8 February 2016

Start the Day with a Strawberry Smoothie



The best way to start a busy week is with fruit.  I try and get in as much fruit as I can, and smoothies are definitely my favourite fruity snacks.

My youngest son has just started a paper round and is starving every morning.  Smoothies replace all the energy that he has used cycling in the cold.


 Strawberry smoothie
 iNGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup vegan yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 handfuls ice
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Serve in a large glass and enjoy.



7 February 2016

Clam Chowder



The weather has been cold and windy by the coast.  There have been days when only soup will really warm you up - and I don't mean insipid, watery broth, I mean proper wholesome chunky chowder.

I love clam chowder - it reminds me of ski-ing in Breckenridge.


The inspiration for my chowder came from the beautiful Spoon Fork Bacon Blog.  When I grow up, I want to take photos like theirs.

Clam Chowder


Serves 5 
Ingredients:
125g butter
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 tin sweetcorn
1tablespoons thyme, minced
2 cups new potatoes, diced
1/3 cup plain flour
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tin clams
1 ½ cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
optional:
sourdough bread bowls (I wish)
Directions:
 1. Melt butter in large casserole pan and add onion and carrot.  Fry for 5 minutes. Add leek and corn and continue to fry for an additional 2 - 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Once onions and leeks are translucent, add thyme and potatoes and stir.
3. Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture and stir well (make sure all of the flour lumps have been stirred out), about 2 minutes. 
4. Add the stock to the pan.
5. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 10- 15 minutes until it thickens (add more stock if it becomes too thick)
6. Gently fold in clams and slowly stir in milk
7. Allow mixture to simmer for 5-7 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Adjust seasonings and serve hot (in hollowed out sourdough bread bowls, if you are lucky enough to have them).


Laaaaaaaazy Sunday


Join me on this windy day in wasting time on the web

Laters guys.  Have a great day xxx

6 February 2016

Fisherman's Soup


My youngest son loves fishing.  He takes it very seriously and is really rather good at it.  He fishes for the England Team and has travelled all over the country (and abroad) to follow his passion.  Not a bad hobby for a 13-year old boy.

The only problem is that it is flipping cold sat by the sea.  The wind attacks, the spray from the sea is like daggers on the skin and hands burn.  

The best way to stay warm is with soup, I have found, and this lovely butternut squash soup is a clear favourite.

It needs to be served straight from a Thermos Flask and the hands must be yellow from handling worms.


Fisherman's Soup - AKA Leek, Butternut Squash and Potato Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 leek diced
2 cups butternut squash, diced
2 potatoes, diced
1 tsp salt
3 cups vegetable stock 
In a medium pot, saute the leeks in the olive oil for about 2 minutes.  Add the squash and potatoes and saute them for another minute. Add the vegetable stock and salt. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook them covered for about 20 minutes.
Puree the soup and taste it. Adjust seasoning if needed. 

Adventures with Toast



For about 2 years I have had this link from Bluebird Blog for Tartine / Pea Mash & Radish and today I finally made it.  

It was soooooooo  quick and yummy.  I will definitely make it lots more in the future.

The recipe really couldn't have been easier:

Pea & Avocado Mash 
1 half of a small shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup water
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 ripe avocado, chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
The juice of half a lemon
1 slice sourdough bread, toasted 
Butter or vegan spread

Combine diced shallot, extra-virgin olive oil, a pinch salt and water in a small saucepan. Add the peas and cook over medium heat until the peas are tender.  After about 5 minutes, take the saucepan off the stove and drain the peas.  Transfer the peas to a food processor and add avocado, lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon.  Mix together adding a splash of water if it is too thick.  Season with black pepper and a bit more salt. 
Spread on some buttered, toasted sourdough.

Radish and Sea Salt
1 slice sourdough, toasted 
4-5 radishes, thinly sliced
Some good quality butter or vegan spread (for a healthier option)
Sea Salt

Spread some butter or  vegan spread on the toast. Neatly arrange the sliced radishes on top of the toast; sprinkle with sea salt.

Yum yum yum

5 February 2016

The Wonderful World of Podcasts


I drive tons of miles with my job which means that I have a lot of dead time when I can't read, write, photograph or do any number of creative things that I would rather be doing.  Apart from a few Radio 4 shows, I am not much of a radio fan.  My music taste basically extends to Musical Theatre and 90s dance (I know!)  and neither of these please me when driving.

So what to do?

A few months ago I fell into the world of Podcasts and now I love them.  They are just the right thing for driving - informative enough to be interesting, short enough to cover most journeys, funny enough to be entertaining, thoughtful enough to make me feel clever.  Perfect.

I thought I would share my list with you, in case you also want to while away an otherwise boring drive.


     


         



           

          


        


          


        


All of these are free and all are available on iTunes.

Happy listening :)









1 February 2016

What I Thought About.......


I am starting a new set of posts on here which will share what I think about particular products.  Although I am a bit embarrassed to admit it, I am quite the opinionated consumer, so rather than keep it to myself, I thought I would share with you :)

I am no expert on anything really, but hopefully you will find these little reviews interesting.  I am not being sponsored by any brands to write these, but if ever that changes, I will let you know of course.

So for my first What I Thought About post I am reviewing Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief moisturiser.

I have just come to the end of this 50ml pot - it has lasted since 1 November and was used every day.

I loved this moisturiser.  I bought it at Gatwick Airport for about £27 on a whim.  I used to be really loyal to one brand (Clarins), but now I chop and change based on reviews.  This was reviewed on a a few beauty blogs so I decided to give it a go.  I am so pleased that I did.

The cream has a light, creamy jelly texture and is very lightly fragranced.  It goes onto the skin like a dream.  I have combination skin that is sometimes a little shiny and I was worried that this would be too greasy.  In fact, it was absorbed into my skin almost immediately and just left me with supple,  baby soft skin that was neither greasy or dry.

Compared to lots of moisturisers, this one is expensive, but it lasted well and my skin did feel great wearing it.  I hate it when my skin feels dry - I think it really ages me.  The blurb on the Clinique site says that this cream makes fine lines fade away but I can't say I noticed any difference.  It also promises vibrant well-being - and here I do agree - my skin did look well with this cream. 


I would definitely recommend this moisturiser if you have regular, problem-free skin, that just needs a good drink.



Please know that I was not paid in either product or cash for my opinions on this product.


31 January 2016

Laaaaaaaaazy Sunday


When the weather is this grey it is ok to allow yourself to stay inside.  My family have all been busy this weekend doing activities like Winter Races, World Fishing Comps and 18th birthday parties in Chelsea which left me on my own to potter about, watch films, finish (give up on) books, and read nonsense online.

Here's what I've been up to.......what about you?

Watching Films

 
The review from Variety magazine sums up this film perfectly :

"an imposing vision, to be sure, but also an inflated and emotionally stunted one, despite an anchoring performance of ferocious 200% commitment from Leonardo DiCaprio.".  

The images in this film were beautiful, disturbing, and breathtaking in parts but it was a looooong harrowing film that I can't decide whether I enjoyed.  The scene with the bear was so realistic it made me panic and there were many equally horrific scenes throughout the film.  Leonardo DiCaprio definitely carried the film and his acting was superb, but there was just a bit too much grunting and heavy breathing for my liking.  Would I see it again - no.  Would I recommend it - I am not sure.  Was I impressed - yes.  Truly a quandary of a film - but will be probably be worthy of the oscar when it comes.



This film was powerful.  I cried a lot, then it got better, then I cried a lot more.  The acting in this film was superb - Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson should both win many awards.  The innocence of the boy and his belief in the world of Room was so touching. My heart was in my mouth in the rug scene and I have never known a cinema to be so silent - I think I only took 2 breaths through the whole film.  I have not read the book, but it is apparently very faithful to it - I would be interested to know what you think on that.  Would I see it again - yes.  Would I recommend it - yes definitely.  Was I impressed - absolutely.

Finishing Books


I gave up on this book - sorry, don't judge me.  I wanted it to make me cry, or scream or exclaim anything,  But it didn't.  It left me cold and unsympathetic.  Does that make me a bad person?  The language was just not evocative enough.  I felt sorry for the dad a bit, but then I didn't. I felt sorry for the siblings a bit, but not that bothered.  I did not feel sorry for the mom at all.  Admittedly I gave up half way through - so if it gets really great in the second half then tell me and I will pick it up again.  

Reading Nonsense Online




17 January 2016

Laaaaaazy Sunday



What a sad week it has been losing 2 much-loved British icons David Bowie and Alan Rickman.
Social media had a sombre, but also celebratory tone this week as it first mourned and then rejoiced in the gifts that these 2 precious people had given us.

On laaaaaazy sunday, I don't want to mope, but somehow, I also don't quite feel like sharing silliness - so I have bumped some sites til next week and instead give you a somehow more contemplative list of perusements (new word?).




13 January 2016

What I thought of - The Girl in the Spider's Web




I finally finished reading this at the weekend, thank goodness.  I loved the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series and was really looking forward to reading this next instalment.  I was conscious that this was a new author picking up the series, but I was determined to give it a fair chance.

This book bored the pants off me, sadly.  The plot was so long and complicated that I was at a loss as to what the central theme was for most of the book.  The plot was based around cyber attacks, artificial intelligence, autistic children and Millennium magazine.  Many of the old characters were there - Blomkvist at the heart of the story, Lisbeth Salander as the improbable heroine and the raft of security and police staff who also appeared in the original series.  The appearance of Salander's sister, Camilla, was a good addition, and I enjoyed the grit that she brought to the story, however, we were never really given her story.

I think we were asked to make too many leaps of faith in this book.  We just had to accept so many events and assumptions - and I wanted these to be explained thoroughly.  Central characters came in and out of the narrative at inappropriate times.

The end of the story left lots of gaps and I still did not really understand why the central character had been killed.  At the end of the original series, I felt satisfied with the outcomes for Blomqvist and Salander - this book just had them fizzle out.  It did not set up for a sequel and did not resolve there stories - it just sort of ran out of words.

I really, really, really wanted to love this book, but in the end it left me not giving a crap about it.  After publishing this blog post, I will probably never think of this book again.
11 January 2016

One Pot Spaghetti



Today has been a frustrating one - my work never quite went to plan, my back was in agony and my washing machine finally collapsed under all the mud that was brought back from O's camping weekend.

I needed cheering up and I knew just the dish that would do it.

I have had this recipe on my pinterest for ages.  I am not really much of a pasta fan if I am honest.  But today - it was all I wanted.

I took inspiration (in fact I followed the recipe almost to the letter) from Kitchen Nostalgia  and I must say it was delicious.  

The ingredients were not fancy - just olive oil, onions, garlic, grated carrot, canned and puree tomatoes, vegetable stock , spaghetti and herbs.



You sweat the onions in the oil until they go clear


Then add the garlic, carrot, tomatoes, herbs and veg stock and let it cook for 15 minutes


The add the spaghetti and cook until tender.


YUM!!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

One Pot Spaghetti
 
Serves: 
Ingredients
  • 500 g  spaghetti
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 800 g canned chopped tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 Tbsp tomato puree 
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • about 5 cups vegetable stock
  • parsley, basil, oregano, allspice (to taste)
Instructions
  1. In a large frying pan heat the oil and saute onion until clear. 
  2. Add carrots and garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
  3. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, spices and about 4 cups stock. Bring to boil and cook for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add spaghetti and simmer until the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir often and add more stock as necessary.
10 January 2016

Laaaaaaaaaaazy Sunday



It's Sunday, it's raining, it's cold.  Time to shut out the outside world and lose yourself in internet-land for an hour......(ok maybe more like 4)

Cocktail Year - Week One

Cocktail Year - Week One



After the success of our cocktails over Christmas, we have decided to make drinking cocktails part of EVERY weekend in 2016. I know everyone else is committed to dry January and all that, but not us.  We are all about the cocktails.  Wine is soooooo 2015.

I have a huge list of cocktails that I want to try on Pinterest.  but this weekend was all about the Margarita.  

Our inspiration came from here, and although there are loads of variations we decided to stick with the classic recipe. 

The Tequila and Triple Sec came from Waitrose (where there is an amazing selection of booze) and the limes came from the Co-op.


Olmeca Altos 100% Agave Tequila


Gabriel Bonner Curacao Triple Sec




Limes


The worlds best cocktail shaker from Debenhams.


These bad boys got us very drunk, very quickly and I forgot to take a photo of the finished product (oops - hic).  However it should look this (preferably in a nicer glass):


YIELD: 2 cocktail glasses

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 shots Olmeca Altos Tequila
  • 1 shot Gabriel Bonner Curacao Triple Sec (orange liqueur)
  • 1/2  freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 shots simple sugar syrup 
  • Ice

  • DIRECTIONS:
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker, and shake until the ice has broken down.  
Pour into the kitschest cocktail glass you can find.
Serve immediately, garnished with an extra lime wedge if you are fancy.
Drink.
Make another one.
Drink that.
Then pass out in a state of bliss :)



 

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