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Retro Food For Modern Times – Happy Healthy, Sparkly Birthday to Me!

We had a little birthday celebration at Retro food For Modern Times last week.  I also spent the week reading a bit more of Swami Sarasvati’s Eat Your Way to Love and Beauty.   Whilst none of the recipes here are from that book there is certainly more than a hint of nourishing my inner goddess about the recipes I made as part of the celebrations. And yes, I did just write the words “nourishing my inner goddess”.  Feel free to vomit.

I kicked off the celebrations with a hefty dose of booze.  No lame Swami Sarasvati mocktails here.   When this blog celebrates we turn straight to the Goddess of entertaining Martha Stewart for inspiration (and alcohol content).  And her cucumber and lime gimlet got the festivities off to a fine start.

Cucumber and Lime Gimlet

Cucumber and Lime Gimlet

Now, you may be wondering how I can justify the whole nourishing the inner goddess thing (Ok, I’ll stop saying that now) whilst guzzling gin?  Well, it turns out my inner Goddess is a bit of a booze hound.  Who knew?

Secondly, I figure the health affirming properties of the cucumber must go some way to counteracting the negative effects of the alcohol.  Yin and yang right?

The recipe is here:

Martha Stewart’s Cucumber and Lime Gimlet

There is a bit of pfaffing around with this recipe in that you need to make up a mint simple syrup and steep some cucumbers in gin beforehand but it is worth the effort.  It is delicious and an amazing colour!  And we had sparklers!

Next up…was my Green Gazpacho.  Now, I don’t think I have banged on about my love of this Spanish delight yet but believe me, summer without gazpacho is, in my opinion, not summer at all.  It is no longer summer here but luckily all the ingredients were still readily available.  I also really wanted to try this with some of the super tasty Black Russian tomatoes I love so much!

Green Gazpacho ingredients

Green Gazpacho ingredients

If you are planning on making a gazpacho, green or otherwise, please do not go all Atkins and leave out the bread – it really is integral to the texture of the dish.  Gazpacho without bread is glorified tomato juice.  And no one wants that.

The basic gazpacho recipe follows but you can play with the quantities of ingredients as much as you want.  It’s pretty forgiving.  And sometimes you need to play around with it.  Strangely enough, I wanted my green gazpacho to be green.  So, imagine my utter dismay when I blitzed the above  and the result was a horrible looking baby pooh brown.  It tasted good but looked atrocious!

Classic Gazpacho

I had some watercress in the fridge and I kept adding sprigs of it into the mix until it became greener.  The watercress also added to the flavour!

Green Gazpacho with an Avocado Garnish

Green Gazpacho with an Avocado Garnish

That, along with my dessert was going to be it.  Three dishes and done.  However, my greengrocer was selling tarragon this week which is a rarity in itself.  I love tarragon but it seems to be fairly scarce so I buy it whenever I see it, then figure out what to do with it.

And what better use for tarragon on a week when we are nourish…(I can’t bring myself to repeat it but you know what I mean) than making a Green Goddess Dressing.  This is an awesome dressing zingy with tarragon, lemon, chives, yoghurt…lots of my favourite flavours….

Green Goddess Dressing Ingredients

Green Goddess Dressing Ingredients

And it looks like this:

Green Goddess Dressing

Green Goddess Dressing

It’s a gorgeous pale green and it looked super cute in the jug my friend Ali gave me for a birthday present last year.

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To go with the dressing  I made a salad of steamed asparagus, broccoli and beans with some raw zucchini, mixed sprouts, avocado and some toasted pine nuts and pumpkin seed kernels and I also made a rice and quinoa mix.

Healthy lunches here I come!

Veggies, Seeds and Sprouts with mixed rices and quinoa

Veggies, Seeds and Sprouts with mixed rice and quinoa

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This salad is amazing, you can almost feel the health bursting out of you as you eat it.  And again, just use whatever vegetables you have.  The Green Goddess recipe is here:

Green Goddess Dressing

Finally, I wanted a retro style dessert.  I recently bought Wobble by Rachael Lane which is filled with delicious sounding recipes for lovely jellies.  I love the old-fashioned look of these jellies so they seemed a perfect finale to the celebrations.

I made a version of Rachael’s Persian Delight (below) but with a straight jelly, not a blancmange for the rose layer and a third layer of pomegranate.  I would have liked to top mine with the candy floss as per the picture in Wobble but the only place I could find it was a high-end department store who wanted an arm and a leg for it.

Seriously, where is a fun fair when you need one?  Although I always find those places a little creepy.  I’ve read way too many books where bad things happen in places like that to be entirely comfortable.  And don’t even get me started on clowns…. Thanks Stephen King et al, for another innocent pleasure ruined…

The rose layer got a little lost but all in all this was a very pretty dessert and it tasted amazing!

Pistachio, Rose and Pomegranate Jelly

Pistachio, Rose and Pomegranate Jelly

In lieu of candy floss we had more sparklers…

Pistachio, Rose and Pomegranate Jelly 2

Pistachio, Rose and Pomegranate Jelly 2

The recipe for the Persian Delight is found here.

Persian Delight Jelly from Wobble

Finally, I thought we might have a little look at what we might  expect over the next 12 months. This is what PBS has to say on the subject of one year olds:

“One-year-olds are just discovering their creative abilities”

And

“They experience a wide range of emotions and have tantrums when they are tired or frustrated.”

And

(They) have no understanding of true “writing,” but many enjoy experimenting with marks and scribbles on a surface.

Hmm…sounds suspiciously like the next 12 months may be quite similar to the first 12!

Thanks to everyone who reads this for a fabulous year!  It has been heaps of fun at this end and incredibly satisfying to watch this grow from an idea into actuality.

I’ll be spending the week marking and scribbling on surfaces and some of it might even end up in here.

Thanks again, I hope you continue to enjoy this for the next 12 months and beyond!

Have a great week!

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Retro Food For Modern Times – Not Eating My Way To Love and Beauty

Can you believe I’ve been doing this for nearly a year?

And as the anniversary approaches, I’ve been thinking about how to celebrate.  Somehow my normal process of pulling one of the many vintage cookbooks from the pile under my bed at random doesn’t seem quite joyful enough.  Primarily because this invariably involves me knocking the pile over, uttering some sustained invective as I pile it all back up then muttering “I really should Hoover under there one day”.  That is not the stuff of celebration!

I had planned to sift through the pile to find something special.  However, when I found “Eat your Way To Love and Beauty” by Swami Sarasvati in my local charity shop I thought I had found my birthday book!  Who doesn’t want to be loved and beautiful?  Especially on their birthday? And, why not eat my way there?  It beats getting there by the other “e” word.  You know, the one we try very hard not to mention here.  Hint:  it rhymes with…mexercising.  Yes, I know that’s not a word.  If you’re so smart, you try coming up with a word that rhymes with exercising.  Anyway, it’s obviously working for The Swami.  She’s cute.  And limber!

Eat For Love and Beauty 001

The caption to this photo says

“Swami Sarasvati, her youth and vitality living proof of her cooking, exercises among her health dishes”

Please note: Retro Food For Modern Times in no way condones its readers exercising among their health dishes.  Nor will I bear any responsibility for damages incurred if you decide to do so.  To put it bluntly, if you end up with a pineapple up your clacker by engaging in this you’re on your own.  And be aware that hospital staff will mock you behind your back.  “Of course you slipped over whilst exercising among your health dishes… that’s what all the deviants say.”  You have been warned.

Swami Sarasvati was a tv icon on Australia in the 1970’s, where she taught a generation of early morning tv watchers the art of yoga and the delights of a vegetarian lifestyle.  I wish she was on the telly now.  I would totally watch her.  Well, I probably wouldn’t get up that early but  I would record her shows, meaning to get around to doing some sun salutations one day…right after I vacuum under that bed!  She also still runs a yoga retreat in New South Wales.  It is currently ranked the number one hotel in Kenthurst on Trip Advisor.  That it is the only hotel in town is by the by.

http://www.swami.com.au/

Speaking as someone who has been on a yoga retreat, the Swami’s looks pretty good.  I had a miserable time the last one I was on.  It was freezing and in lieu of heating, my room came equipped with a massive spider.  I thought it would be not in keeping with the yoga/vegan/hippie vibe of the place to beat the ugly fucker to death with my shoe.  This meant I was too scared to sleep for the entire time I was there in case, during my slumber, the spider decided to break our unspoken entente cordiale to crawl into my hair or lay eggs in my face.

You will be disappointed, though if you click through the link.  Eat Your Way To Love and Beauty is no longer on the list of the Swami’s books available for purchase.  We’re about to find out why.

Some of the sensibilities of the book feel very modern.  Take for instance the Swami’s response to the question:

“What is healthy food?”

“It is food as fresh as possible and eaten as soon as possible.  Refining, preserving, canning or colouring food should be avoided wherever possible”

That doesn’t last long…we descend into the land of the loony almost immediately.

Q – “How can food make me more loving?”

“A well nourished woman will have the strength to be patient and understanding and loving even when life seems impossible.  Your children won’t turn to drugs”.

Q  – “My Husband won’t eat health foods”

“Girls, to keep your marriage fresh and exciting, you must keep yourself and your husband youthful and vital….there are enough tangy gourmet health dishes in this book to tempt your husband.  Before long he will be better at business and sport.

You know what Swami?   You had me at love and beauty…let’s not bring my husband and non-existent children into it.

But despite all this…despite dooming Mark to bankruptcy and failure on the sporting field (by which I mean his PS3 breaking) and the poor dogs to having to sell themselves to strangers for Schmackos…I will not be celebrating this birthday by eating my way to love and beauty.  Eating for hatred and ugliness has got me thus far, I guess I can continue for another week or so!

I  have made a few recipes from “Eat Your Way To Love And Beauty” being  a celery soup, an eggplant bhurta and a carrot halva.

Here they are:

Celery Soup

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Celery Soup 001

Eggplant Bhurta

Eggplant Bhurta

Eggplant Bhurta

eggplant bhurta 001

Carrot Halva

Carrot Halva

Carrot Halva

Carrot Halva recipe 001

These all tasted ok.  Actually, the carrot halva was really good once I added a bucketload of brown sugar – kind of like carrot cake without the cake.  And the eggplant was also pretty good.  The celery soup was average.  There was nothing wrong with any of them. They were just a bit drab.  Look at them.  They’re not screaming party are they?  They look, earnest, well-meaning, brown.  The food version of Coldplay. Worthy but kind of boring…

Which brings me to the second reason, we will not be celebrating Retro Food For Modern Times first birthday by eating our way to love and beauty.

Here is a the Swami’s recipe for a Gimlet:

Lime Gimlet

Now, for those of you who are not au fait with the gimlet, it is defined by the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, as:

“A cocktail made of gin and lime juice”

Two ingredients.  One of which is missing from the Swami’s recipe.

Never mind, I thought, the next recipe is called Singapore Gin.  Maybe I’ll make that as my birthday cocktail.

Singapore Gin

Or maybe I wont…we like our booze here at Retro Food For Modern Times, celebrating anything without booze is anathema.

No wonder this book isn’t for sale anymore, it was probably banned for false advertising.  I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to call a cocktail Singapore “Gin” when it contains not the slightest whiff of a juniper berry!

Next week we’ll party like it’s 1969. I won’t give too much away but there will be gin and there will be gelatine; if I can get sufficiently organised there maybe something else starting with a “g” to make up a full three course meal…cocktail and dessert count as 2 courses don’t they?

I’ll be spending my week frantically trying to think of that third course…

Grapes?

Grapefruit?

Gorgonzola?

Have a fabulous week whatever you do!

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