Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Weekly Blog #7

This week has been a strange one.  It started with some news that I could have done without which plunged me into a slightly dark place.  I continued to feel generally under the weather and very lethargic which was bad timing as it was a pretty demanding week.
On Tuesday I made a quick meal of smoked paprika squid with orzo, chilli and garlic, once my Ocado delivery arrived.  I used the wrong smoked paprika - hot rather than regular - so this totally blew my head off, and I'm no wuss when it comes to heat.
On Wednesday I made another quick meal because I was due to have my second pilates session with my neighbour - I was delighted when she postponed because I was Too Tired.  In honour of the new Pope, I had spaghettini with broccoli, anchovies, chilli and garlic.
Thursday was rubbish.  I had a work thing which went on until late so I wasn't able to eat until I got home when I just had scrambled eggs in a pitta bread.
On Friday I went to the ballet at the Royal Opera House so we popped around the corner to Polpo for a few plates including fritto misto, meatball piadina smash (meatballs, tomato sauce and cheese in a tortilla served with a pretty delicious coleslaw), cauliflower and fontina gratin and this gorgeous pizzette which was topped with goats' cheese, crispy kale and pine nuts.

On Saturday I was feeling tired and lazy so simply cooked a steak and made orzo with chilli and garlic again.  Super fast and tasty.

Ocado came again on Sunday (I'd managed to smash a kilner jar of flour all over my kitchen and it turned out that Ocado had kilner jars on special offer - win!) and brought me a chicken which I had with broccoli and a jacket potato.  I didn't quite manage to throw away all of the skin.

On Monday my evening plans unexpectedly fell through so I went home and made the ultimate comfort food - a chicken, mushroom and tarragon pie.  No, not terribly diet but not too bad either and I only ate half of it which is definitely progress. 

This has been another week where I didn't really care that much and I didn't count my points at all.  I just can't stop eating nutella which is SO STUPID.  Somehow I've managed to stay exactly the same weight as I was last week, so in total I've lost 10lbs which works out as 1lb per week.  It's OK but it's not great.  I think that what has bedded in is a general attitude towards things like oil/butter - I just don't use anything like as much as I would have done before.  My portions are smaller.  There have been definite mental shifts which seem to be making a difference even when I'm not being very good and that can only be a good thing...it makes me hopeful that when I do finally lose all of the weight, then it may be possible to maintain that loss.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Weekly Blog #6

This week I needed comfort food because I've had a cold and have been feeling very sorry for myself.  On Tuesday I made the sausage hot pot thing that my sister made for me a few weeks ago.  It's basically sausages (Waitrose does some surprisingly good extra lean ones), onions, carrots, savoy cabbage and potatoes and chicken stock cooked for an hour before dotting the top with a little (reduced fat) butter and leaving to crisp up.  It looked revolting when I served it up so here's a picture of it when it was still a work in progress:

On Wednesday I made Fuchsia Dunlop's pock-marked old woman's tofu, aka mapo tofu.  I was feeling very full of cold and very pathetic and very much like I couldn't be bothered to cook, but the beauty of so many of the recipes in her book, Every Grain of Rice, is that they are incredibly quick and easy to make.  Most of the ingredients are store-cupboard things and tofu seems to last forever in the fridge.  Now, I know that tofu is a bit of a love/hate thing - I really don't like the stuff that is fried and spongey and has the thick brown skin thing going on - but  I used firm silken style (i.e. soft and mushy but doesn't break apart if you're fairly careful with it) and it was really delicious and very satisfying:

On Thursday I was feeling lazy so I had scrambled eggs and prosciutto in a pitta bread. 

On Friday I found myself in a tricky situation - the previous night's laziness meant I had no lunch with me and I had to go hunting.  My colleagues have been raving about Pilpel for ages so I decided to try it.  It was amazing.  Falafel, salad, proper houmous, aubergines...the only problem was that it was far too big and I gave up about two thirds of the way through (NB: this is progress; before I would have powered on through.)

It was a bit of a rookie mistake because it meant that I wasn't properly hungry that evening when I went over to @ShedLikesFood's place where we were having Steak Night.   How she managed to perfectly cook four types of steak (rump, onglet, fillet, prime rib) for 13 hungry men and women, I have no idea, but it was fabulous.  Look at this mound of meat!

I left Shed's house feeling very full but, amazingly, sober.  I spent the weekend either in bed or under the duvet on the sofa watching TV.  Did I mention that I'm ill?  I made Fuchsia Dunlop's gong bao chicken with peanuts on Saturday evening which was a hit except for the fact that I discovered after a couple of mouthfuls that the peanuts had turned a bit rancid so I had to pick them all out, happily saving a load of points in the process.

On Sunday I made pork and fennel meatballs from the Polpo cookbook, except with veal mince.

Delicious but I couldn't finish them because I had naughtily made some feeling-sorry-for-myself scones in the afternoon which I had with some amazing strawberry and vanilla jam made by the lovely @ginandting.  Actually, scones really aren't that bad - each scone had 1 ounce of flour, 1/4 ounce of reduced fat butter, 15 mls of skimmed milk and 1/8 ounce of sugar making them 4 points each. Let's not think about what the toppings added...

On Monday night I had my first pilates session with my neighbour.  She's a personal trainer and is doing some sort of pilates qualification and is using me as her case study.  I feel truly sorry for her as she has to put up with my wingeing and moaning for 12 hours.  We're aiming to do two sessions a week, if possible, and I'm hoping that it will be habit forming so that I get off my arse and DO SOME EXERCISE.  I'm not expecting miracles here - I'm hardly about to start running or turning into Forrest Gump, but maybe doing the Zumba for the Wii a couple of times a week would be a start.  I need to do something, I feel so unhealthy.  Anyway, after pilates I reheated leftovers of the meatballs and had with some rice as I'd had pasta at lunchtime.  They were even better the following day.

So another fairly crappy week.  I'm just not bothering to count my points at all.  I'm sort of being more careful than if I was Not On A Diet as I'm eating a little less and I'm not eating a ton of fried crap, but it's still not really good enough.  What I haven't mentioned is that I also had toast and nutella at least 3 times this week, which is why I patently don't deserve this week's weight loss of 1.4lbs.  I'll take it though.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Weekly Blog #5

This week has been catastrophically bad in so many ways.  My anxiety levels have been off the scale.  I have cried a lot, felt sick a lot, slept badly and generally lost the plot.  The diet went out of the window completely.
On Tuesday I had what would turn out to be my only healthy meal of the week.  Chicken and pearl barley casserole (recipe below).
On Wednesday I went to the cinema.  I had good intentions but my hunger beat me into submission and I ended up having a hot dog and a glass of wine (no photo, the cinema was dark.)  On Thursday I went to Silk Road in Camberwell with a couple of friends where we ate amazing aubergine, cabbage, dumplings and "medium plate chicken" - basically pieces of chicken, potato and belt noodles in broth.  Utterly delicious; we finished all but one noodle.
On Friday I was invited to @ThePloughSW11 where we were the first to sample Brewery Fresh London Lager by Meantime Brewery which is apparently aged in a cask or something...I was a bit blinded by science.  Something to do with nitrogen vs. oxygen pushing it through the pipes...nope, no idea what it was all about, but it tasted good.  We were also given some pretty special burgers which are apparently all the rage in America...all hail the Boston Burger:
That yellowy/brown stuff on top of the burger is peanut butter.  DON'T HATE!  It's actually really good. 
My mum was supposed to be staying for the weekend but unfortunately she wasn't very well, so a friend came to stay instead.  On Saturday, we went down to Brockley Market where we shared a pork schnitzel sandwich (recommendation: ask for it without the fruit compote which was unfortunately just too overpowering), a Hix fishdog (basically a very small and rather expensive fish finger sandwich) and a sub roll with pork cheek and coleslaw in it.  Here's a snapshot of the latter:
We spent the rest of the day watching terrible chick-flicks, drinking prosecco and eating Walkers French Fries.  On Sunday we ate ALL the dim sum at Hong Kong City in New Cross.  I thought I'd never be able to eat again but, funnily enough, by 7.30pm I was feeling rather peckish and knocked up a plate of orrechiette with chilli, garlic, anchovies and cime di rapa (broccoli rabe) which was the nicest thing I've cooked in ages.

So nice that I ate the bit that I'd reserved for Monday's lunch.  I WAS STRESSED OUT AND ANXIOUS, OK?  Monday night's dinner was toad-in-the-hole, admittedly made with low fat sausages (waitrose's are surprisingly OK) but still.  Not diet.
Overall, a truly horrendous week.  Regardless, I went ahead and weighed myself this morning and, totally unexpectedly, there is no damage.  I have stayed EXACTLY the same as I was last week.  What the hell is the deal with my body??  I'm more than a little bit confused.  Does anxiety make you thin?  Or will it show up on the scales next week?  That's my guess. 
Chicken and pearl barley casserole (serves 2)
2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs, cut into chunks
2 echalion (banana) shallots, finely diced
A large leek, cut into chunks
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
80g pearl barley
Chicken stock (enough to cover) - a stock cube will do
Pinch of dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 tsp cornflour mixed with a little water
Olive oil
1.  In a large saucepan, brown off the chicken in a little oil and set aside.
2.  Add a little more oil to the saucepan and saute the shallots for a couple of minutes before adding the carrots, leeks and potatoes and stirring in the pearl barley. 
3.  Return the chicken to the pan, add the thyme, a decent grinding of black pepper and some salt (depending on the saltiness of your stock cubes) and pour in enough stock to just cover everything.  Pop a lid on top and leave it on a gentle simmer.
4.  After 20 minutes, test the pearl barley - it should be just about cooked by now.  Check the seasoning and pour in the cornflour mixture and cook for another 10 minutes when it will done.
This is a pretty generous portion for two people; those of you with sparrow like appetites could make it stretch to feed three.