Cooking

Starting Anew.

I keep disappearing from the blogworld and I’m really sorry! As I said in my last ‘This Week’ post, I’ve really not been very well at the moment, I can’t lie, I’ve been struggling to keep my head above the water and carry on going. Most days I just want to stay in my pyjamas and bury myself into my bed with a hot water bottle. I can’t explain exactly what is wrong, or understand why I feel so awful, but most days I wake up aching, feeling like I haven’t slept at all, I have a constant headache and I feel incredibly shaky and weak. It is not a pleasant feeling!

But moving on from that… Yesterday and today were somewhat exciting and nerve-wracking for me – I had my introductory lecture at my new university and I met my personal tutor. All seems well, the place was packed and the atmosphere was buzzing with the general excitement of freshers. Of course, I’m not really a fresher (freshman to any US readers!) as I’m transferring into second year but I can appreciate how they feel, I was there this time last year, plus I feel their anxieties with being in a new place.

I start lectures of Monday and I have butterflies in my stomach. I’m looking forward to studying again but I am pretty nervous!

Here’s to starting anew :-)

I’ll leave this brief post here as I’m going to curl up in my duvet and read for a bit before I give into the exhaustion. I just have to share photos of the absolutely delicious meal we had for dinner this evening:

 

 

Chicken, plums and noodles with a soy, chilli and almond sauce – so so good!

This Saturday Tom is coming to visit me so I’m just holding out for that, we  might go for coffee in the afternoon and then we have plans to have a lovely relaxing film night at home. He knows just how to help me recuperate :-)

What are your weekend plans?
Favourite meal of the moment?

Anything new happening in your life?

Currently…

Reading… 

 Still Moby Dick! It’s taking me absolutely forever to read, partially because it’s pretty long and really descriptive, partially because I’ve really not been very well since last Sunday evening which makes it really hard to read. I’m almost there though, about another 150 pages to read so hopefully it’ll be done by the end of the weekend! I am really enjoying it though, I’d definitely recommend it (as long as you’re not a really slow reader haha). My next book planned is Great Expectations and I’m also finishing off The Waves by Victoria Woolf.

Listening to… 

Ben Howard’s album Every Kingdom which is so lovely and relaxing. It’s quiet enough to not make my constant headache worse and it’s helping me to feel a little more laid back about everything.

Watching…

I don’t watch a huge about of TV but at the moment there are three programmes that I watch weekly and absolutely love. The first is the series 2 Broke Girls which is hilarious and always gives me the giggles on Thursday evenings, the second is the new series of Location, Location, Location which I love – Kirstie Allsopp is fantastic, and finally the third is my favourite of all: The Great British Bake Off! Every week it gives me the urge to get in the kitchen and bake, it’s my perfect show to snuggle up in bed and watch when I’m feeling a bit under the weather :-)

Eating…

Nothing sweet… If you haven’t seen the post about it then you might not know that I decided to say no to sugar for the week (apart from fruit) to give my body a chance to recover from a couple of rather over-indulgent sugary weeks. I was fine for the first five days but today what with not feeling great I’ve really wanted a slice of toast with honey or a bowl of ice cream! There is currently a new pot of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream waiting in the freezer for me and I can’t wait to buy myself a pot of Nutella on Monday ;-) It’s the only thing that has kept me going today!

Loving…

The way that Poppy sits at the table with me every morning for breakfast and then comes and curls up on my bed next to me for most of the day. She’s such a little cutie. I’ve also been loving the fact that the colder weather we’ve been having means I can start wearing lovely woolly knitted jumpers! They’re possibly one of my favourite things to wear and they are so comfy for poorly days.

What are your currently-s?

What I Ate Wednesday No.43

 

Yup, it’s another Wednesday and this week I though I’d join in with the WIAW happenings thanks to the lovely Jenn!

Often I don’t really join in with the theme set for WIAW but I really like this theme, it fits in especially well with my week off sugar. The comments have been somewhat divided between those of you who either have already done a sugar cleanse or eat very little sugar, and those who say they couldn’t/wouldn’t ever give sugar up! I have to say, just because I am taking the week off doesn’t mean I’m planning on giving up sugar permanently. Firstly, I adore traditional baking (and eating traditional cakes!) so that would suffer, secondly as I said yesterday I believe in balance and honouring your cravings.

 

My breakfast is the meal of the day which holds the sweetest indulgence for me this week! I always top my weetabix with fresh fruit and I think that because I haven’t been eating any extra sugars the fruit tastes extra sweet.

 

It’s funny but while I can’t indulge in one of my favourite food groups I seem to have turned to another: pasta. I’ve eaten pasta almost everyday this week! My favourite dish has to be this one – whole wheat pasta, rocket, cherry tomatoes and pesto. I feel a little like I am clinging on to the taste of summer, not wanting the longer days to disappear. Having said that I’m really excited for the autumn, I love everything it brings, the change of seasons, the cozy jumpers and boots, the comfort foods, the warm fires, the blanket reading sessions…

Because I’m not eating any sweet things I’ve been eating a little more to compensate for the whole in my diet :-P This means that I eat more at meals but don’t snack so much. All I had as a snack today was a slice of toast with butter and marmite which is actually very pleasant – it’s definitely a comforting autumn snack for me.

This isn’t actually what I had for dinner this evening but it is another of my little autumn hearty meals. It’s also quite similar to the lunches I’ve been eating, only put together in a different fashion ;-) These have a very original name… Pitta Pizzas. The base is a whole wheat pitta bread, it is topped homemade spicy tomato sauce, a sprinkling of gruyère cheese and then fresh rocket leaves. They’re super easy to put together, especially if you have pre-made a big batch of sauce (which can be frozen in tupperwares) and only need about 15 minutes in the oven.

All in all I think I’ve been eating pretty well this week, what does surprise me a little is that whilst mentally I miss my sweet treats, I don’t actually physically crave the sugar as much as I thought. I had thought I might feel really bad for not having it but the only times I really feel like eating something sweet is when my energy really plummets. It’s interesting to be able to analyse my relationship with sugar although I’m not particularly surprised!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?
Do you find it interesting to analyse your body’s cravings for certain foods?
What sort of treats do you crave the most?

Home Comforts.

Although in many ways, transferring to my new uni and living at home again feels a little bit like a step backwards, there are many perks of being back here. For starters, I am fully aware just how lucky I am that a) my parents gave me the option of coming back when I was too ill to continue, and b) that home is somewhere I am happy to return to. I know that not everyone is in my position! Here are just some of nice things about living at home again:

1. One of the most obvious positives about being home is having the company of my family! My sister and I have always been close and in the last few years we have become more like best friends. I know I can tell her everything, we support each other when things are tough and we also have a lot of laughs together :-)

I love this girl!

The support my family gives me is great too, last week I had a couple of evenings when I just felt exhausted and a bit rubbishy, this is when having my parents and sister around me becomes so helpful and comforting. They help me out with daily tasks and they keep my morale up!

2. I’m not going to lie, one of the great things about being home is the food. (It had to be didn’t it!)

Firstly, having dinner cooked for you on most days is lovely when you’re under the weather on a regular basis and it also means you get to eat more varied (and more luxurious) food than when you’re cooking for one on a budget at uni. Dishes like this one:

Chorizo and gnocci isn’t the sort of thing you get to eat much of as a student!

Secondly, I have a fully equipped kitchen at my disposal which means one thing to me: baking :-) I absolutely adore baking, no surprises there, particularly when the autumn months are coming in, it is starting to get a little colder outside and you want a little comfort for chilly afternoons. It’s one of my goals for the autumn is to bake on a weekly basis as much as I can, I want to work my way through some of my bakery cookbooks and I’m so looking forward to it. I’ve started off with this lovely creation:

Although it might not look like much, but this was an absolutely wonderful plum cake from my favourite Primrose Bakery cookbook. The next goods I want to try are white chocolate and granola cookies from the same book, as well as blueberry muffins from a Mary Berry book…

3. Comfort. When I’m in pain, or feeling exhausted, or just wanting to curl up and read or watch TV, being back at home means I can do it complete warmth and comfort. If I’m not tucked up in my lovely, soft double bed, I’m curled up in the little reading spot my mother created in the study.

This is the chair my mother used to sit in with me as a baby :-). It has been covered and is so comfortable to sit in, plus I love being able to watch the world go by out of the window.

4. Opportunities, in many difference senses. There’s the closeness of both town and my new university so I can just cycle in easily enough. There’s the ease of travelling to London by train to go visit Tom which is great. I’m going to visit him this Saturday and I can’t wait to see him again and have a look round his new flat! There is also the fact that I have everything near by, there are shops, cafes, the gym etc all within 20 minutes of me so if I ever want to get out of the house, I can do so without much hassle.

There are many other little perks of living at home again, these are just a few of the main positives. I won’t lie and say that I feel 100% brilliant about moving back, I want to move on in my life, I want to grow and “leave the nest” but whilst I can’t I am determined to make the most of my last year or two at home and take advantage of the pros of living here!

Here’s to a positive attitude :-)

If you’ve graduated, have you ever had to move home? How did you feel about it?
What are the positives of living at home with your family?
If you’ve moved out from your childhood home, what do you miss the most?

Almost There.

Goodness has this been a really difficult week! The weather has gone from mediocre to pretty damn awful – the skies are permanently gray, the temperatures are those of Autumn and it rains every day, sometimes in torrents. The children this week are a particularly difficult bunch. They seem completely unable to think for themselves and are pretty useless at listening which means we (the play workers) spend our day repeating ourselves and doing half of their work for them so we’re all feeling a little worse for wear. And I have a six-day week…

It’s quite exciting in a way but at the same time I wish I could move it forward a week: a few of the girls my sister works with at the cafe can’t work on Sunday so her boss asked her if I’d be interested in filling in (she knows me now – I spend enough time in there haha!). I figured it would be fun to see what goes on behind the scenes plus you never know, it could lead to a job opening in a few months/a year when I’ll hopefully be a little better on the fatigue front. I love that cafe so I’m definitely more than willing to help out!

Today was a really really long day, especially as the cold and rain meant we had to stay inside for most of the day. My wrists hurt from cutting out so many tiny cardboard shapes for the children’s cardboard Victorian shops and houses. They’re very sweet creations but my gosh do they create a lot of work for me!

I spent most of the day watching the clock and hoping for 4pm to swing round as fast as possible. Tomorrow is my last day and whilst, as I said in my post the other day, I’ve enjoyed my work and it has brought a lot to my summer, I am sincerely looking forward to the end of it and to having a couple of free weeks. Hallelujah ;-)

As you may have seen on Twitter/Instagram earlier today, while I was out at work a huge package arrived for me, full of… Books! They are for my course this semester but despite being assigned books I am really looking forward to reading them, several of them have been on my to-read list for a while and lots of them look really good. I still have another massive order which should arrive in the next few days.

 

I’m starting with Herman Melville’s Moby Dick for my American Literature module which I have wanted to read for a long time and I have high hopes for. Has anyone else read it?

I spent the afternoon alternating between being curled up on the sofa with my mum and sister watching Celebrity MasterChef, and being curled up in bed reading my new (and rather intense looking!) copy of Moby Dick.

Dinner was just what I needed, my kind of comfort food:

 

Of course my love of pasta is rivaled only by my love of courgettes with chili and garlic! So so good and exactly the thing to make me feel a little warmer inside. I just can’t quite believe we’re already having to say goodbye to the summer…

Anyway I’m off to bed as I need to be reasonably energised tomorrow morning for my last day of work. So so relieved.

What has your week been like? Long or more relaxing?
What are you reading at the moment?

What I Ate Wednesday No.40

First off I think I owe you all a bit of an explanation. I promised that during my holidays, when I was no longer abroad, I would be posting more and would be more present in the blogworld, commenting on all of your posts and replying to everything.

I don’t really have any proper reason for my disappearance. For the last couple of days I haven’t been feeling that well and today after waking up more exhausted than when I went to bed I decided to cocoon myself in my room. I have been reading, watching Location Location Location and Gok Cooks Chinese, knitting my scarf (now finished!), decorating the front of my scrapbook and eating toast. I feel mostly better now and I can already tell the end of the week will be more positive.

My mood has also been affected by the fact that Tom left on holiday with his family for two weeks with the last time I saw him being Sunday. When he gets back I’ll be working and he’ll be house hunting in London so it’s going to be a difficult time for us. Both of us are moving forward in our lives and whilst it’s a little nerve-wracking it’s also an exciting time for us…

Anyway, enough of my rambling!

It’s time for a bit of food nosiness with WIAW.

 

Thank you to Jenn from Peas and Crayons for hosting this weekly blog link-up which allows those of us who love food just a little too much to stare at other people’s…!

One of my main summer staples is definitely fresh berries. Now I eat weetabix all year round but when most fruit is out of season I tend to have it with frozen raspberries but in the summer I love being able to eat delicious fruit with my absolute favourites being raspberries and blueberries.

This morning was mostly spent in bed reading the end of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and starting a new book on my kindle, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. I didn’t read much whilst I was away which is unusual for me, mostly because we did so much and I wanted to spend the time with Tom. However since being back and having the week off I’ve been diving into several books, next on my list are The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton and The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

As today was quite pleasant outside (not that I left the house) I went for another summer staple for lunch:

 

A lovely summery salad of rocket, cucumber, radishes, cherry tomatoes and chick breast with a lemon dressing. Delish!

This afternoon I finished off a scarf that I started knitting about two years ago and hadn’t picked up in almost as long, oops. I have to say I find knitting really therapeutic and restful. I’m really pleased with myself for finishing it and I have to say the scarf doesn’t look too bad!

I love wearing scarfs in the winter when it gets really cold and this one is so snuggly. Plus I’m not going to lie, the fact that I made it myself will make wearing it feel even better.

This evening’s dinner was actually pretty summery too, right down to the title – Summer Vegetable Stir-Fry.

This beautiful dish is a creation from my favourite cookbook, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every! It’s made up of egg-fried rice and a melange of green summer vegetables along with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and it’s wonderful.

All in all despite the day being a slight write-off in terms of energy levels but I’ve eaten some lovely food and still managed to do some nice things. Tomorrow I have exciting baking plans and I am determined to get in a bit of a workout to re-energise myself so fingers crossed I feel much better!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten today? And the best thing you’ve eaten this week?
Any exciting creative plans? 
I’ve been feeling quite inspired lately!

 

 

What I Ate Wednesday No.39

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through the week, working really does make the time pass so quickly. I love my job but it is so exhausting! Having said that working with children really is fascinating, we can learn so much from the way children interact with the world.

As you may have realised, today is Wednesday which in my book means WIAW! I know some people are a little bored of this pattern each week but I still really enjoy joining in with the other WIAW participants each week. As I’m slightly moving away from merely blogging my food, Wednesday gives me the opportunity to blog  all of my food and have a nose around other people’s eats for the day. I have to admit, I do enjoy taking photos of what I eat…

As always, thank you so much to Jenn over at Peas and Crayons for hosting WIAW, you must check out her blog if you’re a fan of photos of tasty looking food!

Breakfast today was pretty typical. I bet you are all incredibly bored of seeing my breakfast in its many, ever-so-slightly different incarnations, but here you go anyway.

Weetabix with fresh blueberries and raspberries – so delicious. It is definitely the perfect way to perk myself up in the morning, especially as sleeping in the heat we have at the moment is somewhat difficult so I’m a little more tired than usual.

I have to pack my lunch to eat whilst supervising the children outside so I like to take myself meals that are easy to eat, stuffed pitas, salads, etc.

I had what was left of the picnic’s pasta salad and added in more rocket, some tomato and cucumber which made the perfect light lunch to eat whilst working.

As I said, working with children is both a fun and a learning experience. Each child is so unique and has their own way of interpreting things, something that is especially clear when doing art work. Sometimes they misunderstand the instruction or else they decide they fancy doing something entirely different, either way there are always pieces which make us giggle as we round up their art at the end of the day.

Today we spent the day designing sombreros, creating them out of cardboard and paper mache, and then painting them in bright colours. It’s fair to say that only about half of the hats actually resemble sombreros. We like the children to do as much of their work without any assistance so there are many brims which are less than circular and there are a fair few incredibly lopsided hats. It’s all part of the fun though and that way they can say that they made them all by themselves. Another interesting thing is watching them choose the colours for their hats, I wonder what gives some of them a good understanding of which colours go together aged 6, whilst some of the older 9 and 10 year-olds pick the most random (and clashing) colour combinations!

I finished work at 4.30pm today and was pretty tired so dropped onto the sofa to watch TV for the first time in a while and to have a nap. Sleep feels so wonderful at the moment but I do really miss reading, I’m quite behind my target of books to read so I need to find the time. Luckily I always seem to inhale books when abroad so I’ll be taking a fully stocked Kindle to France next week.

Dinner was again eaten outside in the garden. I am in love with this weather, seriously.

Chicken Caesar salad. So so good. I’m really quite into my salads at the moment, hot weather always makes me just crave smoothies, salads and ice cream.

For dessert I didn’t have any of the latter so I went for the next best thing…

 

A strawberry cupcake. I’ve made these before and I am pretty sure they are the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. There is fresh strawberry in the actual batter, a little well of strawberry jam in the centre and the icing (or frosting to those from the US) is amazing. I may have had two. Maybe.

A rather excellent day of food in my opinion.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?
What kind of food do you like to eat when the weather is hot?
Have you ever worked with children?