Tag Archives: ideas

baking pride

17 Jul

My name’s Ollie and I’m competitive.  Yes I admit it, if there’s a challenge I’m 100% in, and I’m pretty embarrassing to be around.

I wish this competitive streak had an off button, but unfortunately it doesn’t and it also stretches to the work environment. I don’t think it’s by accident I sit on a desk with one other (very placid) person, isolated from the rest of the team.

Now for some unbeknownst reason there seems to be a big group of  home baking ‘fans’ in our office, who take it in turns to conjure up all manner of amazing goods. Ever so recently this group has turned from sweet toothed (and natured) baking friends into hardcore competitors that makes Iron Chef look like a quaint village fete.

As a loose member of this fraternity (read desperate to belong), any opportunity to try and impress them with my baking skills I’ll bloody take it.

So as it was my placid desk friends 40th Birthday, I thought I’d try and bake a rainbow layer cake. I’d seen a few pics about these online recently, and thought if I wanted to be seen as mover and shaker in the office baking circle this might be my chance..

Not the sort of cake you’d bake for anyone with issues about artificial colours (or hyperactivity), but for cutting the cake “wow” factor, its hard to beat.

I think it turned out pretty well – my table mate was pretty ‘proud’ of my efforts and you’ll be pleased to know the baking fraternity are beginning to talk to me a little more…  as too are the LGBT group bizarrely.

 

broke or in a bunker? here’s dinner

29 May

It’s an apocalypse.

The riots have started up again and you can’t leave the house (happened to us!).

It’s the end of the month. You haven’t been paid yet and you have a fiver to last until Friday.

If any of the above apply, I have a recipe for you.

This is a very quick, cheap, foolproof and delicious way to make lentils.

Ingredients:

Method:

Put a cup of lentils, the contents of those cans (including the juice) and some spinach (frozen or fresh) into a pan. Add herbs and spices if you like.

Cook for about half an hour.

Et Voila!

This is more than enough for four people, and is fine to tupperware up and have the next day.

 

diamond jubilee strawberry “easecake”

28 May

 

We all do stupid things when we’re young, and for me one of the most idiotic (that I’ll divulge here anyway), was thinking it’d be a good idea to take a job picking strawberries for a month or two, so I could pay to go on a surf trip to France.

Irrespective of having to hunch over plants in ridiculously hot poly-tunnels (it was just my luck that we experienced one of those mythological “Indian Summers”), the worst impact of the job was the self imposed 50m barrier between strawberries and I for the next five years due to eating so many whilst working (and that I associated the taste of strawberries with searing back pain).

Having finally gotten over my ‘issues’, I now fully embrace the strawberry again, especially when they’re in season, taste great and are sold off at the end of the day down the market for 20p a punnet.

Here’s one of those ridiculously quick recipes I nicked from a magazine (I call it a four song recipe.. because fairly obviously that’s how many songs you listen to whilst prepping it) for a very summery dessert. I made this on the weekend and thought it’d be perfect to share prior to the impending Jubilee celebrations.

Strawberry & Lemon “Easecake”

As named by my good friend Laura.. who I think possibly ignored a calling to be a pun writer.

200g strawberries – this is just under a punnet full..
1 tsp caster sugar
4 digestive biscuits
100g cream cheese, easier to whisk if it’s at room temperature.. but unless you’re a wimp you’ll probably manage if it’s straight out the fridge.
2 tbsp icing sugar
125ml double cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
4 wine glasses

First chop the strawberries into small pieces. Put these into a cereal bowl, sprinkle the caster sugar over them, put a plate on top and give a couple of gentle shakes so they begin to macerate.

Then ideal if you’ve had a rubbish day and need to vent any frustration, put the the biscuits into a freezer bag and smack it with a rolling pin until you have a sandy bag of crumbs…then divide equally into your glasses.

Measure the cream cheese and icing sugar into a bowl and whisk – try and not get icing sugar everywhere as I invariably do.

Then add the cream, lemon juice and vanilla, and whisk gently to combine – it should be a nice smooth consistency – not too runny or stiff.

Now the hard part (and the bit that takes the most time..) divide the cream between each glass, and try not to get any on the sides of the glass.. it’s impossible I swear.

Then finally pop your chopped strawberries in the glasses, and sprinkle with a little chopped mint. Serve and impress friends… bending the truth at this point in regards to how long they took to prep always helps.

I’ve also found that out of a punnet of strawberries you have just enough fruit left over for your glass of the best summer drink going a Sipsmith Summer Cup.

 

hallelujah for the weekend…

25 May

It’s been a glorious week here in London town and thankfully it looks like it’s going to be an amazing weekend too.. the BBQs will be out, the parks will be packed and no doubt there’ll be a few beverages consumed too..

One of the vital elements for any weekend sunshine soiree (in my opinion anyway) is the musical accompaniment.. setting the right tempo, feel and tone to the gathering and time of day..

Here are a few of my personal choices for the weekend that may well complement a weekend outside..

First and foremost, if it’s sunny and you’re rocking one of London’s many green spaces this is a surefire hit..

This is a lovely laid back mix that’s perfect for playing at a BBQ – it’s an hour long so you don’t have to worry about changing tunes, plus the opening track by Bobby McFerrin is something really special.

Once the sun has gone down, this is a great segue from day to evening.. upping the tempo a little.. and will maybe even bring a little Balearic vibe to the city..

And finally for Sunday morning when it’s still sunny and you’re sitting back with a coffee and life is good, praise the lord with this euphoric soul gospel number!

Have a great weekend everyone..

happy clappers

23 May

As a self-confessed nerd  i’ll happily admit that I pretty much love the internet..

If you ignore the plethora of porn, the tonnes of trolls or the flocks of fraudsters (so basically I’m asking you to forget 99% of the ‘net), enabling billions of people to publish their thoughts, advice and ideas is amazing.. Pretty much on a weekly basis I’ll see something that friends have recommended or I’ve stumble upon that is brilliant and makes my life easier / funnier / less productive.

Two examples for you all.. As you may have noticed we’ve been doing a little theatre going recently (some good, some bad), and in the process of researching & booking I found these two sites.

Theatre monkey.

 

A friend recommended this nerdy gem to me – although it covers a huge amount of information, I love the venue seat opinions section to each of ALL of the theatre venues in london… I don’t know about you, but when I’m booking seats I spend way too long procrastinating whether a seat is worth the £5 premium.. So having this nerd sage’s advice on where to sit and which are the best seat is a god send..


Audience Club

Now this is something really special.. I’ll be upfront and say there is a waiting list to join, but its worth signing up because when you get on this gravy train there’ll be no looking back..


Have a read of the screen grab, but simply put, as there are always left over tickets at theatres, promoters want to get rid of them so the place is full and this site is where you can get your hands on them for dirt cheap (roughly £2.50 a ticket)… In your face ticket booths!

To join you pay a yearly membership fee (less than £20) and top up your kitty with a tenner.. i.e. Four tickets to a show… so the going to one performance is worth the joining / kitty fee alone!

Cynics might question the quality, but the brilliant thing is that these tickets aren’t for bad shows, crap seats or random pub theatres in Wood Green. We’re talking proper West End “must see” shows, as well as comedy, Opera, Ballet etc.

So happy clapping everyone (Because you can see perfectly and the show cost you less than a pint).

to read or not to read…

15 May

Reviews. Good, bad or indifferent? Dangerous territory I know, given the main premise of this blog is reviewing stuff to do London…

I will however quickly caveat this statement by saying that the majority of the stuff we cover on here is about loving, not hating.. so if we write about it, presume we recommend it.. no point wasting time by adding to the excessive levels of bitterness already present in cyberspace…

Why then you might ask are the His and Hers coming over all ponderous? Well tomorrow we’re off to see the production of Babel at Caledonian park…

 

Looks pretty epic right? When we saw it and the production team involved – the people behind the epic passion play staged with Martin Sheen in Port Talbot last year, as well as the BAC, Young Vic etc – we booked some tickets straight away (this was about a month ago).

Now here’s the dilemma. Since it opened it has had some of the harshest reviews I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not just talking about the usual suspects being caustic in order to maintain a persona, it’s across the board The Guardian, Torygraph, What’s on stage and even the usually positive blogosphere.

Being somewhat opinionated, I like to make my own mind up about this sort of thing, but my question is this.. Will I still be able to go tomorrow with a truly open mind, not prejudging my experience at all after reading this raft of negativity?

Will I dare to disagree with Deborah “First time commenter” and her uber cultured 13 year olds?!

Only time will tell.. If you see a review on the His and Hers on Thursday then ‘yay’ for Babel.. If not, well you’ll probably be able to guess what we thought…

the robert glasper experiment

15 May

There are a lot of birthdays for us this week and to celebrate, Ollie surprised the May Babies by taking a few of us to the Barbican to see the Robert Glasper Experiment.

And they were absolutely, ridiculously brilliant.

Their album debuted at number one on the jazz charts and number three on the hip hop r&b charts (just below Rihanna – even they queried whether it was ‘the greatest typo ever’).

Given they sold out the Barbican, they will be playing another last minute show tonight (venue TBC so check Robert’s twitter) and Lalah Hathaway will be playing at the Jazz Cafe on Thursday and Friday this week.

Update: the secret show will be at Village Underground tonight. Tickets at the door from about 8.30. See you there!