Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life in the slow lane (a slow cooked roast lamb)

Since it's gotten snowy and cold here in London, after a brief visit to Sussex house-hunting yesterday, we opted to slow roast our Lamb joint this week. Unfortunately while I would normally opt for soaking in a delicious red wine stock our eating options were dramatically limited last week when I got braces.
You heard it right. I'm a 26-year-old with braces, albeit very discreet white/clear braces but none-the-less braces. Which means red wine is out, berries are out, curry  is out. Basically anything rich in colour is out, so no red wine for me over the next 4-9 months.
So today when I thought about what to do with the lamb we decided to mix it up and drown it in white wine, vegetable stock, 6 cloves of garlic, rosemary and just a little soy sauce. I cooked it up high for the first 30-40  mins and then reduced it to 150 for 3 hours.The result - a sweet, tender joint that is not as heady as the red wine version. To make the most, pour the stocks onto a pan and hard boil for 5-7 mins. Turn down and add 1-2 tablespoons mixed with the same amount of water to make a thick, glistening gravy to accompany the meal. Delicious.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year

2012 was the year that got better. I quit my job and went back to my old company where I got to work with some of my dearest friends again. It was like going home. Unfortunately it could only be for a short time, and I moved jobs again in September.
Just before I started at the new job, me and him travelled up north to see his family in Newcastle and stopped off in Saltaire to see the Hockneys. Then, while wandering around the park in the pouring Bradford rain he asked me the question. That's right, the big one. 
So I started the new job, engaged to be married and just weeks later my best friend and one of my bridesmaids was here from Mexico for a rare visit. Me and him knuckled down in October and the wedding was planned by November. 
And here we are, 2013. Already off to a flying start after hearing the news that my other best friend (and other bridesmaid) has given birth to a beautiful baby girl on the 1st January. 
Here's to us, you and yours. May 2013 bring everything you wish for.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


My goodness. A whole month has passed since I published one of my many musings here. Currently I'm sat in my living enjoying a rose spritzer in the heat, listening to R jam on his guitar. So, summer finally came. There we were thinking the season had been cancelled when last Saturday the warm, glowing orb appeared once more in the sky.

Lucky me, because on Sunday I turned 26. And a fabulous birthday it was. Friday night I dragged all who were willing to the newly refurbished Princess of Wales in Clapton. My nearest and I remember this pub as a more traditional East-End boozer, but new owners have spruced up the interiors and the menu. The food was average to good, but I wasn't bowled over by my burger and chips. However, the many glasses of wine went down a little too easily. 

Saturday I hung out with one of my fave people, the lovely Mari. Who made the trip especially to celebrate my birthday AND bought me a onesie, culotte jumpsuit. Thanks lovely! He unfortunately was tied up at work Saturday afternoon, so to coax the hangover out of me, I slow cooked a pork collar joint in an oriental sauce, the recipes here and highly recommended. Tasty and easy, if you don't mind the slow part.

For my birthday, Richard set the day in motion with breakfast. Buttermilk pancakes, strawberries and bacon, drizzled with maple syrup, my favourite. He then treated me to a selection of presents, a 60s vintage shift dress which I love, cute porcelain mouse salt and pepper shakers that I spotted last December, and 'Crystallizing Public Opinion' by Edward Bernays (I'm a public affairs/PR nerd by day). His folks got me these Lotta clogs which I love. And they're surprisingly comfortable, wore them all day Monday stomping around London-town with no bother.

My parents drove up to spend the day with us and after spoiling me with gifts including Burberry Weekend (my favourite perfume!) we headed for a Sunday roast at The Castle. The food was reliably delicious, The Castle has become a firm favourite local for quality food and ales. In my usual fashion I brushed off the questionable distance for a walk around the top of Epping Forest. 4 miles in, with 2 and a half miles to go, I admitted that in the 28 degree heat, it was all quite far. Distance is just something that my brain doesn't seem to accept when I'm walking. I could walk forever. However, my feet were incredibly grateful for the cold water bath I gave them on returning home. To finish R dished up the Peach Melba Trifle he had made (I vetoed cake, would much rather have something chilled containing custard). And we were pooped. Not without one last visit from our neighbour down the road with her two kids who gifted me some home-made Elderflower champagne. We haven't tried it yet, but am sure it will be delicious. 

Thank you to all who make this year so special. 
How are all you enjoying the summer? 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Buying a home

Today we dipped our toes into the house buying waters and went to view a couple of houses in East Sussex. For our first viewings we chose the most contrasting properties possible. The first was a 1930s red-brick semi, the second was a out-of-town development of new houses.
Buying a house is not something I ever really ever thought would happen, for both financial and commitment reasons. We're on a tight budget and we've no idea what's out there, so yesterday viewing the differing houses put perspective in our minds about what we do and don't want.
Stepping into the 1930s semi, everywhere you looked there was a DIY makeover desperately crying out to happen. Original fireplaces had been covered, pebble-dash paint was cracking, decades old carpet musting - I'm by no means DIY adverse but this would take £50k and a team of builders to completely overhaul the space. There wasn't one thing that wouldn't have needed changing. Lesson learnt from property 1 - we do not want a huge project. 
In the car, we shot off to location/property number 2. Within seconds of walking into the brand new house I wanted to get out. I hate new houses. Partly because of my distaste for the government schemes they are built upon and partly because of the abundance of magnolia, mdf and plastic. In the UK the government has schemes set-up to allow first time buyers to get the first step on the market. However, the new houses roughly work out at £100k more than an old house. Leading to the poor home owners who sign up for the deals part-owning over-priced property that will take twice the time to pay off and unlikely to ever sell for as higher price. Here are some links to more information about that here: Huff Post Evening Standard
Rant aside. First time house-viewing verdict - this is not something I'm going to enjoy.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Busy bee

Now how did that happen? There we were, plodding along, then all of a sudden we got b-u-s-y. 

To the beginning, my dear Marianne. The girl who 4 years ago saved my bacon by getting drunk with me at a party of people I didn't know, weeks into mine and R's relationship, then in the same evening dragged me to her flat and offered me somewhere to live for when I became homeless a few weeks later. Marianne recently moved to the beautiful south-west city of Bath, so as the boy was away, I planned my own escape for a much-needed day and night with one of my favourite people.

After trawling the charity shops on what has been the hottest day of the year so far (I managed a dress, floral trousers, Mari got the most amazing bright floral jumpsuit) we went to Same, Same but Different - a lovely reasonably-priced tapas bar. We both had the chorizo and butter bean stew - it was the most delicious meal I've had out in ages! The stew was in a creamy, smokey sauce and we indulged by mopping it up with bread. Yay us!

The following week was the great British jubilee, so to make the most of my parents empty house we headed to Sussex for the weekend. Our Ldn neighbours and their baby came down for a few days and we managed to fit in dinner with my brother, his wife and niece too. We opted for a simple dinner of BBQ grilled chicken and salad, but were treated by my sister-in-law who brought over 20 cupcakes for us! We wouldn't call ourselves royalists, so we didn't so much celebrate the Queen's jubilee, as howl with laughter watching bits and pieces of the BBC coverage. Thanks GB, for always being ever-so-slightly embarrassing. We wouldn't have it any other way.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pretty in pink - homemade skirt and traybake

I love a splash of pink in summer - it makes me think of pink hydrangeas, falling blossom and pink lemonade! Wearing and baking flashes of pink today, my home-spun ways were exposed this afternoon when colleagues found out that not only did I make a strawberry traybake last night but my full circle skirt was home sewn. #Twee #dork.

The pattern used for the skirt was Vogue's V8602. It was as the name suggests, it was very easy. The only tricky bit was inserting the zip, I also adjusted the pattern and shortened the length for mine. The fabric was found on Ebay from the same seller who sold the paisley cotton I used for my robe. 

The traybake was adapted from two recipes on - here's how I did it:

Heat oven to 180 degrees c. Butter a medium sized tray.

Put the following in your food blender and mix until it forms a rough crumble.
150g self-raising flour
100g porridge oats
200g butter, diced
280g golden granulated sugar
50g ground almonds

Put 85 grams of this aside before you add 2 medium eggs and pulse until roughly mixed. Remove blade and finish mixing with a wooden spoon, don't worry about making it smooth. Line the baking tray with the mixture.

Clean the blender and load with a punnet of strawberries. Once blended pour over mix in tray.

Take the 85g mix that was put to one side earlier and add 100g porridge. Melt butter with 1 tablespoon of runny honey in a saucepan and add the dry mixture to the pan. Mix together over a gentle heat, then remove and spread over the traybake.

Put in the oven for 45 minutes. And voila! Delicious with a cup of English Breakfast tea.

M xo


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

RAM - the deluxe edition

The beautiful, warm sun is finally shining over London town and all this heat has put me in a particularly happy and wholesome mood. This generally amounts to dancing in my kitchen while I cook up a feast for me and R and tonight the soundtrack was Paul and Linda McCartney's 1971 album RAM.

It was the first album released following the break up of the Beatles, written at the couple's farm in Scotland on the Mull of Kintyre, and has just been reissued in a particularly luxe guise.

I've never been one for limited editions, but this has totally won me over. Partly, because of my soppy nature and ability to find romance in almost anything with two halves, and partly because of the silliness and fun the couple clearly had recording these tracks. 

Sigh. A photo album of sheep, a scrapbook, the uncut story of RAM, photo prints from the album's recording, a documentary, t-shirt. And more. Unfortunately at £100, this one will have to stay in my dreams. If you're reading Sir Paul, how about some limited edition prints?

Megan xo