You may have already deduced my internet absence is down to an almost complete change of circumstances for me. I can confirm that plan move Londinium is pretty much well under way and we now have less than a month in our current abode. To say this is completely and utterly terrifying would be an understatement.
Neither of us thought we’d be moving so soon but whilst I was staying with my lovely little Sister recently the flat above hers became available and after a single viewing I decided it was absolutely the one for us. Like our Cornish flat, it is at the very top of the house (a Victorian one this time), built into the eaves with lots of character and plenty of space – two bedrooms this time, which means our visitors get their own bed!
I’m desperately trying to qualm my excitement at this stage because not everything has been finalised but we are finding it very difficult to contain ourselves (plenty of spontaneous dancing has already occurred). And because we are moving before Christmas we now get to put up our Christmas tree (can I have a woot!!!) and seeing as we are complete Crimbo nut jobs this has also added to the frenzied state we have subsequently found ourselves in.
I tend to do a lot of fretting and this relocation is no different to any other but we’ve become pros at this moving game so everything is underhand. For now.
Even though I may not have been blogging, I sure as heck have been a busy bee and loving every second of it. Subsequently I’ve had to adapt my cooking style because I have limited time on my hands. However, I’m really relishing whipping up fuss free meals and must concede to not enjoying them any less than my usual fare, which usually takes well over an hour to prepare, yikes!
For the future, I will have to rely on some convenience food (baked beans on toast is a saviour in such circumstances) and also find short cuts in my evening meal prep – so far, I’ve only opened one jar but I fear there may be many more to come. Of course, I will try to maintain some diet equilibrium, as my body doesn’t react tremendously well to pre-prepared food in vast quantities.
This coconut mung bean curry is a reasonably quick and easy affair. The trickiest thing about it is remembering to soak the mung beans the night before – I didn’t and made do with an afternoon, which just about sufficed. They did take a tiny bit longer than usual to cook but the good news is they retain their shape so well you’re unlikely to overcook them.
I adore this curry and have made it many times before. It is perfect served with rice or noodles and wonderful when paired with roasted spiced potatoes. Just like a dhal, it’s one of those dishes that requires minimal tampering – occasional stirring, a wee bit of patience and you’re good to go. Enjoy!
coconut mung bean curry (makes four generous servings)
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves
1 thumbsized piece of ginger
1 cup dried and soaked mung beans
1 can (approx 1 1/2 cups) full fat coconut milk
1 tsp cumin
3 cups of water
salt and pepper
Heat the coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan.
Finely chop the onion and add to pan. Salt, clamp on lid and allow to soften on a medium to low heat for several minutes.
Mince the garlic and ginger and add to pan. Season with salt and pepper, stir, clamp on lid and allow the flavours to infuse.
Drain the mung beans and rinse. Add to the pan along with the softened onion, garlic and ginger and stir to combine.
Pour in the coconut milk, 1 cup of water, cumin, season, stir and bring to a gentle simmer.
Add the remainder of the water gradually – as the beans absorb the liquid. You never want it too dry so remember to periodically stir and top up with the water.
Simmer for at least an hour until all the water has been used and the beans are thoroughly cooked. Season generously. Serve immediately or gently reheat the next day – you may need a little more water to loosen it if you choose to do this.
I have news today!
First though, I have to apologize for tweaking a few of my photos from my previous post, What I Ate Wednesday. The final dinner shots I posted were really bugging me so I went away and reworked them (I actually replaced one too) and am somewhat happier with them. I wish I could just leave well alone but it’s just not in my personality.
That’s not my news, by the way, just in case you were thinking ‘wow, this girl leads an exciting life – not!’. No, my news is that I’ve finally enrolled in a Professional Styling course, which is something I’ve longed to do for quite a while now.
To bring you up to speed, my life has kinda gone like this……I left Ireland at 18 to study music in London. I gained a Bmus (Bachelor’s degree), a Masters in Contemporary Music and a PGCE in Secondary Music (a teaching qualification here in the UK) all from the same place – my beloved Goldsmiths College.
When I finally graduated (5 years of study) I taught music and drama in an all girls Secondary school in Ealing, London. I stayed at that particular school for four terms before deciding to attend Drama school – again, a lifelong dream of mine.
Off I trotted to The Court Theatre Training Company (also recognised as simply The Courtyard) where I completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Acting as well as an ALCM in Acting awarded by The London College of Music and Media. It was a magnificent year and I met so many wonderful people and gained so much experience – even if I didn’t think it at the time, my training has stood me in stead for my career in acting.
Since then I have been acting (stage and screen – small time stuff) and have intermittently taught in various schools, although truth be told I haven’t taught properly in about three years. I don’t enjoy teaching and it is not something I want to pursue any further.
As I’m sure many of you already know, the acting business is a difficult one and I feel I’ve been relatively lucky. I know I’m very employable (not just for my acting prowess but also for my commitment, passion and reliability) however, because I’ve now taken the decision not to travel for work the opportunities are somewhat limited. I will always be an actor and already have plans to work with my Husband on a project, which we’ll be starting very soon.
But I need another (more reliable) source of income, as I can no longer rely on sporadic acting work to see me through. I’ve always had a keen eye for fashion, design, textiles etc and it’s something that I have naturally leaned towards my whole life, even though I have never taken it very seriously. As I mulled things over and tried to figure out what path I should embark on (one that would stimulate me, fulfill me and also utilize my creative skills) it suddenly occurred to me that I could make a living out of something that I love to do everyday of my life – style!
Whether it be for food photos, my home, myself, I am constantly styling things around me. Sooooooo, I’ve signed up and paid the deposit for a professional styling course (it includes photo, film, tv and personal styling) that could give me the helping hand I need to get properly started on this new and hopefully successful venture. I can’t tell you how excited I am (and nervous, and mildly stressed) to be entering a whole new arena that will possibly give me the freedom I desire and the flexibility I crave in a career. Fingers crossed it all works out!
In the meantime, I’m firmly back in the kitchen and enjoying it more than I have in a long time. This cauliflower curry was just one success I had a few nights ago – it’s quite mild but full of flavour – and I was busting to share it with you. Hope you like it!
Tell me, has anybody else had a wildly varied career path like mine? What’s your story and have you found your niche yet?
1/2 fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves
1/2 large chilli
thumbsized piece of ginger
4 or 5 salad potatoes
1 head cauliflower cut into florets
1 heaped tsp garam masala
1 scant tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp vegetable bouillon granules
4 leave of cavolo nero or kale
small punch finely chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
Roughly chop the onion and thinly slice the fennel. Heat a little oil in a pan and add the onion and fennel. Season with salt and gently fry for several minutes, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t colour.
Mince the garlic, chilli and ginger and add to pan. Stir to incorporate, season, clamp on lid and allow the flavours to infuse on a low heat for several minutes.
Wash and peel the potatoes and cut into wedges. Add to pan. Stir, clamp on lid and cook for a few minutes before adding the cauliflower florets. Mix thoroughly, clamp on lid and allow to soften for a minute or two.
Sprinkle in the spices and mix stir to ensure the potato and cauliflower florets are completely coated. Next stir through the tomato puree, again until everything is coated, clamp on lid and cook for a further minute or two allowing the spices to really penetrate the vegetables with flavour.
Add the vegetable bouillon/granules and pour in just enough water to cover the vegetables. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are just tender. Make sure not to overcook the cauliflower, it should retain shape and texture.
Wash the cavolo nero and slice into small strips. In the final ten minutes of cooking, add the leaves to the pan allowing them to wilt. Taste for seasoning and add most of the chopped flat leaf parsley retaining some for serving.
Serve with freshly boiled brown rice and adorn with the remaining parsley.
Dinner is served.
I’m not one for jarred sauces but when I was offered the chance to review one for the online magazine I write for I thought ‘why not!’. I hope I gave it a fair review – just because I got a free jar of sauce doesn’t mean I’m going to rave about it, that is so totally not my style. In fact, this was my first ever freebie and in all honesty I have mixed feelings about it; about getting it for free and subsequently semi-promoting it. In some ways I did feel under a little pressure to say nice things but in the end I went with honesty and everything I said was the truth – it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t brilliant, it was fine.
I suppose that’s why they send you out these things – in the hope you’ll big it up and encourage others to buy whatever it is they’re selling. Personally, I really hate feeling like someone is trying to sell me stuff – it immediately makes me think I can’t trust anything they say. You could say I have a huge aversion to advertising in any form but that doesn’t mean I’m not susceptible. I’m probably what you’d call a total sucker. In my opinion though the best advertising is the subtle kind where you don’t even realise you’re being manipulated – for example, there is no way on this earth I could walk past Anthroplogie without being drawn inside only to fill my basket to the brim and pop out the other side having spent a small fortune. Now that is clever marketing ’cause a girl (this girl) can never resist the pretty!
Speaking of Anthropologie, I had a very successful (when are they not?) trip there over the weekend. My excuse for making an unnecessary dent in our bank account (poor Hubbie) is always my blog – I need a variety of props to keep things interesting. Not for me, of course. For my readers. That’s you! So, if you look at it that way, I’ve bought these pretty accoutrements for your pleasure and really, when you think about it, that is a truly selfless act.
Where was I? Oh yes, the sauce. Read the review. Check out the little recipe I put together to bring out the best it had to offer and maybe purchase a jar yourself. Or not. It’s entirely up to you.
This isn’t one of those quick soups you throw together in a matter of minutes. On top of the prep work it requires forty minutes simmering on the stove to achieve the perfect consistency. That forty minutes can feel like a lifetime when you’ve just had a hardcore yoga session and need food. Pronto. You might have to fill the gap with some cucumber crudites and hummus but the wait will be worth it. Would I lie? Not about food, that’s for sure!
Yeah, yeah, I love soup, I think we’ve established that so I’ll tell you about something else I love – coconut milk. What’s not to love is what I say and yet I know some have an aversion to anything coconutty, which baffles me but also makes me kinda sad. A life without coconut is pretty bleak if you ask me.
Coconuts and Avocados. Two of natures greatest gifts. Who on earth cares about cream, butter and cheese when you have these luscious foods at your disposal.
Technically a fruit, the coconut has become a major feature in my diet and my cooking. I’m a total coconut oil convert, use desiccated coconut in a wide variety of desserts and breakfasts and coconut milk is now a steadfast staple in my kitchen. I’ve replaced soy milk for coconut milk – not the canned coconut milk I hasten to add, the pourable kind.
To clarify, there are two kinds of coconut milk on the market; one is used mainly for cooking (that’s the canned stuff) and the other is for drinking or pouring into tea, coffee or onto cereal. My preferred brand is Kara coconut milk and it is widely available and very reasonably priced. That’s my sales pitch. Onto the cooking variety.
Canned coconut milk is exceptionally creamy, which makes it ideal for making ice-creams, yoghurt, whipped cream and also lends a richness to any dish in which it is used. In my eyes coconut milk can do no wrong. It’s the food that keeps on giving and I’m happy to take, take, take.
The coconut flavour in this soup is not in any way overpowering and I would suggest that even if you’re not a coconut fan you may still like it. Although ‘spiced’ this dish is not particularly spicy – even with the added chilli and paprika. The spice is very mild and subtle but absolutely essential in aiding the soup to be bursting with the incredible flavour it possesses. Personally, I think it would make for an excellent starter to a dinner party meal – a small bowlful should be enough to wet the appetite without over facing people with a gargantuan appetizer before the main. This is how I like to do things anyway.
I first discovered this recipe in a ‘Vegan’ recipe book (it’s literally called ‘Vegan’) and, of course, I’ve tweaked it to my own tastes but then again I do that with pretty much every recipe I’ve ever followed (‘followed’ in the loosest sense of the word).
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make myself a very special raw cheesecake. All will be revealed tomorrow – or the day after, depends how I’m feeling.
1/2 large red onion (I used a quarter of a colossal one)
1/2 red chilli
thumbsize piece of peeled ginger
1 clove garlic
1 cup red lentils
1 400g can coconut milk
3 cups filtered water
1 scant tsp vegan vegetable bouillion
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
pink Himalayan salt
juice of 1 lime
1 heaped tsp coconut oil
Finely chop the red onion – I actually like to mince mine with a knife.
Meanwhile, mince the chilli, garlic and ginger together. Add to pan, cover and cook for a few more minutes until the flavours begin to infuse – your kitchen should be full of wonderful aromas by now.
Rinse and sort the red lentils and add to pan along with the ground coriander, paprika and cumin. Mix thoroughly and then pour in the coconut milk and water. Sprinkle in the vegetable bouillion and lightly season with some pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cover, bring to the boil and then lower to a gentle simmer for forty minutes, ensuring to stir frequently.
Juice the lime and set aside.
When the lentils have softened and almost disintegrated to form a thick, creamy soup, take off the heat, pour in the lime juice, taste for seasoning and serve with a few fresh coriander leaves for garnish.
I’ve got to be quick as the battery is very quickly draining from my little notebook. This is our last night in Merlin – he’s served us well keeping us dry and cosy for the past week. We are so grateful to Matt and Michelle for entrusting their beloved campervan to us else we would’ve been well and truly homeless! Tomorrow we finally get to move into our new flat – woo frickin’ hoo! I’m a bit nervous because I’m one of those worrying types that always thinks something is bound to go wrong. Experience tells me it will not be straightforward but as ever we will deal with whatever surprises come our way and muster on ’cause that’s what we do.
Our last supper in the Merlinster was a curry for ease as much as anything else. I fancied a bit of spice and had some red curry paste leftover from Solihull (yes, I did bring it with me – we’re on a major budget, y’know!). The gas hob in Merlin is pretty bloody amazing for a campervan and the oven is a little beast too – I coulda and shoulda made some muffins just to prove the point. Hey ho, we were too busy having a sweet time in Cornwall and as much as I love cooking the sun beckoned.
Yesterday we went to the ‘Fair For The Future’, an eco-friendly, environmentally aware affair with good stalls, great music and even better food. We had some fresh apple juice, which rocked my world in the few gulps it took me to down it. What a fantastic vibe there is in Cornwall – I’m still glorying in the fact we live here now:)
Next up we went to Sennen to visit our friend Toby who lives in possibly the nicest house I’ve ever been in – what a view that place has! You can see the whole of Sennen Cove and then some and it’s so chilled there I always feel mega relaxed at his home. His parents are super hospitable and are very kind to let us stay over whenever we’re in the area. We cooked, ate, drank, played computer games and slept until noon – my kind of weekend;)
Right, the recipe! I’m getting there but desperately trying to not leave anything of importance out. Oh yeah, there was a stall at the fair from which you could take whatever you wanted…for free! How awesome is that! I took a little basket that is going to look too cute in our new flat.
Eek! Cooking tip – put your ginger in the freezer and it is soooo much easier to slice, mince, grate, whatever you do with it. Thanks Michelle – wi(en)nner! Also, cheers for letting me borrow your spice grinder, what a wicked little tool that is:)
A note about the photos. They were taken in very dim light (Merlin has his limits) with my pink digital fuji. Essentially, couldn’t be bothered to find the panasonic Lumix and/or the flash. Anyway, I think they evoke that make do camping feel, which we’ve been living for the past week:)
One more sleep. One more sleep. Can you tell I’m excited? The shambolic nature of this post says it all probably.
Peace out x
thai red curry
5/6 baby new potatoes
handful of green beans
8 closed cup mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp freshly minced ginger
1 tbsp freshly ground cumin
2 tbsp thai red curry paste
1 can coconut milk
salt and pepper
Heat a little oil or soy butter in a pan. Finely dice the onion and add to pan along with the chopped fennel. Allow to soften for several minutes.
Mince the garlic and add to pan along with the ginger. Sweat for several minutes allowing the flavours to infuse.
Slice the courgette into moon shapes and add to pan. Quarter the potatoes and add to pan along with the ground cumin. Cook for several minutes before adding half a can of coconut milk. Stir in the curry paste and allow to simmer for a few minutes before adding the rest of the coconut milk. Season and gently simmer for 15mins.
Place a cup of basmati in a large pan. Cover with 2 cups of water, clamp on lid, bring to a boil and then simmer for 10-12mins. There should be no need to drain. Fluff with a fork.
Halve the mushrooms and add to the curry towards the end of cooking. Trim the green beans and add about 5mins before the curry is ready to be served.
Season to taste. Eat.