The swing of things

Sunday, 26 February 2012

It's been a while since I posted daily outfit photos, or any sort of outfit photos really, but I'm currently getting into the habit of Liberating My Wardrobe (© lovely Laura, heheh) to stave off major shopping cravings. Don't get me wrong, a cardigan here & a bracelet there (& maybe a pair of shoes once in a blue moon) is nothing to be embarrassed about, but let's face it: I have - & don't we all, really - a fit-to-bursting wardrobe full of wonderful things just waiting to see the light. Now's my time to give it all a bit of an airing & a wearing.

top: urban outfitters / tunic: river island / necklace: dorothy perkins / boots: new look

This is a classic "lazy-day" outfit for me; a nice, easy tunic that I can pull over a long sleeve top & comfy boots, jazzed up a little bit with a perfect-green necklace. I'd really like to point out that most of the things I wear, I've actually had for years & years. Nothing like old comforts!

cardigan: new look / t-shirt: h&m / skirt: a shop in croatia / scarf: primark / bag: charity shop / boots: new look

I love these New Look boots. I bought them about a year ago in the sale for no more than £6, yet stowed them away (& I must admit, forgot about them a little bit) until literally earlier this month. All of a sudden, they were back in my mind & I've been wearing them almost non-stop since. This scarf is another one at the years-&-years-old party, a firm favourite I hasten to add. Plus I'm adoring my newest cardigan, in a lovely bright blue.

hoodie: h&m / top: primark / skirt: a shop in croatia / hat: primark / scarf: primark / boots: new look

Unashamedly, I am a hoodie fiend - don't even make me start counting how many I have! Not that I care too much but I'm betting that there can be certain stigmas attached to them. To me, hoodies are practical - & warm! Plus a handy way of toughening up otherwise girlie looks when I need to go to less girlie places... like my hometown in East London. Or to mountain biking events & races, like I was at today. To say I love this skirt is an understatement. I bought it from a shop in Dubrovnik, Croatia when I was on holiday there in 2008 when I wore black jeans (?!who DOES this?!) on a 30c day in June. Il stupido! This was the first airy, cool thing I could find for the least amount of beans & I've loved it ever since. It goes with EVERYTHING.

I'm certainly looking forward to getting back to documenting my wears with a little bit of wardrobe liberation! It's nice to be back blogging about something I've missed & am so familiar with.

Curried squash soup

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Lunch is often a haphazard thing in my world. On my work days, I don't technically get a lunch - my breaktimes are usually between 10-11am and even though I'm chowing down on sandwiches at that point, in my head anything before midday is still breakfast - and most of my days off are spent out of the house in an effort to keep my fingers out of a bag of crisps (three weeks & one day since I touched a fried potato packet snack thing - woo!). On the occasions that I do have a day in and I'm trying with great effort to stop thinking about anything vaguely crispy or chocolatey, it's a bit of a gamble as to what I will have for lunch. I pick up plenty of breakfast recipes and great dinner ideas galore adorn my Favourites bar, but lunch is almost a forgotten thing. This must be changed.

Lunch (for me) is a meal sandwiched between (for me) the two most important meals of the day, ones that I try and pad out as much as I can. Breakfast is almost always porridge, or toast with fruit. Dinner could be literally anything, but know that it will always be fajitas on a Friday, and that potatoes probably make an appearance in 5 out of 7 of my weekly dinners. What can I say? I do love a spud. So lunch must be light - basically something to carry me in the middle of the day. In practicing how to have a good lunch indoors I've flitted between rye bread with meat & cheese (a little something I picked up from Europe, there) and soup. Oh, tasty soup.

I saw the recipe for this one in my most recent issue of Runner's World and immediately brain-bookmarked it as a Must Cook. The rest of my MC list sobbed in despair as today, I fast-tracked this tasty recipe to the very top of the list and found myself in soup heaven. After downing (quite literally) a bowl of this while it was still piping hot, it occured to me that I could probably make and eat this soup almost every week and NEVER get bored of it, all with a few simple alterations.

Curried Squash Soup
(I'm no expert but I reckon this would make enough for 5 lunches, if you had a bit of bread with every one.)

600g butternut squash, or any squash, or pumpkin, or even sweet potato (or indeed, a mix of some/all)
400ml stock (I used chicken, but you can most definitely use vegetable)
150ml coconut milk
1tsp curry powder
¼tsp salt (perhaps omit if you use vegetable stock, & then just add to season afterwards)

Method: Bloody simple. Boil or steam your vegetables until tender, then drain. Put back in the pan with the stock, coconut milk, curry powder & salt (if adding). Give a good stir, then blend until absolutely smooth and gorgeous looking.

You can most certainly have it as it is - it's delicious enough without any accompaniments - but after racking my brains, I came up with a few ideas to make it last you throughout the week without getting too samey.

++ Melt a little crunchy peanut butter with some hot water, a teeny tiny bit of coconut milk & some black pepper and drizzle on top for a lovely creamy swirly finish.
++ Grill a rasher of pancetta or bacon until all frazzled & crispy, then break into little pieces and scatter over the soup for a beautiful smokey flavour.
++ Add raisins & broken brazil nuts for an excellent crunch.
++ Throw in some spinach, toasted pine nuts & a tablespoon of already-cooked rice when warming up for something a little bit more filling.
++ Cut some pitta bread into squares, soak in some Worcestershire sauce (yum) & dry-fry until just crispy for some deluxe croutons.
++ Add sweetcorn, or cooked prawns, or chickpeas, or a swirl of Marmite, or nutritional yeast, or a little scattering of grated cheese... the possibilities are endless!

Do you have a filling lunch, or something light? What would you top this soup with?


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

It's been a week since I was in Edinburgh & to tell you the truth, I miss it sorely. From the moment I arrived until the second my train pulled out of Waverly station, I was absolutely enamoured with this city. It's something about the timeless, classic buildings, the amazing history, the nooks & crannies, & the breathtaking views from such great heights. While there were many highlights, the number one moment for me has to be walking to the top of Arthur's Seat, an 820ft cliff overlooking the whole of Edinburgh. Well worth the 45-ish minute steep climb, I would recommend that everybody visiting Edinburgh puts themselves through it just for that immortal feeling & the view. Will I ever stop harping on about the view?!

Have you been to Edinburgh, or is it on your list of to-go places?

Chocolate chip cookies

Friday, 3 February 2012

The holiday comedown is a pretty depressing experience. We shall call it, The Holiday Hangover. For the day after our arrival home from any major trip, I might as well be moping in my PJs & blanket with daytime TV on & living off a pot of tea - if I'm not already! There is a distinct struggle to get back into the monotony of Real Life - especially when it comes to losing all the filthy holiday habits. I'm talking about all the lovely lay-ins, the ability to come & go as you please, and (a big and) feasting on restaurant-or-café meals at every opportunity. I didn't mean for it to become a tradition, but coming back from the last few holidays, I've always found myself in the kitchen on that dreaded day-after. Mostly baking my little heart out, but sometimes preparing the odd healthy-ish evening meal in advance to keep my mind from wandering back to that fantastic Zizzi's (& believe me, it was fantastic).

When we were on the train up to Edinburgh on Tuesday, I had the best cookie in the world. Giant, vanilla-based with chocolate chips, crunchy in all the right places & gooey in the rest. It was like I had died & gone to cookie heaven, & I vowed to replicate it as soon as I could. This is more of a task than you would imagine - I tend to get major paranoia when baking, especially if things are looking on the pale side. I only figured out for myself recently that things keep baking once you take them out of the oven & it's okay if they resemble air when you tentatively prod your finger into them (like I do, ahem). Most of my previous cookies have resembled frisbees in every sense & I am probably the only person to make Snickerdoodles both crunchy & crispy. F-A-I-L.

Today, I told myself two important things: stop worrying, & follow the recipe to the very letter. It just so happens that I was following a recipe that Helen had posted years ago, so I knew that everything would be absolutely fine. I'd love to post the recipe here for you to try, but you may as well check it out on Helen's blog. As I said, I followed it to the word. & stopped worrying.

The result? Utter deliciousness. I am pretty proud that something so kick-ass has managed to come out of my mixing bowl & they are literally like the cookies I ate on the train - gooey & soft in the middle, a little crunchy on the outside, & gorgeously chocolatey. What more could you ask for? (A mug of milk to dunk them in while I flick through my Edinburgh photos, of course.)

& these bad boys are the thai turkey burgers I have pre-prepared for tea tomorrow night, in a lazy Saturday I've-just-got-home-from-work-&-can't-be-arsed-to-cook love affair. Bring it on. I pretty much threw all the ingredients in a bowl & hoped for the best so if they're yummy, standby for a recipe!

Do you suffer from baking paranoia at all?