Doux Doux

There is a jar on my, now very crammed, spice rack, still clinging for dear life to the wall it resisted so much, marked sweet sweet. It naturally causes confusion to anyone but me. Then again, it’s my spice-rack so it can be as eclectic and bewildering as I am. It did set the ball rolling on this post, along with some purchased organic parsnips, the really wonderful kind not too long from someone’s garden, and, yes there are some growing in mine, but how they’ll fare is still up in the air, they’re keeping the weeds at bay whereas these freshly purchased ones are keeping Jack in sweet vegetables. Which is where we come in.

Now, you’re naturally thinking that I mean honey roasted, which I don’t, so you’re probably assuming they’ve been caramelised in the pan after boiling or steaming, which again, is wrong, then, Dear Reader, you’re just going to let Jack ramble because you’re so kind-hearted. You see, I’ve mentioned this countless time, but you have to keep pointing it out, I was once morbidly obese and sugary coated, filled and packed everything wasn’t just an option here and there it was life. You wouldn’t believe what I once could eat, I honestly struggle with it. So there’s that sweetness, the sweetness not of a beautiful sunset, the laughter of children or the endless small joys of your everyday lives, but the pleasure of a part of the brain that reacts favourably to sugar, which science can probably explain and Jack is tired of so he’ll let you go to Google, instead of either of these sweet joys I’m talking of a third, why mention the first? Because I’m a jerk and want to keep typing to fill out a post.

So, I’ve given up almost all sugar, in fits and starts, quietly resigned at times and screaming bloody murder at others, and the hardest part of it isn’t that it was difficult, it was hellish, but that people who still consume a vast quantity of sugar, not only do they not realise that it’s everywhere, not literally, stop opening the presses and licking the chairs, Dear Reader, it’s in a lot of food, processed mostly, but you’d be surprised when other people are preparing your food, but they don’t realise it affects their taste-buds so much. Much like a smoker, Jack wasn’t ever a smoker or a drinker, nor a pious, officious jackass, funny that. I also dislike the I Quit Sugar brigade, due to the prevalence of alternatives not marked sugar. That’s another topic for me to alienate readers on, Dear Reader.

So, what am I getting at. We’ve established that there are two types of sweetness. We haven’t? Oh. We’ve only established that there’s the sugar sweetness that most think of when sweetness is mentioned and then I became side tracked. Well, to resume the thread and pick up the parsnip…The what? Ah, he natural sweetness problem. All vegetables, when fresh and grown in preferable conditions, like my garden say, have a natural sweetness that bare any resemblance to sugary food, but in its own right is a blessing to the taste-buds, but if you are a sugar fiend you may have trouble every recognising it. A freshly harvested carrot is sweet, the naturally stored sugars are present in every bite, to me, one who eats like this all the time it’s a joy. When I mention it to someone else it’s a mystery.

Which is a shame, I love the sweetness of cold-brewed tea, freshly harvested vegetables, the slight hit from yellow skinned squash, the surprise in every golden beet and the absurd sweetness of fresh strawberries. There was no way I’d taste or enjoy any of this if I consumed sugar as I once did. Am I suggesting you cut down on your sugar? No, you do what you want. But if you ever read me mentioning the sweet flavour of something that seems savoury then hopefully you’ll remember the two kinds of sweetness and it’ll make a little more sense. All the differences between people can be bridged by a willingness to learn and teach, when willing. That’s really all I have to say, it’s interesting to have been on both sides of so many polarising experiences, tiring too, Dear Reader, but as I have fresh parsnips I’m happy enough for the while. Until later.

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Italian Herb Rub

Sunlight either makes for great photos or washed out ones.

Taken from here. Naturally you can use this on anything, I just used chicken. So, Dear Reader, I often lament the fact that it keeps getting harder and harder to find new recipes, well, a little bit of inspiration pushed me down a new avenue, I realised when tidying up my spices and refilling various jars of even more variegated sizes that I had no herb rubs, only primarily spice based ones. Of course there are many recipes out there, but finding ones to match my unique needs was an issue. Of course you can just toss anything in a rub and you’re probably going to find it edible, but I like a little more certainty that it’ll taste good, I do find herbs more difficult to use like this as they can be very strongly flavoured when dried, I find dried rosemary much too overpowering, but love it fresh, dried basil is very different in taste from its fresh counterpart, sage seems to be the exception, but I prefer it fresh when possible. This blend was just the right balance, very fragrant when being baked, but not too overwhelming, it worked well with the hotchpotch of food surrounding it. My plating is just for eating, Dear Reader, slam it on the plate is my method, get your own, my motto, and my cooking is questionable at times as because I timed it wrong I ended up almost making cranberry caramel! The sauce was coming off the spoon in spun sugar, tasted fine and it’s all fine with me. It’s not every blogger that admits to being that much of a screwball in the kitchen, Dear Reader, but I am what I am as Popeye once said. That’s it for today, I have another rub for beef to try so hopefully that works too. I’l be back sooner rather than later, take care.

PS. Slight change here, I just realised I omitted the brown sugar and used black pepper instead, I have a fair few blends with sugar so I’m happy to keep this as is. Poor Jack is getting addled, must be the lack of new recipes!

Ingredients

Equal Parts:

Dried Basil
Sea Salt
Dried Oregano
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Dried Parsley

Method

1. Mix everything together and use to coat meat or vegetables.

Jack Consumed By Flowers! Readership Dwindling, But Lovely Smelling

First strawberry of the season. Tender and sweet. The second was eaten by birds. Netting (Bird safe) is now in place.

I have posted this before, but not in this exact colouration.

Peach? Orange? Porange?

Finally this planter does well.

The Honeysuckle is nearly in bloom.

Ah, Dear Reader, I’m amazed you’re still here. How my readership has survived after all these garden posts is beyond the ken of Jack, but I might have to pretend you’re enjoying them to alleviate any worries about my readership because I’m not stopping. The weather hasn’t been that bad, I managed to weed the garden today, cleaning both sides, the big cabbages are keeping he weeds at bay to a fair degree, the weeds just haven’t the same hold they used to have when they’d been settled for years. I’ve been using bits and pieces, I had a sandwich, waffles, quiet! they’re bread, with mustard greens, mizuna and lettuce. I still find salad greens bland, but they’re good for you so, why not? I added some mixed basil to my cold brewed rooibos and it gave a pleasant herbal taste to the brew. I’ just going to enjoy the fresh produce and see what will come of it all.

My garden is made of those bamboo poles.

I’ve lost the nametags of all the roses. I’m a genius.

Hard to get it all in a few shots.

They baulked a bit at the colder weather, but seem okay.

The rambling rose.

It really is amazing all that can grow in a smallish space. Careful planning helps, naturally, but even with mistakes you can repair and redo. You just need to be very, very, ever so, patient because sometimes those mistakes take a year or more to be rectified. Gardening really will teach you patience if you can stick with it. You’ll become the envy of all meditating monks the world over. Sadly today the garlic gave up, these sudden heat waves have a way of thrashing my efforts, but to make amends the garden has decided that yellow strawberries are going to seed at random because I recycled some of the soil they’d been buried in. The cycle of Jack is a badly drawn circle.

Second generation cornflowers.

This one is a favourite.

There are bees everywhere.

Let’s hope I’ll be able to save these seeds too.

It’s hard to get a whole body shot as there are roses all over each other.

I’m running out of stories, Dear Reader! There are too many blooming flowers! It is gratifying to know all the year’s early work has paid off and each year the plants that will return are better able to grow. Roses that are poor fed or badly pruned will suffer in time, I’ve seen roses that bloomed beautifully one year struggle the next, I’ve dug up large roses with piddling root systems. A shame, they give so much joy and ask for just a little care.

Give it a few years, I’ll have it flowering everywhere.

Finally a red rose!

Droopy? No, they’re cascading.

Pink in all shades.

Naru’s garden.

That’s all from me, but the flowers, well they never stop. Take it easy, Dear Reader. Hopefully when I return again it’ll be more exciting.

Delphinium.

The iris is very pretty this year.

Everything is green at least.

So much to water…so, so much.

Also delphinium.

Not delphinium.

Potatoes are still in flower.

Triple centred. Sounds like a candy.

But What Can I Use It In?

I was reading through Cooking Without Gluten’s post today and I still marvel at the depth that goes into ever part of Irena’s recipes, the choice of ingredients, the balance between the benefits of each and the flavour, the wealth of understanding in the well written posts. What this has to do with humble Jack, well, I suppose I’ve tired in my own way to do something similar. We’ve both attempted to fill a gap in the free-from world, how successfully is up to you to decide, Dear Reader. That gap is the gap between available ingredients and actual practical, teaching recipes, intersecting with various diets along the way of course. To surmise simply: You can buy, say amaranth, you can fail to cook it because the packet has no proper instructions, you can find generic lists of the benefits and general facts, but if you want depth then you might be out of luck. You can replace that with so many ingredients, Dear Reader, and that’s very depressing.

So, Dear Reader, what prompted this, you ask. Almost nine years of this successful free-from life, and again struggling to buy cereal that I could actually eat, again and realising that he alternatives have no real information outside of basic preparations. Thankfully I have procured some boxes to hold me over, until a re-stock hopefully appears. So, I can have buckwheat flakes, which I can’t eat hot with milk, and watery flakes are just thin gruel, but what about the recipes, you, a different more smug, self-satisfied Dear Reader ask, which I answer thus: There aren’t any! I’ve searched for uses so often that I just made my own and this has repeated so much that this blog hosts an absurd amount of recipes for somewhat obscure ingredients. But one person can only do so much, I can take so much neglect from the free-from world, but it tires me out to have to struggle just to eat. Without cereal I lose so much, I have to balance nutrition, calories, availability and so much more. I do that already, I do that every day and everyday I scroll through recipes that I’ve seen countless times before, I see brands filling the shelves with the same products, junk-food disguised, I see charities helping sponsors before me and it makes me tired, so very tired, Dear Reader.

I’m not attacking my fellow bloggers here, but I am asking what I often ask and that’s to branch out just a little, try things that you’ve never seen done. Use ingredients in ways that challenge their common uses, we could do so much good. I have a tin of coconut flakes, they’re high fibre and might be used to boost a low fibre cereal if the need arises, this is my life, Dear Reader, it entitles me to some bitterness, and when I search for recipes it was either “breaded” chicken or what you can already imagine. Just add it to this and that. Baked chips abounded too. I may find a special use for them, perhaps they’ll be the cornerstone of a special kind of recipe, like chia was, but I doubt it, at least I’ll have tried. Not just for myself, but for people like me. It’s all too easy to forget those on extremely restricted diets, whose general answer to all food questions is: “No, I can;’t eat that either”. It’s a stressful thing to be a success, but to still struggle so much.

Jack is being depressing, Dear Reader, but the truth can’t always be made palatable. It’s all too easy to ignore it already, you just scroll past this and forget you ever saw it. For me, well, if nothing else I’m looking forward to harvesting some more basil, I have a recipe here that uses a lot in one serving, I’ll have to ditch the lime, but Red Rubin, an improved Dark Opal that does seem more vigorous, though that might be the heat, mixed with some lime basil might make for an interesting meal. If it works well without the marinade I’ll list it separately. I do miss the citrus, but not the stomach pains, all cleared up now thankfully. To end on a positive note I’ve now gotten down to a large tracksuit, still big and tall, but a far cry from 6xl. I have to buy as stock appears, the story of my life since the age of sixteen, but I’m happy they fit so well. I’ll be tidy if not trendy, let’s face it, Dear Reader, trendy and gardening don’t exactly mix. Torn jeans are in, but not rose thorn jeans. Until later.

Rooibos Royal Milk Tea

I kept steaming up the lens.

Yes, yes, I know, I could’ve called it Royal Milk Rooibos but then it’d sound as if I’d made something called Royal Milk. Yeah, tisane, red tea is a tisane…hah! You know, Dear Reader, I’m almost certain I made this years and years ago with tea bags. Here I am, more experienced and in possession of loose tea. I honestly bought the loose tea for the composters, but they had a fine filter that didn’t taste of metal and honeybush, which I could’ve used, but I wanted the more intense rooibos, so I’m having the occasional cup of loose tea and this popped into my head. If you want a better breakdown of milk tea hit up the link (Original here) I’m just trying it out as a one off, I take my tea plain, hence the lack of any sweetener recommendations below. I didn’t even make any cookies to have with it, mostly because they’re work and I’m lazy.

Tea for tw…er, one.

You can naturally use any tea here, but the reason rooibos works is that it’s more like black tea than herb teas. If you’ve never gone through the trio of rooibos, red, green and honeybush, there is a wild, but I didn’t find much difference between that and red, then you really should consider giving them a try. The reason I drink it is that it was a replacement for caffeinated teas and teas laden with sugar and milk, usually taken to eat an entire pack of biscuits because of the intense pain I mistook for hunger back in the fat-days, over time I’ve grown to love the taste. Now, the milky tea drinkers are the aberrations in my mind. I don’t do well with too much caffeine so I stick to these teas.

This is simply a milky cup of tea, instead of adding milk cold you heat it gently, the tea is also brewed very strong. You’d be surprised when using loose tea how even the mildest of tea can be brewed to strongly. I may, just may, have brewed an intense cup of honeybush and almost choked on the taste. Honeybush seems artificial, Dear Reader, there’s an intense aroma and a mild taste, too mild for something with this much milk, but worth mentioning to any red tea neophytes. Loose tea has this grand feel to it, as if you were somehow elevated by drinking your leaf steepings with bit floating in it. I like the fact I can adjust the taste of the teas, that’s not a bad trade off for the messiness loose tea entails. The worms, still slowly doing something, probably, will reap the rewards. All things go back to the soil, Dear Reader, I’m just trying to make the best use of them that I can.

Ingredients

180ml Water
120ml Milk or Dairy Free Alternative
8g Loose Rooibos

Method

1. Add Water to a pot and bring to a boil, add the Rooibos and reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add Milk to the pot and slowly bring to boil. Once a boil has been reach remove from heat and strain into mug.

Allium Free Chicken Curry

“Should I carefully ad” ALL IN THE PAN!

And partly over the hob, on yourself, Dear Reader I’m a messy cook at times. At all times really. But, here again Jack has dipped his toes, no that’s not a step stop writing that down, into uncharted waters, or at least, untagged. I’m sure I have a few recipes that are allium free, ones where you wouldn’t expect it I mean, I know most of my recipes don’t contain onion so it’d be pointless tagging them as allium free, what I’m saying is I’m doing what I always do: Making rough, but useful recipes. This is very barely inspired by this and also by my own know how. Any recipe that utilizes both nut and seed butter is good by me. You know me, Dear Reader, I will never give you a recipe that I wouldn’t stand by. Even if I’m out of my usual niche I’m still going to put my everything into making sure hat this is delicious as I can make it and that it’s made especially for the diet mentioned, not just a tossed in comment about omitting the onions where it’s obvious I’ve never done that. I’ve seen that enough with nightshade free recipes in regards chilli. If we all thought of recipes that might suit other diets we’d enrich others with new options and ourself by improving our skill and knowledge.

Part way I remembered the turmeric. I wondered why it was grey.

Now, being a pain, you can replace the chicken with vegetables, but as you’d need to partly cook them I just listed it as is. You’re smart people Dear Reader, you’d know what you can do without me saying it. I’ve played with coconut milk reductions a lot, they can be pretty awful at times, coconut milk can be very slippery and oily on the palate, the nut and seed butter helps keep it from reducing too much and adds an extra velvety texture and depth of flavour. What’s really surprising is that with the bare minimum of spices, hey! look I have roasted cumin, finally it has a purpose outside of replacing cumin, it’s not even a garam masala, is the complexity of flavours. There’s sweetness from the honey, the salt stands out and there’s a rush of other  spices, the mustard and fenugreek I assume, my palate’s not that sophisticated, these aren’t freshly ground either, they’ve been there a while, but as I was eating it here were these wonderful pops of flavour that kept me wanting more. The peanut and tahini giving the whole a nutty undertone. I know that when the right ingredients are used you don’t need much, even though this was just lightly based on another recipes it’s obvious that it used the spices with purpose.

Brown rice as always.

This is a slap it into the pan meal, there’s hardly any preparation needed, the whole dish is no worse for it either. Let the coconut milk simmer gently and the nut and seed butter will melt away and the chicken will slowly cook. You could omit the meat and make it as a pour over sauce. It’s funny how some recipes just work, isn’t it, Dear Reader? I was almost going to throw the recipe away but I’m very glad I didn’t. Hopefully there’ll be someone to give it a try. I’ll see you again soon, Dear Reader.

Ingredients

1 Chicken Breast, Chopped
160ml Coconut Milk
40ml Water
1/2 Tbsp Light or Dark Tahini
1/2 Tbsp Natural Peanut Butter
1/2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 Tsp Roast Cumin
1/2 Tsp Coriander
1/2 Tsp Turmeric
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Fenugreek
1/2 Tsp, Heaped Ground Mustard Seed

Method

1. Add everything to a non-stick pan and gently bring to a simmer. Stir to help melt the nut and seed butter. Once everything has combined leave on a medium-low heat and cook until sauce has thickened and Chicken is cooked through.

Banana Curry Sauce with Chicken

2017 Update: Due to a problem with Photobucket, see here, there will be a lot of recipes without photos. I will be slowly redoing the recipe pages, as best I can, but many other posts will be impossible to replace. I’m doing this in my own time, while continuing to update the blog with new recipes and posts. If you’d like to donate, any amount appreciated, you can do so here. The site will always be free, the recipes will never be locked behind a paywall, but this is a lot of additional work. I’m not demanding or begging, just putting it there so if you feel like repaying my hard work you have that option. I don’t make any money from the site, all that I do here is to help others, I couldn’t charge for that.

 

Tweaked from: Chicken With Banana Curry Sauce

I honestly have no idea if this really is Caribbean, I assumed there’d be more chillies if it were, but maybe it is. Either way it’s a really wonderfully simple and tasty recipe. There are two things to note: Firstly the colour differs because, I’m assuming (Lot of that out today, lots of asses being made out of all of us) that in the original the curry powder had paprika and me being nightshade free means mine lost some of the colour that spice imparts the sauce with. Secondly, I did make this in a saucepan for convenience sake, it’s been quartered, I only had ordinary chicken breasts and, honestly, my gut says it wouldn’t affect it to enough of a degree to change the dish.

Cooking is instinct, baking is science and this is one messed up smoothie.

Okay I should probably address the yellow elephant in the room. Yes, there is indeed a banana in this and yes I thought it sounded disgusting too. Now maybe you’re better informed on the whole banana curry debate, I’ve never once had a banana in a curry, nor even in a savoury dish, but there’s a part of me that never got to try so much different kinds of foods so now I’ll try anything once that I can eat. You’ll probably want to know how this tastes, right? Yeah….I’m going to start a new paragraph just to mess with you.

You got your raw chicken in my smoothie! You got your smoothie in my raw chicken!

So the taste, right, well, the smell is actually really pleasant (Sorry! Not Really!). The taste reminded me of something, it was a mild curry taste, a slight hint of sweetness from the banana, you might be best to go for a slightly ripe one, err on the side of green, too sweet may throw off the rest, but it reminded some part of my brain of former times. You see back in the fat-days I used to eat this thing called take-out, yeah, someone would cook food for me and I would pay them. Wild times. One of the things I remember fondly was this cheap Chinese shop curry sauce, it was probably just spices, wheat-flour and water. Cheap as chips and on chips (I vaguely remember those!) that’s what this was like! Yeah, strange I admit, maybe the coconut milk I usually use drowns out the taste of the curry powder, but here it came out in all its glory.

So, yup, this is a really nice simple curry sauce. You could ditch the chicken and just pour it over whatever suits, even replace out the butter for a vegan option. One thing I will say is that you should swish out the blender with the remaining water, that way there’s no waste. Sure it’s a simple trick, but it is useful. I’m just using a single serve smoothie blender, but a food-processor would work too. If all else a fork and some elbow grease would maybe work. It’d be lumpy, but edible. I’ll definitely come back to this recipe in future. This one’s a keeper. Oh yeah, for the banana look for a large, look for a small and go for one in-between, there’s no point weighing it, just eyeball it.

Ingredients

2 Chicken Breasts, Chopped
1 Medium Banana
200ml Water
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Lime Juice
Pinch Lime Zest
1/2 Tbsp Curry Powder
1/2 Tsp Ground Coriander
1/4 Tsp Ground Yellow Mustard Seed
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/8 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Optional: Fresh Parsley to serve.

Method

1. Add everything, but half the Water and Chicken, to a blender and blitz until smooth. Add more Water if needed to facilitate blending.

2. Add Sauce, Chicken and remaining Water to a large saucepan, stir it all together and heat on hight until sauce starts to bubble, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and sauce has reduced to desired consistency.