La Gourmande Normande (aka the Greedy Norman)

I am in the process of starting a new business, called La Gourmande Normande (the Greedy Norman), which come September, all being well, will be providing local and seasonal food products: veg, fruit, dairy, meat, fish etc using a box scheme, which you can either pick up from our base in Saint-Lô in Normandy, or have delivered.  Normandy is apparently rated as the second region in France for food products.  I have no idea if this is true, but it is certainly possible to eat extremely well here, and we have a mass of small producers.  And so, I have started a Facebook Page and in a few weeks there maybe something of a web page – but as that is still in the making, don’t bother clicking through to that yet.

There is a certain irony in all this, as La Gourmande Normande (me) is on a diet!!  Since giving up smoking for the first time, nearly 9 years ago, and the final time, and having my kids I have put on a very large amount of weight.  During the 5 months after the births of my first child and my second pregnancy, the weight came off with Weight Watchers, but since the pregnancy of my second daughter I have steadily gained weight, at the rate of about 5 kg a year, apart from a dramatic weight loss when I had pneumonia, a couple of years back. Pathetically, I have not been able to find the motivation or time to start and stick to a diet.

The dieting has proved particularly difficult as we live in a house populated entirely by foodies.  Currently we are 4 adults and the two smalls.  All of us love cooking and eating.  So far today (lunch time) we have made breakfast pancakes, cup cakes, daal, ham sandwiches and I am in the process of making an apple tarte tatin for a competition that will be judged this afternoon. We are all capable of talking about food, ingredients and flavours for hours.  I have a horrible habit of finishing the meal we are eating by discussing what we will be eating at the next meal.

In April the children and I went on our ususal week to Ojen in Spain, and I ate rather a lot of bread, which was clearly very refined.  I don’t usually eat much refined flour, and we pretty much only make spelt flour bread at home.  My stomach ended up really sore, which was certainly motivating in looking to change my diet.  I decided to go for the Montignac Method, which is about avoiding high Glycemic Index foods – so principally no refined foods, cereals, rice, potatoes, pasta and the like.  For the weight loss stage you try not to eat anything with a GI of over 50.  Happily you can still eat loads of pulses, meat, fish etc and Mr Gantzer, is very good at all that (not quite) vegetarian cooking.

Having made this decision, and two days after starting my diet, I saw the Dr Michael Mosely Horizon programme about fasting, and it inspired me enough to try it the next day.  It was surprisingly easy to do.  So I am now following the 5:2 diet otherwise called Intermittent Fasting.  As a woman you have the right to eat around 500 calories, 600 for a man, on the days you fast (or repair).  You fast two days a week, and the majority seem to choose Mondays and Thursdays. Reading about it, everyone pretty much seems to agree that its easiest to keep those calories for supper.  And I have found that if I have a Miso soup for lunch, I can last all the way to supper, even on the days when I teach for 7 hours and go to the gym at lunch time.

On my “eat days” I follow the low GI diet, although in theory you can eat pretty much anything you want.  According to the tests Dr Mosely did, fasting in this way, should reduce, in quite a dramatic way, your chances of getting certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and type II diabetes.  I know that I must be in the high range for most of these, so I have nothing to loose, except weight, by trying.

And so far, the results are pleasing.  My muffin top on the jeans I am wearing today, are more like soufflé tops, than muffins, which is a start.  No-one is exactly stopping me to say “Wow!”, but it’s early days yet, and there is an awful lot to loose.  But maybe, come September, I will look a little less like a pumpkin.

Now back to that apple tart….

Curried Cauliflower

I am always a bit stumped by cauliflower.  Apart from cheese sauce what do you do with them?  Mike Gantzer, one of our long term helpers, made this recipe last night. it was so unexpectedly delicious that it was gone before any photos could be taken.

Blend to a paste in mixer:
1 leek
1 onion
3 medium garlic cloves
5cm ginger
1/2 chili (to taste)

1 heaped tsp cumin
1 heaped tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp salt

3 tbs tomato pasata
1 tbs sunflower seeds
1 tbs pistachio nuts
1 chicken stock cube

Heat some olive oil to heavy based pan and cook the paste.  Add water as necessary so it does not dry out.  Add the cumin, coriander and salt.

Add the cauliflower cut into florets mix well and put on a very low heat.

Add a generous dose of tomato pasata, the sunflower seeds and pistachio nuts.  Cook over a low heat, keeping an eye on it and add water as necessary because it burns easily.

Winter Sunset, Les Salines, Saint Martin de Bréhal

Les Salines, Winter sunset, Saint Martin de Bréhal
Les Salines, Winter sunset, Saint Martin de Bréhal

Les Salines, Winter sunset, Saint Martin de Bréhal

As you come over the bridge into the village of Saint Martin, this is the view across the marshes.  Our house, Maison Mielles, is a couple of minutes walk away.

Les Salines, Winter sunset, Saint Martin de Bréhal

Les Salines, Winter sunset, Saint Martin de Bréhal