Baby's age counter

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Happy Easter!

Here is my festive offering! As the kitchen has been somewhat hectic I had to keep it simple: shredded wheat, chocolate and mini eggs. They still look cute though.
As it's snowing there won't be an Easter egg hunt or anything too outdoors-y. I'll just have to snuggle down on the sofa and enjoy these little beauties!

Before photos

So this is what the kitchen looked like before we started on it. To be fair to it there wasn't really anything wrong with it, so much as it was quite worn out, and the layout wasn't really the best use of space. For example, the fridge was behind the door so if you had the fridge door open and someone came in the fridge door, you would squash them between the doors!There was also some space for more cupboards and storage areas and it was a pain that I couldn't reach the top shelves of the cupboards. So actually there were quite a few things 'wrong' with the kitchen!

This is how the kitchen looked on the 15th March.

It's been a while...

For a the last week we've been redecorating our kitchen! Well, I say we, but I have been more of a dogsbody/observer. DIY isn't exactly something I am competant at but I will give it a go. I'll post some pictures of the finished room when it's a bit more finished.The best thing about the new almost finished kitchen is new oven. It is a real giant! In the guidebook it says that you can cook 4 roast chickens at one time in each oven. Since there's only 2 of us and a cat I am not sure how many chickens we can eat but it's good to know I suppose! I've really missed having a functioning kitchen but in reality it's only been out of action for a week. We're lucky that so many people have given us a helping hand.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

It's my birthday!

Yes today I celebrate my silver birthday: I'm 25! Officially in my mid-20s. Oddly it seems only yesterday I turned 20 but my parents always told me that time goes faster as you get older.
I made loads of these tiny cakes to celebrate. Vanilla sponge, orange/lemon icing that I coloured pink, pink pearly sugar crumbs and a little jelly heart! How sweet!!!!

Shabu shabu style pork

Yesterday I went on a course up in London. Luckily it was a nice short course but not worth dashing back to school after since by the time I got there the school day would be over. Hooray for the freedom! So instead I went shopping. What kind of shopping.... clothes shopping perhaps? Oh no, not me! I went FOOD shopping.I spent a few happy hours going around the Japanese food shops and treated myself to some nice delicaces. I ended up coming home and attempting to make shabu shabu style pork. It's traditionally a broth which is heated at the table and people cook meat, fish and veggies in it, rather like the European fondue. Sadly I do not have a flame for the broth so instead I cooked the veggies beforehand and then the broth was so hot and the meat SO fine that it cooked in the residual heat. We had mushrooms, purple sprouting broccoli leaves, glass noodles (made of sweet potato) and TOFU! Yes, tofu was back on the menu. It was so tasty.
We ate it with pickled aubergine (not a great fan, to be honest), pickled daikon and ginger and endamame (soy beans in the pod). I also made a couple of sauces to go with it for dipping: one of sesame and one citrus/soy sauce. I can't wait to go to London and buy more food like that because it was a real feast.

Tofu steak dinner

I have never been a huge fan of tofu. I have one tofu recipe that I love: fake cheesecake. It's the best recipe EVER for when you are trying to lose weight or you want to eat less dairy. I've served it to loads of people without them knowing it's dairy free except that you don't ever feel over-full or sick after eating a massive piece of it!
However I felt it was time to expand my tofu eating habits as it's so good for you and it features a lot in the Japanese cookbooks I've been reading. On Sunday I bought a piece of fresh tofu and cooked it as a tofu "steak". It was divine! Just rolled it in some seasoned flour and then shallow fried it in garlic oil. We ate it with spiced miso soup, steamed rice, pickles and stir-fried veggies. Honestly, it's a wonder I bother with meat at all, it was so tasty. I never knew tofu could be so scrummy.

Pumpkin pie

I made this pumpkin pie with a squash because, to me, it tastes so similar in something like this. I cooked a squash a few weeks ago and didn't manage to eat it before it went bad, so I was determined this wouldn't happen again. I cooked the squash, let it cool and then pushed it through a sieve to make it really smooth. Who wants lumps in their pumpkin pie?
Then the next day I made a basic flaky pastry case and blind-baked it. While that cooked I added the puree to a custard mixture with a little cinnamon to make it spicy and yummy. It took about 30 mins to bake and get set and was absolutely lovely when it was warm out the oven. It set so well that I could even take it as part of my lunchbox! Definately will make another when another squash arrives looking a bit sorry for itself.

Curry dinner

I thuoght I would cook a nice curry dinner on a work night as a treat.... I got a bit carried away!

I cooked: Tandoori style marinaded prawns and monkfish, Buttery lentils, Curried swiss chard with tomatoes and chappatis. I must say it was yum. The close-up photo you can see is of the swiss chard. It was really nice mixing an English veg with heavy spices and then lightening it all with a few chopped tinned tomatoes.I particularly liked the flat bread to dip and wrap the food in. Real hands on food. And since I got so carried away I managed to have another round for lunch the next day!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Rules that kids could do with learning

I read this on the TES website. How true!

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 (£40,000) a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters (or terms). You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

If you can read this - Thank a teacher!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Valentine cutie

Just a quick one as I feel really bad I haven’t done this before. What an amazing boyfriend I have – he sent these lovely roses to me at work on Valentine’s Day. Very cute!!!!

Random Sunday tea

Tonight we wanted some quick food as we’d spent quite a lot of time preparing a nice lunch for Mothers Day. So I picked out some bits we’d bought recently to see what we could create.
Yesterday I bought my first plantain after seeing a tv show where they’d been fried lightly in oil. I thought it sounded easy enough. When I went to the Caribbean food shop the owner advised me to buy a really black one as this would give a better flavour. I took her advice but was lucky that it was left alone long enough in my kitchen to be eaten – it was very nearly added straight to the compost heap! I discovered that plantains are very tasty. To finish off the fried plantain I added salt and chilli flakes. Delicious. I can only imagine how good it would taste with some spicy chicken or something.
Oddly our meal featured no meat and the only animal product was a small amount of butter used on the okra (ladies fingers). I am madly in love with okra this weekend. I had some yesterday deep fried with chilli, salt, mango powder and garam masala added. They were so good that I went back and bought some more today. I had read here about frying okra in butter. I actually dry fried the okra and then added a teaspoon of butter at the end with a pinch of salt. Oh my gosh it was tasty. I can’t wait to get my hands on some more okra!
The other thing we ate was a noodle dish with ginger, oyster sauce, swiss chard, bamboo shoots and spring onions. It was not my best effort though to be fair. Oh well, we live and learn. It got eaten so that’s the main thing.

Mystery vegetable

I always like to try new foods and today I bought this vegetable today in the Indian cash and carry in a nearby town. I have no idea what it is. The woman in the shop did tell me but I didn’t recognise the name and now I can’t remember even how the name sounded. She told me it’s very bitter but good for your health. She suggested frying it in a little oil and eating it with potatoes and garam masala added. Sounds yum! Any suggestions on what the vegetable might be will be gratefully received – I can’t find it in any of my ethnic cookbooks…