Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Cookery Calendar Challenge: June

Based on how well used the other books in the series are, I bought the latest book in the Hairy Bikers' healthy eating series as soon as I realised it had been released. The latest one is The Hairy Dieters Go Veggie and, as the title might give away, it is a vegetarian cookbook. I was excited to try this, especially as I've been gradually increasing the amount of meat-free cooking I do, but I really struggled to find two recipes I actually wanted to make.

Firstly, it is one of those irritating books where the list of ingredients include a "sub-recipe". For example, I was going to make a chestnut and mushroom pie until I realised that the already long list of ingredients included a portion of potato pastry. This is one of their healthy adaptations which involves making pastry from potatoes to reduce the calories, but it also added more steps and ingredients, as did the inclusion of mushroom stock, which was another sub-recipe listed at the back of the book. More than in other books, I also found that this one included some unusual ingredients that weren't readily available. Mushroom ketchup, for example, and Kashmiri chilli powder, both of which proved elusive when I did an online shop. 

So I wasn't particularly hopeful about the recipes I picked, as they felt like the best of a very limited bunch, and The Husband's face looked less than enthralled at the idea of a veggie tea when he got home from work. However, the Sweet Potato Saag Aloo was absolutely delicious. It even prompted The Husband to admit that he had enjoyed it more than he was expecting to, and I found it really simple to make. The sauce felt a little thin as I served it up but it was fine, and this was well-flavoured, hearty dish that we would have again.

The next dish was curried pumpkin fritters with coriander dipping sauce. I substituted the pumpkin for butternut squash, which was suggested in the recipe, and doubled up on the ingredient quantities. I expected The Husband would want something else after, but they were nice enough to be considered a meal in themselves. Again the flavours were really impressive, and the recipe was really simple and a definite success. T also enjoyed trying these, and the leftovers stored in the fridge and were handy for his meals, and my lunch over the following few days. I'm glad I doubled the quantity up, both because there was more than enough squash, and because it made a lovely meal.

So, overall, I don't know where I am at with this book. I've been really impressed by the recipes I tried but I'm still struggling to find many dishes that don't require obsscure ingredients or sneaky additional recipes, which means I don't feel particularly tempted to try many of the others. It's been a real contrast to last month's book when I couldn't stop making dishes from it, and still have some I want to try.

I'm not sure what book I shall delve in to next, but I shall definitely be joining in again next month. In the meantime, do check out the challenge on Penny's page, and see what other people have been making too.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

first things first

The first of July.

I'm feeling good about July. June was not a great month, there were plenty of great moments, but overall it was, what I believe is formally known as a bit of a flop. Right at the start of the month we met a friend for breakfast, and the waitress put the teapot down right in front of T, who promptly grabbed it before we could and scalded his hand. I'm only grateful that he only managed to slosh a little out of the spout rather than tip the whole thing over himself, and that autopilot kicked in and I got him to the toilets and under cold water almost as soon as I registered it was happening. He is absolutely fine now, and the blister has disappeared entirely, with no scarring, but much of the month was filled with bandages, dressings, appointments, worry, and a huge cloud of parental guilt. Add in my first visit back to work, which went brilliantly, but was hanging over me until it happened, lots of other niggles, including the most obnoxious cold-caller I have ever spoken to, and it made for a tense month over all.

However, today is a new month, and things are feeling much brighter already. This morning our beginners' running club did their first 5k of non-stop running, and as we rounded the corner to the finish, the rest of the club who had set off on their usual run ahead of us, were stood applauding us home. It was such a lovely, happy moment, and having for so long thought of running as a solo activity, I am thoroughly enjoying seeing it as a social sport.

July is my mum's birthday, and our wedding anniversary, and this will be our first as parents, and her first as a gran. We have a week away with T planned for our anniversary, followed by a night away just the two of us, our first time away from T overnight! 

July is also, officially, my first weeks back at work, as my 12 months of maternity leave comes to an end (how time has flown!). I am very lucky because I accrue my annual leave and bank holiday entitlement, and so I now take that in one block, which means although I will happily start to get paid again, I won't be going back to work physically until September, which I can still pretend is ages away yet.

This week will bring with it a trip out with a new friend, the first time we will have made the jump from chatting at various baby groups to actually socialising just the two of us (and babies too!), and also my first trip to the second of two book groups I have joined at the library. After a visit from a friend from work on Friday, catching up for the first time in months, I'll also be seeing another old work friend for her birthday tomorrow, and so its the first time in a while I've been feeling rather sociable.

So yes, July is feeling good, today there was ice-cream, and the park, and The Husband tidied while I was running so the spare bedrooms suddenly look like bedrooms rather than storage rooms for the first time since T was born. Tonight there has been Dr Who, and now a movie night, with our furry girl snuggled between us.

Wishing you all a very happy July.