Tuesday, 14 August 2012

i'm engaged!

you may have been wondering where i've been...

well to cut a long story short... i'm engaged to my wonderful Pete!

now for those of you that want the long story - here it is...

shortly after my birthday, he took me on a surprise day out to Bristol - a city i love but have never had the pleasure of exploring. he had planned all sorts of things that i knew nothing about...

we started by taking my old school bus into town, followed by a delicious breakfast at my favourite cafe in Salisbury, Boston Tea Party - totally polished off...

then a train to Bristol, where we took a long and wonderful walk around the city - by the river and through Clifton, across the suspension bridge, past the planetarium at the science centre, into vintage shops and stopping at the best Deli in the west for coffee and cake.

then he took me to The Muset in Clifton, a very incredible place to eat spectacularly tasty food. we ordered the tasting menu with wine flight - 6 different dishes, with 6 different wines.

and then... 

at the end of the meal, he said 'i just have one more surprise for you', he got down on one knee, and opened a box, in which was the most beautiful ring i've ever seen and asked me to marry him. i was totally speechless, so he had to ask in his best northern accent, 'well will you then?' - of course, then i managed to speak and said yes. we kissed and the whole restaurant applauded (totally like a movie).

so now, we're getting married in early October, it's rather soon (7 1/2 weeks from now!) and so we've been busy planning.

and to finish, here's a little close-up of the ring (taken on my iPhone on the train ride home to show my family!)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

fresh gozo cheese and local oranges

g'day all! life is pretty ace at the moment - busy but brilliant. it's my birthday next week, and my wonderful man has organised a surprise day for me on Friday, and then on Saturday i'm having an open house brunch, where all my friends and family will pop round for a waffle with ginger cream somewhen in the day. i get to see my brothers, sister in law and niece, as well as all my amazing friends - so excited :)

so, as promised, here's part two of my photos from the island of Gozo...

a delicious salad with fresh local produce - olives, tomatoes, cucumber, rocket, mushrooms, chickpeas, and the freshest local cheese. perfect on a hot and sunny day.

the island is incredibly old - there is even talk in the Bible of Paul visiting Malta, and i dare say that Gozo was inhabited also at the time - so beautiful and yet untouched. these rock formations by the water front are fascinating (as are my saltwater sandals, of course!)

broad beans were in season when were there, and they were delicious cooked with little boiled broccoli and chicken with red onions, sundried tomato and rosemary (the official herb of the week, because i purchased an entire packet and felt the need to eat as much as possible to get good value!) - a tasty, simple evening meal on holiday.

variations on a theme - chicken with broad beans, red onion, rosemary, sun-dried tomato and sweet potato. yum!

our local food store - tiny, but still having several options for dairy free milk, including my favourite organic coconut milk. amazing! plus, the old guy who ran the store was so nice, he'd let me touch and taste the fruit and veg, and gave me a good price on everything.

eating a fresh local orange in the most beautiful square in the city - a perfect holiday moment.

pear tart with a cisk lager - a brilliant afternoon in sunny Gozo, and a great end to the holiday. i've discovered a taste for beer that i have matured into in the last few months - plus, as my brilliant boyfriend wasn't there to have one, i felt i needed to try the local delicacy so i could explain what it was like :)

so that's Gozo for you - i highly rate it on list of destinations, and i think a family holiday will be booked out there again in the spring... we'll wait and see. i'd certainly love to go back - i came home so rested and relaxed, and i swear i could feel the vitamin d coursing through my blood stream from all that sunshine!

how are you all?

currently listening to: feeling this by blink 182

Friday, 15 June 2012

broad bean omelette and homemade mezze

so, it's friday! i'm so looking forward to the weekend - going to see Blink182 in Birmingham with my incredible man, and then visiting my lovely dad for father's day. it should be epic.

it's been a long time since i was in Gozo, but i realised i hadn't shared any of the photos with you... and i figured you might appreciate seeing what the cute little island off Malta has to offer...

firstly, let me show you the most amazing and comfortable summer sandals i will ever own. i wore my saltwaters every day in Gozo.

the island is full of veg growing, and much of it's own produce is kept within the little island and sold to local stores or sold at markets. broad beans were in season when we arrived (all that good sunshine!) and courgettes were already available too. so what better thing to do than make a very tasty omelette for dinner?

i love visiting markets and food stores when i go on holiday. it's amazing to smell, taste and cook with local produce - and you really get a sense of the culture through what they grow and sell. that's why we almost always have a little self catering unit when we go abroad... i can't help but cook!

sometimes when you're on holiday you've just got to have a little icecream. and if you're going to have just one the whole holiday, then choose wisely. i went with extra black chocolate ice cream (minus the wafer). so good. a perfect holiday moment.

our villa had a beautiful pool, albeit a little cold in the spring, and i enjoyed a mezze platter of fresh chopped veggies with the most delicious hummus (they're all about the chunky hummus, which i adore) and cured parma ham. scrumdidlyumptious.

and also, when you're on holiday, you should always try something a little weird. step in marinated tiger prawns and giant squid. they pretty much just tasted like garlic. but that's ok, because i rather like garlic.

it's also important to indulge in a little local custom. coffee and cake in the church square is very traditional,  and given my new-found love of cappucino, i partook in this morning ritual on several occasions :)

so there's a few more to come in the next post, with fresh local Gozo cheese, delicious oranges, and maybe even another photo of my saltwater sandals (the most photogenic shoe in the world)!

anyways, how are you all? i hope you are getting more sun than us here in the south of england - wettest June for years i imagine.

currently listening to: feel the love by rudimental

Sunday, 10 June 2012

breakfast coleslaw and fresh raspberries

hi lovely people! how are you?

i have just got back from a trip to Guernsey - where i spent the Jubilee weekend with my mum, eating lots of French bistro food (highly garlicky - yum!) and searching through the island's charity shops for bargains (of which i got many).

for my first trip to the channel islands, i was pleasantly surprised by how quaint and untouched it was. i somehow expected something rather grand, overbuilt and pretentious, but it's not, despite the high price of the houses and the cost of living. it's well worth a visit if you want a good walking, hiking or biking holiday, as the coastal paths are tremendously beautiful.

so onto my recent eats and treats:

breakfast coleslaw - this is basically grated carrot and apple with sliced mandarin, raisins, cinnamon and yogurt. so so good, and lasts ages in the fridge. that's blatantly going in healthy breakfast recipes take #2.

especially good with a cup of hot rooibos.

prawn mayo salad on rye bread at Ikea, followed by a cup of peppermint tea. not too shabby at all.

the beautiful moody sky near the hospital where i went for my regular check-up. there was a very beautiful gypsy pony in the field too - bad weather can be rather stunning, don't you think?

puy lentil hot salad stir fry with tahini lemon dressing. highly rated, and so tasty! basically get anything from your fridge, chop it small and stir fry in coconut oil and a little cumin or mixed herbs. cook up some puy lentils, and then add them to the mix.

fresh raspberries = heaven. and a very good way to end any day.

how did you spend your Jubilee weekend? have you ever made sweet coleslaw?

currently listing to: only love by ben howard

Sunday, 20 May 2012

lunchbox week #04

happy weekend everyone - hope yours is going very wonderfully indeed :)

i've had a lovely time catching up with friends over brunch, pottering in the garden and relaxing with my mum. it's been super chilled, and i am now fully energised for the week ahead.

thanks for all your compliments on my lunchbox series so far - it's so good to share my food with you all, and it means that i don't settle for a second-rate sandwich lunch. so, here are my latest eats:

mushroom and tomato salad on homegrown greens, with broad beans and a plum. and a prawn cocktail from Tesco (really not tasty at all - note to self: always make your own).

cucumber and peppers with fancy houmous (again from Tesco's, as it's literally just round the corner from work), and half an avocado.

baby plum tomatoes, half a red pepper, half an avocado, one mandarin and a carton of coconut water. decadent, but delicious. i've now got into the habit of buying the big ones to keep in the fridge for drinking each morning.

another Tesco lunch - a red pepper, baby corn and sugarsnap peas, houmous (i only ate one of the trio pack), and a hot sausage from the deli counter. just to show you that you can eat healthy, creative and tasty food from a superstore at lunchtime - it doesn't have to be just sandwiches.

so, that was rather an unprepared week - rather busy and full, and the lunches ended up being a bit slapdash. oh well, they were tasty!

what are your latest eats? and do you ever get lured in by the hot deli counter in superstores?

currently listening to: the sound of the washing machine and the birds tweeting in the garden. i must go out and start sowing some salad seeds - i bought some asolo salad mix and some french sorrel from work, and i can't wait to eat them in a few weeks!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

strawberry quinoa porridge and tahini brussel sprouts

hi everyone! i truly hope you are all well and happy.

life is ridiculously hectic, but in a very good way indeed. i'm really busy with my new job at sarah raven, which i adore. in fact, right now, i'm sat writing this post in Sussex, as I visit Sarah's farm at Perch Hill - the most beautiful vegetable and flower cutting garden i've ever seen, and the tastiest lunch (oh my word, wild garlic pesto, rhubarb tart with stem ginger cream, viola and mizuna salad, tomato and ricotta cannelloni!).

so, life has been treating me rather well, despite the miserable English weather we have been experiencing. my wonderful man and i went to the isle of wight on saturday for the day. we visited the garlic farm to taste chutney and have a ride on a tractor, and the beach hut for a scrumptious crab ramekin with a spectacular beach view (both are definitely worth a visit if you're ever on the island).

so, onto my latest eats and treats:

strawberry quinoa porridge - a great breakfast with a huge dollop of greek yoghurt. i popped some frozen strawberries in with some cooked quinoa and a sprinkle of cinnamon. so good.

even better with a hot cup of green tea.

for lunch i ate a very filling scramble with becon, peppers, dill and an olive salad.

for dinner, a large plate full of brussel sprouts, onion, spinach, mushrooms and tofu, stir fried in a little coconut oil and topped with a tahini, lemon & honey dressing. OMW (oh my word).

this was seriously good.

a very beautiful view of a steam train going past whilst i was walking Bruno one sunny evening... it even sounded it's horn! magical.

and now, for those of you who haven't seen it yet, my latest YT video... here's where i share my favourite things of April with you, including showing off my fave foods :) of course tahini is involved.

so, what's new? what are your favourite treats of the season? 

currently listening to: classic fm - whilst sat in the b&b after a busy day of filming... i am so blessed to have a job i love!

Monday, 23 April 2012

frozen banana whip and kippers for breakfast

hey everyone - how was your weekend? mine was really rather lovely. i spent some excellent time with my wonderful man, and enjoyed a little sunshine, shopping and catch up with friends.

i'm so happy that i can continue to be creative with my food with my full time job. in fact, i find it really fun to anticipate my next meal, and plan for the days ahead. so today, i was thinking about the amazing sweet potato wedges and broad beans i would have for dinner, and figuring out how i could get even more colour in my lunch box tomorrow... (not sure that's possible - you'll understand why soon)

at the start of my job, everyone around me said i'd be too tired to do any cooking at all - and it kind of got me upset and angry. until i realised that most people don't actually like cooking - i'm rather unusual (not a surprise) in that, cooking and creating food actually gives me energy! it's a passion, and i love it.

currently eating:

kippers (smoked herring) and marmalade on toast - yes, this sounds weird, but it's a time honoured combo. and if you have boys/men in the house, they'll absolutely love it. simply heat the kippers under the grill, and serve on hot toast with some homemade seville orange marmalade. classic.

brussel sprout and bacon hash with kale, onion and a large serving of houmous. incredible. especially with a mug of rooibos for afters.

some beautiful flowers brought by my man on my return from Gozo - it turns out the English wildflowers are similarly as beautiful as Gozetan ones.

spinach tofu scramble with curry spices, broad beans and onion. and a drizzle of tomato ketchup of course.

banana whip. when i had a cold a couple of weeks ago, i discovered something rather fantastic. if you freeze a banana in slices and then pop it in a mini food processor with a little vanilla bean paste, you get something very similar to ice cream!

technically all you need is one ingredient too - but you can of course mix it up and get a little experimental with it - either way, this is the healthiest "ice cream" ever, and the easiest non-dairy frozen dessert in the world...

vanilla banana whip (or dairy free ice cream)

1 medium banana
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste

1. slice up the banana, and arrange on a sheet of non-stick baking paper on a freezer-safe tray.
2. place in the freezer overnight.
3. either place these in a separate freezer bag for later use, so that they take up less space until you want to use them, or continue straight to step 4.
4. place the frozen banana pieces in a tiny food processor (i use the attachment that comes with my hand blender), add the vanilla bean paste and then whip until it turns into "ice-cream" - you'll notice when it's ready by a notable change in the tone of the machine.
5. enjoy straight away, with a sprinkle of dark chocolate nibs, drizzle of honey tahini or dash of ground cinnamon.

this is such a good snack for when you're feeling a little under the weather, and it'll bring a smile to your face, and your body will be well pleased too because of the excellent nutrition that just 1 banana contains...

this is such a food blogger thing to do, but it's so easy and so cheap, that i can see me keeping frozen banana slices in my freezer over the years for any future cravings.

does cooking give you energy? do you have fun anticipating your next meal? have you ever tried frozen banana ice cream?

currently watching: the hairy bikers bakeation - the food may be totally off-limits for me, but they are just such good tv presenters that i can't help watching it!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

lunchbox week #03

hello everyone - i hope you are well. i am back from Gozo... i had a really lovely and relaxing time with my family, and enjoyed the sunshine and delicious fresh vegetables.

before i share my delicious holiday photos with you all, i wanted to give you the latest lunchboxes that i've been enjoying at work:

beetroot, ham and a shredded carrot salad with coriander, tomato, celery and cucumber. 

beetroot, homemade houmous (i love my tiny food processor!) and a bacon cucumber salad with basil, radish and tomato.

beetroot, sliced peppers and a grated radish, cucumber, basil and tomato salad - so fresh!

meatballs, pepper slices and a gherkin, chive, tomato and cucumber salad.

leftover chicken and a plum, with sliced cucumber, peppers and celery. very good.

amazing - this was a very good eating week at work! i'm really loving my job at sarah raven - so much fun and i love learning about the systems.

currently listening to: follow you follow me by genesis - a classic that my dad introduced me to.