A Little Bit of Pride

Back in the days before Paleo I made a rainbow birthday cake for The Boy – as rainbow cakes go it wasn’t the best made, if you google you will see some real beauties. All the same I was rather proud of it. The Pride season was coming up and I thought it would be a cool thing to use for a t-shirt for anyone attending a march, indeed my friend Helen bought one, and some badges, to wear to the Edinburgh Pride.

I’d completely forgotten about my little spread shirt shop until I saw a rainbow cake on my instagram feed the other day, so I figured it was time to dig it out again because, even if it’s not paleo, the cake shirt is pretty cool I think. See what you think…

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They’re quite cute arent they? The daughters came up with a cool design that makes a great gym shirt, and there are a couple of other designs on there too, including a lone ape,  but we do need to come up with some paleo options which could be fun!

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Paleo Pen Pals Swap August

I am really loving these internet pen pal swaps at the moment. I particularly loved the idea of a paleo pen pals swap, which also incorporates a recipe challenge – a bit like a  postal Ready Steady Cook!

I was paired with Diana who is from Estonia, which I was very excited about because Estonia seems like a rather exotic location to me, and I was really curious as to what she would send and how much it would differ from ingredients from the UK.

My parcel arrived in good time and inside were three ingredients – some flax seed flour, some local honey that Diana had mixed with pollen and propolis, and some cranberry flour. I had never heard of cranberry flour before, and loved that it came complete with an Estonian label.

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Obviously I was going to make something sweet, but it took me a little while to think just what. Eventually I decided on some biscuits, loosely based on the classic British digestive. I’ve put the recipe for these little biscuits over on my website here.

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They worked really well, with the tartness of the cranberry giving them an unusual, and very moreish, flavour. I didn’t stop there though. Diana told me that she tends more towards a primal diet than strict paleo, so I decided that I would make something really delicious that she might be able to make, as a special treat for her family.

Here it is…

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This is an old family recipe of my mother’s. I’ve no idea where it came from originally, but this is something that was a special treat dessert when I was growing up. It’s a German Cheesecake and the only baking involved is if you make the biscuit base from scratch. The first time I had cheesecake in the UK I was horribly surprised, as it was a baked cheesecake and tasted nothing like how cheesecake should taste  – ie light, fluffy and not remotely cloying.

Primal Cheesecake Ingredients

For the base

For the cheesecake

  • 1 pkt lemon jelly (I’ll fess up right here and say we used a standard packet for ease, but I will have a go at making this properly primal in the near future)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 oz coconut caster sugar (whizz it in a grinder until it’s dust)
  • 1/4 pt sour cream
  • 1/2 pt whipped double cream
  • 2 drops vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Crush or crumble the digestive biscuits.
  2. Add the coconut oil and honey to the crumbs until well coated.
  3. Press the crumb mixture firmly down into the bottom of a loose bottomed flan tin.
  4. Chill for 20 minutes.
  5. Melt the jelly in 1/4 pt of boiling water.
  6. In a large bowl whip the double cream until it is nice and thick, but DON’T turn it to cheese!
  7. In another large bowl mix together the cream cheese, coconut sugar and sour cream.
  8. Beat together well until it has a lovely creamy consistency.
  9. Gradually whisk in the jelly, double cream and vanilla.
  10. Pour on to the biscuit base and leave in the fridge to set – try to leave it alone for a good couple of hours!
  11. When set very carefully run a knife around the edge of the cake before removing the cake from the tin.
  12. Serve on its own, or if you want something a bit fancier make a simple fruit sauce and top with fresh fruit (we used a cherry sauce and fresh raspberries).

We’d love to know if you try this recipe – let us know how it compares to the kind of cheesecake you’re used to.

A Primal Sort of Education

This is probably a little bit tenuous but what the heck, let’s see where it goes! This post is part of a home education carnival my friend Jax is organising. 

My eldest children are coming up for 18 – gasps and gulps all round – and they have never been to school. The youngest two haven’t either, but I think 18 years of system avoidance is quite something, don’t you?

We fell, quite accidentally, into home education, never knowing it was legal until we happened upon the information by chance.

I wrote a collection of blog posts to celebrate International Freedom in Education Day a few years ago, when we were under a very black cloud (also known as the labour government) which threatened to remove home education as we had known it. It was a very close call, and the 16 months of campaigning and fighting tooth and nail, took its toll on my health and my family’s peace of mind. You can read those posts, starting at the very beginning (always makes me burst into my best Julie Andrew’s impression), and working your way forwards, if you so desire.

After the new government washed away the awful proposed legislation, we could breathe a little easier, but frankly our confidence in our country’s system of governance had been severely rocked, and we were keen to move away.

Things have a habit of not working out how you planned though, and instead we bought a motorhome and spent the best part of 2012 exploring our much maligned country and realising that it is a place of wonder and beauty and somewhere we refuse to be forced out of.

Packing up and going off travelling is one of those things that a lot of people say they wish they could do, but they always have a list of reasons why they can’t. We met a lot of people like that whilst we were in Miranda (we named our van after the character in our favourite TV show – such fun). The reason they offered most often was that they would have to wait until their children had finished school. Obviously it was pretty clear that our children weren’t in school, and we had some really great conversations with genuinely interested people who, like us way back when, hadn’t realised home education was a possibility.

Of course not everyone was keen to embrace the idea and there were plenty of people who showed real concern towards our children’s missing educational life! This never ceased to stun us – when did people start to believe that *real* education only happens in a school building? Obviously we’ve faced this sort of concern regularly over the years, but we foolishly thought that hearing about children who were travelling the length and breadth of the country, visiting places that would certainly be considered educational, were a school trip to be arranged  to them, would put the brakes on this kind of questioning. But no. I was always taught that travel broadens the mind – but perhaps that was a line that we military kids were spun to make us feel better about upping sticks every couple of years? (I don’t really believe that, in case you were wondering!)

Whilst we were living in Miranda we were eating a mostly primal diet, it wasn’t as hard as I had expected it to be – lots of one pot cooking and vast quantities of sauerkraut mixed (not literally, thankfully, although the youngest probably did) with copious pots of yogurt and a small cheese mountain saw us through. I even managed to make 3 lots of our beetroot brownies for birthday cakes in the teeny tiny oven! 

The thing that struck me most about the whole experience though was that this was probably as close as we were ever going to come to a primal way of living.

We went to bed when it got dark, got up when it got light. Our sleep patterns normalised after too many years of late nights in front of computer and tv screens – particularly during the dark days of Badman.

We walked. Miles. Every. Single. Day.

We were out in the fresh air for hours every day. If it rained we couldn’t just stay inside so we got out in torrential rain and we loved it! We heard the weather, we smelt the weather, we felt the weather; hour by hour, day by day. We saw every extreme from snow to heatwave, and oh so much rain! We couldn’t have chosen a wetter year to spend in a campervan!

We didn’t have national grid electricity, on tap gas and water or any of the other facilities that we take for granted in a house. It’s not fair to say that every day was a battle for our survival, of course it wasn’t, but we did have to spend large parts of our day considering these things. This brought a fresh appreciation for the wonders of hot showers, endlessly flushable toilets and clean clothes; broadband without limits; electricity that doesn’t have to be carefully rationed; and space.

We had to use our bodies to complete the daily chores – the toilet had to be emptied; the waste water had to be lugged to a drain, 5 litres at a time. We had muscles we didn’t know existed, and we lost quite a lot of weight through the sheer physical effort of existing. For me, washing the clothes was my biggest lesson; initially I resented the hours spent trying to keep on top of the laundry, but after a while it gave me a real sense of achievement and satisfaction that just can’t be gained through shoving a pile of clothes in a washing machine and coming back an hour or so later with it all done. Simplicity truly was pleasurable; if you put your mind to it.

Of course we are now back in a house, and life, as it has a habit of doing, has quickly reverted back to how it was – computer use has increased, bedtimes have extended, we tend not to go out in the rain, and we don’t walk or exert ourselves any thing like we did, or should.

We do at least eat a bit better though. 

And the children still don’t go to school.

Home education isn’t a bed of roses, at times it’s bloody hard going, but who said parenting was supposed to be easy? We’re not brave, or special; we don’t have degrees or teaching qualifications; we aren’t Rothschilds; we’re just us doing the best we can for our family, which is about as primal as it gets if you think about it.

  

 

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush…

I’m sure pretty much all of you dear readers will now be singing away, reminiscing about childhood nursery rhymes, but how many of you have ever seen a mulberry bush, let alone eaten a mulberry?

When my teenagers were little they had a mulberry bush game from Orchard Toys, sadly it doesn’t seem to be available now, but it was a firm favourite back in the day. We sang the song and stomped our teddies round the little bush as we collected cards that went with the actions we had to perform.

As a child I remember singing the song and doing the actions in the playground at school, having been taught the song by my mother who remembered playing the same game herself. Mulberry bushes have therefore been part of the childhood of at least 3 generations of my family, but we had never seen one, nor eaten its fruits.

I’ve seen the ugly looking little berries in their dried form on various online shopping trips, but they never really appealed, mostly because of how they look, but also because I imagined they would be crispy and generally sensorily repugnant, as well as rather pricey!

When Detox Your World offered me the opportunity to receive some ingredients for review, I jumped at the chance to try out some of the products that I’ve looked at, but never been brave enough to buy. Top of the list was a packet of mulberries.

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I really didn’t want to try them when they arrived as they just looked so unpleasant. After several days (seriously, this is how unadventurous I can be with new foods!) I decided that I had better bite the bullet …. well it turned out that they weren’t remotely bullet like, instead they were rather soft, with a slight resistance, if that makes sense, and had a really sweet taste – incredibly moreish in fact! My children, when they could get past the look of the berries, thought that they were rather like raisins; my son’s descriptive powers went a bit further and said that they were almost toffee like, and that he would choose them over toffees if they were available in a shop! High praise indeed from The Boy with a ridiculously sweet tooth!

Mulberries were definitely a winner in this family then. However… one of the other exotic delights I chose to try out was Durian Fruit. Now it does suggest on the website that this is something that you will either love or hate, with some people suggesting it tastes of garlic and onion, but I was tempted by the promise of vanilla, banana, caramel and custard flavours.

I tried it out, in a VERY small amount, in my first trial of our passionate chia seed pudding. I was dubious as soon as I opened the packet in all honesty. The smell was odd, vaguely unpleasant but I could definitely detect some potential for creamy vanilla-ness, so I ploughed ahead and dropped 5 little pieces into the pudding to soak overnight, imagining that this would bring out the best of this curious little fruit.

Oh how wrong I was! The smell intensified almost immediately the fruit came into contact with the liquid, it was so repugnant that I imagined that come morning, going downstairs would result in the family all making a quick dash for bowls and toilets! No wonder that Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transport System carries signs like this!

Photo credit – wikipediaImage

As it happened the smell didn’t get any worse over night, and we all bravely tried a spoonful of the durian chia pudding; I should have videoed the facial reactions really, I think they would have become a youtube success! Disgust and horror would be the words that best described what my family thought of this delicacy – some may call us philistines, I would say that we have highly developed tastebuds, and that any fruit that is encased in such heavy duty armour as the durian, was obviously never meant to be eaten by any sensible human being!

Durian is reputed to be highly prized for its aphrodisiac qualities, and its high tryptophan content (the chemical that makes us happy)…. If any readers would like to try it for themselves I’d love to know what they think, and would be more than happy to send them the remains of our packet! Drop me a comment in the box below and we can consider this a competition of sorts!

In summary then: Mulberries we would definitely go round and round the bush for, durian  would see us heading for the hills at speed.

Huge thanks to Detox Your World for giving us the opportunity to try these items, it was lots of fun, and we will definitely be back for everything, except the durian!

Hello Poor Neglected Blog!

I had such plans and hopes for blogging over the last week or two, but life has been chaotic and I’ve just not found the headspace to sit and waffle away here.

I’ve been cooking like crazy, testing out lots of great recipe ideas, some of which have worked, others… well I hear a big fail klaxon in my head!

We had a really lovely Indian takeaway yesterday, except it was direct from my kitchen not a local curry house.

Not bad huh? I’m getting the recipes for everything up and so far we have the samosas, pilau “rice” and Bombay potatoes. The rest will follow in the next couple of days, so you should have them all in time for your very own Saturday Night takeaway, if the mood strikes you!

In other news I was very pleased to take delivery of an actifry this week! I’m blown away by it so far, and it is going to be very useful for a top secret project I’m currently working on. More on that in due course, but it’s something I’m very excited about. I fried the samosas in the actify instead of baking them, and they worked really well, came out nice and crispy and cooked in next to no time. I’m going to try chicken nuggets in it later on, fingers crossed they turn out well, though I can’t honestly see any reason why they wouldn’t.

Today’s excitement was a delivery from Devon Rose, lots of lovely nitrate free bacon and lard, along with an assortment of other delights, including liver and kidneys! I haven’t cooked with kidneys yet so I’m looking forward to that, with some trepidation. Tomorrow I’m hoping to recreate a childhood favourite, Leberwurst. I really hope it tastes as good as I remember from my days in Germany, fingers crossed.

Oh, I almost forgot! I have a code to share with you for a 10% discount off your first order with Devon Rose, you just need to type in TW10RTD at the checkout. They offer a really fantastic service, Richard phoned me to discuss my order and was extremely friendly and helpful.

We went to watch some amazing fireworks the other weekend, take a look at this little video, I think you’ll be as blown away as we were (not literally, thankfully)

i’m sure I’ve missed out some incredibly exciting happens of the last week or two, but I’m buggered if I can remember what! I’m off to join in with paleo hour in a wee while, come along and join in if you’re about between 8pm and 9pm GMT on a Tuesday, it’s a great little community that is rapidly growing. Uk based, but all welcome.

TTFN