Friday Reading

Alright, that's it, I'm taking 5 minutes of my non-existent lunch break to write a quick blog post. I'm so crazily busy at work (which is amazing) that I literally have no time to even think about blogging, even when I get home.

My lack of posting over the last few weeks is not for lack of trying, or desperation to find the time - trust me. I'm still finding time on my commutes to read all my regulars and other bits so I thought I'd put some 'Friday Reading' links together because, well, we haven't done that in a while, have we?

Let's get reading - from the last week and beyond:

Roxanne's beautiful bag, that made me immediately click onto asos and consider ordering one
Rosie's glorious looking glamping trip in Yorkshire, that also made me consider booking
Cate's cake for her sister's 18th from earlier in the month, an utter masterpiece
Amanda's thoughts on wedding planning and keeping a level head
Katy's amazingly colourful photos from her trip back home
Catherine's insightful thoughts on updating your CV - for life admin
And finally, the last installment of Callie's travel experiences - a very inspiring read!

If you've got any great reads from the last week or more, let me know below!

Otherwise I hope you all have a brilliant weekend and normal service will resume shortly, promise!

London Cheap Eats

So, it's come to my attention on my camera roll that I've eaten out a few more times than I let on, on this here blog. Sometimes we go out for breakfast or lunch or a casual dinner with friends, and although what I've eaten is really great, I'm not always necessarily convinced my meal is worth a blog post on its own, either because I just had a main or because it's a relatively small, local-type place that won't be on everyone's radar, locality wise. So I thought I'd start a new series, outlining a few smaller restaurants and eateries, just to mention the awesomeness.

We ventured to Green Papaya in Hackney, a small Vietnamese restaurant, at the beginning of April for a 'farewell, so long' meal for our dear friends who have gone travelling round the world... how dare they? I know. Our table was booked about 7pm, midweek and when we first arrived, the place was empty but by the time we left, the place was heaving. We were placed round the back of the restaurant and ordered in our drinks, which are about standard price for any small restaurant, and then our food. Some of the group ordered starters, I shared some of Shay's, a soft shell crab - super delicious! I went for the Bun Xa Beef as my main and it was thoroughly enjoyed! I didn't realise but apart from the noodles, this dish is cold, but still utterly divine - completely fresh and full of flavour and at £7.90, well you can't argue with that can you? After drinks, starters, nibbles and mains I think we all ended up spending £20 each - a bargain if I ever knew one! Green Papaya in Hackney is well recommended if you're in the area and are looking for a decent Vietnamese meal.

I had been wanting to go to Birdie Num Nums in New Cross for a while, on the outside it looks cool and quirky and the food lives up to that expectation, as well as being pretty darn good value. Shay and I visited on the morning of the Grand National, before heading down to the bookies to place some bets (needless to say, none of our bets came in). Shay opted for a full English (although the full-Turkish, was tempting - not a Turkish breakfast but more a take on the full English with a Turkish twist) and I went for eggs and mushrooms on toast with some extra bacon! To be honest, there's nothing spectacular here to report other than a well-cooked breakfast at a great price, although next time I'll definitely get a portion of their own recipe baked beans! I think both meals as well as teas came to about £16, totally manageable. I'm keen to get back there to try the rest of the menu out, they serve lunch and dinner until 6pm and have an alcohol licence so would be a nice option for cheaper meal out!

Let's be honest, pub food can be totally hit and miss, sometimes it'll hit the spot and other times you know it's come out of a microwave. Chai's Garden however, is a kitchen 'residency' in a local pub in New Cross but they also have their own restaurant space at the back. I've eaten their food in the pub a number of times now and I can honestly say exactly what I'd expect from a Thai meal, fresh, light and full of flavour. The prices are brilliant for the quality - a beef pad thai will set you back only £7.50, and is totally, deliciously moreish. Is that how you spell moreish? I must have googled it about a hundred times. Anyway, if you're in South East, I'd recommend taking the time to get food here, or at least as a takeaway, you won't be disappointed, it's a real hidden gem.

If you've got any similar recommendations, for quick and cheap eats that don't compromise on value, let me know!

Easy As Pie

I'm back for good, see!

What better way to test the oven in your new place than baking a lemon meringue pie eh? This weekend was a fairly chilled one so I wanted to get some time in for baking (and sewing). So when the idea of a house roast dinner was on the cards, I knew I had to pull out the big guns with a dessert. 

This is only the second time I've ever baked a lemon meringue pie, but amazingly both times have turned out really quite well. This time I used a recipe from BBC Good Food, but have previously used the recipe in the baking basics book - haven't mentioned that one in a while. I have to say, although the pie was uh-maz-ing, I wasn't too impressed with the pastry, I knew when I was making it I should have put more water than was advised, despite already putting in more than the one recommended table spoon, so the pastry was dry and cracking even before baking. A shame, but not a crying shame because it still tasted brilliant. So if you use that recipe, I'd recommend using a pastry recipe you trust in.

I also omitted the cornflour in the meringue because I've never heard of putting cornflour in meringue? Is that a thing? I don't know. 

ANYWAY, here's some pictures of this delicious dessert, which always seemed quite the challenge because of the different aspects to bring it together, but it really is fairly easy to make. The pie was demolished after an absolutely banging roast, cooked by Shay that I documented on instagram. Some of the best roasties I've ever had, well done boyfriend.

A productive Sunday!

Prawn & Chorizo Spaghetti

Yesterday was a pretty rubbish day, you know just one of those days where just everything is stressful and annoying. Eurgh. But I totally saved it with this dinner, which I'm glad I had the sense to semi-photograph along the way so I could do a recipe. Annoyingly my camera ran out of battery just as I started taking photos, so phone camera will have to do.

I'd been craving doing a prawn, pasta dish for a while, and after my crappy day I walked passed the chorizo in the supermarket and grabbed it. Very much a spur of the moment dish but it couldn't have turned out better, in fact I think I made Shay and my housemates quite jealous when I was cooking *side eye smirk emoji*

So despite how many ingredients are on the board below, I'd still say this dish serves two due to the smaller portion of pasta, but that's not to say this dish isn't filling. It's glorious - if I say so myself. The chorizo gives the whole dish a brilliantly smokey flavour and the fresh baby plum tomatoes instead of tinned are a welcome change. Green peppers are my favourite of all the peppers but feel free to use your preference, I normally get a raised eyebrow for admitting that. I just like the bitterness of them y'know! I wish I could have used more basil than pictured but I must have picked the worst pack of basil in the shop as it was all gross and ruined by the time I got home. 

What You Need:
1 small red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
1 green pepper
10 baby plum tomatos
1/2 a pack of baby button mushrooms
1/2 a ring of chorizo
1 pack of raw prawns
Fresh basil
Salt, pepper, tomato purée, garlic paste
120g spaghetti (or more or less based on your own appetite but 120g 

What You Need To Do:
Prepare all your ingredients, chopping, dicing, slicing and whatever else
Get a saucepan of water ready and boiling and add the pasta
Get a medium sized frying pan, put onto a medium-high heat and add your chorizo, onion, garlic and chilli
There's no need to add extra oil, once the chorizo is in, it'll start releasing some of it's oil so the ingredients don't stick to the pan
After about a minute, add your prawns, keep stirring everything around until the prawns are almost pink
Then start adding the rest of your ingredients, I went in this order: peppers, waited a bit, mushrooms then chopped the basil and threw it in then after a minute or so, add in your tomatoes and keep stirring
The pan will look quite watery but keep at it, at this point I seasoned with salt and pepper then as a last minute addition added a small squirt of tomato purée and the same of some garlic paste
Keep stirring and you'll start to see the 'sauce' is a lot thicker
When your pasta is done, turn off your frying pan from the heat, drain your pasta and add it to the rest of the ingredients, really mixing everything up.
Serve and enjoy!

And I mean, really enjoy!

Silk Road | Camberwell

I'm always amazed that I can afford to eat out these days, when I first started working and living in London I barely had two pound coins to rub together, let alone enough to go out for a meal. But as I've got older and wiser and my career has progressed, my lifestyle has improved to. I'll always be grateful for that, remembering how utterly crap I felt and how skint I actually was that first year. ANYWAY I actually ate out twice last weekend, once at Bodean's on Friday as mentioned previously, and the other at Silk Road on Saturday with some friends. 

Silk Road is a small Chinese restaurant on the Camberwell Church Road, specialising in cuisine of the Xinjiang region. You won't find prawn crackers and spring rolls here my friends. There's nothing remarkable about the restaurant itself and if you didn't know, you'd walk straight passed it, aside from any evening during the week and on weekends when it's few tables are reserved and being turned round one after the other. In fact the first time we went to Silk Road was coincidentally on the eve of the Chinese New Year - it was a wednesday by the way - the place was rammed. Saturday at 6pm - all we could get in for with a late Thursday that week booking - was just the same.

Every review you read about Silk Road will mention the aloof nature of the waiting staff, and it's true, they're not smiley-smiley, but that's probably because the place is busy. It's an informal affair so we got the beers in whilst we perused the menu. Having heard great things about the big plate chicken (£15) we decided to order fewer smaller dishes than last time and get the big plate. I guess now is a good time to mention how freakin' cheap Silk Road is; £2.50 for a bottle of beer, most sharing dishes range from around £4-£6 with the odd exception, meat, fish and tripe skewers start from £1 each and extra portions of rice and noodles around £2. Oh yeah and their noodles are homemade, thick and chewy ribbons sent from heaven. It's safe to say the quality of the food way outweighs the price, this place is a real gem.

This time we went for a bowl of rice each (and then two more later), and started with the garlic pak choi, then the homestyle cabbage (one of the most renowned dishes on their modest menu) some ox tripe skewers which I made a tactical swerve on, and then the big plate chicken dish which is a huge bowl of chicken broth, chicken on the bone, green peppers, chillis, potatoes and a serving of thick belt noodles placed in by the waiter. Quite the statement dish! I can safely say that every single last morsel was enjoyed by all of us, the flavours are just spot on.

Previously we've also had beef and onion dumplings (delicious), TEP noodles (divine) and other veggie dishes that I can't remember off the top of my head - all fantastic. I honestly think you'd be hard pushed to not enjoy anything on their menu. Granted, it's not extensive, like other chinese restaurants but I'm more than happy with that. There's enough choice to make you want to keep coming back, and to ensure the quality of the food that is served at Silk Road. 

Our meal, between four of us came to less than £15 each, consistent with how much we paid previously, and for how much we ate and how genuinely good the food is, a meal here is an absolute steal. 

If you're in or around the Camberwell area, or not but you still fancy a good meal, Silk Road comes highly recommended, even if you've got to travel Saaaffff of the river.

This Last Week #9

I can't actually even remember the last time I wrote a catch up post. The last few weeks have been like a whirlwind but I'm so glad to be back in front of my laptop writing this. I have missed blogging. And by that you can probably tell my absence was basically forced upon me. Hash tag first world problems I know.

I can't really just talk about the last week because, lets be honest, we need a proper catch up? The main highlight from the last month is probably going to see Lionel Richie at the O2, VIP, full-hospitality, great view, it was fab! As they say, it's not what you know, but who you know.

I mentioned on twitter the other week was moving week so any chance of a blog post was slim. Who wants to read a half-arsed attempt anyway?! Exactly. We have moved out of our lovely little one bed flat and in with some friends, which we couldn't be happier about. The move itself was stressful to say the least, but they always are aren't they? As well as being faced with the reality of ME, yes, me having to drive the self-hire transit van for the day. I think I did quite well... after the man at the van-hire place had to stop the traffic to help me drive away. Oh the embarrassment.

Last weekend also brought Shay's birthday, even though we promised not to buy each other presents this year (because of something REALLY exciting that I can't say anything about yet... boo), I still managed to arrange some surprise birthday drinks for him down the pub as well as making the journey home on the Sunday for some family celebrations. His amazing mum made him a treasure island cake, complete with blue jelly for water around the island... just ingenious! We also went out to Bodean's in Soho on Friday and it was so delicious! We ordered a Boss Platter and there was just so much food, it's crazy how full you get off just meat so quickly. We made a huge dent in the platter but made sure to take the rest home in a doggy bag. The pictures above are of us indulging in a Rumshackle cocktail at Barrio Central before the meal.

We also took some time off to chill out after the bank holiday and settle into our new place, which meant once the unpacking was done, we could binge on Netflix. We have discovered Peaky Blinders... and are absolutely obsessed. The brummy accents are a little dodgy at times, but the storyline is just so good and most of the acting is phenomenal... plus also, Cillian Murphy, need I say more? We're already almost half way through series two and I don't know how I'll cope when we have to wait for the third series to air on tv. I'll try not to think about it.

Training continues for the Nike 10k in June. I've been doing 10k runs during the weeks after work and feeling really good for it, especially now I have my snazzy new running trainers for proper support. I'm still dumb-founded at the progress I've made, and the fact I can even run to be quite honest. I'm hoping for a sub 55 min run on the day so with only 6 weeks left to go I need to step it up! I've been enjoying tracking my progress so much that I MAY even sign up for another 10k after it's done.

And finally, aside from the move, I've been trying to fit in as much sewing as possible. A while ago I finished some cushion covers for my lovely sister-not-yet-in-law after a fabric shopping trip down the Goldhawk Road. Because they weren't for me, I really took my time on them and I was really chuffed with the result to be honest, they're very smart and carefully done. The smaller cushion is a beige poly fabric with a turquoisey, greeny lace over the top. It was really tricky to sew but the result looks absolutely stunning. I'd love to do it again, it gave me such a good sense of satisfaction. I also finished a pair of trousers this weekend which I promptly put on and left for the pub in 15 mins later. Being able to sew is such a wicked skill to have, I don't think I'll ever get bored of it. I'll do a blog post on the trousers soon!

ANYWAY - how are you all? I've missed blogging myself, but have still been reading and keeping up to date, it feels good to be back!!