Home-made Granola

January 05, 2014

Granola is one of my favourite things to eat for breakfast, whether it's with yoghurt or milk, but finding a decent store bought one that's not laden with sugar can get quite expensive and so I choose to make my own. Some of the ingredients may seem expensive, but if you can buy in bulk (check out the world food aisle of your local supermarket for good deals on nuts and seeds), it works out much cheaper in the long run.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of rolled oats (not porridge)
  • 1 cup of nuts/ seeds (I use a mix of cashews, flaked almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds)
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup oil (I prefer coconut or rapeseed)
  • 1/4 cup sweetner (either maple or agave)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • pinch salt
  • 4tbsp ground flax seed (optional)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 150°C/ 300°F/ Gas Mark 2
  • Mix all dry ingredients, except ground flax, together in a large bowl
  • In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients together
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well, ensuring that all of the ingredients are evenly coated
  • Place on a lined baking tray and bake for around 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes
  • Once cool, mix in ground flax and store in an air tight container

I like to serve the granola topped with berries, here I have it topped with pomegranate seeds, but it also works brilliantly with raspberries, strawberries or blueberries.

Happy New Year

January 02, 2014

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Happy New Year to all of you! I can't believe that it's been a month since my last post; where has the time gone? On New Year's Eve, Samuel and I decided to stay at home and got a takeaway from our favourite restaurant, because neither of us could be all that bothered with cooking. After stuffing ourselves with a delicious curry and with about twenty minutes to go until midnight, we decided to stroll into town and watch the fireworks. They were so much better this year without the clock tower of the town hall blocking the view. After the display, we headed straight back home and I was in bed by about half-past! I had been in work at 8am though, so I think that I'm excused.

2013 was a bit of a tough year, but looking back, there were a lot more ups than downs. I know that most people have been posting all about their resolutions for 2014, but I'm not usually the sort of person that makes them. However, this year I thought that I'd set myself a few goals.

  • Be more organised. In general, I am a relatively organised person, but when it comes to blogging (don't even get me started on how long it's been since I last uploaded to YouTube) I'm terrible, hence this being my first post in a month. This year, I'm hoping to organise myself and dedicate a few hours a week to drafting posts, which can then be scheduled for posting whenever I feel like. That's the plan anyway!
  • Take more photographs. When Samuel and I first got together, we used to take a lot of photographs, but now I hardly take any. I'm hoping that regular blogging will encourage me to take more photos and hone my skills over the coming year.
  • Be a better friend. I like to think that I'm an alright friend and I hope that my friends know that I'll be there for them if they need me, but I'm not very good at texting/ phoning, just to see how they are. This year, I'm going to make much more effort.
  • Explore more. In 2013, we made the most of having a car and went on lots of days out. I think that my favourite part of the whole year was packing the car up with all of our camping gear and making the 330 mile journey down south to Cornwall. I'm hoping that in 2014, we're going to make the most of having a car and a tent and explore a lot more of the green and pleasant land that we call home.

Room Restaurant, Manchester.

December 03, 2013

A few weekends ago, five of us went along to Room Restaurant in Manchester for a little celebration lunch. A few of us have had birthdays recently and thought it would be nice to get together for a bit of wining and dining. Rather sillily, I didn't take any photos of the restaurant itself (which is beautiful) or of the group of us together, just of the food that I ate, but that's the most important part right?

The rest of my friends ate from the set price lunch and dinner menu and absolutely loved what they had, however there was nothing suitable for vegans on that menu and so I ate from the vegan menu. Room caters well for those with special dietary requirements and has separate menus available for most needs.

To start, I went with the Bloody Mary consommé. It might not look like much, but this packed a punch and was full of flavour whilst being lightly spiced.

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Moving onto the mains and for this course I went with the Malayan vegetable curry. The menu stated that this would be served with spiced rice, however mine was actually accompanied with coconut spiced lentils and roasted cauliflower, which were delicious. I'm definitely going to have to try and recreate them at home. The potatoes were delicately spiced and went perfectly with the lentils and cauliflower.

I also may have pinched a couple of the chips that my friends had ordered with their mains and they were really quite yummy. 

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Lastly were the desserts. I decided on the sorbet and had a scoop each of raspberry, strawberry and fennel. They were all beautiful but the fennel sorbet was sublime. I almost wish that I'd gotten three scoops of just that; without a doubt it was one of the nicest things that I have ever eaten.

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Overall, I would highly recommend Room Restaurant. I've eaten there twice now and on both occasions, the food has been great. The wine and cocktails that are available aren't bad either. It can be a little pricey, however for me it's worth it, especially if it's for a special occasion.

For many of those with special dietary requirements, going for a meal can feel a little daunting, especially when you have to contact a restaurant in advance just to make sure that they're able to cater for you, but with Room, all of those anxieties are taken away and that's just one of the many reasons that I know that I'll be back.

 

Life Lately, In Verbs

November 19, 2013

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Eating // I met up with some friends at the weekend and we ate lunch at Room Restaurant in Manchester. The Bloody Mary Consommé and the Malayan Vegetable Curry were divine and the fennel sorbet was just about one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten. I am definitely going to have to try and recreate those gems.

Drinking // chai tea; I love tea all year round, but I particularly enjoy the subtle spiciness of chai at this time of year. Tazo's version is one of my favourites.

Dreaming of // a cozy Christmas. This year it’s just going to be the two of us, so I’m looking forward to spending it at my Dad’s cottage, snuggled up in front of the fire with my love.

Anticipating // snow! I absolutely adore snow and can't wait until we get a dusting of the white stuff.

Wearing // my big snuggly scarf; it was a bit of an H&M bargain.

Cooking // soups and lots of them. You can’t beat a good soup on a frosty day. I very much enjoy the warming heat of this one. I really should be getting my Christmas cake on the go soon too!

Watching // I haven’t actually watched much lately, so I’m getting quite excited for all of the Christmas films that are going to be shown over the coming weeks. You just can’t beat a bit of Elf!

Enjoying // catching up with friends and family. I love nothing more than spending time with loved ones.

Making // I’m currently collecting ideas for a few homemade Christmas gifts – think jams/ chutneys and biscuits.

Reading // I finished Gone Girl a couple of weeks ago, but haven’t had much time lately to start anything else book wise. I have been enjoying catching up with some of my favourite blogs (Cider with Rosie, Paperbagblog & The Private Life of a Girl) in the mornings before dragging myself out of bed to head to work.

Purchasing // too many clothes. Sadly (although not for my bank balance), about ¾ of what I’ve bought is going to have to go back—it either doesn’t fit or looks different than I expected; the perils of online shopping eh?

Loving // frosty mornings. I actually really enjoy walking to work and being able to see my breath, well, provided that I’m well wrapped up against the cold anyway!

Obsessing over // finding a black bobble hat, how hard can it be? It would seem that finding the perfect one is very difficult indeed; most of the ones that I’ve seen lately are a bit snug for my big head. What can I say, I have a lot of hair…

Adventuring // we’ve actually had quite an eventful few weeks lately, with lots of little trips here and there. I’m looking forward to lots more outings over the next few months.

What things have you been enjoying lately?

Thank you to Cider with Rosie for the post inspiration.

What I've Been Reading: Gone Girl

November 04, 2013

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'Who are you? What have we done to each other? These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his phone. So what did happen to Nick's beautiful wife?'

It’s always a bit difficult to review a book without giving too much of the plot away. I picked up Gone Girl quite a while ago and hadn't heard much about it at the time. I read a few pages, but didn't feel gripped and so I left it for a while. I decided to give it a second chance after seeing all the hype that it had been getting of late.

I have mixed feelings about Gone Girl – I did like it, but I didn’t love it as much as I thought I might. This is Gillian Flynn’s third novel, but the first of hers that I’ve read. Her writing style is something that I did enjoy; it’s straightforward and readable, but with a great attention to detail. Gone Girl switches between Nick's narrative, when his wife is found to be missing, and Amy's diary, as she writes about the early days of their relationship. The characters are flawed but believable and the two story lines don’t quite mesh, showing the different perspectives that two people can have on the same event.

Around half way through there’s a plot twist, making you question your thoughts of the characters, who not only manipulate each other, but the reader too. This is a book that will resonate for many twenty/ thirty somethings. It is very of the moment – touching on the power of the media, the influence of parenting and the all-important question of how well we really know our other half.

I found it quite difficult to give Gone Girl a rating; despite being left feeling a little disappointed by the ending, I did enjoy the book and particularly Flynn’s writing style. It kept me interested until the last page and it's definitely something that I'd recommend, and so I'm going to give it a 4 out of 5.