Thursday, July 2, 2015

In My Kitchen - July 2015

I am linking this in to Celia's monthly In My Kitchen event at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

In my kitchen last month, I mentioned signs of summer. In my kitchen this month, summer is here with a vengeance and it is currently too hot to cook. London registered the hottest July day ever yesterday (36.7'C / 98'F) and with no air conditioning at home or at work it has been a sweltering few days. I thought I was leaving such heat behind in Western Australia!

So, my kitchen is not producing many hot dishes. I am enjoying lots of soda water with lemon and fresh mint, plucked from my windowsill, and lots of salads and ice cream.

Prolific mint

I am also enjoying more dairy-free products from Tesco. Layered yoghurt pots are the latest addition to their 'free from' dessert range.

These have a sweet fruit layer at the bottom and a surprisingly thick yoghurt layer above. I am really enjoying them as a dessert-worthy alternative to plain yoghurtsl

I am also enjoying - wait for it! - my beloved Sakata roast tomato and balsamic rice crackers. These were my favourite of Australia's small flavoured rice crackers, and my parents kindly brought over two packets.

The UK does do large chocolate covered rice cakes well, and the Nature's Store dark chocolate orange version is a favourite. I never see this variety in supermarkets, but it is usually available to buy online when we do our 4-6 weekly online supermarket order.

In my kitchen, I have moved on from summer berries to peaches, nectarines and melon. I should note that I still like berries just as much, but my local market stalls are now selling fewer berries and more stone fruit. The peaches (not pictured, as I ate them all!) have been particularly delicious.

In my kitchen, there have been roses from our downstairs front garden. Technically that land is shared, but our downstairs neighbour tends to it, so I always feel slightly guilty if I pick a flower. I usually wait until he's out before appropriating one! As the picture below shows, there are currently plenty available.

Summer flowers (and my bike)

What is happening in your kitchen this month?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tiered orange sponge cake with chocolate ganache icing {vegan and diabetes friendly}

When I offered to make my grandfather's birthday cake, I did so a little bit blithely. I hadn't fully thought through the logistics of making a cake for over 25 people, transporting it on public transport, and ensuring it was tasty enough for all but low enough in sugar to be suitable for my grandfather (he has well managed, non-insulin dependent type II diabetes). For my own benefit, I also wanted it to be vegan. Easy, right!?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

90th birthday celebrations in Rye, Sussex

My parents aren't just in the UK to visit us (although I'd like to think we rate highly as a bonus English attraction!). Tomorrow is my grandfather's 90th birthday and my parents and other assorted family members have gathered to celebrate the event. We joined them for the weekend, in the small town of Rye where my grandparents live.

Rye town

We've had numerous family gatherings in Rye, and it's also the town where my mother was married and my sister christened. My maternal grandparents are very nomadic (I touched on some family history in this post) but since retiring they have been based fairly steadily in Rye. It's certainly a scenic place to be.

My mother is one of five children and whilst she is based in Australia, she has a sister in Canada and a brother in Hawaii. Her other siblings remain in the UK and all but the Hawaiian family made it for the weekend's celebrations.

Birthday cake

Friday, June 26, 2015

Lemon and paprika lentil salad


My parents are visiting from Australia at the moment, having flown into London on Wednesday evening. My Mum was in England not long after we moved (last August/September) but it's the first time I've seen my Dad in a year. It was lovely spending yesterday with them.

Given our one-bed flat situation, their two nights in London were based in a hotel in Greenwich, not too far from where we live. I took yesterday and today off work (joy!) and had a great time playing tourist in Greenwich yesterday. We went to the National Maritime Museum, Queen's House, and painted hall and chapel in the Old Royal Naval College site. We also walked through the Greenwich foot tunnel to look back at Greenwich from the north bank of the Thames.

Greenwich from across the Thames

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cycling in London

Before we moved to London, we thought cycling would be a useful way to offset the adjustment to life without a car. Then we watched a few too many episodes of 24 Hours in A&E with severely injured cyclists, and, subsequently, moved over and realised that many 'cycle lanes' in London leave a bit to be desired. If you're lucky, you share a lane with buses. Quite often, cycle routes are just regular roads with no cycle path at all, but designated as part of a cycle network.

My bike came across in our shipment, so for our first few months in London I couldn't have cycled even if I'd wanted to. We did a lot of walking. Supermarket trips were limited to what we could carry in backpacks and with our hands, and if we wanted to visit somewhere more than 4 miles away, we had to figure out a public transport route to get there. Home delivery was incredibly useful for heavy objects.

A typical bike lane

Sunday, June 21, 2015

5 minute meals: Grilled hummus on toast and chilli-tahini kale and tofu salad

Sometimes, even a 15 minute meal seems too much. When it's 2pm on a Saturday and you're keen for food in a hurry, or 8pm on a weeknight and you want a quick but satisfying meal, 5 to 10 minutes is the time frame I want to work to. These are two recent meals that came together in hardly any time but still tasted delicious.

From hummus in lasagna, it was an easy jump to grilled hummus on toast. Have any of you tried it? It is even better than grilled cheese, and incredibly comforting despite being a simple meal. Just lightly toast two pieces of bread, spread generously with hummus and some halved cherry tomatoes, and grill for up to 5 minutes or as long as it takes to melt the hummus and turn the edges crispy.