Smashed Potatoes.

Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside; that’s how roasted potatoes should be. Unfortunately, I don’t always seem to get them quite right when i bake spuds. Enter smashed potatoes! This is a super-easy recipe that is great on cold, rainy days like today (come back, sunshine!). 

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Dom’s out for a work dinner tonight which means I was just cooking for myself and my lunch tomorrow, so I took 8 smallish potatoes and boiled them whole in lightly salted water. Once they were soft through, I drained them and laid them in a baking tray. Then comes the smashing! I learned this from my cousin Jimmy a couple of years back but forgot about it until recently. Using a spatula or the back of a large spoon, press into the top of the potatoes until they get this squished, popped-open look. I think I could have boiled them a bit longer and they would have smooshed better, but I was hungry so this is how they are. Then simply drizzle with olive oil, add some salt and pepper, and pop in a 180 degree oven for half an hour.

Before:

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After:

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Yum! I served with sour cream and steamed green veggies, it was delicious. A big plate of  vegetables is one of my favourite comfort foods for rainy days. What’s your favourite? 

Cheers,

Luci

Refusing to say goodbye to favourite jeans.

I’ve started bike riding regularly this year, which I hadn’t done since I was a kid. It is so much fun: I love being out in the fresh air and getting some exercise; plus the bonus of not having to pay for tram tickets, or get coughed on by random strangers. Ah, the joys of public transport.

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Anyway, one problem I learned about the hard way is that I can’t necessarily wear my street clothes on the bike. Most stuff is OK, but I’ve damaged a few things. Namely, my favourite pair of jeans that I brought with me from Australia, and would wear almost every day. Not anymore though. They got a upper-leg tear that wasn’t patchable (I tried but it came open. Three times.) so I cut the legs off to try for shorts. Unfortunately, I’m long past the days where I can confidently leave the house in fraying cutoffs, so they became housework shorts and I thought they’d stay that way.

The summer weather has hit us now and I noticed many people getting around in shorts, which made me remember mine. I realised something that may have been immediately obvious to anyone else – I could hem them!

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 I got home, rolled the hems outwards so the inner material contrast would show, made sure all the frayed edges were tucked away, and sewed. Five minutes later I had an awesome pair of short-shorts, which are great for bike riding in this early summer heat! 

Have you ever had an obvious realisation of how to solve a problem, well after you gave up on the project? Or is it just me?

Cheers,

Luci

Addictive Chocolate Fudge Brownies.

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Hi there! It’s been months since my last post so this is just a short-ish one to try to get me back in the habit of writing. My plan is to try for weekly posts so bear with me, and as a thanks for those who do, here’s the most delicious, addictive (seems that way anyway!), easy chocolate fudge recipe that I know.

Ingredients:

500g dark cooking chocolate
75g butter
400mL sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
pinch of each cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)

Method:
In a heatproof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, melt butter, chocolate and condensed milk.
When melted, remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and spices. Pour into a lined baking tray, and put in the fridge to cool.
Cut into squares (it’s extremely rich so small squares will be best!) and serve.

It’s really that easy. Enjoy!

I’m really hoping to get back to creating and blogging again and I hope you’ll join me 🙂

Cheers,

Luci

Wild Garlic Pesto.

The weather this weekend has been spectacular. Sun shining and birds singing and a lovely puff of breeze. It’s what Nick Cave referred to once as ‘the dirty end of winter’, but the snow doesn’t seem to think so – it snowed for a week in mid-January and since then it’s been getting a little more like spring every week. Last week I saw the first wildflowers of the season!

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Something else that happens at the start of the spring is that the wild garlic (in German: Bärlauch, pronounced bear-lock) starts to grow in the forest, which means when I go for a run through there I come home ravenous because it smells so good. So today I finally went and collected some. I got a few good handfuls and brought them home.

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After a good rinse, I dried the leaves and used my stick blender to mush them up. I then got some cashews for the mix but decided to crush them a bit before using the stick blender on them. Like so:

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Ta-da!

So I poured about three quarters of these in and blended them well, then poured the rest in and added a bit of lemon juice and a good bit of olive oil, blended a little more (not too much, I like a little bit of crunchy cashews in my pesto), added salt and pepper, and that’s it! 

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This stuff is a bit hot when raw, so cooked is probably best unless you like the taste of raw garlic. Mix it through cooked pasta with some grated parmesan, or however you like your pesto.

So to summarise, here’s the recipe:

2-3 good handfuls wild garlic leaves

about 1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

cashews

salt and pepper, to taste.

Blend and eat!

The great thing about wild garlic leaves is that they taste like yummy garlicky goodness but don’t leave you with garlic breath!

Hope you had a great weekend, 

Cheers,

Luci

Homemade Shampoo Didn’t Work.

I”ve been off the radar for a few weeks sorry guys. The reason is actually a combination of things. First, I tried to update my operating system on my laptop and it crashed the disk, meaning I had to wipe it and reboot from a backup. Unfortunately my most recent backup was 18 months old, so I had to find creative ways of getting my data off the machine first. Anyway, long story short is that it took about a week and a half but we”re finally back on track in that regard.

During that time a couple of other things happened. I idled upon a new (to me) podcast which is focussed on trying to encourage people to think scientifically. It sounds a little dry when I describe it like that but it”s actually fascinating and has really made me reassess the way I think about certain things. 

Another thing that happened as a direct consequence of this is that I signed up to a course! It”s called Food For Thought and it is designed to help people understand eating, health and nutrition scientifically, and see through the hype of marketing and misinformation that we’re bombarded with every day.

Why am I writing this here? Because something I’ve learned is that I have had some false ideas about certain things. And I’ve written things here such as ‘trying to use more natural products’ and so on that is not only not based on science but is just a silly way to prioritise things. ‘Natural’ things include cyanide, mercury, and botulism, and I don’t want any of those things in my daily life if I can help it.

I will continue to make my own lip gloss and moisturiser, as these things when store-bought tend to contain petroleum-based ingredients which are non-renewable. I’d rather avoid using fossil fuels as a beauty aid. 

I’ll keep blogging and creating as much as I can. I will try to avoid too much preaching (aside from this post, obviously), but I will equally try to avoid making unfounded health, nutrition or other claims. 

All this finally leads back to my title. I started making my own castile-soap based shampoo due to the popular thought that sodium laureth sulfate has health risks. After looking into studies made to test these claims, I can safely say that aside from being a mild skin irritant to some people, there are no known health risks. The whole myth is based on hype, and misinformation, and poorly-conducted, biased studies. Aside from all that, the homemade shampoo made my hair greasy, brittle and really hard to brush. And it got worse and worse. So I have gone back on the store-bought stuff. I’m alternating with this soap, though, as my mum sent it to me and it smells great, and works pretty well as a shampoo. 

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The reason for the mixture of normal shampoo and this soap is because I’ve started riding my bike to work each day and so my hair needs daily washing. It gets a bit too flyaway with the normal shampoo washing everyday so the alternating with the soap makes a good balance.

So this was a pretty different post to usual! I hope you don’t mind. I’ve got some yummy recipes to share and I’ve been sewing, too, so I’ll be back with more of my regular style of post very soon.

Have a great weekend guys!

Cheers,

Luci

Air Freshener.

Hi there everyone! I’m sorry it’s been a little while, life has been conspiring to keep me off the internet. But I’m back now!

So this is just a quickie. My stick-diffuser air freshener in my bathroom is empty. It very well may have been for a while now, but I happened to notice it today, which is incidentally also the day that my lovely new essential oils turned up. One of which is Jasmine, which is one of my favourite scents in the world. We had it growing all around the house when I was growing up, and aside from smelling great it looks pretty too:

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The recipe is simple. I used almond oil as a carrier, a little vodka (you could use any strong clear alcohol) to help carry along the sticks, and about 25 drops of the jasmine oil. I’ll give that a day or two and then if it’s not strong enough, add more. 

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So that’s my solution to keeping waste to a minimum – recycle the old bottle! It was vanilla flavoured last time so we’ll see how much of that carries over, but vanilla and jasmine scents together will work pretty nicely anyway, I think 🙂

Apple Sauce.

I bought some apples recently and while they looked and smelled apple-y and wonderful, when I bit into one it was soft and squishy and just the wrong texture. There’s nothing worse than a Disappointment Apple. Well, as far as apples go, anyway. So I decided to cook the apples up, because they still had such a wonderful flavour and aroma. I peeled them because the internet recommended it, but actually I think next time I wouldn’t. I’m lazy, and anyway there’s tons of goodness in the peel.

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So I chopped up the peeled, cored apples (I used three), put them in a saucepan and added a little water, maybe 5mm in the bottom of the pan. It’s better to add less and top it up than to make it too watery. The recipe goes something like this:

3 apples, cored and peeled (optional)

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon maple syrup (or sugar)

a good few shakes of cinnamon

about half as much nutmeg

a little dash of salt

Put everything in a saucepan, cover and heat on low to medium, so the water gently simmers. Don’t let it dry out too much, add more water as needed but only a little at a time. Stir regularly and when the apples squish when pressed lightly with the back of a spoon, you’re done. Mash with a fork, masher, back of spoon, whatever. Taste and enjoy! I ate some of it with greek yogurt as a snack, and some more with the roast pork I made. Yum. 

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I love simple warming winter recipes! Do you have any favourites?

Cheers,

Luci