Tag Archives: Drinks

How can Italians stay slim?

5 Aug

I’ve just returned from a weeks sojourn in Southern Italy, staying in Sorrento and visiting the wonderful island of Capri. We were surrounded by incredible scenery and very rich and beautiful people. We also ate a lot of amazing Italian food.

In fact I did little more than indulge in all of my favourite things – pasta, pizza, Peroni, Prosecco, panini and other things beginning with P – for the full seven days. And of course throw in the odd Insalata Caprese which is hardly a salad really when it is served up with huge succulent pillowy mozzarella balls the size of my fist.

italy

 (This is a litre of lager, I could have drowned a puppy in it)

It got me thinking though as I shovelled yet more delicious, perfectly made (moist yet crunchy) pizza into my mouth how did all of the Italians surrounding me manage to stay so damn slim when every restaurant table groaned with baskets of bread and bottles of scrumptious olive oil before you’d even opened a menu?

Of course I realise that Italian people don’t always eat what we believe to be ‘Italian food’ – same as the lovely Chinese family I used to work for never ate the takeaway food they sold – but there’s just so much of it and it’s just so good.

But I did come home with a little theory, I am so stuffed with delicious carbs that after a week of it I felt like I wanted nothing more than to eat just green leaves for the rest of my life. In fact if I ever see another pizzeria again it will be too soon. Maybe I’ve started to think more Italian, yes it’s great eating but not for every day right?

italy1(the view from a local restaurant, made me want to eat more)

 

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Beating the Bloat with Beer. Really!

30 Nov

20131130-125524.jpgI don’t drink enough beer, not because I don’t want to, believe me I do – sometimes nothing sounds more appetising than ‘do you fancy a pint?’ –  no it’s because I end up looking six months pregnant after just a half. Sadly all lagers and beers leave me bloated and gassy and miserable.

I obviously go on enough about my problem with some foodstuffs because traditional brewers St Peter’s Brewery kindly sent me samples of their new gluten free beer (or ‘G-Free’) to try out.

I’m not allergic to gluten, or probably even intolerant, it’s just sometimes wheaty things make me glow up like a balloon, but I know there are some out there for whom gluten is a real problem. So a decent beer free from the stuff is probably a very good thing right!?

G-Free is an award winning light ale, with a slight lager like fizz and very quaffable (which I believe is a technical term?) and G-Free Dark is more of your manly, bitter stuff – so I gave it to my husband. Both taste no different from the beers you’d buy yourself and happily I drank two bottles of G-Free with no bloating, no really, none. And with a curry too!

So, honestly, if you’re a bit like me and tend to lay off the beers if you want to wear a tight dress without folks giving up their seat for you on the bus then maybe give these a go instead.

Also – bonus – totally darling bottles!

20131130-125548.jpg

Mother’s Ruined!

13 Mar

Well after last weeks exposé on the terrible dishes I serve to my son, I myself was served this for Mother’s Day on Sunday:
BE-680CCYAA-3BEIsn’t it wonderful? Laden with gifts and gorgeous food, beautifully presented and thoughtful. Boy did I feel small, it’s a far cry from hotdogs on a plate right?
OK he had some help from his dad but still… sheepish mother must

Is all? Pink dead herbal click stating mascara smoother link lasted for now

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try harder with her presentation.
And yes that is a room service bell – I was allowed to use it all day for cups of tea any time I liked. I know.

But my favourite gift had to be this little beauty:
mugAin’t that the truth!?

Hope all you mums got to ring your own bells this weekend x

A Deluxe Delivery

13 Feb

Look, here’s a nice idea. Treat your foodie self and do good all at the same time…
Order a box from DeluxeBite and not only do you get to try out different gourmet foods every month but they’ll donate a meal to a hungry family (via UK foodbanks) at the same time. Win, win.

It’s like a posher version of the fruit and veg box, but one that helps you to try out foodstuffs you wouldn’t ordinarily buy yourself, and I love being prompted to try new things, as you know I am a great kitchen experimenter (Is that a word?).   Everything is from artisan, independent or local food brands (which gives them much needed exposure) and not as expensive as you might think.

My box contained some beautiful sauces and chutney, great coffee, a big venison chorizo and fruit crisps all beautifully packaged, but of course every month would be different. It was great fun and I loved getting my box, it elicited plenty of oohs and aahs from the family! Look:
Box

Just so you know: I was sent a sample box from DeluxeBite for free but was under no obligation to write this post and for which I have received no payment. I hope you enjoyed reading it. x

Festive Excess and Unsuccess

6 Jan

I admitted last year that I didn’t really enjoy mince pies, Christmas pudding, Yule Log and the like, the family don’t either. But I still buy them every year. And every year we try to get through them because… why? Because we think we have to? Because we won’t be festive without them? Because it’s not Christmas unless you have some mince pies handy for unexpected guests (of which we get none)? So I dutifully fill the house with boxes of stuff we won’t eat and don’t even like.

I have a terrible fear of missing out, of not trying something I feel I should and I inflict this on my family. Someone mentioned Cherries in Brandy on Twitter and decided that I must have some.
Could I find them? No! And it burned. I tried everywhere, my husband drove me to farm shops and delicatessens all over Sussex for my search. Even on Christmas Eve I was still asking hopefully in every shop I went into (the card shop in Shoreham were slightly surprised by my request). I’ve not even tried them, I don’t drink Brandy and cherries make my mouth itch so what was I thinking?

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One Year On… A Poem!

21 Aug

So Alice Can’t Cook is one year old.
It’s the first birthday of my blog and if I may be so bold?
I shall celebrate with a rhyme or three…
Remembering the best and worst of my cookery

So I’ve served raw eggs to an unborn baby
Made a risotto so solid it could have plastered a wall, maybe
My roasted vegetables just won’t roast
But now and again I can have a bit of a boast

My self-imposed Veg Box Challenge was really trying
The hideous shrunken-head celeriac had me crying
I created some fruit compote that ended up in the sink
And a toxic hummous that kicked up a stink

Jamie Oliver’s Fritters won the vote but still got burnt
I’ve been a student but still haven’t learnt
There has been SO much trouble with eggs and rice
But thankfully I have a failsafe dish that usually turns out quite nice

Toad in the Hole nearly burnt the kitchen down
And even an easy kids recipe made me frown
A slimy festive turkey had me skidding across the floor
But my Christmas kit cakes had them crying out for more

Just don’t talk to me about curry!
I either make it like soup or a nasty slurry
My pretend birthday cakes reveal me to be a bad mother
But this years castle creation has made me think not to bother!

I’ve made my dog sick and my son scream
But weirdly my really difficult salmon dish turned into a dream
In the past year I’ve laughed and I’ve cried
I’ve served crap food but still no one has died.
Thanks for reading this year, for all your helpful comments and the laughs!
Alice Can’t Cook (still)…
But She’s Getting Better x

Not Fit For Student Consumption

31 Jan

I’ve always been a rubbish cook. My student days were a nightmare.

Those cheap, tasty meals that needed to be created from scratch and the out-of-date packets of lentils you had in the shared food cupboard were totally beyond me. I used to spend the meagre amount I allowed myself for food on the most disgusting items that meant I didn’t need to cook.

My student housemates and I used to regularly dine on things like:

  • Turkey On A Stick – a hot, moulded meat lollipop from the local takeaway and as disgusting as it sounds
  • Brim – some kind of coffee substitute, basically brown powder that was so hideous we called it ‘Grim’
  • Swede Surprise – mashed swede, the surprise was the time my housemate Richard could afford some carrot to bolster it up
  • Tiny bottles of Snowball – out of date by a year and would flop out of the bottle like an alcoholic omelette

There were some months I was so out of pocket I used to have to wait for my boyfriend to come and visit me on at the weekend so I could actually eat. He (also quite skint) would leave me on a Monday morning with a fiver and a packet of fags that would have to last me until he arrived again the next Friday.

I still managed to keep up my Chinese food love affair but by only ever ordering one portion of egg fried rice at a time, that would be picked up on the way home from the pub (yes pints of cheap lager came before eating obviously) and eaten reverently. If there was no money for Chinese then Richard used to microwave cheese sandwiches for us, mopping melted cheese off the kitchen surfaces with the wafer thin bread – which meant they were usually served up covered in rolling tobacco and mouse droppings.

Considering how poor and useless we were we could be rather cavalier with our approach to food sometimes. Our beloved housemate Daniel once treated himself to some real butter. The rest of us were perturbed and decided to dye it green to teach him a lesson. We dosed it with green food dye and carefully put it back. He gamefully continued to use it without saying a word, to teach us a lesson back. Looked amazing spread on toast!

And we once had a chicken pie in the broken freezer (some days it worked, some days it didn’t) for so long that when we took it out to cook it, it was entirely black. We were distraught, that pie had cost over TWO POUNDS and had been saved up as a treat!

We often tried to cook a ‘house meal’ that we’d all contribute to and share. This usually involved the vegetarians making tasteless casseroles using Quorn chunks in gravy granules or the meat-eaters grilling (yes grilling because the oven didn’t work quick enough) frozen turkey thighs from the budget freezer store that were SO massive they looked like a bodybuilder’s biceps and were never cooked properly. It’s a surprise none of us were ever ill.

Especially as we had a terrible rat infestation in one house. Our cooker didn’t have a back panel so they used to sleep in it at night – leaving their little ratty footprints in the inch thick grease – then we’d use it the next day. The rats would swarm up an exposed pipe and decamp into the shared bathroom, milling around under the bath so you could hear them scratching about as you crouched gingerly in the tub. (But this was marginally better than another house we lived in where the mouldy floorboards became so bad that the bathroom ceiling fell through to lounge below, meaning we had to wash in the room that opened on to our back alley and anyone who came in the door to visit)

I once tried to make a Chinese Soup for some visitors when I was staying in my boyfriend’s student house (exactly the same as my student house but with less girls and more beer), the recipe indicated that I needed some kind of vinegar, obviously an Oriental rice wine or white variety was called for but I had no idea such things existed and used the bottle of malt brown that was available. I heated this up with water, onions (we didn’t have any spring onions) some tofu (which disintegrated) and probably nothing else. I basically served up hot vinegar with onions in it. I remember the exquisitely sour face our visitor pulled as she gamely sipped on a spoonful before casting it aside.

Or there was the time we made a pudding. When I left home I took some items to put into my student food cupboard, most unusual of this was a coloured blancmange mix, it had come from a harvest festival I had attended at school so you can imagine how old it was? Anyway this came with me from halls to every student house I lived in. One night we decided to make it. The yellowing powder didn’t mix too well with the milk and settled into a gelatinous mass in the bowl, we left it out on the side to see what would happen to it. After a night drinking we returned to our ‘pudding’, the middle had puffed up into a fermented warm bubble! We watched with a horrid fascination as it slowly sagged down into an off-colour depression. We kept it for days as a kind of house pet, daring and betting each other to eat it. It was dubbed ‘The Tepid Paunch’ because it looked like a flabby tummy.

But the meal we reminisce about the most has to be ‘Milk & Peas’. I’d splashed out on some beef mince to try and make a proper meal for the house using a big casserole dish. I had no idea what ingredients went with what but I knew that onions and peas went with meat to make a stew? I wasn’t sure how to make a sauce but thought that by adding milk to the mixture it would thicken up and become creamy. Of course without flours or fats or anything resembling ingredients I could create nothing more than mince and peas boiled in milk. Which is what I made.

Bar some tentative mouthfuls the milky mince was never eaten but left in its big dish in the back garden until we moved out. It was still there when we left. It could still be there! I am sure it’s thickened up by now?

But we moved on, we moved out, we passed and failed our exams, more importantly none of us died.
Daniel became a restaurant manager and Richard has a successful East End pub. Neither has ever served A Tepid Paunch (much to my disappointment). But then neither has ever poisoned a customer.
And I am still a rubbish cook. All those years studying and I have learnt nothing….

(NOTE: Posted on Richard’s birthday, and the birth day of his first child! Congratulations honey. The three of us all still great friends…)

For more on what went on in our student house have a look at this ghostly post!

Mulling over a Merry Christmas

24 Dec

This is what is happening in my house right now!
Prepping sprouts and making mulled wine.

Not sure how I managed to get it up the wall, but I have.

I’m not convinced I really like either but for some reason you just have to have them right?

I also don’t really like mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, yule log, brandy sauce, turkey or chestnuts. But for some reason I eat them too.

Merry Christmas, and thank you so much for reading this year! You’ll be glad to know I have plenty more cooking catastrophes to share with you…

Alice Can’t Cook x

Up the apples & pears…

25 Sep

Here is some beautiful fruit bought today from a local Apple Fair we attended. Lots of different apples and a couple of pears. As we were there we thought we had better come home with something!

I started having thoughts of trying to attempt a fruit crumble or even a tarte tatin, but then remembered I couldn’t cook. But I managed to get my son excited about making some of our own juice. Which we did, using a rather big, expensive, silver juicer I bought years ago to try out one of those restrictive diets where you only drink juiced fruit and vegetables for a week. After having completed that I haven’t used it again since. I was glad to see it still worked!

We pooled all of our fruit and set about juicing… well how hard can it be? Happily we managed to get about a pint together until I started to get complacent and flashy and added some unripe nectarines into the mix. I drank it but now my tummy is feeling a bit itchy.

Oh well.

For more about Apple Day at Stanmer Park, Sussex have a look here:

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