Before The Flood

Perhaps, like I was, you are a little late on hearing about Before The Flood. It’s the documentary that Leonardo DiCaprio shot with National Geographic that talks about the realities of Climate Change.

Instead of butchering (pun very much intended) the documentary, set aside an hour and watch it yourself.

From a food perspective, this documentary puts the Methane-Carbon-Dioxide-beef-farming dialogue into perspective. I eat beef once a month, at most, but I have never thought that I would consider a life without any beef product. That goes far beyond a dry aged Rump but includes milk in tea and decaffeinated coffee, cheese, yogurt, ice-cream, cream, butter – pretty much everything I am allergic to but have an unnatural love and appreciation for.

I grew up in a vaguely Hindu household (dressing in Indian attire on holidays but mostly over catering) so beef is a product that I have grown into. I am partial to a consciously reared, marbled porterhouse flamed and rested; and I have been known to add beef broth to anything that will accept its wiles. I have also been known to prize cheese over pretty much anything on the planet, even though I have been tested as ‘cows milk intolerant’.

Which leads me down the rabbit hole of ‘how I can change my diet without coming off as a weakling (who succumbs to the coy shrug of a wedge of Brie or the supple lilt of a slice of biltong) or simply a trendy hypocrite who wants to believe Leo”. Still not sure which is worse.

Truth be told, I never draw up a meal plan. I know it’s the right thing to do (TV licence voice) but it takes the whimsy out of the Mystery Box Challenge that all of us face on the regular. My methodology is usually to stock up on fresh fruit, veg and meat once a week and see how the chips fall.

Instead of a living a diarised dinner schedule that will dash my food dreams, I have identified the substitutions:

  • goats milk cheese and yogurt
  • coconut milk and cream
  • chicken broth
  • vegan ice-cream
  • almond milk (or no milk. I loathe lactating grains)

This list has raised the point about butter. There is nothing quite like a slather of butter on fresh sourdough. If you have any suggestions for butter-on-bread substitutes, I’d appreciate your advice.

 

 

Sunflower Running Bread

If ever given the choice, I will always choose bread over cake. Warm, crisp-crusted and chewy with a slick of butter.

This morning worked out almost too perfectly. I weighed the ingredients out last night and tossed them all into my stand-up mixer with the dough hook attachment when I woke up. 15 minutes of kneading and then I left for my morning run. I cling-filmed the bowl and allowed the dough to raise. An hour later I got back and put the mixture into a greased cake tin and baked it while I readied myself for my day. As I flicked the last lash of mascara, my timer rang to end the 35minute baking time and tada – fresh bread.

I relished the fresh bake with butter and mature white cheddar (followed by yogurt and fruit because we aren’t animals). Because the bread was preceded by an almost-10KM run, I had zero reason to feel guilty. Two things about this subject – people who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy bodyweight throughout their lives. And 2) eat your carbs earlier on in the day. I’m not sure if a bowl of biriyani or pasta for breakfast quite makes the grade but the earlier the better.

“Eat breakfast like a king, and eat dinner like a pauper”

Use the bread:water ratio of 5:3. Weigh the ingredients

250g flour (I used half white and half brown bread flour)

150-200ml tepid water

7g dry yeast

1,5 T salt (I used the grey, natural salt I bought in Milan. It makes the loaf feel special)

1 tsp jaggery

½ T butter

Before baking at 220C for 35minutes, glaze with milk, sprinkle with sunflower seeds and some Maldon salt flakes.

Bread ratio so easy that you can make it while you run
Bread ratio so easy that you can make it while you run

 

Making Pasta

The first time I had ever made pasta was as a contestant on MasterChef SA. We had one day off a week and this happened to be one of the first Sundays that we got to do as we pleased. Being the garden variety food nerds that we were, we were all gathered in the kitchen testing the new gadgets out.

One of the dishes that helped me win the title was a hand cut fettuccine with West Coast Lobster (as of December 2016 The West Coast Lobster is on the SASSI red list – DO NOT EAT IT) in a tomato-based, lemongrass, chilli and sour cream sauce – the second time I had ever made pasta. And with self raising flour which was my only option! (For those of you who need an explanation, self-rising flour has baking powder in it which is a raising agent – not suitable for pasta making).

Since then I’ve made pasta with varying levels of success. The method that I would dare to call almost foolproof is by weighing, not measuring, the ingredients.

Use 1 egg per portion of pasta you wish to make. Use large eggs that are at room temperature. Each egg weighs about 50g. Multiply that by 1.5 to calculate the amount of flour you need to add. I used Millstone’s white bread flour. Then mix together and knead until the dough is springy. What I mean by that is – knead the dough until the gluten has been activated so that when you push a finger into the dough, it should spring back into shape.

Sometimes there isn’t enough time or effort for a pasta sauce so instead I roasted some rosa tomatoes with whole cloves of garlic, thyme and red chillies to be smooshed later and tossed through the warm pasta. Some pan-friends courgettes and a bit of goats milk Chevin and you’re ready for a light pasta lunch.

Home made pasta

 

 

 

 

Chinese New Year

I’ve been wanting to re-vive my blog for a while and with Chinese New Year, today feels right – I’m ready to usher in the abundance, luck and prosperity held within a mandarin.

Would a tangerine/mandarin/satsuma/naartjie smell as sweet? These palm-sized orbs, all with soft peeling skin and sweet, tart flesh seem like very similar creatures…because they are. All circus fruits are derived from three chief specimens – the mandarin, pomelo and citron.  These ClemenGold’s are called nardorcotts. Yes, I did say nardorcott. It’s a specific sub-specimen of a mandarin with an unfortunate name but their seedless nature and spritely colour make up for the name.

Because it isn’t mandarin season, I received a bottle of preserve with some almond and mandarin biscotti. I included a sprinkling of Gruberg cheese for good measure. It’s the South African answer to Gruyere and has a similar sweet, nutty flavour. Cheese is not very Asian, but the savoury cheese works particularly well with the light, zesty preserved mandarins.

2017 is the year of the rooster combined with the element fire. It’s said to be a rare combination and one with great expectations. According to foreverconscious.com “The Rooster is often the leader and commands the respect of all the hens, making 2017 a perfect year to step up and take responsibility for the direction of your life.”

chinese new year mandarin