23 February 2015

Oh, do have a heart!

No, really. We horrify my poor sister as we both love to eat offal of all sorts (she... er, doesn't!) and quite often have heart, pig or ox, but usually in a casserole-type dish. This weekend we tried something a little different.

We sliced a couple of decent inch or so thick 'steaks' from a beautifully fresh whole ox heart I'd picked up in the market and griddled them (without any oil apart from what had been massaged into them) on a hot ridged pan to have with buttered kale.

Oh my! Darling lovely hubby cooked them a pefect medium rare, brown outside and moist and pink in the middle. They were tender and so, so tasty. What's even better? There's more, just waiting for us, in the freezer. Yum!

Just got to pick up more kale...

18 February 2015

Letting go

This week has seen me doing something that's quite a challenge. No, I haven't taken up kickboxing (now there's a thought), bungee jumping, marathon training or anything like that. No, what I did was to 'let go' of a piece of 'baggage' that I'd (quite literally) been carrying around with me for years.

This may not sound momentous to anyone else out there, but it's quite a big deal for me. Another small measure of progress perhaps?

Now as my darling lovely hubby could tell you, chapter and verse, letting go of stuff, even sometimes 'useless' old stuff, is not always an easy thing for this fat lass. Sometimes it's fine. But sometimes I can have a decidedly unreasonable (yep, even I can see that) emotional attachment to the oddest of things, not necessarily because of 'what' they are, but because they are so steeped in memories and connections.

Actually, what I did was donate it to a local hospice charity. They can now sell it to someone who will (hopefully) love it and raise themselves some ever-needed ££s in the process.

In this case 'it' was a heavyweight, black, fringed leather biker jacket. A gorgeous thing indeed, but it's... well, think Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzie. I'd had this jacket ever since I was in my early twenties (and it was a serious luxury when I bought it!). However, I have only ever worn it a handful of times, first because it was such a precious (and costly) thing and then not least because for too many years I couldn't even get it on... let alone done up!

Even so, it was a part of my history somehow, and I loved it... so I carried it around with me, all carefully packed up, through a multitude of moves... to take up wardrobe space wherever I went. I 'could not' bring myself to part with it. In fact, it's been so hard to contemplate getting rid of it that I brought this jacket into work months ago with the aim of taking it to the hospice shop... since when it has languished under my desk making me feel guilty every time I kicked the bag.

It's been slightly worse because it fits me easily these days (yes, I tried it on once or twice) and I 'could' have worn it pretty comfortably I guess but... hey. C'mon, realistically, where's a middle-aged, grey-haired old bat going to go wearing such a funky 1980s thing. So, armed with Gift Aid number and a couple of bagsfull of other bits and bobs, off I marched to the charity shop, where I very nearly baulked at the final hurdle and kept it.

But... I didn't, this time, and it has now gone from my life - no more to be an item of my 'baggage'. This all seems a bit oddball, I know, but I do have a point to make here. That is to say that I've realised something about myself. Yep, another lesson in life.

That is that, however huge and hard a task it seemed beforehand, now I've actually 'done' the letting go, there's a sense of accomplishment and maybe even a slight feeling of relief in a way. I'm not, as I expected to, mourning the jacket's absence.

Actually, it's been quite a letting go sort of a week.

Thirty three years ago last weekend, on Valentine's Day, I lost my darling Dad in extremely harrowing and difficult circumstances. Eighteen months ago, almost to the day, I lost my beloved Mum. Again, what happened around that time was extremely difficult to deal with, albeit in a very different way. From both of these (and other) events I carry 'baggage' still, and I guess I always will.

But I've realised that I have been able to let go just a little bit here too. It's been about allowing myself to 'let go' of some of the pain I feel about both events, and set aside just a smidgen of the anger and recriminations which usually spring to mind. Looking back'll never be pain free. I'll always miss them both and feel their loss, and I can't turn back the clock nor change the circumstances that occurred at those times.

But I can accept that I have a choice, in this and in many other things. I can decide whether to allow my thoughts (and objects connected to them) to be 'baggage', to drag along with me ever more, or I can decide that it's time to 'let go' a bit.

It'll take practice, but I'm going to persevere and try to improve my letting go muscles. Onwards, ever...

13 February 2015

Let's keep things real

Well, as you'll know I've been reading other peoples' weight-related posts for a long time and still find it to be a massive support, in all sorts of ways, particularly when times get tricky (er, like weeks of low- to moderate-ish level stress at work).

I know I've said in the past that my journey will never be over and that I still have things to learn along the way, but every now and again someone says something that makes a little 'click' happen and a lightbulb glow brightly in my brain.

Food... for thought, that is - wouldn't you agree?

Last week, one of Jeanette's posts did it, and the lightbulb glow has put me to thinking. Always a good thing for the fat lass - a little exercise for the grey matter. Anyhow, in that post she talked about shifting her mindset and getting back to the "Let food be thy medicine" approach.

Instead of letting herself think she isn't "allowed to have that food" she reframes things to look at it differently, and goes on the explain that this means she 'could' eat anything she wanted but she actively 'chooses' not to eat things which could damage her health or wellbeing. Ping! Lightbulb time.

A little recent history... although I have aimed to stay ketogenic (and have done so according to the dip-stick wee tests) I have also had the urge to eat something sweet for some weeks. To 'treat' or 'indulge' myself in some way, and make myself feel better (oh boy, remember that work stress business?). So, since Christmas I've been 'choosing' to nibble on sugar-free sweeties.

More recently I'd say this has become rather more of a bad habit than I like... from just one every now and again, to 'several' over the course of a day. Although there doesn't seem to have been any noticeable effect on my weight this doesn't, however, mean it isn't a burgeoning problem. The first step on a slippery slope, if you like.

Having read Jeanette's post I took a belated look at the little box these things come in and actually 'thought' about the contents. OK, the rest of the ingredients may look fairly innocent and 'natural', but the biggest percentage of their makeup, that sweet bit, is isomalt/sucralose.

Now I've 'justified' (excused, call it whatever) this behaviour to myself on the basis that this sweet stuff 'isn't' sugar. That it 'is' thus low-carb in a sense, so OK... no harm done, right? Hey, the body can't easily digest the stuff so it passes through the intestines a bit like dietary fibre.

Wrong! What I'd cheerfully bypassed in my head is that these substances are NOT natural in any sense (they are man-made 'Frankenfoodstuffs' in fact) and are certainly not an intrinsically good or healthy thing to be putting into my body.

Time to do a little reframing myself, methinks. OK, they are now OFF the shopping list for this fat lass. Thanks Jeanette, that was a wake-up call I rather needed!

02 February 2015

More heavenly stuff...

Slow cooker dry 'roasting' madness has ensued chez nous - I think we're pretty much convinced now... or is that, perhaps, addicted?

We've now tried our hand with a gammon ham (soaked first to tone down the saltiness), a whole free range chicken (no added water but I stuffed a bunch of fresh sage leaves in the cavity), and a lamb shoulder joint (OK, we did slather this with yoghurt, mint and chilli).

All I can do is groan quietly with repletion and say 'yummy'. I think this technique is definitely a winner!

On a slightly tangential but food related note, I've been reading something written by Olga Tikhonova Irez over at Delicious Istanbul about her new kitchen. Now I'm a bit of a fan at the best of times, but she's excelled herself this time. Two phrases she's used in her most recent post are so beautifully poetic.

When she describes her kitchen (not the largest nor most high-tech in the world), she anthropomorphises and says of the kitchen:

She gracefully lets me use her modest premises in exchange for respect.

This touched me, that she feels her kitchen has a personality of its own. Mine does too... er, and not always a benevolent one mind you. Mine definitely informs me if I'm unwelcome!

The other phrase she used described the view from her window at the end of a day and she wrote:
When you would think the light is gone for the day, it flashes a Cheshire cat smile through the thickets of the trees in the neighbors garden...
Ooh, what a lovely image that brought to mind.

Other matters - weight is still more or less where I want it to be, although getting a pound or two off is still the game plan. Connie, the rower, is still going well. Lovely hubby and I are both healthy* and spring is surely not too far around the corner now we've hit February. All in all, life is good and I'm counting blessings whenever possible.

*I got a letter from my GP regarding the results of that mid-life health check. Apparently, the aim of this was to 'detect potential problems before they do real damage' and with my results I'm 'low risk' so they don't want to see me for five years. When I looked up exactly what these 'risks' they were interested in assessing were, the NHS listed "heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and some forms of dementia". So, low risk eh? Sounds good enough to me!

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