Category Archives: Budgeting

Food on Friday ~ Sweet Potato

sweet potatoes are ideal for lazy days

I have a confession in that I’ve never really come to terms with the sweet potato.  It’s not something we ever had in England when I was in my formative years.  Also, I have no idea if what I’m looking at is a sweet potato, or a yam.  What’s the difference anyway?  I do know that a yam is not a sweet potato, the two root vegetables are completely different.

At least I can help with the difference between sweet potatoes and yams, courtesy of Holly at Spend with Pennies who has a post called sweet potato vs yam: what is the difference?

Holly also has some cool sweet potato recipes, including this very easy sweet potato casserole.  Seems it’s delicious and nutritious.  I’m guessing that Holly is very American as she has added pecan nuts to the dish.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Next, from Erin Clarke at Well Plated by Erin we have this old fashioned sweet potato pie.  Actually, this looks delicious.  Erin says this is much better than a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving ~ personally I can think of no good reason to eat pumpkin at all.

Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie

Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has a very cool recipe for twice baked sweet potatoes with pumpkin and sage.  I really want to try this ~ so perhaps there is a good reason to eat pumpkin after all.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Pumpkin and Sage

Heidi at Foodie Crush also has a recipe for twice baked sweet potatoes, this time with maple syrup, white cheddar, and brown sugar bacon.  I think it would be very cool to serve both of these twice baked sweet potatoes at a party.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup, White Cheddar, and Bacon

This utterly brilliant vegan / vegetarian recipe collection is from Cookie + kate; what to cook this November.  The sweet potato recipe is sweet potato & black bean tacos with avocado-pepita dip.  These do look good.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos with Avocado- Pepita Dip

 

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Food on Friday ~ November

autumn ~ the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Here in the North of England the nights are really drawing in now ~ we will have about 8 hours of daylight today.  The weather is grey, wet, and windy.  As the tide rolls in it brings a clinging mist with it.  It’s time to think about recipes that are going to be nice and warming to come home to.  November is a darkling month for us.

Jessica at How Sweet Eats has this fabulous recipe for Tuscan tomato bean soup with kale, and if you know anything at all about Italy you’ll know that Italian winters can be even colder and wetter than our home-grown English version.  A healthy warming soup is just what you need for cold, wet weather.

Tuscan Tomato Bean Soup with Kale

From Erin Clarke at Well Plated by Erin we have this crockpot beef stew recipe.  The thing about slow cooked beef is that one can use cheaper cuts, and it’s still going to be deliciously fall-apart tender.  Here I would add carrots, swede, and potato for the vegetables.

Crockpot Beef Stew

Tieghan Gerard at How Sweet Eats has this fabulous-looking 30 minute coq au vin chicken meatballs with browned butter mashed potatoes.  I just have to try this recipe.

30 Minute Coq au Vin Chicken Meatballs

Our first collection this week is for 10 heart healthy fall dinners from Tamara Hoerner at Purple Almond Wellness.  I especially like the look of this roasted chicken and garlic potatoes with red pepper relish, originally from WomansDay.  Looks really warming, delcious, and healthy.

Roasted Chicken and Garlic Potatoes with Red Pepper Relish

Simply Recipes has a new feature and their first post in this category was called the most popular recipes in October.  From there I’ve found this feta-brined roast chicken by Irvin Lin.

Feta-Brined Roast Chicken

Last December Olive Magazine published their 30 best ever one-pot / slow-cooker recipes, and I very much like the look and sound of their brisket sandwiches with beer onions and blue cheese.  How nice with a glass of good English beer!

Brisket Sandwiches with Beer Onions and Blue Cheese

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

chicken and leek pie

Food on Friday ~ Healthy Halloween

have you come to sing pumpkin carols?

Here in ye Merrie Olde England we eschew Halloween as the pagan / catholic / foreign festival it is.  Instead we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th.  However, these recipes are great for any cooler night when you’re having guests around, and you’re looking for something that evokes a darkly festive air.  Something healthy, tasty, and easy to prepare?

All of the dishes I’m featuring this week are healthy as well as tasty and great looking, and if you want to make the most of a healthy eating recipe then try to buy the freshest organic ingredients that you can find.

And OK, this is a shorter post because I’m not at all happy with some Halloween excesses,

First up this week, and the first time I’ve featured this site; from poach me quick we have sticky and smokey chipotle and maple-baked chicken on the bone.  Try not to get any of the messy stuff on your fingers onto your Halloween Costume.

Sticky and Smokey Chipotle Maple-Baked Chicken on the Bone

If you’re looking for something sweeter to have with tea, coffee, or a harder drink, then there’s this seasonally perfect pumpkin white chocolate bundt cake from Heather Christo.  I bet Charlie Brown would love this at Halloween.  Heather’s recipes are very healthy indeed.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Bundt Cake

And, from Ali Gimmie some Oven there’s candied walnuts, which I like the look of and she says are so irresistibly delicious.  OK walnuts are one of those things we should eat to stave off the horrible ageing problems ~ so make these.

Candied Walnuts

Now for something very American, from Good Housekeeping; acorn squash with brown rice and turkey sausage.  Allegedly acorn squash is one of those superfoods, and makes the serving dish for this great-looking recipe.

Acorn Squash with Brown Rice and Turkey Sausage

Turns out that one can treat acorn squash in pretty much the same way as one would treat a potato, although I suspect that the squash is better for a bloke than a spud would be.  So, as an opposite to the good old jacket potato, how about this baked acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes.  God!  That would be so good with ice cream ~ or am I being silly?

Baked  Acorn Squash with Butter and Brown Sugar

I’m enthused about acorn squash, especially as it seems you can use the gourd as a serving vessel ~ what a brilliant way to save on the washing-up.  It looks like a pretty good thing for vegetarians and vegans too.  So for our collection this week, from Country Living we have 30 best acorn squash recipes for a healthy addition to you fall dinners.  One of the great looking recipes is the acorn squash soup with turmeric from Seasonal Cravings.  Who doesn’t like a warming soup on a cold night?

Acorn Squash Soup with Turmeric

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

perfect for a Halloween cocktail

pomegranate ginger paloma

ginger is a ‘new’ superfood

 

Food on Friday ~ Chowder

chowder breathes reassurance, it steams satisfaction

As if you didn’t know, a chowder is a rich soup or stew, often of fish, typically popular in New England and Atlantic Canada ~ usually served with crackers for some insane reason.  Chowder does travel; I have had a great clam chowder at a diner on Ghirardelli in San Francisco.  Although now thought of as a strictly American / New England dish, chowder probably originates in Normandy and / or Cornwall.  At one time England was said to be an island made of coal and surrounded by fish, both perfect for the cooking of a great seafood chowder.

As the year turns, the nights draw in and the weather becomes colder and wetter, a steaming bowl of chowder is a fabulously warming dish to serve to a hungry Englishman.

Something different from well plated by Erin; roasted cauliflower chowder, (very healthy), originally from Two Peas and Their Pod cookbook by Maria Litchy.  Erin also has a great recipe for crockpot potato soup, which is pretty damn close to being a chowder.

Roasted Cauliflower Chowder

And from Heidi at Foodie Crush there’s a slow cooker corn chowder; this is made with a blend of almond milk and cashew milk.  Interesting.

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

A while ago I was wondering if one could make a decent salmon soup, it turns out there is a shed-load of brilliant salmon soup recipes around on the internet.  From Yummly I can offer you a collection of the 10 best salmon soup recipes, (trust me there are a lot more than 10 salmon soup recipes on this site).  Looking through Yummly’s recipes I found a super salmon chowder from Andrea Beaman at Further Food, (which is another cool site).

salmon-chowder

Super Salmon Chowder

A great collection from delicious magazine.  Their winter soup recipes include this fabulous looking and great sounding smoked bacon, leek, and butter bean chowder from Debbie Major. I have tried this recipe, and it’s fantastic.

Smoked Bacon, Leek, and Butter Bean Chowder

Again from Delish magazine we have a collection of 17 chowders to help you transition from summer to fall.  I especially like the look of this New England clam chowder recipe by A Family Feast with its added bacon and salt pork ~ very traditional.  Personally I would never thicken a chowder with flour or corn starch, I’d use potato instead.

New England Clam Chowder

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

try beer and crusty bread with your chowder

Relationships, Travel, and Self-Development

self-affinity, self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-development

Life is better for me today, and looking back I can see why things didn’t always happen the way I hoped and expected them to go.  Partly it was because my expectations were unrealistic and depended upon others acting the way I would wish them to, (and that almost never works out).  Partly it was because I suffered from a lot of negative character traits such as judgementalism, jealousy, and impatience.

By accepting what were my downfalls in the past I can work on developing better ways of living, and also deciding consciously what I don’t want to be, what I don’t want to do, and where I don’t want to go, (in a literal and figurative sense).  This is the right time for me to push on through with no regrets and no hesitation.  This is the time for me to re-evaluate some of my life path choices so I can drop everything unsatisfying and toxic, and instead concentrate on that which adds to my success and happiness.  People, places and things that have just ever taken from me, giving little in return, no longer have a place in my life.

I am very aware of what I don’t want in my life, but I think I need something like a bucket list, or a vision board, or maybe a mind map to help me to decide what I do want in my life.

There’s a list of places I want to visit in the next year or so; starting with California, and maybe Arizona in the USA.  In England I would like to see Stonehenge again and some of the other weird places such as Lindisfarne.  I have no desire to spend much time in London, but seeing Amsterdam, Paris, Rome again might be cool ~ after I’ve been back to Florence, Sienna, Pisa, and San Gimignano.  I do so love Tuscany.

The Mediterranean might well be the most favoured region on the planet; the Greek Islands are fabulous, as are Crete, Cyprus, and Malta ~ maybe I’ll take a cruise.  And of course it’s been a long time since I’ve been to the West Indies ~ and the islands are a great winter destination.  Never, ever go to the Caribbean during June, July, August, or September ~ unless you really like hurricanes.

I have no issues with finances nor responsibilities back here in the garret, (apart from Marmaduke), but what hold me back a little is the ultimate joylessness of travelling alone.  Maybe the first thing I need on life is a new friend and travelling companion, or to change my relationship with an old friend for the better.

Some say that no matter where you go you always take yourself with you.  And that freedom is not just a long holiday.  All I know is that the world is my lobster.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Marmaduke likes travelling with me

 

Food on Friday ~ Autumn

Autumn carries gold in its breath

Call it Autumn, or call it the Fall, now is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.  The days are shortening, the wind is a little colder, and the trees are covered in beaten gold, copper, and brown.

Perhaps this is also a time to change our recipes as the fresh, local ingredients drift from summer fruits to the richer fare of Autumn.  This is no longer the time to try and keep that svelte bikini figure, perhaps now we can allow for that extra pound or two that will make our fall wardrobe fit a little better. So, here is a selection of recipes which may tempt you as this season for reflection begins.

First up this week is Tifanny from Creme de la Crumb who offers us something very warming for when the autumn nights draw in; instant pot roast and potatoes.  I really like the instant part.

Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

From Heather Christo we have this beautiful roasted butternut squash soup, which is vegan, and these days that’s a good thing.  This recipe is also a good thing for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving.

Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Minimalist Baker has a perfect recipe for the fall; 1 hour fall pot pies.  This is a 10 ingredient dish that we really can make in just an hour,and these are vegan too.

Vegan 1 Hour Fall Pot Pies

We seem to be hitting a vegan / vegetarian theme this week, because Half Baked Harvest’s September 23rd post, (the date of the equinox), was herby buttered mushroom stroganoff.  I’m guessing that it would be pretty easy to turn this 30 minute recipe into a vegan dish.

Herby Buttered Mushroom Stoganoff

Back to our soup menu, (and who doesn’t like a warming soup on a chilly autumn evening), and Claudia Cash at Simply Recipes offers her 11 best soups to make in the Fall.  I am especially intrigued by this recipe for baked potato soup ~ just how fabulous does that sound!  I’m especially glad that bacon features in this dish.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

We have gone really crazy with our final collection for this week, from Country Living magazine; 70 Fall recipes you’ll want to make all season long.  Totally ignoring the shaved Brussels sprouts salad, (yuck), I’ve picked out this easy sheet pan chicken with sweet potatoes apples and Brussels sprouts, from Erin Clarke at Well Plated by Erin.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes Apples and Brussels Sprouts

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

perfect for fall

hot maple apple cider

Food on Friday ~ Healthy Salmon Recipes

if you want something beautiful on the table, pick up some salmon

If you’re trying to eat a very healthy diet, then salmon should be on your shopping list.  This attractive fish has a stack of health benefits, not just that it’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, eating salmon is supposed to reduce the risk factors for several nasty diseases.  Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and fresh line-caught salmon should be clean ~ not full of all the crap that is in some of the food we eat.

Buying the right piece of salmon is important, starting with the basic rule ~ never buy anything that looks manky.  Anything that says wild is probably better than farmed, and some farmed salmon is better than others.  Usually the rule is the more you pay the better it will be, but not always, but don’t sweat it.  Go to a good grocery store or fishmonger, and you’ll be fine.

First this week we have one of my favourite salmon dishes; Thai salmon in foil,from Chungah at Damn Delicious.  I think cooking in foil is a brilliant technique, and it reduces the amount of washing-up no end.

Thai Salmon in Foil

Another recipe for cooking in foil, and following on from last week’s post which was all about cilantro; from Averie Sunshine’s archive I have chosen this foil pack lime cilantro salmon.   This is so easy to make, and it will be ready to eat in 10 minutes ~ you heard me right, just 10 minutes to produce this wonderful healthy dish.

Foil Pack Lime Cilantro Salmon

Now we have a fabulous 30 minute recipe from Sabrina Modelle; grilled salmon with peach salsa.  This dish has so much going for it; you can cook the salmon on the BBQ, which means you can make the whole recipe in your yard.  Anything with grilled salmon looks really special, so this is something you can serve to guests.  And, best of all, it’s a 30 minute recipe that will make a great lunch, dinner, or something to take to work the following day.  (This recipe was found for us by Elise at Simply Recipes).

Grilled Salmon with Peach Salsa

Until I saw this from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest I had never heard of cooking on a BBQ grill by placing the food on a cedar plank.  But, now I’ve seen this cedar plank salmon with watermelon feta salsa from Teighan this is something I must try the next time I’m somewhere warm and sunny ~ that’s if anyone friend will let me.  I’m an Englishman, and as everyone knows we are terrible at cooking on a BBQ.

Cedar Plank Salmon with watermelon Feta Salsa

This brilliant sweet and smokey cedar planked salmon is from Kate Merker at Country Living magazine.  Apart from soaking the plank for a couple of hours to stop it from catching fire, this is a very easy BBQ recipe!

Sweet and Smokey Cedar Plank Salmon

With healthy eating in mind I so like the look of this dish of braised salmon from Heather Christo; Paleo red curry braised salmon with sweet potatoes Fabulous!.  Paleo is good, I think.  This 45 minute recipe not only uses coconut oil and coconut milk, it also has more than enough garlic.  Nice.

Paleo Red Curry Braised Salmon with Sweet Potatoes

Our collection this week is from Olive Magazine, their 40 best ever easy salmon recipes.  And I’ve chosen to feature the very first recipe from this great collection Thai salmon parcels with jasmine rice.

Thai Salmon Parcels with Jasmine Rice

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

BLT salmon salad with creamy avocado green goddess dressing.

How To Be Happier

Happiness will not come to you.  Happiness can only come from you.

There are lots of books, TV shows, podcasts, and blog posts that purport to tell us how to be happy.  Some focus on the practical aspects, some on emotional states, some are spiritual, and some others are religious.  Personally, I wouldn’t give much weight to anyone with religion telling me how to be happy, because it will always involve God, (in one way, shape, or form).

God and I went in different directions some time ago.

There are also lots of pithy inspirational sayings about happiness.

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.  ~  Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Not everyone would agree with Roosevelt.

Therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, medical doctors, priests, and inspirational speakers can most likely give us a host of things we can do to improve our happiness.  From; building a growth mindset for happiness, to being optimistic, to ending negative thinking, to taking breaks from social media, to trusting in your higher power, and having a healthy lifestyle.  Having a healthy lifestyle sounds like a good start to me.

Another good start to greater happiness, that comes both before and after having a healthy lifestyle, is dealing with your addictions.  I have yet to meet an alcoholic, problem drinker, drug addict, casual drug user, chronic gambler, someone who often has casual sex, or anyone with an eating disorder who was happy in any way shape or form.  Addicts and people who go against their inner beliefs always live with inner misery.

In fact the list of people who live in utter misery is both long and heartbreaking.  The very sick, the starving, the poor, people living on the streets, those who have recently lost a loved one, refugees, and anyone who abuses their body, mind, and spirit are likely to enjoy little real happiness.

However, some say that you only need 3 big things to be happier;

  1. Work.  Most people don’t like or enjoy their work, which is sad and bad.  Those people should bite the bullet and find a better job for them.  But being out of work means you’re going to be broke and miserable, and work gives you money.
  2. Money.  Money can’t buy happiness, but try living flat broke in modern society to know what misery is.  Having just enough money will make you happier than being broke.
  3. Marriage ~ or a stable long-term relationship.  This gives you things like friendship, security, and sex.  People who live alone for too long are usually miserable and can become mentally ill.

It’s much more complicated than that, but I guarantee that if you don’t have all of those three things you will be very unhappy, probably depressed, and perhaps even suicidal.

Some say that money can’t buy you love.  And that sex without love is just a meaningless mechanical act.  All I know is that for a healthy person to live without sex and companionship is almost the definition of misery.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

friendship, companionship, and sex may come in many different forms

Food on Friday ~ Mostly Chicken

I will respect this liver.  After all it’s not mine. ~ George Best

So, I’m working on this healthier eating plan, with the avowed aim of being fitter, healthier, and detoxing my body ~ especially detoxing my liver, which is the body’s chemical factory.

The most important thing for most of us to do if we want to be fitter, healthier, and have a cleaner liver is to give up booze.  If you take a drink the liver will stop whatever it’s doing and start to process alcohol, and your liver will do bugger-all else until all the booze has been flushed from your system.  George Best, was one of the greatest soccer players of all time, he died in 2005 of alcoholism after having a liver  transplant.

As well as giving up booze I’m also not going to eat dairy, including eggs, and I won’t touch anything at all containing wheat flour, or high-fructose corn syrup.  I don’t want to consume  the weedkiller that’s routinely sprayed on those crops and persists right up to the point we take the glyphosate into our bodies.

First this week we have a very healthy looking dish from Simply Recipes; green bean salad with lemon and dill by Summer Miller.  I guess for most of us this would be a side-dish, but I’d be pleased to have just this for lunch, (maybe with some cherry tomatoes).

Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Dill

From Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats how about this cool looking crispy baked Parmesan chicken with lemon arugula.  I know I said I wasn’t eating dairy, but a little Parmesan is more than just OK, it makes this dish.  Chicken is a very low-fat meat, and I’m trying for a low-fat diet.

Crispy Baked Parmesan Chicken with Lemon Arugula

Another brilliant chicken dish, this time from Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb.  This one pan garlic herb chicken and asparagus looks brilliant, and if I’m so minded I guess I would use extra virgin olive oil instead of butter.  I love one pan meals, so easy to clean up afterwards.

One Pan Garlic Herb Chicken and Asparagus

Heidi at Foodie Crush has posted this Thai basil chicken, (Pad Krapow Gai).  I must try this, Heidi says it’s easy and I really like all the ingredients she’s listed.  Especially I want to try cooking with coconut milk.  I think I’d serve this with wild rice and quinoa, which I can get at my favourite supermarket.

Thai Basil Chicken

Dana Shultz, the Minimalist Baker, has these ultra-healthy sounding crispy miso chickpea bowls with garlic sesame dressing.  It seems this is a 10 ingredient bowl ~ I can cope with that.

Crispy Miso Chickpea Bowls with Garlic Sesame Dressing

And, finally for this week, Teigan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest offers us these weeknight 30 minute coconut curry chicken meatballs.  Never mind weeknight, these would be great to serve when you have friends around.

Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

healthy eating needs oily fish

foil pack grilled salmon with lemony asparagus

 

 

Food on Friday ~ Desserts

There’s mo metaphysics on Earth like a chocolate dessert. ~ Pessoa

Now that summer is here, and some of us may be thinking of entertaining and garden parties, it might also be the right time to think of indulgent desserts.  After all, one may have the greatest grill in the district, but that means little if you can’t follow up the steak, oysters, and king crab with a really great dessert.

Some of you may also have some annual holiday celebrations coming up, I know my cousins across the pond celebrate their independence soon…..  And talking of dessert in the USA, pie and cheesecake isn’t what a great summer desert is all about.

So, first up this week, from Heather Christo, we have this vegan triple coconut sorbet.  I love sorbet, so light and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon.  This sorbet is dairy-free, nut-free, and free from soy products.

Vegan Triple Coconut Sorbet

Now, from Chungah at Damn Delicious, I offer you this substantial slow cooker apple pear crisp.  Apples and pears are such a fabulous combination ~ I used to know a great London pub called The Apples and Pears.  (In Cockney rhyming slang that doesn’t mean what you think.)

Slow Cooker Apple Pear Crisp

Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has a very cool  looking dessert which appeals both to the sophisticated English Gentleman and the northern street kid in me; black raspberry lavender cobbler.

Black Raspberry Lavender Cobbler

I suppose I have to include one cheesecake recipe, but to give it an English flavour I offer you this no-bake Eton mess berry cheesecake from Half Baked Harvest.  (Eton is a town near Windsor, where the Queen lives.)

No-bake Eton Mess Berry Cheescake

To bring chocolate to the table, how about a chocolate cake, or 25?  From Olive Magazine we have the best chocolate cake recipes; including this ultimate chocolate fudge cake.

Ultimate Chocolate Fudge Cake

Your collection this week is from Delish Magazine; 79 delish summer desert recipes you’ll be making again and again.  I confess that this collection had me at the best ever rhubarb pie.  Being a proper Northern Englishman I love rhubarb pie ~ serve it with custard or vanilla ice cream.

Best Ever Rhubarb Pie

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

and to drink with your delicious desserts,

how about champagne mojitos?

(or a nice cup of tea)

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