Bun in the Oven

foodie adventure though conception and beyond

Sorry for the lack of blogs;

Hi all, sorry it’s been a while since my last proper blog – I thought I should explain. I have landed myself a job running a wonderful little cafe in a farm shop in Meriden, in the West Midlands.Image

We have reopened this week after a large kitchen extension, and I am currently creating a new menu for the cafe. The farm is a pig farm, so I have lots of wonderful fresh pork available, as well as fabulous fresh produce to cook with. Currently the cafe is busy on the weekends but quite quiet during the week, so I’m planning promotions on things like cream teas and OAP specials. I am also trying to get the local CAMRA members in to enjoy the locally brewed ale that we stock.

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Please follow my venture on Twitter and Facebook 

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Blog of the week; In the pursuit of more

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www.inpursuitofmore.com

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Blog recommendation; Happy 4th of July

www.thescrumptiouspumpkin.com

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Blog recommendation; the Botanical Baker

Urvashi is a mum of two and a keen baker. After appearing on the BBC’s “The Great British Bake off” last year she has turned her hand to blogging. Her latest blog is a competition for other bloggers to create the perfect summer drink. Some are non alcoholic and are well worth a look. My favourite is pictured below; Rhubarb and Ginger Zinger from www.farmersgirl.blogspot.co.uk.

But if you want some lovely recipes and some glorious treats, this is also a good blog to follow.

thebotanicalbaker.wordpress.com

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Tea of the week

This is a lovely ginger tea which is zingy, warming and refreshing. It has been my drink of choice this week at work, as it is conveniently in teabag form, and is delicious both hot and cold. This uplifting drink is caffeine free and has hardly any calories. It is available from all good health food shops, as well as Sainsburys, for £2.19.

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Cocktails

I love a good drink. So much so that when I married my husband, we got married in Britain’s Oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame in Faversham Kent. We even had our own wedding ale for our guests to drink.

One of my favourite things apart from drinking was cooking with the stuff. I love making steak and ale pies, cider braised pig cheeks with asparagus, Porter sundae (dark chocolate and porder sorbet topped with porter frozen yogurt with chocolate chunks), and good wholesome stews such as venison and bramble stout. So giving up eating and drinking alcohol has been a bit daunting. I love my beer, I love my gin and whisky, so finding a replacement in the glass – and the kitchen – is going to be a challenge. But there are a fab range of juices and cordials out there which, along with sparking water or tonic in place of alcohol, can be amazing. Mixed together into a super non-boozy cocktail, you will feel special on those occasions when you would most miss a drink. 

Jazzy Juice; 

100ml Innocent Apple juice

100ml Fever tree Ginger Ale

20ml Belvoir Ginger Cordial

Serve with a fresh mint leaf.

Tangerine Sunrise;

1. Pour a nice glass of your favourite orange juice; Mine is Innocent Smooth orange juice.

2. Pour 20ml of Belvoir Spiced Winter Berry through the orange, and it should sink to the bottom, as it is heavier. Do not stir!

Citrus sparkler;

This is totally my favourite at the moment. It feels special. It is a perfect replacement for champagne and is so simple to make!

20ml Belvoir Lime and Lemongrass Cordial

200ml Diet tonic water

Chopped fresh mint

I will publish more recipes for scrummy cocktails in future posts, but for the time being, enjoy!

* I must point out that I bought all products with my own money, and am not affiliated with any companies mentioned.

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Tea

The myth that a cup of tea contains the same amount of caffeine as coffee is untrue. It can be explained by the fact that one kilo of dry black tea and one kilo of dry coffee contain similar amounts of caffeine, but a kilo of tea will make over three times the amount of brewed tea compared to coffee. Therefore a cup of tea contains about a third of the caffeine in an average cup of filtered coffee.

I have always loved my coffee. I have a very nice coffee machine, and it has long been my morning routine to make myself a strong, sweet, full of flavour coffee. The thought of giving it up was originally an horrific one, but the more I have read about the benefits of teas, the more I have tasted, the more interesting I have found it.

I love the rich, smoothness of coffee, the intenseness of flavour and the silky feel on my mouth. You can also find this within Stout and Dark chocolate. Unfortunately I also cannot drink stout, as it alcoholic, and that is definitely a no-no. But a little bit of Dark, organic, fair trade chocolate is allowed. But remember, it also has caffeine in it, so you must take that into account. Approximately 50g equals 50mg of caffiene.

The other option of course is decaffeinated coffee. I was surprised to discover that a standard mug contains 15mg of caffeine! It seems that it is very difficult to totally avoid caffeine, even though there are alternatives to be had.

The safe level of caffeine consumption during pregnancy is a matter of argument among experts. It ranges from no caffeine all the way up to 300mg per day. A standard cup of instant coffee is about 100mg and black tea is between 15-40mg. I have decided to limit myself to 3 cups of tea a day, which means at a maximum my caffeine intake should be no more then 120mg. I am aiming to keep below 200mg, but this should not be difficult.

Caffeine content compared with coffee

  • One mug of instant coffee: 100mg
  • One mug of filter coffee: 140mg
  • One mug of builders tea: 75mg
  • One can of cola: 40mg
  • One can of energy drink: 80mg
  • One 50g bar of plain (dark) chocolate: around 50mg
  • One 50g bar of milk chocolate: around 25mg
  • One mug of decaffeinated coffee; 15mg

Types of teas;

Black teas; Black teas get their characteristic flavour and colour from a natural oxidation process, which follows initial drying and rolling of the leaves after they have been picked. Black teas include Earl grey, black flavoured teas, lapsing soughing ( a intensely smoky tea) and Chai.

Blue teas; Blue teas are essentially between green tea (0% oxidized) and Black tea (100% oxidized). They fall from 10% to 70% oxidization, giving them a large range of flavors and processing methods. Oolongs are complicated and sophisticated teas, with a large spectrum of tastes, aftertastes and smells.

Green teas; Green tea is made from unoxidized leaves which are simply heated after picking to destroy the enzymes that cause oxidation. They are then rolled to release their flavour. Green teas are sweet and contain many of the vitamins and antioxidant properties of the fresh green tea leaf, making them highly regarded as a healthy, fragrant and delicious drink.

White teasWhite teas are less processed and are naturally lower in caffeine. Teas include; White Peony which is one silvery new leaf bud surrounded by a cluster of tiny silvery-green leaves; a pale yellow liquor and a soft, sweet flavour with a hint of nuttiness. White teas are less processed and are naturally lower in caffeine.

Ice teas; I have found many of the fruit flavoured teas are really nice as iced teas. I sweeten with a bit of honey, and allow to cool. I then throw some ice into my smooth maker (though a blender works just as well) and pour in the strained tea. Then whizz it all up and you have a fab crushed iced tea which is best enjoyed in the garden. This can also be done with Chai tea with milk quite nicely, and a little maple syrup.

Herbal teas; Made purely of herbs and spices, not leaves from the tea plant. Please read labels, and double check the herbs, as some, such as raspberry leaf should only be taken in the last trimester of pregnancy, and others which should not be taken at all by pregnant women.

Over the next few weeks I will review some of my favourite teas and add links so you can try them too.

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Gok Cooks Chinese; Super speedy noodles


Talk about good timing, last night on Channel 4 was one of my favourite cookery shows – Gok Cooks Chinese; and today the spinach and spring onions in my veg patch were ready to harvest! I was inspired to make his super speedy pork and ginger noodles. Rather then going out and buying the recommended pork tenderloin, I had decided to use left over chicken from the fridge, and to add the spinach and sesame seeds for extra folic acid.
For those who don’t know, Gok Wan is an English fashion consultant, author and television presenter. He is of chinese/british origin, and he was brought up in Leicester. His father is a chef, and has been a huge influence on him. Most famous for his fashion programmes; “How to Look Good Naked” and “Gok’s Fashion Fix” this is his first adventure into the world of food. The book is available at most good book shops, and the tv show is on Monday evening, and on 4OD.

Gok Wan lighter b&w

  • 2oog shredded chichen ( I used left over chicken from the weekend roast)
  • Neutral oil such as groundnut, for frying
  • 3cm knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  •  1 tbsp Chinese shrimp paste (replace with 1 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked and ground if unavailable) – use more if you like a stronger taste
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce, or to taste
  • ½ tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
  • 400g fresh thin egg noodles
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely julienned
  • 1 spring onions, trimmed and finely julienned
  • Handful of fresh spinach roughly chopped.
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds to garnish
  1. Heat a pan of water and when boiling, drop the noodles in, after 3 minutes, drain noodles and set aside.
  2.  Prepare your spring onions, spinach and carrots. Finely chop the garlic, chilli and ginger. If you are using fresh meat then stir fry for a couple of minutes in a little bit of oil. If using left over meat, then heat up in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. Heat the wok over a high heat and add a dash of oil. Add the ginger, chilli and garlic and stir-fry for 20 seconds until softened a little. Add the shrimp paste (or soaked ground dried shrimp if using) and continue to stir-fry until aromatic – about 2 minutes.
  4. Add a glug of water to create a sauce. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce (you may not need the fish sauce, depending on how strong your brand of fish paste is) and cook for 10 seconds then adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Separate the noodles and toss through the wok for a minute to warm through and coat in the sauce. Then add the meat and stir through quickly to warm. Toss in the spinach and let it wilt a little. Once warm, remove from the heat and garnish with the raw carrot and spring onion. Season with a couple of drops of sesame oil and serve garnished with sesame seeds.

Gok cooks Chinese, catch up on 4od

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Recommended Podcast; Spilled MIlk – Spinach

I have been obsessed with a podcast from America called Spilled Milk for over a year now. Molly and Matthew who host Spilled milk are charming, knowledgeable, and most of all very entertaining. The review packet food, look at ingredients, and recently have talked about their favourite essential utensils for the kitchen. Many of the podcasts they do are about packet food that they have a nostalgic feeling about, but the true gems are when “they cook something delicious and you can’t have any!” One of the recent gems has been about Spinach, and I would definitely recommend it for giggle values alone.

Spinach podcast from Spilled MIlk

The podcast is available both on iTunes and www.spilledmilkpodcast.com/

Both presenters have there own blogs which are also with checking out.

Matthew Amster-Burton – his blog Roots and Grubs; www.rootsandgrubs.com/

And his book “Hungry Monkeys” , which is about his mission to raise his children as adventurous eaters.

Molly Wizenburg – her critically acclaimed blog Orangette – www.orangette.blogspot.co.uk

And her book  “A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table”

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Folic Acid

When talking to my doctor about pregnancy and discussing the things I had to do to make myself ready to conceive, folic acid was the key supplement that I was advised to take. Folic Acid is a B vitamin that has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of your baby having a spine malformation (such as spina-bifida). It also plays a pivotal role in cell division. On top of this, studies show that women who take folic acid before becoming pregnant are less likely to go into premature labour. Vitamin D and Omega -3 can also help with preventing pre-term labour. Some experts recommend that all women of childbearing age should be taking vitamin supplements that include folic acid, but this can be seen as expensive and unnecessary. As with many vitamins and minerals, if you can simply eat the correct things then there is no need to take vitamin supplements. I try to do both. I have bought a complete vitamin and mineral supplement made by Vitabiotics especially for couples trying to conceive. Among other things this tablet contains folic acid, Inositol (helps support ovarian function), L-arginine (for healthy follicular blood flow) and Vitamin B-12 (which maintains healthy ovarian function and reproductive health.) There are many of these supplements on the market but I chose this one due to good reviews, and the fact they sell a combined pack including a daily tablet for your partner. It is recommend that these are taken for between 4-6 months before you begin trying to make a baby. The same brand can be continued into pregnancy, which was useful for me as we conceived so much faster then we expected! They also do a comprehensive range of vitamins for pregnancy, breastfeeding and new mums combinations to aide recovery. There are plenty of other brands and supermarket own-brands out there, which cover the same areas, but these were highly recommended by midwives and have won various awards including a Boots 2012 product award.

When I started looking into this it was for conception purposes, so I researched into the preparation my husband could do for conception, and it turns out there is little he needed to do. The two things that seemed important were limiting alcohol consumption to the recommended daily allowance (so no more then 3-4 units a day). Also not taking scolding hot baths – as it affects the production and mobility of sperm. It is a good idea for men to be eating healthily (especially if you are, as it helps to motivate you.) and the vitamins and minerals that will boost their sexual health and make the sperm stronger and more mobile. Personally I think the men get off lightly, but my husband eats the same things that I am to an extent, so is also kind of on a diet. He has also automatically cut down his alcohol consumption, as I no longer join him in a drink in the evening.

Folic acid is of course found naturally in many green leafy vegetables such as brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli and spring greens. It is also found in bananas, asparagus, peas, citrus juices and pulses. You must remember that most of these must be eaten raw or lightly cooked to get the folic acid out and into your system rather then cooked away. So try things like using raw broccoli and lightly steamed asparagus as crudités with hummus, or baby leaf spinach as salad leaves, a banana or orange as a snack or even buying bread or cereals with added folic acid (see packets for details). Also brown rice, pumpkin and baked potatoes are a good source.

It is recommended that on a daily basis that you should be taking 400mcg. If you have a family history of neural tube defects or chronic health problems then this should be increase to 5000mcg. It is an important issue, so much so, some countries add folic acid to a staple food source, such as Chile where it is in bread and spina bifida has almost totally been eradicated. It is worth talking to you GP if you are aware of any issues that have occurred within your family.

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