Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Recipe: Whole chicken shawarma from the slow cooker

In the slow cooker, adding the rub
Finished cooking, just put it on a plate.
Here is another family favourite. When we lived in The Netherlands we sometimes got Shawarma from the Shawarma take-away. In The Netherlands it is actually written differently: Shoarma. Either way, all of us loved it. Frequently we would get it with mushrooms and peppers added or things like that. There were quite some varieties possible in most of the take-aways. But since we moved the first time to the UK we haven't had it much anymore. When we lived in The Netherlands the last time somehow in the area where we lived then there were mainly döner take-aways there. So we hadn't had it in many years. So when I read about it again a few years ago I realised how long it had been ago since we had it and how initially we had all craved it and the kids had asked about it. At some point they asked me to make it myself. But I couldn't see myself buy one of these upright grills or how to actually make it. It looked very difficult from the way they made it in the take-aways. So I had forgotten about it altogether for years. Until a few years ago when I read about it. At that point it was described on how to make it as a roast in the oven. Of course that worked. But it didn't taste as great as I remembered it. So I started tweaking the recipe and read up on other sites about it and asked friends from the Middle East how they made this type of food. So slowly but carefully I ended up getting it better and better. But then I got lazy and found it too much effort to make a roast in the oven. I started reading a bit more and looked up whether I could make it in the slow cooker. I found that some had done it with good results. So I had to try of course. The first time was right away a great success. The whole house smelled wonderful and everyone was more than ready for dinner by dinner time, they had been smelling it all day long LOL. Since I have made it quite regularly and because we love it so much I felt I should share it with you. We usually eat it with pita breads, garlic sauce, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cucumber. Not everyone eat all with it. I love the raw onions, my kids not so much :-)

Origin: Middle east
Just before eating

Difficulty: easy

Time: 8 hours
Serves: 6 
Traditional/GAPS/SCD legal, Primal


  • Slow cooker

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 tbsp yoghurt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • butter, chicken fat or such
Things to do ahead:
2 days ahead - thaw chicken in fridge
1 day ahead - start sourdough pita breads
1 day ahead - make garlic sauce


  • Grease the slow cooker with butter, chicken fat or such.
  • Make a nice rub with all the spices, yoghurt and lemon juice. 
  • After mixing it well, rub it all over the chicken, which you could cut in bits if you prefer. I usually keep it whole. 
  • Put the chicken in the slow cooker and turn in on low for 8 hours. or 4 hours on high.

Possible substitutions:
dairy - coconut
butter - coconut, tallow, etc.

Ready to dig in

Friday, 16 September 2016

Parenting: your kid feels wronged by another, but does that themselves, now what.

So your child comes to you because it feels wronged by what another person has done or said to him / her. Your child is at that point in need of empathy or at least sympathy. Your child needs to be heard because your child feels bad already, their feelings have been hurt. There is no use in kicking them while they are already down by telling them they do or say the same.

But what I keep seeing happening over and over is that a lot of people feel the need to point out that their child (or frequently I also see it happen between partners) has done or said such and such to others in the past as well. 

Usually they know that quite well, there is no need in pointing it out. They feel bad as it is. No need to make them feel worse. The best course of action is to listen and empathise. That is what the child / person needs. After venting they'll feel a whole lot better and life can go on.

Pointing out their flaws at that point is going to create an argument and bad feelings and will not help your relationship with your child (or partner). The relationship between people living in one house or who are in a relationship of some sort is more important than pointing out flaws. We all have flaws. Nobody is a saint.

In case you decide you do want to discuss the particular point, that's fine, but wait with it until the child / person is in a better place. Once they are in a normal mood you can rationally discuss these issues, while making sure you use the techniques of non-violent communication. Otherwise you're going down the path of an argument again and nothing constructive will come of it. When you end up in an argument it will not help the relationship, nor will it create a situation where something can be done to remedy the issue.

When one of the parents sees the other parent do such things, the opportune action to take, is to discuss it and make sure that the relationship with the children doesn't get damaged any further. Explain why it's wrong and what the consequences will be. It is very well possible to damage a trusting relationship with children, or a partner for that matter, with making someone feel worse when they are already feeling bad. The task of parents is to make children feel safe and meet their needs. Not kicking them while they are already down. In general it's considered emotional abuse when this happens on a continuous basis between 2 partners, so why would anyone do it to children, who are more vulnerable to begin with.

Off my soap box again :-)

Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. I'd love to hear from you.

What did we eat today (29/08/2016)

Nasi goreng & fu yung hai
So today we have a relatively relaxed day. I just needed to do a bit of shopping, but that's all. It's a bank holiday after all, so we should keep it relaxed.

So for breakfast we had:
Sourdough waffles, I had some fruit and a sausage with it and raw milk to drink. The kids all did their own thing with the waffles.

For lunch:
Hash browns in all its various ways.

For dinner we have:
Nasi goreng and fu yung hai.

Somehow for me that is quite a normal combination, despite the fact that the nasi goreng originates form Indonesia and the fu yung hai from China. In many Chinese restaurants in The Netherlands people eat that combination. It is commonly served, frequently together with babi pangang, which is a Chinese style dish with an Indonesian name. What I love about Indonesia is that a lot of people from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds moved there over the centuries and all the dishes these people took along were in some way incorporated into the Indonesian kitchen. Therefore very European vegetables are also commonly used. They are simply used in Indonesian dishes, such as a sajur or a sambal goreng. I love it. It makes making Indonesian food in Europe totally doable.

Together with the Turkish kitchen the Indonesian are my favourites

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Recipe: Bobotie

Recently we had Bobotie again. I do not make it often as I find it quite a bit of work, but because I do love the taste of it I do make it whenever the mood strikes. When I make it I make it on African Wednesday as we eat African inspired foods on Wednesdays.

So recently it the mood struck me again when I was making my menu plan. 

I find Bobotie a very fascinating dish as it is a complete mix of dishes of various ethnic influences. The curry that is used is clearly from India. Some of the spices and the raisins used are from North African background. This is because at some point in history travel on the African continent became easier and trade started happening, so in South Africa they could add North African spices and such to their dishes. The combination of dried fruits and meats is definitely from North African influence.
The chutney is again from India.
It also contains allspice, this comes from the Caribbean.

It is totally understandable that this dish is a such a lovely mix. When you look at the history of South Africa you can see how many different people settled there over the times and all left their mark on the kitchen, as it always happens.
The Dutch have settled there, they made a farmers colony in Kaapstad, this was to make sure that their ships on their way to Indonesia and such could load fresh foods for the seamen. This made the trips a much less unhealthy experience. The Portuguese settled. The Dutch took workers (probably slaves) back from Indonesia and Malaysia.
After this the French came over. They brought their grape vines and there we have the South-African wines from.
Of course the British wanted to be there as well. They were travelling the whole world and really would like to have their finger in the pie. So they more or less kicked the Dutch out of the coastal areas, so there is also the influence of the British, who then brought people over from India and China. So there you go, a lovely mix of many people of many backgrounds and it all comes out in lovely food. 

Some people call it South Africa's Shepherds pie, others call it South-Africa's answer to Moussaka :-)

I served it with the standard yellow rice, and this time with peas, though generally it seems that Bobotie is normally served with a salad, or so I have been told.

Origin: South Africa (and the rest of the world ;-))

Difficulty: easy
Time: a bit over 1 hour
Serves: 6 with side dishes, 4 when stand alone
Yield: 4 to 6 pieces


  • pan
  • oven dish
  • oven


  • 2 onions, chopped
  • butter, lard, beef drippings or such
  • garlic to taste (I like to use several cloves)
  • 1 kg beef mince, not the lean variety, it makes the dish dry.
  • 3 TBSP bread crumbs
  • 2 TBSP curry powder, I used korma powder, usually madras powder or paste is recommended
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs, dried
  • 1 tsp clove powder
  • 2 tsp allspice powder
  • 2 TBSP chutney, I used red onion chutney
  • 3 TBSP raisins or sultanas
  • 6 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 300 ml milk (full fat, raw)
  • 3 eggs

Things to do ahead:
1 day ahead
You can make the meat mixture a day ahead, put it in the ovenproof dish and put that in the fridge.

  • Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / gas 4.
  • Fry the onions in butter for about 10 mins until they look glassy, stir regularly. 
  • Add garlic and beef, keep stirring, make sure the mince falls apart in small bits. You want it as grainy as possible. 
  • Stir in the curry, herbs, spices, chutney, raisins and 2 of the bay leaves.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Add bread crumbs
  • Leave it cooking for a bit, until all flavours have combined nicely. 
  • Put it all in a ovenproof dish. Press it down and smooth out the top.
  • Beat the eggs and add the milk with some salt and pepper.
  • Pour it over the meat mix.
  • Put the 4 left over bay leaves on top.
  • Put it in the oven and leave it there for about 40 minutes. Check after about 30 to see whether the topping is firm and has a golden brown look to it.

Possible substitutions:
dairy - coconut
butter - coconut, tallow, etc.
beef mince - chicken mince, turkey mince, pork mince, lamb mince

Enjoy! Let me know what you think! Leave a comment or ask a question. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Menu plan for the week from 3 September

Every Tuesday or Wednesday I make a menu plan and right after I do my online shopping. The shopping gets delivered on Thursday and Friday, so my menu plan starts on Saturday. I have themed the days of the week to have meals from a particular area of the world as we like to eat varied. 
I try to implement eating liver, heart and fish regularly. Somehow I'm much more successful with liver than with fish and heart. 
I usually offer a fermented food with the meals, though those are usually not on my menu list, unless they are of a special sort. 
I try to have a small salad with our dinners. I'm not every day successful with that though.
Soups we tend to have for lunch, simply as broth is important to have on a daily basis and we all like soup. My sauces are usually made with broth, milk or cream, never just water.

Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Saturday Sourdough pancakes Onion soup, bread Salad, beef tacos
Sunday Eggs, bacon, sausages Mushroom soup, bread Salad, stifado
Monday Sourdough waffles Chicken soup, bread Salad, cashew chicken
Tuesday French toast, smoothie Vegetable soup,
sausage rolls
Salad, flammkuchen
Wednesday Sourdough crepes Tomato soup, bread Salad, chicken döner,
falafel, hummus
Thursday Toasties Chinese chicken
soup, bread
Salad, pasta Michel
Friday Butterscotch porridge Stir-fry coconut soup,
hotdogs, buns
Salad, leftovers

The vast majority of our grain dishes are made with sourdough. I have a bowl with sourdough starter standing on my counter and I use the starter to make the waffles, pancakes and other breakfast meals. I feed it every day, so it is necessary to use it regularly, otherwise the amount would overflow my kitchen some day.
The toppings vary from sweet to savoury, depending on the person and the mood.
The rest of our grain dishes are made with soaked flour / grains. The porridge is also soaked.
The soups are make with home made broth.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Info: Your ancestors didn't sleep like you.

For a while now I have been fascinated by how our ancestors slept. I have read about hunter-gatherers, but also stayed closer to home and in time closer to home. Even in the 1800s people didn't sleep like we do now, the 8 hour stretch. This started with the industrial revolution and people, and children, needed to go away from home to work. Therefore they needed to sleep in 1 blow as they needed to get up early again. Street lights and other novelties made more light available as well, which inhibits sleep.

In the times of the cottage industry it didn't matter when and how people slept. They slept when they were tired and worked and lived the rest of the time. Usually this meant that they would sleep when it would get dark and get up when it would get light again. But this also meant that their nights were much longer than our 8 hours, more like 12 hours. So what often happened was that people would wake up after about 4 hours, would get up and do stuff, such as tending the fire, reading, writing, praying or such. Things that could easily be done in the night, and after a while get back to bed again for another 3 to 4 hours. I have also read about people actually doing some left housework, some handwork or such. Things that could easily be done by candle light.

As i love reading historical fiction, such as Poldark, Outlander and such I was amazed to see this phenomenon of "first and second sleep" mentioned in some of those books as well. I really like this and wonder whether I would feel more fit when I would try doing that. 

Just now I read a fascinating article about the whole thing, which is much longer than what I just wrote above. Though I think it could benefit people to go back to a more natural way of life, the writer of the article is of a different opinion.

Here is the link: Your ancestors didn't sleep like you