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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Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny day

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny day

Greetings all! This weekend I told you I would be baking. But it almost didn’t happen. Firstly, I decided a lie-in on Saturday would be good. It was indeed. Secondly, the weather was not the same beast as depicted in the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, shared on Friday. In fact, it was quite different with not a cloud in the sky:

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny dayAs a direct consequence of the aforementioned lie-in, fewer hours in the day remained for me to take advantage of the weather. There was a risk that baking would not get a look in. But it did.

The ingredients and method were really quick, simple and gluten-free to boot. I followed a recipe I pinned here, but reduced the amount of sugar included because I prefer things to be less sweet.

While preheating the oven to 180°C, I mixed together one egg, half a cup of sugar (I used granulated brown cane sugar), one cup of peanut butter and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. I initially disliked the mixture a lot. It was gooey, sugary and didn’t look like it would amount to much. But as I mixed it, my biceps ached and the goo became a delicious smelling crumby golden ball:

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny dayThe mixture was then easily rolled into small walnut -sized balls as suggested in the original recipe. I got 23 out of these quantities. To create the cute pattern on top, I simple pressed down gently with a fork to form a criss-cross pattern. I found the peanut butter oils were sufficient to prevent the fork from sticking to the batter if done carefully.

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny dayThe cookies only need 12 minutes in the oven to achieve a lovely crumbly texture with a very slightly chewy middle. They are very soft when they first come out of the oven, so I transferred them immediately onto a cooling rack  by pulling the non-stick baking sheet with cookies on top and sliding it over. I then sprinkled a teaspoon’s worth of extra sugar on top for a little extra crunch.

These cookies are great if you want something easy and quick. I can imagine they’d be great on a hot summer’s day, when you don’t want to spend long in a hot kitchen. I can’t say I actually know what that feels like though. Spring sunshine with a chilly breeze blowing will have to do me for now 😉 I hope you give the cookies a try and enjoy them too!

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny day

Another great thing about these is, that they are at once salty and sweet. A great combination. Their peanutty richness also means that you don’t need to eat many with your cup of tea. I’ve still got over half left. That’s win-win-win in my book! If you made some now, we could meet for a virtual tea and cookies meet-up 😉

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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 😛

  • 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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Tasty Toasties: Colours of Spring ~ Quick Tortilla Wrap Pizza ~

I got some light protest in the comments under my first Tasty Toasties post. Some of you were of the opinion that the addition of cheese would have been in good order. I do not disagree. I usually have cheese on the brain, and this has been the case ever since I left the cheese out on my posh beans on toast. I have well and truly learned my lesson. This quick toastie has two cheeses: a cheddar from The Lake District Cheese Co. (I had to include a link because it’s such a cute site!) and a lovely crumbly and tangy Lancashire cheese.

Tortilla Wrap Pizza

I don’t know about the part of the world you are in, but London has been finally launched feet first into spring. It is as though the sun saw the calendar and was as surprised as me. What? It’s March already? Huh? I haven’t shone yet this year, hurry! And we’ve had five days of sunshine straight (or at least that’s how I remember it to be). It’s still cold, but there are signs of busy spring activity already. Green shoots poking through everywhere, and birds and squirrels getting all excited, suddenly full of life and bustling about.

I spent five minutes watching a squirrel running to and fro, checking up on its stash of snacks in the garden earlier. It happily polished one of them off, then proceeded to lick itself all over and stretch about in the sun before prancing off along the fence.

So that’s the backdrop to today’s uncomplicated toastie. I prefer thin crust pizzas so this is right up my street, but to be honest, it’s just as easy to roll it up and eat it like a wrap, I might do that next time.. I put it in the oven, ten minutes at 200°C or about 395°F – basically, until the cheese melts into that bubbly, oozy goodness we all love. After taking it out of the oven, I finished it off with some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then cracked some black pepper on top. Even if it rains tomorrow, I’ll be satisfied, because today I celebrated some lovely spring sunshine with a cheery toastie while it lasted.

Tortilla Wrap Pizza - tortilla wrap, tomato puree, anchovy paste, olive oil, grated cheddar, crumbled Lancashire cheese, sliced pomodorino tomatoes, sliced green olives, pea shoots, balsamic vinegar, freshly ground black pepper

On a separate note, here is my update on my February goals. Basically, it was more a success than a fail… I did the things that I wanted to do the most. I am behind schedule for getting in front of the post office counter to send my parcel off, but otherwise, I’ve completed some fun project there which I will hopefully share about soon. I have completely failed to fill one of the mini sketchbooks I made. I’m suffering still, from the blank page problem…

February Goals Update

Did you set yourself any goals for last month? If yes, how did you do? If you need any cheering up, I hope today’s little bite of spring helps – have a good week!


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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


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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? 🙂