Red Tomato’s

redtomatos

Introducing the tomato.

It comes in many shapes, sizes and colours but it’s best known wearing a red coat and whether or not you believe it to be part of the vegetable family or fruit, it has graced our plates and tables for many years.

So why have I chosen to feature our red friend?  Well,  I’ll tell you.

Life was simple, free and easy growing up in the states during the 70’s and as a kid, I had the pleasure of regularly visiting farmer’s markets and helping my brother and later on my parent’s tend to an extensive and beautiful vegetable garden in the heart of Northern Maine, New England.

At a very early age, I remember my father bringing home his favourite plum tomato’s and eating them like candy.  They were bright red, shiny and were still attached to their vine with soft and fragrant leaves. It’s hard to explain the scent but I guess they smelled like sweet earth to me. I loved them and they were easy to pop in your mouth.

“Where’s the beef?”  Beefsteak tomato’s… now this one is the Daddy of all tomato’s!  As much as I’d like to say my first experience of this meaty fruit was in New York, I will hold my hand’s up and admit that New Jersey at that time had the best! (sorry fellow New Yorka’s)

Now this is one that can ONLY be enjoyed 2 ways:

  1. cut in half, salted and eaten like an apple
  2. Sliced thick and served on a juicy burger

My summer’s spent in Maine as a child were magical. It was like camping,  an adventure of sorts and it helped me to appreciate nature and the simplistic life. What kid wakes up in the morning, picks tomato’s, green beans and sweet peas off of their vine’s and eats them quite happily whilst walking through a maze of blooms to reach a babbling brook only steps away?  It was me and I am grateful.

There’s a bit more to this story, which was the motivation for this post.  Moving to Northern UK was a culture shock for me in the beginning and I had to adjust to many differences, mainly food.   My first tomato experience here was completely different.

Entering the quite reputable kebab take-away… so you can probably gather that I’m pretty darn passionate about food in general.  “What would you like on your kebab Miss?”  “Oh, I’d like tomato, lettuce, onions and whatever else you have in the way of salad please.”  I got home and opened the carefully wrapped package.  Orange?? These tomato’s are orange.  My husband (who is not entirely passionate about food in general) replied, “what’s wrong with that?”

My reply: “Everything darling, just everything.”

Advertisements

Its a matter of taste

june-july-holiday-2007-central-park-west-side.jpg

Okay, so I love pretty much ALL food, but I was curious to see if a national Thai food chain in my local area met the standards of the London branch I visited over a year ago.  My friend who also loves to dine went with me on a Wednesday evening, which we thought was a nice change to the weekend rush.

We decided to take our time and enjoy the full experience by ordering all courses and started with 2 appetisers and a bottle of wine to share.  The wine chosen was a light and medium dry rose, which had a mild citrusy flavour and was very smooth.  (We didn’t want to offend the other flavours)

Starters were next to arrive and we felt that they almost arrived too quickly…. we chose a plate of fried Asian greens in a soy, garlic and ginger sauce and steamed chicken gyoza dumplings with a mild but sweet dipping sauce.  After drinking a half a glass of wine, our taste buds were ready for the next experience.

First let me make something clear….  I love to cook and experiment quite often however; I am not an executive chef or culinary wizard by any means but my palate is sensitive and I appreciate good food, nice flavours and pleasing textures.

My take on starter 1: stir-fried greens in sauce-that’s about it… swimming in sauce and dare I say micro waved or re-heated?  The veggies were still firm and still had their natural juices when you bit into them but the SAUCE… why use so much when the veggies are happy enough being themselves?  A drizzle maybe to add dimension to the dish… we had no idea what to do with all of that sauce at the end… and it wasn’t steaming or sizzling when it arrived.

Starter number 2: steamed dumplings, kind of my favourite Asian appetiser in the states, so I was excited and awaited its arrival.  If you’ve never had them before, their skin (for the lack of a better description) is like ravioli pasta but thicker.  It should arrive plump and hot (or very warm and moist) on the outside and the juices from the filling should be slightly dripping onto the serving plate.  When you first bite into it, the flavours and filling should explode in your mouth and deliver an enjoyable mmmmm reaction. The consistency and texture should be non-offensive. If you have to ask, “Should it taste like this” during the first bite, it is not up to scratch. Can you tell I like dumplings? (please note, photo link is how it should be)

OUR dumplings were small and the skin was too thick, rubbery (micro waved) and lacking moistness and filling. They were also a little oily, which kind of leads me to believe that they were fried first, and then re-heated.  No taste explosion and no mmmmmmmmm.

Main course……….

Pad Thai, I love this dish because the noodles are flat and light, unlike typical Italian pasta dishes. My favourite part aside from the noodle is the sprinkling of peanuts amongst the blend of spicy, sour and sweet fresh herbs. When it arrived, it looked okay but my first reaction was, “where’s the peanuts?”

The dish looked a little lack-lustre and dry, but okay…. here I go dipping my fork in to test it out and… Hmm… it had that slightly tart taste, which it should have and the noodles were cooked well (almost slightly sticky) It looked like Pad Thai, but sadly was a little dry.  My friend’s expression was the same as mine… perplexed.  My friend suggested that we ask for a little extra sauce, so it arrived and we drizzled and tossed, until it started to resemble what we were expecting.  It was better.  The textures were up to standard I would say, sticky and light noodles with the traditional sprinkling of fresh Thai herbs and little crunchy bits with the sauce absorbing nicely into each bite.

Desert and grand finale

mochi

We were curious about Mochi and there were a few of them to choose from, so we decided to order the “mix it up” assorted plate.   Mochi’s are little balls of flavoured ice cream wrapped in sticky rice and served with various sweet sauces. We were slightly excited because we had never tried this, hence a new experience was about to happen!

Here we go… first one Coconut…I found it strange when I first bit into it. The coconut flavour was really prominent and creamy but the sticky outside consistency was almost like Turkish delight, chewy and slightly slimy. The ice cream dissolved in your mouth to leave you chewing the coating for a moment longer. It was different and we were intrigued.  So we tried the next flavour-Raspberry… our palettes were not surprised any longer and this one was more enjoyable and must have been made with real raspberries because we began to crunch on the little seeds as the ice cream melted in our mouths. Final stop… sesame.  These were slightly different and had both the flavour of sesame on the inside and seeds on the outside rolled within the rice.   We finished our meal with a piping hot mug of green tea.

I must admit, we enjoyed our experience even though it didn’t meet our expectations however; it was a taste experience and I can now admit I’m a Mochi fan.

Thank you very Mochi for reading

Hands-on  🙂

I really want_____

stars

It’s a big world out there but somehow, somewhere there is a place for you.  Maybe you’ve just left school or haven’t decided which job or course is for you….perhaps your family is asking you to decide what you’re going to do now?  You need a place….

Where that place is, can ONLY be found by you.  Yes, I’m saying YOU.. the ones who are not sure what they want to do,  who to ask, how to do it or what to do when you get there.

What’s next?  <<<< cool video (at least I hope so)

Do you get it?  You can be anything you set you mind to.. you just need to do a few things to get there:

  1. Think about what you like (maybe even go on-line and look stuff up)
  2. Know what you CAN do
  3. If you need more help, ask for it
  4. Prove yourself to those that are able to help you
  5. Don’t give up (It’s your life and your future)
  6. Ask questions! No one knows everything
  7. Present yourself differently than you do with your friends (you know, your “good clothes” not hanging out with friends or going out clothes)
  8. Don’t be too hard on yourself.. we all had to start somewhere

So maybe you’ve liked what I’ve said so far or maybe you’re not sure…

I’ll leave you with some stuff to get you started and please, take my advice.. I really want to be one of those people whom you’ve never met that perhaps you can thank one day.

First job-cv-template

There, I hope this helps.

Keeping it short, but keeping it real.

Hands-on

Listen to your mother

I’m switching tactics here, following one of my earlier   posts entitled “Food Glorious Food.”

Diet’s, healthy eating, fitness programmes.. they are there to help us right?  One size fits all… I have learned that this is not the way to approach weight loss and become a healthier you.  I’m no expert by any means but the fact is…everyone is different.

Over the course of my life, I have tried numerous plans, pills and potions, which were advertised to “give you your ideal body” in so many weeks, months etc.  Back then I believed every word however; now that I’m older and wiser, I know that It’s impossible to guarantee the same results if you don’t know your individual circumstances, genetics, metabolism etc. For example… would a vegetarian have the same results as me on an Atkins type diet?  What about someone who has physical limitations and would find it difficult or nearly impossible to go spinning or weight train? Can we all afford a personal trainer? Probably not…

So that leads to the journey I have found myself part of and I’m hoping it can provide others with some inspiration from lessons that I have learned.

Let’s see if Mother was right….

  1. Metabolism-“breakfast is the most important meal of the day” it jump-starts your metabolism and this instruction was embedded in me from an early age.
  2. Oatmeal and oils Oatmeal is not only healthy for your heart, but it also sets you up for the day leaving you feeling full and satisfied. Oil’s- ease up on these folks… there are good oils/fats and bad ones. Stick with oily fishes (high in Omega like Salmon and mackerel), cod liver oil in the form of a capsule from your health food shop or grocery store and low-fat cooking spray.  (They even have olive oil types and garlic flavours now)
  3. Tomatoes-Vitamin C, good source of fibre, potassium and B6 to name a few!  Can be eaten raw   on it’s own to help with snack cravings, in a salad of course or sautéed with other veggies. SWEET! Treats are also important! If you don’t treat yourself now and again, you’ll end up bingeing and reversing all of the good you’ve accomplished. Save a small treat for each day or reward yourself at the end of the week or weekend. For instance: 2 of  your favourite cookies with a cup of herbal tea at night or perhaps some Chinese food on a Friday or Saturday night. (get something tasty but try to stay away from fried stuff in gloopy sauce.)
  4. Herbs-Goodbye gloopy oily and sugary sauces… Let’s opt for flavourful herbs instead. pepper, rosemary, basil, cilantro, curry powder, tarragon, lemongrass.. you choose.. it tastes nice and it’s healthy!
  5. Eggs- Great source of protein (especially for vegetarians) and easy again to snack on if you plan ahead and hard boil a bunch for the fridge.  Plus, it contains .. you ready? (Iron, zinc, iodine, Vitamin E, B2 and studies have shown that it boosts weight loss when eaten for breakfast (without 4 slices of toast with butter of course!)
  6. Red food-Well, green food has always been on the list, but as we’re going with mom’s advice here.. I’d like to focus on the red’s-Strawberries (high in vitamin c and has powerful antioxidants that have been proven to preventdegeneration of the eyes in some cases)  cherries are high in quercetin and ellagic acid. This antioxidant flavonoid has been shown to promote cell and tissue health.Cherries are also high in substances related to reducing the joint and muscle discomfort. Cherries also contain melatonin, an important natural chemical related to healthy sleep rhythms and maintaining a youthful appearance. BONUS!

By following “mother’s” instructions, I  lost 2 stone (almost 30 pounds) in 7 months.  I feel better about myself and I’m healthier to boot.

I hope this helps at least a few people and thanks for reading!

With love-Hands-on

Red berry health facts were taken from this site