The Second Half

A middle-aged lady (or old, depending on perspective) sharing this and that with whomever strays into her digital property. Of course there are cats involved ;)

‘Twas a day of peppery pleasure — October 29, 2017

‘Twas a day of peppery pleasure

Remember a while back, when I shared with you the recipe for a fantastic meal? Well, I happen to find it exquisite, you may beg to differ. Anyhoo, I told you then I’d be back one day with the recipe for one of my favorite dishes and here I am. Sorry it’s taken this long but I had to up and cook it, you know, take pictures and stuff. And that’s just what I did the other day, which is the reason I’m now at my desk, pounding away on the keyboard.

Before we get into the swing of things, let’s give credit where it’s due. I did not come up with this recipe, uh-uh. It resides here but might not be of great help because it’s in my native language (Bulgarian). You can try with translation or you can just rely on me – I’ll give you my version but also tell you what the original says.

Now, this one is supposed to be a salad – you prepare it, let it cool and serve it. I’ll probably become the object of ridicule, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway: I’ve consumed this in the prescribed way but I have it more often as a proper meal. You know, serving it hot with crusty, fragrant bread to dip in the sauce.

The second thing I want to note is that you’re supposed to grill the peppers and peel them. I tell you right away it’s too much hassle for me. I might be persuaded to grill peppers, but I do my Speedy Gonzales act when peeling looms. Besides, very few things smell as heavenly as frying peppers or taste as good. In other words, my version has the peppers fried.

OK, we’re ready to get cracking. If you’d be so kind as to look at the picture above, you’ll see the ingredients you need and realize it’s a simple meal. I have another selling point: it only takes about half an hour to prepare. Here’s what I invested in this cooking venture:

  • About 400g of chicken cut into small pieces (I bought about half a kilo but my cats decided they were in the mood for some. Mind you, they don’t much care for chicken, cooked or otherwise, but they were being contrary, for some reason)
  • 420g of corn (that’s what it said on the can)
  • 400g of peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 7 or 8 red peppers cut in strips (I forgot the exact number, shouldn’t matter much)
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic (or as many as you want or maybe none, depends on your relationship with the plant)
  • Ground white pepper
  • Basil
  • Cooking oil

It’s all pretty straightforward from here on. Heat the oil and start frying the chicken. A couple of minutes will suffice because you’ll get to cook it some more when you add the peppers. Don’t let them fry for too long either as they’ll get mushy when the tomatoes go in. Say, 10 minutes max for the peppers, then on with the tomatoes and the garlic. That’s where most of the cooking time will go – give the tomatoes at least 15 minutes, adding the white pepper and the basil at some point. When you decide it’s just about ready, throw in the corn and let the whole mixture cook for another minute. Turn off the heat and you’re done. Congrats!

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Whether you serve the cold or warm version, I hope you find that half an hour time well spent. Bon appetit!

Fruit, veggies and a bit of a rant — September 11, 2017

Fruit, veggies and a bit of a rant

No, no, and NO! No way! Really??! When does it end? Can we finally get a definitive answer?

Umm…sorry about the outburst, but it’s difficult to remain calm right now. I’ll try to explain as best as I can and then leave you to decide whether such frustration is warranted. Apologies if I get distracted and ramble some before getting to the point (which typically happens with me).

I’m one of those people who fight all their lives to maintain a healthy weight. I have no excuse such as a metabolic disease or some other disorder associated with weight gain. I’m a glutton, that’s all there is to it. I alternate between fat and slim periods, having the worst possible mentality when it comes to food: it’s either all or nothing (meaning no food at all or a total pig-out). In other words, I can do without but never with little. Shame on me! In my defense, I’ve worked hard on it and grown far more disciplined in my later years. Our bodies wear out and it will be awfully irresponsible of us not to take this into account and go easier on them.

I wasn’t much of a fruit or veggie lover in my youth. Not that I disliked them, I just never consciously sought to include them in my diet. Now I can’t go a few hours without munching on some fruit, grapes and watermelon being perhaps my most favorite. And veggies…You know, I might sell my firstborn into slavery if the world woke up one day with just one head of broccoli left. If my first (and actually only) child would not be enough to secure me that precious cluster of green buds, I would probably throw in my left hand as well plus a few toes. Yes, that’s how much I love broccoli and you couldn’t make me eat that in my youth even under pain of death!

 

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The veggie love of my life!

 

Even if you don’t care about the scientific rationale, you just know that fruit and vegetables are good for you. Your body tells you so, it’s why every person on this planet likes some fruit or vegetable. It’s not the case with other food groups: many dislike yogurt, meat, or fish.

Think back to all the slimming diets you tried over the years. Chances are that virtually all of them were heavy on fruit and vegetables. And they most likely included at least one day per week of eating only one or the other and nothing else.

In general, we have been taught that fruit and veggies are the definitive healthy foods and we should eat as much as possible. But it now appears there are no extra benefits to consuming truckloads of fruit and vegetables! Yes, it broke my heart! Incidentally, the study focused on “the relationship between macronutrients and cardiovascular disease and mortality.” In plainspeak, the researchers looked at the connection between diet and the occurrence of strokes and heart attacks.

A consolation of sorts is the declaration that these findings in no way suggest people with a passion for fruit and veggies should reduce the quantities they typically consume. It’s just that the benefits taper off beyond a certain amount ingested. Elsewhere, the results support the conventional attitude to carbs, which is to say this study is yet another one suggesting we cut down on them. People who love rich food may rejoice at the researchers’ conclusion that the consumption of more fat at the expense of carbs can prove beneficial for cardiovascular health.

So, a mixed bag of goods, this so-called Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study (depending on your point of view, of course). But does it invalidate the reason for my unladylike conniption? I don’t think so. It was simply an expression of the frustration I feel every time study results of this kind come out. What the hell is a person supposed to believe? Eat less fat or indulge in more? Carbs are good for you, some clever folks say??? Oh, wait, other clever folks just said they aren’t, dump that bagel immediately! More fruit and veggies, less of them, none at all…Increase meat intake for more protein, get your protein from sources other than meat…Aaaargggh!!!

Here’s what I have to say about the whole thing. As a rule, I don’t much care what the latest study has found. This one made an impression simply because it messed with fruit and veggies, but I’m over it now. In the end, it all boils down to this: it’s your body and if you listen to it, you’ll know whether you’re treating it right. If you indulge in more carbs than recommended but carry no excess weight and feel fit and healthy, who’s to say your eating habits are poor? And if your passion for thick, juicy  steaks doesn’t have you popping pills for your cholesterol or high blood pressure, then your body obviously has no problem with it.

Now, I’m not saying anything goes. There are still rules to be observed if you want to stay fit and healthy. I may be terrible at moderation, but I fully realize it’s critical for good health. It’s my firm belief that everyone should identify a dietary regime that works for their body. In my case, that’s fruit during the day and one cooked meal in the evening, sometimes just a jumbo salad. And no, I don’t go hungry! The good thing is that I can do without bread (no sacrifice really) and I don’t crave confectionery. In fact, I hardly ever eat sweet things, a bit of chocolate once in a blue moon or a piece of cake at a birthday party and then only if someone insists I absolutely must. Where I make sacrifices is with beer: boy, do I love my beer!

 

grapes
My knees go weak at the sight of white grapes!

 

No, I don’t care what you have to say about the importance of breakfast, three meals a day, or whatever you consider a healthy regime. Conversely, I don’t expect you to care about what I have to say as regards your eating habits. Perhaps we can just agree that each body has its specific needs and then proceed to give ours what they require.

If you’ll excuse me now, I have a piece of juicy watermelon waiting for me in the fridge. Have a great day and stay healthy 🙂

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