Yelly Eats

Fig squares

I’ve been under the weather for quite a while and it’s been a very difficult week.  I was admitted to hospital overnight on Monday night for observation.  But they didn’t find anything, so that, in itself, is a relief.  I still have my headache though, which is a bit worrying.

My favourite thing to do when trying to comfort myself is baking.  Sometimes how I feel affects my baking results, but more often than not, I find comfort in the baking process.  I felt the need to bake yesterday and I had dried figs in my cupboard that needed using.  I intended to use the dried figs to make fig bars ala Fig Newtons but I wasn’t sure if I had all the ingredients.  So my fig squares were born.

They are lovely and squidgy and crumbly at the same time.  They remind me slightly of Fig Newtons which made me excited to go home because I’m sure my mum would love them (she absolutely loves Fig Newtons!).

I’m being very careful with my sugars so I’ve only had one tiny piece (yes, really) of the fig squares.  But I’m happy to share the love, so here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 150g all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g brown sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g dried figs, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder together with a balloon whisk until well combined.
  3. In separate a mixing bowl (am using a free standing mixer but you can also do this by hand with a balloon whisk), combine softened butter and sugars and beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy (about 4 minutes by mixer and about 7-10 minutes if beating by hand).  Add the eggs one at a time, making sure that the egg is well-combined before adding the next one.  Add the flour mixture in quarters.  It will look like you don’t have enough batter but it will be fine, I promise!  Add the chopped figs and mix until everything is well-distributed.
  4. Spread mixture in a greased 17.5cm x 26.5cm (or thereabouts) pan lined with baking parchment (I learned that lining the baking pan with parchment is good because it makes it easy to release the cake from the pan) and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  This recipe makes up to 24 squares.

This recipe will also work with prunes, dates and raisins.  If using raisins, it would be best to soak the same amount in about 75ml of water overnight until the raisins are plumped up.  If you want a boozy version of the fruit squares, soak the fruit in about 30ml of either brandy or rum and add the fruit (with the brandy or rum) to the mixture.

Figbars

Yelly Eats

The Bell & Brisket Fix

I remember really craving salt beef sandwiches.  And I remember the great salt beef sandwich search.  It was quite the exciting thing, trying to find the best place for salt beef sandwiches in London (I wasn’t expecting to find it in Essex–I’m glad to be proven wrong though, so if there are good purveyors of salt beef sandwiches in Essex, can I get a shout out?).  I now have two favourites for salt beef sandwiches:  The Bell and Brisket and Monty’s Deli.  But the sentimental favourite will always be The Bell and Brisket because it was the first place I’d gotten the long-awaited sandwich from.

My first salt beef on rye sandwich with American mustard in the UK was from The Bell and Brisket and even now, I still smile when I remember how good it was when I took that first bite!  It was so good!  And the sandwich looked sooooooo pretty!  I remember wanting to take a picture for posterity.  Considering that this sandwich traveled from London to Harwich, I thought it traveled quite well!

BrisketBel

One of my favourite salt beef sandwich incarnations is the salt beef with kimchi either on rye or on a bagel.  I remember having it first at Queen’s Head in Soho when Bel had her pop-up shop there.  She had meal deals and served a selection of pickles with her salt beef sandwiches.  I was a bit dubious about the kimchi with the salt beef, but it was two of my favourite food things: salt beef and kimchi.  It wouldn’t hurt to try it!  It was a salt beef eureka moment.  It was quite the East meets West food fusion moment.  Who knew salt beef would work amazingly well with kimchi.  Well, obviously, Bel knew!

BrisketBelQH

It was ages since I had a salt beef sandwich from Bel.  Last week, on Friday, I saw a tweet from Bel saying she was at KERB in Kings Cross.  I quickly sent her a tweet to ask her how long she was going to be there.  I thought it was the best time to catch her since I hadn’t had a Bell and Brisket fix in ages!  I was quite relieved that we managed to catch her there.  I had my salt beef and kimchi bagel and was in salt beef heaven!

Salt Beef and Kimchi

The meat is wonderfully flavoured and is meltingly soft.   There is something fundamentally comforting about hot salt beef sliced fresh right in front of you.  The salt beef sandwich is quite an experience and I would recommend The Bell and Brisket to anyone and everyone!   The Bell and Brisket is at Kings Cross with KERB on Fridays, every week, until 2:30PM.  If you’re there, make sure you get one of the sandwiches offered because they are dee-vine!!!

The Bell and Brisket at KERB

Yelly Writes

Now I’ve really done it!

This week has been a wash out.  A complete washout.  I haven’t been to work this week because I was in hospital overnight Monday night.

I’ve had a niggling headache for a couple of weeks and it all came to a head on Saturday.  I just starting feeling horrible and everything was out of kilter.  Then I started losing all the food that I was trying to eat.  And it went on throughout the weekend.  I didn’t want to worry my family in Manila so I had to keep fairly still when I was chatting to them on Skype so that I wouldn’t feel nauseous.  On Monday, I decided to go see the doctor because I still had the headache and I was still throwing up.  I thought it was another stomach bug that I’d caught while commuting as the people I travel with on the trains have no sense of infection control.

At the doctor’s surgery, I was examined and told that I had to go to the hospital because my blood sugar was sky high and because my symptoms pointed to something more serious.  It was slightly worrying because at that point I thought all I had was a bug.  So I took myself off to the hospital where I was told that they wanted to keep me overnight for observation.  So they popped an IV cannula in my arm to prepare me for what might be an insulin drip or something else.  From what I understood from the doctors, they wanted to rule out any neurology problems caused by either a throat or a lung infection, or something else.  It was the undiscussed “something else” that I didn’t like.  I didn’t like not knowing.  The fact that I was asked to do the Romberg test three times was a tiny bit worrying.  I only breathed a sigh of relief when the consultant said that my Romberg test showed “nothing of concern”.

Waiting for a hospital bed

I hate hospitals.  It reminds me of illnesses, deaths of family members and my brother being always ill when he was little.  But there I was, in NHS haute couture (aka a pink hospital gown that opens in the back), with a cannula (IV needle) stuck in my arm.  I felt really sorry for myself because hospitals in the UK are different from hospitals in the Philippines.  Hospitals in the Philippines allow for “watchers” to stay with the patient, hospitals in the UK don’t.  Mind you, I understand why people aren’t allowed to stay in the hospitals.  It all boils down to infection control.  So there I was, with a pounding headache, feeling completely sorry for myself and an iPhone that was running out of juice!  It was a good thing I had my Kindle with me because otherwise, I would have been bored out of my mind!  In hindsight, I found it funny that what I was most worried about was that my iPhone was running out of power.  I think, subconsciously, I just didn’t want to think about what was wrong with me.

IV cannula

I know it might sound inconsequential, but one of the reasons I disliked being in hospital was the food.  Hospital food is meant to nourish the body and not necessarily ambrosial!  I was famished because after tossing my cookies for two days, I, basically, hadn’t eaten anything for days!  So the evening I was admitted into hospital, I wasn’t really looking for anything to eat.  I did appreciate it when a lady wielding an efficient looking trolley of hot drinks asked if I wanted a cup of tea.  There is nothing more comforting than an cup of strong, milky tea!  Breakfast was whole wheat toast and a small bowl of bran flakes swimming in milk.  Lunch was minced beef, with boiled potates and vegetables with a bowl of rice pudding for dessert.  Lunch wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t inspired either, and dessert was just not right for a diabetic because it was overly sweet.  Don’t worry, I didn’t have any of it, save the little taste that I had.

Lunch

I was placed in a ward but was in a side room all by myself.  Mind you, I thought that was a good thing because, after I was settled into my room I started bawling my eyes out.  There I was, a grown woman, wanting my mummy!

I was told the following day that I could be discharged and that after all the tests and a CT scan, it was only an atypical migraine.  My blood sugar skyrocketing was due to the fact that I was throwing up and not keeping my meds in (at least, that’s my theory, and not the medical professionals’!).  I still have a headache that comes and goes and I think I may need to see the doctor again because my headache still hasn’t gone completely.  Although, that being said, it’s no longer a pounding, head-splitting pain and is more bearable with pain meds.

It was sort of a turning point experience because it made me look at how I’m taking care of myself.  I can’t really deny that I am a diabetic and I can’t go on living the way I live.  I can’t miss my medicines.  I really need to watch what I eat and my excuse that if I eat in moderation whatever I want will no longer work.  And I know I can still bake, but I need to bake more savoury things than the sweet things that I enjoy making.  I need to take care of myself.  I really need to.  Otherwise, I will find myself in an even worse predicament than I found myself this week!

What a week it has been!

Hospital bracelet