I have recently mused that in a past life, I was born a Spaniard because whenever I set foot in Spain, I immediately feel at ease. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a guest, but the country and people have always seemed welcoming and friendly. I think I could quickly acclimatise to a life of late starts and late nights, indulging in all the hearty and flavoursome Spanish cuisine, and sipping on their well-rounded wines with every meal. The more we see and eat of the country, the more we want to stay longer.
We’ll always have our snappy weekend jaunts, but we’re also embracing a slower, more leisurely way of travel. Our last Spanish adventure was a ten day affair through Andalusia; it gave us enough time to see all the sights but also just to sit back, relax and do nothing but just be present in whatever Spanish scene we were in. I loved that trip so much, I’m already eyeing up a slow amble through another part of the country… This time, it’s Catalonia after being inspired by Inntravel’s Homage to Catalonia tour.
Last week, I got a spiralizer. I am well aware that they were all the rage last year, but I sort of dismissed them along with the so-called clean eating gurus who were flogging them. I didn’t buy into their crazy rhetoric that such a thing as courgetti could replace such a thing as spaghetti, so I sure as hell wasn’t going to buy the gadget! Yeah, the name works but the taste, texture and overall enjoyment? No thanks. I’m an inclusive eater, no one food group gets cut out in favour of another in my diet… we’re all one happy (mostly) balanced family in my tummy. However in the name of research, I’ve decided to give the courgetti or the zoodles a go, but only alongside rather than instead of their carb friends!
The good thing about jumping on a trend so late is that lots of people have already outlined the pros and cons of each of the main types of spiralizer. The one that’s like a giant pencil sharpener is as silly as it sounds and should be avoided at all costs, but the horizontal and vertical ones (depending on which way the vegetable goes through the slicing process) are much of a muchness. I’ve got a horizontal one which seems to be the most common; it was even the version of choice by two well-known spiralizing sister… mines exactly like theirs minus the branding and the huge mark up!
I am the proud owner of a very, very well stocked freezer. That’s probably not the coolest (pun totally intended to add to said coolness) or most glamorous thing to admit but such is real life. And in my life, a well stocked freezer is one key to eternal home happiness. Ridicule me all you like but you know who will be having the last laugh? Me, with my belly-warming bowl of homemade dumplings and broth, ready in just ten minutes. Me, diving into my oxtail stash for a Sunday stew, saving myself the trolley battles in the Sunday supermarket swarms. Or me, wading through my ice cream options for dessert just because I can.
Every freezer should have at least one type of ice cream, but in a well stocked freezer like mine, one is never enough. Oh no, that would be a disgrace! Our current situation involves two staples – a tub of top notch vanilla (because it goes with everything, duh) and a selection of mini Magnums (because I can be sensible in my indulgence), and a new entry… a delectable array of ice creams and sorbets from Simply Ice Cream! When I say there’s something sweet for everyone in that bottom freezer drawer, I really mean it.
Is that how the song goes? Because at the tail end of the year, I always find myself a little more cautious with my cash – aside from the usual dinners out and weekend getaways, there are also a raft of birthdays to celebrate, Christmas dinners to attend, and presents to buy for both occasions! However some might well argue that in reality, every season is one to spend, and the tail end of everypay cycle is when we start feeling the pinch…
You can cut back on a lot when things are tight, but in my opinion, eating well should not be one of them… I’m not an advocate of choosing certain diets or cutting particular foods out, I’m all about the balance which makes me a sucker for a bargain and a little obsessed with supermarkets. We love experimenting with cheaper cuts of meat (lamb’s hearts are delicious, don’t you know) or turning basic ingredients into flavoursome and comforting meals… more for less, you might say if you work in the public sector!
Deciding what to make for an office shared lunch can be quite a challenge. You certainly don’t want your colleagues to think you are incompetent in the kitchen (even if you are, some things should be kept out of the office) but you also don’t want to get too complex. No one likes a show off, or to be accused of trying to pass off a shop-bought item as one of their own. Then there’s the added issue of actually getting the food to the office – there’s no way I’m carting anything bigger than a standard sized tupperware box across London on three tube changes and a bus ride. Yeah, my commute is worse than yours; I know.
Given the list of dietary requirements, general likes and dislikes, and the scrutiny of some discerning diners in your midst, I would recommend you do what I do and play it safe. Chocolate brownies are the answer; a guaranteed crowdpleaser. If by chance there is someone in your team who doesn’t like chocolate brownies, someone else will no doubt be rubbing their hands together with delight because that means there’s another one going spare…
I went through a phase where I thought Vietnamese summer rolls were the best thing since sliced bread. I was in my late teens, had never been to Vietnam (still haven’t…) and just thought they were so much more exotic than the stock standard spring rolls I had munched on all my life! I did and do love spring rolls, my parents make cracking ones, but I don’t think it was cool for a teenage girl to profess a love of deep fried foods back in the day.
Now, years later, I am still quite fond of summer rolls but I find myself ordering them less in restaurants and ordering spring rolls more. Mostly because I won’t let a certain someone get a deep fryer (that self conscious teenage girl had some sense) and summer rolls are so easy to make at home!
This city has been my home for over two years now. For a certain someone it’s been much longer; over seven years if you include the stint he did here before yours truly dragged him back, all because I wanted to join the flocks of Kiwis in London. This city has been good to us, but recently we’ve been struck with a case of itchy feet and wondering what other cities could be our future home…
We’ve fantasised about switching this vibrant bubble for one more exotic like Hong Kong or KL, throwing ourselves completely out of our comfort zones for the sake of an adventure! On the flipside, we’ve also talked about turning our backs on the mayhem and opting for somewhere slightly more laid back but equally as enthralling like Lisbon or Porto, two cities we’ve already fallen head over heels for!