Friday 28 February 2014

Friday Frocks #153 - We could have a few decent days and nights.

My more adventurous friends like Amy chastise me for always choosing the safe option when it comes to fashion. I went to a swap shop on Monday, and came away with two Peter Pan collared dresses, a gold sparkly number and a red cardigan - all things that I already have in my wardrobe, but hey - why mess with what works?

George at Asda asked me to choose a few bits to review, and I did try to be adventurous, I did. But in the end, it came down to what I knew I'd wear, and this neat LBD has already had three outings since it arrived so I call that a good choice. It comes with the bright red necklace too - not my usual taste, I'll be honest, but I'm loving the ensemble.


Thursday 27 February 2014

February Edition of Books are Amazing featuring Laura

Hello! Welcome to my Books Are Amazing series for February. This month's contributor is the lovely Laura from Kneadwhine! I met Laura at university, although technically we met on LiveJournal as the only two users who lived in tiny little Exmouth. We got each other through our English degrees, and now Laura teaches English to the youth of today while I ponce about in a marketing job. But we're still friends, and we both have blogs. NOW THAT'S A HAPPY ENDING.

Anyway, that's enough of me. Take it away, Laura!

I like to throw a random twist in the works, so I decided to opt for cookbooks, rather than just standard fiction. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE fiction but I've seen quite a few of the books I would have nominated already on Books are Amazing and as my blog, Kneadwhine is food orientated, cookbooks seemed like the perfect option. To restrict things further, I should point out that I'm a vegetarian - so four of the five are vegetarian cookbooks but I still strongly recommend them.

So, here goes, my top five cookbooks. I'm surprised to relate, despite the stacks of Jamie Oliver cookbooks that I have, none of his are in there. There are a few celebrity ones though.

Check them all out - Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg, Simon Rimmer's Seasoned Vegetarian, Covent Garden's Every Day Soup, The Baby-led Weaning cookbook and my own cookbook.

1. First up, we have the River Cottage Veg book. I convinced my Dad to get hold of this for me for my birthday a year or so ago and it's one of the books that I keep dipping into to try new things. I have to admit to being a bit of a Whittingstall fan - he totally understands that vegetarian meals are not just about 'missing out' on meat and he has a huge variety of ideas. I've loved working my way through a selection of the recipes on offer, including Porotos Granados...

...and this extremely tasty chickpea ketchup curry - quick to make, short on ingredients and huge on taste. I haven't made it in ages - definitely one to add to the meal plan soon. There's a good range of quick meals and trickier meals, meals with not many ingredients (such as chickpea pasta) and those slightly more flashy options.

2. Secondly, Simon Rimmer's Seasoned Vegetarian. This one was a surprise present from my Mum. It's sent me in new directions with my cooking. Top right of the pictures below is beetroot gnocchi with smoked almond pesto. The photo here makes it look amazing and it is - in taste - but the real-life version is a bit less vivid in the reds. On the left are cumin potatoes with creamy chickpeas (it's suddenly becoming clear to me that I tend towards the chickpea recipes in cookbooks...!) a wonderfully filling meal that I haven't made in far too long.

3. The third book for consideration is the Covent Garden A soup for Every day. It's really what kicked off Sunday Soup. Mr Kneadwhine bought it for me for my birthday a year and a half ago and since then, I've been making a new soup most weeks. I've moved a bit beyond my initial love of this book but it's definitely a great starter. This is one of those books that isn't entirely vegetarian but largely is - there are enough new ideas in here to last a long time. The soups are in line with the seasons or events - there are special soups for Valentine's and Christmas. Here's today's idea, if you're curious:-

There are no pictures at all of any of the soups but actually, it feels like a book that has been handed on from a friend, with it's handwriting-style font. It's straightforward - with very clear instructions and you couldn't go far wrong with it. If you're interested in soup recipes (and all of them are pro pointed) - here's 31 of them! A couple of them have taken the ideas from the book and adapted them.

4. One of my most battered cookbooks is the Baby-Led Weaning cookbook. I decided fairly early on that my son, D, was going to do baby-led. No pureés - possibly the lazy person's way to do it but it worked well for us. D eats a pretty wide range of food and I never had to use a blender - only for soup rather than baby-led. Should you want to go down this route, I'd suggest only buying the cookbook - the guide to how to do it is pretty much entirely contained here and it's not really all that complex anyway. The only things to be aware of are cutting down the salt and avoiding anything too spicy.

Three of my favourite recipes from the book are the dahl (although now I make a slightly more complicated version this was a great start), a lentil and vegetable curry and tuna croquettes. Although I'm a vegetarian, my son isn't and these are extremely popular - both with him and his Dad. Like I say though - battered the pages. Turns out that cooking when you have a seven month old doesn't lend itself to tidy cooking.

5. Finally, my cookbook. I found that I had an awful lot of cookbooks where I only liked one recipe, or I had the odd bit of paper here and there where I'd taken recipes from friends including the recipe for Quorn passanda below, shared by my godmother. I find this a great way to rationalise the cookbooks that I don't really want and I also make notes on any recipes as I go if there are changes I want to make, like the one below.

I'm always looking for new cookbooks - what's your favourite? I'm just about to delve into The World Food Café's Vegetarian Bible. Mr K is keen to try out a recipe with an extremely high number of ingredients that I wouldn't normally put together!

Friday 21 February 2014

Friday Frocks #152 - Everything has to reach a peak sometime.

Cardigan – Red Herring
Tights – Primark
Shoes - Clarks

Sometimes, when I’m having a stressful day, I’ll nip out at lunchtime and go and look at clothes. It’s probably a damning sign of my mental health that being around nice dresses makes things seem better – I literally feel calmer and happier when I’m browsing the rails of New Look or Topshop. There’s something kind of sad about that, I suppose, but it also goes a long way to explain my bulging wardrobe.


Monday 17 February 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful #3

Cheer up, love! Here are this week's Reasons to be Cheerful:

1. Tom Hiddleston. I mean. Really. Look at that face. LOOK AT IT.

2. This Crown bobby pin. You can be a tiny bit royal ALL THE TIME!

3. Free pandas.

4. Benedict Cumberbatch on Sesame Street. It's adorable!
Tom Hiddleston on Sesame Street is even better, though.

5. Um... Six layer chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow filling and malted chocolate frosting. Okay then.

6. This super pretty Topshop dress. Sure, it's not particularly revolutionary, but sometimes all you need is a lovely floral frock, right?

7. This video never fails to crack me up. It's okay to be cheerful about it because no one REALLY got punched.

Friday 14 February 2014

Friday Frocks #151 - That slow burn wait while it gets dark, bruising the sun.

This Sugarhill Boutique dress from Surfdome dress is crying out to be worn on a beautiful, sunny day with bare legs, isn't it? Sadly those are in short supply at the moment (can you tell I'm dreaming of warmer climates this week?) but I think wearing something bright and vibrant can make horrible weather not seem so bad. Although I'm not going to pretend I didn't rush inside and put on a big jumper as soon as I'd taken these photos!


Wednesday 12 February 2014

Take me away.

I've got serious wanderlust at the moment. I'm probably not going to get to leave the country this year due to saving to buy a house, and of course, there's literally nothing I want to do more right now. When it's so miserable outside, the thought of a little sunshine in your future can make everything seem a little better.

I've been to Italy twice in the past few years, and I'd really love to sneak in a trip this year. It's hard to talk myself out of it because I know that it's really easy to do on a budget - there are some great hotel deals on Venere, and along with Easyjet flights, Florence is calling my name. I'm having to chant savings, savings, savings to myself... but, you know. Maybe NEXT year.

If you can get away this year though, I do SO recommend Florence. It's beautiful, and the shopping is fantastic. There is a huge market that sells beautifully made leather bags like this one (not to mention this one!) and every place we ate at was amazing. So while you jet off (and I explode with jealousy), I will give you my top 5 things to do in Florence:

1. Grab a slice at Totos. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it was the best pizza I ever had.

2. Visit the markets - there are some great bargains to be had! I wish I'd bought a mask.

3. Eat Gelato from Caffe delle Carrozze. The peanut butter one is out of this WORLD.

4. Explore the jewellery stores on the Pontevecchio.

5. Walk! Take it all in. Although it's a fairly touristy place, it still feels very authentically Italian and it's beautiful to look at.

There's also a really good train service to other parts of Italy, so if you're there for a little bit, why not explore further and visit Lucca, or Pisa?

SIIIIIGH. Oh well. Instead of jetsetting abroad this year, instead I'm planning lots of minibreaks around the UK to visit friends - free accommodation, and bonus awesome company. It pays to have friends scattered about the place, you know.


Friday 7 February 2014

Friday Frocks #150 - You must be loving your life in the rain.

At the end of our lane is a huge meadow. I think it’s a meadow, anyway – I’m not really sure what defines a meadow? It’s basically a big sprawling expanse of green stuff. Slightly hilly, slightly wooded and on the day I went up there, more than slightly muddy. Last time I went there was summer, and that beautiful lake wasn’t actually there. We get the POINT now, rain.


Sunday 2 February 2014

The best Spaghetti Bolognese ever.

I'm sure if you ever cook at all, you've cooked Spaghetti Bolognese before. But sometimes basic recipes can actually be a bit underwhelming, don't you think? I've lost count of how many tasteless mac'n'cheeses I've had, for instance. But my version is super rich and super tasty. And bonus - super healthy! If you have kids, it's a really great dish to sneak some vegetables into their diets. It's absolutely full of veg, to be honest, , but don't hold that against it - they're what makes it so thick and full of flavour. Plus, it makes an enormous amount, and actually tastes even better reheated. It's batch cooking heaven!
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