Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How to survive being confined to the couch

I am currently on day 8 of being inside. Day 8. Day freaking 8. Okay, that's a lie. One day when Nazi Nurse (aka my husband) was at the corner shop I took out the recycling. It was thrilling... the possibility of a pigeon sighting, the smell of our neighbours 18 million garbage bags and the overgrown nature of our garden were already more exciting that our couch. That was on day 4.

This is how I have filled my time and *attempted* to not loose the plot completely.

1. Online shopping. So so so much online shopping. I now recognise the drivers for the delivery companies...I'm convinced they think I only own mismatched pjs, no proper clothes or a hair brush.  I have gotten things delivered that no one ever needs to get delivered. 99p shoe horns. Batteries. Light bulbs. Basically anything that let me feel like I was accomplishing something without actually leaving the house....and of course it has to have free shipping!

2. Taking daily update photos of your rash/blisters/scabs and whatsapping them to anyone who has shown the slightest concern for your wellbeing. I blame my father for my love of disgusting things such as scabs and popping zits/blisters. The incredibly insanely amazingly awesome display my body put on over the past week and a half has been intriguing (and horribly painful) to say the least. My family have been photographically updated as to the state of my body at least daily. How lucky for them!

3. Obsessing over things that do NOT need to obsessed over. For example I am going on my honeymoon to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam at the end of the month. The amount of research I have put into finding THE perfect sandals may have been sllllllllllllightly overboard. I may have convinced myself that our beach and eating holiday is actually going to consist of trekking across the jungle, climbing trees with Tarzan. There is a 0% change of us doing anything beyond a short hike. My 'zeal' for my purchases was shown to me when Andrew had tears of laughter rolling down his face while I explained the features of my new all rubber sandals, explaining that "they are rated as the best walking sandal during the rainy season in Thailand". Slightly. Overboard. 

4. Jigsaw puzzles. Andrew lovingly bought me a puzzle to fill my time. I spent hours doing the edge and starting to fill in what I could of the centre. He then spent all day Saturday, Saturday evening and then Sunday morning completing it. Lesson learned...add doing puzzles together to the list of things that we need to improve on. Along with how to share the duvet and the last piece of dessert. 

5. Trying to fix things. Trying is the operative word here. Yesterday Andrew had come home to find that I had effectively stretched my "perfect" new walking sandals to fit an elephant. (Note: the benefit of all rubber sandals is you can stretch them. This is a dangerous endeavour I quickly discovered). When he encouraged me to rethink about the size I had chosen that my shoes should be I may have again used the quote "I researched very carefully...". That may have been the case. What I didn't think about is how to correctly assess the size of my foot. After soaking in boiling water the sandal straps are now thankfully no longer appropriate for a hippo.

All in all it really hasn't been that bad. The first 6 days I slept all day, waking up only to take more pain killers and fix the pillows that propped me up and stopped my from rolling onto my blisters of death. Hopefully my time on the couch is nearing the end!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Turns out I am NOT the strongest woman in the world.

This week I have been broken by illness. And let me tell you, as a French (okay former French) this means a lot. Members of the French family do not get ‘ill’. They feel slightly less awesome, take some Tyelenol and move on. They do not let something as silly as an illness affect them. This would be weak. We are not weak. We are strong. During my five years of teaching in England (yes Grandma, it has been five years instead of the promised one, something I am forever being reminded of) I have taken one day off work for illness. One day. This week I completely shattered my almost perfect attendance record. I have not left the house since Tuesday. This is Saturday. It turns out the French mantra of “You’re not ACTUALLY sick” doesn’t always apply. 

This is the progression of my illness (another thing the French family loves is a good, detailed description of anything less than nice, the more disgusting the better).

Saturday: “Hmm, my skin feels weird. I must drink more water, drinking more water fixes everything.”

Sunday: “Andrew if you come near my skin I will kill you. Literally kill you. Don’t even think of touching my skin. Everything hurts!! I must drink more water, that will help.”

Monday: “Weird, red patches. Nothing a French can’t handle! And those feelings of wanting to puke every 20 minutes are easy to ignore. To distract myself I will pretend I am a frog and play frog tag with the children.”

Tuesday: “Awesome, the patches have grown and now stretch around my body. Lovely, I have just woken up and I already feeling like garbage. That’s fine, there is only a week and 4 days left of work, only a weak person would admit defeat. Today I shall just walk slightly less like a drill sergeant to work to let my body have quiet time before I roll on the ground, jump through hoops (literally) and then teach long division.” 2 hours later…. “Okay, feeling dizzy. And pukey. Will. Not. Admit. Defeat. I can teach division from a sitting position! It’s all about compromising with your body!”

Tuesday afternoon: Call my Grandma for sympathy, “Alicia, it sounds like you have shingles. Go to the clinic.” “No, we Frenches don’t go to the clinic. We are tough.” Call my mother for sympathy, “Alicia, stop being like your father. Go to the clinic. Go now. GO. NOW.” Clinic nurse, “You have shingles. It’s going to get worse. No treatment for such tough, Navy Seal French family members like you! You can suffer through it using all of your experience of suffering!” (Okay, that may have been a slight exaggeration).

Wednesday:  “BAHHHHHHH!! LOOK AT MY BODY! I AM A HUMAN SNAKE!!” Andrew- “You’re not going to work.”
Alicia- “It’s fine, as long as I take a taxi, move slowly, sit all day, nap at lunch and no one touches me all day long I’ll be totally fine!”
Andrew- “You’re not going to work.”
Alicia- Pouty face.
Andrew- “If you go to work you’re going to end up looking like a human snake on our honeymoon.”
Alicia- “I’m not going to work.”

Thursday: “THE PAINNNNNNNN! It can’t possibly get worse!! The blisters can’t possibly grow any larger! Now I look like a zombie snake!!!!”

Friday: “ARGHHHHH!! It hurts ten bazillion times worse! The blisters are growing!!!!! Now I look like a zombie snake with a sunburn!!!”

Saturday: “AHHHHHHHHHHH!! They have turned PURPLE!! Purple hurts more!!!! Purple is the colour of pain!!!!! Now I look like a nasty blistered Barney/Teletubby zombie snake!!”


Conclusion: I thought I was tough. I am not. Shingles are stronger than me. Shingles can break even the strongest of the Frenches!

Note: I would have attached photos as I think the blisters are incredibly awesomely nasty but for some reason I have a feeling that everyone else may not feel the same way. However, I have been updating my nearest and dearest with daily blister updates photos. How lucky are they?!?!?!?

Monday, June 1, 2015

12 trains in 4 days and 1 human train wreck.

This week I ventured north from our lovely metropolis to bonnie Scotland. My mom always tells me that I pack too much into my time off. This time I think she was right....which I have to admit is annoying.  In 4 days I have taken 12 trains. None of them less than 45 minutes. I have sat in my reserved seat, someone else's reserved seat, the floor and in the luggage rack. While I would LOVE to say that each of the 12 trains was taken with grace and sophistication that would be be slightly off from the truth.

Lessons I have learned on the train(s):
1. When your gut instinct says "don't put your favourite umbrella that your sister bought you and you only use when you want to look gorgeous while trudging through the rain" in the luggage rack, DON'T put it in the luggage rack. You will forget it there are dwell on your lost umbrella for days to come. It will also pour for the rest of your trip leaving you looking less than gorgeous while trudging through the rain. 

2.  When making the inevitable dash for your train be sure you put the correct ticket through the barriers before charging through. They will not open with a very used and very old ticket. You will be stuck. People will look. You will feel stupid. 

3. Read the platform carefully. Very very carefully. 11A and 11B are two very different platforms with two very different trains. Sprinting down the platform 11 and jumping on the first train you see won't go as smoothly as you may hope. 

4. When attempting to run from one train to another in less than 30 seconds be sure to be the first person off the train. Do not get stuck behind an 89 year old lady with 2 walking sticks and a desire to have a chat with the ticket collector directly in the door of the train. It isn't the most time efficient way to exit the train. 

5. Don't assume that you correctly remember your departure time from when you booked your ticket months ago. Your memory isn't very good, not very good at all. You will end up being "that" woman running through the station shouting "excuse me, excuse me, MOVE" because there is no way you are paying for another full price ticket!

Friday, May 15, 2015

When you are tired of London you are tired of life!

Reasons why I love living in London:

1. There are so many people that when you do outrageously embarrassing things its fairly likely you are safe from having to see the people that laughed at you again. For example when you can't find the post-office even when you know the address and have walked up and down the street many times and then have to go into a store and ask if it is hidden in anyway only to have the man tell you that no, they haven't cleverly disguised the post-office to keep it safe from foreigners you are actually standing directly across from it the sign it just above eye level.

2. The sun. One has no idea the impact that sunshine has on a person! I used to believe that the great British outdoors was the place where you get soaked eyeballs to toes as busses drive by you instead of stopping as your clearly wanted them to.  London has taught me that the wondrous British outdoors is actually a place of sunshine and busses rammed full of stinky armpits just waiting for you to get a close inspection while looking for a place to hold on before you trip over a stroller.

3. Weekends have potential, amazingly exciting potential! Each weekend we can enjoy walking through perfectly manicured gardens, shopping in the most temptingly sparkly stores or relaxing in cafes and pubs (depending on who won the coin toss) decorated with treasures from hundreds of car-boot (yard) sales.

4. Weeknights possess hidden excitement as well! I'm sure this is the same across our tea-loving country I'm just luck enough to now have a job which allows me to enjoy my evenings instead of colour coding adverbs or researching how people in the Stone Age built their houses. Either way, London has intriguing exhibitions open late enough for the briefcase-bearing office workers to attend, shops which don't close at 5 and of course far too many delicious delicacies to enjoy...all on a school night!

5. London is pretty. It is beautiful, charming and delightful. I throughly enjoy my daily walks to work, drinking in my surroundings. Okay, I don't particularly enjoy my morning trudge while frantically checking my watch every 2 seconds wondering why I needed to try and braid my hair when I was already late but the walks home are rather pleasurable indeed.
   


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Creative cauliflower croquettes

In our Veg Box (more on this later) we were graced with one of my favourite, versatile vegetables...cauliflower! Now I have had some cauliflower successes and complete and utter fails. Once I tried to make cauliflower garlic bread which was plastered all over Pinterest. A fail. A weird, wobbly, totally not wonderful recipe fail. Pinterest can make things look oh so beautiful online but end up oh so horrendous in real life. However I pushed through and pursued....okay not really. I gave up that recipe and tried another. I'm not a fan of trying things again when they fail. Chances are if I failed the first time I'll fail the next. Why beat a dead horse??? 

Always this time I read a few cauliflower recipes and combined them into my own version of cauliflower croquettes. Yum! And not a total fail, yay! Perhaps slightly overcooked but whatever, who cares. I served them with a salad and my homemade ranch dressing







Ingredients
1 medium head of cauliflower (mine was frozen as we couldn’t cook it fast enough)
1 tablespoon Italian herbs
1 clove of garlic
3-4 green onions
pepper to flavour 
flour


Method

  1. Put the cauliflower and Italian herbs in the food processor and whiz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Because my cauliflower had been frozen and then defrosted I then used paper towel to soak up the extra moisture. Put the cauliflower into a mixing bowl. 

  2. Use the food processor to chop the garlic and onion. Add to the bowl of cauliflower and herbs. Begin to mix in flour, a little at a time, until the stickiness is almost gone and you are able to form the croquettes (aka flattened cauliflower balls). 

  3. I shaped mine into 1cm thick circles, about 3cm across, then put them on baking paper to allow for easy transfer to the fryer. I made the mistake of trying to fry them when they were still very sticky but able to stay in shape on the baking paper. They quickly made the deep fryer look as if it was a bowl of cauliflower cereal. Not good. 

  4. Fry them on a low heat to ensure the inside cooks before the outside burns. This is a lesson I clearly needed to learn the hard way. Mine were in the deep fryer for about 5 minutes at 140ÂșC. They looked rather dark on the outside but I found this was the best as the inside of the croquettes were cooked through. You could also shallow-fry, cook them in a frying pan or in the oven as well. Enjoy while nice and hot!
I hope you enjoy! 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Can't live without my RANCH!

Growing up in North America I have a certain love for deliciously creamy salad dressings. Thousand Islands, Ranch, Caesar....yum! Used not only on salads but as a dipping sauce for almost anything, think of chicken nuggets, pizza crusts or your pinky finger. Since we have been trying to eat a more simple diet I haven’t been buying my favourite luscious dressings, not that you can find the exact thing in the UK anyways. We have a few staple dressing recipes, but as we eat salad almost daily they are getting rather boring. So I turned to Pinterest, duh, and found a lovely ranch recipe!

As always, all ingredients (okay as many as possible) were organic. I used my dressing as a dipping sauce for wedges, salad dressing and a veggie dip later in the week. 



Ranch Dressing

3/4 cup low fat mayo
3/4 cup low fat sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 green onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of parsley (leave out the tough/thick stems)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1/4 cup milk

  1. Put the green onions, garlic, parsley and olive oil into a food processor and ‘whiz’ until you have the desired consistency. I wanted the parsley to be a bit bigger simply to look nice in the dressing!
  2. Either add the rest of the ingredients into the processor or, if yours isn’t big enough as  ours isn’t, I added it to the mixer with the whisk attachment. 
  3. Let the flavours come together for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Note: This makes a ton. Quite obvious when looking at the quantity one would assume, but I was just excited for my favorite dip! I also found that it went a bit runny by the next day so I would suggest making it the day you are planning on serving it. 


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Home is where the crazy is!


Trips home are so valuable, creating memories which I hold very dear to my heart. They are also very enlightening. My family has always told me that I was the drama queen of the family…turns out they lied. My family is totally and completely insane. I am not even remotely unique in my ability to ‘stretch the truth’ for dramatic effect. You may question me, wonder if I am yet again making something more exciting than it truly is. I will let you decide, using our 2015 family photo shoot as your evidence.


Trying out the new Christmas presents.


Playing the classic family game of Monopoly.



Attempting to take a nice family photo while Mom adorns my hair with branches.



A regular cross-Atlantic Skype chat.




And if you were still questioning the insanity levels of my family...
this should clear up any and all doubts.

Ps. I love every last one of my totally insane family members!! After all, normal is just boring!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Let's fly away! (And arrive in one half-decent piece).

I’m currently sat on the plane, somewhere over the Atlantic. My guess is just past where the Titanic sank. Anyways, these plane rides are usually consist of trying to force myself to sleep, failing miserably. Now, because I fly this route fairly frequently I have a few ways of dealing with this. Rules, if you will.
  1. Book an aisle seat. This way you don’t have to awkwardly crawl over the sleeping people when you inevitably hold your pee just long enough for you to be able to taste it. 
  2. Sit at the back of the plane, where it goes to rows of two on the sides (if possible). Yes, you will probably get forced to eat the lovely plasticky food that everyone else has wonderfully denied however there are usually no children instead travelling business men. They like silence. This is key to travelling bliss.
  3. Always take a drink when they offer it. That drink needs to be water. No more headaches, no more feeling like your brain is oddly smaller than your skull and therefore rattles around whenever you move. You may need to pee more often, but if you have followed rule #1 you’ll be fine!
  4. When putting your luggage into the overhead compartment do so quickly and somehow without showing the immense pain it calls you when attempting to lift 25kg above your head. Otherwise the wonderful air stewardesses may insist that you put your suitcase under the seat in front of you. Hello zero leg room!
  5. Look comfy but decent. Joggers, nikes, sweat shirts, headbands and ponytails may be mega comfy; however, upon your arrival you will be proudly walking into airport, excitement building, and you look like a mix of someone who travelled in a dog kennel and someone who rode on the wings. Just the impression everyone wants to make!

Now these rules have been carefully made. Through experience. Very embarrassing experience. Following the order above, these are the all to real experiences which caused my to write my groundbreaking rules.

  1. I always booked a window seat…lovely views and the ability to lean across the wall seemed the best way to travel. Wrong. Almost peeing yourself because the massive couple sitting next to you refuses to wake for hours on end was not a good feeling. 
  2. I began my trans-atlantic travels by trying to book the seats just past business class, so I could be off the plane about 2 milliseconds faster. Wrong. One trip in a row of 4, sat next to (of course in the window seat) a ‘lovely’ family with 2 children under 4 quickly impressed upon me the importance of avoiding all children at all costs.
  3. One of my largest fears has always been bathrooms (all stemming from a infortunate event involving a Mandarin restaurant and my inability to find my table after using the toilet). So to avoid having to use the plane toilet I used to just not drink. For the entire day of my flight. Wrong again! This was very clearly a mistake. Using a plane bathroom is MUCH less painful than having a migraine. 
  4. Due to my desire to take EVERYTHING possible back from Canada I usually stuff, cram and ram my carry-on as full of my worldly treasures as much as humanly possible. Only slightly wrong. I did this until a lovely air stewardess watched me obviously struggle to fit my bulging case into the overhead locker. When attempting to life the suitcase she glared at me and told me to place it under the seat ahead. Now I have very long legs. For 8 straight hours I could not move. NOT. HAPPY.
  5. As many of you know when travelling solo I am being met at my destination by either my family or husband. I used to travel wearing all items mentioned in rule #5. Which was…you guessed it…WRONGO! Now while my parents are used to my less than glamorous side I would like my husband to live under the delusion for as long as humanly possible that I do have a naturally feminine side. I would like him to believe that I do not possess the ability to smell as horrendous as a farm-yard pig, have enough oil in my hair to help the North Sea keep up their production levels and have pores so large you can lose small children in them. 


Learn from my mistakes. Do not arrive at your destination with a bladder infection, migraine, legs with pulled muscles and looking like a prisoner of war. 

New flying tip JUST learned through experience:

6. If living in a country you are not a citizen of always bring your work visa with you when you wish to travel back home. They don’t like it when you leave it at home. It is also incredibly embarrassing when they put you in the holding area full of the other people not being let into the country. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rose-tinted memories


Do you ever wonder what you were like as a child? Like REALLY like, not what you think you were like.  Well this trip home as done a good job at showing me just that. Every time I come home my Mom tries to convince me to go through all of the random boxes in the attic I filled when forced to clean my room as a child. So my sister and I braved the mouse poo and dived head-first into our childhoods. These are the things I learned:


  1. I used to read. A LOT. I had over a hundred Baby-Sitter Club books. I blame these prematurely responsible characters and their all too successful business for my life-long random get-rich-quick schemes. 
  2. I used to journal. A LOT.  These journals could now by used by Mindy Kaling as examples for how to portray the emotional rollercoaster of adolescence and beyond. Reading these aloud had myself, sister and mother crying in fits of laughter. This was an opening line (I hate to admit it but from university), “I am so proud of myself! Today I went from lunch till supper without having a snack!”. Clearly I have led a rather simple life.
  3. I have always enjoyed crafting. A LOT. We found so many insane “creative” examples of my ingenuity glued to the back of cupboard doors, under beds and inside boxes. All in varying degrees of completion. I think this was my favourite example, made after our family trip to the Big Apple. 

By the way….I thought this was completely amazing. This work of art was created before the advent of Pintrest so I am taking 100% ownership!

4. I have always had control issues.  A LOT of them. This became clear when my 
     parents were regaling for us of the tales of family camping trips. On one said trip my 
    Mom was in the back of the van so I could sit in the front and ‘read’ the map (a skill I 
    have yet to master). I was overcome by the desire to smell the fresh ocean air and  
    opened the van window, consequently sending our only map out the window for the 
    cars behind us to dodge while it blew across the highway. My bad. I also 
    remember budgeting my parents spending money this trip. I was ten. 


All in all I am so thankful I have such an amazingly patient family as it turns out although I may think I was a quiet, calm child I may have been more like Ramona Quimby than I wish to admit!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tradddddddddition, tradition!

A new family tradition has evolved over the past year or so. It involves the passing of a hideously pink flower planter, creatively filled with various carefully chosen yet ridiculously ugly items. This little gem travels between my Mom and her sister. Past planters have been filled with pink flamingos, neon fake flowers, fake spiders, solar lights, halloween decorations and anything ridiculous from the dollar store. Now this isn’t as simple as gifting the newly adorned pot back and forth. No, this pot always appears to the new owner as if by magic, often hidden in a crafty location. Locations have included being hidden deep into a backyard (actually across a river, this Canadian backyard is slightly more spacious than our ‘yard’ in London), high atop a dirt pile (which was taller than the house), adorning the entrance to my parent’s school or left at the cottage awaiting the owners return. This time I was roped in to take part. My aunt was out for the day, leaving her house unprotected from the stealthy pink pot.

                                             

This particular edition to the passing of the pink pot was seasonly themed, a ‘nest’ for the Easter bunny! Please note the dog barking inside the patio doors. Jazz was less than excited that I was outside ‘playing’ without him.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

To Cheese or not to Cheese, that is NEVER the question!

The latest of my culinary creations in my war against unknown ingredients has been cheese. Now cheese holds a very special part of my heart. In our household a crusty loaf of bread accompanied by a perfectly ripe tomato and  melt in your mouth cheese is the ultimate meal.  Simple yet delicious. Therefore, being able to make our own cheese has been a desire for quite some time. And if I do say so myself, this is one goal I can say I totally and completely conquered! 





Cheese turned out to be easier to make than yogurt. There is only one step that takes careful precision, which of course I completely messed up while attempting to take pictures. However the ricotta still turned out smooth and deliciously creamy. 

I used this blog for my recipe, as always, changing to suit my current mood (and patience level).


Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients
2L of whole milk
80 ml lemon juice
1tsp salt (Admittedly I forgot to add this, pressures from my Mother and her hatred of salt have subconsciously taken effect).

Method
1. Pour the milk into a pot, placing on the stove. You want to warm the milk until just before the boiling point, around 190 F. Now this is where I messed up...while stood on a chair attempting to take photos, balancing my phone on my shoulder discussing which 90’s American show to next devour on Netflix, my milk boiled. Oops.  No need to worry, my Netflix choice was carefully and correctly made! (3rd Rock from the Sun)
2. Turning off the stove (and removing from the element if you are using an electric stove), add your lemon juice, carefully stirring it in. This is where is starts to go a bit nasty. The lemon juice curdles the milk, helping you may your curds and whey! I spent the rest of my cooking time singing nursery rhymes in my head.


3. While your milk is, well, souring, take a large bowl, place a strainer over it (there should be plenty of space between the bottom of the bowl and the strainer) and then place a cheese cloth over that. 


4. Use a slotted spoon to check that your milk has finished separating into white lumps  (curds) and a yellowish liquid (your whey). When this is done, from 10 - 50 minutes, carefully pour it into the cheese cloth. Mine took about 15 minutes to fully drain, leaving me with a nice, creamy cheese.



This will definitely become a family favourite! Now to make it for my Canadian family...I will pry them from the evil grasp of the processed food industry! Okay, let’s be honest. I won’t. A better goal is for my Grandma to see that I am actually eating what she deems is ‘normal’ food. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Momma mia, pizzeria!

For me, Friday night is the best part of the weekend...okay not the BEST part but it is pretty darn good. It is full of hope and promise of long mornings laying in bed for as long as humanly possible, using every single app my phone has. Afternoons of exploring the exciting, albeit tourist packed, streets of London and enjoying delicious treats the food stalls have on offer. Evenings of couch cuddles and Netflix movies with Denzel Washington saving the world from taxi driving serial killers or delving into the evils of the food industry, inevitably trying to cover the fact that I have fallen asleep through at least half of whatever we had chosen to watch.

A new Friday night tradition has developed over the past few months, pizza made from scratch. How completely original of us! Unique or not, it is a delicious way to end a long week of glitter and red pens. It has also presented a few challenges. At first I just put on anything (okay, everything) that I love that could be considered a pizza topping. This clearly failed. The importance of the base quality has also become clear. One evening I spent over an hour charring peppers, mushrooms, zucchinis, onions and egg plant, so far it was a success. However, when I put these delicious toppings on a base that was horrendous it was a total failure. My poor husband was about halfway through his first piece when his face revealed the fact that he was about to show to me the pizza which he had just managed to swallow. This pizza was sadly binned.

I am happy to report that my ability to make an edible, and now even enjoyable, pizza base has come a very long way! Our staple recipe was actually found by accident, when I only had self-raising flour left to use. This base is more like a tea biscuit and because it doesn't rise you can roll it out to get a thin crust. Side note: failing to have all crucial ingredients to make a recipe is a lifelong challenge I am currently working to overcome.  

Pizza Base

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (Yes Mom, salt. Just use it!!!)
1/3 - 1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil

Method
1. Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  Create a well in the centre of the bowl, add the water and the olive oil. (Or...just put the flour, salt, water and olive oil in a bowl and start mixing. Let's be honest, on a Friday I ain't making no 'well'!) 
2. Use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients, starting from the centre and working your way towards the side. (Or...using whatever spoon you happen to have clean on a Friday, or your hand if nothing else is clean.)
3. Heat the oven to 350 F. Roll the dough to 1/4" thick. Now this rolling business has proved quite tricky for me. Getting it to 1/4" is easy enough, getting it into a circle has proved to be my own personal Everest. It usually looks like a giant paint splat. Last night I spent AGES trying to make it look somewhat presentable so it wouldn't look like I made it with my toes in the photo. Don't judge, it is MUCH harder than it looks. 
4. Bake the plain base for 5-7 minutes (or whenever you realise you put it in the oven and walked off to see what Kim Kardashian was up to on E!, completely forgetting you even put something in the oven).
5. Add toppings, bake as usual.




Thursday, March 26, 2015

I scream for...yogurt!!!

I have a friend at work who shares the same feelings about plastic, gmo foods and Monsanto in general and last week she regaled to me the tales of her latest cooking adventure...making yogurt! (And yes, I know to you Brits 'yogurt' is spelt wrong. But I am Canadian and therefore I think it is right). So in my next Tesco order I got some organic whole milk and set myself a new challenge in my quest to avoid all processed food products.

After looking at a few recipes online I decided to go with this one  http://www.thekitchn.com

As with most recipes I did it the "Alicia way". Aka read the recipe, do my measurements in some type of relatively comparable way and hope for the best. This method proves successful about 7 times out of 10. And the other 3 attempts are usually complete flops. Like completely and horribly inedible, with my poor husband hoping that I admit defeat before he has to somehow pretend to eat his dinner type of cooking flops. 

Alicia's version of yogurt!

Ingredients:
- 2 pints of milk (or about 4.5 cups to the Canadians out there...remember, using the "Alicia method" means being flexible with exact measurements!)
- 1/4 cup of yogurt (or 60 ml)

I used a pot, a wooden spoon, a large bowl and an even larger pot to make an ice bath, a thermometer, a wisk, a glass measuring cup and a towel.

Method:
1. First I poured the milk into the pot, heat it on the stove until it reached 200 F, stirring frequently. Now, as this was done in the land of Alicia I used a meat thermometer (but still had a dial so worked perfectly). However my temperature measurements maxed out at 180 so I just waited for it to go above that and hoped for the best!

 

2. Next I took it off the heat and poured the milk into an ice bath I made with a Dutch oven filled with ice water and a larger bowl, leaving it until the milk cooked to about 115 F, give or take.


3. Then I scooped out about a cup of the warm milk and whisked in 1/4 c of the organic yogurt, finally whisking into the rest of the warm milk.



4. After that I poured the warm milk into a clean pot, put on the lid, wrapped it up in a blanket and left it beside the radiator for about 4 hours. I am still impressed that I remembered to first periodically stir the yogurt and then check it after 4 hours. Remembering that I had something waiting for hours for me is a miracle in itself!



5. Finally I put my amazing new yogurt to a large glass jar (as clearly evil plastic would ruin my beautiful new creation) and popped it in the fridge. The only thing I will do differently next time is let it sit longer to make the taste a bit stronger. All in all, I am very happy with the result!



Next challenge...cheese!!!






Sunday, March 22, 2015

Here we go again!

Well, as is clearly obvious, I have decided to blog again. I really enjoyed blogging my misadventures when I first moved to this tea-loving nation.  However, as with most of my well-intentioned life endeavours, it got left by the wayside as life and work got busier. Now that I have given my job a slight 'tweak' I find myself with something strange...free time! I spent the first few months attempting to lower my stressed-out shoulders from my earlobes and discovering how good it feels not to have a teetering tower of dishes permanently stacked in the sink. Now it is March...and the wonders of a clean house, pressed clothes and an organized calendar have worn off and it's time to start something new! Or I suppose something old...I am going to record the wonders of my life!

Changes made to my life since last blogging:
- Married the most amazing man in a rather complex, 3-part, Scottish/Canadian DIY wedding
- Moved from Birmingham to London
- Now eat mainly organic, almost vegetarian (to be explained better in a future post!) and always as unprocessed as possible
- Bought a DSLR camera and I am currently attempting to unlock its' mysteries

I plan to blog about my London adventures, attempts at photography, our new-found healthy-eating life-style, and my love for anything DIY (as long as it doesn't take too long....my attention span resembles a gold fish).

I hope everyone had a great weekend, fingers crossed better weather is on our way!