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Showing posts with label food blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food blogging. Show all posts

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Perfect Banana Bread - a text message recipe

Easiest banana loaf recipe

Sometimes I have a craving for some really specific foodstuff from my childhood. Now that my mum and dad both live abroad, I've had to make do with asking them for recipes rather than popping home for a dose of home cooking. It's at times like this that I will send one of them a frantic text saying something like this, "Dad, I need to know how you make that leek and ginger soup you used to force me to eat all winter when I was a child! It's urgent!" or "Mum can you tell me your recipe for banana loaf again - I've lost it..."

Thankfully, both of my parents are fairly tech savvy and understand the importance of urgent food cravings, so I usually get a response fairly quickly. They are both excellent cooks too - the kind of cooks who can just open up the fridge and make something fantastic, no matter what they find inside. I hope that one day I will acquire this skill - Dan is a bit better than me at this right now. I'm too scared of failure. Anyway, before this turns into a self-flagellation-fest, here's the response that I got when I sent my mum a text asking for her banana loaf recipe a few months ago:

easy banana bread recipe


So, you've got Owl Mother to thank for this one - although she probably prefers to go by 'Karen' since that is her name! This recipe is not very consistent with its measurements but there are plenty of nifty conversion tools online if you want to make it into cups or ounces or something like that. And yes, I did text my mum "<3 Ur a goody". It was (semi) ironic, I swear!

- 2/3 mashed bananas (we always mash ours with a fork)
- 2 tablespoons of margarine (you can use butter, but this recipe works really well with marg)
- 125 grams of caster sugar (I use golden, but white works too).
- 200 grams of self raising flour! (this is important!)
- 3 eggs (medium)
- Chocolate chips (as many as you want! I used a whole packet!)
- A pinch of nutmeg (you can replace with cinnamon or leave out altogether if you like).
- A pinch of salt.

Make sure you preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius/Gas Mark 4/350 degrees Fahrenheit! The basic method that my mum and I always follow is to start by creaming the butter and sugar together, before adding all of the other wet ingredients and mixing it up into a big gloopy yellow mess. Then we add the flour bit by bit until it's all incorporated. My mum says you can add a bit more flour if you think it's too wet, but like she said in her text, this is a pretty wet mixture, so don't stress out about it too much! Pour the mixture into a greased non-stick loaf tin, and pop it in the oven for about an hour. I always check mine with a skewer or knife after about 45 minutes to make sure it's cooking nicely, and then keep checking it every ten(ish) minutes until the skewer comes out clean (except for melted chocolate!) and it is ready! Pop it out of the loaf tin and onto a cooling rack before gobbling it all up with a pot of Earl Grey.

fresh banana bread

chocolate banana loaf recipe

This recipe is so easy, that you can pretty much whip it up WHILE dinner is cooking! A favourite Friday night tradition with my mum is to make tuna pasta bake and banana loaf all at once, and then devour them both whilst watching sitcoms on the television. I've tried so many banana bread recipes and none of them work quite as consistently as my mum's classic! So my question for you is this - do you have any 'family recipes' in your household? Are your dad's roast potatoes the best in the land? Does your grandpa make the most intense margaritas you've ever tasted? (Probably not - that's Dan's Nonno's territory!) I'd love to know if you've got any culinary secrets in your family!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Mock Turtle - delightful tea rooms in Brighton

best tearoom brighton

Stepping through the door of this traditional tea room in the centre of Brighton has been a complete delight to me for over 20 years now. For as long as I can remember, despite changes in ownership and expansion into the next building over, The Mock Turtle has fulfilled the same role in the Brighton cafe scene - it was doing twee before 'twee' was in style, darling! My parents would take me here when I was little, for a treat of toasted teacakes - I continued to visit through my teenage years, and still make an effort to stop off for a spot of tea whenever I'm in Brighton because it is just such a pleasure to eat here, even now!

twee decor cafe interior
vintage cash register
big vintage mirror brighton
Antique aesthetic decor

The crowded, mismatched decor and super-antique atmosphere in the Mock Turtle should not fool you into thinking that the service and the food are anything less than top notch here. There's a vast array of freshly baked cakes, pastries and scones on the menu, as well as tasty lunch snacks such as Welsh Rarebit (which is a gooey, fonduey cheese mixture on toast, in case you've not heard of it before) and cooked breakfasts.

Dan and I shared a deliciously traditional Welsh Rarebit (which we greedily wolfed down before we had a chance to photograph it) before indulging in a cream tea for dessert. We thought that we'd do a very scientific experiment and decide once and for all, which kind of scone is best, out of the Devonshire and Cornwall styles. There's an age old friendly (I think it's friendly anyway) rivalry between Devon and Cornwall regarding the correct way to assemble a scone with jam and cream. In Devon, they put the clotted cream on the scone first, followed by a dollop of jam, whereas in Cornwall, the jam is spread on the scone first, and then a thick layer of cream is liberally applied on top. Dan prefers the Devon method and I prefer the Cornwall method, so I can't say we came to any particular conclusions in our experiment!

Cream and Jam pots
Devonshire Cream Tea
Cornish Cream Teas

I'd really recommend visiting The Mock Turtle cafe if you're ever in Brighton. I've loved it since I was a child, and I'm clearly not alone, as they've expanded into a much bigger tea room recently. The prices are still incredibly reasonable (doubly so if you're used to sky-high London prices) and you get fantastically generous portions. You can find the Mock Turtle on Pool Valley in Brighton (BN1 1NJ). Let me know if you ever visit this tea room because it'll make me so happy!

Which type of scone do you prefer? Devon or Cornwall? And if you're not from the UK, exactly how ridiculous does this rivalry sound? Is there anything similar where you're from?

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Brighton Lights - A whirlwind trip back to my hometown

Modern Brighton Postcard

Brightonians (as we call ourselves) are notoriously filled to the brim with pride in our fantastic city. Yes, Brighton IS a city! I count myself so very lucky to have grown up in this wonderful place, and I'd love to bring my kids up here too. It's big enough that I could become street-wise, but small enough that I'd ALWAYS run into someone I knew when wandering around town, and it's sandwiched so beautifully between the seaside and the countryside. I've always loved Brighton but I've never appreciated it as much as I do now that I live in London. Much as I love the bustle of London, and the fact that you can pretty much get EVERYTHING here, there's nothing quite like the inclusive, friendly atmosphere of Brighton. Case in point: I received four compliments on my skirt in Brighton, and whilst I know my skirt is fabulous, I've never received an innocent compliment about my fashion choices in London!

Colourful houses Brighton
Chicwish Neon Lights Skirt Blog
Alleyway fashion shoot
Bokeh skirt blogger style

We decided to travel down to Brighton for the day on an absolute whim. I missed my hometown and if you've got a rail card and you go on the slow train, a day return from London only costs £6. We wandered around the shops, ate hearty donburis at Pompoko, a super cheap and cheerful Japanese place, wandered some more, and had an incredible vegetarian dinner at my favourite restaurant Terre à Terre. We had a tapas plate to share, and a sharing dessert too. Both were absolutely beautiful, complex and perfect. I've wanted to take Dan to Terre à Terre for years now, and I'm so glad we went.

terre a terre tapas review
terre a terre dessert menu

Bellies full, we waddled along the rapidly darkening seafront to the glowing lights of the pier, because Dan has never been to the pier at night. I had a great time playing with the light to make it match my skirt, and telling Dan all about all of the different memories I had of times I spent on this pier in my childhood and adolescence. We walked right to the end, looked out to sea and tasted the salt on our lips, before paying to ride the ghost train (which is actually quite scary since they've renovated it. It includes a really horrific zombie bathroom scene, and a severed head burning in an oven... Dark...)

Typical Brighton Sunset UK
The Palace Pier at Night
Bokeh Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier night fashion
Pier rides Brighton
Blurry lights effect
Merry go round fashion
sunset fashion brighton uk

Brighton is often portrayed as this pastel, saccharine seaside destination, all stripes and sticks of rock, and Mr Whippy ice creams with a flake stuck in at a jaunty angle. Yeah, we've got all of those things, and to the casual visitor it is probably easy to restrict your visit to these aspects of Brighton if you want to. But to me, Brighton is so much more than that. Brighton has a dark, grimy underbelly. It has a thriving arts scene and more youth music than you'd think possible. It's got restaurants and cafés for every taste, it's got countless creepy kebab places, it's got winding alleys, lanes and laines, boulevards, landmarks, local history, and so much character. This has been a love song to my favourite place. I miss you, Brighton, and I'll be back soon, I promise!

Skirt: Chicwish
Top: H&M Basics (it's actually a bodycon dress)
Shoes: Dr Martens

Sunday, 20 July 2014

I totally dig: analogue photography

Analogue photography fashion

Before you label me a pretentious hipster, let me make my case. I’m of the generation who grew up alongside the transition to digital photography; my first ever camera (a bright pink plastic point-and-shoot bought for me when I was about seven years old) was analogue and produced these incredible colour-saturated photos streaked with lurid orange light-leaks. At the time, I was so sad about how it ruined all of my carefully planned photographs, but now I look back on the low-angle snapshots of my back garden, the family cat, school day trips and family outings and love them even more for their weird orange imperfections.
I’m a perfectionist, and the idea of imperfection in a digital photograph makes me feel faintly ill. I spend hours taking hundreds of photos until I get the perfect one that I like. But with analogue photography, for some reason I really love the imperfections. I am completely besotted with the funny faces and between-moments that I have captured over the years with my various analogue cameras. I guess that’s what the ‘Lomography’ movement (is it a movement? I don’t even know…) is trying to capture with their ‘shoot from the hip’ motto. There’s something magical about the delay between taking a photograph and actually getting to see it. A couple of years ago, I was taking photographs of my little brother and sister, using a Miranda camera given to me by my stepdad. After I’d taken the picture, they both grabbed for the camera to look at the back of it, and were indignant that they couldn’t look at the photograph. I was astonished by how difficult I found it to explain the fact that the picure was inside the camera, but we wouldn’t get to see it for a long time, and I’d have to take it somewhere where someone would reveal the image in a dark room and I’d have to pay them to own it! It sounds kind of wrong once you’re used to seeing your photo immediately and being able to put it on allllll the social media if you so choose.

analog cat photography
Brittany Lake sunset
Robin Grey Folk
Tokyo fish market morning
analog food photography
Owl Girl husband
Bedroom window idea
Analogue wedding photography
Diana mini flash

Recently, I went to get some films developed from a range of different cameras at Snappy Snaps. Unfortunately, they managed to destroy some of the films instead of developing them, and those that they did manage to develop are misaligned and cut halfway through the photo, or are covered in scratches. They gave me the whole batch for free because it was their mistake, and whilst I am upset about losing so many photos, I’m embracing the imperfection of the remaining photographs as it really does add to the character somehow. These photographs are some of what remains, and were taken on a Diana Mini and a vintage Pentax SLR. Also, stay tuned for the disposable camera photos from our wedding (we’ve still not finished getting all of them developed yet)!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Food and coffee in Oslo

tim wendelboe review

Every holiday is a culinary tour for us. We spent our whole honeymoon hopping from cafe to restaurant to ramen bar to street food cart, and our anniversary mini-break to Oslo was no different. Read of our wondrous foodie adventures, and if you stay tuned until the bottom of the post, you may or may not be treated to an accidental 'Marilyn moment'...
We arrived at our hotel very late at night, although there was still a glow in the sky, it being midsummer Norway and all, so after what felt like the shortest night's sleep ever, we ventured downstairs for the most incredible breakfast buffet of our lives. There were eggs and a hot plate to fry them on, a build-your-own muesli bar, countless different types of cheese, and mountains of cured salmon. After all that, we didn't feel like we would ever be able to eat again. (But don't worry - we could!)
We bought a couple of all-day bus tickets from a convenience store called Narvesen and hopped on a bus to Grünerløkka, which we had been informed was the "Shoreditch of Oslo". I actually thought it was much more laid back and family-orientated than Shoreditch, but it was still definitely very trendy. We walked up the river for a bit and then stopped for an iced coffee at Tim Wendelboe. Despite coming in a martini glass, my iced cappuccino was in no way a novelty drink. This was seriously smooth, creamy coffee and it was perfectly brewed. Dan got a different type of iced coffee that came with some kind of aniseed twist. It was just as incredible as mine. The decor at Tim Wendelboe is minimal, with very few spots to sit - the room was dominated by an enormous coffee bean roaster, all clean and industrial looking. The counter tops were functional and wooden - everything was designed to make sure that the coffee spoke for itself, which it really did.

Oslo Street Fashion
Pattern mixing Summer
City break in Oslo
Grunerlokka Hipster

After a lot of wandering and mooching, a trip to the Munch museum, and a visit to the amazing Fram museum (a museum dedicated to the first successful mission to the south pole - more on this at a later date), we changed for a little date night dinner at Elias mat & sånt. This was recommended online as a reasonably priced, modern take on traditional Norwegian food, and it did not disappoint. We amused ourselves between delicious courses, with children's books in Norwegian, and browsed the extensive collection of board games. I'd really recommend this place and enjoyed the fabulous smoked salmon and poached egg salad - Dan had reindeer stew, which was served with a mountain of delicious, buttery mashed potato.
We were only in Oslo for a day and a half, but we managed to squeeze in trips to visit two gorgeous sandwich shops, the Grünerløkka Bakeri, and Godt Brød. Both did fantastic sandwiches. Perhaps Scandinavian sandwiches should be called Scandwiches? Anyway, this sample of two has convinced me that Oslo is the sandwich capital of the world. Fresh ingredients, beautiful flavour combinations and real passion about food. (I sound like a knob).

Date night Oslo
Asparagus date
Norwegian disney

We visited another coffee shop the morning before we left, called Mocca. Again, the design inside the shop was clean and slightly industrial but perfectly executed. We both ordered iced mochas and enjoyed them surrounded by young families and hip students scribbling in Moleskines. I enjoyed every single food and drink experience I had in Oslo even though it is a very expensive city. I would love to go back when I am richer and experience more of the culture that Oslo has to offer!
Yeah, I know basically all of the photos in this post are of my outfits and not food!!! Whatchoo gonna do about it? Stay tuned for more Oslo adventure posts as well as my packing essentials.

Oslo coffee shop
iced mocha oslo
Scandinavian minimalist chic

Striped top - h&m
Skirt - Dorothy Perkins
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Party dress - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan - I have no idea... It used to belong to my mother. Ask her!

Oslo station tiger
Accidental upskirt
Windy day dress

Ooops.

P.S. Take a look at our vlog! There's bling! And licking!