Wednesday, 1 February 2017

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.