Monthly Archives: June 2012

My quirky food likes; peanut butter, potato salad, cheese, hummus and jalapeños

My quirky food likes

Quirky or odd food cravings and likes, we all have them. Some are things we can’t go a day without eating, others are items that are always stocked in our fridge  or cupboard or things we hanker for on a sporadic basis and one most of us are familiar with is a cravings for certain foods after say a night out.

Taste of London was on in Regents Park this weekend and we went along to check out the vast number of food stalls and sample the freebies. The one stall I unfailing gravitate towards is the cheese tent and yesterday was no different. The maturer the better in my opinion – my all time favourite cheese is Old Amsterdam Cheese, words literally can’t describe it. My fridge at home is permanently stocked with at least three different types of cheese. I counted today and I have five different cheeses in the fridge. They never last long and need constant replenishing but it’s one thing I can’t do without and none of that low fat cheese either, nothing but the proper full fat will do.

The evening before going to Taste was filled with consuming copious amounts of Prosecco – my friend and I chose our Friday night beverage with style. So Saturday morning saw my morning after craving for potato salad kick in. Normally people crave something greasy after a night out but no not me, in true Irish style I crave spuds. People find it odd but I literally polish off an entire salad in one sitting. Although saying that no one can beat my grandmother’s German potato salad it’s amazing, I could eat it every day.

Peanut Butter Cookies

And now on to my quirky food liking which resulted in me baking tonight; peanut butter. I go through lengthy phases where I constantly crave peanut butter – but it has to be crunchy. I don’t quite go as far as eating it out of the jar – although I have been known to do that on occasion –  but it’s another thing I constantly stock in my cupboard. So this evening I decided to bake Peanut Butter Cookies, they were easy to make and turned out pretty good, although if anyone has a truly amazing recipe, I’d love to give it a try.

As for my red pepper hummus and jalapeño liking… Red pepper hummus is something I ALWAYS stock in my fridge, and ever since living in Sri Lanka where I developed an obsession for chilli and spicy foods, I throw chilli into pretty much any food I can get away with and jalapeños are often my preferred spice fix.

I’d love to hear your quirky food likes or odd food combinations!

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My new-found partiality to Orzo

Spinach, Feta and Cherry Tomoto Orzo Salad

I’ve only recently discovered Orzo. This delicous rice like pasta that only takes six minutes to cook is opening up all sorts of new summer recipes for me.

I still find my previous lack of knowledge of this food bizarre, I don’t know how I missed it! Every Saturday I try to get my hands on The Guardian Weekend Magazine; either buying the paper myself, riffling through it in a pub or cafe or pinching the magazine from my boyfriend. I read it rather like guys read a newspaper, starting at the back. But rather than looking through the sports pages, I skip to the recipe pages.

It was this weekly leafing through the recipes that first introduced me to Orzo. I tried Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Orzo recipe with peas, fried pancetta, garlic and on a whim I added a dollop of creme fraiche to top it off, about two weeks ago. It was  simple and delicious. Although, when I’m hungry I have an annoying habit of putting too much pasta or rice, or in this case Orzo into the boiling water. I should have stuck with the recommended 50g on the packet, unfortunately I ended up learning that the hard way.

Today I had in mind to try another Orzo recipe that one of my colleagues had recommended to me for dinner. Oddly enough a portion of my afternoon was spent reading about  food in the form of Martha Payne’s blog NeverSeconds, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it – it was for work purposes, just in case you were thinking I was just reading for my own pleasure. It’s the blog of a nine year old Scottish schoolgirl who, with her dad’s help, writes about her school dinners and rates them out of 10. Within a month her blog went viral around the globe and coverage of Martha and her blog escalated last Friday when her local council banned her from taking pictures of her meals. The censorship has since been lifted and she’s back blogging.

Martha Payne’s Pizza and Croquet school dinner

I’m still mind boggled at her success, how such a simple idea for a blog managed to grab the attention of thousands or people around the world. I guess it really does go to show that anyone can do it. You never know, maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough!

Looking at her pictures – in particular the above one of her school dinner of a slice of pizza, a few grains of sweetcorn and a single croquet – made me finally realise why Jamie Oliver is fighting so hard to improve school dinners in the UK. I guess in Ireland, at least where I went to school, we didn’t have school dinners. I always brought a packed lunch to school – which my sister used to kindly make for me while I fed the horse in the morning – and those people who didn’t bring their lunches bought something in the supermarket during the break.

Funnily enough I think the above picture of my dinner of Spinach, Feta and Cherry Tomato Orzo Salad looks slightly more appetising than Martha’s school lunch. The salad was really good and once again, so easy to make. I simply boiled the Orzo, while it was bubbling away I cut an onion which I fried until caramelised, chopped the feta, cherry tomatoes and some fresh basil. When the Orzo was cooked I added everything together with a handful of spinach, a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, seasoning and to finish off I sprinkled pine nuts on top and voila, I had a healthy but delicious summer supper. Oh, and this time I only cooked 50g of Orzo, it made a bit of a difference!

I think I’ll be cooking with this new-found ingredient quite a lot over the summer, whether we have a warm or rainy one, at least I can feel summery in my dinner choice!

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Fitness, health and dieting, the delights of summer

Zumba class, might be me soon!

Health, fitness and dieting, the delights of the summer months! There is an even bigger push for fitness this year what with the Olympics being in London, and everyone is promoting something fitness or health related. I’d like to say I’m not influenced by this but sadly I’m no exception to the masses. I always ramp it up in the summer; swimming more, eating better and generally attempting to be a picture of health.

Now saying that I don’t do diets, I love my food too much. Which is why I hate when people decide to tell me how bad the things I love eating are for me. When I found out how calorific wine is I was so upset. The same goes for cheese, bread, chocolate, pasta, basically everything I love is bad for me in some way; carbs, fat, too many calories it never ends. I’ve even started looking at the calories in products at the supermarket, it’s driving me mad.

One of the things that always baffles me in the world of diets are the bizarre fads doing the rounds. The latest craze I’ve heard of in Sweden is a diet of low carbs/high fat which has resulted in a concerning cholesterol surge in the country. I mean I’m no health expert but that just sounds like a stupid thing to do. The disturbing lack of food origin knowledge in young Briton’s doesn’t do much to help things either, if you don’t know where things come from, well how can you know if they’re good for you or not?

I guess it’s true what they say, we’re never happy with what we have and that goes for health, fitness and dieting as well. Despite my healthy eating habits and exercising – tonight I had an amazing Warm Puy lentil, cherry tomato & halloumi salad for dinner after my 60 lengths in the pool –  I’m still not 100% happy.

During the week I’m a picture of health, fitness etc but on Friday’s and Saturday’s I indulge. Pancakes with clotted cream for brunch on Saturday, takeaway pizza or eating out for dinner, ice cream – preferably Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough -, chocolate, bagels, you name it and obviously no swimming or excercise of any kind. So in effect I spend the next week repairing the damage of my indulging weekend. But I’d never give them up, even if it meant swimming every day during the week!

Swimming is all very well but I’ve been wanting to try something else for a while, however, going to the gym is one thing I won’t do. When I was at university I tried Circuit Training for a few weeks, I could barely move after the first time and oddly enough my attendance dwindled quite rapidly after that. One thing I have been dying to try for ages though is Zumba. Although I’m afraid that I might not be quite coordinated enough. It’s not that I’m uncoordinated, but when I lived in Holland I tried street dancing for a few weeks and I was just terrible at remembering the routines.

I’ve been researching the classes at my local gym, they offer all sorts of classes  such as Bums, Tums & Thighs, Step & Sculpt, Body Tone, you name it. No idea what half of them are, but maybe I should just give one of them a try.

With Olympic fever taking over the UK, everyone is pushing fitness and exercise. Some of my colleagues are dedicated enough to go to classes at the gym over lunch  but quite frankly I can’t see the appeal of sweating it out during my lunch break when I should – in theory – be relaxing. Although I don’t know how keen they would be to try out the latest Swedish craze, Lunch Beat which is basically a 60 minute lunchtime boogie, without alcohol of course. Oddly enough I can’t imagine that I’ll be adding that to my midday schedule any time soon.

For the time being I think I’ll stick to trying out a Zumba or Step & Sculpt class and see how that goes!

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The Jubilee weekend; street parties, rain, beer and Coldplay

OK to start with, the flag absolutely does not mean I’m becoming British, royalist, patriotic or anything like that, I just felt it was appropriate to include following the long weekend we’ve just had thanks to the Queens Diamond Jubilee!

As CBS news put it, there were a lot of block parties going on all over the UK this weekend, or as we say on this side of the Pacific, street parties. Typically after last weekend’s gorgeous weather, the entire Jubilee weekend was a bit of a wipe out.

However, despite the threatening rain clouds we did venture out on Sunday (with an umbrella, just in case) to join the throngs at the Book Club street party in Hoxton. It takes a lot to stop the British (and Irish) from celebrating anything in style! There was live music with a lovely old lady boogying away by herself and stalls of all sort so of food and drinks from burgers, Indian, curries, cupcakes, beer, you name it. Everything looked and smelt delicious and had my stomach rumbling.

Street party The Book Club, Hoxton

Street party

It wasn’t just the street parties that people flocked too, but patriotically attired (don’t worry I wasn’t) the English and tourists alike beelined for the Thames, parks, street parties or the pub to have a pint and watch the flotilla. The last few weeks has seen the entire country decking itself out in bunting, flags and anything union jack related and Jubilee mania has dominating the media.

I have to admit my interest was more in the long weekend than the Queens Diamond Jubilee. Partly due to the fact that I would have a lot of time to sleep, go out and what I was really looking forward to, seeing Coldplay at the Emirates on Monday evening.

Coldplay at the Emirates

My somewhat alternative childhood meant that I didn’t really start listening to music until I was a teenager. When I did, Parachutes was one of the first albums that I bought.

Coldplay at the Emirates

Monday evening was the last evening of the London shows and luckily for us it wasn’t raining. We arrived shortly before Robyn, who was supporting, started. I can’t say that she was particularly good, or in my opinion the best choice to support Coldplay, but hey the rest of the show was good!

Coldplay

The concert, in true Coldplay style, was pretty amazing and as to be expected everyone continued singing the Paradise chorus well after the encore and Chris Martin and the guys had gone. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t stuck in my head for the rest of the evening as well.

All in all it was a pretty good weekend and now I’m mentally preparing myself to go back to work tomororw, but only for three days this week. Ah, the hard life that we have!

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