And now, a treat: Chocolate nut butter

This is not a polemic, or an industry ponder. Instead, it is just a lovely thing. My friend Anno wanted this recipe and I cannot believe that no one has put it on t'internet, so I will do so now.


Necessary sidebar:

The recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book, "River Cottage: Light and Easy". We've bought a few of Hugh's books, including his polemic style tomes on meat and fish (don't look at me for the meat one). You can chart his age and changes by how his hair looks on the front pages. What I like about his style is that he de-clutters, and things do have a tendency to be non-fussy, but fresh and delicious. His veg only book I found (and I'm speaking as a vegetarian, here so I do eat a hell of a lot of vegetables) is the least used, potentially because in fact it relied upon milk, cheese and eggs a bit too much to do the hard work. "Light and Easy" meanwhile eschews most of those ingredients and it's bloody great. Lots of super-delicious tastes, and no wheat either. The soup section's a bit 'raw food' faddy but we've already tried a good few things out from other sections - my current favourite being roasted sprouts and Puy lentils. Fantastic. Oh, and the Italian gram flour pancakes! A revelation. So incredibly easy and delicious. And and and... many more. Buy it today!

So without further ado, and with no permission from River Cottage, but my fervent wish that everyone make this instead of buying that crap from the shops, even if Mel Geidroyc used to do the ads:


Chocolate Nut Butter: the recipe

You can get away with doing zero cooking for this.  

  • 100g blanched hazels or almonds, ready toasted if you like
  • 50g runny honey (if you can buy a squeezy bottle, perfect)
  • 25g odourless coconut oil (don't be freaked out if you've never used it, you can get this in supermarkets - looks a bit like white hydrogenated 'vegetable lard', but comes in a tub (and isn't hydrogenated)
  • 1.5 tablespoons kick ass cocoa powder (I'll leave it up to you if you heap them)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of seasalt if you want
  • 1.5 tablespoons water

If you haven't bought pre-roasted, take your blanched hazels and put them in a preheated oven to 180 degrees and toast lightly for 5-10 minutes and cool them completely. The heat affects the oils in them so better to not grind them up hot (I know this, they go all pasty and weird.

Hugh says whack it all in a food processor, and scrape it down the sides a bit so it all blends. I meanwhile only have a blender with a herb/coffee grinder attachment, so I measure all the ingredients together in a single bowl with the exception of the hazels, which I grind, then stir the whole thing together with gusto, using a teaspoon. Once it's come together, put it in a clean jamjar (with lid) and store it in the fridge. It'll keep for a week. There will be none left in a week. Make some for your office's kitchen and it will be gone in a day.

Note that in "Light and Easy" the recipe uses double these amounts exactly. However, if you're purchasing roasted hazels, they tend to come in handy 100g packs, and you also then don't feel slightly overwhelmed by having to eat the whole jar in a week. Half a jar seems much more civilised. Last week was the first time I had done this - ripped open a 100g roasted nut pack, got the other ingredients in a bowl, whizzed the nuts - I doubt if the whole thing took me more that 5 minutes. 5 minutes away from swooning. It is very strong chocolate-y and with a classic Italian toasty hazels smell - it's unsurprisingly pretty filling too, so does really well as an at least semi-healthy snack on some decent (sourdough, natch) bread. Seriously, I can't actually talk this up enough, it's bloody delicious.

The kids demand I make it weekly. I will comply (until I've shown them how to make it).

Warning: I'm going to talk about fat loss now

I think if there's a fat loss curve (or something) I think I've reached a point where the loss suddenly becomes more and more visible. What I mean is, the generally speaking steady downward progress made a huge impact in the first instance, then settled down to the point of being almost invisible . I think I've mentioned before that the slow effect of the loss seemed to slow to almost nothing, then suddenly I would realise that my shape had changed significantly in one area or another.

So, the point is, very slowly I reached a point where the quite uncomfortable amount of lard reducing at X ounces per day took my body to a smaller place. Now, all of a sudden, that X ounces per day is incredibly visible. My shape seems to be changing if not by the day, certainly by the end of this week, things will be visibly significantly different to the shape that was there on Monday.

This week's incredibly happy change is that along my rib cage, there seems to be basically *no excess fat*. That is very freaky. I am totally overjoyed that all this body change has happened whilst basically eating whatever I like. If I'd gone on a diet and biked then a) I doubt I would have had the energy to bike anyway and b) I would have been miserable about food - the curse of all diets. I hate diets.They're crazy. Learn to hate the awful food you are forced to eat! Feel bad, guilty and ashamed about desiring food we've been genetically programmed to like!

Or... eat decent food well and *exercise*.

I still have excess fat by the way (as opposed to being 'overweight'*). this is a slow, comfortable reduction. I would not have it any other way. I've got a significant post-pregnancy jelly like abdomen  and frankly, I have a comfortable cushion for sitting down on but here's the thing - I think those two areas are now the only bits left for my excess fat to be burned off from. It's all very interesting. 

And yes. It makes me inordinately happy. My back no longer aches, my knees don't twinge, I can run, lift, walk up hills without feeling exhausted.. fantastic. And I do feel sexier. Yes.

*No, I don't use the term overweight and haven't felt comfortable about it for years. I never weight myself. I have heavy and frankly rather large thigh muscles from biking. If you weigh anyone who exercises regularly, they are not going to be on the 'skinny' weight side. Another reason I hate dieting. Judging what your weight is, and assuming that if that goes down, that must mean you're becoming healthy is *madness*.

If I had advice for anyone wishing they weren't fat it would be: adapt the food you eat such that it becomes a 'healthy diet' as opposed to going on a diet, most important do at least an hour of exercise a day that gets your heart pumping, for 5 days out of 7 and either throw away, or do not buy anything to measure your weight. Yes, buy a nice pair of trousers (wh'ever) that's one size lower, but whatever you do, just ignore anything to do with numbers. Trust your eyes.

Non seasonal ice cream with lemons

Sainsbury's only sell unwaxed lemons in packets of about 7, so after I'd used the zest of one lemon in a cake (ffs) I had to use up all the other lemons quick. I ran out of caster sugar so now there's some lemon sorbet made with half light brown sugar, which looks rather odd (but tastes delicious); much better than that though, in the "Iced" ice cream book there was a recipe for lemon ice cream made with home made lemon curd, and you toast some dessicated coconut then add that in too, to softish vanilla ice cream (premade), then stick it back in the freezer.

So I had to make vanilla ice cream (whilst I'm boiling lemony syrup for the sorbet) using of course, a whole vanilla pod. I personally like to cut in to the pod, to release a few of those amazing, delicious, microscopic seeds in to the custard mixture. A real vanilla pod is one of those enhanced-by-man natural miracles (it is preserved, see, it's not presented to you as if it had just come off the branch) that imparts such intense Joy and comfortable yumminess in to anything it touches. In taste terms it's an old friend, but a friend you have a deep and warm affection for, come back to visit. I love making real vanilla ice cream.

Finding time between stirring this, boiling that, and constantly whisking the other, I used up the last of the lemon on the lemon curd. I'll stop this post right here and simply say this, about home made lemon curd:


Now you could, obviously, just buy some lemon curd, and buy some vanilla ice cream, in order to make this. Just mix it up, the coconut'll only take 3 minutes in a frying pan...

But what kind of crap is that?

Cait's delicious Lemon Ice cream. Made with love.

Tonight: freeze the sorbet and make as many mince pies as possible for carol singing at work *and* for Nora to take to school tomorrow.

Phew. Anyone would think it was Christmas.

Swordfish trombones.

One of the major changes which I've carried through from last time is eating fish. Oily fish is good for brain development, apparently. The only trouble is, what fish are oily? Tuna, mackeral and salmon are on the list so far but I took a chance today at lunch and had Swordfish, which was a bit weirdly meaty: it reminded me texturally of chicken. Although I wouldn't know what checken was like if you forcefed me.

Given that in every day life I am a tediously moral vegetarian, I find this fish interlude very peculiar. The temporary hiatus is only partial, given that it appears that only skipjack tuna will do from an ecological perspective; that "top of the food chain" fish should only be eaten once a week or less because they're full of mercury and other toxic shit (hmm. No more Swordfish for me then).

If I'm honest? the Tuna I had in this Leeds hotel last time was entirely delicious and I felt gutted for months that I couldn't have it any more. Mackay was bemused about my strict refusal once back in the land of the foetus-less, and would keep shrugging and shaking his head, telling me that fish would be good for me (Fried fish ist gut for you!*).

So. I should imagine I'll be having quite a bit of mackeral as the months go on. If the months go on. It's just too dificult to think of this as anything but temporary.

*Hurley in-joke - stupid line from a Crazy Gang film. Incidentally, it seems miserable to me that there seems to be no Crazy Gang central homepage. Perhaps I should do one. Uhuh. In my spare time.