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Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 10 India

 

Have you ever been to India or Pakistan? I imagine it is a tapestry of colour and experiences, my friends Zene and Resham would have shown me how to make authentic food from Pakistan and India. Resham and her mum’s kitchen spice drawers are legendary and they make the best vegan curries. I have found two recipes in a leaflet from a slimming world magazine titled Weeknight winners in association with Frylight, I have adapted them to accommodate ingredients I couldn’t resource. This is a healthy recipe but do get in contact and give me other recipes.

 

Chicken tikka & mango biryani (main dish)

Ingredients

500g diced chicken breast

250g dried basmati rice (I couldn’t source this, so used brown rice instead)

2 onions finely chopped

5cm finely chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons medium curry powder

2 teaspoons each of cumin and turmeric

750ml water and dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes to make stock

1 cauliflower (cut into florets)

125g spinach (baby spinach if you can get it, I couldn’t so substituted with spinach)

1 mango, cut into bite sized chunks

2 lemons, juiced

Salt & pepper. Smoked paprika, to serve

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  2. Wash rice and lentils in a colander until water runs clear. Tip rice, lentils, onions and ginger into deep casserole dish. Whisk spices into the stock, pour over the rice mixture and bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Stir through the chicken chunks and cauliflower and bake for a further 30 minutes.
  4. Turn off the oven, scatter the spinach on the top of the dish and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Add salt & pepper, stir in the mango and lemon juice. Scatter a little paprika on the top.

 

Green lentil and potato dhal (side dish)

In the SW leaflet the recipe is called Aubergine & red lentil dhal but I can’t stand aubergines! I replaced them with potato. Fresh tomatoes, garlic cloves and red lentils were out of stock in my supermarket so I used half a bag of leftover dried green lentils and a can of chopped tomatoes from home. I couldn’t buy fresh or dried curry leaves so I left them out, feel free to add them. No mustard seeds either, so I put in a spoonful of English mustard.

 

 

Ingredients

Low calorie cooking spray (Frylight)

2 onions, finely chopped

1 green or red chilli finely chopped

4 teaspoonfuls of pre-chopped lazy garlic

1 teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of mustard or 1 tablespoon of black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon of turmeric

2 tablespoons of mild curry powder

175g dried green lentils

2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks

1 red and 1 orange pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks

2 cans of chopped tomatoes or 8 fresh tomatoes cut into chunks

50g spinach

Handful of chopped coriander to serve.

8 poppadoms and mango chutney (optional)

 

Method

  1. Spray saucepan with Frylight, add onions, fry for 6 minutes. Reduce heat and add chilli, garlic, ginger, cumin, mustard (seeds), turmeric, curry powder, fry 2 mins.
  2. Add lentils and 600ml water. Add potato, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, reduce heat to low for 25 mins.
  3. Season with fresh coriander leaves and serve. As this is a side dish, you will have dhal left over to freeze for a side dishes or main meals for another day. Home takeaway!

 

Serve with poppadums and mango chutney (this will add more of calories – just a hint if you want to leave the lockdown phase slimmer!)

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 9 China

It’s a dream of mine to travel to China, so this recipe comes with no experience or knowledge of this culturally rich and powerful country. It’s a simple, healthy dish and saves us ordering a takeaway from our local Chinese restaurant.

Chinese lemon chicken, (feeds 4)

 

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

1 tablespoon of cornflour

Low calorie cooking spray

300ml water and 1 chicken stock cube

Rind and juice of 2 lemons

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 dessertspoons of granulated sweetener

3 carrots, halved and cut diagonally

1 red chilli and 2 spring onions sliced in strips

200g sugar snap peas

Noodles

 

Method

Cut 4 chicken breasts into small chunks, place in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of cornflour to coat them. In a separate bowl mix the juice from 1 lemon with 300 ml of chicken stock, one level teaspoon of sweetener and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

Spray a frying pan with low calorie cooking spray, add the chicken and fry for 3 minutes.

Add to pan 3 carrots (slice diagonally in slender chunks), 1 chilli (cut into fine slithers). Pour in the stock mixture, boil for 4 minutes, then add 200g of sugar snap peas, and 2 finely sliced spring onions. Finely slice in strips spring onion and red chilli to serve.

Cook noodles for a few minutes or cook wholegrain rice if you prefer.

 

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 8 Russia

I asked some well-travelled family members for their advice on where to plan a visit for a weekend, without hesitation my father’s response was ‘St Petersburg and especially the wonderful Hermitage Museum and art gallery’. I have added it to my bucket list of places to visit, but for now I’ll dream of visiting by eating a classic Russian dish, beef stroganoff. Serve with carrots and jacket potatoes and maybe Russian vodka? I opted for red wine.

Russian beef & mushroom stroganoff

Ingredients

4 Jacket Potatoes

1 onion finely chopped

400g thinly sliced mushrooms

400g thinly sliced British lean sirloin steak

230g thinly sliced British rump steak

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Salt & pepper

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

2 teaspoons lazy pre-chopped garlic or 2 garlic cloves, chopped

300 ml hot water with 1 beef stock cube

200ml (Elmlea) double cream alternative or cream, or 200ml of Greek yogurt

Method

  • Place everything into a slow cooker (apart from 2/3 of the mushrooms) on high setting for 3 hours, or for 5 hours on a low setting if you would like it to take longer. Place jacket potatoes in an oven at 170C for 1.5 hrs before meal is required.
  • Just before serving, microwave rest of the mushrooms for a few minutes, pour off the excess water and add to pot.
  • Stir in the Greek yogurt or Elmlea to the stroganoff just before serving.

Ideas to entertain your kids in lockdown, make your own golf course.

Whilst my friends who are two NHS doctors are hard at work every day, I agreed to facetime their daughters (aged 9 and 11) and lead them in multiple creative sessions, to keep them occupied whilst mum and dad are working. I’ve planned the first 5 sessions to last 3.5 hours, and one to last 7.5 hours, creative and fun! This blog will provide you with a list of materials and the planning and ideas. Here is a short film to show how we made a set of 20 flags and a golf course.

 

 

The goal in sessions 1-4 is to create a set of flags that can be setup outside, which can provide hours of making time and also play time, creating fun games with the flags for children aged 4-11.

Session 1: Making flags

We’ll be making 20 handmade flags, drawing numbers on them. Using coloured card or paper (whatever you have at home) or if you don’t have any paper, look in your recycling and use the back of cereal packets. Decorate the flags with a number and with patterns, invite them to draw pictures of what is going on in their life. One child I did these sessions with loves animals, so on one of our flags she found a gerbil in a covid mask in a magazine, cut it out and stuck it onto a flag… Once made, the flags are attached to a stick of approximately 45cm long. These sticks can be purchased online (plant support sticks work perfectly), or use anything you have in the garden. You could even collect sticks whilst you’re out on your daily walk, just remember to choose fairly straight sticks.

Why make boundary flags?

They can be used by the children to create a circle to play in, a safe space. It’s a way of ensuring that even the youngest children know where they can and cannot go – an easier way to keep an eye on them. So once this challenging time is over, you can take these flags into woods, rural places and ask the children to mark their safe space using the flags and not to go beyond the flag markers. In a time of restriction, this activity gives the children an opportunity to decide where they’ll play. Creating the 20 flags alone took a total of 8 hours. We’ll be making a small scale 18 hole golf course (you can choose 9 holes if you prefer) and using the flags you make in this session to mark each hole, start saving yogurt pots/plastic bottles to cut into small cups for the golf holes!

Materials list

  • Card, 20 sheets, pre-cut to make flags size 17cm x 15cm, so one long rectangle of 34cm x 30cm – folded in half.
  • Scissors.
  • Colouring pencils.
  • Colouring felt tip pens.
  • Stamps/ink pad, stickers.
  • Black permanent marker pen (Sharpie).
  • Old magazines/newspapers.
  • Pritt stick.
  • 9 or 18 yogurt pots or equivalent sized pots from your recycling box.

  • One small trowel per child to dig in yogurt pots.
  • 20 straight sticks, approx. 45cm in length, these can be either skinny garden sticks (they normally support new plants) or gather sticks that have fallen from trees while out on your daily exercise walk.
  • Phone or iPad, laptop for FaceTime with someone who can sit remotely with child as they decorate the flags.

  To Do

  • Draw a large number on the left side of the flag, and then the same large number on the right, so both sides of the flag show the number.
  • Draw images on the flag on each side, things that are important or funny or remind you of happy times.
  • Cut out images from old magazines and newspapers, pieces of wrapping paper. Use rubber stamps and an ink pad if you have one, add stickers. Anything goes, the brighter the better.
  • Use a pritt stick to glue one half of the flag inside, insert the stick and fold around the stick.
  • I like to make my flags waterproof so I wrap them in sticky back plastic and cut to size. Make 20 flags in total, all numbered.
  • On the computer, create a score card, numbering each golf hole with space for each player.

Session Plan

8.30am – good morning chat, number flag and colour in number, decide on how to decorate, themes.

9-9.30am – workout on YouTube with Joe Wicks

9.30-10.15am – decorate flags

10.15-10.30am breaktime, drink & snack

10.30am-12 noon – decorating flags

In the following sessions (5 & 6) , these are the instructions to make a golf course:

  • Ask the child/children to make a map of their garden, with details like slopes and things that are important when planning a golf course, interesting places and identify sites that would be good to dig a small hole the size of a yogurt pot. They should consider not hitting any windows/buildings/greenhouse, so ensure they don’t plan to put a hole in the line of sight of any of these.
  • Ask them to check out the Royal North Devon golf course online, https://www.royalnorthdevongolfclub.co.uk
  • This golf course has 18 holes, each hole has a number and a name, ask the children to look up the names and use them as inspiration for naming the holes on their golf course/map.
  • Ask the children to decide if they want a 9-hole or an 18-hole golf course.
  • Now invite them to add the location and names of each hole to their map. Ensure no holes are in the middle of a lawn (flower beds are good for holes, or less precious parts of the garden, suggest they use any left-over drain pipes or the inner tubes from wrapping paper to add to making the golf holes interesting.
  • Check the map, ask them to amend any golf hole locations that could result in a broken window.
  • Invite them to take the map, a trowel and the yogurt pots to dig the holes for the pots. The children I did this activity with had building work in their home, so they had access to lots of spare sections of drain pipe and they used these on a number of holes to add interest. Keep in contact through FaceTime, whilst the construction is taking place.
  • I don’t have any golf clubs so made some out of off cuts of wood, remember to bind the top with some gaffer tape, to protect against splinters.
  • You can make a golf course in your own garden, while the children are making one in theirs. Once the lockdown has ended you can visit each other’s gardens for a game of golf.
  • If you don’t have a garden, you could make a map of a family members garden/grandparent’s garden, decide the number of golf holes, create a plan, collect the sticks, collect the yogurt pots and make the flags. Put everything in a box with a trowel, this can be your ‘make a golf course kit’.

 

Have a great time playing garden golf, create a number of hits expected for each hole and create a score card with a line for each player. Stay safe.

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 7 Sweden

If you have shopped and eaten at Ikea, you may be wondering why there is red jelly but no gravy with this recipe for Swedish meatballs, according to my research online a Swedish woman said the traditional way of eating meat balls in Sweden is without gravy, I have combined her recipe with one from BBC Good-Food online. This recipe made too much for 4 people, the left-over meatballs can be frozen or used for lunch the following day. One of my family members toasted a pitta bread and added the left-over meat balls with salad, he said it tasted great! Sweden has provided an educational model of how to connect students with nature and the outdoors through forest school, and in doing so have given opportunities for children to get out of the classroom more often. They’ve taken flatpack design at Ikea to a whole new level, but how many of us have been challenged to work out how to put things together? In the music of Abba, the Swedes have caused us to sing, laugh and dance. Why not play the Mamma Mia movie tonight and enjoy with a Kopparberg cider while you have dinner?

Swedish meatballs, redcurrant or cranberry jelly (for 4 people)

Ingredients

400 g of British beef mince or British lean pork

1 egg beaten

1 onion finely chopped

1 teaspoon of lazy chopped garlic or 1 garlic clove chopped

85g breadcrumbs

Salt and ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper and ¼ teaspoon of seasoning or all spice

2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped parsley

125ml of milk

Oil and butter

4 x Potatoes

Jar of redcurrant jelly with port (or Lingonberry jelly if you can find it in the supermarket)

Butter/milk for mashing potatoes

Green beans

Swedish Cider

Method

  1. Mix the breadcrumbs with milk, egg, garlic, salt, pepper and all spice: leave to soak for 10 minutes.
  2. Add onion, meat and parsley, mix well and create golf size balls.
  3. Add oil and butter to a saucepan, heat until medium hot. Add meatballs in batches to cook.
  4. Boil potatoes, mash with milk and butter, salt & pepper.

Serve meatballs with redcurrant jelly (sadly not lingonberry jelly!) mash, green beans and Swedish cider, Kopparberg.

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 6 Greece

Today we are eating fresh, healthy food from Greece. Sparkling sea the colour of pale sapphires, bright sunshine and the smell of tanning oil, I was 13 years old on a family holiday to the Greek island of Skiathos. Each day I had lunch from a beach café, well I say café but it was more like a wooden hut. A dollop of Greek yogurt, topped with half a canned peach, dripping with runny honey, I can taste it as I write this! That is definitely going to be the dessert as I can’t find any baklava (hardly an essential but it does taste delicious). Baklava is the pastry made with nuts and honey that was a treat from my childhood, my father would buy it in London and bring it home to Sussex on a Friday night, pieces were allocated so each member of the family had an equal share, it was a diplomatic way to protect us from a family argument!

Selection of Greek foods, feta & olive salad, homemade hummus, charcoal chicken kebabs with Greek yogurt/peaches/honey dessert. 

              

Ingredients

1 x can of chick peas

3 dessert spoons of tahini – I couldn’t get this so instead used Greek yogurt,

Juice from 1 lemon or equivalent lemon juice from a bottle

Salt and pepper

1/3 Lettuce

½ cucumber chopped

20 cherry tomatoes left whole

4 x tomatoes, cut into chunks

Small jar or can of black olives

Block of feta cheese, cut into small chunks

Charcoal chicken kebabs (from frozen department of the supermarket)

4 x pitta breads

½ can of peaches in juice

1 carton 0% fat Greek yogurt

Runny honey

Method

  1. To make hummus. Place the chick peas, tahini or yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a blender. Blend until it becomes a paste, use extra water if its too thick. If you like it spicy add paprika. Place in bowl and dust with small amount of paprika to serve.
  2. Bake charcoal chicken kebabs according to instructions.
  3. To make feta and olive salad. Combine lettuce, cucumber, 4 large tomatoes cut into chunks, olives and chunks of feta cheese.
  4. Place cherry tomatoes into a separate dish, and toast pitta bread for a few minutes on a low setting in the toaster.
  5. Place kebabs in a dish.
  6. Use medium size dish, place Greek yogurt on the bottom, line peach slices on top and drizzle with honey.

 

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 5 Austria

Watching the sun rise at 6am and transform the sky into a shimmer of pink and mauve. A view of snow-covered peaks in the winter, and sheltered inside a mountain cabin with a wool blanket and a warm red wine with cinnamon. Friends from Norway would describe this cosy scene as hygge. Later venturing outside with two planks of wood and hurtling down a 45-degree slope, hoping not to break anything before I reach the bottom of the slope. This is the country of opera, Mozart and a haven for culture vultures. This is a simple and easy meal from Austria.

 

Weiner Schnitzel for 4 people

Ingredients

Either buy flat chicken in breadcrumbs or make your own wiener schnitzel with:

4 x veal cutlets or chicken or pork pound flat with a rolling pin (cover meat with cling film.

4 tablespoons of plain flour

150g of breadcrumbs

Cooking oil

2 eggs

French fries

Redcurrant jelly, buy ready made

Salt

White ¼ and red cabbage ¼, cut into bit size pieces

 

Method

  1. Once the meat is flattened with the rolling pin, roll in flour, dip in egg and roll in breadcrumbs and season. Heat oil in a frying pan until hot and place cutlet in the oil, keep turning so it doesn’t burn.
  2. Oven cook french fries according to the instructions on the packet.
  3. Chop and boil cabbage for a few minutes, season.
  4. Serve with redcurrant jelly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, day 4 Italy

 

‘Ciao Bella’, we’ve arrived in Italia, terrific country with passionate people, stylish fashion, wonderful soft light for painting (visit Florence) and colourful food. I’ve backpacked around Italy and lived next door to Italian’s for many years, to know them is to love them. One of my Italian neighbours had an unusual way of parking his car, you know who you are Toni. He would parallel park by hitting the car in front, then hit the car behind, eventually finding a mid-point to bring the car to a standstill. I never parked near his house after watching his daily ritual. His wife made the most delicious tiramisu, and my other neighbour Angela made the best lasagne in the world.

 

Creamy pasta carbonara

Ingredients

4 smoked rashers of bacon

2 teaspoons of chopped lazy garlic

Low calorie cooking spray

200g dried tagliatelle or fresh pasta if you can find it

100g frozen peas

150g button mushrooms halved

2 slender leeks thinly sliced

2 large eggs beaten

50g parmesan cheese, finely grated

50ml Elmlea, double cream alternative

Salt and pepper

 

Method

  • Spray frying pan with cooking spray, add garlic, bacon, leeks and mushrooms, cook for 4 minutes.
  • Cook pasta in microwave according to packet instructions, add peas for last 2 minutes, drain. Add pasta to frying pan.
  • Beat the 2 eggs, cheese and Elmlea in a bowl, pour over contents of saucepan to warm through on low heat. Add salt and pepper.
  • Serve with garlic bread and salad.

I wasn’t able to buy tagliatelle or bacon, or mushrooms, or leeks, or eggs or parmesan cheese! So instead I combined chunks of chicken (3 chicken breasts), 1 chopped onion, 3 dessertspoons of pesto, 2 teaspoons of lazy garlic, cooked in a frying pan with low calorie spray, added half a broccoli broken into florets, sliced lengths of yellow pepper, a can of sweetcorn. Cooked the dry pasta in the microwave and drained, added the pasta to the pan and poured 1/3 tub of Elmlea over it, with black pepper and salt. Served with garlic bread and salad of a handful of fresh spinach, 3 leaves of iceberg lettuce shredded, 2 tomatoes cut into quarters, 2 spring onions and sliced cucumber. Served with a glass of Italian red wine, a meal fit for a king.

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, Day 3 France

 

Bonjour, we have arrived in France. We didn’t have croissants for breakfast, this was a terrible mistake as they make a fabulous start to any day, neither did we consume a thick syrupy coffee standing up at a bar. Thank goodness I found a bottle of cognac given by a builder to us at Christmas, it set into play the possibility of having Coq au Vin. In France they serve frites, in other parts of the world known as skinny fries (sadly I only found thick chips so I had to substitute). The art galleries are truly inspiring in Paris, the smell of freshly baked baguettes, elegant language and beautifully dressed Parisians – what can I say, France is a wonderful country. To cheer us up, lets eat Coq au Vin and brie, drink French wine and dance on the table.

Ingredients

Low calorie cooking spray

4 rashers of bacon (130g)

3 gloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 chicken thighs, skin removed

2 chicken legs, skin removed

2 chicken breasts, skin removed

3 tablespoons of brandy or cognac

2 teaspoons of tomato puree

2 rosemary sprigs

2 bay leaves

Salt & pepper

600 ml of red wine

150 ml of chicken stock (use 1 chicken stock cube)

2 tablespoons of plain flour

250g mushroom quarters

Parsley leaves, for garnish

Frites (skinny fries)

Green beans or carrots.

Macaroons & Madeline cakes

French Brie, cheese biscuits and French wine.

 Method

To make the Coq au Vin:

Use low calorie cooking spray to cook 4 rashers of bacon (130g), remove from frying pan. Fry 3 gloves of finely chopped garlic and 1 large onion finely chopped with spray. Set aside with the bacon.

Remove skin from 4 chicken thighs, 2 chicken legs and 2 chicken breasts, fry with low calorie cooking spray, add 3 tablespoons of brandy or cognac for 10 minutes, then add 2 teaspoons of tomato puree, 2 rosemary sprigs, 2 bay leaves, salt & pepper and 600 ml of red wine and 150 ml of chicken stock (use 1 chicken stock cube to make this). Add 2 tablespoons of plain flour, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Then add 250g mushroom quarters, bacon/garlic/onion and remove bay leaves/rosemary sprigs. Garnish with parsley leaves.

Serve with frites (skinny fries), green beans or carrots.

After the meal: serve macaroons & madeleine cakes with coffee and a cheese board including French brie and cheese biscuits. Serve meal with French wine.

For fun while you are eating dinner, think about discussing who are France’s most interesting artists, scientists, business people, inventors. Who is their greatest fashion designer?

Eating round the world for 20 days in lockdown, Day 2 Spain

Day 2 and we are already in Spain, which is fabulous because Spanish people are gorgeous and their food is fun, especially tapas. We’ve decided to have a Spanish meal because the small local supermarket had run out of meat yesterday. What was I thinking? I shopped at the end of the day and unsurprisingly there was little left yet there were a few things remaining in the shop’s fridges. Spanish chorizo sausage, Spanish omelette and olives on the ambient shelves. This called for a trip to Spain, France would have to wait for another day. What the hell do you do with chorizo? Looking online on the BBC website I found a recipe for Spanish casserole, which was so simple and tasted delicious my family are asking me to cook it again.

Ingredients

1 x chorizo sausage into fine slices, making circles.

2 x cans of chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g can of butterbeans

Spanish omelette

Mini sweet red peppers stuffed with cream cheese

Black olives

4 x tomatoes, cut each one into 6 sections

Anything else you have spare in the fridge that’s healthy, for cold tapas

Method

To make Spanish tapas: (Top tip, present each dish in its own bowl.)

  • Spanish Casserole – Chop 1 x chorizo sausage into fine slices, making circles. Put in a saucepan and cook for about 5-7 minutes until some of the fat comes out of them and they look slightly browner. Add 2 cans of canned chopped tomatoes and 1 can of 400g butterbeans, lightly cook for 20 minutes on medium. I know it’s so easy you can’t believe it.
  • Buy Spanish omelette and bake in oven for 20 minutes at medium heat.
  • Buy mini sweet red peppers stuffed with cream cheese, place in a bowl.
  • Black olives place in a bowl.
  • Cut tomatoes into chucks and place in a bowl.
  • Anything else you have spare in the fridge that’s healthy add into a bowl, I found some pasta with pesto and cheese in my fridge so added this as an extra dish of cold tapas.

Drinks – serve tap water and if you’re feeling in need of alcohol, Spanish sangria, Spanish wine or beer.

This meal, simple as it is, is my family’s favourite meal so far….to be continued. Tomorrow we are off to France, au revoir.