Courgette fries

This blog post is exactly what it says on the tin. One of my birthday presents was a chipper and what was the first thing I used it for? Potato you ask, no, obviously it was courgette.

Whilst I used a chipper this could easily be made just by manually slicing the vegetables.

I chipped two courgettes, rolled them in milk and then placed them in a bag and shook them with the following ingredients:
– two heaped teaspoons of flour
– salt
– two tablespoons of breadcrumbs
– smoked paprika
– freshly ground pepper
– garlic powder
– onion powder

Once they were fully coated I carefully lined them up on a baking tray baked them at 150degrees in my fan oven for about 20-25mins.

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This meal looks a bit beige but it didn’t taste it.

If any one has any tips for courgette fries I would love to hear them.

Jessica x x x

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Gin tasting @ lazy lounge, Leeds

When I left my last job back in OCTOBER one of my presents was a gin and cake tasting for two. I finally got round to booking it for me and the boyfriend and had it earlier in the week as a continuation of my birthday weekend. It’s based at the Lazy Lounge in Leeds and I think its £20 per person.

We walked round after work, it’s based in Leeds city centre, just off wellington street and as we arrived half an hour early, we settled down with a glass of their house white. I’ve had it before and it’s well worth it as house wines go. As we were ordering I was a bit peckish and saw some snacking ham. What’s that you ask? I had to find out…

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Turns out it’s cured ham in a packet and it’s a tasty alternative to the usual crisps. I was a bit peppery for my liking but that didn’t stop me shovelling into my mouth.

Turning to the important bit…the gin. We were seated at a grand piano which had been turned into a table and which was covered in gin, cake and sandwiches:

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The guy (unfortunately I didn’t catch his name) was AMAZING and definitely knew his stuff. He took us on a tour from gineva to the modern day Gin and along the way learnt how some of the phrases we use to this day evolved via the popularity of gin. For instance “dutch courage” and “quack” in reference to a bit of a dodgy doctor.

It was so interesting to learn about the evolution of gin; tasting the first type was a revelation, and not the good kind!

The sandwiches and gin and tonic cake were both delicious and well needed. We drunk a lot of gin so needed the carbs.

I think my favourite gin was one which was made out of potatoes which is so ironic because I grew up on a potato farm!

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So if anyone wants to buy me some of this I am not going to refuse!

Pop down to lazy lounge, you won’t be sorry and its a fabulous night out.

Jessica x x x

Better late than never

So here in England it was mothers day a few weeks ago. My parents went away for the weekend so I just sent her a card to arrive when she returned. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo before I popped it into the envelope…idiot.

Bit of a back story, my mum really is the quintessential mother hen and I grew up on a farm with an orchard full of chickens. I also have two brothers so I gave two of the little chicks blue collars and the last one a pink collar.

I went home last night for a dentist appointment today (my dentist still thinks I live at home, I just can’t bear to change dentists) so I finally got the chance to take a photo of it. Apparently my brother can’t understand simple requests. Here it is:

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While I was there I also got to see the new little puppies!!

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They’re little springer spaniels; the mum is brown and white and the dad is black and white and they’re all completely adorable!

My mum names all her dogs with names that start in ‘B’, any ideas?

Jessica x x x

It’s a Mario!

The boyfriend loves his games and for our anniversary I thought what better a time than to put my recent love for stitching cartoons to use. I googled some pictures of the retro video game super Mario (incidentally one of the games I like) and put together a design.

Here’s some pictures:

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Me favourite bits are the cloud and the plant! The proportions are probably well off but where would the fun and homemade style be if it were perfect?

I wrote something very cheesy in it like ‘you won my heart years ago’. It made him laugh and it makes me smile. It’s still up on our bookcase 1 month later.

It was my birthday on Friday and he actually decides to reciprocate and stitch me a card for once:

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I think he got the pattern off Google images and unfortunately he wouldn’t show me so I can’t give credit. Please let me know if you know whose it is.

Don’t tell him but I’m a bit annoyed at how well it turned out, it’s his first (and last) go at making one. OK so some of the stitching changes direction but you can barely tell. I think he can stick to his programming thank you very much!

Has anyone else’s partner had a go at your favourite hobby? Did you secretly hate them as well?

Jessica x x x

So stuffed you could put me on a mantelpiece

It was my birthday on Friday and I ended up eating out a lot! Not that I’m complaining because I adore food, but let’s just say I’m contemplating joining a gym this week. Seriously, I looked round one tonight after work!

So….the meals….I hope you won’t be mad but I forgot to take pictures! I just got caught up in the moment (hunger to be specific) and totally forgot…. All 3 times!

1. Friday night at The Pour House, Granary Wharf, Leeds

On my actual birthday we ended up going out for a leaving do at the boyfriend’s work. It wasn’t an all awkward walking round with a bunch of flowers at someone else’s party…
We had prebooked our food a while before so I had almost forgotten what I had ordered. Turns out it was the New York-shire burger at £11.95. (Here’s a copy of the menu).

There was a few of us so it took a while to be served. The burger was alright. It was sold to me as being on the medium/rare side but it was disappointingly well done. I ate it but I finished it in no hurry to order it again. The boyfriend had the val hammer burger and was not impressed. The pulled pork soared but the tasteless burger brought it back down to earth with a bang.

Bottom line- I’d give the place a go again (the gin selection is amazing) but not on a friday night in a large group. If you’re looking for a great burger in a bar, head down to Brooklyn Bar on Call lane. You won’t be sorry.

2. Saturday night at El Bareto, Chapel Allerton, Leeds

I’ve been here before and I will go again. This place is warm, welcoming and tasty, all set in an intimate classic Spanish style, think orange walls, dark wood and rough plaster.

We ordered a bottle of the house wine which was fresh and totally drinkable. We totally forgot about the sangria otherwise we would have had a nice jug of that.

We ordered:
Marinated anchovies;
Jambon croquettes;
Chorizo in cider;
Jeffa potatoes; and
Fried squid
You can find the menu here.

The bill came to just over £40 which was an absolute bargain and we were definitely full afterwards. The two best dishes hands down were the anchovies and the croquettes. If I had to eat those non stop for a few weeks I would be a happy girl!

The only slight annoyance was how efficient it was, we were in and out in about 50 mins, although I can’t really fault them on this, we weren’t rushed at any stage, it just turns out that we know what we like so order quickly and we were quite happy to retreat back home to where icecream was calling out our name.

Bottom line- try this place you won’t be sorry.

3. Sunday afternoon at the Deer Park, Street Lane, Leeds

My family came round on sunday to celebrate my birthday and have a belated mothers day for my mum and Nanna as my parents were away for the actual day. My parents can be quite traditional and like a good pub so I thought this place would be a good shout, it has great food and a good beer selection so my dad was happy despite forgetting his glasses and missing the football.

Despite 8 of us rocking up on a lovely spring sunday afternoon, they managed to fit us in within a few minutes which was a shock considering how busy the place was.  I can’t fault the waiting staff here.

I went for the roast beef dinner as I was told I could have a rare piece of roast beef. Quite a while later the food came out and whilst the beef was most certainly not rare (or even medium) it was incredibly tender, so much so that I didn’t mind. It was accompanied by a generous helping of goose fat roasted potatoes which were fabulous and a fat Yorkshire pudding.

The chatter on our table soon quietened down once we were all busy eating and I don’t think anything was left. We left full, happy and a bit tipsy.

Bottom line- go for sunday lunch

Wow that was a long post, big congrats if you’ve made it this far!

Jessica x x x

Amazing red Thai crab cakes

I made these the other day for tea and I loved them! The picture is not going to do them justice so please do not judge on that!

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They’re served on a bed of spinach and topped with my lovely infamous carrot salsa (see here).

Ingredients (serves 2)
3 x small potatoes
1 x tin of crab meat in brine, drained
2 x handful of spinach
1-3 teaspoons of red Thai curry paste. This depends how hot you want it, see notes below
1 x small cup of milk
1 x small handful of plain flour
1 x handful of breadcrumbs
2-3 teaspoons of butter
1/2 an onion

Method
1. Peel, chop and boil the potatoes until tender in salted water. Drain and mash. I used my ricer and it makes perfectly lump free mash with barely any hassle;

2. Finely dice up the onion and mix with potato and butter.

3. Add the red Thai paste. Now I used 3 teaspoons but in hindsight this was probably too much. It’s not that it’s too hot, but it does take some of the flavour away from the crab. Next time I think I would use 1.5 teaspoons. Ensure the potato mixture is thoroughly mixed.

4. Gently stir in the crab meat. Be careful not to break up the chunks of meat too much, you still want bits of crab in there.

5. Separate the mixture onto 4 patties. Dip first in the flour making sure it’s fully coated, dunk in the milk and then carefully roll in the breadcrumbs to get a nice even coating. Repeat with the remaining patties.

6. Place on a baking tray in a pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes at about 180 degrees depending on how golden you want them.

Serve immediately with something fresh to counteract the spicy red Thai curry flavour and to enhance the crab . There’s plenty of potato in the fishcakes so don’t worry too much about a more substantial side. Two of these each was more than enough to make us feel full and sleepy on a cold wet English night.

Let me know how they turn out for you

Jessica x x x

Picasso embroidery

As you can probably tell there’s two things I like doing:
1. Making cards for friends’ birthdays; and
2. Cross stitching

HOWEVER…the plot thickens…

A few months ago I was having a girls night in at a friends house and noticed that she had some picasso sketches up on her wall. Fast forward a few weeks and it’s time to make her a birthday card; I thought ‘what does laura like’, my mind flashed back to those sketches and my cunning plan was formed.

Due to the size of my cards I realised cross stitching wasn’t going to be a viable option so I turned to embroidery, something which I am not particularly au fait with but I gave it a shot.

I used some white cotton I had previously stained with tea, drew on a faint outline and threaded the needle:

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Here’s what it’s supposed to look like.

Now of course I didn’t stick to the outline…who do you think I am? And I didn’t use a hoop, honestly they drive me crazy! Unfortunately because I held it in my hand the fabric buckled as you can tell. I just made out that it was supposed to and it seemed to work.

What’s been your experience with embroidery?

Jessica x x x

An overdue update

Wow! It has been a while since my last update, and I know so many of you will have been sitting on the edge of your seats just waiting, praying that I will post again. Well the time to be afraid is over I am pleased to announce, and I thought I would give you a quick update on what has been going on:

1. The job! So I alluded to having a new job a few months ago…well it’s been going really well. Currently I’m a paralegal in a law firm in Leeds but I have recently been told that I will be a trainee solicitor in June/July all being well.

I don’t think I can explain how happy I am about this; I did my degree, my postgrad, worked for two and a half years with the most amazing people but for a firm which made me feel bad and like I wanted to give up on law, then I get a new job and it seems like in no time they believe in me and what to help me progress my career.

So this is what’s been keeping me busy recently. We’ve been really busy lately and I’ve been working a few late nights (well late for me anyway)

2. I accidentally bought bags of carrots again instead of singular ones. This time it was 3!

3. I’m having a root canal tomorrow! Yes horrific I know!

4. Me and the boyfriend are finally getting somewhere with the house. The living room is almost finished; the skirting boards and doors just need a further paint and we need to buy a new settee/sofa. Oh and then there’s just the dining room, hall, master bedroom and 2 small bedrooms to worry about. Oh the joy of having to re-wire a house!

5. I finally got round to updating my pinterest board tonight. I haven’t been on it since before Christmas to post my creations and it got to that point where I knew there was a lot to do and I just couldn’t face it (a bit like logging back onto here and realising it’s been nearly a month since my last post) check out my pinterest board!

6. I have found my new favourite wine- Riesling. There is a simply version at tesco which is simply divine (haha) and at under £5 a bottle an absolute steal!

7. I seem to have done little cross stitching recently. The last project was for a new baby of my mum’s pen pal’s granddaughter. I was so annoyed, I had to unpick the name because the lady decided to change the spelling of the name when it was registered. Luckily I don’t think you could tell after and I made sure to stab the middle of the squares with my needle to equal out the bigger holes where the threads had been. I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished piece so I’m afraid you’re going to have to cope with this very brief snapshot:

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Yes that is a maple leaf in the top left hand corner!

I think that’s it really, I don’t lead a thrilling life I’m afraid but I like it.

Hope you’re all as happy as me right now.

Jessica x x x