Monthly Archives: January 2013



I love this picture because of the way the light streams in from the door, which is itself embedded in the old, cracked wall. It makes me think of a doorway to an adventure or a secret garden.


Oat biscuits

Oat biscuits

After lunch today I felt like having a biscuit, and fortunately my housemate always has biscuits. I had a Hobnob, and the oat-y texture made me want more!
I didn’t want to entirely empty his stash of biscuits, so I looked up oat biscuit recipes, finally deciding on a simple recipe from BBC Good Food, substituting the golden syrup with honey. Click on the picture for the link to the recipe.
The result was soft and chewy in the centre and a little crisp on the edges, with that wonderful slightly rough, oat-y texture throughout. We got through most of them before I remembered to take a picture. So, here are the lucky three that made it to the camera.

Bread, cheese and comfort food

I finally remembered to buy some yeast. I’ve been reading bread recipes online and was debating which to try. In the end the decision was made for me.

My housemate came back to uni with about twelve packs of mature cheddar cheese and another two of orange burger cheese with black pepper from McDonalds, where he worked over Christmas. The cheese was expiring, and they couldn’t use it despite its apparent freshness, so it was all destined for the bin. Fortunately it found a new home in our fridge:


Due to the glut of cheese in the house I started looking up cheese bread recipes instead of sweet ones. I eventually decided that this recipe from The Hungry Mouse was simple, yet impressive enough. However I still needed to make the pizza dough and I decided not to use The Hungry Mouse’s dough recipe purely because of the yeast measurements, as she uses a tablespoon. The yeast I bought comes in 7 g sachets and I didn’t want to convert things. I soon tracked down Gordon Ramsey’s pizza recipe (on the BBC Good Food website) that uses 7 g yeast sachets.

Both recipes were very easy to follow and the results were delicious. The cheese was melty on the inside and crispy on the outside where the oven had dried it. The bread was soft and fluffy. It is a prime example of comfort food, all in a little roll that fits in the palm of my hand. I ate a couple cheese rolls with leftover bolognese sauce from dinner, and if I closed my eyes, and relied on flavour alone, I could’ve been eating a pizza. Perfection.

A few changes I made to the recipes:
I halved the original quantities of the dough recipe and this worked out just right for the cheese roll. I also used all-purpose flour as I didn’t have any bread flour.
As for the actual cheese rolls, I didn’t have any parmesan cheese so I omitted that and just made sure that the other cheeses covered the dough well.

The following pictures are of the finished rolls:




So the first few weeks of January have been pretty tough. I’ve had a couple job rejections and disappointing feedback. I think the lack of recent success has been affecting me more than I thought it had.

Today I wanted to share two things.

First, a really uplifting Bible verse:
“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” 
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (MSG). 

Meditating on this as I received two consecutive emails with rejections definitely stopped me from breaking down on a two hour train journey. I won’t dispute that it was incredibly tough and definitely tested the limits of my faith. Getting through this dry season will need a lot of prayer and support from friends and family, albeit distantly. 

Thankfully I’ve had visits from some close friends and each visit has recharged me. I used to underestimate the importance of human support, but  I definitely won’t anymore. 

The second thing I wanted to share was some sweet and salty popcorn that I made the other night. 


I’ve always had trouble making my own sweet and salty popcorn because it was difficult to get the sugar to stick to the popcorn. I’m not a fan of toffee popcorn, with all the thick, sticky gunk, and unfortunately most popcorn recipes are about those. 

However, I found this recipe. The blogger got over the sugar issue by mixing it into melted butter, which coats the popcorn perfectly. I used salted butter and a few twists of my salt grinder and the result was perfect. From now on this will be my go to popcorn recipe. I just can’t believe how simple the solution was!


Beef stew

Beef stew

Dinner tonight was beef stew. I made a big pot of it so it’ll last me a fair few meals. I used lots of paprika (sweet and smoked) as well as Lea & Perrins sauce which I think is what helped flavour the stew so well. Chopped onions, garlic, carrots and celery and steady simmering for an hour translated into an incredibly satisfying meal.

Cinnamon and chocolate

I had some friends over for New Year’s Eve. We just wanted a quiet night, chatting and maybe playing on the Wii, as I think none of us really wanted to brave a night out at the local clubs (and judging from the broken glass paving the streets the next day I’m glad we didn’t).

So we ordered some pizzas, everyone brought drinks and I baked.

The first cake I made used another recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini – Yogurt Cake.

It’s a recipe I’ve used countless times since I found it, purely because of it’s versatility and simplicity. In the past I’ve thrown in handfuls of tart blueberries in the batter. I’ve also made a plain cake and served it with crème fraîche and blueberries on the side (yes, I have a thing for blueberries).

However this time I thought I’d make a more wintry cake and so I added a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and half a teaspoon of ground ginger. On a whim, I also sprinkled the top with a mix of demerara sugar and more cinnamon.  The cake came out moist, as usual, but this time it also filled the kitchen with the lovely scent of cinnamon. It was like Christmas all over again!

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The cake is fine by itself but I imagine a small scoop of vanilla ice cream would go well with it. Then again, vanilla ice cream goes well with most cakes.

The second cake was a variation on the Brown Eyed Baker’s Best Brownies, which in turn was originally from Hershey’s.

Where the recipe states to use two eggs, I’d run out of eggs and so substituted the second egg with about two tablespoons of whole milk, in an attempt to make up the volume. As usual I replaced the cup of sugar in the original recipe with 150 g of soft brown sugar and finally, I chopped up about 150 g of milk and plain chocolate and folded it into the batter.

The results were delicious, especially when eaten warm.

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The brownies disappeared rapidly although I think it’s down to chocolate being a general favourite with my friends, rather than any spectacular baking skills. But the point of this is I’m glad my experiment with an egg substitute turned out so well. I doubt I’d be brave enough to do that with any other cake but I hope to one day reach a point when I can make up my own recipes.


The intro from the TV series Scrubs – I heard the lyrics, I can’t do this on my own, I’m no Superman, and thought that they brought up some very important points- we all need to be aware of our weaknesses and that we cannot go through life without support. Many people try their best to seem impervious to hardships and I think that I did that too, to an extent. However, the whole ‘tough guy’ façade is simply that – a façade, and we need to be able to accept that and seek help and support.

As a Christian, I look to Jesus for that support; the Bible verse “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT) runs parallel with the message from the lyrics of the Scrubs theme song.

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

I saw this challenge and thought it would be worth trying. I’ve always enjoyed looking through piles of old letters and cards and I imagined this challenge would be similar.

2012 was a mixed year for me; parts of it have been pretty near perfect, while other parts were decidedly less so. I’ve treated this challenge as an exercise in reflection.


My birthday meal – the original plan was for my best friend to cook for me. Unfortunately, she had the world’s craziest flatmate who decided to bin all the ingredients “because she didn’t want the flat to be noisy”. Fortunately, we live near some very nice restaurants and so still managed to have a great evening.



It snowed! I had a hard time deciding which picture to choose. In the end I chose this because I love the movement of the people. It just perfectly captures the atmosphere that day. We don’t get much snow in England, so whenever it does snow everyone goes a bit mad. This picture reminds me of how carefree I was that day. Image


I was on the train, going past the East Midlands Parkway. It’s a journey I used to go on quite regularly, travelling between Nottingham and London. This picture has managed to capture the industrial quality of the place and I think the reflection in the window of the other side of the aisle gives the picture an extra dimension.



Outside the Natural History Museum, meeting up with old uni friends.


At the end of the day, walking through Kensington Gardens towards Bayswater in search of Chinese food.


Lunchtime at St Thomas’ Hospital


Russell Square



Having lunch at Chives Cafe on the top floor the Canterbury Waterstone’s, looking down at the cafe across the street.



Fourth event down – one of the most important days of my career.



8th July 2012- Roger Federer beat Andy Murray in the Men’s Singles Final 4–6, 7–5, 6–3, 6–4. It was such a dramatic match and I’m so glad I finally got to experience Wimbledon.


The Whitstable Oyster Festival.

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View of Canterbury Cathedral from the High Street.



The view on part of my running route. This was a rare occasion when I took my phone with me.



Best seat in a cafe in Canterbury. It’s in a tiny side room, just big enough for two tables. Unfortunately countless other people have now found this spot and I’ve not been able to sit there since I took this picture.



One of the most impressive bookshops I’ve ever seen – the Birmingham New Street branch of Waterstone’s. I asked around and it turns out it used the be the former site of a Midland Bank branch.



One of my best friends decided to get me a ticket for the Christmas ball where I used to work. It was such a great night and made me realise that even though I am jobless and my savings are rapidly declining, I am still so incredibly blessed.

Onward to 2013!


I had to be quite ruthless in selecting pictures for this challenge, and I definitely did not manage to cover all the aspects of my year. Nevertheless, after completing the challenge I can conclusively state that I had a great year and that despite my disappointments, I don’t think I’d change it.