Archives for posts with tag: Easter

29416430_188733358522561_6383110640751345664_nEaster is fast approaching, which means that Lent will soon be over. Although I’m not Christian, I have in the past given up something for this occasion. It’s a good time to challenge yourself as you’ll probably get loads of support from many others who are doing the same…I guess there’s nothing like companions in misery! 😀

Jokes aside, setting myself goals and then meeting them always fills me with positive energy. Plus, it’s kind of like giving yourself a second chance if you failed at keeping your new year’s resolution! I once abstained from all food with sugar and high FODMAPs. My body did feel the benefits after the 40 days, but I’m not about to martyr myself on the detox pyre again in a hurry! It’s not all about sacrifice though…you can choose to start a new habit (like exercising more regularly), or pick up a new skill (theremin lessons anyone?). The important thing is to better yourself (and possibly even help those around you) through incremental changes in your lifestyle. 🙂

This year, I am trying to create less waste, and hope that this will eventually become second nature. It’s true I’m not doing very well at the moment, so I’ve decided to take baby steps by focusing mainly on food for now. This does tie in quite nicely with Lent since you are traditionally meant to use up what provisions you have before the fasting period begins. Also, I have been hoarding loads of empty tubs and jars which should be doing a lot more than just sitting in a cupboard!

Previously, we’d find ourselves chucking away fruit that have gone off (or over-ripened) at the end of every week. Well, no more! I now try to use it all up by making smoothies, or pancakes. However, it’s a bit difficult to do that when you’ve only got one or two items on the verge of expiry, like the couple of lonesome bananas turning black on our kitchen worktop last Sunday. Though still perfectly edible, no one seemed keen on eating them.

19055155_10155234474365856_6692917612276566672_oQuite by coincidence, Jack Monroe recently blogged a recipe for Blushing Berry Banana Bread, and since I always have a supply of frozen blueberries for the Blueberry Oat Bars (pic above) I regularly make for breakfast, I thought…why not?!

I have followed Monroe’s recipe closely, with a couple of small tweaks. My loaf is less pink as I only had blueberries, and because I like my cakes to be quite buttery, I allowed myself one small indulgence by replacing the oil with melted butter. It does of course cost a little more, but if it’s within your means, your taste buds will thank you for it.

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As mentioned in the original recipe, not all ovens are created equal, and ours is definitely not like the others, since only two gas marks work – one and nine. Baking in our household typically involves faffing about with the oven knob, and re-positioning manoeuvres from one shelf to another before hitting the Goldilocks zone.

29089638_352836771874600_706105186241740800_nLuckily, yummy treats are not beyond our faulty ancient appliance! The Banana Berry Loaf was a success, and emerged from the oven as a kind of cross between bread and cake. We had it freshly baked with some vanilla ice-cream from Aldi…Mmmmm, yesss! 😛

…on a tight budget!

At long last, our loft conversion is complete, and just in time for the Easter hols! Work on it actually started last summer, but because it was mostly DIY (apart from rewiring, reinforcements, and boarding), progress was slow.

Not taking into account the metal edging (not sure of correct terminology?!) which still needs to be installed on the carpet around the trapdoor thingy, I now have my own personal sanctuary and craft space, not to mention extra capacity for storage and (maybe-not-so-secret) snack stash. I am beyond chuffed! 😀

Even before we started building the loft, I had factored in an area for a mini photo booth with chalkboard wall. It wasn’t too difficult to set up, and the outcome was more or less what I pictured in my head. I’m now also thinking I should get a thin plank of wood to slide over the blackboard, painted white, just so I can have another background option…But perhaps that is a job for another day.

This month has also seen us celebrate our wedding anniversary, and although David and I agreed in advance to keep our expenditure to a minimum (due to the loft!), I couldn’t resist getting him a little something, complete with cheesy homemade card featuring puns related to a common interest of ours – Astronomy.

If I’m honest, it was more of an excuse to show off a gift topper rose I’d made using a few of the remaining pipe-cleaners from last year’s Halloween Spider Bun.

 

Using this helpful video, a friend put my hair up in a bun and pinned to it a pair of googly eyes that I’d stuck on a bit of cardboard the night before. I know it’s not really a costume, but still a spookily acceptable (and cute) low-cost, last minute alternative in the spirit of the occasion.

 

Although I haven’t really been experimenting on the culinary front, I did make more of an effort on this year’s Pancake Day. As it’s normally close to dinner time when we get home from work, I didn’t fancy anything too dessert-like, so I decided to make us savoury pancakes with Stilton spinach and mushrooms, topped with bacon and egg. It didn’t look like much after I made it, but was quite rich and thus, more filling than I expected.

What I am particularly proud of, however, is a classic dish that’s also one of David’s favourites. He likes to call it ‘red stuff’ (which we usually get from the takeaway), but is more traditionally known by its Cantonese name Gou Lou Yuk, or over here in the UK as Sweet and Sour Pork. That night’s meal was met with much satisfaction, with only one complaint. Apparently, I’d left the kitchen looking “like an industrial accident” had occurred in there! Luckily for me, our family has a rule I am not above exploiting, and that is…whoever cooks is spared from doing the washing up!

Whilst essentially not all that difficult to master, Gou Lou Yuk does require a lot of prep work, and some of that includes deep frying. Was having our home smell like the local chippy worth every mouthful? Yes. Would I be making it again anytime soon? Probably not! 😀