Monday, 9 February 2015


I can still sometimes feel the grass underneath my feet.

 I can't quite remember if I was wearing my school uniform, or whether it was the weekend, but other little details are etched in my memory as clear as if it was yesterday.  I remember the sky.  It was blue, not the bright blue associated with high-summer, but an off-grey-blue, something that promises a change in the weather, and it was streaked with growing clouds.  

I remember the rust on the swing that hung in my parents back garden, and I remember how the breeze tugged at it that afternoon and made the hinges squeak.

But most of all, I remember the stifling sense of frustration - what I don't remember is why.  In the way of childhood, I'd fled from the house and the responsibilities that had been placed on me (usually to tidy my room or such like), and had fled into the freedom of the garden.  I remember standing there and screaming as the tears flowed down my cheeks that I wanted it all to end, and wishing my hardest that the ground would swallow me up.

I don't remember what happened after.

I hadn't been yelled at or abused in anyway, but I'd felt trapped by life, and I had grasped the chance at freedom with both hands.  I'm pretty sure that I then picked myself up, shook myself off, and trudged back to what ever the perfectly reasonable task I had been asked to complete was.

It does make me wonder though, whether sometimes as adults, we aren't impulsive enough?  Yes, we all have responsibilities, yes, they take up our time and often keep us away from seeing the people we love, but they also give us the contrast to see those times when we're free of those responsibilities.  As a child I bucked against the chains that my parents tied to put on me, and in that moment created a memory so vivid that I can remember it decades on.  Eventually I calmed and accepted the instruction, and have continued to obey as I've got older... but, I have to wonder, as adults would we benefit from a little more 'childish' emotional investment?

Why does growing up have to be about completely conforming?  I'm not suggesting I want anarchy, but the world is such a rich and vibrant place, that sometimes you need to take a step out of the pattern you've created in order to really take-stock of your situation and to see the bigger picture.

As a youngster screaming for the earth to end it all, yes I might have been a bit over dramatic, but I also remembered looking up to the idea of adulthood and the freedom that came with it.  It's only now, as an adult, that I realise that it is that impulsive child who is really free... and that as we grow, we increasingly accept our roles.  

I studied a lot about innocence and experience in A-Level English, but I'm not really thinking about it at that level...  there are just some moments in life that shape you, and that those moments can happen at any time.  You might wish to be more innocent, or experienced depending on your stage of life, but the key thing is to always grasp your life with both hands.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Recipe: Slimming World Scotch Eggs

I'll be honest - the title of this blog says it all really.  Scotch Eggs.  That you can eat whilst dieting.  It's like heaven.

My absolute Achilles heel in the whole dieting shenanigans is a buffet.  Sit me in front of some mini sausages, a quiche and a pile of salted peanuts and the idea of counting syns/points/calories just flies out of the window.

Just last week I attended a baby shower, and came face-to-face with temptation, with all these golden treats calling to me.  Being really early in my return to Slimming World, I exercised all the self control I could muster and physically sat as far away from the bite-sized savory snacks and firmly kept tucking into carrot sticks.

Now I'm sure you'll agree that I deserved a treat for all that abstanence, so this weekend I decided to roll-up my sleeves and cook up something Slimming World friendly, that wouldn't look out of place on a buffet table - the result: Slimming World Scotch Eggs.

8 x eggs
8 Sainsburys Be Good To Yourself (Less the 3% fat) Cumberland Sausages - I spent a long time researching this.  These are currently (please check if you read this is a few months as syn-values change all the time) the lowest-syn sausages around  (1 syn per sausage).
2 pieces of wholemeal Nimble torn into crumbs

  1. Hard boil the eggs, plunge into cold water and once cold, peel away the shell.
  2. Take a sausage and squeeze the sausage meat out of the sausage 'skin' - it's a bit like squeezing out meaty toothpaste.
  3. Carefully flatten the sausage meat in the palm of your hand, and wrap around you de-shelled boiled sausage.  This can be tricky.  I found it easiest to wrap the sausage meat around the middle of the egg, and then massage the meat up and down so it covers the whole egg.  Another tip is to make sure your hands are cool and slightly wet, as it stops the sausage from sticking to your fingers.
  4. Carefully roll your sausage-encased egg in the breadcrumbs - be gentle, otherwise the sausage meat could slip off
  5. Place on a baking tray sprayed with FryLight (or similar) and cook in a 200 degree C oven for 10 - 20 minutes, or until the sausage meat has cooked, and the breadcrumbs are golden.
These sausage rolls will be the star of any picnic, or in my case the envy of colleagues when you unearth your packed lunch.  They really won't believe you're on a diet!

Each scotch egg is 2 syns (1 for the sausage, and 1 for the breadcrumbs) - and I don't think you'll find a tastier two syns!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Recipe: Quick and Easy Mushroom Risotto

When I was at university, my housemates and I agreed to share the burden of shopping/cooking by collectively eating together each evening.  It was great - generally Hubby (although we weren't married then) and I cooked, and the other two took the challenge of washing up.  It was a good arrangement.  Everyone was happy.

Then there were the occasions, when we would swap roles.

One of my housemates was quite willing to cook... fbut wasn't the most refined of chefs.  Her dish of choice was risotto. But she didn't like the way that risotto rice 'got all wet', and as we were students and we worked our pennies hard, the main feature of a risotto-a-la-housemate was frozen, cheap as they come, sausage.  Lets just say, the memory of gritty uncooked rice and bland meat has meant that the idea of risotto just hasn't ever tempted me...

Except this week.

You see, the thing is, I bought a few too many mushrooms... (even I agree that 4 packs between 2 people is a bit excessive).  So I decided to see what I could whip up that was Slimming World friendly.  The result?  Something so delicious and simple that its made me completely re-think my dislike of risotto.


Mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms (seriously, many many mushrooms - I used 300gm of closed cup mushrooms and 200gm chestnut mushrooms)
250gm risotto rice
600ml chicken bovril
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic
2 extra light laughing cow triangles
1 tablespoon of fat free fromagefrais

  1. Chop the onion, mushrooms and the garlic and cook in a small amount of the chicken bovril until soft.
  2. Add rice and fry for 1 minute
  3. Add more stock so that is just covers the rice and stir occasionally
  4. Once most of stock has been absorbed, gradually add more.  Reduced and add more stock until all the stock has been included and the liquid has reduced
  5. Whilst hot stir in the two cheese triangles and fromage frais, once melted, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
(Try not to scoff the lot... because seriously, it's awesome).