Saturday, 5 April 2014

Recipe: Red Onion, Pear and Stilton Soup

I have recently discovered that the cafe across the road from where I work does the most amazing homemade soups.  So far I've sampled their Thai Chicken and Sweetcorn (multiple times...) and their Parsnip, Orange and Ginger.  My favourite though has to be their Red Onion, Pear and Stilton soup.  It was so yummy that I had to try and recreate it myself.  I winged it and it worked.  Yummy soup in my belly!

Red Onion, Pear and Stilton Soup

 
Ingredients

2 small red onions.
4 ripe pears.
150g stilton.
750ml vegetable stock.
1 tbsp butter.
1 tbsp brown sugar.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Getting Down To Business

1. Finely chop the onions and gently fry them in the butter until softened (but not brown!)  Stir in the sugar.

2. Core the pears and chop them finely.  No need to peel.  Stir these into the onions and keep it on a low heat.  Let the pears soften and get all juicy and mushy.

3. Season with salt and pepper.

4. After about 8-10 minutes of softening the pears and onions add the stock and stir well. 

5.  Whilst simmering crumble in all of the stilton.  It will start to melt down quickly.  Just keep on stirring.

6.  To keep life simple and washing up minimal I use my hand blender and blend the lot together in the pan.  Alternatively you could empty it into a separate blender.  Blend, blend, blend.

7. EAT!

It's ridiculously easy and although only a few ingredients, there are some really strong flavours that work well together making a really tasty, creamy soup.  Depending on how juicy your pears are and how thick you like your soup once blended you may want to add a little more stock/water. My pears were slightly over-ripe so the 750ml was just right and I like a thick soup. 

Let me know if you try it!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Like a kitten but less furry...

When I cast my mind back to last Summer and I think of the rut I felt I was in, the monotonous repeated chain of events that seemed to form my life, I quite truly couldn't be further from that feeling now.  I wrote about the hectic end to last year here and it seems that life is just going to keep on going full throttle.

Say hello...

12 Week Baby Scan

Keeping a secret as big as this quiet is difficult.  We have known since I was five weeks.  I have had to undergo tests and appointments incognito (I knew that fake moustache would come in handy!)  But seriously, it has been about 2 months of lying and make believing, skirting around the truth and making out that I have just been having lots of late nights.  Thankfully I have suffered with virtually no morning sickness.  While I know many expecting mothers would want to throw mouldy fruit at me in sheer envy, it can make for a very unnerving experience at times.  Had I imagined it all?  Was something wrong because my head wasn't placed firmly down the toilet basin?  Of course I have had plenty of other symptoms but everyone always thinks of sickness first - a lot of the other symptoms have been more subtle.  Tell you something though,  I could win a medal for sleeping.  My new found ability to sleep forever and day appeared at around 4 weeks.  Although my mind was yet to know I was pregnant, my body certainly did.  Rumour has it that in the coming few weeks I will find all my energy again and I shall glow like a beautiful glow worm.  I will believe this when it happens.

I am a born worrier.  Over the coming months I am going to learn to worry less.  I must.  I need to be 100% in control throughout this experience.  I suppose like many other first time expectant mothers, it is the unknown that is the most frightening.  What is normal?  Is this normal?  What happens if it all 'goes wrong'?  Surely it will all go wrong?  Can I actually do this?  I really have to push it out of there?

For now I am taking comfort in that my 12 week scan went well.  We saw a baby with a head, two flailing arms and two flailing legs.  And most importantly, a beating heart.  I am taking comfort that millions of women over thousands of years have done this and it's all been just dandy for all them.   I do very much believe that things happen for a reason and so I will just keep on taking it one day at a time.

Things of Note in My First 3 Months of Pregnancy

  • "Oh congratulations, was it planned/were you trying?" seems to be quite a common question when we have first told people.  I find that a little strange and quite personal to be honest.  None of your business really.  We are expecting a baby and we are very happy.  Thank you very much.
  • Not everyone suffers with morning sickness.  In fact, since starting to tell people I know who have had children themselves quite a few of them have had a relatively symptom free pregnancy, especially in the first few months.
  • My hormones are fucking mental.  They are off the scale.  I got blind rage at about 2am because Ben ate more than what I deemed his fair share of a pizza a few hours before.  A pizza that if I am honest I wasn't hugely bothered about eating.  I also now cry uncontrollably at most television and any cute animal.
  • I thought all the medical people I have met (so far!) were going to be horrible to me.  Maybe because I am overweight.  Maybe because they knew we *whispers* had sex.  Maybe because I am young (I am not, I'm 26 but I don't feel I've grown up since I was about 18.)  I don't really know why.  Everyone has been lovely though.  I need to get over myself, don't I?
  • Working in quite a physically active job and knowing you are pregnant at 5 weeks is tough.  It is even harder when you have only been in that job for about 4 weeks before finding out you are going to be living a life of sleepless nights and dirty nappies.  Everything is out in the open now.  Although deep down I know that it is the right thing, it's been scary telling people at work.
  • Once you know you are pregnant you see pregnant people everywhere.  Honestly, I think half the female population of Plymouth are expecting babies.  Bumps abound!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Totnes.

A short while ago we decided to go exploring and looked for somewhere we could get to by train in about 30 mins.  Totnes it was.  As we got off the train the first thing on our mind was breakfast.  Mainly because it was the first place we stumbled upon and because the menu board outside looked yummy we headed into Tangerine Tree Cafe.   We sat upstairs, the decor inside was really lovely and had a real homely feel.  I had eggy bread with bacon and honey while Ben tucked into the maple syrup pancakes with bacon.  It was all very yummy and gave us a good start to the day.

Totnes 003

Eggy bread with bacon at the Tangerine Tree Cafe.  Yes.  It tasted just as good as it looks.

With our stomachs satisfied, we went for a wander down the town and came across the market.  So many amazing stalls crammed full with well priced antiques.  I'd been looking for a tin to store my buttons in and found the perfect one.  I managed to get it for £2.80 - bargain!  There are so many wonderful little shops in Totnes.  Lots of independents which is really lovely to see.  There is a large health food supermarket which sold pretty much everything you could ever want for leading a healthy and eco-friendly life.  Lots of quirky little shops enticing you in with pretty window displays.  Totnes is without a doubt a place full of artistic and creative people.  It's got its own thing going on and is quite unlike a town I've been to before, the closest I can think of would be Stroud in Gloucestershire.

As if I wasn't already falling deep for Totnes we stumbled along a cat cafe.  A cafe that does what it says on the tin.  This wonderful little cafe is more like a cosy front room.  Upon arrival you make your order (a nice simple drinks menu and a few cakes on offer too!) and you can then purchase some optional cat treats.  There are six cats that spend their days at the cat cafe - Rolo, Glee, Lilac, Mango, Felix and Jet.  Cat cafes aren't a new thing, there are already cat cafes in Japan, Hong King, Vienna and Moscow, but this the first UK one.  The cats wander around freely, love people and quite frankly they made my day week year.

Totnes 008

Felix just chilled on this chair next to us the whole time.  Just about managed to lift his head for a treat!

The cats are all rescues and the idea is the cafe is a feline therapy lounge, the cats providing therapy to those who visit.  I am a great believer in pet therapy and think that this is such an amazing idea.  I was speaking to the lady and she said the clientele vary greatly.  There are those who just love cats, they cater for groups with learning difficulties, those who maybe cannot have a pet for whatever reason, those who have partners allergic to cats and also students who are missing their pets back home.  These cats are clearly well loved, toys strewn across the floor and genuinely happy to be in the presence of people.  You can read more about Totnes Cat Cafe on their website.  I will, without a doubt, be visiting again and I urge any of you who visit Totnes to visit this wonderful little place.

Totnes 007

Glee was a lovely little cat.  Very handsome!

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Mango.  He had the fluffiest tail. (He was my favourite - shh!)

I really enjoyed Totnes and am itching to go back there again soon.  Maybe go for a boat trip down the river next time.  We ran out of time to go everywhere we wanted to and we had to leave the castle unexplored so that's definitely on the list for the next visit.  I can imagine there is always lots going on in Totnes so each visit will be a bit different.  Totnes gets a thumbs up from me!

Totnesss

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Chez Toi

A cup of coffee is a daily occurrence for me (okay, it's more than one!)  I love the smell and the taste.  Although in times of absolute need I have been known to drink the cheapest instant, I can be a bit of a coffee snob.  If it must be instant I am rather selective... So, when I was asked if I would like to try some of Chez Toi's coffees I jumped at the chance. 

Cheztoi2Chez Toi - Gift Pack with Cafetiere Mug* - £29.99

I was sent their Gift Pack with Cafetiere Mug to try out.  The gift pack contains one of their cafetiere mugs and 48 of their gourmet coffees (6 of each) and comes in at a modest £29.99.  This gift set is a wonderful present idea for someone or for yourself as an introduction to what Chez Toi offer.  It's a great way to sample the coffees that Chez Toi offer as well as getting one of the awesome cafetiere mugs.

Cheztoi

The mug is such a fab little idea.  It holds just the right amount of coffee and means that you can have all the fanciness of a cafetiere coffee, in one mug!  It's such a great idea and I really wish I had one sooner.  It's lightweight but sturdy and I find myself taking mine to work with a sachet or two of coffee and then smugly making the most wonderful coffees while the others sip on the nasty instant stuff - mwahaha!  Take care not to overfill the mug as it will leak out the sides (as I discovered when I was an eager beaver with the water!)

The range of coffees on offer are really varied and there will be something for every coffee lover out there.  Personal favourites are El Salvador, Jamaican Blue Mountain and Ethiopian.  The Chez Toi website has a page full of interesting information about each of the coffees that they have on offer so you can really spend some time choosing the right one for you.  As well as the gift set I have already mentioned they also offer an Introduction Box which contains 4 of each of their coffees so you can try them all!  The coffees are quite pricey but you do have to remember that you are paying for the convenience of having a sachet that you can use straight away, with no measuring or thought needed.  Also, it is still infinitely cheaper than a coffee shop coffee a day.

Chez Toi, I am sold!  This is the perfect answer to the on-going argument I have with my bank balance about the sneaky lunch break coffee shop visits.  You have opened up a whole new world of coffee - and I love it!  I cannot wait until payday as I am going to be stocking up on some of my favourites!

Have you tried Chez Toi?  Have you see these cafetiere mugs before?  Are you a coffee or a tea kinda person?

Monday, 6 January 2014

Music Monday: You're Not Good Enough

To be honest the whole of Blood Orange's album Cupid Deluxe is amazing.  Give it another few weeks and I will probably have to shuffle my Albums of 2013.  Love, love, love.

I also write a music blog, find me over at These Are Sounds.