Smoked reindeer and pepperoni pizza - clinically proven to improve symptoms of menopause


Smoked reindeer and reindeer salami pizza with vegetables
I've done my first 6 months in the new job and it's great, but it is very busy and there is much more travel than I bargained for. I'm away every week, nor all week, but at least some nights pretty much every week.

Also I think November started to get on my nerves. It's so dark, people put on their Christmas lights way too late, I haven't had any time off for ages and consequently I may have had a tiny meltdown in a taxi this Monday.

Mondays are hard. I love my weekends and last weekend we had just put up our outdoor Christmas lights (Christmas tree has been up for some time). The jolly polar bear came out, husband had procured a cute reindeer and there's lots of lights and we had such a laugh putting them all up in the rain.

Monday morning I had an early flight to our Scottish office and a busy day interviewing candidates for a role that desperately needs filling in. Then a flight to another office at the end of the day in the tinyist plane where they forced you to surrender your entire handluggage, not just the trolley bag but also the rucksack, because the sardine tin had no overhead lockers or under-the-seat space. I had a banana in my rucksack but now no access to it and I was hungry. The seat was smaller than my bum, which is upsetting, although it doesn't mean the seat was small in universal terms.

I coped with all this admirably.

Before take off the miniature airstewardess gave us a take off-sweet. Do you remember this? Finnair used to do this on domestic flights. My dad used to take the Jyvaskyla - Helsinki flight regularly and the hight of civil disobedience from this well-tempered clavier of a man was when once the flight back home was just unacceptably delayed. He refused to take the take off-sweet as a free man's uprising against the arrogance of a state owned airline and just turned his face away from the sweet-tray proffering stewardess. I can see his jutting chin and unforgiving nostril flare in my mind's eye now.

Then we were offered drinks and a proper bag of crisps, not a tiny doll house version. And - wait for this! An actual hot towel - I thought maybe we'd flown through an Einstein-Rosen bridge (yes, I have seen my Thor films, thank you husband for my astrophysics education) or some other kind of time warp wormholey thing and ended up in the 1990s.

After landing (and a landing-sweet) and getting to the terminal there was a lovely gentleman who wanted to carry my bag up a flight of stairs even though I didn't ask. I think he may have heard my "for fuck's sakes" when I spotted the stairs (I have a ham string injury which doesn't add to my perseverance with physical challenges). Anyway, the independent, strong woman that I am, I tried to say that I was ok and that my trolley bag wasn't heavy. He just looked at me, maybe spotted tiny signs of volatility and said "Please let me help you" and I thought it was the most wonderful thing.

Why do we sometimes fight so hard. Accepting a bit of help won't mean they will take away our vote, make us take notes in shorthand and chain us to a cooker (I'd be quite happy actually chained to a cooker and with the politics these day, who do you actually want to vote for anyway, the shorthand would be a problem though). Sometimes maybe it also just makes an individual feel good to help another, and it's not a gender thing. All these wonderful philosophical ponderings were rushing through my brain as I walked out of the Newcastle International Airport.

After that it went downhill. Without going into detail I'll just bullet-point the key issues:
- My mobile died, so it took me a while to find my prebooked cab, because the driver details were on the phone.
- It was raining.
- My shoulder bag fell from my shoulder and my compressed powder dropped to the ground. It didn't even break, but the sponge came out and got all wet because it was raining, so that was upsetting, and then I had to reach down with my heavy backback and injured ham string to pick it up.
- That's pretty much it.

So once I finally located the taxi driver, I am ashamed to say, I was not the dream customer. Mainly I was cursing my stupid Samsung phone. Which really is by far the shittiest phone I have ever had(company policy to have those), but obviously it is not completely Samsung's fault if I don't charge it and then subsequestly the battery dies. But it is such a stupid phone in most other ways, that I don't feel bad about blaming it for that too. But I felt bad about being a grumpy customer, when the driver had done nothing wrong. So I burst into tears (elegantly and silently and not snottily and hiccuppily) in the back seat of the cab feeling awful for not being nice to this man who was after all just doing a late Monday evening job in rainy Newcastle. So after calming down a bit I apologised to the him, and thank God he just laughed and told me not to worry about it.

But of course I do because I don't want to be an awful person to innocent people just because my job is busy and I'm tired and possibly a bit menopausal. At another point of my northern trip this week I nearly burst into tears in the ladies toilets worrying about husband dieing while I was away and how I could face the happy Christmas polar bear and our other Christmas decorations, and I started thinking who I would need to get to come and take them down and pack them all up. Then obviously I had to stop myself before I got too hysterical and get some kind of a grip because I had to return to the meeting to listen to the quarterly Quality Update which is almost as riveting as the Health and Safety Update that followed. But we did get a good lunch with cheese and crackers for dessert which cheered me up remarkably. I think cheese is important element of looking after one's mental health. Cheese and crackers both.

Anyway enough of moaning, just wanted to make a point that in these dark months let's look after ourselves and our loved ones. That's what I have been doing this weekend. We've made sure to sleep well and relax. We had a lovely Saturday afternoon nap, a nice walk and fresh air by the river and even some gym time. But mainly I've made sure to cook lovely food for husband and me.

Friday I cooked a beautiful Ghormeh Sabzi, a Persian lamb and herb stew with dill and saffron rice, a true comfort meal. Saturday morning I made a Persian inspired breakfast with a very tasty tomato omelette with some onions and a hint of turmeric, sabzi khordan herb, nut nut cheese plate and barbari bread, Saturaday dinner was a gorgeous flame smoked salmon and mussel pasta. And sometimes it just has to be pizza, so reindeer pizza it was for our Sunday treat.

Sabzi khordan - fresh herbs, walnuts and cheese

Smoked reindeer pizza

For the tomato sauce and the dough I again followed Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary recipes. I did the douch in the morning and jsut left in the fridge so it was ready when we were ready for it. And I also made the sauce in advance so I could leave it to blib away long enough. The amounts were perfect for two individual pizzas.

Vegetable oil
Cold-smoked reindeer meat
Reindeer popperoni (You can replace the meat with normal salami and chorizo and/or other meat)
Red onion
Bell pepper
Grated Parmesan
Grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, emmenthal)
Chopped fresh or dried rosemary, basil, thyme and oregano

Slice the smoked reindeer meat and the salami. Slice the vegetables finely and grate the cheese.

Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan. Add the mushroom in the pan, season with salt and pepper. Fry for five minutes on medium heat and then add the onion, bell pepper and the herbs. Add more salt and pepper if needed and fry on medium heat until the vegetables have lost some of the moisture and softened a bit. Don't overcook.

Heat your oven to pretty much as hot as is goes, 220 - 240C.

The dough will make two round pizzas or a big baking sheet square pizza. Flatten your dough either just by hand or using a rolling pin to the desired shape and place on the baking sheet or pizza trays (you could preheat these or use a pizza stone for better effect).

Spread the tomato sauce on the pizza base. Add the vegetables, reindeer salami and smoked reindeer. Top with tomato slices, parmesan and grated cheese.

Bake until cheese is bubbling (12-15 minutes) and the edges start to colour.

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