Last year for Christmas, Richard and I spent a month traveling (side note – am I the only one who always tries to spell this travelling?) around the UK. We spent time in England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and even drove through Scotland (albeit without stopping) while visiting his family! For some reason, one of the things we remember most is getting stuck in the wind and rain outside of our hotel beside the Giant’s Causeway after a fire broke out. Not exactly the most fun we’ve had, but the reward was worth it!
We were in the middle of a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, when one of the dryers in the laundry caught fire, and we were told we had to go outside right away. Unfortunately it was in the middle of December, and of course we forgot to wear our winter coats to the dining room. After freezing outside for a while, we were brought into the nearby visitor centre to wait until the firemen cleared the building. Luckily nothing was damaged.
As we were checking out after breakfast, they asked us if we had managed to finish our meal before the fire. With the exception of a cup of tea or two, we had, but we asked them if they could do us a favour in lieu of the rest of our meal. Would they be willing to share their wheaten bread recipe with us? I doubted they would as restaurants/chefs aren’t normally known for that sort of thing, but lo and behold, the chef not only gave us the recipe, but a loaf of bread (still warm from the oven) to take with us!
One of the best things about Richard is that he not only enjoys cooking, but is quite good at it too! Since I am a baker by trade, he told me that he won’t bother trying to get really good at baking/breads/etc. – that’s my thing. But he does want to have something that he’s better at than me, something that our future kids will request (“dad’s —-“).
To that end, he has decided he will work on being the best at Asian cuisine. Right now, he’s focusing on Indian curries, and bought the cookbook Rick Stein’s India. You should have seen how excited he was when it arrived! It’s a really great cookbook, full of truly authentic dishes. The best part is that it’s not like recipes you find online, where you’re using store bought pastes or spice mixes – this book has you grinding cardamom pods, making your own coconut cream, etc.
So far, we’ve made three recipes from the book, and are excited to try more! (The masala chai tea is quite delicious!) (more…)
My first job after high school was working at Starbucks. It was a pretty great job because the hours were good, the people I worked with were friendly, and you got an insane amount of free coffee per shift.
People have always raved about the Starbucks oat bars (flapjacks here in England), but there was another bar that they used to carry that was my favorite. The coffee shops where I lived used to serve what they called a flax bar (flax seeds = linseeds), which had all kinds of seeds as well as some great citrus flavor. I’m not sure, but I think it wasn’t available everywhere except maybe the west coast of Canada, because I can’t seem to find a copycat recipe anywhere!
So I did what any sane person would do – I read ingredient lists online for a company that used to produce them for the local Starbucks (they still make them for their own store). That way, I would know exactly which seeds they contained, and in what order (to determine quantities). Then, I took a flapjack recipe from a friend and altered the amounts of oats/seeds it contained, adding a bunch of citrus zest! (more…)
Now I’m not sure if it’s just because I’ve never been much of a drinker, or if it’s because it’s not very common in Canada, but I had never heard of sloe gin before coming to the UK. Apparently it’s something that lots of people enjoy around Christmas, as sloes usually ripen in October, and it takes a minimum of 2 months to make sloe gin.
Well, we’re doing things a little differently around here! I actually bought Richard 1lb. (454 g) of sloes on eBay for Christmas! He had been looking to make some in time for the holidays, but couldn’t get any for a reasonable price in the markets. I can’t tell you how fun it was to see him open it on Christmas morning (along with the swing top bottles), as he had been so confused up until that point. He didn’t understand why his present was living in the freezer…
Making the sloe gin is quite simple, and really only takes time. The sloes are meant to be picked after the first frost, to split their tough skins; as our sloes were frozen since they were picked, their skins had already split, but we pricked them with a toothpick anyways. Simply fill your sterilized bottles with the sloes, as well as a couple spoons of sugar, and fill to the top with gin. Shake up the bottle and store someplace away from direct sunlight for at least two months; turning it every day for a week, and then every week for at least 2 months. (more…)
I know that I should really be trying all of the recipes that I already have saved on Pinterest, but for some reason I keep adding new ones. I’m pretty sure we all have the same problem, no?
I found this recipe after racking my brain for something new to make for dinner – I had recently bought a box of arborio rice and been itching to finally try my hand at making risotto. Mushrooms are one of my favorite things to eat, and while I don’t enjoy drinking white wine (red all the way!), it does add a wonderful flavor to the dish.
The instructions for the recipe were really easy to follow, and worked out beautifully. I’m pretty sure that if he didn’t want to take some for lunch the next day, Richard would have finished the whole pot!
The only things I changed were the amount of cheese I added (less than it called for, as I didn’t want to use too much expensive cheese!) and more mushrooms. I had bought waaay more than necessary by accident, but figured another cup wouldn’t hurt. (more…)