Thursday, 13 July 2017

July 2014: just relax .......


We all know: prolonged stress is bad for us. But what can we do about it?
Here are some ideas in the form of websites. 


All wholefood shops can recommend relaxing herbs tea mixtures, or smells. Personally I always have a little box by my bed with a lavender-soaked hankie. If I can't sleep, I just put it under my nose and it usually (but not always) helps. See also or

Try also: seeds, yoghurt, blackstrap molasses and sprouts (not Brussels!).

Change your perception:
Put down your fork!

Last and, to my mind, most productive all round and in the long term:
Even five minutes is better than nothing. Have you got five minutes? 
It always irks me how every article about meditation is accompanied by a photograph of someone, usually a very slim girl, in the lotus position. Westerners are no good at the lotus position, unless we have been doing yoga for years, in which case we're not likely to be stressed. 
For meditation all you need is an upright chair with support for your lower back. 
Here is a short inspiring talk:
breathing exercise:
'mindfulness meditation':
other simple techniques:
walking meditation:
And the one I've used for ten years now: Acem:

Stay cool: "Outside the temperatures are soaring" - we hope. This is how you should eat:   

Veg: beet, broad beans, carrots, chinese leaves, globe artichokes, kohlrabi, cauli, cabbage, (sugar) peas, beans, lettuce, sweetcorn, turnips, courgettes, broccoli, spring onions, squash, radish, tomatoes, samphire, spinach (beet), chard, endive.
Fish: mackerel is at its best in July, cheap and an invaluable source of omega 3. Otherwise: dab, black bream, crab, mackerel, clam, dover sole, megrim sole, grey mullet, flounder and American signal crayfish.
Meat: lamb, rabbit, wood pigeon.

chinese/spring cabbage, calabrese, carrots, chicory, coriander, endive, florence fennel, kohlrabi, salad onions, (mangetout/sugar snap) peas, mooli, pak choi, turnips, (black) radish, spinach (beet), chard.  

Half July: if you like fresh greens early spring, sow endive, escarole type. If the winter is not too cold they won't need any protection, and will produce leaves either for salad or the famous Dutch 'andijviestamp'[1] till March. 
End of the month: corn salad, black radish, endive, kohlrabi. Sowing kohlrabi late in July should supply them well into the winter. They will stand in the soil until needed.
Remember: only crisp lettuce (little gem, cos, webb) germinates well when soil temperature goes above 25C.
Plant: kale, sprouts, leeks, winter cabbages, broccoli, calabrese, cauliflower.

1 large shredded lettuce, (about 225g; it's ok if starting to bolt), chopped onion, 1 diced potato, 25g butter, 100ml milk, 1l water/stock, mint, (tarragon), salt, pepper.
Fry lettuce, onion and potato gently for 5 mins without browning. Add milk and stock. Bring to boil, stir, cover and simmer for about 10 mins. Add chopped mint, (tarragon,) cook for a few more mins. Liquidise or sieve, heat through.

300g fresh broad beans (=1.1k unshelled),  2.5cm grated ginger, 2 crushed cloves garlic, lemon, cream, black pepper.
Place beans in a pan with enough cold water to cover generously. Bring to the boil. Cook until tender, ab. 2 mins. Blend. Add ginger, garlic, some lemon juice and cream. Season, gently reheat.

BRAISED PEAS with LETTUCE and ONIONS, serves 2-3 as a side.
240ml shelled peas, handful of shredded lettuce leaves, 1 onion, generous knob of butter, 1tsp olive oil, 60ml liquid, sea salt, white pepper, a bit of lemon juice, dill or mint.
Melt butter with oil, add sliced onion and cook till soft before adding the peas. Stir to combine, about 1-2 min. Add lettuce, stir. Then add liquid and seasoning, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 2-3 min. Uncover, let simmer to reduce for just a while, before removing from heat. Add dill or mint and lemon juice.

320ml cooked beans, 320ml cooked sliced carrots, small chopped onion, 3/4 tbsp flour, salt, pepper, 240ml milk, 320ml grated cheese, 80ml bread crumbs, 2+2 tbsp butter.
Sauté onion in butter; add flour and seasoning, stir. Gradually add milk, cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thick. Add cheese and veg. Pour into a casserole. Cover with crumbs, dot with butter. Bake at 180°C for 30 mins.

3 Little Gem, 50g lightly toasted almonds, 7 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp cider vinegar, 1 crushed garlic clove, parsley, dill.
Though the recipe is meant for the barbecue, the lettuce can easily be cooked briefly in a lightly oiled frying pan.
Prepare and light barbecue. Chop almonds and mix in a bowl with the garlic, parsley, dill, 6 tbsp of the oil, vinegar, sugar and plenty of seasoning. Cut each lettuce into quarters and brush the cut sides with  the remaining oil. Once the barbecue is hot, lightly cook the lettuce wedges, turning them from one cut side to the other until lightly seared. Transfer to a serving plate and spoon over the dressing to serve.

4 courgettes, lemon juice, zest, 30g butter, 1 tblsp olive oil, salt, pepper.
Slice courgettes ab. 1 cm thick. Gently melt the butter, sauté courgettes until golden. You may need to do this in batches, keeping cooked batches warm as you sauté the next. Return all the courgettes to pan and add lemon juice and zest. You may want to add the juice of up to a whole lemon, but don't make it too sour. Mix and gently reheat.

You can use any veg you have in the garden or lying around: these are just a suggestion.
3 courgettes, 150g or more french beans, 100g or more small carrots, 100g cooked butterbeans or kidney beans, 1 onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 tblsp olive oil, 2 tsp cornflour (or heaped ones plain flour), 150ml yoghurt, 50ml milk, 25 ml (cooking) water, 1 tblsp parsley or thyme, 150g mature Cheddar or goat cheese, 5 tblsp breadcrumbs, salt, pepper; mustard: 1 tsp if French, 1/2 tsp if English.
Slice courgettes into 1 cm slices, carrots into 1½ cm slices. Cut french beans into bite-sized chunks. Boil veg and butter/kidney beans for about 10 mins, drain. Chop onion, crush garlic. Gently heat oil and sauté onion and garlic for 5 mins. Add cornflour and mix. Cook for 1 min. Add milk/water bit by bit and cook gently, while stirring, until sauce has thickened. Chop herbs and add, also mustard and cheese. Heat gently to melt cheese, season. Remove from heat and stir in the yoghurt. Mix veg with sauce and put in an ovendish. Sprinkle with crumbs and grill until the topping is lightly browned.

You can prepare this ahead up to the point of sprinkling the greens with oil.
Four 1-2cm thick slices nice bread, 60ml olive oil, 1 split garlic clove, salt, pepper, 130g young/medium-aged sheep cheese, small red onion cut into thin rings, 1 small handful organic salad mix, fresh basil, 3 tblsp balsamic vinegar.
Toast bread, rub with garlic and moisten lightly with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange on baking sheet. Preheat grill, setting oven rack about 15cm from the heat. Blend onion, salad mix and basil. Cut cheese thinly, divide between the slices of bread. Top each slice with several leaves and onion rings. Sprinkle liberally with oil, salt and pepper. Grill until the greens wilt and the cheese is melted. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the vinegar and eat hot, warm or at room temperature.

[1] DUTCH ENDIVE POTATO MASH (Andijviestamppot), for 4 hungry people.
2k floury potatoes, 3dl milk, 400g escarole, 200g grated mature cheese, 4 tblsp butter, nutmeg.
Cook potatoes and make into a dry mash with the hot milk. Wash escarole, dry well and slice into fine strips. Mix with mash and let the whole heat up well again. Add cheese, butter and nutmeg. Serve when cheese gets stringy. 

Next month: Eat FOOD!