Retirement is keeping me on the busy side here. I thought when you retired you retired.... well it seems to be busier here than before I retired, but one thing is I am not feeling so tired. Well except for the late nights we have been staying up watching telly. I still get up fairly early but take the mornings in my stride so far. So yes, I am enjoying the retirement.
Since this is a food blog, I thought I would mention a situation we are having with the cats and their diets. We took Cheeky in for his yearly check up and the vet has suggested we put him on a diet. Seems he is a bit overweight...and she is concerned about diabetes and arthritis in his later years. So we are trying to get his weight down here. The problem is we have two cats. And the other one is probably underweight. Jingles has an eating problem and has to have food little and often, so when he eats, Cheeky thinks he has to too. I have been desperately trying to exercise Cheeky too. We do a sort of push up the stairs and then run down them, catch the mouse on the string and feathers on a fishing rod. The thing is, Cheeky is just plain lazy. He lays down to play, I have to tap his back legs to get him to go up the stairs with my fingers and careful he doesn't sit on them in the process. So this is proving to be a challenge and if anyone has any tips on cat dieting I would appreciate them.
Miss Mag's Tea Bread
When I first moved to the UK I wasn't allowed to work for about 6 months or so, but when I did finally get my first job here I met a lovely lady that I dubbed Miss Mags. She was really sweet to me and this is a recipe she shared with me and when I bake it I always think of her.
Take 1 cup of Tea and soak 1 cup of dried mixed fruit in it for about an hour or you can do over night, mixed with 1 cup of brown sugar.
Once the fruit has soaked, add in 1 egg, 2 cups self rising flour.
Bake at 170C for about 1 hour in a well greased and floured loaf tin.
That is it. Really quick and easy and tastes lovely.
Now you should know me by now, I can't leave well enough alone and this bread can change from time to time to something totally different with different additions.
Sometimes instead of the mixed dried fruit, I will use dried apricots, or a mix of my own dried fruits. Fig is lovely in it. Also I will sometimes add nuts. And sometimes a big heaping tablespoon of marmalade is lovely, the one with lots of rind in it. Also you can top it before baking with some cinnamon and sugar mixed for a lovely coating. It is great served with butter or with cream cheese and a nice cup of tea. Thanks Mags!!!
My spinach is doing really well in the garden and coming up with recipes to use it has been fun and challenging, because Brian doesn't like cooked spinach. I on the other hand love it. So I have been sneaking it into lots of different dishes lately.
Risotto is excellent for adding all sorts of veggies to that folks don't like as sometimes they really can't taste it separately from all the other ingredients.
This one I made with mushroom, onion, Smoked sausage, butternut squash and the chopped spinach and chard. It really turned out nice.
I have also been disguising it stuffed in chicken breasts. Take some cream cheese and mix with some sauteed onion and garlic, a few chopped herbs, and some quick stir fried spinach that has been chopped. Add in some pine nuts for texture. Cut a slit into your chicken breast and stuff. Place into a baking dish with oil and sliced onions, top the chicken breasts with bread crumbs and a drizzle of oil and herbs. Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes at 180 to 190 C(Fan) until chicken is cooked.
I served on a bed of spinach and bean spaghetti.
For the spaghetti, I boiled a big pot of water and cooked the pasta as normal. For the sauce, take a large frying pan (I use my non stick wok) and saute some chopped onion and garlic, mushrooms and red pepper chopped. About 5 minutes, next add in a tin of Cannelini beans that have been drained and rinsed and a tin of chopped tomatoes. Add in seasonings and herbs to taste then toss in the spaghetti and right before serving toss in some spinach and cook just till wilted. Sprinkle over some fresh grated Parmesan and enjoy.
Now what to do with left over spaghetti. Usually I have it the next day for breakfast, but I accidentally cooked even more than I could eat for breakfast. So I had a look through my cooking magazines and found this recipe for using up the spaghetti. It is from an old copy of BBC Good Food Vegetarian, December 1999. Yes, I keep all my old cooking mags.
Courgette and Spaghetti Fritata
This is my version. Preheat your grill/broiler.
Saute in some olive oil a chopped onion, chopped clove of garlic and some chopped red bell pepper. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes. Then add in 1 large courgette that has been cut into long thin strips. Some fresh oregano. Toss in your leftover spaghetti. Mix well. (Now make sure and use a non stick pan for this or you will have a mess on your hands.) Add in 3 well beaten eggs and some grated Parmesan. Cook over moderate heat till the base is set. Then place under the grill and cook until golden brown. Garnish with shavings or gratings of fresh Parmesan cheese and some warmed up tomato sauce.
Really quick and a super yummy way to use up the spaghetti. And I could have added in some more spinach!!! Maybe next time.