Losing It.

This week I’ve been increasingly bored with what I’m eating, and failing to do much about it. High point was James next door discovering a row of parsnips he’d forgotten about and didn’t want; lovely roasted with pheasant on Sunday, but then it was on to another week of variants on stew which all tasted the same. On Thursday I even forgot to take the food flask to work, so went from 7am to 6pm on a boiled egg and some REALLY boring yarrow tea. My students offered me various Pot Noodles and Crisp Rolls but I resisted; even the cake, with which one student insisted on rewarding me  in shock at passing an assessment, I passed on to a colleague whose birthday it was. By the time I crawled home, I considered myself crazy to be doing this.

And then I ate a baked potato and a poached egg and was full, and couldn’t be bothered to eat or prepare anything else. Not surprisingly, I am losing weight. I need a belt to keep my trousers up. What’s helping me lose weight? Not avoiding carbohydrate (as a one-time (briefly) Atkins diet veteran, I couldn’t go through that again). I am eating less carbohydrate – and what I am eating is mostly the starchy kind. But then I’m eating less of everything. No dairy produce – apart from the small quantity of home made cheese I’ve now discarded (partly suspicion it didn’t smell so good, partly because I dropped it in the washing up water).

Anyway – crossly I chopped up skinny leeks and bits of vegetables and herbs, pushing aside  packets of biscuits left out to annoy me and odd bunches of dried chillies…… hang on. How could I have forgotten? I GREW THOSE CHILLIES – AND DRIED THEM IN 2007! So I could use them! Why hadn’t I thought of that before? Chopped and chucked one into the stew – would it still have any power? It did! Oh joy, a change in flavours….. and I had the first of my forced rhubarb for pudding; so tender and sweet I had only to add a touch of redcurrant jelly to make it palateable.

Sweeteners – honey and sycamore syrup – are getting low, it’s a good thing I am getting used to sharper tastes. Wild greens are forming a larger part of my diet. Orpine (Sedum telephium), a native succulent with fleshy, crunchy leaves, is available, nice in salads and I’ve added it to stew as well. Nettles are appearing, and I’ve seen the first Bistort coming up, so will try a variant on Dock Pudding soon. Comfrey and ground elder remain mainstays – going in everything. Wild garlic and Welsh Onions and Three-cornered leeks are lined up to replace garden leeks of which I have only 4 left. No hardship in wild greens – they have always been one of my favourite foods. I like their strong, pronounced flavours and the freshness after months of root veg.

I also noticed Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) coming up – a beautiful white flowered native found in dampt meadows andboggy ground. It contains salicylic acid, and aspirin was first synthesised from it. I made some meadowsweet tea forthwith, it is a quite distinct flavour, can cure a headache (not that I had one) and as welcome a change drinks wise as peppermint was last week.. I am now past the half-way point to Easter Sunday, a challenge coming up next week when I go off to Ullapool for a 3 day student trip, if I get through that I’ll be on the downhill stretch.

One Week on….. March 4th

Had a bad day yesterday – no matter what I ate it didn’t satisfy my cravings. I had a busy day at work, and by 11am despite a breakfast of mackerel fillet (the last – oh dear!) and poached egg, I could think of nothing but thickly buttered crusty bread. Lunch was at least as much as I normally have, of pheasant and spinach stew, and several equally bland herbal teas, but by 3pm there I was hungry again. A trip to Edinburgh to see the children and move a cat was made difficult by cold sleety rain, heavy traffic and Rowan not getting back till 5.40pm, by which time I was calling myself every name under the sun for being so stupid as to start this challenge, and wondering how on earth I could ever have imagined it was possible. Walking up and down the street passing food shops, an Indian takeaway and a fish and chip shop didn’t exactly help. I filched some rosemary from a tenement garden and when the daughter finally appeared made tea, with the rest of the stew and some scrambled eggs I’d taken down. I think I may be eating too many eggs, but still enjoying them!

But even then, on the long drive home I was feeling desperately unsatisfied and miserable. I couldn’t stand the thought of another 6 and a half weeks of this. Finally just before bed I had a teaspoon of donated honey…. and that did the trick. Carbohydrate craving – specifically, sugars. Ah well.

In general, I have survived OK so far, though I can’t say it has become enjoyable yet. Awareness raising maybe, but pretty boring. Today I have processed a load more apple rings, which are just so delicious, if chewy, and did something with the curd cheese. It smelt foul, tasted indifferent, so added plenty of garlic and herbs (dried from the garden last summer) with salt and pepper which I’m allowing myself. It might do for something! Possibly I am just not eating enough, possibly my stomach needs to shrink (few would argue with that!), and possibly when I really feel the need a spoonful of honey or sycamore syrup might be classed as medicinal? Adding my home-made chutneys and jellies to a meal might make them less bland as well. I am acutely aware how much I use food for comfort!

Taking ground elder now in tea – its not fantastic, on a par with cleavers and wild strawberry leaf. What I choose for a drink depends how far I want to go from the front door – if I’m still in my dressing gown its sage or strawberry.Last night I diluted some home-made raspberry and blackcurrant vinegar with hot water for a bed-time drink – a nice change.

Planning a many-egged Spanish omelette for tea, and about to go and forage for some salad greens to go with it.