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Photo Party!


I didn’t have a blog post for this week. I made a cake! And every single photo I took of it looked like I’d taken it with a toy camera. So, that wasn’t going to work. I took a look through my Instagram feed, and turned up a few photos that never made it blogward. I thought I could try a bit of a photo party with those – it’s a new idea for me, but let’s give it a whirl.

First of all, it’s been my birthday! I managed to carry the celebrations over a few days, starting with a surprise cake when I went out to dinner with my work buddies. That sneaky lot. I had a load of cards, including one depicting me as a monster playing drums (so true to life), and my mum made me the traditional Smarties cake. I’m one lucky blogger.

I’m more of a cook-at-home kind of gal, but sometimes (especially hangover times) I like to get out and have someone make me a sandwich. There’s a place near my flat called Siempre, and the G man and I head down there every so often to check out what their menu’s up to. This is a Vietnamese style chicken sandwich with a cup of curried chickpea soup. Not pictured is the fruit smoothie that actually does help a hangover better than Irn Bru does. Sometimes I still have the Irn Bru, because sometimes you need to drink ten teaspoons of sugar suspended in a bright orange liquid.

What have I been making? All sorts of things! I tried one of those curry kits – not something I’d usually pick up – and I have to say that in twenty minutes I had a pretty good curry, as promised. I did, of course, mess about with the directions and serve it with noodles and gomasio sprinkled over the top. It’s very brown, and not the prettiest to look at – much like that photo of the brown risotto. It was mushroom and asparagus, made with real chicken stock, and I made it with my special risotto spoon. Did you know that risotto spoons existed? They do.

I also made these raspberry cheesecake brownies, from Joy the Baker’s new cookbook, and Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Laksa. That’s another recipe I messed around with – I’ve made it a few times, and it’s great for getting a quick fix of veg when I feel like I haven’t been eating enough. This iteration had a lot of green veg, including mange tout, asparagus and broccoli. So good. I think I snuck some leftover broccoli into the salmon pasta up there – that was a real ‘what’s left in the fridge’ dinner. And, yes, that’s a bowl of popcorn up there. It’s not fancy, it’s plain old microwave popcorn. I’m intae popcorn these days.

Selvedge Yarn

Wool! Well, yarn. This is made of the scrap edges of fabric, which would otherwise go to waste – I’m part of the upcycling movement now, you know. I haven’t made anything from this yet, being utterly preoccupied with my peacock blanket (42 feathers done!).

Oh, go on – a photo of the current state of the peacock blanket:

Feathers

I have six balls of the black and red yarn to work with – I was originally thinking a cushion cover or covers, depending how it knits up on 12mm needles, but I’m wondering now if I could fashion some kind of punky waistcoat. Sometimes life is one long string of decisions.

I’ve been making purchases, also. These are three that I thought worthy of Instagram – a limited edition artichoke and smoked ricotta pesto (it was good, but I missed the basil), a pot of Lucky Charms (exactly as awesome as I remember) and a book of writing exercises and prompts that I found for 99p in a charity shop. It originated in the library of Glasgow Uni, the uni I went all those years ago, so I feel like it was meant to be.

Mushrooms

I bought my dad a mushroom growing kit for Christmas, and after a few months (and without any preamble), he sent me this picture. How cool?

The world’s driest lime and the world’s largest naan bread. It’s been a mixed bag. That lime, though. Soooo dry.

Cleaner vs Lighter

Things not to get confused on oven-cleaning day.

Care Box

My pal Amy had to move away from the UK to the US, and neither of us is especially happy about that. However, it *does* mean that she could send me this amazing care package. I’m savouring it and trying to make it last – I have cheesecake plans for those graham crackers. I also object to it being pronounced ‘gram crackers’. What? Are people not called Graham in the States?

Found at Work

Finally – people at my work are pretty serious about their mugs.


Foodie Penpals April 2015


My first reveal post in a long time, and it’s a beauty. My parcel came from Egle in Lithuania, and she sent me so many things!

 

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For the most part, the contents of my parcel were new to me. Egle also included a note to let me know what she’d chosen:

 

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Cute paper! I don’t know if you can read it, but towards the bottom of the page it says ‘special sweets from blood’. I did a double-take, and then a triple-take, but it’s true – hematogen is kind of a health bar, which contains albumin from bull’s blood, and is rich in iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin A.

 

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It tastes like an energy bar – the kind that’s made of dried fruit and is really chewy – but with a hint of, well, iron about it. I didn’t eat it all in one go, I must admit, but who knows? Maybe it still did me some good? This is probably the strangest thing I’ve had in a parcel, it was really exciting to try it! In the picture above, it’s next to a little bar of chocolate, with Egle’s home city on the front. This I did finish in one go – one bite, practically…

 

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Another Lithuanian treat was a little boule of black rye bread. It doesn’t seem to have gone stale, despite the time it took to get across the sea, plus the extra time it’s been sitting in my kitchen (it’s been a busy week) – I think I’ll cut it into croutons for a salad this week. I could also toss in some of this cheese, which seems to have a picture of a viking on the front:

 

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Normally I would advise against sending cheese by post but this stuff was vacuum sealed, and seemed none the worse for its journey. It’s tangy, mature and just a little bit fruity, plus it’s cut into little chunks already so you can snack on it. Do other people snack on plain cheese, or is it just me?

 

Something I haven’t tried from the box is this tomato and mushroom tapenade – I think that’s a reasonable word to describe it, though maybe ‘spread’ or ‘pate’ would be more apt. Regardless, I can see it being delicious on crackers, with some cheese, but maybe I could use it like a pesto? Or spread on bruschetta – oooh, or added to garlic bread! I’ll keep it sealed until I can decide. I like that garlic bread idea…

 

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Speaking of garlic, there was also a bag of ‘garlic crisps’ in my parcel. I opened them on Monday after a looooong morning and afternoon of travelling, and they are very much the kind of snack you shouldn’t open if you don’t want to eat the whole bag. I managed to stop half way through, but it was a struggle. They’re kind of like Kettle Chips, thick and crunchy, but not as thick as I expected from the packaging. They looked like little crouton slices – imagine my delight when they were even more snackable than I thought they’d be.

 

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They’re super garlicky, which is right up my street – I’m always putting too much garlic in things. Especially hummus, I am a fiend for garlicky hummus. They’re also called ‘bon chance’ which is fun, because it’s one of the few French phrases I know and when I’m pretending I can speak French this will eventually trot out of my mouth along with ‘il neige’ and ‘je joue au foot’.

 

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Another item I haven’t tried is this potato pancake mix. I’m saving it for a brunch, possibly with bacon and maple syrup, though the box suggests a healthier ‘fruit and yogurt’ combo. Or is that lingonberries and sour cream? I love it when I have to scour the packaging for English words, I think it’s loads of fun, and makes me feel like I’m really trying something different, and special.

 

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Linseed biscuits – these are dangerous. They are sweet, and buttery, but instead of chocolate chips they’re full of crackly little seeds. I love the texture of them, and found myself eating a few at a time, instead of just trying one as I’d meant to. I think they might also have oats in them? Safe to say, I’m enjoying them a lot.

 

The last thing, and something I can save for a day when I need an instant sugar rush, is this popping candy lollipop. Look how cute it is with its little bow!

 

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Thank you, Egle, for a wonderful parcel. It was so full of things that were out of the ordinary for me – though you may think they are completely normal – and I appreciate how thoughtful you were in finding me all these different snacks to try.

 

If you want to see more of the parcels from this month, head over to our Facebook page where you can see photos and maybe get to know some of us participants. Then, if you want to join in, here are the links:

To join European Foodie Penpals, click the link or go to the dropdown menu at the top of the page.

To join US and Canada Foodie Penpals, click the link.

 

You have until Monday 4th to sign up for May – it costs nothing to sign up except what you spend on your parcel. Go on, give it a whirl.

 


Foodie Penpals March 2015


Hi all!

It’s the time of month where we all share our Foodie Penpals posts with each other. Below is the link to our March Foodie Penpals linkup page. I can’t host it directly on my blog, as Lindsay used to, but this ought to do. If anyone has suggestions about how to make the linkup better (fitter, happier, more productive), please drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.

Please add your links as you wish!

 

 

Not sure what Foodie Penpals is? Let me tell you a little more about it…

  • Foodie Penpals is free to sign up for, and there’s a link a little further down so you can get started
  • Participants are matched to two people – one person to send to, one to receive from – on the 5th of the month
  • Penpals send thoughtful, food related parcels, on or before the 20th of the month. The parcels can include home baked treats, shop bought treats (especially local or unusual things), cake cases or decorations – use your imagination. The parcel must include something hand written – a note explaining the box’s contents, a recipe card, whatever you like. The price limit for the boxes is £10 – this is a limit, the point is not the cost, but the thought (no, really!)
  • Penpals open their boxes and rejoice!
  • At the end of the month, everyone blogs about their box, or writes a guest blog post if they are usually a blog reader and not writer. Everyone reads one another’s posts and rejoices some more.
  • You can take part for as long as you still want to – if you need a month off here and there, you can opt in and out as you like

 

You can find out more and sign up using these links:

Sign up before April 4th, and you’ll get your first matches on April 5th!


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