Thursday, April 26, 2012

What if...?

More Grow-Your-Own infographics, not very pretty, but it does get you thinking. Via:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Growing a Good Life

Found a lovely little infographic about the rise in popularity of the grow your own movement. It's UK centric, but I'd say the stats are pretty similar in other Western cultures these days.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fake sugar punkin pie

Well it's been a month since the diabetes diagnosis and as expected there are quite literally ups and downs. The Christmas season is tough for any conscientious eater, but throw in calculating carbs and sugar and timing meals and minding alcohol... understandably it can be frustrating.

I've been trying to make an effort to help my very sweet-toothed hubby ease himself into the new lifestyle with a few fake-sugar treats. We've tried swapping Canderel and Splenda, which is certainly a different, but not wholly bad, baking experience. You can't really use them if you use weight measurement of sugar... or at least you'll need to convert, and their almost weightlessness gives them a slightly different consistency if you're dusting you're treats or making a crumble (which we tried). My only concerns are really about using processed/chemically-enhanced food products. Yeah yeah, I drink diet coke like the next fella, but adding aspertame to cakes leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth so to speak. Splenda looks like a contender, but I need to do more research.

I should also point out, that while I'm focusing on carbs and sugars, these desserts generally have the same amount of fats as their normal counterpart, and also, replacing ingredients with "low-fat" alternatives can often add MORE sugars. Don't believe me? Just check the label of regular, light, and extra light Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Boom. Scary stuff right?

Back to the actual recipe... seeing as it's still sort-of lingering around the holidays and all that, I'll start with the fake-sugar pumpkin pie I whipped up. I of course need to point out that this is by no means carb-free, it's just a lower sugar-to-carb ratio than say you're average pumpkin pie. I did cheat a little with this one as I used a can of Libby's (as found in Fallon & Byrne in Dublin - or any supermarket in the USA) but in fairness, it is just plain ol pumpkin puree, I'll tell you how to make scratch pumpkin puree next time, swearsies! But it is seasonal and does require an actual pumpkin!

Before moving on completely, putting on our diabetic thinking cap, let's keep in mind the pumpkin itself has carbs but not a terrible amount of sugary carbs, the evaporated milk has a pretty ok amount of sugars for a dessert (about the same as flavored yogurt, 12g per 100g) . The pastry, of course has carbs and fat, but if you don't add sugar, it's not so bad.

I'm just going to repeat the Libby's pumpkin pie recipe as seen on the back of the can since the 1950s. This might slightly differ if you're in the US vs abroad as my can was in half metric measurments, half imperial (425g can as opposed to 15 oz)

Preheat your oven to about 220C (425F)


The recipe online here seems to call for an unbaked pie shell, but on the can I received, it said to blind bake it. It's up to you, I'd say blind baking leads to a better, more solid crust. If you're looking for a good shortcrust pastry recipe, here's one I like.

So... it's pretty darn easy, mix your wet ingredients, and in a separate bowl mix your sugar and spices (this will lead to less clumpy spices). Then add the lot together, mix til it's smooth, pour into your crust and pop it into the oven.

Bake at the higher 220C (425F) for 15 minutes and then reduce to 180C (350F) and bake for another 40 minutes or so, until the mixture is just a tiny bit wobbly in the middle, a bit like a baked cheesecake. Let it cool... and then... eat at your leisure.

Now... of course, I should really note, I am not a dietician, nor an expert on diabetes, just simply a wife trying to make things a bit easier on my recently type 1 diagnosed hubby. So by no means am I preaching about what's acceptable for diabetics to eat. It's all relative. But I will say, for a dessert without too much sugar added, just the lovely flavor of the fruit/veg it's made from, this is a lovely one to make.


Monday, December 5, 2011

And then... everything changed

It's been a while since I've updated. A lot has happened. I've found myself working successfully freelance in the video industry. The money isn't always amazing (or regular) but mentally it is quite satisfying. I got married! And just as the cliche goes, it was honestly the best day in my life. I've been having good weeks and bad weeks in my quest to living well. Still cooking, still DIY-ing, just not being so good about blogging it.

But then, as of the 25th of November, everything changed. The husband, after losing lots of weight and having an unquenchable thirst, went into the GP hoping to find out he had some easily treatable virus or some such. We knew he was feeling the symptoms of diabetes, but as a slim guy at age 35 and with no family history, we thought... there's just no way. Well, unfortunately our worst-case scenario was confirmed and instead of spending his Friday evening on a plane to Manchester with his mates for a weekend of football, he was stuck in the Mater A&E on an insulin IV with a diagnosis of type-1 diabetes. So now, the poor fella is faced with a lifetime of checking of glucose levels and secret belly jabs before meals. I'm also faced with the task of support, sympathy and understanding.

This seems to be a pretty good day and age to be diagnosed with type-1 diabetes, with better understanding of treatment and treatments themselves becoming easier to use. But it is still a life-long disease from which there is no cure. It's still early days for us and we both have a lot to learn, but there are certain things I am thankful of. As much as I have moaned about Irish health care in the past, I now understand how truly important a national health care system (even one that is flawed) is for people with long-term illness. All of his daily prescriptions and tools and testers are automatically covered. As a couple who have been considering an eventual move to the States, we will have to seriously research how we'll survive there with a preexisting and long-term illness.

I also feel lucky that we already have a pretty healthy lifestyle and somewhat healthy eating habits. There's a lot less to change in that sense... but of course, everyone has off days and naughty days. In fact tonight we are realizing the effects of a giant Dominoes feed on glucose levels (hint: not good). Anyways, as much as the fella would be annoyed at my public discussion on the subject, I thought this might be a good opportunity to share and learn and journal our journey. Diabetes is quite common, and the more people we talk to, the more people we realize who live with it who are happy to share their experiences. So there you go.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Flexitarianism - Wobbly or Win?

Ok, so I'll be bold and just blame not living in the States for being slightly behind the times when it comes to the latest healthy-eating trends. In fact it was a very American-based book which inspired me to start this blog in the first place, and this new (to me) concept, flexitarianism, is the conclusion I got from The Omnivore's Dilemma, without actually realizing it was already a thing.

According to wiki: Flexitarians avoid, but occasionally eat, meat. In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year's most useful word and defined it as "a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat".

Anyways, here's my take and why I don't think it's just being a wobbly veggie cheat. Being omnivores, the human body was designed to have some meat. Some. Like once or maybe twice a week, if that. I see flexitarianism as less a "new" diet and more like going back to the diet humans were designed to have. I'll call it a "vintage diet". Plus, it's nothing new, but I'll re-iterate, cutting down on meat not only is healthier and cheaper but also has an environmental impact. Lucky for me I like vegetarian food, but I also like meat. Double win.

While I wouldn't be someone mad into giving my eating habits a "name" I do like this flexible term as I am trying my darndest to cut a lot of the meat consumption that goes on in my house. It's not so much a moral thing on my part, I do believe in the food chain, but I also believe that we, as people, are not meant to eat as much meat as we do in this post-industrial age. Huge factory farms, feed lots and chicken with 40% added water gives me the heebie-jeebies. Buying meat from a local butcher who buys direct from local farms however? That is something I can feel pretty good about.

I generally haven't bought meat from the mega supermarket in nearly a year, which is a start. And I've been making a conscious effort to order the vegetarian option when eating out. Sometimes. So now it seems a good few American restaurants are getting in on the action as demonstrated by Tasting Table.

So... My fellow flexitarians... Unite!

Further reading:
Books: Almost Vegetarian & The Flexitarian Table

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In a pickle...

As an American ex-pat living in Ireland for nearly ten years I've had my fair share of noticing differences in products available for in markets. I remember years ago, asking in the grocery store where the sour cream was kept and got a look as if I had two heads. (Sour cream? Why on Earth would you want it sour?) These days, it's not that bad, a lot of items (sour cream for example) have become pretty normal on the shelves here. Plus I think I've just gotten used to it... and I also certainly eat a lot less processed food than I did in my early twenties, which is mostly the stuff Americans seem to miss. There are, however, those certain items which are just.... different, and whose absence does go noticed by me and my Yank comrades living on these shores. Example?

PICKLES. Not just any old gherkin, we're talking kosher dill pickles. Oh how I miss their salty goodness. The sweet and floppy pickles on offer in Ireland are just no comparison to a good old snappy Claussen.

So I'm thinking, in an attempt to reclaim this favorite burger accompaniment, I might try my hand at making my own. With a little help from Martha of course. Here's the link to the recipe.

There's also overall info about pickling and canning - as well as recipes for tomatoes and jams. Handy if I had an abundance of fruit, and definitely worth reading about for curiosity's sake. Plus, yep, of course it's an exercise in sustainable living and eating. Go on the vintage food revival. Read more here.

Wish me luck!

Photos from

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The summer thus far

I've been busy. REeeeeEEeeeally busy. Proving thus that when I was actually employed I had a lot more free time on my hands than I do now that I'm "freelance". Yep you read that right, I have been gainfully employed (somewhat) for the past 8 weeks or so, but it does mean I have much less time to spent with experimental cooking, observing the "past imperfect" world around me, growing my own and just blogging/podcasting in general.

But here, I think it's time to do a bit of a catch-up post as I still obsessively photograph my culinary works and still potter about in my tiny garden (made even smaller now by my half-completed hypertufa experiment) and still hold onto articles and record tv programs about sustainability and farming etc.

So. Here we go, I give you a run down of my foodie experiences from the past six months or so.

I often wax lyrical about my butcher - Brady Butchers near Belvedere Rd/Dorset St. and they have given me the opportunity to perfect fillet steak. Below is my first go at it, and it was perfection if I do say so myself... complete with homemade from scratch chips! Gordon Ramsay's simple recipe and method for checking the done-ness.

I then tried it again for Paul's birthday...

I also got pretty good at butter pastry from scratch as well as you can see from my mini-patries

I made some savoury pastries too, with mediocre results - I think I tried to do too much: this had potatoes, cream cheese sauce, asparagus, ham & cheddar.

I was busy with seasonal veg, variation of a skillet chicken recipe, honey butter & cous cous...

Wow, what a boring post... clearly I'm better off with the shorter recipe-based food posts. Hopefully more time will be found to update properly.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Farming in your Window

I've mentioned some massive vertical farms before... but here's one everyone can implement in their own home! No longer be constrained by weather or lack of space.

Hydroponic Window Farms!

Get more info about the Windowfarms on their very confusing website: