“We are fat and sick and dying because we have handed a basic, fundamental and intimate function of life over to corporations. We choose to value our nourishment so little that we entrust it to strangers. This is insanity. Feed yourselves. Feed your loved ones. And for God's sake feed your children.”
― Alton Brown

Thursday, July 7, 2016

13 Vegan Candy Bars Better Than Your Childhood Favorites | Vegan Food | Living | PETA

A really interesting article about candy bars that are ethical and cruelty-free. Oh, and delicious.

13 Vegan Candy Bars Better Than Your Childhood Favorites | Vegan Food | Living | PETA

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pottically Correct

It's not often that one gets the chance to try something really new, but it's something I am always open to. That's why I'm happy to say I've just had the opportunity to try some cracking new ice cream.

It's called Pottical,  from an Old English word meaning 'inspired by alcohol'. Which might lead you to suppose, correctly, that this ice cream is of the boozy variety.

It's the brainchild of Matthew Freeman, who used to work for Tenterden's own Old Dairy Brewery,  and now makes ice cream. Yesterday he dropped me off some samples and I tried them all this morning before coming to work. What's that ya say? Ice cream for breakfast? No, my friends. Boozy ice cream for breakfast. What could be better? Oh, that's right - no artificial ingredients! Matthew uses just double cream, sugar, egg , cornflour and locally sourced tipples - that's it!

The first one I tried was the Gibbet Oak Discovery Cider ice cream, because I'm not overly keen on ciders in general. Having said that, the Gibbet Oak ciders I have tried have been really good. Plus, I had to try it first because Gibbet Oak Farm was where my grandparents lived when I was a nipper - Grandad was the orchard manager and their house was directly opposite the packing shed which is now the Farm Shop building. Gibbet Oak themselves have been in the news recently because of their recent launch of a new range of ciders. They even took over the White Lion Hotel one evening a couple of weeks ago and all their ciders were on draught.

Well, as soon as I opened the lid of the Discovery Cider ice Cream there was no doubt that it was made from real cider from that initial burst of apple aromas. I worried that it might be too strong of a taste, but the aroma subsided quickly and I plunged in to what turned out to be a delicate and creamy experience, definitely Discovery apples, but without the tart aftertaste that can sometimes happen with a cider. Think baked apples and cream and you'll be getting close.

The first one finished, I went for the Dessert Wine ice cream.

Even though it doesn't say it on the label, I can tell you that Matthew used Nectar, the dessert wine from Tenterden vintners Chapel Down Wines.

This is a gorgeous ice cream with lots of exotic fruity flavours from this very moreish wine. It's like something Heston Blumenthal would concoct for his Waitrose lines, but without the WTF? factor. A beautiful dessert. But I was saving the best till last. How did I know it would be the best?

Because it is made using an outstanding beer! Dark Side Of The Moo is an Imperial Porter, 7% abv, rich, dark, smooth and gorgeous. How could this not be an amazing ice cream?

Now I realise there are some people out there that actively dislike dark beers, stouts, porters, etc. but even those people might like this one, because its rich darkness gives the ice cream a coffee/chocolate quality, with a subtle hint of golden syrup cake in the background. And yes, I know it sounds like one of those terribly pretentious things reviewers say, but I got all that from the first spoonful. The rest, I quickly scoffed down.

I would gladly buy a case of this and eat it in one sitting. It's that good.

If you're interested in getting hold of some of this ace ice cream, you can contact Matthew in one or all of the following ways:

Phone: 01580 761230
Mob: 07856 478244
Email: matthew@pottical.com

or check out the website www.pottical.com

Tweet to Matthew at twitter.com/pottical

and he's even on Instagram at www.instagram.com/pottical/

Kooshti sante!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Food Bites

One of the great pleasures in going to Tesco supermarkets is to be had when you go there late in the day, say, an hour or so before closing. The reason why is because this is the time when a lot of stuff gets reduced in price, and especially at this time of year it's useful to pick up some reduced price bbq items you can sling in the freezer for use at a later time. For example, when it's a nice day and you can fire up the BBQ grill and pull out a couple packs of kebabs or burgers and hey presto! dinner is served.

It's also useful if you want to grab some breakfast items because they mark down unsold bread products that are baked instore daily, such as donuts and rolls, turnovers, etc.

Such was the case yesterday when we were in Tesco and there was one of these left.

It's a "Rise & Shine Breakfast Twist", a pastry filled with baked beans and smoked cheese. Or at least, that's the idea. I grabbed the item as it was marked down to a paltry 19p. Normal price is 95p.

I tried it this morning for breakfast. First thing I noticed was how tasteless and doughy the pastry is. Practically flavourless and quite chewy. And as for the beans and cheese, they seemed to have all gathered near the centre. So it was quite tasty in the middle, but a bit rubbish on each end. And it wasn't twisty at all. All in all it has the potential to be good, similar in style to a Stromboli, but Tesco need to up their game a little to make me buy another one. There is a Honey, Oat and Fruit Twist available too, and I can only hope it's more tasty than this.

This evening we ordered from Star Kebab and Pizza in St. Michaels. They are owned by Zafer Bayram who also owns the Quality Kebab van which is in Recreation Ground Rd every evening. Recently Laura and I have taken to ordering their Falafel Box and Falafel Burger, and they are delicious.

The Falafel Box consists of 4 freshly made falafels, on a bed of hummus (plenty of that!) and accompanied by a load of salad (red and white cabbage slices, sliced lettuce, onion and tomatoes). It's a lot of food for under £4! The Falafel Burger basically takes the contents of the box and sticks it in a bun, with a box of salad on the side, for £4.50. Delicious. If you're in the Tenterden area, you can order by phone or online at http://starkebabandpizza.restajet.com/

Not the actual Falafel Burger, but you get the idea.
Delighted to announce that the long-empty Wine Kitchen restaurant in Tenterden high Street is now open as Montalbano restaurant. http://montalbanorestaurant.co.uk/ If you go to  http://www.mytenterden.co.uk/pdf/voucher-Montalbano-Restaurant.pdf  you can download a voucher for 20% off your food bill  which is valid thru to the 6th August.
I stumbled upon their grand opening last night, there were crowds out on the pavement and it was jam-packed inside. There were free appetizers (delicious) and free prosecco being proffered by the friendly staff. It looks great and I cannot wait to go there for a meal.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Vegan Treats at the Retreat

Yesterday we went to the wilds of High Halden (about 5 miles away!) to a Family Fun Day at a wonderful animal rescue centre called The Retreat. It was their first ever Fun Day and they had seriously not expected the huge crowds that they got.

On the downside this meant that there were tremendously long queues both for food and the loos! On the upside though, it meant they got way more donations than they were expecting, which is great!

The food they were serving looked and smelled great - vegan burritos with sweet potato, rice and beans, vegan burgers with all the trimmings, and vegan hot dogs at one area, and at the other area, sandwiches and wraps and fries etc., and a cake stall with some seriously delicious-looking cakes.

Again, all vegan. There was a sign up that explained their position.

Luckily for us we weren't all that hungry, so when we learned that there were only hot dogs left it wasn't really a blow to us, even though I would have liked to sample the burritos or burgers, However as we meandered round we came to an area with a mixture of stalls, some with random items for sale and some about veganism, organic cotton and the like, and then I came to the Animal Aid stall, staffed by two very nice people...

...who were selling all sorts of nice vegan treats for humans (and doggies - I bought our pooches a bag of heart-shaped peanut butter-cinnamon dog treats which they enjoyed).

I bought four interesting-looking items with the intent of sampling them at home. Here are my reviews!

From the top: The Nakd Ginger Bread bar. Gluten, wheat and dairy free. Consistency somewhat like playdough, a nice pleasant taste, but not very gingery. I liked it though, and so did Rosie, which counts for a lot in my book.

Secondly, The Nakd Bakewell Tart bar, like all Nakd bars, are pure raw fruit and nut bars, guaranteed GMO-free. This one also got the thumbs-up from Rosie and me. It tastes very like a Bakewell, with that crumb-y, cake-ish almond flavor. Definitely must have this one again.

Third was the  GoMaxGo Cleo's Peanut Butter cups. These look identical to the traditional Reese's white chocolate version, with the added bonus of tasting a whole lot better. Not only that but they're gluten free. The regular chocolate version is made using rice milk chocolate.

Lastly, and this was our favourite, the Thumbs Up bar, also by GoMaxGo. Imagine somebody crossed a Cadbury's Crunchie with a Butterfinger bar. This is what you would have. Crispy, crunchy honeycomb with the subtle slightly salty twang of peanut butter.  No trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, GM-free, dairy-free. Awesome.

If you want to buy these, you might just find them in the health foods section of your local supermarket, your local Holland & Barrett or independent health food store, or purchase them online from Amazon, or from  www.animalaidshop.org.uk.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Name This Food!: Turbot Power

If you recall, last time on Name This Food! I asked you what this fish was. Well, the correct answer is TURBOT.

What is a turbot and what is the difference between a turbot and other forms of flatfish?

 Turbot is a demersal fish (one that lives and feeds on or near the bottom of the sea) native to marine or brackish waters of the North Atlantic, Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

The word comes from the Old French tourbout, which in turn is thought to be a derivative of the Latin turbo ("spinning top") a possible reference to its shape. Another possible origin of the Old French word is from Old Swedish törnbut, from törn "thorn" + -but "stump, butt, flatfish", which may also be a reference to its shape (compare native English halibut). Early reference to the turbot can be found in a satirical poem (The Emperor's Fish) by Juvenal, a Roman poet of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries A.D., suggesting this fish was a delicacy in the Roman empire.

Turbot is a senistral or left-eye fish (both eyes on the left side), as are Brill and Megrim. All other flatfish (flounder, sole, plaice etc.) are dextral or right-eye fish.

Like Halibut, Turbot is a highly prized species (and often regarded as the best of the flat fish) with great flavour and firm, white flesh.

It has an almost round shaped body, studded with bony tubercles on its dark side. Colour varies from light to dark brown, spotted with green or black and a white blind side.

Turbot ranges in size from 400g to 10kg.

The texture is similar to Halibut, but it has a slightly more pronounced ‘fishy’ taste, so requires very little to enhance the flavour.

It’s also a chef’s dream, as it retains plenty of moisture during cooking, preventing it from drying out - making it ideal for functions.

Turbot are now also being successfully farmed giving good availability, and are distinguished by their lighter skin.

So, shall we have a recipe or two?

Here's one from the lovely James Martin:

Pan-fried turbot with wild mushrooms, mashed potatoes and cream sauce
Preparation time less than 30 mins
Cooking time 10 to 30 mins
Serves 4


55g/2oz butter
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 x 150-175g/6-7oz turbot fillets, skinned

For the cream foam

175ml/6fl oz white wine
175ml/6fl oz fish stock
175ml/6fl oz double cream

For the mushrooms

55g/2oz butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
200g/8oz mixed wild mushrooms
½ lemon, juice only
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

To serve: mashed potato


Heat a frying pan until hot and add the butter and the olive oil.
Season the fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper and place into the pan when the oil and butter are sizzling hot. Cook the turbot fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown all over.
For the cream foam, pour the white wine into a pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Boil until reduced by two thirds, then add the fish stock. Bring back to the boil and cook until the liquid has reduced by two thirds.
Add the cream, bring back to the boil and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the mushrooms, heat a clean frying pan and add the butter and the olive oil. Once hot add the shallots and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes, until softened.
Add the mushrooms and cook for a further two minutes, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the lemon juice and parsley.
Using a hand blender, blend the cream sauce until light and foaming.
To serve, place a large spoonful of mashed potato into the centre of each plate. Place a turbot fillet on top of each and spoon the mushroom mixture around the edge of the potato. Spoon a little of the sauce foam over the mushrooms and serve.

Here's a good one from Jamie Oliver:

Turbot with leeks and cider

Serves: 6

6 large leeks 
10 spring onions
3 cloves of garlic
½ bunch of fresh thyme 
80g butter 
Olive oil
3 fresh bay leaves 
1 x 2kg whole turbot, from sustainable sources
1 tbsp fennel seeds
200ml dry cider
40g mascarpone cheese
1 lemon 
½ bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat the oven to 150C (non- fan 170C). Trim and thickly slice the leeks and spring onions, peel and finely slice the garlic, then pick the thyme leaves.

2. Place a large pan over a medium heat and add half of the butter with a splash of oil. Add the thyme leaves, bay, leeks, spring onion and garlic and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until starting to catch and turn golden.

3. Spread the softened veg in a large roasting tray. Using a small knife, slash the fish four times on each side, then place on the leeks.

4. Bash and sprinkle over the fennel seeds and season well with sea salt and black pepper. Pour the cider around the fish and dot with the rest of the butter. Bake for 1 hour. Transfer the fish to a dish, cover with tin foil and leave to rest.

5. Place the tray with the leeks on the hob over a medium-low heat, then add the mascarpone and let it bubble away for a few minutes, or until thickened. Season.

6. Serve the whole roasted turbot on the bed of leeks. Slice and arrange the lemon on top, chop and scatter over the parsley leaves, then tuck in.

Sounds lovely!

Now then...

Name This Food!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Change Is Gonna Come

Over the past 20 or so years (maybe longer) it seems I have unconsciously or subconsciously embarked on a mission to destroy my body. I suppose it all started when I was young, as these things tend to do. However, as a teenager and into my early 20's I had a rapid metabolism and was one of those people that other people refer to as having "hollow legs", as I could put away remarkable amounts of food with no effect on my bodyweight. At Sunday dinners I would always be like, "You don't want that last roast potato? Give it here then." My family referred to me as the Human Dustbin.

Then one day in my mid-twenties I saw a picture taken of myself at my first wife's birthday party in 1991, and thought "Ooh. Those jeans look awfully tight on me."

I didn't pay much attention to it and, after moving to the USA with all the delights it has to offer (massive portions, Mexican food, IHOP, brownies, nachos, fast food aplenty) I found myself at the end of my first marriage at age 36 in size 36 trousers. Now, 36 may not seem like a bad size to you, but I'd started out at a 28. When I had gotten married in 1990 I was 6 ft tall and 10 stone (140lbs). I was skinny, and it looked good on me. Being skinny was nice. I also had hair, but that's another story.

So I ate for comfort. To beat stress, I would eat, and drink beer. How stressed was I?

Well, let's put it this way. In order to get divorced in Snohomish County, WA, in 1999, I was required to attend a seminar/workshop thing because I had a child. I can't remember too much of the seminar now (it was totally boring) save for the part where they gave each of us a sheet of paper with a list of all sorts of different life events and a point score for each one.

The idea was that if you had had any of the things listed happen to you within the last couple years, you added that into your points total. There were things like moving house, relationship ending, relationship beginning, learning to drive, pregnancy, stuff like that.

Then on the bottom of the sheet was a table where you could see how stressed you were by the number of points you'd accrued.

If you were over 300 points you were said to be 'extremely stressed'. I had managed to tally up an insane 430 points. And the weird thing was, I didn't feel like I was stressed at all. I figured it was just like one of those Cosmo quizzes which always turn out to be utter bullcrap.

But I guess I was, because almost as soon as I was divorced and remarried, a child came along, and then another, and I'd moved from Everett, WA to Gainesville, GA, something I didn't want to do really in my heart of hearts. A helluva distance, to a state I didn't much care for, just because we thought it would be cheaper to live there, nearer my new wife's family.

Georgia, the home of... cooking everything in butter and grease, apparently.  After a few years of living there I was a 50 inch waisted butterball and I was miserable. My second marriage wasn't working out and... blah blah blah.

So I found myself back home in the UK in 2010, got myself back down to a 40-inch waist and things were looking hopeful. However, it is easy to just get a takeaway or bung some oven chips and fish fingers in the oven rather than cooking proper food, plus I still think I can eat like "The Human Dustbin". Thus, my waist is now back at a 44.

So now my body has started let me down rather spectacularly.

While I was in Georgia I was told by my doctor that I was borderline diabetic. I also had really bad fluid retention in my legs, which led to gout-like pains in my feet and ankles. He gave me some pills for that (can't remember which) and it seemed to work, and I made somewhat of an effort to eat better, which is why I got down to a 44 by the time I got back to the UK.

Well, folks, the water retention and skin discolouration which comes with it is back, as well as the gout-like pains in the feet and ankles, coupled with the knee pains which come from hauling around this large bulk I call my body. Being asthmatic as well, it's not difficult for just a small amount of effort to get me out of breath. Something's got to change.

Which is why I have signed up for a new programme online called LBD (Lifestyle Beats Diet). If you go to http://www.changeinseconds.com/  you can read all about it.

It's a holistic approach to weight loss in that it's not about calorie-counting or eating less of this or more of that or hitting the gym every day, it's about Clean Eating  (http://www.changeinseconds.com/what-is-clean-eating/).

There was one thing I read on their site that sold it to me. It was this sage piece of advice: If you're feeling hungry, then ask yourself - would I eat an apple right now? If the answer's no, then you're not hungry, you're probably just bored.

Once you sign up, there is a game involved. You keep an online journal of your food habits and score points for eaing right and get points deducted for eating wrong. Not just food though - you get points for your mindset, how many hours you sleep, the amount you exercise etc.  and keep either an online waist measurement record or track your progress through the use of selfies. After the site goes live on Feb 19th, there will be challenges, and a community wall where we can all track each other's progress, as well as a body tracker. There are also pages and pages of resources to help, a grocery list of best items to eat and oodles of healthy recipes which I am determined to try.

So, as I sit here with my pear in one hand, bottle of water in another, wish me luck, folks.

P.S. I'm also signed up to go chocolate-free for a month this March in order to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation and fund valuable research into coronary heart disease, which is currently the UK's single biggest killer. My fundraising page is at  https://www.justgiving.com/jeff2016/  -please donate-  and  I haven't actually had any chocolate since Sunday night when I ate a bar of raw organic chocolate from http://www.consciouschocolate.com/ which was jolly good and quite unlike any chocolate I've ever had!

Are You Salsified?

Along while ago, longer than I care to remember, i asked you good people (person? who knows) what this was.

I received no answers, which I take to mean you don't know!

Well, here I am to put you out of your misery.

It is salsify, a root vegetable belonging to the dandelion family. Salsify is also known as the oyster plant because of its oystery taste when cooked. The root is similar in appearance to a long, thin parsnip, with creamy white flesh and a thick skin. In the same way as many root vegetables, salsify can be boiled, mashed or used in soups and stews.

What do we do with it, Jeff?

So glad you asked.

Here are some fab recipes for salsify from the venerable Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Salsify fritters

A great brunch or lunch dish, and perfect served alongside a few crisp rashers and a fried or poached egg. Makes six fritters.

300g salsify
45g unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small red chilli, finely diced
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Peel and coarsely grate the salsify. Warm 20g of the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the salsify until softened. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the garlic, chilli, coriander, egg and flour. Season generously, then form into six fritters. Warm the remaining butter and the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and cook the fritters until golden, about four minutes a side.

Salsify tempura with a spicy dipping sauce

Crisp, battered salsify is delicious with this easy dipping sauce, but it's also great served simply with a little flaky sea salt and a few lemon wedges. Serves four as a starter.

3-4 salsify roots

For the batter
125g plain flour
½ tsp sea salt
1 egg yolk
175ml ice-cold sparkling water


For the dipping sauce
2 medium red chillies, deseeded, membrane and seeds removed, and finely diced
1 large garlic clove, grated
2 tbsp caster sugar
100ml cider vinegar
2 tbsp water
About 1 litre sunflower or groundnut oil for frying

First, make the dipping sauce. Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan, place over a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Now raise the heat a little, bring up to a simmer and cook until reduced and syrupy, about five minutes. Pour into a small bowl and set to one side until you are ready to serve.

Fill a medium-large saucepan with water, bring to a boil and cook the salsify for five minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, then rub off the skins and cut the salsify into 4cm pieces. Whisk the ingredients for the batter – don't worry if it turns out a bit lumpy.

Heat 10cm of oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan until it registers 180C on a frying thermometer or a cube of bread goes brown in 30 seconds. Dip the salsify in the batter and deep-fry a few pieces at a time until crisp and golden, about a minute. Serve at once with the spicy dipping sauce. alongside.

Salsify gratin

The perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast (incidentally, this is different from the recipe I wrote for this magazine in Christmas 2007). Serves four.

35g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
Juice of 1 lemon
850g salsify (about 8 roots)
1 litre vegetable stock
150ml dry white wine
60g kale (or cabbage), washed and finely shredded
25g plain flour
150ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g grated cheddar or other hard, well-flavoured cheese
50g coarse white breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6 and butter a gratin dish about 26cm in length. Put the lemon juice into a large bowl along with some cold water. One by one, peel each salsify root, cut into 4cm x 1cm batons and drop straight into the lemon water to prevent discolouring. Repeat with all the roots.

When the salsify has been prepared, drain and transfer to a saucepan along with the stock and wine. Bring up to a simmer and cook for five minutes, until tender but still with a bit of bite.

While the salsify is cooking, put the kale in a large pan with a centimetre or two of water and cook for about three minutes, until wilted. Drain the salsify, reserving the stock, and set aside. Return the stock to the pan and simmer until reduced by half.

Meanwhile, mash together the butter and flour with a fork. When the stock has reduced, keep it simmering and add the flour paste in little nuggets, whisking all the time. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens to the consistency of single cream. Stir in the double cream and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Lay the salsify and kale in the gratin dish, and pour over the creamy sauce. Combine the cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.

Now then - what's this?

Name This Food!


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