Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Chloe Likes To Eat: Socially Distant Chef Episode 2

Well, here we are, still staying home, or at least Tom & I are.

I'm calling this one Salads & Sangria

Courgette, Pea & Courgette Salad, Garlic Croutons

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I love a salad, as you will be able to tell by the end of this episode! This one was a bit of a use up special a couple of days before the grocery run, and is a favourite with any kind of green bean/pea/leaf you enjoy. It works best if you mix the textures up to keep it interesting- chopped, grated, spiralised (do people still do that?) etc. This version is a bit like this:
1 grated courgette
Half a cucumber diced (sort of, I have zero knife skills)
A couple of handfuls of frozen peas, defrosted in cold water
Dressed with lemon juice, a spoonful of pesto, lots of black pepper and topped with some stale bread mixed with a little bit of garlic butter and roasted off until crispy.
Side of grilled tendersteam broccoli leftover from the night before

Pad Thai Salad

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A new ‘grocery day’ tradition/treat! A bag of prepared stir fry veg whilst it’s all still crisp and the bean sprouts are safe to eat, I base my Pad Thai dressing on this BBC Good Food recipe:
2 tsp tamarind Paste
3 tbsp fish Sauce (or use the liquor from rehydrated soaked mushrooms with a touch of soy/tamari for a vegan option)
2 tsp sugar
Zest 1 lime
Pinch chilli flakes or the Jamie Oliver trick- grate a bit of a frozen whole chilli in

I mix it all together in a bowl, add rice noodles soaked for approx 10 mins in hot water, the raw stir fry veg, mix really well, and serve with some crushed salted peanuts to top.

It’s fresh, salty, sour, and a tiny bit sweet all at the same time, and the longest job of the whole thing is the 10 mins you leave the noodles sitting in hot water!


Lebanase Inspired Salad Bowl

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I have a few favourite Lebanese restaurants in the UK and also Spain, it’s got some cracking flavours and lots of meze dishes which are epic inspiration for the ‘bowl format’ which has been featuring heavily in this household lately. I always say ‘inspired’ when talking about these, because I’m painfully aware there’s nothing authentic about these dishes, but they are truthfully inspired by fantastically smooth baba ganoush, tangy fattoush and fluffy tabouleh and some of the most fun and raucous meals I've shared with family and friends over the years.

This one includes:
Chargrilled slices of courgette and onion tossed in tahini, garlic and lemon dressing
Chargrilled peppers
Chargrilled slices of aubergine, with soy sauce and crushed garlic poured over
Fattoush style salad of tomatoes and stale bread with a harissa, red wine vinegar and zaatar
Minted yoghurt
Chickpeas roasted with a touch of salt and pepper

Falafel Bowl

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Told you, another bowl it is.

This one is a bit of a scraping the barrel special from the freezer as I made this a day or two before our grocery shop when the house was devoid of much fresh…
Pepper, edamame and grain salad (from the freezer section of Aldi) with a bit of added sumac
Pea, Courgette & cucumber salad with a lemon and tahini dressing (leftover from the top salad)
Guacamole made from frozen avocado purchased a couple of months ago- one to never repeat since as there was zero flavour.
Gosh! Spinach and pine nut falafel (we get them from Lidl, but I don’t think they’re a Lidl brand)
A few leaves from the baby lettuce in my Aerogarden
Harissa mayo

And something for when the sun comes back out...
Peach & Raspberry Sangria

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This can be made alcohol free or you can add a bottle of rose to it- whatever floats your boat, but it’s bloody delicious enjoyed in the sunshine:

Add raspberries (I used frozen ones), chopped tinned peaches and ice to a jug, the juice from the tinned peaches and either a 1L bottle of tonic water and/or a bottle of rose. Stir. Enjoy.

And that concludes another episode- I hope you won't judge me too harshly for my horrendously lit, unedited images- more work to do for me! Is there anything you'd love to see me chat about food wise- a particular cuisine using store cupboard/basic ingredients? Or maybe the cocktail making needs to be a regular feature? In any case, you can see regular snaps of food and drink amidst the rest of my waffle on Instagram: chloelikes2talk and I've even reinstalled Twitter (same handle)!
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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Old Sneakers New

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Full disclaimer, I actually took on this… can I call it a project? I’m not sure, let’s call it a mini project, anyway, it was completed back in mid-February before I went to the States. Remember that, travelling not only outside your own front door but to an airport and overseas! Yeah, feels like a distant memory to me too. ANYWAY…. I had a pair of cheapo white sneakers kicking about and although I love white sneakers to go with pretty much anything, these ones had an undortunate meeting with my friend’s dropped glass of red wine and then a questionable CityMapper route suggestion that turned out to be a playing field on a particularly wet evening.

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Exhibit A...

In combination with being unemployed and trying to not spend money on things and a personal pledge I’ve made to try and extend the life of my clothes and shoes through repair or alteration that meant no new sneaks for me, however versatile a white pair might be. So I dyed them.

I didn’t know if this would work- I was fairly confident the canvas of the shoe would take the die, but not sure it the toe caps and soles would stain, I also wasn’t sure if the colour would be even thanks to the multitude of stains and marks, but I bought myself a Dylon Pod in a colour even more versatile in my wardrobe than white, and incidentally a colour I’ve never seen sneakers available to buy in either… Forest Green.

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Not bad right? For £6odd, a couple of wash cycles and a bucket load of time to dry, as good as, no, BETTER than new sneakers- because anything this colour green will be superior to its equivalent in any other colour.

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I used Dylon Dye Pod in Forest Green- it cost me around £6 from eBay and there’s over 20 different colours. They’re also available on Amazon, from Wilko, Hobbycraft and lots of supermarkets sell dye too. Although there are lots of machine dye options out there, I’m a fan of these because they don’t require adding salt to your washing machine or preparing in hot water first. It’s as simple as unwrapping the pod and throwing the whole thing in the drum with your items. This isn’t an ad, Sarah from ESSBEEVEE used these on *that* Zara dress last year and I was inspired.

A few things to note:
- The Dylon instructions say add ‘damp’ items to the machine with the pod. I washed my sneakers in the machine first, so they were very wet, but it doesn’t seem to have hindered the process.
Manufacturers would almost always say you shouldn’t wash shoes in the machine as it degrades the inners. You might find with sneakers that machine washing them (you’ll need to wash them with the dye and again after the dye run at least) that the inner sole lifts a bit or the rubber part which provides stiffness to the heel starts to disintegrate
If you have a few things you’re planning to have a go at, check the Dylon spec for how much dye you will need based on the weight of your fabric. I only put my one pair of sneakers through with one pod, but it could easily have done two pairs or one pair and a couple of smaller items
You might have noticed the white stitching on my now pleasingly green sneaks is still showing, which I love, it was an unexpected bonus. It’s because the dye won’t take to anything that is 100% synthetic, and I very much enjoy the fact that they look like they were always this colour because of the stitch contrast. Worth noting if you’re not keen on a contrasting stitch.

- In my case, the dye cost almost as much as my original pair of sneakers (Aldi middle aisle FYI), but one important thing I wanted to make with this DIY/Repair/Upcycle/Project is a change in approach to disposable living. I’m not afraid to say that I’ve been a follower and consumer of fast fashion nor that despite having some decent skills with a sewing machine I would get rid of a t-shirt with a hole in. We are all on our own journey when it comes to learning how we can make positive changes in the way we consume things, and one decision I made last year was that I would attempt to repair any damaged clothing or shoes before recycling them (re-use before recycle) and if I were to buy any new clothing (something I’ve been trying to avoid), I would only buy items I would be prepared to and that were of sufficient quality that I could repair them.

I’m fully aware that dye comes with its own environmental impact, but I personally believe it’s better to keep my items in use for longer before they are recycled, so here’s a few other ideas on how to refresh some of the things that might be lurking in your own wardrobes…

Black and Navy dyes are a great way to revive faded dark trousers, especially those which show fading around pockets or seams. See also black jeans that might be more grey than black.

White or cream items which are stained or starting to yellow/grey from wash and wear take colour really well and will take anything from a pale lilac to a vivid cobalt thanks to the neutral base. This is especially useful if you have any items in your wardrobe which are tricky to match, why spend time and money hunting down the perfect shade of pink to go with that skirt when you can extend the life of something you already have?

Simple patterns like spots and stripes are often retained if they’re printed onto fabric as opposed to woven in, and turning a white spot into something exciting on a black background is a fun switch.

Lightweight curtains (often decorative ones) in a sensible shade of beige could be the new lease of life you need for your living room (especially if you’re currently spending all your time there), adding a splash of colour to a room can completely change how it feels.

Right, my washing machine is shouting me, as some of Tom’s summer shorts have come out of storage and are getting a refresh via some dye, here’s to the extended life of all our favourites, or just a change to your favourite colour.


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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Chloe Likes To Eat: Socially Distant Chef

I’ve always liked to cook. I grew up around food with parents in hospitality and I’m fortunate that my Dad (a Master Chef of Great Britain) has always been giving in passing me advice and indulging my interest. Whilst I’ve had a lot of time on my hands since losing my job in January, it’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve been able to unpack boxes of my kitchen kit and ingredients, some of which have been sealed since we moved out of our home of 4 years back in March 2019. Yeah, I know. Renovation work went on a bit….

So imagine a person whose happy place is the kitchen, suddenly finds herself with a mostly functioning kitchen at a time when there’s a lockdown and no job to go to…. The kitchen is my happy place…

I’m not posting any recipe posts for now- the landscape of food and recipe posts has changed a fair bit since I last did anything like that but I am sharing a few things that I’ve been making and eating…. Call it a quarantine food diary if you will…

Seed and nut granola
I LOVE pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, when roasted, the nuttiness and the crunch combined is everything, there’s also some chopped cashews in here as I found some in storage that were a little soft. Teamed with natural yoghurt and some rhubarb I stewed down in the slow cooker with honey, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Glorious.

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The return of PIZZA.
I haven’t made a decent pizza since March last year as the oven in the existing kitchen here was gas and older than me, not conducive to the thin, crisp bake I am fond. But now I have a shiny new oven, which has a high heat setting for precisely this purpose. I’m back in the game. Well, for as far as I can stretch my last tub of tomato sauce in the freezer. I don’t envisage being able to get tinned tomatoes will be that easy somehow.

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The best snack in the world. Ever.
Banana bread with dark chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts, toasted and smothered in peanut butter with a side of sliced apple.

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Lunches in the garden- EVERYTHING on toast.
Mushrooms cooked with garlic and olive oil and topped with goats cheese on one side, hummus, spinach and sriracha on the other. Bonus points for being able to eat it in the garden!
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And there have been a few drinks concoctions on the go too…

A personal favourite is frozen raspberries in tonic water or sparkling water. SO GOOD. Also nice with a heavy slug of vodka added… Complete in this instance with my RunDisney cup to have a video catch-up with my RunDisney partner in crime.

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I also jumped on the Dalgona coffee bandwagon too, and discovered it sort of works with the fine powdered strong Americano type instant coffee, although it doesn’t seem to whip up as thickly as some of the pictures I’ve seen, but I quite like it with a bit of viscosity to flavour the milk underneath as I wouldn’t often drink a very milky heavy coffee. My favourite version is to top the coffee onto creamed coconut blended with cold water and a touch of ice.

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