Tag Archives: Cookbook

No sugar! Courgette and Chocolate

Book Review:

Low Sugar Cookbook

 Nicola Graimes

This immediately caught my attention to read as it began with some really informative chapters about sugar and its alternatives. What was especially good was the simplicity of the explanations and details of alternatives some of which I had never heard of as ingredients but in order to try out the recipes had to find them and buy them! At least I already had Stevia and had used it so was not at all suspicious and was willing to try out the new ingredients suggested.

I particularly liked the explanation at the end of each recipe of the nutritional value of the main ingredients – such as brazil nuts to supply selenium, or that the lycopene in tomatoes protects against heart disease, strokes and destructive free radicals in the nervous system!

However, I am concerned that the book uses a lot of coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil or butter only its recipes. It is well known that cooking with olive oil can produce carcinogens and coconut oil high in saturated fat.

Why not use rapeseed oil? Which is low in saturated fat and if you use the first pressed organic virgin oil has a wonderful flavour to add to salads, stir fries and roasting vegs.

I have managed now to buy all the ingredients including Lucuram and Xylitol and brown rice syrup and cocoa nibs, so am now armed and ready to cook my first dish! The savoury recipes all look very interesting as well as the desserts and such a quick and easy way to make your own baked beans! Which you can then flavour as you wish – personally I love them with curry sauce…

Just need the time now.


Also, I was a recently given this recipe for Courgette and Chocolate Cake which I thought I would share as it looks so simple!.

250g plain flour; 375g caster sugar (now here is a chance to substitute as above – wonder what she would put in?); 65g coca powder (now I know she would use cocoa nibs here); 2tsp bicarb of soda; .5tsp salt; 1 tsp baking powder; 1tsp vanilla extract; 4 eggs; 350ml veg oil; 340g grated courgette; 90g mixed nuts.

Gas 4/180C. 20*30cm baking tin.

Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarb, baking powder and salt. add eggs, oil and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in nuts and courgettes. Pour into tin.

Bake 50-60 mins centre oven.

You can ice if wanted.


Cookery: Interesting Fact

The front side of 6 measuring spoons and cups.

The front side of 6 measuring spoons and cups. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Interesting Fact:

Until the 19th century recipes were very vague – ‘a goodly pinch of’ being the common type of phrase.

It seems that a US citizen named Fanny Farmer got fed up with this as it meant that cooking could be a bit hit and miss, especially cakes. So she invented a scale. She published her best-known work, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, in 1896. Her cookbook introduced the concept of using standardized measuring spoons and cups, as well as level measurement for all and the fact that a jug was equal to 16 cups.

Now we don’t use the cup measurement in the UK so this does tend to throw us rather when using American recipes. But as the most important things is proportion – these recipes tend to work provided you use the same cup for the whole recipe. I’ve proved this and use my ‘standard’ tea cup – I know there’s no such thing really but it’s the one I use to measure rice and so on.

Musings – on seeds: gluttony or gastronomy

cookbook shelf 1

cookbook shelf 1 (Photo credit: chotda)

The vegetable seed catalogues have arrived and I carefully limit the time I spend looking at them. How do I choose what to grow? I want to grow them all!


Why limit the time? Because unless I have some time to think and plan and look and calculate just how much our small boxes will grow, I will gaily fill in an order with every seed.  Gluttony.

But no, I am a gastronome too. I only have two catalogues, one of which is solely organic and the other has organic and heritage seeds only. Why choose these two from all abundance of offerings? Well, when I look at vegetable seeds I envision what I will cook with them. A seed catalogue is a recipe book.


Organic because I believe that they taste better and surely the lack of pesticides mean that they will be better for us health-wise. Heritage seeds because they look fantastic and also may taste better too – surely purple carrots will taste different from organic ones? I know that different coloured tomatoes taste different so why shouldn’t different shaped and coloured beans?


I love to cook and to eat too… a weight problem [although I can claim some medical reasons but still…] will justify that one! Also I am vegetarian and thus taste and variety are very important.

Gastronomy again

I can claim to have gone to the Fat Duck when Heston Blumethal didn’t have 3 Michelin stars! Maybe one though… and I’ve been more than once… I have in truth been to quite a few Michelin starred places to eat and enjoyed them all although don’t particularly Gordon Ramsay and his style of cooking as evidenced by his tutees – too French and too much cream and general richness. Not good vegetarian food either. I went to Claridges Hotel run by Angela Harnett then, and was offered roasted summer vegetables as my main course – not imaginative.

Vegetarian cookery

Now talking of imagination and gluttony or gastronomy, I have been very interested to see that there is a new Vegetarian cookery magazine out again. The BBC used to publish one many years back and I still have all these stored away. This new one has some interesting new ideas and links to interesting projects. For instance for anyone living south of the river in London there is a workers’ cooperative growing food in the Lea Valley, http://www.organiclea.org.uk Chingford in fact, which has a great box scheme – but you have to pick it up.  They do lots of courses there and are interested in supporting community groups in growing. Unfortunately I live north of the river and so can’t get their stuff, but they do good recipes…

But rather more on the theme of gluttony and gastronomy I was interested to read in the magazine about Veggiestan food which sounds fascinating. Apparently it is the name coined by Sally Butcher  – who is married to an Iranian – and thus is interested in Iranian and other Middle Eastern food ideas. She has a shop in Peckham which is full of goodies and has written 2 cook books of ideas from the region which incorporate a lot of fruit in with the savoury.

And of course, talking of cook books, which vegetarian is not reading Yotamm Ottolenghi’s new book Plenty. This is a great book just to touch as the cover is somehow padded and feels so nice and then the full page photos just make you salivate. I confess to not having cooked from it yet, but it is lovely to read…!