Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Living below the line

Being fat is a very first world problem. There is something uncomfortably, horribly wrong about a world where resources are spread so unevenly that some of us can actually not only afford to over consume but then, spend even more money on learning how not to over consume or why we have over consumed in the first place.

There are a few bloggers out there taking part in a challenge where they have to feed themselves for £1 a day. I received an email about it myself a few weeks ago and thought, oh, that sounds interesting and then promptly forgot about it. Probably because I am guilty of spending too much time staring at my own navel. But also, if I am truthful, because the idea of eating nothing but lentils for a week did not particularly fill me with joy.

So I just wanted to write this post as a shout out to all those people brave and clever enough to give this a go. The more I think about it, the more the idea of poverty terrifies me – and I am someone who is blessed enough to never have experienced anything even approaching poverty.

The website, Live Below the Line, is here for anyone who is interested. Good luck to all who are taking part through choice and God bless all those for whom living on a pound a day is a permanent reality.

A tale of two Indians

Let’s open with a fun fact: did you know that in 2012 the city of Bradford was crowned the curry capital of Great Britain for the second year running, narrowly beating Glasgow? Despite this, and despite the facts that a) I am awfully fond of a good curry, and b) Bradford is a mere hop, skip and a jump away from my current home of Leeds, I had never experienced a Bradford curry until quite recently. But now my cherry has been well and truly popped and, let me tell you, I don’t believe that I will ever know butter chicken like that again.

The Punjab Sweet Shop and Grill is an unprepossessing looking place, a good walk outside the city centre. It does not have a website. It does not sell alcohol nor allow you to bring your own. But, an insider (by which I mean someone who lived in Bradford for a number of years) rated this as one of the best curry houses in a city known for good curry houses. Plus, around the corner is a rather fabulous CAMRA pub called The Fighting Cock which is ideally situated for a pre or post (or both) dinner beverage.

I would normally avoid a starter in an Indian restaurant – not because I am not a fan but because I prefer to save room for the main event (and would rather not have to roll rather than walk out at the end of the meal). But D, who had been before, was insistent that I try the fish tikka. We split a portion and it was, indeed, fabulous – moist fish with a flavoursome and not overwhelmingly hot crust, perfect drizzled with a little raita. Apparently they offer this as a main course sandwiched between two naan breads to which I say, genius!

With regards to mains, we allowed ourselves to be guided by our insider, who selected four different chicken dishes with a bread each to scoop up the curry. All four were good but the butter chicken – oh, the butter chicken, it was absolutely amazing. It’s a dish I’ve eaten before – there’s a recipe for a version on this very blog – but this was different: less saucy and infinitely richer with a gentle kiss of chilli heat. I would defy anyone to eat an entire portion though – even D, a self confessed butter addict, admitted that it was impossibly rich and I shudder to think how much ghee actually went into the making of it. Still, I would walk back to Bradford to eat that butter chicken. And I don’t really do walking.

We’ve had a good run with regards curry lately, as Saturday saw us going for dinner at what is apparently a Leeds institution, Hansa’s. This is a much slicker operation than the Punjab – it has its own website for a start. Specialising in Gujarati cuisine, it is wholly vegetarian and you don’t miss the meat for a second.

We ordered a variety of dishes to share between us, including a starter called the Spice Bomb, which was, predictably, very, very spicy. I expected to struggle with the heat of this – I have a delicate mouth in general (I’ve never got beyond medium at Nandos and was a lemon and herb kinda gal for years) but even D (an extra hot man) was moved to request a jug of water after it. I think, from the rest of the meal, that this particular dish was just thrown in there to keep the spiceheads happy since everything else was impeccably spiced and utterly delicious. I particularly loved a dish of paneer and spinach – to the extent that I acquired Hansa’s cookbook on the way out to recreate it at home. The masala dosa (a filled pancake) with coconut chutney was also lovely. D was left a little disappointed with the chickpea dahl – he felt that the sauce was too thin rendering the dish reminiscent of baked beans. While I took his point, there was no disputing that the taste of said sauce was fabulous. Unusually, I think, for an Indian restaurant, the desserts looked rather tempting as well – but a lack of cubic capacity meant that this end of the menu remained untested. I guess it’s a good excuse to go back.

So – two very different institutions but two wholehearted endorsements to get your curry on here in the West of Yorkshire. And, because in a spirit of fairness I wanted to finish with a fun fact about Leeds, did you know that in 1884 a young man named Michael Marks opened up a penny bazaar in the Kirkgate market which was to lead, ultimately, to the retail behemoth that is Marks and Spencer! Yep, the WW Foodie – it’s not just an entertainment, it’s an education.

Punjab Sweet House and Grill
122-126 Listerhills Rd,

72-74 North St,

Monday, 29 April 2013

MPM: 29th April 2013

I feel this post is a bit of a cheat...

I so wanted to take part in meal planning Monday today, I really did. But the trouble is, I’m out three nights this week and so meals will be eaten on the run – probably sandwiches! And, per my last post, is anyone really interested in sandwiches? So there is not an awful lot of planning to be done.

The night that I am in I plan to cook something scrummy with new season asparagus. This could be the asparagus cream pasta that I have blogged about before – or maybe something even simpler like pan roasted asparagus with scrambled eggs.

Friday will probably be burger night…

Saturday looks like being Kashmiri lamb curry with pilau rice in front of Doctor Who.

Sunday – I’ve actually booked myself in to my first ever Pilates class in the evening which could be interesting as I’m one of the least bendy people you could ever hope to meet. I doubt very much that I’ll want an awful lot when I get home, so I’m thinking soup – I have a cheeky can of Heinz cream of tomato in the cupboard which has relaxing Sunday evening written all over it.

As always, more meal planning fun over at Mrs M's

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The wonder of sandwiches

So, remember when this used to be a blog about losing weight?  C'mon really cast your mind back...yes...bit further....there we go!

Well, in the last two weeks this little piggy has managed to lose five pounds.  Which, in turn, has earned me five stars on my star chart.

I love a star chart.

I put all my success down to sandwiches.  Yes, that's right.  As I said to D recently, I think a good 75% of my meals lately have been sandwich-centric. 

It's not very exciting - certainly it wouldn't make for good reading for you, dearest blog followers.

But I am here and I am keeping on keeping on. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

When I grow up I want to be a marriage counsellor...

...I know these people are highly trained individuals, and I don't mean to be flip, but the idea of a job where you basically just nod, smile, then swivel your head and say "And how do you feel about that D/S?" sounds great to me.

Although the neck swivelling - there must be a genuine risk of RSI with all that going on.

Maybe I mean to be a little bit flip. 

Please don't take any notice, I'm just grumpy.  I had to sit through a five hour meeting today and have lost the will to live a little bit.  So, couples therapy.  First observation: they don't let you sit close to each other.  We've been in two different rooms now and in both cases there was a whacking great table separating the chairs they allowed us to sit in.  And tissues.  Always boxes of tissues within easy reach.  Which is good because I cry a lot.  I'm a crier.  I cry when I'm sad, when I'm happy, when I'm angry, when I'm tired - it's my default emotional reaction.  I worry about my hydration levels, I really do.

But we came away with some things to work on, which is good.  One of my goals is to wholeheartedly commit to a healthier lifestyle - for the sake of my physical and mental health and one of D's is to support me in that.  It's not that he hasn't been supportive in the past, you understand, but we both have a habit of leading each other astray on occasion...Also, I respond well to pats on the head and bribery both of which he has promised to deliver.  Pats on the head in the comment section will also be gratefully received.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Spring has sprung!

My poor little blog has been sadly neglected lately and I have had stern texts from my mother telling me to remedy the situation. She is probably concerned (and with good reason) that a lack of posting tells of a poor, Gollum like creature huddling on the sofa behind a wall fashioned out of takeaway cartons and Easter Egg boxes.

Such is not the case, although it could also be said that the water is being well and truly trod at the moment. Actually, my weight has been drifting downwards but that is more to do with the fact that I have had a period of not taking an awful lot of interest in food in general. I feel a bit like I’ve been hibernating, waiting for Spring. I’m desperately in need of a good dose of sunshine and some general de-cobwebbing. I’ve been doing a lot of quiet contemplation and am feeling generally calm and fairly happy but the trouble with too much of that is one tends to start to sink into a bit of a rut especially when one spends quite a lot of time on their own.

So, let’s make this a generally positive post – a “Things wot I like at the moment” post and see if a bit of optimism and sunshine can perk up my somewhat overgrown corner of the blogosphere.

TWIL #1 – my new(ish) Jo Malone scent in lime, basil and mandarin which I have been spritzing on with abandon. It’s one of the loveliest things I have ever had the privilege of smelling.

TWIL #2 – a polish that makes my nails look like a starry night sky (as an aside, are those fingers or sausages? Answers on a postcard…)
TWIL #3 – seven Easter eggs in place of one!
TWIL #4 – this incredibly simple but utterly delectable recipe for a slow cooked lamb shoulder on boulangere potatoes. I served this up for lunch on Easter Sunday and it was scrumptious and, after an initial bit of prep which you can do at your kitchen table while listening to the Archers, just looks after itself.

TWIL #5 – it’s sadly finished now, but I became mildly addicted to a little BBC2 programme called Country Show Cookoff, which involved celebrity chefs driving a van around the country and submitting entries to country shows. It was glorious – beautiful scenery of the kind that makes you want to start humming Jerusalem, huge cheffy egos being knocked down to size by gimlet eyed WI stalwarts…bliss. There may be a few episodes left on iPlayer – go and put a pinny on and watch them!

And so my darlings, what's new with you...?