Monthly Archives: February 2015

happy-comfort-curry

Yummy curry recipe and why Juice Plus and I are no longer an item…

I posted this curry recipe on my now defunct Juice Plus blog, and it’s too good to delete, even if I’m deleting the site today.

Juice Plus and I parted company – you know when you get a gut feeling you’re not meant to be doing something? Well, they got my first order assigned to the wrong person,., they still haven’t delivered the second one (don’t ask) and then told me they hadn’t taken my admin fee (although their website told me they did) and when I tried to call them to pay it, I couldn’t get through. They don’t phone you, apparently.

I took it as a sign and decided to let the account go.

 But that means you get to see Niki’s curry recipe from Belly Heaven Love Food here instead. I hope you enjoy it…

Here’s a bit about Niki, before we go any further…

From the second she was born, Niki was pacified with sugared water.  She had been introduced to her ‘sugar coated comfort blanket’, and this turned out to be something she turned to for decades to come. Eventually between rejection on the school hockey field and suffering the humiliation of inner thigh chafing, Niki finally found out that sugar wasn’t necessarily good for her, and neither was anything else that tasted great for that matter.

To her horror, she discovered she was totally, over the top intolerant to pretty much each and every single ingredient in her dream date meal.  At first she wanted to die, as, surely life without cake could not be worth living, let alone life without great big chunks of warm bread, thick butter and smooth, melty mouth chocolate.   She was right!  In her desperation, she decided to learn how to cook really decadent foods, without inviting her mortal enemies…sugar, and wheat, gluten and diary.

At first she sucked at this (she says) but eventually, she became famous in her kitchen and threw cake parties and dinner parties and breakfast parties and pudding parties.  Life was good again, and she was cool!

One thing lead to another and before she knew it, she was a professional chef, catering for other people who love food.  People were flocking, as they couldn’t believe how good life could taste, the Niki way.  Finally Belly Heaven Love Food was born, Niki’s specialist catering company, and to this day, she avoids using wheat, sugar and dairy in her creations, while still managing  to create feasts to freak out to and cakes to cave in to.  Life is good.

Niki Gordon lives in Leicestershire with her husband, Mr Gordon, and her cat, Marley Bean.

So – this week it’s a perfect blend of warming spices and indulgent flavours that’s guaranteed to liven up any day of the week – It’s Niki’s Happy Comfort Curry.

Over to Niki….

Happy Comfort Curry

Happy Comfort Curry Juice Plus blog

How cool can ‘good for you food’ be….? You’re about to find out.

“As well as this curry being perfect for those cold evenings in, when all we want to do is eat cake before bedtime, it’s simple, sweet and satisfying too.  It will curb your sweet tooth in a funky way and ramp up your intake of vitamins, minerals and fibre. 

“Simply put, this stuff is good for your heart, your bones, your nervous system and your immune system.  Don’t say that’s not cool, huh?”

Where possible, I always urge you to choose organic and will recommend suppliers without endorsing them.

Serves 4

 Ingredients

  • 2 (400 grm) tins of chick peas (Biona is a great brand and available in most health food shops)
  • 1 (400ml) tin of coconut milk (again – Biona)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh, washed spinach (approx 125 grams)
  • 4 heaped teaspoons of curry powder. (Steenbergs is great for all spices, and available on line)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • A few pinches of dried coconut, be it desiccated or slices. (local health food shops have a great range)
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon.
  • Tiny pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt for seasoning.

Method

  • Chop onions finely and fry on a medium heat until they start to look exciting. Note to self, exciting is not pale and hard!  Think more golden, soft…
  • Chop garlic and add to party. Leave alone for a few moments.
  • Add spices and a little more oil, and keep the heat low.
  • Allow them to blend and absorb each other.
  • Whilst they’re doing this, peel and cut your squash into great big greedy grunt chunks. This is the hardest bit of the recipe, so it is not that bad huh!?
  • Once the spices, onion and garlic have bonded, toss in the squash.
  • Stir, obviously!
  • Allow to mellow a bit, just so the hard edge is taken from the squash, the add the chick peas.
  • Again, introduce them to each other stir round and trust they’ll bond!
  • Add the coconut milk.
  • Reduce heat to the lowest you can go and allow to cook for approximately 20 mins or until the squash is cooked.
  • feel free to add a dash of water if it’s becoming too thick.
  • Stir occasionally.
  • Just before serving, add your fresh spinach, squeeze in your lemon juice and tuck in. You can serve with fluffy brown rice, warmed breads or just fill ya curry boots and make peace with the world.

Life really can be this simple!

Steve Strange Visage

In praise of the New Romantics

So, it’s RIP to Steve Strange, the founder of the New Romantic movement is no more.

It’s a sad day.

I’m not going to pretend I was a Visage ultra-fan, or hold a candlelit vigil while wearing eyeliner and white facepaint. But I am a bit sad. Not just because he was only 55, but because he started New Romanticism, or at least he was widely credited as the person behind it all, and hell, I LOVED that stuff.

I was too young to be a punk, and anyway, ‘punk rockers’ as I would have called them when I was 10 years old, scared me. Of course, aged 43, ageing punks scare me about as much as the Doctor Who theme tune does these days, but back in 1980, I was still a big fan of ABBA.

My first real pop star crush was Adam Ant. That man was (and actually still is) quite beautiful, and it was about that time, in 1980/1 that the vague stirrings of the New Romantic movement started to reach my awareness. My favourite Bowie song (everyone’s got one, right?) is Ashes to Ashes, which features Steve Strange in the video, and I loved it. Just as much as I loved ‘Fade to Grey’, everything by Adam and the Ants and early Spandau Ballet. You can keep your ‘Gold’ and ‘True’, for me, the best Spandau Ballet single was their first -’To Cut a Long Story Short’…

I LOVE Martin Kemp’s outfit here. Does that make me odd?

Too young to be a New Romantic

I desperately wanted to be a New Romantic myself. Even then I was obsessed with fashion and I can remember being so excited when I got to choose a pair of velvet pedal pushers and a broderie anglaise frilly blouse from Mum’s catalogue for a Christmas pressie. It was the closest I could get to the look; I wasn’t allowed to wear make up and my mum still cut my hair. That didn’t stop me practicing the make up styles from Jackie Magazine on my Girl’s World.

I really think it’s time for a New Romantic revival. New Romantics were arty, creative and always looked good. They were true equals; the boys looked as feminine as the girls and the whole boys in make up scene has left me with a real thing for men in eyeliner. New Romantics were clever and witty, a sort of Oscar Wilde antithesis to punk’s John Cooper Clarke. The punks would be hanging around Bognor (where I lived at the time) trying to find something to look angry and menacing about, while the New Romantics would be more likely to be found in Boots sampling the glittery eyeshadow. Punk was all about the hopelessness of it all, a disenchanted youth with no future.

New Romantics were all daydreams and lipgloss, Blitz Kids and androgyny. They didn’t fight against reality, they made up their own and they looked amazing while they did it.

I think being obsessed with the New Romantic scene as a child also left me with a love of dramatic, atmospheric, moody music. I still know all the words to ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ by Soft Cell and Tainted Love is one of my favourite songs of all time. Although Marc Almond denies being anything to do with the scene, I beg to differ. In my head, he’s in there along with Japan, Ultravox and the rest. Even early Duran Duran. If Marc Almond wasn’t a New Romantic, I’m not sure who this is at 0.37 into this brilliant ITV News clip…(PS: Watch out for Richard Madely, too)

So, it’s a fond farewell to Steve Strange. Hands up if you played ‘Fade to Grey’ this morning? It still gives me goose bumps.

character

Why I wrote Viva Voluptuous

character

Why did I write Viva Voluptuous?

Because I wanted to be really, really famous. And very rich.

Well, it was something that crossed my mind for at least 30 seconds. But not really.

I wrote it because a lot of reasons. You could say there’s a lot of me in Ellie, after all, I wrote her. She’s probably a naughtier, younger version of me, with better shoes. I wanted to write a fully three dimensional plus sized character who women of all sizes would be able to identify with. So many fat characters in books are:

1. Not actually fat, “Oh poor me, I can’t get into my size 12 jeans any more.”

2. Miserable buggers.

3. Obsessed with their weight, on a diet or plain hate themselves.

I never ever wanted Ellie to be like that. I wanted her to be feisty, fun and intelligent. I wanted her to be a woman who readers would be able to imagine going out for a few glasses of wine with, or drinking coffee with in Costa and moaning about their love lives.

I wanted someone who had the same relationship dramas as a ‘normal’ sized woman, but to be able to explore how being fat would affect that – not only do you have your own insecurities when you’re big, but you get the whole of society on your back reinforcing the fact that if you’re fat of COURSE you’re not supposed to be attractive and no wonder he dumped you.

I know from real life that even when I’ve felt like crap about my size or appearance, when I’ve been 16, 17 stone, even more, I’ve still had men interested in me. And not just annoying chubby chasers, either, it’s been normal, decent, attractive men. I even married one…I am a lucky girl.

I also wanted the story to really explore friendship, with other women and with men. I’ve got some amazing women friends in my life, and have had (and still do have) brilliant male friends too, most of them completely platonic, one or two who were potential boyfriends at one time but into good mates instead. There seems to be a ‘thing’ in chick lit and women’s books that the male friend is either a potential love interest or a token gay best friend…I deliberately didn’t make the best male buddy gay, because then the whole way through, you wonder whether they will get together. Do they? You’ll have to read it and see.

But you know what, the main reason I wrote the book was because I absolutely LOVED writing it. It was so much fun, creating a world for Ellie, making up a character who I could completely invent, living in her head, feeling how she felt, and ultimately deciding her fate. I loved that.

I really want to do a sequel….I promised so many people that I would. I’ll keep you posted! Meanwhile…if you haven’t read Viva Voluptuous yet… Order it here…

fab feb

Fabulous February

fab feb

 

I decided that as of 1st February, I am not going to complain. Well, not in public or on social media, anyway! I’m making it Fabulous February, or No Complaints February…

This is going to be a challenge; February isn’t ever going to be my favourite month of the year. I’m not built for cold weather and I usually spend the first week of February chasing invoices because I’ve had to pay my tax bill, and so have all the people who owe me money. This never fills me with joy.

So, what better month to put to the test the theory that you can make positive thinking a habit if you keep it up for six weeks?

I’m challenging myself not to complain, and to look on the bright side as much as is humanly possible, and focus on all the lovely things that happen this month instead. So…

Day #1 was a lovely, relaxed day. Had a bit of a read in bed, got up late, went over to the in-laws for Sunday lunch with my stepson and his girlfriend, so that was all very nice. I spent the afternoon reading “E-cubed” by Pam Grout, all about how to make yourself happy and change your world to the way you want it…then had an early night and did a bit of Reiki.

I’ll report back on Day #2 later but so far I’m having a quiet day, the shopping’s been delivered, I’ve been paid ONE of my invoices and I’m taking it easy while my laptop does about a million updates, It’s the start of the week; it likes to have a bit of a fart about,

I’ve been looking out of the windows and watching the birds, there’s loads of them as the rain/snow at the weekend has brought all the worms and grubs out…it’s sunny and the skies are blue, and very cold.

I got to spend a little bit of time in my old home town this weekend, while we introduced the teenagers to the town as they want to move there one day. This also meant I got to pop in and see my parents, which is always a bonus.

I woke up struggling to find the good vibes so I stuck on ‘Happy’ by Pharell Williams. I’m determined to do this…SAD away with you! And the day I see my first daffodil, all winter blues will be forgotten,

pics-daffodil