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Poppy

We’ve had so many trips to the vet over the last two months, that they are no longer charging us full rates.
Percy has been in hospital three times – twice with a blocked bladder, after which he contracted the flu. His poor nose blocked up so he couldn’t smell his food. Apparently, if a cat can’t smell it won’t eat. In the end, they were so worried they kept him in and fed him with a syringe for three days. Now, thankfully, he seems to be back to his normal self – still on his special urinary tract diet however.
Poppy has been having more allergy problems … Then she started peeing in odd places again. It was obvious something was not right, so I took her back to the vet last night.
Some time ago the vet said if medication didn’t fix her allergies, we should do blood tests to make sure there wasn’t something more sinister happening.
Turns out there is.
Kidney failure.
She is very young for this to be happening, so they think she was probably born with poly cystic kidney disease.
She is off all allergy medication and on a strict special diet to try and stabilise her kidneys… If it works … and it is a BIG if… she may live a few years with a reasonable quality of life. The allergies COULD go away once her kidneys are functioning better. But, they may not. And that would be a deal-breaker. Allergies make her miserable, and she is just too much of a sweetheart to be allowed to live in misery.
She is asleep on my knee, having no idea of her prognosis. And I am already mourning for her. Daft eh?
It should be a consolation that in the year since she spcame to us, we have done our very best to make sure she had a lovely life. It will be one day, I know. But, not today.

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Sleeping Horse just asked me if I thought being a good cook was a clue to a long marriage (I was only half-joking when I replied it was the wine that saved us).

I’ve been thinking it over.

I haven’t always been a good cook. And there are still days when things go wrong – either COMPLETELY wrong – like the time we were having 10 friends here for a bbq. Rick had bought a beautiful (and seriously expensive) pork roast and I started it cooking, then wandered off to prepare vegetables etc. There was a shout from the door – our next door neighbour – do you know you have a fire? ???????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The pork was unable to be saved… and neither was the paint on the side of the house  …or there are the times when things go just a little bit wrong – something doesn’t taste as good as I imagined, or it doesn’t taste of anything much at all, even though I followed the recipe…

Rick and I both like to eat and I am really lucky that he usually enjoys trying something different and since cooking is my hobby it works out really well all round – so perhaps cooking HAS helped 🙂

This recipe is one that I have had lurking for a while – I love Middle-Eastern flavours, the spices are the warm, earthy kind – not the rip-your-ears off HOT kind. The recipe is for meatballs with a sour cherry sauce using dried cherries. I have searched, but can’t find dried cherries. Then I remembered I made that rice pudding with meringue and cherries disaster a while ago, and I had half a jar of sour cherries left over… so I changed the recipe a bit.

Rick had seconds, and is finishing the left-overs for lunch right now (which is a nuisance, because I had a hankering for it myself! :-))

Lamb Mince with Sour Cherries

In a mortar and pestle, munch 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin and a pinch of salt to make a paste.
Put some oil in a large pan and fry the paste over low heat until it is fragrant – doesn’t take long.
Add 1 finely chopped onion and fry until softened.
Add 500g lamb mince to the pan and stir to mix and brown the meat.
Add 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses, a big handful of chopped parsley and about 1/3 cup of sour cherries (I chopped them up a bit – mainly to check there were no stones in them) to the pan and a little bit of stock or water to moisten.
Cook gently until the liquid has pretty much gone, squeeze in some lemon juice – just to sparkle it up a bit.
 

We ate it with a salad of tomato, cucumber and avocado which I chopped quite small, then added a whole lot of chopped parsley and coriander.

We had rice too.

I forgot to take a photo, so instead I will show you what has been happening in  our backyard today…

The new fence is taller than we imagined it would be...

If the rain holds off today – which doesn’t look likely, we should have a complete fence by the end of today. You can’t tell from this photo, but the lawn is so wet we are thinking of planting rice… 🙂

 

 

 

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Rick is home this evening. He will be tired (as you always are when you’ve spent the day travelling) and he will probably be looking forward to some home cooked food.

He loves lamb – we both do – we’re Kiwis, it’s the law.

I’ve made this a hundred times, it’s one of our favourite casseroles – so simple. It’ll slow cook all day and be waiting for us when we come back from the airport tonight.

You need:

Onions (you can cook them in a little oil until they’re browned if you like – I don’t bother), lamb – 1kg of diced lamb (I used lamb neck chops), 1 cup (250ml) sweet alcoholic cider, 2 small lamb or beef stock cubes, carrots, 1 cup frozen peas, 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint.

Cook the onions in oil if you want; roll the lamb in seasoned flour (1 used potato flour) and brown that too (I didn’t); put everything (except the peas and the mint) into a slow-cooker and cook all day. Before you leave for the airport put the peas in. When you come home put the mint in.

Enjoy, but forget to take photos. 🙂

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>Since being diagnosed (sort-of) with celiac disease, I have been doing a LOT of reading.
Everything I thought I knew about nutrition has been turned on its head, and I’m simply not sure of anything anymore.
I have been reading a lot about the ‘Caveman’ diet. My GP recommends it. So, I’m trying it out.
A lot more protein, veggies, but not potatoes or beans or lentils. A little fruit – mostly berries. No grains – not even rice, which I will miss a lot.

As a bonus, I expect to lose some weight. I had BETTER lose some weight. (in a few weeks we will go to Rarotonga. To a small resort that lists ‘hammocking’ as its prime sporting activity). Pacific Islands mean swimsuits, and I can’t tell you when I last wore a swimsuit in public 🙂 I’ve taken ‘before’ photos – which will NEVER be published :-), but are a huge (!) incentive!

Rick bought home some lamb’s liver (we call it lamb’s fry – have no idea why). I cooked it with onions and garlic and bacon. I rolled the liver in my gluten-free flour mix (I know that is grains, but surely a very little can’t hurt?), then I browned it, put the onions and bacon back in the pan and poured over some stock… let it simmer a bit – just till it thickens.
We had it with gai larn (Chinese broccoli) – Rick had mashed potatoes too. It was tasty and very satisfying.

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>We went to a Royal Wedding watching party. It was pot-luck, which means that everyone brought food for everyone else to share. I brought Lancashire Hot-Pot. If you have a Lancastrian heritage – look away now!
I’d recently had an uncomfortable experience having been invited to dinner at a friend’s home.
As a result of that, I knew my friends don’t ‘get’ the gluten-free thing. I have to look out for myself.
So – I made my Lancashire Hot-Pot into a one-pot meal. Something I knew would be completely ‘safe’.
Traditional Lancashire Hot-Pot is very simple – Lamb, onions, potatoes layered in a casserole, pour stock over it and bake. Simple. Delicious…. (a little bit bland – if I have to be completely honest, but that might be my Yorkshire blood talking)
I used Mutton (elderly sheep), the meat has a stronger taste than lamb – but we are Kiwis – we can handle it.
I used onion, garlic, leeks, bacon, celery, carrots and potatoes. I used home-made stock. I used quite a lot of rosemary. And I used half a small jar of my home-made mint chutney.

It.Was.Fabulous.
There were left-overs (I made a HUGE crock-pot full)
We ate it all weekend.
We gave some to  my parents. My Dad made a special phone call (he HATES telephones) to tell me it was the best Lancashire Hot-pot he had ever eaten.
Our hostess – who had turned down our offer of some of the left-overs phoned to tell me she was an idiot to do that 🙂
The wedding was fabulous.
Kate and her boy were GORGEOUS (as was David Beckham, by the way)
A good time was had by all.

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>This recipe was in a recent Australian Women’s Weekly magazine (for New Zealand women and published monthly ! ) I love middle eastern flavours, the gentle flavour of cumin and paprika. I really love pomegranate molasses – especially as a marinade for salmon. I thought this would taste really good, but found it slightly disappointing. If I make it again I will increase the amount of molasses in the mince to 1 tbsp. The yoghurt sauce was really good, but I had changed that too…

Spiced Lamb with Pomegranate Yoghurt

500g lamb mince
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
1 medium tomato – seeded and chopped finely
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried mint leaves – I used fresh
1 tsp dried oregano – I used fresh

1/2 cup thick Greek-style yoghurt
1 tsp sumac
2 tsp pomegranate molasses extra
1/4 cup fresh mint – finely shredded – I had used all the mint, so I used a good tbsp of a mint chutney I had made last year. (Adapted from the Pickle and Chutney Cookbook by Digby Law)

Combine the lamb and spices with freshly ground black pepper and salt.
Form into patties.
Cook over medium-high heat until cooked through and browned.

Combine yoghurt, sumac, extra pomegranate molasses and half the fresh mint.

Serve patties with yoghurt mixture sprinkled with the rest of the fresh mint.

I bought these tortillas at the supermarket this week. I’ve never tried tortillas – even pre-coeliac diagnosis, so I didn’t have any pre-conceived notions of what they would taste like… which is good, because they taste like cardboard. I threw most of them to the birds this morning and interestingly, they are not much interested in them either!

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>Rick grew up on a farm. His idea of heaven is roast lamb every night. I like roast lamb too, but not all the time. Rick likes this curry, which should be a testament to how good it is.

Lamb Curry with Pomegranate
1/4 cup raw cashews – chopped (or 1/4 cup ground almonds)
1 large onion – roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic – chopped
large knob of fresh ginger – peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp canola oil
700g lamb shoulder – trimmed and diced 2cm
2 tbsp garam marsala
2 tsp ground pomegranate seeds (anardana powder – I get mine from the FABULOUS Indian grocery just around the corner from us)
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp tomato paste – I didn’t have tomato paste, so I used a little container of tomato passata that I made last month and froze
1 tsp salt
fresh coriander to serve

Soak the chopped cashews in 1/2 cup water for a few hours, then puree the nuts and water to a smooth cream in a food processor. (I used cashews and blitzed them, but they didn’t go to a smooth cream – I’m not sure that it isn’t a problem with my new food processor… anyway… the end result was really tasty, just a bit nutty/lumpy if you know what I mean. Ground up nuts in Indian food are often used as a thickener and I can’t think of any reason that you couldn’t use ground almonds instead of the cashews. Don’t soak them, just stir them in a spoonful at a time and add a bit of water or stock too)
Puree onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor until smooth
Heat oil in a fry pan and stir-fry the onion paste for 2 minutes – make sure it doesn’t brown
Add the spices and cook for 1 – 2 minutes
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook a further 2 minutes
Add the meat and cook gently until just tender (about 40 minutes )- add a little water or stock if necessary Serve with chopped coriander on top
Serves 4

And now a confession – I didn’t use lamb. I used mutton – not only that, but it was left-over roast mutton. I made everything exactly as in the recipe, but the mutton only needed to be reheated really. It was still really good 🙂 You will have to take my word for it, because I forgot to take photos…. sigh

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