September 2017: number two

In August 2016 I wrote about number one: urine. You must have been holding your breaths for a long time, waiting for number two. Here it is!
“All disease starts in the gut” said Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, so it’s worth paying attention.

The food you eat, normally takes from 18 to 72 hours to pass all the way through. Most people go once or twice a day, but whether it’s three times a day or three times a week, as long as you are happy with it, it’s ok. You’ll know it if you’re constipated, because you’ll feel gassy and bloated and strain a lot to produce unusually hard stools.
The following symptoms show that things may not be quite right. Don’t worry too soon though, for food colouring and medications can also affect the look of your poo.

If you produce
•    separate hard lumps, you lack fibre and fluids. Even if you go every day, you may still be constipated. Drink water; eat more fruit (pears) and veg, especially with magnesium (leafy greens, spinach, kale); nuts, seeds and whole grains [1].
•    watery, liquid stuff, you have diarrhoea – see Thought August ’15. Drink lots!
•    very loose stools, but not diarrhoea: you may consume too much fructose, artificial sweeteners, coffee, alcohol or oily foods; have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, celiac disease, food poisoning or stomach flu. For more details and causes, see [2].
•    not a lot, and/or not often – you’re constipated. Usually you can do something about that yourself, just by improving your diet. See [3]. Not enough healthy fats like proper butter, eggs, extra-virgin olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and wholefat dairy, also have a constipating effect.
•    floaters – unless you have eaten lots of beans, sprouts or large meals, this means you don’t absorb fats. See [4].
•    pencil-thin stools for more than a few days, either you’re constipated or it could be polyps, hemorrhoids, prostate enlargement or cancer.
•    cracked stool, with a good sausage shape but cracks on the surface, this can be due to poor diet or a sedentary life.

If the colour is other than medium-light brown, it may well be due to food dyes or particular medicines. If not, and the colour is
•    green: you eat lots of leaves, take an iron supplement or you’re pregnant. If not any of these, food may be moving through too fast [5].
•    yellow: you’ve had carrots, sweet potatoes or turmeric. If it’s also foul-smelling, this could mean excess fat, gastroesophagial reflux disease (GERD), giardiasis or coeliac disease.
•    black: you’ve consumed iron supplements, charcoal, bismut subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol), or dark food like liquorice, black/blueberries or grape juice. Stool can appear darker with constipation. If it’s not that, it can mean internal bleeding, particularly if it’s sticky. See a doctor soon [6].
•    light, white or clay-coloured, this can be due to some medicines, or bile obstruction.
•    red: it is due to beet, tomatoes, cranberries or there could be blood in your stool, see [6].
•    explosive, seaweed-green and it’s liquid, this is a sign of clostridium difficile and happens usually after antibiotics.

Each of the following websites gives a slightly different picture – and pictures, as well! Have a look [7].
In general: most day-to-day variations in the appearance of poo come from food or drink. Medicines too have strange effects. However, if it’s bright red, black, or pale, consistently thin or pencil-like, loose or watery, or accompanied by mucus or pus, or if you have additional symptoms like abdominal pain, see your doctor right away.
And, by the way, squatting is the most effective way to move your bowel, but failing that, when on the toilet, sit with your feet on a little stool and lean forward.

If you want some more tips about ‘going to the bathroom’, see [8], though some may be a bit American …. do you use an air dryer down there?

veg: celeriac, turnip, beet, broccoli, cabbage, calabrese, carrots, cauliflower, chard, fennel, kohlrabi, runner beans, salsify/scorzonera, spinach, tomatoes, Jerusalem/globe artichokes, brussels’, chicory, endive, swede, celery, corn salad, leek, peas/mange tout, courgettes, marrow, pumpkin/squash, (white) radish, rocket, spring onions, watercress, sweetcorn.
meat: rabbit, goose, grouse, guinea fowl, partridge, pheasant, wood pigeon, duck, venison, squirrel.
fish: crab, clam, cuttlefish, lobster, mackerel, mussels, scallop, sprats, cockles, black bream, gurnard, winkle, pollack, grey mullet, American signal crayfish.

broad beans, land cress, round seeded peas, chinese leaves, corn salad, winter purslane, winter lettuce.
Plant rhubarb sets; spring cabbage; garlic; autumn onion sets if the weather is good. The garlic should be suited for autumn planting. Don’t use your old cloves! Plant out spring cabbage and, in South England, cabbages and winter/spring lettuce.

What else can you still do in the garden? See

I haven’t tried this yet – no bitter lettuce in my garden this year so far! But it sounds good:

What to do with TURNIPS?
– Chop an onion. Slice a turnip across the fiber, thinly. Add pepper, ginger, nutmeg and/or paprika powder. Sauté till tender.
– Cook a turnip, mash; mix with applesauce 4:1, and bacon bits. Heat in a casserole.
– Cook with potatoes for mash.
– Turnip goes well with: carrot, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, thyme, savory and tarragon.

450g courgettes, 500ml water/stock, 1 diced onion, 1 tblsp butter, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tblsp curry powder, sour cream/yoghurt, chopped chives, salt, pepper.
Sauté onion in butter till soft, chop courgettes, add, sauté till soft. Add stock/water, cayenne, curry powder. Simmer 10 mins, blend. Add cream/yoghurt, salt and pepper. Top with chives.

450g French beans, 1 tsp mustard, 1 tblsp cider vinegar, 4 tblsp olive oil, sea salt, pepper, shallot, garlic, (fresh chervil, 1 tblsp capers).
Cook beans till just done. Put mustard and vinegar into bowl, stir oil in. Season, add chopped shallot, (capers) and squashed garlic. Drain beans, dress while they’re hot, serve warm. (Sprinkle with chervil.)

COURGETTES-RUNNER BEAN SALAD, serves 2 (recipe by Angela Hartnett).
300g runner beans, 2 sliced courgettes, 250g cooked butter beans, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 sliced garlic clove, chopped mint, (fresh coriander), thick yoghurt or vegan substitute for serving. For the vinaigrette: 40ml olive oil, 10ml cider vinegar, 1/8 tsp mustard.
Sauté courgettes with oil and garlic for 6 mins. Slice runner beans into 5cm pieces and cook in salted boiling water for 5 mins. When the courgettes are coloured, transfer to a warm bowl and cover to retain heat. Drain beans and combine with butter beans and courgettes. Whisk dressing, add mint, and mix with the veg which should be still warm. Serve at room temperature with yoghurt on top.

150g vegetables like carrot, raw beet, celeriac, Florence fennel; 1/2 tblsp peanut butter; 1 smallish onion; 1 clove garlic; butter; chilli/cayenne pepper; salt.
Sauté sliced onion, vegetables and garlic in plenty of butter for a while. Add some water, cover and simmer very gently till done to your liking. Put peanut butter in a bowl and loosen with a bit of the hot liquid. Add to veg, along with lots of red pepper and salt. Serve.

1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 cup stock or water, ab. 600g cleaned kohlrabi, salt and pepper, 2-4 tbsp. sour cream (grated mature cheese).
Lightly sauté minced garlic until it becomes a bit translucent. Add water/stock, and bring to a low boil. Wash kohlrabi and trim away any stems. Chop into 2cm cubes. Add to stock, and return it to a boil, then turn it down. Simmer until tender. Uncover and simmer some more till the liquid has evaporated. Mash until smooth. Add salt, pepper and sour cream, heat through, serve.

2 slices firm bread, 225g crabmeat, 1.5 tblsp oil, 1 tsp lemon juice and some wedges, 1/2 tsp Worcestershire or soy sauce, 1 large egg, beaten, 2 tblsp butter.
Tear bread into small pieces into a bowl with crab. Add oil, Worcestershire/soy, egg, a pinch of salt. Mix gently but thoroughly, then form into 4 patties. Heat butter until the foam subsides, then cook the cakes, turning once, until golden brown.

150g runner beans, 150g potatoes, (red) onion, egg (garlic), paprika powder, chilli or cayenne powder, cumin, coriander, butter, salt.
Chop potatoes and cook in salted water for 5 mins, then add chopped beans. Toast cumin and squashed coriander seeds, then add plenty of butter, chopped onion, garlic, chilli and paprika powder. Just before everything is done, break the egg on top of the sautéing stuff, fry till done to your liking. Drain potatoes/beans, put on a plate, top with onion/egg mix. Or use some (leftover) meat or grated cheese instead of egg.

Next issue: Please have your dairy whole!



October 2017: please have your dairy whole!

The tide has turned, finally. Recent research, the latest properly scientific advice, says:

“Consuming full-fat dairy products seems to REDUCE your risk of becoming obese.”
So starts an article in the New Scientist of February 2014. This statement, by leading nutritionist Professor Walter Willett, is the result of several recent studies, and an analysis of lots more.
Why is it taking so long for this message to come through to us consumers?
1) It’s not easy for ‘experts’ to admit that the advise they have been pumping out for decades was wrong.
2) More importantly: what does the industry do with the dream which was in all the low-fat products they so successfully got us to consume? There is money to be made, selling the butterfat for ice cream [1]!

Thanks to a deluge of new research suggesting that saturated dairy fat isn’t the death sentence doctors once claimed it to be (quite the opposite, in fact), science is, once again, proclaiming whole milk, yogurt, and cheese to be healthy diet must-haves.” [2]

“Contrary to current popular wisdom, full-fat dairy products may actually be better than low-fat varieties for keeping off weight, says Harvard School of Public Health nutrition expert professor Walter Willett.“ [3]

The dairy fat is not only more satiating (preventing overeating later in the day), but is nutrient dense and reduces inflammation, the primary cause of most chronic health conditions.” [4]

Eating full-fat dairy not only keeps your weight from going up: it also keeps your heart and bowels happier and brings down your sugar intake [5]. After all, how do they get all that skim stuff to taste nice? Indeed by adding sugar, or, worse, sweeteners [6].
Last but not least, having your dairy with its natural fat, reduces your diabetes risk. A study, conducted over 15 years by Tufts University, found that people who eat the most dietary fat have a 46% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes [7].

veg: celeriac, turnip, beet, broccoli, cabbage, calabrese, carrots, cauliflower, chard, fennel, kohlrabi, runner beans, salsify/scorzonera, spinach, tomatoes, Jerusalem/globe artichokes, brussels’, chicory, endive, swede, celery, corn salad, leek, peas/mange tout, courgettes, marrow, pumpkin/squash, (white) radish, rocket, spring onions, watercress, sweetcorn.
meat: rabbit, goose, grouse, guinea fowl, partridge, pheasant, wood pigeon, duck, venison, squirrel.
fish: crab, clam, cuttlefish, lobster, mackerel, mussels, scallop, sprats, cockles, black bream, gurnard, winkle, pollack, grey mullet, American signal crayfish.

broad beans, land cress, round seeded peas, chinese leaves, corn salad, winter purslane, winter lettuce.
Plant rhubarb sets; spring cabbage; garlic; autumn onion sets if the weather is good. The garlic should be suited for autumn planting. Don’t use your old cloves! Plant out spring cabbage and, in South England, cabbages and winter/spring lettuce.
What else can you still do in the garden? See

1 head cauli chopped into florets, 60ml stock, 2 large garlic cloves, 60ml grated mature cheese, 1salt, black pepper, 2 tblsp crème fraîche*, chives.
Cook cauli and garlic till very soft; 15 mins. Mash or blend. Add the cheese, fold in crème fraîche and season. Serve hot, with chives on top.
*Try find wholefat creme fraiche if at all possible: the fat is good for you – see above – and helps absorb the other nutrients.

250g spinach, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tblsp olive oil, 130ml (cheap) white wine.
Heat oil: when hot but not smoking, toss in garlic and move it around constantly. When it becomes fragrant (very quickly), drop all the spinach into the pan and stir. Once it begins to wilt slightly, pour wine over it. Don’t cook it for too long – you want the leaves to still be bright green when you take it off.

200g spaghetti (or linguine or tagliatelle), extra-virgin olive oil, 6-8 anchovy fillets in oil (or 10-12 if you love them), 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped or chilli powder, 2 sliced cloves garlic, salt, lots of parsley.
Cook spaghetti al dente. Meanwhile, heat oil very gently in a heavy-bottomed small deep pan (you can use oil from the anchovy tin). Add anchovies and chilli and cook for 2 mins, crushing the anchovies. Add garlic, cook for 30-60 secs: don’t let it colour. Mix in the drained pasta. Transfer to warmed dishes. Give the pasta some extra oil and freshly ground pepper, and serve with the chopped parsley on top.

FISH – any fish – for one.
A fish, 1 tblsp grated coconut, roughly 1 tblsp tomato puree, lemon juice, oil/butter.
Heat the oil/butter slightly in a frying pan, add the (boned) fish and some salt. Sauté it slightly, add the tomato puree, coconut and a bit of water. Put a lid on, cook till done. By then there should not be much liquid left, just enough for a sauce. Squeeze over some lemon juice. Done.

Rabbit in pieces, olive oil/butter, 3 large onions, 1 tsp paprika powder, 150g tomato puree, 1.5 tblsp flour, vinegar, thyme, oregano, parsley.
Fry the rabbit, season. Put in large pot, strew over flour. Sauté onions slightly in the rabbit pan, then add to the meat. Just cover with water, let stew for 40 mins. Add some vinegar, herbs, and stew slowly for 20 more mins.

GARLIC CHILLI BEEF HEART serves 2 (main) or 4 (appetizer).
1lb beef heart (trimmed of fat and silver skin), 2 large cloves garlic, 1 tsp chilli paste or some powder, 2 tblsp olive oil, butter.
Combine mashed garlic, chilli paste and olive oil, mix. Pour over trimmed beef heart and mix till all the meat is covered. Let sit overnight (or two nights). Heat a good amount of butter. Place strips of beef heart in heated pan in an even layer. Don’t crowd the pan or you won’t get the desired sear. Cook until it’s starting to brown, about 2 mins, then flip and cook until just cooked through, another 2 mins. Serve very hot in a sandwich, or on a salad. Good with beer.

360ml shredded cabbage, 1 sliced apple, 1/4 cup broth or water, cider (or other nice) vinegar, seasalt. Herbs/spices as liked (such as coriander, cumin, caraway, fennel, bay, juniper, thyme, paprika powder, savory, thyme, marjoram).
Cook cabbage and apple in the liquid until soft. Stir in vinegar and salt.

1/2 – 1 marrow, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 2-3 tblsp sour cream, parsley, salt, pepper.
Peel and cube marrow, add salt and fry for 15 mins. Cut carrot very fine, onion too, add salt, fry these separate from the marrow for 10 mins. Mix all together, add pepper, fry 5 mins. Switch off fire, add sour cream. Serve with parsley on top.

Next month: love your heart!

[6] See Thought for Food August 2017 (click on the right hand side of the page).


January 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.26.39


The diet plan. Will it work? Short term – you may be lucky. Or disciplined, rather. Long term, no.

Everyone is different. Your size, your shape, the history, your genes, all have a say. Since the children left home, my husband and I have totally different meals, though we both eat healthily. Listen to your body. We’ve all developed habits, some good, some bad. Should we throw all that by the wayside in favour of a one-size-fits-most plan? Some of it, I expect, but not all.

  • Dieting leads to bingeing, and this is not just because we’re weak-willed. Discipline doesn’t work, not for long, or only at great cost to the rest of your life.
  • Bingeing may even be a sign of need: your body lacks something and overrides all your good intentions. (1)
  • Dieting – at least, dieting according to someone else’s plan – won’t help you to get in touch with your own body’s needs: on the contrary.
  • In a way it’s easy, following someone else’s guidelines. Getting in touch with your own body needs takes patience and observation.
  • And then there is the issue of hormones: leptin and ghrelin for instancemake ‘dieting’ a complicated game in which we usually end up losers. (2)

Therefore, low calorie and low fat diets can have serious consequences for your health. But what can we do instead?

Avoid (artificial) sugar. Sugar is addictive, and hidden in many things. Sugar makes you want more and more and more. Artificial sugar is bad for you in other ways [3]. Getting used to less sweet food is not too hard, and saves a lot of trouble over a lifetime.

Try have healthy snacks handy for when the need arises: crackers with cheese, (dried) fruit, may help the cravings without leading you astray. Nuts, seeds. A nice sandwich if you fancy it, made with quality, filling bread.

And don’t worry about the calories! If it’s good stuff, you won’t go far overboard. A biscuit easily leads to a packet of biscuits. A sandwich on the other hand … you aren’t going to eat a loaf, are you? A nice sandwich will fill you up. Nuts – provided they are not oiled or salted, will give you nutrients and leave you satisfied.

It shouldn’t surprise you that I recommend full milk and butter instead of skim and marge [4]. We need fat, and when our body doesn’t get it it turns to carbs (sugar and grain, mainly) to fill the gap. ‘Saturated fat’ is finally loosing the bad name it has been given for years. [5]

And beware: when watching television, especially if it’s scary, we tend to eat far more than we would otherwise do.

Try things out, observe, learn about yourself. It’s not as easy as following someone else’s ideas, it may even be scary at times, but the road will be interesting. [6]

To sow/plant:Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.27.23

if the weather is suitable: early peas, broad beans. Apple trees, if it’s not too cold and the ground is not waterlogged or frozen.

To eat:

vegbeet, broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, garlic, kale, cavolo nero, leek, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, celery, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.

fishbib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.

meatgame is bountiful, cheap and good for you. This is the time to buy – or catch! – it.


For general ideas for winter salads, see

MUTTON (or lamb) SOUP for 6
500g chopped mutton (or lamb if you can’t get it), 3l stock or water with herbs, 225g barley, 175g split peas, 1 large onion, 1 leek, 2 big carrots, 1 swede, 2 celery stalks, oil, chopped parsley to garnish

Cover mutton with stock/water. Cook till tender, about 1 1/2 hour. Top up with water if necessary. Add barley and split peas for the last healf hour. Chop and saute the veg for a few mins, add to the pan, cook till done. Adjust seasoning Finish with chopped parsley. Serve with nice bread.

1 pheasant, chopped onion(s), chopped cooking apple, 250ml cider, 2 chopped garlic cloves, seasoned flour, bay leaf, thyme, oil/butter, 125ml liquid, salt, pepper.
Cut pheasant into pieces, dust with flour. Fry onions, take from the pan. Brown pheasant. Add the onions again, plus the other ingredients. Stir and simmer for 5-10 mins. Cover and simmer gently for 30-40 mins, stirring now and again – or put in the oven if you prefer.

500g Brussels sprouts, 1 tbsp olive oil, 300ml vegetable stock, 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard, salt and freshly ground pepper, 2 tbsp clear honey
Prepare the sprouts and cut in half. Heat oil, add sprouts and fry for 2 mins. Remove from heat and carefully pour in the stock and stir in mustard and seasoning. Bring to the boil, simmer uncovered for 3-4 mins until the sprouts are tender. Stir in honey, season and serve immediately.

KALE with GOATS’ CHEESE, makes 3-4 servings.
150-200g kale, 60g crumbled cheese, olive oil, 6 eggs, salt, pepper.
Strip thick stalks from the kale, chop. Preheat oven to 190°C. Saute kale while stirring, until wilted, about 3-5 mins. Put in greased dish, crumble cheese over it. Beat eggs with salt and pepper, pour on top. Stir gently with fork, bake 40 mins. Serve hot. Good with plenty of sour cream. Leftovers keep in the fridge for a week.

500g celeriac, 500g cooked chestnuts, 300ml water/stock, 1 bouquet garni, small bunch of chives, 1 tblsp butter, 2 tblsp crème fraîche, salt, black pepper.
Peel celeriac, cut into small (1 cm) dice, cook until soft. Drain the chestnuts if canned, add and simmer for 3–4 minutes more. When the chestnuts and celeriac are cooked, strain, reserve the stock. Remove the bouquet garni and purée the vegetables. Return purée to the saucepan, add the butter and place over low heat until the butter has melted. Stir in crème fraîche. If it is too thick, add a little of the reserved stock, or some more crème fraîche, to thin it slightly. Taste, season and sprinkle with the chives. Perfect on a cold night as a comforting accompaniment to roast meat or game dishes.

250g sliced leeks, 400-500g hard goat’s cheese cut into dice, 250g chopped spinach, 12 sheets of filo pastry, 2 sliced onions , 50g melted butter plus extra for frying,
Heat oven to 180°C. Fry onions in butter until golden and caramelised,10-15 mins. Fry leeks till soft, season. Mix onions, leeks, cheese, spinach. Butter baking dish, lay 3 sheets filo on the bottom, buttering each layer (trim if you need to). Put 1/3 of the leek mix on top of the filo and add 3 more layers of pastry. Add another 1/3 of the mixture with 3 more layers of filo. Finally add the last of the mixture and the last 3 layers of pastry and lots of butter. Bake for 30-40 mins until crisp and golden. This recipe is slightly more complicated than most, unless maybe you have dealt with filo pastry before. But everyone liked it so much ….. If using spinach beet instead of spinach, you may want to precook this for a few minutes.

500g Brussels sprouts, 500g cleaned cubed butternut squash, 1 large onion, 2 cloves garlic, nutmeg, 240ml water, 240ml full milk, 1heaped tblsp butter, 1 heaped tblsp flour, sea salt, pepper.
Cut large sprouts in half. Cook or steam sprouts and squash separately. Preheat oven to 180C. Saute chopped onion and minced garlic in butter. When onions are translucent, add flour, keep stirring. Add water/milk slowly, bring to boil, remove from heat. Season. Grease oven dish and dust with flour. Put in squash, then sprouts, sauce on top. Bake for 30 mins.

This sauce is delicious with roast pork and can be kept in a sterilized airtight jar in the fridge for ages.
100g raisins, 550ml cider, 6 cooking apples, cored and diced, 80g fresh grated ginger, 1 chopped onion, 2 cinnamon sticks, juice of 1 lemon, 50g sugar, 200ml cider vinegar, ½ tsp table salt, thyme, nutmeg.
Place raisins and half the cider in a small pan. Simmer gently until the raisins are very plump (15–20 mins). Put the other ingredients except the nutmeg, into a larger pan, add raisins cider mix, and cook gently until the apples are soft. Remove the cinnamon and blend until smooth. Grate the nutmeg liberally over the top, mix.


See also
[4] See also
And many more sites on request!

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.27.09

For many more subjects in the health-and-food category, see, in the archive on the right hand side.

February 2015


Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.45.10
No. If you are regularly eating locally grown food, which has not been sent all over the world and then kept on the shelves for ages, ideally organic, you needn’t take supplements at all.
Unless, maybe, if:
you are old,
or suffer from some form of malabsorption,
or you are pregnant,
or you never get outside [1],
or maybe you are recovering from an illness,
or desperately warding one off,
or you are taking certain medications [2],
or are often very stressed.
you take sugar, which depletes vitamins and minerals [3]
and/or lots of coffee, which does the same. [4]
That makes all of us?
Not really – and there are major drawbacks to getting your nutrients artificially.
When you get your vits/mins from whole foods, it is very hard indeed to go over the top. But when you get them from supplements, you easily get too many. Taking too much of, say, magnesium, calcium or vitamin D, is as bad as taking too little and can cause serious trouble. [5] Always start with the lowest dose.
Many vitamins and minerals interact: if you take supplements of one, you may decrease absorption of another. Whereas natural food provides a whole array of nutrients, geared to work together to supply you exactly with what you need, and help you absorb it. [6]
If you do decide that your intake needs a boost, it’s important to get the right supplements. Here are some websites to help – they are all American, but so far I have not been able to find decent advise in this respect which is not linked to a particular supplier. It is my experience though that, in general,  unfortunately it’s best to go for the expensive ones! [7]PS For fitness nerds, gives extensive and trustworthy information, though, again, geared for the US.
PPS: A new company delivers ‘organic or locally grown fruit and veg to customers in Chard and surroundings. Give them a try! See

If the weather is suitable: garlic, broad beans, spring onions, shallots, early peas, carrots, parsnips, green/red cabbage, onion sets. Apple trees, if the weather isn’t too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen.

veg: beet, purple sprouting broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, garlic, kale, cavolo nero, leek, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison.
fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting. supplements-should-i-take/ gives extensive and trustworthy information, though, again, geared for the US.

PPS: A new company delivers ‘organic or locally grown fruit and veg to customers in Chard and surroundings. Give them a try! See



240ml chopped onion, 2.4l water/stock, 240ml dried brown lentils, 480ml potatoes cut into cubes, 2-4 sliced carrots, 100-200g kale, weighed after removing the thick stems; sausages, seasoning, mint. 
Chop kale finely. Cook onion with the sausages, stir until the onion is tender. Heat water/stock, add lentils and simmer for 30-60 mins until the lentils are soft but not mushy. Stir in potatoes and carrots, simmer for 15 mins. Add sausage-onion mix. Stir in the kale 15 mins before serving. With whole grain bread.

20g chopped hazelnuts, 20g softened butter, 300g brussels sprouts, salt, black pepper.
Dry fry nuts till golden. Mix into softened butter. Cook sprouts in salted water until done to your liking. Drain, mix with hazelnut butter, season.

700g floury potatoescut into 2.5cm pieces, 225g chopped celeriac or sliced celery, 170g cooked chestnuts, 1 large chopped onion, 1½ tblsp butter, 500ml water, celery leaves to garnish.
Sauté onion in half the butter until soft, add celeriac, potatoes, chestnuts water. Simmer covered for 15-20 minutes, or until the veg are very tender. Drain, reserve the liquid, mash.  Stir in the remaining butter, season, and enough of the cooking liquid to achieve the desired consistency. Garnish with celery leaves. This is delicious accompanied by fried slices of cooking apple.

VEGETARIAN KALE HASH with CASHEWS and BRIE (plain cheddar will work too) 
600g kale after taking out hard nerves, 1k potatoes, 150g unsalted cashew nuts, 200g Brie, salt, milk, lots of butter. 
Clean potatoes and cut up. Wash kale, take out nerves, cut finely. Bring water to the boil, add potatoes, put kale on top, with some butter and salt. Turn heat down, simmer for 20 mins until the potatoes are soft, drain. Grease oven dish. Cut brie in slices of ab.1 cm. Mix in nuts, put in dish, spread brie on top. Put in preheated oven (180°C) for 15 mins until brie has melted.

200g (butternut) squash cut into 1cm cubes, 150g young kale coarsely chopped, 2 large diced carrots, 225g wholewheat linguine, 2 tblsp olive oil, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 3 sliced shallots or 1 onion, thyme, 240ml white wine, 240g grated mature cheese, salt, pepper.
Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Sauté shallot, garlic, squash, and carrots, in oil, covered, until soft, ab. 7 mins. Add thyme, season. Add kale, cover, cook until kale wilts down, 2 mins or longer. Add wine, cook for 5 mins, let it reduce. Season. Add pasta, 40ml of the cooking water, and 180g cheese. Stir. Top with remaining cheese.

5 cup chopped green cabbage, 4 cubed apples, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, (1/4 cup ground flax seed), cinnamon, 1 cup water.
Put everything in a pan and cook on low heat for 15 mins. You could add 1/2 cup of chopped onion and some curry powder.

WHITING (or other white fish) with COCONUT and APPLE SAUCE  
675g whiting fillets, 75 g creamed/shredded coconut; 2 cooking apples; 1 large chopped onion, 1 tsp salt; 300 ml water; 2 tsp curry; 2 tsp coriander; 2 tblsp oil; 1 tsp cumin, seasoning.
Softly fry onion in oil mins until soft. Peel, core and slice apples into pan. Add coconut, salt, water, curry, coriander and cumin. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Season. Cut fish into large chunks, add to sauce and simmer uncovered for 10 mins until it flakes easily. You may have to add a little bit more water. Serve with some grain (like bulgur, millet, rice) mixed with peas.

300g grated cooked beet, 300g diced cooking apples, 100g cream cheese, 185g self-raising flour; 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp nutmeg, 200g brown sugar; 185g melted/cooled butter, 3 eggs, honey, sScreen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.40.46oftened butter. 
Sift flour, spices, sugar. Whisk eggs and butter, add grated beet. Add to dry ingredients, stir in gently. Add apple, stir again. Grease cake tin, pour in the mix. Bake at 180° for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Cool. Mix cream cheese, softened butter, honey and vanilla extract or something like that. Smear on, decorate with apple slices if you like.

[1] Vitamin D is considered very important these days. So don’t always cover up, or slash on the sunscreen. For sunscreen-in-your-food, see And there is always the oily fish!
[2] They can change how your body processes nutrients. Ask your doctor.
[5] Email me for info if you’re interested.
[6] For folate/folic acid, see
[7]; and

For many more subjects in the health-and-food category, see, in the archive on the right hand side.

March 2015

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March: first of the Hungry Gap months. Nowadays, most of us deal with that by buying foreign or greenhoused fare. But in fact there is enough to be had locally: from the garden, or from the farmers’ (or even super-) market fresh or stored, to keep you nicely filled. [1]

Did you know that many storeable foods get sweeter over time? Swedes, parsnips, potatoes, apples, squash – personally I don’t like them so much in the autumn, when they are still young. They do improve with maturity. A little bit like people, sometimes?

  • PARSNIPS [4]
  • RADISH – pink and, still going, black! [8]

As you can see below, there are still plenty of other winter veg which are still perfectly edible, as long as they have been kept cool throughout. Beware of leeks which still look good but are now starting to bolt: there is a subtle change in taste which makes me, for one, dislike them.

If you want your food this month to be not just cheap but completely free, have a look at dandelions, nettles and seakale (right) are just a few of the wild things you can find if you know where to look. In your garden for instance!

To grow something interesting which you can eat next March, try sowing salsify or scorzonera in April. And my stalwart, black radish, keeps me going throughout the winter till the first little red ones are ready. Sow these in August.

To have fresh greens now, when you really want them, sow corn salad and American land cress (sharp) the end of August or September.

broad beans, early carrots, early Brussels, parsnips, maincrop peas, radish, spinach (or spinach beet, better value than proper spinach), chard, turnip, lettuce, early/summer cabbage, spring onions, early cauli, bulb onions, beet, celery (late March). Plant: potatoes, onion sets, shallots, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes.

Veg: sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero, squash, cauli, spring greens, radishes, rhubarb, leeks, carrots, spring onions, salad leaves, parsnips, cabbage, chicory, sorrel, swede, beet, brussels, rocket, turnips, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, watercress. Fish: dab, red gurnard, grey mullet, mussels, oysters, clams, mackerel, herring, megrim, scallops. Meat: rabbit, turkey, wood pigeon, beef, mutton, pork, venison.


200g (purple sprouting) broccoli, onion, 4 eggs, seasoning. For the sauce: 1 tblsp butter, 2 tblsp flour, tomato puree, 250ml stock/water, seasoning.
To make the sauce: melt butter, add flour, stir. Very slowly add the liquid while stirring all the time. Add as much tomato puree as you like, season, cook through.

Cook broccoli in a little salted water for 7 mins. Chop onion, sauté for a minute while stirring, add drained broccoli and sauté 2 more minutes still stirring. Beat eggs with fork, season, pour on top of veg, stir for 1/2 a minute and leave to solidify. Turn upside down for just a few secs, serve with sauce. You can use cheese sauce instead if you like.

Half a carrier of stinging nettle tops or fresh-looking larger leaves; 50g butter, 1 large finely chopped onion, 1l water/stock, 1 large cubed potato, 1 large chopped carrot, sea salt, pepper, 2 tbsp crème fraîche, few drops of olive oil and tabasco. And maybe some ginger if you like it. 
Sort through the nettles, discarding thick stalks. Wash and drain. Melt butter, add onion and cook gently until softened.  Add stock, potato and carrot. Bring to a simmer, add nettles and cook until the potato is soft. Puree, season. Ladle into warmed bowls and float a tsp of creme fraiche on top.

450g celeriac weighed after cleaning; 1 cooking and 1 eating apple; finely chopped shallots or diced onion, ½ pt dry cider, herbs (bay, sage, rosemary, thyme), salt, pepper, butter or 1 tblsp crème fraiche or cream. 
Cut celeriac and apple in bite-size pieces. Fry shallots/onion in butter for a couple of minutes, add celeriac. After some 10 mins add cider and herbs, cook till the celeriac is nearly soft. Add the apple pieces and cook some more. It’s ready when the celeriac is soft and the apples still hold a bit of shape. Cook without lid if it is still too liquid. Season and add more butter or a spoonful of crème fraiche/cream. Nice with couscous and cheese grated on top, or smoked fish, pork or chicken.

APPLE-ROASTED CHICKEN for 6: gluten-free.
1 chicken cut into pieces, 120ml apple cider, 3 cooking apples, rosemary, sage, 1½ tsp sea salt, ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper.
Cut up apples and cook in the cider till soft. Preheat oven to 190°C. Arrange chicken pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the salt, pepper, rosemary and sage. Place in the oven and roast for 15 mins. Baste the chicken with cider mix. Roast for another 15 mins. Baste again with the cooking juices and roast for 15 more mins. Let rest for 5 mins before serving. Very good with oven-roasted squash and onions.

400g pumpkin, 500g (purple-sprouting) broccoli, bacon, butter, coriander seeds. 
Dry-roast coriander, grind. Cook pumpkin and broccoli in a little water for 7 mins, drain. Heat butter, add bacon and fry slowly for a few mins, then add veg and ground coriander. Fry till done, season.

CABBAGE and SWEDE Cabbage, swede, onion, cooking apple, cumin (if you like), butter. 
Chop everything. Put swede in cold water, not too much, bring to boil, cook till not quite done. Add cabbage. Meanwhile, saute onion and apple. When swede and cabage are just about cooked, add them to onion/apple pan, along with the cumin. Stir till everything is done. Nice with a pasty for a simple meal.

250ml coarsely grated pumpkin, 1 chopped onion, 1tbsp soy, (1tbsp apple juice), 120ml water/stock, pepper, (salt).
Put liquid, soy, juice, onions, pumpkin in pan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat. Simmer for 10-12 mins, season.

(You can use other firm white fish like grey mullet, pollack, snapper, grouper, coley)
4x150g fillets of fish, 4 cooking apples – cored and cut into thin wedges, 115g butter, 90g honey, 40g flour, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 500ml dried bread crumbs, 1 beaten egg.

Melt half the butter, fry apples until tender. Stir in honey, reduce heat, and keep warm. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in bowl. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl, and egg in another. Melt rest of butter. Dip fish in flour, egg, and bread crumbs. Place in the hot pan, and cook for 3-4 mins per side. The fillets should be brown and flake easily. Place on serving dish, and spoon apples over the top

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[8] For black radish recipes, see Black radish is great for your health: see Personally I peel them as otherwise I find them too sharp. Always keep black radish (cool) in paper bags, not in plastic or in the fridge.

For many more subjects in the health-and-food category, see, in the archive on the right hand side.

April 2015

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Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.26.48When talking about sleep, you will often come across tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin.
Tryptophan is an essential amino-acid which we have to get from food. It helps make serotonin, which, in turn, can be converted into melatonin. Melatonin helps us sleep.
Tryptophan is found especially in chocolate, oats, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, dates, seeds, bananas, peanuts and chickpeas. They work best if consumed on an empty stomach, and accompanied by foods containing little protein but lots of carbohydrates. [1]

Though food is important, even essential, there can be other reasons why you are not sleeping well.
* unrest or tension
* changes in your life
* side-effect of medication
* so-called ‘blue’ light: tv, computers, mobiles [2]

Of course it’s best to adress the cause directly, but often it is not possible to change things, or not as quickly as you like.
Here are some websites which may be helpful, followed by a list of ‘tricks’ I have collected during an insomniac life.

* Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine or alcohol, heavy or spicy food.
* Eat more fruits and vegetables, especially those with high contents of B vitamins.
* Calcium and magnesium have a tranquilizing effect that may help. Found in seeds, nuts, roots and green leafy vegetables.
* If you’re going to eat a snack 1-2 hours before bed, take a small carb-based snack that includes protein and fat. Like whole grain bread with a little almond butter.
* Avoid tyramine-containing foods, which stimulate the brain, close to bedtime: like bacon, ham, sugar, sausages, spinach, tomatoes, yeast, nuts, potatoes, aged cheeses, chocolate! ferments, marinades and wine.
* If you are hypoglycemic you must eat some protein or fat in the evening.  Otherwise, blood sugar fluctuations in the middle of the night may wake you up.
* Eat a larger lunch rather than stuffing yourself with a big dinner late in the evening.
* Raspberries contain raspberry ketone, which leads to a faster metabolism, and, in some cases, insomnia.

* Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality if not done too close to bedtime.
* It’s best to sleep in complete darkness.
* Tell yourself you’re not allowed to sleep.
* Swaddle yourself – tuck yourself in tightly, to create a sense of security.
* Stretch; meditate; relax [3]. Read a nice book or listen to a suitable tape.
* Foot and ear reflexology. You can practise this on yourself, even while lying in bed. [4]
* 1-2 tsp cider vinegar (organic is best), 1-2 tsp honey and 250 ml water which is warm enough to melt it. Drink before going to bed. [5]
* Nutmeg, valerian, chamomile, jasmine, lavender and hop can all make you sleepy. I have a little container by my bed with a hankie which is steeped in lavender. If I worry about sleeping, I take out the hankie and put it under my nose.
* Some people claim they must go to bed late to fall asleep. However, if you stay up past a certain time, you stimulate your sympathetic nervous system to keep awake, which then prevents you from going to sleep when you finally go to bed.
* If you keep thinking of important things when you’re in bed, keep a pad and paper to make notes, so you won’t be thinking of them all night. If you keep thinking of unimportant things, try focusing on your breath, or simple forms of meditation [3].

Purple sprouting broccoli, chard, cabbage, leeks, spring onions, spinach, watercress, loose-leaved lettuce, radish, sorrel, spring greens.

Direct: lettuce, rocket, radish, beet, broad beans, summer cabbage, calabrese, kohlrabi, parsnips, peas, spinach (beet), spring onions, chard, early carrots, autumn cauli, salsify, scorzonera, celeriac, celery. Late April: courgettes, french beans, pumpkins.
Plant: summer cabbage, onion sets, potatoes, summer cabbage.
Sow to transplant: leeks, brussels, sprouting broccoli, autumn cauli, kale, tomatoes (indoors).
Garden Organic is an excellent source of information in general; they also sell seeds and whatever else you may need: see


For what to do with the purple sprouting broccoli, still doing well, see

2 tbsp olive oil, 4 lamb or pork chops, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, a generous pinch of chilli, 140g shredded spring greens, 410g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
Cook the chops in the usual way, but use a deep frying pan that’s big enough to fit the greens later. Remove from the pan and keep hot on a warmed plate or in a low oven. To wilt the greens, tip garlic and chilli into the same pan and cook for about 30 secs until sizzling but not browned, then pour in 5 tblsp water and stir in the greens. Simmer for 4-5 mins until they wilt. If you like your greens well done, let them go on for a bit longer. Stir in the chickpeas and juices from the pork and continue stirring until everything’s hot. Serve greens topped with the chops and any juices.

2 fillets white fish* about 200g each, 1-2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 grated garlic cloves, a bit of ginger root grated, or some powder, vegetable oil, 200-300g shredded spring greens.
Coat the fish in the soy, garlic and ginger. Leave for at least 10 mins to give more flavour. Heat oil, add fish and marinade. Sizzle for 3 mins on each side, until the fish is almost cooked. Throw in the greens and a bit of water and let everything simmer for 5 mins (or longer), until the greens have wilted. Serve with rice or noodles.
*The following white fish are from sustainable sources: dab, pouting, coley, megrim, grouper, flounder, gurnard, whiting, bream. Avoid cod, halibut, plaice, hake and whitebait; for sole and seabass it depends on how they are caught (see

Very nice and so simple to prepare:
200g pasta, 250g purple sprouting broccoli, 100g Stilton or Exmoor cheese broken into small pieces, juice and grated zest of  ½-1 lemon, 50g toasted pine nuts, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, pepper.
Bring a very large pan of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt. Add pasta to the pan and cook for 10-12 mins, or until just cooked. Meanwhile, cut up the broccoli in small pieces and simmer in a bit of boiling water for 4-5 minutes, until just tender. Drain pasta and broccoli: return both to the pan along with cheese, lemon juice, zest, pine nuts and oil. Season with black pepper, place over low heat and stir. Spoon into bowls and eat at once, with a salad.

ROAST NECK of LAMB (serves 2-3)
400-500g boneless neck of lamb, 2 sliced onions cut into thin wedges, 4 diced cloves garlic, ½ tsp dried oregano, thyme and/or any herbs you have handy, 1 tblsp olive oil, salt, pepper.
Preheat oven 150°C although you can also cook it on top if you prefer. Cut lamb into 3cm chunks. Place in pan with onions, sprinkle with garlic and herbs, add lemon juice, olive oil seasoning: mix. Cook/roast for 2 hours.

450g broccoli, oil, soy sauce/tamari, 1½ tblsp sesame seeds, 1 clove garlic.
Dry-roast sesame seeds. Cook broccoli for 3 mins. Saute garlic for 1 min., add drained broccoli. Keep stirring for 2-3 mins. Add soy and sesame, serve.

4x80g goat’s cheese log slices, 100g hazelnuts, 2 tblsp cider vinegar, (1 tblsp honey), 120g butter, salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme, leaves removed
For the dressing: chop nuts in half, melt butter slowly, add nuts and cook gently until golden brown, approx. 5 mins. Remove pan from heat, stir in vinegar (and honey). Season with salt and pepper, set aside.
Make a separate frying pan very hot. Brush cheese slices (not the pan) with a little oil, and fry quickly on each side for no more than a minute until they’re singed, sealed and caramelised. Transfer cheese to serving plates, spoon over the warm dressing and sprinkle with thyme. Very nice with for instance (potatoes and) broccoli.

I often prepare my (lamb) mince like this.
Heat butter till the foam is just starting to withdraw. Fry onion and meat, add some finely cut rosemary and paprika powder, salt, maybe a bit of chilli or cayenne. Garlic if you like it. Stir regularly, cook till done. Nice with cabbage.

1k floury potatoes, 6 tblsp unsalted butter, 1 onion, finely chopped, 6 minced anchovy fillets, 120ml  milk, 3 tblsp heavy cream, salt, freshly ground black pepper, 3 tblsp chopped chives or spring onions.
Cut potatoes into chunks and cook covered, until very tender. Melt 4 tblsp of the butter. Add onion and saute, stirring, until softened. Add anchovies, stir thoroughly. Add milk and cream, season and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes, stir, heat and mash the lot. Add chives/spring onions and remaining 2 tblsp butter, serve hot. Have with cooked or sautéed greens.


“Insomnia is not bad in itself. You can lie awake at night and think; the quality of the insomnia depends entirely on what you decide to think of. Can you decide to think? Yes, you can. You can put your mind to anything most of the time. You can sit peacefully in front of a blank television set, just watching nothing: and sooner or later you can make your own programme much better than the mass product.
I lay awake, looking at the darkness, listening to the silence, prefiguring the future, picking out of the past the scraps I had overlooked, those rejected events which now came to the foreground, large and important, so that the weight of destiny no longer bore on the current problems of my life, whatever they were at the time (for who lives without problems every day? Why waste the nights on them?).”
Muriel Spark, A Far Cry from Kensington.

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[2]  Blue light, as well as the excitement coming from computer, television and mobiles, robs your body of melatonin. To prevent this, you can wear blueblocker glasses. Online you can get ones which wrap around your prescription glasses from £20 (2015), at Click on ‘anti-glare spectacles’ and make sure you choose one with blue-blocking filter. Or order Optima wraparound fitovers in via Robert Frith opticians (Glastonbury, Yeovil, Castle Cary, Honiton a.o.
See also
[3] for ways to relax and simple meditation, see and, in the drop-down archive section on the right, click on July 2014.
[5] This recipe is also said to help for rheumatism/arthritis. And using local honey might help with allergies – I’ve heard that having 1 tsp of local honey for a year gets rid of hayfever. As I don’t have that I can’t vouch for it: and noone I know has had the patience or interest to try it!

For many more subjects in the health-and-food category, see, in the archive on the right hand side.

May 2015

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1)   I have nothing against doctors as such. However, they are pressurized and constantly being ‘informed’ by the pharmaceutical industry. Which, nowadays, tends to be part of a global conglomerate, whose interest is purely commercial.
And why would they sell a medicine which quickly gets rid of our pain/pimples/panic, if they can supply us with something we’ll have to take our whole life long?

2)  “Try this, and come back after three weeks. Then try that.”  And so on, till we end up more ill than we were in the first place.
Can you blame them? Doctors don’t have time. GPs, specialists, burocrats, the NHS, anyone who has a say or who gives health advice is subject to a barrage of information – all supplied from the pockets of the above-mentioned industry.
Of course there are exceptions.
My personal view is that patients should be listened to when they offer their views on the cause of their symptoms … perhaps the most useful questions a doctor can ask a patient is: ‘What do you think is going on?’“ says Dr. Briffa [1], and in that he is right.

3)   When we’re unwell, something is starting to go wrong deep inside us. The illness is just a symptom. We may manage to get rid of the symptom, but unless we address the root cause, we bury our head in the sand – and more serious problems await.
‘Home remedies’ may well sometimes do the same, but without the chemical interference of mainstream medicine, less harm is done.

4)   The best of ‘alternative’ therapists look at all of you. They take time to get to know you and they listen properly. Of course this is expensive, and many of them are not ‘the best’. But if you can afford it, it’s worth finding a good one.
If you can’t: home remedies are often cheap. Find out what helps you. Trust your intuition.

At best, doctors prescribe something that will alleviate symptoms until you heal yourself. At worst, by masking the symptoms, they make things worse.

I am emphatically NOT saying you should never go to the doctor. There are plenty of exceptions to what I said above: but not as many as you think. [2]

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NB: did you know that onions and blackstrap molasses are excellent foods to help prevent osteoporosis? They also can improve matters once you have it. [3]

Veg: spring greens, cabbage, spinach, chard, cauli, salad leaves/lettuce, radish, rocket, asparagus, sorrel, watercress, rhubarb, seakale.
Herbs: chives, parsley, mint, lovage, summer savoury and chervil.
Wild food: broom buds, chives, dandelions, fat hen, hogweed shoots, hop shoots, meadowsweet, sea spinach, sorrel, watercress, wild fennel, wild garlic, wild rocket, samphire.
Game: wood pigeon, lamb, mutton, guinea fowl, rabbit, duck.
Your fishmonger may sell samphire: serve fresh in salads or have as veg with melted butter. Wash thoroughly and don’t add salt.

direct: beet, calabrese, carrots (though June sowings get less rootfly), french/runner beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, sweetcorn, swede, spring onions, spinach (beet), courgettes, marrows, (sugar) peas. If pea moth’s a problem, wait till mid May.
in seedbed to transplant: leeks, cabbage, cauli, sprouting broccoli (early May), kale.
in trays: beans, courgettes, cucumbers, melon, pumpkins, pepper, sweetcorn, tomatoes.
plant out: cauli; cucumbers, marrows, pumpkins, tomatoes, squashes late May.
green manure: if you have space, do it now. See


200g cream cheese, 400g cubed potatoes, smallish minced onion, 1.2l stock or water, salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper or chilli, herbs or spices of your choice (e.g. parsley, chives, paprika powder, coriander).
Combine liquid, potatoes, onion, and seasonings. Boil until potatoes are tender, mash. Add cream cheese, for instance by diluting the cheese with a bit of the soup first. Stir or whisk, add herbs/spices.

What to do with those tired old potatoes? Cook, slice, and fry them up. Thought there comes a point when even that does not work anymore.

Chicken bits (with skin!) and finely sliced spring cabbage for two. Chopped onion, butter/oil/fat for frying. For the marinade: 1 tblsp red wine, 1 tblsp soy sauce, 1/2 tblsp lemon juice, 1/2 tblsp grated ginger, 1 clove garlic, red pepper, salt.
Marinade the chicken pieces for a few hours or overnight. Fry hot in as large a frying pan as you’ve got. When the pieces are browned, lower the fire, add the marinade, cover and cook for about half an hour. If too much liquid forms, leave the lid off for a while so it can evaporate. Then add cabbage and onion to the pan and stir-fry them in the chicken juices/marinade, keeping the lid off. Serve when they are done to your liking.

1 bunch asparagus, plenty of butter, 3 cloves of garlic.
Melt butter, add asparagus; cover and cook for 10 mins stirring occasionally, or until the asparagus is tender. If you like your asparagus well done, reduce heat and cook 10 more minutes. Thinly slice and add garlic for the last few minutes, stir a few times.

This dish can be served hot, warm or even cold.
4 whole mackerel, 1 carrot, 2 red onions, ab. 400g potatoes, 4 tomatoes (or half a tin), 2 garlic cloves, 3 bay leaves, flat-leaf parsley, 1 lemon, marjoram, pepper, salt, olive oil.
Clean mackerel. Preheat oven to 200C. Saute chopped onions, garlic and carrot with bay, marjoram and some chopped parsley (including stems) for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally. Add diced potatoes, chopped tomatoes, and 200ml cold water, stir, cook 8-10 more mins. Slice lemon thinly and place slices on the bottom of an oven dish, fish on top, season generously. Put veg mix around the fish, some oil too. Bake 20-30 mins.

ab.175g spinach, 2 slices bacon, 1 1/2 tblsp butter, 2 tblsp olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 small chopped (red) onion, salt, pepper.
Fry bacon until brown and crisp. Drain, crumble, set aside. Melt butter, heat oil; mix in bacon, garlic and onion. Cook and stir 2 mins, then mix in spinach. Cover, reduce heat, cook, stirring often, until spinach is tender. Season.

ab. 1400g oxtail, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1tsp black pepper, 1 tblsp curry powder, 1 tblsp paprika powder, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tblsp oil, 2 sliced onions, 1 tsp thyme, cayenne/chilli pepper, (savory,) 1 1/2 tblsp tomato puree, 2 cups water, 3 bay leaves, 1 tin (500g) butter beans, drained but keep liquid.
Season oxtail with salt, black pepper, curry powder and garlic. Place onions on top, cover and place in fridge overnight or for at least for 2 hrs before cooking. Heat oil, add oxtail less onions: sear to seal in juice. Add 1 cup of water, thyme, savory and onion, chilli/cayenne and tomato puree; cook for 5 mins. Add second cup of water, bay and bean liquid; cover and simmer until meat is tender (2½ hours). Add beans, stir. Bring to a rapid boil until gravy thickens, stirring at intervals. Serve with barley or rice, and peas.

SIMPLE FISH and SOUR CREAM BAKE – no gourmet fare this, but I liked it.
450g white fish fillets or steaks, 25g flour, 150g sour cream, 130g mayonnaise, 2 spring onions or 1 small onion, 1 tsp dill or fennel seeds, fresh dill/fennel to garnish, plenty of paprika powder.Coat fish in flour. Place in a greased ovenproof dish. Finely grate onion, or chop spring onion. Mix sour cream, mayonnaise, onions, dill and lemon juice. Spoon over the fish, top with the paprika powder. Cook at 180°C for 30-35 mins until the fish flakes with a fork. Towards the end, check that the top doesn’t burn. Serve hot, garnished with fresh dill or fennel.
*The following white fish are from sustainable sources: dab, pouting, coley, megrim, grouper, flounder, gurnard, whiting, bream. Avoid cod, halibut, plaice, hake and whitebait; for sole and seabass it depends on how they are caught (see

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[2] See also ‘Corporate power’ (March 2015).
[3] Onion increases bone density and can help menopausal women who experience loss of bone density. In addition, women who have passed the menopause may be able to lower their risk of hip fracture through frequent consumption of onions.
Blackstrap has an ideal calcium-magnesium ratio: we need lots of magnesium to help absorb similarly large quantities of calcium. Both of these minerals aid development of bones.

For many more subjects in the health-and-food category, see, in the archive on the right hand side.