Make a lemon meringue pie from scratch – Challenge number 16

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It may seem a strange start to this 50@50 challenge but I would like you to meet my mum, Freda May Davis, nee Noakes ( please see photos below).  I absolutely can’t express just how much I owe to this tremendous lady.  She is so talented at cooking (her cream horns are legendary), sewing, wall papering, making children smile, gardening…I could endlessly go on.   And she has passed on much of this to me….or at least….some of it….as she also spoilt me rotten growing up.  Her attitude then was ( and mine too) “you are a long time an adult so go have a care free, fun-filled life whilst you can”.  So I did 😄.

The only problem with this was that when I started going out seriously with Chris and I wanted to impress him I realised I would have to show him I could cook (and I hadnt a clue). So I invited him around for an anniversary meal of goodness knows what for starter, followed by roast chicken and lemon meringue pie for dessert (which I knew he loved)…. How hard could that be?? 😱.  As it turned out…not that hard at all when you have a Mary Berry equivalent as your sous chef .  Everything went swimmingly, my man was suitably impressed (as he had already suspected anyone who was as good a cook as my mum was bound to have an equally good cook as a daughter…oops) and before I knew it there was a ring on my finger and wedding bells faintly tinkling in our future.  So…a happy ever after story ❤️…..

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NOT!!!  It was only after we were married that Chris discovered the real truth of my cooking ability….ZERO.  I rang my mum every night for a month asking how long to boil eggs, how do you boil potatoes, what is the best way to roast a chicken, how do you make mince go brown, what is the difference between sun flower oil and vegetable oil…..you name it, I asked it and it didn’t end there.  I had no idea how to clean, could not change a light bulb, didn’t know how to use an iron, had never touched a lawn mower…..was bemused by the large white thing in the kitchen you were supposed to put clothes in to wash…really??….and the list went on and on….Chris patiently had to teach me how to do the lot…..poor man!!

So, this challenge is basically to say sorry to Chris.  Only now after almost 32 years of being a couple do I finally feel ready to attempt to make lemon meringue pie for him once again, but this time unassisted. I used this recipe

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3482/ultimate-lemon-meringue-pie

And my goodness what a faff!!  Making and rolling pastry out…easy ( even without a fancy food processor)……transferring it to the dish….impossible, unless it is meant to be in 1000 pieces. On the third time I had devised a cunning plan which meant it almost made it!!  I will let you look at the photos to see how I progressed…but I am pleased to say I did manage to get ‘something’ into the oven.

So Chris’ comments were…’it’s the lemonyest meringue I have had since the last one you made me….quite a zing.  Great pastry”

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In reality I am a passable cook and quite a good cake baker, but I don’t think I will be applying any time soon to the Great British Bake Off, and nor will I be making another lemon meringue pie again…….sorry!!!!  I am sure there is a moral to this story; I am just too busy ringing my mum to ask her to come and do the dishes and eating pie to work it out at this moment 😄

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Eat Vegetarian food for two weeks – challenge No 33

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I love my food, and especially meat..bacon, minted lamb steaks, sausages, chicken, fish….mmmmm!!  So this 50@50 challenge was one which I had real trepidation about ( and so did Chris as he thought I was going to be miserable company for two weeks).  To add to my concerns I am back at slimming world, to try and achieve another challenge of losing some weight,……so this meant I had to be careful about cheese ( have I mentioned my love of cheese too??  Can’t think why I may need to lose weight!!). Anyway last night I completed my two weeks and….wait for it

I REALLY ENJOYED IT 😊😊

It was not a hardship at all.  I treated myself to a finale meal of Kodava Mushroom Curry with coconut ( a Madhur Jaffrey recipe ) which was quite high in syns because of the coconut milk, but it was rich, tasty and felt like something you would order out.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/recipe-mushroom-curry-with-coconut-from-cookbook-author-madhur-jaffrey-1.3417791

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I discovered I really like chickpea Dahl ( I am a bit of a food snob and would not normally eat tinned food but more fool me as I have been missing out…only 2 syns per tin and very tasty for a quick lunch on jacket potato).  I have also eaten lots of roasted peppers ( add goats cheese five minutes before the end….heaven) and then cold with couscous made up with ras el hanout stock.

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I also tried some ‘vegetarian’ products like sausages, a pie, meatballs and Quorn.  I found out that Quorn mince was great and as long as you use seasoning and spices there is very little difference, and the meatballs were particularly good.  As for the sausages…..not quite the texture or taste of a wild boar or pork and leek sausage…so not for me.  

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My one big mistake was to use Parmesan cheese which I had no idea that vegetarians did not eat… I think because of the rennet. The big bonuses from these two weeks were the savings I made on my shopping bill….considerable savings (although these may have been swallowed up by Chris who ate at work for two week.  Also at my last weigh-in I lost 3lb and hoping for another loss this week so it obviously agrees with me.

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I did not attempt this for ethical reasons, merely for making myself try different  foods and to see if I missed meat.  After two weeks I have not, however after two more I am sure I would.  But I don’t have to wait that long as I am off soon to my good friend Helen who is cooking a leg of French venison…and I am very much looking forward to it.  But, I am considering having either a designated vegetarian day ( if there is not too much dissent in the camp) or maybe Mon-Fri vegetarian lunches…as I think I will stick to being an omnivore, but with less emphasis on the meat!!

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Try Sushi for the first time – Challenge number 47

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My daughter Katie has been trying to coax me to have sushi for a number of years now, but belligerently, and with no good reason, I have declined.  So when I was out with my friend of 35 years, Fiona,  and I explained this she set upon this as her 50@50 challenge for me.

And this is what I have learnt:-

  • Sushi does NOT mean raw fish, but ‘it’s sour’ referring to the rice
  • Sushi is a Japanese dish
  • the rice used is a special short-grain rice (awake-zu ) and when mixed with rice vinegar, salt and sugar and is known as shari
  • nigiri is the sliced raw fish with rice under it
  • maki is sushi which is rolled and sliced
  • both nigiri and maki are intended to be eaten with your fingers
  • sashimi is sliced raw fish which should be eaten with chopsticks
  • only the fish elements should be dipped in the soy sauce
  • the pickled ginger is intended to be a palate cleanser

Fiona very kindly bought a selection of vegetarian and fish sushi round to my house (a great way to have a first try for the uninitiated) and we had light soy, sweet chilli dipping sauce and wasabi as accompaniments.  Well I am sure it is no surprise to you all, that my inability to try new things has meant I have been depriving myself of a real treat.

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 I grew up with Sunday night teas being winkles, cockles, whelks, prawn and bread and butter….sushi is a posh version of this and I loved it!!!  I enjoyed the vegetable and the fish (which bodes well for my 2 week vegetarian challenge),  the crunch of vegetables, texture of the rice, full fishy taste and visual beauty…..I enjoyed it all.  I also really liked the hit of the pickled ginger….ginger was the find of my 40s…in cakes, stir frys, chocolate and now pickled in sushi….mmmm 😍.  However I can not say the same for wasabi, which was like horse radish and mustard and not to my palate at the moment…but I will persevere.  So thank you Fiona for a lovely lunch and pushing me out of my comfort zone….next I can have a play on the revolving conveyor belt of yumminess!!!

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Let Someone Else Order my Food at an Indian Restaurant – Challenge No 11

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Since Chris and I moved away from Maidstone to a village in the Weald of Kent ( Weald means woodland) we have not been able to find a great curry house to replace our favourite The Shamrat.

http://www.shamrat.co.uk

So for this challenge we returned there, accompanied by our son Matt and daughter-in-law Candis.  The restaurant was as busy and bubbly as always, we were warmly greeted by Lee who assured us Matt and Candis had taken our place as regulars (Lee has an amazing memory for names and gets the balance spot on for being helpful yet not interfering.) I am such a creature of habit that I always have chicken Pasanda…but not this night and I was slightly nervous as there had been quite a few jokes about Thals!!

STARTERS

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Mass  Biryaan (lightly spiced and fried Talapia) = amazing.  I have always avoided fish curry as to my palate it does not go, however this was aromatic and yet not overpowering…a perfect starter, although the photos don’t do either dish justice

MAINS

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Now at this point I should mention we have a good friend Nigel who frequents the Shamrat most Friday’s (this being no exception) and before we ordered he mentioned that the following dish was his new favourite…so the consensus was that this is what I should try…and what a great pick 😍

Lamb Palak, (baby spinach with garlic and roasted spices, medium hot)  I just love spinach so this was a huge hit with me, there was no creamy sauce which I normally go for, but often that makes it too sweet.  We had spinach accompaniments too, so Popeye arms for me, but they all tasted so different.  However, I don’t seem to enjoy lamb as much as I used to so next time I might plump for the chicken….OR

I might just let someone else choose for me again as this was a huge success!!