this is lemonade

A mindful, grateful, creative life: Life constantly hurls lemons at us. I’m on a mission to make lemonade as best I can, by God’s grace.


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Enjoying a tasty toastie again!

Aaaah… it’s been months since I’ve wanted to look at food, let alone blog about it – I’m sorry if you actually noticed it… But, things are getting better now. Thankfully, I haven’t gone off avocado or cheese, because these two ingredients look so good together on toast – phew! :)

Avocado salsa toastie

I had to hand a pot of a Mexican-style salsa dip that someone made me take home from a pot luck this weekend. I find it a little acidic so I tried mixing it with some avocado and eating it just like that as a side garnish last night. This evening, after grating some cheese in preparation for a pasta supper later, I felt a bit peckish and decided to put together a quick grilled treat.

I buttered a piece of seeded, wholegrain bread straight from the freezer, mixed about a tablespoon of salsa in with two to three of avocado and spread it onto the slice. I then distributed a tablespoon of freshly grated extra mature cheddar as evenly across the top as I could. Four minutes under a medium preheated grill and I had a deliciously crisp, creamy, cheesy and slightly tangy toastie to go with a quickly thrown together plain omelette (yes, whilst the toast was in the oven, I felt even hungrier).

I can’t say this toastie is much of a looker, but it sure was moorish.. and my belly is thanking me for it now. Yum. Hope you have something cosy planned for the chillier evenings now (unless you live in parts of the world where it’s actually summer right now). Let me know if you’re making toasties!


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An Ode to Fish and Chips – kind of

I’ve been craving fish and chips for weeks now. I’m serious. That’s not an exaggeration in the slightest.

Daffodills and Ranunculus - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

At first, I virtuously resisted it. I thought about the health benefits of not eating out so much. I’ve been paying increasingly more attention to what goes in my food recently. It’s not really got anything to do with the horse meat scandal, because I have always been an advocate of cooking at home. But it has been helpful that the rest of the UK seems to have been talking about it too. I had also eaten out or bought takeaway more often than I was accustomed to around the time when the cravings started. Perhaps all this is addictive like they say and it was simply a junk food rollercoaster (although, I hasten to say that fish and chips is NOT junk food).

Daffodills and Ranunculus - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

Slowly though, it became about not eating it because I never eat fish and chips alone. I must have someone to enjoy it together with. That is a rule that cannot be broken. But every time I thought about it, I either had enough in the fridge for a good wholesome dinner that could not wait or it would go to waste, or I suggested fish and chips to someone who had had it for lunch. I mean, what are the odds?

In the last couple of days though, it has become a matter of well-being for me, that I get to eat some fish and chips soon. I’m not half thinking about it all the time like some people might be thinking about other things… Argh! I think it’s this winter business. It’s so cold. And the sky is always a dull white – not even grey. This really infuriating, hazy, bright, intense, overcast… white. It tires me out and makes me want to eat fish and chips. And when I’m shivering in the cold, I think of fish and chips.

Daffodills and Ranunculus - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

But I can’t have it tonight. Because I have some salmon that needs to be consumed or else it will be binned. So, just for tonight, I’m going to have some cheesy potato rösti with said salmon. If a girl can’t have fish and chips, at least let her have melted cheese over grated potatoes. And if a girl can’t have sunshine, she’s thankful that fancy buttercups are growing in Egypt because they go really nicely with the daffs that are currently in season in the UK. Even though it isn’t really spring. Yes, there was snow outside when I took these photos on Sunday. The flowers have been helping me smile in spite of everything, I hope they cheer you up too!

Thank you for reading :P

  • a nicely written post that Zemanta suggested. I don’t normally do this, but I enjoyed the read : Fish and Chips (crazymzungu.wordpress.com)


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Gluten Free Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes

I hereby present to you something interesting, simple and quite yummy. You can make it with two ingredients, but I made it with four and then went right ahead and made it into a meal. I was totally inspired by Joy of Oh Joy! who has a little cutie called Ruby, she has good taste has Ruby. I made a more grown-up and (very slightly, perhaps) less healthy option.

Here’s my brunch for one. You could always make it a light breakfast and share between two (if you must). I got four small pancakes out of the following quantities.

Gluten Free Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes | this is lemonade

Gluten Free Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes, served with bacon and rocket

Ingredients | One each of the following:

  • Ripe banana
  • Generous teaspoon peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, you decide)
  • Tablespoon Greek yoghurt
  • Medium egg
  • Rasher of bacon (optional)
  • Handful of rocket (optional)

1. Mash the banana into as fine a pulp as you can. If it is ripe enough, a fork is sufficient for this. Mix in the peanut butter and then the yoghurt making sure the mixture is as smooth as you can get it. At this point, the mixture will be quite thick.

2. Mix in the egg. A small whisk may make it easier at this point, but I found it easy enough to fold in the egg carefully using the fork. Make sure you incorporate all the ingredients well.

Gluten Free Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes | this is lemonade

Gluten Free Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes | this is lemonade

3. If you are just planning on making the pancakes, then go right ahead and skip this step. Otherwise, fry the bacon in a preheated frying pan. I like to use a non-stick pan so that I don’t have to add extra oil. When the bacon is crisped and brown, remove and leave to rest on some kitchen paper to soak off any excess fat.

4. Turn the heat down and spoon the pancake mixture into the bacon fat (or preheated oil) before turning the heat back up. Fry the mixture until you see little bubbles appearing all over the mixture and a faint browning at the edges. This will cook more slowly than standard pancakes and if you try to turn them too quickly, they will collapse so be warned!

Gluten Free Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes | this is lemonade

5. Serve immediately. I sandwiched the bacon and some rocket between the pancakes. The flavours of the salty bacon and nutty rocket worked really well with the peanut buttery pancakes to make a very satisfying meal!

Gluten Free Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes | this is lemonade

I hope you give this a go. It’s simply a glorified fried egg so it’s really fun to make if you have the time, especially if you like bananas – the riper the better because the sweetness comes through perfectly :) Do you have any favourite weekend treats in the kitchen? That idyllic weekend morning, when we all supposedly spend relaxing hours in the kitchen, making a fabulous breakfast or brunch…does that happen in your home? Well this was a real treat to make and to eat, and did not take much time either – my favourite bit :)

Gluten Free Banana and Peanut Butter Pancakes | this is lemonade


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Tasty Toasties: Posh beans on toast

If you are French, or have a penchant for good French patisserie, you might want to look away now. If my telling you that my favourite place to buy croissant is Costco makes you feel all faint, this post is not for you. No, I have not found a local bakery I love yet (alright, Greggs excepted – sorry, I love sausage rolls) so if I find myself hanging out with my mum at Costco, I always come home with a lovely tray of their 12 huge croissants laid out on corrugated cardboard and wrapped in stretchy cellophane. I bag them up in 3′s or 4′s depending on my mood and put some in the freezer (if this shocks you, don’t blame me, I did warn you :P).

I’ll ramble on a little more, just in case one of you fainted before you managed to click away and have just come to. You won’t want to see the photo below. Although, if you are reading this on a large screen, I’m sorry, I hope you’ll forgive me this once.

I decided to start a little series and see how long it will run for. I’m calling it Tasty Toasties and it will nestle right in on my Tasty Tuesdays. I keep making grilled things on bread with whatever is in the fridge (usually there’s some cheese involved). I then take photos of them because I think I’m a bit obsessed. So I thought I’d share my obsession and start it with something fun.

Posh Beans on Toast - this is lemonade

I’d had this tin of beans sitting in the cupboard since I don’t know how long. All I know is that the best before date was end of last month. So I figured I’d better consume it. Not all in one go mind, because we all know that little ditty… beans, beans, they’re good for your heart……… I didn’t fancy sliced bread, but there were a couple of croissants from a recent defrost. And the following often happens when I am let loose in the kitchen.

Whilst the beans were cooking, I stared at them for a minute. I sliced open the croissant and stuck it under a gentle grill. Then I went to the fridge. I spotted some chorizo slices and cheese, but decided against the cheese because I could feel my stomach bursting already at the thought. Looking at the beans bubbling away, and then the fiery red chorizo, I was thinking the food would be all in one colour tone. I remembered I had some mushrooms, went to rummage, but instead found some rocket – aaah perfect. Strong flavour to match the chorizo. So that’s how this was born. The chorizo slices went into the pan with the beans and then I threw in the rocket and stirred it in at the end. ‘Twas pretty tasty if you ask me. And so easy. My favourite way to brunch ;)

Posh Beans on Toast


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Yeast Raised Pancakes

Yeast Raised Pancakes - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

I have wanted to share this recipe from sweetfineday with you for a LONG time. But I lost the photos that I took, somewhere on my hard drive. I found them just in time for Shrove Tuesday, how apt to share some lovely fluffy pancakes today. They are truly truly tasty, and it is totally worth following the recipe and letting the yeast work overnight. When you lift the cling from the mixing bowl in the morning, the yeasty aroma that hits you tells you the pancake will be delicious. Trust me. Delicious.

Yeast Raised Pancakes - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

The method is very easy. You simply whisk together the first four ingredients until the yeast has dissolved. Then incorporate the rest of the ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Leave in a fridge overnight for the yeast to work.

In the morning, add a smidgen of oil to a preheated frying pan. Spoon on the mix (I made mine American-style sized, and got about 15 out of these quantities). Flip once pancake has solidified enough to turn without splitting and is golden brown underneath. The time will vary depending on the type of frying pan you use.

I dare you not to eat these immediately.

Yeast Raised Pancakes - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

Because I love sweet with savoury, I ate mine with some prosciutto crudo, jarred cherries in syrup and cottage cheese. Yes, it was unplanned. I ate a couple of pancakes whilst cooking them (oops – but there were really splodgy ones, you wouldn’t have wanted to see them, honest!) then went and rummaged in the fridge for an excuse to eat many more. Looks like I turned breakfast into brunch. I have to say it again. These are truly delightful pancakes. Light, fluffy and with a delicious depth of flavour.

Yeast Raised Pancakes - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

So I’m not a very festive-y person. Having grown up with very limited resources, we did not do presents for birthdays, Christmas whatever as children. And we did not eat chocolate or junk food, well, very rarely anyway. Although a committed Christian, I have never really fasted – literally or symbolically (e.g. from the legendary chocolate – which I do eat now, sometimes often). In recent years though, I have been thinking about the tradition of Lent more and what it is all about. Do you do pancakes? ;) Are you giving anything up for Lent? If you are, what does it mean to you?

Yeast Raised Pancakes - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

Getting to know you!

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Snickers More Nuts Limited Edition

I don’t really eat chocolate bars. I find them too sweet. I’m a dark chocolate girl, so generally speaking, the chocolate bar section in the supermarket doesn’t draw me in. But this week, I found myself vulnerable whilst grocery shopping.

I was hungry.

And the power aisle snickered at me, grabbing me with a limited edition chocolate bar. “£1 only” for a pack of four More Nuts or More Caramel? D’uh. If I wanted more caramel, I’d buy a Mars Bar and I never do that of my own free will. So something in the pit of my stomach made me raise my hand to the shelf and put a pack of the above in my shopping trolley.

It’s the end of the week. Time to let go a little, raise a glass of the bubbly stuff. I wanted to thank you all for your support and encouragement. The week has been more than manageable punctuated with some really thoughtful comments at the ends of my posts that have really lifted me.  And seeing as we’re friends now (I hope I’m not being presumptuous), I was wondering… are you nuts like me or more nice and sweet? :)


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Food Culture and Crispy Goodness

Hasselback Potatoes

I’ve always enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen, but lacked confidence to share it with others. My style is not sophisticated, neither is it unique. I just love feeding people and having them gather around my table. The culture of eating together, was something I was brought up with. Whenever I have lived with at least one other person, I have rarely eaten alone of an evening. And when I lived alone, I was always gathering friends round to share one pot wonders with. My food tends to be low-key and as low-fuss as possible. I have always cooked creatively but frugally. People will compliment me on my cooking from time to time, but more often than not they simply emit polite murmurs of appreciation as they tuck in. My food does not become the specific subject of conversation at the table, although we are a greedy lot – future meals or interesting ingredients are often discussed whilst we eat! For me, a shared meal is about providing nourishment for the body but more importantly, it is about togetherness and conversation – food for the soul.

I have a confession. I rarely follow recipes. I get that from my mum. She is the ultimate in hosting random people who show up on the doorstep and accidentally stay on for dinner. Whatever is in the fridge, freezer or cupboard will be thrown together to create a hearty meal. So, I’ve also had some fun writing my own recipes in 2012, working out what quantities I used on a particular occasion, knowing that it will probably never happen in the same way again! (That is with the exception of baking, almost. I still can’t help throwing in some randoms just because I feel like it – a bit risky, seeing as baking can be a little like Chemistry lessons sometimes. Although I must admit, happy accidents do often occur.)

I often eat late now, I cook and then wait for my munching partner. And by the time we eat, the food has been kept warm to death. I am ravenous and food is food. A dinner is polished off in much less time than it took to prepare and cook it. However, as I blogged over the past year, I came to realise how much I enjoy cooking and eating my own food. I have my trusted favourites, my store cupboard staples, my preferences and routines, but discovering and exchanging lots of ideas with other bloggers has given me the impetus to explore further.

What a wonderful invention is the oven. And what a wonderful climate we have in the UK to use it. In recent years, I have not even broken sweat when using the oven in summer. One of my favourite things to do is to roast a chicken, together with potatoes and root veg. I marinade the chicken, or simply rub it in olive oil, salt and pepper. I then cube potatoes and root veg in similar sizes and toss those in the same. I’ll time it so that the veg gets about 45-60 minutes in the oven, so if the chicken needs longer, I will add the veg into the roasting tin later.

Even though I generally consider myself a healthy eater, I do have an addiction a soft spot for crisps. I’ll eat my potatoes made any way, but I love them fried or even double and triple fried (by a restaurant – I hate deep fat frying at home). So imagine my excitement when Pinterest kept throwing up these little beauties… a concertina of crispiness called  Hasselback Potatoes. I just had to experiment with them myself. They are baked, and the only difference I could tell between making these and my roasted easies was that you sliced them through (almost) whole first, before baking. Oh, and it’s best not to put them in with the chicken I imagine. The yummy chicken juices soaking into the potatoes will not be conducive to crispiness-making.

Well.. unusually, there are no photos with this post even though I took some. I just felt like having another go at drawing again. But I did stumble across a cute little article complete with videos, if you want to amuse yourself taking photos of food in a restaurant.

What are your cultural habits when it comes to food? Do you enjoy cooking and eating your own food? And, most quite importantly, do you like crisps/potato chips? :)

Sunny Side Toasties


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Sunny Fried Toasties

I’m back in a frosty but beautifully sunny London! This is my perfect, favourite kind of weather – clear, crisp and bright. You know that you can put your big coat on, wrap a scarf around right up to your nose and pull on some cosy gloves. Wispy clouds adorn the sky but there is not a whiff of rain! A good friend of mine calls it feeling alive weather, and that’s exactly what it is! Everyone walks around with rosy cheeks from the invigorating breeze.

I’ve been staying much closer to the equator for the past couple of weeks, where Kraft Singles is most people’s idea of normal, affordable cheese, and tea most certainly is not drunk with milk unless it is a sweet evaporated or condensed milk. The weather this time of year there is supposed to be cool and balmy, and mosquitoes are most definitely supposed to be scarce. However, the weather around the world has been crazy this year and I suffered at the mouths of some very lively specimens of these pesky creatures. I came away averaging one bite a day. Two weeks is not that long a time to be away from home, but I started to feel seriously homesick after my third itchy bite.

Towards the end of my stay, I was craving melted cheese, fish and chips, any cheese, give me cheese, please! – as though I had been away for years. Then I almost did not make it onto the plane in time because I got stomach flu a couple of days prior to my flight. Thankfully I was OK to fly and on the way back, they served vegetarian lentil moussaka with melted CHEESE on top. I was not confident that it would taste nice so I opted for chicken rock in rosemary jus ketchup soup, but my kindly Fellow Traveller did out of pity for me and gave me some.  (I wouldn’t recommend it – it was like a dense lentil brick with a tasteless mass of white goo on top, very unsatisfying!)

So… now I’m back, I’m in the mood for celebrating! Phew! How about this for a fun, tasty treat?

Sunny Side Toasties

I’m not sure where I first saw this idea, but I immediately liked it – can you resist a fun way to eat a delicious fried egg? I love eggs, they are like a miracle food and I tried another similar idea using avocados but decided I prefer my avocado raw.

My toastie method is so easy and tasty, go on… have a go!

  1. Cut a circle out of a piece of bread using a glass, and then butter the bread pieces on both sides. I reckon next time, I’ll butter first so that it’s not so fiddly.
  2. Toast one side of the piece of holey bread in a hot pan until it has browned and then flip it over.
  3. Crack an egg into a ramekin/small bowl to make it easier to pour it neatly into the circle.
  4. Add a drop of vegetable oil in the hole before adding the egg to the pan. Turn the heat down to low and cook uncovered until the egg whites become opaque. I find that this takes about 10 minutes. (If you want to take less time, cover the pan, however this yields a less glossy egg yolk!)
  5. (Optional step of which I am very proud!) Cut some Red Leicester cheese into short strips. About 5 minutes in, toast one side of the cut out bread until browned. Flip over and then lay the cheese strips on top and watch them melt!
  6. Grind some black pepper over the top of the egg and cheese and ENJOY! :)

Sunny Side Toasties

Do you like winter? What is your favourite kind of weather? I hope that you have a go at this fun snack. There’s nothing like a bit of brilliant amber to brighten up the longer evenings!

The Real Greek


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Restaurant Review: The Real Greek

I find when many people write reviews about places to eat out, they seek out interesting cuisines and wonderful décor and presentation. I love ogling the resulting photos showing amazing things that I would never think of doing with food. When I eat out however, it’s usually because I have been terrible at planning and I’m too tired to cook. It’s often also a bit later than the average supper time, so I’m not really looking for adventure, it’s more a question of having a night off from cooking in a comfortable setting.

So with that in mind, my top priority for places to eat are where I know I can relax, and trust the restaurant staff to be generally attentive and friendly. Maybe it’s just me, but does anyone else find the service in restaurants has not been all that great for a while? And I’m not talking about highbrow places where I could be accused of lowering the tone of the restaurant with my half asleep look. I hope you don’t think I’m asking for much – it’s just that someone who delivers the food or gives you the bill as though they were holding a grudge against you doesn’t usually do much to aid digestion. I wonder if perhaps the recent trend for restaurants to slap the 10-15% “service charge” automatically on the end of your bill doesn’t help. I’d like to think this isn’t the only reason. Perhaps diners have also become less polite in recent years.

However, the restaurant I am about to tell you about still does it the old fashioned way. In fact, you aren’t even allowed to enter a tip on the card machine. If you have no change, you can’t tip at all – much to my disappointment, the first time I visited.

The Real GreekThis restaurant is not particularly spectacular in terms of credentials. It is not tucked away in some hidden alley, serving amazing fresh produce grown from a drainpipe. No amazing stories to tell there. In fact, it is one in a chain of six in London and I have no idea how authentic the food is because I have never been to Greece and I do not know anyone who is really clued up about real Greek food. It is in fact one of the food outlets at the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, next to the now slumbering Olympic Park. Nothing at Westfield can be called a bargain, but this is one of the less expensive restaurants on that side of Stratford. I thought I would review it since it is a place I have been served well on three occasions. Incidentally, if you have a voucher for any chain store/restaurant, check before you try and use it at Westfield. You will notice that some offers are not valid there.

The Real Greek

On this occasion, we ordered the Tabouleh Salad, Loukaniko Country Sausage and Dolmades which came on a tiered sharing platter. We also had some saffron rice and Tiropitakia because I can never pass on cheese wrapped in delicate pastry. On other occasions I have tried the Greek Flatbread with Olive Oil & Dukkah, Htipiti, Gigandes Plaki, Lahanosalata and a set basket of wraps which I cannot find in the online menu. All of the offerings were very reasonable and in good sized portions. It is impossible to take good photos in the restaurant in most of the areas, because the evening lighting is not designed to aid food photography. My apologies to the restaurant as the one half-acceptable result may not look all that appetising to all, so here’s a link to the menu so that you can better imagine what I ate. I think you will agree however, that the lamp shades are rather nice and cheerful. As with all of the Westfield shops and restaurants, the design and layout is really nice. I especially like the pretty doors to the restaurant and I must also point out that they serve tap water in lovely cobalt blue enamel jugs.

The Real Greek

Bearing in mind the context of my requirements and limited experience of Greek cuisine, I have thrice been a happy customer. The staff have been cheerful and relaxed at all times (on this occasion, there was a rather rowdy lively birthday party going on) and I have been served in good time with tasty grub. This is one of the few restaurants where I can also leave after the meal without having to resort to performing a rain dance to attract somebody to take my money. And since my first experience, I have made sure that I have cash in my pocket before I sit down so as not to have to leave a few sad coppers languishing on the table after paying the bill.

I guess this is a post about one branch of a chain restaurant that seems to be doing things right on the service front. That does tend to go a long way to sending me home happy :)

Super Thursday

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Apparently today is called Super Thursday in the publishing world. The highest number of books are published on this day each year, in time to be purchased for stuffing into our Christmas stockings. I just loved the idea of a super day. It’s not been that super at all today. We’ve had grey skies and drizzle all day, bit of a damp, dreary, limp and wimpish Thursday if you ask me. However, well.. the BBC news says it’s super…so, how about we take a breather, make a cuppa and make the rest of it super eh?

I thought it would be fun to share the best piece of spam I’ve received in my comments to date. Actually, I wasn’t too sure it wasn’t genuine, except for the fact that it was linked to some random website full of nonsense. I mean I am wonderful, tremendous and frankly super, although I have been finding myself to be kinda boring recently. So…technically… this could be applicable to me:

Hello, you used to write wonderful, but the last several posts have been kinda boring! I miss your tremendous writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

LOL. Oh, and when one has a day off…one tends to over compensate by taking too much time over melting cheese and such like. Today, I ate chunky peanut butter, ham and cheese toasties with a fried egg and a side salad of tomato and sweet yellow pepper.

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I’m curious to know – will you be gifting an e-reader this Christmas or are you a traditionalist when it comes to books? Do you still read newspapers or are you more likely to frequent news sites or perhaps you read everything on an app? Have a super Thursday!

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