Through my virtual connections with friends all over the world during the last couple of weird months this pandemic has shown me that we humans are divided into two very clear groups….those who trust and those who do not trust. Continue reading “Trust is the antidote to fear”
Today is day 31 of our self-isolation during this weird time in history as Covid-19 sweeps across the planet. I cam home from a business trip to Ireland on 2 March and started getting a sore throat which developed into a really nasty chest cough and breathing difficulties. Eoin caught it a few days later and it knocked both of us off our feet for nearly 3 1/2 weeks. We couldn’t get tested because we didn’t have fevers and, to be honest, as we watched our income streams dry up and had no energy to do much about it we felt pretty out of control of most things in our lives. Many people that I have talked to now feel the same after weeks of uncertainty and fear.
Eoin and I are pretty good with uncertainty because our life choices mean that we change and adapt on a regular basis. To live this way can be terrifying for the mind until your realise that you do, however, have control of a few things….what we eat, what we think, what we focus on, how we spend our time and who we spend it with. We feel so blessed to have created a beautifully abundant ‘potager’ (veg plot) here at La Girouette and we can literally feel the immune boosting benefits of all the spinach, purple-sprouting broccoli, rocket and cabbage which we have been harvesting and eating daily as part of our recovery.
So, it is with great joy that I announce the first of my guests for my RESILIENCE RESOURCES initiative which launches on Wednesday 8th via Zoom by donation…..
Patrick Holford has long been one of my nutritional gurus and I was privileged to share an evening and a very healthy Japanese meal with him and our mutual friend Sally Kempton in Camden last September. As I have been pondering the whole concept of RESILIENCE, his work on boosting our immune systems through nutrition came to mind.
Patrick is a leading light in new approaches to health and nutrition. Patrick is one of Britain’s best-selling nutrition writers, with frequent appearances on national television and in the press. His latest book, FLU FIGHTERS: How to win the cold war by boosting your natural immunity with non-toxic ingredients comes out on 16 April. Patrick is also co-author of Boost Your Immune System, with immunologist Jennifer Meek, and was a student of the late Dr Linus Pauling, the only person ever to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes, and author of Vitamin C and the Common Cold, published in 1970. Patrick Holford is founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, of which Dr Linus Pauling was the patron.
Next Wednesday at 7.30pm Central European Time, Patrick joins me for this 90 minute virtual event during which he will explore why do some people get really sick, even die from flu, while others don’t. Colds and flu, including COVID-19, are viral diseases that a healthy immune system should be able to fight off with natural immunity. But what is a healthy immune system and how can you promote your own immune power with diet and nutrients?
Patrick will explain how viruses work and where their weaknesses are. You’ll also discover how to restore and maintain a healthy immune system when not infected and what to eat, drink and supplement when you are under attack to shorten duration and severity of your symptoms. There will also be time for Q&A. He may even throw in a recipe or two if he has time!
This virutal event is BY DONATION so, even if you can’t afford to donate €1 you are welcome to come and learn from Patrick’s expertise and knowledge.
My intention is to share these important resources far and wide with as many people as possible so please do share this event and I hope you will be able to join us so that we can all grow stronger together.
It is the first week of August and our second summer here at La Girouette is in full swing. We learnt a lot from our first summer in the potager (veg garden) but, despite my decision to plant a LOT less courgette seeds, we have been harvesting about 2.5 kg of them a day for the last month or so. This abundance is fantastic but poses a bit of a challenge because there are only so many courgette that 2 people can eat. We have given many to our immediate neighbours here in the hameau (hamlet) and swapping season has been very fruitful for us – excuse the pun. In return for our courgettes so far we have received from the neighbours dozens of eggs, cherries, peaches, haricots and cucumbers. It is such a joyful experience to connect with our neighbours in this way and it really helps to make us feel part of this little 6 house community.
My body just loves eating food which was grown less than 10 metres from the table we eat it at and is eaten within 30 mins of harvest. Sadly courgette can’t be frozen (apart from once already cooked as in cake or soup) and if you leave medium sized ones on the plant overnight they can turn into monsters like these ones which Delilah is lying beside to give you a size comparison. She is in between springer spaniel and setter size!
So I decided to set myself a culinary challenge to find as many really delicious new ways of using courgette as possible. It has been quite amazing how we have managed to eat at least one meal a day based on courgette for over a month now and still be trying new dishes, many of them seriously tasty. I have become an advocate for the much overlooked courgette and hopefully, if you try some of the recipes in this blog, you will grow to love them as much as we now do.
The first (and our most loved) recipe is for Courgette and Raisin (or Cranberry) Tea Loaf. I make nearly one a day at the moment because you can freeze them so I am using the courgettes up and storing up for the winter months. The real challenge is getting them into the freezer before Eoin gets to them! This is a slightly modified version of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Pumpkin and Raisin Tea Loaf from his excellent VEG cookbook which I use a lot. Click here to check out the book. I add some desiccated coconut and use cranberries instead of the raisins for variety and a slightly sweeter taste. It is a reasonably simple recipe once you get the hang of it and, so far, I have found it to be very consistent in its results. In fact, I have one in the oven as I type this! Click here to read the recipe and I hope you enjoy eating it as much as we do. BTW this is NOT a healthy option and does, sadly, include flour and sugar. If anyone comes up with a healthier version then please let me know.
One of the most important pieces of kitchen equipment for dealing with your courgette glut is a spiraliser. I couldn’t manage without mine and it allows me to whip up incredible courgettini in less than a minute. My own only cost £20 and has been working really well for me for a few years now. Check it out here.
Once you have a spiraliser you can make things like Jamie Oliver’s delicious Lemony Prawn Courgettini and Lemony Courgette Linguini (although personally I don’t bother with the linguini and just make some courgettini with my spiraliser then add in the mint, parmesan and lemon for a super simple summer lunch). We also have a lot of basil growing at the moment so my other favourite thing to do with spiralised courgettini is simple to blitz up up a delicious pesto, gently warm the courgettini in a large frying pan then mix the pesto through. So simple yet so yummy.
This afternoon I made up 4 litres of Courgette, Leek and Goat’s Cheese soup which also freezes well in batches so I can defrost it and we can taste some summer during cold winter days! With fresh basil leaves and some toasted pumpkin seeds on top it is makes a bowl of velvety deliciousness.
Of course, summer wouldn’t be summer without lots of gorgeous risottos made from all the fresh veg and herbs in the garden. It is especially good when you also make your own stock with veg off-cuts which you can freeze until you have enough to make up a litre or two of stock. Risotto is one of my specialities so I tend not to use a recipe but I have tried these three for you and they are great – Courgette & Lemon Risotto, Tomato & Courgette Risotto and Summer Courgette Risotto. Making a good risotto requires focus and patience but it is so worth the wait and I like to use it as part of my meditation practice.
Then there are the salads. Oh the salads we have eaten this summer already! So much goodness and nutrition on one plate. It leaves the mouth and the body tingling with aliveness. We had our French/Polish neighbours round for dinner last week and they were bowled over by these Courgettes with Mint & Ricotta which I served alongside freshly dug boiled potatoes and some barbecued tuna. This Shaved Fennel, Courgette and Orange salad is simple but excellent as is this Zingy Courgette and Spinach Salad.
That brings me on to the show stopper so far this summer which is Potato, Courgette and Goat’s Cheese Tart. It is a labour of love and a little complicated but we just adore it. Personally, I don’t use the pastry included in the recipe because I favour one of my own pastry recipes but I am sure it is good anyway. This keeps well and is equally as good for a second meal the next day (if there is any left!).
I have also made and frozen batches of these Courgette & Feta Fritters which you can find in this cookbook which is one of my favourites by the lovely guys at the Happy Pear who inspire me so much. Check out all their books along with several other of my favourites here. These Sweetcorn Courgette Fritters are also very tasty (especially with the sweet chilli sauce) but I prefer the Happy Pear ones.
And last, but not least, is this incredibly rich Chocolate Courgette Cake. I have only made it once but I will try it again and will only make half quantities because it is very big and we could only manage a small slice at a time. It needs some vanilla ice-cream to cut through the richness but it has potential and I am determined to master it.
This week I will be trying another Happy Pear recipe for the first time because my two nephews are coming to stay and they love a good cake so I will be serving them up Lemon Curd and Courgette Cake. I will also be trying these Veggie ‘Meat’balls and, now that our tomatoes are starting to redden, we will be enjoying Courgette & Tomato Soup.
I hope this all gives you some food for thought and inspires you. If you have any of your own favourite courgette recipes then please do share a link in the comments box.
I can’t believe that it has been over 2 months since I last wrote my blog. What have I been up to and why have I not been writing?
Well, I guess I have been living.
Sucking the marrow out of life.
Watching Spring burst into life.
On a 10 day tour with my spiritual teacher which included me receiving 60 hours of spiritual teaching, meditation, guidance, self-inquiry, chanting, praying, breathwork and much more! And, as if that wasn’t enough, I was actually sharing accommodation with my teacher and spending nearly as many hours again in her company over the 10 days. It was intense. It was deeply healing. The sadness took my breath away at times. I heard myself wailing with grief and felt tears of deep gratitude and joy pouring down my face at different times. You may ask “why would you put yourself through that?” I have a one word answer – FREEDOM!
And then home to La Girouette to integrate all the shifts in the peace and quiet here and also spend a precious week with one of my step-daughters who is visiting.
So, in a nut-shell, that is why I haven’t blogged for a while.
In amongst all this transformation, I have been asking for guidance about how I can best be of service. The short prayer “Take me, use me” is one of my morning practices. Continue reading “Take Me, Use Me”
Over the last few years more and more people, especially women, are talking about self-care and their self-care regime which is really wonderful. The term ‘self-care’ has become mainstream which it definitely wasn’t when I started life coaching back in 2004. It is such an important thing to prioritise in this crazy, speeded up, modern world. I am a HUGE fan of self-care and have been advocating on its behalf for the last 15 years as a Life Coach and Retreats & Events Manager specialising in personal and spiritual development.
So why am I concerned?
Quite simply because what I witness many people practicing is NOT self-care in its true form. I see so many of my female friends and clients taking on more and more responsibilities and not even realising how over-stretched they are mentally, physically and emotionally. It is almost like being busy has become a badge of honour for them. The term ‘self-care’ is now regularly coined as a way of excusing the fact that they are taking an hour or so for themselves.
When you race from another appointment to your monthly massage, lie down with your body knotted in tension, think about 100 other things while you are being massaged and then race off to the next appointment, you are simply ticking off another thing on your long ‘to do’ list. When you come flying into yoga class late every week, it takes you 10 minutes to slow your breathing down and then you race off as soon as the teacher says ‘namaste’, you are still in your habitual ‘busy-ness’. When you have to consciously remember to schedule in one thing which brings you joy every month you are missing the point of self-care. I did up until a few years ago too. Continue reading “The Myth of Self-Care”
Over the last week or so we have been blessed with the most glorious warm sunny days and cloudless skies which, according to the neighbours, is not normal. Certainly our memory of last February while we were renting in the area was of wet, wet, wet and more wet. So the phrase of the moment between everyone we meet is “Il faut en profiter!” which basically means “make the most of it!” So we are.
Eoin has been hard at work cleaning our roof, chopping down old trees and doing lots of other outdoors jobs. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you will know that I am a passionate organic gardener and that our aim is to grow as much of our own veg as possible here at La Girouette. This beautiful weather has started my green fingers itching as we rapidly approach the start of another growing year and yesterday I completed Phase 2 of Operation GIY (Grow It Yourself) which was to clean out and reorganise the potting shed. As I was taking everything out, cleaning tools, disposing of rubbish, organising my pots and generally seeing what was there, I realised how therapeutic I found this job and how much it mirrored how I approach life. Continue reading “Spring Clean Your Life”
One of the things which we noticed when we first moved to the Dordogne was that, in general, the locals are much less fixated on their mobile phones than has become so normalised in other parts of the world. In restaurants here families actually talk to each other when they are out together! When walking around the local towns and villages, people are looking up and making eye contact with other people. Most upcoming events are promoted through posters and flyers. Rural France and the people who live here are much less ‘on-line’ than we had become used to and when we go back to Ireland or the UK now we really notice the difference. In general, we observe that people there are much more stressed and that their energy is more fragmented. Waiting for a plane home in Stansted airport a few weeks ago I noticed that about 95% of those in the queue were staring at digital devices instead of looking up and interacting with the world around them.
As someone who works on-line about 25 hours a week, living in the Dordogne has made me more aware of how negatively that had been affecting me. When I have been on-line too much I notice my mind being very busy and distracted. I watch how often during the day I check it for social media updates or messages. I witness myself reacting to those messages and often being pulled away from the present moment. I observe how much stress I can experience from words on a screen or when technology does not work for me. On days when I am switched on for too many hours I feel my mental energy being over-stimulated and my physical and emotional energy being un-grounded. If I am online after 9pm I notice that my sleep pattern is disrupted and it is much more difficult for me to sink into deep sleep. Continue reading “Disconnect to Reconnect”