Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Cold Brew Ice Tea - Pina Colada Style

I have been seeing a lot on the internet about cold brew tea and coffee so when I developed my pina colada tea recipe I decided to give it a try. I am married to a physicist so I had to take a scientific approach to this cold brew tea test. I made a batch up using boiling water and let it cool, as one does when they are making an iced tea. Here are my findings;

TIME: The cold brew tea takes longer to brew but considering you have to cool the hot water tea before it can be served chilled the time worked out almost the same either method.
TASTE: The tea that had been brewed with hot water and cooled was not as smooth and had a slight bitterness to it so it had to be sweetened with a sugar syrup. The cold brew tea was lighter and more refreshing and did not have to be sweetened.
METHOD: When making the tea with boiling water I steeped the fruits for 10miutes and then drained the liquid before cooling. The cold brew tea had all the 'bits' left in. So in terms of faffing the hot tea needs to be strained which may sway you.
CONCLUSION: For this particular tea I am convinced that the cold brew method works best, I am interested to attempt this with a few different teas. This tea can of course be drunk warm but my personal taste preference is for the fruity coconut mixture to be enjoyed cold from the fridge, preferably with a record on and my feet up. The feet up part is yet to happen in this house, a girl can dream.
This recipe made up 100g of tea and guess what it uses no actual tea. There are some who define tea as the the infusion of the prepared tea shrub. Others, and I amongst the others, feel that tea can be described as the infusion of a plant. Your tea will keep for at least 8months if stored in an airtight jar although I doubt it will last that long.

you will need:

70g made up of equal parts of;
dried apple
dried pineapple 
dried coconut shavings
dried orange peel
15g dried rose hip 
15g dried hibiscus flowers

  1. Put 2 tablespoons of the tea mixture into a jug that will fit into your fridge.
  2. Fill with 1.5 litres of water, stir and leave in the fridge overnight.
  3. Stir before serving.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Courgette & Tofu Burgers

tofu and courgette vegetarian burger
This last 12 months I have made so many changes in my life and all of those require a complete time management overhaul. In an ideal world opportunities, babies and home renovation would not all come at once but since having cancer I have learned that we are happiest when we deal with the life that we have been given. Plus I am incredibly lucky to have all of those things regardless of when they arrived at my doorstep. Certain areas have slowed down, for instance I do not post on here everyday like I used to but that does not mean I am not still committed to Archie & The Rug. 

I want to achieve as much balance as I can between being the mummy I want to be and the professional that I want to be. For now that means spending less time doing me stuff and I am happy with that because I am so thrilled at the things that are happening for me professionally that it is serving as me time. Eating well and ensuring that my family eats well is massively important to me so batch cooking a freezing ahead has been a life saver for me. You can see my other freeze ahead recipes here. As you may have noticed the blog has had a face lift and the archive pages are undergoing the same treatment so do keep checking back as they are expanding and changing all the time.
vegetarian burger tofu

you will need; (makes 12-15)

3 large courgettes grated 
500g firm tofu 
2 white onions, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped 
2 eggs, beaten
120g bulgar wheat
3tbsp rice flour
4tsp cumin
1tsp black pepper 
1 vegetable stock cube 
a little olive oil for frying 

  1. Begin by grating your courgette. Leave the grated courgette in a sieve over a bowl to allow the liquid to drain.
  2. Finely chop your onion and garlic and fry them until soft. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Boil your bulgar wheat with the stock cube according to the packet instructions, drain and leave to cool. 
  4. Crumble your tofu up, you can do this by hand but I used a food processor. Transfer the tofu to the onions and garlic.
  5. To the tofu mixture add the remainder of the ingredients. Mix well. 
  6. Form into burger shapes and wrap in cling film. Freeze. Make sure you place them in the freezer carefully and flat. Once they are frozen they are hard so you can be a bit more rough and ready with them.
  7. When you want to eat one unwrap and fry from frozen on a low to moderate heat.
courgette and tofu burger

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

How To Paint A Room

how to paint a room
I work hard to make sure that this blog is filled with beautiful things, why shouldn't I it is my job. From time to time though I need to pull back the curtain and show you the not so beautiful. I have renovated four houses now, all of those renovations took place before I was a blogger so there is very little record of them. Blogging has enriched my life in so many ways both professionally and personally, one of the personal improvements is life documentation. Before I was a blogger I took photographs, in fact I did so quite often. I had my own dark room and even sold my work but the photographs were always black and white and the subject matter was more likely to be rust though a macro lens than what I had eaten for supper that day. 

Blogging awakened the snap happy girl inside me. One of the things I am going to enjoy is creating a scrapbook for this house renovation. I have never been able to look back and see the before whilst living in and enjoying the after. This step by step documentation also enables me to show you all of the foundation protects so to speak in creating a beautiful home. Yes there is more to home renovation that the right placement of a cactus.

It will sound terribly dull when I say this but the key to a well painted room is in preparation. Here are the steps you need to take to make your room look like you have just had the professionals in.

During this post I will be advising you to sand wood and plaster surfaces please make sure that you wear a mask. You will be in a room with very fine particles and whilst wearing a mask may not seem sexy trust me respiratory diseases are not sexy either. Your health and safety comes above a pretty room. Got that, good, now I can begin.

1. Fill The Gaps - By the time you come to actually painting a room you have more than likely spent endless hours pouring over paint chips, even buying sample pots so the last thing you want to do is think about filler, you want colour and lots of it. DO NOT SKIP THE FILLING STAGE. We have all done it because we were impatient but in the long run you will live to regret it. fill all of the holes, even the very small ones with pollyfiller. For deep holes you can get a special deep hole filler but do not think you can fill all in one go, layers, always layers and let it dry in between. Now here is my top tip unless the hole is microscopic you are not aiming for a flush finish. in fact the best way to get a good finish is to over fill your hole. Make a circular motion so that the surface is ridged, let it cure fully then sand it back. You can do this by hand with sandpaper and a bock or use an electric hand sander for larger holes.
how to fill a wall
<a filled and sanded wall>
how to use decorators caulk
Decorators Caulk is a gift from heaven and I could not live without it. Old houses often have historical movement, without going into lots of boring details houses take a little time to settle on their foundations. This means you may have gaps where the wall moved away from the skirting or window frame. When you are left with a long gap this is what you use. It is also perfect for coving where you cannot use the regular fill and sand method without damaging the original plaster work. You will need an application gun and a damp cloth. Simply fill, keep your movement steady and smooth with a wet finger. You can practice on card if you are nervous about diving straight in.
how to fix gaps in woodwork
how to repair plaster coving
2. Sand Your Woodwork: Now that you have filled everything you need to make sure you have a good surface to paint on and that begins with sanding the woodwork. Unless you have replaced the woodwork chances are it has been painted before and the last person to paint is not guaranteed to have done a good job. It is vital that you remove all of the old dried up drips that may be on your woodwork for a smooth finish. Even if you have been lucky and there are not endless layers of  drips to contend with you will still need to 'key in' the wood. All that this means is that you have a slightly rough surface for your new paint to adhere to. If you have old drips to remove I recommend starting with a rough paper grit size 60 or 80. Sandpaper is counter intuitive the rougher the paper the lower the number the higher the finer it is. I recommend that you always finish sanding with 120grade at least.

3. Clean Up: All that boring work and still no colour on your walls, hang in there it will be worth it I promise. You have been busy filling and sanding your walls and woodwork the room is covered in dust. First of all allow it all to settle, overnight if necessary. Then vacuum. Them wait for the dust to settle again, and it will settle. Then mop. Then wait for the dust to settle again, and it will. Then mop again. After the second mop you also need to wipe all of the wood work and the walls. Cleaning the walls is important. If you are painting in a kitchen your walls will be covered in a greasy build up so you will need to wear rubber gloves and scrub the walls with sugar soap which you can find in any hardware store. Often this is a good opportunity to remove any sticky pads or stick tack that has been left on the walls.
how to paint woodwork
4. Paint Your Woodwork; Finally we are getting some painting done. There is an order in which you should paint your room and woodwork comes first. I ALWAYS use a water based eggshell for the woodwork. It is better for the environment, dries faster, has a matte finish and you can wash the brushes out with water. You can get a great range in colours in water based eggshell. When you paint your woodwork paint slightly onto the wall to make sure there is no gap between the wall paint and the trim.
decorating advice
5. Cutting In: This is something that you need to do before you put paint on the main section of the wall nit the other way around. The finish is just nicer this way. You need to paint all the way around each wall giving it a border at least 3 inches wide. If you take your roller into the corners or edges you run the risk of scratching the woodwork or  getting paint onto the other walls. First of all if you are having two colours you should finish the lighter colour first. The reason for this is that when you paint into the corner you will paint round onto the wall that i going to be darker also. When the light paint is dry you can paint a line down. You can see the effect in the image above. A tiny brush is not the best for getting a straight line, I use a 2" brush on the side. Even if you are simply painting a room all white these rules still apply.
white room decor

6. Choose The Right Tools For The Job: You are finally ready to paint the main body of the walls. To do this use a roller. I have experimented with paint pads before but I just do not like the finish as much and they do not cope well with walls that are not flat, so that is most period properties. Go slowly it avoids splatters and gives a nicer finish. Don't be tempted to overload your roller or brush ever, multiple coats is better that thick gloupy paint. There are now no loss plastic bristle brushes on the market, I swear by them they give a great finish and wash out well so they last longer saving you cash and keeping the landfill free.
how to use a paint roller
When you have to leave your wall to dry before a second or even a third coat you should wrap the roller head in a plastic bag to stop it from drying out and move it away from any radiators obviously.

I hope that you have found this post helpful. The more you decorate the better you will become and when you sit down in that finished room you will feel really happy that you did not cut any corners because it will look amazing. I am looking forward to sharing more decorating advice and DIY tips with you.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Meat Free Tartiflette Recipe

I hate to be marginalized especially when it comes to food. If meat eaters are getting to sit down and enjoy hot cheese and potatoes than why can't I? I have a romantic idea of a ski trip. In my mind my ski holiday consists of me wearing incredible winter jumpers, reading books by an over sized open fire, watching snowfall outside the window, drinking hot chocolate and eating copious amounts of hot cheese. At no point in my ski holiday do I envisage hurling myself down a bloody mountain. Even with the money I will save not buying a ski pass I cannot afford to go skiing so I will have to settle for eating hot cheese at home, ah well that cheese is not going to eat itself.

If you want to make this recipe the vegetarian way you can always cook off lots of crispy bacon and leave it a bowl for the meat eaters to sprinkle on top afterwards .

you will need;

2lbs new potatoes
250g firm tofu or 200g lardons
1 garlic glove
150g button mushrooms
100ml white wine
200ml crème fraîche
a little sunflower oil
2tsp dried thyme
1 whole Reblochon cheese (approximately 1lb)
salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Cube the tofu and rub the cubes with a little oil, place on a baking tray and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Bake until crisp.
  3. Cut the potatoes into almost bite sized pieces and Boil in a pan of water until tender. Not too squishy but they should slide off a fork.
  4. Meanwhile heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms and garlic. If you are making a meaty version you would add the lardons to the mushrooms and skip the tofu step whilst still preheating the oven.
  5. When the mushrooms have cooked enough so that the liquid has evaporated add the wine.
  6. Stir through the crème fraîche. Mix with the potatoes and tofu. Put the mixture in an ovenproof dish.
  7. Cut your cheese into small lumps and poke into the potato gaps, don't worry it is not too much cheese just keep finding gaps and make it fit.
  8. Bake until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with green salad and more white wine.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Buy From Independent Designers

buy ceramic hanging plant bowl
<Ceramic Plant Hanger>
As regular readers will have noticed there have been some changes here at Archie & The Rug. The left-hand side bar has gone so space had to be made elsewhere. I now have my social media links in the form of buttons under the updated picture of me. The button on the far right is a small v which takes you to a video of me being on the telly, exciting eh! If you watch the videos you get to hear how silly my voice sounds, everybody hates their own voice when they hear it back don't they?

There is a new nav bar above the header and my archive pages are where the nav bar used to be. The whole design is just a bit cleaner and allowed my to make room for some new things. The first one being, I have a shop!. I have partnered with Great.ly to create an online shop filled with delightful products from independent designers and makers.

So how does it work? Think of Great.ly as an online warehouse. Makers apply to be part of that warehouse and I then fill my shop with stock. There are all sorts of wonders in my shop, here are just a few examples. The space will be updated regularly so remember to keep checking back and shop independent.
buy hand thrown ceramic pot
<Hand Thrown Honey Pot>
Good morning sunshine printed pillow
<Printed Pillow>
buy bright modern pillow cushion
<Bright Modern Triangles>
buy watercolour recipe cards
<Recipe Cards>

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Mushroom & Egg Patties - Recipe

mushroom and egg recipe
My life right now is all about effective time and motion. Being a working mummy, in fact being a mummy at all require careful time management skills. One way that I have made my life simpler is to batch cook and freeze food on the weekend. The only drawback in Paris is the freezer is tiny, still the little bit I can freeze certainly helps. Breakfast time is one of the key moments for baby eats as for a little man who took a good long while to get started with solids once he started he really ran with it. In the morning when he wakes up his tummy requires instant gratification so having food ready to go is vital to a good mood baby day.

These are great warm or cold. You can warm them in the oven or the microwave. If you are microwaving you will be able to do that from frozen.

you will need;

200g mushrooms 
15g unsalted butter
10 eggs 
1/2 cup milk 
1tbsp freshly chopped chives
50g cheese
  1.  Pre heat your oven to 180C
  2. Chop your mushrooms into eighths, or smaller if they are large mushrooms. Fry them over a low heat in the butter. Cook them until all of the water has left the mushrooms and leave them to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Grease a 12 hole muffin pan.
  4. So that you can get an even mix of filling distribute the mushrooms into the bottom of the muffin pans. Next pour over the egg mixture. Finally sprinkle with chives and cheese.
  5. Cook in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown on top and the egg has set.
freeze ahead kids breakfast food recipe