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Archive for the ‘Every Day Food’ Category

I would normally start every post with a quote.

As this post is mostly a conversation, I feel that it is, in its own right, quite quotable.

Picture the scene:

Its early evening and the bus is busy. My flatmate and I had managed to get seats together and were glancing over our shared Metro newspaper. The conversation went as follows:

Me: Did she win ‘Best Actress’ ? (pointing to a picture of Anne Hathaway.)

Flatmate: No, she won ‘Best Un-Supported Actress’.

Me: Are you sure? I don’t think that’s a category.

Flatmate: No, no, it DEFINITELY said in the paper yesterday that it was ‘Un-Supported Actress’.

Me: (Feeling slightly confused. Then the penny dropped.) Erm, do you think they were talking about her lack of bra?

Flatmate: (Silence for a moment while she looked at the picture. Then she got it, she got it VERY loudly…)

OOOOH! HA!

I would have loved to have been the girl sat behind us on the bus that day…I cried with laughter for the rest of the journey!

I used to watch the Oscars every year. But that was a long time ago. Now I’m just happy to watch something mindless to switch off. But…there has to be some sort of snacking to be done.

My current obsession is Guacamole! I figure that if I just take a couple of celery sticks through to the living room with me then I won’t eat the lot…but then I work out that I have fingers and that they are just the right size for scooping guacamole into my mouth!

I cannot get enough.

(Which is why I don’t have any photos of it to share with you.)

The recipe I use is from a fellow blogger called Illustrated Bites.

Recipe Here.

Whatever your chill out TV snack is, enjoy!

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“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

– Harriet Van Horne, Vogue 10/1956

I love my slow cooker a lot. It was a slow romance (no pun intended) that took years to build up. Over time, I had been match-made with slow cookers. I guess it just wasn’t the right time for a relationship for me, as I didn’t gel with any of them.

Even when I lived on my own, and with how much I love cooking, I didn’t bond with the slightly cracked pot handed to me, preferring to go eat at friends’ than to pull the old beast from the back of the cupboard and put it to use.

Now I think about it, how sad my slow cooker must have felt: being so close to fulfilling its purpose, yet so far.

I always knew it was there. I always knew that it would be what I wanted, but being new at this whole relationship I wasn’t sure how it worked. As the slow cooker had always been there in my life, I realized that it had already made the first move. It was now just waiting for me to respond accordingly.

I was scared. What if my response was the wrong one? What if it burnt my food (or caramelised it as my flat mate calls it)? Or worse yet, what if it made my food taste bad? I just couldn’t face that kind of humiliation and rejection! I had no cook book for this next step – I didn’t know where to start.

However, after many weeks of deliberation and getting fed up of eating so late, being too tired to cook and eating rubbishy plastic food, I was finally worn down. This relationship was worth a try, it couldn’t get much worse.

Stew it was. I’m not totally sure why I went with stew as I don’t make it normally, let along slow cookery. I used a recipe that a friend had given me and just tweaked it ever so slightly to the ingredients I had to hand. After all you can’t put things you don’t have into a relationship, it takes a little compromise sometimes! At other times, you may have all the ingredients and that’s good too.

So in went the ingredients (beef slightly browned etc.) and on went the switch set at medium at 7am. With which I grabbed all my stuff and went to get the bus.

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Now being the unfounded worrier that I am, I then spent the next 2-3hrs worrying that the plug would spark, the slow cooker malfunction and the whole flat would blow up in a fantastic explosion of sorts, possibly destroying the whole city of Edinburgh in the process… After all I had just left a stranger in my flat – there was no telling what it might do! That was until, after said 2-3hrs I actually just had to tell myself to stop it and get on with it. The day continued as eventful as it should have been.

It’s only when I was sat on the bus returning home in the dark evening that the panic started to seep back in. “What will it have done? Will it have thrown a party and trashed the place? Will it have become so resentful over its years of disuse that it blows up as a final act of defiance?!” As I walked through the door of my non blown up flat, it hit me. This slow cooker had no malice, it loved me and had cooked me an amazing stew (first ever!!!!) and it welcomed me home to the smell of my dinner.Photo 11-02-2013 00 22 50Needless to say, the bond between me and my slow cooker is growing stronger each day. I talk about it all the time! I even have a little relationship guide book now (other wise known as a slow cooker recipe book.) We see each other a couple of times a week, sometimes more. It’s going well, we have recently advanced to curries and have been discussing the idea of cake at some point in the future. But that’s definitely for the future. I’m not ready for that just yet.

I’m glad my slow cooker stuck around and was so patient. I’m stubborn and don’t like to be made to do things (even if they are for my own good and the good of those around me.) Thanks to its patience and slow cooking, me and my slow cooker got a good thing going on.

The way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach!

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“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in our hearts.” 
– A A Milne

After Road Trip Junkie I’m aware that not everybody loves Haribo as much as me. My auntie wrote to me after and said that she didn’t agree with the “Haribo thing” and that she would take a ham sandwich on her road trip. There are various reasons why I wouldn’t take a ham sandwich on a road trip. (I like bread, unfortunately it doesn’t like me so much.)

However, this simple statement did get me thinking about sandwiches, or more to the point, the best ham sandwich I ever had.

There is a little bakery in my home town called Shephards*. They do a beautiful white poacher (I call it a mini french stick, but apparently its not! who knew?) Along the road is Lyells’* the butcher, proper ham….none of your papery animal of non description here….this is real ham, from a real pig, done by a real butcher. Then there is iceberg lettuce (cold and crispy) and tomato (not too ripe, just nice with a bit of bite) and a light sprinkling of salt.

Serve on a plate, one that you remember since you were a little girl, the one with French writing and a chip in it. Pour a packet of crisps (ready salted) onto the plate. And get stuck in.

That was the perfect ham sandwich. It was one of those sandwiches that from the first bite you knew that you never want it to end. It is the sandwich that no other sandwich will match in the history of sandwiches, for me at least. Other sandwiches are good, some are even epic, but this is MY sandwich, and I will never forget it as long as I live.

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What’s your best sandwich memory? it may have nothing to do with the sandwich at all (we know how memories work!) I would love to hear yours.

*Both Shephards Bakery and Lyells’ Butchers are in Wide Bargate, Boston, Lincolnshire

 

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“I’m on my way from misery to happiness today (uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh)”

-I’m On My Way, The Proclaimers

A road trip holds out something that other trips don’t. I’m not sure of the appeal but they always make me excited.

Over the years there have been various road trips I’ve taken. The earliest one I remember is when I lived in Australia and I drove with my friends Jesse and Joy from Perth to Albany. We drove on the coast, via Margaret River (wine making country) And, by fluke, went at wine festival time so we took full advantage of the tours, the samples and the nibbles – no drinking and driving of course! We even went to visit an olive farm (are they called farms?) Food, but mainly wine, featured quite heavily on that trip.

When I moved back to England and got a car, driving journeys changed. I was petrified when I first started driving in England; I soon got the hang of it though.

As I hadn’t had the chance to see much of the UK growing up I wanted to see the country I was living in, so my then housemate and I went driving up to the Lake District. We literally ate our way round the lakes.

The little B&B we stayed at was literally 2 mins walk from a brewery pub (I really wished I could remember names, sorry) so we saved one afternoon specially to eat there. A main meal, a side and a pint each left us both feeling pretty stuffed… But not defeated! Soldier on we did, and order dessert we did (along with another pint.) The dessert arrived on a plate as big as a planet and I am ashamed to say that I physically could not finish the desert nor the ale. I had never eaten to the point of physical pain like that before. This is testimony to the deliciousness of the food and ale. Following the feast, it took us about 15 mins to walk back to the B&B to lay flat for about an hour – just long enough so we didn’t feel like we would actually burst at the seams. Having recovered, on we went with the rest of the day. I would like to say lesson learnt, but…

…this is just one of many many road trips.

Carlisle (red rope liquorice trailing round the car), Scarborough (waffles on the beach), Whitby (THE best fish and chips at Magpies), Cornwall (looking at a rough map, pointing to a cheese farm and actually managing to find it) Scotland (ranting over chips), more recently Glencoe/Fort William and various other places (Equi’s Ice-cream on a snowy day.)

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The thing is, all these trips have something more in common than the friends who went with me, and that commonality is found in a loyal, dependable and trusty… snack! I am not a very pleasant person if I get hungry, and you need to take out a loan to eat at a service station now therefore road trips need snacks. A staple of any of my journeys has been Haribo. That artificial flavouring and the rush of the sugary high makes for the best sing-alongs, waving at other car drivers and conversation going. The come down is not so nice… but then there is always more Haribo!!

So here is to road trips, to the sights seen, the company, the destinations but mainly to the gummy bears who were always there for us when we needed them.

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“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”

-George Bernard Shaw

Do you ever wonder what you’re thinking about when you don’t actually appear to be thinking of anything? Just me? Maybe. I decided to make a conscious effort to remember or be more aware of what I’m thinking when I actually appear to be thinking of nothing. (I need to clarify, I’m a massage therapist so my job doesn’t use a lot of brain activity and I use public transport A LOT! So I had plenty time to conduct this experiment.)

The next day at work I put this in motion. In with my first client of the day, a full body massage. Excellent, this gives me an hour and half of in-my-head time. Massage/experiment commence.

Thought pattern goes as follows:

I like Parma ham (yes I really did think that)

I really do like Parma ham

I like Parma ham on its own. Oh but it is nice with a good mozzarella, cracked black pepper, a little salt, sliced beefsteak tomatoes and ripped up basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Oh yes, I do like that.

But its also nice with figs, fresh figs. Well I think its nice with figs. I always buy figs with this intention but I really like figs and I always eat them before I get the chance to do anything with them. I really must make an effort next time I get figs.

I wonder if scrambled eggs with ripped up Parma ham on top is nice too? I’m sure it is, because Parma ham is just amazing generally.

This is a scaled down version. The fact is that I thought about Parma ham for the whole duration of the massage. Not only that but proceeded to think about Parma ham for the rest of the day.

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Amazed at myself for actually being able to do this for a full day (also secretly a little proud too) I went home that night and told my flat mate what I had discovered.

Far from being impressed, she could not believe that I had managed to think about just Parma ham for a whole day.

“How?” She asked

“It starts with Parma ham and then goes on to what you can do with it.”

“But…HOW? All day?”

“Its quite easy. So what do you think about, then, when you’re brain is wandering?”

“I don’t know really. I’ve never stopped to think about it.”

And as a passing final comment on the matter, I replied,

“You should try it”

Try it she did.

She informed me of this one afternoon while hanging out the washing on one of those rare sunny Scottish days.

“I did that thing you said about”

“What thing?”

“Thinking about what you think about.”

“Oh yeah? How’d that go then?”

“Well I did it while I was on the way home on the bus just now”

“And?”

“Well there was this guy at the front of the bus. And I saw his hand.”

I’m already really not able to guess where this is going. But I like to wait for the main bit as her stories always seem to be slightly off key.

“And I thought ‘he must be Russian because his hand looks Russian. But then I thought he might be Scottish chav. But then I saw his thumb again and thought his thumb looked Russian.’ ‘”

By this point the washing is not actually being put out by me anymore because I am in a heap on the grass, just about crying with laughter.

“A Russian thumb?”

“Yeah” she replies all defensively. “Russian thumbs are different to Scottish thumbs.”

When I had stopped laughing just enough, I had to ask, “So was he Russian or Scottish?”

She replies with a dead pan face while continuing with the washing, “Neither. He was Polish.”

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“I’ve moved in with some friends now….the best way I can describe them is, that they are adults who eat cereal at night time.”

-Jon Richardson

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There is nothing quite like a PJ day is there? I do love a well earned day where you switch your phone off, ignore everyone, don’t open the curtains and have to do nothing at all.

The thing is, I’ve found that if I leave everything to chance then nothing much ends up happening at all. So, may I advise a list for your PJ day? I have found this be essential to fully appreciate the simple enjoyment of nothingness. If you think that making a plan for a day that should be spontaneous makes it sound less fun – Oh – you could not be further from the truth my friends! I have tried it and tested it. IT WORKS!

Two lists are needed.

LIST 1:

This list is to include films to be watched, which are to be pulled off the shelf and placed into 3 piles on the floor in front of the TV (yes, no and maybe piles.) That way you won’t have to rummage about finding them (or not finding them) in the wrong boxes and argue over what is to be watched on the day. Much less stressful I am sure you would agree.

This list also includes tasks to be completed throughout the day. Well, “This would be asking a bit much!”, you might say – granted that would be the case if these were laborious tasks such as ironing or hoovering. But, no! These tasks should include things such as: laying in (to be ticked off the list upon getting up, thus making you feel like you have accomplished something just by getting out of bed and putting you in a good mood for the rest of your slobby day), face masks and soaking feet. So not exactly a taxing list…but very definitely achievable.

LIST 2:

THE most important list ever. The ‘things to be eaten’ list. My last PJ day list goes as follows:

Cuppa (tea for me, coffee for flatmate)

Chicken wings, Kettle chips and salad

Ben & Jerry Ice-cream (a tub each, preferably Chocolate Fudge Brownie)

Toasted Bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon with a glass of OJ

Quality Street (they needed eating!)

Hotel Chocolate chocolates (freebies! they always taste better)

Crumpets

chocolatey cereal (bought specially for the occasion)

The order is irrelevant, though bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon is a mighty fine way to start any day, especially a day with a list full of nothing to get done.

We derived great satisfaction in ticking off the foods from the list, it was actually quite sad how quickly one of us would reach for the list to scribble off the last food or film. Also how annoyed one would get if the other one beat them to it.

Personally, I believe our PJ day was such a success because of the organised list. We watched everything we wanted to watch, we did everything we wanted to do, and most importantly we ate everything we planned to.

See, lists CAN be fun.

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For the perfect ending to a PJ day. You really must put on clean PJ’s to go to bed.

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Person A: ”
Did you know, Bramley Apple Pies are only 48%
filling?”

Pesron B: “But…how do
they KNOW that the pie will only fill 48% of
you?”

-Anon

I’m not from a particularly large
family. I mean I have the usual grandparents, aunts, uncles and the
likes. I myself, am an only child. (I can hear the sharp intake of
breath already!)

Cooking has always gone on in our house, and it always seemed as if it was for more than the three of us. There were always left overs. As a kid, I thought the best meals were the so-called “hotch-potch” meals (next to beef wellington of course), the ones made from all the left overs.

So it
stands to reason that when I moved out of home and into a place
with a housemate I discovered that I am physically incapable of
cooking for one or two people. Four, five, maybe even six people,
yes, not an issue. We ALWAYS had left overs!

Our endless leftovers made for some
interesting dinner combinations. Bolognese and rice with salad is
one I particularly remember. (We sat on the picnic blanket in the
back garden laughing at our mismatched yet delicious meal.)

It got me to thinking about odd
food combinations.

Recently a friend who adores jam on
pancakes added butter to the equation and declared to the whole of
the breakfast table, “You HAVE to try it! It far surpasses any
previous pancake experience you’ve ever had.”

Another experiment with a friend of
mine: S’mores toast. It was a lazy day, with lazy weather and lazy
people. So a lazy breakfast was required. Toast is pretty lazy. So
how do you experiement with a lazy breakfast when you feel
lazy?

You put nutella
on the toast, followed by peanut butter, followed by marshmallow
fluff. A very sticky, messy breakfast designed to stick to
everything it touches!

We all have our little comfort
snacks. Here are a few that have been shared with me:

toasted pita bread
and marmite

cream crackers and peanut
butter

cream crackers, butter and
jam

ryvita and
pate

digestive biscuits and
cream cheese

brown bread and lettuce
sandwiches, with a glass of milk

cornflakes and ice cold
milk, at night

The list could go on, it is endless,
the food combinations – limitless.

Never turn your nose up at someone

else’s snacking preferences. Either try them, or just embrace the
fact that they choose something different and that they are not
munching on your snacks!

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