Sunday, 6 August 2017

An Aperitif for August

Many people of my age remember being left in the car outside a pub while their dad went in to have a drink with his mates. It was a happy occasion, we enjoyed being left in the car watching the door of the pub. After a few minutes dad would come out bearing aloft bottles of lemonade and packets of crisps.  Tucked inside the packet of crisps was a small, blue, paper sachet of salt. We would untwist the paper and pour the salt inside the bag and give it a good shake. The lemonade was so delicious I couldn't understand why my dad didn't want it too,
Many aperitifs are a bit like that lemonade, thirst quenching and fruity. Here's the catch though, they often contain alcohol.
You have to be careful. One hot English summers day an Italian friend of mine drank quickly two huge glasses of Pimms, not knowing that it was alcoholic, it just tasted delicious and she was thirsty. Of course after a few minutes she had to go and lie down.

It's a funny thing about alcohol. Cigarette packets are plastered with dire warnings that should put you off smoking forever. We are told only to drink in moderation, women less than men because of something different about the liver, and not to drink and drive. That's it. Nothing on the bottle about how it loosens your tongue, dissolves your inhibitions and makes you say things that you regret. So you might find yourself this summer drinking what seems like fruit juice and all of a sudden your crying about.. Brexit, the dog you lost when you were ten, the plight of total strangers, how you miss your mum and dad, etc.

I'm going to give you a recipe for an aperitif which is perfect for a summer evening but you have to be careful, tell everyone what is in it.

It is called GRAZIE, which means thank you in Italian.


for one person
4cl gin
2cl sugar water, dissolve 2 teaspoons of sugar in hot water and let cool
10cl grapefruit juice
a few basil leaves
2 ice cubes

Simply multiply the ingredients by how many people

Wash and dry the basil leaves and place in a cold jug. Put in the fridge.
Mix together the gin, sugar water and grapefruit juice and then pour into the jug.
Add the ice cubes and then if you prefer you can pass through a sieve before serving. The flavour of the basil and the grapefruit juice is delicious.
Warn your guests that there is gin.

All ready to go

Believe me it's delicious

What can be more cheerful than an aperitif at sunset in the summer

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Always Room for one more

My grandmother had six children and lots of grandchildren. I was almost the youngest. Sadly I wasn't very old when she passed on, only eight, but I remember her very well. I haven't got lots of tales to tell about her but I know she loved me a lot and I loved her.
Every school concert, ballet show, play or whatever, she was there. I saw a sea of faces and in the middle she was there, waving, her face glowing, no matter that I was the most useless and untalented on the stage, she gave me a standing ovation. For her, I was the star of the show. She and my mum, together, their faces alight, their hands clapping, their arms waving, for me.

My mum told me that every time a new grandchild was on the way my grandmother would say, 'There's always room for one more.' She meant that there was always enough love in her heart for another little baby.
This is one of the most magical, wonderful mysteries of all, how our hearts can expand endlessly.
Well I've got someone new to love. A very small bundle of joy. Brand new. He might be small but he has already filled our lives. All the love in the world is there for him.
I'll just tell you this too, he might be small but can do very impressive burbs.

Looking at this brand new baby I would like to have a magic wand, to protect him, to make him strong and healthy and bring happiness to all who meet him on his way through life.

The night he was born there was a beautiful moon, it was very hot, music was floating through the air from a nearby park.

It seemed perfect for a new little family.
My wish for you, May you be happy always, and may a cup of tea be able to make everything better

The evening you arrived, welcome little one

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

What to Eat

Not a day goes by without some fresh piece of advice appearing in newspapers or being passed round by word of mouth about what is good for you to eat, how to lose weight, the powers of superfoods, whether or not to be a vegan, a vegetarian, a pescatarian.

It used to be so easy.

All you had to do was have three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. At each meal you were meant to have some protein, carbohydrates and fats. You should include lots of vegetables, many greens to clear your blood, carrots for your eyesight, peas and beans to keep you healthy. Fruit could be eaten between meals or made into a dessert. That sums up what my mum taught me.

We knew we needed vitamin c, because sailors who didn't have fresh food and spent a long time on voyages got scurvy.
We knew that potatoes, bread and rice were starch and to have some with every meal.
We knew we should have a little bit of everything and never too much of anything, especially prunes.
We knew we needed milk to have strong teeth and bones and that anything burnt was bad for you.
We knew that living in England where there wasn't so much sun meant we needed to take vitamin D or we might get rickets and every day we took haliborange which had Vitamin AD and C.
We knew our skin shouldn't go red in the sun.
We knew that sugar rotted our teeth.
We knew we shouldn't eat leftovers or food that had been lying around uncovered.
We knew that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

All this information was part of our everyday life in the fifties.
It seemed sensible, I never met anyone with scurvy or rickets.

Every day, though as I was saying we are told of things that are bad for us, or good for us.
Last week I read that burnt toast is bad for us, after a survey and tests were done. But I thought we knew that, our mothers certainly did, because any burnt smell wafting through the house was immediately followed by furious scraping noises as the burnt bits were taken off.
Then I read about a girl who had a disease caused by mercury poisoning and reading the article that she had been eaten a whole can of tuna fish every day for years.
Whole pages of magazines and newspapers are taken up with how sugar is toxic, sausages and bacon are full of poisonous substances.
One day coffee is good for you, then it's bad. Too much tea depletes you of iron, too much iron is bad for you.
It used to be five-a day and now it's seven. There must be a ratio of 3 vegetables to one fruit and they must all be different colours.

No wonder that we are a bit confused.
So let's go back to our mums' original advice, a little bit of everything.

Here are a few basic rules,
Good eating starts with good shopping, so make sure you plan a few meals and write a list before you shop.

You can have a few treats, maybe one a day, which have little or no nutritional value but add to the fun.

chocolate bars
take-away meals
alcoholic drinks
Restaurant meals
Biscuits and cakes
cappuccinos etc

Whatever takes your fancy.

Healthy snacks are nuts, raisins, fruit,yoghurts

Of course we all know people who break all the rules and are never ill and will hopefully have a long and healthy life.
There are also people who eat healthy food all the time but have high cholesterol, etc.
So once in a while have a blood test or something to make sure all is well.
Life style changes that doctors suggest you make are usually about cutting back on the treats mentioned above or walking more or sleeping more.
Don't forget your mental health too, eat foods Vitamin B, zinc, magnesium, iron and folate and stabilize your blood sugar levels.
Wheatgerm, leafy green vegetables, peas, oily fish, nuts and seeds, bananas and oats,
lettuce, celery, fruit and vegetables will all help. the bananas between meals on their own if you want to raise your mood, don't know why but it's just something else my mu used to say.