Saturday, 24 September 2016

September snapshot

So blogging hasn't been happening much for me lately. I exceed my daily word limit at work most days and don't have any left for reading or writing at night. I guess I don't have to blog; there are no kick backs or consequences if I do or don't, but blogging has been something I've done for nearly nine years now. Sometimes the words just aren't there, or the subject matter isn't anything worthy of a blog post. And nine years feels like a very long time to be playing this gig.

I'm going to try something different every now and then. It might tide me over while I experience blogger's block or lead me somewhere else entirely. Here's a snapshot of where I'm at right now. I'd love to hear what you're up to, too.

September snapshot

  • I've walked up five flights of stairs several times a day this month for Steptember - for every day I've been in the office. The first three flights are fine. The fourth and fifth flights aren't getting any easier.
  • I'm loving the beginning of spring, my favourite season, and can even forgive its tempestuous weather. I also can't wait for daylight saving to start tonight.
  • I'm revisiting an artist I hate to love: the incorrigible Terence Trent D'Arby. It annoys me to no end that he is as talented as he tells everybody. 
  • I don't mind emptying the bottom rack of the dishwasher (plates, cutlery and big stuff) but I HATE emptying the top rack. It's mostly filled with coffee mugs that don't stack neatly, none of which I use but Mr Weka manages to churn through with his endless cups of tea.
  • I've made a lot of potato bread lately. It's great comfort food.
  • This hummingbird cake recipe is great. It uses coconut instead of nuts and I've made it twice in the past fortnight, including for Good Bitches Baking tomorrow.
  • I'm half-watching Deadpool (2016) as I write this. Parts of it are quite funny but I'm not concentrating enough to work out if there's a plot. There probably isn't, but there's Ryan Reynolds and that's enough for me.
  • I've just polished off half a packet of soft Italian pistachio nougat for dessert. I'll be joyfully licking the bits that are still stuck in my teeth all night.
  • I still don't trust blue toothpaste. Striped is fine. White is best.

Sunday, 11 September 2016


It's September. It's spring. The days are getting ever so slightly longer and summer is on the way. This means leaving behind the comforts of winter (after the storms pass), getting lots of fresh air while the sun shines and, most of all, getting active.

Motivation is here to help. They call it Steptember. (I had to check that it really is a thing!) But instead of just aiming for 10,000 steps per day, my workplace has decided to step things up a level or four by making Steptember about walking up the stairs at work instead of taking the lift. That's five flights, or 120 vertical steps each time!

We were pointed towards StepJockey to sell tell us the health benefits of stair climbing, of which there are many. Apparently your body will burn roughly one calorie for every 10 upward step and one calorie for every 20 steps down. Even when climbing stairs at a normal pace, you will burn two to three times more energy than walking on the flat at a brisk pace or jogging. It's free, can be done indoors, doesn't require any special equipment and promises improved cardiovascular health, toned thighs and tight buns. Just two minutes extra stair climbing a day is enough to stop average middle age weight gain! (Yeah, right ...)

It makes sense, really. 10,000 steps isn't a big stretch on a normal day. I've always walked down the stairs at work, but up? I tried it once or twice before taking easier option with everybody else - but not any more. I have to say that the first three flights are pretty easy. I start to puff at around level 4 before feeling every other muscle kicking in as I approach level 5. Let's see how long my enthusiasm lasts.

Who's joining me for Steptember?

Sunday, 4 September 2016

How to throw a tapas party

I love entertaining and usually cater events I host myself, often with the help of a few keen volunteer kitchen hand guests. A long, relaxed event serving continuous finger food from start to finish is my preferred menu and it means I can usually cater for a wide range of palettes. I aim to prepare most of the food in advance and it takes away the pressure of needing to have everything ready at once. Even better is avoiding the inevitable mountain of dishes that comes after a dinner party, as most courses can be served on paper napkins and without cutlery.

Tapas are great for parties and they come in many forms. We learnt How to throw a tapas party at the Ruth Pretty cooking school yesterday. My interest was already piqued during last year's winter tapas demonstration. This weekend's class turned into an all day affair with a wonderful demonstration of how to create eleven different tapas dishes. We then got to enjoy them all before taking home the recipes to try for ourselves. Just look at the beautiful table setting!
The table is set
Every course was served on delicate crockery and accompanied with wine and coffee. It was hard to choose a favourite dish with so much on offer but I'm keen to try making the lamb cutlets, garlic prawns and chicken croquettes at home. Maybe it's a good excuse to throw another party sometime soon?

I'll let the photos do the talking.
Chicken croquettes with aioli
Coca with rainbow chard, garlic and almonds
Garlic prawns with chorizo
Lamb cutlets with orange and almond salad
Quesadillas with mushroom, rainbow chard stalks and cheese
Chocolate dipped brandy prunes with brandy crème anglaise