Archive for the ‘Diabetes’ Category


I went walnutting this morning after the rain.

Beautiful heavy drops plomping straight down into the cats’ drinking bowls with a splash.

The sort of rain that can topple a walnut from the tree before it is quite ready to fall–thus making an early expedition to walnut alley worthwhile.

A big wind blew last night as we went to bed–violently shaking the trees.

Then rain this morning–a perfect scenario for a seasoned walnutter.


Came back with two sacks (five pounds!) of walnuts–freed them from their outer cases–and a good feeling.


Hosed them down and decanted them into a filigreed steel basket to sit in the sun.


Now for lunch.

I made the walnut pasta two days ago for Meredith to photograph for the next book–Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics–due out in the Spring.

We didn’t feel like eating it just then–but I had a plan… (see below)


Here is the original recipe which is beautifully simple.


Spaghettini with Walnut, Garlic and Parmesan Sauce

 serves 4
  • 100g/4oz shelled walnuts – be careful, if you shell them yourself, to avoid any teeth-cracking bits being left in
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped, plus a little extra parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tbsp walnut oil
  • 425g/14oz wholewheat spaghettini or spaghetti
  • 100g/4oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve

Put the walnuts, garlic and parsley in a food processor, season with salt and pepper, add the oils and pulse to a sauce of this texture:


Add the grated cheese and mix.


Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water.

Drain it– keeping a little of the cooking liquid– and put the pasta back in the hot pan.

Add the sauce and a tablespoon of the cooking liquid (i.e. hot, salted water) and turn it over thoroughly.

Turn it into a warmed bowl and sprinkle with extra parsley.

Serve immediately with more olive oil and Parmesan to hand.


It’s a favorite pasta for us!

Two days later and…

I’m lightly sautéing half the spaghettini in walnut sauce (half because there are only two of us) to go with a small salad of sliced tomatoes gathered from our garden–another harvest this morning.


Panfried Walnut Pasta (for leftovers!)

(This pasta lends itself to re-use, crisping up nicely for a crunchy bite.)

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan.

When the oil is hot, slip in the pasta.

Cook this over a medium heat for about 5 or 6 minutes. The bottom should be crispy brown.


Turn this over carefully with a spatula and cook the other side to a similar effect.

Halve the pancake (I find scissors work well!) and divide between two plates.


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Thick slices of in-season aubergine softened in the oven at a high temperature then topped with ripe tomatoes cooked with garlic, a little chili and a slice of mozzarella or grated parmesan.



To brighten a cloudy day…

Summer simplicity–using vegetables bang in season and begging to be used.

Me, sir! Me! Me, sir! Just like at school; eager hands in the air, knowing the answer.

This is a Nigel Slater idea from his book Tender.

I am using:


  • 2 aubergines/eggplants–sliced thickly


  • Olive oil (for brushing the sliced aubergines)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb/450 grams tomatoes–ripe as can be–roughly chopped


  • 1 tbs olive
  • 1 garlic clove–peeled and chopped
  • a small dry chili–chopped (no need to take out the seeds)
  • small handful of basil leaves (optional)
  • A medium ball of mozzarella–sliced thick
  • 2 tbs grated parmesan

Oven: 220C/430F  (hot!)

Oil an oven tray large enough to take the aubergine slices.

Brush the aubergines with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper–generously!

Put the tray in the top of the oven and cook for about 25 minutes (check at 20 minutes, but the aubergines profit from a little singeing–and they must be soft).


While the aubergines are cooking, heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan and add the tomatoes, garlic, chili and basil (if you have it).


Cook for 20 minutes or until you have a nice mess of tomatoes.


Remove the aubergine slices from the oven and spread some of the tomato sauce on each with a teaspoon.


Top each slice with the grated parmesan or a slice of mozzarella.


Put the tray back in the oven for about ten minutes–long enough for the cheese to melt.


Oh my!


We had small salad with these–using cherry tomatoes from the garden, cucumber, sliced onion and small pieces of feta. (It was intended to be a Greek salad but I forgot the black olives!)


A three CHEESE feast!

An interested guest looked on.


More of her later…






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A mid-summer dish this, when zucchini are zingy and the tomatoes ripe and sweet.


The squeeze of lemon adds the third dimension.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from one of my food heroes, Nigel Slater, in his cookbook, TENDER.

The courgettes and tomatoes should retain their brilliant summer colours.

Resist overcooking, in other words!

for 2 or 3


4 courgettes

3 tbs olive oil

3 medium tomatoes

small handful basil leaves–roughly torn

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper

Halve the courgettes length-wise and halve them again–then slice them into not too large chunks [see the photo above].

Roughly chop the tomatoes.

Heat the oil in a largish pan and add the zucchini/courgettes.

Cook them gently until they begin to soften–7 to 8 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, basil and lemon juice.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook for about ten minutes to allow everything to get friendly.

For lunch it made a pretty picture lying alongside an omelette.


This is going to feature often for the rest of the summer!



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from Minnesotta, North Carolina (via Rome), Rhode Island, California, Virginia, North Yorkshire, Tipperary (Ireland), New Zealand, Brixton (S London)–for the two cooking workshops.

Not quite back-to-back! We’ll be trying that out in September and October. This time we took a few days to fly to Florence to celebrate Brother Jack’s 60th birthday (he’s performing in a show there at Teatro del Sale).

Here’s a short photo diary of the good times we had.


late May Bravehearts with host Dominique on the right.


Mid- June Braveheatrs–looking enthused


Eager aprons waiting to be claimed


Minnesotans–togged up and ready to break eggs


Tossing the salad the Italian way–36 times!


What do we think? A touch more vinegar?


Friday morning coffee break and “food” chat


Friday morning starter–the unexpected curried apple soup


Friday supper (work-free delight)–Chez Valérie


Simone–the essential ingredient, without whom…


“Showtime” Sunday lunch–with Cecile and Polly–first time around


“Showtime” Sunday lunch–second go-around (where’s the hat?!)

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There’s a recipe in both my cookbooks–and they are the most visited on the blog.

I am not alone in loving them!


They were always a favorite with me–but were off the menu after my diagnosis because they usually share the space with an equal mount of mashed potatoes (sometimes more, one suspects, in restaurants!). Potatoes have a very high glycemic index rating–mashed especially.

So when I spotted the alternative versions, I was delighted.

One recipe mixes the salmon with smoked haddock; another adds fresh dill.

These secondary ingredients are not always easy to find—so here is a third version with the perennially available smoked salmon.

My local supermarket sells 200gm/8oz packets of smoked salmon off-cuts—-perfect for this and less expensive than traditional slices.

LUNCH–with a green salad!

for 2

200 gms/8oz skinless salmon fillet


200gms/8oz smoked salmon



  • 1 shallot–chopped small
  • white of an egg
  • 1 tbsp chickpea flour–or any whole flour
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp parsley–chopped
  • salt and pepper

Cut up the fresh salmon and the smoked salmon into pieces as illustrated above–roughly bite-size.

Pulse them briefly in a food mixer–they should not be mushy.


Empty them into a bowl.

Carefully turn in the rest of the ingredients.

Taste for seasoning–delicious exercise!

Scoop out the mixture and form your patties (I use a tablespoon.) Don’t “overwork” the mixture.


If you have time, cover and refrigerate for half an hour or so–it helps firm up the fishcakes.

Heat the oil to HOT in a frying pan. Very important that the fishcakes cook in hot oil.

Slide them carefully into the pan and flatten them a little with a fish slice/spatula to hasten the cooking.


After a couple of minutes flip them over and cook briefly the other side.

When you see the milky liquid appearing from inside the fishcakes, they are READY.

Lift them gently out of the pan and arrange them on a serving plate with sliced lemon.


Delicious served with a little yogurt sauce:

  • 1 pot yogurt
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • pinch of salt

Whisk the yogurt smooth and stir in the mustard and salt.

Whisk again.







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Diabetes Logo

This week marks the end of the testing season–feet, heart, liver, kidneys, prostate, skin–you name it!

On Monday it was the annual love fest with Dr Nguyen Ngoc Luong, my opthamologist.

A man of few words, Dr Luong sits on a swivel chair with an alarming revolving table to his right.

At the push of a button this table goes in to action, swinging round to position a new chin rest at eye level between me and the good Doctor. This happens three times in the course of the test.

Then comes the checking of my long sight.

Reading off the numbers or letters projected on the wall opposite, as Dr Luong slips different lenses in and out of the “pince-nez” he fastens onto my nose.


I feel like a schoolboy keen to answer teacher’s questions correctly.

Now it’s time for the most intimate moment of the session.

We both shift nervously on our chairs preparing to stare into one another’s eyes for a few breathless moments.

My freshly shaved chin juts towards his as he points a penetrating light at my pupils–shining  it into every corner of my cornea and beyond.

Breaking the spell, he leans back and utters three precious words. To my relief–a few days short of Valentine’s Day–not “I Love You” but…

“Pas de diabétes!”

I uncross my fingers–and feel foolish again for indulging in the Superstition Game.

Another year CLEAR!


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Meredith shows me a Breugel 16th century winter scene reminiscent of the world outside our windows at the moment–except for the skating.


It leads her into thinking of other artists’ depiction of winter.

“Who was that painter we liked at the Metropolitan after we saw that Matisse exhibit a few years back? Industrial landscapes and the boxers. Remember?”

Club Night by George Bellows


I use my hands to mime the thing that fans a fire into life.


“George Bellows–brilliant realist painter–died too young–42, he was. Painted winter–town and country.”



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“Wow!” says Meredith. “Nothing wrong with your memory!”

Next day this article appeared in the newspaper–explaining why…!

Apparently the antioxidant, resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes, some berries and peanuts, has a positive effect on the hippocampus–the part of the brain vital to memory, learning and mood.



Cheers! Santé! Good health! Chin chin! Salud! Prost!

Now what did I say was for supper…?!

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