Archive | November, 2012

Breakfast Bars

18 Nov

After last night’s overindulgence I figured we could do with a batch of Breakfast bars. I try to keep these in the house at all times and often use them as a breakfast/ lunch replacement. These are a variation on Nigella Lawsons Breakfast Bars. And consist of oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and condensed milk to bind.

I like to think of these as healthy but please note that condensed milk is pretty high in fat and sugar! I have tried to calculate the calorific value of these several time and I’m pretty sure they come in at about 200 kcal.
So the ingredients are:
250g jumbo oats
75g shredded coconut
100g dried fruit
125g mixed seeds
125g chopped nuts
1x 397g tin of condensed milk
Oven preheated to 130 degrees C or gas Mark 0.5
You will also need a lined and greased 22×33 shallow baking tin.

Nigella specifies cranberries and peanuts for fruit and nuts. I tend to use chopped figs and brazil nuts but today I used almonds. Any fruit/nut combo will do, even dried banana and a few chocolate chips are acceptable!

Mix all the dry ingredients up, warm condensed milk on the stove until it is warm and runny but not boiling. Pour the condensed milk over the dry ingredients and stir until combined then press into your tin and bake for about an hour, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and leave for about 10 min before cutting 4 x 4 into 16 rectangular bars. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin and putting in storage jar. These are still good a week later (if they last that long!)


During busier times I have experimented with boxes of fancy muesli. This resulted in a quicker and still tasty alternative. They were crunchier and more caramel like and definitely worth the minor bother! I just took the small box of museli, added a tin of condensed milk and cooked as above. I think that as long as you stick (roughly) to the overall quantity of dry food above, you can’t go far wrong!

Happy breakfasting!


The Medway Takeaway Part 1

18 Nov

Moving to a new area always raises difficult questions when ordering take-away. It takes time and a few mistakes before we establish where is good and where is not-so-good. After much Internet searching last night we ordered from Kashmir Indian and Bangladeshi Takeaway. They don’t deliver (as I found out the long way round) so we ordered through an online delivery service.
I used the opportunity to have some meat and ordered a Lamb Ceylon which is a medium-hot curry with black peppers, chilli and coconut sauce. Dan went for a traditional Prawn Madras.
On the side we ordered a Tarka Dall (lentils) and Sag Paneer (spinach with Indian cheese). I had a Peshwari (sweet nutty) Naan bread and Dan ordered a garlic Naan bread.

Clock wise from the bottom left: Lamb Ceylon, Sag Paneer, Onion Bhaji, Tarka Dall.
The Ceylon was tasty, slightly sweet and coconutty, but respectably hot. I would give it an 8/10, I would have liked it slightly hotter but it probably was ‘medium-hot’ as described. The Dall was particularly good, not too runny or greasy with a good earthy-hot taste. The Paneer in the sag was especially well done although I thought the sag itself could have done with more flavouring. The portions were slightly smaller than other take-aways, but still bigger than needed! They were not stingy with the meat nor the prawns so we felt we got more than our money’s worth. We also felt, that while this was in no way a low fat meal, they hadn’t used too much fat in any of the dishes.
Dan’s madras was good, he scored it 8.5/10 he got plenty of prawns and the sauce was better than he would expect from a madras and an appropriate level of heat.
Service was good, the restaurant called to say when they were delivering and gave us complimentary papadoms. Unfortunately they gave Dan a Peshwari, rather than Garlic Naan, which he didn’t like. Still we all make mistakes! And as long as they don’t do it again they are forgiven. He says he would still go back and we both give them 8/10 overall.
Pretty good for a gamble eh?

Alice’s Adventures in the Working Week

17 Nov

As you can probably tell by my week’s lack of posting,  I have not quite got the hang of this work-life-balance thing!  This is partially down to my being poorly this week.  Not proper poorly, not that is, poorly enough to justify time off work.  Just poorly enough to feel rubbish and be off my food, and therefore, knackered.

So I have not been swimming and I have not crocheted.  I have been coming home from work, doing what I absolutely must do and going to bed.  This has not been all bad. Without cooking anything complicated, and without watching TV.  I have been able to be done by 9pm and have taken myself off to bed and read for 20 minutes or so before hitting the land of Nod.

So, there you go! that’s my achievement for the week!

I think this work-life-balance thing will take some practice! on the plus side, my friend (who would like to try crocheting) has suggested we start a crotchet club.  I think this may be a way in which I would actually sit down and crotchet, even if it was just one evening a fortnight.  The added bonus would be that I also managed to do something social!

Also on the plus side is Dan,  who sat me down this morning when I was reviewing my weekend to-do-list and insisted that I do three things I WANT to do this weekend.  I listed my blog, crocheting and couldn’t think of the third, we agreed I didn’t need to think of the third until tomorrow anyway.

We agreed that today I would review an essay, walk the dogs, clean the house, write my blog and do some crotchet.  Obviously these things took longer than planned, and you can see how far I got with that list.  Not bad. But room for improvement!

Dan also managed to be helpful today by doing some of the housework and caring about how I was spending my time.  This makes such a big difference to how I feel about how I am spending my time, even if I didn’t manage to reach the targets he set for me!

I think I will try to treat myself a little tomorrow.  I need to write my thank-you cards, make breakfast bars and sort out christmas cards but these are nice, if not quite ‘want’ worthy things.  Then I will do some crotchet!

Day 7 of 5

11 Nov

Today is the Sunday after my week off. Dan and I went away to Canterbury for two nights on Friday. We spent time wandering around the beautiful (if cold!) city, chatting and drinking mulled cider!

Dan managed to eat a cream tea ‘alfresco’.

And we managed to find a fancy seafood restaurant.

Where we drank too much!

We stayed in a (slightly dire) city centre hotel where we were lucky enough to have a view of the cathedral.

It was good to get away and be free from all the normal hassles of daily life. However, it also made me realise life at home is pretty good! There are so many things I want to do at home. As my week off draws to a close I am pleased with how I have spent my time.
I am glad to have re-found my blog and to have started swimming. I have ticked several things off that pesky to do list but also made some time for me. It was always inevitable that I would get to the end of the week and feel like I need more time to get everything done, to read that book, to crotchet and garden.
We arrived back home at 11am. I went to the supermarket, cleaned the house and made packed lunches for work tomorrow. Again I hoped there might be time for reading and crotchet, but bed-time is nearing! I have managed to identify evening swimming opportunities for the working week and have done all I can do to make the week run as easily as possible. I have also found time to write this post. If I can manage to continue swimming and blogging into next week I will be pleased with myself. It is a step in the direction of ‘work-life’ balance! And even, dare I say it(?) healthy living!

Day 4 of 5

8 Nov

Dan and I are going away tomorrow for two nights in Canterbury. It’s the first time we have had a break together for a long time. I spent the day preparing the puppies for their own holiday and we drove them to Dan’s mum’s house. As a result we spent several hours in the car and managed to argue about plans for the garden and a dishwasher. I didn’t get any time to myself but it was lovely to see Dan’s mum and stepdad. Dan’s mum is into all things crafty and we had time to sit and discuss projects. She had managed to find some intricate antique handmade lace collars at an auction for use in future projects. She had also found me this:

Fabulous fat twine! She knew I had been looking for some to make bags with and this stuff is perfect! I think it might also be door-mat-worthy! </
When we arrived home (minus puppies) my friend was here. She wanted to know about my crotchet projects! So, while I may not have actually done any crotchet I did actually open the box up and mayhave found myself a crotchet buddy!

We are off to Canterbury tomorrow morning and the puppies have already gone on their holiday. It feels strange without them, I already miss their furry faces and worry about the trouble they might be getting into. I have no idea how we would manage a week, or even two without them!

Puppy love

7 Nov

Bronwyn and Odin are dozing in the lounge. They are not in the same bed, but they are touching paws.

Like all mammals, dogs are hard-wired to build affectional bonds or attachments with other members of their community. So long as they have eaten and are not under threat of any kind this is a priority for them. Evolution has made this activity biologically reinforcing with the hormone oxytocin. So when dogs groom each other they experience a calming of their heart rate and a feeling if connectedness in the same way humans do when they are caring for each other.

I think just looking at them like this gives me an oxytocin boost!


Day 3 of 5

7 Nov

Today was pretty good. I managed 2 things of the ‘want’ list and did a few little ‘shoulds’ (but no I didn’t sort out my paperwork).


I made chocolate whoppie pies


These were made much faster by the addition of this wonderful stuff

It’s not usually available in the uk, and when it is it’s usually prohibitively expensive. So normally I either faff about trying to make my own or make a butter-cream filling. When I saw it, reasonably priced in the supermarket I thought I would give it a go. It was successful! Filled whoppie pies in half the usual time!


The Wedding Blog
It may have taken me three months to write a post about it but it’s finally done! I managed to put together a wedding post (see for yourself!).

The Car Service
Also long (read two years) overdue. It cost me dearly but I now have legal tyres and a working clutch!

Being Social
I cooked for Dan and my lovely 3-day-live-in-friend. It really does feel like a treat to have a friend round for dinner!

I’m feeling pretty good about today. It was good to let some of the ‘shoulds’ slip in favour of the ‘wants’ for once!