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Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 20 Ireland

 

 

The last time I went to Ireland was for a friend’s wedding, I was struck by how green everything was and how friendly the people were. My favourite story about HM The Queen comes from a connection with Ireland. The Queen worked as a mechanic with an Irish woman during the second world war, they became friends and many years later when The Queen was on holiday on board ship sailing with her family in Irish waters, she would stop off to see her friend. Loyalty, laughter and longstanding friendship, all wonderful qualities to be found in Ireland.

 

Irish Stew and Soda Bread

Irish stew ingredients

500g mutton (lamb)

2 small onions, cut into quarters

2 celery sticks, chopped

4 large carrot, sliced

2 leeks, sliced

Stock cube, dissolve in 450 ml boiling water

1 teaspoon of herbs

25g pearl barley

3 potatoes, cut into quarters

Salt and pepper

 

Method

To make the Irish stew combine everything in a small cooker, low setting for 4 hours. Or bake in the oven at 160C for 2 hours. This isn’t the instructions from the recipe by Sue Ashworth, she says first cook the onions until they are softened, brown the meat etc before you combine everything but the easy option is to throw it all together in a casserole dish and bake slowly.

 

Soda Bread, BBC magazine 2003

Soda bread ingredients

250g plain white flour

250g plain wholemeal flour

100g porridge oats

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon salt

25g butter cut into pieces

500ml buttermilk (I could only buy 1 tub of buttermilk – 300ml, so I added 200ml of 50% less fat crème fraiche)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C and dust a baking sheet with flour. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter. Pour in the buttermilk and mix it in quickly with a table knife, then bring the dough together very lightly with your fingertips (handle it very, very gently). Now shape it into a flat, round loaf measuring 20cm/8in in diameter.
  2. Put the loaf on the baking sheet and score a deep cross in the top. Bake for 60 minutes minutes until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. The BBC Good food recipe says to bake for 30-35 mins but I found it uncooked in the centre of the loaf, so I cut it into 8 sections and baked again at 180C fan for a further 10 mins + 20 mins. If it isn’t ready after this time, turn it upside down on the baking sheet and bake for a few minutes more.
  3. Transfer to a wire rack, cover with a clean tea towel (this keeps the crust nice and soft) and leave to cool. Eat very fresh.

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serve with the world-famous Guinness beer and some Irish chocolate or Irish coffee for after dinner! I created an 18-hole mini golf course in my garden (see other blog) from yogurt pots, homemade golf clubs, homemade flags for each hole, so after dinner we ‘imaginary travelled’ to Ireland for a round of golf.

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 19 Portugal

Last summer we were in Portugal and had two special days. My nephew Jake and his girlfriend, Maddie and her family were staying along the coast. They dropped in to see us for the day, lots of laughter and a new happy memory. The second special day involved being in a beach restaurant as the sun set, eating the most delicious grilled sardines, cooked simply with olive oil and salt, a melt in the mouth food experience. Sadly, I couldn’t buy fresh sardines, so instead we pretended to go to a local Portuguese inspired restaurant, I marinated the chicken in mango & lime sauce, cooked chicken livers with fresh salad and chips.

 

Ingredients for 4 people

250g British chicken livers

4 x British chicken breasts

Mango & lime marinade

Low calorie cooking spray

Frozen chips

Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber for salad

Olives

Crusty white rolls

Method

Heat frying pan, add cooking spray. Place livers in pan, fry both sides until no juices appear.

Place chicken breasts in marinade over night, cook on open grill or in a frying pan.

Cook chips according to packet instructions.

Place olives in a bowl.

Fine chop lettuce, slice tomatoes and cucumber to make salad.

Serve with crusty white rolls, Portuguese beer, port of wine and glasses of water.

If you are able to find fresh sardines, season with salt and a little olive oil, place in parcels of foil and bake for 20 minutes at 180C fan until cooked or BBQ in foil.

 

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 18 Morocco

 

The combination of chickpeas and cinnamon evokes the taste of Morocco, a country situated in the north west of Africa, about the same size as California. The capital city is Rabat, but the largest city is Casablanca with over 4 million residents. Is it time to watch  the 1942 film named after Casablanca? This recipe had 1 x aubergine (I replaced it with 2 carrots), feel free to add the aubergine back in and remove the carrots! Aubergine is one of the few vegetables I am not keen on. If you can’t buy an ingredient just swap it for something else. I have added in the cinnamon to this recipe. I will be using lazy pre chopped garlic rather than fresh garlic because I don’t have any fresh garlic cloves.

Moroccan vegetable and chickpea tagine

Buy a packet of lemon and garlic couscous (takes 7-8 mins to boil)

Ingredients

  • lemon and garlic couscous (7-8 mins to boil)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into roughly 2cm chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut diagonally into chunks
  • 2 courgettes, halved lengthways, sliced into 2cm half-moons
  • 1 red pepper, stalk removed, seeds removed, cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 2 tablespoon clear honey
  • 100g dried apricots, halved
  • 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • handful chopped fresh coriander, to garnish
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.
  2. Mix the sweet potato, carrots, courgette and red pepper in a large bowl. Spray with low calorie cooking spray. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over a high heat. When the pan is hot, add the vegetable and fry for 3–4 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  4. Add the onions and fry with low calorie spray for 3–5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, coriander and cumin and fry for 1–2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, harissa paste, honey, apricots, cinnamon sticks and chickpeas. Add the vegetables and cook for 2–3 minutes.
  6. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, then stir in 200ml cold water until well combined and return to the oven, covered, for a further 15 minutes, or until the tagine is thick and the vegetables are tender. Boil couscous for 7-8 mins.
  7. Remove 2 cinnamon sticks. Sprinkle the tagine with chopped coriander and serve with freshly cooked couscous and chunks of lemon.

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 17 South Sudan

 

A few years ago, I visited South Sudan’s internally displaced people camps and refugee camps. I met families surviving on tiny amounts of food, a small bottle of oil, grain and beans. Nothing you see on the news prepares you for seeing this heart-breaking poverty. As I flew over the country in a small plane, I was surprised at how green it was, with stunning rivers and natural resources, a wonderful country if only peace would come, South Sudan’s potential is endless. I was travelling with a team led by Baroness Caroline Cox, from the House of Lords. Baroness Cox introduced me to tribal leaders, military and political leaders, as well as church leaders and university lecturers. During our discussions, they revealed solutions and strategy to solve their country’s challenges, I felt honoured to have met these intelligent men and women.

Part of our trip was spent with some members of the Dinka tribe. They are soooo tall, naturally elegant, with the physique of supermodels/basketball players, strong and slim. I told a few women that they reminded me of my daughter, they stared at me in disbelief….I am just over 5’3’’ and have never been described as thin! So I showed them a photo of my size 6, 5’8’’ tall daughter and they screamed with delight, laughing with surprise, ‘ Yes, she is a white Dinka.’ Tonight, we’ll be eating flat bread and beans, and we will be remembering those in the world who survive on one tiny meal a day, much less than we are eating.

 

Flat bread and beans

Ingredients

4 x flatbreads

1 x can of any beans, 395g (I am using taco mixed beans in spicy sauce)

 

Method

Warm flatbread in oven for 5 minutes

Heat beans in saucepan for a few minutes

 

Discussion points:

What is the population of South Sudan?

Is it the world’s newest nation?

How many people are internally displaced?

How long has the country been enduring conflict?

Name a famous person from South Sudan in the following catagories: artist, politician, scientist, Olympic athlete, supermodel, musicians, footballer, basketball player.

 

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 16 Brazil

 

Brazil is about 35 times bigger than the UK, and it is sometimes called “o Pais do Futebol” the country of football. Brazil is the world’s 9th largest economy, with 60% of the country covered by rainforests. Brazil has a third of the world’s rainforests and the most famous one, the Amazon. The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is home to 180 groups of indigenous people. Tonight we are eating vegetarian black bean feijoada.

 

Brazilian black bean feijoada for 4 people

Ingredients

1 large onion, chop large chunks

2 cloves of garlic (or 2 teaspoons of lazy garlic ready crushed)

Low calorie cooking spray

3 large potatoes, cut into chunks

1 yellow pepper, de-seed and cut into chunks

1 red pepper, de-seed and cut into chunks

1 teaspoon of lazy chilli

2 x cans chopped tomatoes

1 veg stock cube dissolved into 350ml of hot water

2 x 400g cans of black beans

Quinoa x 100g

Fresh coriander, 1 handful chopped

Optional – grated cheese for serving

Method

Chop 1 large onion into large chunks and crush 2 cloves of garlic (or 2 teaspoons of lazy garlic ready crushed). Spray a high sided frying pan with low calorie cooking spray, add the onion and garlic, cook for 3 minutes.

Cut 3 large potatoes into chunks, deseed and cut into chunks 1 yellow pepper and 1 red pepper, a teaspoon of lazy chilli, 2 x cans chopped tomatoes and dissolve 1 veg stock cube into 350ml of hot water. Add all to the pan and simmer for 25 minutes.

Drain and rinse 2 x 400g cans of black beans, add to pan and cook for 8 minutes.

Cook quinoa and chop fresh coriander on top, serve as an accompaniment to the feijoada. You can add grated cheese as an extra on top (my family did, but I prefer it without cheese). There was plenty of extra left after feeding 4 people so I froze them in takeaway containers.

 

 

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 15 Mexico

Beautiful beaches, fun music (we’ll be playing Mexican music during dinner), the home of tequila and Mexican beers. Mexican farmers produce specialist harvests of; vanilla, chilli peppers, avocados and corn. Producing over 26,000 tons of cocoa per year (chocolate) Mexico is the 13th highest producer in the world.

We are making chicken fajitas tonight. This is a quick and easy dinner to make in 15 minutes, so a big thank you to Mexico for inventing this one. I bought an ‘Old El Paso Smoky BBQ Fajita Dinner Kit’ 500g containing 8 x flour tortillas, 1 x seasoning mix, 1 x salsa topping. An easy meal, almost takeaway!

Chicken Fajitas for 4 Amigos

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

1 onion

2 red peppers

1 x sour cream bottle/carton

8 wraps

½ Iceberg lettuce – cut leaves into strips

Fajita dinner pack – 8 tortillas, 1 seasoning pack, 1 salsa pack

Optional – Mexican beer with a slice of lime

 

Method

Cut the onions into strips.

De-seed peppers and cut into strips, spray saucepan with low calorie cooking spray and add onions/peppers and cook for a few minutes on medium heat.

Cut the chicken into slices or bite-sized chunks, add to pan with seasoning mix.

½ Iceberg lettuce, cut into strips.

Warm tortillas in oven for a few minutes.

Place pot of sour cream on the dinner table with the bowl of lettuce, salsa in a bowl, warm tortillas and seasoned chicken in a bowl. Make you own wraps.

Serve with Mexican beer with a slice of lime squeezed into the neck of the bottle and glass of tap water.

Made a birthday cake for a friend who lives near me for her birthday.

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 14 USA

 

American’s are well known for their fabulous hospitality, so during dinner I described the exceptional generosity and kindness from one American woman and two American families I have stayed with. When I think of the USA in terms of food I remember their endless fields, vast farms and huge harvests of peanuts, corn and cranberries. This Cajun chicken recipe is a healthy and tasty option from the Southern states.

 

Ingredients

4 x chicken breasts

Low calorie cooking spray

Cajun spice mix

4 large potatoes

340g can of sweetcorn

40g of low fat fromage frais or quark

Salt and pepper.

½ small white cabbage

2 x carrots, grated

4 spring onions, thinly sliced

4 corn on the cob

110g of low fat fromage frais or quark mixed with 1 tablespoons white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of natural granulated sweetener.

 

Cajun chicken with creamed corn and slaw (serves 4)

Preheat oven to 200/ 180 fan oven/ gas 6.

Spread out the chicken breasts in a non-stick baking tray and spray with low calorie cooking spray then dust with Cajun spice mix. Bake for 20 mins.

Boil potatoes for 10 minutes, drain and mash. Add 340g can of sweetcorn and blend together using a hand/stick blender. Add 40g of low fat fromage frais or quark plus salt and pepper.

Boil the corn on the cob until tender.

Shred 1 small white cabbage, grate 2 carrots, thinly slice 4 spring onions, mix together. In another bowl mix 110g of low fat fromage frais or quark with 1 tablespoons white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of natural granulated sweetener.

If you can’t buy chicken or you prefer not to eat meat, use quorn breasts instead of chicken. Replace tinned sweetcorn with frozen sweetcorn if tins are unavailable.

Place a large dollop of creamed corn on each plate, place the chicken sliced on top and add the slaw on the side with dressing on top. Serve side dish of corn on the cob.

 

 

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 13 Fiji

 

I went to the local fishmonger and bought a whole gilthead bream fish for £6.80, two men were shopping in front of me in the queue, selecting freshly caught fish, obviously this is a manly thing to do! I’ve never been to Fiji but I researched online that root vegetables and fish are plentiful, tonight we ate marinated fish cooked on the BBQ. You’d think this would be so simple that nothing could go wrong. It did. I ignited the charcoal on the kettle BBQ, 20 minutes later I placed the bream fish on the grill of the BBQ. I shouted for someone to help while I prepared the root vegetable mash, broccoli and quinoa, no-one came. Eventually a person appeared to help, by this time the fish was adhered to the grill, the fish was removed with difficulty, turned over and then it stuck on the other side too. By the time it was removed from the BBQ, the skin on both sides of the fish, rather than being gently roasted looked more like a cat had mauled it for dinner. The root vegetable mash had been blended to a pulp, at this point in the proceedings my 17-year-old daughter asked if it was mango smoothie or baby food and please could she put some fishfingers in the oven to supplement the serious lack of protein. The other two family members were shaking with laughter. The meal was saved by my 19-year-old son saying, “Surprisingly, it all tastes great.”

Marinated Fish (for 4 people)

Ingredients

1 x fish (0.800kg)

Garlic

Olive oil and a little rock salt overnight.

Buy yam or tavioka (cassava) or Dalo (Taro) roots or 3 x sweet potatoes, chop into chunks

Warm ½ cup of milk

30g butter

Salt, pinch

Method

  • 1 x fish (0.800kg)
  • Marinate in garlic, olive oil and a little rock salt overnight. Either bake in the over for 25 mins at moderate heat or BBQ.
  • Buy yam or tavioka (cassava) or Dalo (Taro) roots. Chop into chunks and boil for 20 mins in water, drain once cooked. Warm ½ cup of milk and 30g butter with a pinch salt, once melted add yams and mash. I had sweet potatoes so used them instead.
  • Cook broccoli
  • Cook quinoa

 

If you would like to learn from my mistakes, hand mash the root vegetable rather than blend in a blender. Wrap the fish in a foil parcel before putting on the BBQ or even better bake in the oven. This is not a typical drink from Fiji, but I drank a large whisky and diet coke with this meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 12 Australia

Having lived in Oz for over 7 months, I feel like this is a home-coming. Sitting outside in the sunshine with a kettle BBQ as the sun sets, putting another shrimp on the barby, mate this is easy living. It’s relaxed eating, the burgers are delicious and healthy so no guilt required. Just remember to light the charcoal at least 30 minutes before you need to start cooking. And to complete the meal, we will be making BBQ chocolate bananas wrapped in foil parcels and popcorn over the BBQ. This requires two metal cooking sieves wired together and attached to a pole! It’s fun and having time to discover such culinary delights is a true luxury.

 

 

Australian BBQ

Ingredients

1 onion, grated

British beef lean mince (less than 5% fat) 500g + 100g quorn mince

2 egg yolks,

Handful of fresh parsley

Salt + pepper.

Sausages with apple and herbs

Whole large prawns, 2 per person

Banana

Maple syrup or runny honey or chocolate

Homemade slaw: ½ small white cabbage + ½ small red cabbage cut into strips

1 carrot grated

1 packet of microwave popcorn (2 metal sieves that you never want to use again, piece of wire to connect them and a long strong stick)

 

Method

Home-made burgers with brioche buns

To make 6 burgers:

Grate 1 onion, combine with British beef lean mince (less than 5% fat) 500g + 100g quorn mince (the quorn is optional), 2 egg yolks, chopped fresh parsley and salt + pepper.

Sausages with apple and herbs

BBQ prawns, buy whole large prawns, place on bbq for few mins.

Homemade slaw: ½ small white cabbage + ½ small red cabbage cut into strips plus 1 carrot grated.

BBQ banana and maple syrup or runny honey or chocolate: to BBQ, slice open banana length ways (keep in skin) and place 3 cubes of chocolate in cut. Wrap in foil and place on BBQ for a few minutes to heat through until the banana becomes mushy and the chocolate has melted.

              

 

 

 

         

Popcorn made over the BBQ with 2 metal cooking sieves, wire together and wire to a pole. Add a little butter or toffee sauce if you are making with popcorn but if instead you use one packet of microwave popcorn you will not need to add the butter. Enjoy your outdoor feast.

 

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 11 Thailand

Thailand brings back memories of backpacking and lazing on idyllic beaches. Memories of riding on elephants and Thai women balancing delicate multi-coloured layers of food on their heads, on their way to the temple. So to bring back the memories, it’s delicious Thai green curry with rice tonight.

 

Thai green chicken curry

Ingredients for 4 people

I large onion, chopped

2 green chillies, de-seed and cut into strips

12 skinless/boneless chicken thighs

Green curry paste

1 chicken stock cube, 450ml hot water

100ml coconut milk (fat reduced if possible)

Rice

1 carrot, cut length ways into fine strips

1 red pepper, cut length ways into fine strips

125g sugar snap peas

125g baby sweetcorn

1 tablespoon of Thai fish sauce

1 lime: zest and juice

Handful fresh coriander, chop

 

Method

Finely chop 1 large onion, de-seed 2 green chillies and finely slice into strips. Spray low fat cooking spray into a high sided frying pan. Add onion/2 sliced green chilli and 12 skinless/boneless chicken thighs. Cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in 2 tablespoons of green curry paste, dissolve 1 chicken stock cube into 450ml hot water and add to pan, 100ml coconut milk (fat reduced if you can get it, I couldn’t) Simmer over a low heat for 25 mins.

Rinse and start to boil the rice.

Cut 1 carrot and 1 red pepper length ways into fine strips, 125g sugar snap peas, 125g baby sweetcorn, 1 tablespoon of Thai fish sauce (I found this in the supermarket in the same section as soya sauce), zest and juice of 1 lime. Add all these to the pan and simmer for a further 20 minutes.

Fine chop fresh coriander and place on top when serving. Serve with rice.