'Hara hachi bu' say the Japanese. Sage advice, which translates to words along the lines of 'eat only until stomach is 80% full'. A Japanese proverb dating back to the 1300s reinforces this message: 'eight-parts of a full stomach sustain the man; the other two sustain the doctor'. In my mind's eye, I can see my Asian-born medical practitioners nodding furiously in agreement.
Yes, a visit to a specialist this week has confirmed my suspicions about laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR, also known as silent reflux. With more tests to follow, it's a bittersweet diagnosis for me, in that I am relieved to know the cause of my affliction, yet saddened to learn that it is exacerbated by food and drink!
That said, there are certainly worse outcomes and I'm simply grateful to be alive and relatively well. On my kitchen bench there's a barely legible note from the specialist, which outlines 'mealtime changes' that I must follow for at least the next several months. Firstly, as a rule I must eat smaller meals, with breakfast and lunch being the main meals of the day. Dinner must not be consumed after 6.30pm and it should consist of light soup only, with no snacks afterwards, not even an apple! Pasta, fatty or fried foods, tomatoes, spicy meals, oven-baked dishes, dairy, caffeine and alcohol are all on the 'prohibited at dinner time' list. And I have been advised to avoid drinking anything (including water) within a few hours of my bed time.
The prognosis is good, as I understand it. If I follow the specialist's orders, the irritation in my pharynx will heal with time and I will suffer less bloating and tummy discomfort. If it means I am to return to my previous good health, then I'm in! And there are plenty of things I can cook, eat and enjoy.
So now let's take a look at what's in my kitchen this month.
There are aubergines (eggplants) and avocados in my kitchen this month. My Peter loves an avocado smash for lunch. I enjoy baba ghanoush.
Apples and pears are the stars of the fruit bowl, as berry fruits come off the shopping list for the time being.
I'll be zesting these home grown kaffir limes, saving the zingy skin by freezing it in ice cubes.
Products and ingredients...
I caved in and bought myself a Vegetti or spiraliser, but have yet to use it. My advice if you are planning to purchase is 'shop around'. I paid $59 AUD for two (one for my daughter, who told me she had found them online for less than $15).
There's also good quality smoked bacon from Bungendore Smokehouse in my kitchen - a purchase when I visited the award winning Capital Wines cellar door recently as part of a famil to the nearby Yass Valley. Watch this space for my upcoming Postcards and Morsels.
Another of the Bungendore Smokehouse products are these smoked lamb cutlets, which are so delicious when quickly dry-fried in a hot skillet and served with rocket and a good dressing.
Peter and I were invited to spend a day as an olive farmer at Kangaroo Valley Olives (KVO) recently, as part of a Foodscapes tour. We bought this KVO dukkah to enjoy with crusty bread and I think it will make a tasty coating for lamb.
I'm looking forward to tasting these tapenades and the rhubarb and vanilla bean compote, all produced by Kangaroo Valley Olives. KVO is a boutique producer made up of Kangaroo Valley growers.
And more fine products from Kangaroo Valley Olives, some of them very kindly gifted to me, some I bought. The caramelised apple balsamic vinegar teams beautifully with the Ambrosia extra virgin olive oil. The table olives are plump and delicious.
In the fullness of time, I'll share my Postcards and morsels from our visit to Kangaroo Valley Olives. In the meantime, please meet the maker, Brenda Sambrook, a friend and one of the KVO growers, in this short video that I produced following our visit.
My neighbour, Trazel, invited me to a spice party, featuring products from Your Inspiration At Home. I am loving this range of rather exotic flavour combinations. The chocolate raspberry truffle powder will feature in a cheesecake recipe that I will publish soon.
Keepsakes... vale Mary Brander...
My friend Christine very kindly gave me this packet of Forget Me Not seeds, a keepsake from the recent funeral of Mary Brander, a mutual friend and food writer colleague of the both of us. I was unaware that Mary had passed away following a brief illness and saddened to hear the news belatedly.
Among other things, Mary wrote a book titled Capital Taste, the a-z of good food in an around Canberra and was so very sweet to have mentioned me and my then cooking school in one of the chapters. Mary's book is one of the treasures on my shelves.
And other books...
I'm enjoying quiet times in my home library, reading Season of Salt & Honey by Hannah Tunnicliffe (Pan Macmillan) . My review will follow in the fullness of time.
And last, but by no means least, 5:2 lifestyle by Delphine de Montalier and Charlotte Debeugny has pride of place on my kitchen bench. A timely publication from Murdoch Books, the philosophy of which sits well with hara hachi bu. One of the paragraphs on the first page of the book asks 'Why should you eat less?' A detailed review will follow once I've had the chance to digest the information and cook a few recipes from the book. Watch this space.
This In my kitchen post is compiled as part of a monthly round up hosted by my wonderful friend, Celia, from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.
Tell me dear readers, are your eyes bigger than your belly at mealtimes? And what good things are happening in your kitchen this month?
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I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.