Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

New Years Resolutions

2010 was a year of changes. The biggest changes came from me changing my work as well as us changing the country and continent where we live, but along the big changes there were also a lot of other small things that changed. I purged a lot from my life (mainly in the form of foods); I reduced my drinking, I ate less sweets and sugars, I stopped drinking coffee, I reduced my intake of white flour and fast foods, I stopped drinking diet sodas…

I also added a lot to my life (partly in the form of foods and partly in the form of adding new habits to my life); I started walking 30mins almost every morning thanks to Sofia, I started eating linseed/beepollen/fresh fruits/protein powder, I started sleeping at least 8hrs each night, I started drinking lots more tea, I started working my lats more (pullups!), I started working on my emotional responses to everything that happens as well as dealing with frustration in a more productive way… The list goes on and on and on.

Change can be difficult and possibly much less fun than just sticking to what you know and enjoy, but it can also be very rewarding as you see how well you do and how well you feel following the implementation of the changes. Most change comes from yourself and from within, you have to want to change, which I guess I did since I managed to include so much into my past year. But most of all Id like to thank my lovely J for all the support he has given me in going through with it all. x Anyways, here is my list of new years resolutions for 2011:

1. Eat Clean

Eating well and with the aim of eating as healthily as possibly will be my top goal this year. This resolution gets the first position since it is almost like the main idea from which a lot of my other resolutions have arisen from and in the end this resolution will help me achieve many of my other resolutions.

During the last two quarters of 2010 I have been massively inspired by Oxygen Magazine as well as Tosca Reno‘s ideas about eating clean, so this year I finally feel ready to grab the bull by its horns and to finally start to eat according to her advice. I will start slowly, doing my first week of clean eating from the 10th January till the 17th January to see how it goes. If it goes well Ill keep going for another week but adjusting for any learnings and improvements I have found during my first week of clean eating.

If all this goes well I will do two more weeks of clean eating in February and a full month of it during March 2011 in order to celebrate the month when I turn 30!

2. Cooking more

In order to support my clean eating I want to cook more. I want to reduce my intake of preservatives, sugars and food additives, chemicals and colorants in general and clean up my diet. I have already started slowly with this, Ive made my own strawberry jam last year but want to make papaya jam and try making a chutney as well this year. I havent yet tried making my own cordial but that is also on the list of things to do this year.

3. Handicrafts Galore

I started knitting again last year, and I really want to keep this up. I am currently knitting a bedspread (yes that’s right, I started with a “small” project – a 1.2m x 1.8m bedspread…) but Id like to make myself a knitted scarf as well by the end of this year. Something to keep here at work for moments when the air conditioning goes mad..

Id also like to buy an electronic sewing machine… I am not yet 100% sure what I would do with it, but I think all that would dawn on me as soon as I got one… So gotta keep my eyes on Craigslist to see if I could find a cheap one on there. I also want to go to more garage sales and flee markets this year. Didnt manage many last year, and I bet Costa Rica is full of treasures…

4. Keeping Fit

This goal is divided up in to three separate sections: Light, Medium, Hard. Just to keep me challenged throught the year.. ๐Ÿ™‚ Having been inspired by Jacqueline Kothbauer’s goal of 150 work out sessions a year, I have also tried to set up quantifiable goals so I can actually properly make myself accountable for my actions… Let me run through them one at a time:

Light: A 30 minute morning walk five days a week (preferably mon – fri) will be my aim for all this year. That means 260 tmies 30 minutes. Maybe a bit ambitious but my little lovely doggy Sofia will definitely support this resolution! Any extra weekend walks will be a bonus (both for me and for Sofia!)

Medium: I will try to go to the gym five times a week as well for a minium of 30 mins. I havent decided yet how this 30 mins will be divided up between aerobic exercise and weights training, but I definitely need to add more weights to my sessions this year. I would ideally like to be able to do 10 pull ups by the end of the year (I can currently do about 1 and 2 semi ones or three semi ones or.. well you get the point, not that many) and to do 3 x 12 sets of proper sit ups (properly using and targeting my “dead zone” as my pilates teacher calls it).

Hard: Put all this together and use my improving fitness level to surf better. (And hopefully also dance a bit.. The hard part with that will be finding a place where I can practice my belowed Salsa en Linia over here.) I would also like to lower my fat percentage.. I just need to find out what my current one is and then burn fat to reach my ideal level (which I assume will be around 15%)

5. Improving my Patience

This one is a difficult one. Then again, I have already improved it massively during this year and I think I am definitely better at it now than I was even just a year ago. But I want to be even less influenced by external factors and not allow them to stress me, frustrate me or make me feel like I have “ants in my pants”..

6. Heirloom Gardening

I want to do much more gardening this year. And I really have to remember to water my plants twice a day instead of my miserable “every now and then” strategy that has been predominant over the last few months.

Really got to change that if I want to actually get any tomatoes from my poor dry plants on the terrace. (I might post a picture later on of what they look like now.. Just to turn the usual idea of before – after pictures on its head)

Anyhow, this year I want to get my hands on some Heirloom Seeds (as well as a proper gardener hat like this guy has in the image from Rare Seeds) and plant real vegetables, mainly tomatoes and zucchinis. Yum, yum, yum!

(This resolution is actually just a way to practice before doing it on a bigger scale once I have a little farm…)

7. Improve and excel at work

This year I want to be able to show great numbers from my work. The first year I feel has just flown by and I dont really feel I have had the time to properly perform, mainly since everything has just been kicked off, its been slow to begin with, we havent had the right partners to work with etc. But this year I want to be able to show great KPIs from my work and to really begin to build up my professional reputation over here.

And I think I should stop here, otherwise a year wont be enough for all of my ambitous goals and plans, and most importantly I do want to leave something up to chance and let life surprise me.

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Home Made Lasagna

Home made lasagna (with a tiny bit of help from Gordon Ramsay)

Today I made a delicious lasagna (with a tiny bit of help from Gordon Ramsay..) The reason for this outburst of the kitchen goddess in me came from the fact that I want to keep my food costs down while at the same time eat more healthily and basically know what I put in me. I found the recipe on Channel 4’s website under Gordon Ramsay and simply modified it slightly to fit my purpose, i.e. adding many more vegetables for nutritional benefits, crushed linseed for fiber and beans as an added source of protein next to the ground beef.

My modifications to the recipe means that this will now feed a Costa Rican family of about 10 people instead of just feeding the typical UK family of a measly 4..

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled (half grated half chopped)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled (grated)
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 600g minced beef
  • Half a courgette (in thin slices)
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tbsp Hot Chilli sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Crushed red pepper
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 50ml milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

  • 50g butter
  • 50g flour
  • 500ml milk
  • 150g Random Costa Rican cheese, grated
  • 6 sheets of ‘non-cook’ lasagne sheets

Method: How to make Linda’s Lasagne ๐Ÿ™‚

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/ gas mark 7.

2. Heat the olive oil in a hot pan. Grate the onion and carrot and add some garlic salt before frying together. Season with a pinch of oregano, Hot chilli sauce, crushed red pepper and a little salt and pepper. Allow the onion to soften before making a well in the centre of the pan. Place the mince in the middle of the pan and stir to break it up. Mix the tomato passata with the black beans, add the mixture little by little while letting the sauce simmer. Continue until all the meat has browned nicely. Leave to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Finally add the milk, turn off the heat and set aside.

3. To make the cheese sauce, first melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and using a wooden spoon, stir to form a paste. Over a gentle heat add a third of the milk, whisking to prevent any lumps forming. Add the rest of the milk a third at a time, whisking as you go. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Allow the sauce to cook out for another minute before adding the Cheddar cheese. Stir and remove from the heat.

4. Spoon half of the meat sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and place pasta sheets on top (break the sheets if necessary to avoid any overlapping). Next, pour in just under half of the cheese sauce, and spread evenly using a spatula before spooning the remaining meat on top. Add the sliced courgettes and the thinly sliced peppers so they form a layer on top of the white sauce. Add the final layer of pasta and use the spatula to pour over the remaining cheese sauce.

5. Finish with the grated Parmesan and sprinkle with another pinch of oregano. Add a light seasoning of salt and pepper before cleaning the edges of the dish and placing in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

YUMMY! ๐Ÿ™‚ And yay for making it all by myself!

And the home made lasagna is finally ready!

My Pineapple Plant!

Our new pineapple plant, Costa RicaYesterday J got me a fantastic Pineapple Plant! Since I haven’t managed to take a picture of it yet, you will have to make do with this one I found on the internet. I promise to change it as soon as I take one of the real thing. (change done ๐Ÿ™‚ my plant on the left, stand in image on the right)

But how mad is this plant! I have never seen one before, so I am pretty enchanted by it. Apparently it takes about 2-3 years for a plant to bear fruit, so I have to say that I am pretty pleased that EPA had done most of that work for me pre purchase and I can just jump straight into being the proud owner of a fruit bearing plant (even if the fruit is just a small pineapple at the moment). I do wonder how long it will take for it to become 2kg of delicious fruit so I can use it in my morning shake?

So as you can see, my little private Garden of Eden is flourishing. I made a few small mistakes with the Coriander, so that’s gone, and I really need to learn more about my Aloe plant as its looking a bit soggy at the moment (too much water?), but my basil is almost 1metre high and the thyme is a true conquistador of space and already in need of its own flower pot I think. Its so much fun to see how all these plants seem to adore our terrace with its abundance of sunshine and rain.

This weekend we also picked up some seeds so that we can start growing some vegetables from scratch. I have high hopes that the tomato, coriander (I decided to give the coriander another chance), spinach, squash and carrot seeds will like their new home and provide me and J with some delicious ingredients for my next vegetable quiches. (Already got the mini quiche oven forms sorted, now I just need the ingredients to start growing..)

Elderflower Cordial

Making Elderflower CordialI have the most insane craving for Elderflower cordial going on at the moment. I wonder if it is a sign of the times, i.e. Scandinavian Midsummer isย justย around the corner and I know Elderflower cordial will feature on a lot of lovely dinner tables this coming weekend. And I must say, I am slightly jealous of this.

Then again, I guess nothing is stopping me from having my own little midsummer treat over here. If you cannot go to the Finnish Midsummer, you can always bring Finnish Midsummer to you! Well, this works for most things, except for the Elderflower Cordial.

I have been reading up on this and would love to try making some. Unfortunately I have NO idea where I could find some Elderflowers around here, but rest assured that I will have a snoop around to see if I find some and if I do then nothing will stop me from whipping up some delicious nectar of the gods (i.e. Elderflower Cordial… ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Alternatively, I might have to grow some, but that would mean no cordial until much, much later…

But in the mean time, while I keep looking, please do let me know if anyone has some good tips and tricks how to make a delicious Elderflower Cordial…