Saturday, September 30, 2006

That one great day in September

Hurrah! It's here! The great Pie Review weekend.

Get out there and start munching and send your pie review to chewyfood. After all eating is much more exciting that watching football!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

tasting the words

There’s been more reading about and eating of, other people’s food at the moment than cooking. Some dining has been disappointing. A combination of my palate craving the clean, simply cooked organic produce that the detox reinforced and also some very average meals out in the world. Life really is too short to eat shoddy food.

Some people have a Gaydar, others have a Foodar. I used to have the former (well, I was a thespian for a while) and now I have the latter. If I haven’t sussed out 95% of eateries from the outside, one step in the door will tell me if the place is worth trusting my digestion to. Though there are times when I haven’t had the guts to make a fuss and leave.

But you can’t be the diva and choose the restaurant all the time. A night out should be as much about the company as it is the food. Though I still can’t stop getting that sinking feeling when you walk into a place that you just know is going use poor quality ingredients or 'flavour boosters' and all you can do is cross your fingers and hope they don’t recycle the scraps.

A recent night out was like that and to comfort myself on return I snuggled down in bed with my latest foodie memoir. Recently I had been fascinated by Nigel Slater’s “Toast”. It’s an astonishing story, as well as nostalgia rich in food brand names from another decade. Quite a different kettle of fish is my current read – Gay Bilson’s “Plenty - Digressions on Food”. Here the personal culinary journey is tinted with a whole different kind of emotional brush. I’ve travelled through her days at Bon Gout and have just arrived at Berowra Waters. That night I dreamt I was going there with my family. I like it sometimes when my waking life and dream state merge.

I remember a number of years ago reading Stephanie’s Alexander’s “Stephanie’s Journal”. It was one of those best year/worst year stories, which had me in tears more than once. I was so compelled by the richness of the writing, that the next time I ate at Richmond Hill Café & Larder I had to tell her daughter how much it moved me.

A good book makes up for a dud meal. Even better, you can nibble on it any time you hunger.

What food memoirs have moved you?

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

A pie for mum, a pie for dad and one for the blog!

As those who know me would atest, I'm rather disinterested in all things sporting (though I have a vague fascination for the lovely women who do synchronised swimming, in full make up with a smile on their face). However, even I have come to understand that the last Saturday in September in this town means one thing - footie. It marks the few week reprise between the last football match of the season (aka The Grand Final) and the beginning of the cricket. Now, what does this have to do with food you ask? Well, in fear of having my recent citizenship revoked, in a fit of patriotism - I am rallying the troops (in my role of a fellow Chewer) to honour this day with a celebration of the pie. Because here in Australia no sporting event is complete without a soggy meat pie slathered in tomato sauce (ketchup).

Thankfully, there's so much more to pies these days. Over at We Do Chew Our Food we've begun a series of collaborative reviews of common foods. To mark the Grand Final we are opening our Inaugural Pie Review to anyone, anywhere to send us a review of a local savoury pie. The pie can be bought, home made, meat or vegetarian and as traditional or unconventional as you desire.

All entries need to be in by midnight, next Sunday, 1st October (that's about midday for you in the Northern Hemisphere).

Check out the details and send us your review to to this address. You've got a week to get munching!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The return of salad season

Early in the week I journeyed home from the Shaky Isles to a glorious 30c Melbourne day. For some of the urbanites it meant a sneak preview of skimpy summer clothes and strappy sandals. For those in the country it brought a very early start to the fire season, with over 250 flare ups across the state. As far as I was concerned, it heralded the blessed return of leafy salads.

I’m always a little amused to read salad recipes. To me it is the most improvised dish on the planet – some vegetables, occasionally a bit of fruit, maybe some protein and a dressing - who needs to be prescriptive about it? The choice of ingredients depends of what is fresh and vibrant. Winter salads tend to have more root vegetables, perhaps some grains and fewer greens, but the return of the sun welcomes back rocket, my favourite edible leaf. Spring also brings a fleeting visit of asparagus. Still early in the season, I can find little organic bundles of delightfully thin green spears. The season's first mouthful of asparagus, blanched for a minute in boiling water, then refreshed in an icy bath tells me it's September in Australia. With 2 old friends back in town, how could I not make a salad?

The vegetables are the easy part, but turning a side dish into a full meal, and a vegan one at that, needs a little ingenuity. Enter the most misunderstood member of the soy family – tempeh.

I’ve often referred to tempeh as ‘the blue cheese of soy products’, the milk, beans and tofu being so bland. But tempeh is fermented, it has attitude as well as a strong, nutty flavour that can take a little getting used to. Unlike tofu, it can’t be eaten raw. What brings it to life is being fried – particularly deep fried (if you can face it). The result is crispy and flavoursome in the same way that well cooked bacon adds a tangy edge to a spinach salad. Perhaps the easiest way to introduce tempeh to your palate is to splash it with tamari or soy sauce and fry it. The salty accompaniment balances out the strong taste acquired through the fermentation process. But for me I enjoy the flavour unadorned, fried in an uncrowded pan, as part of a salad, stir fry or grain dish.

Spring salad with Tempeh

(feel free to improvise)
Asparagus, blanched

Toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds (optional)

Thin slices of tempeh (tamari optional), cut into 2-3cm lengths, shallow or deep fried in vegetable oil, well drained.


1 part: lemon juice
2 parts: vegetable oil eg walnut or olive
1/2 tsp honey
a few drops of tamari/shoyu/soy sauce

Assemble the salad with rocket on the bottom and the tempeh on top. Combine the dressing ingredients well and sprinkle on top, or toss through.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

a work in progress

Time to share a work in progress.

Most of what I cook is by the seat of my pants and usually it hits the mark, but there is always room for a tweak and a twist. Last night I experimented with a tasty pastry-less little fish pie or hot pot. The Significant Eater has a signature dish - a whole baked snapper with potatoes, green olives and tomatoes. It's exquisite, but though deceptively simple not something you'd make for one at the end of a long day. The challenge is to concoct a mini version with fillets to make a quick, simple one dish meal.

Snapper “pie” with olives, tomatoes and potato

(per person)
1 medium fillet of snapper, cut into chunks
1 large ripe tomato, sliced
6 or more pitted green olives
a handful of baby potatoes
garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
Smokey paprika

Scrub potatoes and par boil. If using the tiny little spuds, just halve. For larger ones, cut into 2 cm slices.

Oil the sides of a ramekin or small pie dish.

Assemble with snapper on the bottom, then olives, garlic, tomato and top with potato, lightly seasoning each layer. Brush a little olive oil on the exposed slices of potato and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake in a hot oven for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. The potato should turn golden.

The verdict: This is a low fat, healthy one dish meal. The fish was moist and sweet, with a lot of juice from the fillet itself and the tomato. It could have done with more olives and garlic, perhaps a little fresh coriander as well.

How would you tweak it?

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

But what about the food?

So, Fifteen Melbourne has just been launched. Young Jamie has been entertaining locals by playing his drums on stage, filling a sizable theatre while his mate Toby has dug in for the hard work of stopping some scrubby youths from poisoning the Melbourne glitterati. The Victorian foodblog world is abuzz.

But I don’t get it.

All reviews I have read of the flagship London Fifteen is that the food is both average and overpriced. Now all of a sudden we have 1,000s of people waiting on hold, attempting to make a precious reservation through one of the “friendly booking agents” on the recently released 1300 number. They are happy to wait weeks or in some cases months, for a seat at an unproven restaurant. Not just that, food cooked up by work experience kids putting their sticky fingers into the mash. This is just so not Melbourne.

This is a city where a frothy latte is the death of a cafe. Where the Golden Arches failed to make a go of a restaurant on Lygon Street. Where even preschoolers can critique a babychino.

Here’s a tip. Save some time and money and check out the student catering from William Angliss. Ok, so you won’t bump into the face that launched a thousand cookbooks (and faux Essex accents), but you are still supporting young people trying to find their way in a tough industry.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More eating in Wellington

Land of the long white cloud maybe, but to me New Zealand could be renamed the land of the long corn fritter (with a crisp white wine on the side). Fritters, fritters, fritters – what is it with the Kiwi’s and their desire to encapsulate random vegetables in a batter and cook it up like some kind of savoury pikelet? In 5 days I had beetroot, chickpea, fetta and mint fritters (all in the same little patty, surprisingly nicer than it sounds) and sampled 3 different corn fritters of varying quality – from doughy to crispy.

Corn fritters with a great salad at The Flying Fish Café, Martinborough.

To balance this out there were plentiful local sauvignon blancs to be tasted. For balance, some good reds as well.

A Wairarapa sauv blanc as the sun goes down, The White Swan, Greytown.

As I have mused before, eating in Wellington can be variable. This time was no exception. I took a punt on an eatery, named after 2 opposing compass points, that was so bad I wouldn’t know where to start critiquing it. As I ate my way around Wellington and the Wairarapa there were also frequent servings of dishes that bore little resemblance to it’s menu description – aioli which was chutney and yoghurt, shitake spring rolls without a hint of mushroom of any sort, a macchiato made with steamed milk…But in fairness it is time to heap some praise on a local establishment that has been serving very happy Wellingtonians for the past 15 years.

The Boulcott Street Bistro resides in a local landmark, a 19th century peaked roof cottage on a steep road leading into the CBD. The first hurdle was the fact that this popular establishment takes no booking. It was a cold night and the outline of happy diners could be glanced though the condensation fogged front windows. Inside the place was buzzing and cosy. Despite getting there within 45 minutes of opening the restaurant was almost full and we were placed up the narrow stairs in the private dinning room in the attic. Each time the wind blew the windows rattled and the little wooden building shook. The night before there had been an earthquake and the movement unsettled me a little. But with pre-dinner drinks efficiently dispensed and an excellent bottle of Spy Valley merlot opened, we relaxed into the experience.

The menu is described as ‘modern bistro’. Francophile food is not the best choice for the dairy intolerant, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fare on offer. The special of the day was whitebait, which made my heart sing. “Real” whitebait, little worms of the waterways, are boneless morsels which bear no resemblance to the little fish sold by that name in Australia. As a child I spent a chilly day standing in a river with a distant cousin catching the tiny critters, which makes me even more endeared towards them. Usually they are dished up in the ubiquitous national fritter, but the Boulcott Street Bistro wrapped them in a thin omelette with a hint of garlic making this the most delicious entrée I have eaten anywhere in recent memory.

For mains, the chef replaced the mash for steamed, small gourmet potatoes to make a cream-free dish of mahi mahi on a bed of mushrooms and spinach – making it still tasty but very healthy. Others opted for a classic steak with béarnaise sauce and chicken with green beans. Conversation slowed down as we ate - for once our fussy family had hit the jackpot. Some even had dessert. Their famous crème Brule was devoured and a pineapple sorbet made in house got 5 stars. At (NZ)$275, for 4 people eating 2 courses each, with wine and pre-dinner drinks, the Boulcott Street Bistro hit all the right marks, with high commendation to the waitress navigating those narrow stairs laden with plates with a smile on her face.

For more reviews of the good, the bad and the indifferent in Wellywood check out my previous post.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I'll be back in a bit...

Just popping out for some chocolate fish, paua fritters, sauv blanc, "pacific rim fusion food" and all that. Back early next week.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lessons from the Detox

Easing in and out of the detox gently worked very well and the fruit fast weekend was much easier this way. After 10 days I have succumbed to 1 glass of champagne, to celebrate a joyous event and gone out for breakfast. I will keep eating whole grain/legume based meals as the major part of my diet for the near future. When coffee will return is undecided, but I get an inkling that it will be in the near future.

I have enjoyed reacquainting myself with quinoa and tempeh. As I play with them more I’ll post some recipes as they develop. It has also been a good excuse to pull out the healthiest cookbooks on the shelf: Dr Gillian McKeith, The Golden Door and recipes from a macrobiotic workshop weekend.

What I missed most wasn’t the food or drink but the rituals around them. It can be quite lonely studiously making your own breakfast, lunch and dinner – every day. There is so much more to food than actually eating.

I do feel bright eyed and bushy tailed, despite the glass of bubbly. My head is clear and my skin is radiant. My jeans fit looser and there’s barely a “muffin top” happening anymore!

Some things to keep in mind:

Drink lots of pure water – aim for 3 litres a day.

Even a 1 cup of caffeine a day habit will give you a withdrawal headache!

Buy organic. What’s the point of getting the toxins out if you are chucking back in all the agricultural poisons?

Plan your meals as much as possible. Shop ahead so the ingredients are at hand so you can’t wimp out.

Find a stretch of 10 days with no big commitments during the time to tease/deprive you.

Enjoy each mouthful.

…at the end of the day it’s only food.

"Any fool can fast, but it takes a wise man to break it” George Bernard Shaw

What are your detox tips?

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Detox Diaries - day 7

I’ve hit the 1 week mark!

Awake all zippy just before the alarm. My head catalogues all the things I have to do before I leave the house. It’ll be a tough call but I can jump out of bed and get it done in time. Optimism is a great detox side effect.

In the shower 7.30, the phone rings. A call at this time of the day you just know it is never going to be good news. It’s not. My neighbour asks me hesitantly if I have seen my car today.? Oh dear, what? How bad? Standing in the rain cataloguing the wilful damage to your 2 year old car takes a bit more than a pure diet and optimism to endure.

The morning goes to custard, but fortunately I don’t. I am a bit wobbly by the time I get to head into work. A combo of shock and only having a piece or two of fruit to eat on the way. Breakfast, for me, is NEVER skimpy or on the run. I admit to feeling a bit miserable, but it’s not comfort food I am after, it is the ritual of eating that I am craving.

I’ve managed to at least heat and grab the soup made the night before, in lieu of some time consuming salad for lunch that I couldn’t prepare. The red lentil soup is strangely sweet without salt. Salt really, really is essential in soup! I had grabbed the last dregs of the pesto to throw in and the rush of raw garlic saves the day.

Dinner, and yes it’s 7pm after a long day at work and I have crashed again, is soup once more. Boring but sustaining. Craving more intense flavour I finish with some babaganoush and raw vegetables.

The day's other snacks – raw nuts and an afternoon fruit salad from David Jones. Lots of water.

The detox is going ok. I’m not hungry but rather wanting my food to comfort me, especially on a day like today. It’s becoming a great exercise in awareness.

Tomorrow it is reintegration time. The plan is a diverse vegan diet, still without stimulants, sugars and processed grains but being less pedantic about oil and salt (in moderation at least).

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Detox Diaries - day 6

Dreams returned to their usual meld of non-food related items. Wake up feeling AOK.

Juice for a change to help face the new day.

Pear Zinger Juice
1 pear
1 apple
1 lemon, skin removed
ginger root, 1/2-1 inch, depending on your zing tolerance!

Parts 1 and 2 of breakfast were taken around a dentist appointment. I have to say that in the 20 odd years since I stopped eating meat I’ve never had a new cavity.

The reward for the never entirely relaxing visit to the dentist was a punnet of blueberries. I know they are “good” for you but most I have tasted have been ho-hum. However spurred on by the euphoria of the big organic grocery store (which lacked any other fruit that excited me) I parted with the big bucks for a cupful of organic berries. I am now a convert. They are sensational! Sometimes you really do pay for what you get.

Having started the working day late I didn’t have a lot of time to face the lunchbox challenge. I always buy my lunch, but I knew without the one saving grace in the city being open I’d have to pack my own today. I’d bought some good quality babaganoush, fresh with no additives and scooped some into a small container and hastily chopped up some veggie sticks. In a ziploc bag I threw in some ice to keep it from going off. Some almonds and a big bottle of filtered water completed the preparations. Oh yes, am still downing 2-3 litres a day of that precious fluid in various forms!

Lunch tasted great, but I still like the ritual of eating outside of the office. There is always the threat of the phone ringing or someone coming in, to upset the digestion. I’ve got to say I’m looking forward to going out to eat other people’s food next week.

The other downside is that although the detox is less extreme since the weekend’s fruit fast, I hadn’t really tested myself. Energy was better than expected and I hadn’t suffered any big crashes, but in reality I had done very little for 3 days. But today all that changed. By 5pm, despite nibbling on a few almonds, my brain shut down. Blood sugar had plummeted and I couldn’t add up numbers. Fortunately I’m not an accountant, but I feel like an idiot stumbling over simple sums in front of clients. By the time I got home I was literally running in circles, knowing I needed to eat (some blueberries helped, but not enough) but not being able to decide on what. The plan was to make veggie stock for some lentil soup. Dumb plan when it is 6pm, you’re hypoglycaemic and dinner will take 2 hours to cook! I chased my tail for a while and after reading lots of recipes took ideas from 3 different ones to come up with my own.

Bean salad with parsley pesto

The pesto bit
Combine: parsley, pistachios, 1-3 cloves of garlic, a little grated lemon zest and some lemon juice in a food processor and blitz til smooth. Then add 1-2 avocado and blend briefly. (Non-detoxers could add a slurp or 2 of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.)

The bean salad bit
White beans (cooked from dried would have been better but a can of well rinsed organic beans can be a lifesaver sometimes) and diced salad vegetables..

Mix the pesto through the salad and you have a well balanced, 10 minute meal!

The pesto in particular was fabulous – thanks to Flip Shelton’s idea to use pistachios. I’m still waiting for her recipe to go up on the RRR’s Breakfasters site, but I know it also had mint and basil. The avocado came from a Golden Door recipe book, it extended it and gave a little creaminess. It would be great on steamed greens or a chunk on top of a vegetable soup, as it is half way between a pesto and gramalata.

Planning is the key to a successful detox I reckon. To avoid tonight's problems, instead of resting I spent the night making vegetable stock (from all those dag ends of celery etc that I have been gathering) and eventually a no-fry, red lentil and vegetable soup - so there is something for dinner when I get home late from work tomorrow.

Tomorrow – and I thought today was tough! How life’s little crises can threaten a detox, will she make it or won’t she?

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Detox Diaries - day 5

More dreams, not eating but bringing 1 metre long vanilla pods and other spices back into the country and deciding to declare it as my bag is stuffed with food from some kind of overseas buy up. Hmm, we’ll leave that to the Jungian Psychologists.

Still feel empty versus hungry but kind of excited that new foods can be bought into my diet. I am playing it by ear for now – a raw food element, largely unprocessed, organic and vegan

Begin the day with – you guessed it - lemon juice in warm water. Today I add a small fruit salad. Simple – a kiwi, an apple and a tamarillo mixed with the juice of a mandarin. The tamarillo (aka “tree tomato”) while relatively exotic in Melbourne was a staple in my New Zealand childhood. It sat on top of the other fruit, greeting me cheerily. Though a very modest serve, it was still at least double the meal sizes from the past few days. I actually felt full before I finished it, but an hour later it’s effects had diminished.

Organic Salad Supreme in Cos leaves

Avocado, diced
Celery, diced
Spring onion, thinly sliced
Parsley, chopped
Carrot, grated
Alfalfa sprouts
Raw pistachio nuts, shelled
Lemon juice

Combine the above ingredients, dressing to taste with fresh lemon juice.

Place about 1 tablespoon of salad in the centre of a Cos lettuce leaves. This is a bit like an open sandwich but the sides can be closed or rolled to make a wrap if preferred.

This salad was inspired by a trip to an organic grocery store. I don’t find sprouts that interesting as a food, but they are usually an essential on all detox lists. After a few days of only fruit this combo was most delicious. The lemon brings the flavours together, the avocado gives it some softness and the pistachios lend both sweetness as well as providing a different texture to the crisp vegetables.

Sprout tip: The key to goodness is freshness. In fact a few days past their peak, I’ve been told, their good phytochemicals turn into dubious ones – so if not spouting your own make sure to get the ones with a long ‘use by’.

Steamed vegetables with a simple tahini/miso sauce

Tahini and miso sauce
Per person: combine the following in a bowl or jug

1 tablespoon of miso paste
1 tablespoon of tahini (preferably unhulled for extra goodness)
I small clove of garlic, crushed (optional)
A small knob of ginger, grated or finely chopped (optional)
1-3 tablespoons of hot water

Start adding a small amount of water to melt the miso paste and gradually combine the mixture with more water til you reach your desired consistency.

This is a delightful, simple dressing for steamed vegetables.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

5 things to eat before you die (we'll at least I think so)

We interupt this detox with a little meme inspired daydreaming.

An amazing worldwide foodblog request originating from The Travellers Lunchbox asks what have you eaten that you think everyone else should taste before they die? So what are my top 5 (apologies to vegans and those allergic to seafood).

1. Trout freshly caught from a New Zealand mountain river, smoked over manuka branches.

2. A real boullibasse in the South of France (this was even more fabulous due to the awful travel story behind it).

3. Barbecued swordfish, which had been swimming in the ocean earlier that day, in a coastal town in Crete.

4. Crayfish caught by a friend - cooked and eaten just as it came, Matapouri, Far North of New Zealand.

5. My mothers chocolate mousse (which I promise to make and blog before the year is out)

And yours?


Detox Diaries - day 4


Still empty and dreaming. Last night they were more humourous, a series of scenarios and in each I unthinkingly ate some delicious morsel of food and a short while later thought “Oh bugger, I was meant to eat only fruit today!” Perhaps I’m just reminding myself how unconscious I am of what and how I eat most of the time.

Energy on low-ish power, doing things seems to take me longer. Breakfast is one kiwi fruit sliced into 5ths, on a nice china plate, eaten with a fork. It was the best kiwi fruit I have ever eaten! The cool slivers initially smooth on the tongue, with a honeyed sweetness followed by a gritty tang.

As much as I enjoyed every bite, I am not craving food. Yesterday I read Mel’s blog about the hot jam donuts at Vic Market. I have walked past that van for the past 20 years while shopping and only ever vaguely been tempted but never enough to commit to the experience (ah it’s that inner food nazi’s fault again!). But on reading her post I wanted one. Now. Maybe two. I didn’t know how I used to be able to walk past without stopping.

Today, it doesn’t register.

I flow through the rest of the day, go to a movie for distraction (“Friends With Money” – fortunately not highly food focused) and would sum up my mood as ‘bored’. Not eating, not cooking, not dining – can be very, very boring. But the upside is there’s very little washing up to do!

Today’s tips to all potential detoxers - some things to avoid in the first few days of the challenge are:

1. Stick to non-food blog browsing. In fact cleanse your mind and don’t touch the computer or tv for a couple of days.
2. Resist reading the brand new “Good Food Guide” and planning your eating out forays.
3. Even if you have just bought the delicious Nigel Slater cookbook, don’t lay a finger on it.
4. Now is not the best time to catch up on your backlog of “Eat Feed” and KCRW’s “Good Food” podcasts.

Tomorrow – the vegetables return!

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Detox Diaries - day 3


Awake to a catfight at 7.30am but at least I had 8 unbroken hours of sleep. I was dreaming that I was running massive distances up and down the hills in my hometown. I wasn’t puffed or in pain. In fact I had masses of energy. Strange, as I never run.

Head clear-ish. Mood, OK. But start thinking about food. Or rather the denial of food. Restricting your diet can shake the core of who you are. I want the ritual of a cup of coffee in bed while I write my journal, or over a long perusal of the Saturday paper. I think of the big vegetarian breakfast at my favourite café.

Instead I have my lemon juice in warm water and start blogging.

Time passes very slowly when your tummy keeps shouting “feed me”. Technically I could gorge myself on apples – the fruit du jour, but I know the more I eat, the hungrier I will ultimately feel. By 1pm I have only got through 2 Pink Ladies, cored and cut into 8ths. Lots of water.

Mineral water becomes an exciting deviation, or the way the fruit is sliced. But by mid afternoon the preoccupation with hunger recedes and by bedtime there is more a sense of emptiness, a rather neutral kind of sensation. Instead of feeling flat and irritated I am quite peaceful and, if not exactly jumping out of my skin, mildly energised

When did you last feel empty? We all scan these blogs because we are worshippers of food. Satiety is usually the goal, but without the opposite, sometimes we can’t fully appreciate it. When your palate is bombarded with so many different flavours and textures, most of the time we forget to taste. I can tell you a crisp apple has crunch, sweetness and an enticing aroma – but perhaps you have to be focused, calm and empty to appreciate it. Go on, give it a try!

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Detox Diaries - days 1-2

It’s Spring Clean time.

Some years it’s as simple as giving up coffee for a while, arguing that my base diet is better than most. You can still get that small buzz of virtue saying “no” to caffeine or alcohol, without doing the really tough work. Once, in London, it was a full on fast for 5 days of just water and herb tea.

Last year was a modified, stricter version of the original Leslie Kenton 10 Day clean up - a 2 day fruit fast and another week of very strict eating, mainly raw fruit and veg with a few nuts, seeds, real grains and beans thrown in at the end. Squeaky clean! But although I had no caffeine cursing through my system to withdraw from, I felt achy, cold and lethargic for the duration

So this year’s plan is a flexible week to 10 days of good clean food, with more lead in time and only a couple of totally raw food days.

Day 1
Yesterday I farewelled coffee, chocolate and alcohol. At this point it’s more psyching myself into the whole thing. The pre-marathon pep talk. As I know that these little joys will only be gone for a week or two, it’s no big stress.

Start the day with lemon juice in warm water, move onto a peppermint tea. Have some porridge for breakfast, some salad and carbs for lunch and steamed fish and vegetables for dinner. Some rice too, which was almost brown. A packet of dirty looking basmati labelled “brown basmati” that looked pretty white and huskless on cooking.

I notice people drinking coffee at the market and feel a little wistful. I shop up large at my favourite organic stall – finding the best fruit and veg to get the whole shebang under way.

Day 2
Awake grumpy and blame it on the Significant Eater breaking my sleep for the second night in a row. He is heading away for the weekend and jokes (?) about seeing me at the end of next week when I am in a better mood.

I discover that when people are detoxing their sense of humour can also go down the toilet.

Have a headache in 2 different parts of my head that I deny has anything to do with a 2nd day without coffee. My neck must be out.

Start the day with the lemon juice, some ginger and spice ‘tea’ and eat some soaked oats and an apple. At lunch I head off to the wonderful organic café in Degraves Street only to discover it is closed for the next couple of weeks! Mild panic ensues about what I will do next week when I am in the tougher stage of the detox. Go to some other healthy-ish food shop that has ok salads, avoiding all the noodle and couscous ones. Food alright, but would prefer organic with more leafy greens.

Today is officially the first day of summer and the barometer has hit an amazing 25c. The air is thick with warmth and everyone is happy. On the way home my mind wanders to the perfectness of sipping a cool drink at an outdoor bar on such an evening.

Another twist to detox diets is they suggest you have your evening meal at a ridiculously early hour. Manage to make and consume a salad by 6.45pm and settle in for a night on the couch with the ABC. Tummy rumbles a couple of hours later with strong sweet cravings. Eat 4 sultanas then discover a couple of passionfruit. Am sated at last.

Detox recipe from Day 2

An impromptu ‘whatever is in the fridge’ Salad
Cauliflower – florets blanched in boiling water for 1 minute then refreshed in ice water
Celery – stalks and leaves, diced
Radish – sliced
Carrot – cut into sticks
Spring onion – thinly sliced on the diagonal

2 cloves of garlic – blanched (raw ok)
half an avocado - mashed
1 tablespoon tahini
lemon juice – about half a lemon, to taste

Combine the ingredients in a bowl til smooth. If you want to make a thinner dressing add a little hot water til you get the desired consistency.

Tip: Eat the salad in a small bowl. Chew well. Now you can have a second bowlful!

The next 2 days will be tough – just one type of fruit a day for the weekend. Now I have had my gentle intro to the detox – the real cleanse begins!

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