Teriyaki Chicken Wings (plus veggie suggestion)

Since experimenting with sriracha chicken wings a few weeks ago, I have been meaning to try some other chicken wing recipes. They taste so good, and are so easy to make, they are comforting and from what I have seen the recipes are almost infinite in their variety. But there is something deliciously unctuous about teriyaki sauce, and the word feels lovely and luscious on the tongue. Like the sweetish, spicy, warming stuff itself. So as usual, this recipe is a mash up of various other recipes I have been looking at. It can be kept paleo if you like that kind of thing, gluten free if you like, or just teriyaki sauce if you can’t be arsed with that ‘special’ diet kind of thing. Whatever works for you and your tummy.

Here is what is in it:

  • 1kg chicken wings
  • salt
  • Coconut oil spray

Sauce:

  • 125ml coconut aminos (paleo/gluten free) or soy sauce
  • 125ml water
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp. ginger chopped
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha sauce
  • 1tbsp. honey
  • rice flour (to thicken)

Here is what I did.

Heat the oven to 180 degrees c. Line a baking sheet with tin foil (otherwise it will be a right bitch to clean afterwards) and put your chicken wings on a metal grill on the baking tray. Spray them with coconut oil and sprinkle with salt and then put in the oven.

Next make your sauce. Spray a small saucepan with coconut oil and add the garlic and ginger. Stir around a bit, until lovely and fragrant. Then add all the other ingredients and bring to the boil, turn down to a gentle simmer. After about 5 minutes take it off the heat.

Check your chicken. Smile at the thought of eating it. When it has been in the oven for about half an hour take it out and dunk each piece of chicken in your teriyaki sauce. Swish the sauce about and make sure the chicken is fully covered. Then transfer back to the baking tray, turn the oven up to 200 degrees c. and cook the chicken for another 25 minutes.

Put your sauce back over a gentle heat and add a couple of tsps. of rice flour stirring all the time, this will thicken the sauce and will look all shiny and sumptuous.

If your chicken isn’t looking crispy enough then turn the oven up to 225 for a few minutes, and you are ready.

Place the chicken wings on a plate in a big pile, spoon over the teriyaki sauce- as much or as little as you like, and place them in the middle of a group of people and watch them disappear. Make sure you provide plenty of serviettes (kitchen roll in our house) because they will be needed.

If you like, sprinkle with nuts before serving if that’s your thing, or fresh coriander, or thinly sliced spring onions.

Veggie version: the sauce works brilliantly over chargrilled veg so pick your veg, chargrill them and then spoon the sauce over the top. Which is what I am having for lunch tomorrow. Awesome.

For pictures check out my instagram account @experimentalmonkeyfeeder where I share more of my daily eats, keeping it clean and lean…or something like that. Happy eatings.

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Korean Short Rib Beef

It’s been getting colder, and more miserable. Sideways rain is never really much fun, but what is fun is slow cooked beef. Yes. Fun. Ok it requires some planning but it is also really ridiculously easy. In fact the most difficult part of this recipe was finding short rib beef. It is not a cut I had heard of until I started really seriously researching paleo recipes, and many of the websites I have been looking at are written by authors in the US. I had decided if I couldn’t find the short rib, I would try it with beef shin (another bony slow cook cut) and it would probably turn out alright. However, one should never be too hasty about ingredient substitutions until one has visited Waitrose, the supermarket that considers brioche an essential. Sure enough, the lovely man at the meat counter had kilograms of short rib, and so I was good to go. I was slightly worried it didn’t look like the short rib in the pictures I had seen, as the bone wasn’t obviously sticking out. However, once cooked it looked picture perfect. I marinaded the beef the day before, although I am sure a shorter time would be fine- the recipe I based this upon says 4 hours minimum. I was very pleased with the result- tender and rich, so I would serve it with something quite plain. I used sautéed greed beans and sugar snap peas. Perfect.

Recipe:

1.5kgs beef short rib

100ml coconut aminos (soy sauce if not paleo)

100ml water

100ml honey

1 red chilli de-seeded and sliced small

3 spring onions chopped

2 heaped tsps. of lemongrass paste

6 cloves garlic minced

Put all the ingredients except the short rib into a casserole dish and mix thoroughly. Add the short rib and coat in the marinade. Leave in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees c. Place the meat (in the casserole dish) in the oven and then leave for about two and a half hours. Eat. Smile. Drink red wine.

For pictures check out my instagram account #experimentalmonkeyfeeder

Asking For It: what did she expect? Louise O’Neill

IMG_0127I have never read anything by Louise O’Neill before, although this is her second novel. Perhaps because it is in the young adult section. Fortunately, I am a teacher and so I have access to young adult fiction without really having to look for it- I just walk into the school library. I have to admit though, whenever I am in a bookshop, in real life or online, I do tend to check out this section. I do it for several reasons- what is being marketed at the young adults I teach, what are they actually reading, and finally (most importantly) there are some brilliantly written and fantastic pieces of literary fiction that goes ignored by adults because it has been mislabelled- young adults are still adults, and all adults should engage with it. That is not a blanket endorsement, clearly young adult fiction suffers from the same problems as fiction marketed at older people- some of it is awful, but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed en masse.

Back to the book. This caught my eye because its title is something I have been thinking about a lot. One of my students recently pointed out that she had been reading some startling statistics about young people’s understanding of what is meant by consent.

  • 31% of young men said they would try to have to sex with someone who didn’t want to;
  • 20% of young men would try to have sex with someone who was asleep;
  • 33% of young men thought that having sex with someone who said no, was not rape;
  • 1 in 16 girls aged 13-17 said they had been raped.

Statistics can always be contested. These come from a Guardian article published in 2012, and there are certainly more up to date surveys (I will not digress into a criticism of self-report here but maybe at a later date). We also know that the public understanding of consent is blurred. We know this anecdotally, but it is pervasive in the media, and in court cases. What was she wearing? How much had she had to drink? How many people has she slept with? Has she slept with him before? Did she fight him? These and a million other questions imply, or worse, actually accuse the victim of being responsible. We do have a responsibility to keep ourselves safe, but we also have a responsibility to keep others safe. That means looking after each other. Very few rapes are committed by strangers. Surely it is not unreasonable to expect our friends to look after us, whatever we are wearing etc. etc.

This book considers all of these issues (and more) from the point of view of an 18 year old girl. A girl who has been sexually objectified by everybody she knows since before she knew what sex meant. Her idealisation based on her looks mean this is the only way she can ascribe any value to herself is based on how boys respond to her; her only value is her looks. It also means it is the only way she knows how to judge other people. “She’s hot, but she’s boring.” Being boring isn’t a problem, although there is something in her that feels the sting. Her community is resolutely moral, traditionally so i.e. Men go to work, sow their wild oats; women cook, clean, look sexy but never put out (who buys the cow if the milk is free). The scene is set. I don’t want to spoil this book anymore. It deserves to be read by children and adults alike. The disclaimer on the back of my copy says it is not suitable for younger readers, but it is certainly suitable for anybody in secondary school, including the teachers- and parents should read it too. It is horrific what happens, but it is not unlikely, in fact it is completely credible. It follows logically from the way we sexualise the young, that sexuality comes to be something they expect, need and judge each other (and themselves upon). Our constant and insidious denigration of young women (and all women) means that young men, and society as a whole feels no need to respect what a woman says, especially when she says no.

This book disturbed me, and I think it should have done. I have been thinking about it for the past few days, and I am still not sure what I think, but the double standards are made very clear by the tagline on the back: They’re good boys really. This all just got out of hand.

How often do we excuse some sections of society, while blaming others?

 

 

Brilliant brunches part 5: back to my roots with bubble and squeak

IMG_0111Traditionally bubble and squeak is made with left over cabbage and potatoes and bacon, all fairly common Irish food stuffs, as is the idea of using up left overs, should there be any. I am a fairly long way from my Irish ancestors, but I still think this is a great dish. However, the Irish reliance on potatoes as a staple food stuff was always a risky one – see the potato famine. The famine was unnecessary, and hugely exacerbated by the attempted imposition of free market economics. The UK had enough grain to supply the Irish and prevent starvation when the potato crops failed. However, applying the ideology of a free market- people will buy what they need, they didn’t supply Ireland because the Irish weren’t buying. What they forgot was the end of the equation- people will buy what they can afford. the Irish could not afford to pay what the UK was charging, whereas other export communities could. The result was an inhumane level of preventable human suffering. The imposition of free market economics is the economic equivalent of shock and awe- people are so desperate to survive that they cannot focus on anything else. In Latin America the Chicago Boys helped people like Pinochet in Chile, to impose an economic system that caused untold suffering, hyper-inflation and produced a society living in fear of torture and disappearances. According to the Chicago Boys, this was all necessary while the system righted itself, when everybody would be rich. Or something- they didn’t actually know. It is the economic equivalent of the USA testing Agent Orange in Vietnam. Luckily, before it came to the US and the UK, they realised that the government oppression on such a large scale, was really unnecessary- you simply take away people’s economic independence and they will fall into line- hence Thatcher’s destruction of the unions.

Anyway, I was talking about brunch. Bubble and squeak, delicious, quick and simple.

Recipe (serves 2):

5 leaves of savoy cabbage shredded

1/2 red pepper in chunks

1/2 red onion in chunks

3 eggs beaten

4 slices of parma ham (optional)

Spray a large pan with coconut oil and add the cabbage, onion and pepper. Fry until softened, stirring regularly. Add the eggs and stir quickly to coat the cabbage, this should only take a couple of minutes. Take off the heat and continue to stir until the eggs cook from the of the veg- less if you prefer your eggs a bit runny, or more if you like them firm. Split the eggy veggie mixture between two plates and top with parma ham (if using).

Done and dusted.

The Heart Goes Last. Margaret Atwood

IMG_0104I am going to say straight out that Margaret Atwood is one of my all time favourite authors. That’s the bias out of the way. If I was important enough to go on Desert Island discs then I think that her novels would come with me. I read her work multiple times, and each time I find something different. Partially this reflects who I am at the time, and my concerns, worries and cares, as well as my experiences. I think my favourite novels are the ones that imagine and realise a dystopian future- the return to fundamentalism in The Handmaid’s Tale, the ecological disaster fuelled by free market capitalism in the Maddadam trilogy and so I was incredibly pleased to see her new novel in pride place in my school library (I am a teacher) especially when I read the back. A dystopian future created by the free market (economic disaster this time) focusing on a couple who have lost their jobs, their house, and currently live in their car, which also acts as an escape vehicle from those with even less. Offered the chance of escape, they jump at the chance- a promise of a clean house, jobs and protection. All they have to do is promise to spend every other month in prison. And it’s not even a real prison. You know something bad is happening, warnings are flagged up all over the place, but quite what the bad thing is, or bad things are is not always easy to identify. Whom can you trust? Despite continuous surveillance (everyone is spying on everybody else) you can never be quite sure who to trust? When characters are lying to each other, they are just as capable as lying to the reader, and they do, as often as they lie to each other. Everything is a commodity. Belongings are cherished as babies, and if everything has an economic value, what isn’t for sale? With her customary wit, insight and imagination, Atwood creates an all too believable hell in which any of us could find ourselves (except possibly the super-rich), and as inequality grows and haves get more and the have-nots lose out more often and more frequently, Atwood feeds on fears that have a credible basis in reality. We are doing this to ourselves.

If you have never read any of Margaret Atwood’s previous novels then this would be as good a place to start as any. Personally I prefer her futuristic novels rather than those based on the past. While I admire the research and craft of her novels such as Alias Grace, I don’t enjoy them as much, although they still chime with my beliefs and ideas as much as any other. While crafting incredible stories, Atwood makes wider points about society, her novels always reflect the inequalities in society, most frequently the position of women. Whether her characters are harking back to an imaginary golden age, or desperate to move forward into the future, the struggle against inequality and societies expectations of the male and female are made clear, and the impact of these notions on individuals are vividly illustrated. Capitalism as a political system and ideology also comes in for its deserved share of criticism- that earning money should be the driving force of all people and all societies results in horror, and she demonstrates with clarity the tiny steps we take towards a previously unacceptably terrifying reality. It feels like a journey we are already on.

In short, read this book, and read all her other novels. She is genius.

Pork and Puttanesca

IMG_0077This is literally the whore of sauces, directly translated anyway. However, there is no evidence that it has anything to do with the euphemistically called ladies of the night. This slightly disappointed me, in my imagination Italian brothels were full of sexy ladies, but all that was on offer was a bowl of pasta and sauce. But apparently not. It seems it suddenly appeared in the 1960’s but its ingredients are quintessentially Italian- traditionally tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, capers and olives. I have a thing about anchovies, there is something slimy about them, and fishy. Little slimy slug fish. Now that I have made them sound much less appetising you will forgive me for omitting them from the recipe. I have loosely based this on Sarah Raven’s recipe to be found in the 5:2 diet book, but instead of chicken I made meatballs (which seems more Italian) and I added shallots because I like shallots. Even if they make me cry. And they do. A lot. The sauce is vegan and would make a great dinner with extra vegetables if you like, or served over pasta if that is your thing. Pasta is not my thing, so I dished mine up over courgette fried in coconut oil and it was delicious, but any other Mediterranean type veg would be lovely. In fact, it would make a great sauce for aubergines, topped with parmesan or mozzarella.

Recipe:

500 grams pork mine

Garlic granules

1 egg beaten

4 shallots finely chopped

4 garlic cloves minced

300 grams plum tomatoes chopped

400 grams tinned tomatoes

2 tbsp. capers

Lots of olives

As much as you like of the following:

  • dried basil
  • dried oregano
  • dried thyme
  • red wine

Method:

To make the meatballs tip the mine into a bowl- make sure you remove the paper thing from the bottom that comes in supermarket packets. Why is that there?

Sprinkle with garlic granules and pour on the egg. Get your hands in and squish together. Don’t think about squashed brains. Make about 12 meatballs. Spray a big frying pan with coconut oil (olive oil or whatever oil is in fashion) and fry the balls for a few minutes each side until browned. Remove the balls from the pan, onto a plate is probably good, and then make the sauce. I used the same pan- saves washing up right! Spray the pan again (oil) and add shallots and garlic and sauté over a low heat until translucent, stirring as you go. Add the cherry tomatoes and the tinned tomatoes, and stir about. Add the herbs and wine (if using) and mix it all together. Smell. MMMMMMMM is the noise you will make. Add salt if you like. Leave to simmer down for about ten minutes and then add the meatballs to the sauce. Keep it simmering until the meatballs are warmed through, or longer if you like a thicker sauce. Serve with the accompaniment of your choice and eat. I like to do this in my dressing gown. It’s that kind of comfort food.

Super Stir Fry: it’s not really a recipe…

IMG_0061I wouldn’t usually blog about a stir fry. I always feel slightly disappointed when I am reading a recipe book and you get a recipe that is essentially basically a list of vegetables, you put them in a pan for a few minutes and then you have a meal. Sometimes the sauce is quite intricate, but then, who’s going to go out and specialist ingredients for a stir fry? Not me. Stir fries should be quick, easy and simple. They are the ultimate in healthy fast food, and brilliant when you have over bought veg, and you don’t really just want to watch it rot. Or you are allergic to waste. I had a fridge full of veg ready to go, and a desire to just get it done, but then I remembered the cashew nuts in the cupboard, and saw the cauliflower that was going to be riced, and I thought I don’t really want a dry stir fry but I do want cashew nuts and I do want stir fry, so I made a sauce. The easiest sauce ever, but so delicious I really want seconds. Really, really, but somebody else is expecting their share, so I am going to have coconut fudge instead. Paleo coconut fudge no less! Maybe that is what I should really be blogging about, but I didn’t make it.

Anyway, super stir fry (cheating as a food blog)

Ingredients (it really isn’t a recipe):

Vegetables you like. I used red cabbage, peppers, green beans, red onion and broccoli.

Cashew nuts.

Vegetable stock- about 250 ml.

Garlic.

Chilli. I used one red and one green.

Ginger.

Soy sauce (gluten free soy sauce if you like, or coconut aminos).

Coconut oil

Method:

Chop up all your vegetables. Put them to one side.

Slice the chilli, ginger and garlic. Use what you have or how much you would like in your stir fry.

Spray your wok with coconut oil and heat over a medium heat, add the cashew nuts and toast for a bit. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Stir around. Add stock and soy sauce to taste. Simmer until stock is reduced by about half, and then empty out the mixture into a bowl. Taste to check you like it.

Dry the pan and spray with more coconut oil. Throw in the vegetables and toss them about with gay abandon until a little browned and crispy. They should still be nice and firm. Pour over the cashew nut and spice mixture and stir through the veg until reheated.

Serve. I did mine with cauliflower rice.

Short but Sweet

And I am not talking about me. I am short, but rarely sweet. Saccharine is not really what I am about. But I did make sweet pancakes yesterday and this post is going to be short. I ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning and it was all very good. I have never cooked using protein powder before so I was dubious, but if high protein is your thing, and it currently seems to be mine, then it features in lots of recipes. Particularly sweet recipes which currently aren’t really a part of thing, but it was pancake day. Anyway, it worked. Fluffy, flavoursome pancakes and the protein powered me through a HIITS workout, which is something I am also pretty new too also. Anyway, thanks to paleomg for the recipe. The only thing I changed was vanilla flavour powder to chocolate because that is what I had. Next time I might try chocolate peanut butter flavour, which should also go pretty well with banana.

Recipe:

2 bananas chopped into chunks

2 eggs

30 grams of protein powder

Throw it all in the blender. Blend. Spray a small frying pan with coconut oil (I use frylight) and put it over a medium flame. Pour in the batter when the oil has heated, so your pancake is about 5 inches in diameter and cook for a minute or so, until the batter starts to bubble. Then flip your pancake over and cook for another minute or so.

Ta da!

Serve with fresh fruit. Or syrup- although they are pretty sweet already. You could add choc chips to the mixture or maybe blueberries depending on the flavour protein powder you use.

This morning I reheated them and ate them topped with fage and sliced almonds. Yum.

Pancake Day: Sweet and Savoury

Pancake day! A perfect opportunity to take myself back to Vietnam. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks travelling through Vietnam last year, although it seems like a forever ago now, and it was one of my favourite places- which is saying something when you spent a year travelling around the world. The history, the beauty, the devastation of a country and of generations genetically modified through exposure to Agent Orange. It seems Americans are more bothered by gmo food than gmo-ing people. It is a country of tragedy, but also of a people unbowed and infinitely caring of those affected several generations on. While every history is told differently, it is difficult to see how Kissenger could be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while simultaneously ordering the bombing of anything that moved in Vietnam. Carpet bombing. Chemical warfare. Experimental chemical warfare- nobody knew what these chemicals would do. This was not a war, it was annihilation. Pure and simply to save America money by guaranteeing cheap supplies of raw materials provided. Sound familiar?

America covertly acknowledges what it did by compensating American veterans for exposure to chemicals, but refuses to give the Vietnamese the same. They use a very poor excuse that Vietnam has refused to return dead American GI’s. GI’s who died in the jungles and swamps of Vietnam, although America cannot say where. Some of them died in places they weren’t supposed to be. In the museums it is impossible not to cry at the images, the truths told by American soldiers, both privates and generals. The American soldiers suffered, but it was a war the Vietnamese provoked simply by wishing to independent from France.

Yet the Vietnamese people I met were endlessly welcoming and hospitable, helpful and unusually generous with their time and advice. The cynic in me tells me it is because I was a tourist, because I am good for the economy. But whatever the reasons it felt very genuine for whatever reason. If the history isn’t enough, the natural beauty isn’t enough, then go for the food. The French colonised Vietnam and brought the baguette. Vietnam saw the baguette and raised the French a hundred. The French folded. The Vietnamese baguette is like eating frosted air it is so light. And then, they stuff it with 3 different types of pork, fresh herbs, fresh chillis and you have the banh mi. If you eat bread and you eat meat, you must.

But the bread is beyond my culinary skills, and my diet ‘rules’ right now, so I chose something else. In Hoi’an we went on a cookery course. We wandered the market which is the last word in fresh- slaughtered an hour ago Sir? Here you go. Waste not, want not? Whole animal eating is a speciality. Herbs that were new to me are sold and fresh fish, so fresh it is still alive. So are the chickens and the ducks. It’s not a haven for the vegetarian, but it is how food should be done. We then went to a small island, ground rice into milk, drank fresh passion fruit juice and made several Vietnamese classics. Ban Xeo was one. This is the crispiest of crispy pancakes. So crispy in fact that a lovely but slightly violent Vietnamese lady hit me with a spoon every time I tried to flip mine- not crispy! Smack!

Traditionally these include prawns and pork, but I have gone for a veggie option. Meat eaters you get yours often enough.

So here it goes:

Recipe: Increase your amounts by the appetites of your people

Fresh herbs of your choice. I like mint, but other people like coriander, both, other.

Spring onions, sliced vertically and then on the diagonal

Avocado sliced

Pepper very thinly sliced

Cashew nuts blitzed in the blender

Lime

Arrange these things on a plate, more or less artistically.

Pancakes: this makes about 5 pancakes- 4 inches diameter

120 grams rice flour

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. salt

100ml coconut milk

75ml water

Put all the pancake ingredients in the blender. Blend. Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat, spray with coconut oil. Add a couple of spoonfuls of mixture and quickly tip the pan so mixture spreads out. It should be quite thin and bubble immediately. My first one is always rubbish, so I eat it while making the others.

Serve up pancakes with the plate and let everybody make their own wraps.

Meaty: marinade sliced chicken in a mixture of grated ginger, fresh chilli, garlic, coconut aminos (soy sauce) and lime juice.

Fry and add to pancakes.

Sweet option to come later…I gotta eat!

Coconutty Curry

Sunday nights have become take away nights. Spoiled by the very good Indian restaurant across the road I have become addicted to garlic mogo and chilli paneer. But even when you follow those ‘healthy’ choice guides for your take away, you aren’t really making a healthy choice because you don’t really have any idea what has gone into making it. Obviously from all the recipe reading, research into whole30 and paleo diets, listening to friends who prefer (or need to be) gluten free, then it seemed like a sensible idea to see if I could make something myself that would be just as good. I haven’t quite got round to making my own paneer, but for the first time I put together my own curry paste. I love the creaminess of thai style curry, but I have always been worried by the calorific nature of such dishes. However, I think in making my own paste from mostly fresh ingredients (apart from dried spices) then at least I know where the calories are coming from and I can adjust accordingly. Anyway, that can of coconut milk in the fridge isn’t going to use itself, so here it is- a coconutty curry paste that takes a lot less time than picking up a take away.

Recipe:

A couple of handfuls of cashew nuts soaked in hot water for about 30 minutes

2 red chillis de-seeded and sliced

4 cloves of garlic chopped

1 red onion diced

1 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. coriander

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. turmeric

1 thumb of ginger in chunks

200 ml coconut milk

Sprinkle of salt

Put everything in a blender. Blend. Add whatever your particular fancy allows- tonight I put some peppers, spinach and peas in a pan with about 250ml of water and 4 spoons of curry paste.

Recipe inspired by http://www.cooklikeacavewoman.com/paleo-red-curry-paste and Whole30.

I believe this paste is also Whole30 compliant. And it’s vegetarian. And vegan.  And gluten free. And really really fucking good!