Archive | April, 2013

Make your own mayo to control what goes into it – much tastier and cheaper too.

25 Apr

Photographed on Pringle Bay beach, this chicken salad is great for picnic meals.

Photographed on Pringle Bay beach, this chicken salad is great for picnic meals.


Making your own mayonnaise is much easier than you imagine and it allows you to control exactly what goes into it. Use four egg yolks for a super-stable emulsion and dribble in 250ml canola oil at room temperature. All the ingredients must be at room temperature. Add a teaspoon of mustard, a teaspoon of salt and half of teaspoon of pepper. Dribble the oil in drip by drop while whisking the eggs and the mustard. With the emulsion underway, you will see it forming ribbons and it gets so think your hand gets tired or the machine gets warm, add a tablespoon of good quality (expensive) vinegar. Once you’ve added all the oil, (I drop it in from a jug) whisk in a tablespoon of water. Right, your basic mayo is now ready. It will look like a yellow ointment. The ingredients are very inexpensive so don’t stress if it doesn’t work the first time. Just toss it and start again.

As it is so highly flavoured you will only need to use between a teaspoon and a tablespoon per meal. Here’s a tip – wash your salad leaves and while they are still damp stir in a teaspoon of mayo to form the dressing or when making a chicken salad add the chicken to the mayo while it is still warm.

In this dish, made from chicken breasts roasted in the oven at 180 for 35 minutes and salad leaves, crunch and zing is in the form of chili-flavoured cashew nuts and celery. A delicious high-protein, low carb and low fat meal that is easy to make. Store the mayo in the fridge. I find mine stays fresh for two weeks at least and is always finished before I need to turf it.



Images from our two most recent PR-Net meetings.

24 Apr

Perfect food – fuel and delicious

23 Apr

Salmon and steamed broccoli.

Salmon and steamed broccoli.

JP cooks salmon and broccoli better than most restaurants. He sears it both sides in a very hot pan with a bit of butter and olive oil and then cooks it skin-side down for four minutes with a lid on, seasoned with lashings of Ina Paarman’s Cajun spice. Broccoli is steamed for three minutes in a little salted water. I could eat this dish every day.

A perfect no carb, high protein meal.

A Hero’s Journey to Madagascar

21 Apr

Travelers Trees on the river banks in Madagascar.

Travelers Trees on the river banks in Madagascar.

When I attended the ManKind Project’s New Warrior Training Adventure in March 2002 I did so as I wanted to be brave. I gave myself the animal-totem name Brave Lion as I felt that I had wimped out of much in my life. Attending that experiential weekend was the first stage in taking my power back.

Last night I returned from seven days in Madagascar. A trip made possible following an invitation from Jenman Safaris that I would write about the experience in the media. They had been kind enough to invite me on a camping safari adventure before but I declined fearing that I would not be able to survive the elements. I feared that I was too soft to rough it.
Following my discipline and dedication to shed my excess weight and get fit I thought differently when the invitation to kayak in the rivers on the East coast of Madagascar, near Fort Dauphin and the Sainte Luce reserve, arrived. JP and I had kayaked a few meters from one island in the Maldives to the next but that was hardly an indication of what this trip – a distance of about 40 km over two days – would entail. I knew that hiking was involved and was comfortable with that but I also knew that two nights in tents were on the cards.

My biggest anxiety was the toilets. I have a thing about toilets. I want them en suite, private, sound and smell-proof, clean and, above all, with running water. I knew the toilets in the camp wouldn’t be. I’m not going to say much more than while I still prefer my comforts, this toilet wasn’t the issue I feared it would be – perhaps nothing ever is.

Brian Berkman in Reef gear. This top protected me from the sun and from chafing.

Brian Berkman in Reef gear. This top protected me from the sun and from chafing.

The kayaking was hard. In parts I felt that I had to rely on my paddling partner Fali but I did really well. I was sitting in the front and we were ahead of the other three much of the time which meant that I’d be the first to pierce the calm of the waters which is a wonderful sight. It also meant I was the first to brush against the low branches of the Delicious Monsters and the mangroves that sit up on the banks like spidery hands having a manicure. My fear of spiders was really aroused. There are huge Golden Orb spiders in webs that span the river and more than once spiders landed in my lap as I accidently pierced their webs or shook them off a leaf. I was scared a lot. I also scared a group of five young children, fishing and playing in the river. There is a legend about the white people who steal the hearts of the local tribes and I was whiter than usual on account of the sun-cream slathered across my face. They ran away screaming and the whole village came to the banks to see what caused the commotion.

JP Fluckiger & Brian Berkman in a Jenman Safari kayak

JP Fluckiger & Brian Berkman in a Jenman Safari kayak

From the comfort of the fabulous Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest resort we headed into the forest in search of Lemurs. I enjoyed the first part of the walk and appreciated the shade that the high trees offered from the afternoon sun. All that changed as it grew darker. The deeper into the forest we walked, the wetter it became and, as the humidity rose, so did my anxiety. I thought back to the story of Iron John. I thought this was my Hero’s Journey and my fear was not the spiders and the snakes, (we saw three yellow Colubridae which I heard our guide Earnest describe as Colibri so I tried to think about soft towels instead) but rather my psyche’s shadow gripping me in the sweaty darkness. I could not outthink my anxiety. I tried to manage the situation by checking that Earnest did, in fact, know how to get us out of the forest and eventually I refused to go any deeper in search of the Lemurs. When we did see them I was too freaked out to enjoy them and couldn’t get the idea of being sucked into the wet soil and lost forever, out of my mind.
I have returned from Madagascar a braver man. I now know that I can tolerate much – that I can hold my own with other people who have more experience doing he-man-type things that I do; that I am seen and appreciated for trying.
Who would have thought that in my mid-forties I would learn so many new things about myself? I wonder what my next great adventure will be.

Pringle Bay feeds my heart now instead of food.

9 Apr

Rather be honest and call us fatty to our faces

4 Apr

If we were honest about how we feel about fat people would that make it easier or more difficult for people to lose weight?
I can’t help but think that if people viewed the obese in the same way as they do alcoholics or smokers in public that rather than turning the self-loathing that most obese people experience (I certainly did), emotions might be channelled towards the person expressing the disapproval rather than ourselves.

Imagine if the same pressure that exists on barmen serving more drinks to drunks came to bear on waiters serving high-calorie meals to people already obese.

The argument that people driving drunk or that the impact of second-hand smoke affects not only the person doing it but others also should be extended to include how we view the obese. Hospitals are investing in bigger beds and stronger chairs to accommodate the increasing number of people who are fat. Medical Insurance, by its very nature, means that the many pay towards the few and as lifestyle diseases which are inexorably linked to being overweight increase so too will the premiums we all pay.
I suggest that mothers need not correct children who candidly ask strangers “why are you so fat” as it is a question that those of us who are, or were, incessantly ask ourselves.
Despite the efforts of my parents to limit the amount of food I would eat as a child, I would steal back into the kitchen and eat, often compulsively, from what was left over. I am not for a moment suggesting that losing weight is easy but I am suggesting that as most of us think about food not as nutrition but as a source of pleasure that we make it more difficult for those of us who have an unhealthy relationship with food to limit ourselves.

Taken along Clarence Drive en route to Pringle Bay with my new Re-Sail Bag made from used sails.

A recent study in the US demonstrated that even when diners knew the calorie content of a dish they still made poor choices. So, information is not necessarily the key to help us maintain healthier lives. As furious as I imagine I might be if a waiter refused to let me order a confectionery or high-calorie dish if I were obese, I can also imagine how the embarrassment of that eventually might help me make better choices.
Perhaps in an attempt to shield obese people from unkindness we are all contributing to their growing girth.