Brunch Club

Amongst the endless stream of chores, bills and responsibilities that come with adulthood lurk some rather lovely perks: Not being forced to eat your vegetables; choosing your own clothes; having brunch. As a teenager I would roll out of bed halfway through the day and just lay around in a fluffy pink dressing gown eating jam on toast and regretting my life choices thus far. My initial years of adulthood were largely spent doing things that I’d never had the financial freedom to do before such as going out for dinner and planning lovely holidays. Nowadays, I’m happy to accept the fact that my favourite place in the world is home and I love nothing more than being in my kitchen in a comfy t-shirt making friends and family something lovely to eat. I’m very comfortable with being an adult and to celebrate I invited my equally adult friends round for brunch expecting us to have very adult conversations whilst sipping tea from China cups with our pinky fingers sticking out. What followed, however, was nothing short of chaos.

It turns out that a host who isn’t actually that good at adulting, three friends with varying skills in both parenting and cat-parenting, a toddler, a newborn baby, an angry cat, a playful kitten and a really tiny dining table can create absolute carnage.

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I got off to a good start by setting the table with some nice cups and saucers for the tea, cute bottles with straws for the smoothies and champagne glasses for the water because frankly they’re the only type of glasses for which I have a matching set of four. Jess (expert mother of three children and three dogs, very little cat experience) got to work making everyone tea and quickly realised that the inept host (me) hadn’t thought to check the date on the milk and we were now faced with a dilemma. Jade (surprisingly good with children despite not being a parent, hates cats) drove to the shop that is a 30 second walk from my house with her Louis Vuitton handbag and tried to use a credit card to pay for a 90p bottle of milk in a cornershop that looks like it hasn’t changed since World War 2. Milkgate eventually involved Jade driving the 2.8 seconds back to my house, me begrudgingly having to go outside in my Ugg slippers to deliver change all in 10ps that I had scraped together from the back of the sofa, Jade going back to the shop looking like a tourist and finally bringing the milk back. All for Jess to never actually finish making the tea.

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We had smashed avocado on toasted rye bread with crispy streaky bacon and poached eggs to start. Normal bread wasn’t on the menu as Jade imposed her allergies on the rest of us but actually the rye bread was delicious. To make this most-basic-bitch-on-instagram brunch dish for yourself, just mash two avocados with a good pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice and spread this onto 4 slices of toasted rye bread. Top each toast with two slices of crispy bacon and a poached egg. I poach my eggs by bringing a pan of water to a gentle boil, adding a dash of cider vinegar and gently dropping the eggs in one by one from a ramekin. Cook for three minutes then transfer to kitchen towel to remove the excess water. You can drizzle the toast with some hot sauce to be extra hipster.

As we ate, Maggie (Jess’s youngest) decided to play in my vegetable trolley and throw my onions around the kitchen because that is of course the most fun one can have with onions and Bear (my kitten) took great pleasure in terrorising Jade. We’re all quite OK at this point and having a giggle about life before children and cats. Jess picks Bear up for a cuddle and drops him clean on his head. They say cats always land on their feet. That’s a lie.

The next course was a green smoothie. I made this by blending together 2 pears, one apple, a chunk of cucumber, two balls of frozen spinach, half an avocado and some apple juice until it was smooth with a vibrant green hue. We drank this out of dainty milk bottles with star patterned paper straws because I like to waste my hard earned money on shit.

Lulu (my older, grumpier cat) spends the entire time licking the cellphone wrapping of a gift that Jade bought round for Ellen (brand new human mum, experienced cat mum) because that’s her most favourite thing to do.

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We moved on to our final course, a rainbow fruit salad with honey orange dressing. I mixed together blueberries, green grapes, halved strawberries and chunks of mango and poured over a dressing made from a heaped tablespoon of warmed honey and about the same of orange juice. We had this with shop bought coconut macaroons and more chats about nipple pads, smelly nappies and cat poo. Bear decided this was the perfect time for cuddles and joined us at the table trying to eat a strawberry as it travelled from my bowl to my mouth. My friends decided to never come to eat again.

Brunch turned into a chilled afternoon involving the trivia game on the Google Home Mini, a selfie stick (yes they still exist) and a game of ‘put that where Maggie can’t reach it and the cats can’t lick it’. My house ended up looking like Changing Rooms had been in, with everything below hip level in a different place and onions in unimaginable locations. Teddy (Ellen’s baby: cute but does the smelliest farts) had some lovely cuddles and managed to leave with all facial features in tact despite Lulu’s best efforts. I had a mountain of washing up and a lot of gone off milk to dispose of but it was worth it for a lovely day of fun, friendship and food. This is adulthood at its most special and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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Speak soon,

Tania x

 

 

 

 

Dear Santa…

I have been a very naughty food blogger. Very, very naughty. I last posted in October and since then I have been pretty much living off takeaways and oven chips. It’s pretty hard to write posts for a food blog when you spend absolutely no time in the kitchen and have a diet consisting solely of fat laden carbs. The good news is that we are now on first name terms with the local Chinese delivery driver and sometimes get free prawn crackers.

I’ve moved house since my last post too. I lost my gorgeous Smeg fridge (came with the last property and had to stay behind) but am now living in such a lovely home. The kitchen isn’t quite as nice which may explain why I have spent less time in it. Actually, that’s just a feeble excuse for my downright laziness.

See, adulting is hard. I wish I was one of those super women who have all their shit together tied up in a bow. But I’m not. You know the women I’m talking about. They manage to spend a whole working day in a pair of heels when I can barely balance myself in a pair of trainers. Their hair and make up is immaculate whilst my friends use my shiny forehead as a mirror and I consider it fortunate for my colleagues if I’ve had a spray of the old dry shampoo in the morning. Super women finish work then spend an hour in the gym, still with immaculate hair and make up I may add, before going home to their perfect house and knocking up a quick quinoa salad to enjoy with a glass of merlot whilst watching Planet Earth and getting ideas for their weekend dinner party on Pinterest. I finish work, sit in traffic for an hour, get home, put my curry stained pyjamas on, order pizza and try to get through the evening without my cat scratching me. It’s a different world and I don’t know how people can be so held together all the time. This is basically a really long winded explanation of why I haven’t blogged. As Paddy McGuinness might say: no cooky, no bloggy.

However, it is now the 12th of December and that can mean only one thing. CHRISTMAS! I absolutely love everything about Christmas. I love the tree with its twinkling lights, I love the sense of excitement and anticipation everywhere you go and most of all I love the food. All the food. What better time to get out of my kitchen-phobic slump and get cooking up some festive treats. So Santa, can you forgive me for being a terrible food blogger, cut a girl some slack and maybe even deliver a little present or two if I promise to be better?

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Anyone that thinks this is a home made mince pie has just skipped the whole post. It’s from Aldi.

Burnt: A Film Review

If you have come here expecting a proper film review then you are going to be very disappointed. Very, very disappointed. Really, I’ve just found a new way to talk about my love for food and, even more so, my love for Bradley Cooper.

So, let’s start with the basics. ‘Burnt’ stars Bradley Cooper as Adam Jones, a troubled chef that hit the big time in Paris but ruined his life with drink and drugs. He moves to London to open up a new restaurant in search of the elusive 3 Michelin stars and hires Sienna Miller to help. Even after watching the film I don’t know what her character’s name was so will refer to her as Sienna Miller. In a nutshell, that’s the story. Obviously they fall in love after some initial plate smashing temper tantrums and I presume Adam gets his 3 stars. It’s not particularly clear when you watch the film but he definitely smiles at the end, actually the only time in the film, so we can safely assume it was good news.

The script, acting and plot were, in a word, dreadful. Some of the dialogue left Tyler and I looking at each other in amazement. I can only compare it to a primary school play. I usually really rate Bradley Cooper as an actor but his Gordon Ramsay style outbursts just didn’t ring true, neither did his blossoming love affair with Sienna. And all she did was cook fish. I did make it through to the end though, here’s how.

Reason One: The food shots were beautiful. I really enjoyed watching the parts of the film where dishes were being created and the camera work with these was really nice. It’s a shame there wasn’t a little more of these to be honest but then I guess I can always watch the Food Network and not have to sit through a terrible dialogue.

Reason Two: Bradley Cooper. Did you realise how blue his eyes are? I didn’t. His chef whites really made his eyes sparkle and I fell in love with him even more. And now I know he can cook, I’m besotted. Yes, yes I know it was only a character but leave me be ok.

Reason Three: Just Bradley Cooper again really. He has really nice arms, have you noticed?

If you are truly stuck for something to watch and you like food and fancy either Bradley Cooper or Sienna Miller then you can maybe try watching this film. But, if you’ve recently painted a wall and are still waiting for that to dry you could probably just keep an eye on that instead.

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Picture courtesy of IMDB.

 

How To Be A Better Cook in 5 Easy Steps

Want to impress your mates next time they come over to eat? Have a desire to prove to your family that you are indeed the best cook of them all? Well, look no further friends for here is how to become a better cook in just 5 easy peasy steps.

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1. Get to know the lingo. Don’t know your al dente from your al forno? Well, get to know. Talking the talk is everything in this game and even if your food sucks, you can convince people that it doesn’t by explaining it in the right way. Try saying things like ‘for dinner today we have goujons of cod in a spiced panko crumb on a bed of whipped pea puree served with crispy potatoes’ instead of ‘here’s your fish fingers, chips and mushy peas’. By the time they’ve worked out what they’re eating you will be telling them what’s for pudding and they’ll have no time to process how dreadful it was.

2. Similar to the above, you can fool people into thinking they are eating good food if you make it look nice. The key here is to arm yourself with some seriously oversized plates and bowls. Drizzle some kind of sauce on the plate then put everything in neat little piles and always work in threes or fives. Odd numbers of things just look more aesthetically pleasing.

3. Convince yourself. When creating your masterpieces in the kitchen, channel your inner alter ego. If you want to be Nigella you be Nigella. Go squeeze yourself into a tight little dress, put on a pair of killer heels and a slick of lipstick and make sure you turn everything you say into a slutty innuendo. Lick the spoon playfully whilst winking at the non existent camera and own it. Your chocolate mousse may very well taste like crap but you looked good making it and anyone that sees how much effort you put in will surely pretend it tastes good too.

4. Practice. Good cooks don’t just turn great over night. They have to work at it. So even if you just pick one dish to perfect that’s fine. Yes, everyone that comes into your home will have to try your brownies, but hey, by their fifth visit they may actually get something good and surely that’s progress. Keep going!

5. Lastly, and this is an important one, don’t let anyone criticise you. Maybe your dad will say that his chicken was raw in the middle or the mashed potato was lumpy, but just brush it off. You don’t work this hard just to get negative feedback so don’t let it affect you. It’s perfectly fine to argue with dinner guests should they challenge your cooking skills (though really they shouldn’t if you have correctly followed steps 1-4) but if they do just give them a firm warning that they won’t be invited back.

I really hope this helps turn you from a mediocre cook into a great cook, like me!*

*this is a joke. Kind of.

How To Spot A Foodie

Foodies. Those lesser spotted creatures that look like everyone else on the outside, but a closer inspection reveals deep rooted abnormalities turning them into an entirely separate breed of human. They’re not to be feared, but should be approached with caution to avoid long winded conversations about the best kind of salt to use on your Jersey Royals or how to extract the most amount of flavour from a stalk of lemongrass. Normally found in groups, foodies pick their friends wisely and those humans who consider beans on toast to be an acceptable dinner will not fare well when approaching a group of these beings. So how can you avoid stumbling into this trap? Read on to tell just how you can spot a foodie.

  • Foodies can be found in many places that normal people are in. They, like everyone else, will visit the supermarket. You can usually find them browsing the speciality ingredient aisle, checking the cocoa percentage of a premium chocolate bar or making sure their eggs are not just free range but from local hens who are given daily massages. You will not see them adding budget brand tinned tomatoes into their trolley or buying sliced white bread. It’s best to avoid foodies in a supermarket altogether. They’re in familiar territory and will absolutely judge you on the contents of your basket.
  • You may work with a foodie and not even know it. Sure, you might go into work with a cheese sandwich and a packet of crisps, as will a foodie. Your sandwich will be two slices of Kingsmill with a lump of Cathedral City stuck between them, and a packet of Monster Munch if you’re feeling a bit special. A foodie will have local artisan sourdough filled with cave aged cheddar, rocket and a homemade beetroot relish (that sounds nice actually doesn’t it?) and a few vegetable crisps that have been made at home with a mandolin. Don’t be afraid to talk to a foodie at work, just be prepared for them to question you about your own lunch choice, as well as what you had for breakfast that day and dinner the night before.
  • If you visit a foodie’s house you will likely be greeted with something exciting to eat. This is a good thing, embrace it, but be sure to lavish the foodie with compliments about the food even if you’ve had better at your local greasy spoon. Foodies are sensitive creatures and don’t react well to criticism. During your visit you will probably be subjected to a tour of the kitchen and shown the lovely bottle of extra virgin olive oil that was recently acquired on a trip to France. Plus, they will definitely have a salt pig. It’s foodie law.
  • Foodies love to go out for dinner and you may well find them visiting the same places as you do. If you observe really carefully you will be able to pick them out. They tend to spend a while browsing the menu and will have a plethora of questions for the waiter. They will want to know where the beef in the stroganoff is sourced from, what kind of wine is used in the risotto and if the cheesecake is baked or fridge set. These are important questions for a foodie and they will not be happy if Sam the waiter can’t deliver some decent answers. If the foodie is out dining in a group of other similarly designed beings, you will hear them discuss the merits of each other’s food choices for the entire evening. A rookie foodie may even be found taking a sneaky picture of their dinner. You are welcome to snigger at this act and encourage others to do so, just make sure the foodies don’t spot you or you will be mentioned as the ‘table of loud mouths’ on their TripAdvisor review.
  • It’s a well known fact that all foodies spend their spare time reading cookbooks and food magazines, checking in with likeminded people on social media and watching what people eat in a day on YouTube. These are known as social activities for foodies and they may well reject your invitation to go to the pub in favour of broadening their knowledge. Probably for the best as they would only chew your ear off about how the peanuts in The King’s Head just aren’t the same as the rosemary and brown sugar ones they made at home last weekend.

Foodies are amongst us. Fact. Don’t let their bragging and gloating bother you, they usually only do it to make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings.

P.S. Do you like my handmade one of a kind salt pig filled with Maldon sea salt, artistically photographed with a really expensive extra virgin olive oil and a completely pointless but lovely wine cooler?

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Help – I’m a Food Addict

So here I am, slumped on the sofa in my leggings and dinner-stained t-shirt, eating my way through yet another bargain price Easter egg when I catch a glimpse of myself in the switched off TV. At first I convince myself that the TV has turned itself on and I’m halfway through a Wayne and Waynetta sketch, before I realise that’s not Kathy Burke. That’s me. I’m Waynetta. Sitting there cocooned in a blanket, hair shoved up on top of my head in a bid to avoid washing it, dropping chocolate crumbs everywhere, I am a vision. A feast for the eyes.

Does this image make me want to want to change? To ditch the chocolate and start drinking green tea? Hell no. It makes me want to snatch the next Easter egg from the fridge and crawl even further under the duvet. I’m in denial you see and do my best to conceal my inner fattie, a task becoming increasingly more difficult the fatter I get on the outside. I’m in a constant state of despair about my ever increasing waist line whilst fighting a losing battle with my food addictions. Unfortunately, though, I’m not addicted to celery. Or carrots. Or cabbage. I like coleslaw though and that’s kinda the same thing right? No, you’re right, it’s not. I have issues with junk food. Pizza, McDonalds (screw you Ronald), chocolate, crisps, they’re always there to guide me down the dark path of temptation, away from the light of the chia seed brigade and towards the never ending tunnel of doom. Once I’m on that path I find it very hard to turn back, as I think is the case for most of us.

I eat well some of the time, in some cases more often than not, but I quite simply can’t say no to the bad stuff. There’s balance – porridge and fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, chicken and veg for dinner then a small bar of chocolate as an evening snack, for example. Then there’s me – porridge and fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, a large Domino’s pizza with chicken strippers for dinner then a share size bar of chocolate to finish it off. That’s not balance, that’s being a greedy fat pig. Oink Oink.

At the beginning of the year I vowed to not go on a diet and I’m sticking by that. Diets don’t work, at least not for me. I’m an intelligent person and I know what’s good for my body and what’s not. Domino’s, I love you, always have, always will. But you are not my friend and my feelings for you are unrequited. For you do not love me. Instead you treat me badly, making my clothes tighter and my chins multiply with every slice of you I consume. You are bad. But oh so good. Who can resist a glistening pizza, cheese oozing into the sauce with slices of pepperoni winking naughtily at you? STOP IT PIZZA!

I’m not saying goodbye to pizza, for I can’t quite summon the strength for such a commitment, but I’m really not feeling the Waynetta look right now and need to try to eat better. At least until Friday. And once this last Easter egg is finished.

 

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Help

#Foodporn: Episode Two

Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t like chocolate? I have and they were weird. I could’t get my head around the fact that this seemingly normal human being in front of me was practically heaving at the thought of eating chocolate. Yes, heaving, such was their aversion to the brown stuff. I save heaving for special occasions like finding shell in scrambled egg or a hair in a salad, it’s certainly not my initial reaction when faced with chocolate.

I’ve grown up with chocolate. There has been a longstanding debate between Dairy Milk and Galaxy, my preference changing with my emotional state. I like both and choosing would be like a parent choosing their favourite child; difficult, sure, but largely dependant on mood. Dairy Milk, for me, has that childhood sweetness, filling me with nostalgia and giving me a toothache, whereas Galaxy is the grown up cousin, a bit sexy and deliciously creamy. As I’ve grown older I do flirt with other brands too, I have a particular fondness for Lindt, particularly the Lindor truffles, and love Montezuma’s dark chocolate buttons. These are the kinds of chocolate I save for best though, birthdays and special occasions made even better for it. If I’m crying over spilt wine or frizzy hair I want a quick, cheap fix, and go for the sweetest, sickliest options available to me. What could be nicer than coming home after a tough day and unwrapping your own little present of happiness, whether that’s Dairy Milk, Galaxy, or any other sugar loaded treat.

I read recently that there is nothing in chocolate that is scientifically proven to make you happy. Now, I don’t want to be seen as arguing with scientists, but they’re wrong. Surely. Have you ever made a batch of gooey chocolate brownies and taken them into work for your colleagues to enjoy? Let me tell you what happens when you do that. Faces start to contort, forming strange little expressions that turn into smiles, the entire mood lifts and everyone connects by talking about the shared moment of pleasure that everyone is experiencing at the same time. It’s a beautiful sight. Chocolate may not bring you the same kind of happiness as you might feel on your wedding day, or on the birth of your firstborn, but in a world that can be full of such hatred and sorrow, it’s a sure fire way to cheer you up, if only for a moment. I rely on chocolate when I’m feeling low. The intensely rich, sweet river that fills your mouth when the chocolate melts is all I need to perk me up. Likewise, if I am happy I celebrate with chocolate, any excuse goes really. Apparently chocolate has no addictive ingredients and therefore can’t be considered a drug. Well, I know that when I eat it I can get as high as a KitKat. I mean kite.

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I’ve included below the most simple recipe for when you need a moment of happiness and tranquility in your stressful life. Enjoy.

Serves 1

What you need:

  • 1 bar of chocolate, of your choice

What you do:

  1. Start by making yourself comfortable. I suggest a big cosy jumper, slippers and a comfy space on the sofa. Or in bed if you’re a bit skanky.
  2. Remove any distractions, such as the dog/cat/husband/whatever may want to share the chocolate with you. Either put something you like on the TV or some nice music in the background and get yourself relaxed.
  3. Slowly open up your bar, taking in the sounds of the wrapper as it falls away from the chocolate and pay attention to the smell as the sweetness fills the room.
  4. When you are ready, take your first bite. Slowly, close your eyes and enjoy every taste sensation going on in your mouth, let the chocolate melt slowly to fully enjoy the texture.
  5. Get rid of the ridiculous instructions in steps 1-4 and just bloody eat it, getting it all over your face if you like. Then eat another one, and another until you feel blissfully sick.

For a calorie free chocolate hit, try this amazing chocolate orange candle from Bomb Cosmetics. I really do love chocolate in all its glorious forms. Off for an early Easter egg now. Until next time…

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