Saturday, 31 December 2011
Friday, 30 December 2011
As much as I love that pre-Christmas euphoria, I hate this deflating post-Christmas lull - the perpetuating sense of loss that all good things for the year have drawn to a close. Do you get that? I find London (and England, for that matter) quite depressing in the winter, especially once the glitterati of the Christmas magic has paled and all that's left is…well, gloom and greyness. Grey (light-less) buildings, grey skies and grey post-flu complexions… so it's no wonder I'm turning time and time again to the gifts and cards that brought such a smile to my face this year. Nostalgia (albeit very recent-history), if you may. For somebody who's known me no longer than 5 months, the boyfriend managed to find almost everything that's known to bring a smile to my face. "Covering all bases" was his exact terminology. I'm going to call it the five "s" rule, a very cliche-but-cute guide to gift-buying your way into a girl's good books.
Something(s) soft - n.b. the presence of three cuddly cuties here.
Something sparkly - a small piece of jewellery is a win-win really. It's a keepsake for life.
Something special (nothing quite beats something personalised or bespoke) and…
…something sweet (it is Christmas after all!).
It's the last day of 2011 tomorrow. No doubt a day for reflection, for quiet relapse into what this year has given, and taken, and what you hope to achieve in the next. If you've been reading here for while, you'll have accompanied me on my journey through the highs and the lows - through the losses and the lessons. When we go through tough times, it's hard to say whether we'll ever be the same again; whether we'll ever forget what we lost. All we know is that you've got to take what comes your way with grace, with courage, with appreciation. Look at problems as a test of your resilience rather than an obstacle in your path. And never, ever give up. 2011 is one I will never forget because I've finally found what I was looking for. Until tomorrow, happy Friday to you all.
Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Sunday, 25 December 2011
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Monday, 19 December 2011
Ingredients (for brownie batter)
4 oz unsalted butter
3 oz dark chocolate
1 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup plain flour
(for cheesecake mix)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
To make them:
1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C and butter an 8 inch square baking tin.
2. Heat butter and chocolate in a saucepan over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted.
3. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined.
4. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.
5. Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
6. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.
7. Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl.
8. Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with good-quality vanilla ice-cream.
Monday, 12 December 2011
I s'pose mac 'n' cheese needs no introduction, no explanation, no justification. It is, just, comfort food at its most… well, comforting. And unfortunately, as it can be classed as neither British nor American (and most definitely not Italian), it's pretty hard pushed to find its place on any restaurant menus. Alas, home-made it will be. Creamy, cheesy pasta with a crisp, bubbling top... mmmmmmmmmm. Enjoy.
What to do
1. Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes; drain well and set aside.
2. Melt the butter over a medium heat in a saucepan slightly larger than that used for the macaroni. Add the flour and stir to form a roux, cooking for a few minutes.
3. Gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time. Cook for 10-15 minutes to a thickened and smooth sauce.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to hot.
5. Remove the sauce from the hob, add 350g of the cheese and stir until the cheese is well combined and melted. Season to taste.
6. Add the macaroni to the sauce and mix well. Transfer to a deep suitably-sized ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over the remaining cheddar and the parmesan and place the dish under the hot grill. Cook until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Serve straightaway (but try not to burn your mouth because you're too keen.)
Thursday, 8 December 2011
Over-crowded, bustling shopping centres, sub-zero temperatures and the chilly winter wind pinching at your cheeks; toffee-nut lattes, half-opened advent calendars and lights everywhere you look; December is well and truly here. I'm super-charged with the xmas energy this year - my birthday shenanigans commence this weekend and I'm having the time of my life coming up with little ideas to fulfil "24 surprises" for the boyfriend; it's really getting me in the mood. Christmas, to me, has always felt like a time to give without any restraint; a season to exchange gifts, share food and appreciate, really appreciate, the loved ones you have in your life. For lack of any more words, I'm leaving you with more festive pictures, a snap-shot update of Christmas proceedings over the past week. I intend on sharing the fool-proof (trust me, even I didn't mess it up!) recipe for this wondrous macaroni cheese at some point in the next few days, as well as a few film reviews and more mushy tales of my first Christmas with the man (cue: reach for sick bucket) Until next time, wishing you a Happy 8th. Enjoy it.
Saturday, 3 December 2011
Another week, another AWOL - I'm sorry :( It's been an absolutely manic one, what with the Christmas rush at work, the end of term scurry at university and of course the child-like impatience to get into gear for the festive period now that it's finally hit December. It's finally hit December! And it officially looks like Santa has puked all over my house - red bauble, tinsel, gift wrap and fairy lights galore. It looks beautiful though and oh-so-magical. It's my first Christmas with the mister, and as new love goes (cheesy and totally OTT), we know this one's going to be a memorable one. I've planned 24 surprises for him, one for each day leading up to Christmas (I'm taking Christmas day off though, can't be stealing Santa's thunder now can I? ;) ) Ahhhh I do love Christmas. I've got the weekend off work, the icing on the cake, so I'm off to begin my day, leaving you with a small sneaky-peak into my xmas euphoria. Have a wonderful weekend, whatever it is you're up to - and if you're not already, I'm sure a bit of Arthur Christmas will get you into the festive spirit. Enjoy!