31 October 2012

Foodie Penpals October (Rebecca)

(C'mon Mr Postman, I can't wait to open my parcel!) This month I was paired to send a Foodie Penpal parcel to Rebecca, a blog reader, so we thought we'd share the items she enjoyed - thank you for the lovely feedback Rebecca & I hope your move goes smoothly!

I’ve been into cooking and learning new recipes for some time now, so when I stumbled across the idea of Foodie Penpals last month, I was really excited to become a part of it. The idea of receiving a parcel each month, filled with treats and ingredients that I wouldn’t normally think of buying or using is like having twelve birthdays a year!
In my first month, I was lucky enough to get sent a parcel from Emma of 'Adventures of a London Kiwi'. As I said to her in an email, it was‘like Christmas had come early!’ My parcel was filled with all manner of lovely treats, each with a thoughtful note attached about the taste, or what I could combine the item with.
The chocolate lime cookies were eaten almost immediately, much to the horror of my earlier willpower. The combination or zesty lime and dark chocolate were too much for said willpower I’m afraid.
The sweet bars were great, especially the ginger and nut bar, which I duped myself into thinking was ‘healthier’ than the other two. I managed to sample the popcorn bar, before my partner spirited away the cocoa one!
I’ve been on a homemade soup kick this month, so the garlic and pecorino cheese croutons couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. I found myself eating them alone as I was making the soup!
The overall winner however, was the tomato and chilli jam from Natural Kitchen, in Marylebone, London. I’ve eaten it with EVERYTHING. Toast, sandwiches, pasta,soup, carrot sticks- it’s absolutely delicious and has inspired me to try making my own in the New Year.
I’m yet to try the fantastic-sounding pumpkin and ginger soba noodles, or the jellies as my house resembles a storage locker (we’re in the middle of packing), but I’m sure they will be as equally mouth-watering as all the other goodies I received this month.
I'm so glad Rebecca enjoyed everything!

30 October 2012

Birthday Spoils

As I passed another birthday milstone, I find myself being spoilt like crazy. I have had the loveliest birthday celebration days (5 in total!); full of laughter, warmth, goodies, naked chefs(!?) and everything I love.

It can be hard in London, meeting great people in such a large busy place can be difficult, so I'm lucky to be surrounded by some of the best.


From Birthday hugs and dances,

 
Hazlenut Truffles,


8 hour brunches,

Krispy Kreme Guilt & Social salads


Birthday Cakes,


Scrumptious Hampers to explore,


to Champagne Truffles,


two Hairy Chefs getting a bit naked,


to Sunday Roast toasting with Blackberry Gin Nectar (I'm serious, this is delicious).


Thank you, I really haven't deserved the love. It's been my absoloute favourite birthday. 6 days of festivities next year is the goal - that's more than the Queen I'm sure!

29 October 2012

7 Random Acts of Kindness

There are two schools of thought; one that say that a random act of kindness can't really be random if you tell everyone; it needs to be done quietly and not lorded about. I think I'm more aligned with the second school of thought - share it, and who knows what you may influence, even subconsciously.

I like a challenge which is why I picked 7 in 7 days; and have tried to carry out kindnesses that can have an effect on a personal level. Just recently I've had a random middle-aged lady look up at me and smile. The Londoner in me didn't quite know what to do for a moment, before my brain engaged and I was awkwardly grinning back. It really brightened up my morning commute, and cost nobody anything (though did make me wonder if I had something green in my teeth for a second!)


Day 1. Smile genuinely at 5 people
I like to set myself a challenge (hence 7 in 7 days) but I hadn't quite counted on the frozen countenances of London commuters. London commuters generally have one facial setting "ohcrapImreallyreallylateandIhaveahugedeadlinewhyisthatweirdgirlsmilingatmeaaarghitsmybusquickquick" with various settings of intensity - I should have realised this, as I have settled into it myself. Then you have the robots with cords hanging out of their ears, computers/phones/mp3 devices in hand. It was really hard to catch anyone's eye, let alone hold it long enough to smile at them. Thank goodness for 2 last ditch attempts walking to our gym in the 'burbs. Mission successful. Whew!

Day 2. Pick up Litter
Todays act was completed within the mile walk from my train station to my office. It was kinda gross really how easy it was - 3 items in quick succession. And I work in quite a nice area. One man even tore the clear plastic wrapper off his cigarettes, walked past a bin, dropped it on the ground before lighting up and shoving the pack in his pocket.

Day 3. Make time to be silly
My “Tomorrow it’s my Birthday dance” put a smile on a sad colleagues face. Oh the things we do…

Day 4. Buy a coffee for a homeless person
Seeing as it's my birthday, I wanted to pass on the karma from the lovely gifts I have received - I've gifted a local Big Issue seller with a coffee gift card. It's cold, it's misty and he must be feeling miserable.

Day 5. Write a thank you note
Written to a dear friend for the many kindnesses she does for me all the time.

Day 6. Let 3 people ahead of me in line
Doesn't really need any explaination, I hope...

Day 7. Gave up my seat
This I do normally and have a bug bear about – I’ve seen young people blatantly sitting in in a designated seat ignore pregnant ladies or older people who clearly need it more. To challenge myself I wanted to do it as often as I could – ending up 3 times. (Btw I think the 'Baby on Board badges are genius, it takes all the embarrassment out of giving your seat up).

You do feel good about doing these small things, I won’t lie. I do some of the above anyway, but wanted to challenge what I normally do. I haven’t recorded this to get a pat on the back – who knows what the actual acts themselves inspire.

Another 101 in 1001 goal down!

When did you last experience a random act of kindness?

28 October 2012

Goodmans Review. Truly Scrumptious.

This Steak restaurant was a dream. It was scrumptious. Absoloutely delicious. My mouth is already watering.

I did drop a clanger, announcing two days before (bearing in mind that the table was booked about a month before) saying that I didn't like Steak. The looks on their faces? Priceless. The fact that they believed me? Incredibly funny.

Photos nicked from the Goodmans website
(I meant to take photos but managed to leave my phone/camera behind twice. I guess it wasn't meant to be!)

After a pre-dinner aperitif in Mayfair (to a background of remixed 'Sound of Music' club music) and a wee wander around Mayfair (read a bit lost), we were seated with a minimum of fuss. We chose to skip the starters, and go to straight to the main event, the steaks. The wait staff  come to your table before you order, and present a platter with a selection of the cuts of the day, and explain the textures and chef recommendations to us.
 

Photos nicked from the Goodmans website

 Our Night's Chosen Delights
350g Angus Beef Marbled Sirloin
(The rest of the table had various cuts)
and we decided to share amongst the table;
Truffle Oil & Normal Chips
Velvet Mash
Garlic Mushrooms
Spinach with creamed Blue Cheese
Honeyed Carrots
 
The Steak was like butter - meaty, soft succulent butter, the chips crisp, truffley and nutter, the mash soft and creamy, the Spinach moreish and the winner of the night - honeyed carrots.
 
Other choices on the menu - half Lobster with garlic butter, Roast Chicken Risotto, Lobster Mac & Cheese...

But, the piece de resistance - a chorus of Happy Bithday, accompanying a lit candle atop Chocolate Mousse. The Happy Birthday from my lovely work lot, got me a bit goopy, and the Mousse made me melt. Due to the sheer stuffed feeling from dinner, I shared it, but can confirm it's scrumptious. Layers of Milk Chocolate Ganache, Creamy White Chocolate Mousse, Milk Chocolate Mousse, and a sponge base. It was lovely. The layers made it really like and the textures making a beautiful mouthful, but not too sinfully rich. *photo to follow hopefully*

Did I mention the cheeky Kiwi wines?

Goodmans biggest rival is the Hawksmoor. Also soon to be investigated. I will let you know the results. - oh the things I do for the blog!

How do you enjoy your Steak? Burnt? Mooing? Of the Poultry variety?

26 October 2012

Tales from a Secondhand Wand Shoppe - E-Book Review

Charting the adventures and mis-adventures of two gnomes, I lighted on this e-book, and thinking it sounded delicious, appealing to my love of Terry Pratchett I devoured this in an afternoon or so. Really funny, slightly discombobulated (a few editing errors which make things a bit odd) I think Robert P. Willis is someone that I'm going to keep an eye out for.


Basically, two gnomes selling wands (one from a shoppe, one from a cart - often being moved on) join forces. "City ordinances are broken. Neighbors are annoyed. The Constable becomes involved. Even the Magician's Guild sends over some Enforcers to deal with them. Things are looking up for the Gnomes! "

Such great characters - Grimbledung and Drimblerod, "a neurotic Jousting Dummy, an immortal (so far) Rat, a Trolless who runs the Tavern and Restaurant across the street, a Dwarf next door with (alleged) Mob ties, and the Head Mistress of the local School of Magic (with definite Mob ties)". This series the beginnings of a great Terry Pratchett-esque world. I felt the plot could do with tightening in places, it does wander a bit, but the characters and writing is just so funny. I also loved the creative chapter names.


A good commuter read, certainly a 'Willing suspension of disbelief' it's a great, funny escapist fantasy read. I'm really looking forward to this writer and future series - not to mention the fantastic illustrations scattered throughout the book.

(Please note any links to Amazon are through my Amazon Associates account, which means I make a little money (less than 5%) from any purchases made after clicking through these links but it doesn't add any cost to your purchase. This helps support my book addiction, so if you are interested in buying the book, please click through the top link)

25 October 2012

An Unexpected Birthday Present

London based Kiwis get 36 hour long birthday days. At the strike of midnight KST (Kiwi Standard Time) the day of our birth, it's officially our birthday as the Earth begins it's slow rotation of the day.


The upside is 36 hours of messages, cards, birthday cake, toasting, merry making and catching up with friends.

The downside is that a lot of the people you love are pretty far away. But it makes you appreciate a hundred times more the family you make over here on this side of the world.

(Fyi, I haven't been drinking at 8am this morning, it was a birthday drink last night (KST)

24 October 2012

London Living: Kings Cross/St Pancras

It occured to me the other day, train stations are interesting creatures. They aren't places that you'd normally go for a visit (unless a trainspotter), they are gateways for large numbers of people walking in, waiting, perhaps browsing then dashing off to their exotic/fun/work destinations. But we rush through them so quickly, and when we do stand there, we are generally staring at the boards wishing away our waiting time that we don't always get a chance to appreciate the sheer beauty of the buildings holding up the boards.



London has some of the best, and certainly infamous Train Stations. Kings Cross has recently undergone a major revamp, but most importantly, the Hogwarts 9 and 3/4 has been returned to it's proper home (it had been stuck on an external corner whilst the works were completing.


I quite like the new station, the architectural style of the new overarching waiting area contrasting then with the stunning St Pancras Station across the way..




It's a lovely place to stand & wait for your train - especially when shooting over to the continent! If  really bored and musically inclined, I spotted this sweet piano!


23 October 2012

Kiwi Cooking: Ginger Slice

At the moment I'm having a love affair with Ginger, and this is my absoloute favourite way to eat it. It's not particularily healthy, but it's scrumptious and really easy to make.
On reflection, I think I know why I have been into Ginger - it's so autumnal: soft, spicy, dancing on the palate. Combine this with a biscuit base, golden syrup and icing sugar. Warms the cockles of your heart.
 
I remember making this when I was 12, in the 'home economics' class at primary school, and it hasn't ever lost it's place in my heart. The recipe is found in the Kiwi Cooking bible, the Edmonds cooking book, found in almost every Kiwi's home. Originally made as a marketing tool for Baking Powder, according to Wikipedia "it remains New Zealand's fastest selling book with over 200,000 copies sold in one year."
 
Such a great cook book; nothing particularily fancy, it's a small wire bound book, smaller than A5; and contains almost every day-to-day cooking recipes you can think of.

A lovely slice of childhood, perfect with a cup of Tea or Coffee.
 
Ginger Crunch Slice (Original Source)

 
Ingredients:

Slice:
125 g Butter, softened
1/2 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cups standard Plain Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
Icing:
75 g Butter
3/4 cup Icing Sugar
2 tablespoons Golden Syrup
3 teaspoons Ground Ginger

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and ginger together.
  3. Mix into creamed mixture.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead well.
  5. Press dough into a greased 20x30cm sponge roll tin.
  6. Bake at 190C (375F) for 20-25 minutes or until light brown.
  7. When there is about 5 minutes of cooking time left, combine butter, icing sugar, golden syrup and ginger.
  8. Heat until butter is melted, stirring constantly.
  9. Pour hot ginger icing over base while hot and cut into squares before it gets cold.
* I decorated mine with Dark Chocolate melted & drizzled over it. If you love Ginger, you can double both quantities of Ground Ginger in the recipe. Ginger heaven.


I'm submitting this recipe for the December 2012 One Ingredient challenge. Hosted by the Franglais Kitchen and How to Cook Good Food my post is an oldie, but a goodie by Edmonds.


What do you think of Ginger as a sweet - like it or loathe it?

22 October 2012

Foodie-in-Training: Pomegranate

An ancient Egyptian symbol prosperity and ambition, pomegranates have recently made a comeback as a superfood. Consisting of small jewel-like seeds (arils) full of liquid, encased in pith and a glossy outer skin, they chock are full of antioxidant vitamins.


Apparently aril juice (the seeds) provides about 16% of an adult's daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving, and is a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and natural phenols, such as ellagitannins and flavonoids (Source).

I've been seeing them everywhere, and so bought them to enjoy at home, and at work on my breakfast. The juice stains really badly, but they are so lovely and tart it's worth the cleaning & prep. Apparently when buying them, choose fruit with glossy skin that are heavy for their size.


I've been eating them on top of my normal brekkie of yoghurt, wheatgerm & fruit; in couple of my salads and smoothies (great tip for making these on the 5dollardinners website). I really like the various pomegranate drinks that are popping up and I think I'd like to try the pomegranate syrup one day - not sure what I'd use it for though.

I've been opening the by cutting them in half, then bashing the seeds out with a rolling pin. Whilst this is a quick method, it's definately not the cleanest. See below a really handy YouTube video;                                                                                                        


What is your favourite fruit? Have you tried Pomegranates before?

21 October 2012

London Living: Ghost Tours

There is macbre side to any City & Town, and London, due to the size and importance, is no exception to this. We love the chance to explore London in new and unusual ways, so when a good friend of mine was given a birthday present of Ghost Bus Tours, we thought it'd be a scream to join her (sorry, couldn't help myself).


So yesterday, on a verrry wet Saturday evening we lined up in the pouring rain to board the 'Ghost Bus'. It was halarious.

 

With a loop starting near Trafalar Circus, taking in St Pauls, and Southwark; it was the funniest, ahem, scariest bus tour I've ever taken.



 
"The Necropolis Bus Company began in the 19th century as a private funeral bus service. The Necropolis vehicles or ‘Carcass Coaches’ as they were known to Londoners were able to convey the deceased, pall bearers and up to 50 mourners (no standing) to the final resting place. Each bus had an onboard conductor/chief mourner and a special siren or ‘mourning whistle’ to warn pedestrians of the bus’s approach. The sound of the whistle prompted gentlemen to remove their hats and bow their heads as a mark of passing respect."

They give a really interesting gory history of the London sights & sounds along the 1hr and 15minute route, accompanied by a the conductor & guest, with a host of sounds, video effects and spooky goings on.

It is really funny, the actors certainly give it their all. We weren't very scared but boy we laughed. Certainly worth going once, and seeing an alternative history of London. We are thinking to do a few of the haunted walking tours as well.

London is just so interesting!

 
We weren't comped in anyway for this, but enjoyed it. Check out The Ghost Bus Tours for further information.

20 October 2012

Downsides to being the 'Right way up'

When you move away from home overseas for any length of time you know there are going to be normal things that you miss; family, friends, knowing where things are (I think it really takes about 6 months to wrap your head around a new place) and local delicacies. Most of these are patched with video conferencing, time and really really expensive ex-pat shops, which helps, but can sometimes not be quite the same.

I'm lucky, and have a lovely, tireless local to help me (thanks hubs!) but I still get frustrated  at times. Take for instance English Street Name Signs. Why are they so elusive? The amount of times I've gone somewhere new, and become hopelessly lost because none of the roads I'm standing on have road names; or they have them in some strange place and they've become over-grown with foliage...



There are a few things that you don't really realise that will have an effect, and help the realisation that you are marching to a different beat of the drum;

Having different public days eg. Fathers day in NZ is the first Sunday in September, after the UK one which is the third Sunday of June; this kinda messes with everything because when I need to buy one the shops are, well empty. It does mean you get creative though, and the emergence of online card shops is a god send
One disappointment I've had, is that at home there is always a 3 day bank holiday weekend around my birthday. Not so in England - I think I need to make a petition to Parliament...

Missing birthdays I'm rubbish at appointments. I've solved this by constantly updating the calendar on my phone, and it's working really well, BUT with at least a 3 week delivery time to NZ sorting out birthday presents is a little hard. I've now clued in, and keep a NZ bank account and order a lot of things from NZ companies, getting them delivered directly to the famdamily.

Organising Pow Wow Times This one we've got down pat now; when you arrange a time to call or video call with family, and you're setting a time, make sure you have the international clock up, confirm whose time you're speaking about eg. 10am on Saturday morning NZ time, or 10am Saturday evening UK time - and if you're me, put it in the calendar.

Spelling We have a slightly different way of spelling - NZ it seems to be a mixture of UK and US spellings.

Adapting the way you speak unintentionally – I was told by a kindly gentleman after I had lived here a couple of years that taking on the accent/ways of a new home is a sign of assimilation. I had to re-learn all of the classics - Ten, Seven, Fish & Chips, but the one that sticks in my craw a little is my own name. Yes, even though my name is Anglo-Saxon in origin, I had to relearn it in 'English'. I always find it really interesting though, some people who have been here a long time still sound very Kiwi, and others like myself don't.


None of these are life changers, but they do make things interesting... I like to send at least a card for people birthday, but my poor Sis whose birthday was yesterday (Happy Birthday!) didn't get one because by the time I realised what the date was, it was lunchtime on the 19th our time, so 1am on the 20th NZ time. Bad Sister.

Give me upside down anyday. At least the water runs down the drain the right way at home...

What do you think you'd miss? Ex-Pats, what else do you find frustrating?

19 October 2012

Adventures of the Benign

The last couple of weeks have been amazing, watching the leaves turn lucious jewel tones, sucking up the pumpkin flavoured everything (yes, I have an addiction - it's nice not having to search the earth to appease it this year. I've even bought Pumpkin spice favouring syrup - it's so good!)

It's a lovely cosy time of the year - the weather settles down (into a lot of rain) but it's so good when you're curled up inside listening to the raindrops on the window with a nice soup bubbling, the heating gently on and something good to read. Bliss.










 

18 October 2012

Lurking through the internet (where to find the London Kiwi Adventures)

Adventures of a London Kiwi is branching out into Social Media. Well, selectively! I've always been a big blog reader, but since starting the blog, I've discovered and become addicted to reading & discovering new blogs through a few different social media platforms.

(Here's a cute picture of our beast to reward you reading a probably fairly boring post!)



I thought I'd share them because I'd like to get to know you, and I also wanted to pass on the internet sites I've found helpful.




This is an addiction I can't seem to shake off - I'd love to hear from you! There is something great about being able to pick up the random world at the touch of the finger tips, though it's a definately a time sucker. I've also been able to meet a couple of lovely ladies in the real world and it's brilliant. It's a good tool though - the stories that have come from the immediacy of Twitter - take NeverSeconds for example.

 
Bloglovin' is really helping me keep all of the blogs I read in manageable order - which says a lot as there are so many interesting ones. I like the fact that blog posts can be marked as read or unread,you can search full blogs or single
 

Google+ and I are becoming friends, slowly but surely. It's not quite as easy to pick up as Twitter/Bloglovin' but allows you to do both of the above and branch out and meet other bloggers.


This site bad. And by bad I mean good, but bad for my bank balance (and the hubby reckons the Amazon rainforest!) as it keeps sending me recommendation for new great authors and books.


I'm also a fledgling member of Foodies100, a great resource rounding up the top UK Foodie blogs. I'm always amazed by the length and breadth of variety in blogs. It's fascinating to see how creative everyone is.

I've not been comped by any of the above companies - just wanted to share the love!

Where do you prefer to read/keep up to date with blogs?