I didn’t choose the Mug Life, the Mug Life chose me.

LARGEskinnyLATTEwithsugarfreeCARAMELSYRUP

Image result for costa large skinny latte

The world’s most ironic coffee order at around 1600 kcals a cup.

I’ve always held strong beliefs in the fact that drinks are like air and therefore do not contribute towards nutritional intake, so there was a time when I didn’t have any issue knocking one of these bad boys back on the daily.

Well actually they do contribute, and at 80% of a woman’s RDA, I think this calorific mathematical wizardry needs to stop right here, right now.

I will literally never forget when I lost my Caffeine Virginity. It was on the fourth floor of a grand Chateau overlooking Parc Monceau in Paris. I was over there on an intense training course with L’Oréal. It was day three, I’d been working 16+ hour days on minimal sleeps. My eyes were heavy and my brain was crying out for a nap – I needed a hit.

In such a chic setting, surrounded by some of the most interesting and intelligent people I’ve ever met, dressed de la tête aux pieds in my classiest of rags, I couldn’t really stand there necking a giant can of Red Bull….

I’d been seducing the Nespresso machine with my best copulatory gaze ever since the start of the morning break.. This was my first time and I was nervous. I wandered over coyly to make acquaintance passing an almost royal presentation of delicate French pastries and fruit. With every stomp of my heel against the parquet flooring I could feel my heart start to beat a little faster..

Oh god, technology. It looked so much more complicated up close and personal… I gently stroked the top of the small metal lever by means of introduction. It was cold and felt alien to me. I picked up one of the tiny foil pots and plonked it neatly into my white porcelain cup, placed the cup into the machine and pressed the button, waiting patiently for something to happen….

Awkward as hell to start but eventually very rewarding and addictive – I guess my first time was like any other. (FYI, the foil pot goes inside the machine, not your cup). And so what started as a Parisian fling, turned out to be a five-year love affair that shows no signs of ending. Not a day passes by when Caffeine doesn’t touch my lips…

But to give my blood pressure a break and more importantly to raise money for a local children’s hospice, I’m giving up my Friday Costa treat. If you want to be a hero, here’s how to get involved: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/muglife

And you can learn a little bit more about the charity here: http://www.clairehouse.org.uk/

Image result for claire house

 

 

 

 

 

BagelaholicsAnonymous

My names LS and I’m a Bagelaholic.

bagelMy ninth visit in half as many weeks and I find myself sitting outside The Bagelry on a Saturday morning, waiting for the clock to tick half past nine, for the cute little OPEN sign to be hung on the charcoal door and for the blinds to roll up.

It feels borderline creepy. I look like an out of control addict. I am one. And actually, I don’t care one little tiny bit ~ these bagels are to die for.

bagelI’ve had the Bagelry Breakfast Bagel every single visit and I never get bored. It’s a deliciously vegetarian concoction of Beef Tomato, Portobello Mushroom, free range Poached Egg (always poached to perfection), sprinkled with organic Cheddar Cheese and Sauerkraut and hugged by a freshly baked Poppyseed Bagel.

Caffeine cravings are completely satisfied with a choice of Kenyan, Guatemalan and Ethiopian coffee blends, all with deliciously unique flavours served in a very cute little coffee pot. I tend to finish off with a splash of fizz to flush the poppyseeds out from inbetween my teeth in the form of a sparkling Rhubarb and Apple drink.

With the late morning light shining on through the steamed up windows and a soundtrack flowing from hip-shaking Reggae to head-bopping Funk, this is the perfect start to any day.

The Bagelry Liverpool

Juicy

Image result for nutribullet juice

Dieting is daft and the majority of us get it all wrong. I remember thinking I was on the Atkins diet when I was 19 just because I just kept eating sliced ham and cocktail sausages. Funnily enough I didn’t lose any weight off that one…

Food is one of the greatest luxuries in life, so trying to restrict or starve yourself is basically giving up one of your greatest Human Rights.

A 5 Day Juice Cleanse, however, sounds much more appealing. It’s for a short, fixed period of time, it doesn’t deprive your body of nutrients and is just as much about health, cleansing, nourishment as it is losing weight.

So Day One gets off to an optimistic start. I sit down at my desk bright and early with giant Juice in hand. It doesn’t take long for my Boss to notice I’ve switched my LARGEskinnyLATTEwithsugarfreeCARAMELSYRUP for a bucket of green swamp water. Funny looks from all angles.
Questions on the Juice got me even more psyched. I started banging on about the health benefits, the zillions of recipe options and how easy I thought the whole thing would be…

The 12 o’clock belly growls signal it’s almost lunch time and I realise I’ve stupidly forgotten I had a work lunch at Oh Me Oh My over the road. An hour of Tastebud Torture ensues as I sit there watching The Girls tuck into my favourite Gruyere Omelette or the Sausage an Thyme Baguette. Food envy hits an all time high and my stomach won’t shut up. I quench the hunger pangs by downing two pints of lime cordial. So now not only am I salivating like a donkey, I’m galloping back to the office like a cross-legged camel.

G-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s

Back to my desk and life feels bearable again as I sip on juice number two. My breathing returns to normal, my stomach’s growls turn to a weird gurgling sound, kind of like when a baby starts laughing for the first time – it must be happy. I focus my thoughts on cleaaannnssing the system. Juice number two gets me through the rest of the day without even thinking about my lack of “real food”. As I start to deflate from the sheer amount of fluids I’ve consumed, I’m feeling quite happily and healthily empty.

It was a long day at the office, I came home late and instead of the usual whiff of scented candles and incense, I’m greeted by the grill.

DAY ONE, 10 HOURS IN: Caved in and had Turkey Dinosaurs, Chips and Beans.

Mechanically recovered chicken disguised in breadcrumbs, who can say no to that? Well not me apparently. I’ll try harder next time.

 

boeuf bourguiNON

Image result for burnt cookingApologies to all my French friends, I have taken one of your most well-celebrated dishes and single-handedly destroyed it.

After settling into my new apartment in the Georgian Quarter, I couldn’t wait to invite friends over and play hostess. So I invited one of my Tier Ones (friends are categorised into hierarchical tiers of importance) and her boyfriend over for dinner.

Beef Bourguignon is a traditional French recipe which started as a popular peasant recipe in Burgundy. Basically, it’s a meat plus veg casserole, but to add a little French je ne sais quoi it’s doused in a nice bottle or two of vin rouge and slow cooked for hours. It’s one of my favourites and seemed simple enough considering I was planning on operating kitchen equipment (the new slow cooker) unsupervised.

So, with several hours until the guests arrive I get my chef’s hat on. This is not a figure of speech. Forget furniture, bed linen and other really necessary things for a new home, I went straight on to Amazon and bought myself a giant chef’s hat. Quite an ironic purchase for a novice in the kitchen who has been known to set their dressing gown on fire whilst making beans on toast.

Hat on head I wake up Jamie Oliver for some advice. I seasoned and seared the beef and it quickly started to fill the kitchen with heavenly smells of cooked cow. Shallots, bacon, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, thyme all lashed into the pan with a dash of tomato puree and some plain flour. All seemed to be going très bien, and if I’m honest I did start nodding my head quite cockily and Ooh La La-ing to myself. Cow back in pan, I doused the lot in two lovely bottles of Pinot Noir and saved a small glass to toast myself on my culinary successes.

The very last ingredient on the list was “zest of one orange”. Now to the experienced chef, or perhaps just somebody with more than half a brain cell, this means grate a tiny bit of orange zest into the mix. What it doesn’t mean, is peel an entire Satsuma and plonk the peel into the pot. But I wasn’t told this vital piece of information until later, so off I go stirring it all in, thoroughly, pausing only for chef selfies and sips of PN.

Who has hidden the slow cooker?

I searched high and low but it was nowhere to be found. Jamie, what the hell do I do? “Fear not”, he says (in my head) “it can be cooked in the oven”. Excellent. So, I place it all into a large casserole dish and turn the oven on to the only setting I know – FULL HEAT. I de-chef and off I go on my merry way, tidying up and making myself presentable before the guests arrive.

Tier One plus one are seated with wine in hand and off I prance off to the kitchen to fetch their feast. I opened the oven door to reveal what can only be described as a Beouf Bourguinon graveyard. The entire dish was jet black. It kind of resembled rocks at the sea shore just after an oil spillage.

Boeuf Bourguinon? Just NON. After three hours burning away in 200 degrees heat covered in potent satsuma peel, this was now what I could only possibly referred to as Cremated Boeuf à L’Orange.

Bon Appetit!

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/member-recipes/recipe-detail/3187/#wTJKckUMwpL1ZbqZ.97

The Poach Coach

Sunday mornings will never be the same again.

Image result for perfect poached egg

I’d never been a fan of eggs. In fact, when I was little I used to tell my friends’ parents I was allergic to them just to avoid one ending up on my dinner plate. Little did I know back then that this lie was completely flawed since I’d happily shove biscuits, bread, pasta and all sorts of other foods containing chicken embryo down my mouth.

Since then, I’ve become a little more adventurous in my eating habits and over time I’ve dabbled in the odd scrambled egg, omelette and even attempted my own frittata (which definitely sounds a lot more posh than it is). And 7I don’t know whether I’m embarrassed to say this or not, but it wasn’t until I hit 30 that I tried my first poached egg. The concept of a chicken foetus in more or less its natural state seemed a little bit too cannibalistic for me.

Does anybody know if Poached Eggs Anonymous exists?

I think I need to join. Since my first Poached Egg I’ve never looked back. I think I’m addicted, just like that time in 2001 I got addicted to Cocopops. For pretty much everyday for the past five months, and this is no Egg-xageration (soz), I’ve had a Poached Egg on toast, plopped neatly onto a nice piece of multi-grain toast and served with a hot milky coffee.

I first tried my hand at Poaching using a trick I’d learned on Saturday Kitchen. You crack the egg into a sheet of cling film and seal it into a ball shape then plop it into boiling water. Two minutes later you’re supposed to retrieve from the water a perfectly formed, firm but gooey-centred Poached Egg.
WRONG.
Well at least I got it wrong… What I retrieved from the water looked more like a pair of dangling sheep’s bollocks than a Poached Egg.

Now I’m not Nigella Lawson (although I do think anybody can pull slutty faces and suck their fingers whilst following a basic recipe), but I do think after several weeks of practice, I’ve now mastered the art of Poaching to Perfection.

What You Need:

• A small pan
• 500ml of water
• An egg
• A chef’s hat
• A slice of multi-grain toast
• A few sprinkles of pepper
• A Nigella pout

What You Do:

1. Boil water, wait for sexy ferocious bubbles ooooohhhh
2. Crack egg on side of pan. Drop into water gently. Splosh ahhhhhhhhh
3. Lower heat to a pool of mini bubbles and watch the clock tick for two whole minutes yeahhhhhhh
4. Take one big spoon thing with holes in and go fishing for you egg, gently. Ohhhhhh
5. Neatly place Poached Egg onto warm, freshly buttered multigrain toast and scran the hell out of it whilst making as many sex noises as you feel necessary.