Monday, 1 August 2011

*pokes head in to day hello*

I've been a bit rubbish at keeping this blog up haven't I? To be honest, I've not got much to say today, but this Wordle image shows that I have had a fair amount to say in the past....


Wordle is a nifty little website. You give it a selection of text or a URL and it produces a word cloud of all the words used. Some of their colour schemes are a little boring, so I customised mine, just because I like bright pastels!

I like how "trying" appears to be my most used word. It certainly says a lot. I *am* always trying, I just rarely succeed....

Monday, 4 July 2011

Top ten keywords

I've just had a look at my Google Analytics and here are the top ten keywords that bring people (albeit not many) to my blog.

1. beckerovka
2. "keep stale dry bread in a metal tin, taking care"
3. avocado lime cheesecake
4. banana loaf recipe
5. beckerovka home
6. color beckerovka
7. confessions of a hypochondriac
8. feline coconut milk drinking
9. plodding personality
10. pomegranate and teeth

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Smoooothies

IMAG0132 by **amanda*jane**
IMAG0132, a photo by **amanda*jane** on Flickr.



Yesterday I discovered Xanthan Gum. I read quiet a lot of healthy eating type blogs and everyone swears by this stuff for making smoothies nice and thick.

My first experiment didn't go so well because I hadn't realised quite how little you need!!! I put two teaspoons in and it completely clogged the blender and made a rather oddly tasting inedible lump.

Smoothie number 2 with about a quarter of a teaspoon was much nicer!!!!

Into the blender I put

1 banana
Some milk (regular moo milk)
two handfuls of spinach
1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum
1 teaspoon smooth whole peanut butter
1 teaspoon Nutella
squirt of almond flavouring
6 ice cubes

if I'd had more soft fruit I'd have put it in there but our strawberry crop is still growing and I'd eaten the only ripe raspberries on the bush already!!!

This photo is one I made quite a while ago. I completely forgot to take a photo of the new and improved version until I'd finished the lot!!!!!

The funniest thing about Xanthan Gum is trying to wash it off a spoon. As soon as you get water near it, it turns into slime (which if you're strange like me is quite fun to play with!), but you just can't wash it off easily! I've left the spoon to soak. I'm not sure my sister-in-law is going to have been very impressed to find it in the washing up bowl!!





Monday, 20 June 2011

Banana Bread the revenge...

I posted a banana bread recipe a while ago and have to admit to being slightly addicted to it. It's just SO easy to make, especially for someone who is irrationally terrified of baking.

I've made a few changes to the recipe each time I've made it (adding cinnamon, cocoa and random other bits and pieces and using muffin tins instead of a loaf tin) but yesterday I decided to use half the recommended amount of butter and substitute the other half for coconut oil. In hindsite I should have warmed the oil up a little because at room temperature it's solid and not very easy to work with so I actually ended up chopping it up into little pieces as I'd already started mixing the wet ingredients.

Anyway, the result was fantastic!! You can't actually taste the coconut (until next time when I add some dessicated coconut to the mix) but it has a completely different texture, almost chewy, which I really, really like.

Next time I'm going to add some dessicated coconut and possibly (though I'm not sure about this), some crushed pineapple and make a totally tropical loaf :)

Friday, 17 June 2011

Just be yourself

I've lost count of the number of times I've been told this over the years. "Stop trying to impress others", "stop trying to be one of the cool kids", "just be yourself and they'll like you for who you are".

But to be honest, after many years of trying to be someone else, I've rather lost track of who I am. Even now, I look at myself and think "who do I want to be?". I'm 35 years old, I'm not a kid any more. I'm married and on the verges of starting my own family and yet I still feel I have no idea who I actually am......

I'm sure this can't just be a "me" thing. I'm sure other people must try to be something they're not a lot of the time.

There are a couple of people on my bloglist who *do* inspire me and I *do* want to be very like them. They're both a little older than me and despite their ups and downs, they're both strong women living their lives the best way they know how and keeping to their own priorities despite what the media throws at us all.

Goodness, that sounds quite silly and gushy really, but all I'm trying to say is... oh piffle, I'm not sure what I'm actually trying to say, I'm just saying it.

Edited to add: Sometimes I get sidetracked and recently when I've been trying to write a blog entry, I just end up on such a tangent that I don't know how I go there (in my head) or how to get back. Often, it's just easier to let the words fall out of my mouth and see what happens.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

I do still exist...

I've just not been very "talky" recently. I feel like I'm doing exactly what my blog title says, "plodding along" and to be honest, that's not very interesting at all to anyone...!!

A and I are trying to be good and watch the pennies. It's no secret that in the past I've had a serious shopping problem. I used to buy things I didn't need on an alarmingly regular basis because I thought they'd make me feel better or because if I only had "that jumper" or "that skirt" or read "that book", I would automatically become a better person. The sort of person I would like to be.

I've realised (very slowly I'll admit) that the things you own don't make you the person you are and won't make you the person you want to be. It's got to come from inside and that's just something that you can't buy.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Flavour Explosion!


My sister-in-law came back from New Zealand yesterday and bought back some lovely treats for us. Some bath salts with mud from Rotarua for me and some chocolates for A and I to share. My favourite of these chocolates was Pineapple Lumps which are little blocks of pineapple flavoured marshmallow covered in chcoolate.

The description for them is:

Back in 1935 who would have thought a goofy flavour combination of Pineapple and Chocolate could work so brilliantly? Kiwis did, and a good job, too. That's why our Pineapple Lumps™ lolly is a national treasure.

I have to say that despite being very dubious in the beginning, these little sweets are AMAZING!!!!

I do now have to see if can find a company in the UK who sell them... Mind you, looking at my finances today (and the fact that I don't get paid for a week and a half), I might be putting Pineapple Lumps on hold and trying to be as *good* as possible...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Blogging


I go through phases of the types of blogs I read. Just recently I seem to have added hundreds of heathly living blogs to my google reader. I call them "oatmeal bloggers", a term coined on a forum I sometimes frequent and a term I rather love. I mean it in the nicest way because to be honest, I LOVE reading what these girls have to say, how positive they are about healthy eating and healthy living (and oatmeal!).

It's actually inpired me sompewhat. I've been married for seven months and on Lithium for six months and in that time I've put on a LOT of weight. Whether this gain is caused by the Lithium or just plain gluttony, I don't particularly care, I just want to shift a fair bit of it in a healthy way.


Now, here's the kicker. I HATE exercising!! I used to play badminton at least once a week for about two hours at a time but I've got lazy in my old age and now I actually get puffed walking up the stairs at work. I do go cycling once a week (or once a fortnight) and do on average 12-16 miles but in the grand scheme of things that's not really a lot. A and I had a plan of cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats but I chickened out pretty much immediately. I do however want to do *something*. Anyway, most of these bloggers that I read go running. My view was always "I don't run unless I'm being chased" but maybe these girls are onto something. Maybe running could be "my thing". I do need some trainers though, I haven't had a decent pair in years so that might cost quite a bit but I guess it would be worth it if I can make myself actually run (and to be honest, if I've bought them I'm more likely to do it).


And breakfast, I am going to HAVE to start eating breakfast. Normally I'm in so much of a rush in the morning that I run out of the house without eating anything an then just have a Nakd bar at about 10am but if I get into the habit it's got to be better for me. Heh, this could be the start of a new me :)


PS - the oat photo isn't mine, it's from Chocolate-Covered Katie

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Shopping (or not)

For someone who is trying harder than she ever has before, a day at Bicester Village is not ideal. It's an outlet shopping centre in north Oxfordshire and whilst I can appreciate that there are a lot of "bargains" there, they aren't my type of bargains!!! I used to be the type of girl who thought that spending £50 on a top was ok "because it was reduced from £200" but I'm not any more!! Still, it's what my mother-in-law wants to do for Mother's Day.

M&E are in Palm Springs for three weeks and did tell me not to bother buying a card in advance because it was a silly waste of money!! I really appreciated that, made life just that bit easier...

Wish me luck with the not spending any money!!!

Edited to add: Yikes, they have a Cath Kidston shop at Bicester. This may well be fatal. Please have faith that I have enough strength just to look and not ruin all my hard work!!!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Inspiring Lady

I just wanted to link to a blog I found recently which has swiftly become by favourite. http://frugalincornwall.blogspot.com/ "Froogs" is an inspiring lady and posts regularly about saving money, debt reduction and frugal food and I can't say enough about her. I think she's an amazing woman and like I said before, really inspirational.

I'm currently working hard to be as frugal as I can be (those who know me will laugh and laugh at this because I used to have a terrible shopping habit and racked up a serious amount of debt). Having someone out there who is "doing that and wearing the (second hand) tshirt" is really handy. It makes me realise and remember that it IS possible to eat well on a budget and that it's not necessary to have the latest gadgets or latest fashions.

This doesn't mean of course that I'm well on the road to frugality, I'm still only really teetering on the pavement but you've got to think of the future and as it is, *things* just aren't getting any cheaper. Pretty much my whole disposable income (the money not set aside for bills/mortage/foods etc) goes on petrol at the moment.

I highly recommend you check Frugal Queen out, though she has posted recently that she might be closing her blog soon so catch her while you can...

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Banana loaf recipe for really ripe bananas!

(really easy to make)

6oz self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 ripe bananas (the riper the better)
2 oz butter/margarine
1 egg
5 oz caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp salt

1. Sift flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.
2. Mix (wooden spoon, whisk or blender..) bananas, egg, sugar, butter, vanilla essence and salt until smooth.
3. Add flour and bicarbonate of soda and combine.
4. Bake in a lined loaf tin for about 40 minutes at 190 deg Celsius (375 deg Fahrenheit).


My boss gave me this recipe from one of our helpline calls and I'll agree with the comment about it being easy. Also, not being a person who really likes bananas all that much (especially once they've gone speckly), this is perfect for using them up and it doesn't taste of nasty banana, just nice banana.

I will post a photo of my own banana bread (assuming I make it as far as picking up the camera without eating it all!)

Monday, 14 March 2011

Garlic and Bread Soup


This is a good way of using up a special loaf, such as rye, spelt or sourdough, that’s got a bit stale. Keep stale dry bread in a metal tin, taking care to ensure that it is moisture free. This can be done by putting it on a plate and leaving it overnight on a radiator.

By Caroline Marson

Serves 4

1.5 litres chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon Salt Salt
8 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
A handful of chopped parsley
Black pepper
25g grated parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Instructions

In a large 3-litre saucepan, heat up the chicken stock and add the stale bread, salt and garlic.
Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the parsley and black pepper.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and top with a generous sprinkling of cheese and a swirl of virgin olive oil.

Clay Pot Onion Soup



Clay cooking pots are effortless to use and don’t dry out food. In fact the food that is cooked in them tastes wonderful! You don’t necessarily need to add more fat or liquid so this method of cooking is also good for you. Any recipe can be adapted for cooking in a clay pot and it is a good way of using up leftover food.

The pots or chicken bricks need to be soaked for 15 minutes in water before use and when they are heated in the oven, steam will evaporate slowly during cooking, and the food inside will release and cook in its own juices.

Although this recipe is cooked for 2 hours, you can leave it to cook without any worry. Once everything is thrown into the pot, the top goes on and into the oven, giving you more time to do other things.

By Caroline Marson

Serves 4

6 large onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
25g butter
A sprig of thyme Herbs
Ideal for seasoning pastas.

Instructions

Soak the clay pot for 15 minutes and drain. Put the onions and garlic in the pot and dot with butter. Cover and place the clay pot in a cold oven. Set the oven at 200°C (400°F) mark 6. Cook, stirring once or twice, until onions are light brown, about 1 hour.
Sprinkle the onions with thyme. Pour in stock and wine. Cook, covered for 1 hour. Season to taste.
Near the end of the soups cooking time, toast the bread. Float the toasts in a single layer over the soup. Sprinkle with cheese. Increase the temperature of the oven to 230°C (450°F) mark 8. Cook the soup uncovered for 10 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Meh


I'm having a major downer at the moment. I was quite strong with myself a couple of weeks back and decided I wouldn't stand on the bathroom scales every day (it's been a bad habit of mine for a long time, when I was sick, I'd stand on them at least four or five times a day and freak out if the number had increased). This is quite a big thing for me and I was really proud with myself that I managed it for so long and that I've actually been enjoying food (probably a little too much, but it's been nice eating what I want and not knowing what the scale would say afterwards, it's been rather freeing).

Then this evening I decided to stand on the scales and I've put on nearly 10 lbs since I last checked. TEN POUNDS!!!

How on earth did that happen????? Well, gluttony is the answer I guess. Pure unadulterated gluttony :( I know that I shouldn't put so much emphasis on my weight and appearance but sadly it's the society we're in. Skinny = successful and fat = lazy. I'd like to live in a world/society where it's the person you are who matters and not what you weight or how you look. I don't like being so superficial...

To cheer me up though, I thought I'd post a couple of pictures. A and I took a friend to Beale Park last weekend and had a lovely day. I didn't take many photos because I only had my camera phone (which has a rubbish zoom), but here's a selection:

These ducks were so relaxing to watch. Most of the other ducks and geese were making a racket, but these two were just peacefully bobbing around.

Everyone likes Meerkats, *simples*


This little guy was only about a day old but refused to stay still for long enough to get a good photo.




Friday, 25 February 2011

Video

I'm not sure if this will work, but I took a video on my phone a few days ago of Chaos. I love YouTube videos, in particular the ones of Alaska the Siamese because she reminds me of Chaos, and Chaos actually likes them too and *normally* talks back to the computer (except for the one time I take a video of her).



Anyway, here you go for your viewing pleasure...



And here's a link to Alaska's mummy's YouTube page
http://www.youtube.com/user/otterwhiskers


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Talent

I would give anything to have just a tiny weeny bit of talent or artisticness in me. I have many friends who I admire to the point of hero worship and I just want to be able to give to them what they give to me, but I can't. I'm just me and I'm nothing special.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Nutty feline

My cat appears to like Kara dairy free coconut milk. I think this is a good thing because she loves cows milk but the lactose doesn't love her.

Also, this is my first post from my mobile phone. If it works expect more blogginess!!!!


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Sad

Why has there been a whole sweep of people making their blogs private or invited reader only?!?!

I generally read or subscribe anonymously so people aren't going to know that I'm a regular reader (and very un-regular commenter) so it's sad that I'm missing out.

I understand of course, I know it's not nice to not know who is reading your most intimate thoughts but meh, I feel all left out.... Silly really.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Winter fooood

Well, writing a simple "sorry I've not been round" post has promtped me to write more. Weird huh?

I've been trawling around loads of foodie blogs lately to try and find some nice (and healthy) recipe ideas. No, I'm not going to try and go vegan again because I know how popular that move was last time I tried but I do want to try and cut doen the amount of animal products I eat. I don't know to be honest, I just want to be more healthy and so much I've read has pointed to the vegan (or at least vegetarian) diet but making the transition wouldn't be easy, especially with a husband at home who likes his meat (he is a fan of "rabbit food" too I might add, just not all the time).

Anyway, I've found two winter warmer recipes that I am dying to try...

Yotam Ottolenghi's herb soup recipe


Serves six.

5 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tbsp dried mint
500g baby spinach
25g parsley (whole, leaves and stalks)
25g coriander (whole, leaves and stalks)
1200ml vegetable stock
200g Greek yoghurt
10g fresh coriander leaves, chopped
10g fresh mint leaves, chopped
5g fresh parsley leaves, chopped
200g feta
Salt and black pepper

Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté for around five minutes, or until translucent and soft. Stir in the turmeric and nutmeg, fry for a couple of minutes, then add the dried mint, spinach, the whole parsley and coriander leaves and stalks, and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season, then blitz the soup with a liquidiser or stick blender until smooth.

When you're ready to serve, reheat the soup just to boiling point and pour the yoghurt into a bowl. Whisk a ladleful of hot soup into the yoghurt, stirring constantly, and repeat with a couple more ladles of hot soup, then tip the yoghurt mix into the soup and whisk in. Stir through the chopped herbs and crumble in the feta, reserving some leaves and cheese to garnish. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Pour into soup bowls, sprinkle over the herbs and feta, and finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry


Serves four.

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, 6-8 inches high, peeled and diced with seeds scooped out
200g spinach, washed and excess water squeezed out, chopped
1 tin chickpeas
1 tin tomatoes
1 tin coconut milk
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped. More if you like it very hot!
thumb size amount of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
A handful of chopped fresh coriander
Half a lemon

Spices:

1 tbsp cumin seed
1 tbsp coriander seed
1/2 tbsp turmeric
8 black peppercorns

Method:

Grind the spices in a pestle & mortar.
Fry the onion until translucent over a medium heat in some oil (sunflower or groundnut are my choices).
Add the garlic, ginger and chilli for a minute or so.
Add the spices for a minute or so, you’ll start to smell them as they temper.
Add the butternut squash and coat in the ingredients in the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the tomatoes and coconut milk, and cook for 10-15 minutes until the squash is cooked and you can push a fork through it.
Drain the chickpeas and add to the sauce. Also add the spinach.
When the spinach is wilted and the chickpeas are warmed through, add the coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice. The lemon juice lifts the flavour nicely, taste as you go.
Salt to taste and serve with rice and/or flatbreads

Monday, 31 January 2011

Been a long time

I'm sorry I've not updated this blog recently. Married life has kind of taken over and to be honest, I've felt a little uneasy share things in a public access blog. I always get glum in winter anyway, so I can use that as an excuse too, maybe as the weather brightens up I will too...