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Monday 23 February 2009

There's a hole in my stomach, dear doctor dear doctor

I for one will be glad when February’s over, because so far it’s kinda sucked. The last two weeks especially. Mainly cuz I just seem to have been ill a lot and I'm sure work stress is exacerbating that (ooh check me out with ma big words!!). Last week I was getting really bad pains in my chest & back; I’ve had them before and have always suffered with heartburn but this was worse than ever and went on for more than 12 hours!

The doc thinks I have a duodenal ulcer which is usually caused by an infection they can treat with antibiotics, I’m waiting to hear the results of the blood test on that one.

Then my workmate gave me his stupid lurgy (half the office have had it) and I’ve been feeling like death warmed up since Friday. So I’m “working from home” today.

Also, I’ve mentioned recently that work sucks – it’s because the economy is kicking our arse and me and some other colleagues are in the consultation period for redundancy, I find out Friday if I’m staying or going!

I’ve kind of lost my cooking mojo too. I dunno if it’s cuz it’s not MY kitchen anymore and there’s no music in there! But lately I don’t even want to bake all that much – what’s wrong with me!! Haha. Since I’ve been ill, I’m too lame to cook and this is about all I can muster up for lunch – yes. That IS a peanut butter & crisp sandwich. Told you I was lame.

A couple of meals I made before I caught the lurgy though.....

This was some tofu that I just dry fried then threw in some soy sauce and hot sauce and served on top of couscous mixed with some veggies. Boring but fast and tasty.

I made my dad & me pizza. I normally don’t do a yeast crust as I’m too lazy to leave it prove but I didn’t bother proving it and it worked fine! And more than that – it was awesome. I didn’t use a recipe cuz all my books are in the shed. So I threw 2½ cups of flour, 1 packet (7g) of fast action yeast, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp of sugar in a bowl. Then I mixed in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 cup of warm water, kneeded it for a few minutes on a floury surface then just set it aside till I was ready to roll it out.

For the sauce I just whizzed up some tinned tomatoes and then I threw on mushrooms, sweetcorn, asparagus, peppers, red onion and Sheese Mozarella style then sprinkled it with oregano & black pepper. It was one superrad pizza! I'll be making the crust that way again!

I wanted quite a thin crust so there was some left over. I had this ‘great’ idea of making some garlic bread, but my mum’s oven is FIERCE and I really don’t know it yet - so I overcooked it a bit. It was, erm crispy! My dad still ate it though.

Anyway - it’s not all doom and gloom like I’m making it sound! I’m dogsitting this week for my friend who is celebrating her 30th in Vegas! So meet Luke – the scruffy boy. Isn’t he a cutie...

Here he is trying to stop me doing any work (like I need an excuse) by sleeping on my laptop. It’s a good thing I moved home really cuz I am certainly not up to walking him so my dad’s been having to look after him, bless him. I think he’s enjoying it – Luke has taken a shine to him and follows him round! He’s in with me for the nights, trying his best to take up the space in the bed by sleeping diagonally! And cuz I'm at home, he follows me wherever I sit and sniffle. In the evening though, he makes sure he is near dad.

So anyway – I need to try and get my mojo back as best I can until I have my own kitchen again; so when I’m better I’m making a playlist so I can listen to some tunes on my iPod while I’m cooking, hopefully that’ll make me wanna get back in the kitchen and rattle those pots n pans!! But I need help (as if you didn’t know that already) - I need suggestions. Suggest me some tunes please!!

I’m off to catch up with some blog reading then watch some bad daytime TV.

Sunday 15 February 2009

Love, Actually.

This year I made a couple of valentine themed goodies. Being single since, erm - Abba! means that I usually spend v-day with a tub of ice cream and a chick flick or a single girlfriend, a tub of ice cream and a chick flick!!

This year I had one such single friend over to stay and my other friend & her fiance as well - they decided not to bother celebrating it this year!

But it started on Thursday night when a workmate requested some v-day themed cupcakes for Friday. So I made chocolate CCs with buttercream that I tinted/flavoured with raspberry Crusha (which used to be vegan and I still have a bottle of the old stuff - boo to them for putting carmine in it now!!) The heart was some white fondant that I coloured with a wanktonne of pink food colouring paste, rolled out and cut out with a teeny cookie cutter.

I also made 2 special ones for my fellow Gossip Girl loving besties!!

So onto the day itself. Dinner for my friends was butter bean stew, with smashed taters & roasted asparagus (my new favourite way to eat asparagus.

I made 2 desserts as my friend said she was trying to be good so I thought I'd make sure I had a lower fat option. The main event was a coconut cheesecake that I have had in my head for ages, I just wasn't sure it'd work, but it did (recipe is at the end of the post, I'm really REALLY happy with the way it turned out)

Second option was a carrot cake, that I threw some pineapple chunks & orange zest into. Instead of the usual cream cheese frosting, I just made a glaze with icing sugar and orange juice and drizzled it over the top. It was awesome!

Of course, everyone went for a bit of both in the end. I whizzed up some strawberries to make a sauce for the cheezecake too.

Today's dinner was some rice that I cooked up and added to a tomato, some black beans that I cooked this morning and lots of hot sauce. With roasted baby portabellas and asparagus. MMM!

And here's the cheesecake recipe. It's very soft but it sets enough to remove the outside of the tin!

Coconut Cream Cheezecake

150g digestive biscuits*
3 tbsp vegan margarine
250ml coconut cream (1 carton of Blue Dragon UHT coconut cream!!)
1 tsp agar flakes
1 tsp arrowroot
1 tsp water
3/4 pack (a 225g pack) of plain vegan cream cheese
1/2 pack firm silken tofu
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Smash up the biccies a bit, then throw them into a food processor until they are finely ground. Melt the margarine and then mix the two together.

Pour the crumbs into a 9" flan tin, with a removable bottom if possible. Press the crumbs down well and use a cup measurer or a spoon to pack them down. Put into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until just lightly brown. Remove from oven & cool.

Pour the coconut cream into a saucepan and sprinkle the agar flakes over it. Don't stir! Switch on the heat and bring to a boil. Stir well and then turn the heat down and simmer, stirring occasionally until the agar flakes melt.

Mix together the arrowroot & water and then add to the coconut mixture. Turn the heat up a bit and bubble, stirring, until it thickens a bit. Remove from the heat, leave to cool and stir occasionally. Don't worry if it gets a bit lumpy!

When the coconut mixture and base are both cool, throw the tofu, cream cheese and coconut mixture into a blender (or food processor if it is a really good one that will get it smooth! - a hand blender would work too!). Add the vanilla, sugar & maple syrup and process till all smooth.

Pour the filling into the shell & level it out and smooth off the top. Chill for at least 2 hours until firm enough to remove the outer ring of the tart tin.

To make it pretty, I mixed some coconut with some pink food colouring and sprinkled it on top!

Cooking to: I have been mainly listening to Lily Allen - It's Not Me It's You & Paramore - Riot! this week.

*Digestives - watch out, a lot of them contain butter. McVities Light digestives are vegan, as are Morrison's own brand value range!

Tuesday 10 February 2009

I'm a bad babysitter got ma boyfriend in your shower...

WOOP I'm making six bucks an hour.

OK so I'm not a babysitter but I don't know any songs about being a bad blogger!! I haven't been making much blog worthy food lately and my google reader has about 100 unread posts in it that I need to catch up on!!

I have got a few pics from the last week. Firstly, I made some more meetloaf (from Cozy Inside) but this time I stole Beck's idea of making mini ones in muffin tins - awesome idea!! Ps: these + good bread + reggae reggae ketchup = the best sandwich EVER!

I had them with roasted veggies. I forgot to take an after shot before here is the before one: beetroot, peppers, squtternut bosh, turnip, fennel & onion. YUM!

This is not very photogenic I know, but it's some soup I made last night. I threw the veggies that were half eaten in the fridge in a pot with some turmeric and veggie stock and it wasn't half bad. There was squash, potato, sweet potato, carrot, onion, garlic & peas.

Last night I made veggie hash for dinner. It was rad!! I added some tofu this time, as I had some to use up.

This is a bit of a lousy pic because it was the leftovers. For sunday dinner I made a sunday roast (forgot to take a pic!!) and this was dessert - a crumble. It had 2 huge mutha bramley apples, a punnet of blueberries & a couple of tbs of sugar in the filling and a thick layer of crumble topping. We had it with custard and it was ace.

I made these muffins on my second snow day (off work!). They were a bit too crispy cuz I don't know mum's oven yet. But they had hazelnuts and cranberries in. When I took a bite I realised I really outta make more things with hazelnuts in - they are good!

That's it for now, I'm off to catch up with my backlogged google reader!

Monday 2 February 2009

Snow Day!!

So I'm all moved in and am now trying to figure out where to put the multitude of crap that I brought over with me from the flat. I hate moving so much but what I hate most is unpacking!!

Anyway, last night I went to see My Bloody Valentine 3D - 3D Jensen - oh yeah!! Anyway it was awesome but driving home it had started to snow and I nearly crashed just trying to turn into my road. Then got up this morning and this is what awaited me when I looked out the window.

In true UK style, the roads came to a standstill and that only means one thing - SNOW DAY! HURRAAAAHHH. Day off to watch Firefly and make a snowman (plus a little light unpacking!!). Here is mine, mum's & dad's effort - meet Wilfred, with me in my sexy wellies!

And I just had to make a snow angel. My parents officially think I'm nuts now oh and those are my dad's bright blue rubber gloves, hahaha!

To warm us up I made cookies (I probably don't need to tell you what recipe I used). Sorry for the shite food pix, my camera is still in the depths of one of my boxes and I only have my camera phone until I find it.

For lunch I made us some split pea soup, which I've been fancying for days, ever since I found the packet of split peas when I was clearing out the cupboards in the flat, it was ace. It's not much of a recipe, because it was pretty much a case of just chucking stuff in the pot and hoping it came out as good as the soup my Nan used to make.

Easy Split Pea Soup
1 cup (dry) yellow split peas
1 large white onion, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely diced
4 cups (1 ltr) veggie stock (I just used water + 2 stock cubes)
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt & pepper

Pour boiling water over the split peas and cover them with a plate and set aside (they double in size so make sure you have a big enough bowl).

Saute the onion in the olive oil (and a pinch of salt) for about 5 minutes, add the carrot and cook a couple more minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Drain the peas and throw them in the pot with the stock, herbs and a pinch of pepper. I used stock with salt in so I didn't add extra, if yours are low sodium, add salt to taste now.

Bring to the boil and then turn down to a low simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes and then it's done. We ate it reheated about an hour later and it was rad.

Fingers crossed it snows again tomorrow so I can have another day off!! :)

Cooking to: Take That - The Circus