Family traditions?

There’s a family get together this weekend – it’s in Yorkshire. I’m travelling up there to be with family, my parents are travelling down from Scotland. It’s a surprise party for an aunt and uncle. My Mum is doing most of the catering, because that’s what she does.

My only role is to bake Parkin. Yorkshire Parkin. I used a recipe today that had been recommended online. I had to make enough for 30 people. So, that meant trebling the recipe. Halfway through baking it, Mum asked if I was using the family recipe…oops. No, it’s not my Gran’s recipe, it’s another. I don’t have Gran’s recipe.

With the cakes (three of them) in the oven, the aroma starts to permeate around the house and it’s gorgeous. It also takes me right back to Bonfire Night when I was a child. Toffee apples, bonfire toffee and Parkin. All homemade. All yummy.  Seasonal treats. All steeped in tradition as they are made.

Mum is making toffee apples and bonfire toffee for the event, so I had a look at recipes for toffee. Comparing the online recipes to ‘our recipes’ was interesting. All the online recipes recommended the use of a sugar thermometer to check the toffee as it’s boiling (to get the right point for ‘crunchy or chewy’ toffee. I don’t remember my Gran or Mum having one of those. We used a jug of very cold water to test the toffee. You simply drop a teaspoon of the (still boiling, liquid) toffee into the cold water and then you test it. Simple.

I’m quite lucky that I come from a family steeped in tradition. Baking is relaxing. It’s part of what makes me, me. It’s tradition. Family tradition.

I’ve made my Christmas cakes (one rum, one brandy and one whisky). I’ve made Parkin for bonfire night. What’s next??

What to do next?

I’ve kind of lost my way with this blog. It has been about cooking and recipes, marketing, working in B2B tech, playing golf and my family. I haven’t blogged for a long time as I had a feeling this was becoming a rather shouty, rant about everything negative.

I read through some of the more ‘focussed’ posts recently and really enjoyed some of the memories that they brought back. So, now’s the time for me to think through what I want to use this blog for.

 

As I approach 40…

I get braces.

Yes.

Braces.

After much debate over the last 12 months, I’ve made the decision that I need to try to keep my own teeth and if I don’t wear these things I’ll lose them.

So, for an enormous fee, I get to have the most uncomfortable devices fitted to my teeth. I deliberately avoided reading or researching the comfort factor – because, had I known, I wouldn’t ever have gone through with it. I would now be going down the road to dentures. Or would I?

So, for one week so far, I’ve survived on smoothies, soups, porridge and risotto with the occasional pasta dish thrown in (but gone are my favourite al dente dishes). Gone are my apples, pears, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, sugar snaps and peppers (all raw). In favour of mashed banana, chopped up grapes and oranges (peeled and pith removed). Oh how the mighty have fallen. I can’t even have my muesli bar before the gym – they are all too chewy or too crunchy.

If it’s not the pain/ache from chewing with braces that’s a problem, it’s the amazing cuts that are caused by the wires and brackets. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

So for the next 17 – 23 months, I’ll be living on nothing that I really enjoy. I can have cooked veg (bleurgh), can’t have steaks (can’t chew), and I can’t do my fruit salads.

I have totted up my calories and I’m averaging 600-700 a day. No wonder I’m losing weight. The worst bit is I’m not eating enough calories to sustain my usual workout, so I’ve not been to the gym.

Ah the joys of being vain. Actually, is what I’m doing vain? Trying to retain my teeth?

Two weeks in…failed already

We’re two weeks into the New Year and I’ve failed with my plan to change things. Pah! I decided no new year’s resolutions, but a plan. The only thing I ‘planned’ was to make sure I catch up with one friend I haven’t seen for a while, and that I do so at least once every two weeks.

So, at the beginning of the year a date was set to meet with my good friend C. after work one Thursday evening and then to meet an old Weight Watchers buddy for lunch the week after…so achieving my two planned ‘dates’ in one month. Good plan?

Well, let me tell you, smug as I was to be organised (and a little bit more than happy to be seeing friends again), 15cm of snow stopped me in my tracks. Well, that and a stinking cold followed by a stinking throat infection. Bam. First two weeks of January gone.

I didn’t get the car out for 10 days. A two seater sports car with rear wheel drive when you live at the top of a hill is not ideal. Mind you, I didn’t leave the house for 10 days because I was ill. So, not the best start to my plans.

I did manage to catch up with my Weight Watcher’s friend yesterday for lunch. Yay!

It had been a while, so meeting her and catch up was lovely. The food was fantastic, though I didn’t eat much of it. I’m in the first weeks of orthodontic treatment and it’s painful to eat. Apparently that’s normal, but, I wasn’t actually expecting to lose my love of food. Food is no longer a pleasure. And for someone that used to weigh 63lb more than I do now, that’s a really tough thing to say. But, I can see me living on smoothies and porridge until the pain subsides.

So, if I invite you out to catch up and I suggest Starbucks for lunch, please don’t be offended. It’s to do with the fact that Starbucks now serves porridge all day…

Of my gran

My gran has played a big role in my life. She is a fantastic person, with so much to give, asking very little in return. While I don’t get to see her very much these days – I think of her often. My memories of childhood would be incomplete without her. The items below are from recollections of gran…

Fairy cakes and choclate dipped buns,
Camp coffee with whipped cream
Quality Streets
Scrabble
Cribbage
Queenie for pennies
Patience – so many varieties
Steak and kidney pie
Drinking gravy from a jug from Brid
Werthers
Licorice Allsorts
Pinnies
Yorkshire puddings by the truck load
Proper custard
Sherry trifle
Fish in milk

And so many more things. Today she isn’t well. I hate to say goodbye.

As usual, she manages to make me smile when I say “be good” she replies “and if I can’t, I will be careful”.

On losing weight

A few years ago I lost 65lb doing weight watchers. I was do proud of myself for the achievement and became a helper to help me stay at that weight. Now, I am no longer a helper and I am gaining weight. I am pee’d off with myself – big time.

Before February I was doing well. But, the new job started, and with it a 2 hrs a day commute. It is not my diet that’s the issue, it is the lack of exercise. The ‘sitting on my butt for 8hrs plus’ every day.

So, I did it before – despite many other obstacles and now I need to do it again.

I rarely leave the office before 6pm and I leave home before 7.30am – so how do I to it?

Will power? Get up earlier? Leave the office on time?

I work from home on a wednesday so I need to log off at 5pm and get out.

Ugh. I need help with this.

Healthy?

I’ve been feeling tired for a while now. Quite a while actually. I thought it was just a combination of starting a new job, getting used to the long commute, and the elements of stress that seem to plague my every day and now I’m not so sure.

I’ve never been good at sleeping. I can easily fall asleep, but never stay asleep all night. My mum, gran and uncles are the same. (My sister breaks the mould though). At the weekend I take a sleeping pill so that I ‘catch’ up a little bit and try to decrease the sleep deficit. But, why am I still so tired?

Yesterday, something happened that made me think about my health. And without wanting to sound like a complete hypochondriac, I think I’m anaemic. 

Add to that the fact I’ve been monitoring my food recently and yesterday only consumed 990 calories, I’m not really helping myself.

It’s time to rethink my nutritional plan & the way I do things to pull me out of this (hypochondriac speaking here) unhealthy, unwell phase in life. First things first – get to grips with the diet. Stop eating cereal when you can’t be bothered cooking anything or using lack of time as an excuse. Plan menus for a week in advance and stick to it. NO PROCESSED FOODS AT ALL. Oh, and live a little. 

Sounds easy doesn’t it?