Lunch at Fern’s in Canterbury

Chef P was on holiday from Good Friday until this past Monday and went back to work on Tuesday.  As you may know from reading some previous posts, we had been very busy.  On his last day off, we decided to head over to Canterbury, which we tend to visit about 3-4 times a year, even though we’re only a short distance away.  The last time we were there was around Christmas.

We took the train in, which is always so much easier than driving.  We strolled around and found that there was a Whittard’s and was finally able to find a tea infuser for my mother-in-law. 🙂  Don’t really know how long this store was there, but was glad to find it.  The last time I was at one of their stores was back in July when we were in London.  It just occurred to me; I’m in England where they drink tea like there’s no tomorrow and yet we had a hell of a time trying to find a tea infuser!  We looked in four other stores before I finally found one!

Around midday, we decided to get some lunch.  We don’t do fast food so had to find some place proper to eat.  We found a place that was actually hidden away as there’s really no storefront for it, just the entrance door with a sign pointing you upstairs.  We went to Fern’s Restaurant and Tearoom.  It’s a quaint little restaurant and as it was a weekday, it was rather quiet.  There was a woman dining alone at the table behind us and a couple who were sitting in one of the window seats having lunch.

The seats were leather with high backs and rather comfortable I might add.  The tables were a heavy wood (oak?) with cast iron pedestal bottoms.  Many of these places in Canterbury were once homes and it’s usually quite obvious.  There were two fireplaces (one in each corner) in the section of the room we were sat in with tiled edging.  Many homes back in the early times had more than one fireplace in a room just to get it warm enough.

Chef P ordered a vegetable quiche which came with fries(chips in the UK) and a cappuchino and I ordered a ham, cheese and tomato paninni which came with a small dressed salad and some potato chips(crisps in the UK) and a diet coke.

Now those of you who follow South Beach know that I shouldn’t have eaten some of what was placed in front of me.  The paninni bread alone is a no-no as it’s made with white flour and I really shouldn’t have eaten some all of the crisps.  Another thing that I never have anymore is soda, even diet soda, but I just felt like having it.  We never buy soda or potato chips and I very rarely eat them except in situations like this, so I really don’t feel guilty for having them.

It was a lovely relaxing lunch; something we don’t do often enough.  We’re heading up to Scotland at the end of June for a week, so we’ll get to do that quite a bit.  I’ll fill you in more on our upcoming trip as it gets closer.  Here’s one bit of info:  We’re taking a sleeper train up there!

Have a nice weekend!

♥ Terri  ♥♥

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Fast Food ~ Is it Time to Slow Down?

Burgers, fried chicken, pizza, kebabs, fish and chips, take-out curries…the epitome of fast food.

How much of these grease-laden items do we eat?  Personally, I don’t, but a recent study shows that more than half (50.4%) of all meals eaten in Britain are from fast food restaurants…an alarming figure, don’t you think?

That amounts to nearly 5.54 billion fast food meals a year.  No wonder there’s an obesity epidemic in this country, and that applies to all age groups.  Also, with our current economic climate, the low prices for fast food is even more appealing.

In addition, some fast food chains have make a great effort to appeal to middle-class families.  There have been shifts to free-range eggs and organic milk fruit and veggies for children’s meals.  Other smaller fast food rivals have been promoting their use of organic meat and the finest ingredients.

There has also been a drop in the number of meals eaten at lunchtime at the canteen in schools, universities and work places, down from 19.5% in 2008 to 16.9% currently.  Workers are snubbing the canteen and pub lunches for fast food.  School students are doing the same with school meals and cafeterias in favor of heading to the High street for something to eat.

(We have a school across from the Asda and I’m always seeing kids in there in the morning prior to school.  They are buying soda, energy drinks, chips/crisps, snack foods and sweets.)

The amount spent on eating out in general is down, but families who eat out spend less and prefer familiar chains where they know exactly what they will get for their money.  It is the quick service restaurants serving burgers, chicken and ethnic dishes that have led the growth.

Because fast food is cheap, people aren’t eating at independent restaurants or pubs.  Yes, fast food is cheap, but what about your health?

Guess all the money you’ll save won’t matter when you’re diagnosed with clogged arteries, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Eat healthy.  Your life depends on it.

♥♥ Terri ♥♥

Eating In vs Easting Out

Which is more economical?  Eating in or dining out?  Everyone will have their opinion, but common sense tells us that eating in is cheaper and almost always healthier than dining out.  And by eating in, I don’t mean getting a take-out meal or buying a frozen dinner and taking it home to eat.  We’re talking HOME COOKING here.  You obviously save money because eating out costs more for the same things, for example, buying and cooking beef mince is generally cheaper than buying a hamburger in a restaurant.

With eating in, you know exactly what goes into your food and you decide on the portion size.  With all the cookbooks out there, you can whip up a fancy meal in just about the same way as a fancy restaurant at a fraction of the cost.  However, this all depends on where you live, what you eat and how well you can cook and does require some planning and personal effort.  And if you shop like we do, you can save even more.  (Check the ‘reduced to clear’ sections and buy in bulk the items you use frequently.  I buy whole wheat flour in 10kg bags because I bake my own bread and it’s much cheaper to buy the large bag as opposed to the small 1.5kg bags, especially when you find it in the reduced to clear section!)

Home-cooked food is almost always healthier. Most restaurant meals are loaded with fat, sugar, and calories. Butter is the restaurant’s chef’s best friend. And for many people, dining out actually takes more time than eating in.  Unfortunately, time can also be an issue.  Many choose to eat out because they don’t have time to cook for themselves or their families.  About 60% of mothers work outside the home.

Now I’m not saying that you should never eat out, but eating out should be used for special occasions or perhaps once or twice a month as a treat.  Whether you go to the local chain restaurant or to that fancy place you’ve been dying to try, if you don’t go very often, you’ll appreciate it more.

In September 2011, The New York Times did a price comparison on fast food vs. home cooking.

(It’s been so long since I’ve eaten fast foods; that McDonald’s meal doesn’t even look very appetizing!  I assume there’s a burger in between that bun on the right?)

So what do you think?  Is eating in better/cheaper/healthier than eating out?

BOOK REVIEW – A TASTE OF HOME

From simple pork sandwiches to an elegant rack of lamb with a pistachio crust, Angela Hartnett gives you recipes that she likes to cook at home and she says that home cooking is more about sharing good meals with friends than showing off cheffy skills.

The recipes are simple and tasty and not too complicated.  After all, you want to spend time with your guests, not be stuck in the kitchen all night!

There are 200 simple recipes and over 70 color photos….

including a few step by step photos…

We had the pleasure of meeting Angela at her restaurant, Murano when we were in London in July.

We’ve made a handful of her recipes from the book including White Onion Risotto and the Lamb Rack with Pistachio Crust.  Last night I made the Fusilli with Sprouting Broccoli, Chili and Garlic and I also added fresh broad beans to it.

Fusilli w/Sprouting Broccoli, Broad Beans, Chili & Garlic

I made a good bit of it so there’s plenty of leftover for me to have with lunch today.  I used a mix of plain pasta and whole wheat pasta as I didn’t think I had enough of either.

FUSILLI w/SPROUTING BROCCOLI, CHILI & GARLIC

250g sprouting broccoli, broken into small florets
375g dried fusilli
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 chili, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the broccoli florets until tender.  Remove the broccoli, keep the cooking water in the pan and bring it back to the boil.

Add the pasta to the pan and stir and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan and saute the chilli and garlic, without coloring.  Add the cooked broccoli, season and set aside.

Drain the pasta and put it back in the pan.  Toss in the broccoli sauce.  Finish with the grated cheese, if using and the rest of the olive oil.  Serve immediately.

As a side note, this recipe is South Beach Diet friendly for Phase 2 if all whole wheat pasta is used.

Enjoy!

LEFTOVERS AND CRUMBS

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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We’ll be heading to London next weekend to meet up with my brother and sis-in-law to do a belated celebration of my birthday for a few days.  I must note that my brother is paying for our hotel and my birthday dinner. (I have a great brother!)  I haven’t seen them since I went back home to the States for their 25th Anniversary party and that was two years ago.  Needless to say I’m really looking forward to seeing them both.

One of the things we are doing is going to one of the really nice restaurants, called Murano’s. It’s mainly an Italian restaurant and is owned by one of the many celebrity chefs in this country, Angela Hartnett.  I’m sure I’ll have lots of foodie stuff to talk about when we get back.  I selected the restaurant, although my first choice was Le Gavroche but my brother said he didn’t want to have to remortgage his home just to go out to dinner!

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The above is one of the reasons I want to shed the few pounds before we go…I know I’ll end up putting it back on with all the eating (and drinking!) we’ll do.  So far, I’ve lost two lbs. 🙂 and as long as I keep eating properly and stay away from the alcohol for the next several days, I should be OK.  One of the items I made was a Breakfast Casserole from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

It makes life easier as all I had to do was cut it up into serving pieces and reheat when needed.

This morning I sliced up the serving piece, warmed it up and put it into a whole wheat wrap along with sliced tomato.  I must admit it was pretty tasty.  Now, what to have for lunch….

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I’ve been busy with trying to restock my jellies and jams for the next market at the end of the month and as we’ll be away for a few days, I have even less time to do this.  Yesterday I made Piccalilli and today I’ve started the process for Chili Jelly with Lemongrass & Ginger. The apples, dried chilis, lemongrass stalk and chunks of ginger are simmering away.  That will all be put into a jelly bag to drain overnight and I’ll finish it tomorrow.

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In our back garden, we have branches of a plum tree that belongs to the next door neighbour, hanging over our fence.  Two years ago, I picked several of the plums and used them to make a jam.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what type of plums they are…perhaps one of my UK friends might help me out on this; Marie? Karen?  When I picked them the first time, they were a yellowish gold color.  I assumed they were ripe as they had been on the tree for a while.

The jam came out very nice and that was that.  This year, possibly due to a proper winter, the plums are absolutely gorgeous!  They are turning red and I can’t wait to pick them and make jam again!

Maybe now that they are the proper colour, I can find out what they are.  They’re not very big, about the size of a walnut or a golf ball.  Could they be Damsons?  Will they get darker?  What will become of these mysterious plums???

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Terri’s Tasty Tip…

Here’s a nice Guacamole recipe to take to your next barbecue.  It’s a recipe from  the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, 1999, but I’ve tweeked it a bit.  Don’t forget to take along a bag of tortilla chips!

Guacamole
4 ripe avocados
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp. Tequila (optional)
8 dashes of Tabasco
1 small red onion, small-diced or minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 medium tomato, seeded and small-diced
1 Tbsp. coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped

Cut the avocados in half, remove stones and scoop out flesh with a spoon into a large bowl.  Immediately add the lime juice and Tequila, if using.  Using two knives, criss-cross slice the avocados until they are finely diced.  Add the remaining ingredients except the tomato and coriander leaves and mix well.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Add the tomatoes and mix.  Sprinkle with coriander leaves prior to serving.

Happy Cooking!