Friday, 1 December 2017

December 2014: drink, drank .... drunk?

DRINK   -   DRANK  -           

Drinking is vital. Keeping hydrated is not a bad idea. But drinking 8 glasses of water a day is an invented rule, heavily supported no doubt by the bottled water industry, which makes no sense at all.
Do you nibble crisps of an evening? Toast every slice of bread you eat? Drink coffee, alcohol? How much salt do you use? Do you have central heating? What’s the weather like? How do you spend your days?
All these things influence the amount of water you need. How can that be the same for everybody?
The common sense approach is to drink when you’re thirsty. That is how we, humankind, have survived. So far. [1]


Now onto ‘drinking’ in the more interesting sense. I’ll keep it simple, it’s December after all, and will just offer you some tips. Most of them you will know already, but they are easily forgotten in the heat of the moment:

* Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Have plenty of (healthy) carbs and protein first. 
* No dark coloured drinks and sweet blended concoctions (yuk).
* No strong - fortified - lagers or ciders, the ‘special brews’. All they’ve added is more chemicals. 
* In general, the more expensive the better. Organic is best if you can afford it. 
* Try to have a glass of water between every drink, if you can manage. 
* Lots of water afterwards! 

Next day:
* Try avoid painkillers. Side effects can be magnified when there is alcohol in your system, and they don’t do your liver any good. [2]

* Coffee nor milk are recommended. Coffee dehydrates you even more, milk makes you queasy. Take instead (flat) ginger ale, fruit (juice), water and honey or lemon, or honey by itself.

* Protein helps your body deal with blood sugar problems. 

* Cysteine breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde. Found in: eggs, pork, poultry, dairy and red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, brussels’ sprouts, and whole grains like oats.

* Bananas, tomatoes (or juice) will replenish potassium. Ginger tea helps your stomach. 

* You could keep a hangover diary. If you notice a hangover happens every time you drink champagne or whenever you have a "fruity" drink, try and avoid those. 

* Exercise: a walk in the fresh air is excellent but don’t overdo it.

* Sleep and rest.

And "if you are still keen on binge-drinking occasionally, at least start the evening with a slab of smelly cheese or a glass of high-fat natural yoghurt”! [3]
See [4] for more lengthy explanations and tips, and enjoy December, with or without alcohol.
See also December 2017, which is all about alcohol:

NB: The 'fight against cancer' may be reaching a new low. See what the New Scientist says about the government's plan to expand screening for breast cancer: not just useless and expensive, but positively dangerous: see 'Wider breast screening' under Thought for Food Archive, on the right hand side (click on December 14)


Winter is fast approaching now: a good time to experiment with this most nutritious of vegetables: kale - and its fashionable relation, cavolo nero. Don't they look good in the shop! You can easily grow them yourself too, sow April for early winter, June to last till spring. For delicious recipes, see

Veg: Brussels', beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see
Fish: coley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.

Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken or newspaper) for protection, and so as to get them out easily.


4 slices thick cut nice bread, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 400g cooked beet cut into thick wedges and dipped in vinegar (not pickled), 200g brie cut into slices, pepper.
Toast the bread, and rub one side with garlic. Brush with oil. Preheat grill to high. Arrange beet wedges on the toast and lay over the slices of brie. Grind over pepper to taste and place under the grill. Cook until cheese is bubbling. Serve immediately with a green salad.

Cream cheese, apple, celery, chives/spring onions, toasted mashed coriander seeds, dill, salt, pepper.
Take the cream cheese out of the fridge well before, so it's easier to handle. Chop and mix the ingredients, let stand for a few hours so the tastes mingle.  

300g chestnuts (250g if cooked and peeled), 100ml crème fraîche, 6 chopped sage leaves, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1l water, butter, salt, pepper, oil.  
Remove hard outer skin of the chestnuts. Cook, drain, remove thin inner membranes. Heat butter and sweat onion until translucent. Add sage and garlic, sauté for a minute. Add water and most of the chestnuts. Season, simmer for 15 mins, stirring from time to time. Purée. Add crème fraîche, adjust seasoning. Warm through gently – don't let boil. Meanwhile, slice the reserved chestnuts. Heat oil and sauté sage leaves for a few secs until crisp, drain. Ladle soup into bowls, add small spoon of crème fraiche and gently swirl into it, scatter on chestnuts and sage leaves. Serve immediately.

300g kale, ½ chopped red onion, 2 tbsp butter, olive oil, 30-50g feta cheese, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
Sauté onion in butter for 3 mins. Remove thick stalks, chop and add kale a little at a time, keep stirring. Once the kale has been added, add olive oil. Cook for 10-12 mins or until kale has cooked down. Some browning is all right. Add balsamic and feta, stirring every so often for 5 more mins. 

50g butter; 6 qualitsausagespricked; 1 sliced onion; 3 chopped shallots; 2 chopped garlic cloves; 1 tbsp sage; 1 small pumpkin, seeds removed, cut; 200g canned chopped tomatoes; 400g canned cannellini beans (or other), drained; 400ml stock; 1 tblsp cider vinegar; salt, pepper, parsley.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Fry sausages in half the butter for 5 mins. Add remaining butter, onion and shallots, fry for 3 mins. Add garlic and sage: cook for 3 mins, stirring. Add pumpkin, stir. Add vinegar and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add tomatoes, cannellini and stock: season. Bring mix to boil, transfer to oven for an hour. Serve with parsley.

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

SOMERSET TOURTIERE a bit more work, but good for a veg(etari)an Christmas: 
480ml cooked lentils, 480ml walnut halves; 10 chopped mushrooms, 180ml grated floury potato, 120ml dry cider, 1 tblsp olive oil, 1 large diced onion, 3 minced garlic cloves, 300ml water/stock, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 tsp dried savory, 1/2 tsp ground sage, 2 bay leaves, salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce (optional), pastry dough (for 1 double pie crust of 23cm diameter).
Sauté onion in oil until it begins to soften, add mushrooms. Sauté until most of their juices have been released. Add garlic, sauté for 2 more mins. Grind walnuts. Mix in lentils, walnuts, broth, wine, thyme, savory, sage and bay. Season and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove bay and add: liquid, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and potato. Cook until potato is soft, about 10 mins. Season; chill for 1 hr.
Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 30cm round. Transfer to pie dish, leaving overhang. Fill with lentil mix. Roll out remaining dough disk into a 10″ round. Place dough over filling. Fold overhang over top crust and crimp edges. Brush crust with milk. Cut 3 6cm slits in the top. Let rest for 1 hr or put in the fridge till tomorrow. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake for 30 mins. Reduce heat to 180°C; bake until the crust is golden and the filling bubbles, 40-50 mins. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Good warm with butter and honey, or cheese and soup.
150g plain flour, 200g wholewheat flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 large cooking apple, coarsley grated, 50g melted butter, 1 whisked egg, 250ml apple juice, (handfuls of chopped nuts and/or dried fruit).
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease tin, coat with flour. Combine dry ingredients. Fold in grated apples. Top with wet ingredients and nuts and/or dried fruit: save some nuts. Gently fold ingredients together, careful not to overmix. Tip into tin. Dot reserved nuts over the top. Bake for 30 mins, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 mins before serving or trying to remove from pan. - though drinking diet soda is not a good idea. - useful tips, though I'd forego the sports drinks.
And from a friend of mine, well acquainted with the subject, come the following suggestions: 
"Hangovers are noticeably different depending on what I've been drinking, and so my recovery is similarly different. I'd go for a different hangover 'cure' after a night on cocktails to that following a night drinking beer in the pub, and usually my body is pretty good at telling me what I want. Cocktails usually involve reasonable amounts of fruit juices, and for some reason the resulting hangover (in my case) often calls for bread, bacon, cheese - more stomach settling things, along with water if they've been quite spirit heavy. Beer, on the other hand, demands vitamin C - most notably orange, grapefruit, or cranberry juice in my case.
My other golden rule is to avoid herbs and spicy things. I don't know why, but even innocent herbs hidden in sandwiches, such as basil, make my hangover worse. Likewise, anything involving chilli, or cajun spices, that kind of thing, just does not go well with a hangover. I've never understood why this is, but I often find myself picking the rocket out of a salad the day after a big night...! Odd, seeing as rocket, fresh basil leaves, cajun chicken etc are normally some of my favourite things..."

Next month: DIETING (nooo!)