Saturday, January 13, 2018

From 2017 to 2018: Reflections and aspirations

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I am not a fan of stereotypical New Year's resolutions, but I do like to use January as an opportunity to reflect on the year gone and the year head. Last year I outlined six goals, which I return to below. This year I have identified four. Before getting to those, here are some general comments on 2017 and a summary of key events and highlights (also some lowlights).

Somerset (March)

2017 was our first full year as parents and I returned to work from maternity leave. We started and ended the year with visits from my parents, and also welcomed my mother-in-law in spring and my sister in summer. We traveled to Somerset and Suffolk. Goodreads tells me I read 40 books, which is less than I'd have predicted (I read 67 in 2016) but is probably an accurate tally. I am fortunate to have reading time on my commute to work, but these days I have little time to read at home. We didn't visit the cinema but watched 19 films at home (10 fewer than in 2016).

Sunday, January 7, 2018

In my kitchen - January 2018

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I am linking this into the monthly In My Kitchen round-up, hosted by Sherry of Sherry's Pickings

It is surprisingly easy to write 2018. We are a week into the new year and I am enjoying the freshness that January brings, even as the festive atmosphere of Christmas fades and leaves us with dark mornings and nights that are unadorned by Christmas lights.

In my kitchen this month are old favourites and new products. Berries are high on the 'old favourites' list. With winter fruit options revolving around apples and citrus, they are a welcome alternative.


Also welcome is soup. I have recently discovered the refrigerated range of soups in supermarkets, many of which are vegan. Clearly they are not as good as homemade, but they are much nicer than tinned and very easy for a quick winter lunch. Mini Bite is now able to manage chunky soups on a spoon so they are a useful new lunch option for her too. Sainsbury's lentil dhal soup, pictured below, was a recent favourite and we also love the Glorious Indian cauliflower, chickpea and turmeric option.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Zizzi's vegan eats - Salad and cake

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We continue to enjoy my parent's company, although after today they are off visiting other family before returning to us for their final few nights in mid-January. Mostly we have relished the time with them, but an extra bonus last week was the opportunity to head out for dinner with Mr Bite and not Mini Bite. We have never left Mini Bite with a babysitter and this was our first night out as a couple in over 17 months. Quite the novelty!


Being the laid back pair we are, we didn't head anywhere fancy. Rather, we went to the local Zizzi so I could expand my experience of their vegan menu and Mr Bite could enjoy his usual pizza favourite.

Zizzi paved the way for vegan pizza a few years back, offering any of their pizzas with a 'vegan mozzarella alternative' instead of regular cheese. Said 'alternative' is made with coconut oil and I liked it well enough when I tried it, which is significant given I don't usually like cheese or non-dairy cheese. However, for me, I still prefer vegetarian pizza without cheese at all.

More recently, Zizzi has gone a step further and ensured that vegan customers can choose from a range of options for starters, mains and dessert. For some time I've wanted to try their sticky chocolate and praline torte, and last week was my opportunity.

Green goddess salad

To ensure I had room for dessert, I bypassed vegan pizza or pasta for the green goddess salad with broccoli. Despite sounding super-healthy, this is a delicious salad full of flavour and contrasting texture. It includes tenderstem broccoli, cannellini beans, tomatoes, mixed leaves, crunchy 'winter slaw' and a pesto with purple basil, pea shoots and toasted seeds. It's a salad, but a hearty one.

Fortunately, it isn't so hearty that dessert can't fit in too. In addition to the vegan torte, there is a vegan dessert calzone on offer and one day I will try this too (it features banana, berry coulis and crushed honeycomb). However, I had my heart set on torte this time around. It consisted of a super creamy, mousse-like chocolate cake on top of a date, hazelnut and walnut base and it came with coconut and chocolate ripple gelato. Both components were utterly delicious and enjoyed by me as well as Mr Bite.


All in all, it was a wonderful meal out and has motivated us to try Zizzi again before too long - even if the next visit may be a lunchtime with a toddler in tow!

On an unrelated but timely note - wishing all of my readers a very happy start to 2018 and a wonderful year to come.

Have you enjoyed any recent meals out?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas week

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with lots of laughter, love and good food. Life has been busy in the Bite-Sized Thoughts household for all the right reasons - my parents joined us from Australia on Christmas Eve and we have been soaking up their company after not seeing them for a year. Mini Bite was 5 months at their last visit and is almost 17 months now, so they are catching up on all her changes too.

We have enjoyed Christmas and ventured to some new local and semi-local sights - picture highlights below.

A present pile (and toy storage) all for Mini Bite


More presents (the walker wasn't one of them but was within the photo anyway!)


Our Christmas table

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Fruit medley puff pastry tart

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I made this tart back in May, but somehow neglected to post it until now. This is no reflection on the quality of the tart, which I remember loving both in taste and for ease of preparation.


My version was so easy because I used store bought puff pastry (Jus Roll is helpfully vegan) and store bought apple sauce. I don't routinely have either in the house, but if you do keep them to hand you could have this made and cooked within 30 minutes of thinking about it.

Friday, December 15, 2017

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas...

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London Christmas scenes...enjoy!

Oxford Street

Selfridge's

Selfridges

Tottenham Court Road

Tower Bridge

What Christmas sights are you enjoying?