Best Blog Posts: September 2016

Best Blog Posts September 2016

 

In the interests of being a good person and celebrating the fantastic writing of others, I’d love to start rounding up the best blog posts I’ve read each month. The word “best” is so subjective – the things that one person considers to be the best are obviously not the same for the next – so obviously this is all from my own perspective. With that in mind, dig in and enjoy the best blog posts from September 2016.

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Being A Stay At Home Mum: The First Month

Being A Stay At Home Mum

 

I have completed my first month of being a Stay At Home Mum, or SAHM as the cool internet people say. I’m still waiting for my certificate in the post. That happens, right?

You may remember that I posted briefly about my decision to leave work and stay at home, and my related excitement levels. I’ve been a working mum for nearly four years. Being a stay at home mum was going to be a whole new adventure.

TL;DR version? I’m very happy. But I do worry.

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The Spice Diaries: Turmeric

The Spice Diaries

 

I’m excited to introduce a new series on this little blog – The Spice Diaries! Each month a new spice will feature – I’ll be talking through the tastes, smells, origins, and benefits of each spice, as well as sharing a variety of different recipes where they feature heavily.

Spices have been integral to my love of food since I was young. My nanna, who instilled in me a love of cooking and playing with flavours, always heavily utilised ginger and cinnamon to bring her dishes to life. To this day she still brings me back handfuls of saffron from her journeys abroad. I don’t think I could ever possibly tire of the surprise of using an old spice in a new way, or even just the comforting warmth of a familiar friend in a regular recipe.

For this first in the series, I’m looking at Turmeric – that yellow, yellow, VERY EXTREMELY YELLOW little chappie that is such an essential part of curries (FYI: probably my favourite foodstuffs).

 

Origin

Also known as curcumin, turmeric powder is the result of grinding the underground stem (confusingly, not the root) of a plant similar to ginger. Turmeric grows wild in southern Asian countries as well as some Pacific islands.

 

Usage

I’m fairly certain that if you’re someone who has a herb/spice rack in your kitchen that you’re fairly aware that turmeric is used extensively in curries and other Asian/Middle Eastern dishes, mainly for its rich golden hue over its subtle flavour. That’s how I’d always used the stuff. I was vaguely aware after reading the first Hemsley + Hemsley book that turmeric is also used in some sort of medicinal way…what I wasn’t aware of is that turmeric has been used for everything from sinus/ear infections to insect bites for thousands of years.

Turmeric is thought to be an excellent aid to digestion, as well as assisting in lowering cholesterol, treating neurodegenerative diseases, and fighting cancer. Seems like a bit of a wonder-spice, huh?

A pinch of salt, however: turmeric definitely has some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and is definitely an aid to digestion in that it stimulates the production of bile, however many claims cannot be held as absolutely proven due to limited testing on humans.

That being said, if it’s likely that a simple spice could give you all of those health benefits (and more!) with very few side-effects…well, why would you NOT want to give it a whirl?

 

Recipes

Onto what I’m sure will be my favourite part on-going! *rubs hands, winks, salivates a little*

Here are a few examples of dishes that you can use to add some more turmeric into your life. Places such as Pinterest are full of ideas for more turmeric recipes, if you felt like looking further.

I have personally tested each and every one of the below recipes, and so can vouch for their deliciousness. As you can see, turmeric is an extremely versatile spice, and I had a LOT of fun making these (and smelling them, and eating them, etc etc…)

 

BREAKFAST: GOLDEN SMOOTHIE

Forget your green smoothies and add some sunshine and antioxidants to your winter mornings with this beautiful fruity morning smoothie with a twist:

1 banana, roughly chopped

1 peach, roughly chopped

1 cup almond milk

handful of ice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp chia seeds

Whizz all together in your smoothie-maker of choice and drink! 

Serves: 1

 

Golden Smoothie

 

BREAKFAST: TURMERIC SCRAMBLED EGGS

A simple little addition to a regular favourite, but one which really lifts the tone of the entire dish. I add extra veggies to pack even more benefit in.

2 eggs, whisked

1 tsp ground turmeric

3 spring onions, finely chopped

1/2 yellow pepper, diced

2 tomatoes, diced

salt & freshly ground pepper

knob of butter

1 tsp cottage cheese

1 slice wholemeal bread

Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the vegetables and turmeric and cook for 2-3 mins, until slightly softened. Add the cottage cheese and mix well, then tip in the eggs and seasoning and scramble as per usual, scraping well from the bottom. Meanwhile, toast your bread, then assemble the eggs on top to serve.

Serves: 1

 

LUNCH: GINGER & TURMERIC CARROT SOUP

Warming and slightly spicy, which helps to fill an empty tummy. A gorgeous autumn/winter lunch with crusty bread and a swirl of yogurt!

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp ground turmeric

zest & juice of 1 orange

1 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper

500g carrots, peeled & roughly chopped

1L vegetable stock

Place all ingredients in a soup-maker and cook via preferred method (BTW: my soup-maker is one of my favourite things EVER. I own this one – it’s amazing. You just chuck in the roughly-chopped ingredients, press a button, and away it goes! It even blends them to smooth or chunky once the cooking is done, and only takes 20 minutes!) For a no soup-maker method, hit up this link.

Serves: 4

 

Ginger & Turmeric Carrot Soup

 

DINNER: SPICY TURMERIC CHICKEN

Now, this is something special. I adore a bit of grilled chicken – the crispier the better – and a favourite quick evening meal of mine always used to be spicy grilled chicken and salad. It had never entered my mind to use turmeric however, and so I’m so happy I found this recipe. The below is tweaked slightly:

2 chicken breasts

1 tbsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp olive oil

Place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of cling film and, using a rolling pin, bash until thinner by half. In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients, then dip each chicken breast in turn, coating on each side. Remove to a plate, cover with cling film and marinate for 30 mins – 4 hours. When ready, heat the grill then grill the chicken breasts on each side for 5-10 mins until cooked through and browned. Serve with a huge leafy salad.

Serves: 2

 

 

DINNER: COCONUT & TURMERIC BASMATI RICE

I adore curry, but our standard brown rice side dish gets a bit dull sometimes. This recipe sounded and looked beautiful, and I promise it lived up to that in spades. It’s a brilliant change to the norm however I think it may well become the new norm. FYI – the below recipe contains my foolproof, PERFECT method of cooking white rice. You’re welcome.

1/2 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

1/2 tsp salt

250g basmati rice

1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric

350ml light coconut milk

100ml water

Fry the onion, garlic, ginger, and salt in oil of your choice for 5-7 mins until softened. Add the rice and turmeric to the pan and stir to combine well. Cook for 2 mins, then add the coconut milk and water. Bring to the boil, then as soon as boiling cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down to its lowest setting. Leave for 10 mins, then fluff with a fork before replacing the lid and turning the heat off completely. Leave for 10 mins further, then serve.

Serves: 3 as a side dish

 

Coconut & Turmeric Basmati Rice and Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower

 

DINNER: TURMERIC-ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

As you can see from the above photo, I served both this and the Turmeric Coconut Basmati Rice dish with a hot beef madras. Both proved to be excellent side dishes. I’ve been a big fan of cumin-roasted cauliflower as a side for a curry for a long time, but had never thought to try turmeric instead. Consider me converted! (As an aside, this recipe states use of FryLight purely because it is SO much easier (and healthier, natch) than mixing the cauliflower in a bowl with actual oil).

1 medium head of cauliflower, split into florets

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

FryLight of your choice (I used Coconut)

Pre-heat oven to 180C fan. Spray a tray with FryLight. Place the cauliflower florets in the tray and spray also, then cover with the dried ingredients. Roast for 25-30 minutes.

Serves: 2-3 as a side dish

 

In summary, I have learned a lot about turmeric this week. Only ever used previously in curries, it’s leap-frogged into a fairly prominent place in my spice hierarchy! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these recipes and have also come around to the golden side of life – alternatively, if you HATE the taste of turmeric why not suggest a spice for next month’s Spice Diary?

 

 
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