Three Years and counting

I would like to wish mr416expat a happy three years in England.  He’s now lived in the UK longer than he lived in our house in Toronto.  He’s well on his way to having lived in the UK as a married man longer than he lived in Toronto as a married man.  Time flies!

Despite having lived in the UK for 3 years, it’s still shocking/annoying when I go to the grocery store or market in search for, what I thought was, a universally available item.  Today’s case in point?  Spaghetti Squash.  I love that stuff.  I use spaghetti squash when I want to have a slightly lighter (less carby, more veggies) meal.  I have, in my 2 1/2 years here (I moved to the UK 6 months after mr416expat), seen only one spaghetti squash.  When I saw that solitary spaghetti squash at a market in East London, I bought it on sight.  The market vendor informed me that he wouldn’t grow them next year as no one was buying them.  It was a sad day.

2 1/2 years later I still haven’t seen any more spaghetti squash in London.  Maybe they’re out there somewhere, but not at any of my regular haunts.  This absence of course, made making The First MessSpaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl quite a challenge.  I love a challenge.

Quinoa and Broccoli Bowl with Peanut and Lime Sauce – Adapted from The First Mess

120g quinoa (cook in 1L boiling water until soft – approximately 10 minutes)
1 broccoli cut into florets
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1/2 c toasted sunflower seeds
handful of chopped herb (I used parsley because I had it on hand)
2 cups spinach (fresh)Codd
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)


1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsp thai hot sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 lime, peeled + chopped
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp honey
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
tiny splash of toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup grapeseed oil

Cook the quinoa in 1L boiling water until soft – approximately 10 minutes.  Drain.  Put the spinach in a large bowl, pouring the hot quinoa overtop.  The heat from the quinoa will wilt the spinach.  Steam the broccoli florets.  While the broccoli is steaming combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender, mixing until combined.  Add a few spoonfuls of the dressing to the quinoa and spinach, tossing together.  Top the quinoa with the steamed broccoli, shallot, toasted sunflower seeds and chia seeds.  Drizzle additional dressing on top, season with salt and pepper.


Carrots with Chilli Peppers and Sunflower Seeds

So over here in England Gwyneth Paltrow gets a pretty bad rap.  Granted she’s living in LA now, so she’s not really a UK problem, but she still pops up in the media from time to time.  Most recently Ms. Paltrow has courted controversy with her new cookbook, “It’s all Good” where she provides recipes that “are just right for the way we are meant to be eating these days – cleaner and healthier, without sacrificing any flavour or satisfaction.”  In a country where, according to Suzanne Moore of the Guardian, food is now the ultimate class signifier, Paltrow’s recipes have a tendency to come across as somewhat preachy and unattainable for those on fixed or low incomes.  That said, I came across some of her recipes on goop and couldn’t resist giving them a go.  Unfortunately when it came to trying out her recipe for Carrots with Black Sesame and Ginger, I had neither black sesame or ginger.  Here’s what I came up with:

Carrots with Hot Red Peppers and Sunflower Seeds

1 chilli pepper, sliced into rings (remove the seeds if you’re afraid of too much heat)
1 tbsp olive oil
6 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks (I used the medium blade on my mandolin)
2 handfuls of snow peas, cut on a diagonal into roughly matchstick size
coarse sea salt and pepper
a few drops of sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
4 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan, adding the chilli peppers to flavour the oil.  After the peppers have sizzled in the oil for a minute or so, add the carrots and snow peas, tossing to coat with the oil.  Cook the carrots and snowpeas for a minute or too until they just start to soften.  Stir in the sesame oil, soy sauce, and sunflower seeds.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or cold.