Category Archives: Food

Mum’s Chilli Con Carne

This is my recipe, for my girls. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Serves 4 – 6 people – I think. I never worry about left overs, so I’m not good at portion control – and there are only 3 of us left at home.


  • Spray oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • Fresh chillies to your  taste – I use 2 – 3 of those little, hot ones but I like a bit of punch (put the ones you don’t use in the freezer and remove individually as needed. You can slice from frozen if you warm them a bit in the palm of your hand. Don’t rub your eyes afterwards!)
  • 500g 5% fat minced beef
  • 2 tins kidney beans
  • 2 large tins tomatoes
  • Half tsp Cumin seeds
  • Quarter tsp ground coriander
  • Quarter tsp ground turmeric
  • Scant quarter tsp ground cinnamon
  • Quarter tsp sugar or sweetener
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


Fry the diced onion and pepper gently  in the oil with the cumin seeds until the onions are soft (squirt on more oil if they stick).

Add the finely diced chilli and stir for a minute.

Turn up the heat and add the mince and the other spices and stir until the mince is browned.

Pour over the tomatoes, and the kidney beans – no need to drain them.

Simmer until the sauce is reduced to a thick consistency.

Add sugar, salt and pepper and stir

Taste and adjust seasoning. If it’s not hot enough add a bit of chilli powder. I can’t help you with quantities but start with a tiny bit, stir well and taste. If you do need to do this you will need to simmer your chilli for 10 more minutes to reduce the ‘roughness’ of the chilli flavour.

If you haven’t added chilli powder then simmer to let the flavours meld – say 5 minutes – add a splash of water to keep the consistency right if necessary.

Serve with Basmati rice or yellow Basmati Rice

Tripping (not the kind that takes you up, but the one that plummets you down)

I found this post in my drafts. I’d written it a couple of months ago. I am no longer taking Warfarin, but a new drug. I am still going to the gym though and have lost 1st 3.5 lbs in weight.

Recently, through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I determined to change my eating karma and lose weight. This declaration of intent was partly because of a second pulmonary embolism and the subsequent need to take anti-coagulants for the rest of my life – I am now on Warfarin.

For the uninitiated, Warfarin, as well as being rat poison, makes you bleed more easily. Ridiculously, since I have been on the medication, I have tripped and fallen three times (I can’t remember anything about the first fall now). It might be true to say that the Mystic Law intervened to protect me when I had the second two falls.

Fall number 2:

Because of my tablets, and because it makes me fat, I am told to drink only in moderation – well that should apply to us all but I’ve never been a great one for listening to advice on what is best for me. To paraphrase the doctor or at least to translate to something more acceptable to me: Ideally don’t drink, but if you must drink then don’t fall over.

The occasion was a funeral wake. The deceased was a lady of nearly 101 years, and her demise was not a shock so there wasn’t an enormous amount of sadness. We all sat in the garden, and the sun shone. Children played, wine flowed and I, who was ‘trying not to drink too much’, accepted a large glass of wine. Later I agreed to a top-up, and when a second top up was not forthcoming and the alcohol had its grip on me, I decided to help myself to a third glassful from the fridge in the kitchen (hangs head in shame).

I jumped from my garden chair and hastened to the doorway, whereupon I tripped on the threshold and pitched head first onto the kitchen floor. My glass shattered and everyone rushed to my assistance as I lay, winded and prone (prone to accidents, ha ha).

Be Careful What you Wish For
What else would I use as an image for spilt wine than my book cover? Click on it to buy it


This fall  was clearly intended by the Universe, to help in my quest to cut down on my drink. It did. I had the only big glass in the  house so I had to move on to a smaller one (boom, boom).  Also, I had forgotten to take my Warfarin the evening before so bleeding was not such a danger.

Fall number 3:

Since that fall and not because of it, I have joined Mince Monde. If you read this blog regularly you will know that I have run the gauntlet of diet writers and organisations since I was about 16, so I’m not going to reiterate my much repeated determination that this time it is for life. Anyway, my membership of the slimming organisation is free, thanks to my local NHS authority, who want to help the overweight for, I assume, preventative reasons. Not only have I received 12 weeks free at Mince Monde but am entitled to 3 free sessions with a personal trainer and reduced rates, at a local gym – also for 12 weeks.

Tried to find the source of this image. Thanks to this website and also this video maker Many thanks to its creator.

The gym was the scene of my next tumble. I started my exercise session on the cross trainer. After the recommended 5 minutes, and breathing a little more heavily,  I dismounted and headed for the weights. Sadly, I failed to notice a small step down from the area where the cross trainers and treadmills sat, and crashed to the floor. There was more concerned rushing to help, with suggestions that I sit for a while and drink water. ‘I’m absolutely fine,’ I insisted, oh my ego, and scuttled off towards the location of my next activity, round the corner, to examine the damage.

I had bashed my knee, and my shin had landed painfully on the edge of the step, but I was still standing. I did worry a bit about the potential size of the bruise, and the impact on my already over-worked knee. Amazingly, when tested the following day, my INR (clotting rate) had dropped to 1.8, too low. I had been protected again.

The most ignominious part of the above tale is that the following day, when my knee felt as though I should be a bit careful, I went to the pharmacy to buy a tubular support bandage. They had many sizes, the largest of which, was XL. I rolled it over the damaged joint and pulled down my trouser leg to cover it. Through the fabric could be seen the deep channel encircling my lower thigh, where the top of the bandage dug into the fat and, it has to be said, it was bl**dy uncomfortable. Many thanks to the staff at Windmill Pharmacy for letting me try it on then refunding my money. Oh well, this time next year Rodney…

I hadn’t made the connection before but I started falling over in November 2015, see this post. I think this was about the time when I had my varifocals upgraded because my eyesight had become significantly worse (sigh).

I insist that alcohol and age were not factors.

What I’d like to know is…

If I’m honest I’m looking for an excuse to be fat.

My issue is that there is so much information in the media about what is and is not good for us, but there are many exceptions to the rules. My grandfather for example, ate all the wrong things, took no exercise, was almost spherical and lived to a very ripe old age. Was he lucky or was there something that saved him that has never been noticed before?sue drunk small

I come from a long living family. All my grandparents drank with enthusiasm, sprinkled salt liberally onto their food, ate puddings, real butter and red meat, and still lived into their eighties and nineties and my parents are in their mid-eighties with an even greater enjoyment of all the above, especially the demon drink, and going strong. I however do not show signs of following the longevity trend. I have had asthma, a pulmonary embolism and suffer aches and pains in my back and hips that my mother assures me she never felt at my age.

This is what I want to know:

How do we quantify life expectancy? We know that smoking is a killer, we are also told that consuming alcohol, sugar, salt and fat, and being overweight contribute to risk, but I did the Atkins diet, very high in fat and I lost about four stone in weight. I was not overweight but I ate a lot of fat and no sugar. Was I still at risk?

If I gained weight on sugar, would it be worse than getting fat on butter and cream?

By Kosmos1985 at the German language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

If I am overweight but incredibly fit in the physical sense i.e. I can run a marathon and touch my toes, am I still at risk?

I searched for a fat runner but all I found was a fat caterpillar on a runner bean!

If I am skinny but live on biscuits and wine, how much more or less danger am I in than if I am overweight because I eat too much of a so called balanced diet?

All this is very hard to identify. The difficulty is that there are so many other influences on our lives such as stress, pollution, food intolerance and genes, that I suppose one could never find definitive answers, but I would love to see some decent statistics to support the information we are – if you’ll excuse the pun – fed.

Lemon Flan

This must be one of the easiest and most enjoyable puds in the world.

Thanks to for this picture of lemon flan.


  • 1/3 packet of digestive biscuits (dark chocolate ones are also good)
  • Third of a block of butter
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • Equal quantity of double cream. Use the tin to measure it out.
  • 2 lemons



  1. Put the biscuits into the food processor and blitz into crumbs, or put them in a sturdy plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin.
  2. Melt the butter gently in a large saucepan or a frying pan, then add the crumbs and turn and stir until the crumbs are coated with the butter.
  3. Press the crumb mix into a flan case about 8″ in diameter – or anything deepish and widish. Set aside to cool.
  4. Pour the condensed milk into a mixing bowl  then use the can to measure the cream and tip that on top of the ‘connie onnie’.
  5. Add the zest and juice of the lemons and stir everything tgether. The lemon juice will make the mixture thicken.
  6. When the base it cool, tip on the lemon mixture, smoothing the top, then cover and chill for a few hours in the fridge.
  7. Decorate with a swirl of cream, and poke in something pretty like chocolate curls, crystallized lemon or a sprig of mint.

Bish bash bosh.

Christmas Recipes

I’ve been asked to give recipes for the food I’m cooking this Christmas. There’s a lot of cream and butter here, but it is Christmas so here goes:

Caramel Panettone Pudding (Thanks to Waitrose Good Food Magazine). Serves 8

For the caramel

300g icing sugar

200ml hot water

For the pudding

175g pannetone

50g unsalted butter, softened

50g golden caster sugar

6 large eggs, well beaten

400ml whole milk

284ml double cream plus more to serve


Put sugar and water into a small heavy pan on a low heat and stir until the sugar is disolved

Turn up the heat and boil until a golden brown. It will take a while. For golden brown think hair colour, so, darkish but not auburn

Remove the pan from the heat and swish the syrup into a 1.5 Litre oven proof dish, preferably a lasagne shaped one. As it cools, keep moving the dish to coat the sides with the thickening caramel.

Preheat oven 160C. Gas 3, fan 140C


Remove the dark brown bottom crust of the pannetone and cut it into 1 cm thick slices. Butter one side of each slice and lay them in a single layer onto the caramel, buttered side up.


Beat the sugar and eggs in a large bowl until thickened.

Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan until beginning to fizz round the edge, then pour onto the egg mixture and stir to combine

Pour this custard over the Panettone, pressing the slices into the liquid. Soak for 10 minutes.


On middle oven shelf for 55 – 60 mins or until just set. Will shiver when gently shaken but will continue to set as cooling.

Rest 30 minutes before serving with cream. (Despite this instruction I’m going to serve mine chilled)


Marzipan and Mincemeat Apples

This is the recipe I have but actually I’m going to peel and core the apples whole and cook them in the oven, drizzled with cider. I don’t yet know how long this will take or what it will be like but I’ll report back after Christmas.

2 medium Bramley apples

3 oz marzipan

8 tbsp mincemeat

finely grated zest and juice of a small lemon


Cut the apples in half across the core and remove the cores

Stand them in a microwave safe dish

Break the marzipan into small chunks and mix with the mincemeat and lemon zest

Spoon into the centre of the apples and pour over the lemon juice,

Cover dish with cling film

pierce all over

microwave on high for 4.5 minutes

Remove the cling film and leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving with whipped cream, crème fraiche and/or brandy or rum butter – Delia’s is fantastic.

NB. It’s 18th January and I haven’t made this yet. The cooking apples are still in the fridge. I seriously over-catered this year and the neighbours have benefited.


Ice Cream Christmas Pudding (serves 8 – 10)

I usually do Delia’s, from her Christmas book, but this seemed much easier, and I find the coconut cream in Delia’s a bit overpowering.


450g jar vegetarian, suet free mincemeat. (I’ve got ordinary, hope it will be OK)

3 tbsp rum or brandy – or any spirit that takes your fancy

4 eggs separated

300ml double cream

100g caster sugar


Line a 2L pudding basin with cling film. Mix together the mincemeat and the (Christmas) spirit.

Place the yolks in a small bowl and mix until smooth

Whisk the cream to soft peaks

Using an electric, grease free mixer and bowl, beat the egg whites until so stiff they will stay in the bowl when you hold it upside down.

With the mixer still on high, add the sugar a teaspoonful at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time

Fold the egg yolks and cream into the meringue, then the mincemeat mixture.

Turn the whole thing into the pudding basin, cover and freeze overnight.

To Serve

Dip the dish into hot water and turn onto a plate.

Serve with toffee sauce, or any sauce you fancy really. I might be tempted to do port sauce, a mixture of port, maple syrup and cream – mix to taste.



Maple and Walnut Parfait (Not sure how many it serves)

I love the way recipes make you think of the person who gave them to you. Their writing remains on the page long after they have passed away.

This recipe was given to me by Maggie Leach, a formidable lady to whom I gave PC lessons. She was completely unafraid of the machine – occasionally a bit too gung-ho if I’m completely honest. She also gave me a beautiful stone she had made, with a picture of a rabbit on it.


60g walnuts or pecans

1 egg white and a pinch of salt

200ml maple syrup

240ml double cream


Roughly chop the nuts

Heat maple syrup to boiling

Whisk egg whites with salt (no grease within spitting distance)

Still whisking, gradually pour in the very hot maple syrup. Continue whisking until you have a thick, stiff meringue. Leave to cool.

Beat the cream until stiff and fold it into the cooled maple meringue.

Fold in the chopped nuts and spoon into a dish


transfer to the fridge for half an hour to soften before serving



Cold Dawg

Thanks to Mrs Plyma for this one. Another wonderful old lady, sadly gone, who would chat to me in her refined voice, over the counter of my delicatessen shop in Sheep Country.


8oz Caster sugar

2 eggs

tbsp coffee powder – not granuals

pinch salt

a little rum (optional)

packet of morning coffee biscuits

8 oz of block creamed coconut


Melt the creamed coconut and remove from heat

Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy

Add the coffee and cocoa powders, rum, salt and lastly the melted creamed coconut block. Mix well intill thickened.

Line a 1 lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper and put in a layer of biscuits, cutting to fit.

Pour in a layer of chocolate mixture and continue in layers, finishing with a biscuit layer. I usually use 5 layers of biscuits in all (Mrs Plyma’s words)

Refrigerate overnight.

Serve in thin slices.



Something savoury now:

Julia Child’s Chicken Liver Parfait (Julia Child is not someone I had the privilege to meet but I’m sure she was as driven as the other women)

2 Cups of chicken livers

2 tbsp minced shallots (actually I used onions)

2 tbsp butter

1/3 cup cognac

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp pepper

pinch of thyme

1/ cup melted butter

grinding salt and pepper


Trim greenish or blackish spots and sinews from the livers and cut them into 1/2″ pieces

Melt butter over a medium heat in a saute pan until foam has subsided. Saute livers and onions in butter for – 3 minutes until the livers are just stiffened but still pink in the middle. Scrape into blender jar

Pour the cognac into the pan and boil until it has reduced to 3 tablespoons. Scrape it into the blender jar.

Add in the cream and seasonings and whiz until the liver is a smooth paste.

Add the melted butter – if you are using a food processor you can pour it in down the funnel.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Bear in mind that the flavours will be less strong when the pate is chilled.

Pack into a bowl, cover with cling film and chill for 2 – 3 hours or overnight

You could top with clarified butter or aspic jelly once cold or if you were feeling energetic you could top with Julia’s…

Cognac Jelly

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp unflavoured gelatine

1/ tsp sugar

1/2 cup dry vermouth

2 tsp cognac


Place 1/4 cup warm water in a ramekin, sprinkle on gelatine and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan heat vermouth and sugar over a medium low heat for about 5 minutes

Once the gelatine has softened, add the rest of the hot water and stir until mixture is clear.

Add the gelatine to the wine mixture and mix thoroughly.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add cognac. Let the mixture stand until it almost reaches room temperature.

Once it has cooled, pour over the chilled mousse.

Return the mousse to the fridge and chill until the gelee has set.