Friday, 28 September 2007

More Cravings

Today in Wholefoods, a server was handing out samples of fresh baked baguette with cheshire cheese and chilli jam. Sara-fave-tastic.

I resisted the temptation.

Because I was craving chocolate. Dark chocolate, chocolate blacker than a moonless midnight and with a cocoa kick like an irascible mule.

Thanks to Green and Black's considerate packaging of tiny pieces of their organic 70% in individual wrappers (each piece approx 22 calories), this craving has now been satisfied.

Now I need to work out what to do with the other 11 pieces... I'm not usually a chocolate girl.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

When Nothing Else Will Do

Yesterday I had a fridge full of veggies and a serious craving for a green thai curry. No idea whatsoever where that came from, or why, but given that I am off to London for almost a week this afternoon (meh), and really didn't want to cart said veggies up with me, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to actually cook for once. So I invited 2 good friends over for dinner, whacked some Viognier in the fridge, and thought about how to create a veggie green thai curry that would be good for me, good for CR and good to eat.

Obviously not complicated. I knew I had no intention of using coconut milk; I'd have just fretted about the saturated fat, even in a lite brand, and I don't even really like coconut anyway. But obviously the paste needed to be lightened somewhat... So in the end I "fried" spring onion, sliced red pepper, garlic and mushrooms in water, added this Green Thai curry paste, more water, thickened the mixture with cornflour, and marinated tofu in it for an hour or so (I'd cut the tofu into squares and grilled it beforehand). Then I steamed broccoli, green beans, the kernals from one ear of fresh corn, zucchini and summer squash, stirred all that into the sauce with some more curry paste and water (I probably used about 75g of paste all in), and when it was all heated through I added 150g of fat free Greek Yoghurt. I made a dish of spinach, chard and savoy cabbage, steamed and then stir-fried in 1tsp olive oil with chilli, garlic and spring onion, on the side. Lots of coriander and lime zest for garnish. Chicken and rice for my friends.

Yummy. Craving satisfied, 3 of us well-fed, and still leftovers for my lunch today. Uncrunched in CoM, unfortunately, but it's veggies and protein and nothing else. It could have been nothing less than nutritious, and just so what I wanted. Nothing else would have done. Very strange!

Monday, 24 September 2007


Ah, the British Autumn. As I type this, it is bright and breezy and blue outside, but with rain lashing down, silvered by the sun that is darting defiantly in and out of the gathering clouds. It rained torrentially yesterday afternoon, cutting short my blackberry picking expedition, and this morning the fallen leaves from the horse chestnuts, and the keys from the sycamores, and the acorns from the oaks were smeared along the streets like so much glittering roadkill.

My weekend was so so. Too fast as usual. But not a whole lot going on of interest to anyone really. :-) Yesterday, which I spent alone, was actually a fairly good CR day, give or take the couple of pieces of spelt bread and 2 glasses of poor Rioja. I ate mostly cooked food for a change, and mostly as I cooked it, over the course of the afternoon. Butternut squash, zucchini baked with lemon, rosemary and thyme, carrots baked with rosemary, savoy cabbage, broccoli, leeks. A huge field mushroom. Tomato. Cottage cheese with LLBY and flax oil. Fat free Greek yoghurt with plums and berries. As I say, not all at once. I'm trying to wean myself off the big salads where possible, even if it means munching away all day on veggies; the thoughts of all that volume at the moment just makes me want cheese and crackers.

I also indulged in watching several episodes of an eighties TV series that I used to adore - Robin of Sherwood. It probably never made it to the US. I had a huge teenage crush on the lead actor, Jason Connery. (And another one on Ray Winstone - I always did have contrary tastes). Yesterday I was somewhat amazed to find that the crush on JC, which seemed to last forever at the time (and did, in its own way, inspire me to take up drama and writing and so I think of as slightly pivotal in my life), could only have lasted six weeks or so - because I only have a memory of watching six episodes - Saturday night, on ITV, at 5.30pm. The rest of them were new to me. And since I have a very good memory, I don't think I have just forgotten them. I still have a shamefully soft spot for RW, in all his grubby east-end glory.

Why does life spin by so fast now? I remember those six weeks stretching out like six months. *sigh*

But back to today. This morning's gym session was torturous. Not due to the exercise - I achieved my modest goal of running to the tune of burning off 300 calories which is the amount I took in at breakfast - a pleasing symmetry, if a fallacy. And I did my weights. But oh... the music. In excruciating succession we were treated to Cliff Richard's Mistletoe and Wine, Unchained Melody, Rick Astley's Never Going To Let You Down, Bryan Adam's Everything I Do, I Do It For You, and Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. I wanted to beat myself over the head with both my 3kg weights at the end of that. Added to that horror was the chattering of the ladies who I am sure are very nice and lovely, but treat the gym as an early morning social venue - they are very vocal, very loud, and they do not save their breath for the cross-trainer. If Arturo shares his bus to yoga with three chirping birds, this morning the gym was occupied by myself, and an entire quarrel. Or maybe even a murder. Depending on how uncharitable a comparison I am in the mood to draw between the genus of feathered friends and the chatter that was going on around me today.

Right. Work, coffee, on with the day. I hope everyone else had good weekends.

Thursday, 20 September 2007


I defeated myself yesterday at lunchtime with my own Big Salad and had to nap for a couple of hours to recover and digest, like a boa constrictor with a particularly large mouse. Ow. I defy anyone on CR to eat the piles of veggies that I have to in order to get my RDA's and be hungry. It is simply not possible.

I don't learn either, because I've just done it again in the office (with leaves and spinach and leftover baked veggies that needed eating) and now face an afternoon of sitting at my desk feeling fuller than full.

I need to make meal plans that pack the nutritional punch I need into a much smaller volume, I think. I love Christina's new Daily Bento blog - such prettiness and fun - but I'm pretty sure that I'd have trouble meeting my nutritional requirements if I attempted to do the veggie equivalent. I need to eat so many green leafies.

Again, not entirely sure where I've been with calories this week. My best laid plans have often gone awry with being invited to eat at friends' houses in the evenings, but I'm trying not to fret too much about it. The world will not end if I don't have a complete CoM report at the end of each day, after all. I know I am at least 90% there every day. And I don't eat junk; never have.

Lifewise, Paz's comment on my last post was spot-on. I am totally dissatisfied with my job - envious of Robin and Deborah at the moment... :-) The worst of it is that I don't know how to get out. I really do not want to move to another programming job, and in fact my skills have atrophied so badly this year that it wouldn't be possible anyway. But my CV is totally IT orientated. I have no other experience to offer an employer in another industry; if I can't set up my own deli or wine bar, I'd like to try something a lot more creative, or even project management, but I can't see that anyone would even give me a chance to start without relevant experience, without contacts. Added to that the need to maintain the flexibility that lets me spend time with P in London, and the need not to be a financial drain on our partnership, and the whole mix becomes incredibly complicated. It's all so huge and it daunts me. I am mired in the how, how, how, and I just can't see the way to move beyond that. It's really frustrating; seemingly impossible alchemy to transform this to something golden.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Abergavenny Food Festival

P and I spent yesterday at "The Glastonbury of Food Festivals" - Abergavenny, in South Wales - with a couple of friends. I took this picture in April, from the castle walls, when my mother and I spent a girlie night in a hotel there for a treat, and ever since I've wanted to take P there, not specifically for food and drink but to show him the beauty of the hills and landscape. I love high country. I love moors and bracken and wind-swept moutainsides. I miss Colorado so much, I feel it like an ache in my soul, and this area of Wales feels to me like a balm, and I should go there more often.

So the occasion of the Abergavenny Food Festival was not to be missed. It only takes an hour or so to get there from here, up through Bath, a blessedly brief trip along the hideous M4, and across the Severn Bridge with its fantastic views over the Avon estuary. It was the clearest day imaginable, a perfect blue, cloudless. And then Wales, with its forests and valleys, deep and green and mysterious. Abergavenny is a sweet town, and yesterday it became one large farmers' market, with stalls selling local produce, to be taken away or eaten on the spot, all over the place. We wandered from stand to stand - a half of cider for P here, a half of perry for him there, a nibble of goat's cheese for me here, a spoonful of something delicious for him there. Yes, I ate vicariously through P and he ate well - a plateful of steaming paella, cooked in the largest pan I have ever seen in my life (fully a metre across); fresh sardines with salad. I ate a mixed salad with garbanzos and beans and as many green veggies as I could get piled in (admittedly not many) and as we were eating (cross-legged on the pavement), we were asked by an official festival photographer if he could take our pictures - I guess we really looked as though we were enjoying ourselves!

We bought lots of deliciousness between the pair of us and our friends, and ate much of it en famille when we got home. Probably not a(nother) CR day.

Today I was restless. Restless, restless, restless with the kind of ache in my legs that is usually only relieved by running. Rye bread and tayberry jam for breakfast probably didn't help. :-) After a pub lunch, we walked by the Caen Locks for an hour or so. Stunning engineering; P tried to explain the mechanics of it to me but my head just whirled with it - driving a boat up water? Just goes to prove, what seems impossible can often be achieved.

I just hope this proves possible with my CR. I am still trying to work out where my self-discipline has gone and why. I really don't want to be constantly at odds with myself. It's really starting to annoy me, this lack of balance, this nagging irritation, this (for want of a better word) hunger which seems not to be hunger at all, but an all too familiar physical expression of some kind of dissatisfaction... I don't know, maybe I am looking in the wrong place, and CR is neither the reason for nor the answer to how I am feeling right now.

But! It's been a good weekend. And tomorrow is the start of another new week. And I still have three more days at home to CRON. And a fridge full of leaves and veggies. And dino kale! The Abergavenny spoils have been sent back to London in P's rucksack.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

To Everything A Season

I am back home, and it is definitely, suddenly Autumn. The air smells of smoke and leaves and damp and musk and cool. The plants in the garden are straggling, sprawling, beginning their slow return to the soil that they sprung from, so full of life and vigour back in the too-hot-too-early day of April, a gentle decline, a beautiful aging. The landscape lies quiet and peaceful, shaded in hues of brown and rust; the fields ploughed back to earth, the hedgerows glowing with secret pockets of soft jewelled colour - deep red apples, golden blushed pears, dark berries, purple plums dusted with bloom and oozing the last of their sticky, honeyed juice. The start of a long, slow exhale.

When I went to the market this morning to stock up on veggies, my tastes had suddenly changed. I didn't want strawberries, or melon, or any of the fruits of summer; I bought beautiful Victoria plums instead, and I will gather blackberries later to eat them with. I bought dark savoy cabbage, black and shiny aubergine, squash. I will bake them with chilli and garlic and tomatoes from the farm shop. I am craving autumnal, smoky flavours; food to relax with, food that brings peace and comfort and serenity, like being wrapped in a cashmere blanket by candlelight.

I had forgotten how much I love this poem until the first lines of it sprang into my head as I drove to the gym this morning; there were just the tiniest vestiges of mist on the fields, and the sky was the softest dove grey. It was the first poem I ever had to memorise in school. This year, the seasons have been topsy-turvy, upside down, chaotic. But this morning nature seems to have reasserted the proper order of things; it is peaceful, quiet and right.

So. To Autumn, by Keats.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

(Photograph by Corbis - yes, I just grabbed it from the Net; if anyone has a problem I'll take it right down. I can get my own later with said berries anyway).

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Bad Mood, Bad Post

The Frome Show was interesting in a Country Show kind of way - ie, for about an hour. But there are only so many displays of fruit and vegetables and flowers I can take; only so many burger bars I can walk past. The running ducks being herded by sheepdogs was fun, I guess (the foot and mouth restrictions haven't been lifted yet, so sheep herding was out of the question) but I felt really sorry for the poor show poultry, rocking in their cages, bashing their beaks along the bars.

I wasn't in a great mood before we went; felt really cold and shivery and it wasn't until the sun came out that I stopped feeling shivery and like death. Meh. And no, it wasn't a hangover; I had to drive from the station last night (and why Wiltshire fog waits until 10pm to manifest itself for the entirety of the drive along country roads and then disappears magically once I enter my village to leave a sky brilliant with stars and milky-way I do not know).

I am so very tired, with no good reason at all.

I've also changed my profile to confess to the vida con vino. I still think I am probably CR'd, and my food is totally ON. But I cannot be CRON like this, and I don't want anyone thinking I am under any illusions that the two can be mutually compatible as the situation stands now.

I still want to keep blogging. I've suffered from terrible writer's block for the last decade, indeed that is what brought my PhD to a crashing halt. This is such a tiny start, but it is writing; it is words starting to flow again, starting to take shape and form and feeling in my head and I really would feel a little bereft if I gave it up. Not least to say missing the feeling of virtual semi-community. Having people say "great post", or saying they enjoy my writing style, is so rewarding for me; I love to give the same back on other blogs. I care about this, about CRON, I really do. I am just not able, not ready or not willing to take the final step right now. Maybe that's being too hard on myself, maybe it's not, but... well, that's where I am.

So sorry guys, not a great post from me this time. Maybe next week, when maybe I will be feeling as though I am doing better.

Right now I have BBQ veggies to prepare. On the menu tonight: mushrooms baked in the oven with 1tsp olive oil, one dash red wine, garlic and rosemary; tomato salad; zucchini, peppers, sweet potato - either oven-baked or grilled, it depends how much meat is on the BBQ and how tainted the grill is with that; green bean salad from a friend (dressed to the nines). I pray no one brings halloumi. I will probably have to eat some olive bread and maybe a small piece of goat's cheese tart. Strawberries. Melon.

God I am so grumpy. I am going to sit in the last of the sun with the papers.

For the hell of it, here is where I am right now with food today. We were so late at the Show that I had to eat a couple of pieces of said olive bread to keep me from falling over, or becoming even more grumpy. I've guessed the amounts on that, and the nearest CoM equivalent. Aside from that I've had yoghurt with blackberries and greengages (recorded as plums), almonds and seeds and gojis, and a lunch salad of lettuce, tomato, steamed broccoli and zucchini with LLBY, and a pear with 20g sheep's cheese (recorded as goat's cheese and it is SO UNFAIR that 20g of that comes up as 90 calories - how is that even possible? Grumpity-grump).

Nutrition Summary for 08 September 2007

General (65%)
Energy | 799.6 kcal 67%
Protein | 38.5 g 43%
Carbs | 126.9 g 106%
Fiber | 28.9 g 96%
Fat | 20.8 g 52%
Water | 941.1 g 35%

Vitamins (83%)
Vitamin A | 24242.1 IU 1039%
Folate | 440.9 µg 110%
B1 (Thiamine) | 1.2 mg 109%
B2 (Riboflavin) | 1.6 mg 146%
B3 (Niacin) | 11.4 mg 81%
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)| 2.4 mg 48%
B6 (Pyridoxine) | 1.2 mg 95%
B12 (Cyanocobalamin) | 0.4 µg 15%
Vitamin C | 193.3 mg 258%
Vitamin D | 406.9 IU 203%
Vitamin E | 7.9 mg 53%
Vitamin K | 616.1 µg 685%

Minerals (77%)
Calcium | 809.8 mg 81%
Copper | 1.5 mg 168%
Iron | 12.8 mg 71%
Magnesium | 272.6 mg 85%
Manganese | 3.0 mg 165%
Phosphorus | 695.5 mg 99%
Potassium | 2590.6 mg 55%
Selenium | 37.5 µg 68%
Sodium | 689.2 mg 46%
Zinc | 4.8 mg 60%

Lipids (66%)
Saturated | 6.6 g 66%
Omega-3 | 1.7 g 150%
Omega-6 | 3.9 g 90%
Cholesterol | 21.0 mg 7%

Friday, 7 September 2007

Eating, Drinking, Making Merry...

So.. unfortunately this week has not seen the return to CRON discipline and the straight and narrow path of purity I was hoping for. Botheration. It's not the food, the food is fine - I had two really good days of using CoM at the beginning of this week, weighing and measuring, almost perfect nutrition, around about 1000 calories - lots of yummy rainbow chard (I am really, really craving dark green leafies and may have to go and worship at the Great Wall of Greens in Wholefoods later on today), and zucchini and green beans and broccoli. It is the demon drink. I just don't seem to be able to pass a day without a glass of something white and cold passing my lips. Such a lush I am, despite my best intentions.

Last Sunday I went blackberrying with a friend. It was a really disappointing haul in the end; tiny berries with hardly any taste. Last year there were so many heady perfumed berries that I was constantly bottling blackberry preserves and chutneys (that are still gathering dust in a cupboard somewhere, I think). This time I barely came away with enough for my breakfasts. But there is something just so wonderful about going out and foraging and coming back with free food. I really need to do it more often. We also picked lots of hazelnuts. I've never had a raw hazel straight from the tree before - definitely extremely yummy, and probably packed full of good stuff. I'll have to look out for more - we squirrelled that tree bare. In the evening I cooked for three of us - my usual sort of cooking, a green veggie gratin, a bean salad... and out came the fizz, and my willpower shot out of the window so fast I could almost see the smoke.

Monday and Tuesday were horrible, horrible days with work. I almost blogged about them a couple of times, about the wailing and the crying and the screams of frustration... God, I hate my job. And I really, really hate the way that I cannot see any way out of it - short of simply resigning and trusting fate to do the business. Needless to say, P is not keen on that idea. Hey ho. I guess something will happen in the end, but it's getting pretty intolerable. Both these days ended with the opening of a bottle.

I was hoping I could get out of coming to London this week, because there was a tube strike which would have made travelling awkward in the extreme. It was cut short though, and so I had no excuse not to pack my bags and head for town. I met P in an absolute dive of a bar where he was having farewell drinks with a colleague who was off for pastures new - oh, yuck yuck yuck. At the bar (sticky, stinky), a man next to me ordered tequila and Baileys on the rocks. The horror. As soon as I could drag P away, I did. Unfortunately he wanted to stay in town and eat out, so we ate in Chez Gerard in Covent Garden - our usuals there - oysters and steak tartare for him, steamed asparagus (dressing on the side) and mixed salad with chevre for me. The salad came not so much dressed as swathed in vinagrette, because I'd forgotten to ask for it naked. Damn. We drank pink fizz. Oh, calories calories calories...

Calories too last night, but these were planned for and I tried to budget during the day. Last week we made reservations to eat at 22 Great Queen Street, a bar-brasserie that has been open several months but is almost impossible to get into on the off-chance, and I have heard fabulous things about it. Simple British food, well-sourced, organic - all the things that hit all the right buttons for me. And it was just as good as I hoped it would be. Short menu, no fussing around with pretentious pointless descriptions - what you read, is what you get. I ate new season's borlotti beans (perfectly braised with garlic and herbs) and beautiful Romanesque cauliflower (pictured raw above - on my plate, steamed, and served with goat's curd) and (unfortunately buttered but delicious) savoy cabbage greens and (yes, I was hungry) runner beans cooked with tomatoes and more garlic. P had Cawl (a lamb soup) and Arbroath Smokies, and we shared a piece of blue ewe's milk cheese for dessert. Oh yum yum yum. It was all just very very good. Apart from the no doubt generous use of oil and butter, it was exactly the sort of food I cook for myself when I can be bothered to do more than just steam my veggies and whack some lemon on them. The place was packed. It gives me hope when I see that the sort of food I can cook and cook quite well obviously appeals - well, I can dream about having my own place like that one day... I'm very envious of the people who have set it up - yes, I'm sure it's horrifically hard work, but it would have to be so rewarding...

So, um yes, it's been a bit of a foodie week. But it's all good food. No junk, no gak. Just higher on the calories than I would like. My weight is yoyo-ing all over the place - down/up, up/down, it makes me dizzy. I just don't seem to have a chance to get into a proper routine for any more than two days in a row. And of course, the wine isn't helping. Must get a handle on that. If I'm drinking, I am not CRON-ing, no matter how much I kid myself.

Tonight I am on a late train home; tomorrow will see me in a field, in a tent, surrounded by aged dairy products; Sunday I am back in London again for an afternoon tea that a friend has arranged to celebrate his birthday. Routine?! Ha ha ha if only.

Oh yes - and welcome back, Joanna! So, what is a pluot? :-) And I meant to say thank you everybody for your comments on my last post.