Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Cooking challenges ahoy!

A second post in as many days?  Pick yourself back up off the floor it's true!
I've been doing a little housekeeping with the blog; primarily involving the list of blogs I follow.  Now this is not my full list, rather it's just those sites I feel that many people might find interesting.  There's a variety of subjects here.  (Although yes, a lot of cooking.)
On the old list some of the links were out of date and some of the blogs were long abandoned so please take a moment to peruse the new list and see if there's anything you like. :-) Several bloggers have challenges and *giveaways on at the moment which leads me to my next topic...
It's National Vegetarian Week here in the UK.  To this end I have been looking up lots and lots of lovely veggie recipes.  I fancy making a cannellini bean hummus - because cannellini beans are my current new big love.  I also want to make some form of Spaetzle (a variety of egg noodle/dumpling) to link in with Chris's German theme for this month's Bloggers Around the World. A cheese and onion one is favourite - or 'Käsespätzle' as it is more properly known.  (Also it will give me a chance to use the potato ricer a friend gave me to make spaetzle with, er, a year ago.)
Dom over at Belleau Kitchen has Simply Eggcellent as his new challenge (he used to run the wondrous Random Recipe challenge) and this month has set 'savoury' as the theme.  Which opens up a huge plethora of possibilities - I'd like to use one of the 2 avocados I have ripening at home in conjunction with the eggs here, and I have a feeling cheese may well make an appearance too!
And - I have a challenge to set for the Scotsman.  Being a self-confessed bad cook (read: never been taught) he has been challenging himself to make a new-to-him dish each week, with the added proviso that it should be healthier than his usual fare.  Now I am not one to promote stereotypes but....but... he does rather have the Scottish diet of legend down to a T. White bread and things in batter/breadcrumbs (albeit cooked in the oven rather than deep fried) with a distinct lack of regular intakes of veg, seem to form the major part of his diet.  Or that's the impression I've got from several hundred miles away.  ;-)
Cow Pie - I'm reliably
informed it went a bit wrong
He's been doing quite well on the challenge so far with the likes of a Cheese and Onion pie, Seafood Paella and a 'Cow' pie complete with horns.  (So picked because he had steak to use and the Dandy and Beano comics were published in Dundee; just down the road from Aberdeen.)  He slipped on the healthy part slightly when he decided a Honey Cheesecake was the way to go one week but considering he has a very sweet tooth I'm surprised there haven't been more desserts included so far.
Anyway, I've suggested told him that as it's National Vegetarian Week he should make something veggie.  Combine this with his new and exciting purchase of veg at the weekend (carrots, onions, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, garlic and spring onions) and it seems like fate.  [I have to mention here that I don't consider garlic to be a veg but rather a necessity that lives in the seasoning cupboard but don't forget he's new to this.]  I'm thinking a frittata / tortilla sort of thing as that way he can use some of most of those lovely veg.  So to that end I shall spend this afternoon (in between answering the phone at my temp assignment) writing him a recipe, unless any of you have alternative ideas as to what he could make with those ingredients?  Got to be veggie and fairly 'beginner friendly' but any suggestions welcome.

* Veggie week giveaways I've seen so far: 
If I come across any more I'll add them in or if you notice any on your travels then mention them in the comments below.

Happy Veggie week all - even if you try just one day or even one meal veggie, do enjoy it.  :-D

Monday, 18 May 2015

Still here and happier than ever in 2015!

Well here we are nearly half the way through 2015 and not a single blog post to be seen from me.
 Well really - what a very poor show!!!  ;-D
Back at the start of this year I made one single resolution (that's one more than normal) and it was to be more selfish.  More selfish with my time where it concerned people who sapped the life from you, more selfish with myself round people whose endless negativity drags you down, and more selfish in pursuit of a lasting happiness for me.
That is not to say I immediately set off on some sort of hedonistic crusade and forsook all my friends.  In reality only a few things changed, but key was deciding I deserved more of my time.  So to that end; and this is all a bit of a roundabout way of saying it, blogging has taken a backseat along with a few other things.
So what have I been doing?  Applying for work, a little bit of temping, some sorting out of the house, and (this is the biggy) telling the man I fell in love with 22 years ago how I feel!!!  Now that was somewhat scary, but it was a gamble that paid off.  Turns out he feels the same, right down to liking me back 22 years ago.  Who knew??!  (We were both far too shy to do anything about it then.)
The Scotsman on the ancient
clapper style bridge at
Postbridge on Dartmoor.
Now the practicalities of this are not exactly straight forward, which is why I've never admitted it to myself before, let alone him.  He's in Aberdeen.  I'm in Exeter.  These are more than the Proclaimers famed 500 miles of walking apart.  Doh!
He came to visit for a week and with that time together we both realised we were more sure of this than anything before, so we will make it work.
We had a fab week, even though the weather wasn't all it could be, and his friends have already been asking when he's transferring down here!  That's all for the future though.  In the meantime I'm just as happy as I could possibly be, and it's truly wonderful.

So in other news; I have been doing some more temping and am currently on a 2 week assignment as a telephone receptionist.  In between calls though they are happy for me to potter around on the t'internet hence me taking the time to write this post.  Pretty decent of them I'd say.  :-)
On Friday I attended 2 interviews through a different temping agency and, (wait for it) have definitely secured at least one of the positions!  The lady from the agency is calling me back with full details later but apparently they came back with a big 'yes' to me after my interview.  Which is nice considering I'm very out of practice and was physically shaking going into it!  Perhaps a little more faith in myself wouldn't go amiss!  This may mean that I can't get up to Aberdeen as soon as I might have wished to but I will have to wait and find out as the company in question was advertising both 6 month fixed term contracts and permanent positions.  Exciting stuff though, none the less!
One of the other major decisions I have taken is to give up the allotment.  The friend I was helping bowed out at the start of the year and I have come to realise that a full plot on my own is just too much.  Instead I want to concentrate on the much neglected back garden at home.  Although small it's plenty of space just for me and has the advantage of not requiring me to tramp along the road with tools or a wheelbarrow en route to do a bit of digging.
Unsliced bamboo shoots
Otherwise I've been busy in the kitchen - a lot of noodles have been consumed recently as I've been getting right into the Cheung Fun (flat rice noodles in rolls) they sell fresh in my favourite Chinese
supermarket.  I also discovered recently what bamboo shoots look like before they're sliced - crazy huh!
My family came to visit for the annual Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink.  Saw many lovely things, sampled some of them and bought some cheese.  A lovely time had by all.