I haven’t actually disappeared off the face of the earth – it just feels like that! February 2nd 2017.

I must apologise for not posting sooner. Sometimes life just gets in the way – and we use excuses not to post because we have nothing positive to say about the journey.

I had a busy Christmas – sick for the first week and then my parents were unwell – no permanent damage thankfully, but enough to make me a little busy for a few weeks, and to make me reassess my work life balance and take a few steps to redress that.

We can so easily forget that we work to live. For a long while I have felt like I was just living to work. Don’t think I don’t love my job – I absolutely do – and in fact since the New Year I am loving it even more – mostly because when my parents were incapacitated I let work take its rightful place in my life – as my job not my life. Suddenly I am far more efficient – I am teaching far more efficiently and effectively, and enjoying it so much more – as ironically are my students – I hope! I think anyway!

I still decided that I didn’t have time to blog – I did, but I chose not to. I made excuses for not being here, but the reality was I was not prepared for the honesty box yet – today I am. I was on a roll there before the holidays. I actually lost about six pounds before Christmas to get down to my lowest again in months. I felt great and I looked great – and knew it! Then I got sick… I had the flu from Christmas Eve to the 29th of December and as per usual at at Christmas spent every day in bed – only this year I had a valid reason for it – shock – I was even too miserable to watch television!

I ate quite well and put on no weight. Until January 1 when I suddenly went bananas and could not be dragged away from the table. As a result I undid all the good work from before Christmas and added another four pounds to the trouble.

Okay. Thinking positively. I’m back banting properly. Tonight I made a proper banting meal. I am eating avocados, eggs, nuts and salad. I have had a good week of eating. If I can just stay on target this weekend I’ll get back to where I want to be.

I have discovered that I can no longer eat bread at all now – I had some last weekend and felt so ill it wasn’t even funny. I realise the power of that awful sugar – it’s so interesting to watch the programme on TV 3 at the moment – Sugar Free Farm – so many people are beginning to see the light about it. I haven’t baked for banting purposes but I think I should – when there is something good there I can at least stay on track – or maybe I need to make the little chocolate or lemon pots – I will need ammunition against the sugar cravings that come at about nine o clock every evening.

A friend at work goes to bed early – so that she doesn’t eat junk at night – maybe I need to look at my bedtime!

I will post a few links to some lovely recipes in the next few days. Tonight’s dinner was a winner – mince stuffed peppers – really tasty and perfectly banting friendly. I’ve missed the richer foods in the plan – and maybe that’s why I’m finding it harder to stay focused – so let’s try that and see if it helps.

Good luck to you all!

Orla

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Could we start again please? 5th November 2016.

I haven’t blogged for a long time. There are two reasons.

One is that I am incredibly busy and never seem to get less busy. Every time I see the end goal a new goal pops up. That’s okay. I love my job. I am scared for what the next few weeks will bring but I am hopeful that soon I will be back in the classroom again doing what I love to do – teach. I am also busy at home with my children – it is coming to a busy time musically so we are on the road for rehearsals and all sorts. My own singing is taking a bit of time too – but I love it all so it’s a good kind of busy.

The other reason is more complex –  I have fallen off the banting wagon and feel that as this is a blog about banting, I shouldn’t really write about it if I am not actually engaged in the process! I haven’t given up but I have stepped off the treadmill and not in a good way. Last weekend it started – I went home to my parents’ house and had some tart. It was lovely but didn’t quite hit the spot. So I have given in and just eaten anything I fancied. I have had bread, lots of sugar and have managed to put on just three pounds – I feel like I got out of jail free with that result because I really was quite mad some evenings, and it is frightening to think that I could eat so much junk and do so little perceptible damage. It has made me feel rotten however so there is more damage than just those three pounds done – it has made me feel tired and cross and lazy.

Now I have to get back on the wagon. It is not easy. Every morning this week I got up to start afresh, and every day I just went off track again. It is so easy to get back into bad habits.

Interestingly I have not re-embraced too many carbs – it was mostly sugar, but I didn’t engage with too many potatoes or pasta and only had bread twice. I ate twice a day and still drank a reasonable amount of water. I did however go back to drinking tea, and need to give that up again and need to up my water intake once more.

I headed to Butlers’ Chocolate Experience in Dublin with the children on Thursday and while it was a lovely day out I realised that the chocolate while lovely was actually too sweet for my newer tastebuds. It didn’t stop me eating it but I noticed that it didn’t set my world on fire.

In an effort to work out why I am not on track I tried to figure it out. I think I am just being lazy – I have gotten out of some of my good habits – and more importantly I stopped cooking new meals and trying new recipes. I got into a rut of eating too much protein and not enough vegetables.

Normally at this point I would have done two things – I would have given up on this blog completely and consigned it to the bin of “this is something I used to do but don’t anymore”; and I would have thrown in the proverbial towel and gone hell for leather at destroying myself and indulged in self-loathing on a grand scale. But the fact is that my mindset is different – I have preached the mantra so many times that “this is a lifestyle not a diet” that I really don’t feel guilty and so every day I haven’t banted was just another day when I made bad choices.

Today I started again. I had smoked salmon for lunch and just had a rather odd combo of Paddy’s steak gravy and avocado for dinner. I am now eating some salted almonds and might have a bit of cheese later tonight. I found a dress the other day in our bedroom in a bag – took it out and realised it was one I bought eleven years ago when I did the dreaded shakes – brown velvet  – so I tried it on and do you know right now I would get away with it – but if I was careful it would look really well for the few Christmas events we attend. So that’s the plan. I found a few new recipes this week which I will try to cook at some point maybe and tonight I need to go back to not eating junk – it’s not the flavour I crave – it’s the habit. and I promise to blog at least once a week. This is a great way to keep tabs on myself. Knowing that so many people  check in here means I am answerable in some way – and I’m still doing so well – I have managed to maintain for the first time ever. I have no plans to go back the wrong way up that hill again – not ever. I’m enjoying the feeling of being where I’m at too much for that to happen.

I’ll let you know how I get on!

Orla

Here’s a link to one dish I plan to try during the week for sure – right up my street and totally banting friendly!

That Italian Gateau I promised! 1st October 2016.

I don’t know where the time is going – but I’m not going to bed without posting this recipe – it is so divine – and it was such a hassle that I had to take out a few steps to make it a bit easier – tired as I am at the moment with work I still found time to make this – have a go – you will not be sorry!

This is also the perfect dish for that vegetarian friend who always says she’ll just eat the veg on the side and not to cook anything special for her. She will feel like the most special person in the world if you make this! It is an ideal dinner party dish – can be made ahead and frozen then defrosted and cooked. I also freeze portions for busy weekdays when cooking is way down the list after ballet, violin, acro-dance and God knows what else!

There are a few steps to this recipe. I will divide it as the work is divided so it’s easier to follow.

Italian Gateau

Ingredients

  • 3 courgettes – thinly sliced and left to drain with salt on, in a colander – put kitche roll over and under to soak the liquid
  • 50 gms fine coconut flour – spread thinly on a dinner plate
  • 5 eggs whisked lightly and put in a wide pasta type bowl
  • 250 gms grated parmesan – spread out on a dinner plate
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Heat some oil in a pan at medium temp. Lightly coat the courgette slices in the flour – or not – it makes the egg stick better. Then dip it in the egg and put it onto the plate of parmesan and coat the pieces. Place on the pan and cook until the coating is crispy and lightly brown – it doesn’t matter if it is a little browner but I prefer it golden rather than very dark. Turn and do the same on the other side. Remove and put on a plate with kitchen roll on to soak the grease. Repeat, adding oil as needed until all is cooked.

  • 400mls passata
  • garlic to taste – I use the paste
  • 2/3 tsps good quality pesto – more if you love it

Put passata and garlic paste in a saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Turn the heat off and add the pesto. Stir well.

  • 4/5 red peppers – I like red!

Place the peppers in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the skins crisp up. Turn oven off and leave the peppers in the oven for a while longer – this helps to get the skins to loosen. If I have time I sometimes cut them and take the seeds out before cooking them – but either way is fine. I don’t use any oil on them for this. When they are cool enough to hold peel the skins off and discard all but the flesh of the peppers. Leave to one side and drain off the water that comes off them before using.

  • 2 Mozzarella balls – about 250 gms net weight – two pkts of the Lidl one.
  • Basil plant
  • A second packet of grated parmesan – only about 75 gms of it needed

Now the fun starts. you have to assemble all the different parts. Put oven on to 150 degrees celsius  – mine is a fan oven. then place a layer of courgettes on the base of a lasagne dish. Add a layer of ripped up basil leaves, a layer of the peppers, a layer of mozzarella sliced from the ball and then a layer of the tomato sauce. Repeat. Cover with a final layer of courgette and sprinkle with parmesan and put into the oven for about half an hour – maybe forty minutes – keep an eye and you can judge. They say in the original recipe to weight it down before cooking – nah! Too much trouble. They use both aubergines and courgette – I use whichever I have – I don’t often have aubergine lying around so I don’t always use it – I think I prefer it without in fact.

There you have it. It does take a good bit of work but honestly- and I’m a person who doesn’t like long laborious recipes – this one is worth the hour or so it takes – and it’s all in small easy steps that you can leave and come back to.

The courgette fried in the oil is so nice that I ate a load of it just like that for my tea yesterday.

Leave to cool and then slice into pieces and freeze till you need it. I made about 8 good portions out of this amount.

Have a go and tell me how you get on.

Orla

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standing still again…22nd September 2016.

I was so excited.

I got back to my lowest yet – and then happily looked forward to the continuing trend – downwards ever downwards.

Except that didn’t happen. As the scales stopped my body decided that was enough for now – and I am stuck again.

I tell a lie. I’m actually up a few pounds again because I had a blowout on Tuesday evening – wine and chocolate and biscuits – so good – and so bad that my body has been in freefall for the last two days dealing with the sugar rush.

I wonder will there ever be a day when I am fully “cured”? If I were an alcoholic that night of bingeing would have started an avalanche of  more of the same. I didn’t do that – but I had some extra carbs yesterday, and tonight had more protein than I wanted or needed – bad habits coming back.

It is so bloody annoying when you try so hard and the scales stay stuck. I did however on a more positive note finally join an exercise class – a pilates one with some friends from work – I enjoyed the first night and have tried to focus on my core all week since – well when I think of it!

So I will try again to shift those few pounds again and see if I can get the slow boat moving again – don’t hold your breath any of you for fear you might expire in the process!

I’m too tired to post a longer entry – I did make some nice – non sweet – food at the weekend but I haven’t the energy to post the pictures – I made a gorgeous vegetable dish but I need to be in my full health to write it up – it is a dish that takes four hours to prepare but my God – it is worth the work! Called and Italian gateau – it’s truly yummy. I will post it up at the weekend. For now it’s time to sit back and pray for Friday!

 

 

Free at Last! September 9th 2016.

I finally managed to get back to where I was in April – those ten pounds that have dogged me forever finally gave up the ghost and as the scales began their final glorious inexorable descent, I dared to believe that this time my journey really is a different one.

In fact I am now down three stone and a quarter of a pound – that’s a very important quarter – it suggests the descent is not yet over.

Before this I have often lost weight successfully for several months – the story every dieter can tell you – you get a burst of enthusiasm, diet madly and lose maybe a couple of stone – that’s quite easy to do if you have seven or eight to lose. And then you have a bad week and the scales go in the opposite direction. And again. And again. And slowly but surely you watch helplessly as those dreaded scales remind you of the failure you feel inside – that you are just fat and nothing you can do will change that.

It’s not true though! I can tell you – this time it’s not true! I have managed to hold the gain at ten pounds forever it seemed – without giving up the ghost altogether – and there’s a very good reason for that – the food I am eating. The reduction of carbs is significant – but the complete removal of sugar is empowering. It has even resulted in a clean bill of health at the dentist’s yesterday – no decay since last year – I told her and she was impressed – living proof of yet another benefit of giving up sugar.

If you had said to me a year ago that I would be quite happy to have lost only half a pound from April to September I would have laughed. I have always set great big goals for myself – projecting big losses into the very near future – planning a stone or two in a month. Now I have no such expectations. I would like to lose six and a half pounds between now and September 30th but I’m okay if that doesn’t happen – that will get me into a new stone – one I haven’t seen for a very long time. I hit a plateau – and boy it was a big one – it stretched forever – but it’s gone and new adventures lie ahead.

If even one person seeing my story gets to change their story then I will be happy – the weight loss journey is as unique to each one of us as our DNA – and yet each is made of the same ingredients – a mixture of hope and despair – the trick is to make sure the hope hides the taste of despair long enough for you to believe in yourself – you can do this! I can do this!

Bant!

I had a friend at work bring me some freshly pulled rhubarb this week – and I was delighted to see that it is very low carb so fine for me to eat.  I love rhubarb and I love crumble so I went on the hunt to find a crumble recipe – and came across a link somewhere for a crumble topping that included flax seeds – I didn’t have any so I just made my own version of the recipe and it was lovely.

 

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Banting rhubarb crumble

Heat oven to 160 fan.

Ingredients

  • rhubarb – eight stalks approx
  • 25 gms xylitol – or more to taste
  • 1.5 tblsp ground chia seed

Mix these three together – chop the rhubarb and place in pot with the xylitol and  ground chia, and coo on a medium hob until melted and soft through. Set aside.

  • 100gms ground almond
  • 35 gms dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 tsp each of all spice and mixed spice
  • 10 chopped pecans – optional really – I added them one day, not the next

Mix all dry ingredients together

  • 50gms melted butter
  • tsp vanilla extract

Add the vanilla to the butter then mix into the dry ingredients and keep mixing until the butter is fully absorbed into the dry mix. Pour the mixture out onto a parchment sheet on an oven tray and pat down so it is flat.

Cook for about 16 minutes and then check – remove from the oven when the sides start to crisp.

Leave to cool then put some rhubarb into a bowl and crack off a piece of the topping and crack it over the fruit. Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Truly divine!

I made it again this evening and accidentally put xylitol into the topping as well – it tastes so sweet! Not a good addition! You could add hazelnuts or buttered nuts – think I mentioned those before – I heat some butter in the pan and throw in the packet of Lidl nuts with some spices – they would be lovely with it I’d imagine too. Macadamia are too soft and would burn easily – hazelnuts might be a bit too hard – play about and see what works for you.

 

 

If I can do this anyone can – you owe it to yourself to banish sugar from your life – try it for a month – you will be amazed.

Orla

 

Almost back there! September 3rd 2016.

I said I’d post when I was getting back to my best weight again. Well today I am two pounds off that. It has been an enormous struggle not to lose the run of myself over the summer and just give in to – well basically – laziness in terms of eating patterns and let it all go. I let go on the last three days of the holiday in Spain in June and since then I have not had a full week when I stayed completely banting pure all summer. I really have tried to stay on track and remember how far I have come. My biggest fear is that I will do as I have always done – get so far and then just go back up. My ocean – my fear of losing sight of the shore!

Not this time. I am in my busiest time – I’m back to school and it is hectic and chaotic – I have about twenty things to do at any given moment – I’ve been making out sheets for a workbook we are making for our second years all evening and I was busy all day before that – but – but – I am on a banting roll. It is so much easier to stay in focus and on track when busy. I had five of the ten gone  when I posted last time and I played about with that for weeks – last Monday I headed into work with seven on and my yogurt tub in hand. I haven’t looked back.

I also set up a challenge on my Facebook page – Banting in Ireland – very small – I challenged myself to two things – no eating at night after 8.00, and just two meals a day. That seems difficult to do – but honestly – ask my mother – I was never a breakfast person so banting allows me to wallow in that luxury – I hate eating in the morning and now I don’t. I have my lunch at work at 1.00 and then dinner at about 7.00 and that’s me done for the day. I had a great day yesterday – dinner was simply a big beautiful lump of fresh salmon, simply baked in the oven with olive oil drizzled over. Before that I had eaten a pot of Greek yogurt with some nuts I had prepared last week – tell you in a minute – and some blackberry compote – Mary at work brought me some fresh berries from her garden and I boiled them with a small bit of xylitol and then added ground chia seed when I took it off the heat. The combination of the three is really spectacular. The nuts are simple to make – I bought a bag of Lidl mixed Nuts and heated about 1.5 ozs of butter in a small frying pan then threw in the nuts and added a big dash each of mixed spice and all spice. They taste great – not greasy at all and they really up the fat content of my food without adding to the protein quantities which is where I am going wrong.

When I stood on the scales this morning I was delighted. Five pounds down – and I felt amazing. I got up at 5.30 one morning this week because I had so much energy – I sound a bit manic but it’s not that kind of energy! – and worked like a demon all the way through till 11.00. My energy levels are high, my skin is glowing and today I got into my skinny summer jeans that I only managed to wear once last May and then reluctantly put aside because they just didn’t fit. I’ve been in them since 9.00 and I’m still in them 13 hours later – a real sign of success!

My next aim is to get down below the next stone – that’s big – it’s ten years coming. I never thought I’d see this weight again and it is a real barrier to get below where I’m at – but you know I do my best work from now to December so I’m going to make it. I don’t know if I will get to my ideal weight by next May which is my fiftieth but I will be closer than I am now.

It’s funny. I’m a totally different shape now. I was so heavy before but couldn’t see it myself. Now however I see my weight but recognise the difference in my shape. I met a past pupil today who told me I was looking really well, and I said thank you – no explanation of “Oh I have loads more weight to lose” just – thank you. I can buy clothes easily – I just don’t have any money to do it with! Children have that effect, not that I am complaining for one second! But it’s wonderful to just step into a shop and not feel like the assistant’s eyes are boring into you willing you to understand the message that there’s nothing there to fit you. I will never forget that feeling – I have felt it too often. It happened once a very long time ago in Madame Kay’s in Dundalk for any of you that know it – the shop assistant actually said the words “I don’t think we have anything here to fit you Madam”. First off I was 24, and secondly I was actually looking for a Christmas present for my much skinnier sister. The shop is long gone, but the memory lingers and it can be difficult to shake off that feeling. I wonder will it ever truly disappear…

I’m on the cusp of the next step in my journey. I feel like it’s going to happen this time. I’ll let you know how it goes. My goal is to be into the next stone for October. I still haven’t taken the running challenge… That’s a tough one…

I’ll also post a few recipes the next time. I made a few new things but I’m not eating much sugar at the moment so I’ve no interest in posting about them!

 

A great reminder of why I am doing this! August 18th 2016.

I’m doing well enough this week – back on track and slowly but surely those ten pounds are disappearing – I have five off and am hoping that on the anniversary of my start day last year – August 24th – I will be back down to three stone off.

Three stone. I met a very good friend today who hasn’t seen me since this time last year – she noticed the weight and commented. I was explaining as I do to everyone I meet how I have ten pounds back on – no make that five – and then she showed me the photo we took at last year’s annual reunion – and I stopped – and will never bemoan my progress again. The featured photo is me today – and this one was me last summer at this time of year – the very week I started banting…

 

IMG_3578

The picture quality is poor – thankfully! But I looked at this today and suddenly realised just how much of a difference this year has made to me.

I am sleeker, fitter and in so much better shape. I can shop in “ordinary” shops now and I make good choices most of the time. I look at lots of other blogs and people’s testimonials and I think that everyone’s journey is a different one – mine has to incorporate the family life that I love and the baking I thrive on. I like to have a sweet treat – some advocate going off all sweet things – I couldn’t sustain that lifestyle – I like a treat after dinner sometimes – and if I can have that without spiking my insulin levels then I’ll do that.

I have gone back to my early days as regards my eating habits. I have made a batch of crackers just now for the week and if I am peckish at night I take a few with lots of butter and cheese on top. I have made a lime cream pot this week and tomorrow I will remake my raspberry chia jam – it was gorgeous – not too sweet and delicious with the banting almond scones I made last week.

I will post next week on my first anniversary and share a few photos from the journey so far.

Meanwhile here’s the recipe for the lovely almond scones I made – they were delicious served with butter and jam – and below that is the jam recipe – so simple! I use ground chia seeds in it – it worked really well – the texture is great – not too different from the real thing – and so much better for you. I figure a teaspoon a day will kill no-one.

 

The Banting Blondes – see website – http://www.thebantingblondes.com

Scandalous Scones

  • 200gms almond flour – very expensive but I used it this time!
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

So simple!

Whisk the eggs the add all the other ingredients and mix well. Using an ice-cream scoop put mix into 6 muffin cases which I pre-oiled and pat them down so they are smooth. Leave in the oven for about twenty minutes then take them out and check – they should be barely browned.

Next time I will add some mixed and all spice and some vanilla essence. I might also add some baking powder to see if it will make them a little less heavy and compact – but hey – it’s very nearly like the real thing!

 

Banting Jam

  • 500 gms frozen raspberies
  • 4 tbsp xylitol
  • 40 gms ground chia seed

Add raspberries to a pot with the xylitol and bring to the boil very slowly allowing time for the raspberries to defrost without burning. Allow the mixture to come to a boil then simmer for about fifteen minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the  ground chia.

Store in the fridge – it will last about two weeks – if it survives that long! My children found this a bit grainy so didn’t eat it – me – I had no such issue. It is gorgeous on the scones but particularly with the lemon pots I made before – and the chocolate pots – decadent but good for you!

Enjoy!

Orla

 

 

 

 

On again, off again – the cycle continues. August 1st 2016.

I took July off – from the blog that is, as other things were occupying my head. I corrected for the whole month and had no time hardly to breathe let alone blog.

I haven’t stopped banting but I have had a bad month of it. I have actually lost twenty pounds – but unfortunately they are the same ten pounds that I gained and lost twice – and have back on again for the third time. Every summer I think that I will get to lose weight and organise my life. Instead when the school term is out so are my good intentions. I haven’t stopped banting – I have just slipped off the wagon more than I should have.

What’s the secret to getting back on?

Reading, organising the pantry and not beating myself up. I was doing really well then had my parents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary party. I didn’t break out at that – I waited till I went home then broke out. That is part of the addictive nature of my habits – I don’t cheat with good stuff – I deprive myself then go home and gorge to satisfy the girl who didn’t eat the cake at the party!

I spent a couple of days in Cork in a most divine part of the world – Glengarriff – and managed for the first two days to stay on banting track. Then I decided to break out. Therein lies the problem. I am back to my binging ways when I break out – I really break out and eat all I can find. So that is the task for August – how to stay on track and if not, how to break out without actually killing myself by overindulgence!

I haven’t been reading the Realmealrevolution.com pages, so I am back to that. Yesterday I made crackers and banting bread, and some banting brownie – all to remind myself that I can eat lots of lovely things while banting. It’s a question of retraining those tastebuds again. I tried twice before to get back on track by intermittent fasting – I think maybe I need to give the fasting a break until my body releases me from the old addiction to sugar. It is very scary how quickly that heroin gets back in – and like heroin you cannot stop the binging. It is all consuming. They say knowing the problem is half the battle. Now I need to up my game on the other half of the fight!

I’ll keep you posted. One pound gone – nine more to go! Maybe my problem is I keep thinking I’m a sprinter when in fact I’m more of a long distance cross country type!

 

sprinter

falling

I forgot to share my lemon curd! 30th June 2016

I should point out the picture above is not in fact my lemon curd – that looks nice but a bit fake in my humble opinion. Mine looks far more rustic.

We love all things lemon here – and I saw in a previous blog I made a lemon cream concoction that is utterly delicious. I thought at the time I had shared my lemon curd recipe too but now I realise I didn’t.

I’ll be honest – it’s not my recipe but I make it so often I have claimed ownership at this point! It’s from allrecipies.co.uk. I have changed the ingredients a little but I need to acknowledge someone else’s genius!

I have made curd in the past on the hob and it’s a hassle frankly – I’m not great with things that need to be constantly watched – I’m much more of a hands off cook – if it takes too much effort I’m not convinced of the benefits. This is a microwave version – in fifteen minutes you can have a jar of sunshine for your fridge that will curl your lips with the sharpness and make you smile after! It is truly lovely. It is also now my husband’s breakfast tipple of choice – he mixes it with a little Greek yogurt and heads to work happy! And trimmer – he has lost eight pounds since we came home from the holidays and it’s obviously not stopping that process.

Microwave lemon curd

Ingredients

  • 175 gms xylitol
  • 3 eggs
  • 115 gms very soft butter
  • zest of three lemons
  • 250 mls freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method

Put the xylitol and the eggs into a bowl and whisk until they are combined – I just use a hand whisk – it takes only a minute – it doesn’t need to be frothy, just combined.

Put in the butter and roughly mix – if you were a good cook you could melt it, wait for it to cool down and then add it – life is too short – the recipe works fine this way, but it does need to be soft – the current weather conditions make it the perfect consistency – soft but not runny.

Add the zest of three lemons to the mix. As I mentioned before a Microplane grater is an amazing little gadget – it grates everything for me – it is worth the investment I promise you – for savoury and sweet. Then juice the lemons and add it through a strainer to the egg and sugar mix. One bowl. Very little mess. Ready for the magic.

Set the microwave for six minutes – mine is a 900 watt oven so yours will need less or more time depending on the wattage. After one minute take the mixture out and whisk by hand. The butter will be melting nicely at this point. Repeat the process every minute or so – it’s really important to do this or you will end up with little white flecks – bits of cooked egg white – we still eat it but it’s not perfect then!

The curd may take six full minutes – it make take five – after the fifth minute if it is not at all thicker it will need the extra minute. It might need a little longer but sometimes, maybe depending on egg size it can be thinner or thicker – this week’s batch was quite thick as you can see – if you microwave until it is like slightly thick soup but not walk on style it will be fine.

That’s it – refrigerate and enjoy in all manner of ways – I had it the other day over some blackberries, strawberries and raspberries – all Wexford fruit – so delicious. I added a dollop of freshly whipped double cream. I almost died and went to heaven in that moment!

Time to get back to the attic and the cleaning!

Orla

 

 

Chicken – what would we do without you? 28th June 2016

I had a busy day yesterday…

I went for my first ever 10 k walk – I’m so proud! When I got home I had great plans to sort out the attic – we are creating a bedroom up there, but I hadn’t the energy to even climb the two flights – mind you my Fitbit told me I climbed 58 flights of stairs so I’m not doing badly – the walk was gorgeous but hilly. So instead I went for the easier option and I cooked. I made five different dinners for the freezer – a good banter is always prepared – it is the only way to go – but I’m  only sharing one with you today – and it tasted so good it will become a regular here – at least for Paddy and me – the girls don’t eat cheese – sigh.

Pesto cheese and bacon chicken

Ingredients:

  • chicken breasts
  • 80gms cream cheese
  • pesto to taste – I used 1 tsp
  • smoked bacon slices – 1.5/2 per chicken breast
  • grated mozzarella
  • black pepper

Pre-heat fan oven to 200 degrees celsius. Make a well or just cut into the chicken breast to make some space for the cream cheese to sit. Mix the cream cheese and the pesto together well and put a teaspoon of this mixture onto the open breast. sprinkle some mozzarella on top, add pepper to taste, then fold over – sometimes we get the little mini fillet piece with the breasts – I like to cover all with that. Then wrap carefully in the bacon and use cocktail sticks to keep it all together.

Bake in the oven for about twenty minutes – keep an eye – they will come out with some of the inner contents splayed – just eat it there and then – divine!