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.

ACS_0119.jpg

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.

ACS_0120.jpg

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.

ACS_0121.jpg

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.

ACS_0122.jpg

ACS_0123.jpg

Speak soon,

Tania x

 

 

 

 

Some Dolly Parton Musings and a Broccoli and Stilton Soup Recipe

Does anyone else struggle to spell broccoli? No? Just me then…

It’s mid March and in the UK that means it’s still effing freezing but we pretend it’s not. I popped to Asda in the week and saw some bloke loitering around the ready meal section wearing a pair of shorts. Shorts! A couple of days after the snow had cleared. We spend so long hibernating away in chunky knits and fur coats (that one’s for you Jess) that as soon as the temperature goes into double digits we want to show a bit of skin and get the limbs out. I get it. But really, it’s not shorts weather. I’m just about managing to ditch the wooly coat and swap it in for a Spring like trench but the thermal vest is going no-where fast. Welcome to 30 kids!

This in-between weather means you don’t quite want to eat the heavy stews and casseroles of winter but shudder at the thought of a salad. What am I saying? I always shudder at the thought of a salad. The beauty of this broccoli and stilton soup is that it’s warming and nourishing but vibrant and, well, it’s green. Which means spring, right? It’s also easy, cheap and a sneaky way to get some veg in.

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 750ml vegetable stock (from a cube)
  • 100g stilton
  • double cream, optional

What you do:

  1. Sautee the finely chopped (or as finely chopped as I can possibly manage) onion in the oil and butter with a pinch of salt over a low heat for about 5 minutes, making sure the onion doesn’t colour too much. Pale gold is your limit here.
  2. Separate the florets from the stalks on your head of broccoli and finely chop the stalks. Add these to the onion and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly, before adding the florets and cooking for 5 minutes more.
  3. Add in the vegetable stock, pop on a lid and cook for around 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Remove from the heat and blend until very smooth. This is not the time for chunky soup. I use a stick blender which makes it super easy but you could transfer to a normal blender if that’s all you have. Season with pepper, you shouldn’t need salt, then crumble in about 75g of stilton and stir to melt. Taste just to make sure I’m right on the salt, I think you’ll find I am.
  5. Serve the soup in bowls with the rest of the stilton crumbled on top and a little retro swirl of cream if that’s a bit of you. Lovely for lunch with some crusty bread or as a relaxed starter.

I had a bit of a random thought today. I had Smooth FM on and they played Dolly Parton’s Jolene. I realise I am really late to the party here, like decades, but I don’t know why she was so obsessed with Jolene. I mean, yeah Jolene should know better but come on Dolly, its your waste of space man you should be singing about. Don’t be begging Jolene not to take your man, it sounds to me like he’s already gone and you’re better off without him girl.

On the point of randomness, Dominos now have a GPS tracker on their delivery service. As if the pizza tracker wasn’t already up there with the world’s best inventions, you can now literally track your pizza from store to door. Love it.

Have a wonderful week all!

Tania x

The Week My Sister Came For Lunch

Hello internet!

I am back in the blogiverse!

It’s been a long time since I last blogged, my last post was December 2016! In the 14 months since then I’ve just been working hard, had a couple of holidays, turned 30, got a new cat, had cancer, beat cancer, all the normal stuff one does. I’m sure you’ll hear more about cancer gate as we go on. It was a really fun time! Disclaimer: it wasn’t.

Anyway, I’ve decided to treat you all to a little glimpse inside my life for the past week. I re-discovered a love for Pink Lady apple wedges dipped in almond butter and learnt how to use Instagram stories. I also had an oncology check up which involved a gloved finger and a speculum. The cancer was in my vagina, just so we’re clear.

I made myself a very lovely, very healthy (yes, this does sometimes happen) dinner in the week. I peeled and chopped two sweet potatoes and zapped them in the microwave for a few minutes to soften before shoving them on a baking tray along with a chopped red onion, whole garlic cloves, olive oil and some Spanish seasoning for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes I added some par-cooked broccoli and halved cherry tomatoes and cooked for 10 minutes more. I put some cooked cous cous in a bowl (I used the lazy packet type with Moroccan spices) topped it with the roasted veg and then drizzled over some natural yogurt that I had mixed with harissa, lemon juice and a bit of extra virgin olive oil. This made enough for dinner for me and lunch the next day.

ACS_0091.jpg

I really wanted to add some pine nuts for a bit of crunch but they were in the back of my cupboard and I had to move a jar of honey to get to them. The honey was literally stuck to the shelf by it’s own oozing stickiness and quite frankly, I couldn’t be arsed to get my hands dirty. That is a problem for another day.

The Spanish seasoning I used was this one from Schwartz. Always want to say Schwarzkopf then remember that’s hair stuff. Yes, I did just Google how to spell that. This has peppers, onion, garlic, paprika and all that jazz in. You might spot a little something in the background. That’s Bear. He’s my 10 week old kitten and is in the photo because he literally doesn’t leave my side. Ever. Cute thought isn’t he. (lots more kitty photos on my instagram @taniaadrianne if you happen to be that kind of person)

ACS_0090.jpg

On Saturday my sister came to visit and we made tapas. That’s a joke. She sat drinking tea whilst I made tapas. The Spanish seasoning came out to play again, this time to make patatas bravas, which I think is one of my most favourite things in the world. I peeled and cubed a few potatoes and par cooked them in the microwave. This was a revelation to dear sister who has vowed to never par-boil a spud again. You’re welcome. I then coated the potatoes in some olive oil and a little sprinkling of the Spanish seasoning before roasting them until crisp and golden on the outside and full of fluffy, starchy promise on the inside. Meanwhile, I cooked some chopped garlic, chilli and mixed herbs in a pan with some olive oil for a couple of minutes before adding in a carton of passata then seasoning with salt, pepper, sugar and, yep you guessed it, some more of the Spanish seasoning. I allowed that to cook down so it was rich, sweet and spicy then spooned it liberally on top of the cooked potatoes and dolloped on a bit of aoili. I bought that as I have more money than time. And voila, patatas bravas a la The Gammon Kitchen.

ACS_0092.jpg

We wolfed those down along with crispy prawns (quite simply king prawns coated in flour and fried in olive oil), garlic mushrooms (mini portabella mushrooms roasted in the oven with garlic, mixed herbs, salt and pepper and olive oil), potato croquettes (lovingly made by Sainsbury’s), chorizo slices pan fried with garlic and butter beans, garlic stuffed olives and tomatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar which we spooned on top of grilled ciabatta. La Tasca can do one mate.

ACS_0064.jpg

Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 19.34.55.png

I saw in the supermarket last week that you can now buy bigger share size bags of Cadbury buttons. Proof, if I ever needed it, that the normal share size bags are, in fact, single servings. I’m going into the next week safe in the knowledge that I haven’t been overeating chocolate buttons at all.

Have a lovely week everyone!

Tania x

 

 

 

Happy Blogiversary To Me!

On this very day exactly one year ago I launched The Gammon Kitchen! In that time I have shared recipes, stories and occasionally a little bit too much information. See A Period Drama. I just want to say a quick thank you to all those that have read, shared and followed my blog and let you know that there will be more to come in 2017.

Here’s a picture of me as a reindeer because I am too lazy to find a suitable food related pic. Plus, I make a pretty damn cute reindeer.

IMG_0355.jpg

Happy New Year Foodies!

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?

IMG_4211.jpg

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

April Roundup

So McDonalds Monopoly happened. Damn you McDonalds. I’m annoyed not only with Ronald and his minions but also at myself for being so easily bought. Here I am collecting stickers by the hundreds (OK, probably not hundreds) and the most I won was a cheeseburger. Give me the chance to win a luxury holiday or a new car and I’m anybody’s, especially when there’s a Big Tasty involved.

Thankfully for my waist line Monopoly is over and I can stop trying to kid myself that gorging on burgers is going to make me rich. It didn’t and it won’t. All I gained was an extra few pounds of weight and lost a few pounds of money. Real money, not the Monopoly kind.

Because of this trickery from McDonalds, and the fact that I’ve had a really lazy month with takeaways and meals out galore, I’ve barely cooked lately. And I’m just getting fatter.

I’m going to make some new month resolutions for May. It seems like a good time for a new start just before summer begins. Here’s what I want to try to achieve:

  • I’m going to try to exercise three times a week, even if only for ten minutes. Trust me, that’s more than I’m doing at the moment.
  • I want to make more exciting dinners and use my cookbooks more. It’s so easy to become set in your ways and turn to simple food instead of trying new things.
  • I’m really close to 100 followers on my blog so want to reach that milestone next month!

I think that’s enough goals to work towards for now, I don’t want to be an overachiever now do I.

April has seen me post less than normal due to taking a week off blogging whilst on my holiday. There was still lots of recipes and foodie ideas though, so if you missed any you can catch up here.

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous / Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Nursery Fish Pie / What’s In My Fridge? / Recipe: Spaghetti and Meatballs / Help – I’m A Food Addict / Recipe Review: Jamie Oliver’s Insanity Burgers / What I Ate in a Day #7 / Recipe: 3 Ingredient Chocolate Bark / A Week in Devon! / Recipe: Churros French Toast / 100 Things About Me!

PicMonkey Collage.jpg

Don’t forget to go follow me on Facebook!