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Food, Fast: Best stir fried chicken

This post originally appeared on Laugh Lots, Travel Often.

Gwyneth Paltrow might be an unlikely source of inspiration for recipes, but her Notes from My Kitchen Table cookbook really is a touching read; as much about her love for family as food, and beautifully laid out. So when I see her recipe for the BEST stir fried chicken which supposedly only takes fifteen minutes from start to finish, I have to rise to the challenge.

Quick Chick Part #3: Best Stir Fried Chicken

I’m on the back foot from the start – either Gwyneth is the world’s fastest chopper or I am the worlds slowest. That and I’m a little confused about measuring out tablespoons of chopped garlic, but I do my best to estimate. After ten minutes I’ve only just finished chopping so I’m guessing I’m not going to be finishing this in the suggested time.

Prepare the following:
  • 2 tablespoons peeled, finely chopped garlic (I use about 6 fat cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons peeled, finely chopped ginger
  • 2 finely sliced large spring onions, white and green parts

Then toss together:
  • 2 diced chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon of cornflour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium hot wok and throw in the garlic, ginger, spring onions and a pinch of crushed chillies if you fancy. After stir frying for a minute, add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes.

Then add:
  • ¼ cup, or about 65ml of rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup / 65g of dark brown sugar

And boil the whole lot on high for 3 minutes until dark brown and sticky. 30 seconds before pulling off the heat, stir through a tablespoon of soy sauce. I served it up with plain boiled brown basmati rice and with a sprinkle of freshly chopped coriander.

It’s delicious and almost too flavoursome. While the recipe definitely doesn’t take the advertised time, it is still quick and easy and one we’ll definitely try again.

  • Total time to mouth: 25 minutes

  • Extra ingredients to buy: 2 – rice wine vinegar, coriander

  • Man rating: 8.5/10

Through a lens Tuesday: this one's dedicated to a girl I love

I'm cheating a little, because I've decided not to upload any of my pics from the week, but take a trip down memory lane instead. On Thursday night I'll be leaving on a jet plane, on my way back home to join my gorgeous girlfriend for her hen's night. And then I'll only be a heartbeat away from accompanying her down the aisle - eek!

I have so many hilarious memories from our years as friends, and so many photos that (fortunately) don't even come close to capturing our crazy antics. This one is dedicated to you, my love! Can't wait to see you x




(as it turns out she almost always is my right hand woman)

Bloggers take the town

I'm k-nackered after a weekend out and entertaining - just when I'd settled into my sensible saving phase! Saturday was a girls night out, so I'm popping up some very dodgy photos to link up with Bloggers Take The Town: I will definitely make sure I work on posing & outfit snaps so next time I'm a little more prepared.

Dress: Topshop
Boots: Miss Sixty

Try it Thursday: the french braid

I know, it's kind of old school - but I had this romantic notion of having some kind of loose and carefree hair do  for the wedding. You know the kind, a wispy braid that starts on one side, winds wistfully across your head and someone does something amazing with it at the end, and voila! You have a gorgeous, side swept look as if you just ran through a field of flowers. Ugh. I just shuddered at how much of a hippy I sounded.

So for my first try it Thursday, I went online (as you do), found a vid, and french braided my hair as instructed. I gotta say, I'm a long way off being confident enough to do my own wedding hair, but it wasn't a bad effort for the first time - far better than my photography for Tuesday anyway!

Through a lens Tuesday: Pescheria Mattiucci

If you haven't checked out The Londoner, you need to - I have a huge girl crush on Rose, as not only is she gorgeous but she's also a great writer and photographer plus she shares loads of good London tips. One of her recommendations was Pescheria Mattiucci, a fishmonger turned quirky restaurant at night, just off Portobello Road. 

As I adore seafood, the CG and I headed there for date night on the weekend where I happily snapped away (through a lens lesson one: close ups in dim lighting are actually assisted with the macro setting - wish I'd worked that out before my last pic of the night!). 

I am not kidding when I say the crudo (plate of raw fish) was simply melt in the mouth amazing. Their mini starter plates were great, and although the grill options weren't that interesting, you could definitely taste how fresh their produce was. 

Quite simply, a great recommendation - I haven't had seafood as delicious since travelling around Asia, and I've never had seafood presented quite like it. Delicious and romantic - the perfect date night.

Guidelines to write my life by

I can no longer deny that I am a stickler for structure. There was a time when I thought that I loved spontaneity - when I was on the road, backpacking, I thought that not having any deadlines, moving at the pace I wanted to, doing whatever I wanted every day was the bomb.com. Truth is, on reflection, that I only felt comfortable with that freedom because I always had a goal I was working to in the back of my mind. I knew the next few places I wanted to head. I knew I was making my way North, or East, or backwards. Despite what I thought, I had self-imposed structure every step of the way.

This year, I want to get serious about blogging. When we launched Laugh Lots, Travel Often last month, one of the first things we did was set up a regular schedule for posts so we all knew what was expected in terms of content. And although that sounds rigid, it works. Within a framework, there is huge scope for creativity and in fact, it helps me to focus more.

So, I'm going to give structure a little try on this blog too. 

It's no secret I'm a really visual person. I can spend hours poring over images on the internet, and part of the reason I'm on pinterest and tumblr is for this very reason, so I can admire all the lovely images I've gathered together.

Original image links and sources via tumblr

I'm also becoming a bit of a blog stalker and finding so many wonderful sites with fab photography. Which is how I've come up with "Through a lens Tuesday". Each week I'm going to post on something I've captured via camera, phone, whatever I happen to have on hand. It might be a meal at a restaurant, a person, a moment in time...whatever!

 Original image links and sources via tumblr

I've also come to realise that I get really antsy when I don't feel like I'm moving in life. I don't mean just travelling or in my career, but when it comes to learning. Late last year I promised myself I would make a new recipe every week for this very reason - I feel happiest and the most successful when I'm learning and experiencing new things. So I'm also going to give "Try it Thursday" a whirl. Or maybe "Triumphant Thursday", I'll have to see when I do my first post! But the idea is to celebrate something I've learnt, discovered, or succeeded at.

Er, so that's me. I feel good about this. I'll still probably be a bit random but hopefully this will get me into the habit of experiencing, observing, analysing and writing - and that is ultimately what I want. To write, write, write...because it makes me happy.

Food, Fast: Grilled chicken with garlic and lemon

This is going to sound kind of crazy, but I really only discovered lemons recently. I mean, I knew they existed, but I had this idea in my head that I didn’t like sour food, and lemons = sour face.

But since I started kicking off my day with a mug of warm water and a slice of lemon, they’re always in the house and I’ve really started to embrace them.

So this Nigel Slater recipe from Real Food Fast is basically the simplest recipe EVER – but I’ve just never put this easy combination together!

Quick Chick Part #2: Grilled Chicken with Garlic and Lemon

I’m flying pretty blind with how this is supposed to look, as the recipe book doesn’t have pictures, but as I mentioned, it seems pretty simple. In a shallow grill proof dish put:
  • 4 pieces of chicken (I use 2 drumsticks and 2 thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of thinly sliced garlic
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and stick the whole lot under a medium high grill about 10cm away from the heat, so that the chicken can cook through and not just burn to a crisp on the outside.

While the chicken is cooking, I rummage in the fridge and make a salad as well as swede and sweet potato mash. As it turns out, I severely underestimate the time it takes to grill chicken with the bone in. After 40 minutes I’m still stabbing it every few minutes to see whether the juices are running clear. Damn these over grown chicken legs!

The skin is super crispy and flavoursome, and the chicken nice and moist, but the flavour is pretty one dimensional – just tangy. All in all not quite a success – super easy and no special ingredients to buy, but I’m starving by the time we eat.
  • Total time to mouth: 55 minutes

  • Extra ingredients to buy: none

  • Man rating: 6/10

Just another love story

Time for the obligatory Valentine's day post. I've already been scathing elsewhere. So all I'm going to do is share with you one of the many vomit inducing, sugary sweet reasons that I'm marrying the CG. Word for word, here is one of his usual emails to me - not sent on a particular day of the year, but on any other ordinary day:

Hey Little Beautiful,

Just had a little laugh to myself thinking about last night in bed before we went to sleep. I love you soo much! I had a great weekend with you and always look forward to spending more time with you...my idea of the perfect night be at home with a lovely meal with you and just spending the night laughing away at each other's crazy little ways.

Love you loads baby, and I don't ever want to be in a world where I'm not with you.

Big love and hugs

Yep kids, that's real love for you. Who needs roses when you've got the whole summer garden?

A fashion show and girlfriend therapy

The fabulous Miss H came to visit this weekend on her way from Paris to Canada. She is in the throws of starting an ethical and sustainable business, Indigo Bazaar, with her equally fabulous partner Miss B in Sydney. I had the treat of spending a day with her wandering around Pure London in search of like minded fashion designers.

It was pretty thought provoking, once you realise that people think that ethical work labour is synonymous with developed nations. Or worse, as one lady flippantly commented "well, we go to the factories and they're all smiling so they must be happy." Oh dear.

The best part of the day was my free therapy session - I'm not going to claim that we've ironed out all the crazy, but I'm definitely feeling better about the wedding stress.

I absolutely adored some of the brands exhibiting like Darling, which has some great girly pieces...although they weren't exactly on our hit list (I only got distracted for five minutes, I swear).

And I'm desperate to find some of discover designs measuring cup-bowls if anyone knows where they might be stocked?

And we even managed to sneak a peek at the runway show.

A brilliant Sunday topped off with us giggling like kids for half the evening, a good bottle of red, pizza, and a fiery debate that even included the CG. I slept really well last night. Oh yeah.

Why I can’t say goodbye to London

This post originally appeared on Laugh Lots, Travel Often.

I came for a year and stayed for…well, I’m still here actually. It’s been four good years and London and I are still going strong. There’s so much I love about the city, but mainly, I love my life here. Sure, I miss my family and friends back home. And the weather. And the seafood. And the seasonal fruit.

But in the end, every year when I think about whether it’s time to head home, I think about all the reasons for not going home just yet. So why do I stay?

1. I can pretend I’m still a kid

No car, no mortgage, no furniture, no obligations. Plus I still get ID checked when I’m at the supermarket buying booze. Sure, it worries the heck out of my mother who can practically hear my baby making abilities evaporating, but only having to look after myself and the boyfriend without a care in the world for adult type decisions? It’s a pretty sweet deal.

2. I can eat a five star meal for 50% off any night of the week

TopTable. Need I say more? Meal deals galore at top notch dining establishments. And for three minutes work, you can even earn points towards a free meal just for booking and reviewing. Sorted.

3. I get to complain if I have to wait more than three minutes for the tube

Sometimes, I have to wait a minute if I miss the tube before the next one comes along. One whole minute! For all that we Londoners complain about the state and cost of public transport, it still kicks some major butt.

4. I constantly get to make new friends

When you come and live in a place that you didn’t grow up in and you don’t have many friends to fall back on, you notice a strange thing happening to you. You start to talk to strangers, at almost any given opportunity. And you remember what it was like, when you relied on the acceptance of strangers when you arrived, and you continue to extend that welcome to others long after you have been living in London. Every year people come and go, but you get to make great friendships all along the way.

5. Travel is cheap and quick

There really is no excuse not to see Europe and beyond from London. Flights that are cheap as chips and constantly going on sale, journey times to different countries of only an hour or so…what further encouragement do you need?

6. And finally, people take fancy dress seriously

If I don’t see a Papa Smurf, Batman and fluorescent loving 80s style aerobics instructors walking down my high street on a weekend, I start to worry that a riot warning has been issued and I’m supposed to be indoors. How can you not love a city where make believe is actively encouraged?

Making plans at Down Hall

This week I headed off to the annual senior managers conference to brainstorm action plans for how we were going to bring the institution down from the inside. Well, more accurately, we all moaned about the usual shared grievances, and then made wild promises to use less email, spend more time communicating the old fashioned way, and to increase the speed of decision making.

Despite our gloriously modern approach to management, we had the pleasure of staying in a historical country house hotel - Down Hall

Built in 1322, Down Hall was an oddity - great food in a modern restaurant setting, slightly shabby older style rooms, and grand meeting areas complete with impressive chandeliers. I can imagine that in summer it would be a great place to come with its huge grounds to explore.


A few of the girls definitely ooh-ed and aah-ed on the drive into the estate - possible wedding venue springing to mind! But the thing I liked best was my pitch black room - finally a nights rest without the flickering street light glowing through our bedroom window blinds! It's the little things, after all. 

(But the trio of desserts weren't bad either)

(Like the pose? I'm in training for this weekend...more on that later!)

Another year, another home

Before we moved into our cosy own home six months ago, I worked out that I had lived in 13 different places in 11 years. And considering I've spent 2.5 of those years travelling, that's a lot of moving around. 

As you might suspect, I was damn tired of moving. But I was so very glad we were doing it again, because the CG and I were finally out of share housing and in a place all of our own! No more messy kitchens or crazy housemates, and no more needing to cover up to get from bathroom to bedroom. Bliss.

My first step towards having a home library one day

Our red no-doors-close-quite-right kitchen

My mantelpiece of wisdom

Our well worn cushions of comfort

Our brand new photo canvas, the shot taken while we were diving in Egypt

The cookbooks I'm using right now

The flower I always planned to accessorise with, but somehow always looked better on the mirror

The hallway to our home

I had high hopes that we would stay in our little place for a good long while, and I could flatten and store my house moving boxes. Alas, it is not to be. Our landlord has other plans, and last week we were notified that our place was going up for sale. So on top of a parade of people coming through twice a week, and us having to keep the place looking tip top tidy (which is obviously no problem at all since we always live like clean freaks *cough cough*) we have to either cross our fingers and hope that an investor buys and we can keep renting, or find a new place to live (boo). 

Either way, I'm glad I've immortalise our first solo home together in pictures so I can sob over the memories later...