Monday, 30 July 2012

What I've been up to recently.

You may have noticed I haven't posted much recently but fear not I'm not giving up on this blog!  It's more just a combination of being busy and my laptop starting to show it's age.... I went on holiday for a few days then when I got back it decided to black screen for a week and then after miraculously coming back to life again it's been temperamental to say the least, but I won't bore you with that!

This month I have been to see the Stone Roses at Heaton Park, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britian at The Botanical Garden's, helped my Nain celebrate her 70th birthday and had my first holiday abroad with my boyfriend Paul!

After much deliberating we decided to go to Brussels for Belgian beer, buns and waffles... oh and to see the home of the European Parliament!

The weekend after I helped my sister celebrate her birthday and went to Tramlines on the Friday night, Saturday and Sunday to watch local and not so local bands perform across my city.

It had a great atmosphere and went way too quickly! This week I've been trying to burn off my tramlines pints in the gym at work, whilst rehearsing for an up coming dance show or two, as well as helping some of my work friends celebrate their birthdays and going to my first burlesque show at The Greystones.

So I've been doing one or two things and should have a few more events to blog about in the near future!  Keep your eyes peeled!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Recent reads

Recently I have got back into reading a bit more on the bus to and from work.  As well as occasionally in the bath, in bed, when pretending to write... although this does depend on the book!

I started off with Foundation by Isaac Asimov which, is a book I'd tried to read a few years ago but couldn't get into.  This time I persevered a bit longer and was pleasantly surprised.  It's not a book I would normally have chosen but I enjoyed the philosophical elements to it and the pseudo history at the start of each chapter. I must admit what I did find slightly annoying was the fact that the activity in the book would reach a climax then swiftly move on to the next historical event without exploring the action. 
I did enjoy reading Foundation and decided to carry on with the series and read the sequel Foundation and Empire.  I actually preferred this book because I felt that there were more interesting storyline and action in it.  Another part of me liked the fact that there was a strong female character called Bayta in this book, even if she is portrayed as being not that dissimilar to the males except for doing the all the housework on the spaceship...

As that one ended well I tried Second Foundation; however, I didn't get very far into that as I found the lead character quite annoying.

Thankfully my birthday came around and I received four great books!  They were: Mary Berry - My Kitchen Table 100 Cakes and Bakes, The Meowmorphosis - by Coleridge Cook and Franz Kafka, Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (no not THAT one) and The Last Dragonslayer also by Jasper Fforde.

I started off reading the The Meowmorphosis as I read The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka at University and wanted to see how they compared and I quite enjoyed it.  I guess I'm a bit of a sucker for mash-up fiction and have enjoyed books by Quirk Classics ever since my sister bought me Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a few years ago.
After reading this I decided to pick up The Last Dragonslayer and I probably enjoyed this a bit more than I should as I doubt I'm the target audience for this book... still I enjoy Jasper Fforde's writing. It's the eccentricity and energy of it that I like and it reminds me of that of other writers I enjoy like Terry Pratchett, Paul Magrs and Douglas Adams.  The only problem I found is that I read it in about two days!  Ooops!!!
I tried to read Shades of Grey a bit slower but I struggled with this again as it's a mysterious book about a future society which, I just found riveting so I ended up spending all day one Saturday finishing it.  There were good intentions of trying to write my own novel that Saturday but reading this made sure they never became any more than intentions.
After reading these two books by the same author I decided to try something different and opted for Albert Camus's The Fall.  This is a book I had meant to read for a while but never managed to so I decided to take it with me on holiday to read on the train and Eurostar.  It's not the easiest read but it is fascinating and I'm not sure if I get it but I have an idea of what I think happens if that makes sense? It's a first person narrative of a conversation which is completely different to the other books I had been reading but sometimes a change is as good as a rest they say. Definitely a good read!
I am now reading a book Paul brought me from the library, he's sweet like that! It's a brand new book! This is another Paul Magrs book called Wildthyme Beyond! I haven't finished reading this one yet so I don't know exactly how I feel about it.  I'm enjoying reading it and nearly missed my stop on the bus reading it last night... the different narrators can be difficult to follow with a hangover but another cup of tea will sort that out! I am particularly enjoying the bit about the fan boys as a bit of a geek myself and of course Ms Wildthyme's adventures!
So that's what I've been reading recently, what have you been reading?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

52 Recipe challenge - week 52 dauphinois potatoes.

So as my last post mentioned I've kind of failed this 52 recipe challenge... but I did actually try a new recipe last week. Honest!

The recipe I tried to make was Dauphinois potatoes from the Marks and Spencer's cooks bible.

To make this I used:

2 small red Onions
25g Butter according to the recipe but I didn't really measure..
900g/ 2 lb Potatoes
A block of Wensleydale cheese
300ml/ 10 fl oz single cream
Salt and pepper

To start off with I chopped up my onions, before washing and peeling my potatoes.

Then I greased my casserole dish with some butter, pre-heated my oven to 190c/ gas mark 5 and started to try and thinly slice the potatoes without slicing my fingers.

This was probably the hardest part of the recipe! Some of the potato slices almost looked like chips or wedges so I remembered there's that slicy bit on the back of the cheese grater and tried to use that but the potatoes were too big for it!

After I'd managed to chop up enough potatoes to create a layer in my casserole dish I took my knife and got some butter and dotted it on to some of the potatoes.

After doing that I sprinkled some of the onion on top of it this layer, then grated some cheese on it and shook a bit of salt and pepper over this potato layer.

I then poured over some cream and realised that the 150ml/ 5 fl oz of single cream the recipe suggested wouldn't be enough so I decided to use the whole tub.

Once I decided this I carried on chopping up the potatoes, making a potato layer, topping it, pouring cream over it and then making another layer for what felt like forever. Obviously it wasn't but I did make another four or five layers...When I eventually got to the top of the casserole dish I finished off by grating all the remaining cheese on to the top layer and poured the last of the cream on top of that before putting it in to the oven.

After about an hour and three quarters I, browned the cheese under the grill and then removed the dish from the oven and served it.  I don't have any pictures of this as I was too hungry...

Once we ate tea I remembered to take a picture of the left overs.

It was tasty and cheesy but there was a lot of it! I also probably over cooked it a little as when I started cooking it I didn't think about what I'd serve with it so I ended up popping to the shop for some peppers to stuff and put with this dish.  It was a good accompaniment to couscous stuffed peppers and to a cheese and spinach bake I had the day after.  I'm not sure if I'll make this again as it felt very time consuming, maybe for a special occasion as my scales aren't thanking me for indulging in this!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Happy Birthday You'll Get What You're Given!

Today marks a year since I posted my first blog post as You'll Get What You're Given!

One of my aims with this blog was to try a new recipe every week for a year and frankly I didn't manage that.  Not even close! Although I like to cook, sometimes life gets in the way and I end up falling back on take aways or tried and tested recipes.

That's not to say that the idea has been a failure the 52 recipe challenge has made me try recipes I might not have otherwise tried and experimented with new dishes.

Some were delicious and worked well, others were disastrous!

But if I never tried to make these things I would never know how to avoid these errors!

So whilst the 52 recipe challenge hasn't gone entirely to plan I think that's ok.

It's been a funny year, since I began to write this blog I bought a house, moved in, tried to write a novel... I've written 54,275 words so far. (No, you can't read it I'm afraid it's for my eyes only!)

My job situation changed from commuting to work, then getting made redundant and having the opportunity to find a lovely job nearer to home.

I've had a few recipes in Now Then magazine and review the odd thing or two for Tweeted Review.

Sometimes I also like to write odd blog posts on this about books I read, what I've been to see or have tried to do. I'm planning on keeping writing this blog about food, music, books and whatever I think is of interest, so here's to another year!