Finding Passion

For years we have been told by doctors, dietitians and the media that fat is the enemy. Fat will make you fat and will clog up your heart. Entire industries have been build on this simple idea, there are low fat versions of every kind of food and drink imaginable available on the market and yet people are getting bigger all over the world. We have tried to blame it on the fast food industries, the food producers, the frozen food markets and just about anything that would stand still long enough for us to pin the blame on it.

Then came the BIG news, science now tells us that it is not fat but sugar that is too blame for the growing obesity problems all over the world. While the food industries were removing fat from the food they were adding loads of sugar to make the food taste acceptable, so now once again, we are blaming the soft drinks companies, the fast food industry, the food producers and everyone else around us for adding all these hidden sugars to the food we eat and making us all fat.

The food industries have responded by flooding the market with new low-sugar and sugar-free products and giving us even more 'choices' when we shop, and yet somewhere along the way, between all the brightly coloured jars and boxes in the supermarket isles, I have lost my love of food. I have become bored with cooking, and eating has become something I do just to give my body some fuel to run on. I often skip meals as I am just not bothered to even go into the kitchen anymore and most restaurants leave me cold as I struggle to find anything exciting or different on their menus.

I use to have a passion for food, a desire to try new things and create meals to serve to my family and friends. Sharing the joy of discovery with the people I love, exploring new flavors and learning new ways to combine texture and taste. Watching people take that first hesitant taste of a new meal and then seeing their expression change with delight as they discover a new love affair with food.  

I want it back.

I want to stop listening to the industry 'experts' telling us what to eat and what to avoid. If I have learned one thing from the 'experts' it is that they don't have a clue either and in a few years time, when they find something else to blame the obesity rate on, we will all jump on the bandwagon again ready to blame the food industries for giving us the wrong information.

It is always so much easier to blame someone else than it is to take responsibility for our own actions.

Well, this is me taking responsibility. I want to rediscover flavour. I want to challenge my senses and wake up my taste buds. Life is too short to eat bland food and live without passion. It is time to try new things, see new places and eat real food.

The S Word

These days I often find myself with the telly on in the background and considering my interests it's no surprise that it is usually on one of the food channels. 

I don't often get time to sit and watch a program but I still find the sound soothing and it makes the house feel somehow more friendly, it is also a great way to get some inspiration while planning the weekly menu or shopping list.

One thing I have noticed though is how often the discussions turn to seasoning, you often hear someone pointing out that a dish is over seasoned, under seasoned or perfectly seasoned. I find this a bit puzzling as we all have different pallets so what is perfectly seasoned for one person might be completely unacceptable to someone else yet so many chefs claim to have the answer and seem very indignant if their food is not to everyones liking.

What ever happened to putting some salt and pepper on the table and allowing everyone to adjust the seasoning to their own taste without upsetting the chef's ego?

I know these days everyone is very concerned about their health and I can't even remember how many times I have heard of people cutting salt out of their diet because they believe it to be bad for them, however they seem to forget that we all actually need some salt to function normally. Salt not only helps to maintain the flow of water in the body but the sodium ion itself plays a role in the electrical signaling of the nervous system. In Roman times soldiers even received part of their salary paid out to them in salt, bringing about the still popular expression of someone being worth his salt.

I'm not saying everyone should rush out and start eating salt by the spoonfuls, but I do feel it has been getting so much bad press in the last few years that these days a lot of prepared food come across quite bland and lacking in that little something to make it stand out.

Salt is not just great for preserving food but it also has the ability to enhance other flavors, bringing them together and lifting a dish to new heights. Not convinced? Try and make a basic curry from scratch, adding all your normal herbs and spices but leaving out the salt, once cooked have a taste - then add the salt, give it a good stir and taste again. You will be amazed at the difference, without the salt the flavors will be dull and somehow separate, but once you add the salt it becomes a complete dish with all these subtle flavors coming alive and making it a real joy to eat.

Rediscover this simple, essential seasoning and give your taste buds a real treat. 

The long journey

It's been just over two months since our family arrived in the UK to start our big new adventure. During the past 10 weeks we have explored castles and waterways, walked through historic towns and ancient forests, experimented with new flavors and discovered a few new favorites. Although we are still a long way from being settled in this wonderful country and spend most days riding an emotional roller-coaster we know this is were we want to be and all we can do for now is to take it one day at at time, enjoy the ride and share the journey.

Walmer Castle

The Garden of England

At the moment we are staying with family in the county of Kent that lies South East of London and is known as the Garden of England, driving through it's forests and farmlands it's not hard to see why. The little winding country roads are lined with hedgerows teaming with life and everyday when we return to the cottage we drive through a tunnel of trees with rays of light shining through in places casting light and shadow all around us. Squirrels, peacocks and pheasants are our daily companions on the winding narrow roads, along with horse riders, dog walkers and day hikers, occasionally we might even meet another car - although that is an adventure in itself.

Meeting a car going in the opposite direction on a narrow, winding road can go a number of ways; the right way would be for both cars to slow down, and whomever has the most space on their side of the road will pull over to let the other car pass while both drivers give each other a friendly nod or wave, and this actually happens most of the time, however you also get the rude, grumpy ones who just stare straight ahead, put foot and expect everything else to get out of the way. These are the ones who scare the horses, squish the squirrels and miss all the beauty around them, they should do the forest a favor and just stick to the highways.

Denge Wood
Retail Therapy

Shopping in England is still a bit new to us although we are slowly starting to get the hang of it. It is an adventure trying to buy even the most basic ingredients as the variety and quality of foodstuffs available are absolutely mind-boggling; just after we got here we went to buy some plain white sugar for the kids to use on their cereal but even this turned into a 5 minute debate while we tried to decide whether we wanted normal white sugar, half-spoon white sugar (which is made so that you only need half a spoon full to get the same amount of sweetness as a normal full teaspoon of plain sugar) or half-calorie white sugar (which, as the name suggests, has half the calories as other white sugar but tastes the same)? The result of this is that running into the shop to grab a few basics can easily turn into a two hour debate trying to decide between all the different brands and slight variations available on the shelves. I can only imagine what it is going to be like shopping for Christmas.

The Long Wait

Although I fully understand the reasoning behind the UK's strict policies and quarantine rules for animals coming from other countries I still feel being separated from the furry, four-footed member of the family for 6 whole months is torture. We miss him dearly and can't wait for the day he will be able to come home so we can cuddle and spoil him again. I know he is well looked after at the kennels and I will gladly recommend them to anyone but it's just not the same as having him home where he belongs.

Quarantine is a necessary evil but the fact that the UK's quarantine rules are changing from January 2012 shows that there are better ways of making sure that the animals coming into the country are healthy and that separating them from their families that love them for such a long time is just cruel.

JD (aka Lumpy) is the most gentle, loving dog that steals hearts wherever he goes and I can only hope that he will remember how loved he is and that we are all waiting for him to join us on this big new adventure.

JD (aka Lumpy)