Meal plans for two weeks

So, yes, meal plans help you spend less in the supermarket, in theory, and eat better, because you have something in the fridge for tonight that you have planned to eat and fits with your diet goals. You don’t have to plan something fancy every night and you need to be mindful of how tired you will be any given night.

I have until recently been in a cycle of shopping on Sunday mornings after ringing, but supermarkets are crazy busy on Sundays, so this week I am trying to be organised far enough ahead

Last week’s and this week’s are both pretty multicultural, taking advantage of autumn to use the timer on the oven to have food ready for when I come home.

Monday 23rd Sep – Chicken chasseur -a chicken, bacon, mushroom and tomato stew – made with four chicken legs so there was two nights’ food.

Tuesday – Chicken chasseur

Wednesday – Greek salad

Thursday – Pan fried pork steaks with apples, onions, carrots and peppers, with a crème fraîche and wholegrain mustard sauce

Friday – Mr Brain’s frozen faggots

Saturday and Sunday – Stifado – a Greek beef and tomato stew spiced with cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves, but in our case, no garlic. Based a little on Jamie Oliver’s recipe, it’s in the oven right now, so I shall be interested to see how it comes out, given that he doesn’t give a stock cube as an ingredient.

My parameters for a week’s food are currently: low carb main meals every night. Next to no bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. I have recently fallen far short of my aspiration to have two meat free main meals each week, and only manage it by substituting fish next week, as you will see. Failing on the carbs, too.

Monday 30th September – tbc

Tuesday – lamb tagine. Trying to prove wrong the online comment I read that people who buy tagine dishes only ever use them once. This will be the second time. I shall be rather more circumspect with the ras el hanout this time.

Wednesday pineapple rice

Thursday – salade niçoise

Friday – smoked mackerel potato salad – a version of a recipe where the smoked mackerel is crumbled with mayonnaise and wholegrain mustard, and spinach is cooked by lining a colander with it, and pouring over the boiling potato water. Except that I will probably be using frozen spinach and this blates won’t work with that.

Well, that at least is what is in my Google diary shared with P so we both know what is planned. Whether I shall crumble and phone for pizza again is another matter.


Zentangling Siena

Now that the postcard has finally arrived I can share some patterns I found in the Duomo di Siena.

First some background!

Zentangling is a deceptively simple meditation / doodling crossover that I have been playing with for a few months. I see from searching these pages however, that I haven’t blogged about it yet (although you will find some photos of my art here.)

I started off using the book One Zentangle A Day but have fallen way way by the wayside.

Zentangling’s premise is that you can produce quite complex interesting art “one stroke at a time” – there is a method that helps you build up patterns by following a series of strokes. The various different patterns – called tangles – are “taught” by using diagrams like this one that shows you what order to do the strokes in. is a brilliant online index of loads of different patterns and places to find their step diagrams.

At the time I found out about these for the first time, it had recently been creativity week at school – a system we use where all the residential trips and work experience placements happen at the same time to avoid lots of small groups of students being out at different times. Those staff and students left in school have a week off timetable doing something completely different. So I half wonder whether I could use this if there ever comes a year when I am in school and not out on a FL visit.

Since starting, I have been intrigued by the patterns I see around me and wonder whether they could inspire new tangles. Re-reading the instructions about the difference between a tangle and any old pattern perhaps not.

Although I have spotted interesting patterns all around, the cathedral in Siena was simply on another planet. Every available surface is completely covered in art, much of it representative, but much also based on recurring patterns. Indeed as an English protestant, used to much plainer places of worship, I kinda felt the Lego cathedral was a little de trop.

In any case, here are the tangles I drew on a postcard to similarly afflicted friends, followed by bad, flashless, cameraphone pictures of the things I saw that were the pattern in the wild, in the cathedral.

Duomo zentangles

Duomo zentangles

Duomo zentangles

Finally the right-hand O came from an illuminated symbol in a beautiful manuscript of plainsong in the crypt.

Duomo zentangles

There are strong resemblances, to my mind, of the official tangle “Mooka” which is explained in this video:

To loop it all back to education – and even to languages – a wonderful post by blogger and primary languages expert Clare Seccombe, who is currently entering a competition inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels (which I failed to go and see whilst in Durham this summer) and European Day of Languages.

Pudding club: Lancashire hotpot II

I’ve tried this once before – this one worked out better, I think.

Lancashire hotpot for last pudding club of the hols.

I didn’t really read my recipe from last time, just had a quick glance at Delia’s version and the BBC Good Food for quantities. Yes, I did need to buy two supermarket blister packs of lamb chunks at more than a fiver each. (A main course that works out at around £2 each is not unreasonable, really, though is it?) No, I wasn’t going to include kidneys (I wouldn’t mind but P would and I’m guessing two small boys wouldn’t be keen.) Basic stew, chop up some potatoes for the top, uncover halfway through cooking, brush potatoes with butter and brown off.

I liked Delia’s factoid:

This has acquired its name from the time when it was baked at home, then wrapped in blankets to keep hot and provide lunch for a day at the races.

Hotpot then is super appropriate for taking to a friend’s house.

I also liked Delia’s potato topping – more like chips or roasted potatoes than the food processor slices I did last time. I was going for that, but completely failed!

It wasn’t quick, by the time you have browned the meat a fair bit, then given the onions a good long time to almost caramelise on their own, in the juices, then add and soften the celery and carrots. After all that, a further two hours in the oven, which it can almost do on its own apart from the uncovering / browning stage when I felt the need to keep checking that it wasn’t actually burning.

Anyway, pudding club with friends, followed by watching #GBBO as part of a crowd, was an awesome way to end the holidays and not give too much thought to the first day of school tomorrow…