Category Archives: Food

It seems that I am still very unwell

the infinite elation, pain, and terror of a psychological illness

friendless and nowhere to go but here

About a month ago I was in hospital, and so ill that the nurse said that I looked like a bad advertisement for death.  I had lots of scans, tests, and examinations, some treatment, and after a few days I was discharged, supposedly fit and healthy.  I believed I was cured of my ills ~ I don’t believe that anymore.  I think I’m still very unwell.

Whatever ails me does not seem like a physical illness ~ I’m still meeting my 10,000 steps a day meditative walking target, I’m not sitting in the armchair all day, too knackered to do anything but watch TV, I haven’t taken myself to bed, and I’m not on any medication at all.  I don’t think my body is sick, I think it’s my mind.

(I take some of that back, when I comes right down to it I’m physically not that strong.)

I have a very strange set of unmatched symptoms.  To begin with there is the red V shaped mark on my forehead.  It’s prominent, angry looking, and if you met me it’d be the very first thing you noticed.  I’ve had that red V shape appear on my forehead ever since I was a young boy, and it has always been a certain sign that I was pretty poorly.

It’s like having the mark of Cain, and it tells me that in one way or another I’m fucked.

The headache I’ve got now I’ve had for three or four days.  Everything I eat tastes like cardboard, (apart from chocolate).  And I’m dropping things; keys, books, a full mug of coffee, (that makes a hell of a mess), and this morning while I was doing the laundry I dropped the electric iron.  That thing was plugged-in and hot, but I didn’t want it hitting the tiled floor in my kitchen pointy end first, so I caught it before it hit the tiles.  How the fuck I had the presence of mind to catch the iron by its power-chord I have no idea, but I did and I didn’t get burned.

Oh, and another thing, I am saying and writing the F word a lot, (and a few other choice cuss words), and that is just not the polite English Gentleman I am usually.

Generally I feel like a young boy who has been sent to see the school headmaster for a dressing-down and some corporal punishment, and that young boy hasn’t a clue what he’s done wrong, or why he’s being punished.

You know what?  I think I haven’t been so well lately.

Some say that the sick never truly lose the chaos within.  And that a sick thought can devour your being more thoroughly than a fever.  All I know is the bravest thing I ever did was continue to live when I wanted to die.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

feeling like that lost little boy today

 

Food on Valentine’s Friday

if music be the food of love, play on…..

At St. Valentine’s Day a young man’s mind turns to love and romance, and having been a young man once I can vouch for that.  For all I know a woman’s mind turns to love and romance, and probably food too.

But what to do?  Perhaps the young man want’s to take his best girl out for a special meal, in which case find the best restaurant within a reasonable distance of her place, even if you can’t quite afford it…..  If the restaurant is in or near a good hotel, and if you think she would like it, then book a room, have champagne sent up.

Or, you could cook something special for the object of your affections.  Here are some recipes that might go down well on this Valentine’s weekend.

First for this Valentine’s Day we have a steak.  Cooking a great steak is fairly easy if you know how, and Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest has a fabulous recipe for smoked ancho chile salted steaks with drunken burst sweet cherries + burrata.  If your paramour likes a big red with their steak, then maybe find a bottle of Barolo.

Smoked Ancho Chile Salted Steak

From Joy the Baker there’s a fabulous recipe for shrimp étouffée risotto.  Joy suggests that you cook this dish together ~ whatever floats your boat.  (An étouffée is a spicy Cajun stew made with vegetables and seafood.)

Shrimp Étouffée Risotto

If you want to risk pasta, what with your date dressed up to the nines and all, then we have 15 romantically simple pasta dinners that scream ‘That’s Amore!’  This from Brit+Cco.  This is a very risky dish of linguini with clams, but it’s so easy and so impressive.

Linguini with Clams

Should your love be vegetarian, vegan, of just into eating a lot of plant-based food right now, then Heather Christo has a collection of 100 plant-based recipes.  To save you the bother of looking through this list I’ve found you this beet quinoa salad with pomegranate, mint, and pistachio.  This dish can serve as a starter, entree or a side, and you can make it ahead of the evening and keep it in the refrigerator.

Beet Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate, Mint, and Pistachio

Our idea for a romantic dessert comes from In Diane’s Kitchen; this delicious looking strawberry pie.  Diane says this is the easiest strawberry pie she has ever made, and face it, you don’t want to be spending all evening in the kitchen.

Strawberry Pie

Our final collection for this Valentine’s day comes from Country Living; 65 Best Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas for the Most Romantic Date Night.  I particularly like this Engagement Chicken Pasta, but maybe don’t tell her what it’s called unless you have the ring.

Engagement Chicken Pasta

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

if you are eating Italian, ask if the restaurant has a demi-frizzanti Franciacorta.  That will impress.

Stress #7 ~ Anxiety and Depression

if you’re going through hell, keep going

Severe anxiety and depression will blight your life, make you incapable of doing even the simplest things, alter your personality for the worse, give you panic attacks, headaches, breathing problems, digestive problems, heart problems, extreme fatigue, and fill you with a foreboding of doom.  Oh, and most likely your blood pressure will go through the roof.

Go to see your doctor and most likely they will tell you that you are suffering from a mild to moderate state of anxiety and depression, and medicate you with something like Xanax or Prozac, amd maybe Zyprexa.  All of these drugs directly affect the chemistry in your brain ~ when you take them you are not you.  All of these drugs have serious side effects, up to and including making you want to commit suicide.  Unless body, mind, and spirit are all nurtured, full recovery can never take place.  Taking an antidepressant / anti-anxiety drug is just painting over the problem, you need to find the proximate cause of your severe mental illness and find a way of dealing with it.

The potential causes of your anxiety and depression are many and mostly a part of what should be a normal life ~ but even normality can be taken to extremes.  You will probably have recently experienced, or still be suffering, one or more of these shattering events; death of a loved one, or someone you felt you should have loved, a failed relationship, a toxic and dysfunctional relationship, separation, leaving home, divorce, physical illness, a very shitty job, loss of your job, poverty, bullying, fear, taking care of the sick and elderly, worry about getting old and your looks, lack of good sex, spiritual issues…..  and you are most likely addicted to booze, medication, or something like pot and cocaine.  Also, anything and everything bad in your past means you are suffering from stored pain.

Nobody is even remotely interested in your pain.  Your family and friends will proffer fatuous and useless advice.  You must be willing to take full responsibility for your own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  Especially you must stop hurting yourself with booze, too much medication, drugs, cigarettes, bad food, not eating, and not getting enough sunshine, fresh air, and exercise.  If you don’t take care of yourself you will get sicker, you might die.

Most importantly stop trying to please other people all the time.  You cannot ever change other people, you can only distance yourself from them so they stop hurting you.  You must be the real and true you, and not someone that those around you think you should be.

Some say that you cause all your own problems.  And that you just spend all your time feeling sorry for yourself.  All I know is that you will get much better if you stop listening to all those unhelpful toxic people.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

you can get used to almost anything

except death, but by then nothing matters

Food on Friday ~ Healthier Eating

life is not merely being alive, but being well

It still behoves me to search out recipes which will help me to live a healthier life ~ to be fit and well.  And in all honesty, that isn’t hard, there are plenty of very tasty, good-looking, and very healthy recipes out there, including on many of the cookery blogs I have been following for ages.  Not only that, some of the cooks I follow feature mostly very healthy, allergen-free, and gluten-free dishes.

For me, the three main things I need to concentrate on are to eat much leaner meats, eat a lot more fruits and vegetables, and use much less salt.  That shouldn’t be too hard, should it?  Actually, I’m finding the much less salt thing quite difficult.  Oh well, nothing worthwhile is ever that easy.

First this week we have Diane’s recipe for vegetable rice soup ~ and if you ask me this dish is fantastic.  This looks easy, nutritious, and very healthy, perfect for a weekend lunch or a light dinner.

Vegetable Rice Soup

Next, from that specialist in wholesome food, Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest there is this citrus avocado salad with orange tahini vinaigrette.  This is a very simple recipe, but so good looking that I’m prepared to bet good money that it’s delicious.

Citrus Avocado Salad with Orange Tahini Vinaigrette

From Erin Clarke, at Well Plated by Erin we have an easy, healthy, and juicy crockpot Mexican chicken. You can make this with chicken breasts or thighs, depending what’s good in your supermarket today.  Looks great.

Crockpot Mexican Chicken

Another chicken dish, this time classic chicken noodle soup from Holly at Spend with Pennies.  Easily made from scratch Holly says it’s cozy, comforting and delicious ~ it looks it.

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

From Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats, how about this smoky butternut kale salad with goat cheese and apricot vinaigrette ~ and it’s not just another boring butternut squash kale salad either.  (except I might be tempted to use Wensleydale instead of goat cheese)

Smoky Butternut Kale Salad with Goat Cheese and Apricot Vinaigrette

Our collection this week is from Good Housekeeping; 16 healthy salmon recipes that are beyond tasty.  These are all fabulous dinner recipes, and not just midweek either.  From the list I’ve chosen to feature this very easy roasted salmon and beets with herb vinaigrette.  I must try this recipe this weekend.

Roasted Salmon and Beets with Herb Vinaigrette

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

poor Marmaduke only has healthy eggs for his dinner tonight

Food on Friday ~ Home Grown

growing your own food is like printing your own money

Some say they can’t grow their own vegetables because they just don’t have the space.  And that all that bending and kneeling isn’t good for them.  All I know is that if you get yourself a planter, or three, you can keep yourself in organic vegetables for 8 months out of every year.

Buying a planter can be quite expensive, but if you’re handy at all you can build your own.  And if you’re no good at DIY, then find a man who can.  (I made that planter above)

And if your space is really very limited, then just add some ingenuity.

Growing your own fruits and vegetables seems daunting to many people, but it’s actually very easy.  All you need is a few square feet of good dirt, water, and a little time.  Among the benefits you’ll see are;

  • improving your health (and your family’s)
  • saving money on groceries (your planter should last decades)
  • enjoy better tasting food
  • know exactly what you’re eating and where it came from
  • stop worry about food safety
  • have a sense of achievement
  • get some outdoor exercise
  • reduce your impact on the environment and food waste

If you have no idea where to start there are innumerable websites that will give you advice, hints, and tips; garden organic, good housekeeping, david domoney, to name but three.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

try it, and I guarantee you will like growing your own

 

Food on Friday ~ Wellness

love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle

You might have read here that I made myself so ill through a combination of too much booze and not eating the right things at the right time, (and eating a lot of the wrong things, like processed food), that I had to spend a week in hospital.  You know what?  I would have gone on in the same old way if I hadn’t turned-up for a routine health check.

What has that got to do with a recipes post?  From now on I am mostly going to post recipes that seem healthier and better for us in body, mind and spirit.  Less fats, more lean meat and oily fish, and much more fruits and vegetables.  It also seems that not all plant-based foods are good for us.  That high-fructose corn syrup is very bad for us seems obvious, but corn oil, wheat, legumes…..?  They’re bad for us too, generally.

So, I will try to avoid recipes that contain anything that’s generally on the minus side of the wellness equation.

First up this week from Dana The Minimalist Baker is her easy 30 minute Chinese Chicken Salad.  I think this fits my healthy eating bill perfectly, especially as it’s soy-free ~ plus, just look at those colours.  There are a stack of tasty-looking salad recipes on this site, it may well be that this is one of my new go-to sites.

30 Minute Chinese Chicken Salad

Next, from Heather Christo a vegan white bean sweet potato chili.  This also has chunks of avocado, fresno chili, cilantro, and green onions.  I need to eat less meat so this dish will be ideal when I really want a smoky chili, but shouldn’t eat any beef for a while.

Vegan White Bean Sweet Potato Chili

Chicken has to be part of my new way of living, but chicken can be bland and boring.  Not so this roasted garlic butter chicken with lemon olive dressing, from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest.  I think this dish has got so much going for it…..

Roasted Garlic Butter Chicken with Lemon Olive Dressing

Salmon has to be part of my wellness diet, and I really like the look of this baked teriyaki salmon from Erin Clarke at Well Plated by Erin.  I especially like that the salmon fillet is cooked in foil ~ I love cooking in foil.  Erin also shows us how to make our own, healthier, Teriyaki sauce ~ brilliant.

Baked Teriyaki Salmon

Not many know that, until the end of WWII, pork was not much eaten in England.  We English ate mutton, pork is actually a German staple.  However, this recipe for the best baked pork tenderloin is positively part of my healthier eating plan.  Tiffany from Creme de la Crumb tells us how to do it.

Best Baked Pork Tenderloin

As my new eating plan is kind of a modified Paleo Diet our collection this week is from Delish magazine; 40 Paleo recipes that will make you forget you’re on a diet ~ well there are diets and there are diets.  I have chosen to feature this good-looking baked swordfish steak, and if you have never tried swordfish steak then you’ve missed out on one of the great things in life.

Baked Swordfish Steak

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

poor little Marmaduke can’t have his canned spaghetti any more.

Stress and Your Body

it’s not stress that kills us ~ it is our reaction to it

having your car broken into is a legitimate cause of distress

Today I’m at home in the garret after a week in hospital.  While there I saw, among others, an oncologist and a nutritionist ~ after they talked together I was given detailed dietary instructions to help heal my kidneys, liver, and pancreas.  Strangely, at the top of the healthy eating / life style instructions, right above where its says No Alcohol, it reads No Stress.  Now, I know what my oncologist and nutritionist are getting at and it isn’t no stress whatsoever, because without some good stress we would die ~ that’s sensory deprivation.  What they are getting at is no bad stress extreme enough to cause me Distress, because distress is a killer.

Fear and anxiety, distress and confusion, frustration and insecurity; these are the causes of more illness than all the bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the world.  ~  Dr. Vernon Coleman.

Our bodies are hard-wired to react to stress in ways that were meant to protect us from predators and other dangers ~ today the threats are different but the physical responses are the same.  The first thing that happens in the face of a perceived threat, like a serious problem in your relationship, is that your hypothalamus tells your adrenal glands to surge a release of fight-or-flight hormones including adrenaline and cortisol.

These hormones cause huge changes in the way your body works ~ increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, increased blood sugars, enhances your brain’s ability to use blood sugars, and increases your body’s ability to repair wounds.  On the downside ~ your digestive system shuts down, your reproductive system shuts down, your growth processes shut down, and your immune system mostly shuts down.

It’s actually much, much worse than that, all these fight-or-flight hormones also attack something called Telomeres, which are protective casings at the ends of each and every strand of your DNA, in each and every cell of your body.  It’s a bit complicated, so if you really want to know about this you will need to do your own research.  But, the practical upshot of damage to the telomeres at the ends of your DNA is very bad indeed; cancers, all kinds of other nasty diseases, ill health, early death.

The thing is, for some people, the distress never goes away, so their body is in fight-or-flight mode all the fucking time, and this will make you very ill, (I was), and then it will kill you.  You will suffer from;

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems like ulcers
  • Severe headaches
  • Severe nosebleeds
  • Heart and circulatory diseases
  • Insomia
  • Cognitive impairment and dysfunction
  • Liver, kidney, and pancreatic diseases
  • Cancers
  • Mental illness

The medical profession are not good at diagnosing and treating stress, mostly because they’re not interested.  They will be good at treating your heart problems, (for example), but not good at helping you with the real issue, which is your constant Distress.

Some say that they never worry about what could happen.  And that they’ve never done anything wrong so why should they ever get stressed?  All I know is that some people are so used to being distressed, that they think it’s normal.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

an extreme reaction to stress

Down and Troubled

the trouble with introspection is that is has no end

my mood today

Still in hospital ~ I’m pretty down, depressed, and very troubled.  Nothing seems to be going right for me ~ excepting I’m not dead and I haven’t had to have major surgery.  I have some good and caring friends on this site, and who I met through this site, but I’m certain all of them think I’m crazy.  Nothing much I can do about that other than every single day try to be a better man than I was yesterday.  I hope my friends try to understand.

Now I’m free of the catheter I was able to take a bath this morning ~ you might have no idea just how good a soak in a hot bath feels if all you’ve had in about 10 days is a bed bath.  My skin doesn’t feel madly itchy, and my hair doesn’t feel greasy and lousy anymore ~ and I had a proper wet shave.  They won’t let me wear aftershave; why is that?

I’ve seen the nutritionist, who was nice, even though she gave me a good talking-to about my previous eating habits, and especially about my getting very drunk every few weeks.  I have to completely change my lifestyle, and eat a modified Paleo diet;

  • No Alcohol at all, ever
  • lots of fruits and vegetables
  • high fibre plants and whole grains, but not legumes
  • nuts and seeds, but not peanuts
  • low fat meats and oily fish
  • very little added sugar, salt ~ and no trans fats, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates (flour)
  • no processed foods at all

But I can have black coffee and green tea.

Why do I think my whole life up ’till now has been a total failure?  But dreams can come true, if you have your dreams and you’re strong enough.

The most introspective of souls are often those that have been hurt the most.  ~  Shannon Alder

Other things on my agenda today are an ultrasound on my carotid arteries and a PET scan ~ they keep testing me for possible precancerous signs.  Thus far I’ve been lucky, apart from early-stage alcoholic fatty liver.

I also have to go for a walk today.  That should be fun, so far everywhere I needed to go in here a porter took me in a wheelchair.  If I’m going home tomorrow I’ve got to get up and get back on my own two feet again.  That’s not just walking, that’s my whole life ~ because at the moment large parts of my life are down the toilet.

Some say that if you have just one good friend then you can do anything.  And that if you truly love someone you can conquer the world. Too bad that love is blind.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

my life is merely a darkling reflection in a winter mirror

Paleo Diet Myths

agriculture is all about profit, it’s never been about health

The first thing to know about the Paleo Diet is that it has bugger-all to do with the Paleolithic era of man, which actually lasted from about 3.3 million years BC until about 14,000 years ago when the Paleolithic era morphed into the Neolithic Era.  During most of the Paleolithic era people weren’t even what can be called human.  During all of that time ‘man’ used stone tools, ‘lithic’ means ‘of stone’, and the for all of that time ‘man’s’ diet was whatever he could kill or gather from the environment around him, wherever he happened to live.  Acorns don’t feature heavily in any popular diet I know of.

Since The Wolf Moon on January 10th this year my life keeps getting better and better ~ different and better.  I have made a conscious decision to turn back the clock on my lifestyle and live more like our Neolithic ancestors did ~ in terms of diet and exercise that is…..  And so help me, a proper Paleo Diet is a good starting point ~ there is a difference between some popular versions of the Paleo Diet and what is good for you.

First, what isn’t included in a Paleo Diet; refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, grains like wheat, barley, and rice…..  all of those will make you ill, maybe cause cancers, and eventually kill you.  Also avoid; Legumes like beans and peas, dairy like milk and cheese, (make your own mind up about eggs), most vegetable oils like corn oil and sunflower oil, trans fats like you find in margarine, look for the words ‘hydrogenated’ and avoid that like the plague.  Don’t consume anything with artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin, these are nasty and will hurt your body, cut down on salt.  Don’t eat processed foods, nothing from cans, no pre-prepared meals in an aluminium or plastic tray, nothing labeled ‘diet’ or ‘low-fat’.  If it looks like it was made in a factory don’t eat it.

Don’t buy take-out ~ you don’t know what’s in it, and have you ever seen around back of a take-out place?  Dirt, rats, cockroaches, dangerous filth…..  Don’t eat at restaurants too often.

What should we eat, what am I going to eat?

  • fruits and vegetables, but not legumes like beans and peas.
  • nuts and seeds, good luck on buying acorns.
  • lean meats, grass fed if possible.
  • Fish, especially those fish rich in omega-3, like salmon, mackerel, herring, albacore tuna.  Cod and haddock are good too because you know they must be wild-caught.
  • Use good oil from fruits and nuts, extra virgin olive oil is my staple.
  • Potatoes.  Strictly speaking I shouldn’t eat high starch food, but I’m not giving up on a jacket potato with my steak.

Also I do not ever take medication, the side-effects aren’t trivial, they are effects, not innocent side-effects.  Most medication will make you very sick sooner or later, and all medication is addictive sooner or later.  Avoid alcohol and drugs, do not use pot, it will give you schizophrenia, do not ever ever even experiment with something like cocaine.  The effects on your brain never, ever go away.

Along with a good diet I will also exercise like our neolithic ancestors, and they walked.  Imagine walking down a herd of bison.  How far do you think you need to walk to exhaust a bison?

Some say that modern processed foods are a boon.  And that take-out pizza and beer makes for a healthy diet.  All I know is I want to be fit, healthy, and looking forward to a long life.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

if you want to drink,

stick to a little red wine,

or a good British beer.

Food on Friday ~ Better than Take-Out

One cannot think well, sleep well, love well, if one has not dined well.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part in maintaining good health.  Along with plenty of fresh air and exercise it can help you look and feel your best.

This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the optimal amount of food and drink to maintain a healthy body weight.  You also need all of the essential vitamins and minerals, else you could get quite sick.

Maybe the hardest part of a healthy diet is the sheer quantity of water we should really drink, and for the average person this works out to 8 x 8 ounce glasses of water, (green tea, fruit tea, herbal tea, coffee without sugar), which is half a US gallon every day, more if you’ve been boozing.  In European terms this is 2 litres.

But today we are going to look at some great recipes for fabulous dishes ~ as a much healthier alternative than even the very best take-out.

First up this week we have hamburger steaks with a mushroom sauce from Holly at Spend With Pennies.  While there is no way on this God’s Earth that I would buy a hamburger at a fast-food outlet such as McDonalds, I think a home-made burger can be fabulous.

Hamburger Steaks with a Mushroom Sauce

Another home-made alternative to unhealthy take-out; egg roll in a bowl from Well Plated by Erin Clarke.  At one time I loved Chinese and Thai take out, but the muck is full of gluten and MSG, and I’ve seen out back of a takeout kitchen and hygiene is in a far country.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

Something that you certainly wouldn’t get from the average take-out; chinese mushroom dumplings with sweet chili ginger sesame sauce.  Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest has very descriptive names for her recipes.  Good for her!

Chinese Mushroom Dumplings

Now Heather Christo always makes her food look fabulous, and this green thai currey with vegetables is no exception.  Get yourself some lemon rice and a bottle of Tiger beer to go with it.  Heather’s recipes are all allergy free, (for all I know they’re gluten free too).

Green Thai Curry with Vegetables

The Minimalist Baker’s recipes are definitely gluten free, and this easy 1 pot tikka masala looks far, far better than anything you’d get from any Indian take-out place.

Easy 1-Pot Tikka Masala

Our collection this week is from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats; 25 weeks of my favorite healthier weeknight dinners.  From this 175 recipe collection I’ve chosen to feature baked parmesan chicken with lemon arugula.  You can get Parmesan chicken as a take-out, but I wouldn’t.

Baked Parmesan Chicken with Lemon Arugula

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

egg-drop chicken soup

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