Fiction 1: First Draft

Small and taut, with skin so black it was almost blue he was like blueberry ready to pop. Anger and anxiety fizzed from him as he looked around the room. Dingy and dull, threadbare with nowhere to hide. He heard the front door slam and flinched; the sound was a call for action, but where could he go? He had always known since he took the money there would be trouble, but he hoped he would be moved on. He had been before, from home to home as people passed him back and forth, but somehow here had stayed. There had been safety in this house when he had kept his eyes closed, he had been able to breathe and sometimes even he had played, surprising himself by laughing, running and spinning in the garden with the joy of freedom. He had even gone to school.

But now what? That, once more, was over. He would have to take the punishment, the disappointment and face another move to another strange place. He moved back, away from the door and the windows, until he was pressed against the wall. It was the only defence he had, physically shrinking and presenting the smallest possible front for attack. The door opened and he looked up. And unfolded with surprise. In front of him was not the Big Man he has been expecting, the man he stole from so he could have something of his own. It was a small woman, breathing hard and heavy, her eyes wide with surprise and shock and fear and amazement. He stepped forward and held her hand, stroking it gently to calm. He didn’t have any words. She panted, sucking in the air with desperation, as though she had recently been denied. Slowly, she straightened, and looked at him as though she had only just noticed him. She tried to smile, to reassure, but it faltered, cracking.

She stepped forward and wrapped him in her arms. He hugged her back. And there they stayed for minutes until they gently parted. Her hands stopped on his shoulders.

“It’s ok now,” she said.

 

Luscious Lamb with cumin and olives

Photos on my instagram account: experimentalmonkeyfeeder

Lusciously alliterative. I am a sucker for alliteration. It feels like a long time since I actually posted anything, which is a bit annoying because I have been making lots of good things in the past few weeks. Check out my instagram account if you don’t believe me. I am annoyingly addicted to posting pictures of my food. I used to do it a bit, but now my personal trainer demands to see what I am eating, it has gone mental. It is useful though, I definitely know when I am not eating right because I know just what my personal trainer will say when he sees it. But this recipe not only deserves personal trainer praise for all its goodness, it tastes fucking fantastic. It’s warming, rich and tender, plus it is paleo, gluten free and all that jazz. So let’s go!

Neck fillet of lamb (about 450g for two)

4 shallots thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic minced

1 pint vegetable stock (that’s what I had)

2 tsps. cumin

2tsps. paprika

15 green olives (well, as many as you like really)

15 mini tomatoes (again…whatever you like really, and if you don’t have mini tomatoes then use big ones. They will break down anyway)

A mix of greens- I used baby kale, baby spinach, pak choi and red chard

Coconut oil

What to do: Heat the coconut oil up in a large frying pan to a high heat. Sear the lamb fillets- they are usually seared when they move easily in the pan, if they are sticking then leave them a little bit longer. The oil should be fizzing and spitting and it should smell good. Once the fillets are sealed, add the rest of the ingredients  (except the greens) to the pan and stir well. The stock should come to about half way up the fillets so you could add more or less depending on the size of your pan. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Leave it bubbling for about 30 minutes and then go back and flip the fillets over and give the sauce another good stir- the tomatoes should be breaking down by now and add colour and richness. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning if you feel it needs it. Leave for about another 15 minutes. Why not use the time to prepare something to go with it? I did cauliflower rice, but if you eat carbs it would be great to serve it in a crunchy bread roll as a bowl (and nicely medieval).

Add the greens and stir until wilted. Eat! This would be a great twist on the traditional Easter lamb-next Easter though now.

 

 

Pork and Chorizo Chill

Photos on my instagram account: experimentalmonkeyfeeder or my twitter account: experimentalmonkeyfeeder

I have tried to write this blog about 4 times, and each time my computer has deleted the blog. Stupid fucking computer. I fucking hate it. But I do like to use the word fuck quite a lot, so the last few sentences have restored some balance to the universe. I am sorry if swearing offends you. That’s a lie. I don’t fucking care. But don’t worry, with the balance now restored I will be swearing less.

Chorizo is great. I always try and make sure I have some in the fridge because it is great to add to so many things. Using it in chilli seems like an obvious move, so obvious that I can’t believe I haven’t done it before. Stupid fucking me! But earlier this week I did it and it was really lovely. It also tastes better the longer you leave it, this is the perfect leftovers dish, so if you make it, make a lots. I served it with cauliflower rice one day, with courgetti another day, and butternut squash noodles for the last hurrah! Butternut squash noodles were another revelation. I know I am late to the party but super delicious and low calorie. I don’t have a spiralizer but I need one. I also think they should be known as squoodles. In this house they will be.

What else did I discover? The weirdly wonderful cashew cheese! Yes cheese made out of cashew nuts. Maybe you know all about this, but I did not, and then I found it while looking for something to eat and I made it and it was wonderful in a total headfuck kind of way. I mean it nuts, literally nuts, with salt and lemon juice, but it has a cheesy flavour. How does that happen? Cashew butter has the decency to taste like cashew nuts, but cashew cheese is a taste sensation. I felt like Peter Kay in Phoenix Nights: Garlic bread? Cheese Cake? Cashew Cheese? Anyway, look it up and try it out.

Back to the main event:

Ingredients:

100g chorizo in chunks

450g pork mince

½ red onion in chunks

½ red pepper in chunks

½ green pepper in chunks

10 button mushrooms

4 cloves of garlic minced

1 red chilli sliced

2 tsps cumin

2 tsps hot paprika

400g tinned tomatoes

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

What to do:

Put a big frying pan over a low heat and add the chorizo, let it get sizzly and crispy and then add the pork mince. As it browns break it up with a spatula so it is in little mincy bits. Then add onion, peppers and mushrooms. Stir them around so they get cover in the chorizo oils and wait for them to get a bit crispy too. Then throw in the garlic and chilli and toss about with gay abandon. Once thoroughly mixed up then add the tinned tomatoes with the cumin and paprika. Stir about. Add the balsamic vinegar and then leave over a low heat to simmer for as long as you like. If you are in a hurry then about 20 minutes will do, but if you can leave it longer then do so. If you are worried about it drying out then you can add a splash of water or red wine if you are feeling decadent.

Enjoy with the leftover wine if you used it, and whatever accompaniment you like. Squoodles FTW!

 

My favourite marinade in the whole world

Photos to be found on my instagram account: experimentalmonkeyfeeder

I have been playing around with marinades recently. Some of these have come up on the blog like the teriyaki chicken wings, and others have not. They failed to be delicious enough to write about, but what I noticed is that every recipe I read seems to need certain ingredients adding if they aren’t on the list. So I thought I would just make a marinade out of my favourite ingredients and see what happened. And it was FUCKING AWESOME!

So I obviously need to share it. But before I do, a little bit about why I love marinades in the first place.

  • they taste really good;
  • they are easily personalised;
  • they are economical;
  • they enhance cheap cuts of meats;
  • you can put them in the fridge and forget about them;

So basically, a marinade is awesome. I used this one with a rack of pork ribs, but spare ribs would work brilliantly, as would chicken wings, and if you wanted to do a stir fry, then instead of using it as a marinade, make it up and use it as a sauce (that’s my veggie version).

This hasn’t come from any particular recipe, just a build of flavours that I enjoy, and pretty much always have in the fridge. If you like one more than the other then feel free to adjust the measures- to be honest, I never measure when making this. I just pour. Or use whatever is left in the fridge.

Ingredients:

100ml coconut aminos (soy sauce if not paleo)

100ml water

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

4 cloves garlic minced

1 red chilli sliced (I remove the seeds)

2 tsps. lemongrass paste

1 thumb ginger grated

1/2 red onion

Method:

Put the liquids in a bowl. Add the spices. Chop the red onion finely and then place in an sieve (or a square of muslin if you have that kind of shit around) and squeeze the onion until the juice comes out and goes into the marinade- it will be delicious. Then put the onion in the bowl too. It will now smell pretty pungent but go with it. Add your meat of choice and leave for however much time you have available. I left the ribs in the marinade for a few hours and then baked them for about an hour.

They were amazing.

Alternatively, toss in some veg, heat up a heavy pan and fry the shit out of it.

 

Baking Paleo

This is a new thing for me. I love baking but as the only person in the house who eats sweet treats it seems a bit of a waste of time, and spending hours macerating butter and sugar into a piece of deliciousness pretty much goes against all my food goals, so I haven’t done it. I have a problem with the paleo cheat idea- that as long as the ingredients are paleo it is ok. As lots of paleo writers remind us, sugar is sugar, whether it is from a coconut or an apple or sugar, so creating recipes that try to bypass the limits of the paleo diet to create cake seem to me a little bit disingenuous. I’m not even strictly paleo, I am drinking a glass of wine as I write this, and wine is a product of the agricultural revolution. A great product, but not paleo. Then again, fermented fruit probably got the occasional caveman a bit tipsy, like elephants do when they eat fermented fruit. However, I have been looking at recipes that seem to stay within the spirit of paleo and still hit that sweet spot.

So, banana cocoa brownies it is. I can’t even call this a recipe- it is so simple!

Take 3 bananas, half a cup of almond butter (or nut butter of your choice) and a quarter cup of cocoa powder. Place in the food processor. Blitz. Poor into a baking tray and cook at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes and cut into squares.

Done. You’re welcome.

PS. half a cup is about 100g.

In praise of the omelette

“But Aunt Maureen makes smashing omelettes.”

“She makes smashing omelettes.” Poirot’s voice was happy. He sighed. “Then Hercule Poirot has not lived in vain,” he said. “It was I who taught your Aunt Maureen to make an omelette.”

And if omelettes make Poirot happy, then that is reason enough to heap praise upon them, however, there are a million and one reasons why the humble omelette deserves your consideration. The omelette crosses cultures without fear, it is a food universal, from the frittata, to the tortilla to the tamagoyaki it is almost infinite in its variety. Sweet or savoury, vegetarian or carnivore, suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be eaten hot or cold, as a main meal or an accompaniment, and is as simple or as complicated as you like. It’s really good for you:

  • a complete source of protein- all 8 essential amino acids we can’t synthesise and so must get from our diet;
  • Vitamins galore- D for absorbing calcium, B2 for energy metabolism, B12 for a healthy nervous system, A for vision, E for healthy skin, K for blood clotting;
  • Zinc, iron and copper for whatever those do.

Yet some people fear the omelette. So let’s start with the basics.

Good eggs: nice fresh eggs

The pan: choose a pan based on the intended size of your omelette. Go small if you are scared, big if you are Aunt Maureen. For a 2-3 egg omelette, go for 7-9 inches. And it should be round.

Oil: whatever your choice get one with a high frying point because you are going to make this pan so hot Lucifer would be uncomfortable.

The most basic of omelettes:

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs

Told you it was basic. Some people like to complicate things by adding milk, but why bother?

Methods:

Beat your eggs. Well, take them out of the shell first but then beat them, with a fork, or a whisk. Then oil your pan and place it over a high heat. As hot as you dare- remember you are making Lucifer sweat. Once hell has called the fire brigade, pour your eggs into the pan. Tilt the pan until the eggs cover the bottom, they should be crackling happily. Once the bottom of the eggs has set, use a spatula to pull the eggs from the side of the pan to the middle and then tilt the pan to fill the space with more egg. You can tilt up to 90 degrees and it will all be fine. Once your omelette is pretty solid- there might still be a bit of gooey on the top, slide spatula underneath and fold the omelette in half. This will cook the gooey bit in the middle, and you can slide your lovely bit of eggy perfection onto a plate. Say hoorah!

And then you can top it with your favourite things- bacon, avocado, cheese, cooked meats, asparagus wrapped in parma ham, greek salad… Basically it is a base, like pizza or toast. In fact, in Spain you could slap it between two thick slices and call it lunch. Que bueno!

For some of you this is almost, but not quite, teaching you to suck eggs. So let’s take it to the next level, by which I mean some omelettes that I have enjoyed recently:

Chorizo and peppers: fry slices of chorizo until they ooze, then added chopped peppers. Fry until crispy. Add eggs and do the tilting thing.

Spinach and feta: wilt your spinach. Add your eggs and tilt and whirl. Crumble feta over the top and fold your omelette in half. Add crispy bacon for a carnivorous version.

Ham and mushrooms….wait! These are basically my favourite pizza toppings. Try out yours in a happy protein rich, low carb, paleo kind of way.