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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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

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!

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!

This gallery contains 10 photos


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Frivolity and friendship (3) …with a facelift

As you may be able to see, if you are not viewing my page on a mobile device, I gave the blog layout a makeover this past week. Well, some WordPress contributor has given me a big hand really. It’s more my style than before. I hope that doesn’t disappoint. The pink-ness and ribbon-ness of the last dabble was not me at all. I’m not at all cute in real life. Just as cheesiness usually makes me cringe. I do love buttons though. But well, I love white and clean and crisp. So. This is more me. And more of me will probably emerge as time goes on…as I also get bored of me from time to time. We shall see.

There, that was a little peek into my mind. Now onto the important task of nominations to award number three of four. The first two nominations posts are here and here. And there was one way back here as well. I don’t want you to forget those others. And as I said, watch out for a new page – I’m working on it!

Thanks again to Matt Gajdoš of Mister G Kids who nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award. I featured him initially here and again here. Do not hesitate to take a look at his wonderful comics of the kids he teaches. Matt is super talented. I’ll forgive him just this once for initially thinking I was a man…seeing as he’s given me the opportunity to nominate some lovely bloggers as follows:

Versatile Blogger Award

  • Chez Chloe – Wendy’s delicious blog full of travels and great adventures in the kitchen.
  • hillsandhotchocolate – Roxy is a midwife who will not be kept indoors. Visit her blog for a wonderful breath of fresh air!
  • ANXIETY & BISCUITS – Need some sharp British humour? I found Chris when he was FP’d and couldn’t stop laughing clicking all the way backwards through his posts ;)

So there you have it. Another mini sample of the things I love in the vast blogosphere. Ugh what a word. Sorry. Just had to try using it. Bleugh. It leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. I won’t be using that again. I hope you enjoy the little stash of blogs I’ve collected, enjoy your weekend reading!


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Tasty Meatballs!

I have developed the need to make the perfect meatball since stepping foot in Leon’s and sampling their fabled Grilled Meatballs described as being “cooked down in a plum tomato sauce with fresh herbs and spices.” I must admit, even though I love the Leon concept, service and meatball sauce, so far for me, they were found lacking in the actual meatball department. Just not succulent enough, just too dense, solid and, dare I say it…meaty.

In my humble opinion, I do make a seriously tasty burger. I’ve never followed a recipe though. It’s just a combination of experience drawn from various dishes and trial and error.  I add different ingredients from time to time to see if they will improve the end result and because variety is indeed the spice of life. However, each time I applied the principles I had tried and tested with my burgers and applied them to my meatballs, frankly Leon’s were better. How disappointing. The smaller volume of meat in a meatball compared to that in a burger, and its greater vulnerability to overcooking raised the game. I pretty much stopped bothering because to be honest, burgers don’t take as much work. You can make four large patties, with the same amount of beef as you’d use to make what seems like a million meatballs…

Then, I came upon Christine’s post at Texana’s Kitchen. I’d never heard of porcupine balls before and my desire to try them was not initially for the purposes of completing the quest for the perfect meatball. Putting rice into a meatball presented me with an attractively lazy method of combining protein with starch. I decided to make meatballs as I normally would, with the addition of a cup of rice to the mix. The result was the yummiest meatballs I have yet tasted (the leftovers were even more delicious)!

The only thing I realised was, the meat to starch ratio was not right for me. It was perfect for the meatballs, but I would have to eat too much meat, to get the amount of starch I need in a meal. Next time I’d probably make some roasted or mashed potatoes as an accompaniment, or maybe some chick pea flatbread. This time, I cooked them in some Sharwood’s Thai Red Curry sauce, added in some extra mushrooms and peas in the last 5 minutes and served them with a slice of toast :) In future, I would love to make them again and slow cook them in lashings of bolognese-style sauce!

I hope you try them – enjoy!
Tasty Meatballs!

Meatballs with Rice in a Red Sauce

  • 1 cup long grain/Thai fragrant rice
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup wheatgerm (you can substitute in breadcrumbs or rolled oats)
  • 600g minced lean beef
  • 2 medium to large eggs
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Anchovy paste to taste
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • At least 415g cooking sauce (I used Thai Red Curry as mentioned above)

Wash the rice thoroughly in a large bowl. Drain the water off (I saved mine to use for my facial scrub/mask recipe). Add the chopped onion, wheatgerm, beef and eggs and combine evenly. Season with the rest of the ingredients to taste. I actually eyeball things most of the time and you might want to add some nice herbs depending on what sauce you intend to cook the meatballs with.

Put the flour into a small bowl. Cover a baking tray with cling film to keep surfaces clean and very lightly flour the cling. Using your palms, carefully roll the mixture into ping-pong sized balls. Dredge the balls in the bowl of flour and set aside on the lightly floured tray. When you have formed and floured all of the balls, roll them in flour again – I like to do this to bind the surface better.

Put a frying pan or skillet on a high heat and add the oil. Brown all the meatballs until they become firm enough not to break apart easily. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan.

Return all the meatballs to the pan, lower the heat and pour in the sauce. Simmer over a low heat for at least 30 minutes. Then, serve and enjoy!

- – -

I am publishing this a little later than expected. I forgot that I had drafted it and was waiting to edit in the photos. To give you an idea of how long it has taken me, this post was a sneak preview…oops, sorry about that! Thanks Christine for the perfect inspiration.

[Disclaimer: I am not promoting any brands in this post, although I have spent money on both of those mentioned when I have had the need for some swiftly prepared tasty food!]


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Rain, rain go away…

I’m sitting at a window, looking out at a blue sky with puffy clouds in it. For two days running, the weather forecast for London has been somewhat incorrect. The heavy rains they threatened yesterday did not materialise. Thankfully. There was a bit of drizzle. That’s all. Today, there were supposed to be white clouds with some sunny spells…it’s mostly been nice bright blue skies decorated with puffy clouds and sunshine.

Am I complaining? No. In some parts of the country, there has been enough surface water for some to take to jet-skiing. Not good. Summer is definitely over. For now. The sunshine does not bring warmth, and we’ve had chilly winds all week. Monday was absolutely freezing. The rain was like ice. Sort of.

Ode To Summer

So I just wanted to brighten things up a bit. Thoughts of summer are definitely in order. Just reminiscing about some of the colours of sunshine. And I’m hoping some of you who read this from up north are ok, in the midst of all the devastating flooding :(


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FOOD

I was busy melting cheese all last week. I love cheese. Did I mention that before? But then honestly, I don’t know anyone that does not love some good oozy melted cheese. Even one of my best friends, who is lactose intolerant, will take some Piriton so that we can go out for pizza.

So I had some left over tomato salsa-like salad left over from the weekend, and decided to make a lovely snack last Monday. The tomatoes had been finely diced and dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried basil and cayenne pepper. By the time I was assembling this, they had marinated in this goodness for 24 hours.

I put the bread into the toaster for 2 minutes, then sprinkled grated cheddar on top and put the tomatoes over that. That way the toast would not get soggy, because I don’t like soggy toast. Then it was 5 more minutes under a moderate grill. And need I tell you it was delicious? Well it was!

And because I took a photo and kept going back to salivate over it, I ended up making variations on the theme all week, including cheese and coleslaw toasted bun, and toasted ham, cheese and pea shoot salad! It’s really not rocket science…which makes it all the more moorish to enjoy with a good cup of tea :)

#16 | FOOD

Photo A Day Aug | FOOD thisislemonade.wordpress.com

[This post is one in a series inspired by Fat Mum Slim's photo a day challenge. I'm exploring ideas and often writing off the back of the idea of the day. It's a chance to relax a bit in August but also do something slightly different. If you take part let me know - I'd love to see how you get creative with the daily posts!]


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Buttery Avocado and Egg Slices

As if you didn’t know already, I love avocadosI have been craving avocado for months, literally. I refrained from paying £1 each for miniature versions that have been hanging around the supermarkets lately, or risking the ones in my local roadside market not knowing whether they would all ripen too quickly once I’d taken them home. Then last week, I went to a trusty avocado seller and came away with a haul of five.

The avocado is a subtle fruit, rich and gentle, with its smooth buttery-green flesh encased in a glossy olive-brown skin. There is something inexplicably captivating about the texture and flavour that I never grow tired of. I love to eat it with a spoon, straight out of the shell. Scoop by scoop, savouring each mouthful and regretting it every time I’ve scraped the last stubborn slither out.

Avocado and Egg Slice - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

I also love eggs (and lavender – I’ll come to that tomorrow). Versatile, nutritious, flavoursome. Alchemy in a fragile shell. Absolutely delightful and satisfying. Perfect for someone feeling ravenous before supper.

Avocado and Egg Slice - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

I wouldn’t even call this a recipe. I simply halved an avocado, cut some of it off the bottom to create a flat base and gently heated it in a frying pan. I cracked an egg into the hole and continued to cook until the whites were no longer transparent.

Avocado and Egg Slice - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

I didn’t want to end up over-frying the avocado so I had to cover it to make sure the egg was cooked. Next time I’ll try heating extra oil on the side and basting the egg during cooking to get a sunny side up properly! No matter, it was absolute yumminess served simply with some freshly ground black pepper on top.

Avocado and Egg Slice - thisislemonade.wordpress.com


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Socca: beautifully simple flatbread experiments

SoccaJust over a week ago, I shared a couple of face mask recipes with you. I mentioned a tasty ingredient: gram flour which is made from chickpeas. Then last Wednesday, Amy of cozywalls posted a simple recipe for a gluten-free flatbread called socca. The ingredients were already in my store cupboard: salt, gram flour, water, olive oil. Most importantly, I had a bag of gram flour in my pantry that I only use very small quantities of from time to time – to make things to smear on my face. The star of the show for me was this magical flour. The recipe looked too easy to miss out on trying, so I jotted a quick note to myself before I went to bed and made it in the morning!

Socca with ham, cheese and lettuce!Amy uses a cast iron skillet which for now is still on my wishlist. So I lined a roasting tin that I thought would be big enough and preheated it in the oven before pouring in the light batter and sprinkling some dried dates on top. Amy used figs and onions, neither of which I had to hand, but the dates were a really successful alternative. Waiting the half hour or so for the deliciously nutty socca to bake made me so ravenous, I sliced up some lettuce and peppered honey roast ham to roll up in it with some grated cheese. It was absolutely delicious with or without the impromptu filling.

Socca with ham, cheese and lettuce!I can’t claim to have made anything authentic having never tasted socca before. However, I did some brief research afterwards and came across an informative post by David Lebovitz that you might also want to take a look at. After reading that post, and sleeping on it, I decided to try something a little different of my own. I won’t call it socca. But this is what I did:

Chickpea and Almond Flatbread

  • Chickpea and Almond Flatbread1/2 cup gram flour
  • 1 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Pinch of cumin
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds

Mix flour, ground almonds and salt together. Stir in water and 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Leave to sit at room temperature for at least an hour. I prepared this mixture after a slow lunch on Saturday and returned to it in the afternoon for a lovely snack.

Chickpea and Almond FlatbreadHeat a pan on the hob until hot. Add 1/2 tbsp olive oil and add the bubbly batter which should pop and sizzle in the pan. Scatter flaked almonds over the top with a pinch of cumin. Fry on high heat for about 2 minutes then flip and cook for another 2 minutes or so until the flaked almonds become nicely toasted.

Serve immediately with some soft cheese, honey or anything you fancy! Let me know if you try your own experiment (really you must, it’s so simple!) and I’d be appreciative of any tips!

Chickpea and Almond Flatbread

Beautifully nutty Chickpea and Almond Flatbread drizzled with honey. DELICIOUS eaten straight from the pan!


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Quick Supper : Sesame Prawns with Dill

Thank you for bearing with me – it has been a couple of crazy weeks and I am exhausted. I didn’t go for my last minute supermarket sweep to stock up before the beginning of the week, so I was living off what remained in my fridge from the week before, along with dwindling freezer and pantry stocks. I’ve been doing too many hasty shopping trips in the past month or so without replenishing my stash of tins or frozen ingredients (except for buying a couple of tubs of reduced Carte d’or ice cream!)

By the end of yesterday, there was not that much left. The minced beef had been defrosted and stretched into two comforting meals with all the carrots; I’d lazily stuck the Ginster’s Cornish Pasties straight from the freezer into the oven on Monday evening, and midweek I’d popped down the chippy for my favourite British fare . But, thankfully, my freezer was harbouring an indulgent secret.

I’m someone who lives by the “save the best for last” principle, and almost making it through this week calls for a small celebration. Frozen tiger prawns to be exact. Whenever there is a deal, I stock up. They make for a tasty treat for those rainy days when I don’t want a heavy dinner and I need it to be quick. (Talking about celebrations…although any Jubilee festive spirit has long evaporated, I do have a special post up my sleeve for when I find some head space.)

Sesame Prawns

Prawns are nature’s fast-food; enough protein to satisfy but so super quick to cook that you’ve barely heated up the pan and you’re turning off the gas again. I put the prawns into the fridge to defrost overnight, expecting that my hunger would direct me as to what to do with them this evening.

I already mentioned that I rather like sesame seeds here. A bunch of dill I picked up last time I purchased groceries has been keeping very well in the fridge. There was a lot of it, so I have been experimenting (I tried it in the beef mince and it was yummy!) Dill with seafood is a classic combination, but I thought I’d mix things up a bit and see whether sesame and dill would work together. Yup. It was tasty.

Sesame Prawns

Sesame Prawns with Dill

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 225g raw large king prawns
  • 2 tsp chopped dill
  • 3 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sesame oil
  • Soya sauce

Heat up the pan until hot and add vegetable oil. Allow oil to start smoking and add the prawns. Stir as they fry so that they are cooked evenly.

As the prawns become pink, add the dill and sesame seeds. Add pepper, sesame oil and a dash of soya sauce to taste. When there is no more grey on the prawns turn off the heat. Allow prawns to become opaque before transferring onto a plate for serving.

Be careful not to overcook the prawns. Avoid allowing them to clench up into a tight circle if you want them to retain a fresh bite rather than becoming chewy.

What do you whip up when you need a quick but satisfying pick-me-up meal?

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