring until wilted, drain. Squeeze cooked/thawed spinach, chop. Cook onion and garlic in butter till soft. Add onion mixture to spinach with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cream. Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut peeled squash into 3mm slices. Layer squash and spinach mix in buttered dish, using 1/5 of squash and 1/4 of spinach for each layer, beginning and ending with squash. Sprinkle with cheese, dot with butter, cover. Bake until squash is tender, 25 mins. Uncover and bake until browned.

See also:, and
[3] See also and if you like,
NEXT MONTH: Let food be thy medicine.