Saturday, 2 May 2015

More learning: thinking outside the (vegetable) box

I think I'm generally a reasonable cook. I don't go much for pastries and cakes anyway (mercifully), and the traditional feasts are not really my style; but I do enjoy simple, speedy, practical dishes with a lot of flavour. Generally if something takes less than 30 minutes (preferably 20) to cook, and has less than a dozen ingredients, I'm up for it.

Since moving towards a regular diet (as opposed to A Diet) that has more vegetables (but isn't vegetarian), less carbohydrate (but still some), minimal alcohol (but includes the occasional glass), I've been encouraged to try out more recipes outside my comfort zone. In the ten months since my visit to Obsidian, I've used an increasing number of veggie recipes and latterly of organic produce.

A new and excellent discovery is the lovely, organic food, Riverford service. I've been delighted with my free Riverford Farm Cook Book, and with the matching iPhone app which includes a useful recipe section (choose your combination of veg and it will display recipes in which to use them).

I've also realised that playing a particular mindgame with myself is proving rather helpful. As I put it on Twitter the other day:

Hate waste. Get @Riverford veg box weekly. Use veg up by next box = Learn new veg recipes = Increase veg intake. #result #mindgames

You know, it's been working rather well. My determination not to waste any of the delightful surprises - some of which are unfamiliar to me, some I just haven't used (e.g. cauliflower) for ages - has propelled me into trying several recipes, all of which have been pretty successful (also with my long-suffering husband, who mercifully is happy to try my experiments).

So far there's been

  • Penne with Cauliflower, Garlic & Anchovies (really tasty)
  • Butternut Squash & Aubergine risotto (lovely, and even better when reheated the following day)
  • Roasted carrot soup with rosemary & smoky paprika (set to become a favourite)
  • Cauliflower, Carrot & Parsnip Korma (lovely but slightly bland for our taste, so I added some curry powder)
  • Swiss Chard stir fried with lemon juice, mushrooms & olive oil (excellent accompaniment to a chicken & tomato dish)

More importantly, this process is helping me to think outside my previous boxes. It's a continuing process of learning. There are so many fabulous foods available - as well as possibilities for exercise, self-development, learning opportunities and all the rest - that I'm starting to see this wonderful bounty of products as a metaphor for other areas of my life. For example:

  • the new area that we're living in (a beach village on the beautiful east Norfolk coast) and the coastal walks that mean so much to me
  • my precious mentoring from the lovely Marla Dee, including a frankly challenging but ultimately rewarding regular writing task, which is giving me much food for thought
  • the fabulous inspiration and ideas from Karl Whitfield (aka Tigger, aka Karlmeister) at Mother Nature's Diet, whose Norwich seminar later this month I greatly look forward to

- and much more.

At 52 years old, I have (please God) still so much more to learn. The colours in my weekly vegetable box delight me, and so do the opportunities that still await.