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.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ireland travels - the food

I have touched on a few meals and restaurants in my Ireland recaps, but this post is about normal, day-to-day, supermarket food. If you're like me, that is just as exciting as meals out (although I do appreciate the rest of the world may have a higher threshold for excitement).

In my naivety, I thought supermarkets in Ireland would be the same as in England. To be honest, I have a slightly skewed, inappropriate concept of the country. Until we visited, I saw the southern Republic of Ireland as still being affiliated with the UK. If I'm really honest, I thought I wouldn't even need my passport to visit (!). Suffice to say, the Republic of Ireland is not part of the UK, I did need my passport, and they have their own supermarkets.

Having said that, they do have Tesco, which we have, and Marks and Spencer food, which is quintessentially British. Even they stock slightly different foods though, and the mainstay of Irish supermarkets is SuperValu. We really liked SuperValu.

Surprisingly vegan