Kick Ass Chipotle Ketchup

Kick Ass Ketchup

I have a love hate relationship with ketchup. Like I love it, but it is just sugary gak that have been near a tomato at some point. Plus, I personally prefer mayo or tartare sauce on my fries, but I am currently sans food processor (insert crying emoji here), so making my own mayo will have to wait until I rectify that situation. But dry fries are not my favourite either, and I make a lot of fries if you count baked sweet potato, baked parsnip, baked carrot, baked celeriac, baked any root veg as fries. I do. Calling them fries instead of baked veg makes them seem sexier and more indulgent. Language is important. Plus they all taste delicious, better than actual fries in some cases. Plus, they are did easy- heat over, melt oil in baking tray, cover sticks of veg in oil and salt. Put in oven. Take out. Done.

I have tried spicing them up with chilli flakes and other spices- ras al hanout or smoked paprika, and that works well, but I am missing dips, so I thought, why not make my own ketchup? Well, because I don’t have a food processor I am never going to get the smooth texture of shop ketchup, but I could something like the flavour? Yes, as it turns out. I read a lot of labels to see what people like Heinz were putting in their ketchup, and checked out some recipes online from paleogrubs and paleo leap, and then I put in the flavours I like. For my birthday I got a pot of chipotle chilli flakes, amongst other things, so I decided they would definitely be going in. This makes a chunky satisfying and slightly spicy ketchup that I have eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it will definitely become a regular food prep feature.

Ingredients

400g tinned chopped tomatoes

1 Tbsp. tomato puree

2 tbsp. agave syrup (I use The Groovy Food Company light- in colour)

2 tsps. Garlic granules

2 tsps. Salt

2 tsps. Onion granules

A couple of pinches of chipotle chilli flakes.

 

All of the above can be adjusted to suit your taste- salty, sweet or spicy.

Put all of the ingredients in a pan and warm over a low heat. Let it simmer until thickened to the desired consistency.

Put in a container.

You are done. It’s basically as easy as walking to Tesco and buying some ketchup, and my nearest Tesco is a two minute walk.

 

 

Rants and recipes: chocolate chilli with veggie option

I have been writing a lot this week- two whole blogs! One I wrote about my issues with the constant flow of positive mental attitude quotes and memes in my social media. While I fully accept this is my fault because I follow a whole host of people who make their living from being motivational, I also have concerns about the impact of seeing this kind of thing every day. Secondly I wrote about the importance (or not) of measurable targets in education. Both of these things are things that make me mad, irritate me, grind my gears, but neither of them, obviously, are about food. When I first really started blogging, it was all about food. But now it isn’t, and I started to think about why. It isn’t as though I have stopped cooking delicious food- check my Instagram account, which is essentially just food, but I have stopped writing about it. I have been added to a group of UK Health Bloggers and I am feeling a bit of a fraud, as I haven’t blogged about food in forever. But why? I think the answer comes from the role that food, and cooking, plays in my life. My relationship with actually eating food has and continues to be a difficult one, but my relationship with cooking has always been easy. It is my meditation, my place of mindfulness and my stress releaser. It soothes me, and in times of stress or difficult situations and experiences it is my go to thing to do. That and wine, but cooking is healthier really. So I started blogging about food last year while I was dealing with my dad dying. For a long time my relationship with dad has been, at best, complicated, and at worst non-existent. I had boxed up my feelings and put myself in a place of emotional safety for a while by doing so, but I had never really resolved any issues, and with his death, that suddenly became impossible, at least impossible for us to reconcile together. So, as usual I turned to food and the cathartic element of writing about it really helped me to move through the days.

But I write my best when I am angry, pissed off, irritated and a little bit (a lot) sweary. And food just doesn’t make me feel like that. By the time I have cooked my mind is settled, I feel better, and the need to write/rant has disappeared. So, what’s the solution? Delete my foodblogger status and just use Instagram for its only real purpose- pictures of food, exercise videos and cats? Or change my attitude like all those fucking memes tell me I should be doing? Funnily enough it is the second one. Many food blogs I read (ok I don’t read that many) actually don’t write that much about food. It is all about other stuff happening in their lives- fashion, tv, travel, yoga, daily frustrations. So, why shouldn’t I blog like that? A sweary rant and then a recipe? Maybe I should rename my blog? Rants and recipes is so pleasingly alliterative.

So there you go, from now on I will be ranting before my recipes. I’ll enjoy it, and if nobody else does…meh.

Chocolate chilli. I made huge batch of last week, ate some and froze a load so I have ready meals agogo in the freezer. So much easier to stay healthy that way, resist temptation blah blah blah. Except I pass Tesco on the way home and if I feel tempted it’s really not that hard to succumb. But yeah, if I can resist going into Tesco, I’m all good.

Ingredients:

1 red onion cut into chunks

1 yellow pepper cut into chunks

2 green chillis sliced (add more or less depending on your spiciness tolerance)

250g pork mince (mine was 5% fat if that kind of thing interests you) If you want to be veggie then this ingredient should be omitted, obviously.

100g chestnut mushrooms

400g kidney beans (not paleo so don’t include if you are living the caveman life)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2tsps garlic powder

2 tsps cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp tomato paste

200ml stock (I used beef, but you could use veg or chicken if that’s what you’ve got).

1 tbsp coconut oil (or whatever oil floats your boat)

Method:

Add coconut oil to a large frying pan over a lowish heat. When it has melted add the onions and fry until softened. Add the pork and use a spoon or spatula to break it up. When it has browned through, add the rest of the ingredients to the pan. The order doesn’t really matter, you are only going to stir them altogether anyway. So, once they have been added, you should stir until they are all mixed up, and then turn up the heat a little until it is simmering along the lines of the Goldilocks principle- not too little, not too much, but just right. A Baby bear porridge of a simmer if you like. Then just leave it for about 20 minutes. You might want to stir and check at some point like I always do. Once the stock has reduced and thickened to your desired consistency then you are good to go.

I have served this in the following ways:

  • On its own. Simple.
  • With avocado.
  • With fried plantain.
  • With cauliflower rice.
  • With white potato chips.

You can serve it however you like. Over a big plate of green would be good, sprinkled with feta if you do dairy, or with squash or sweet potato.

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally

This acronym is something I remember being taught in maths at school, something to do with the order of operations. I don’t actually remember what the acronym means, so … either the maths teacher was crap, acronyms don’t work, or I have never had to use order of operations since I was sixteen so my memory couldn’t be bothered to store this once vital information. How can we tell? What factors decide what information we hold onto and what we forget?

Oh God with a capital G who lives in the heavens, I would believe in you if you could answer me this. And not just in one context, with one class, one student, just for one year. If you could give me the holy grail of education- getting students to recall the relevant information at the right time, in the right context, I would worship you every day. It is the foundation of learning, the building block of abstract thought and without it we are lost because we can only build on the knowledge we have, so I need my students to remember the basics before we can get onto the complex. But, what we know about how this works is exceedingly limited. There is very little educational research that can be generalised across society because education involves humans, and for me it involves teenage humans who are notoriously fickle (according to my schema). Humans are difficult to pin down, they bring their emotions to the situation, their cultural associations, their upbringing and everything that is happening to them and has happened to them. Is it surprising that what works in one case, does not work with another? Teachers are also bringing elements of themselves to the situation. Believe me, teaching the role of the father in the psychology of attachment is a real bitch when your own father is dying, then dead and then you attend his funeral. It makes answering students’ questions about dads an emotional rollercoaster. I taught that element of the spec. really badly that year, really badly.

So what has this got to do with good old Aunt Sally? Well, working out what works in education is really hard. If anybody tells you they have the answer with any certainty, immediately check how much money they plan to make, and then tell them that they are wrong. Education is littered with the skeletons of the dead and expensive ideas that teachers have been told were the panacea. They weren’t, hence their skeletal status. Although some of them still lurch around us like zombies, biting into your pedagogy and killing your brain (see learning styles). So instead of facing these difficulties, acknowledging that when one thing works in one context, it might not work in another, and understanding that it isn’t just because the teachers are a bit shit, we do something else. We create something, something easy to measure and easy to correct- it might be attendance and punctuality for example. Who cares if it is only an issue for a small number of students, particularly if you are looking at attendance and punctuality to lessons? Well, those who can measure it care about it. Attendance and punctuality slots neatly into a spread sheet, and when it decreases it is a victory for a policy implemented to solve a problem that didn’t really exist, but Aunt Sally came to visit. Albeit briefly. Because what is the lasting impact of this policy? Will it improve student attainment? Will it improve student well- being? It certainly doesn’t solve the problems of students who are desperately struggling with mental health issues, being carers for parents, or even those struggling academically with how to write an essay. But hey, the data on attendance and punctuality now looks awesome. So instead of excusing Aunt Sally, I’d like her to fuck off. Totally fuck off out of education. Then we might look at the real problems, with outcomes possibly unmeasurable until years later, and then we really will be doing something that approaches the needs of the students we work with.

P.S. Oxford Dictionary definition of Aunt Sally

1A game played in some parts of Britain in which players throw sticks or balls at a wooden dummy.

1.1count noun A dummy used in the game of Aunt Sally.

1.2count noun A person or thing set up as an easy target for criticism.