A Week In France

What is with French toilets? I couldn’t believe when I pulled over into a service station that the ‘facilities’ were just a hole in the ground. Some had actual toilets but not once did I encounter a toilet seat and I felt like a kid at Christmas if there was toilet paper available. Anyway, enough about toilets.

I stayed in a gorgeous villa overlooking the French Pyrenees, which provided some lovely views for the duration of my holiday. I must say though, the Lake District on our own green and pleasant land is much more beautiful, at least in my opinion. We were blessed with amazing weather though which meant plenty of time sunbathing and splashing about in the pool.

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All the local restaurants were advertising their own version of cassoulet, a meat and bean stew rich with duck fat. I was desperate to try some authentic French food so ordered it one evening. This one had a duck leg, some pork belly, a local sausage and a garlic crouton. It was absolutely delicious, though completely inappropriate for the 30° heat.

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Of course I also just had to sample a crepe whilst in the land of the creperie. I was really boring and went for Nutella but it was yummy. I had this with an amazing hot chocolate.

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On the drive home we stopped at a restaurant called Poivre Rouge, which was a bit like an upmarket Harvester. The menu had lots of grill options but there was also a salad bar that you could pay once for then take as many trips as you like. I didn’t go for it, but saw the locals tucking into escargot and massive prawns from it. I had fillet steak which was amazing and the chips were these strange little curved tube type things.

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What I did like about French service stations, toilets aside, was the food options. They’re much better than the English counterparts. On one stop I had a really really good burger, and another had this hot dog with mustard, bacon and cheese which they served hot, with an apple tart which was very nice.

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Other than that, I ate a lot of pizza! The French seem to really love their pizza!

My 100th Post!!!

Bonjour!

I am back in The Gammon Kitchen. I took a few weeks off blogging to enjoy a holiday to France (more on that to follow!) and to give myself a break. Blogging can be hard work! I’m not ever going to be one of those people who make a living from blogging and whatnot, I just don’t have the time to commit to posting that regularly, but I’m glad to be back and am looking forward to sharing some more recipes and stories with you.

This back to blogging post also just so happens to be my 100th blog post! Milestone alert! As I sit here in my jumper (like, when did it get so cold?) I’m reminiscing about some of the previous posts I have shared with you and thought this would be a great opportunity to recap on some of my favourites before I share some new content with you, starting with what I did on my holiday.

My Favourite Ever Post

My Thoughts On Dieting from January 2016

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I remember writing this post in the early hours of the morning as I couldn’t sleep and needed to vent about my feelings towards diets and the current craze of clean eating. I got some really great feedback on this post and still very much stand by my thoughts!

My Favourite Recipes

Fully Loaded Sweet Potato Fries from February 2016

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Even just looking at the picture makes me dribble. Yum!

Chocolate and Pecan Banana Bread from March 2016

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This is one of my most used recipes from my blog and one I always turn to when I want to bake, or have some manky bananas in the fruit bowl, which is every single week.

Chickpea, Spinach and Potato Curry from June 2016

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I developed this recipe during my vegan trial week and even though my time as a vegan didn’t last, this is still one of the nicest curries I have ever made and is a favourite in my house.

Masterchef Style Smoked Haddock from July 2016

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I was so proud of this recipe, I even considered applying for Masterchef!

My Most Viewed Post

Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Pavlova from January 2016

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Thanks to a Twitter comment from the Queen herself, I have enjoyed many views on this post, many now coming from Google searches. I love this photo too, I could dive into that pav face first right now.

It’s been nice to look back on some of my favourite posts from this year and I’m feeling ready and inspired to go on and create another 100 posts. See you all soon! PicMonkey Collage.jpg

My Weekend Food Diary

Tyler and I took a trip down to Eastbourne last weekend for the annual nerd fest that is the air show. As much as I’m terrified of flying, I love planes and get fan girl excited over the Red Arrows. As we stayed over for the night I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share a food diary with you. It didn’t quite go to plan as I was really unwell on Sunday and ended up eating nothing all day so my weekend food diary ends on Saturday night!

Friday 9pm – Dinner at Zizzi’s

Starter: Arancini with tomato sauce

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Main: Chicken and vegetable skewer with potatoes, slaw and a lemon and parmesan sauce

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Dessert: Mango and coconut sundae

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Saturday 11am – Breakfast at Wetherspoons

Vegetarian breakfast

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Enjoying the lovely weather and planes!

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Saturday 3pm

Tango Ice Blast, mixed cherry and raspberry. So refreshing in the heat!

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Saturday 3.30pm – Lunch from a Thai street food stall

Tempura prawns with sweet chilli dipping sauce

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Saturday 9pm – Dinner at home

Crispy chilli beef, plain chow mein, chips and curry sauce from the Chinese takeaway. Too exhausted to cook!

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I’ll try and get a full weekend of food in next time I try this! Hope everyone else had a lovely weekend too!

 

What I Ate In A Day #12

I went to an amazing wedding on Saturday, probably the best wedding I’ve ever been to even though the lovely couple already got married officially abroad last month. The weather was gorgeous and set off the beautiful venue perfectly. Of course my main concern was the food. I’m pleased to say that it was absolutely delicious, all Indian in style and really tasty. I ate a lot and drank a lot of Pimms. Like, a lot. Naturally, I was feeling a little worse for wear the following day so dragged myself to my local Wetherspoons for breakfast. I went for the vegetarian option as I like the sausages better than ‘real’ ones and washed it all down with an ice cold apple juice which worked wonders for the hangover.

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Watermelon is also a pretty amazing hangover cure so I munched on some of that as an afternoon snack, followed by some cherries.

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It was another hot day on Sunday so we wanted a simple, light dinner that didn’t involve the oven as we just aren’t coping with the extra heat that generates into our kitchen. Lazy admission – we bought a ready cooked chicken and had that with new potatoes dressed in butter and lemon and thyme sea salt, mixed salad with Caesar dressing and a little bit of Blackstick’s Blue cheese. This cheese is amazing, a little goes a long way as it’s pretty powerful stuff but the taste is unlike any other cheese.

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After dinner I had a watermelon slushy made by whizzing some frozen watermelon chunks with a little sugar syrup and a splash of water.

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And then, my favourite part of any Sunday. Putting my comfy clothes on, tying my hair up and relaxing on the sofa with a naughty snack. Tyler and I shared this Cadbury Dairy Milk with Daim bar. No really, I honestly did share.

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I love a selfie me.

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.

What I Ate In A Day #10 – Vegan Edition

As part of vegan week on The Gammon Kitchen, I figured it only right that I take you along for the ride and share everything I eat in a day on a vegan diet. I’m halfway through my trial and I’m feeling tired, grumpy and in desperate need of a McDonalds. I kind of want to give up but I’m not going to. I’m just eagerly waiting for the day when I bound out of bed full of vigour with wonderful glowing skin and a new found zest for life. Please God, let it be soon.

Breakfast today was of the liquid variety. I made my chocolate and peanut butter milkshake that was featured on my blog earlier in the year, but used cashew butter rather than peanut and coconut milk rather than almond. Anything goes really. It was delicious and set me up for the day.

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The 11am slump was fixed by a few dates. Ugly little things aren’t they? Medjool dates are amazing, like soft, chewy toffees. They’re more expensive than other varieties but totally worth it.

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I’ve been making the most of leftovers for my lunches and today was a classic example. It’s great to have a fridge full of things that you can just throw together to create a pick’n’mix lunch bursting with flavour and nutrients. Today was brown rice, roasted vegetables (peppers, onions and courgettes), garlic and herb roasted sweet potatoes and some homemade spicy, smoky humous (made smoky by smoked sea salt – AH-MAY-ZING.)

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I snacked on some fruit between lunch and dinner. Doughnut peaches, or flat peaches as they’re sometimes called, are my favourite fruits ever. I had a plum too but ate it without thinking so didn’t take a photo.

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The biggest hurdle I’ve faced during this trial is having time each night to cook a healthy meal, prepare my lunch and tidy up all the mess made along the way. It’s hard. I can’t just order a pizza now and it means every night is chore night. Tonight I decided to go for the easy option. I’d bought some ready made bean burgers in my weekly food shop to have on stand by for when this day came so we had those with oven chips, homemade guacamole and a bit of salad. It’s the first night Tyler and I have had the same dinner since I started my vegan journey. The bean burgers were alright but I probably could have made better myself.

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As an evening snack I had a slice of wholemeal bread, toasted and spread with cashew, cinnamon and honey butter and topped with a sliced banana. Snack heaven.

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I ate a little more today than I have been to see if it would help my energy levels. Here’s hoping! I love having such colourful, vibrant meals and I’m not really missing meat (apart from that McDonalds craving) but I would give an arm for a bit of cheese now and then.

May Roundup

Guess who’s got over 100 followers??? Me!!! Thank you all ever so much for taking the time to read, like, comment on and follow my blog. I love my little corner of the internet and have enjoyed spending another month sharing my stories and recipes with you. You can like The Gammon Kitchen’s Facebook page to see more.

A few things that happened in May:

  • I tried Pizza GoGo. Let’s just say Domino’s have nothing to worry about as they won’t be losing my custom.
  • I ate an Indian takeaway for breakfast.
  • I watched the entire previous 5 seasons of Game of Thrones in the space of a month and now have to wait for the next episodes with the rest of the peasants.
  • I had the worst case of flu known to man. Or so it felt.
  • I rediscovered Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream and couldn’t be happier about it.

And here’s all the blog posts from the past month, in case you missed any.

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Recipe: Berry Rose Smoothie / Recipe Review: Byron’s Ronaldo Burger / Recipe: Rocky Roads / What I Ate In A Day #8 / Recipe: Courgetti With Pesto Chicken, Mushrooms and Goat’s Cheese / Jamie’s Food Revolution 2016 / Recipe: Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Risotto / Recipe: Easy Cinnamon Swirls / My Cookbook Collection / Recipe: 3 Ingredient Asparagus Brunch / How To Spot A Foodie

I hope all you lovely people have had a wonderful month filled with delicious food and lots of fun!