Another week is over, and here is what is filling my headspace as I slide in to the weekend…
- Bols Genever – as Amsterdam is my favourite holiday destination, so their Genever is my favourite tipple. We brought a (sizeable) bottle of this Bols home from our last trip and I’m sure I’ll be partaking in a glass or two this weekend!
- Contrast. I’m a sporadic gamer, but I downloaded this for the PS4 and played it through with an alarming dedication! It’s a mixture of 2D and 3D puzzle platformer all set in a vaudevillian, but slightly crumbling, world. Beautiful – and one I’ll probably play again (just to get 100% completion this time!)
- Spiralising vegetables. So We made courgetti (courgette spaghetti) for the first time this week, and I’m already addicted. I’m a big advocate of playing with one’s food, and it’s rather fun to spiral some vegetables out in to something different for a change. I’m only a recent convert to spaghetti itself (after years of it disagreeing with my gag-reflex) but it’s still nice to mix things up.
- This dress. Bright, sunny and happy-making – and only £11 in the sale!
A proper quickie for you this evening. I can always tell when I’m run down, as it’s the only time I get any form of breakout or rough skin on my face. That was the point I reached this weekend. So, feeling run down and exhausted, I decided to whip up a rejuvenating face mask, using things I had at home.
I know it looks muddy, but this DIY mask is amazing. Mix up 1 and a half tablespoons of used coffee grounds (make sure these are fine grounds) with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Gently massage this mixture in to your face, avoiding your eyes of course. Leave on for 5 to 10 minutes, then gently rinse off with warm water
Note: do not use this if you have sensitive skin, and rinse off immediately if you feel any irritation.
The coffee reduces redness and puffiness (as well as even just the smell making me feel more awake) and exfoliates along with the salt. The oil moisturises your skin while the lemon juice provides a jolt of vitamin c. Everything you need for that glowing and awake feeling!
Is there any joy greater than splitting open a perfectly cooked jacket potato, loading it with butter and cheese, and digging in? Well okay – I can think of a few things, but it’s pretty high up on the list. But I’ve been burnt (literally and figuratively) many times before by bad jacket potatoes. You need not fear – follow my fool-proof method before and enjoy delicious jacket potatoes every time!
Put your oven on to heat to 200oC. Take one ‘fist-sized’ potato per person (unless you’ve got small hands like me – in which case size up), and pierce repeatedly with a small sharp knife. Spray with oil (drizzle/rub some oil on if you don’t have a fancy spray one) and sprinkle generously with salt.
Then (and here comes the nippy trick), stick a metal skewer right through each potato. The idea is the skewers heat up in the oven and transfer more heat to the middle of the potatoes, so your cooking time is reduced. Normally I would cook these potatoes for 2hrs+, but with the skewers in, they can be done within 60mins!
Then pop your potatoes in the oven (uncovered – no tin foil here!) for 60-90mins, depending on size, and they should come out crispy on the outside and super fluffy in the middle.
A final little hint for you – to get the potatoes off the (now hot – so be careful!) skewers, slide it off using a fork.
So – what toppings do you like on your potato?
There’s something about the sustained presence of sunlight in the mornings that makes me want to eat fruit and yoghurt and healthy, summery items for breakfast. Breakfast bircher is perfect because:
- it’s filling
- it’s chilled
- you prepare it the night before
- it’s adaptable
- it’s simple
Have I convinced you yet? Well here’s how I make mine
Put 1 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of yoghurt into something like a mason jar (I use an old repurposed jam jar) and give it a good shake – with the lid closed of course. Then just pop in the fridge overnight. In the morning, stir in your choice of fruit and enjoy!
You can mix things up by adding other flavours – honey, syrup, jam, and even spices like cinnamon or vanilla. I reckon I could have bircher every day of the month and still never eat the same thing twice. What flavour combinations are you going to try in your bircher? I’m thinking a sprinkling of cinnamon would go well with some grated apple…
It’s been – well, it’s been a funny old week and I know I could do with some cheering up. So here are 5 things I’ve been thinking about, enjoying, or lusting after this week:
- Wedding dresses exhibition at V&A – I managed to get along to this last on the member’s preview last Friday. The above dress is an obvious highlight for me, combining 3 of my favourite things: Dita Von Teese (who wore it), Vivienne Westwood (who designed it) and purple!
- Eurovision 2014! I am all geared up for this on Saturday. I’m not usually bothered about spoilers, but with Eurovision I deliberately avoid listening to/watching any of the acts beforehand – including the semifinals. So I will be surprised, delighted, bemused and horrified in turn, I am sure!
Welcome to a new series for the blog – the Tuesday Quickie. A quick tip from my repertoire, every Tuesday – simple as that!
Today’s tip is how to prepare a perfect roast chicken. Ever had cooked chicken from the deli counter of a supermarket? Know how it’s brown and crisp and delicious? Well, it is easy to achieve at home…
- Pop your chicken on a rack over a roasting pan
- Slice a lemon in half and stick both halves in to the chicken’s cavity
- Mix 2tbsp of butter, 1tbsp brown sugar, 1tsp garlic powder and a good shake of dried rosemary, then rub this all over your chicken
- Cook your chicken, uncovered, at your usual time and temperature (I do 90-110mins in a 190oC oven)
As easy as that, and you’ll have roast chicken to impress.
If you’ve roasted too big a bird for your household and you’re wondering what to do with the leftovers, check out my rubber chicken recipes.
A little bit slower on the reading front in April, although I’m now getting in to the heftier editions of Harry Potter, so it’s not like I can whizz through them at the same speed as Philosopher’s Stone. Here’s what I got through:
- JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Still the weakest of the books in the series. Sorry if you disagree, but it is!
- JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Builds a much stronger picture of the Maurauders than the film ever managed. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please go and read the books. Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you after all
- JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I mean – I knew the film had needed to trim a lot out of this 635 page (!) book in order to make it fit even a two and a half our film, but I had forgotten just quite how much had been cut out of the meat of the story.
- JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Another one that suffered hefty cuts to fit the movie format, which is a shame as you miss so much of the bonding relationship between Harry and Sirius, and this is of course all the more important come the end of the book.
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun. I treated myself to this as an early Christmas present (thanks Big Green Bookshop!) and it’s been lingering in my to read pile, silently judging me for ignoring it. So glad I finally picked it up. Wow, wow, wow. Impactful, really important story – and I love anything set around real historical events which involves me so much that I want to go and read up on those events (in this case, the Nigerian Civil War).
So only two Harry Potters left to go – and a whole heap of other unread books clamouring for my attention. What have you been reading this month? Help me grow my pile!