Staying Slim In America

Me and my best friend decided at a very early age that we would not be eating salads our entire life. We talked about it, mainly joking, that we were not the sort of girl to eat just lettuce. I don’t know why we never had ‘food issues’ but we never did. We ate what we wanted but never went excessive. We were never really sporty but we were always active. We came from different places food wise. My parents cooked meals from scratch all the time, my father grew vegetables. Her mother worked full time and had a chest freezer full of microwave meals. I loved going to her house after school because there were no parents, and we could go to the chest freezer and pick whatever we wanted.

Both of us since leaving home have cooked meals from scratch, love food passionately and laugh at the idea of diets. I don’t remember being taught to cook but seeing my parents cooking and preparing food must have been the core.

There’s a kind of joke about people going to America and coming back fat. I’ve seen it happen to a young man and for him it was the lure, ease and cheapness of fast food. He had almost doubled in size in about 5 months.

If you eat processed foods in the US you are going to gain weight. If you eat takeaways and in fast food restaurants lured by their low prices you are going to gain weight.

If you cook using good quality ingredients, make meals from scratch and take regular exercise or just move around, walk, play, be active you won’t.

The reason why. Everything processed in the US and I mean pretty much EVERYTHING has either high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup in it. The same product used to fatten pigs I have heard. A padder, a filler, a cheap alternative to sugar in order for the packaged item to taste of something without using good ingredients. I started checking ingredient lists early on after moving here. Now I know. It is very unusual not to see it. Exercise is more difficult over here to as they don’t have pavements/sidewalks. It is discouraged to walk, I presume to save costs on making sidewalks and it encourages driving seeing as the oil industry dictates everything over here/suppresses inventions that don’t use oil.

The less exercise you do, the less you want to do.

I love food. Good food. I can do without chain restaurant food. Not because I am righteous but because it doesn’t satisfy me in any way. It always puzzles me how they stay in business. The same goes for processed cakes, package donuts…it’s not like I eat them when offered and think mmmm naughty me. They just give no satisfaction taste wise. It is easy for me to leave them, go home and cook up a treat in the kitchen.

So…I have decided to put some more recipes on here, ones that are of good yummy food. Walk around, don’t drive to the car parking spot right by the store, run up the stairs, put on a coat and get out in the weather and walk, turn up music and dance, just be active….they’ll be plenty of time when you can’t.

It makes sense to me.  I thought it might make sense to you too.

 

 

 

 

Winter Warming Hot & Sour Soup

We have a bunch of logs that we put shiitake spawn into and every now and then (usually after a downpour) they produce shiitake mushrooms. It’s all part of our trying to live off the land as much as possible, avoiding all the crappy packaging, living lightly, working with, not against this beautiful earth, appreciating the changing seasons and enjoying the fruits of the seasons when they happen. So when the other day our mushroom logs exploded with the most mushrooms we’ve ever seen I searched the internet for shiitake mushroom recipes. I found this recipe by Jamie Oliver. As usual, I have altered the recipe because I didn’t have all the ingredients! It was delicious and really excited me as I now have another recipe which I know I’ll be making again and again just with slight variations.

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 fresh red chillies
  • sea salt
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 250 g shitake mushrooms or some other meaty mushrooms (never button mushrooms because they bore me out of my mind and they will do nothing, I tell you, nothing for flavour, ever!
  • 225 g thin noodles of some kind
  • vegetable oil
  • soy sauce
  • rice wine vinegar
  • Big fat pinch of white or black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1.5 litres hot organic vegetable/ chicken stock
  • 2 spring onions or 1 white onion as it isn’t spring!
  • ½ bunch of chives or something similar
  • 1 or 2 free-range eggs

What next….?

Peel the garlic and take most of the seeds out of the chillies, then roughly chop and place into a pestle and mortar. Bash with a pinch of salt to a rough paste. Peel, finely chop and add the ginger, then bash until broken down and combined.

Slice the mushrooms. Heat a lug of oil in a large wok or heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat, add the mushrooms and fry for 4 minutes, or until lightly golden. Stir in the chilli paste and fry for a further minute.

Meanwhile, mix together 3 tablespoons of soy, 4 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, the honey and a good pinch of white or black pepper. Stir the mixture into the pan and cook for a minute, add the white onion if that’s what you have, then pour in the hot stock and bring gently to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes adding the rice noodles/thin noodles a few minutes before the end so they cook in the stock and yumminess.

Chop the chives or whatever green herb you’re using as decoration and whisk the egg well.

Once reduced, remove the soup from the heat. Using a chopstick, stir the soup in a clockwise direction until you get a little whirlpool, then slowly add the beaten egg, stirring continuously to form thin ribbons. (Mine didn’t look at all like ribbons but added another texture which was yum) Then serve immediately with the spring onions (if you have any) and chives/other garnish you have, scattered on top.

It’s perfect for a cold weather. Ingredients that Jamie Oliver suggested were bamboo shoots and tofu. I didn’t have these but added water chestnuts as I had some tucked away.

 

 

 

Cooking in Copenhagen for my friend

I’m in Copenhagen, Demark just now. Staying with my lovely friend Tanja. Tonight I cooked for her. Here’s how it went….

I wandered into a lovely danish supermarket, not too big with lots of good fresh food, a lady was giving out olives to taste. The purple ones were delicious so I bought some.

Then I picked up a few other things that seemed tasty including some kokos flødeboller. (coconut dusted snowballs) because you can’t really get much more danish.

1. tagliatelle

2. mackerel

3. tomatoes

4. spring onions

5. creme fraiche and turmeric

6. olives

7. spinach

I cooked the pasta

Same time heated the whole tomatoes in some olive oil in a shallow pan for a few minutes, turned it off. Then added the cut up spring onions and cut up the tomatoes.

When the pasta was ready I added that, put the broken up mackerel in with some creme fraiche & turmeric, a big splash of water from cooking the pasta, olives and black pepper.

Wilted some spinach into the dish on the plate.

Super quick, fresh and absolutely yum.

Seasonal cooking…

Things have changed quite a bit since I last wrote. I now live on 142 acres of land in the middle of nowhere in Missouri. We have a huge vegetable garden, raise chickens, ducks and guinea fowl, have fresh eggs daily, we have three aviaries of bees, we grow shiitake mushrooms and hunt deer, turkeys and rabbits. We’re trying to live off the land as much as possible, eat seasonally and I’m learning ways to store what we don’t eat for the other months. I’m learning pickling recipes, canning methods (which should really be called jar-ing as it is storing food in glass jars) and we have tried and failed a couple of meat proscuitto attempts. We make home made ice-cream, we often collect our milk from the Amish that live nearby, we have a juicer which is tonnes of fun and we never buy products with high corn fructose syrup in….which over here seems to be everything.

Eating has never been better.

My Caramel and Walnut Cupcakes…Sofie Gråbøl’s favourites!

This recipe will make about 15 to 17 cupcakes….so let’s say 16!

  • 200 g dried dates
  • 250 ml black tea
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 85 g butter
  • 175 g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 g teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 130 g brown sugar
  • 45 g white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g walnuts
  1. Take the stones out of the dates and chop them up
  2. Bring to the boil and then simmer the dates in the tea for about 4 minutes
  3. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda and then put to the side
  4. Beat the sugar and butter in a bowl really well
  5. Add the eggs gradually (to avoid it splitting (if it does split just mix and mix and mix to try and bring it back together))
  6. Sift in the flour, baking powder and all spice and then mix
  7. Fold in the date mixture and the (coarsely chopped) walnuts
  8. Put into your cupcake cases in a cupcake tray and bake for about 14 minutes at 190 degrees

For the Victoria’s Cooking Caramel Topping……

  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 150 g cream cheese (full fat, non of this half fat rubbish)
  1. Heat the butter and sugar slowly in a pan stiring occasionally till it’s bubbling
  2. Take of the heat and add about 50 g of cream cheese (this stops it becoming really hard caramel)
  3. Put aside till it cools. Put in a sink of cold water to speed up the process.
  4. When it’s cool add more cream cheese….about 100 g
  5. Then add icing sugar, mixing until it looks like the right consistency to ice
  6. I’m pretty proud of this one. It’s sooooo YUMMY.

ENJOY…..Join my page please…….more of my cupcake recipes to follow!

Sachertorte to the rescue…for Jo Knight in Devon

Here we go Jo. Let me know how you get on, it’s yummy.

  • 200g plain chocolate
  • 125g butter
  • 100g caster sugar – or you could mix it up a bit by replacing 25g with brown sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 4 eggs SEPARATED (from your lovely hens)
  • 50g fresh brown breadcrumbs
  • 50g icing sugar (optional for sieving over the cake at the end)
  1. Heat your oven to 180 or gas mark 4
  2. Use a 9 inch cake tin ..23 cms ish. Rub butter around the tin and then put a handful of flour in, shake it round so it coats it all, then tip out the excess. This is the perfect way to stop a cake sticking.
  3. Melt HALF the chocolate (100g) in a bain marie (bowl above simmering water without the bottom of the bowl touching the water) Stir to make it smooth.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together thinking of it as exercise for your arms. That’ll keep you going to get it light and fluffy!
  5. Stir in the almonds, egg YOLKS, breadcrumbs and melted chocolate.
  6. Whisk the eggs WHITES until you can turn the bowl upside down (!) Mainly to get the idea of how stiff they should be….be sure, be very sure before trying!
  7. Fold a little bit of the egg whites into the chocolate mix to loosen it up, then fold the rest in trying to keep as much air in the mix as possible.
  8. Pour into your cake tin and jiggle it till it’s even.
  9. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. When you touch it gently it should be firm.
  10. Cover with a clean damp tea towel, leave for 5 minutes and then you can tip it out. I just put a cutting board on top and clamp it together with my hands and spin it over away from me.
  11. Coarsely grate the rest of the chocolate and sprinkle it over the cake when it’s completely cool (or it’ll melt…learn by my mistakes!) and/or flaked almonds or….mmmm whipped cream if you’re eating it all straight away.

In case you’d like to make it gluten free, then just leave out the bread crumbs.

This cake reminds me of the beautiful town of Zermatt and a young lad who skiied too fast.

The Mean Machine Cupcake Mobile….

Getting a plan to work takes many many cogs, that link together and eventually, if successful result in a machine that works naturally…like a windmill for example….or a water mill. If I can make my business flow as beautifully, naturally and mechnically as a watermill I’ll be a very happy girl. Right now it is take plan…make cog, start finding other cog, add oil, dig water channel and throw a huge dollop of  “making it up as you go along”. It’s new territory, new adventures, new confusions and so so many decisions and twists. This is all part of the experience I keep telling myself and should be embraced in the same vain of ‘appreciating the jouney not just the destination’ even if it is overwhelming at times and unnerving at others, with complete self doubt always round the corner. Setting up a business is a rollercoaster. Emotional, physical, mental. I find mantras help…ones that have been echoeing round my head over the past few weeks….”step by step”, “stay calm” and “what the hell am i doing?” “just have a go, just have a go”

I make cakes, good cakes……introducing my Organic Cupcakes to Copenhagen and spreading the joy of my cakes to everyone so I can make it my business….that’s a few chapters later. What I do know is that one of the definite highs on this rollercoaster ride is when I’m dropping my cakes off at a café and someone says; “Oh is it you that makes the cupcakes….they’re delicious” and then we have a lovely chat. This completely makes my day and totally fuels me with energy to keep going and carry on baking. I love it.

So I decided that to get those cogs turning I needed transport, a little quicker than my antique Raleigh so on Sunday I went off into the wilds of Southern Denmark to visit my friend Johannes and his family and pick up my new-to-me Scooter….the T-Rex!

T-Rex as you would imagine is a bad-ass, scary, dangerous beast….with a large windshield.

My journey to collect T-Rex started with excitment, buzzing excitment as I headed off to collect my new Cupcake Mobile, on the train to Køge, lovely little harbour town…where I jumped on a bus, the 102a to the ‘Middle of Nowhere’ for an hour into the wilds of “Past the End of the S-tog”. Emotions turned to a mix between excitement and fear as I signed the papers and took the keys. Fear developed exponentially as I left the house to drive the scooter home, into serious white fear. What have I done now fear. A fear I’ve had before.

Once on the way though and the first trip to the petrol station over with no serious blunder, the blinding fear melted away into pleasure and the joy of the open road. You’re right there in the landscape, you’re part of the air, fields and sky as you bump along carefree with your fun new best friend. Scooting along and enjoying the humour of the situation was sheer happiness. I hadn’t had time to envisage the reality of this journey and now I was there in the reality and it made me laugh. With the sunsetting and the farmland flying by around me that half hour is definitely on my board of Happy Moments…..

Soon though, after the sun had set and the sunset’s red sky had faded, the cold sheer bitter cold, bitterly sheer cold kicked in… 

It felt like sitting on a park bench in winter. I’d foolishly forgotten that when you cycle as I have been, it generates heat which keeps you warm. When driving a scooter you just sit there…. It wasn’t until the cold had set in and the darkness had swallowed me that the realisation hit me. I was driving a scooter back from Brøderup and Brøderup was miles away, like miiiiles away near Tappernøje, south Sjælland and I had a long long long way to still go…..I shivered and looked seriously into the distance. 

The cold dark night quickly striped back all emotions to reveal a more base human trait, it was now purely ‘survival’ at the forefront of my mind. There was a great possibility I was going to be losing eight fingers, a foot, and one thumb as I made my way along the long long long straight road they* call the longest road in the world. That night as I sat close to death on my trusty new steed it defintely was the Longest Road in the World…and the coldest. I had, as I said earlier, underestimated the important, lesser considered advantage of riding a bicycle…heat is generated through kinetic movement…the joy of physics. NOT RELEVANT TO DRIVING ON A SCOOTER. NO HEAT GENERATED. Survival said to me: Stop several times to hold coffee and defrost: I lingered in the service stations hobbling about trying to defrost…wondering constantly whether my feet HAD actually turned black. I set off at 4pm a bright sunny yet cold Sunday…I got home to Islands Brygge at 8.30pm a dark, bitter night…..definitely in shock, in fact shocks; the shock of the day, shock of the reality of how far I had to drive it back, shock of darkness and Baltic conditions underprepared. On arrival in Islands Brygge, parked, unpacked and struggling with the 2 new locks Johannes had kindly bought for me I was close to snapping…physically like ice, as movement hadn’t be high on the agenda for the past 4.5 hours. I practically staggered through the door to the safety of my apartment and as part of the survival plan headed immediately for the Lagavulin. I gulped whisky, to survive. I then went and had the longest shower I have ever had. I stayed there for a long time, eventually defrosting and eventually able to look back on the trauma and laugh. Got out and drank more Lagavulin. To survive.

But now I’ve forgetten all that. I think it’s probably the same as when mothers have children and they forget the excruciating pain once they experience the joy of seeing the baby. T-Rex! Worth every missing finger.

Just putting the helmet on makes me feel different, then once I’m on and hold those handlebars……yes I am a Biker……I see the open road……I snarl…….I rev at traffic lights……………………………………….I deliver Delicious Organic Cupcakes.

* ‘they’ – my friend Johannes and his wife

Busy Baking

Well I have been having a mighty busy time. I’ve been baking, delivering, approaching and ‘working out’ constantly. I have been delivering to my regulars, Café Holberg and Nosewise…then approaching new places. Then as people gradually taste my cupcakes they are then approaching me directly to order large quantities for work related functions…one which I’m waiting to hear back from is for me to represent a company in the Bella Centre to say “look what organic produce can result in…delicious funky sexy cupcakes…”…I’m still waiting to hear back but if I do I will be baking 1600 of my reception sized cupcakes for next weekend. Me? Holding my breath? Yes!

Another company has enquired whether I can make cupcakes for their careers event?…of course I can, how many?!…a sure way to lure any student!

I also had a very fruitful meeting with Nicolai at Soupantural. I brought along 4 different kinds of my cupcakes…He started with the Chocolate and Beetroot….as he worked his way down the line taking a mouthful of each he kept saying, “I thought that was my favourite, but no I think this is…mmmm….” and then onto the next and the same comment. I do believe my Spiced Apple with Cinnamon Icing and a pocketful of Apple Purée was his final favourite but it also could have been the Carrot Cupcake with the Traditional Lemon Icing…either way he loved them and asked me how quickly I could deliver to each of his 3 shops. I think we can say about this meeting “everyone’s a winner”

I am delivering on my 400 year old Raleigh bicycle…it has no gears and permanently feels like it is in 7th gear…people regularly overtake me while peddling far less…someone even commented that they think my bicyle is the oldest one they’ve seen in Copenhagen…for those of you IN Copenhagen you’ll now understand the state of my bike!

On Wednesday I have a “meeting” arranged at my apartment….steak and red wine followed by cupcakes and an evening of the design of my “Cupcake Mobile”….a 3 wheeled motorbike and some welding is what I have in mind…the outcome with someone who knows much more than I do will be revealed at a later date….

So in between all this I’ve been contacting various organic suppliers, speaking to box manufacturers, locating my ideal cupcake case, (no no no they’re not all the same…!) creating new recipes for my Gluten Free Range and annoying my website designer at Tinkvision with alterations……as you can imagine…life for me outside Cupcake World has been put on Pause……

Come try my cupcakes in Copenhagen…

For those of you lucky enough to be in Copenhagen, the time is here for you to visit Café Holberg, 19 Holbergsgade or Nosewise, Vestmannagade 4, Islands Brugge. Not only because they are fantastic café/winebars but I am now regularly supplying them with a variety of my Cupcakes. So please go and try them and then let me know what you think. I’m excited to hear your comments. Enjoy!