Friday, 26 August 2011

1st weigh in...

...bizarrely I lost 1.5lbs.  I don't really understand how this happened as I haven't been very good this week at all.  But HELL!  I'm not complaining.

I'm going into next week with more of a plan and the comfort of being at home a bit more than I have been.  I've planned a rough menu for the week thanks to help from some lovely people on twitter who gave me some great ideas:

Baked sweet potato falafels with tzatziki
Chicken with sumac, za'atar and lemon
Aubergine, coconut and lime dhal (from @hollowlegs blog)
Chargrilled squid with lots and lots of chilli and garlic
Butternut squash and sage risotto
Steak (from the incredible East London Steak Company - meganomz) with sweet potato wedges.

In amongst all that cooking, I have to fit in a speedboat ride down the Thames with my niece and nephews (zooooooooooooom!), a trip to the Riding House Cafe (ARGH!) and some sleep.  And I must pay the kitten some attention.  She woke me up by sobbing at my bedroom door at 6.20 this morning.  It's impressive how she knows to do it exactly when I'm mortally hungover.  EVIL GENIUS.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Raising a glass to a friend

So today is a bit of a sad day for me.  It’s the third anniversary of my friend, and colleague, Jo’s death.  For some reason I have already started a tradition of drinking bubbles on the anniversary – ideally pink – so this is what I will be doing tonight. I will raise a glass to a woman who could be a little tricky at times (luckily the photocopier bore the brunt of her not infrequent tempers!) but was generally brilliant and very special.

Jo was a bit of an inspiration really.  She died just before her 31st birthday and it was both a horrible shock and a complete injustice.  I don’t think I have known anyone who lived life to the full in the way that she did.  If she wanted to take a holiday in China, she wouldn’t wait to find someone else to go with her, she’d just book it and go.  Her friends gave her a dancing lesson with Ian Waite for her 30th birthday – instead of rocking up and being a bit rubbish, Jo enrolled herself in ballroom dancing classes, all by herself, and got good so that her lesson would actually mean something and so she didn’t make a fool of herself in from of Mr Waite!  She joined a rowing club just because she fancied it.  She wasn’t scared of anything…or perhaps she was but just decided to do it anyway.

Jo was obsessed with her Abel & Cole veg box (other vegetable delivery companies are available) and hated waste.  She would make the most bizarre concoctions out of that box just so she didn’t have to throw it away.  We would always see the leftovers in a variety of tupperware boxes at lunchtime while the rest of us were eating a "fat girl triple" from M&S or a "naughty tuna" from EAT (names coined by the lady herself for her favourite sandwiches.)  She point blank refused to eat the office fruit because it had been flown in from god knows where.  She had actual principles and she stuck to them.

I wish that I was more like Jo.  I am scared of everything.  I’m scared of taking risks and so I just spend my life plodding along in dull monotony rather than pursuing happiness.  Jo never really lost the faith that she would meet someone, get married and have beautiful chubby babies, despite her faith being extremely tested at times.  Sadly, it didn’t happen for her before she died.  I have lost the faith of The Dream and she would be so cross with me for doing so.  She would also be incredibly cross that I put back on all the weight that I had lost after she died.  She was an amazing support when I was losing that weight, dragging me to yoga, helping me to remember that I couldn’t eat bad things.  She helped me choose the dress that I am wearing in one of the skinny pictures in The history... post.  She was genuinely proud that I had done so well.  She would be cross with me.

So I will lose it again.  And if not for me, then for her.  And I will get back into that dress.  And when I do, I shall open a bottle of pink bubbles and toast her again.  

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

My third ever risotto!

Yesterday at lunch, I was filled with ricey inspiration by the risotto queen, @anglikebang, so today I decided to try making risotto for only the 3rd time in all of my 33 years.  I turned to twitter for support...and found NONE.  Jeez, they're all sticklers for tradition!  So annoying.  All I asked for was a shortcut, but no.  Twitter did not deliver (well, they did not deliver what I wanted, everyone was actually very helpful) and I was told that dumping all the stock in at once was simply not permitted.

So I got home from work tonight and, despite feeling like a big pile of poo (thanks penicillin you complete git) I made risotto!  Here's how I did it.

Chicken, mushroom and pea risotto (2 servings)

150g risotto rice
1 small onion, very finely diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
A splash of white wine or dry sherry (I only had the latter)
15g porcini mushrooms
Regular mushrooms
Leftover roast chicken
Chicken stock (I used a Maggi stock cube)
Olive oil

Firstly make up the chicken stock with around 500 ml of boiling water, add the porcini mushrooms and leave it on a very low heat.

In a large saucepan, add a little bit of oil - literally only about 2 tsps - and very gently sweat the onions and, a few minutes later, the mushrooms.  Once they have softened, add the rice and stir so that the grains are covered in the oniony, mushroomy, not-particularly-oily-but-let's-try-not-to-be-sad-about-that mix.

Mmmmmm!  Looks good, huh?  I threw in a glug of sherry (I would have used wine but it would have been a DISASTER if I'd opened a bottle - I am not very good at drinking wine in just tastes too darn good) and, once that was absorbed, I started adding the stock, one ladle at a time, making sure each was absorbed before adding the next.

Check out the colour on that stock!  Porcinis are ACE. would seem that I added the peas at some point during the process too.  With the benefit of hindsight, I will add these much closer to the end of cooking next time as they were a bit squashy.  So, on and on and on it went with the stock.  It was around this point.....

.....that I got incredibly bored.  Uber, massively, mind-numbingly bored.  So I sort of left it to its own devices and did the washing up and fed the cat with the occasional stir going on.  When the rice was basically cooked, I added some leftover roast chicken and HEY PRESTO!  The risotto was done.

Genuinely proud!  And, given that I finished eating it nearly 2 hours ago, it's brilliantly filling.  I'm taking the second portion into work for lunch tomorrow although I should hasten to add that this is not technically advisable.  Rice is one of the main causes of food poisoning.  However, I chilled it down very quickly (which is apparently the danger zone in terms of bad spores developing) and I'm going to risk it.  If I never blog again, you know it didn't go well, and that @darrengdwn was right when he told me that this was absolutely verboten.

Anyway, I can see risotto becoming a bit of a staple in my diet.  I figure that it's an excellent way of getting stealth vegetables into me (one-third of what I eat has to be vegetables/fruit), so it would be really helpful if you felt like commenting below to give me ideas of what to put in them.  I need variety or I will fall off this diet.  FACT.  And I don't want to do that.

F x

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Bleurgh. Sunday lunch bleurgh.

Last night (Saturday) I had the best night EVER.  I trekked from South East London to blinking Hackney to visit the extremely wonderful @MissWhiplash with @shedlikesfood and @miss_jordi.  We had a fabulous night of champagne, onglet, actual deep fried naughty chips, wine, pudding wine, tarte tatin (Miss W made her own puff pastry, the nutjob.)

The night was fun.  MORE than fun - it was brilliant.  While I was there, I discussed methods of cooking pork belly with Miss W.  The consensus was Long And Slow.  When I got home, I decided to score my beasty belly up, which was all well and good until I encountered this:

AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!  THERE ARE NIPPLES!  NIFFLES!  SNIFFLES! Nipples.  Actually, they didn't freak me out.  They made me laugh my ass off (I was drunk).  However, I was aware that my guest would not appreciate a crunchy mammory gland, so I removed the offending section.  I slightly regret losing the extra crunch.

Feeling smug about my midnight preparation, I rolled into bed (which was filled with glass due to a broken lightbulb) where I barely slept at all due to the gits that live a few doors down from me who decided to party until 5am (DISAPPROVING, OLD FACE) and the skin tag on my back which, unbeknownst to me, had turned entirely black overnight - possessed by Satan.  One way or another, I had naff all sleep.

So getting up at 8am to cook a pork belly p***ed me off an inordinate amount.  I wanted to KILL.  But I am, if nothing else, a hostess with the mostest, so I cracked on and threw the non-nippley belly in the oven and trotted back to bed... where I was abused by this little lady jumping all over me:

HOW PRETTY??  Much as I love her, I desperately wanted her to be removed from my body buffer zone so I could do masses of snoozing.  It wasn't to be.  SO.  On with the naughty pork.  Tom from The English Pig had told me that I should do it for 1 hour at 200c, 1 hour at 150c, 4 hours at 100c.  This is what happened:

This is the beauty after 1 hour!  BEAUTIFUL.  Massive concern that it was cooking too fast.

4 hours.  Looking a bit scary and burnt and soggy in the middle.  However, it all worked out a treat.  I chucked the oven up to 220c for a little while (15 mins) and the crackling became a thing of great beauty.

 FOOD PORN!  Actual food porn.  CRUNCHY.  Do you want to see The Plate?  OK...

Yeah, I know.   Ming.  MING-A-LING.  Why?  My friend and I ate lunch at around 2pm.  I made this plate up out of cold skanky food at around 8pm.  BLEURGH. (I did eat it yes.  The crackling was still aces 6 hours later!  I ROCK.)

SO.  I think we can safely say that pork belly, yorkshire puddings, buttery mash and about 4 gallons of wine is not Diet Food.  Yes, I suck.

The diet starts tomorrow, 22 August 2011.  I have fruit, vegetables....and no guests.  It starts here kidz.  Roll on next Friday.


Friday, 19 August 2011

I don't like pudding

I KNOW.  I realise that this makes me weird.  And it's not strictly true - occasionally I do like a proper pudding like a really oozy chocolate fondant or apple crumble and custard...but generally speaking, my teeth are not sweet.

However, I realise that other people DO like pudding.  Quite a lot in fact.  And on Sunday I have a friend coming for lunch so I have decided to make pudding for her which is pretty much a first, and I wanted to give it a trial run.  I am strongly of the school of thought that if you're coming around to my flat for a big slap up meal, if you want pudding, you can darn well bring it (*awaits dozens of people battering down my door to come for dinner*)

On the basis that I'm going to roast the most humongous pork belly I've ever seen, I figured that a healthyish pudding will be in order, so I turned to Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals book and I just whipped up the "Berry ice cream".

TRADE DESCRIPTIONS ALERT!  It's blatantly frozen yoghurt.  You basically put plain yoghurt (250g), fresh mint (I like it, I used quite a bit) and runny honey (I used 2 tbsp) in a food processor and whizz it up.  Add 250g of frozen fruit and whizz.  And whizz.  Smoosh it down and whizz again.  And again.

Yeah, you get the picture, it takes a little bit of whizzing.  However, at the end, it looks like this!

Impressive huh?  I thought so too and I settled down to eat it in front of Celebrity Big Brother (yes, I do feel unclean)...and rapidly discovered it was DISGUSTING.  Not because it tastes horrible - it doesn't, it tastes freaking awesome - but because those frozen fruits are about 84.7% pip.  I tried to persevere but it just made me sad, so I stumbled back to the kitchen, got out the sieve and some elbow grease and sieved it.  And now it looks like this:

Perfect, huh?  (Apologies for the poncey mint leaf - it was lying around and it amuses me.)  It's soooooooooo tasty.  And healthy!

I still don't really like pudding though.

Weigh In: 19 August 2011

Current weight = Skinny + 3st 7lbs.

Clearly I’m not going to tell you how much I actually weigh – I’m not a complete masochist – so I’m doing it like this: I’m 3st 7lbs heavier than my goal weight, therefore I’m Skinny + 3st 7lbs (to be honest, I may be happy at Skinny + 7lbs, but we’ll see what I look like when I get there.)

This sounds like a lot (actually it is a lot) but strangely it isn’t quite as bad as I thought it was going to be – I was expecting to be Skinny + 4st.  In theory, if I lose 2lbs a week, I could be at my goal weight in less than 6 months.  One thing is for sure, I am not spending another summer being FatFran.  I want to wear skirts!  T-shirts with short sleeves!  PRETTY THINGS!!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Last Supper...

...well, not quite.

The idea was that I would go for a final, blow-out meal and then the diet would start the following day with bells on.   This was the idea.

The blow-out meal bit worked a treat!  My friends Uncle Ji (@vhatyoutalking), Angharad (@anglikebang) and I strolled around the corner from my office to have dinner at The English Pig where @JohnnieWannabe and @chef_tom_kneale treated us like princesses (sorry Uncle Ji - you are, of course, a PRINCE).  We were expecting a couple of piggy courses and a bottle of decent, but nothing out of the ordinary, wine to be honest.  What we got was this:

No, we were none-the-wiser either.  I, for one, was VERY excited as I love a tasting menu.  Johnnie brought us a bottle of Laurent Perrier to start us off and then this was delivered.

This is the Columbian Marching Powder.  I still have no idea what it actually was, but they tasted of thyme and rosemary and sesame and...something else.  Jesus wept.  It's a good job I'm not a food blogger, I'm crap at this.

Bread and butter, except that weird whipped stuff at the back that came out of a canister?  That'd be the bread.  Those balls?  Butter.  This was insanely rich and we could barely manage one each.

Proper food now (sorry gents).  Pigs head terrine aka Cheeky Monkey.  It was really good.  I love pig fat and this pig fat was all lovely and buttery.  Mmmmmmmmmm.

This was probably my favourite thing that we had.  It certainly isn't a tuna and sweetcorn butty.  It is, however, bass with a sweetcorn puree and a crab thing.  The crab thing was good.  The bass was delicious.  Also, why the hell haven't I ever thought to put sweetcorn with fish before?  It totally works.

PIG!  Oink oink oink!  Johnnie presented this to us as being "a bit like KFC".  WIN.  I freaking love KFC.  Actually maybe this was my favourite dish.  It was pork belly in a lovely crispy coating, fondant potato, there's a little lardon thing going on at the bottom there that was also delicious.  I'm very happy that this was on my Last Supper menu.

Chocolate soil with chocolate mousse and some red stuff.  Nice enough, but I was waiting for...

Rice f***ing pudding! (I promised myself I wouldn't swear on this blog, I'm such a potty-mouth in real life...this is potentially my Everest.)  This pudding was also a bit like Everest.  Stodgy, school dinners, but in a good way.  Uncle Ji didn't get near to finishing "his".  I polished off the lot.

There was cheese too but we forgot to take a picture of that - too busy scoffing.

After sitting and chatting to the extremely generous Johnnie and Tom for a while, Uncle Ji and I legged it over to Galvin at Windows (check out the view!) for margaritas and martinis.

And then I rolled home, placated a very p***ed off kitten (she hadn't really seen me for 3 days and this displeases her greatly) and fell asleep with good intentions of the diet starting the next day...

...which is where it went wrong...I have no food in the house.  I am totally disorganised, I am out most of this week and the weekend...ARGH.  This is not conducive to breakfasts of fruit and home-made lunches.  Total disaster.

So the plan is this: the diet starts again on Friday.  This was always going to be my weigh in day, so it actually works a treat.  On Thursday evening I'm going to get out my granny wheelie-trolley and head to the shops.  Any food ideas for the upcoming week will be gratefully received!

P.S. Tom and Johnnie - thanks again for an amazing evening.  We loved it.

P.P.S. Photos were all taken by @anglikebang except the chocolate soil and the Galvin at Windows view, which were taken by @vhatyoutalking.  They have better phones than I have.  If anyone would like to give me an iPhone 4, I wouldn't chuck it in their face.  I NEED FLASH.


Monday, 15 August 2011

The history...

I'm fat.  REALLY REALLY fat.  People tell me that I'm not really, that I'm just curvy.  I don't believe a word of it and I find it somewhat irritating when they say I'm not fat.  Do they think I'm stupid??  I'm told that perhaps I have a hint of body dysmorphia.  Actually I do, but it's a weird kind of body dysmorphia.  I think I'm the fattest person in the world and then I look in the mirror and think "oh, that's not too bad actually..." and then I see a photo of myself or I step onto the scales or I find that I can no longer fit into my already incredibly enormous clothes.  And then I remember that I really am fat.  I'm far, far heavier than any man I know, let alone the women.

I wasn't always fat.  I was a skinny child and a skinny teenager.  My legs were like sticks.  And then, at 18, I had a boyfriend who was a bodybuilder and ate an obscene amount...and I kept up with him.  Since that day, I've struggled with my weight.

I was depressed at university because of my weight.  I was reclusive and never left my house unless it was to go to lectures.  I didn't have very many friends.

After university I moved down to London and discovered a city where I could blend into the background and for a year I was pretty happy.

Everything went a little bit wrong - I lost my (pretty rubbish) job at the same time that my lease was up on my flat.  I decided to leave London and I moved to Newcastle to go back to university.  Once again, I became pretty reclusive.  I barely went out and I found myself counting the days until I could move back to London, which I did in the summer of 2004.

In 2008 I lost a lot of weight - nearly 3 stones in 4 months - thanks to Weight Watchers and a new-found focus.  I felt amazing and I felt like I may be entitled to the happy-ever-after like everyone else.  I had a boyfriend for the first time since I was 18 (yes, I really had been single for 12 years) and everything seemed good.  Then, something bad happened - a very good friend and colleague died suddenly and unexpectedly, my boyfriend dumped me via text message the night before her funeral and I sank into a very deep depression and so I turned to what I know - comfort eating.

In the last 3 years since Jo's death, I've put back on every one of those 3 stones plus another stone and a bit.  I'm officially disgustingly obese and I'm seriously unhappy with myself.  I'm also incredibly cross with myself for letting this happen.

Anyway, on Saturday I was sitting in the pub with my lovely friend @shedlikesfood and we were discussing the fact that I keep falling off my diet and that I need some motivation.  She suggested that I start blogging - be it thoughts, recipes, details of what I've eaten on a particular day, confessing on a weekly basis whether I've lost any weight...and even though I feel it's incredibly self-indulgent, I'm at a point where I think it may be worth a shot.

I HAVE to lose weight.  I don't like myself very much at the moment and I'm now 33, I want to meet someone and eventually have babies and Live the Dream.  Until I like myself, that's not going to happen.  =

Finally, here are a few pictures.  I haven't really let anyone take any photos of me for a good few years, so my fat photos are from almost 4 years ago.  I think that I'm actually bigger now that I was then, so you'll just have to make an educated guess about what I look like now (unless you've met me of course).  The fat photos make me do a little sick in my mouth.

The thin photos are from when I lost all my weight before my friend died.  The irony being that, at the time, I thought that I was still huge (not helped by the aforementioned boyfriend telling me I still needed to lose a lot of weight.)  I can see now that I wasn't at all and that I looked great.  These photos are my target weight. (Apologies (a) for the dreadful sash on the dress and (b) for the ridiculous pose - I was drunk).

The last photo is a recent face shot.  FAT FACE.

So.  Here we go...