Monday, 29 October 2018

Bang Bang Yum Yum

As I'm sure you will have realised by now, I love the summer, especially the sunshine and the long glorious days. The year is moving swiftly on and whilst the sun is still shining, it has suddenly turned bitterly cold. Not really surprising as it IS the end of October, but still...

In an attempt to keep the summer going a little bit longer, we made one of our new favourite salads for lunch. It’s such a hit with everyone in our family that I thought I’d share it with you. 

Even the name makes us smile .... here is our version of Bang Bang Chicken.

To make Bang Bang Chicken for 6 people you will need

2 Romaine Lettuce (or you could use Cos or Little Gem Lettuces)

2 Carrots (peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks)
½ Cucumber (also sliced into thin matchsticks)
4 tbsp Rice Vinegar
2½ tbsp Granulated Sugar
Pinch of Salt

Cooked Chicken (we used 6 chicken breasts, but you could also roast a chicken)

For the sauce you will need

140g Smooth Peanut Butter
1 tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce
2½ tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
½ tbsp Soy Sauce

What to do to make Bang Bang Chicken

First, put the carrots and cucumbers in a bowl and mix together. 

Make a syrup by heating the sugar, a pinch of salt and the rice vinegar in a saucepan. Dissolve the sugar and then simmer for 1-2 minutes until it becomes syrupy. 

Pour the hot syrup over the vegetables. Put to one side, stirring occasionally.

Secondly, make the sauce. Place the peanut butter, sweet chilli sauce, toasted sesame oil, vegetable oil and soy sauce in a bowl. Place this over a pan of simmering water so that the ingredients melt to form the sauce. Otherwise the peanut butter is a bit claggy and difficult to mix!

Next, shred the cooked chicken. 

Cut the lettuce into strips. Heap onto a platter.

Using a slotted spoon, take the carrots and cucumber from the vinegar mix. Place on top of the lettuce.

Grab a big handful of the chicken and put it on top of the carrots & cucumber. Pour some sauce over this pile, then add the rest of the chicken. Add some more sauce. 

Being a gravy-loving family we like to have a jug of sauce on the side! You never know when you might need a top-up! 

Place in the middle of the dining table and be prepared for the oohs and aahs...Enjoy!

And, as you can see, there wasn't much left. Pity, I was hoping to have some for lunch tomorrow!

(You can download a printable copy of the recipe by clicking HERE)

Happy Autumn to you all! x

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Getting things done....

If I were to write a list of significant songs for my life, something along the lines of Desert Island Discs, then Girl of 100 Lists by The Go-Go's would definitely be on it.

I’ve been writing lists for as long as I can remember. I’ve always got a notebook ‘on the go’ for my daily lists, my doodles and anything else that feels worthy of note in that moment. To be honest, these notebooks are probably more effective than a diary to show what was going on in my head at that time.

We’re currently in the process of moving house. The 'to do' lists are looooong! I’m so focussed on sorting out the gazillion boxes of ‘stuff’ hidden in the depths of the cupboards and the attic spaces (yes, we have three and a half glory holes in the house plus a loft space in the garage; all of which have been full!) that I’m even having to write down obvious things like LUNCH and 'post birthday cards' (apologies to both my cousin & my oldest friend that I didn’t re-read the list until after the final post had been collected!).

Interestingly, and not really surprisingly to those who know me well, in my sorting I've found more notebooks than are currently in stock at Paperchase! Most of them are full - some are work notebooks as shown below, some are home ones with plans for a quilt drawn in the margins or sketches of a dress or bag notes from church or lists or bright ideas or fun drawings that the girls have done whilst waiting for something or other. 

We’ve lived in this house for almost 18 years; I’m not very good at getting rid of things. And even with the best will in the world - and a 100 lists - it’s sometimes hard to get going...and keep going...

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Name 10 books that have influenced your life....

As you probably already know, I LOVE books. 

If you've ever been to our house, you'll see that this is definitely a love carried through the whole family. Actually, we could probably have our own library since we cover the whole gamut of subjects : baby books, picture books, chapter books, young adult, anime, romance, crime, mystery, self-help, cookery, poetry, foreign languages, natural history, art, architecture, craft, marketing, religion, maps, guide books, magazines and on and on (have I missed any subjects?!) I'm sure my husband would be delighted if you came and 'borrowed' any of them! (For 'borrowed' please read 'remove from our house'!) I do regularly get rid of books, either giving them away or taking them to the charity shop. But still we have plenty. 

And there's a pile of "The Great Unread" in my bedroom too. I think I might tell you about those in another blog post.

Recently, on Facebook, I was nominated to list 10 books that have influenced my life and then I was supposed to nominate others to do the same. I'm never that keen on nominating people - it feels a bit like a chain letter - and I know I barely have time to remember to do these things, so I'm sure others must be in the same situation. 

I did, though, nominate a friend and we began a 'behind the scenes' discussion about books with another girl friend. Their lists were really different to mine, some of the titles I'd never heard of, some I'd tried to read and didn't like. I think discussions about books are SO good. Now I'd really like to know more about why those particular books were an influence - especially if it hadn't resonated with me. Maybe we should start an international online book club...

I digress... True to self, I managed to post 2 books and then got carried away with life, as usual, and didn't finish. But the online discussion has had me thinking, and not just about the books I like to read but about those that have really made an impression on me. 

So, I thought I'd list them all here, in one place, no nominations required, just a list of 10 books (and a tiny explanation as to why they've influenced me).

ONE: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This book is the one that, by far, has had the most influence on me. Social justice, right and wrong, family life, all that and more. (I even wrote about it already here.) 

TWO: Papillon by Henri Charrière

I happened to be living in the South of France when I read this. I don't like the English version or the film but in French it gripped me totally.

THREE: The Bible

I am a Christian. Need I say more?

FOUR: Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger

I think I was 16 or 17 when I read this. At that time a friend of mine was really struggling with drug addiction. It was a difficult read, but I'm glad I did.

FIVE: Dictionaries - French-English, German-English, German-German and French-French

You may or may not know that I speak fluent French and German. I studied both at university, along with Law and Economics (although I'm not so fluent in either of those these days!) All four of these dictionaries travelled with me throughout my degree. Given their weight, I often needed to ship them separately! Funny how when you're in the thick of something you can't imagine not needing them. Now they sit comfortably on the top shelf of our bookcase and I can't remember the last time I looked something up. I think I just make it up now!!

SIX: Delia Smith's Complete Illustrated Cookery Course

You can't go wrong with a Delia recipe! She's so reliable. As you can see from the state of the book, she's also much travelled and much referred to. Thank you, Delia, for all your help over the years!

SEVEN: The Readers' Digest Complete Guide to Needlework

Did you know I LOVE sewing, and making, and creating?!?! My mum also had a copy of this book. It's also well thumbed and much loved. I find something new every time I look inside. It makes me want to forget everything and sew...

EIGHT: Lonely Planet Travel Guides to Australia and India

I also love travelling, finding new places and experiencing a different life. After graduating, I set of on a bit of solo travel to Australia, supposedly for 3 months. But I loved it and kept extending my ticket! Then Geoff said he'd be spending the summer in India, doing some research for his dissertation on Charles Correa, a modern Indian architect, so I saved some money by working on a herb/salad farm (!) and went to meet him. We often headed off the beaten track to places not mentioned in this book! 

NINE: Craft for the Soul by Pip Lincolne

This woman, this book! I have few words because I don't think I could do it justice. This is just me. I NEED to craft for my soul, to feel good, to feel happy, to feel I've achieved something. Craft for the Soul is a necessity, not a luxury. Pip helped me learn about blogging, both the writing and the behind the scenes scary stuff. She writes and crafts so beautifully and is just the loveliest person. Through her I've re-found my joy of craft and met some wonderful people. For that I shall be forever grateful. Thank you, Pip.

(PS You can read all of Pip's loveliness here

TEN: Trois jours chez ma mère by François Weyergans

Now, I'm not sure if this book should technically be here, because I've never read it! The title in English is "Three days at my mother's house" although I prefer to read it as "Three Days with My Mother" and it makes me think of my mum and our last days together (read about that here). I don't really want to read this book, because it won't be at all how I think it should be! But it serves to remind me that we all have a story to tell. Maybe mine would be "trois jours avec ma mère", maybe it would be focus on 'making' and how we all can take ourselves out of the ordinary and create something extraordinary if we just allow ourselves the moment.

And you? What books have influenced you?