You’ll Never Know who You’ll Find in There!

Good Day Dear Readers!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend as we had a four-day weekend as Chef P took off on Friday and also yesterday.  We did the rounds of Thanet on Friday:  Cliftonville for the kitty food and litter, Ramsgate to the Asian store for noodles, the Green grocer for garlic and chili peppers and  Lidl for fresh veg, then to the farm shop for potatoes and cherries (for mum) and then to Tesco for the bulk of the shopping.

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We picked up our usual 12.5kg/27.5lb bag of potatoes (for a whopping £1.50/$2.27).  Chef P made shepherd’s pie on Sunday and as he was pulling potatoes out of the bag, look who was hiding inside…

It’s a Jimmy Durante Mr. Potato Head!

For you youngsters who don’t know who Mr. Durante is, here’s his picture…

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Hey, I’ve just recently joined Pinterest, so please click on my button over on the right to follow me!

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Chef P took the day off yesterday, so we headed over to Canterbury again.  This is the third time in about as many months.  We stopped for lunch at the Forge Restaurant in Nason’s Department Store and had quite a healthy lunch, although I didn’t take any pictures.  I had an open-faced sandwich of turkey, apple slices and cole slaw on whole wheat bread with a nice little side salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber and a cup of green tea.

We also stopped in Whittard’s of Chelsea which are the purveyors of fine teas since around 1836 and got myself a box of Gunpowder Green Tea Leaves.

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And here’s a lovely shot of my beautiful lillies that I have out in the front of the house.  I’ve been quite lucky this year that the lily beetles didn’t get to them as badly as they have in the past.  I managed to squash a good many of them this year and I think all the rain kept them away too.

Lovely Lilies

Just a quiet day here at Terri’s Kitchen, so until next time…

♥ Terri  ♥♥

Green Tea ~ One Lump or Two?

Good Day, Dearest Reader!

Over the past several months, I’ve been reading and hearing about some of the benefits of green tea.  Not that I remember half of what I’ve read about it, but I do know it’s supposed to be good for you in various ways.

So I figured I would do a post on it to inform not only myself, but also you, although you may already know about its benefits.

As last Friday was my birthday, Chef P and I went to Canterbury for the day.  We popped in to the tea and coffee store, Whittard’s.  My mum-in-law wanted some Assam loose leaf tea and I decided to get myself some Green loose leaf tea.  I currently have a green tea blend that I drink on occasion, but wanted to get just some proper green tea.

So what do we know about green tea?  Well here’s the technical facts according to Wikipedia:

Green tea is made solely from the leaves of Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing.  Green tea originates in China and has become associated with many cultures throughout Asia.  It has recently become more widespread in the West, where black tea is traditionally consumed.  Many varieties of green tea have been created in countries where they are grown.  These varieties can differ substantially due to variable growing conditions, horticulture production processing, and harvesting time.

Over the last few decades, green tea has been the subject of many medical and scientific studies to determine its health benefit claims with some evidence suggesting that regular green tea drinkers may have a lower risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Because of the minimal processing – leaves are steamed instead of fermented – green tea catechins are unique and contain a more concentrated form of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is the active ingredient that many studies have highlighted as the driving force behind green tea benefits.

CAFFEINE

My first cup of the new green tea was first thing in the morning which is quite unusual for me.  My first cup in the morning is usually decaf, whether it be coffee or tea and I don’t have any caffeine until my second cup.  My reasoning for this has to do with my blood sugar and if I have caffeine first thing, it really affects me and not in a good way.  I thought I had heard that green tea was lower in caffeine so wanted to test it out.  I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get that shaky feeling that I would when I drink a regular cup of coffee or tea.  Yay, one for me!

It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the amount of caffeine in green tea. Like other drinks from cultivated plants (tea, coffee), there are numerous variables that can alter caffeine content.

Length of brewing time also affects caffeine content so the longer the brew, the higher the caffeine.

One study compared the content of dry matter from tea leaves and found Green Tea had 10-20mg per 1 gram dried matter. Black Tea had 22-28mg per 1 gram dried matter.

One study compared the content of dry matter from tea leaves and found Green Tea had 10-20mg per 1 gram dried matter. Black Tea had 22-28mg per 1 gram dried matter.  So as a general rule, Green Tea has less caffeine than Black Tea.

Green tea is also high in the amino acid L-theanine. This has a calming effect and aides with concentration. There’s a myth that green tea has more caffeine than coffee, but this isn’t true. L-theanine is most likely responsible for this. People will have a different level of alertness when drinking green tea which people mistake for the caffeine’s effect when it is really the effect of L-theanine.

BEAUTY BENEFITS

Traditionally, many types of beauty products have used chemical antioxidants, or vitamins A, C and E as preservatives for their products. Now, with research indicating that green tea has even more antioxidant properties than these powerful vitamins, there is a surge in products capitalising on its natural benefits.

You don’t need to rush to the chemist to stock up on goodies. Concentrated green tea extract is simple to make at home and is a flexible addition to both your daily beauty routine and your medicine cabinet.

Simply steep 100g of green tea in half a litre of still mineral water at room temperature for at least one hour. Strain the liquor and it’s ready to use! It’s better to make small quantities and use it fresh but surplus liquid can be poured into clean, sterilised bottles and refrigerated.

The liquid can be used as a spritzer, to freshen up the face, or cotton pads soaked in it can be particularly soothing for tired or strained eyes. It has antiseptic properties, so can be used to treat minor cuts and rashes, and is surprisingly effective when applied to spots and blemishes. It can even be used as a treatment for sunburn – soak a cloth in the liquid and leave on the skin until the area begins to cool.

Green tea is also known for its ability to prevent bad breath – and it has the added advantage of tasting good if it’s inadvertently swallowed. Try making your own toothpaste to test it out.

Pour one cup of boiling water over 100g of Himalayan Green Tea and leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes. Make a paste using this liquid and one teaspoon of baking soda, and use this to brush your teeth as usual. The natural properties in the tea will curb mouth odor and help prevent plaque-forming microbes from attaching to the teeth.

Antibacterial properties found in green tea are also used by your body to kill the bacteria that causes plaque on your teeth. Research by the Journal of Periodontology has also shown that for every cup of green tea you drink, there is a decrease in indicators for gum disease. Fluoride is also found in green tea which helps to protect against cavities.

This gentle facemask will help remove toxins from your skin, as well as leaving it silky smooth.

Mix three tablespoons of mayonnaise with one heaped teaspoon of organic Himalayan green tea leaves. Apply evenly to the face, avoiding the delicate eye area, and leave for 20 minutes. Rinse the mask off, then dry and moisturise your face.

One of the latest benefits of green tea is the effect it has on your skin and the aging process. It is again down to the antioxidants that prevent cell oxidation and damage that can make you look older than you really are. Studies are mixed on this particular green tea benefit as new research has come to light which suggests the full benefits can only be had by applying green tea topically to your skin. However, many people have found that potent green tea extracts do have a positive effect on their skin, leaving it softer, more supply and younger looking.

Both green tea and green tea extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL cholesterol – both of which ultimately lead to a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. The polyphenols in green tea are extremely useful for dissolving triglycerides, a substance in the liver and small intestine made up of mostly sugar and fat, and this is thought to be the reason green tea benefits fat loss. EGCG is also known to stimulate your metabolism and accelerate weight loss. When combined with the caffeine in green tea, this causes your central nervous system to release fat into the bloodstream to be used as fuel which burns your body fat off.

Researchers believe that green tea lowers your cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption in your digestive tract and increasing the rate of which it is excreted. However, your body does need cholesterol to build cell membranes, insulate nerve fibres and create hormones. For this, green tea benefits you by preventing the conversion of LDL cholesterol into it’s more dangerous, oxidized form. Oxidized LDL is one of the main factors in the development of atherosclerosis (the build of plaque that blocks your arteries as LDL gets sticky and clings to your artery walls) and increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. The amazing antioxidant effects of green tea protect this, helping to keep your arteries clean.

GREEN TEA

There is this tea
I have sometimes,
Pan Long Ying Hao,
so tightly curled
it looks like tiny roots
gnarled, a greenish-gray.
When it steeps, it opens
the way you woke this morning,
stretching, your hands behind
your head, back arched,
toes pointing, a smile steeped
in ceremony, a celebration,
the reaching of your arms.
~ Dale Ritterbusch (2005)

So drink your green tea…and reap the benefits!

♥ Terri  ♥♥

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  ♥♥

BBC Good Food Show ~ Was I Impressed?

Welcome to the Good Food Show!

As a subscriber to Good Food Magazine, I see ads throughout the year for the upcoming Good Food shows that are shown throughout the country: Birmingham, London and Glasgow were the main three for some time.  Then this year, they decided to add a new one at the Glow Theatre at Bluewater Shopping Mall near Greenhithe in Kent.  Woo hoo!  Finally, one near to us.

I booked the tickets at the end of February and made sure we got the Gold Seats for the MasterChef Live show.  As a subscriber, I got a great deal; not only a discount on the ticket price, but I also didn’t have to pay the booking fee.  So two tickets for the exhibition and the Live show was a mere £27.  I couldn’t wait and was counting down the days.

We took the train as it was much easier than driving there.  The train took us right to Ebbsfleet station and from there we were able to hop on a bus which took us directly to Bluewater.  We had to walk through Marks & Spencers and out into the main area of the mall to get to Glow.  We showed our tickets and went into the exhibition hall and started looking around.  I don’t know what it was, but I felt disappointed from the moment I stepped inside…call it a gut feeling.

There were too many stands selling wine/alcohol, cheeses, preserves or spices.  Now mind you, I have no problem with any of those foodie items but I would have liked to see some stands selling things like loose tea, coffee, herbs, honey, chocolates, game meats or other unusual meats, hot pepper sauces or quirky kitchen gadgets/signs, etc.  We did not see one stand selling any of those things 😦 although we did get to taste several samples 🙂

Here's where we got the 7 sausages for £10

We did buy some things.  Got seven different dried sausages for £10, five blocks of cheese with a free bottle of wine for £12 and three jars of condiments (1 horseradish cream, 1 beer mustard and 1 spiced honey mustard) for £6.50 and when you bought 3 jars or more, you got a free jute tote bag.

Our Purchases!

The MasterChef Live stage

The MasterChef Live show was at noon so we headed downstairs to that.  We were about 10 rows back as I had ordered the Gold seats.

We really enjoyed the show with John Torrode and Greg Wallace and they had a cook-off with the MasterChef champions from the past two years.

John and Greg on stage

(Sorry, I took some video of the show but I’m having trouble posting them on here.)

Also wish I knew about the book signing BEFORE I got there…would have brought my MasterChef Bible for John and Greg to sign!

Don’t get me wrong, the exhibition was enjoyable, just a tad disappointing.

Maybe next year will be better…if we decide to go again.

Tea for Me

Tea.  Hot tea.  I hated it when I was younger.  Couldn’t stand the

taste or the smell yet mom would always try to make me drink it when I wasn’t feeling well.  Drinking it would make me feel even worse!  I could drink iced tea with no problem, but keep the hot stuff away from me…yuck.

I did enjoy coffee and started drinking that at a rather early age.  My earliest memory of drinking coffee was around the age of 6 or 7, mainly on Sunday mornings.  When we lived out on Long Island, Dad, my brother and I would hop in the car and drive down to Cream Puff Bakery to get rolls, jelly donuts and crumb buns to have with breakfast and also the Sunday Paper, The NY Daily News.  Mom would stay home to get breakfast cooking and the coffee ready (in our old aluminum percolator) and we’d all sit around the table eating breakfast and reading the papers.  The extent of my reading of the newspaper was the comics.  I highly doubt I’d be reading the business section!

Then when I was in my 20’s, I decided to try herbal teas.  I tolerated them enough to be able to drink them, but I still wasn’t really enjoying tea as much as I enjoyed coffee.  As I got older, I started enjoying them a bit more, but I still wasn’t drinking them as much as the coffee.  Herbal teas are usually drank without milk and I think that was part of the problem of why I wasn’t to crazy about them.

Once I met my British hubby (Chef P), I thought I’d try some English teas, such as Earl Grey.  Wow, what a difference from American teas such as Lipton’s or Tetley’s.  The Earl Grey had a completely different taste and I actually enjoyed it!

The first time I came over here, I met Chef P’s mother.  Once we came into her flat and got through all of the introductions, she asked the standard hospitable thing that every Brit asks their guests when they come in: Would you like a cup of tea?  Now, having just recently started drinking ‘English tea’, instead of just saying ‘Yes, thank you’, I asked her the stupid question of ‘what kind of tea?’  She looked at me, then at P and I realised what I said and wanted to hide.  I don’t think she really knew what to say to me, but in the end, it all worked out and I had a quite enjoyable cup of Assam tea.

As time went on and I eventually moved over here, I started drinking more and more tea.  I now have several different kinds of tea in the house:  English Breakfast {regular & decaf} (my favorite), White Tea, Green Tea Blend, Basic Black Tea {regular & decaf}, Lemon & Ginger, Valerian Tea (helps with sleep) and White Chocolate Tea {a once in a while treat}.  Most of these are tea bags with the exception of the decaf English Breakfast and the White Chocolate, which are loose teas.

I’m currently drinking a cup of White Tea.  I must have milk in my tea, no matter the flavor and honey.  I probably have 3-4 cups of tea and coffee each day, and only one of those cups is caffeine (occasionally I will have a second caffeine in the early afternoon) as I needed to cut down for medical reasons.  And this may sound crazy to some of you caffeine freaks out there, but my first cup of the day, whether it be coffee or tea, is always decaf.  I keep the caffeine hit to my second cup because it’s closer to my breakfast time and caffeine affects my blood sugar if I have it first thing in the morning.

So what’s your favorite hot drink tipple?

♥ Terri  ♥♥

Valerian, the Herb

VALERIAN

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Valerianaceae) is a hardy perennial flowering plant, with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers which bloom in the summer months. Valerian flower extracts were used as a perfume in the sixteenth century.

I first really learned about the properties of valerian when I was reading up on menopausal things.  As some of you might know, insomnia is one of the symptoms of menopause and over the past year or so, I’ve had that symptom.  I wake up during the night and then it takes me an hour or more to get back to sleep…not a good thing when you rise at 5:00 am every morning.

My mom asks me why I get up at 5:00 when I really don’t have to, but I’ve become a morning person and I quite enjoy getting up that early.  I get up when the hubby gets up and I like to see him off in the morning.  Even on the weekends I’m up before 7:00.  Besides, I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I leave this world.  I’ve read that over a lifetime, the difference between rising at 6:00 and 8:00 is 10 years of your life…10 years!  So come on everybody…GET UP!

But I digress….

Valerian is an herb that can help calm you and make you drowsy, helping you to sleep better.  I had intended on trying to find a supplement but never got around to it and pretty much forgot about it…until this past Wednesday morning.

I was making the pumpkin walnut bread and realized I needed more walnuts, so I bundled up (it was really chilly) and strolled to our local Asda. (the UK sister store of Wal-Mart) They are currently in the process of redoing the store so everything is not where I expect it to be, making me have to peruse the whole store looking for one item.

While perusing (I love that word!) I went down the coffee and tea aisle and came across some new herbal tea:  Dr Stuart’s Extraordinarily Good Teas.  There were about 5 different flavors, one of them being Valerian Plus.  I got it for the bargain price of £1.89 for 15 teabags.

I figured I would try it before going to bed.  When I got it home, I sat it on the kitchen window ledge.  Now let me just say that whenever we get home from the store with bags and packages, the kitties have to inspect everything to see if we got anything good…ie: any snacks for them.

Noddy jumped up and immediately went over to the box of tea and began sniffing at it and rubbing his face on it.  Upon seeing him doing this, I had a passing thought…is there catnip in there, too?  I shooshed him away from it and next came Crystal who proceeded to do the same thing.

My curiosity then got the better of me and I decided to pull out my encyclopedia of herbs and spices…and low and behold, I find out that it is ‘attractive to cats’

So that explains their sudden liking to it.

Then I proceeded to read the instructions for brewing and it reads like a bottle of medicine!  You don’t usually see the words ‘dosage’ and ‘warning’ on a box of tea!

I guess it really does calm and relax!

So I made it and drank it according to their dosage instructions; about an hour before retiring.  As I’ve never had valerian before, I didn’t know what to expect regarding its smell or taste.  I have to admit that it had an odd smell; not necessarily a bad smell but not a good one either.  I think I was smelling more of the hops than anything else.  Thankfully it tasted better than it smelled, although it was a very light taste.  I added a bit of honey and milk as I can’t drink any tea without either one; I do trade off on the honey depending on my mood so may use an artificial sweetener or fruit sugar.

My verdict on the tea’s effect:  I headed up to bed after drinking it and did a crossword puzzle until I started to feel sleepy.  Lights out at 9:45…didn’t wake until 5:15.  I’d like to contribute my full night’s sleep to the tea but there was another possible reason also…hubby was away on business that night (and the next) and it’s a known fact that everyone sleeps better alone.  You don’t have someone next to you moving around and making noises aka snoring.  So I might have to say that it was a combination of those two factors.  I’ll have the tea one night again now that he’s back home and really see if it makes a difference.

Sleep tight!