Bottle of gloom
Half way there
Settle 'til noon
Crested smiles upon thy face
Let us lie
In our resting place
As we begin the transition into Spring once again I am reminded of the beauty of life. Glad to be alive, to have made it this far. Of course, it is a struggle. More for some of us. Rather than have high hopes of uncertain futures, taking each moment with a deep breath. Recalling happy memories, making time to forget past pains. It might snow in March but my life is always bright.
It has been snowing quite a lot today! It’s not snowed this winter except for now and a little back in December where I live. Today I treated myself to some chips and mushy peas and a slice of biscoff cake. Supporting the local businesses. Helping society function by spreading the money where it is needed.
Welcome to part 7 of the Medieval England History series. This episode will focus on another important and often overlooked role, that of the medieval baker. If you enjoy this series then please check back regularly for more entries and be sure to listen on Spotify if you would prefer. If you want to suggest an episode please do so in the comments below or use the contact page.
Bakers were a very important role in medieval England. They would be responsible for providing food (bread) to a village or more commonly, the nobles or royalty.
As mentioned in the earlier post on medieval cooks, the main staple of diet was bread. Bakers and their bread being at the heart of the majorities diet. Cereals were also an early medieval age staple, until rice and potatoes were later introduced. The poor ate barley, oat and rye. Whereas the governing ate wheat. Bread, porridge, gruel, pasta, fava beans and vegetables were eaten by all members of society.
Baker’s ovens were often separated from other buildings and occasionally located outside of city walls to reduce the risk of fires. These ovens were expensive investment and required trained operation by the bakers.
Baker’s production was heavily regulated because bread was an important staple food – eaten by all. In 1267 Henry III promulgated the Assize of Bread and Ale to impose regulations such as inspection and verification of weights and measures, and quality and price control!
Baker’s played an important role in the guild system; master bakers frequently instructed apprentices and were assisted by journeymen. In 1155 a ‘fraternity’ of bakers existed in London, and the Worshipful Company of Bakers was formed by a charter in 1486, 1569 and 1685.
At the time baker’s produced bread, preservatives were not exactly available as they are today. Because of this, during times of famine the monarch would force bakers to make bread well below the market price in order to prevent people from starving. The point of the guild was to ensure that bakers had enough bread for themselves and their families.
In order to make bread the bakers and indeed the people needed to plant and grow grain in fields. This in itself took time. So as you can imagine there would have been a market of trade involving the selling and buying of grain – which still exists today. A city or village growing its own grain would be considerably more well off in terms of bread production – provided they had a baker and ovens – if they grew their own grain. Grain was used as a currency for peasants occasionally.
After growing grain it had to be separated from the chaff and ground. Remember the Lord’s mill or miller? Well, the separation was conducted at the Lord’s mill or general miller who would grind it down for a fee. (Maybe they would accept some money or a loaf of bread afterwards?). The ground grain became flour. Flour is the key ingredient in dough, and in turn bread.
Flour was used to make dough. Another key ingredient required was yeast, and this was sourced frequently from beer. Combining the flour and yeast once could then bake the dough in an oven. Depending on where the oven was it may have cost to use it. A communal oven would charge, whereas a private oven in a castle or manor might not. Dough could also be baked on an open fire as long as it was turned frequently to prevent burning.
However, the bakers had the law on their side. Prices for oven usage was fixed by law for town bakers, meaning they could not be overcharged. So, the baker would push the dough into the ovens using a large long handled paddle. The result of using the ovens resulted in burned bottoms which were given to the peasants or servants in a manor of the Lord.
The three step process was fairly easy to understand yet bakers were so important. Without these vital people the towns and cities would have starved. Bread is still a main staple in a lot of peoples diets even in the 21st century. The process is also pretty much the same. Grown grain, turn grain to flour, combine with yeast, make the dough, bake the dough and eat.
Everyone ate bread. But not everyone ate the same bread. Although grain was used commonly so were other types of crops. Oat, rye and barley being other options available to the baker to work with depending on location and crop availability.
Medieval bread was called unleavened bread. This bread was thick and dense and difficult to digest. It was baked thin and also used as plates to hold the rest of the meals! Imagine the beef or potatoes on top of bread. Sounds like a Sunday roast!
Other cheaper bread were combined breads. Cheat was whole wheat without bran. Horse bread was made from anything and combined with peas and beans for example.
Other treats like biscuis could be made as well. Bakers would bake their breads twice, leaving it easy to preserve. The biscuits were easier to store for winter, and better suited to war and travel.
The skills required of a baker are specific and recorded for you to read. From the medieval bakers literally feeding entire towns to modern day bake offs, you can try it. I encourage you to try baking for yourself – starting from the basic bread to more complicated delicacies.
I have taken the time to reinstate my water filter after a brief trial last year. My initial reaction was not good, I thought it made the water taste weird and gave an aftertaste.
See this image below:
Now let’s look at this image of the benefits of filtered water:
A quality water filter can make the difference between average tasting water and great tasting water. It took me a few days to get used to the flavour. Be sure to rinse the filter thoroughly before use and that will help with the taste issue I believe.
Mine came with 3 filters. Each lasts a certain amount of time before it needs replacing. I am still on the first considering how little I’ve used it. So I cannot estimate how long each will last.
Is this another scam? I don’t believe so. The bottled water market on the other hand is a scam, and I do not hide from this belief. Having bottled water is no guarantee it is healthier and the prices some companies charge is extortionate.
Filtered water is just a one off cost. You can buy filters that come with 3 spare. So you are looking at buying a filter every several months or so, depending how much you use it. Compared to the cost of bottled water you could save well over 50% of that money just buying 1 filter. And, the filter stays in the fridge to keep your water cold and refreshing.
Hopefully this is something you will consider. Water is more polluted now than ever, even though the water companies tell us it’s safe to drink I doubt it. Drinking tap water in considerable amounts is going to wreak havoc because of the metal content and fluoride content. All drinking water in taps in homes has fluoride, it is not a conspiracy or myth, it is fact.
At the base of this post is the question, will cinnamon benefit your blood sugar control?
I’m not using much other than opinion and personal experience here; for any of you interested in science based posts.
Sure science investigates, but it won’t find anything positive about natural treatments so long as the studies are poorly funded. They care about researching for rich medicinal and pharmaceutical companies. The recent news about ‘serotonin’ and ‘depression’ being a good example as to why you shouldn’t a) trust science, and b) trust research outcomes like these. People need to use their own experiences, trial and error in life.
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus Cinnamomum. Cinnamon is used mainly as an aromatic condiment and flavouring additive in a wide variety of cuisines, sweet and savoury dishes, breakfast cereals, snack foods, teas, and traditional foods. The aroma and flavour of cinnamon derive from its essential oil and principal component, cinnamaldehyde, as well as numerous other constituents including eugenol. – Wikipedia.
Just before we move on, it says aroma and flavour are derived from its essential oil. I have used the essential oil form and it is very potent, warming and calming and would make a cold day feel better. Although there is a heatwave coming again, thank God.
I noticed that using cinnamon powder does in fact help control blood sugar and I noticed it was back in 2017. You see I bought a tea and cake at a cafe, being unaware the cake had cinnamon in it. I checked my sugar when I got home and it was perfect, in the normal range. I was suprised as I was sure the sugary treat would raise the blood sugar levels. I was suprised and mentioned at the time. So I had more food later in the evening and suprise again, stable perfectly normal levels. There may be various reasons for this, like reduced stress – I was with my father at the time as he’d come to visit me (RIP, Dad). Anyway we had a good night.
Later I tried using the powder and it did not have quite the effect as being baked. I suspect the amount in the cake contributed to the effect. Of course future use of both cinnamon sticks and powder has revealed the same thing that it does stabilise and control blood sugar levels. It doesn’t quite have the same effect in that blood sugar did fluctuate, rather than staying around the same point. I can say with certainty that it was cinnamon causing this.
Since you won’t have trouble adding this, because it is tasty, you can add it to: cakes, tea and coffee, baked goods, sprinkled on food and dessert… many options. I like to stir my drinks with a cinnamon stick.
However there is some caution to be exercised with the cinnamon. You should be aware that there is two varieties that I am seeing in British supermarkets. A lot of companies won’t tell you on the label, and if you enquire they jump straight to the ‘it’s safe’ argument, despite never questioning the safety. It’s probably because it isn’t safe, in big doses.
Ceylon cinnamon is much safer for your body and liver than cassia cinnamon. I use ceylon with no issues, however should you choose cassia do not exceed 2 teaspoons a day. That is a lot. I have to add that the benefits I saw came from cassia cinnamon too, so make of that what you will.
Ultimately blood sugar control should be a consideration for many people, you should try and keep to a healthy diet that promotes wellbeing and health and adding cinnamon seems like quite the addition. Maybe this will have a bigger effect for those with diabetes, or pre diabetes than those without. It won’t hurt to try. It’s tasty and I promote that.
Thank you for reading. I am not paid by anyone for my posts and I do not accept payments to sponsor products or foods.
Welcome to this brief informative post about world chocolate day! On this day you can rest assured that many people worldwide will be indulging either alone or in groups.
Did you know that chocolate was introduced to Europe way back in 1550? But this worldwide event wasn’t a thing until 2009! Can you believe that?
We have Easter which is not about chocolate, however chocolate eggs are very much the gifts that people give one another. Well its cousin the world chocolate day allows us to gift, share and enjoy this delicacy with friends and family or alone.
When it comes to chocolate there is now a variety of flavours and selections are abundant in the modern first world countries. However, slavery still exists to produce chocolate and I have found a few brands trying to avoid using slave chocolate. You can get anything from mint chocolate, rose, orange, alcohol infused, melted, dark, white, pink chocolate! Have you ever watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Go ahead and watch it! What about Chocolat? Go watch it!
Welcome back to Cafe Bleu. The last time we were here was back in April! Back then we had celebrated receiving a new 4 star rating! I was so excited and proud of my staff that I increased wages significantly. What followed was amazing, so I will break it down for you.
Following a staff meeting, and then a subsequent meeting after raising wages, a team member steps forward and offers some suggestions, and I am impressed with what she says so I give her a promotion to team leader. Her name is Anna. She recommended the following changes:
1# To cater for a wider variety of guests I should add a vegetarian and vegan option onto the menu. So I did! Everything on the menu has a vegan equivalent and I added some individual items which you can see below. We saw a rapid increase in customers as word spread that we now had vegan food.
2# To change the look of the menu, because it was too blue and the flowers at the bottom meant nothing. Initially I disliked this, so decided out of fear of change to make a ‘joke’ menu, which looked completely awful. What do you know, her suggestion to change actually caused me to make a design which customers loved! They said ‘it reminds them of a proper café.’ I cannot complain, Anna, thank you.
3# Add more food items to the list, to increase profit and this idea was already on my mind, the menu was so small, but I intended to keep our menu integrated into the new one. Yes profit was being made on the small menu, but having more options allowed more choice.
Look at the new bloody menu below! The staff are doing so well. We have a clean, highly regulated café with efficient staff, good hygiene procedures – we got 5 star on hygiene – and excellent customer service and feedback. After creating a box for anonymous feedback we found that 89% of visitors would come again, and that a whopping 98% had a nice time and enjoyed their food! What does that tell you?
We love to chat to new people, and have set up a dedicated booth for people to discuss their mental health, or any worries they may have and this is led by our newest addition to Café Bleu James. He’s a qualified psychologist and also works here, helping to clean tables and serve food and drinks.
She sits opposite me in this leather booth. The restaurant is fairly busy, waiters and waitresses flock from table to table, taking orders, delivering drinks and food and gossiping about social media nonsense. I daren’t reveal to this brunette bombshell that I am vegan, after she took the leap to tell me on the way here. “I’m vegan,” she had said. I didn’t want to share my intimate life details or let her feel some connection, because honestly, the whole date was a big set up. I’d agreed to this after being paired with this lady by a friend. Yeah, she was okay, she chatted a lot about family and decided to tell me about her recently holiday with her ‘girlfriends.’ Not that I was bothered though.
But… the waiter came over and I knew there was no way for me to hide my diet preference, and that was all it was, a way to stay slim and healthy. I don’t care about animal activism. I’d rather let her do all the talking, but I have to throw in the occasional question to sound interested. “Been there before?” She’s forgotten her own holiday already, and she talked about it for like 20 minutes. The waiter hovers over our table, pen on his pad. After viewing the menu, seeing the little choice there was for vegans, I decided to brave it.
“Yeah loads of times,” she finally responds, blushing and batting her eyelids. Damn, this woman is really into me and we’ve known each other for about an hour or two. Essentially a blind date. I give her the silent credit, she is busty, slim and tall. Her wit is questionable, after telling me I look like Colin Farrell. I look nothing like him and was born in Brighton to a mother who worked in a factory and alcoholic father who beat me as a child after his drunken nights out. Maybe being a Colin lookalike was the career change I needed. She glances to the menu and looks to the waiter, he’s young, probably early twenties and for some reason looking down her bra. Kid, take the order and **** off.
“I’ll have the vegan burger,” she says.
“Fries or onion rings?” he asks, smiling. Little jerk is jerking me around, can he not see she is on a date? I with hold my frustration and give him some leeway, as he probably hasn’t even reached puberty yet. “Okay great. An you sir?”
All can be forgiven, he’s addressed me by my master title, sir. Maybe I should correct him, to for the laughs. “Actually, it’s madam,” I say. The waiters face drops and he blushes. The young woman chuckles, and I get a leg up.
“Excuse me, madam.” So far so good, obedient waiter. “What would you like to order?” Oh dear the shame is built up, and I have to look at the menu, but cannot contain myself and splutter, laughing my ass off, she laughs again, and grabs my hand.
“Stop it,” she laughs. Her skin is smooth, her eyes magnetic blue. “What are you eating?”
I really was tempted to push it and order a portion of crisps, I didn’t have the mental energy now. “I’ll have the exact same, thank you.” The waiter takes the order and leaves without another word.
“So are you vegan then?” She smells of rose perfume and has that peaky, coloured tone in her cheeks. Do I confess my intimate details to a stranger? It wouldn’t go anywhere anyway.
“No, but I thought I’d try it.”
“You should be, it’s great.” Oh no, que the long animals abuse rant. I cut her off as she goes to speak.
“Do you want to know a fun fact about burgers?” She draws closer, smiling, her pearly whites glisten under the dim light.
“I’d love to.”
“Well,” I say, hesitating. “Burgers are sluts.” She pulls away, flushed. “They told me they like to be eaten out.” I expect her to laugh, but oh well, there she goes, from the table and out the door. I enjoy the moment and thank God I didn’t have to dump her.
Garlic has been used throughout human history as both a medicinal and food component, it is known as the ‘stinking rose’ and is rumoured to ward off vampires. It has a pungent, potent smell and flavour and is the most widely recognised flavouring in the world. The garlic can be bought fresh and raw, powdered as garlic granules, or in bulb form. You can buy standard or go organic. Personally I love organic garlic bulbs, they are potent miracles. This is a strong superfood!
This is popular for its health benefits, and rightly so. But just to mix things up, during the first olympic games, garlic was taken by athletes before they competed… and it was also fed to soldiers to give them courage as garlic was associated with war! You can cook it by frying, which means to chop before. I’m not suggesting sticking a full bulb into the frying pan. I recommended if frying to mix with something yummy, more on that after. The benefits really are far reaching:
1) Garlic is a nutrition powerhouse – it is in the allium family, closely related to onions and leeks. Garlic possesses a sacred magic, sulfur compounds, a potent component which is formed when the clove of a garlic bulb is crushed or chopped. One of these compounds is allicin, and to reap the benefits you should crush, before cooking. Garlic also has selenium, vitamin c and manganese at fairly good levels, and even a small amount will contribute to your daily intake.
2) Prevent the common cold & other illness – This is a superfood which exerts strong, potent health effects within the body. The substances including the allicin provoke reactions within the body which causes the immune system to function more smoothly. A 12-week study found daily garlic supplements reduced the number of colds by 63% compared with a placebo1. Average length of cold symptoms reduced by 70% from 5 days in the placebo group to 1.5 days in the garlic group!
3) Garlic reduces blood pressure – High blood pressure is also called hypertension. It causes your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body. This can lead to cardiovascular disease if not corrected or treated. Human studies involving garlic showed that it does in fact reduce blood pressure2. 600-1,500mg of aged garlic extract was as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure over a 24-week period3.
4) Helps to improve cholesterol levels – There are two types of cholesterol that people have usually heard of, HDL or the good ‘type’ and LDL or the ‘bad’ type. Most people don’t think about this stuff, but if you are interested then you will be glad to know garlic can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol4.
5) Reduce oxidative stress – Garlic has been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes in human beings5 as well as reducing oxidative stress.
6) Sulfur compounds can protect organs from heavy metals – One study which lasted 4 weeks of employees at a car battery plant found that garlic reduced lead levels in the blood by 19%6.
I want to just finish those 6 benefits by adding that it is clear that garlic has for thousands of years been used for the health benefits, and so there is likely a substantial amount more without studies behind them. It would appear garlic also improves blood flow, since it reduces blood pressure. But just a friendly caution, don’t eat so much you make yourself sick. As you can become unwell if you are intolerant to garlic, with symptoms like headache, stomach aches and dizziness. I suspect garlic is under used because of the pungent smell and taste, but it is easy to cook.
Why not fry it as suggested? Mix in with beef mince, onions and tomatoes and fry for perfection, seasoning to taste. For vegans like myself, simply add garlic with tofu, or something else that needs spicing up like pasta or even your own vegan quiches. It is extremely flexible, use it on everything.
At school I was taught or made aware of healthy eating and the need to consume at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day. As a child who actually cared about my health, I was interested but hesitant to believe this. I thought to myself, ‘that isn’t a lot,’ and it turned out it wasn’t! What came as more of a shock was the fact that the required ‘portions’ were quite large for each fruit and vegetable, and yet, somehow only counted as 1 portion if you had a bunch of vegetables mixed together. Why? Surely there is something to be understood from this lingo.
On the NHS website, they detail what counts as your 5 a day, some include; 80 grams of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables; and 30 grams of dried fruit (80 grams fresh) – think prunes, raisins, cranberries.
So is that really the truth? Do you need to eat 5 a day which consists of 80 grams of fruit and vegetables? Many people can interpret that how they want. For example, literally eating only 80 grams a day. But what it means is that each portion should be that amount. However I disagree with this, as 80 grams is quite the amount if you weighed it.
An analysis by Harvard does still show that five servings a day of fruit and vegetables offers the strongest health benefits. The research indicated that compared with people who eat two servings a day, people who ate five had the following;
1) a 13% lower risk of death from any cause
2) a 12% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke
3) a 10% lower risk of death from cancer
4) a 35% lower risk of death from respiratory disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
The truth of the matter is that eating this amount of fruit and veg a day is realistic, doable, beneficial and most importantly it is very likely cheaper than processed food. I just had dinner, consisting of at least 5 portions of vegetables, and I’ve had 1 portion of fruit today. But I am not an advocate of eating a lot of fruit, simply because it raises blood sugar and wreaks havoc on your liver, the organ that processes fructose.
Steve Jobs was a fruitarian, and he passed away due to cancer. Now, the reason I mention Jobs is this, he had a liver transplant after his bout of pancreatic cancer. He ‘gamed’ the transplant allocation system to get a liver (probably due to his money). Skeptics doubted he should have received the organ at all, because he had previous treatment for the pancreatic cancer. People suggest the liver was sought as a result of the cancer, which itself made him a poor transplant candidate, as the risk of cancer returning (and it did) meant it could have gone to better use. We can see that eating fruit will impact the liver, since it deals with fructose, and the pancreas – the organ that produces insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar. I’m going to let you draw the connection between a fruitarian diet and liver failure. So, just to reiterate, don’t overload on fruit, it really isn’t worth it. Vegetables are much better.
The main reason people don’t eat the recommended amount is twofold; they know it is simply a recommendation and not anything more, they can’t be forced to do it; and people don’t think it is possible. I think the second part has merit simply because people might forget to eat that amount if they have busy schedules. It comes down to better day planning, perhaps meal planning and advanced preparation which, let us be honest, most people ironically don’t have the time for, or worse cannot be bothered. The health benefits extend far and wide, as adequate – not high – intake of fruit and veg can actually reduce blood pressure, manage diabetes, reduce high cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity and cancer. If we all want to eat more healthily this is a simple and great way to start! See:
It isn’t quite as daunting when you look at the above picture. There is a mixed variety above. But don’t stick to this all day, mix it up. Having multiple bananas isn’t going to be as effective as a banana in the morning and a grapefruit at night. Variety is the key here, and one of the many things people get confused about. You can eat tons of broccoli but it doesn’t mean you’ve had 5 portions, it means you’ve had 1 portion.
Price comes into play too. I guess prices have increased but the fresh fruit and vegetables, for the most part are quite affordable. You aim for 5 portions of each a day, then that is probably going to cost what… £10 a week? Probably less. If cost is an issue, try markets, offering literal dirt cheap veg and fruit, farmers markets which don’t have all that extra cost to cover shipping and to make a profit. Food that is bought in season, like summer fruits, are likely to last considerably longer and are usually cheaper than those bought out of season.
Variety doesn’t just mean variety of food, it also means how you eat them. Boring fruit and vegetables you say? Why not make a smoothie and drink them! You can fry vegetable, heck, you could fry a banana if you wanted. You can make something like a bean salad with balsamic vinegar to give it a kick. Add a variety of sauce too. I found so many sauces that work well with vegetables, not just gravy for your Sunday roast either. I’m talking about mixing it up, trying horse radish, caramelised onion (yes I put this on vegetables), so explore the world. Make your own with vegetables!
At the end of the day if you want to eat healthy you have to start taking active steps to achieve that goal. Sometimes the smallest steps can be effective. The first step is always the hardest. I no longer eat animal products and don’t want to go on about being vegan, but it does have benefits beyond eating meat. I think this is my preferred diet. Don’t get me wrong I am tempted occasionally, but am more motivated to eat plant based for my health. It costs a lot less too.
Everyone loves to think they are healthy and eating a healthy diet. A lot of people are, and have a healthy eating routine. However, a lot of people are not as healthy as they think, even if they eat plant based or vegan diets. I’ll tell you why. They are eating their food at the wrong time.
For the purpose of this short post, I’ll focus on the biggest meal of the day which is typically for most people and evening meal or dinner. Once upon a time people could enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner (called tea as well) and supper. There are more to this list, things like elevenses make another option. Nowadays people simply can’t afford to eat all of these and the majority of people don’t and haven’t for many years. In the past I might have breakfast, a snack for lunch and dinner.
My new routine for a long time has bypassed breakfast completely. I don’t bother anymore, because I don’t eat bread the majority of the time (if at all). I prefer to have wraps or pasta for carbs. But I think the majority of people have dinner. It is important to eat early though for the following reasons. By early I mean before 6pm or 7pm at the latest.
You will find you are less hungry throughout the evening. If you tend to snack or eat food throughout the evening or late at night, you will find eating early will help to suppress those urges. I suspect it is because those late night hunger pangs are due to not eating enough and early. By eating early, you are signaling your body that it can in fact sleep without feeling like it is starving. Which in turn, will aid sleep and you should not be hungry.
Reduces indigestion / hearburn. Late night food and snacks in any variety can and will cause your digestive system to be on continuously, and being horizontal will mean your food won’t be digested properly. Heartburn is common result, and you can either use extra pillows, take pills, or eat earlier. Don’t forget, you should be asleep at night, not digesting food. It can take a few hours to digest, which is why an early meal is best.
Helps aid fasting. You’ll find if you eat at 5:30pm for example that by the time you wake up, say 7pm or 8pm, that is at least 12 hours fasting. Your body should fast every night as this is the healing stage, and if you are constantly digesting, you will never enter a fasting or fat burning state (although probs need to go more than 12 to be fat burning). My point is that your body will heal quicker if you fast by eating early. Most people do it without realising.
Prevent weight gain and aid weight loss. Yes, late night snacking and meals after 7pm will cause you to gain weight, you might not notice, but it will be happening. If you counteract it you can offset this. Eating early kicks your metabolism inter high gear, and then into rest for sleep which is where the fasting state takes over. So, you will also lose weight, and it will be at first stored fat and glucose etc.