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.

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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FF: Fashion {04 Cosy Charcoals}

A fun fashion post is long overdue as is a clothes shopping trip! We had our first snow of winter 2012 this week in London and I’ve been craving greys again in the cold weather.

I love warming greys in winter. Black is a little too austere, but greys are soft and snuggly. Charcoal knits simply cocoon you in cosiness when the pavements are frosty and the sharp winds chafe at your cheeks.

It’s not that cold yet, so a pair of courts/pumps are still perfectly appropriate (although I’d prefer flats in this style), but I am in the market for a good pair of boots and I’m thinking of replacing my tatty boot cut jeans with a new skinny pair. I haven’t braved that style transition yet. Yes, I know I’m a few years late, but I am notoriously lazy when it comes to actually buying new clothes.

I like to browse seasonal trends, window shop, walk around feeling all the fabrics, oohing at all the colours and textures… I just keep my purse tightly closed. Ha! No, I have not been spending my share to get us out of the recession, that’s quite clear from the chancellor’s Autumn Statement this week. My bad.

(Maybe I should think like Starbucks and make a donation to the Government in compensation for my tightfistedness! Their latest “extraordinary” move is rather mind boggling. Nevermind, Costa and even Pret have sofas these days and serve rather more decent coffee. Starbucks’ tax affairs have no bearing on why I haven’t visited in a long long time, so their limping U-turn is not about to drag me back. Still, I’d love to find a favourite independent caffeine haunt in which to wrap my frozen hands around a liquid hand warmer.)

So, what are your clothes shopping habits? Does it get very cold where you are? What are your favourite colours to wear in winter? Do tell all :)


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What are you looking forward to today?

I wasn’t brought up on McDonalds or any fast food options that are so readily available today. McDonalds was an extremely inefficient way to spend the family’s limited resources. In fact, it still is today in most European cities. A standard meal in London is definitely not cheap.

I do still treat McDonalds like a special treat now in adulthood. It always feels special to bite into their “French Fries” and I feel lazy and overindulgent if I eat there more than once in a while.

But let me not hide the fact that I am almost due another free tea…I guard my sticker cards as though they were real currency. Each time I get a cup of tea, I don’t relax until I have safely added the sticker to the collection in my purse. I’m not usually partial to fizzy drinks because they make me feel bloated (although I do always make an exception for a nice cloudy lemonade). However, eating a McDonalds meal with a cup of tea definitely feels very civilised and grown up.

McDo's

McDo's

 

McDo's

My favourite sauce. Not only do I like the taste, I love the recent update in packaging. The hot pink makes me happy!

So today, I am not sharing anything particularly creative with you (although I have something fun I can’t wait to show and tell soon). I am simply going to confess that I’m really looking forward to going window shopping and having a McDonalds meal of some sort after work tonight. And…if you see some girl standing in front of the menu for ages, unable to decide what to get, that could possibly be me. It often gets to the point where the staff behind the counter have given up calling out to me and are just looking at me funny. It is supposed to be fast food after all…except that it is never fast on my end. I am still that little girl for whom eating fast food counts as a special treat :-)

What are your simple, special treats?


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FF: Fashion {02 Lavender Love}

I hereby declare that my wardrobe looks nothing as glamourous as the sets I am creating in Polyvore. But as promised on Wednesday, here is my fantasy lavender-inspired outfit.

I had some real fun making this. I’m enjoying my growing imaginary wardrobe. I love the sandals. I’ve actually seen a variation on that bag and fallen in love with the way the zips are designed. The umbrella sports the only Cath Kidston pattern I’d ever been seen with. I’d probably never wear that ring twice but I’d put it on when I blog just to add some bling to blogging…whatever. I submitted the set to the Polyvore Designer for a Day contest anyway, just for fun. Feel free to go over and like it if you like it – all in the spirit of frivolity! :)

FF: Lavender Love - thisislemonade.wordpress.com
1) Wildfox Couture summer sweater 2) TopShop nail polish 3) Mykita sunglasses 4) Yuh Okano summer shawl 5) Victoria Beckham skinny leg pants 6) Cath Kidston polka dot umbrella 7) River Island mini messenger bag 8) Blue Nile cushion cut amethyst ring 9) Vera Wang Lavender Label high heel sandals

I hope you like my defiant British Summer look – I’m wearing sandals, but I’ve got the obligatory scarf and brolly just in case because it doesn’t stop raining. But who knows, the sun might come out and a pair of cool shades might be in order…it’s only early-ish July, anything is still possible! Have a beautiful weekend…


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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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FF: Fashion {01 Mellow Yellow}

Seeing as it’s summer in London (for the time being) and it’s a Friday, I wanted to celebrate by getting a bit frivolous…Inspired by the Poppytalk 2012 Summer Colours Week I decided to play with colours.

I don’t really wear yellow much. At all. Do I have one item of yellow? Maybe I have one scarf with teeny pale yellow accent flowers…that’s it. Lately though, I’ve been really drawn to it – perhaps because of the lack of sunshine we’ve been having. Anyway, without further ado or too many words to negate the frivolity of this post, here you go:

#01: Mellow Yellow

1) Armand Diradourian fringed shawl; 2) Wallis floral blouse; 3) True Religion polka dot jeans; 4) Lanvin shoes; 5) With Love From CA beading jewelry; 6) Givenchy handbagCold Lemonade Tin Sign | Summertime Signs | RetroPlanet.com.

Don’t I have expensive taste? I think I need some ice cold lemonade to recover from my virtual shopping trip – have a lovely weekend! :)


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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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Tenderloin and Tatties

Tenderloin & TattiesI don’t tend to approach cooking from a cook book. I also don’t approach grocery shopping in a very organised way. I just have a rough kind of routine – a map of my “staples” and vague categories in my head: milk, eggs, bread, bananas, yoghurt, cheese with a variation of vegetables, meats and starch added.

I try to be adventurous, but what I experiment with is usually determined by what I happened upon during my weekly shop and what deals were on. I don’t do markets, even though I walk past a brilliant one on the way to work. By the time I’m done with work, the market is usually being disassembled. I would love to be a better shopper, the kind that has conversations with interesting people along the way, but I’m usually the one that grabs a trolley half an hour before closing time and does a supermarket sweep style manic rush.

Anyway, last week, there was a deal on pork tenderloin. I’ve never eaten it in a restaurant, and it’s not a supermarket mainstay to say the least. I followed a recipe for roasting tenderloin about a year ago, and it came out…dry and chewy. (I’m not blaming the recipe by the way. Me and that recipe didn’t click. I definitely didn’t know what I was doing with it.) Sorry Mr Pig.

Well, the second pork tenderloin came home with me last week. And I used Google again. It showed me this. Remember how I never plan anything? Well, I scrolled down and found about three recipes that I had the rough ingredients for. I then decided on one that seemed the most promising. I wanted to steer clear of roasting this time, and try a different method, thanks Diana!

I served the tenderloin with a big cheesy potato rösti cake.What better way to cook grated potatoes than with lashings of grated cheese? Dinner was a winner. It was yum, I can’t lie. Here is my modified version of the tenderloin recipe and my own delicious rehash of many random experiments with grated potatoes :)

Tenderloin & Tatties

Pork Tenderloin Medallions With Mushrooms, Green Beans and Caramelized Onions, served with Cheesy Potato Rösti

Serves 2-3

For the Pork

  • 350g or about 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 150g or about 5 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 10cl or about 1/2 cup wine (I used red)
  • 125ml or about 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 150g or about 5 ounces green beans

For the rösti

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 medium sized potatoes, grated (I left the skins on)
  • Salt (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 150g or about 1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)

Slice the pork tenderloin into rounds of about 1 inch/2cm thick. Press firmly on them with the heel of your hand to reduce them to about half the thickness. Pat dry with kitchen paper and season with salt and ground pepper.

Put a medium-sized frying pan on a medium heat and drizzle the olive oil into the pan. Spoon half of the grated potato into the pan, spreading and flattening out. Spread the cheese evenly over the base layer of potato and season with salt and pepper (I skipped the salt as cheddar is salty enough for me already). Spread the remaining grated potato over the top and flatten as before so that the cheese is covered. Cook until crispy and browned on the bottom for about 10-15 minutes.

Put another frying pan on a medium heat for about 2 minutes then add half of the olive oil and butter. Fry the onions gently in the pan, stirring continuously until they soften but do not brown. Add the sugar and cook for a further 15 minutes or so as the onions caramelise, remembering to stir. Add the mushrooms and sauté the onions and mushrooms together for another 5 minutes or so. Stir from time to time so that the mushrooms brown evenly. Remove the onion and mushroom mixture to a bowl and set aside.

In the first frying pan, turn the potato rösti over and cook until golden brown on the other side for another 10-15 minutes.

Put the second frying pan back on a medium heat and add the remaining olive oil and butter. Coat the tenderloin rounds in the flour and fry gently for about 3-4 minutes on each side until browned. Add the wine, stock and stir in the onion and mushrooms. Simmer uncovered for about 2 minutes to reduce the liquid a little.

Add the green beans on top of the meat, cover the pan and cook on a low heat for a further 10 minutes.

Dish everything out and tuck right in!

Tenderloin & Tatties

I’ve never tried to write a recipe for a whole meal before – if you try this, please let me know if the instructions work for cooking the tenderloin and potatoes together. Also, I’ve tried to put good equivalences for all the measurements. Thankfully it’s not baking, so little ins and outs should not matter. Any feedback welcome though – I hope you enjoy it!

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