Dearest readers, I need YOUR help! If you read my last post, you’ll know that I entered my Spanakopita Cupcakes recipe into Destinology’s ‘Reimagine a Classic’ competition. I found out yesterday that my recipe made the final shortlist of five, putting me in the running to win a luxury mini break to Europe! The person with the most votes wins, so I would LOVE it if you you could spare one minute to vote for me! Need a bribe? There’s a Spanakopita Cupcake or three with your name on it if I win.
You can cast your vote at the link below – just scroll to the bottom and choose ‘Where’s Lisa? Spanakopita cupcakes’. The deadline is 13 February. Big thanks in advance 🙂 x
It’s that time of year again, where blogs, facebook newsfeeds and twitter timelines are awash with pledges of new year’s resolutions. If you’ve made some and you keep them, good for you, but resolutions aren’t really for me. I’m rubbish at keeping them and just don’t really believe in them – they’re usually too contrived and too abstemious, akin to ‘soundbites from a government manifesto’ as Phil Kirby rather wonderfully put in his latest post for The Culture Vulture. Brilliant.
So rather than punish myself by making (and inevitably, breaking) arbitrary resolutions of denial and abstinence, I’m going to keep my goals for 2014 simple, picking up where I left off in 2013 in my attempts to get fitter and eat healthier. Spurred on by not collapsing during my second ever 10km run last year, I’ve lost my mind and signed up to the Liverpool Half Marathon (yikes), and I’m also thinking (note the non-committal ‘thinking’) about a Coast to Coast cycle.
That’s the fitness side covered, in theory, but healthier eating is trickier. Although I’ve never been a fast food fiend, I’m addicted to the three almighty Cs: cheese, chocolate and carbs. ALL the carbs. Cut one out and my life, and the lives of those around me, becomes unbearable. Seriously, it’s just not worth it. So instead of denying myself, I’m looking at the little tweaks I can make to my diet without compromising on taste, starting with reducing my reliance on cooking with olive oil. This might not sound like much, but for me it will be a big change. I graduated from the ‘Jamie Oliver School of Olive Oil Use’, going through at least a bottle every fortnight. When I first considered using alternatives, I almost dismissed it straight away. Cooking without olive oil? Pah! How would I roast, fry, grill or bake? My salads would be naked, my potatoes dry and unloved. I couldn’t possibly do without it.
Some ingredients beg to be part of a special creation. The creation doesn’t necessarily need to be fussy or complicated, but it needs to be special, composed of equally wonderful ingredients that produce a plate that sings.
Ingredients like a truly magical goats’ cheese. I adore any cheese, but throughout August my goats’ cheese obsession got out of control. Each weekend consisted of pilgrimages to fine cheese purveyors such as Drewton’s, The Courtyard Dairy and Millies, who each introduced me to some utterly delectable goats’ cheeses. Barely a meal went by that didn’t have a tangy, soft and creamy goats’ cheese at the heart of it, and I had lots of fun experimenting with recipes that put it on its rightful pedestal. Yes, this is my fun – it was a great month.
There’s nowhere quite like Yorkshire. A far cry from the ‘desolate north’ that certain folk may deem anywhere north of London to be, Yorkshire invokes a fierce passion and pride from natives and nomads alike, and rightly so. But I’m not here to get into that debate. I don’t need to convince you about how great Yorkshire is – you know all of this. The virtues of Leeds are extolled regularly on this here blog, as are the delights to be found within neighbouring West Yorkshire cities such as Bradford and Wakefield. North Yorkshire is regularly praised for its wild, untamed beauty, and South Yorkshire’s cultural merits, especially Sheffield’s, are also highly acclaimed. We can definitely all agree on one thing – we love Yorkshire.
What I am here to tell you about is my love of an often forgotten corner of our beloved county – East Yorkshire. It rarely gets a mention at all outside of its proverbial walls, and if it does, it’s not usually positive. Dubious accolades such as ‘Britain’s worst city to live’ have been bestowed on its capital, Hull, in past years, blighting the region with an unfavourable reputation that’s not easily shifted. But a wholly unfair reputation this is indeed, which could put you at risk of missing out on what East Yorkshire has to offer. And you definitely don’t want to do that.
“Do you ever think of anything but food?” If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked that, I’d be, well, you know the score. We’ve all got to eat, but like many of you, my relationship with food runs far deeper than relying on it for mere sustenance. I daydream of recipes, doodle market shopping lists and my bedtime reading is cookery books. I’ve even been known to spend whole Sundays in bed, watching cookery programme after cookery programme. Those Sundays ROCKED. Obsessed? Maybe. But life’s too short for bland, uninspiring food, and I’ve made my life a perpetual quest to discover food that’s anything but.
The irresistible allure of travel is conjured in many different ways. Some people travel to satisfy their thrill-seeking urges, others want to immerse themselves in new cultures and languages. Some simply want to relax in a faraway setting.
Travel has the power to satisfy countless cravings and desires, and although there’s definitely something in all of the above (and much more) that motivates me to travel, there’s one stand-out factor that invokes my wanderlust. Food.
Sunday mornings are made for ‘me-time’. Waking up without the piercing shriek of an alarm. Lazing on the sofa in your pjs with a bottomless cafetiere of strong, soothing coffee. Flicking between Sunday Brunch and Saturday Kitchen Best Bites, promising to make each of the moreish recipes that tantalise you on the screen (and never getting around to it).
But most of all, Sunday mornings are about preparing THE breakfast of the week. This is the breakfast that you look forward to throughout the working week when you only have time to grab a paltry bowl of cereal, if anything at all. Prepared lovingly with a week’s worth of anticipation and desire, it’s the breakfast you devour slowly, savouring every last bite. This breakfast could be home-made pancakes, a full fry-up or even a continental spread of fresh croissants and ALL the jams, the only condition is that it feels decadent, hearty, and utterly satisfying, enough to get you through another week until you can do it all over again.
As a vegetarian, you know that certain eating establishments just aren’t for you. You’re unlikely to find solace in a Brazilian steakhouse, a barbecue grill probably won’t do it for you, and if meat or beast is the prominent component of a bar’s name, you can make a safe assumption that it’s not going to be veggie friendly.
I used to feel this way about Friends of Ham. Close to celebrating its first birthday, Friends of Ham has earned itself a stellar reputation in Leeds. Favourable reviews and social buzz a-plenty, it’s clearly doing something right, but you wouldn’t necessarily think that ‘something’ appealed to vegetarians. After all, vegetarians are NOT friends of ham. Friends of pigs maybe, but certainly not friends of the meaty product of their demise. And when a bar so brazenly flaunts its love of meat, you’d be forgiven for assuming that veggies wouldn’t get much of a look in.
What’s the first thing you need to wake you up in the morning? Coffee? Shower? Repeated slams of the snooze button? Mornings are tough, and there’s only one thing that can transform me from a bedraggled zombie into a functioning human being ready to face the day. Breakfast. (Well, breakfast and LOTS of concealer).
I’ve never been able to understand the phenomenon of skipping breakfast. I wake up so famished every morning that I can’t fathom the notion of doing anything except immediately refuelling. Breakfast is my most essential meal, but herein lies the paradox – it’s also the meal that I pay the least heed to. I’ll lovingly prepare lunch and dinner every day, but breakfast? It’s a case of chow down and run for the bus. No frills, no fuss.
It’s about time I put this right. After all, not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day (so the elusive ‘they’ say), but 12 hours of overnight fasting deserves a reward. And breakfast can deliver some seriously sweet rewards, especially when served in fine breakfast emporiums like Teacup, one of the many jewels to be found in the café crown that is Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
I’ve got a confession to make, and it’s a big one. I’ve lived in Leeds for nine very happy years, during which I’ve dedicated huge chunks of my spare time to exploring the foodie delights of the city and surrounding area. My ‘must-visit’ list may be ever-growing, but I’ve done my damnedest to tick off plenty of the region’s culinary hotspots. Yet in these eight years, I’ve never once tried that most celebrated of cuisines. The Bradford curry.
I know, I know. In case you don’t know why this is such a crime, let me put it into perspective. Curry is a big deal in Bradford. A very big deal. Renowned for its diverse multiculturalism, Bradford is a pulsating hub of art, culture and cuisine from around the world, with its highly-prized curries at the heart of this. The city has earned an esteemed reputation for the vast variety and quality of its curry offerings, and was in fact named the Curry Capital of Britain in 2011 and 2012. Most West Yorkshire folk seem to profess an opinion about which curry house is best, and it’s generally a given that you’ve tried a Bradford curry, and loved it.