Monthly Archives: March 2013

Back home to Lyon for a family reunion…

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… and the kitchen is already full of food!

(Thursday)

I arrived from the 11am Easyjet flight this morning. The pilot said it was raining in Lyon but when we landed the sun was shining and dad was waiting for me in the arrival area. We drove home to find mum in the middle of feeding lunch to her grandson, my lovely 2 year old nephew. After his afternoon nap, we all went grocery shopping for the weekend. You see, this weekend we are reuniting for the 1st time since a year ago: my parents, brother, sister and her two kids and me, all together at the same place at the same time. It’s a miracle!

There is a reason why we managed to get this organized: we are celebrating our birthdays. All of our birthdays! We were all born in February, March and April (except dad, but he will get his own special celebration later this year).

I am loving the atmosphere here today. I can feel there is something special in the air. My brother will land tonight from Vancouver and we are going to meet his girlfriend. My sister will arrive tomorrow with her eldest, who does miss his uncle Charles a lot. I can tell my parents are excited even though they are not making a fuss.

It is going to be a good weekend!

But – there is a but – I have been doing so well on my New Year’s resolutions (see the ‘About’ page) that I am getting a bit nervous about how it’s going to go here. Canapés, cheese, bread, cakes, wine, etc. It all looks so good and smells so deeeeelicious! We got the bread from a local traiteur that make the best country style bread in town. It smelled so good in the car on the way back!

Anyway, all I’m saying is I am a little concerned about this weekend going a bit overboard if not totally, but I just remembered: “When you have healthy habits, indulging every now and again won’t make a difference on your health”.

Therefore, I am now ready to enjoy this long waited for reunion, sharing good food and wine and our stories of the past year.

(Saturday)

Last night dad cooked! It’s a “once-a-year” event!! His favourite and very own recipe is stuffed tomatoes. He makes them with love and it’s always a success. Check out the recipe on my recipe page.

Stuffed tomato and rice

Stuffed tomato and rice

(Monday)

Oh dear! I just read that and I see all I was worried about was me eating too much. Well, I’m an optimist, what can I do?! Sure I ate and drank too much this weekend but honestly it’s no big deal.

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Pain au chocolat, croissant, baguette, brioche and bugnes

Kids and their mummy have just gone and the house is quiet again. It feels strange. As if something was missing. They are loud but it’s so much fun to have them around. However I must say, four days with brother, sister, nephews who fight and cry (not all the time, thank god!), and grand parents is a bit overwhelming. But hey, that’s family!

I will go back to London tomorrow feeling refreshed and ready to face revision period, yes, even immunology. I’m ready!

That’s what family does to me. I am glad we are a strong loving family and looking forward to seeing them again.

Family at work

Family working hard in the kitchen

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Dad’s Stuffed Tomatoes

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Serves 8 (two stuffed tomatoes each)

  • 16 big tomatoes
  • 900g sausage meat
  • 1 onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • parsley (as much as you want)
  • 1 to 2 slices of bread
  • a dash of milk
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

1.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2.  Slice the top off the tomatoes and empty the flesh into a bowl. Save for later.

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3.  Roughly chop the onion, shallot and garlic and put in a mixer. Add the parsley and mix.

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4.  In another bowl, tear the bread up and add the milk.

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5.  Add the sausage meat and the chopped onion and parsley to the bread bowl and and mix well.

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6.  Put the stuffing into the tomatoes.

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7. Add a drizzle of olive oil and cook in the oven for about an hour.

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8.  Meanwhile, drain the tomato flesh and heat in a saucepan with olive oil, salt and pepper.

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9. Serve with rice and home-made tomato sauce.

Stuffed tomato and rice

Stuffed tomato and rice

Enjoy!

The Simple Things

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It’s when you get home from the airport on a cold night and find your flatmate in the kitchen preparing a plate of orange slices with cinnamon, or “How Monique turned an orange into a warm welcome back”. As she offers to share her dessert, taking out a couple of forks, we sit in the kitchen for a quick chat and catch up.

Good times and healthy food :)

Asparagus and Mushroom Crust-free Quiche

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I got the idea to put mushrooms and asparagus together in a quiche from a friend / dad of two cute twins (miniature versions of him and his lovely wife). I ran into him at the supermarket when I was looking for ideas to make a healthy quiche and he told me about his mum’s quiche. She would 1st cook the mushrooms in white wine and butter (yum!) and I don’t really remember the rest, but I think the base was quite similar to my recipe. Anyway, I didn’t have wine in mine, but it was good nonetheless.

Ingredients:

  • A good bunch of asparagus, about 250g
  • Organic white cup mushrooms 250g
  • Creme fraiche, 200ml
  • Eggs, 4
  • Shallot, 1 small
  • Nutmeg, half a tsp
  • Parmesan cheese, 2 to 3 tbsp
  • Grated cheddar cheese, 3 to 4 tbsp
  • Pepper to taste. No need for salt because cheese is naturally quite salty
  • A little bit of butter

How to make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180-200 degrees.
  2. Slice the mushrooms and shallot.
  3. Cook the mushrooms and shallot in a frying pan with butter and pepper.
  4. In a big bowl, mix the eggs and creme fraiche together. Then add the cheese, some pepper and nutmeg. Give it a good stir.
  5. Pour into quiche dish and add the veg.

It should look like this:

Quiche before cooking

Quiche before cooking

The mushrooms and asparagus do not need to be cooked thoroughly as they are going to cook in the oven for half an hour.

6.  If you love cheese as much as I do, add a bit of cheese on top:

Ready to be cooked now!

Ready to be cooked now!

7.  Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes. It is important that it is cooked enough because there is no crust. If it is a bit runny it won’t hold together.

You can serve it with a green salad and French dressing.

And best of all, you can freeze slices for another day. Convenient to take with you for lunch and reheat at the office or eat cold. Both are good.

Green Winter Veg Soup

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This is the soup I make every winter, several times. Soup is great because you can literally make as many versions as you want. Here’s a list of the ingredients in this one:

  • Shallots, 4
  • Garlic, 3 cloves
  • Courgettes, 6
  • Broccoli, about 300g
  • Carrots, 3
  • Spinach, a bag of baby leaves
  • Leeks, 3
  • Pointed cabbage, 1

To cook, I put a little bit of water in a huge pot, throw in all the ingredients diced, and cook on medium heat until the carrots are almost soft. Depending on how much water there is after the vegetables are cooked, I may remove some (and put it in a glass for drinking, it’s full of vitamins!!) so that the soup is a bit thicker. Then I blend it all.

Now, you must think this is very bland. I do it on purpose. Because I’m going to make many portions to freeze, I keep it as bland as possible and will season it differently every time I eat a bowl.

Ideas for seasoning:

  • double cream, parsley, salt and pepper
  • coconut oil, turmeric and chilli pepper
  • olive oil and parmesan cheese
  • some fried ham or bacon
  • whatever you like really…
Seasoning the soup

Seasoning the soup

February Recap

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A new month has just begun and before I start getting excited about the activities that I have planned for March, I would like to do a little recap on February.

Regarding food choices, I must admit I haven’t always been healthy last month. Nothing to worry about though, because as I said before, my New Year’s resolutions were not to become a perfect eater, but to make some changes in my eating habits. Last month, when I ate junk food or drank too much, it impacted on my mood and energy for up to four days! Which made buying healthy food and cooking look a lot less fun! Thankfully it’s all back to normal in my kitchen, fridge and cupboards and I can now start telling you about all the good things that I have done last month!

  •  I cooked a little

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  • I froze a lot
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Green vegetable soup (see recipe page)

  • I ran a fair bit: twice a week for about an hour. Feeling good about that!
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Morning riverside runs are the best!

Well it’s not always this sunny…

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But the ducks are always around

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and so are the rowers! (in the yellow boat)

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  • And the Award for Best Activity in February goes to: the live hangout with nutritionist Dr. Willett and two Food Revolution ambassadors Lindsey and Claire as part of the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution foundation. It was my 1st live hangout and as much as I would like to pretend I’m not the kind of person who gets nervous, I am. So I was pretty nervous. But discussing subjects such as “a child’s health improving thanks to healthy eating” and “school children growing veg” turned out to be so interesting that I forgot about the nervousness. Good job girls! Thank you : )
Photographs by (clockwise) Aubrey LaMedica, Peter Hawley and Lindsey Shifley

Photographs by (clockwise) Aubrey LaMedica, Peter Hawley and Lindsey Shifley

Now, what’s coming up in March?

I see cooking classes are getting popular, judging by the amount of Groupon offers I receive every day for them. So, it gave me an idea. I am thinking of setting up a cooking club. It is only just a thought yet but I might write about it soon and if I do, you will be invited to join me for some kitchen fun! Yay!

Mother’s day is coming up. I will be with my mum in France when that happens, giving us a good reason for cooking with the family. That’s something to look forward to! Don’t worry I’ll take pictures!

And then, exam stress will start. That’s NOT something I’m looking forward to, at all! Might not take pictures of that.

That is all for today. Got to get ready to go to my 11am lecture. In this beautiful weather, I am definitely walking!!

See ya!

New Year’s Resolutions: February update

Photographs by (clockwise) Aubrey LaMedica, Peter Hawley and Lindsey Shifley

Hello there fellow bloggers ! How are you keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions?

I am sure you have all heard of Jamie Oliver and what he has been doing working hard for a healthier nation. One of his foundations if called Jamie Oliver Food Revolution. Its aim is to get people cooking more, pass it on, teach their kids, come up with healthy resolutions, etc. It works mainly on a community level and a lot of people are getting their children’s schools on board, some are getting in touch with their local farmers markets and other just want to share what they’ve been doing that they think is healthy. And I’m one of them. Back in January, I wrote a little article on my personal New Year’s resolutions, which they published on their website (http://www.jamieoliver.com/us/foundation/jamies-food-revolution/news-content/working-towards-healthier-nutritional-ha).

We’ve kept in touch and I feel very privileged that they invited me to take part, on Wednesday, in a Food Revolution Google hangout, with Dr. Willett, professor in nutrition from Harvard School of Public Health, and two other committed food revolutionaries, to talk about our resolutions and how we’ve managed to stick to it so far. Lindsey Shifley (http://themullies.blogspot.co.uk/) shared the story of her daughter’s sensory processing issues at school, that dramatically improved thanks to better nutrition. Next Claire O’Meara (The Lifestyle Kitchen and Little Lifestylers) introduced us to her resolutions to getting school children active in the veg garden and how it was so successful that she has been given a piece of land and kitchen facilities by her local council. I talked about my resolutions that are to cut down on carbohydrates and sugar and how it has positively impacted on my weight and energy. Dr. Willett gave us all, tips on how to cut down on calories, improve our lifestyle and how to stick to resolutions.

I learned a lot through this very inspiring hangout and am so happy to have met like minded people who believe in better nutrition for a better future.

Watch the video here: http://bit.ly/ZJgxea

Looking forward to hearing from you all.

Alix x

Me looking nervous before the hangout