LCHF Eating in Newcastle – plans for Summer 2017 – Tapas at El Coto

So, I feel like I need to start making some concrete eating plans for our trip to Glasgow and Newcastle/Gateshead – I’ll flip these into FlipBoard, but I need to park them here in order to do that.

I hope to use these ideas to see how well being LCHF (low-carb high-fat) or at least LCMF (low-carb moderate-fat) goes whilst in Scotland and England

 Tapas Frias, Panes y Ensaladas – Cold Tapas, Breads and Salads

Aceitunas (V) — Green queen olives

Aceitunas marinadas (V) — Black & green olives marinated in lemon, garlic & red chillies

Tomate aliñado (V) — Tomatoes with an olive oil, chopped garlic & parsley dressing

Queso manchego (V) — Manchego cheese drizzled with olive oil

Boquerones con tomate aliñado — Unsalted anchovies and tomatoes with an olive oil, chopped garlic & parsley dressing

Sardinas con alcachofas — Sardines marinated in basil oil served with artichokes

Tapa de jamón y queso — Plate of serrano ham and manchego cheese

Ensalada verde (V) — Salad of mixed greens dressed with olive oil

Jamón serrano — Spanish serrano ham

 Tapas Calientes — Hot Tapas 

Pimientos del piquillo con pescado — Sweet and spicy piquillo peppers stuffed with fish

Chorizo frito — Chunks of chorizo sausage fried with garlic & white wine

Puntas de solomillo al queso azul — Medallions of pork tenderloin in a creamy blue cheese & mushroom sauce

Gambas al ajillo — King prawns fried in olive oil with chillies & garlic

Champiñones al vino blanco (V) — Mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, garlic & white wine

Pollo al ajillo — Chicken sautéed in olive oil with garlic, parsley & white wine  

Pollo pepitoria — Chicken in a creamy tomato sauce

Morcilla con tomate — Spanish spicy black pudding in a tomato sauce

Albóndigas en salsa española — Home-made lamb meatballs in a Spanish sauce


Fish Muddle

I found this recipe in the April 2016 issue of Our State magazine…

Will update after we actually make it…

Fish Muddle

fish muddle 300x405San Francisco has cioppino. Provence has bouillabaisse. Southerners, particularly in North Carolina, have muddle. It’s our classic Southern fish stew made from the catch of the day — seafood and shellfish on the coast and creek fish elsewhere, whatever you caught that you didn’t throw back. This thick stew includes basic vegetables and simple seasonings. And, like the proverbial stone soup, the more people pitching something into the pot, the more complex and robust a muddle becomes.

A defining characteristic of muddle is that it is garnished with eggs, which can be poached in the savory broth, scrambled and swirled into the pot like egg drop soup, or simply hard-cooked and crumbled. To make muddle even more filling, ladle it over hot grits or rice.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1½ pounds large, wild shrimp, peeled, deveined, shells and heads reserved
6 cups water
8 ounces thick-cut bacon, chopped
2 large celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large carrots, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
2 large onions, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 bay leaves
4 short thyme sprigs
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1½ pounds lean fish fillets (such as snapper or striped bass), cut into 2-inch pieces
6 cups freshly cooked rice or stone-ground grits
4 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Buttered saltines

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shrimp shells and heads. Cook, stirring constantly, until they turn pink. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cook gently until the liquid reduces to 4 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain the stock and discard the solids.

Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium-low heat until it is crisp and rendered, about 15 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.

Increase the heat to medium. When the bacon fat begins to sizzle, stir in the celery, carrots, onions, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes.

Add the shrimp stock, potatoes, and the salt. Simmer until the potatoes are almost done, about 15 minutes.

Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Season with pepper and hot sauce. Taste for salt.

Gently stir the fish into the stew. Arrange the shrimp over the top of the stew. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover the pot, and let cook until the fish and shrimp are barely opaque in the center, about 5 minutes.

Spoon hot rice or grits into serving bowls. Ladle muddle over the grits. Sprinkle with the eggs, reserved bacon, and parsley. Serve hot with buttered saltines.

Knitting Projects for Summer 2017 Trip to Glasgow and Newcastle-Gateshead

So, a few years back, I wrote down a number of knitting projects that I was particularly interested in doing – I think I may have finished 3 or 4 – que sera sera…

This summer, on our travels, I plan to carry my knitting and crocheting tool kit and my colored pencils & watercolors. Otherwise, I will have to buy what I need while across the pond.

In the interest of  being organized, here is that list again, with links and details…

Plus… newly found ideas and projects!

Original List

Lilaceous Shawl – by Derya Davenport, Winter 2012 – at least 500m of very light weight yarn (suggest mohair, but it makes me itch)

(c) Derya Davenport from

Good Day Sunshine Shawl – by Amanda Bjørge, Spring+Summer 2012 – (suggested yarn: Knit Picks Shadow Tonal Lace Yarn [100% merino wool; 440 yards per 50g skein]; color: Golden Glow; 1 skein)

(c) Amanda Bjorge from

Anjeli – by Angelika Luidl, found on Ravelry – yarn weight 50g = 125m, need 200g

(c) Angelika Luidl from Ravelry

Christmas Cookie Bars

UPDATE: These were an unmitigated disaster in 2016. I mixed up 3 or 4 batches of cookie dough and none of them baked up properly. When I made a normal layer in the sheet pans, the dough bubbled out over the edges and made a horrid mess on the bottom of the oven. So, I had to turn the oven off, let it cool, scrape up the burnt-on mess, and try again. Finally, got a pan or two cooked. They were massively overdone as the dough just wasn’t baking – it was becoming lava not cookies. When I turned those pans out, there were massive amounts of oil oozing out. YUCK! One last shot, I tried shaping the cookies into little balls and baking individual cookies – same result. I ended up throwing all that into the trash can and flinging up my arms in defeat. No Christmas Cookies for 2016. After further reflection (and a tequila or two), I figured out that the grocery store must have FROZEN THE BUTTER at some point in the storage. Past experience with making cookies and candies at the holidays has taught me that for MOST holiday baking and making, frozen butter separates during cooking and makes a huge mess. — I’m now thinking of taking another shot at these for Valentine’s Day (using butter flavored Crisco sticks instead of butter) or turning the large amount of crushed peppermint and white chocolate chips into peppermint fudge for Valentine’s Day. I don’t really want to keep all this stuff in limbo for a year.

This is an adaptation of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I’ll add more notes as they come back to my Swiss cheese memory (didn’t bake cookies in 2015, first year in about 20 that I didn’t bake cookies). I’ll also add photos when I bake.

Recipe – 3 batches fill 2 sheet pans (need to add size)

1/2 c butter

3/4 c white sugar

1 egg, large

1 tsp vanilla bean paste, favorite brand = Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste

1/2 tsp (maybe less?) peppermint extract, favorite brand = Nielsen-Massey Pure Peppermint Extract

1 1/4 c all-purpose flour, favorite brand = King Arthur All Purpose Flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

12 oz bag of white chocolate chips

8 oz crushed peppermint


  1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line sheet pans with non-stick aluminum foil.
  2. Cream together butter & sugar. Stir in egg, vanilla paste, and peppermint extract. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt – then stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in chocolate and peppermint. Spread evenly in sheet pans.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (may have to change this) in preheated oven until lightly browned, cool, cut using pizza cutter. Store in airtight containers.

Cauliflower Mash

Back when we first began to successfully lose weight, we used Atkins Diet to get things kick-started. One of the dishes that we really enjoyed was Cauliflower Mash… I’ve tweaked the original recipe a bit (here)… This is my version.


3 bags of steam-in-bag cut-up cauliflower

2 tbs sour cream

2 tbs half-n-half or heavy cream (whichever is more handy)

2 tbs salted butter

1 tsp chicken base

Steam cauliflower. Puree in food processor. Add remaining ingredients. Taste. Add salt &/or garlic salt and white pepper as needed.

Meatloaf like Mama Louise used to make

Meatloaf like Mama Louise used to make

So, when I was growing up (North Carolina in the 1970s), my Mom didn’t make meatloaf. My friend Jan, now her Mom made meatloaf – but hey! they were from Massachusetts, they ate all kinds of stuff that we didn’t.

At some point when I was 11 or 12, I realized that my godmother, Mama Louise, made meatloaf. I don’t know if it was just that I was spending more time in the kitchen with her and actually saw her making it (and thus learned to make it) or if it was something she started cooking around that time.

Her meatloaf was different. You didn’t need stale bread to make bread crumbs. You didn’t use saltine crackers either. Her “secret ingredient” was good old Quaker Oatmeal. The meatloaf was moist inside, held together nicely, and it wasn’t greasy.

Fast forward a decade or so, and I’m making meatloaf for the two of us and our hordes of friends that we seemed to be feeding all the time. Only, the Mr is a huge fan of cheese (he’s part rat), so, it seemed like a good idea to put cheese into the meatloaf – you know, like a cheeseburger. I made meatloaf pretty regularly until we moved from the cold Midwest to warm sunny Florida – I haven’t made meatloaf in about 7 years.

Tonight, it was time to undo that dry spell of meatloaf-less dinners. Here’s half of it, it smelled so good and we were all hungry, so I didn’t get a photo before I cut into it. I’m happy to say that it turned out really, really good. I think that it will be on the menu more frequently during cooler months.

Mama Louise's Meatloaf


1.5 (or thereabout) lb of ground beef 90% lean/10% fat

.75 c Quaker Oats (quick oats are okay)

.5 c catsup

1 tbs mustard

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbs Worcestershire or Soy sauce

1 tbs minced garlic

1 c grated cheddar cheese (this is a bit different from Mama Louise’s)

.5 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350F. Combine everything thoroughly. Drain off fat after about 30 minutes. Cover meatloaf with more catsup. Return to oven. Bake 50 to 55 minutes until medium doneness (160F, use that fancy meat thermometer you bought months ago).