March in review: We are running with this diary thing

It is the final day of March and I’m a bit dazed. It has been pretty non-stop, and April promises little chance of recovery as I head off to Kent on Friday to begin my steward work for Snowbombing festival – by the end of the week I will be in Mayrhofen, Austria, working 8 hours a day into the early hours of the morning, then hitting the slopes with my free ski pass. I’m a little bit (very very very very very…) excited.

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Cooking (quite badly) time; Butternut Squash Casserole

Cooking again. This time I danced to electro music whilst making a very easy butternut squash casserole. It was pretty chill. Now I am blasting Kanye whilst writing this, which is also pretty chill. I think I’m just chill. Maybe it is the detox pukka tea. Probably.

Back to food? I think that might be a good idea.

This recipe is vegetarian, gluten free and I don’t know. Dairy free? Yeah, it’s dairy free. I know people like these things. I just wanted to use a butternut squash.

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Cooking (quite badly) time: Bhaji Frittata

I am on a bit of a health kick at the moment, with a mad amount of juicing and salads, and none of that Christmas chocolate I have waiting for me for an occasional treat. To be honest, I’m really enjoying it and isn’t that much of a change to how I ate before, although I have had to think about everything I eat a lot more. But now it is becoming second nature to grab the spinach rather than the biscuits and I am really trying to challenge myself to see how far I can go with this health kick. We even got almond milk.

Today, I bring you a recipe. I must reinstate I am really bad at cooking, and you probably shouldn’t follow anything I say, but this was a bit different and BY GOLLY I WANT TO SHOW IT OFF. So keep reading if you fancy a bhaji frittata…

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Southern Fun; London, Halloween and Italian Food

I said I would do, so I did it. Here it is; my trip down south (*everyone applauds, fans screams, people faint etc…*)
The day after I got back from Cardiff, I was back on a train and marked my third trip to Birmingham New Street in 5 days. This time, however, instead of hopping on a train to the land of the Welsh, I hopped onto a Virgin train (ooh fancy) which headed towards London, as I was off to visit my ‘lavely’ friends and their ‘lavely’ dog. How ‘lavely’. Mel, Dave, Max, Leah and Willow. Can you guess who the dog is? (no, it isn’t Dave).

Here we go again.

Here we go again.

On the way to b'ham. Upper Crust and I are good mates.

On the way to b’ham. Upper Crust and I are good mates.

Isn't she gorgeous?

Isn’t she gorgeous?

The first full day was very chilled. Max, Leah and I went into the town centre for a bit and met up with Mel, but the miserable weather scared us off a little, and we headed back and made plans to see a film. So off to the cinema Max, Leah and I went, and we saw ‘The Maze Runner’. I haven’t read the book, and the only thing I knew about the film was from a book YouTuber who recommended the book – so basically I knew very little than the fact people are stuck in a maze. Needless to say, it was pretty good. Definitely was following that dystopian feel that we have seen through other franchises like ‘The Hunger Games’, but it was pretty different, and I quite liked it (I don’t like reviewing films too much, feel silly, let’s pretend that didn’t happen).

The evening we headed to Prezzo, and I was treated (thanks, guys!!) to a wonderful meal. I was very impressed with myself as I ate a whole calzone, then hazelnut covered ice-cream. Be proud, guys. Be proud. (Thank goodness I joined a gym, is all I can say). We went back, and Dave introduced me to Spaced. (I like it a lot. We watched a fair amount of Spaced whilst I was there.) I also wore my new heels that I got for a bargain and didn’t break my ankle, so it was just a night of successes really.

Sharing platter of yummy breads

Sharing platter of yummy breads

Phewf

Phewf

I don't like olives...

I don’t like olives…

The next day, we went to London. Ever since I went to London with some of my friends over the Summer, I have been dying to get back. I always liked London, but that trip just made me fall in love with the city. With it only being a twenty minute train journey from where my friends live, I had to go. So Max, Leah and myself got on that train and headed straight to Camden Market to have a wander. I really like the feel of Camden So many different people there, but all pretty chill. It is wacky and wonderful, and as someone who loves Affleck’s palace (which is just afflecks now apparently, who knew?) in Manchester, Camden feels like the ultimate extension of that, with it’s Gothic stalls and vintage corners. It is hipster central, but that’s probably why I like it so much. You can judge me, it’s okay, I just like kooky places (it is a well known fact that I am this ‘hipster’ of my friend group, I mean, I’m going to study French and Russian, I had no chance).

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Iconic, right?

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What size would they be?

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Pretty cool

Once we’d spent a little time in Camden, and I’d bought a scarf for me and my best friend, we decided to head for lunch. This meant catching a few tubes to Baker Street, and heading to Ask Italian. If you have never been on the tubes before, they can be summed up quite easily; hot, stuffy, sometimes very claustrophobic but incredibly fun and the best game of dot-to-dot ever. I really love working out which stations to hop on and off and what lines to get – I could ride around the tubes for hours if I’m honest. Plus I’m a nesh, so it is one of the only places that I am warm (the tubes and the staffroom at work).

Baker Street is such a wonderful station. It is ridiculously Art Deco and feels very grand, and you just want to take pictures of it and pretend all tube stations in London look like this (spoiler; they don’t). So here are some photos of Baker Street which is TOTALLY like all other tube stations. Definitely.

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Indi33

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There is also a really fat pigeon in this picture.

I thought I had more pictures than that. Awkward. You get the idea though, right?

Ask was, not surprisingly, fab. But that isn’t a shock, because I just love food a lot. I’m sure you’ve realised that by now, considering I talk about it so much. I’ll just show you pictures this time though, because I still have a lot to talk about, and FOR ONCE food isn’t my priority (is this still Rhiannon writing? Who is this imposter?).

GRAB THE DOUGHBALLS

GRAB THE DOUGH BALLS

Lasagne for Leah, yum.

Lasagne for Leah, yum.

Lasagne for Max, yum yum.

Lasagne for Max, yum yum.

They are the best.

They are the best.

Carbonara for me, yum yum yum.

Carbonara for me, yum yum yum.

After we had stuffed our faces, we decided to go see the poppies at the Tower of London, as we were lucky enough to be there for the run up to Remembrance Day. For some reason, I had it in my head that it wouldn’t be that busy. Half term. London. Once in a lifetime event. Really, Rhiannon? Needless to say, it was absolutely buzzing, which was lovely to see. The only downside is we didn’t get very close to the poppies, nor did we stay for very long. But it was truly stunning and such a wonderful tribute to those who died in WWI.

Poppies

Poppies

Busy at Tower Hill

Busy at Tower Hill

:)

🙂

After a lot of tube journeys (the circle line is the only line that confuses me majorily. IT ISN’T EVEN UNDERGROUND HALF THE TIME?!?!), our final stop of the day was Leicester Square, where we ate a lot of Häagen-Dazs ice cream. Phewf. Leicester Square was, as usual, busy and full of life, and was the perfect end for little day trip to London Town 🙂

Circle line has the modern tubes. It also doesn't stay underground. Circle line is so weird.

Circle line has the modern tubes. It also doesn’t stay underground. Circle line is so weird.

ice creammmmm

ice creammmmm

(I didn't finish it)

(I didn’t finish it)

And that concludes our little trip to London. Ah, I love London.

Later that evening Max and Leah went out to explorers and I spent my evening with Mel and Dave, where we went to the very swish hotel that Dave works to get a pumpkin (don’t ask). We actually ended up getting Cosmos. Pumpkins. Cosmos. It was a crazy night.

<3

Best selfie ever!

Best selfie ever!

My final full day was Halloweeeeeen. That apparently entailed Max and Leah sleeping in until the mid-afternoon, but I got a lot of my book read (you lazy fools). But as soon as they were up and ready, we headed to Tesco to buy lots of baking goods as we decided to spend our day baking some Halloween themed cupcakes. This had to be my favourite afternoon of all. Music on, us three in the kitchen making a bit of a mess (we cleared it up, don’t worry), singing loudly and making some slightly naff cupcakes (bar Leah’s)It was just a good laugh, and reminded me why we are all still friends after all these years. We all just get along so well.

Voilà

Voilà

Ooooh

Ooooh

Ahhhhh

Ahhhhh

The rest of the day consisted of preparation for Halloween parties. Which, for me and Max, mainly involved sitting around wearing moustaches, and then a lot of weird white paint (I am so, so sorry, Max). Then I went to a party with Max and his friends, who were all very lovely. They were all a bit younger than me, so I felt like that “cool, older person”, but I’m not that cool, and I’m not that old. It was good fun though, and nice to just have a laugh at a party for a change 🙂

Serious business

Serious business

"I look like Keith Lemon"

“I look like Keith Lemon”

Getting there

Getting there

DAT POUT. How cringey.

DAT POUT. How cringey.

hehehehehe

hehehehehe

bloomin' terrifying

bloomin’ terrifying

And that is it! That is my few days away… I FINALLY WROTE IT!

I really had the best time seeing them all, and I can’t thank them enough for having me there. Miss them already, and I hope I see them much sooner than another year (love you guys! x).

Aw, soppy.

The cliché blogging round up of the things I’ve learnt, or at least feel are notable enough to bullet point (because who doesn’t love a good list?):

  • Spaced is weird as heck, but a very good TV series.
  • You can NEVER have too much Italian food.
  • Naively thinking that just ‘a few’ people will go to see the poppies at the tower will lead you to be very surprised by the very full tubes and heavy security at Tower Hill.
  • Willow the dog is smaller than I remember, but just as lovely and cute.
  • Playing Ring of Fire with southerners is highly unfair when someone pulls a 9 and chooses the word ‘grass’ for me to rhyme with.
  • I really like travelling alone on trains.

(Gluten-Free) Passion Fruit Curd filled Cupcakes with a Meringue Topping

I’m a fan of baking cupcakes. I actually prefer baking them to eating them, which is a bit weird. Oh well.

It feels like weeks ago now, but last weekend a whipped up some vanilla cupcakes, filled them with some yummy passion fruit curd that we bought from a National Trust site over the summer and topped them with some meringue.

It is a dead simple recipe, nothing too fancy, so give them a go. You can use any curd you fancy, lemon would be so nice, mmmm.

Makes 12
Ingredients:
(For zee coopcakes)
110g/4oz caster sugar
110g/4oz butter
110g/4oz (gluten free) self raising flour
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
(About a quarter of a teaspoon of xanthan gum if you are using gluten free flour. Not integral but it does help.)

1. Oven on. Get it all warm so the cupcakes are nice and cosy later. Gas Mark 4.

2. Sugar. Butter. Mix mix mix. Get it nice and pale, and well combined.

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3. Eggs. Plop. Beat them into the mix like a crazy person. You could even put that vanilla extract in as well. I’m not forcing you to, but it would be a bit weird if you didn’t considering you’re following this recipe. Just saying.

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4. Sieve your flour and xanthan gum into your mix. Then fold them into the mix nicely. Don’t be nasty. Caress the flour with your big metal spoon. Wow. Nope, too far, sorry.

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5. Whack in some milk. Just makes it a nicer consistency for putting it into your cases.

6. Put them in some nice cases. Or ugly ones, they’ll still taste the same.

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Kay, cool. Let them bake then. Go on. Stop fussing, they’re fine.

They only take about 10-15 minutes WHICH IS AMAZING because in the space of like 30 minutes you can have cupcakes and that is fab. You could start making some meringue is you wanted. And you could do some tidying. But I don’t know, you might have a cleaner or a dishwasher. I don’t have either of those things. Life is so hard.

Meringue recipe. I don’t remember what I did to be honest. I think I just did:
2 egg whites
200g caster sugar

Let’s go with that.

7. All you do is whisk the eggs until they form stiff peaks. Which is baking terms for it goes proper thick and stuff.

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8. Then add your sugar bit by bit. Don’t add it all at once, just take your time. Keep whisking for about 2-3 minutes. Don’t eat it all before you even put it on the cakes, I know it is tempting.

Leave your meringue, and go and take pictures of your dog.

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9. Once you’ve done that (it is integral to the recipe I swear) check those cakes. Are they baked? Stick a skewer and see.  Is it dry when you take it out? Woooo. They are done. Let them cool on a wire rack, and make sure they are completely cool before doing anything else.

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10. Once they have cooled, make a little cone in the centre of the cake and take it out to make a hole. That makes no sense. Just have a look at the pictures.

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11. Fill them with your curd! You can stick the tops back on keep them off, up to you.

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12. Time to use that meringue. If you have one, get a piping bag and fill your piping bag up with meringue. Make sure to fold your piping bag so that your only filling half the bag and not getting into a sticky mess.

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13. Pipe your meringue onto your cakes (if you aren’t piping, just spoon it on). I also used a round nozzle because I’m a fancy pants.

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14. I didn’t have a torchy thing so I just stuck my cakes under the grill for a bit to brown them. I kept leaving it too long so some are a little… Darker… They tasted finnneeee.

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And that’s it!!

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If you read my recipes expecting a cohesive structure… I’m sorry.

Gluten (Flour) Free Orange and Almond Cake

I love a bit of cake. I love baking them too. Saturday afternoon I decided I would make a completely flourless cake, using ground almonds as a substitute. I had two oranges, so orange and almond cake it was!

Orange and Almond Cake
What you’ll need:
2 Oranges
5 Eggs, separated
200g Caster Sugar
225g Ground Almonds
Flaked Almonds to top
Icing Sugar to dust

1. Get your two lovely oranges, give them a wash and cut them up roughly with the skins still on. Remove all the pips.

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2. Plonk them in a small pan, and put some water in. Some recipes say add a little water, but I’d say fill it up quite a bit so the oranges don’t burn. Let that simmer for around 30 minutes, or until the excess liquid has evaporated.

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3. You separated your eggs? What do mean not yet? Get on with it! Whilst you’re at stick your oven onto gas mark 4.

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5. If you’re oranges are nice and soft, and they look ready then take them off the heat, let them cool, then chop them finely. If you can put them in a food chopper or food processor and blitz them almost into a purée, even better.

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6. Leave your oranges to fully cool, we don’t want scrambled eggs. Next up is whisking that egg white until it forms stiff peaks. I did this by hand because I’m crazy and my arm felt like it would fall off slightly, but feel free to use an electric mixer or whisk.

7. Then add half of your sugar (100g) into you egg white, and whisk that in. Keep whisking for 3-4 minutes.

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8. Get those egg yolks and the rest of your sugar, and whisk them into a think, pale mixture.

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9. If your orange is cool put it into the mix, then add the ground almonds and mix them in too.

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10. Then add 3 tablespoons of your egg white, and mix it in to loosen the mixture. Then add the rest in and fold gently.

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11. Put it in a tin. I don’t know how big. Whatever you think. Make sure you grease it or use baking parchment. Scatter on some flaked almonds and stick it in the oven for 50-55 minutes.

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12. After 20 minutes check your lovely cake. Ask it how it is doing. If it says “ooh I’m tanning quite quickly actually” and it seems to be getting that lovely brown glow all cakes long for fairly quickly, place some tin foil over it. Don’t want to over tan, it’s not a good look.

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13. 30 minutes later, see how it is doing. Stick a skewer in the middle and if it comes out dry, your cake is done. Woohoo! Turn off your oven because I forget to do that sometimes and get told off, and keep it in the tin for a good 10-15 minutes. Then turn out your cake.

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14. Once it has cooled down fully, dust with icing sugar… And that’s it! Eat that cake!

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Adapted from this recipe: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2758/spanish-orange-and-almond-cake.aspx 🙂

Happy baking!!

Cooking (quite badly) time: Gluten-Free Salmon Fishcakes

Cooking time again- probably not a good thing though. I’m bad at this. But I made salmon fishcakes and they were quite nice. Filling though, phewf. Warning: this is the most confusing recipe ever due to how I ramble on a lot.

(Makes 8 fishcakes, which I thought would be small but they weren’t so be warned.)

1. So I started off with some gluten free bread to get some breadcrumbs ready for later. I wanted them to dry out a bit, so I thought I’d do them first (thinking ahead, I know, look at me). I used 150g-ish, cut them up a bit, then plonked them in the food processor, chopper thing we have. I don’t know, it was just really fun to use.

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2. I stuck on the oven to gas mark 4 to get nice and toasty for my salmon, then I got a pan of slightly seasoned (I just chucked some salt in cause I thought I should) water on heat so it could boil for some potatoes. Woohoo, potatoes. So then I peeled about 4 and a half potatoes and chopped them a little, and took an artsy photo of my potatoes, before chucking them into the boiling water and letting them do their thing for about 30 minutes.

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3. Before I got my salmon ready, I got the zest and juice of half a lemon prepared. Then another artsy photo.

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4. Time for the salmon. The oven was nice and hot, so I brushed the salmon with olive oil, and a bit on the tray because I have no idea what I’m doing half the time, and plonked it in the oven for about 25 minutes. Yum.

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5. Whilst I was waiting for the salmon I tidied up a bit and then put some salad on my plates ready for serving (told you, definition of preparedness). Then I got the salmon out and let it cool before flaking it and discarding the skin. I couldn’t find any bones to discard, but I wasn’t wearing my glasses so who knows.

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6. I totally forgot to mention that I mashed my potatoes up, whilst the salmon was cooling. Added some milk and seasoned them, but didn’t do too much to them really because I’m useless.

7. Then it was time to get the mash, salmon, 2 tbsp of melted butter and 2 tsp of wholegrain mustard and mix it all together. I didn’t have any parsley or dill which I wanted to add, so I had a little cry and thought about my life choices, then got on with the cooking. It is a hard life when you don’t have parsley and dill.

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8. Then I added that lemon juice and rind from before and seasoned the mixture, then did a bit more mixing. Which felt like baking so I enjoyed it.

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9. Got some gluten free plain flour, the breadcrumbs and a slightly beaten egg and put them out ready for the messy part…

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10. … Which starts by diving the mix into 8 balls then squashing them into thick disks. Again, felt like baking so I enjoyed it lots.

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11. Once I made my cute little disks of fish and potato, I dipped each one in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs and look… Fishcakes!!

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12. So the scary part is actually frying the fishcakes and I’m totally going to blame the gluten free bread for the slight failing of the last step, even though it was more so the fact that I didn’t put enough oil in or something. To fry them you just heat some oil in a frying pan then in batches plonk in them fishcakes.

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13. When they are all crispy put them on a plate and voilà! I cut up the other half of the lemon into wedges to serve and mayonnaise was also really tasty with it, so yeah. If you like mayo, it is nice.

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They were tasty, I promise.

😉

Liverpool and the Gluten Free Pasta

My parents and I decided we needed a day out today, so we hopped on a train to Liverpool to have a bit of a wander and a browse. How quaint. I’m a fan of Liverpool, and when people slag it off I get a bit protective for some bizarre reason. It is the nearest city to where I live, so I visit it fairly regularly, and after trips away, when I reach Liverpool, on my return, it feels like I’m home (I know, how cliché, but I’m all about the clichés on this blog apparently).

I needed some more work clothes so nipped into Forever 21, because I love it a lot, and got some bits and bobs. I had to avoid the top floor however, because it has a massive jewellery section and I want all of the necklaces. I’d take some pictures of the clothes, but they aren’t actually anything too exciting, and I’m quite lazy. (I did get a pair of lovely trousers though, which actually look alright on me, which is rare. Woo! Crazy times, I’m living in the future wearing trousers instead of skirts for once.)

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Have a picture of a bag instead.

I also ended up buying ‘The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden‘ by Jonas Jonasson, the author of ‘The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared‘. I have no idea if either of them are good yet, but I’ve heard great things about Jonasson so I’m looking forward to giving it a read. Anyone read any of his books before?

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Next stop for me was The Body Shop as I fancied trying a new foundation, and ended up buying a BB Cream and a Primer. I really like the products so far, hopefully they will last in the (sweaty) clubs! (I don’t feel I could carry off reviewing make-up; I love make-up, but posts purely on make-up don’t sound like something I could write about. My calling is not for beauty!) Would you like some pictures of some BB Cream and Primer? No? Tough, I took pictures.

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Oooooooh

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Ahhhhhh

Quick note: Pret à manger does some really nice mango/passion fruit smoothies and coffees. That’s all.

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That was my little shopping hall… Yeah. Hope you enjoyed that. Needless to say, my debit card got a bit of a battering today. I’m going to talk about food now, which I much prefer talking about. Time to get hungry.

So we decided to go to Carluccio’s in the Met Quarter (if you don’t know Liverpool, it is like the posh bit. Living the high life, guys). Going to Italian restaurants with someone with coeliac’s is always a bit rubbish, as my dad usually ends up with very little choice, but this time we were pleasantly surprised. After asking for a GF menu, he was handed with this beauty:

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LOOK AT ALL THAT FOOD! Never seen a GF menu so full of choice, my dad was like a little kid at a sweet shop (cliché central here, I’m telling you).

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Food wise, I’ll just show you some pictures. I’m tired, and the food looked so lovely that it pretty much speaks for itself (hint: it was all very tasty).

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Paté for my mum and I, so tasty.

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Chargrilled sardines for Dad, yes that is a starter.

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Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli for mum and I (little bit too salty, but the pasta itself was gorgeous)

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Gluten Free carbonara, it was amazing

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Panna cotta for mum

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Fruit salad for dad

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Crazily tasty almond and kahlua chocolate pudding for me

Hungry? Wait, look at these cool meringues that you could buy too.

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Farncy.

I know, I was impressed too. It is a lovely restaurant, and felt very relaxed, I definitely recommended it, especially if you have a gluten intolerance.

This post was a little bit strange to write, probably stranger to read, but hopefully it was interesting in some way. We had a really lovely afternoon out, and I just felt like writing about it. Hope everyone has had a lovely weekend 🙂

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Chicken’s feet at a Chinese feast

Last night, my boyfriend and best friend came round for a homemade Chinese banquet that had been promised to them for quite a while. It took two days of preparation, but I think the end product was totally worth it.

Step one to the ultimate Chinese banquet: If you can’t get to China to have the real thing, nip to Liverpool instead to buy lots of ingredients. Simple. Everyone either lives near China or Liverpool right?

My parents and I ventured out for the day on Saturday to prepare for the mighty meal. Our first stop was Costco which is a place where it has so much stuff that you didn’t realise you needed until you see it (meaning, you probably didn’t need it at all). It also has a lot of free samples. Within 30 minutes I’d had a smoothie, some pineapple, some apple pie and cream, a minted lamb burger and some wine. And if that wasn’t enough food, we ended up buying ridiculously unhealthy food for lunch… There is something about Costco that made us turn into massive consumers (ha, punny).

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Damn you, tree.

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So much stuff.

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It tasted much better than it looked.

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Yup, hot dogs.

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Some caramel ice cream thing we shared between the three of us.

Next up was the best place ever; the Chinese supermarket. Both the weird (at least in our western eyes) and wonderful is sold here, from yummy hello panda chocolate filled biscuits to jellyfish and pig uteri. Yum.

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What a place

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Stocking up

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So much Chinese food

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Very… Chinese?

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Anyone know what this is? I had no clue.

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Jellyfish!

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My dad was very amused by this.

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Chicken’s feet, yes we bought some.

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Mmmm, my favourite.

Our final stop was Tesco, which I wasn’t going to mention until I found these…

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Oh my word.

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No but look.

With which I ran through Tesco to find my dad who has coeliac’s and we got very excited (these are the joys of knowing a coeliac, you get very excited about gluten free cereal).

Step two to the ultimate Chinese banquet: Chop pak choi, shred lots of chicken, zest some lemons and make some soup.

My mum and I stood preparing the meal all day yesterday, and the evening before for my mum. It is a pretty long process but definitely worth it, although my mum’s hatred of chopping what felt like thousands of spring onions might make her disagree.

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Prepared belly pork.

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Set that table!

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There was a little accident with some corn flour…

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Making the lemon sauce.

Step three to the ultimate Chinese banquet: Eat it!

The meal was plentiful. We started off with the chicken and sweet corn soup, with prawn crackers which I mainly made so was very happy when it was actually pretty nice. We also had some lovely jasmine tea.

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Soup

Next up was duck and pancakes. It was very hard not to stuff ourselves with them, but we kept warning the table that there were still many courses to come, so all paced ourselves.

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Duck!

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Wrap it up

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Everyone loves duck

The next course was perhaps the one with the most mixed feelings. Siu mai, spicy dumplings and chicken’s feet. Siu mai is my favourite Chinese dish of all, but the chicken’s feet are always… Interesting. It isn’t that they taste bad, it is just that your realise that you are nibbling on a chicken’s toe and suddenly they seem less appealing…

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Bit scared before trying the dishes…

My mum then brought out some more dim sum in the form of cha siu bao which are Cantonese style pork buns. I’m not a fan of them, and my friend was a bit indifferent to them too. My boyfriend and parents love them however, so they still disappeared.

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My dad told my boyfriend that cha siu bao translates to ‘fluffy little balls’ and he wasn’t sure whether he was winding him up or not when he saw them.

Onto what was classed as the main course; lemon chicken, braised pork belly, egg fried rice and sugar snap peas. It got us well and truly stuffed. Then my mum brought out some kung pao prawns too… Phewf.

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Lots of food!

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Pork belly is so good.

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A very messy table.

So that was the main meal, and after a chill in the living room for a bit we made some room for desert which included strange green tea jelly, lychees and pandan cake balls (I love unusual Chinese deserts!).

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How sweet is this jelly in a cup?

So all in all it was a fantastic evening and worth all the hard work, I hope!

What is your favourite Chinese dish? Have you ever had homemade Chinese food?

Thank you for reading!

A very posh (belated) birthday present – Day 2

Today was the day to actually see Oxford properly, and wow, it is stunningly British. Sandstone buildings everywhere, and I love a pretty building. To start our day off we went to the Westgate Shopping Area, which was literally 2 minutes from our hotel (everything seems very close in Oxford, but somehow it doesn’t have that slightly cramped feeling that I feel Cambridge has), and got sausage/bacon barms and hash browns, and did a bit of people watching whilst we sat outside eating them.

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“Pose with your sausage butty”

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Westgate

 

Then we went off to the main part of the trip, the Oxford River Cruise. Yes, it was as fancy as it sounds. A sweet little boat was slowly filled with people celebrating various wedding anniversaries of anything from 20+ years, and then us two awkward 18-year-olds come along,  trying hard to seem as classy as the rest of the people on the river cruise. But we were the only ones to know who Philip Pullman is, as our very posh boat driver (who insisted he “didn’t really do school” then quoted a Hopkins poem by heart) quizzed us on various famous authors who had lived in the area, so we were basically the genius couple of the boat. Obviously.

The cruise was very lovely; 2 and a half hours of beautiful Oxford meadows along the Thames, including a stop off at one of the quaintest pubs I’ve ever been to. It was very chill (in fact it got quite cold, oh the hilarity!) and our tour guide/boat driver had the best beard in the world, and seemed to know an awful lot about… Well, everything (but he definitely didn’t do school).

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The boat, aw

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I am actually quite scared of horses, but from this distance they are great. But only from this distance.

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Crazy. The freezing cold Thames does not equal a great swimming opportunity.

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I wonder if the first goose has any idea where it is going.

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Gorgeous pub!

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#creepy

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People used be a lot smaller it seems…

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Hey there, cutie.

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Oooh, pretty

After the very relaxing afternoon on the Thames we went to be even more British. Scones and a pot of tea seem to fit the bill, right? After stuffing our face as we usually do when we have the chance, we decided to work it off a bit and climb the gorgeous Carfax Tower. Now, my boyfriend had been up the tower before and insisted it was an amazing view of Oxford, but from the ground, the tower didn’t actually seem that tall. However, I think Oxford must be on a slight slant because blimey was he right. What a view. The best thing about the view, in my eyes, was that I could pinpoint exactly where I wanted to head next; the area where the gorgeous sandstone buildings seemed to accumulate, because like I said before, I love a pretty building.

Yum, yum, yum.

Yum, yum, yum.

The most typical Oxford picture you could take.

The most typical Oxford picture you could take.

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Blimey

 

Up Carfax Tower!

Up Carfax Tower!

It was even better in real life.

It was even better in real life.

Smile!

Smile!

The area I wanted to go to :)

The area I wanted to go to 🙂

My boyfriend is scared of heights, so he didn't like taking this photo.

My boyfriend is scared of heights, so he didn’t like taking this photo!

Now what do we all think of when we say Oxford? The university, of course (I mean, maybe, I’m not trying to make radical assumptions or anything…)!! I was a tad insistent that we had to visit at least one college whilst we were there as I feel if you go to Oxford, it is shame not to. So, we stumbled upon Trinity College, and went in free of charge to have a wander around the grounds and pretend we were super smart Oxford students for a while. I have to say, Oxford Colleges are very impressive. Trinity, in particular, has absolutely gorgeous grounds and YOU CAN WALK ON THE GRASS!! (When I visited Cambridge, you couldn’t walk on a lot of the grass areas, so I was highly impressed by this because I’m a bit strange). We also got to go into the dining room, which was of course like a mini Great Hall from Harry Potter, with amazing portraits hanging on the walls that made it seem so medieval. But nothing beat the chapel. A small, but somehow very grand chapel, this beautiful room had the most stunning wood carvings and a fresco that reminded you of how traditional the collegiate system is. Oh my, the resonance in that room was breathtaking too – what I would give to hear a choir sing there!

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Stunning!

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The dining hall.

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That’s something out of a Jane Austen novel

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Look at that fresco!

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I am a little bit in awe of this room

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More stunning grounds

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#livingthestudentdream

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Triwizard cup?

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She gets it.

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🙂

Our final trip of the day was to one of my favourite restaurants ‘Las Iguanas’, which specialises in Mexican, Spanish and Brazilian food. So basically the best food ever. We decided to get the tapas option and buy five dishes to share, and it was definitely a fantastic decision.

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You seen those nachos?

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Chuffed

So the final menu of the night was as follows (get ready to be hungry):

  • Totopos (Spice-dusted corn chips) with tomato salsa to nibble on, yum
  • Nachos with Mexican smoked chipotle chicken (Decidedly THE BEST NACHOS EVER, and we eat a lot of nachos between us)
  • Gambas (Prawns, om nom nom)
  • Pato Taquito (“Rich shreds of roast duck & caramelised onion rolled in a flour tortilla & char-grilled, with a spicy cranberry salsa”)
  • Spicy Chicken Quesadilla
  • Chorizo in a spicy tomato sauce

Las Iguanas was a hit, and a perfect way to end our lovely time in Oxford.

What is the most ‘British’ thing you have done? And quite on the opposite end of the spectrum, any other Mexican food fans?

Thanks for reading! 🙂 x