Everything But The Squeal

You know the one about using all of the pig in cooking, everything is used to respect the animal and to avoid waste. Using everything but the squeal. I’ve often sat here, really thinking hard, trying to put to, I was going to say paper, to text what makes my diet work, what makes it a success. All too often I fall into the trap of trying oversimplify or coddle imagined readers. What if I inadvertently turn them away from the weight-loss success they might have achieved is what taunts me while I think, but another voice, a more vicious, cruel one pipes up and reminds me that if they fall so easily then it isn’t my fault. That voice is my own and I know how had this kind of journey towards health and well being can be, my own has often been hellish, harsh and it doesn’t always show in these recipes. If they fall then that’s on them, I blamed no one whenever I fell, I just got up ad kept going. There’s a balance in these recipes, the ingredients used, everything really, that as been crafted with so much work, tempered by time and my guided by own needs so that it works only for me, but there are parts that if it were possible to separate them and clarify them, they could help others too in their searching for their own paths. I am again trying my level best to do just that. Grand sounding, but it’s just the ramblings of someone who really wants to help, to share and to do a little good. Words are often all I have, dear reader, let’s hope I can put them to good use.

There are unwritten rules that I follow in my recipes, whether creating or using. The first is that there will be no leftover ingredients. Each recipe uses similar ingredients to avoid waste. It’s too easy to not think of the full week ahead when meal planning. You can end up with a delicious, healthy, filling recipe on Monday that leaves you with ingredients that will expire before Friday. This leads to a second issues, but I’ll finish this first. The other reason that by using the same ingredients over the week in different ways is that you can get a good balance of foods even if you don’t have the greatest understanding of nutrition. If every day features a little of the same then you don’t fall into the trap of junk meals. Meals that don’t contain enough of the necessary minerals, fibre etc to keep you healthy and happy. The same or similar ingredients used over the week can make it much easier to balance meals. If you’re only using high fibre pasta or seeds then there isn’t a day when you’re failing to get the necessary fibre into your diet. Don’t do that, just use what ever is to hand and you’ll end up unbalanced. High fibre one day and low on another might mean an upset stomach and that won’t fade the next day, it knocks on to another and another. It’s not just fibre of course, but it’s a good example. So, in my way if you have pastas of different types you make sure they have high fibre or you have an additional ingredient to boost it. No aspect of the meal should be lacking. I think of food as fuel, as medicine before I think of the enjoyment of food, though that is important too. So, say with the need for high fibre pasta, I use chia when making corn pasta for example. Both the pasta and chia are long lasting. There’s no need to worry about waste, why is waste so bad? Well say you had a pasta dish that utilized cream and cheese, but you couldn’t use all of either and they both expire quickly. Well then, that leads to our next issues to watch out for.

The necessity of additional meals to utilize excess ingredients. So, you have cream. It was just one meal, a little less healthy but not bad, right? If you end up with leftovers, as I’m always cooking for one I have to be extra careful, you might end up deciding on making a dessert to utilize that cream, you’re just using the excess, no harm, right? Well, you see it depends how often it happens. If you’re too often using up ingredients and taking in more food than you need, especially junk food, then you’re going to struggle. Cream isn’t going to be all you use, is it? That’s why I limited my baking to once a  week. The solution is as above: Carefully chosen healthy ingredients, especially ones that are long lasting to lower the risk of buying and snacking on unhealthy foods. It might sound overbearing, but if you cut out the idea that every meal has to be a gourmet feast for the senses and follow the idea of better eating for better health you will see the benefit. Not to say you won’t want to go all out on occasion, but you need discipline and experience to work it into your diet. I often make elaborate recipes, enjoying the whole process, but it’s still within the limits I’ve set for myself. You can’t always see those limits. This is mostly sacrifice, there’s no easy way. I gave up  lot of foods that I knew weren’t good for me along with everything else I gave up. This all sounds miserable I admit, but we’ll end it on a positive note.

Limits aren’t always as limiting as they first seem. You look at all I omit from my diet and you’ll surely weep for me, but when you look at what I use and all the applications I have for each ingredient then you’ll see that creativity and combinations of those limited ingredients makes it so I can often be said to be eating more enjoyable food as well as healthier food than a lot of others. It has taken me years and years of hard graft to get where I am. I know a lot of people will follow the faddists before they even consider listening to someone telling them that it’ll be tough. They fall, all too often. It’s the reason that the percentage of successful weight-loss falls so rapidly over time. I might be an aberration, but I won’t fall. I know the rules of my life, I’ve written hem after all, I follow them and I will never stop following them or  ever stop attempting to share them to help others. Now dear reader, that’s enough seriousness for one night. If it weren’t nearly midnight I’d go down the garden. If it weren’t so cold even that wouldn’t stop me. Take care.

P.S A bonus ramble has surfaced. I found an old status that isn’t exactly about the same topic, but it fits nicely. Excuse the writing style, it’s just a simple Facebook post from a year ago, but as I say it fits well here.

I think the biggest problem with being overweight is that you can still feel fine. I never felt how bad I really was until I lost the weight. The damage is being done constantly whether or now you feel the effects. This coming from someone whose abdominal muscles have literally split in two and whose knees would have probably blown out eventually. I think there needs to be a better balance in our perception of weight and weight-loss. The camp that wants all fat gone, and will take any extreme, is as troublesome as the group who refuses to acknowledge that even some weight-loss, no matter how seemingly insignificant, though no part, no matter how small is insignificant when it comes to your health, is necessary for your health and happiness, same goes for the opposite where too much weight loss is just as bad. Sometimes when you see an article that gets weight-loss and shoves it into a cramped definition (like, every second article) you just want to smash the writer’s head into a desk repeatedly. It’s not a black and white issue, it’s a whole kaleidoscope of greys (Damn fifty shades of grey for ruining that phrase) . Strike a balance and take responsibility for yourself, whilst also remembering that others won’t take the same path as you and they may be just as right as you are for choosing another way.

Putting The Best Food Forward

Hello again, dear reader, I’m trying to keep things running as normal. Grieving has its place, but life goes on regardless. If these posts aren’t up to the usual chipper, cheerful tones then I hope you’ll give me a pass. I so rarely write these weight loss, I’d rather not call them tips, that sounds much too like click-bait. These…eloquent elaborations on my personal success in maintaining long-term weight reduction. I’m joking, but in all seriousness I feel there is a need for people such as myself who have kept up their success, but don’t utilize it as a marketing tool. I’ve found that the most useless advice I’ve seen is the ones that deal in absolutes, even if there’s truth contained within them, perhaps worse in that case. Why? The pressure they create. Think of the difference between overcoming an issue and dealing with it. The same advice framed differently can create very polarised results. I hope I’ve hit a balance in these posts. The one problem I face is trying to find the formula to what I’ve accomplished. To lead you through the thorny bramble ridden path, stumbling and falling offers you no worth, but if I can examine where I’ve come from and find a short-cut that is helpful then I will try my hardest. It’s just a small part of the whole, but it’s better to have this alongside the hyperbole, right? I hope so.

So, what flash of clarity has been bestowed upon me? Hmmm, I’ll fill this in first. When you’ve lost the weight your stomach undergoes a reset, not without a fight, but let’s keep to the positive, and it can no longer hold as much as it used to. I think it’s hormones, but that doesn’t matter, it happens, looking up the why will probably occupy you instead of this, so focus. That can be undone, but that’s another post. So you have a set amount that you can consume, that’s great right? Yes, it is, but it’s only half of the story. To maintain good health, stable weight, all the good results, you have to put the food that’s best in your diet at the top of your priorities. Fill yourself up with all the healthy food you can and there’ll be little to no room for the junk food. It sounds simple, but it isn’t always easy. The opposite is by far the easiest. Eat too much cake? Then skip that healthy bowl of porridge, chugging soda and don’t want that broccoli,  toss it, etc, the mistakes add up.

How do you do this? It differs from person to person. I think a meal plan helps, if you have a list of foods you should be eating you have an extra barrier between you and poor eating habits. You have to disobey the rules you’ve established rather than just making mistakes due to poor planning. This isn’t a fast and loose rule either, you have to maintain this at all times. Parties, events, whatever, don’t matter, you should eat before you go if you won’t be able to stick to your diet. A few days is all it takes to mess it up and it’s harder and harder to get back to where you were before. Also, on the flip-side, the more you do it the more the habit becomes ingrained and hard to break. You’ll feel the difference in your general well-being when you slip slightly and won’t want to feel that way. It’s simple sounding, hard to do, but possible. I did it, dear reader, I’m still doing it and have never faltered, I won’t say you have no excuses or any of that arrogant spiel that pervades articles like this, but you should never have enough excuses not to try and try again and again. Okay, that’s it for today. I’ll be back again.

Two Years A Blogger

Oh, no! I did it again, dearest  reader, I’ve thought of how to start this, imagined something silly and now I can’t keep my thoughts coherent. So, it’s been two years already. Golly! Gee whiz! Holy Sh…Woah! Family-friendly blog! Cover everyone’s eyes, dear reader! I’m typing this in fragments, so if anything seems disjointed that’s probably why. So, two years, two long years and I haven’t learned a thing. No, I’m joking. Come back, don’t leave me! Funnily, you’ve stuck by me, once gentle now dear readers, and for that I’m grateful. Really, no mater how much I joke or josh you know that I’m humbled by the support and help I’ve received these past two years. I can only hope that I’ve repaid it in part at least with the work I’ve put into the site. What work?! How dare you! Why I…if I had a door that’d slam you can be sure I’d slam it with righteous indignation. Instead I’ll share a little of what I’ve learned. Because here at Pep’s Free From Kitchen, free-from because someone already had the address, it’s not just about sharing it’s about educating. Or trying to at the very least. It’s also about me, often-times Jack, sometimes your humble narrator, your forever friend, the maundering man behind the keyboard. Always and ever: Just me. So what do I know? Or rather: What have I learned?

(I’ll share a few of my less viewed recipes throughout this post just to break up the monotony with a few photos.)

Proofread your posts. Oh, so many typos over two years. And that’s just the ones I’ve noticed. What be serious? No! Why? Well.

 photo WP_20170202_001_e_zpsw7ggjnjf.jpgMy Sweet Potato Fries were a hit, but did you know I have couple of seasoning blends too?

The need to balance what you give and what you take away. I think in the time I’ve been sharing and creating recipes, typing up thoughts and tutorials, that I’ve given back enough that I can now have fun with all of this. It’s easy to be swept away with the idea that if you’re in a position to help so you better give it your all, without thinking of your own well-being and mental health. That’s wrong, do what good you can and just enjoy it. In saying that.

 photo IMGP3633_e_zpsqdeoofeg.jpgChicken cooked in squash purée, oil free too.

You set the rules and your own responsibilities. Getting heavy, huh? I’ll keep it brief. I can only speak for food blogs, even then only about my own experiences whatever their worth, but the one thing I decided fairly early on is that I would stick to set rules. How the posts would be set up, how family-friendly and suitable for all audiences they’d be, how much of myself I left bleed into them, yes that’s a consideration I’ll elaborate on in time too, many things that have helped shape the blog and make it what it has become. I also understood I had a responsibility, perhaps one I chose to accept or create, that was: To be truthful in all things. To not only show the good side, but the other sides: The failures, the struggles, the limits I face, the ways I cope etc. I don’t post experiences without knowing what they’re actually worth, I’ve never positioned myself as a source of absolute truth and so easy is it to state opinions as fact. I’ve always had the best interests of my dear readers in mind, even if they never realised it. I stand by that decision. It doesn’t make me that different, or special, but I have seen others who didn’t care, who valued themselves too highly, so it’s still something I take some small degree of pride in.

 photo 10001392_779684982043370_1675514676_n_zpseqldg1zp.jpgMarinaded Chicken With Peanut Satay Reduction. An old recipe, but an interesting one. It came from a meatball in sauce recipe that I changed completely. Don’t forget the rice, always fluffy with my recipe.

Old man complains about online visibility. Am I here to lecture you on online safety? No, go be stupid all you want. But I do want to speak to people who, like me, well, the me way back when, are starting or continuing their weight-loss journeys. To those who decide to blog about it, be it a diary or just stories and recipes. What I’ll say might sound harsh, ignorant or who can know?, but it’s true. You will have all eyes on you and that can be an amazing feeling and an oppressive pressure. I’ve seen so many blogs abandoned, stories of weight-loss started and abandoned. It’s intoxicating to think about the support you’ll receive, but the shine tarnishes over time. You’ll need to carry on being strong and stubborn, keeping to the limits and rules that will create your new self and life, but the world will move on. Your fifteen minutes of fame won’t sustain you. Society loves a weight-loss story, the sustaining of it is unimportant it seems. Health is all I’ve ever cared about. Weight was a part of that, yes, but not the whole. Online support can be a wonderful thing, I didn’t use it as I knew the potential dangers, but too often people don’t realise what it’ll feel like if they fail with all those eyes trained on them. Just be careful, be smart and be safe. This is my seventh year, I’ve keep the ten stone (140 pounds) off for nearly five years and I’ve never faltered. If you chose to listen to me that’s my pedigree. On the other hand I echo the former paragraph. I mention this in passing, but as a warning. I could use it as a tool to boost myself at the expensive of others. Don’t believe me? Check it:

O.M.G! I lost 140 Pounds on this Diet! Follow me to find out how!
Should you go gluten free to lose weight like me?!
I cut out these foods and lost ten stone!

See? It’s so easy to be irresponsible. What you do is up to you. I’m blending the two paragraphs a bit, but hey, I’m old. I remember when the internet was slow and two megabytes was a twenty minute download. Cut me some slack.

 photo Yogurt and Rooibos Curry_zpsr92lnswz.jpgYoghurt and Rooibos Curry. A original recipe. Sadly I can’t tolerate that much dairy in a meal now. Don’t forget humble Jasmine Rice.

A Voice for the Voiceless. Okay, negativity aside. One thing about blogging is that it really shows how much variety there is out in the world. If you’re shy or introverted there’s no reason you can’t set your thoughts down. You set how they sound, how much you show, all you need do is to stay within your comfort zone and just enjoy the experience. You’ll be surprised at how blogging about your interests, or passions, can help expand them. Being able to talk about what you love, rather than being pressured to listen or conform to other’s stories or  standards can really make a huge difference. I’ve often said that these posts can be cathartic and it’s remained true. Finding others who love what you do can make the world of difference to you. You never know until you share and see what others are sharing.

 photo IMGP3578_e_zps3km7tyl9.jpgI can’t believe how unloved this Gingerbread blend is. It’s incredible when combined with treacle.

No Standard Blogger. There is certainly a template in all walks of life. Bloggers are no exception, but as with all things you don’t have to try to fit a mould. I’d say it takes a lot of posts to find you style, your voice if you’d rather, and there’s nothing to say it won’t keep changing. This started out as just a recipe blog, perhaps a trifle stuffy at first, but in time I’ve found the tone and format that best suits. The garden crept into my life and in time Jack appeared and a new facet of my life was worth blogging about. Take your time. Read other blogs and most importantly be yourself. People will come to read what you say, why put someone else’s words in you mouth? You don’t need an enormously extensive elaborate vocabulary, or an alliterative appreciation of assorted appellations, that can get tiresome and that’s my shtick!

 photo IMGP2913_e_zpsue7brclr.jpgIf I can be vain about one recipe, let it be my Flouress Nut Cake.

Use your tags and categories. I’m glad I kept my tags and categories simple. Tags for ingredients, mostly at least and categories for meal types, again: mostly. It keeps things well organised, helps spread your site around and means you and others can find what you and they need. The longer a blog carries on the larger and more complex it becomes, a good clean and careful start can be extremely helpful. Take your time starting and if needs be clean up as necessary.

 photo WP_20160922_002_e_zpskmsyv0er.jpgSweet Mango Curry has become a part of my meal plan. Richness from the hemp and sweetness from the honey.

Success: That ever-changing chimera. For me it’s not about numbers, I’ve been caught a few times, but pride will always end up painfully reminded of its limits. It’s been the case that the occasions I most cherish are the simple comments, the heartfelt appreciation, the gratitude the sharing of experiences and of recipes, failures and successes both. These are things you can’t quantify or predict. Just be respectful, be kind, show your support to others when you can, link to your sources and hope that others are doing the same. Success for me has been many different things over time. Rarely a number, more often an unexpected kind word or fun conversation. This is a free blog, it might be different for someone trying to make a living from this, but I don’t think it’d be that different.

 photo gravy_zpsxmk6erso.jpgCashew Butter Gravy An accident made me this most delicious gravy.

Consumable Content. You need to adhere to strict multifaceted bi-symmetrical synergism to really screw with your readers. Heh. I haven’t spoken very specifically on the food side of blogging, have I? It differs from person to person and blog to blog. What I like to do is break things down. Talk about texture, taste, tricks and tips. But also, if applicable, the behaviours and properties of free-from ingredients as best I understand them. I will say I’m interested in the nutritional side of food, but not in copying and pasting articles or making outlandish claims. Talk from your own experience with food, it’ll be vastly more interesting than stating the fibre content of linseeds you pulled off some Google search. You don’t have to pretend expertise to talk food’s worth. Just tell your story with food in your own words. It’s you call, I’m just saying think about it.

 photo WP_20170117_007_e_zpswmlami4e.jpgTahini has played a huge part in my diet. So many no heat sauces to try!

So, I’ve shared a bit of my journey with you. Perhaps you’re new and wondering when this post will end, or perhaps you’re an old hand and have tuned out already or are grimly enduring it. Whatever, I can promise you one thing: I will continue this blog, continue putting in all the work and effort I can, stay flippantly irreverent and studiously serious in equal measure, until it stops being fun and I don’t see that happening any time soon so have no fear, you’re stuck with me and I with you all. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. A large garden perhaps, but not the world. I say this with a happy heart: I’ll see you later, Dear Reader.

Don’t forget I’m on Twitter (Talking nonsense a lot of the time) and Facebook (Mostly collecting posts from here)

Lebanese 7 Spice Chicken, No Marinade

 photo WP_20170222_007_e_zpsdrgszwfo.jpgThe marinade version is here. Buckwheat Tortillas here.

Hey there, dear reader. I seem to be running with a tahini theme these last few recipes, don’t I? Sadly, I can’t think of a clever quip about it, but I would like to just talk to you a moment. I think one of the aspects of the blog that I neglect to mention is the balance required in, not only my meals themselves, but the way I eat and when. What I eat you already know. I’m on my seventh year of my weight-loss journey, still waiting on that surgery, no, I’m not here to brood, don’t worry, and I still have to watch everything I eat. Why I’m eating it is vital too, eating for anything other than hunger has to be watched carefully, many little slip make for a huge mistake, thankfully I’ve gone through some many permutations of this in time I’m really well prepared and haven’t had much trouble. As to what this has to do with the recipes, well, you see I would like to have a new recipe more often, but it has to fit the routine and schedule. They also have to fit with my frame of mind. Will a sugary treat be just a treat or will it be a gateway to more sugar? Will a heavy meal mean that everything else follows in the same overloaded style? Etc. I’m just putting this out there because there is just too little of weight-loss after the initial honeymoon, the wonderful times of praise and pride. Weight-loss is easy, scoff if you will, but you can lose weight in a variety of ways, look at all the diets, but keeping it off is an entirely different situation, again, look at all the diets. I’ve spoken about this before, I just wanted to provide a bit of context. Fear not though, dearest reader, this changes nothing as this is the way the blog has been run, I’m just pulling back the curtain a bit, remember the Wizard behind the curtain was a humbug, but became one of the best in time. I’m saying I’m freakin’ magical, dear reader! Go read the Wizard of Oz, all fourteen of them! I’ll wait.

So, I’ve spoken on he original a fair bit, I’ve spoken on a lot of things, whether I’ve said anything worth remembering is anyone’s guess. I love it, but I just can’t tolerate the marinade, lemon as a standalone addition to the sauce seems to be fine. I think I love this recipe for teaching me how well spices like these, many of which I would have only considered in a dessert, can work in savoury cooking. The flavour isn’t as intense here, the marinade being skipped was obviously going to cause some changes, but he whole thing, if cooked slow, still manages to pack a wealth of flavour into a single meal and without the need to marinade it’s a much quicker meal too. So, I have to say I like this, simple as it is, I’d have been sad to say goodbye to the spice blend, but I would have if needed, I’ve done it often enough already with a lot of cherished foods, but it seems as if it’s staying put. You can skip the rice if you’d rather, I just find it works well. Not the most upbeat of posts, so we’ll have a little garden post before the recipe. Just a handful of photos, which I went out in between the raindrops for. See you soon, dear reader.

 photo WP_20170222_004_e_zpsrssyijxv.jpgI’ve stopped the slugs before they did more damage. Thankfully, my tulip is okay. It’s either a Shakespeare or a Shirley. I think Shakespeare. I can’t wait to see it rise out.

 photo WP_20170222_002_e_zpskvdeai49.jpgThis is, of course, a pine-cone! A hyacinth? Okay, it’s not a pine-cone. I have quite a few of these starting, there’s even a mystery colour on the way. I love seeing something for the first time.

 photo WP_20170222_005_e_zpsqt0bsvfx.jpgThe raspberries are coming back to life. Going to be a few years before I see anything from them. They’re staying in pots, or eventually moving to bottomless buckets, but I won’t have them run roughshod over the garden.

Ingredients

Chicken

2 Chicken Breasts, Chopped
2 Garlic Clove, Grated
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
1/2 Tbsp Lebanese 7 Spice

Sauce

1 Tsp Garlic Paste (Add Salt to Garlic Clove and Crush in Mortar) or 1 Garlic Clove, Crushed and Chopped Fine
1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Light Tahini
Pinch Sea Salt
Water as needed

Method

1. Mix together all the Chicken Ingredients in a bowl until Chicken is fully coated. Set aside.

2. Preheat a little Olive Oil in a non-stick pan and when hot add Meat. Turn to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Keep the heat low to keep the Chicken tender.

3. While Chicken is cooking mix together Sauce ingredients and whisk together until smooth, slightly thick and white. Add water if too thick. Set aside.

4. Serve Chicken on Rice, or in bread, and then drizzle over Sauce.

Duplicitous Duality

Dear reader, do me a favour, forget for the moment critical thinking, forget your kind biases, let your mind be gullible and trust me when I say this in no uncertain terms: I’m a mess at the best of times, but also a success in ways I often fail to acknowledge. Now, your kindness is surely straining to comfort your forever friend, but don’t, well do be nice to me!, think I’m joking or asking for praise, I’m just being honest. Honest to be a help, vague enough to be a help to myself. We’re in dangerous territory. I’m being serious and not only that I’m also talking about serious issues. I’m not going to pour out my dissertation on this. I’m wordy at times, but I know when to rein it in.

So, the title. I’m a pain, aren’t I? Wordplay is fun. Today I did more than I have been able to do in a long time, what I did is left to me, but the fact that what I did wasn’t what would be deemed a whole success by many if any. There wasn’t an absolute to be found. The problem in this is that it was a success, a very large one, but we don’t see things that way. You’re either fat or thin, there is no journey between either. You’re either mentally competent or a mess, don’t you dare be different from others! Perish forbid you operate on your own terms. Hell, I mean heck!, cover my eyes, dear reader!, look at the way children with autism are thought of by too many. They’re pitted thought of as less, because there is normal and not normal in this world. Black and white only, grey has no place. Of course this isn’t true. Tell me it is, I’ve heard it all my life. You’re not this, you’re a failure, you can’t this, you’re a mess. You, you, you. Never them, no never. Well, I’m learning that every step is something, one step away from the place I was that I didn’t want to be is something. No, I’m not someone’s idea of okay, but they’re probably far from my idea of it too. And it’s okay to have faith in yourself, to dare to believe you might be right. That you might know better than anyone else about who you are and where in your life you are.

If I could hold your head in my hands I’d look you in the eye and scream this at you, tell you that you can accomplish so much if you just realise that you can’t measure your successes entirely by others. Bitterness, hate, self-hate, all kinds of malicious bile that spews from so many places will smother the fire in you. Then you’ll be told to believe that unless it’s a blaze that that fire isn’t worth kindling. It is. It can burn brighter and brighter, but it takes so many steps, little ones, huge leaps, stumbles too, sometimes. You need to remember that life shouldn’t be painful all the time and that everyone deserves to be happy. When I’m done scream this at me too, will you? I still struggle, but in struggling I’m accomplishing. So little perhaps to be barely noticed, but it’s those successes that we build upon. Until we die we still have a chance to live, maybe not the life we wanted, but at least, the life we make for ourselves. One achievement matters, no matter how small. Today, I did better, tomorrow I’ll try again. And again. Maybe I’ll never reach the places I want, that others deem important, that I deserved, but I can keep trying. Be the person you need to be to accomplish this, sometimes hard, apathetic if needed. Filled with laughter and joy a other times. You are so many pieces all working together, not one simple thing with a label slapped on it. You and me, we can be happy in our own way and that’s the only way. We can’t live to the standards of everyone without it destroying us. What makes us happy, what gives us joy we have to cultivate, know your struggles and try to overcome them. You may never completely transform your life, but you can change it subtly, each piece a cog in the machine of your self, all grinding and forcing you towards a better place. To a new path. Perhaps a scary one at times, but to a better place, always. Even when, maybe too often, times are hard, the light of better days  shines through as long as we’re willing to let it. Just remember I’m not perfect, never will be, I’ll never be the person I kept being told I had to be, I just know now to listen to the ones who just tell me to be as happy as I can.

Went on a bit, forgive me, dear reader. I have lots of gardening supplies to sort through. Jack loves discount shops with bulbs and feed. This garden will be transformed, it’s going to take a few years to really get going, but it’ll be a botanical beauty. A recycled realm of reused relicts now refreshed with random snatches of colour, hoards of variegated hues and the promise of more, even if it’s only a small bulb peeking through endless dirt, it’ll continue. We now resume your standard posting schedule, heh. Okay, talk to you sooner rather than later.

 photo WP_20170122_001_e_zpsdjnyswj2.jpgI have bulbs for the sunken planters and plants for the triangle. Tomorrow. Unless it’s freezing, probably even then.

Did I Just Forget the Title?

I’m taking a light approach to this today. I’ve talked on this before, but it seems fitting now. The fads are incoming dear reader, I don’t have time for fads. But, how do I dissuade someone being told things in such simple terms when I myself am a rambler? I want an epigrammatic post, yes, that’s a word, awesome I know, but I am the antithesis of epigrammatical, also a word, fun. So, what else can I do but go with the tried and true fall-back of an allegory. Probably a terrible one, but still an allegory, hopefully. Maybe a sort of allegorical anecdote, maybe I’m just screwing with you now. Just remember that allegory didn’t invent the internet. I crack me up.

So, today I, in my role as Jack, the plant’s friend, was pottering aimlessly. When I saw that a planter I’d prepared earlier in the year was looking a bit rough. I pulled the weeds, discarded the dead flowers, well composted them, I shook out the soil and planted some lilies, then I covered it all with a little more fresh soil. When I was finished it looked much better, as did the rest of the garden.The end.

Okay, that was a terrible story, but it’s true. Now what has that to do with fads? Well, nothing. What? Sorry, it’s actually how I’ve been living these past six years. A small part of the whole is seemingly inconsequential, but when a small piece is improved the rest is enriched. The ground is weeded and in being weeded is ready for planting and eventually will flower and be even more worthwhile. The little piece being finished means there’s now more to look at and see if they can be improved. One pot at a time and eventually the garden improves. One change in your diet begets another, but only if you’re willing to work. Small changes snowball eventually, but they need the work to get them started. That pot wouldn’t be there if I had cut off the bottom to cover a stump, that was there because a tree that hadn’t been looked after went wild and needed to be cut and wouldn’t have been cut if the rest of the surrounding garden hadn’t been worked, and so on. What’s a fad diet in this idea? Well, it’s plopping a pot anywhere, filling it and shoving a flower in. For a while it looks lovely, but the soil sinks, the grass runs over the pot, the flower struggles and needs more work and because the preparation wasn’t there it’s more work than it should be. For a time it seems wonderful and in the end you’ve got enough excuses to stop. With planning there is long term success, with fads there’s a brief euphoria and a return to the same. Like with the garden it always takes work, but the effort diminishes in time, whereas the rewards, your health, stays constant. Just expect to pull a few weeds here and there.

I’m sure you’re thinking Jack a dull boy, well aren’t you a cliché? The highlight of my day was plunging my begloved hands, heh, no not beloved!, into the same soil that resides within my planters, minus the added compost. It was sticky, dense, just as it was at the year’s beginning. Now when I look a handful of my enriched soil it was loose, crumbly and dark. In other words: Worth the effort. This isn’t an allegory, I’m just really pleased with dirt. I want to get back to growing, my soul yearns for the garden. I’ll content myself with reading much too much. One other subject I want to broach is the site’s statistics. I’m actually weary of listing the numbers. One because it might be braggadocios, I don’t know where these words are coming from either, dear reader, and two, well, maybe they’re terrible. I couldn’t take the strain. I’m much too tender hearted. So, let’s be vague! It’s what’s in vogue. My views are six times as much as my first year. All those eyes on me, I really do wonder why, but I don’t pursue the thought, just know I’m grateful for your browsing. My top five countries, in order, are: The U.K, The USA, Russia, Australia and Ireland. I’ve seen so many countries that I’ve never heard of pop up on that tracking map, it really does make one feel small and insignificant. You, I mean, I’m amazing. I still enjoy looking at them, imaging the people there, probably incorrectly, and wondering what they thought. As I say, it gives a sense of scale. The visitor count increased sevenfold, the likes a bit under fivefold. I’m still shocked. From the bottom of my heart I offer my sincere gratitude. I hope each and every person who came here found what they needed. I might not say it enough, or the right way, but thank you, dearest reader, thank you.

So, what of the New Year? What indeed. Yes. The old Auld Lang…Beats me. I’m just going day by day. I’m mostly the same year by year, thin me is the norm, diet stays the same. No more surprises should crop up. I just hope I can focus on growing rather than grunt work. Recipes will come, they will be tweaked and maybe we’ll make some new discoveries. Life is too short and too long at the same time. What else can I say? I’ll hope for joy. Mine. Yours. Everyone’s. So, I’ll leave you now. To look at growing water-lilies in buckets. To talk to a deaf dog. To stick my hands in dirt and then remember the gloves. To read and read and read. In other words to be me. If I can do that well enough that’ll be satisfactory. Go out there and be the best you you can be, don’t try to be anyone else, that’d be confusing and, no doubt, a loss. I need a new sign-off, I want to impress my readership with my eloquence and intelligence. Smell ya later, Spanky! Okay, I’ll keep working on it.

I Didn’t Get This Far Just To Get This Far

I’m running out of introductory sentences, dear reader. I better borrow from somewhere else. Let’s see:

It was a dark and stormy night. A shot rang out. The End.

That doesn’t quite work. I am, yet again, trying to put down into words a little fragment of myself. I’m not good at this and that isn’t self deprecating  humble bragging, it’s just truth. We’re at an epoch, the New Year’s diets are looming, the fad foods are being dreamed up and oh, it’s just such a load of. Woah! Family blog! Cover my eyes, dearest reader! DGHgfg. Uncover my eyes, dear reader, please. I’m approaching my seventh year of, of, all this. Over four years of my weight being stable, two years waiting for my surgery and I’m still here. Still thriving, still trying to live and be happy. I want to talk, not to the fadists, no, not fascists, those who follow fads, do keep up, not to those who have never struggled with weight, or worse who have and have forgotten, nor will I bother with those who lose and regain ad nauseum and don’t care, those who still struggle, those who regain and don’t know why, those who are achieving and those who can’t believe they can do it, it’s to you I’m speaking. What can I say to convince you, of the possibility of being better, of the potential new you that exists inside, that it can be done. What worth are words, just, just look, look at these photos, be kind to your forever friend.

 photo 119_zps0wgphdnr.pngOh, look, I found Jesus! He was behind me all along. He was hard to see. (Oh, I’m going to be chastised for that. I’m sorry. I’m not laughing…much)

 photo WP_20161211_005_e0_zpsmqnanuzt.jpgSorry if I’ve shattered your image of me. Adonis I’m not.

I still look at those photos and wonder if that’s really me. It’s the ex-fat me that puzzles me so, I can imagine myself fat. But thin? That still seems so strange. But I’m still doing it, I’ve sacrificed so much, struggled, fought and done more than most can ever be told. So, you, the one who wants to be better, who doesn’t know what to do, do what I did: Stick to it. Don’t give up. If that sounds too simple then you’re not listening! Not for a month! Not for a year. Forever! You never stop fighting this! If you can look at that mess and think you’re not going to be able to do it then you need to look again. I did it, I did it alone, I did it better than anyone ever expected and I still do better than most will ever realise. We can do this, be you a dear reader, a drop in or just a future passer-by, remember that we can do it. Then, when we have, we keep going. We gather up all the joy we can scrape together and we build better lives for ourselves. Now, stop blubbering you big baby. No, I’m not crying, I have onions in my eyes.

 photo WP_20161222_004_e_zpsg7tc9cb6.jpgFinally I have conquered food photography.

 So, let’s finish on a fun note. I do wonder how many of my readers I annoy with hyper-links. It’s handy as they’ll always feature the full recipes, which by the time someone reads this the page may contain many more recipes. So, to alienate the impatient, my Buckwheat and Amaranth Scones. Now in Gingerbread, topped with a quick microwave caramel sauce. All on the page of course. I love that gingerbread spice blend. I happened to have the dregs of some double cream, using the word dregs on a food blog, genius, right? so: Caramel. I think the amaranth really changes these scones, it makes them softer and longer lasting. I haven’t tried an egg free version yet, but I will in time. Nothing stopping an intrepid reader trying it first. Hint. Hint. Okay, this might be my last post before Christmas, maybe not, but I’ll say this here:

To all my readers, the regulars, the drop-ins. To each and every one of you, whatever your contribution to the blog, however small or large, whether you like every post, comment occasionally, whatever, I say: You’re welcome. Aren’t you lucky to have me? Heh. Joking. Seriously, thank you all, your support means a lot to me, more than I can say. So to all celebrating: Merry Christmas. To those who aren’t: Have a good weekend. To anyone celebrating a holiday I have no idea about: I’m sorry for my ignorance and enjoy it. To those who don’t come to the blog: You can all f. WOAH! family blog!

Until Later.