Friday, 28 March 2014

Five on Friday

Linking up for the first time with Christina, Darci, April, and Natasha for my Five on Friday! You should too!
This week has been crazy busy, I'm really pleased that I should be able to have a lie in tomorrow....



Have been having Pret Soup's almost everyday this week - Great for the taste buds, bad for the wallet. Thai Chicken is my favourite and whats great is they are a low calorie but filling lunch. Must get back into making packed lunches next week though, maybe I'll even make some soup......



When browsing for some birthday cards I came across this wonderful necklace - this is just the pendant part of the necklace it comes on this really nice double chain. Its not my usual type of thing but when I saw it I had to get it as it has a Bumble Bee and I like anything that has something to do with my nickname. Hultquist are also a really amazing company and I love their things, can't wait to purchase some more. Check them out here 


Bored. Totally bored of reading about these two. He should just be relieved that he can now have a burger in peace whilst writing pretentious songs and she just needs to stop restricting, eat some ice cream, shut down the craziness that is called GOOP and stop trying to act, because in my humble opinion she can't. Don't hate me its just my opinion.
For the record I did use to love Coldplay when they first arrived on the British music scene but their material just seems to get steadfastly worse.


The man has specifically requested my Buffalo Chicken Wings for dinner tonight - don't blame him they are lush. Check out the recipe here  they taste great AND you don't have to fry them #bonus


This week has been tough in places. But I am thankful, as always, that I face the world as a "we" now. Team Hachael all the way.

Enjoy the weekend lovelies

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Bon's Book Club March - Divergent by Veronica Roth.

Oh Bonnie, I do so love the book club (even if I’m rubbish at updating every month), I do everso much, but why, why oh why did this book have to be on the list? Reading is a joy to me and this book became a chore. It also became a lesson in determination as I made myself finish it even though it literally had my teeth on edge with its horrendous writing and poor plot.


Maybe I’m being a bit harsh

One of the beauties of this life is that we are all different and we all have different tastes, its why I love cooking for people – making dishes that suit their tastes even if it isn’t quite mine (hence why I end up cooking Pork Belly for the family). Reading is no different, heck if everyone had my impeccable taste then publishers would never have let 50 shades of grey and the Twilight series ever see the light of day. Ever. But it is clear to me that there is an audience for these kind of books – that audience being young teenagers.

I’m not a young teenager. I’m not even a young adult anymore. Sigh.
And before you say it, I love Narnia, I love Roald Dahl. There are numerous books from when I was a teenager that every now and again I take of the shelf, brush it down and reread. Usually it only take a couple of hours and I enjoy that time and the nostalgia that comes with it.

But I just couldn’t deal with this book. To be fair maybe my use of the word horrendous is a bit harsh as I’m sure kids will respond well to Veronica Roth’s  style of prose well. Did I mention that I’m not a kid? It was just excruciating to read. The language is so basic I found no joy. No joy. The plot is flawed disjointed with deaths left right and centre. Don't get me wrong death is OK in books but here I just felt there were just there to sensationalise. For example when Tris' parents die - i didn't even care mainly because I was totally uninvested in this book at that point.

I give up it just wasn’t for me, hence why I am not going to waste everyones time with "meh" answers to Bon's questions. I think if we wanted something in this sort of genre we should have read The Handmaids Tale as it might have actually stretched us and given us some grown up discussion. My apologies if you love this book, like I said everyone is different and I’m looking forward to understanding why you love it. And then moving on.

I’m off to get cracking on the next book “Night Circus”, I’m already worried that it seems to be marketed alongside the words “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” Not quite so bad but doesn’t actually inspire me to start. However others have said that this isn’t giving the book the kudos it deserves. I’ll report back, honest as ever.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

St Patrick’s Day Shepherds Pie and random musings on corned beef

I’m late as ever to hop on to the Bandwagon. St Paddy’s Day. When I was a uni this used to be a big deal in my life. Now it’s not. I think the Americans get way more excited than the English about this day. The only whiff of it I got were a few random big hats on drunken men as I walked through London on the actual day. That and the huge amount of people mentioning it in blogs; American blogs of course. Lots of green food and corned beef. American corned beef looks so much different from English corned beef;

English Corned Beef

Mainly used in sandwiches and corned beef hash

American Corned beef

Apparently you guys have it with cabbage?!
The mind boogles. And what I really want to know is what is Irish corned beef? Whose right and who’s wrong. Thank goodness for Google and these dudes have explained the differences to me. Thank you Google.

Anyho, I digress, which is standard for me, sometimes I even interrupt myself, it’s not great. The entire paddy’s day chat made me think of another classic Irish recipe – Shepherds Pie. I remember having this a lot as a child and its one very easy but yummy dish. And anything with mash potato on has my vote. The layer of leeks really adds a different dimension to the dish and I recommend you give it a go, you wont look back. I make my shepherds pie with beef mince rather than lamb – which technically makes it cottage pie but I grew up knowing this as shepherds pie and so shepherds pie it remains.
So here’s the thing about my Shepherds Pie - I keep it so very simple. No fancy herbs and spices. No peas in with the mince, no twists or turns. This is simplicity at its best, meaty and comforting and very easy to make.

Shepherds Pie

Serves approx 4

500g Beef Mince
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
500ml stock (beef preferable but chicken or veg will work fine)
2TBSP tomato puree
Few dashes of Worcester sauce
Couple of gluts of red wine
1TSP Marmite (the British in me shines through, this is optional of course)
2 leeks
3TBSP Butter
Milk, I used skimmed
Grated cheese, I used strong Irish cheddar

Start by sautéing the onions and carrots in a bit of oil over a medium heat. Once they have softened add in the mince and let it brown off. Add in the wine and the tomato puree and let it reduce by about half. Add in the stock, Worcester sauce and marmite and then allow it to simmer gently for a good 30-45mins. Season.

 In the mean time boil up some potatoes (I used a couple of big potatoes) and then mash them with a couple TBSP of butter, milk, a twist of salt and lots of black pepper.

As well as this, melt 1TBSP butter and a dash of oil in a pan and cook of the leeks until they are soft. I added a bit of wine to help them along!

Take an oven proof dish and spread out the mince mixture, then put the leeks on top and spread them out and then top with mash potato. Sprinkle with the cheese and then place in an oven 180° for about 30mins or if you’ve chilled it first then put it in for 45 mins or so until it is hot and bubbling.

I always had this with peas or baked beans when I was little and lots of tomato ketchup. This time I had with broccoli and sprouts and lots of tomato ketchup!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Pancakes Galore

Posh Pancakes!!

So it was Shrove Tuesday the other day, otherwise known as Pancake Day, otherwise known as the only day of the year I ever seem to eat pancakes even though I do really like them!

My housemate P and I decided to go a bit upmarket with our pancakes this year - its great living with another foodie, we eat well in our house. This recipe also has by far the easiest method for making hollandaise sauce that I ever tried, bonus! Admittedly this recipe is not healthy in the slightest, but the whole idea of Pancake Day is to use up all your rich food,  I don't have a problem with having this as a treat on a special occasion.

Posh Pancakes: Asparagus and Speck Pancake Recipe

Original recipe that we have tweaked a little can be found here, Thanks Simon!

You will need:
(Pancake batter)
100g flour
2 large eggs
250ml milk
50g melted butter

This made around 8 pancakes, we only used 4 for the recipe and then the rest we had for pudding with brandy cream and golden syrup (yes I'm eating salad all week) 
(hollendaise sauce)
3 large egg yolk
250g butter, melted (the recipe said to use unsalted but we used salted and it is indeed a whole packet of butter)
½ lemon, juiced
8 slices of Speck (the original recipe uses parma ham but we found the speck just has a lovely smokiness that sets this dish off)
8 Asparagus Spears, blanched
Parmesan cheese (this makes all the difference, even though its not in the original recipe)


Make your pancake batter by just dumping all the ingredients into a large bowl and whisking until smooth, then cover and put in fridge. Blanch the asparagus spears in boiling salted water for a few minutes and then put in cold water until you need them.
To make the hollendaise; melt the butter by putting it in a microwavable dish and zapping until melted, set aside.  Take the egg yolks, add a tablespoon of cold water in a saucepan and whisk over a very low heat until it becomes smooth and thickens this took a good four to five minutes. Remove from heat and then slowly dribble in the melted butter (making sure you don't get any of the scummy white butter residue) whisking all the time. Once it has all been incorporated add the lemon juice and S&P and whisk again. Set aside.


Take your asparagus spears and wrap a piece of speck around each spear. Take the pancake batter, put a little butter or oil in the pan and make your pancakes! P was an expert as this and did some great pancake flipping! once your pancake is done take two of the speck wrapped spears of asparagus and place in the middle of the pancake, grate some Parmesan over and then wrap the sides over and place in buttered oven dish. Repeat another 3 times so you have 4 pancakes and then put the dish in the oven for 20 minutes on a moderate heat until the pancakes have crisped up.
Warm the hollendaise sauce through, very gently whisking all the time. Take the pancakes from the oven and add the hollendaise sauce, we think this works better then flash grilling it as the recipe suggests.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Sunday Walk #3 - Otford Circular Walk, with a new gadget!

Beautiful Kentish Countryside

Ah, a walk post. Its been a while. We have been walking, its just I always seem to forget to take my i-phone camera when we go on our walks. I remembered this time though which meant I take photos of my favourite new gadget, my trusty pedometer, my Ozeri 4x3motion Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer with Tri-Axis Technology to be completely exact (try saying that after a glass or two of wine).
Now before you raise a quizzical eyebrow I have had many pedometers in my time but this is by far the best one I have used. I choose the yellow colour as I find black a bit boring and its nice and bright. When you first get it, its really easy to set up so it is personal to you and means it is more accurate when it comes to your results. It doesn't need to be clipped to your belt, which can be annoying; you can either have it around your neck as it comes with a strap or put it in your pocket (as I tend to do)
Back to the walk,  with said pedometer in my pocket we set of on our Sunday walk, I thought it would be quite easy as it was only a six mile walk, but my goodness it was a tough six miles, with lots of steep hills. Steep hills are not my friend.

I found these steps a bit daunting (in my defence there were about 200 of them)
But getting to the top felt pretty good.....
There were lots of muddy fields to traipse through with lots of lovely views of the beautiful Kentish countryside which I am getting to love more and more as we have our Sunday walks.

We walked for around two and a half hours and my trusty pedometer told me lots of interesting facts like how many steps I had taken and how many calories I had burned.... it was a little off on the distance we had walked but that's not the main reason I have this. I love the design and the way the data is so easy to read and how it is displayed which even a novice like me can understand.

**While I was sent the pedometer to review by the lovely people at Ozeri, all opinions expressed are of course my own.**

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Jumbled thoughts

This little space of mine on the Internet has been a bit neglected many times do I seem to have written that?  Life has been a bit manic recently;  job hunting,  moving house, managing to land what I think is my dream job, first crazy busy week at work, getting used to commuting, Grams' 80th birthday celebrations, Dad's birthday, every weekend being filled up weeks in advance, the small snipes with my beau as we struggle to have quality time and miss each other...... the list is exhaustive. "I'm so time poor"  is the phrase most commonly used in my life right now.
But through it all, there is this overwhelming sense of peace and of happiness. I am incredibly blessed that after a couple of difficult months where I've found overcoming my situations tough, I have this feeling that everything in my life is as it should be. Of a sort of inner peace.  I think its taken me almost 28 years to get here but then whose counting? I think I've learnt that whilst some things just fall in to place, other things you have to really work at to get it right. Sometimes you have to take risks and it's not easy but when you do get to the other side it's the most rewarding thing. I'm no expert, I'm just over sharing.
Its my birthday next Monday and that beloved man of mine is whisking me away this weekend. My birthday treat. My love. He could take me to the grottiest place on earth and I wouldn't care, I'd just be happy to be there with him. I hope he doesn't test me on that theory though. I'd like to be by the sea, I'd prefer that sea to be the sea by Whitstable, Whistable has my heart.  
Just a few thoughts. Some recipes soon. I promise