I’m kinda in a not brilliant place yet. It’s partly what I’ve been going through over the last few months with the meds and partly a normal slump in function I seem to have every spring. Why I get worse in spring time I have no idea but it is like clockwork, every year. Could be my allergies, they seem to be extra potent this year.
I’m having some problems stringing longer thoughts and sentences together, and I’m keeping pretty quiet on social media in fear of saying the wrong thing now that my head isn’t all there. I want to take part but I keep worrying I’ll say something that will be taken all wrong. Tone is hard online isn’t it? Especially when you write in a language that isn’t your first and your brain is a tiny little bit scrambled.
I’ve upped the frequency of my infusions a bit, so my pain is sort of under control. At first we increased my gabapentin intake which worked but the major side effect I got was insatiable hunger and well, overeating is a very old “friend” of mine and I kind of had hoped never to see that guy again so that had to stop. Fast. I gained a metric shitton of weight in two months on top of what I already have so my doc has prescribed Topamax for me so we’ll see if it helps a bit. I’ve stopped taking gabapentin and lo and behold the food intake stopped on a dime.
My pain doc is just amazing, I’m not sure I’ve dealt with anyone else taking all of my history so seriously and making sure all of me is doing the best I can. Yes, I know how lucky I am to have him on my team.
Welcome back to more of my series on cooking for people that can’t stand around forever and cook gourmet meals cause we’ll faint and not be able to eat anything while unconscious. The Saga of Soupengrim Bedrider continues on of course in what we all agree is a portal in to Hell (no really, you can take the train from Oslo Central Station):
As promised in my tomato soup post last week I’m making a meatier soup today. I’ve used chicken in mine but you can use any kind of meat or fish you like in this one, just remember to swap out the chicken stock/fond if you use fish. You can also make it with no meat at all, just vegetables if you want it to be vegetarian. This is a bit of a quicky version of a thai inspired soup and I’ve probably left out some of the things that belongs in a real one. It takes about four minutes to cook and makes a pretty large portion and is plenty for two people. I’m also using frozen vegetables in this one – no need to defrost them first.
Coconut Lime Noodle Soup
1 tin of coconut milk (400 ml)
2 table spoons of Chicken fond or a stock cube
Water (about half a coconut milk tin)
Coconut oil (or any other oil that tolerates heat well)
A handful of fresh coriander (you can absolutely use dried, but watch how much you use if you’re a bit sensitive to it)
1 Chicken breast cut into strips
1 portion Rice noodles
2 cups Frozen vegetable mix (wok mixes work well here)
2 cloves of Garlic
1 Chili (I use the ordinary milder red chili)
1 piece of Ginger (about half a thumb, more if you want it hotter)
A splash of Hot sauce (if you want it even hotter)
Two table spoons of Soy sauce
A couple of spring onions cut into slices
My Ol’ Grater
Start by boiling water in your kettle if you have one, if not on the stove. Pour the boiling water on your noodles (in a pot please, not directly on the kitchen counter) and set them aside to cook through. Finely chop the chili and garlic (use a garlic press if you want) and grate the ginger. If you want less heat, remove the seeds from the chili before chopping it. Add some oil to a tall sided frying pan or wok (you can use a big pot if your frying pan is too low sided) and quickly stir fry the frozen vegetables. Add the garlic, chili and ginger, and then the chicken strips and cook for a minute or two.
Pro tip: Look for old kitchen equipment you need in charity shops like my excellent grater that works better than many a modern one. I have also found high quality cast iron pans that needed minimal attention to be useful again.
Pour in the tin of coconut milk and rinse the tin with cold water and add the rinse water as well. Bring it to a boil. Add the soy sauce, chicken fond and hot sauce (if you want it). Remember to taste before adding too much stuff, it’s better to add stuff gradually than end up with inedible food. You might need some salt but wait until you have added the soy sauce and stock to decide. Add the chopped coriander (if you don’t like coriander you can leave it out) and let the soup simmer for a minute or so.
Your noodles should be finished by now, so drain and rinse in cold water. Add them to your soup and let them get heated through. Squeeze your lime into the soup just before before serving and add the spring onions for crunch. Eat!
This soup is great by itself and you probably don’t need anything on the side to go with it but you should do what you like best. I usually eat it from a soup cup with chopsticks and drink the rest but feel free to be a person with actual table manners and use a spoon 🙂
The Soupening continues here in the hellish landscape of Oslo, Norway. How we manage to do anything here is beyond me. We are closing in fast on Halloween now so a bit of gore is to be expected – therefore todays theme is Blood Red Tomato Soup. Oh, mmmm tasty and an excellent substitute for fake blood if you are in need of that, just remember to let it cool down first. Or not if you are using it on someone else, mwaha hahahahaaa haa a. Ok then, let’s get to the:
Simple (and quick or slow) Tomato Soup:
1 Onion (I used a red one but any onion works)
2 Celery stalks
a bit of olive oil (about two table spoons)
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
Two tins of tomatoes (I like the cherry tomato ones but use what you have and like)
Chicken fond (2 tablespoons, optional) or a stock cube (also optional)
A handful of chopped Oregano (fresh) or a palm full if dry
A handful of chopped Basil (fresh) same as above with dry
a pinch of sugar
You can also add any kind of spicier stuff you like with your soup. Chili flakes or smoked paprika is tasty.
Chop the vegetables as fine as you can. Try to make them semi even, but dont worry too much. They cook a bit quicker if they are fine, but it really doesn’t matter as long as you don’t burn anything. The reason chefs make everything roughly the same size is that it cooks evenly, and the smaller it is the shorter it takes to cook it. If you have a food processor you can use it to chop up vegetables for you if using a knife is difficult. I use mine for any bulk project, like the massive amount of sauerkraut I made the other week that took me all of four minutes to do all together. Crush the garlic cloves and slice roughly (just smack them with something or use a garlic press).
Pro tip: Unless you have very large or very small hands the palm of your hand holds just about a table spoon of any dry ingredient (like herbs). Very useful and time and dishes saving 🙂
Pour a bit of oil in the soup skillet, toss in the vegetables and let them simmer on a medium heat until they soften. This takes a couple of minutes and you have to stir occasionally so they don’t burn. Sit on something if you get tired or shaky. I have a little step ladder that is far to low but I use it anyway. Put in a tablespoon or two of tomato puree and let it simmer for a minute or two to get the rawness out- then pour in the tinned tomatoes and add the herbs. Add some water as well, I usually rinse out the tomato cans to get the leftover tomato juice so about half a tin each? A bit of salt and pepper- and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down low and let the soup simmer under a lid as long as you like.
Pro tip: Sugar, like black pepper is a flavour enhancer in smaller amounts. If your tomato dish needs something its usually a pinch or two of sugar. You don’t need much, don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with tomato jam.
Tomatoes tend to get sweeter and meatier the longer they cook, although the rawness and freshness of letting it cook around 10-20 minutes can also be good. I like them both. Do what your stomach tells you to. You can go sit down and let the soup cook itself so set a timer on your phone if you are liable to forget you have something on the stove.
Now its time to put the soup in the food processor, blender or use a handheld mixer if you want it smooth, or just smash up the tomatoes a bit more with a fork or whatever (potato mashers work) and eat it lumpy. Remember to taste after smashing to see if you need more salt and pepper or something. It will probably need a bit more salt.
Todays soup took me just about five minutes to put together and that included taking pictures. I managed to make coffee in my french press while I sauteed the vegetables and cleaned up the little mess I made. So, very quick to make.
It’s also versatile. The soup is fairly thick and can easily be used as a tomato base when you are making any kind of tomato sauce for pasta dishes. You might have noticed there are three tins of tomatoes in the picture (and no tomato pure ’cause I forgot to take it out for picture day). That’s because I’m making a large lasagne next week and need tomato sauce for it.
I can’t eat Parmesan because it’s cow’s milk, but if you have leftover old Parmesan that has been sitting a while in your fridge getting hard around the edges put it in the leftover soup (in bits, hard edges and all) and let it melt. It takes a while to melt but becomes delicious pasta sauce and is great served with meatballs for instance. I use Manchego (sheeps milk) cheese as a substitute which tastes great but doesn’t get quite the right texture. Freeze in portions and you have instant pasta sauce whenever you want.
Add some macaroni. Not too much though, if you still want it to be soup and not sauce. For us spoonies its probably best if you cook the pasta separately and chuck it in just before you eat so it doesn’t end up sticking to the bottom of the soup skillet when you can’t manage to stir it any more. Happened to me you ask?
You can put some cream in your soup, or serve with a dollop of sour cream.
Us Norwegians serve some soups like tomato and spinach with wedges of semi-hardboiled eggs. Try it, it’s tasty.
A little drizzle of good olive oil on top and some fresh bread.
Heat it up with the chili/hot sauce/mexican spices of your choice and serve with avocado and tortilla chips.
What you like in or with your soup, I’m not a dictator. Unfortunately. I think I’d be brilliant at it.
Next time I think I’m gonna do something with meat or fish in it, the soups up til now have all been possible to make fully vegetarian/vegan so it’s time to do something a bit more proteinous.
So on to the next soup in Soup Season – The Soupening. Soup season lasts until spring here in Norway, and that might be as late as May if there is a lot of snow (not happened for a long time, climate change is real people). I’ll probably not write down recipes for soup for the next six months tho.
1 average sized cauliflower
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 large potato (or 2 small)
1/2 leek (use the white part) or 1 biggish spring onion
1 tin of Coconut milk (400 ml)
1 liter Chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want)
Salt and pepper
A bit of lemon juice or some white wine vinegar
Spring onion and chili pepper for garnish and crunch
Chop the vegetables. This soup needs a blender so don’t worry about getting things even or anything. Put some oil in your skillet (you can use butter if you like) and sweat the vegetables till they soften a bit, but do not brown. Pour over stock and coconut milk. You can use ordinary cows milk here if you are not sensitive to it, but it works pretty darn well with coconut milk.
Pro tip: chop up all the stuff you need before you start cooking. Do this even if you have steps to a recipe, it makes it easier and less stressful to add things when you need them.
Simmer the soup on a lowish setting until the vegetables are soft (about 20-30 minutes, you might want to set a timer so you don’t forget it). Blitz the soup in a blender or food processor or with hand held blender until smooth. Taste the soup and check if you need more salt and pepper or anything else (you might need some acidity in your soup if it is a bit tame).
As usual you should serve with the stuff you like. Croutons are great in a soup like this, you can serve with sandwiches or just some good bread for dipping. I made some gluten free oat bread today (from a ready made mix) and will have a couple of slices with “oboy I can’t believe it’s not butter” on it and also some sliced spring onions and raw chili pepper on top for a bit of crunch and heat.
I’m all for buying ready made sides so you don’t have to spend more time standing up than necessary if you are a spoonie. For everyone else, croutons for instance are really easy to make with some stale bread they just take some time. This ended up being quite a lot of soup, and I’ll freeze several portions for later and as always, soups like this are really useful for other things like casseroles as well.
It’s October and fall and soup season! For us spoonies (heh) this is the best season for cooking in my opinion. There is a lot of soups and stews that are easy and quick to make. Soups are also easy on a digestive system that sometimes has trouble keeping up. You can make a biggish portion that you can freeze and have for later, and also use as sauce in other food like casseroles.
Some of my favourite simple soups: Cauliflower, tomato, broccoli, leek and potato.
Which leads to my first recipe in what I hope is a little series:
600 g mushrooms (whatever you like, in the pictures there are brown button mushrooms and funnel chanterelles) sliced
1 red onion – chopped
2 cloves of garlic – sliced
A handful of thyme
1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable if you prefer)
5 dl cashew milk (I’m allergic to cows milk, but you can absolutely use ordinary milk or any other substitute you like)
Salt and pepper to taste
Flat leaf parsley and spring onion to decorate and add some crunch
Slice the mushrooms,and finely chop the red onion. If this is difficult for you can absolutely use a food processor for chopping or just chop the onions a bit bigger. Pull the leafs of the thyme stalks and slice the garlic cloves. Pour some olive oil in a hot skillet and start cooking the chopped vegetables. This takes a couple of minutes, until the onions are softened. Add a pinch of salt and pepper (all of this takes about five minutes).
Add the chicken stock and milk and bring up to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and go sit down and do something nice. If you are prone to forget you have something on the stove put an alarm on your phone for about half an hour to an hour.
Taste your soup. If it needs more salt and pepper add some, if not you can eat! I served mine with some flat leaf parsley and sliced spring onion for a bit of crunch. If you like thicker soup you can blitz about half of it in a blender or something, or you can add any thickening you like (cornflour, arrowroot*).
Serve with anything else you like, bread, croutons, sandwiches. Værsågod!
*Note that freezing the soup with thickening means it probably will separate after it’s reheated.
Look away now if you don’t want to read about for slightly icky medical issues.
This week sucked balls if I’m honest. I have some sort of infection going on, but it’s not bacterial so antibiotics will do nothing. I have mouth ulcers and fungus in my mouth so brushing my teeth hurts a lot. Eating hurts a lot. I’m hungry dammit! I’ve got lymph nodes swelling everywhere (not really, it just feels like it right now). I have an itch in my pants and water retention and crampy legs and a headache and sinuses going berserk and you name it. Fuck this week, it can go die in a fire.
Glad to have gotten that of my chest, I’m gonna try to eat something again cause I’m hangry as hell.
I’m only a week or so in to trying out simpler methods to get good healthy food even when I’m not doing so well, but I have to say that this week have been remarkably much easier to live through even though I’ve been in quite a lot of pain. I made a batch of mason jar salads last week (note to self; do prep work over longer period of time, not all at once) and they held up really well. I ate the last one yesterday and that was seven days after I made them and it was still fresh and nice.
I had groceries delivered last week as well. I’m trying to get all the heavy stuff delivered, and the online supermarket I used have a really good selection of allergy friendly food that I can’t get in my local store. They are really into good customer service as well so I’m definitely using them again. I imagine that I’ll get better at ordering what I use about once a month, and then I can get fresh stuff at my local store as I need it.
I need to get some smaller oven proof dishes preferably with lids so I can just chuck stuff in the oven to heat it up when I’m hungry. I’ve been using disposable dishes, but I don’t like throwing so much stuff away when I don’t have to. Cooking single serve portions seems to be an impossibility for me, I always overestimate how much I need. If you know how I’m calling you brilliant here and now :). Also, putting leftovers into portion sizes makes me eat and surprisingly throw away less food.
When you have a chronic illness like mine food is something that can become incredibly difficult to navigate. I have picked up several allergies and intolerance’s to different types of food, and after doing an elimination diet a few years ago I managed to get the worst of the IBS symptoms under a semblance of control. I’m on a lose interpretation of the fodmap diet. And lately I have reintroduced some of the stuff I reacted to before that seems to work OK now. As long as I avoid wheat starch I can have gluten free bread for instance but only certain kinds. Sandwiches certainly makes things easier day to day, but I also have to bake my own bread.
My energy levels dictate how much cooking I manage to do. Generally things have to be relatively quick and easy to cook. One pot cooking is something i recommend for everyone. Just chuck a load of vegetables in a Pyrex and put whatever meat or fish you like on top and you’ll have a decent dinner in half an hour or so (remember some spices, herbs and a bit of oil and or lemon/lime and you are golden). I know I’m lucky that I have skills other people don’t have, I was a chef for a while and cooking is something I understand. But it’s also true that the worse I feel the worse my diet gets. It is practically impossible to have high standards when everything is difficult. So living on breakfast cereal, sandwiches, fruit and whatever I manage to scrape together for dinner becomes norm.
I just ate a delicious salad with grilled entrecôte steak (I think it’s called porterhouse or sirloin in the US/UK) and it got me thinking. I’m in a bad period energy wise and eating healthy has fallen by the wayside. In addition some new meds have me hungry all the time (it’s gotten better after I added sink to my supplements). I’ve gained a bit of weight I really don’t need with my shitty knees and I would like not to gain any more.
I was thinking I should try making mason jar salads. As I understand it they can be made up to a week in advance and stay fresh if you pack them right. I think I need to make snack packages for every day too. I’m making a shopping list heavy on the fruit and vegetables, and hopefully I can make a difference in my diet. I’m adding smoothies in the morning as well. I’ll freeze ready made bags with everything I need, and it should take very little time to make. Fast, easy and tasty is the way to go for now I think. I’ll make a progress report later.