I don’t think I’ve ever felt less relaxed after what my colleagues referred to as a holiday. What it should more accurately be described as was four days out of London while still doing Christ knows how many e-mails, monitoring bookings and answering my phone to what felt like a million pointless questions (never put your mobile number on your business card)!! Consequently I built up such an irrational head of stress and worry about how much I hadn’t managed to get through (I was on leave for f***s sake) that when sleep did eventually find me last Monday night it was punctured with terrors and sweats on how to get through some of the unreasonable phone calls that I knew I would have to deal with on Tuesday.
On a lighter note… It isn’t all whining about e-mails and anxiety issues in my life y’know.
As you might imagine cooking or shopping for food was pretty low on my list when we got back yesterday but 4 days with my parents was enough for us to crave a bit less of the meat’n’two veg kind of meal and just have something a little more simple.
This little recipe for an excellent fridge / freezer raid made life much much easier last night.
Makes 8 fishcakes (they freeze well)
For the Fishcakes
2 x Smoked Haddock fillets (240g pack from Sainsbury’s)
2 x Skinless salmon fillets (260g pack from Sainsburys’s)
2 baked potatoes (done in the microwave)
A small bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 x egg
1 x bay leaf
A pinch of cayenne pepper
2 x shallots finely diced
200 ml milk (that’s all I had in the fridge – it’s not really enough but you’re not going to use much of it afterwards so it would have been a waste to use more)
Juice of half a lemon
For the coating
150g plain flour (with a grind or two of salt and pepper in it)
Panko breadcrumbs (I used about 1/3 of a packet)
1 x egg lightly beaten
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with tin foil (if the fishcakes stick a little this makes life a lot easier with the washing up)
- Stab the baking potatoes several times (good for stress relief) and pop them into the microwave for 10 minutes – yes I know this is sacrilege but frankly I didn’t have time to wait the hour and a half it takes to bake a potato properly and I didn’t need the skin to be crispy either.
- While the potatoes are ‘baking’ with a dribble of light olive oil or whatever oil you usually use to cook with gently soften the shallots until they are translucent. Put them into a big mixing bowl once they are done.
- In the same saucepan put the salmon, milk and bay leaf and gently bring to the boil. Simmer very gently for about 5 minutes. Then with a slotted spoon transfer the fish to the mixing bowl with the shallots.
- Repeat in the same milk with the haddock.
- Once the microwave has pinged hollow out the potatoes and add this to the mixing bowl with the fish and shallots
- Finely chop up the parsley and add that along with the juice of half a lemon to the mixing bowl. Stir all the ingredients so it looks like a big mush basically but also with some slightly larger lumps of fish.
- Now for the coating. I find the least messy way of doing this is to shape your cakes. Lay them on a board and then coat them. If you shape then coat straight away you’ll end up with your final cake being full of eggy breadcrumby bits.
- Shape your fish mush into 8 round patties that are about the diameter of the palm of your hand (I have small hands) and place them on a chopping board.
- Wash your hands. In three separate bowls put a lightly whisked egg, seasoned floor and panko breadcrumbs.
- Take each fishcakes and coat it in flour, then in egg then in the panko and place it on the tin-foiled baking tray.
- I froze 4 and cooked 4 as soon as I’d made them. The four I froze sorted us right out last week!
- Pop the tray with your chosen 4 into the oven for 25 minutes (35 minutes if cooking from frozen).
- Serve with a courgette ribbon, edamame bean and peashoot salad with a squirt of lime juice and a squeeze of Siracha or whatever greenery you have in the fridge!
I treated myself to a naughty addition we used to do at school to make the mostly potato fishcakes more edible. Once out of the oven take a little corner of salted butter and let it melt on top. Took me right back to my days at prep school and Mrs Gittins (I think that was her name) peering out of the kitchen hatch to check we’d not left anything on our plates.
It is time, I feel, to hang up my bikini. Possibly for good, possibly not. But definitely for the moment.
My massively over-structured, brightly coloured boob-hammocks are to be consigned to the back of the knicker drawer for the rest of days. Or until such time when I win the lottery and I can have a personal trainer 3 days a week then I’ll be fit and lean. I shall then prance around without any worry of my muffin top knocking out a small child in the vicinity or the elastic on the highly-engineered-ultra-strained bikini top finally giving way and displaying my norks for everyone to see.
This is purely a vanity thing. I’m not fat. But I am bored of being in a bikini and walking around with one arm around my slightly wibbly-wobbly tummy bit. After a wedding, a couple of weeks ago, there was only one way to cure the next morning’s hangover and sitting in a sun lounger in 28 degree Isle of Wight sunshine wasn’t working. So, I slipped on one of my mother’s swimming costumes. “Slipped” ha! Whatever! Squeezed and hoped it didn’t split is a more accurate description (mother is a svelte, slender lady). Off I toddled down to the beach for a dip in the Solent. Despite the costume being a combination of every colour that doesn’t go with gingers and mum not having quite the, umm, front that I have inherited it was blissful to not have to worry about any form of belly wobble.
So, having spent many years searching for the best bikini for someone of my shape, the search begins for a swimsuit style that won’t make me look 103 years old or like I’m wider than I am tall. The problem is, I don’t have a thigh gap. Frankly I don’t want one, I’d look weird, massive boobs and then no fat anywhere else… It would be odd. But swimming cozzies look so good on skinny people who who’ve had their thighs photoshopped and can stand like this. Because we all stand like this at the beach don’t we girls…
I’ve bought this one. The lady in the picture looks great. Her thighs haven’t been turned into breadsticks and her boobs look normal. Question is, can I get away with a plunge this deep without looking like I’m on the beach touting for business. I’ll let you know.
There is something quite smugly satisfying about internet anonymity. I’m not talking about or indeed condoning trolling or that side of things. I’m talking about the ability to vent in writing about whatever the irritation of the day is and knowing that no one you know, or no one at all, is reading it. It’s the modern day equivilent of posting a letter in a blank envelope – did anyone ever do that?
This new blog had, until about an hour ago only two people I know who read it but Instagram has done something funny and there are names I know following me… Que minor panic about what people will think, oh god will I be judged. Probably not, but what if I am….. I’m still working out the road I want this blog to take, I’ll get there, I think.
Bear with me, it’s been a slow start. I’ve got a couple of things in the pipeline that I’m currently writing that I’ve not quite got the courage to finish, let alone post. They need tweaking to hopefully not come across as big fat narcissistic moanathons.
I’m getting braver as you will see from an honest and possibly rather stupid Instagram post yesterday. With some of my anonymity lost I’m trying to decide whether to remove or not before my work sees it… Should I remove it? Or keep it, we all have crap days…. Don’t we?
There was a clear intention for this post – to show how great and frugal and fun making your own sausages can be. Don’t get me wrong. It was fun. But, it took forever… The entire afternoon and into early evening to more exact.
I learnt a couple of vital life lessons last Saturday.
1. Don’t buy something on Amazon that looks like it’ll fit your KitchenAid. It was only £9. But that’s £9 of plastic nozzles that are realistically fairly useless for anything else. Unless you lot can come up with any suggestions (keep it clean chaps).
2. Check your equipment is set up properly and that you aren’t missing any vital parts. I discovered (only after I had finished) I was missing the blade from my grinder. This meant what would have been 10 – 15 minutes of turning the pork loin into mince into 2 hours of trying to shove it through the mincing holes without any form of cutting before it got to said holes. Two hours?!? You’d think I would figure out that something was wrong before that wouldn’t you…. Apparently not.
3. Poldark. Yes, I’m late to the party on this one, but it’s great. If you haven’t watched it, you should.
They say a picture says a thousand words… So, below, so you don’t have to read any more badly constructed sentences with too many … at the end; here is a little collage of my attempt at making sausages. Six hours and some nice tasting but really quite dry. sausages….
I thought I would start with a bit of classic Instagram fakery. It’s not complete fakery, in that it wasn’t intentional. Well it sort of was. Ok, let me explain.
It all went a bit wrong at the weekend. I’d cocked up the Tesco delivery (don’t judge me darlings, Ocado don’t deliver on the Isle of Wight apparently) so I dragged my poor husband up to Tesco-topia on a Bank Holiday Saturday and popped into the butcher on the way back to purchase 3 enormous bits of beef. I obviously pretended to know exactly what to do with them and to not be completely intimidated by 2.6kg of meat. The standard instagramming and hashtag frenzy began once we got home. #beef #bbqgoddess etc etc.
The plan was simple; BBQ the beef, finish it in the oven, then bask in the praise and glory from my guests. It didn’t work. The beef looked epic and after a few filters, some image sharpening and general tinkering I popped it on Instagram for my followers to see. With the obligatory squillion hashtags of course.
In reality, it was tough as old boots with quite an unpleasant amount of fat that hadn’t rendered down. Our guests were very polite and polished off all the salads, ate some of the beef and made all the right compliments. They did all then quite rightly agree that it would have been useful to have had an axe or chainsaw to cut through the meat.
But hey, Instagram didn’t know and even my boss referred to me as the BBQ queen when I got to work on Tuesday. Such is the ease of faking it on Instagram. #modernwife
A year ago, if you had suggested I write a blog entitled ‘The Modern Wife’ I would have probably grabbed whatever bottle of paint stripper you were drinking from and whacked you over the head with it… I mean really; the modern wife, me! Ha! Never! I’m old school. I cook for my husband (most of the time), I don’t take the bins out and I always do the ironing.
There are, well, moments, however, when my traditional middle class idyllic SW18 lifestyle gets a few cracks in it. And there are also moments when the whole lot falls apart completely.
I cook quite a lot, so there will be many food related posts like roast pork with amaaaaaazing crackling that somehow didn’t set the oven alight for once, I cheated… I may also allude to the disastrous carbonara I cooked after 3 gin martinis (I don’t like gin apparently) that was so rich we couldn’t eat more than about 4 mouthfuls before we began sweating cream through every pore.
This little blog is aimed at those of you who, like me, can’t do it all, all of the time. If there are moments when you just think, sod it, and collapse on the sofa with wine and a marathon of ITV3 Miss Marple (yes – Miss Marple, not House of Cards or the 15000 episode series of the latest Netflix original) this is the blog for you.