August 19, 2014

Brighton

Last weekend we had friends visiting from Belfast and after our intended plans went askew we decided to head to Brighton for an overnight stay. We were supposed to go to to the Jabberwocky music festival to see some cool bands but the festival was cancelled at the last minute (stupid ATP!!!!).

We headed to West Sussex on Sunday after a late-night at Vinopolis in London. So slightly hungover I drove the two-hours and we got in at 2pm. We followed our fearless leader Matt who was very adept at getting us around the town.

We stopped for lunch at the Green Chair and I had a yummy veggie burger with halloumi and pesto. MMM. Then we wandered the Laines and found some amazing shops (I could have bought everything in Edited and Zoing Image).

I was really surprised by Brighton. I expected it to be a quaint, posh seaside town like Aldeburgh or Southwold, but it was very run-down in parts and had a large homeless population. I liked that it was a bit grittier than Aldeburgh and I fell in love with all the veggie/vegan restaurants and food stores. There is even a vegetarian shoe store!



Brighton also has a large gay community and we wandered into a block of flats and shops lined with rainbow flags. We stopped down this road at The Black Dove for an afternoon cocktail (I had the Paloma). The decor was so dark and eclectic but I felt it would have been more at home in Tennessee. It just had that Appalachian feel. The downstairs had a room (which was really creepy when I was the only one in there) where I imagined a Nina Simone-esque singer croning through the thick cigarette smoke.

We then made our way to the sea where Matt decided to take off his shoes to dip his feet in the water and then preceded to get soaked by a large wave. Up on the pier Matt spent a large amount of 10p coins trying to win Minions (all the call machines seemed to have the Despicable Me characters). I tried once then gave up in frustration. Instead I opted to spend £3 for 5 minutes on a trampoline. Two minutes in I was exhausted- seriously it was hard work. I could spend hours jumping when I was a kid.

After another round of cocktails at Laines Brewery we headed to The Blue Man for North African Tapas and a lot of wine. The food was pretty good. I had most of the veggie tapas to myself and I think their tortilla was the best I've ever had. The hummus however was a bit bland. After my husband was hit on by the barman (he wanted him to move to Brighton!) we left after a few hours.

We stayed at the Best Western on the main seaside road. It was acceptable but by no means nice. My prerequisite was my own bathroom and a bed so I can't really complain. It was cheap. We left the next morning after a very hungover breakfast of toast.

I would definitely go back to Brighton. I'd like more time to explore- especially the shops and the restaurants. Maybe next time someone will hit on me!

August 11, 2014

Butternut Squash Katsu Curry


For over a decade now my signature dish has been Chicken Katsu Curry. When I was a student in London in 2003 Wagamamas was the restaurant du jour for poor students and the CKC was by far my favourite. When I went back to uni in New York I craved katsu curry like nothing else. So after a few trial and errors I found a way to make it (and I think its better than the original, but I may be biased).

Since I've stopped eating meat this dish has been off the menu, much to my husband's disappointment. A month or so ago we went to a street food market in london called Kerb and I got Pumpkin Katsu Curry. I was really surprised, not by how good it was because I have long loved pumpkin, but by how well the pumpkin held its structure.

So for the past few weeks I've been scouring the internet for recipes for pumpkin curry. There are loads out there but in the end I decided I'd make it exactly the way I make Chicken Katsu Curry but with one difference- I used 'vegan eggs' aka flaxseeds as the binding agent. I again am amazed at the powers of the flaxseed. I think it binded better than eggs.

Now I should say that I am of the mind that anything that comes packaged is bad and there is probably a way to make it better (and more healthily) yourself. This includes things from fajita and chilli mix (seriously this just takes about 6-10 spices that you probably already have in your spice rack) to cake and brownie mixes (I grew up using these but now everything bake is from scratch and therefore much better. It is so ingrained in my family that the last time I was home and I made my brownies- which are amazing if I do say so myself- and my sister asked what box mix I used! Pah!!).

That being said I have never found a way to make the golden curry sauce that is as good as this one. I will endeavour to find a good recipe one day but until then I will go to the Asian food store and use this one. Honestly when I open the package it fills the entire room with magic curry aromas that if you're not careful to fully clean-up after cooking will continue to fill the room the next day when curry smells may not be as welcomed.

Seeing as how it is August there was nary a pumpkin to be found and instead I used butternut squash. As every good southern girl knows, the secret to good fried chicken is coating it with seasoned flour before putting it in the egg mixture. After I cut the squash I dipped it in wholemeal flour then into the flaxseed and water mixture then into the Panko (Japanese bread crumbs that are a must for this recipe). I was really chuffed with how well the Panko stuck to the squash (which I par-boiled for five minutes but will probably not do the next time as the squash was a little too soft).

Then I baked the squash until the Panko was golden brown. We paired it with brown rice, golden curry sauce, and the all important edamame (soy beans- mmm).

I was really happy that I was able to adapt my recipe to be vegetarian- well I guess it was actually vegan. I think the squash was probably a little too sweet and I needed to slice it thinner but it was still good. I definitely want to try again when the pumpkin comes into season.

August 8, 2014

Egg-less Banana French Toast


So I woke up at a friend's house on Sunday morning very hungover, tired and hungry. All I wanted was French toast or American style pancakes. Unfortunately not every cafe sells such breakfasty goodness and instead I settled for a croissant.

But I couldn't shake the craving. I was able to make an egg-less French toast using a banana, flaxseeds, vanilla bean extract, cinnamon and skim milk (the recipe was actually for vegan French toast but I was out of unsweetened almond milk and used lactose-free skim milk instead).

The result was tasty and French toast-esque. I used multi-seeded bread that I think was too thin and long because I had trouble getting it well cooked in the centre. I used coconut oil because I think its far better than olive oil when making sweet things, though I do use it on savouries too. The edges of the bread were pretty good though. The banana caramelised and helped the firming up of the bread. And I topped it off with a little pure maple syrup (I don't use Aunt Jemima or any other syrup that uses high-fructose corn syrup- yuck).

I would totally make these again but I'd like to try the vegan version. I'm starting to think that I could give up eggs altogether, which I'm pretty excited about. Now if only I could work on my cheese addiction.

August 4, 2014

Felt Up at the Cornershop

Billy and I spent the weekend with friends in London and our only prerequisite was to see some culture. There wasn't anything more specific. Usually that means a visit to the Tate Modern or the Barbican but this time we headed to Bethnal Green.

Artist Lucy Sparrow used kickstarter to fund some of the project that turned an abandoned cornershop into, well, a cornershop. Instead of cardboard and plastic packaging, the shop was instead filled literally with polyfill covered with felt. Felted crisps, cigarettes, condoms, newspapers etc. It had the same feel as a cornershop so the artist obviously did a lot of research or like most of us, she probably made many last minute trips to pick up things left off the grocery list or for a late-night sugar craving.

It was an interesting installation, but I found it hard to decide if it was 'art' or if it was 'craft.' I could totally have made anything in the shop (isn't that what most people say of art in galleries though regardless of artistic ability) and I probably did make similar items in elementary school. Not to dis the artist but I did leave wondering whether it was cool or weird, regardless though if you're in Bethnal Green its worth a look.



August 1, 2014

Courgette Muffins


Two posts in a week! Whoa what's going on here? I guess I'm feeling inspired.

At my first photo assignment this morning I was given some courgettes (aka zucchini) and I felt I could try to make something I'd never made before. I have been making sugar-free ice cream and raw treats over the past few months but I've never baked anything. I've also never baked without eggs.

I use ground flax seeds mixed with water, which is known as vegan eggs, to make a gelatinous liquid. I've used it to bind dishes like my spicy bean burgers and it works great. I don't think I will ever go back to baking with eggs again and the best part is that I can like the spoon without fear of food poisoning!

Now, just because something is sugar-free doesn't mean it is low calorie. There are a lot of sweeteners on the market but I don't used anything refined or filled with crazy chemicals (hello Splenda). For this recipe I used Agave. There is a lot of criticism of Agave as a natural sweetener but I usually avoid it for its high calorie content. I usually opt for Truvia, which is a form of Stevia.

The muffins came out okay. The texture was perfect. It was moist on the inside and crunchy on top. The problem was with the olive oil. I don't know if the recipe (which I adapted from this one) called for any kind of olive oil. Maybe there was too much in it or maybe my olive oil is super strong but that is what the muffins mostly tasted like. You could barely taste the other ingredients. So this is pretty much a fail, though my husband has just come home and is eating them so maybe not. I will try to make these again sometime will less/different oil.

July 30, 2014

Veggie Chilli

Its been ages since I've posted on you blog. I'm sorry blog. I do love you and think of you often but sometimes I'm just neglectful. If you were my child- which you kind of are- I'd be in the dock for abuse! I know I should be better, and I mean to be. To show you I am dedicated I have a shiny new post for you. See I'm better already.




I'm a vegetarian, well technically a pescetarian but I think that is a stupid thing to be so I refuse to call myself that. I eat a mostly vegetarian diet with fish or seafood as a supplement on occasion- usually when the only veggie option is risotto. It shows a distinct lack of creativity when nice restaurants opt for risotto. And often there is some sort of brie and cranberry concoction that is great- once.

I haven't missed meat at all. My husband and I mostly follow a Mediterranean diet incorporating whole grains, oil, nuts and a ton of fresh fruit and veg. I have cut out all refined sugar, white enriched flour and heavily processed chemical laden food- pretty much the stuff I was raised on and therefore inevitably crave.

Billy has, over the months, become a vegetarian as well, which stemmed mostly out of his decreased meat intake at home. We've come up with new recipes and we avoid old ones that would involve a meat substitute. I am not a fan of adding something that is suppose to remind you of meat into recipes. Adding Quorn mince into lasagne wasn't going to be an option. Instead we double up on veg and beans. Lots of beans. Which is really good for us but does have some unfortunate side affects.

Tonight I made my chilli for the first time since we stopped eating. I love chilli and Billy loves my chilli, which had a lot of mince involved. I decided to add red and orange peppers, cannelloni beans (I couln't find black beans in the shop) and some red lentils to add the chunky bits. I was going to add some chia seeds to thicken it a little but it didn't need it in the end.

This was really just an experiment but I think it was just as yummy as the original. I don't ever expect a recipe to taste exactly the same but as long as it still tastes good. My next attempt to adapt on old favourite recipe will be with Chicken Katsu Curry. I'm going to use pumpkin instead! It should be interesting :)



March 28, 2014

Silversmithing Projects



My newest creative endeavour is silversmithing! I have longed to make something for myself to wear that resembles the very expensive pieces I’ve seen in the shops so last November I started taking a silversmithing class.

Once a week I make the half-hour long trek to Manningtree to sit in a freezing studio with three other silversmithers and my teacher. I had to make my way through the requisite projects every newbie makes and I had to overcome my slight fear of a blowtorch, which stems from the scary one my mom uses to make her beads.

I have since made a necklace charm inspired by two of my favourite things- shapes and Art Deco. I finished my first ring that fits well though the gem is so big it flips around my finger. Next I’m going to make something for my mom’s birthday but only have a few more weeks of class to do it in- eek pressure!

The exciting news is that my class has been invited to Goldsmith Hall in London for a workshop in May.

“The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, more commonly known as the Goldsmiths' Company, is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London and received its first royal charter in 1327.

Founded to regulate the craft or trade of the goldsmith, the Goldsmiths' Company has been responsible since 1300 for testing the quality of gold, silver and, from 1975, platinum articles. The word hallmark originates from the fifteenth century when London craftsmen were first required to bring their artifacts to Goldsmiths' Hall for assaying and marking.”

Super cool! Its right by St Paul’s and at the end of the day I’ll get my own personalized stamp! It’s the little mark you see inside rings that tell you who made it and how what type of metal it is.



January 4, 2014

Happy New Year!

I know 2013 hasn't been a very good year for my blog. I've neglected it terribly and I feel bad about it. There was a point in my life where I couldn't wait to write a post and take photos specifically for publication. When I take hundreds of photos a day for work I find it difficult to come home and get out the camera for personal projects. I've become a bit jaded by photography recently and  I am hoping a new year can help me regain my passion for capturing life.

Every year I do a slideshow of my photos from the year paired with my favorite song of the year. You can see all my past slideshows here.


September 10, 2013

Jewellry Projects


From the age of 10 to my late teens, I made most of the jewelry I wore. I loved making friendship bracelets, bracelets with my name on it with little alphabet beads and macrame necklaces.

Ten years ago I began seriously investing in good quality beads to string jewelry as a way to make some money during my summer's home from university. I had a little fan base of women who loved what I was making and would buy up every piece, but it just wasn't practical to keep it up at uni and later in my interning years.

Since my Mo'ma's visit in July I've been making a lot of jewelry. I have had constant deliveries from the states full of jewelry making supplies and I am really excited about projects I have planned. I wanted to learn wire wrapping and knocked out my first project in about five hours and I really love it.

I had to relearn simple loops to make earrings with headpins as I haven't made any jewelry since migrating to the UK. I have been sketching out ideas for bead loomed projects, more wire wrapping including a ring!

I am considering taking a silversmithing class in the next few months as a lot of the jewelry I want to make will require a bit of soldering. Mo'ma (pronounced like the Museum of Modern Art because my husband's Scottish tongue doesn't allow him to say momma with a southern twang) makes her own glass beads in her home studio in Florida and I'd like to work with her beads in my own jewelry. She doesn't think her beads are good enough to sell online, but I really disagree.

Mo'ma makes beautiful glass beads that she fires in her own kiln and I think between us Anderson Women we can make some nice pieces. In fact most of my family has the jewelry making bug including my 18 year-old nephew who made my mom an amazing necklace out of chainmail.

I will hopefully have a lot of pieces to put up here in the next few months in my attempt to have jewelry to go with all my outfits.

August 27, 2013

Playing Catch-Up

I know, I know, it's been way too long. Four wholes months have passed since my last post and to recap what's been going on I have compiled a series of lists.

Here goes:

  
Number of Holidays Went On:    1 

My mom and her partner Gregg came over in July for two weeks and in that time we all fly up to Edinburgh and spent a few days doing touristy things and visiting old friends. Then we rented a car and I drove up to the highlands. I booked a remote cottage in the middle of the Glencoe mountains and my in-laws ventured down from further north to meet us for a few days. 

We had an amazing time staying smack-dab in the middle of the most stunning mountains I have ever seen. We celebrated the 4th of July grilling hot dogs and burgers in the Highland rain with haggis, neeps and tatties. It was a very odd mix but it worked! Then we can back down to England… boo.

Number of Books Read:    6

Wildwood, Under Wildwood, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Penelope

Number of Horrible Job Interviews:    1 

No comment.

Number of Exotic Animals I've Cuddled:     1 Troop

I went to Colchester Zoo to photograph the Director. We wanted to get photos of him with animals and he took me in to the Lemur enclosure. I didn't realize we'd be right in among them and I was blown away by the critters!! They have the softest pads on their paws. I was in love!!

Number of Crafty Things I've Made:    7+

My mother's visit rekindled my love of jewellery making while she was here and I've played around with a few pieces (see next post) while planning some cool ones. Did you know my mother is super talented and makes her own glasses beads at her house in Florida.


Number of Music Festivals Attended:    1ish

I've only paid to go to one festival, Field Day, in London back in May, but I have covered a few for work. Billy's best mate Brian and his boyfriend Matt came over from Belfast for the weekend so it was really fun! Oh and I got to see Animal Collective for the first time. Here's a little Su fact: I picked one of their songs to walk "down the aisle" to at my wedding.
 

Number of Sick Days:    2 1/2

I came down with some bug the week after mom's left and I chalk it up to all the traveling I did and forgetting to take my vitamins regularly.


Number of Buildings I've Scaled:     1

I went to photograph the mayor of Colchester abseiling down Town Hall for charity one Sunday. I asked to take photos from the top 100 feet up in the air and they had to strap me in to get the shoots. After I was done they said they quickest way down was to climb down the facade. Without hesitation I said "YES!" and proceeded to learning how to do it while passing my camera gear off to one of the men in charge. 

Lets say I've never done anything like this and I thought I had to keep my feet on building and when I came down a ledge my feet came away and my shoulder hit the building while the crowd collectively sucked in a breath. But I'm alive and I did it before the mayor! 

Number of Athletic Pursuits:    3 (almost 4)

I am super in to cycling these days. Billy and I try and get out on our bikes as much as possible during the week and we average a ten mile ride at the weekend. I want to work up to a huge cycling trip next year. I am also really loving pilates. I am going once a week now but I think I'd like to up it to two to really see the benefits. Apart from going to the gym (not as regularly as I should) I am starting a yoga class next week too.
 

Number of times I went to write a blog post and then procrastinated:    87