Monday, 18 May 2015

Garbanzo beans (chick peas) curry Ingredients for Vegetarian Week



Day 18 of the Ultra Blog Challenge 


As I mentioned in  Saturday's Post it’s vegetarian week form  today Monday 18th until Sunday 24th May 2015


For those of you who prefer to cook vegetarian food at home please checkoutout their recipes on the following blogs

Today’s vegetarian recipe is  for quick and easy Garbanzo beans (chick peas)  curry

Ingredients

  •  1 can of Garbanzo beans (Chick peas)
  •  ½  a can of chopped tomatoes (or pasatta)
  •  2  tsp cooking oil
  •  1 tsp dry cumin
  •  2 small pieces of whole Cinnamon
  •  3 small whole cloves
  •  1 tsp salt
  •  1 tsp  turmeric
  • 1  tsp  chili powder
  • 1-2 fresh green chillies (optional)
  • 1  tsp  crushed garlic
  • 2  tsp  lemon juice
  • 2  tsp  sugar or sugar substitute
  • I onion
  • 5-6 fresh Curry leaves (optional)

Method:



1.     Open the can of the Garbonzo beans into a strainer and rinse them well until cold water.

2.    Lightly warm the cumin in a wok or saucepan until you get the lovely cumin fragrance. Add the oil to this, add the cloves and cinnamon and allow the cumin to cook until it looks dark.  Add in the onions and cook until they soften.  Add in the curry leaves.

3.    Add the chick peas  and the spices such as salt, chili powder, turmeric, garlic and allow this to cook for 5-7 minutes or until potatoes soften. (You can add the green chillies now if you are using them)

4.    Blend the tinned tomatoes, lemon juice and brown sugar and add to the curry and cook for 5 minutes.

5.    Transfer the Garbanzo bean  curry to a serving dish and garnish it with come coriander.

6.    We served it with puris which are small fried pluffy Indian bread.



Are you celebrating the vegetarian week?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Pot Luck party for Vegetarian week.


Day 16 of the Ultra Blog Challenge 

I got to Day 16 of the Ultra blog Challenge and am completely demotivated.  I haven't enjoyed the challenge of blogging everyday.  I thought that blogging everyday on any topic would be fun and I would meet other like wise bloggers who would leave motivational comments but I have not felt so.  I am not sure if I will complete the challenge.

What do you give a lady who has everything?   That's the thought that went through my son last Christmas so he  bought me membership for the Vegetarian Society.   Some of you may be aware that my food blog is listed on their veggie blogs list.

National Vegetarian Week 2015 is from 18th -24th May and organised by the Vegetarian Society and sponsored by ‘Nothing But’. This year it’s all about sharing and enjoying delicious veggie food with your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours and community. It’s a great way to connect with those around you and explore tasty meat-free food together.

As we are quite busy next week, we decided to celebrate the Vegetarian week by having a pot luck party.  All my friends brought over their favourite vegetarian dish and we all shared it round a friend's whose birthday it was.  The Birthday cake was made specially by a friend in London who specialises in eggless baking.

All the recipes for the food shown above are in my Food blog - http://www.givemesomespice.com

They say the best things in life are free – well, you can’t get better than free pizza during National Vegetarian Week, sponsored by ‘Nothing But’ (18-24 May 2015)! This May the Vegetarian Society is visiting seven locations across the UK giving out free pizza slices and celebrating how food brings people together. More information is here

So how many of you will be celebrating the Vegetarian week?





Friday, 15 May 2015

Yogurt and Mint Dip


Day 15 of the Ultra Blog Challenge 


Since I started to teach Indian cookery, my students are always amazed at how quick it is to make dips, salsa and chutneys which are usually served in most Indian restaurants with papadams as soon as you sit down. I always include such recipes as an extra in my class as they help finish of an Indian meal.  Also quite a few asked for the recipe for the yogurt and mint dip which is always served so we decided to make the dip in class. Everyone thought that it tasted so much nicer than the one served in the restaurants.

The flavours in this dip are a perfect balance to serve with any spicy curries as well as samosas or papadams.

 Ingredients: 


  •  5-6 sprigs of fresh mint washed with the stalks removed 
  •  2 cups of natural yogurt 
  •  1 -2 tsp fresh lemon juice 
  •  salt and pepper to taste 
  •  To garnish: use a sprig of fresh mint or a couple of slices of fresh chilies. 

 Method: 


 1. Chop the mint finely and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add some salt and pepper to the mint.

2. Add the yogurt to the mint and mix well. Taste and adjust the amount of lemon juice to add to the yogurt. If the yogurt feels too sharp, don't add any lemon juice to the dip.

3. Garnish and transfer the yogurt and mint dip to a serving dish and leave in the fridge for an hour before serving.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Have you ever overslept for work?

"Early to bed, Early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise."




Day 14 of the Ultra Blog Challenge 


Surprisingly, I never oversleep and it's probably because I am a mum who is also an Insomniac. I have to do so many chores before I leave for work. I set my alarm for 6 am and get up as soon as it rings.

If you ever over sleep here's what you should do:

1.  Phone or text your line manager and tell him that you are running and will be there shortly.  Get ready as soon as you can and set off for work. If you are driving do not speed as you don't want to kill yourself or anyone else.

2.  If you are able to work from home, ask permission to work from home which means that you can start work a lot quicker. 

3. Once  you  get to work, offer to make up the lost time.

4.   Don't ever phone in to say that you are sick as one day you will really be sick and have no sick leave left.   Honesty is the best policy.

5.  If you are cheeky like me take some cookies/doughnuts etc. to share with the colleagues and sweet talk them into forgiving you.

It's good to get into the habit of going to bed early and waking up on time.

So what do you do if you over sleep.   

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Butternut Squash Soup




Day 13 of the Ultra Blog Challenge


I wrote about planning a weekly menu a couple of days ago.  Here is a soup recipe which is cheap and easy to make.  Tip: This can be made at the weekend and frozen to eat during the week.

We had butternut squash soup yesterday with French bread and Potato cakes.  The soup was very quick and easy to make and didn't need many spices to make it tasty as butternut squash has a lovely sweet nutty taste.

Ingredients for 10 servings of soup:

  • 1 large butternut squash.  I weighed mine and it was 1500 grams.
  • 1 medium potato
  • 5-6 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 heaped tbs bouillon

Method:


A lot of people are put off from cooking butternut squash as everyone seems to think that chopping it is a chore.  The best way to chop a butternut squash is to keep an old newspaper under the vegetable.

1.  First cut the squash in the middle and then cut into quarters.  This way it's easy to remove the touch outer skin with a sharp knife.

2.  Next cut it into quarters,  Now remove the outside tough skin with a sharp knife.

3.  Discard  the seeds and cut the butternut squash into small manageable cubes.  Once all the butternut squash is cut into cubes, you just need to wrap all the rubbish in the newspaper and throw it in the kitchen and garden waste bag. Tip: You can freeze these butternut squash squares to use as needed.

4. Transfer the butternut squash to a saucepan. Peel and cut the potato into cubes and add it to the squash.  Add the ginger and garlic.   Add the bouillon and then add 3-4 cups of water so that most of the butternut squash are covered with water.

5.   Cover the saucepan and cook on a high heat for 15 minutes,  stir and allow to cook for a further 15 minutes on a medium heat or until the potatoes soften.

8.  Once the vegetables are soft, blend them using a food mixer.

9.  Allow the soup to simmer until the soup looks the right consistency.  Serve it hot with French bread. Any left over soup can be frozen.



Submitting to: In my VEG BOX ~ Butternut Squash event by citrusspiceuk, guest hosted by Mayuri's Jikoni

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Dressing Up - Bollywood Style


Day 12 of the Ultra Blog Challenge 


Who doesn't like dressing up?  And how many of us would live to dress up in a beautiful sari?


A group of ladies going to Pilates together came upon the idea of organising a Bollywood evening where everyone was expected to dress up in Indian outfits, eat Indian food and learn Indian dancing. All sounds fun but bit daunting if you have never worn an Indian sari. That when my friend who is the ring leader of this Pilates Group decided to ask me to help a few of them wear a sari.

Word got round the village and the few turned out to be 15!! My friend had bought quite a few saris in India and had also had the sari blouse made. But some of the ladies had used their initiative and bought saris in eBay.  A sari is usually 5 ½ to 6 yards long. Some saris are sold with a matching blouse material which you have to cut from the sari and give to a tailor to make for you. A matching colour petticoat is worn under the sari. These petticoats are tied round the waste tightly and a sari is draped around it. Some ladies were not aware that they would need petticoats and had thought that they could wear leggings under the sari – which is fine until you need to use the bathroom!! We had a hilarious afternoon trying on saris and making sure every one looked nice.









I had to improvise with sarongs when dressing up the younger girls.



Here are some of the ladies I dressed up in saris:




Here is a video of how to wear a sari: 




Linking up this Post with the two bloggers Snowing Indoors and You Baby Me Mummy who are running the point and shoot linky.

You Baby Me Mummy

So how was your weekend. Do share to give me ideas of what to do next weekend.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Weekly Meal Plan Suggestions



Day 11 of the Ultra Blog Challenge 


We all spend so much time shopping and sometimes buy things which are on offer and end up not using them as we either didn't have a recipe or we forgot about them.

Before you go shopping -  have 7-8 dinner plan ideas which everyone in the family will enjoy. Write those down and then plan what to shop for.  If you stick to buying healthy options you will see the benefits of cooking quick and easy meals every day.

Here are my quick dinner suggestions, with recipe links form my food blog (http://www.givemesomespice.com) for the next 7 days.

Monday: Stuffed peppers (peppers are cheap to buy and can b served up with several different kind of fillings).  Serve these with a salad and finish the meal with a fruit salad.

Recipe for stuffed peppers with couscous and feta cheese is here 
Recipe for Stuffed peppers with Quinea, Bulgur, Spinach, Mozzarella Cheese and Kidney beans is here 
Recipe for Halloumi stuffed peppers is here 
Recipe for stuffed peppers and tomatoes with an Indian taste is here

Tuesday: Jacket potatoes with various fillings (Use baking potatoes or sweet potatoes for this).  Again serve these with a salad or coleslow and finish with ice cream.

Recipe for Jacket potato with Organic beans is here
Recipe for spicy Indian style jacket potatoes is here

Wednesday: Tortilla wraps with a salad and fruit salad for afters

Recipe for tortilla wraps with Quinoa, vegetables and nuts is here
Recipe for Quesadillas is here


Thursday: Stir fry  vegetables with rice noodles. served with salad amd finished with fruit.
Recipe for mixed vegetables and noodles  is here




Friday :  Friday is a day when everyone wants a take away.  Save your money by buying some ready made naan bread and make a quick kidney beans and sweet curry following this recipe.  It's quick to make and you will love the taste.

Saturday:  You are busy shopping so want to come home and have a quick dinner. How about making pasta with a few exotic spices added to it?  Here is the recipe.


Sunday:  Just before the family are up, prepare lasagna or cannelloni ready to go in the oven.  Serve these with roast potatoes and a lovely salad and finish off with homemade  cheesecake.  Recipe for lasagna is here and recipe for cannelloni is here




Do you plan a menu for the week or are you an impulse buyer who pops into the shops every other day to pick up ready meals?


Sunday, 10 May 2015

What makes you happy?

Day 10 of the Ultra Blog Challenge

Did you know that 20th March 2015 was the International Day of Happiness?  Have you heard of London's first Happy Cafe?



This morning, my son sent me a text with a beautiful picture of a peacock he must have seen in a park today.  The fact that he thought of me when he is out cheered me up.  It made me realise that people don't need much to make them happy. Here are 10 simple things make me happy:


1.  Phone calls, text messages from my children and close family and friends.

2.  Hugs and cuddles from my children and hubby.

3.  Beauty of nature: Gardens and Parks – In fact anywhere where there are trees, birds and flowers. The seaside too.

4.  Chocolate – Who doesn’t like chocolate or ice cream?

5. Socialising:  Eating out , Good food and good company of friends and family.

6.  Entertaining: When people enjoy food I have cooked.

7. Watching the Sunrise and sunset.

8. Listening to Good music – Singing or dancing  along with the songs I like makes me happy too.

9. Buying gifts for people I love and watching their faces as they open their gifts.

10.  Hobbies etc: Having time to enjoy personal time doing what you enjoy doing also makes me happy. " Me time" is important.

What makes you happy?

Silent Sunday


Saturday, 9 May 2015

5 Healthy Summer Keep Fit Options

Day 9 of the Ultra Blog Challenge


I read this article today which suggests that we should turn housework into a workout. Now that the weather is warmer and days are longer.  I plan to convert the following 4  household chores into my summer keep fit options that won't cost me anything:

1.  Walking:  Now that I have the fitbit, I hope to for regular walks at least once a day.  On the days when I  don't have much shopping I will walk to the shops and back.  All that walking and lifting should be good for my muscles.

2.  Gardening:  Although I have a gardener, I plan to do a bit of weeding and start growing some herbs in a grow bag.  I find working in the garden very therapeutic and the fresh air and sunshine will be a bonus.

3.  Cleaning:  I am going to use my spare the time to organise cupboards, clean windows, net curtains etc. All the bending and stretching should be good for my muscles.

4.  Climb the stairs: At work and at home I will climb the stairs as often as I can. Again this is good exercise for the legs.

Apart from these simple exercises, I plan to eat healthy and drink plenty of water.

Do you have any more healthy Keep fit suggestions? 

Friday, 8 May 2015

Top 10 Embarrassing Moments in my life

Day 8 of the Ultra Blog Challenge 


A lighthearted post for Friday



So we all have moments we wish we could just sink into the earth because of silly mistakes.  Here's some of my embarrassing moments starting with one that happened today:

1.   Forgetting a birthday and Anniversary: This morning I had a calender reminder about my very close friends Wedding Anniversary which triggered another memory of the friends birthday being 2 days before her wedding day.  OMG how embarrassing!! How could I forget this?   To rectify this I had to quickly go online and order some flowers and a hamper to be urgently couriered over today.

2.  Sandals breaking: Whilst on holiday, someone stepped on my sandals and broke the strap.  I had to walk barefoot on the pavements until we found a shoe shop to buy new sandals.

3.  Handbag strap breaking:  I have also had my handbag strap broken on holiday as I tend to over load it too much!! This happened to me in a very posh restaurant and I wished I could hide somewhere. Thankfully, I managed to buy a new bag very quickly.

4.  Burning food: I was teaching my niece how to cook Indian curry and ended up burning the curry. This was really embarrassing as I am a food blogger and a cookery tutor.



5.  Being Forgetful: I can not remember how many times I have forgotten the names of my children's friends. He gets so annoyed when I have to ask him what their names are!

6.  My ringtones:  My mobile phone never rings but the moment I leave it in the Office to go to the loo - it rings with some Bollywood ringtone that everyone in the Office can hear!!  How embarrassing. Note to self: Always keep phone on silent.

7. Fizzy Drinks:  I love Diet coke and usually take one to have with my lunch.   Once I opened the can of drink in a meeting to find all the cokes fizzing over my papers.  How embarrassing.
  
8. No wallet: I filled up my car at the Petrol Station only to realise that I had not brought my wallet with me.  OMG!! how embarrassing!  Thankfully, I am a regular at this petrol station so was allowed to drive home and return with my credit card. 

9.  Wet Hair: How many times have you gone for a quick walk and it's started to rain and you have to get back to work with wet hair and clothes.  This  happens to me all the time. 


10. Ignorance of technology:   The other day I had to ask my teenage son to sort out my phone as it was so slow and he told me off  as I had all my Apps open. How embarrassing !!  He showed me how to close the Apps.  It was so simple !! 

So what are your most embarrassing moments? Do share!!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Indian Cookery and Basic Spices


Day 7 of the Ultra Blog Challenge


In my spare time I teach  Indian food Cookery to adults either in a class or one to one in their home. A lot of time in my classes is spent discussing various styles of cooking and how to make a tasty curries, Onion bhajissomosas.  etc. (Details of my cookery classes and step by step recipes can be found in my blog.)  A fair bit of time is also spent on discussing spices, herbs and Indian ingredients and utensils.   To be fair to the students, they usually  manage to buy the right spices from the local supermarkets but they always have lots of questions about them.



The most commonly used spices in my kitchen are the ones I keep in my Spice Box which I call my masala dhaba or masalyu.  I buy these freshly milled spices from the Indian stores as they can be bought cheaper and in bulk.  All spices are checked and poured into airtight bottles and kept in a cool place.  

Every week, I clean my Spice Box and take out the old spices, refill with fresh spices and then top up with last weeks spices so that they get used  first.  The spices in my spice box are used for flavouring and tempering curries, dalls and soups etc.  However when making pakoras, pickles or other savouries,   I may need different spices which are not in my usual Spice Box.  



Don't let the long list of ingredients in a Curry recipe put you off cooking. The  following are the basic 6 spices I would advice you to get if you have just started Indian Cookery.   Most of these are easily available in Supermarkets:

1.  Salt:   Although salt is often referred to as seasoning - it's one of those ingredients which has been used for centuries to preserve and flavour food.  My advice would be to add just enough salt to season your dish but also try and balance it with some flavours and spices.  In some foods adding salt helps to speed up the cooking too.

2.  Chili Powder:  Chili powder is made from dried red chilies and can be hot or mild depending on the chilies used.  Always experiment and see how hot a dish you like and add the chili powder accordingly.  If you are worried about the hotness, you can use pepper or cayenne pepper as a substitute.  Remember it's better to add less then more.  And a curry doesn't have to be hot to be a tasty curry.


3. Turmeric Powder: Turmeric is  rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae.  Fresh turmeric can pickled and eaten just like ginger pickle or it can be grated and added to curries to add flavour. Generally we use the powdered version which gives the yellow colour to the curry. Turmeric has been used for centuries in India as a spices as well as  medicinal purposes.  Again if you have a good quality turmeric, you only need to add half a teaspoon to your curry. (watch out for my future Posts on the medicinal uses of turmeric).


4. Dhana jeeru (coriander/cumin powder):  This is a powered mixture of coriander and cumin seeds.  It has a milder taste and smell to garam masala.  It's aroma is also a lot milder and pleasant when added to a curry.  I use this for my everyday curry and only add garam masala to get the restaurant style flavour and scent when I am entertaining.


The following two spices/ingredients are mostly used for tempering a curry:

Cumin/Jeera:  This is mustard and cumin both in their raw state.   Both are  used for tempering a curry.   When making a curry, it's added to a couple of teaspoons of hot oil, to release it's flavours before adding it the curry.



Over the weeks, I will give information on more spices and share a couple of easy recipes with you.

These are some of the adults who came to my Cookery Class and you can see the kind of spices they manage to buy from the supermarkets.



Do any of you have a favourite spice?

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Places to visit in London for Free

"The Best Things In Life Are Free".




Day 6 of the Ultra Blog Challenge 


Listening to the lyrics of this song by Luther Vandross & Janet Jackson - "The Best Things In Life Are Free".

I decided to look for places in and around London where I used to take my children when I lived in London for free during the holidays.  Just walking by the Buckingham Papalce. Houses of Parliament, Whitehall, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square are a good start if you are in a mood for sight seeing.

The Time Out magazine lists 101 things you can enjoy in London for free.  My suggestion would be to browse through the list and pick out your choice depending on the age and interest of your children

Here are some of the places I found my children enjoyed going to:

The following Museums don't charge any admission fees: 

The British Museum is one of the oldest Museums and  houses a vast collection of world art and artefacts and is free to all visitors. Check out http://www.britishmuseum.org for more information.

The Imperial War Museum's  brand new First World War Galleries examine the politics and legacy of the 1914-1918 conflict, but also day-to-day life in the trenches. In photographs, artefacts like tins of food, and a collection of letters (many from fighters who never came back), the museum tells a powerful and moving story.  Checkout http://www.iwm.org.uk for more information.

The Natural History Museum allows one to appreaciate dimosaurs.  Check out http://www.nhm.ac.uk for more information

The following Parks are also free to enter:




Amazingly there are a lot of beautiful parks within walking distance of Central London and a visit to any of them is a treat no matter what the weather.  They are all well maintained and have a look selection of plants, birds and other wildlife to enjoy.

Hyde Park 

Hyde Park covers 350 acres  big and includes the Serpentine Lake, Speakers'€™ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. The park also has  open water swimming, boating, cycling, tennis and horse riding. Checkout https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park for more information

At. James's Park

The park includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade and often the place all the  spectacular pageants start from. Checkout https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/st-jamess-park for more information

Regents Park

The Regent's Park, covers 395 acres and includes Queen Mary's Gardens which has more than 12,000 roses of 400 varieties. Checkout https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/the-regents-park  for more information.

Green Park

Green Park cover 40 acres of  trees and grass next to Buckingham Palace.

Sky Gardens ( at the Walkie Talkie Building):

My favourite suggestion at the moment is to and visit the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street. The Sky Garden is the highest garden in central London which span over three floors and offer views across the City of London. As you get off the Express lifts you  arrive at a beautiful landscaped garden with a viewing area, terrace, cafĂ©, bar and restaurant. Entry to the Sky Gardens is free but you need to go online and book the date and time of the visit.

Do you have lots of free entertainment in your area?  Do share.


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Trip to the Botanical Gardens



Day 5 of the Ultra Blog Challenge 

This weekend my son treated me to a trip to the Cambridge Botanical Gardens and bought me a year's membership so that I can visit it all the year round and see the different vegetation in all seasons.  This should motivate me  to get out and get some much needed exercise. The Botanical gardens are within walking distance of the Cambridge Train station.  They do not any parking available. They recommend using the train or the Park and Ride facilities around Cambridge. Disabled people are able to park on a road nearby which is not ideal. However, the park itself is accessible to all including wheelchair users. Electric and manual wheelchairs can be borrowed  if booked in advance.  More information on can be found on their website .

The Botanical gardens are spread over 40 acres of land which included gardens and glass houses.  It holds a plant collection of over 8000 plant species from all over the world to facilitate teaching and research. The garden was created for the University of Cambridge in 1831 by Professor John Stevens Henslow (Charles Darwin's mentor) and was opened to the public in 1846.

As this was our first visit, we decided to keep to the paths and just enjoy the day and enjoy the day. As soon as  you enter the gardens you see that it has lots of tall trees. Some of the trees in the gardens are huge, well spread out giving lovely shade on a sunny day.  If trees could talk - they could have told us stories which were over 300 years old.





The fountains pictured below were a focal point of the gardens. It had plenty of seats around it A perfect place for families meeting point.


The whole area is landscaped over the years to give the feeling of a peaceful heaven in the centre of the City




We visited some of the glasshouses and saw the most amazing plants and flowers - some of which were very familiar to me and reminded me of my times in Kenya.


We used to call this flower the Bird of paradise


And this is a papaya tree - the orange ones are riper than the green ones.


Hope you enjoyed this small taster of my visit to the Botanic gardens.

Linking up this Post with the two bloggers Snowing Indoors and You Baby Me Mummy who are running the point and shoot linky.

You Baby Me Mummy

So how was your weekend. Do share to give me ideas of what to do next weekend.