29 Nov 2015

Bolognese #tocookbefore24

So the #tocookbefore24 series! Time to learn to cook those need-to-know recipes; 12 of which need to be ticked off by my next birthday.

So shall we start with a good old spag bol? Everyone loves a decent bolognese; it's super tasty and proper comfort food. As this series of posts is all about the meals everyone should now how to cook, I'm keeping it simple guys. I'm a big fan of a meaty bolognese but my family prefer a veggie version so, if you're the same, I suggest Quorn as an alternative to the beef.

For a simple bolognese, you will need (serves 2):

200g beef mince
1 onion
1 red pepper
1 carrot
1 garlic clove
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
200ml stock (made from a stock cube)
200g tagliatelle (or spaghetti if you're being traditional)
2 tablespoon olive oil

Chop up your onion, red pepper and garlic clove into small chunks, and grate your carrot.

Heat a tablespoon of oil over a medium-high heat in a saucepan and, when hot, add the mince. Once cooked and browned through, put in a bowl and set aside.

In the same saucepan, heat another tablespoon of oil and cook the onion and pepper over a medium heat for five minutes. Add the carrot and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Make your stock by dissolving a stock cube in 200ml of boiling water.

Add the mince, stock and tomatoes to the pan and stir well to combine. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

With fifteen minutes to go, cook your tagliatelle according to the packet instructions. 

Drain well and serve with a good-sized portion of the bolognese sauce. 


Little Gems: 17

Pay day at Dinerama resulted in a serious stomach ache. 


2) It's December (well, very nearly) which is officially one of my favourite months. Get those Christmas trees up guys, I love seeing them.

4) Check out Dinerama in Shorditch; it's brilliantly yummy.

5) Had a good old mooch around St Albans this weekend. Loved that place since I was a kid so definitely not freaking out about potentially moving there...

6) Mockingjay: Part 2 delivered! This series is definitely one of the best book-film adaptations I've seen.


8) Oh Belgium. This was genius.

9) The Steve Jobs film is so worth your time and money.

10) Did I mention Adele's album?!

25 Nov 2015


There's been a distinct lack of cooking on the blog recently. This is partly because I have been crazy busy but partly because I've been thinking of setting myself a little challenge.

As you know, I began trying to improve my very limited cooking skills a few months ago. There hasn't been any particular direction to it; I've just been cooking what I fancy giving a go, and trying to note what I've learned from each recipe. It's been a lot of fun and I don't have any intention of stopping. However, when I read Adam Liaw's article: 10 dishes you should be able to cook by the time you're 30, it really got me thinking about the key things I would like on my own can-cook list. I'm loving the lack of direction on my cooking adventure; it's fun and gives me so much freedom, but, are there any basics I should have covered? Sure, I can now make chilli mac, but, let's be honest, how confident do I actually feel when boiling an egg? Could I do it off the top of my head, or would I have to google how long to leave it in the water for?

Hmmm, perhaps it's time to stop googling and just cook the damn egg.

I have added my own additions to Adam Liaw's list of dishes everyone should know how to cook and, inspired by the 'before 30' aspect of the article, have decided to tick off at least one of these every week in the 12 weeks leading up to my birthday.  I feel November is a good time to set yourself a food-related challenge. The cold has arrived (finally) so what better time to set up camp in the cosy kitchen?

If you too are unsure what is the best way to make scrambled eggs, or have never actually made a lasagne, then follow along. Don't worry, I'm on the case.


19 Nov 2015

George - Alex Gino

This book is simple, beautiful and important.

I always keep an eye out for books that push the boundaries. They're usually the most interesting, the most daring, the most enlightening. Personally, I don't think that writing about the subject of someone who is transgender should be considered pushing the boundaries but, sadly, there are still some people in this day and age who remain ignorant and judgemental. All the more reason to be writing children's books on the issue.

Alex Gino has chosen to write about a subject which has received a lot of press attention, opinion and general noise. Only his book stands out from it all because he has chosen to write about it from the viewpoint of a child, where there is no way to hide from the true reality.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But George knows she is a girl. The problem is getting everyone else to believe it. When she auditions for the role of Charlotte in the school play Charlotte's Web, she is told she cannot have the part because she is a boy. So, along with her best friend Kelly, she comes up with a plan to get on stage and play her dream role, and show the world who she really is.

The complexity of this issue, the feelings of the person who is transgender, the opinions and reactions of others, are all addressed with frank and simple language. Yet nothing is lost; you feel George's struggle in every word as she fights to be who she is and to be accepted by her family, friends and the rest of the world.

With an ending full of tentative hope, George is a book for everyone. A story to relate to whether you are someone who has experienced/is experiencing George's difficult journey, or whether you have ever simply felt different.

15 Nov 2015

Little Gems: 16

Sourdough bread roll, baked by my lovely friend. What a treat.

1) Oh Bonfire Night, how much I love you. Even if you were weirdly warm this year...

2) It's getting colder now right? Surely? I can't keep wearing shorts for the rest of winter. It's getting weird.

3) The Lady in the Van is a lovely, lovely film.

4) Gifts for book lovers. HINT HINT.

5) Several weeks behind, but has anyone else been watching BBC's River? I've finally caught up on the first two episodes and WOW.

6) Speaking of which, ITV's Unforgotten, also with Nicola Walker in, is also well worth a watch.

8) BBC Good Food magazine: the Christmas addition *drools*.

9) My lovely friend baked me a sourdough bread roll and brought it to work for me. It really is the little things. What a babe.

10) Paris <3

10 Nov 2015

Converse amongst the autumn ground

8 Nov 2015

Bonfire night chilli mac

I'm not that fussed about Halloween; even with pumpkins in every shop window, it tends to pass me by. Five days later, however, I light up like a firework. I love Bonfire Night! For me, it truly signals the start of winter and I start getting all excited for Christmas, open fires and comfort food. Our bonfire night celebrations were pretty classic; we stood amongst a misty, muddy field gorging on hot dogs, nachos and waaaaay too many doughnuts, whilst watching the colourful lights explode across the sky.

The food was just as you might expect at one of these types of events, but, as I gazed around at the standard burger vans and coffee trucks, it got me thinking about what I would choose to cook for bonfire night. 

I've recently been doing a bit of general internet-browsing, looking at variations of mac 'n' cheese recipes. I adore mac 'n' cheese and the more variety of recipes I have, the more excuse I have to make it more often. Some might call this a bit of a worrying obsession, but we won't listen to those people. As soon as I saw the idea of Chilli Mac, I knew that was the bonfire night recipe I was after. I didn't follow one particular recipe for this, which was a little scary but learning to cook is all about risks right? Plus, I also had a lot of fun playing around with different flavours. Give it a go yourself, and see what you think! 

For Chilli Mac, you will need (serves 4-6):

450g elbow macaroni 
600g minced beef
150g grated cheese 
1 onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
3 garlic gloves
2 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes 
500ml chicken stock 
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
Parsley, to garnish

Chop the peppers and onion into small squares, and finely chop your garlic gloves. 

Heat some oil in a large skillet pan on a medium heat and fry the peppers and onions for 4-5 minutes.

Add the garlic and cayenne and cook for a further minute. 

Add the beef to the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes, until brown and cooked through. 

Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, chilli powder, smoked paprika and cumin and stir to combine. 

Bring to the boil and then add the macaroni. Cook for as long as the macaroni packet says. 

Once the macaroni is cooked, add the cheese and stir through until it melts. 

Serve in bowls and garnish with parsley, and extra cheese if you wish. 

Done! And all in one pot so you have minimal washing up!

Kate's learning corner 

Skillet pan 

I had no idea, but people were talking about it being a good one for one-pot dishes. Naturally, it turned out my mother had one (of course) but for those of you still wondering, it's basically a deep, flat-base frying pan. If in doubt, google it. 


Go crazy! If anything, I was too cautious. Definitely going to heat it up next time. 

1 Nov 2015

Little Gems: 15

Oh my those Autumn colours! 

1) What the hell November, where did you come from?!

2) But thanks for bringing along those gorgeous Autumn colours.

3) FIVE HOURS. That's how long it took me to get Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets! Oh JK, the stress you put us through.

5) There are soooo many good films at the cinema at the moment. I've managed to make a sizeable dent in my I-want-to-see list, ticking off Suffragettes, Hamlet: National Theatre Live, The Lobster and Spectre; all of which I would recommend.

6) You should check out the band Bear's Den. Have I said this before? Probably. But it needs saying many times. This band are uh-mazing and seeing them live at the Roundhouse this week only increased my love for them.

8) Working from home. It's a while since I've been able to do this and it's great to have the privilege again.

9) Spent a day in Canterbury recently; what a gorgeous city!

10) Adulthood. Oh how this made me chuckle.