Sunday, 31 August 2014

A Half Full Person?

Sometimes in life you need a little balance. In my case Joe is my balance, well there is not enough room for two attention whores, creative temperaments or bloggers in one family. We are also different in our outlook, it can be said that I lean towards the more profit of doom end of the outlook scale. I like to think of it as being prepared and realistic, others say I am a pessimist. So I ask you this are you a glass is half full kind of person, or a glass is half empty? Today I am substituting glass for mug.

An incredibly easy craft, one for even the most anti craft person to undertake. Step one; choose a pair of mugs with a shape you love. Step two; label them accordingly with a ceramic maker. Step three; write a little surprise inside the mug as illustrated below.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Blue Skies Ahead

The best way to give bad news is to blurt it out, as it happens delivering good news is best delivered in the same way. So here I go. For the first time in four years I have managed to get 12 months clear of cancer, in fact due to timings it is 14 months. I spoke about living with cancer in a previous post. No matter what I had read, or how 'used' to having cancer I had become nothing had quite prepared me for how bad I would feel having my baby and worrying about leaving him. I struggled so hard for him and then out of nowhere this miracle arrived and the miracles keep on coming. To get a whole year of remission under my belt for the first time in 4 years I can finally say I think I will kick this thing for good. Before now I have not believed, not really believed I was going to grow old, now I look at my baby, who has healed me body and soul and cannot wait to spend my whole life watching him grow and just be wonderful.
I have been made a little sad recently watching the arguments on social media about the infamous ice bucket challenge and what charity should get money/publicity etc. I worked for charities for a little over 9 years and know how hard it is to raise awareness and funds. I have seen people dumping ice buckets on their heads since the first Comic Relief but back then there was no social media or viral content. To anyone who is angry, please stop. ALL charities do a tough job with what they have, there is nothing new out there, trust me I am old and wise and it has all been done. Any charity that utilises popular culture to do good should not be demonised they are still doing good. It is not a competition. Macmillan proved to be my rock for the past four years, my granny was taken from me long before she died due to Alzheimer's, my uncle Micheal had his muscles waste away from him making him an old man when he was still young and he too was taken from the world and his three boys too soon. People will follow their heart and heads when donating, and charities will continue to do the best they can.

And so I leave you with this thank you. Thank you to everyone who has ever donated to Cancer Research, you gave me my life. Thank you to anyone who has given to Macmillan they were my rock and salvation. Thank you to anyone who donates to any charity you are proof that humanity can be beautiful and you make the world a great place to live in. Most of all thank you to the families of the ladies that lost their fight, their struggle gave medicine the time to learn and they gave me my life. Those women are my heroes and I can never repay them, or you for the life I have. Thank you to my baby boy for having me as your mummy.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Vegetarian 'Meat' Kebabs

As promised here is a suggestion as to how to use the vegetarian 'meat' from the other day. When I was living in Morocco I became increasingly bitter that I could not try the charcoal prepared meat dished, what with being vegetarian and all. Well now I can prepare my own at home and look at my photos of Morocco, which is sort of the same as being there, I think?

you will need;

for the kebabs

1 recipe of seitan from this post
1tbsp garlic paste
1tbsp ginger paste
chilli powder to taste
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp sumac 
1tsp mixed spice

for the cous cous

1 cup cous cous
1tbsp sunflower seeds 
1tbsp sesame seeds
1tbsp pumpkin seeds
1tbsp pine nuts
2 carrots, peeled, diced and roasted

for the sauce

juice of 2 limes
1 cup natural yogurt 
1tbsp fresh chives 

  1. Prepare the vegetarian 'meat as described in this post with the addition of the spices listed in the recipe above.
  2. Shape into small kebab shapes and poach as normal. Once the poaching is complete griddle the kebab on a hot skillet.
  3. Dry roast each of the nuts/seeds listed for the cous cous.
  4. Prepare the cous cous according to the packet instructions. Once fully fluffed up add the roasted carrots. and dry roasted seeds and nuts.
  5. Add the lime juice to the yogurt and stir int the chopped chives.
  6. Serve and enjoy.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Coffee & Doughnut Trifle

I recently had the pleasure of making food for my little boy's naming ceremony. I love to cook and develop new recipes but it is even more exciting when I am catering an event for so many loved ones. The new house in Yorkshire was filled up for the first time and even though the place is still a building site it really started to feel like home, it is amazing the difference that people make.

I was not the only mummy with a baby and if you gathered us together and asked the importance of coffee you would get a full and frank explanation. So I decided to present my coffee in a unique way. It is always a risk to create a new recipe and give it a first outing at a public event but it was a resounding success.

There are 4 components to this trifle; creme patisserie, doughnuts, whipped cream and a coffee almond layer.

you will need;

14 mini doughnuts (chocolate topping optional)
300ml double cream

for the creme patisserie

400ml milk 
1 vanilla pod
30g cornflour 
4 egg yolks
80g granulated sugar
25g unsalted butter

for the coffee almond layer

200g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
1 double espresso
1tbsp cornflour
100g butter
2 beaten eggs 

  1. Prepare the bowl by arranging the mini doughnuts around the side of the bowl,  make two layers. Break the remaining doughnuts into the centre.
  2. Next prepare the creme patisserie. Gently warm the milk with the vanilla pod split length ways. Bring to the boil then immediately take off the heat. Cover the saucepan and allow the milk to infuse for 25mins.
  3. In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy, slowly incorporate the cornflour. 
  4. Remove the pod from the milk. Pour a third of the milk into the egg yolks a few tablespoons at a time. Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk.
  5. Continually whisk whilst heating until the mixture becomes thick.
  6. Stir the butter through and pour into the bottom of the trifle bowl, chill in the fridge.
  7. Now it is time to make the coffee layer. Beat the butter, icing sugar, cornflour, eggs, almonds and espresso together in a bowl. When fully mixed layer into the trifle bowl.
  8. Finally whisk the double cream until stiff peaks form. Cover the trifle with the cream. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to serve. I always find it is better to prepare trifle the night before so that the flavours can settle in.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Seitan Recipe - Vegetarian "Meat"

As a vegetarian I am well aware that you can make a multitude of delicious dishes without having to use any sort of meat substitute product. So why do people use it? People will have their own personal reasons but here is mine; as a mixed household, that is vege and meat eaters, not to mention when people come over for dinner I sometimes want to make a direct vegetarian version of a dish. What do I mean by this? Well I could make a fantastic stir fry filled with yummy vegetables but what if I want to make chilli beef stir fry, I need something to slice. Finding something that is the right consistency for certain dishes can be the challenge, tofu and beancurd can be too soft, quorn has a place but is a little hard to add flavour to and I often find it salty.

Seitan is a great base that you can make at home, it has gluten as a main ingredient so has a consistency that is chewy, above all you can add many different flavours to it before you add the liquid making it completely versatile.  It is great to have a batch made up in case Joe wants to cook something as he has less practise with vegetarian cuisine.

you will need;

2 1/2 litres of vegetable stock 
150g gluten powder
50g ground almonds 
30g arrowroot 
1tbsp olive oil 
1 tsp of marmite 
2dsrt spoons dark soy sauce 
3tbsp plain flour 
(your choice of spices)
  1. Prepare your stock, keep this warm but not bubbling.
  2. Mix your powders together (arrowroot, gluten, malt & ground almonds). This is the best stage to add the spices of your choice. Here are some suggestions; (turmeric, mixed spice, cumin, curry powder, dried herbs, coriander, celery powder). 
  3. Once everything is fully combined you can begin to add the liquid. Mi into your bowl the olive oil and soy sauce, slowly one spoon at a time add the warm stock, keep adding until the mixture is combined.
  4. Knead the mixture for 20 minutes, you can do this using a dough hook if you have one.
  5. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Break into your desired shapes. Add the marmite to the stock and stir until mixed through and melted.
  7. Lightly dust your shapes in the flour. Poach in the stock for 40 minutes.
  8. You can choose to dry fry the pieces after if you require a crispy finish.
  9. You as you would any meat.
At the weekend I will share a recipe for kebabs with you using seitan to get you on your way to using this product.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

My Dressing Room - Before & Inspiration

Does anyone else remember the film Being John Malkovich? Well I do the office block that had a half floor. My new home also has a half floor but behind the magic door on the landing between the first floor and the top floor is this grim but potentially fantastic space.
The space is actually quite large and at one point must have house a second bathroom as there are old pipes that will need to be removed. You could make it into a little bedroom but lets get serious here it could only be a dressing room, in my mind at least.

I have spent a lot of time looking on pinterest, online and in home magazines and nothing cries out this is the room for me. I know I don't want the room to look like a big cupboard I want it to be a space I can enjoy, perhaps a little chair in there where I can sit and plan outfit posts. I have found some images that I have found inspiring. I am loving what a blank canvas this house is.