Categories
Anxiety Depression Foodie things General health and well-being Hull Bloggers Mental Illness

Giggles at Kardomah 94*

Hello! Here’s another Kardomah 94 review; I know, I just can’t get enough of the place! If you’ve been reading over the past few weeks you’ll know I was asked by the lovely Hannah if I fancied checking out some live shows at Kardomah 94, which is a restaurant and venue space right in the centre of Hull. The first – Backstage in Biscuit Land – was a magical, eye-opening journey into the world of Jess Thom who lives life with Tourettes syndrome. The second – Giggles: Greater Good Project – is a combination of mental health awareness and a heavy dose of comedy to delight and educate in equal measure.
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We arrived at Kardomah 94 hungry and ready to try some of the tasty-sounding pizzas. When we saw Backstage in Biscuit Land we caught a glimpse of the pizzas – huge, stone baked ones, covered crust to crust in an array of toppings – and we couldn’t wait to try one for ourselves.

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We started the night the proper way, with a bottle of refreshing Brooklyn Lager. The atmosphere once again didn’t disappoint; each of the tables was studded with softly glowing candles, a delightful array of art hung up on the restaurant walls, and a soft hubbub and clatter of crockery from the open kitchen. What more could you want?

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Kardomah 94’s menu has a selection of pizzas with something for everyone, and various snacks and nibbles available for those who are fancying something a little different. Their specials board sported homemade favourites like spicy chilli con carne, and I’m positive even the fussiest of eaters would find something they’d love. I’d been running around doing various errands during the day, and a pizza with a beer seemed like a heavenly combination to me.

I went for the aptly named Sir Albert Gelder pizza; a stone baked, thin base topped with crisp pancetta, blue cheese and a honey drizzle. Drew went for the Hullawaiin (because he’s one of those people that thinks pineapple on a pizza is a good idea…it’s not my cup of tea, but it did look great.) Again, this was generously topped, and wonderfully crisp, and both went down a treat with a beer.

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The Hullawaiin
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The Sir Alfred Gelder pizza

What I really love about Kardomah 94 is its setting; overlooking the historic guild hall on the edge of Hull’s historic Old Town, it is truly a hidden gem. Kardomah 94 hold various events every month – some in association with the University of Hull – and it’s the perfect place to come to eat, drink and learn a thing or two.

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It’s bound to be a hit during Hull’s City of Culture Year in 2017!

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After our dinner and drinks, it was time for the event itself. Mental health – and mental illness – are very close to my heart. I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression for a while, and know people close to me who have really suffered in the past. Events like these are essential to spread awareness. I think we’ve come incredibly far from our draconian views on mental health, and though this should be celebrated, we should always strive for more. I’ve been on the receiving end of comments – even from people who know me – which illustrate a complete lack of understanding. I’ve been told to snap out of it; to stop crying. To stop worrying because there’s nothing to worry about. To cheer up; to buck my ideas up. That – though I may not believe it – other people have it worse.

If only it were that easy.

I don’t talk about what triggered my mental health problems on here, but it wasn’t easy, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. The amalgamation of certain things in my life – including the traumatic event, living with chronic pain and a brain injury plus everyday stresses – are a difficult and turbulent mix. Telling me the above things is no use. It doesn’t help. If anything you’re just making the situation worse by adding a healthy dose of guilt and self-loathing into the mix.  

You are talking to someone who can cry for hours at a time, or – on very bad days – won’t leave the safety of my bed. Telling someone with a mental health problem that they are better off than somebody else completely undermines the difficulties they are having. It is not useful.

It probably is true. But it does not solve the issue. It does not stop.

The Giggles event was founded to raise awareness of mental health. I’m becoming more confident talking about my difficulties, but some people aren’t so keen on sharing. Mental illness still conjures up images of strait jackets and ‘mad-woman-in-the-attic’ imagery, but is many as 1 in 4 people will have a mental health problem in any year. That’s a huge number. And yet – for many – it is still incredibly difficult to talk about. I’ve been met with resistance when I want to talk about my problems. I’ve been warned that people may prejudge me because of my mental health problems, and that I should stay quiet.

I don’t want to. I shouldn’t have to, because my mental health problems are just another facet of my experiences, just like having cerebral palsy, or the fact that I’m a fiend for chocolate and gin.  Events like these are exactly what we need, and so many of us need to know that it’s okay to speak up.

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The venue space was again rustic and cosy, and as we sat down in our seats we knew we’d be in for a great night.

Gary – the compere and founder of the event – opened the show, and had us all warmed up for one of the more ‘serious’ parts of the show. Fay came on and openly discussed her experiences of living with borderline personality disorder, or BPD. She explained the ‘black and whiteness’ of the disorder; the perpetual conflicting emotions she has over seemingly everyday events. She was eloquent and open, determined and steely with a refreshing outlook on her own experiences. As she noted, many people have heard of depression and anxiety, but it is these mental health problems – the ones that are most misconstrued and misunderstood -that become truly difficult for people to talk about. It was incredibly wonderful of Fay to come and share her story with us, as though these things need to be discussed they aren’t necessarily easy to share. I think I speak on behalf of the audience when I say I was incredibly touched to have a brief insight into her world.

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Next up we saw a myriad of comedians, some of which have had their own mental health problems in the past. These comedians spoke frankly about their experiences, but left us laughing. We also participated in a raffle, and all of the proceeds went to Mind, who do a fabulous job providing services to people with mental health problems when they need them.

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It is a scary time for people who rely on mental health services to get by. This year will see yet more cuts to mental health services across the country, and as someone who has had to access such services multiple times it’s really worrying to think that these vital services may be taken away. These services are there for me when I’m at my worst, and allow me to discuss my darkest thoughts when I fear no one else will listen.

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Although we had a laugh and a giggle at the event, mental health problems are no joke.

At their most devastating, mental health problems can be life-threatening, and I will always support events like this. Now more than ever we must try to find a way to overcome the issues we face; and supporting local services is one step forward. Hull and East Yorkshire Mind strive to do everything they can for people in the local area, and with our help they can continue to implement support and strategies to help those who need it most.

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Thanks so much to Kardomah 94 and the Giggles: Greater Good project for having me; I can’t wait to see when you’re next hosting an event.

What do you think of events like these? Would you be interested in attending something similar?

I hope your day is going well!
Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Product Review Recipes

Cooking up an Easter Feast with Primula: Creamy Chicken*

Hello! How are you? It’s really sunny over here today and I’m having a day of recipe-developing and MRes work (which never stops!). You might remember a few days ago I posted a recipe using Primula cheese and created a super-tasty tart. You can find that recipe here.

I wanted to come up with something quick yet tasty, and I think I made just the right thing to fulfil those requirements!

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Ingredients:

Two chopped chicken breasts,
Handful of chopped mushrooms,
1/2 chopped onion,
1/2 tube of Primula Original cheese,
150ml single cream,
2 chicken stock cubes,
2 crushed garlic cloves,
Rice/pasta to serve,
Green salad to garnish (optional).

Method:

1. Soften onion and brown chicken over medium heat in a frying pan. Add the crushed garlic.
2. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan and fry with the chicken, onion and garlic.
3. Turn heat to low, and add 1/2 tube of Primula cheese. Combine well.
4. Stir in the cream, combining well. Here is where you can add the stock and cracked black pepper of desired.
5. Leave to simmer on low heat, ensuring the chicken is cooked through and everything well-combined.
6. Serve immediately over rice or pasta. I also served ours with a simple salad dressed with olive oil.

Couldn’t be easier!

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I hope you’re enjoying this Primula series; I have a really tasty dessert perfect for an Easter feast coming your way soon!

Have a wonderful day,
Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Product Review

Healthy Snacking with Nothing But*

Hello there! I hope you’re having a great Monday. I’m just relaxing after having dinner, and thought now would be a good time to share a fabulously healthy – and incredibly tasty – snack with you all.

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A couple of weeks ago I was asked by the lovely Hannah if I’d be interested in trying out some tasty snacks. If you’ve been reading for a while you might know that I’ve been trying to include more recipe posts and easy snack ideas. Having a long term medical condition means sometimes it’s hard to ensure you’re eating well; on very painful days I’m extremely lethargic and the last thing I want to do is spend ages cooking, which is typical as excellent nutrition is just what’s needed on bad days! Most snacks are known for being fattening or high in salt/sugar, but these snacks are refreshingly different.

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Nothing But are a range of snacks available in either fruit or vegetable combinations. They’re simply fruit or vegetables…no added salts, sugars, fats, colours or preservatives. These sounded right up my street, and when I opened the box and saw plenty of brightly coloured packages I was keen to try them out.

We prepare it with care to make sure Nothing But the water is removed

The fresh produce is taken by the lovely folks at Nothing But and then frozen, and the water evaporated. This leaves a product that is exceedingly tasty and full of natural flavours. Only ever two ingredients feature in each pack, and the flavour combinations are truly delicious.

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The vegetable ones are available in the combinations of: Parsnip & Beetroot, Pea & Sweetcorn and Red Pepper & Mangetout. I was pleasantly surprised by the concentration of all-natural flavours in each bag; the process somehow intensifies each flavour, providing a tasty, natural snack that’s a lot easier to eat compared to their non-freeze dried equivalents! They’re crispy so provide that ever-so-satisfying crunch that we’re all looking for when eating a delicious snack.

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If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you’ll love the above fruit snacks. These were incredibly tasty, including the following combinations of Apple & Fig, Pineapple & Grape and Strawberry & Banana. I had a packet of these with my breakfast and I was incredibly impressed! They were incredibly fruity and deliciously sweet, which is great if you’re after a healthy alternative to other sweet snacks. These snacks are prepared in the same way as the vegetable snacks, which produces a naturally sweet range of delicious snacks suitable for any time of the day.

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What is really fantastic about these is that each pack contributes to your 5 a day, providing a whole portion of your fruit/veg in each packet. Replacing those daily bags of crisps with a product like this would help you to meet this daily recommendation in no time! They’re also gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans which is great if you have particular dietary requirements.

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All in all I’m extremely impressed by these, and will definitely look at swapping my usual snacks with them. My personal favourites were the Red Pepper & Mangetout and the Strawberry & Banana. It’d be fantastic if these products could be bought on my university campus to stop me snacking on chocolate bars and crisps during the day.

Thank you very much to Hannah and the wonderful team at Nothing But for sending these to review. Why not check out their website?

I hope you’re having a great evening,
Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Product Review Recipes

Cooking up an Easter Feast with Primula*

Hello there! I have a little recipe for you today. I was kindly contacted by Holly a couple of weeks ago asking if I fancied coming up with some recipes using primula cheese; it was an offer I couldn’t refuse!

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I’ve made some recipes using primula cheese before and have been extremely impressed with the results. Admittedly before being contacted by Holly I’ve only ever thought of primula as a tasty sandwich filling or toast topper, but it turns out that with a little imagination primula can help you to create easy – and incredibly tasty – meals and snacks.

I decided to develop a series of dishes that could feature as part of a celebratory Easter menu, but that would easily translate into everyday dishes for when you’re feeling a little adventurous and in need of something a little different. Because of my hemi hand I really struggle to grate cheese: it sounds odd, but when one hand doesn’t want to cooperate it makes it hard to complete simple tasks. Primula cheese is fabulous for me because it’s very easy to add to many dishes due to its squeezy tube, and I have been finding it enjoyable in a variety of different things. 

Today’s installment of the menu is the starter, and would also make a really tasty (and easy) midday dinner for a family.

Primula Puff Pastry Tart

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Ingredients
A roll of ready made puff pastry (don’t bother making it yourself. Ease is key here!)
Three sliced large tomatoes,
Half a tube of original Primula cheese,
One finely chopped spring onion,
A handful of crispy bacon pieces (lardons are also ideal),
Olive oil,
Cracked black pepper,
Finely chopped fresh parsley to garnish,
Salad leaves to serve (optional).

Method

1. Roll out your puff pastry sheet; this should be fairly easy. If frozen make sure it’s fully defrosted before trying to unfurl it, or it will crack. Place the pastry onto a sheet of baking paper and place onto a baking tray.

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2. Prepare your fresh ingredients, and fry off the bacon (or lardons) until crispy. Preparation before hand will make assembly of the tart a lot easier!

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3. Spread approximately half a tube of Primula onto the pastry, making sure to leave space to form a lovely crispy crust.

4. Sprinkle on your chopped bacon and spring onion and layer your tomato slices over the top, ensuring you leave the edges free of ingredients once more. Season with pepper to taste, drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and place in an oven heated to 180° celcius/gas mark 4/5.

5. Cook for around 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp, but make sure you keep an eye on it to avoid burning the edges. Once removed from the oven sprinkle liberally with parsley or another herb of your choice; basil would also be a delicious addition.

6. Cut up into slices; ours was cut into six generous slices but would easily feed more if the portions were made smaller. Serve hot from the oven or leave to cool and serve at room temperature with a crisp green salad on the side.

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I was really impressed with this, and I’m keen to try out some different toppings in the future; the possibilities seem (almost) endless!

I hope you enjoyed this first installment. Keep your eye out for more recipes using Primula cheese over the next couple of weeks…I have lots of cooking to do!

I hope you’re having a great Sunday whatever you’re doing, and let me know if you give this a try; I’d love to see what you think!
Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Recipes The Spoon Theory

Easy Eats: Nutritious Snacks

Hello there, lovely reader. A while ago I mentioned I was going to start writing up some easy, spoonie-friendly recipes and ideas. For new readers (hi!) I actually have a form of cerebral palsy called mild hemiplegia and a painful spinal condition called scheuermann’s. My cerebral palsy limits coordination and movement in my affected side and can also be painful, and alongside my recent diagnoses of depression and anxiety these can be a tiring mix!

On painful and tired days it can be a real struggle to eat well, so I thought i’d share some tips with you.

When having a bad day I tend to snack because I can’t muster up the energy to create a really nutritious, home-cooked meal. Here’s a few snacks I’ve come up with to help me on tough days:

Homemade granola
This is a really yummy, super easy thing to make. I store it in a big Kilner jar *insert heart emoji here* and then just dig in when I feel like it. It’s fab for breakfast, but like most cereals it’s great to snack on when you’re feeling a little peckish.

What you need:
2 cups of porridge oats (make sure they’re the proper ones, not the ones that make instant porridge)
2-3 tbsps of honey or maple syrup (I used half and half)
2-3 tbsps of oil (I used rapeseed oil but melted coconut oil would also be lovely)
Pinch of salt
Any yummy additions you’d like to add including dried fruit, nuts or even chopped chocolate. I used very dark chocolate (80% I believe) for a really chocolatey hit

Method:
1.Turn on the oven to around gas mark 2/150°
2. Mix all the oats, syrup, oil and salt in a mixing bowl until well combined. If adding nuts, you can add them to the granola at this stage to get them all lovely and toasty.
3. Prepare a baking tray by covering in grease proof baking paper to prevent sticking.
4. Spread the mixture onto the tray and place in the oven.
5. Cook for around 40 mins to get the oats lovely and toasted and golden. However you must make sure you continue to check the granola at 10 minute intervals: it can burn very quickly so be sure to keep an eye on it.
6. Remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool completely.
7. Once cooled, feel free to mix in as many yummy additions as you’d like. There is no measuring needed here; it’s completely up to you!
8. Once well mixed, place into a clean jar or container and this will keep for a good couple of weeks…if you can bear to leave it of course!

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I love mine with plain natural yogurt and the addition of fresh fruit. Blueberries and raspberries are lovely in this.

Fresh zesty salsa
One of my favourite dips. When feeling like a snack it’s great with tortilla chips, but for a more substantial meal I love eating it with oven baked wedges made using chopped potatoes or sweet potatoes.

What you need:
A handful of cherry or plum tomatoes (whichever you prefer)
Half a fresh lemon or lime (again, whichever you prefer)
A spring onion
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
Half a teaspoon of sugar
Glug of olive oil
Fresh chilli if you like it hot

Method
The easiest way to do this is to use a small food processor or chopper. We have a brilliant little processor from Aldi and this is really useful if low on energy (or simply don’t want to chop everything by hand!) If you don’t have a processor or if you want a chunkier salsa feel free to chop by hand

1. Wash veggies and put them into the processor/chop up.
2. If using a food processor, gently pulse to get required texture.
3. Add salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon/lime juice, sugar and chopped chilli if using. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
4. Serve alongside tortilla chips, potato wedges, or anything else that takes your fancy!

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Sometimes I add chopped coriander which is also lovely. Sorry for the rubbish photo: I simply couldn’t wait to get stuck in!

Easy Banana “ice cream”

I’m oh so late to the party with this, but it is a delicious sweet something when you want to have dessert but feel too bad about diving into the tub of Ben and Jerry’s at the back of the freezer. Yummy!

What you need:
1 chopped banana per person
Optional toppings/flavours. I like nutella, peanut butter or Sweet Freedom’s Choc Shot

Method
1. Peel and roughly chop the banana.
2. Place into a sandwich bag and pop in the freezer
3. Leave until fully frozen and solidified
4. Remove from freezer and let it thaw out slightly
Place in a food processor or chopper, and pulse the banana until thick and creamy. Swirl any additional flavours in at this stage.
5. Serve and add toppings!

To make this really healthy omit the nutella (it is full of sugar but great for a treat) and replace with a drizzle of honey, chopped frozen raspberries, almonds or anything else that takes your fancy!

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The above pictures are an example of the less-healthy version…though choc shot is low calorie!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Be sure to watch out for some more easy recipes; there’s lots more I want to share with you. Meanwhile, look after yourself and happy Thursday!

Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Recipes The Spoon Theory

‘Spoons’ and ‘Easy Eats’

There’s a little analogy those of us with chronic illness and/or disabilities like to use to try and describe the difficulties living with chronic illness create. This is called the ‘Spoon Theory’, and you can read this (rather lengthy) post by Christine Miserando which – perhaps ironically – takes lots of ‘spoons’ to read and understand (see here).

In simple terms, the idea is that each day you’re allocated a certain number of ‘spoons’. These spoons = energy. When someone is chronically ill/disabled, they use far more energy than an able bodied person (and I recently found out people with cerebral palsy expend between 3-5 times MORE energy than someone without CP. No wonder I’m asleep a lot of the time!).

Thing is, when you’re ill/have difficulty coordinating your body, things become harder to do, and you end up having to prioritise some tasks over others. Getting out of bed and getting dressed/doing teeth might cost me one spoon on a good day. That leaves nine to complete the rest of the day’s tasks.

Getting to uni on the bus and having to stand because there’s no seat: one spoon. Sitting in a three-hour seminar: two spoons. Getting on the bus home: one spoon…and, well, you get the picture.

If I exert myself too much one day, I just know I’m going to regret it the next. And if that’s the case, I might wake up with eight spoons rather than ten.

This can make all manner of adulty-things difficult. Before occupational therapy came round and installed some things to help me around the flat, having a shower for instance could be a real trouble, particularly because not only does my spine hurt/my neck hurt/ my right arm struggle to lift above my head to wash hair etc, but my palsy means my balance can be really off. I have slipped in the shower more times than I care to remember.

This also means preparing healthy, nutritious meals can sometimes be a real trouble. Luckily Drew is a super good cook (though he’d never admit it) and he helps me out more than I can say. However, when I’m home alone, and I have very little spoons, cooking can be a nightmare – and don’t even mention the washing up!

That’s why I thought I’d start a new section on here: Easy Eats (or something like that…I’m trying to be creative but failing rather miserably!). Of course, anyone can make these, but my aim for these posts is to create healthy, (hopefully) tasty, delicious meals easily with as little effort as possible, and I’ll try to include some hints and tips to make life just that little bit easier in the kitchen.

When you’re constantly ill eating well is absolutely essential; and, annoyingly so, a lot  easier to say than it is to do. I’m hoping this will be a useful addition to the blog; let me know what you think!

Watch this space!

Hope you’ve had a great Wednesday,

Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Hull Bloggers

#WrenFamilyFavourites: Wren Kitchens Event with Linda Barker*

It was a chilly November evening as we made our way to Wren Kitchen HQ, situated across the Humber bridge nestled in the sleepy town of Barton-Upon-Humber. Fizzing with anticipation and excitement, we tentatively entered the heart of Wren Kitchen’s design hub and sat shyly, admiring the delicious aromas wafting from the room before us.

When I was invited to the Wren Kitchen’s Family Favourites event I admit I didn’t really know what to expect. I suspected that there would be lots of food (check!), wonderful blogger-company (check!) and some rather gorgeously designed kitchens (check!). However – to my delight – the Wren Kitchen event was far more than I could ever have imagined; it was utterly fabulous.

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We were kindly greeted by the lovely Victoria, who handed us some very intriguing goody bags…we knew from the off that this was going to be a fabulous night!

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As we walked in we were handed a glass of bubbly (and a non-alcoholic option for those who had to drive) and ushered to tables laden with all sorts of interesting crafty goodies. I am seriously into anything crafty/arty. My mum has always made scrapbooks and cards, and she’s always creating something new every week and I think I definitely have some of that creative streak. We were given our very own personalized recipe scrapbooks just for the occasion! Safe to say my mum was pretty jealous when I showed her!

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We were made to feel extremely welcome by the lovely Linda Barker, who went on to explain her collaboration with Wren Kitchens. Linda is a seriously talented designer (and a fabulous chef as it turned out!) and we were treated to a live cooking demo. Wren Kitchens have been running a campaign for people to enter their family favourite recipes, and the bloggers at the event (yes, lucky us!) got to taste these recipes for ourselves.

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We were treated to vanilla and chocolate marble cake, peanut butter and banana loaf and warm mince pies. And what’s best of all is we were actually given the recipe so we could replicate them at home; Drew is going to have to deal with lots of cake because I have had such a baking-craving after this event!

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The mince pies were a festive favourite of many, but I’m a real lover of anything chocolatey so the marbled chocolate cake was my favourite of the night.

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After our live cooking demo and plenty of chat from the lovely Linda and the team, we were treated to a look at Linda’s very own kitchens. I’m a student so I’m only living in student accommodation, but I developed SERIOUS kitchen envy after seeing these. They were fabulous; and as explained by Linda their kitchens are as bespoke as you can get for the price, which is fabulous as Wren believes that the kitchen is the heart of any home. Now Christmas is approaching I can definitely agree with that, and as someone who is really into cooking, the kitchen becomes a vital part of every day life.

This was a fabulous kitchen; just look at the units! I was also a fan of the duck-egg blue colour scheme.

This one was more rustic, yet with a modern edge. Really beautiful!

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Linda loved explaining her designs to all of us. This geometric print is similar to something she has in her own kitchen, and it made a great focal point for the room.

I hope by this point you’re as jealous as I am…how wonderful are these?!

After having a nosy around the kitchens, we all enjoyed some more chat (and cake!) and had a couple of pictures. We were all huge fans of our personalized apron and wooden spoons…they were such a gorgeous touch, and we demanded we have a picture of them!

I just want to say a massive thank you to the lovely Wren Kitchen team, all the wonderful bloggers and of course, to the fabulous Linda Barker. It was a really wonderful night and it was a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of!

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Has this post given you serious kitchen envy? Let me know in the comments below!

You can check out Wren Kitchen’s website here and Linda’s collections here.

I hope you’re having a fabulous Tuesday.

Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Hull Bloggers

One of Hull’s hidden gems: Stanley’s Brasserie

Hi there! Now, this is the fourth year I’ve lived in Hull to study at the university, so I’ve had ample time to sample and savour the local delights in wonderful restaurants dotted around the city. On Saturday it was my birthday (which is a completely scary thought…where has that year gone!?) and my parents headed over to help me celebrate with a meal out (I know, I’m a lucky girl!). We wanted to book a table in a local restaurant for the occasion and decided to try Stanley’s Brasserie in Hull. I’ve never been before and always admired its cosy atmosphere from afar.

I’m so so glad I booked that table, because it was absolutely amazing.

I’m a fan of most foods. I like to be adventurous, and it’s always great to try new things. I was fortunate enough to have an upbringing filled with many different types of food and cuisines from all over the world. As I’ve got older I’ve become a real fan of seafood, and fish – when it’s well-cooked – is one of my favourite meals.

Well, little did I know when I sat down at the table that I’d have one of the most delicious fish dishes I’ve ever had.

We kicked off the meal with cocktails, and I chose the Espresso Martini.  If you’re a big coffee fan, this is definitely the drink for you. Delicious! In fact, it was so good I forgot to take a picture. Woops!

To start I ordered the Hot Mozzarella. I’m a huge fan of cheese – cheese and biscuits is one of the best parts of Christmas day for me – and when I saw that this came with Italian prosciutto, I knew it’d be right up my street. I wasn’t wrong. It was fantastic; oozy, salty mozzarella in crunchy breadcrumbs, surrounded by fruity tomatoes and a good drizzle of pesto and topped with some delicious prosciutto, which is definitely one of my favourite things in the world.

It was divine, and it tasted even better than it looked.

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Next up, I had the seabass fillets, which came with a spinach and potato gratin and a dressed side salad. This was literally the best fish I have ever EVER tasted. The skin was crisp and salty; the fish itself was succulent and tender, and the gratin and salad was the perfect accompaniment.

It was truly divine, and is definitely one of the best things I have ever eaten.

Because I enjoyed it so much I didn’t even stop to take a picture which is a real shame, but wow. I would go back just for the seabass.

To finish mum and I shared a little lemon meringue pie. I think it’s true what they say; you definitely have a separate stomach for pudding! I did take a photo of this one.

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Again, beautifully presented and also extremely delicious. It had a crisp, buttery pastry case, lashings of tangy lemon curd, sweet marshmallowy meringue all topped with a generous helping of whipped cream (although we could have had ice cream but I think mum would agree the cream was a great option!).

All in all this was seriously fabulous. If you’re around this part of the world be sure to drop by; it’s feeling very festive at the minute, and the fairy lights definitely help!

You can check out their menu online here.

I hope you’re having a fabulous Wednesday.

Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Things I'm loving

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Al Porto*

Hello there. Sorry It’s been quiet this way; so many deadlines are approaching at once and I’m getting into a bit of a flap over them. I’m sure they’ll get done but I’m a chronic worrier so I’m always doubting myself!

In light of this (and in light of all the dreadful things that are happening around the world at the minute, I thought i’d bring a little bit of festive cheer to you all.

Just over a week ago I was invited to Al Porto restaurant in Hull to sample their 2015 Christmas menu. I knew it would be a treat, and we weren’t disappointed!

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I was joined by Kathryn , Chelsea and Steph for an intimate, cosy Christmas meal for four and a glass of prosecco was just the thing we needed to kick-start the celebrations.

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We even had crackers which was a real treat!

The menu was long so it was more of a tapas-style affair; I think I could have eaten much if we hadn’t shared plates!

Soup

First up was the chestnut soup. I don’t know about you but chestnuts always remind me of Christmas. I have fond memories of wandering around Christmas markets with a bag of piping-hot roasted chestnuts to nibble on and to keep my hands warm! I’ve never had them in soup but it was absolutely wonderful; it was like bowl of Christmas, and I couldn’t stop eating it! Definitely one of my favourite things on the menu, I must say. I’m already planning to order it when I go back!

smoked salmon

Up next we had the smoked salmon roulade. Admittedly, smoked salmon isn’t always something I enjoy but I was pleasantly surprised and actually really liked it. The filling was creamy yet fresh, which cut through the richness of the smoked salmon beautifully. If you’re a smoked salmon fan you’re bound to love this.

mlanzane parmigianaNext up; a delicious vegetarian option. Above is Melanzare Parmigiana, which is aubergine layered with tomato and cheese. I knew i’d like this because my mum often makes this and it is seriously delicious. If you’re into punchy tomato sauces, you’re in for a treat here. I’d even bet that people who don’t like aubergine  could have a go with this; really wonderful and filling.

guinea fowl

Next, it’s onto the mains. This was my favourite dish of the whole night; it was the roasted guinea fowl with rosemary, red wine and mixed wild mushroom.

guinea fowl

This was spectacular; it really was. The guinea fowl was cooked to perfection. It was tender, juicy and perfectly accompanied by the red wine jus. Simply roasted potatoes and vegetables freshened everything up, and the wild mushrooms were a luxurious touch. I couldn’t stop eating and I’m definitely having this when I go back. Believe me; you will not be disappointed! It was the ultimate in winter comfort food.

turkey

Next, a traditional Christmas dish enjoyed by almost everyone; the classic roast turkey dinner. This was a little bit special though, and was stuffed with chestnuts and topped with rich cranberry jus. Admittedly we don’t usually go for turkey at Christmas because I find it can dry out, but once again this was moist, succulent and delicious. The crispy skin on the outside was the perfect finishing touch, all served with seasonal roast veg. What’s not to love?!

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One for the red-meat lovers: beef wellington with mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables and that delicious red wine jus that’s so moreish and rich. What a treat! Beef wellington is something i’d never make at home; it seems far too time confusing and when dealing with such expensive ingredients I’d worry about messing up. Al Porto hhave nothing to worry about as their chefs are clearly fabulous; tender beef, crisp puff pasty, smooth potatoes…what a fantastic way to bring in the festive season!

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One for the fish-lovers; pan-fried halibut on a radicchio risotto with a pesto drizzle and prawn. I’m a huge fish fan (although smoked is something I’m not always a fan of) so this was beautiful! Halibut is a delicious fish and I don’t get to eat much of it so I loved trying it here! It was everything a good piece of fish should be: crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, sitting on top of a very moreish risotto freshened up  by a good helping of pesto. How divine is that?! Another favourite meal of the night.

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Above you see the veggie equivalent to the beef wellington; a Chestnut, spinach and blue cheese encroute. I’m definitely not one of these people that thinks a meal without meat isn’t a meal; one of my best friends is a vegetarian and I’d like to think I know a little bit about veggie cuisine. I don;t eat meat everyday  of the week and sometimes i just completely fall out with it and won’t eat it for a few weeks, and I know Vegetarian food is just as exciting and wonderful. If you’re feeling going meat-free for a change this would be just the thing. Crisp, flaky puff pastry, Christmassy chestnuts, creamy blue and earthy spinach; delicious.

dessert

Luckily we had just about enough room for dessert, and were treated to homemade chocolate roulade, tiramisu, and minced pie gelato (not pictured). The roulade is a real chocoholic’s delight; filled with a rich, creamy chocolatey ganache that just melts in the mouth. The tiramisu was creamy yet light; which is wonderful considering that we had filled up on some really indulgent food! The mince pie gelato was also amazing; it is everything good about a mince pie with the added creaminess of authentic Italian gelato. Just fabulous! I am a real chocolate-lover so i’m eyeing up the roulade for next time…my mouth is watering just thinking about it all!

All in all it was an absolutely fantastic experience. Al Porto is definitely not to be missed; it’s a gem in the hustle and bustle of Hull, and is just the perfect place to take some time out to relax and enjoy the festive season with family and friends. Their Christmas menu is £24.95 during the day and £28.95 during the evening for a three-course meal. I really do recommend it.

A big thank you to Al Porto in Hull for having us, and for Lisa arranging the event. It was truly wonderful. Don’t forget to check out Al Porto’s website here.

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I hope you’re having a good weekend. Stay safe wherever you are.

Heather x

*cost of meal and drinks provided by Al Porto. As always, my posts are honest and this does not in any way influence my review.

Categories
Foodie things Recipes

Cooking in the Kitchen with Primula cheese*

If you’ve been reading for a while you might be aware that I’m into cooking. I find cooking great therapy, and usually on bad days Drew will come home to cakes/biscuits/bread, or indeed a mixture of all three. Because cooking requires lots of preparation , I don’t  always find it easy to create fresh meals from scratch, particularly if I’m in a lot of pain.

This is where Primula comes in!

Primula were kind enough to send me some products from their range of cheeses. I’m sure you’ll remember these; they are firm favourites as sandwich fillers and, as I found out, great for handy shortcuts in favourite meals!

I decided to get creative and made a variety of Primula cheese-inspired dishes, which were very easy to prepare and extremely tasty!

Firstly, I decided to try making some cheesy stuffed potato skins.

Here’s what you’ll need:

5 medium sized baking potatoes,

half a tube of Primula Cheese and Chives,

4 rashers of smoked bacon,

a drizzle of olive oil,

seasoning to taste,

a small amount of grated cheese of your choice (I used double Gloucester).

Firstly, you’ll need to prepare the potatoes. I made sure to prick each potato with a fork several times (as it lets the heat escape) and put them in the microwave on a plate at full power for 15 minutes, or until the potato is cooked on the inside. Meanwhile, turn the oven on (about 170 degrees/gas mark 6).

As the potatoes were cooking, I chopped my bacon in bite sized pieces and grilled using my handy George Foreman grill. I remember when these were all the rage, and I must admit that we have had a lot of use out of ours as they make cooking  really easy and are very quick to clean! Perfect if you’re low on spoons/energy/just don’t want to spend ages cleaning up. I grilled these bacon pieces until they were crispy and golden.

When the potatoes were cooked and the insides like mashed potato, I carefully scooped out the flesh into a jug (you could use a mixing bowl) added my crispy bacon and put the empty skins into a non-stick oven dish. I then squeezed in approximately half a tube of Primula’s delicious cheese and chive into the potato and bacon mixture, stirring well. Here is where you should add a drizzle of olive oil; it can be really hard work to mix everything in evenly! Crack in some black pepper and season to taste, before dividing the mixture out and placing it back into the empty skins. I then topped with a scattering of grated cheese.

Pop them into the oven until they are piping hot, golden and bubbly, (approx. 15-20 mins) and voila! Delicious, easy and filling; perfect for these wintry, chilly nights we’re having.

Here’s a pic before they went into the oven:

Stuffed potatoes

I also decided to make one of my all-time favourite snacks – cheesy nachos –  using Primula’s original cheese. Again these were super easy to do, and extremely yummy.

All you’ll need:

A bag of salted tortilla chips,

a tube of Primula original cheese,

grated cheese (if you like things really cheesy!)

and a jar of jalapeno peppers to heat things up a bit! I chose red peppers, as they are hot yet sweet.

These are super simple. Just pour the bag of tortilla chips into an oven-proof dish, squeeze as much Primula original cheese onto the top as you wish (and yes, I did put plenty on there!) and add the jalapenos/extra grated cheese if you fancy. I then just popped them into the oven (again, 170 or gas mark 6) until the cheese was bubbly and the chips lovely and toasty. Just keep an eye on them, though. 15 minutes will be sufficient. They really were lovely and the Primula cheese was a perfect topping for them. Here’s a quick picture I managed to take before Drew and I devoured them all:

cheesy nachos

I’m a big fan of fresh guacamole – particularly with cheesy nachos – so I couldn’t resist making my own (with the help of Primula cheese, of course!). This time I opted to use Primula cheese in light. You will need:

2 ripe and ready to eat avocados,

juice of half a lime/lemon (I used lime this time),

Primula cheese in light (about a third of a tube)

salt,

cracked black pepper,

some coriander leaves; as many as you’d like,

cayenne pepper to garnish.

Homemade guacamole is so easy, it’s almost not worth buying it premade! All I did was scoop out the flesh of both avocados (but keep the stones in the middle; you’ll see why soon!)  and put into a food processor along with the lime juice, a pinch of salt, twist of black pepper, Primula light and coriander. I then whizzed up the mixture to form a smooth, well-mixed paste. I then placed the guacamole into a bowl after checking it was seasoned to taste, and placed one of the avocado stones into the middle of it. The reason for this is it helps the guacamole to keep its bright green colour. I then sprinkled cayenne pepper on top (just a little; you can of course skip this step entirely) and it was done! The Primula really added a creaminess to the guacamole and it’s something I’ve never thought of adding before. I definitely will now!

Here it is:

salsa and guacomoleguacamole

As you can see I also made a super-quick tomato salsa to go with it. All I used were chopped cherry tomatoes, coriander, the juice of half a lime (or you can use lemon if you prefer) a teaspoon of sugar, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then all you have to do is mix them together! Very easy and a great accompaniment to the guacamole.

All in all I’m really impressed with Primula cheeses. They taste great and make mealtimes so much simpler. You can find Primula in the dairy aisles of all good supermarkets, or check out their website here to check out more about their products and collaboration with the charity Make a Wish.

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Let me know if you decide to try any of these!

Hope Saturday is treating you well.

Heather x

ps sorry for the terrible photos; i’m having to make do with my phone camera which has no flash and is generally rubbish, so bear with me! I should have my camera soon 🙂