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Recipe: Vanilla Simple Syrup

Calling this a recipe feels very, very wrong as it is (barely) three ingredients and takes 5 minutes to make, but that’s how I roll.

I love this in coffee (I’m one of those terrible people who can only drink coffee when it is a syrupy latte; please don’t hold it against me) but it would be equally good in cocktails or drizzled over fresh fruit for dessert.

Ingredients (makes approx. 250ml)

  • 200g/1 cup sugar
  • 250ml/1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Add sugar and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring continuously
  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the vanilla extract and reduce heat slightly, to a gentle boil. Keep stirring.
  3. After a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

A couple of points about this; granulated or caster sugar works best, and only use really good vanilla extract for this (I always use Neilsen-Massey – vanilla ‘flavouring’ or ‘essence’ isn’t real vanilla).  I find this keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for a good couple of months, although it’s never normally around that long 🙂

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Recipe: Avocado and Beetroot Tartare

avocado and beetroot tartare recipe

This recipe was inspired by a recent meal out – I had a similar dish as a starter and it was so simple and delicious I had to try it. The original dish used mosto cotto but balsamic glaze or even regular balsamic vinegar is fine too.

Ingredients (per serving)

  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 cooked beetroot, diced
  • 1-2 slices goat’s cheese
  • Drizzle balsamic glaze
  • Handful salad leaves

avocado and beetroot tartare recipe

Method

  1. Spread a handful of salad leaves on a plate and place a round cookie cutter/mould in the middle
  2. Dice the avocado and carefully press down into the mould
  3. Repeat with the beetroot on top
  4. Remove the mould, top with slices of goat’s cheese and drizzle with the glaze

avocado and beetroot tartare recipe

So simple but so very tasty! It looks even more elegant when the avocado and beetroot are more finely diced but I was hungry, cooking for myself, and ain’t no-one got time for that. I think this would make a lovely light summer dinner with some buttery baby new potatoes and smoked or baked salmon.

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Procrastination Season

It’s that time of year again.

Exams in the next month. Dissertation deadline in six weeks. Then final exams. AND THEN THE REAL WORLD apparently. So of course I’ve found lots of things to do that don’t involve libraries and remembering 29 different tenses in two different languages and research and panicking about life, the universe and everything and so on and so forth…

Some (long overdue) t-shirt surgery, for starters

Band t-shirts are very precious to me. Not least because they tend to be stupidly overpriced. More importantly, they’re normally mementos from special gigs or merch for my favourite bands; but they VERY rarely come in sizes small enough to fit me nicely. However, I FINALLY plucked up the courage to take a pair of scissors to a couple that have been lurking in the back of my wardrobe, using a fitted t-shirt as a template, and now I can actually wear them without being swamped by fabric!

I’ve also discovered…

… Guilt free baking!

OK, so maybe not guilt free, but certainly less naughty (in my mind). As they are made with ground almonds and no processed sugar, they are lower-carb than your average choc chip cookie, and although they are less sweet, the lovely delicate nutty flavour makes up for it.

150g almond flour
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g chocolate chips
A splash of water

Mix together. Form into balls and flatten to around 1cm thick. Bake at 150ºC for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Makes between 15-20, depending of course on how big you make them.

Aaand the jar itself is a neat little segway into my final picture…


WASHIIIIIIIIIII!

My mum told me about washi tape. So I bought her a lot of tape. And then I bought myself a lot of tape too. A LOT. And although there are a bajillion brilliant ideas on Pinterest for using it, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL. It’s too pretty to use. I just like to look at it.

I have also been knitting, crocheting, and planning my life (ish) but that’s for next time.

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New start

Time for a new(ish) start…

In the last FIVE MONTHS (how ridiculous) I’ve been up to a few things…

I baked…*


Orange and lemon cupcakes…


Vanilla and chocolate cupcakes…


WEDDING cupcakes! My most nervewracking order to date!

I knitted…*


Just needs a matching hat now…


And some more…

I went to Spain* (and took some photos this time…!)


One of the tiny cobbled streets in Albaycín, Granada


The famous Alhambra, Granada


La clave eres tú…


Clichéd, but I couldn’t help it!

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be moving house (yaaay!), I’ve got plenty of knitting and sewing ideas to work on (and some shop shenanigans afoot…) but most importantly I’ll be returning to university for my final year. It’s a long time coming, and I can’t wait to get back to London and get back to work 😀 I think it’ll be a little bittersweet, and I’ll be devastated to say goodbye to all my friends and lecturers at the end of it, but at the moment I’m just focusing on getting back to the good times and enjoying myself (and getting down to some hard work too!).

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*I realise this is very déja vu, looking at my previous post…!

In the last couple of months…

… I have baked…

… and baked…

… and baked.

I’ve also done a fair bit of reading…

… and have completed one of my New Year’s Resolutions already! I’ve been on a bit of a book-buying spree recently, so have plenty more books from the list to get through.

Oh, and I went to live in Spain…

… but that didn’t really work out. I was in a beautiful city and I didn’t take a single picture. What a fail.

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Moar cupcaeks

I’ve been asked to make 100 mini cupcakes for a party next month, so I thought I had better make a practice batch… I normally make giant cupcakes, more akin to muffins, but I think the smaller versions are actually a bit better – much less sickly. These cupcakes were supposed to have pillarbox red icing, but no matter how much colouring I put in, I couldn’t get it redder than this – is it possible?! And don’t even get me started on the green icing I tried – it was supposed to be a nice festive moss green, but ended up a neon lime green (plus it tasted foul). Very disappointing.

I also baked an apple cake (recipe here), which was absolutely delicious. I don’t have the sweetest tooth, but this was lush. My sister gave us a bag of apples she had been given, that must have weighed 5 or 6lbs – I think there are lots of apple crumbles and cakes coming up…

And I’ve also been doing some knitting…

Not the best picture, but hey. I managed to knit this in a day and I’m really pleased with it (despite the whole thing nearly unravelling; there was a knot in the yarn which was actually tying two ends together… Until it came undone. Not happy.) Anyway, I hope the recipient likes it 🙂

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Cupcaeks, om nom.

Well my last post was post 150. And what a distinctly underwhelming post it was. Today I have not much better, but I do have sparkly cupcakes.

Pink and sparkly, for a baby shower (let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be a boy…)

In other stuff, I’ve made some scary realisations…

My yarn stash was previously housed in this – a roughly 16-20l box (that and a couple of plastic bags). After a bit of reorganising, it’s grown.

That’s a 55 litre box, as well as the old one. And it only just fits. I was scared by this point. I also updated my Ravelry stash page. I managed to mark 4 skeins as used. I added twenty two “new” skeins (to be fair, I had already had most of them for years, they had just evaded my last stash-checking). But still. That takes my stash up to eighty skeins of yarn. And that’s just the whole skeins, not the half-skeins or odd left over bits.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH IT ALL?

Seriously. I even went to the library and picked up a couple of books in the desperate hope that I’d find some inspiration and get knitting. Instead I just got all intimidated and indecisive.

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