Archives for category: Baking

Well, I know I said the last post would probably be the final one before Christmas, but then I spent a while making Christmas Cupcakes (they are sort of like miniature Christmas cakes, only more cakey, with rum and dried fruit) and Mum told me I should post my creations online. So here they are!

I have endeavoured to cover the three main languages spoken by the bulk of my readers (English, Spanish, Portuguese). If your language isn’t covered, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because I don’t speak it. And I know all of you speak English. And I still wish you a Merry Christmas.

Just so you know, it was no easy feat getting the ingredients for these cupcakes. I know the apocalypse didn’t happen (funny, that) but it felt like the world was ending in Morrisons supermarket Huddersfield yesterday. I should’ve known when it took me 30 minutes to find a parking space that I ought to turn around, but instead I soldiered on to get my icing sugar, rum and whole milk and joined the longest queue in human history, only to wait for more than an hour to pay for my 15 or so items. I have honestly never seen anything like it in my life: queues of hundreds of people the length of the entire supermarket, blocking all the aisles and corridors, people scrambling for the last turkey and trolleys overflowing with mince pies and sherry bottles.

“It’s Blitz mentality in ‘ere!” remarked a Yorkshire man at one point, as customers guarded each others’ places in the queue while they went to fetch items they’d forgotten, and I went to grab bottles of ice-cold water for myself and another stranger as we both sweated and choked with thirst in aisle 22. (The Christmas items aisle – one of the worst to be stuck in in an Apocalypse scenario on Christmas Eve Eve, surrounded by enormous tins of Quality Street and Roses and sweet packets adorned with different kids’ celebrities’ faces to make them sell better. (Do kids really think their One Direction jelly sweets actually have anything whatsoever to do with One Direction, seriously?))

Eventually, after an entirely exhausting hour and a half in Morrisons, I managed to pay for my items, by which point my friend had made almost the entire journey from London to Wakefield. At least the cakes turned out nicely.

All that remains to be said is Merry Christmas.

Tomorrow I am having chemotherapy round five. To prepare for the ice torture, I stood outside in a field for a couple of hours last night until my feet felt like icicles. Now hopefully it won’t feel too bad when I have my hands and feet deliberately frozen tomorrow. I have also started taking the steroids again, which has left me feeling sick and even more hungry, making the no-sugar challenge that tiny bit harder.

Day three of the no-sugar diet was a little tough as I went out for a big lunch with family and friends at one of my favourite local restaurants, The Farmer’s Boy, followed by a bonfire complete with cake stall in the evening. Going on any kind of diet can make social situations such as dinner parties and restaurant meals more difficult as you become the picky one who can’t eat most of the things on the menu. It is debatable whether I was allowed to have an enormous battered haddock and chips for my lunch, but I reasoned (with myself) that there is no sugar in it and it was all freshly prepared, so it was probably fine. Chips unfortunately don’t taste quite as nice without ketchup (which contains loads of sugar and is thus on the NO list) but lashings of vinegar did the job instead.

At the end of the meal, the bill came with a few mint imperials. I put one in my mouth as a natural impulse and immediately spat it out on realising I was on a no-sugar diet. This was a bit like the time I did a sponsored silence when I was 8 years old and managed to last for a couple of hours in complete silence before shouting out “Daaaaaad!” from my bedroom in the final two minutes and then cupping my hand to my mouth in disbelief when I realised what I’d just done. So, slightly cheated there, but I didn’t actually eat it.

At the bonfire in the evening, I had to contend with a cake stall that comprised of fresh ginger muffins, coffee cake, Mum’s incredible miniature Victoria sponges, cakes with chocolate icing and smarties on top, parkin… the list goes on! (Thanks Kimm and Howard, for hosting!) But we both managed to say no to all the sweet goods and even my father declared he would start the no-sugar diet today.

DAY THREE (Sunday):

Breakfast: Bowl of porridge with berries, cinnamon and a banana. One cup of tea.

Lunch: Small bit of salmon mousse with cucumber, a large bowl of artichoke soup with tomato bread and butter and a huge battered haddock, chips, mushy peas and vinegar (no ketchup!). One cappuccino. A highly regrettable, momentary lick of a mint imperial.

Snacks: Two cups of tea with milk. A handful of raisins and cashew nuts and one solitary strawberry.

Dinner: One hotdog with some onions, two extra sausages (compliments to chefs Howard, Tim and Dave!), half a burger in a bun (STILL NO KETCHUP – a travesty). One cup of tea with milk.

Snacks: Some more handfuls of raisins and cashew nuts. One green tea and one camomile tea.

Not the healthiest day of my life, but still no sugar!

How is everyone else getting on?

Can I survive two weeks without sugar and processed foods? That is the question.

What on earth would prompt me to even consider doing such a thing? I hear you ask. (And if you couldn’t care less, then don’t read on.)

Ever since I was diagnosed with cancer, I have had nutritional advice thrown at me from all sides. (Apart from the oncologist, whose main advice is that I can eat pretty much whatever I like, provided my diet is fairly balanced and healthy.) My mother has read many a book on nutrition – eating during chemotherapy, eating for breast cancer, etc. And I have heard, for the first time in my life, about Functional Medicine – the study of why we get diseases such as cancer and how we can prevent them, rather than just looking at how we can cure them.

I have been looking for a Functional Medicine specialist who I could see in London for the past few months, and it has been a difficult task because there are relatively few of them in the UK, partly because the concept of Functional Medicine was only created 22 years ago. A couple of days ago, I got to searching again, and found a practitioner in the UK called Elizabeth Butler, who runs Body Soul Nutrition and focuses specifically on nutrition advice for cancer patients.

While reading Liz’s blog, I came across the following article: Have Your Cake and Eat it! and decided to take on a personal nutritional challenge while waiting for an appointment with Liz to discuss how I can keep cancer at bay for the rest of my life by obeying certain nutritional advice. That’s right, I am giving up sugar.

THE CHALLENGE

So, the challenge, which I have already accepted, is to go for two weeks, which started this morning, without sugar or processed foods. See below for my self-imposed list of yes and no foods.

NO

Chocolate

Sweets

Crisps

Biscuits

Cake

Added sugar in coffee and tea (but coffee and tea themselves are allowed)

Microwave meals or other processed meals

Fruit juice

White bread

White rice

Sugary cereal

YES

Fruit

Nuts, seeds, dried fruit

Veg

Meat, fish, poultry

Porridge

Pretty much everything else that’s not on the NO list.

 

A few things to be aware of:

* The challenge ends at 07:00 on Friday 16th November.

* There will be regular updates on my progress in this blog.

* I am aware that I am to have chemotherapy on Tuesday and this is probably a very, very, very bad idea, but I figure it can do me no major harm, plus I stop craving half these things during chemo anyway.

* If I relapse at any point, I will let you know but I will pick myself up and carry on.

* I know it’s Friday afternoon and the weekend’s about to start but, as with everything in life, there’s no time like the present. 

**THE IMPORTANT BIT: How YOU can help!**

1. Please don’t send me any more sweet stuff in the post! (But thank you so much for everything you’ve sent me thus far).

2. Feel free to join me in this endeavour! I know plenty of my (mainly female) friends have done this or thought about doing this in the past, so here’s an added incentive to try it now, while we can all go through the pain together!

(So far I have think I have recruited Beth, my Mum is thinking about doing it after she finishes the flapjack she’s just made (which is delicious and I’m sad I can’t help with it, but at least I had some last night) and Michelle, once she finishes off the banana loaf she’s just about to make…). No pressure, girls – just a public name-and-shame, that’s all! 😉 

Finally, thanks to Saz for the wonderful package of thoughtful presents below, received earlier in the week. Fortunately most of it has already been consumed so I won’t be too tempted by amazing chocolate for the next two weeks!

Spurred on by the hundreds of reruns of Come Dine With Me that I’ve watched since getting cancer and the three recipe books I’ve been sent from different friends and colleagues, I decided it was time for a bit of cooking therapy.

The Tom Yum Soup recipe from the Leon cookbook had been on my to-do list for more than two years. I must have some sort of an aversion to newness because I like to wait for things to get old before I use them. Whenever I buy new clothes, I wait at least two months before I wear them, ensuring that I am positively never wearing anything fashionable. It’s not something I do on purpose, it just sort of happens. It’s like I need a while to get used to the new thing being in my life and phase it in before showcasing it in public. I order books and DVDs on Amazon with alarming frequency, yet I rarely watch DVDs and I’m a slow reader, so the Mad Men box set waited almost 2 years before being watched (it was another year before it was watched to completion, but I am now fully up to date and ready for season 5 when it arrives on my doorstep next month).

Well, the same goes for cookery books. I even bookmark the pages of things I want to make, but it takes me years before I get around to making them. This entire syndrome is particularly heightened at the moment with the fact that I only have a one-week window in every three-week period in which I am even capable of getting out of bed to buy ingredients and cook something. (Fortunately, my mother is there with her apron on the rest of the time.)

And so it was finally the turn of the Leon Tom Yum Soup, and a salmon teriyaki dish from a Delia Smith online recipe. Soup is such a great thing to make when you’re sick and it’s cold outside. I particularly love Tom Yum soup in Thai restaurants so I had been looking forward to making this recipe for quite literally yonks. (Perhaps that’s why I wait so long, to build up the anticipation, like planning a holiday a year in advance). So I was disappointed when, after all my chopping and food-processing efforts, not to mention the time spent pounding up and down the supermarket aisles in search of ingredients (let me tell you, it is impossible to find such things as Sake and Mirin in Huddersfield Morrisons, and don’t even get me started on manioc starch), it turned out to be very bland and frankly not that tasty. The salmon teriyaki, on the other hand, was delicious, but unfortunately the above photo doesn’t do my presentation skills justice because I forgot to take a photo of the two nicely presented dishes and instead ended up being left with my own salmon, which had broken in half and which I hadn’t bothered to present in beautiful restaurant style.

Oh well. More cooking to come.

In other news, I received an email to say that I didn’t get a place in the 2013 London Marathon. This is probably a good thing. I applied in April, before I knew about the cancer, obviously, and have been applying for the last couple of years in the hope that I’ll eventually get a place. It would be pretty tough to run 42k in April after only finishing radiotherapy in February and having not run at all since June. But I might’ve given it a go. They are supposed to be sending me a raincoat as a consolation prize, but I have a sneaking suspicion I won’t get one because I entered as an overseas applicant, which is just downright rude. Anyway, it’s a good job I did the Buenos Aires marathon this time last year, checking that box just in time on my mental “Things to do before I’m 30” list. Things jolly well happen for a reason.

The postman has been busy, as per usual. Thank you to Martina for the amazing care package full of goodies for my ‘brain, body, indulgence and health!’ … And a belated thanks to George for the brilliant Neal’s Yard Remedies treats for my hands, nails and general wellbeing… And to her big sister Danie, aka Rouge, for another very creative card… And to Valdimir for the São Paulo postcard, reminding me of my former home and workplace! I feel like a celeb who gets sent loads of amazing free stuff all the time, it’s brill!

Finally, I just had the last of my 10 daily immune-system injections and am very much looking forward to having 10 whole needle-free days! Hooray for Fridays. Happy weekend, all.

%d bloggers like this: