Monthly Archives: February 2010

What’s so good about butter?

Apart from the fact that good butter is delicious, research has shown that eating a little butter also has plenty of health benefits.

I eat a little butter most days: melted on vegetables and I use it in soups + when I make risotto.

What’s so good about butter?

Butter may contain saturated fat, but it has plenty of natural goodness.

Research (see notes) reveals that butter made from cows’ milk contains unique acids that protect the body against viral illness, fight tumours and guard the gut from pathogenic bacteria and the negative effects of microbes and yeasts.

Butter is also rich in vitamins A and D, which help the absorption of calcium, benefiting bones and teeth.

Surely butter is fattening?

Not necessarily. Evidence is emerging that eating a little butter helps with weight loss.

The short- and medium-chain fatty acids (such as butyric and lauric acid) contained in butter are used rapidly for energy; faster than those in other oils, including olive oil.

This means that the same calories from butter are more rapidly burned than those in long-chain fatty acids as found in corn or olive oil. The medium-chain lauric acid in butter actually raises metabolism.

Butter & Weight Gain

The notion that butter causes weight gain is a sad misconception. The short and medium chain fatty acids in butter are not stored in the adipose tissue, but are used for quick energy. Fat tissue in humans is composed mainly of longer chain fatty acids. These come from olive oil and polyunsaturated oils as well as from refined carbohydrates.

Because butter is rich in nutrients, it confers a feeling of satisfaction when consumed. Can it be that consumption of margarine and other butter substitutes results in cravings and bingeing because these highly fabricated products don’t give the body what it needs?


Dr Mary G Enig, a US-based nutritional scientist and biochemist has studied fats for more than 30 years

Levels of linoleic acid in adipose tissues reflect the amount of linoleic acid in the diet. Valero, et al Annals of Nutritional Metabolism, Nov/Dec 1990 34:6:323-327; Felton, CV et al, Lancet 1994 344:1195-96


Jerk chicken, smoked haddock, veal + sage…

Savvy Cook’s menu for next week…..


Jerk chicken skewers, served with courgettes + rice


Butternut squash, tomato + spinach curry, wholegrain rice + toasted almonds


Chermoula baked turkey fillets, sweet pepper, lemon + mint couscous, green beans


Smoked haddock gratin, wilted spinach and Charlotte potatoes


Veal, sage + lemon cannelloni, chunku tomato sauce, rocket + Parmesan salad

What’s cooking in your kitchen?

The 4 most horrible foods

Here are 4 foods which I can not bring myself to eat.

Call me a sissy, narrow minded, a coward, unenlightened – I don’t care!

Casu marzu cheese

Casu marzu, or rotten cheese is a type of Pecorino cheese from Sardinia. What makes this cheese different from others is the added ingredient of maggots. Cheese flies are allowed to lay their eggs in the cheese. The maggots that hatch then help the cheese to ferment to create that special casu marzu flavour. Those rule-mad European bureaucrats have deemed casu marzu not hygienic and so it cannot be sold legally in Sardinia, meaning that if you do want to sample some of this maggoty cheese, you’ll have to track it down on the black market. If you want to try it out, make sure to eat it before the maggots die—if even the maggots haven’t survived in the cheese, then there could be trouble. But watch out, the larvae are known to jump out of the cheese, so you need to shield your eyes while eating it.

Black pudding

The name might make it sound like a dark chocolaty delight that any vegetarian would be happy to tuck into, but black pudding—essentially a blood sausage—is a far cry from a dessert. Along with blood, pudding ingredients include pork fat, oatmeal, onions, pepper and herbs, all stuffed into a sausage casing. White pudding is a similar creature, but without the blood, and red pudding is a Scottish delight made from bacon, pork, fat and colouring, among other things.

Kopi luwak coffee

Kopi luwak, from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste, is a type of coffee that gains its distinctive flavour thanks to the beans having been digested by an Asian palm civet before they make it into your brew. The civet eats coffee berries, and while the beans pass through its digestive system they undergo a process that is said to remove the typically bitter taste of other coffees, leaving a sweeter and expensive bean.

Hundred-year eggs

A hundred-year egg, popular in China is created by taking a normal egg and coating it in lime, ashes, and salt before burying it for a few months. When the egg is dug up, its yolk will have become greenish-black, while the albumen, formerly white, will now be dark brown in colour.

What foods do you draw the line at?

Crop mob poetry


let’s join hands
across lands
tie our hair
in rubber bands

dig up soil
share our toil
in wheelbarrows
pickaxes, pitchforks,
and shovels.

if these tools had eyes,
they’d stare at each other
“did I really do that?”

you see,
this tree’s
gonna grow

and we’re
gonna eat its


Nicole Strachan participated in Crop Mob for the first time at Ofuskee Farm. She helped plant a pecan tree.

Spiced chicken on melting onions with preserved lemon

Simply delicious with all those waming spices + zesty tang of preserved lemon – and so eassssyyyyy!

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients: the prep could not be easier + the dish looks after itself once in the oven.

Serves 4

You will need: 

 4 chicken breasts, skin on and partly boned


8 large chicken thighs, skin removed (and preferably with the bone left in)

2 tbsp of olive oil

3 onions, halved and sliced into half-moons

½ tsp of turmeric

225ml of chicken stock

½ tsp of saffron threads

100g of green olives, stone in

 for the marinade

 1 preserved lemon

6 garlic gloves, green shoots removed and roughly chopped

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp each of paprika, cumin and cayenne

4 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp of lemon oil (from the preserved lemons)

salt and pepper

 to serve

 a handful of roughly chopped parsley and coriander

This is what you do:

Stage 1

  • First, make the marinade: remove the flesh from the preserved lemon and chop it up, keep the rind for the sauce.
  • Mix the flesh with the other marinade ingredients
  • Rub the marinade all over the chicken joints, spooning some marinade under the skin
  • Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Turn the joints every so often

Stage 2

  • Heat the oil in a the bottom of a large frying pan, add the chicken and quickly fry until golden brown
  • Transfer the chicken into an ovenproof casserole dish
  • In the same pan, start to fry the onions
  • When they are beginning to turn translucent, add the turmeric and continue to cook, stirring, for another minute
  • Add the onions to the chicken pieces
  • Bring the stock to the boil and dissolve the saffron threads in it
  • Pour the stock over the chicken
  • It will look like there is insufficient liquid, but this is it all it needs – the chicken will get nicely browned on top whilst the sauce makes itself underneath
  • Cook in the oven, pre-heated to 180 C, for 45 minutes
  • Cut the lemon rind into thin strips and add it to the dish, together with the olives, 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time
  • You will need to rinse the olives if they are preserved in brine
  • Check the sauce for pepper and salt before serving
  • Scatter the dish with roughly chopped parsley and coriander
  • Serve with rice, couscous, bulghur wheat or flatbread

 Would be yummy followed by an orange (or tangerine) & almond cake (see blog post from a few weeks ago)  maybe with a simply salady starter (or steamed tenderstem broccoli with a vinaigrette + some toasted flaked almonds) .

Great if you like hosting a dinner party without hassle  as lots of the prep can be done beforehand and the chicken will quite happily “sit around” for a bit if proceedings are delayed somewhat….

Bon appetit!


Women’s Food & Farming Union setting up London branch

Look Local … London!

Are you a “city” person looking to reconnect with a better, healthier, more sustainable way of life?

Then …consider joining Britain’s most-cherished and renowned voluntary organisation for women (and men!) who share a passionate concern for farming, the country, food sustainability, quality & local produce, time-honoured rural ways and traditions.

On Friday, March 12th, the Women’s Farming Union will hold a general interest meeting for anyone who lives and works in London and is interested in joining the new LONDON BRANCH.

The meeting will be held at the Farmer’s Club (3 Whitehall) and will begin promptly at 6:00pm.

Lady Sara Apsley will be named the official WFU London Branch Spokeswoman during a special ceremony.

For details about how you can become involved with this new WFU branch, and to be placed on the advance membership list, simply send an E-mailto your chapter organiser, Sarah Chase:

About The Women’s Farming Union

Founded in 1979 with branches across the UK the Women’s Food & Farming Union (WFU), is committed to promoting an understanding of quality British produce

For more than 30-years the WFU has been the active voice and driving force behind many of the UK’s most visible food-strategy campaigns, including the new “Look Local” campaign. 

It is made up of branches in England, Scotland and Wales the primary aim of the WFU is to link producer and consumer, this is achieved by women working together with a common aim.

New branches of the WFU are forming across the country and everyone is encouraged to become involved with the WFU in order to discover the importance of linking consumer habits with improved health and living, food sustainability and better British produce

The WFU’s strength lies in the fact that it is the only organisation committed to:

    * Promoting demand for British produce.

    * Encouraging farmers and growers to practise better marketing.

    * Ensuring British produce is available and well promoted.

    * Lobbying against unfair competition.

The Women’s Farming Union, which has launched a massive UK-wide “Look Local” campaign to reinforce the vital importance of purchasing local produce in order to support British agriculture, farming, local communities and food sustainability has a passionate new voice in chic, savvy businesswoman turned WFU campaigner, Lady Sara Apsley.

 Lady Apsley will become the official spokeswoman for the WFU’s new London Branch, at a formal ceremony, open to the public, which will be held on Friday, 12 March at the Farmer’s Club in London.

“The WFU has always been a vital link between the British farmer and the consumer.  I am thoroughly dedicated to educating those in urban areas, especially children, about farming, where food comes from and why the rural world is so vital to all our lives,” said Lady Apsley from her home on the Cirencester Park estate.

Sarah Chase, Head of PR and Marketing for RURAL TV (Sky Channel 279, Freesat 403), and the organiser of the new London Branch commented, “The WFU chose to launch a London Branch in order to effectively bridge the rural-to-urban divide and to better inform and educate those in urban areas about farming, food, the countryside and the rural way of life.  Lady Sara Apsley has always been a respected and recognised voice for rural issues, which makes her the ideal spokeswoman for the WFU’s London Branch.”

“I am a passionate believer in the countryside, its traditions and all it has to offer,” added Lady Aspley.  “I firmly believe that the WFU will help to bridge the long-standing divide between town and country. There is huge room for improvement on both sides.  Whilst we live in a modern age with extraordinary technology and all its benefits – there is a real need for each section of our society to turn their backs on such conveniences and rely, once again, on the natural fruits of our land and our labours. I truly believe that the London WFU will play an integral role in bridging this knowledge gap with compassion and understanding – something that seems to be sadly lacking in this day and age.”


Miss out the menu planning: what’s cooking this week?

All Savvy Cook’s ready-to-cook meals are accompanied by very simple cooking instructions and a nutritional analysis.

So, no guess work when it comes to nutrition!

Miss out the menu planning, shopping and chopping – and sit down to a freshly prepared, delicious meal!


Honey roast chicken, lemon & rosemary potatoes, curly kale with horseradish


Mildly spiced lamb fillets, baked with bulghur wheat, cherry tomatoes, black olives and coriander


Vegetarian sausages with thyme roast vegetables, served with soft polenta


Rigatoni with Chianti baked beefsteak meatballs, rocket & Parmesan salad


Chermoula baked salmon, roast sweet pepper, lemon & mint couscous, served with green beans