Monthly Archives: February 2010

Day 12 – Lentil Soup

The gastronomic alternatives to sweet, sugary confections appear to be almost limitless. This weekend, Sue conjured up a huge pan of wonderful smelling and even better tasting soup, which on enquiry, I discovered to be lentil soup.

My uncharitable thought process immediately thought of dreadful, tasteless veggie, hippy fodder. So you can imagine my surprise when this concoction was served with pieces of bacon floating about in it.

I have just consulted the oracle and discovered that the basic recipe for this soup came from a 25-year-old Sainsbury’s Vegetarian Recipe Book written by Carole Handslip. The only reference to this book I can find online is a copy for sale on eBay, so I would guess that it’s out of print. I hope Carole won’t mind me passing on her recipe from this book.

The base recipe for Sue’s masterpiece was:

Lentil and Celery Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 Celery Sticks, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 175g (6oz) red lentils
  • Bouquet garni
  • Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and fry until softened. Add te remaining ingredients with salt & pepper to taste (I don’t think Sue adds salt). Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Check the seasoning and remove the bouquet garni. Serve.

Sue’s variation was to add a red pepper and some bacon to put her own unique twist on this simple dish. She also made some lovely light cobs (bread rolls, if you’re not from round here) that complemented the soup perfectly.

After we had consumed a generous sized dish each, we took a serving and a cob over to my mum’s and the rest has gone into the well-stocked freezer. I’m looking forward to its next appearance before me.

I’m liking this giving up lark.

Ride Safe


Day 11 – Dying for a biscuit

No, not me. I’ve reached a point where I’m not really bothered about biscuits any more. I wouldn’t have thought that I would ever really reach this state of nirvana, but my “iron will power” (if such a thing could ever exist) has been re-inforced by the BBC TV’s Panorama programme.

Thanks to the technological miracles of BBC i-Player and Virgin Media cable telly, Sue and I caught up with last week’s Panorama programme during today. The programme title was “Dying for a biscuit” and as the documentary unfolded, I was appalled at the way that the western world’s demand for one of the key ingredients of, not only biscuits, but a wide range of our foods, from soap to fish fingers, is damaging the environment on the far side of the world.

Of course, I had heard about illegal logging of rainforests, so it was no real surprise that this is happening in Indonesia. However, I was surprised to discover that this is happening so that the rain forest can be replaced by huge areas of monoculture to produce palm oil.

Although the packs in our supermarkets may say “Vegetable Oil”, much of this is actually palm oil.

If it isn’t bad enough that the rain forest is being destroyed, it seems that the forests of Indonesia are home to one of mankind’s closest relatives, the Orangutan. It was pitiful to see these magnificent, intelligent creatures being dispossessed of their habitat. It was bad enough to see them being transported in cages to a sanctuary, but the final shot in the film was one of the most poignant moments of television that I have seen in a long time. It was a shot of a burned out area of forest with a few isolated trees with charred trunks and no branches sticking up into the air. However, it was not just the trees, but the silhouette of an orangutan climbing one of these dead trees that brought a lump to my throat.

I know that I can’t stop using products containing palm oil, but I hope that Panorama has made a contribution to raising awareness of the facts. Maybe this post has also done a little bit as well.  I’m certainly not dying for a biscuit, but the orangutan may well be.

If this animal becomes extinct because of our greed for custard creams we should all feel ashamed.

Ride Safe

Day 10 – A Style Icon

Surely I can’t really be feeling that much better after just 10 days of denying myself sugary pleasures? Yet I feel good, I seem to have lost some weight, I feel that my health is great and I have been on the receiving end of compliments about how good I look. I was even described on day this week, as a Style Icon! Yes, me!

Ok, that remark was probably tongue in cheek, but it made me feel good.

I also feel good right now because the normal difficulties of our life suddenly seem not to be as insoluble as I may have thought.  I have just spent almost an hour on the phone to someone who has been able to give me some good advice and some practical hints about what to do about to make things better. 

Perhaps this confidence may be a little premature, but this evening I feel good and Sue and I are going to enjoy that wine that’s in the fridge with some supper.

Ride Safe

Day 9 – Too Busy To Think Biscuits

This is necessarily a brief post.  Today has been slightly more than hectic.

At work, I finished next year’s service delivery plan then built most of the new website.

When I got home, Sue was embroiled in a job application, so after my obligatory 40 winks, the rest of the evening has been spent proof reading and suggesting changes to an already very strong application. Fingers crossed.

Amanda’s done it again with her comment on Facebook. I hadn’t even considered whether to include scones.

Ride Safe

Day 8 – A Can Of Worms?

A week ago it all seemed so simple. I was very clear in my own mind that I would lay off a small, but very clearly defined list of food items.

I am fairly pleased that I have managed to stick to my original intention of not letting sweets, cakes, chocolate or biscuits pass my lips. However, I am being confused by terminology.

It all started when Sue (that’s the one I’m married to – there will be another Sue along in a minute) asked me if I wanted some cheese biscuits. After a knee-jerk reaction to the word “biscuits”, I was able to rationalise that they are really Cream Crackers, and therefore not biscuits.

Then Amanda came along and said that Oatcakes are OK. I’m not convinced that semantically they really are.

Then today Sue (yes, the other one) pitched into the fray with the comment,

“equal rights for cream crackers and rice cakes I say!!”

Sorry Sue. that’s just muddied the waters. It’s that word “cakes” in rice cakes and oatcakes that I’m struggling with.

Looking ahead about a month, I see the spectre of another dilemma when decisions have to be made about hot cross buns.

Sue (the first one) says that they’re cakes, but I think I’m making an argument that they’re not. They are actually buns – and buns are not on the “list”.

The English language can be a right pain in the backside. After all, in English we can call a spade a shovel.

… and why would we keep worms in a can?

Ride Safe

Day 7 – The Debate Continues

Following on from yesterday’s dilemma, I have been reassured by a few comments on Facebook telling me that crackers are definitely not biscuits.

Thanks Sue and Mandi.

However, bearing in mind that when Sue described them as Cheese Biscuits, my dilemma started. Now Mandi is suggesting that I could eat Oatcakes.

I know that they don’t have sugar and that they’re great with cheese, but are they cakes? If they’re not why can’t they be called something else?

Anyway, I’m off for a slice of pizza for supper.

Ride Safe

Day 6 – A Dilemma

As I look back on the last couple of smug posts on this blog, I find myself in something of a dilemma. Nothing that I haven’t resolved for myself, you understand, but I feel that I should share the dilemma and its solution with you and invite your feedback.

 In deciding that I would forgo the pleasures of biscuits, sweets, cake and chocolate, I was consciously making a decision that was good for my health. I have type II diabetes, so these sugar-filled goodies should always be a very minor part of my diet.  Maybe I haven’t been as diligent in this as I should have been.

However, I have maintained from the outset that I would not give up cheese. During the weekend, I consumed a fair amount of the stuff.

And here comes the dilemma.

Should I have had Jacobs Cream Crackers with this cheese?

When Sue asked if I wanted cheese biscuits, the answer had to be “No”, but when they were properly redefined as Cream Crackers, I went ahead and ate them.

I feel justified in this decision because they are not biscuits in the sense of sweet, sugar-coated ones.

But what do you think? Did I fall off the wagon (twice)?

Ride Safe