Food: Sprout Hash

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Brunch is my favourite meal. I think it’s everyone’s favourite meal, isn’t it? And my current favourite thing to eat at brunch is sprout hash. It’s quick, easy, and equal parts healthy and delicious. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so I much prefer something with eggs and bacon to a big plate of pastries or pancakes (but that doesn’t mean I dislike pastries and pancakes – I’m only human).

I found the idea for sprout hash months ago from Put an Egg on it by Lara Ferroni which is such a good book and such a good idea, it turns out that most things benefit from having an egg whacked on them.

The original recipe is here, but since the first time I tried it I’ve tweaked it and substituted various ingredients depending on what I have on hand and what I feel like eating at that particular time.

The basics of it are as follows though:

Shred sprouts finely

Finely chop an onion

Cook the onion in a frying pan until starting to soften

Add the sprouts, cook on a low heat until tender stirring often

Add crushed garlic and any herbs you fancy, cook for a couple of minutes

Make a well in the middle for your egg (or make separate wells for each egg depending on how many you are feeding), break your egg into the well, put the lid on the pan and cook until the egg is done to your liking (I like mine with a solid white and runny yolk). I don’t have a lid for my pan so I cover it in foil, which takes slightly longer.

In the photo above I substituted the white onion for spring onions, added lots of dill and cooked everything in butter rather than olive oil. Once the egg was cooked I scattered lots more fresh dill. It was the best yet.

Other good additions are smoked paprika, chilli, chorizo, bacon, feta, red onion, parsley and thyme. Yum.

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Monday Blues Banishers #14

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I don’t know about you lot but I definitely need five reasons to smile this morning. The prospect of a train to Glasgow hanging over my head has not left me feeling chirpy, especially because it’s half term – a dreadful time for all commuters. I like children, I really do, just not on public transport. Can we not just ban them?

However bleak things may look, there are always reasons for cheeriness and here are mine (I’m going to force myself to remember these on the train):

1)      I am one of those people who anticipates the working week with a certain feeling of dread. I like working, but I also like being at home, in my house, with all my things. I chose the house, I chose my things, and I put my things in places of my choosing within the house that I chose. Why wouldn’t I want to be here?! That’s not the point I’m trying to make here though. My point is that my working week is only Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. By midday on Thursday I’ll be back on my settee for a looooong weekend of doing stuff I choose with things I choose in the house I chose. Phew.

2)      It’s June. It’s actually the summer now and no one can stop me wearing sandals and floppy sunhats.

3)      I have a general ‘good’ feeling at the moment. Do you ever get that? I feel like there are a lot of possibilities, that I can do anything and that something excellent will happen, soon. This is preferable to the other feeling I get, which makes me think I should just stock up on ice cream and never see another living soul again.

4)      Coconut oil has made my skin HAPPY. Of course I had read millions of blogs and pinterest pins extolling its virtues but I never believed it until I tried it myself. It is now my moisturiser of choice. My purse is happy too because a big jar of coconut oil is £6 which is pricey for a cooking oil when you think olive oil is £3 a bottle…but when you compare it to a teeny-tiny double-walled pot of £20 moisturiser it is quite the economy.

5)      Eastenders. I love the Who Killed Lucy Beale storyline with unabashed passion. I refuse to be embarrassed – Ian Beale forever!

Lately

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I feel like I haven’t tended to my little patch of the internet for ages. But I promise it’s all been for a good reason. I started a new job a couple of weeks ago and it involves working nights, in Glasgow. So with getting the hang of a new job, being away from home from Monday lunchtime to Thursday morning, and forcing my body (and mind) to become nocturnal there really hasn’t been much time for blogging!

I’m getting more into the swing of things now so expect regular posting to resume over the next couple of weeks. For now, I thought I’d do a little ‘lately’ post like I’ve seen from my elders and betters in the blogging community. I love these sorts of posts because they include lots of details that don’t really fit anywhere else.

Lately I have been:

Loving:  sleeping in my own bed after a couple a nights a week in a hotel room. We got a memory foam mattress last year and now all other beds feel like beds of nails. I’ve been spoilt forever but it does make coming home a joyous occasion.

Reading: Game of Thrones. I’m currently plodding through book 2 after whizzing through book 1. I have watched all the TV series and I knew I wasn’t going to like the books but I also knew I’d have to read them to compare. I don’t like the books but I find them strangely compelling, despite knowing what’s about to happen all the time, make of that what you will.

Watching: Mad Men. This series is so good, I can’t wait for the next one. I love the clothes, the sets, everything.

Eating: Jambon-Beurre sandwiches from Pret. It’s a bit of baguette with loads of butter on it crammed full of ham and cornichons. It’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Gotta love the French for using butter as a sandwich filling rather than just a lubricant for bread.

Wanting: A haircut. This brief spell of sunshine we’ve experience has made my hair grow super quick and it’s just hit the awkward shoulder length period. The colour could do with a refresher as well. I wish haircuts lasted longer, they are so expensive that they seem like a luxury when in actual fact they are a necessity.

What about you?

 

 

Drinks: Simple Summer Cocktail

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It’s been so rainy lately. It’s played havoc with my ability to run more than twice (sometimes even once) a week and it’s meant we’ve been cooped up in the house watching too much TV and getting grumpy.

Yesterday the sun came out which meant we could sit in the *slightly* overgrown garden and read.

To bring the fancy level up a couple of notches I made a cocktail (can you call it a cocktail if it only has 1 spirit in it? I will anyway).

I don’t drink half as much as I used to anymore. I hardly ever go out, and I like that. Those days are mostly over and done with for me. And I rarely open a bottle of wine after work these days because of the hours I work. In the past me and Anthony would always have a glass or three with dinner but now the desire just isn’t there. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy an occasional tipple, because I do. I quite like not drinking that much because it means when I do it feels like a real treat. That’s exactly what this cocktail felt like.

This is one of many versions of a simple cocktail I usually make when I’m making a spur of the moment drink and I just have to throw together whatever dregs I have.

I was actually pleasantly surprised that I had such a wide choice of spirits on hand yesterday – I had half a bottle of vodka in the freezer, gin, whiskey, triple sec – this makes me a grown up, no?

Anyway, this particular concoction consisted of: a tiny bit of vodka (I’m old), cloudy lemonade, frozen blueberries (more exciting, and much prettier than, ice cubes), and was garnished with cucumber and strawberry slices. As soon as I had taken some photos I dunked the strawberry and cucumber in my glass because cloudy lemonade and cucumber are a match made in heaven. Yum.

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I think this drink would be as good with gin (maybe better, but I fancied a change from my old faithful) and I wish I’d had some fresh mint to hand because that would have made it taste even more sunshiney. Cloudy apple juice works as well as the cloudy lemonade – but it has to be cloudy or else it just doesn’t look as refreshing!

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Of course this drink would be just as lovely without the alcohol, in fact, I think I might give it a try today.

 

Monday Blues Banishers #13

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Good morning!

How were your weekends? Mine was good. It rained or was overcast for the duration here so I took the opportunity to snuggle up on the sofa and watch Netflix and drink too many cups of tea. I also slept like it was my job. I am completely well rested now.

The rain is continuing into the week in my neck of the woods. In fact, I woke up to glorious sunshine so I ran downstairs to hang some wet washing on the line. That was five minutes ago. It’s now raining. I’m not going out there to rescue it, but I could do with remembering why I should be happy on this Monday:

1)      Desperate Housewives. I’ve been watching the final two seasons because I had watched all the rest years ago and then just given up. It’s the perfect fluffy TV show to binge-watch and even though some parts of it make me cringe I still love it. I’m equal parts embarrassed that this is top of my list and desperate to get to my settee where the next episode is on pause waiting for me.

2)      This American Life. I think I’m late to the party on this one but I don’t care. This American Life is my favourite new podcast, in fact it just got picked up by BBC Radio 4 Extra. I haven’t listened to this week’s yet and I can’t wait to have a bubble bath and put it on.

3)      I’m going to make an exciting (and thrifty) vegetable stew later on. I love having something in a pot I can just reheat at mealtimes.

4)      This time last year I was in Italy with Anthony. I have been loving looking through the photos and remembering what a brilliant time we had (even though it makes me a little sad that we won’t be going on holiday this year).

5)      My nails are long and I filed them so they aren’t all crooked and jagged. Today I’m going to paint them and will probably spend the rest of the day staring at them and saying to myself ‘You’re so grown up and put together’ whilst I watch cartoons in my accidentally bleached cleaning leggings and eskimo slippers.

 

What’s making you smile today? I’d love to know.

Photo an Hour

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I’ve always been intrigued by photo-an-hour posts and this weekend I decided to have a try at one for myself. The results are…preeeetty boring because I don’t really do anything but I’m going to submit you to a blow by blow account of what I did on Sunday nonetheless!

09.00am I woke up and decided to lie in bed for an hour, basking in the endless feeling of the bank holiday weekend.

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10.00am COFFEE. I decided to make myself a milky coffee, which is odd because I don’t like milk. Sure enough, I had to throw the milky coffee down the sink and start again, this time strong coffee with a splash of milk.

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11.00am Time for my run. I was actually quite excited for this run because it was sunny and I felt really energetic (which is a rarity). Can I just say that I hate these trainers, I think they make my feet look like they belong to a six year old, but a new pair of fancy trainers are so far down my ‘things to buy when I have money’ list that I think I will just have to make do for the foreseeable.

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12.00pm I return from my run out of breath and sweaty. I have to sit in the back garden taking big gulps of fresh air and cooling down so that I don’t vomit. Once I stop feeling pukey I appreciate how sunny it is and contemplate mowing the lawn.

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13.00pm Showertime. I also plan what to wear. I’m not going anywhere but I still think it’s important to my self-esteem to get dressed, so I pick something slouchy (I love my new kimono jacket). I treat myself to a day sans bra and sans make-up which is why I haven’t treated you to a photo of me.

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13.30pm CLEANING. I decide to clean two rooms. I pick the bedroom and living room (they are the least messy to begin with). I contemplate dealing with the hallway. Me and Hetty decide to leave that for another time, like when hell freezes over! Instead I do loads of laundry and just close my eyes when I enter the kitchen so I can’t die of disgust at all the grime.

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14.00pm LUNCHTIME. Anthony cooked an amazing beef pepperpot stew on Saturday evening and we eat the leftovers for lunch. It is even more delicious a day after. I hope this dish becomes a regular in the Marley-Hampshaw household.

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15.00pm Tea and film time. We watched so many films over the bank holiday weekend. I think we started with Tyrannosaur.

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18.00pm WE OPENED THE WINE (a bank holiday must). This wine was like £3.80 from Morrisons but it was really nice. I’d certainly drink it again.

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19.00pm Anthony cooked another amazing beef dish, this time, pot roast. It was in a red wine sauce and garnished with dill (which I had never considered serving with meat before but it was AMAZING). We watched more films, drank more wine and generally enjoyed being lazy on the sofa. I’m kind of embarrassed to notice that I ate all my meals off that elephant cushion in front of the telly instead of at the table but the dining room was pretty untidy so I will let myself off this once!

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There you have it, my photo and hour (sort of). Have you ever tried this? I think it’s really interesting just to see how everyone else uses their time.

 

 

 

Monday Blues Banishers #12

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Morning Gang!

How are you this bank holiday Monday morning? Did you wake up to the sound of angels singing? I did, because I love a bank holiday (as you well know). The extra day just means you can create the right blend of fun, laziness and productivity needed to enjoy the perfect weekend.

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As if we needed more reasons to smile, here are my Monday Blues Banishers – things that are making me smile this morning that might make you crack a grin too.

1)      My bedroom is still clean. That’s a total of seven straight days of cleanliness, a new record. Perhaps I’m finally a grown up. It’s so nice to sleep and wake up in a relaxing, peaceful, and most importantly, uncluttered space.

2)      I found the perfect oatmeal cookie recipe on my beloved Pinterest this weekend. I made a batch for my Saturday night treat and conveniently I already had all the ingredients in my cupboard. It’s this one if you’re intrigued – just remember to chill the dough for a bit before baking. Why am I still smiling about it? Well, for one it was really, really delicious and the memory alone is enough to keep me happy for the rest of the week, but on top of that I made enough dough to cook two batches and freeze some so that next time I crave fresh from the oven cookies it’ll be easy and mess free. I’m so smug about this.

3)      Anthony cooked an amazing beef pepper pot stew on Saturday and we ate the lovely leftovers yesterday. It was delicious. Today he’s cooking me a beef brisket pot roast with all the trimmings. I am so spoilt and I can’t wait for dinner time.

4)      Green tea. I haven’t drank any green tea for ages but over the last week I have regained my taste for it. I’m so glad because it’s so healthy and I feel so good when I drink it.

5)      Despite rediscovering my love of green tea I have plans to make an iced coffee on the first sunny day this week, it’ll be my first one of the year and I’m very excited.

Health: Running Like a Girl #2

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Confession: I have only completed two runs this week. I know, I’m typing this from the box of shame, don’t you worry! My excuses are thus: I was meant to run on Thursday but I was either on public transport or in London for all the daylight hours. Once I got home it was dark and I had been awake for approximately 18 hours. On Friday I was tired from Thursday’s exertions. Yesterday I meant to run but I had a headache so I went to ‘lie down’, four hours later I woke up feeling just peachy but it was dark ( I can’t run in the area where I live after dark. It’s not the Wild West or anything but I do think drunk teenagers would throw stones at me, or at the very least snigger).

That’s all fine, I said to myself, it’s a three day weekend, I can run Sunday and Monday and still have done three runs… then I realised that my running for next week would start on Tuesday so I’d be running three days without rest. I have just decided that this week will have to be a two run week and I’ll just have to stop feeling guilty about it.

Tuesday’s run was good. A little background on my training plan, I was loosely following a sped-up version of the couch to 5K plan but for one reason or another it didn’t suit me. I decided just to keep running/walking 5K each time I train and to focus on progressing to more running, less walking and eventually running faster over time. I find that this method is working really well for me. On Tuesday everything felt easier and I felt less bored than I had on past runs. I could feel that my body was getting used to the physical exertion and I was quite pleased with my progress.

Today’s run was also good, although it was really humid and I felt a bit stuffy which wasn’t extremely helpful. Today I ran a whole mile without walking and the stretches I did walk for were shorter and fewer and further between than in last week’s runs. Also, a man in a car honked me, as if I wasn’t already dying of shame from dragging my massive be-leggined arse up the hill towards my house he had to remind me that other people are watching and judging. Thanks guy!

Not a bad week, if I do say so myself. I don’t want to push myself too far too fast but I would love to be able to run the whole 5K without walking or vomiting in about two weeks’ time.

I’ve been using Pinterest to motivate myself to get up and do my exercise – there’s some excellent motivating stuff on there as long as you remember to actually exercise rather than just sit on the sofa and re-pin snappy quotes or photos of colourful trainers. One of my aunties is also slimming so it’s nice to have some text support from someone who’s going through the same thing. This week I want to incorporate some cross-training on my rest days, I am thinking some weights and a bit of Youtube yoga.

Any online fitness video recommendations?

Food: Ed’s Easy Diner

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Anthony and I were in London far too early on Thursday morning and for far too boring a reason. The weather was absolutely awful and I had no umbrella or hood on my coat, because I don’t plan well. We’d left the house at 04.30am that morning to get a train and then for financial reasons were going to have to put up with a five hour coach journey back to Manchester, not returning until 21.30pm that evening.

The prospect of the whole miserable, rainy, long day stretched out in front of us as soon as we got off the train at Euston. We were tired, and hungry and desperate for coffee and shelter.

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Enter Ed’s Diner. I’ve seen a few on my travels but never called in before. It provided us with everything we were looking for at that moment in time. And some very loud 50’s tunes to boot (I don’t think music needs to be that loud at 07.30am).

It was easily the best and yummiest part of our day. I’d go as far as saying my scrambled eggs on toast gave me the strength to power on through having only had four hours sleep.

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Everything went downhill from here. Due to the rain we ended up just sitting in the coach station for shelter after we did everything we had to. Had it been sunny we might have explored London a bit, but it was just too miserable. In the coach station we saw a fat, scraggly pigeon that was obviously almost dead. And that, my friends sums up the rest of our day.

But breakfast was good, very good.

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Monday Blues Banishers #11

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Good morning!

How were your weekends? Mine was glorious.

I did just enough cleaning and exercise to feel productive without feeling hard done by. I made a Mexican bean soup so that I had some food prepped for the week ahead (I’ll sort the rest of the week’s meals out this morning since I don’t leave for work until half past one). I did a food shop so that the fridge and cupboards are stocked with healthy ingredients. I blogged. I got dressed on both days which is usually unheard of.

Buuut, I also managed to squeeze in a bottle of wine, watching films with Anthony, listening to The Archers omnibus (outrageous, tut tut Tom Archer), the Eastenders omnibus (oh, Ian! Why is the world so cruel to you?), a long soak in a bubble bath, two lie ins and an episode of that rubbish but ever so compelling period drama on BBC 1. Whew. Equal parts exhausting and amazing.

Here are some reasons I’ll be smiling this Monday…

1)      We are inching ever closer to another bank holiday! If you’ve read this blog even once before, or met me, or maybe just seen me in the distance on a crowded train then you will without a doubt know that bank holidays are my absolute favourite.

2)      Mad Men! (and to a lesser extent, Game of Thrones) They are back and they are providing us with something to watch every Monday night (or early Tuesday mornings in my case). After we finished The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and series four of Boardwalk Empire life felt a little bit empty. I’m glad we have a couple of programmes to watch regularly again, although if truth be told I could just watch The Sopranos on a loop and ignore the rest. Well, maybe I couldn’t ignore Don Draper and all the fabulous clothes in Mad Men but some episodes are just bleurghhhhh and Peggy drives me nuts.

3)      New clothes. I treated myself to some new (but very budget friendly) clothes from Boohoo on payday and they arrived on Saturday. I was in desperate need of a new dress and the one I chose with a lovely daisy print did not disappoint. I can’t wait to wear it this week.

4)      Old clothes. I delved deep into my wardrobe and found loads of old gems I’d forgotten about. I keep meaning to rotate all the clothes in my wardrobe so that I wear them all, or at least see them occasionally…but I always forget and end up wearing the same few outfits to death. If I did rotate them I wouldn’t be able to find a four year old cardigan wedged at the very back and feel like I’d treated myself, so maybe this way is better. I can’t wait to wear my cardigan this week!

5)      My bedroom is clean and tidy. This made a huge difference to how well I slept last night. I feel like a new woman today! My bedroom is usually the last room I get round to cleaning as mostly the mess is clutter and clothes and nothing so pressing as the disgusting food coated plates stacked up in the kitchen. Yesterday I tidied away all the clutter and the room is now lovely and peaceful.