What’s in a name? (or Let’s eat Pasta!)

Alexa and Mini Alexa

When I started this blog, in my head I was aiming to post about once a month.  Louis and a few friends thought this was a little underdone and suggested I try for fortnightly.  One experienced blogger friend assured  me that I’d be pumping out weekly posts before I knew it… I think it is safe to say that my lowly expectations are far closer to the mark than my optimistic friends.  Work has been crazy busy, and I have spent the last two weeks living with a cold that must have come from one of the outer circles of hell.  As a result, I’ve been sitting on this post for over a month now.

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I’m in complete awe of the bloggers who post several times a week, they are like the superwomen of this world.   Sure, some of them do this as a full time job, but then they also do things like write books and have babies, all while pumping out several scrumptious recipes a week.  Like I said, superwomen.  The closest thing I have to a superpower, is the uncanny ability to walk into any shop, and immediately point to the most expensive thing in there and declare ‘I want that’.  (Even this pales in comparison to my friend’s superpower: the uncanny ability to sing any 5ive, Backstreet Boys, Hanson or Spice Girls song released between 1996 and 2001, as well as all One Direction songs.  She did say it was a mild superpower).

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What makes my superpower even more useless, is the fact that I’ve never been able to do anything with it – this has been predominantly due to a complete lack of adequate funds.  This unfortunate situation started when I was in Prep, on a day which is seared in my memory: the day I lost my Glomesh purse at the local library.  This was back when it was perfectly acceptable for your mum to leave you alone at the local library while she did the grocery shopping.  It would never happen today, and I’m so glad that I got to live through that era.  I cherish those hours I had to myself, wandering the aisles, browsing the shelves, and carefully selecting my quota of 20 books for the week.  (Yes, 20 books.  I was in Prep, it’s not like I was reading War & Peace.)  Anyway, it was on one of these trips to the library, that I somehow managed to put down my purse, and didn’t realise I hadn’t picked it up again until we got home.  Disaster.

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Mum was furious that I’d lost my purse.  It had been bulging with silver coins, pocket money which I had squirreled away.  It was probably the one and only time in my life I had ever consciously saved money.  As punishment for losing my purse, my mum cut off my pocket money – for about the next six years.

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I’m sure she didn’t mean to cut it off for that long, I think we both just kind of forgot, and it wasn’t till I was heading towards high school and increased independence, that my pocket money was reinstated.  However the memory of that Glomesh purse lingers, and acts as a kind of motif for my life.  I am chronically incapable of holding onto money.  I am the definition of a spendthrift.

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As as result, I have never really had the funds to satisfy my superpower.  The most I can do is flip through magazines,  browse websites, wander through high end stores while trying to avoid startled sales people, and sigh over the names on the labels.  You know the names I’m talking about: Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin.  Juliet may have thought there was not much in a name, but there is no way Romeo would have ever made it up onto my balcony.

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My fondness for brand names wasn’t limited to just clothes and accessories.  It extended to groceries as well.  When I young and stupid, I would frequently collect the last of my funds (usually about $20 of gold coins hidden behind the couch cushions) before heading to the supermarket.  I could have tried to make my money stretch by buying the cheapest items.  Instead, I would normally buy an expensive loaf of bread, Tim Tams and a packet of Cartier cigarettes, before heading home to count the hours till my next pay packet.  I wouldn’t have been caught dead buying homebrand groceries.  Like I said, young and stupid.

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Supermarket shopping these days is a little different, and there are probably three reasons for this:

  1. There is no way I could have ever saved enough money for a home deposit by myself.  Louis however is the epitome of responsibility, and when the banks gave us a mortgage for our beautiful home, the days of spending my entire paycheck on a handbag, eating baked beans for the rest of the week, and then calling my dad to send me the rent money, were over.
  2. I think Louis actually likes saving money.  So when we started doing the supermarket shop together, he would do things like grab the homebrand milk.  You have no idea how freaked out I was the first time he did it.  However the milk was for him, not me, so I let it go.
  3. I had to start reading nutrition labels.  You know, because of the whole Louis has diabetes thing.  Do you have any idea the internal struggle I went through the first time I came across a home brand that was the healthiest option?  Think Gollum/Sméagol, and you’ll be on the right track.

All of the above means that brand names are still important to me, just in a slightly different way.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter, and different brands will all have similar nutritional content, but at other times it can make a big difference.  For example,  each of the below bowls contains 110g of uncooked pasta.  Nearly all of the bowls represent about 85% to 90% of the total allowed carb count of this recipe for two.  Except the bottom-middle bowl – this bowl only accounts for 62% of the carb allowance, and is therefore my new best friend because it allows me to add much more ingredients to the recipe.

Bowls of uncooked pasta

The above is an extreme example, as the bottom-middle brand is actually designed to be low-carb.  However it does show that the brand can sometimes make a significant difference.  Which is why I’ll sometimes include the brand in my ingredients list.  (No, it isn’t because I’m getting sponsored.  Though hey, if anyone other than my mum is reading this, and wants to give me free stuff, sure, let’s talk).  It’s just so you can see what I used to calculate my carb count – and you can make adjustments to the recipe if you’re using other ingredients.  And now that we’ve covered that off, it’s time to cook!

Gorgonzola & Pumpkin Pasta

Serves 2
Per Serve: 2030 kJ, 485 Calories, 3.0 exchanges

So this is adapted from a recipe I found in the Diabetic Living magazine.  When I say ‘adapted’, I mean it used to be a salad… with sweet potato.  You know how these things sometimes happen… Oh, and if you don’t like blue cheese, then you will definitely want to check out the notes down the bottom of this page.  Enjoy!

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 Ingredients

  • 350g pumpkin (with skin off)
  • 1 medium red onion (160g)
  • 110g pasta spirals (Vetta Smart Pasta – High protein, low carb)
  • 100g Gorgonzola
  • 60g baby spinach

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius (fan-forced).
  2. Skin the pumpkin and chop into 2cm cubes.
  3. Remove the outer skin and ends from the onion.  Chop into eight wedges (so in half, and then each half into quarters)
  4. Line a baking tray with baking paper, and scatter the pumpkin and onion across it.
  5. Bake the pumpkin and onion for 40 minutes.  Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Do not add salt to the water. The Gorgonzola  is already quite salty, and we are using so much of it, that it will be far too overbearing if you add any more salt.
  7. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and boil for 15 minutes or until al dente.
  8. Once the pasta is cooked, put a cup of the boiling water aside.  Drain the pasta and set aside.
  9. Put the pot back on the stove top over a low heat.
  10. Add the Gorgonzola to the pot, and add a few dashes of the pasta water.  Stir until the cheese is melted.  Add more water if the sauce looks a little too thick.
  11. Add the spinach and stir until it starts to wilt.
  12. Add the cooked pumpkin, onion and pasta.  Stir well, making sure to coat all the ingredients with the cheese ‘sauce’.
  13. Serve up, and eat with gusto!

Notes

  • Ingredient variation
    • Okay, I know not everyone loves blue cheese the way I do, and it is really strong in this recipe.  So if you are not a blue cheese lover like me, you can easily substitute with Brie or Camembert – just make sure to remove the skin.
  • Lazy power-up
    • You could buy a piece of pumpkin, then skin it and chop into cubes.  Or you could buy it from your supermarket already skinned and chopped.  Just saying.
Alexa and Mini Alexa
My precious Mini Alexa bag from Mulberry. And our even more precious cat. Yes, I named our cat after a handbag – let’s be honest, she doesn’t look like she minds.

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