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.

What’s In My Fridge?

Some people are just plain nosey and want to know the ins and outs of other people’s lives, including what they ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner and even what’s lurking in the corners of their fridge. I am one of those people, and proudly so. If you too are one of those weirdos, read on with great pleasure then head over to YouTube where you can even watch people giving you fridge tours! If you are of the more ‘normal’ variety, perhaps this post isn’t for you, but you can check out some of my lovely recipes while you’re here!

So, not gonna lie to you, I cleared my fridge out before this post. Indeed, it was the clearing out of my fridge that inspired me to let you in. I do try to keep it clean and organised as it helps me make sure I’m eating the food within and not wasting stuff, but as with most things in life that require a bit of time and effort, I do sometimes let standards slip. An hour before these photos were taken there was a cucumber hiding in my salad drawer that was more liquid than solid and only held together by the wrapper. Anyway, my lovely Smeg fridge is really roomy and has loads of compartments in the door which is great for keeping things handy. There’s a small freezer section but we don’t use it and have a separate freezer next-door to the fridge. So here’s what’s in my fridge at the moment.

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In the door:

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  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Unsalted butter
  • Anchor spreadable
  • Milk
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dark chocolate
  • A McVities Gold bar
  • Lemon oil
  • Squirty cream
  • Coconut milk
  • Apple and Rhubarb juice (so good!)
  • Innocent smoothie (not mine, waste of money in my opinion as I make my own!)
  • Apple juice
  • Water
  • Tomato Puree
  • Garlic in a jar
  • Ginger in a jar
  • Chillies in a jar

I wouldn’t cope without those four holy grail ingredients in the bottom of the door. Jars of garlic, ginger and chilli are absolute lifesavers and I use at least one of them every single day. Tomato puree too is an easy way of adding flavour to dishes and I always make sure I have it to hand. My cheese stash is surprisingly small at the moment. I always have cheddar and parmesan but also like to have other cheeses available as quite frankly I just love cheese. Admittedly, I did have to throw away some mozzarella and some kind of blue cheese (or maybe it wasn’t always blue) because they had gone way out of date.

Top Shelf (jars and whatnot):

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  • Salted caramel spread (AH-MAY-ZING)
  • Morello cherry jam
  • Orange marmalade
  • Strawberry conserve
  • Cranberry and port sauce
  • Wholegrain mustard
  • English mustard
  • Red onion marmalade
  • Mayonnaise (must always be Hellmanns)
  • Horseradish sauce
  • Preserved lemons
  • Baby gherkins
  • Crinkle cut gherkins
  • Jalapenos
  • Salad Creme (Heinz, always)
  • Flaming Cajun sauce

I don’t think I’ve told you about my mustard obsession. I absolutely love it, all kinds. Whenever I go anywhere that makes different kinds of mustards (you know, farm shops etc) I have to buy one. The wholegrain mustard I have at the moment was picked up on a recent visit to Norfolk and is made with some Norfolk beer. It’s really good. I’ve just run out of Dijon mustard so will be replacing that right away. I like to have lots of jarred condiments as they are a great way to add flavour to dishes, like preserved lemons with roast chicken or horseradish sauce in a beef casserole.

Second Shelf:

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  • Nando’s peri peri sauce
  • Pizza Express light house dressing (the only bought salad dressing I like)
  • Roasted red peppers
  • White wine (only in there as I was cooking with it)
  • Beer (not mine)
  • Activa yogurts
  • Fat free natural yogurt

I urge you to always have a jar of roasted red peppers on hand, they’re so delicious and much easier than having to char and skin your own peppers. I use them a lot. They, along with the salad dressing and peri peri sauce, really belong on the top shelf in terms of category but are annoyingly too tall to fit.

Third Shelf (meat, mostly):

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  • Chicken breasts
  • Chorizo style sausages (literally the only sausages I will eat)
  • Lamb shoulder
  • Streaky smoked bacon
  • Ham
  • Some leftover baked beans

Granted, my meat shelf is a bit ‘red-meat heavy’. Soz. It was full of fish but I used that in my aforementioned fish pie recipe. We freeze some of our meat and fish every week too so that we don’t have to rush to use it. The lamb we have now is for a roast dinner, with the leftovers to be used in burritos (excited much) and the chicken breasts will cover two dinners. I don’t eat ham as a rule, that’s Tyler’s, but the bacon is a joint passion. A fridge without bacon is no fridge of mine.

Fruit and Veg Drawers:

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  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Mixed leaves
  • Pointed cabbage
  • Spring onions
  • Red peppers
  • Green pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • New potatoes
  • Red onions
  • Avocado
  • Carrots
  • Parsley
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Blueberries

I love vegetables so always make sure I have a good stash ready to cook with or have as a salad. What we have in the fridge will of course depend on what we are planning to cook, but I always have loads of onions (red, please), tomatoes and some kind of green veg. Our freezer always contains peas, sweetcorn and spinach and currently also has some cauliflower in there. I like to have apples and pears as I use them in my smoothies along with spinach, which I always use frozen and sometimes avocado too, but don’t tend to snack on too much fruit unless it’s the height of summer when strawberries and peaches are at their best. We do have an obscene amount of bananas resting in our fruit bowl at the moment though, some of them destined to become banana bread.

And that folks, is my fridge. On any other given day you will normally find some lemons and limes in there too but I had just used the last of them up. I do always have bottles of lemon and lime juice in my cupboard too for emergencies, not sure if that’s frowned upon or not? Maybe I will give you a tour of my cupboards next!

I would love to know what you think of my fridge contents – is there anything I need to add or takeaway? Leave me a comment!

A Little Kitchen Haul

I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to buying things for my kitchen. It’s becoming quite an issue as I’m rapidly running out of space in my cupboards and my purchases are starting to spill into other areas of my house. I don’t mean to, it just happens. I will be casually wandering around the shopping centre and oooopps…what just fell into my basket? I don’t need 90% of the things I buy but I somehow always manage to find a use for them so I convince myself that it’s OK. I will invent recipes just because they will look good served in a new bowl or plate that I’ve recently procured. I just like having nice things and, I will admit, I’m a bit of a show off, so if I have someone over for dinner I like to be able to talk to them about the lovely new cutlery they are using, for example.

Over the last few weeks I have bought a lot of new things for my kitchen. Some of them have been quite necessary. I needed a new roasting dish as mine is a little on the small side so I grabbed a new one whilst out food shopping. Likewise, my baking sheets were developing a film of stubborn grease that I just couldn’t live with anymore so I got a new bargain one in M&S. I’ve also been needing (or should that be wanting?) a white rectangular platter for ages and I finally saw one that was cheap but looks good. I found a good sized, heavy plain white rectangular platter in Morrison’s for just £4 so naturally I had to have that.

And really that’s where the necessity ends. If you can call the above necessities. I consider them so. The rest of my purchases have just been plain old impulse purchases because I have an issue with buying stuff that I don’t need but can’t resist.

Let’s start with these gorgeous bowls from Anthropologie. If you aren’t familiar with the brand, I will fill you in. It’s an over-priced, ridiculously showy, Instagram worthy dream of a place, and I love it. They have some really quirky bits for the home as well as clothing, jewellery and stationery. I could spend an absolute fortune in there and plan to, one day. For now, I have these bowls. They were £10 each, so like I said, over-priced, but they’re so pretty and girly. I have one of each colour, so white, pink and green, each with a gold rim.

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I’m loving the marble trend at the moment and M&S have launched a line of crockery called ‘Nordic Smoke’ which is absolutely gorgeous. I admit I wanted it all, but restrained myself and just bought two of the side plates. They’re almost completely flat so make a great cake plate. See how I’m trying to convince myself that they have a use? They are lovely though, if nothing else I can use them as decorative items.

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Pointless but non negotiable purchase number three comes in the form of these milk bottles. I got a box of 6 for £12 which I thought was pretty good. I picked these up from a National Trust gift shop, but you can get similar ones on Amazon and elsewhere on the web. Cue milkshake recipes.

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The last thing to show you today is this super cute trinket tray. I absolutely adore it. It’s from Jolie Papier at Bluewater, which I believe is part of the Clinton’s group, and is a white china dish with metallic gold writing. They have a few different slogans, it took me ages to decide on one but thought this was a lovely positive message to see everyday. I do believe I am fast becoming one of those knobs that drink green smoothies and have quotes all around their house. Don’t hate me. I’ve not quite found a solid use for this yet, at the moment it holds a hair band so that I always have one handy to tie my hair up with when I start cooking. Seems a good enough reason to have it, don’t you think? I mean, no-one wants a hair in their dinner.

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I don’t plan on showing you every single new item I buy for my kitchen (I would be blogging almost daily) but I really love the items above and thought it would be fun to share them with you to give some inspiration for things you might like if you’re in the market for unnecessary kitchen-ware. I’m off to invent milkshake recipes so I can use those bottles.