Oddly, for a foodie, this week I have been voraciously reading up on our guts. Surprisingly, “Gut” by Giulia Enders (a German microbiologist) is a fun, easy read. I credit her for bringing the importance of gut bacteria into focus. It now seems to be the flavour of the month, with several articles relating to this in the past few weeks (everything from auto-immune disorders to diabetes, both of which are becoming more common these days).
As usual, I am more concerned about how it all affects my cooking. And it’s the same old adage that I, my mother and my grandmother before me have believed in – eat a variety of foods, focus on plants and eat the best meat you can get your hands on (in moderation). Varied foods lead to varied gut bacteria, and the more the merrier. For what it’s worth, apparently slim people tend to have a much broader population of gut bacteria than overweight people.
To an extent, we have lost the ability to eat variety as we rely on supermarkets for most of our food. There are short-lived perishable ingredients that supermarkets may not stock or foods that grow in the wild (like nettle) which would be cheeky for supermarkets to stock. We need to be eating all these and a farmer’s market is an excellent starting point.
You might get a sense of where I am going…..foraging. I have just come across Robin Harford of ‘Eatweeds” and I am truly inspired. Not sure when I can get on to one of his courses, but it’s on the wishlist!
Food this week:
I made hummus again (and have slightly updated the recipe, following a trick that I learnt from Honey & Co). And here’s what we ate for a lazy weekend breakfast – hummus, soft boiled eggs topped off with decadent chorizo (from Brindisa, of course).
Courgette blossom tempura – I rarely deep fry, and succumb to a few instances of deep-frying. One such weakness is tempura. To my defence, tempura is delicate and lacy, and made correctly doesn’t absorb that much oil. The best part of eating something fried is that it’s very satisfying and a little goes a long way (or at least it should!).
We also ate a delicious Middle-Eastern inspired aubergine & potato brunch dish, which was made because I found unusual purple potatoes at the farmer’s market. Apparently, purple potatoes are nutritionally far superior to the white varieties, being full of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Varieties like these are a rare find, and this is the first time I’ve come across this.
Keeping up with the spirit of summer, I made a light and delicious halloumi salad with simple ingredients but added some raw kohlrabi (again from the market). If you haven’t tried kohlrabi, do give it a shot. It’s like a gentler, milder turnip, and in raw form adds a great juicy crunch to salads. It is delicious cooked too.
Finally some healthy and sustainable mackerel, Japanese style, with miso green beans and Japanese brown rice. I have redeemed myself. Here’s the link to the recipe posted in a previous blog.
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A highlight of last week was a cooking session with an Italian friend’s “nonna”. There’s something special about learning a recipe at the hands of a master expert. Nonna and I made Melanzane Ripieni (aubergines stuffed with mortadella & mozzarella in a tomato sauce) from Puglia, and there was no measuring and weighing…..it was all about cooking from your heart and the end result was truly scrumptious. It was an excellent meal eaten with a big salad. What I loved most about that evening, was nonna’s spirit – at 75 she’s rocking, energetic, enthusiastic and loving; my vision for when I get to that grand age.
I also realised how much fun cooking can be when it involves the whole family. Why are we missing out on such a key component of family life? We have family holidays and outings – what about quality family cooking?
Love your family and cook with them too!
P.S. – The next blogs will be fortnightly as I am travelling. The recipes here will be truly tested as the boys will have to cook for themselves. The outcome will be evident soon!