Monday, April 25, 2011

Bloody Caesar

Earlier this week we were invited to dinner with Scottish friends that used to live in Canada, that now live  in France (it's complicated, I know!). We were joined by our german friends that used to live in France, that have since moved back to Germany.

Our Scottish friends find that there are some items that they cannot get hold of in France that they really enjoyed in the UK or Canada, so we frequently get a shopping list and bring over various items whenever we visit.

So, I managed to get hold of some Clamato juice that the male of the Scottish partnership particularly enjoys for making Bloody Caesars. So, the last thing I expected when we arrived was that he would be treating us all to a Bloody Caesar using the precious and long-awaited clamato juice. Mr F makes a great gin and tonic so I was looking forward to an equivalent Bloody Caesar and I was most certainly not disappointed.

Clamato juice is a combo of tomato and clam juice and is found mainly in Canada, which is where the majority of Bloodt Caesars are consumed. You can also buy it in Waitrose in the UK, although having now done my homework, it does work out cheaper to buy it from Amazon UK.

 Here's some information about the drink which i found on wikipedia :

Preparation and variants: Basic preparation of a Caesar follows the "one, two, three, four" rule. The recipe calls for 1–1½ oz of vodka, two dashes of hot sauce, three dashes of salt and pepper, four dashes of Worcestershire sauce and topped with 4–6 oz of Clamato and served with ice.[6] The ingredients are poured into a glass rimmed with celery salt or a mixture of salt and pepper and garnished with a celery stalk and lime.[10] The Caesar is an unusual drink in that it can be mixed in bulk and stored for a period of time before drinking.[3]

Ours had a dash of tabasco, worcestershire sauce, a celery salt rim, and lime and celery to garnish.
If you can get hold of some clamation juice, I would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Royal Wedding - courtesy of T-mobile

Laugh your socks off at this fantastic spoof Royal Wedding clip featuring fantastic look-a-likes of all the Royal Family.

Compare and contrast it with the real thing on April 29th. That's the day after my birthday, so I will be having a fun day at Labour of Love chilling out.

Happy Easter everyone !

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cupcake's Carrot and Apple Juice

I must admit that I'm not really one for making drinks. However, I do appreciate a nice drink and lately I have been known to mix a drink more often than ever before. That said, this is one of Cupcake's creations and so it really should be featured on her blog, which you can find here: but she doesn't write on her blog often.

Cupcake has really been getting into cooking lately, and so for Christmas we bought her a bigger, better version of a cookbook especially for kids that she already had, and had already experimented with. It is called ... er... let me quickly scan the book shelf for it. Ah, yes... 'The Ultimate Children's Cookbook' and it's by, amongst others, Katharine Ibbs. Katharine Ibbs also wrote the first cookbook that Cupcake has been using, which is called 'Children's cookbook'. DK Publishing should rename themselves 'Interesting Names Are Us'.. Anyway, what could be more delicious than a lovely freshly pressed juice.

Fortunately, we bought a juicer a couple of years ago and used it quite a lot, and then stopped using it. I don't know which make of juicer it is, without hauling it down from the on top of the kitchen cupboards, but I do know (from bitter, bitter experience) that it has a number of joining bits, and is a cow to clean. Long after the juice is drunk, there's the darned job of cleaning the juicer. Nice. But, to be frank, if you don't have a juicer I don't really see how you could make this juice. I don't know anyone that has time to hand press apples and carrots, do you ???

Anyway, for my juicer-possessing buddies here's the recipe. The advantage of course is blah.. blah.. that the juice is really healthy, and actually it tastes pretty good too.

4 Apples
3 carrots
squeeze of lemon juice (optional)


1. Scrub the carrots
2. Cut the apples into quarters, and carrots into chunks.
3. Put them through the juicer with the appropriate vessel in place for catching the liquid - eg a jug.
4. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, stir and pour into glasses.
5. Enjoy ! And worry about cleaning the juicer later....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Homemade Face Pack Time !

I love making this face pack - it's just ace. It's rather chilly on the skin if the yoghurt is fridge-cold, so maybe leave it to come to a warmer temperature.

Here's what you need

- lemon juice (fresh or bottled, it's the acidity that counts)
- natural yoghurt
- garam (chickpea flour)

Mix all of the above together until you have a thick paste, then spread it on your skin. Easy !

Leave it to dry on your skin. This can take quite a while. Wash it off in the shower or bath as it sticks pretty well.

As I get older I seem to have developed the skin of a rhino, but if you have sensitive skin do a little patch test first, or go easy on the lemon juice, as it's acid I imagine it could burn a more sensitive skin. A little like the time I used a tea tree face wash (from The Body Shop) on my face and was burned so badly that my eyelids peeled - owch! So don't take any risks with your skin.

This works in combination with the acid in the lemon and yoghurt and the coarse texture of the chickpea flour makes the face pack dry out drawing the impurities out of the skin.

Afterwards your skin will look and feel fresher, tighter and brighter, and the effect will last for days. I have even had someone comment on how good my skin looked after doing this (and believe me when I say that that doesn't happen often!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I was having a little think to myself - Is writing about pasta salad boring ? I kind of decided it is, especially a post without photos - boring with knobs on. Why is it that I can't read cookbooks without photos, yet there's never any need for a photo in a work of fiction is there ? The story hooks you in, and keeps you there.

At the moment, I'm not feeling much like cooking, not good on a food blog is it ? lol. I've been having some major stresses, and the way it has manifested itself in me this time is that I'm having connection problems. Does that sound wierd ? I suppose it must be like a detatchment thing where it's really difficult to engage with things you normally do. You /  I just can't face them. I've just read that back, and I've read stuff like that before and thought 'That's a load of rubbish!', but it's true. So there you go.

So, here is a list of the things I need to do, and the only way to describe how I feel is like a cross between being behind a plate-glass window looking out, or being covered in cling film, unable to escape through it. Weird uh ? It's certainly an odd feeling.

Ok, here's the list.

1) Phone my mom. Just to say 'Hi', nothing major, but she'll say 'How are you ?' and the answer's too long.

2) Visit my neighbour - She puts me down a lot - it's her way of being 'funny' - but at the moment it's not.

3) See my friend who has far greater troubles than mine, but I'm not in the mood for being sympathetic, or in the mood for making the effort.

So, at the moment, I'm coming home every night - ironing, doing the odd blog thing, not reading my cook books, doing the odd run, not cooking, not doing yoga.

It's CC's birthday on Saturday so I need to snap out of this, but it doesn't feel 'snap-out-able' at the moment, but don't get me wrong it's not that bad...

Just a little grey rain cloud hanging over my head.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mediterranean Pasta Salad for London Marathon Runners

Cupcake will not eat pasta. Biscuit Boy and I are not overly into out carbs either, but we like the odd spaghetti carbonara, or spaghetti bolognese and oh, lasagne, wow ! I just love that. Now that Cupcake is nearly ten she is eating with us when BB comes home, rather then early evening. So, that means dinner is on the table for 7.30 sharp.

So, why this recipe ? Well, over on Foodbuzz, I was just reading a recipe about another type of pasta salad with meat and what, looked like mozarella, and is was thinking how mine is nothing like that, and then I started thinking how I could really eat that pasta salad this week, as it really tastes of summer, and I have all the ingredients in stock too. And then I remembered, CC doesn't eat pasta.

So, here's the recipe, but it's sans photo. Next time I get to make it I will add a photo.  I hope if you read this you will get the opportunity to make it, and enjoy it on my behalf.

Serves 2

2 decent portion of fusilli pasta
3 tomatoes, chopped (retain the juice)
A good handful of black olives (pitted and chopped - not too finely)
Half a block of feta cheese (I usually use low fat feta)
A little drizzle of olive oil (optional)


This is SO easy..

1. Make you pasta according to the packet instructions, and then allow to drain.

2. Tip the still warm pasta back into the sauce pan and add the contents of your chopping board to it - the feta, tomatoes and their juice, and black olives. Toss all of this together and season to taste - remembering that black olives and feta are already quite salty.

3. Tear is a handful of basil leaves and stir into the pasta.

4. By now the feta should be slightly melted, and the tomatoey aroma with the olives just delicicious, oh yes ! I can practically taste it.

5. Heap into pasta bowls and drizzle with a little olive oil and whole basil leaves.

6. Munch

Sometimes, if I don't have basil I make this with coriander.Coriander is a lovely aromatic herb, and nice in this dish, but not as good as basil. You can serve this with a green salad if needed, or if you are a runner and carb loading for a race, this would be perfect paired with garlic bread.

This recipe is also vegetarian, to make it vegan substitute the cheese with your vegan version, and make sure to use non-egg pasta. :o)

Go on make it !  You know you want to.

And whilst I remember to mention it, the best of luck to all those running the London Marathon this Sunday - a week today. A week of tapered training and carb loading.  I'll be watching you all when I get back from my own run !

Today's run: Long: Approx 2.5 hours - 12 miles odd. Felt good !

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Bucket List

Gosh, I feel like I haven't posted for ages - and it's true I haven't ! I was reading Warren's site where he did an excellent post about a Bucket List. I left him a comment and went off to ponder what my own Bucket list would consist of..

Since the age of 16, I always had a life plan. Get my A levels, go to university, be a highly successful 'success' at something.. who even knew what back then ? I studied French, German and English and then what did I do ? Journalism you might think ? Law ? NO. Computer Science with French.

So, what did I turn into ? A French-speaking, part-time working Computer Analyst (I actually just wrote Analust - I think I prefer that word actually!) Well, was I ever going to become anything else after that ? Where was I ? Oh yes .. with one child, a husband and a seriously contradictory running / chocolate addiction.

I always thought I would be a traveller, and that I would travel for my work, and for a while I did, but livivng out of a suitcase is not all it's cracked up to be. I love travelling, and I have travelled to Canada, to the US - New York, Florida, Charleston, Michigan, California.. a little in Europe - Brussels, Paris, Bonn, Colgone, Frankfurt a little in the Mediterranean - Spain, Canary Islands, Cyprus... but so many more places I want to go and see, so many !

SO ! What am I waiting for. Let's dive right in.

1) Go to India. Trouble is I'm a little worried by stories that people have told me about their experiences. Both Cupcake and I love all things Indian, or the gloss and shine of India as witnessed on television and in the media. I guess it's not all like that, but I want to go and see for myself and practise some proper yoga there and really get a feel for the place.

2) Take the plunge, now that Labour of Love is no longer 'indoor camping' and take a couple of girlfriends to France and just chill. Done

3) Complete an MBA program by my 30th birthday, whilst juggling a full-time job and a two-year old. Done

4) Move house. Not necessarily to somewhere bigger... Firstly, just somewhere different. I'll be honest, I'm bored with where we live now. As a child, I was used to moving frequently, as a student I became even more nomadic. Then, we bought a house and I stayed in the same place.... For. Thirteen. Years. For me, that's about eight years too long.

5) Stop worrying about what other people think of me when I have no control or contribution to their thought process. Allow them to live with their own fallacies. Done.

6) Plan and create a really lovely garden (in my new house - see no. 4). A little bit like Fiona is doing at Boy, am I loving some of the projects they have going on !

7) Allow myself to indulge my Francophile side, even when in the UK - Ha ! That means, listening to the French radio, going and seeing some serisouly (yes, I meant to write serisouly) dodgy French films, reading my '101 French Idioms' and actually cooking something from my latest cookbook 'La Rousse Gastronomique' (translated version, unfortunately).

8) Get a flippin decent haircut. My hair is thick, wavy, long and brown, because of this I wear it long and all one length. I lead a busy life, so I don't have time for colours that will fade and grow through, I rarely get to the hairdressers so I can't have a style that grows out.. I can't have my hair short, because it's so wavy it just look strange, and no two hair days are the same. Yes, I really need 'hair help', and a decent flippin haircut.

9) Run a marathon Booked for this October but if BB gets a place in his Ironman that same weekend - guess who has to defer ?? Er, ponder, ponder ... it's not going to be BB is it.. ?

10) Quit facebook - basically as lovely as it is to stay in touch, it's a time waster, when I could be doing something I really enjoy like my blog. Done

11) Use my MBA for something other than thinking 'Well ! If I were the boss, I would be doing A, followed by B, with a little dose of C, and a sprinkle of D. That WOULD work'.

12) Leading nicely on to ... giving it another try with the cake/food idea. Everyone that eats my food loves it - well, except for that time that I made some sort of BBQ'd chops for a couple I barely knew and well, they were slightly overdone and maybe dry(ish), and little did I know that she had just had a gastric band fitted. Ten visits to the bathroom later.. was it the food ? Was it the gastric band ? You know what ? I don't even want to think about it.

Other than that, everyone loves my food and thinks I should be a professional cook on some level. When the Chef job came up at work (in the work canteen, well more like a posh canteen ..), more than one person said to me 'Chef's job's up - that's your dream job'. Funny. Defintely a scratch that needs another little itch.

13) Change job. There I've said it. I've worked at the same place for fifteen years this year... The problem is that it's a great job with great people - why would I leave ??

14) Walk the Great Wall of China.

15) Walk the Appalachian Trail whilst wearing The Appalachian Trail t-shirt that my friend Antonio gave me many years ago.

16) Visit Washington during the Cherry season. I love cherry blossom.

17) Travel to Edinburgh, see the city and catch up with an old school friend who now lives and works there.

18) Go to Rachael Dobson's grave and pay my respects to her and her father. My beautiful friend who sadly passed away aged 29, just months after her dad. Lovely people, greatly missed.

19) Learn Arabic in homage to Rachael who was a linguistic miracle and, of course, a fluent Arabic speaker and expert on the Middle East.

20) Be myself, not the person I think I should be, or the person that I think others want me to be.
     Just Be Me.

Well I could go on, I haven't mentioned visiting Australia, or spending more time with my mom and sis, or finally finishing Labour of Love, or having a massive party very, very soon .. but I won't.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Limoux is a lovely little town in South West France, south of Carcassonne.

They have the World's longest running festival from January to April.

This is my favourite photo taken last weekend whilst I was at the festivals. It sums up the serious atmosphere quite nicely I think...