Tips & Tricks: #1 Freezing Fresh Bread

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I love fresh bread because I’m human and all humans love bread, if you don’t then you’re obviously some sort of weird duck. Ducks love bread though right?… Whatever.
Anyway, I love fresh bread but tend to buy it, eat one glorious slice of it and approximately five minutes later, it’s covered in green powdery mould. Eww.
So to avoid this, I’ve started buying fresh loaves, cutting them into slices on the day of purchase and then freezing them. If you do this they can last months (well not in our house because we eat it all). It’s lovely to wake up and know you can have freshly toasted bread with your eggs for breakfast or a defrosted piece of soughdough with soup for lunch. So here’s how you do it…

1. Quick: It’s very important to cut up your loaf and freeze it as soon as possible, don’t wait for it to go stale. The fresher the bread the fresher it will freeze. Once defrosted or toasted, it will taste the same as the day you bought it, marvellous.
2. Wrap: Slice your loaf as evenly as you can and either wrap several slices in a few layers of cling film or pop them into airtight freezer bags and freeze. You can wrap a whole loaf up together if you like but I find it easier to store them around other frozen items if you do it in batches.
3. Eat: Once frozen simply pull the slices apart and pop straight in the toaster for toast. We don’t have a ‘from frozen’ button on our toaster, so I just toast it how I would normally toast a piece of bread. I don’t even extend the time but if you think it needs a bit longer, then an extra 30 seconds should do it.
To defrost the bread for sandwiches, simply remove the slices you want from the freezer but keep them wrapped in cling film. If you’ve taken a slice from a big batch then wrap it up in a fresh piece of clingfilm. I tend to do this the night before so it’s ready for me in the morning. Defrosting on the day only takes a few hours at room temperature.
4. What else can I freeze? I freeze all my bread including pitta bread, rolls, wraps, tortillas and even hot crossed buns. Just make sure you wrap them correctly to prevent any air getting to them and use within 3 – 4 months.
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Piccini Chianti £6


Piccini Chianti £6… 
I love red wine but it doesn’t like me very much but I don’t care, I still drink it at every available opportunity (so most evenings). What? I have a stressful job, don’t judge me!
Anyway, I don’t claim to know much about wine but I do know what I like and that’s a nice easy drinking red with a smooth finish and at £6 this Chianti always makes its way into my shopping basket. So, if you’re anything like me and spend far too long in the wine isle bamboozled, then buy this crowd pleaser instead of picking the bottle with the prettiest label (don’t worry I do that too).
Piccini Chianti 75cl £6. Available at Sainsbury’s, Tesco & Morrisons

 

First glass of wine…
Last glass of wine.

(This is not an ad. All products featured in the section are products I genuinely use and like. No money has exchanged hands (unfortunately for me).

Sacla’ Fiery Chilli Pesto Pots

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Sacla’ Fiery Chilli Pesto Pots… I love pesto but what I don’t love, is a jar of mouldy pesto. Like most people, I have a terrible habit of buying pesto, using one tablespoon and then allowing it to fester in the back of my fridge. Well no more my friends because Sacla’ have cleverly created pesto pots, praise the lord!
I found them a very welcome cupboard surprise when all I had in my fridge was a few cloves of garlic and a jar of Branston pickle. Ten minutes later I was scoffing a bowl of fiery spaghetti with a glass of wine, winning!
They come in three flavours, classic pesto, sun-dried tomato and my favourite, fiery chilli. Sacla’ Pesto pots 4 x 45g from £2 (available at most major supermarkets).

(This is not an ad. All products featured in the section are products I genuinely use and like. No money has exchanged hands (unfortunately for me).

The hidden horrors in my beauty bag…

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The hidden horrors in my beauty bag…And I’m not talking about the 2 year old mascara and that leaking bottle of nail varnish. I’m talking about the horrible realisation, that over half the make up in my seemingly ‘innocent’ make up bag, is tested on animals.
Really? Over half? That seems like a lot!
Yes, yes it does doesn’t it. Now call me a big naive thicko, but I just assumed this sort of thing didn’t really happen anymore. How have I been slathering rabbit tears all over my face for over a decade and not realising it? How have leading brands such as Clinque, L’Oreal, Estée Lauder and even Dove (Dove for god sake) managed to slip under the radar? Either people have stopped caring or they don’t know. Either way, I do care so I need to start disposing of all my beautifully packaged, wonderfully fragranced, lotions and potions in order to silence the small crying badger living in my conscience.

But let’s get real for a second. As much as I would love to burn all of these products and replace them immediately with cruelty free alternatives, I’m (a) not made of money and (b) replacing like for like is not going to be easy and requires extensive research. So this is what this blog is for, hooray! So, in addition to fattening us all up with recipes, I’ll also be testing and reviewing cruelty free make up because you know, it’s not like I have anything better to do. So without further a do, lets have a snoop in my beauty bag…
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Animal Tested:
1. Clinique Anti Blemish solutions Liquid Make Up £25 – 02 Fresh Ivory
2. Benefit Watts Up Soft Focus Highlighter £24.50
3. M.A.C Pro Longware Concealer 19ml £18
4. M.A.C Opulash Optimum Black Mascara £15
5. Rimmel London Sun Shimmer Bronzer 
6. Elizabeth Arden Moisturising Lipstick Matt Finish £21 – Nude 43 
7. Bourjois Liner Pinceau Liquid Eyeliner
8. Clarins Eye Make Up Palette £35
9. Estée Lauder Blusher (discontinued)
10. Okay so I forgot to include this in the shot but I always have one of these in my bag. Maybelline New York Baby Lips Peach Kiss Lip Balm £2.99. I’m so upset about this one!

Cruelty Free: 
1. Nars Lip Cover – Overheated £21
2. KIKO Weightless Perfection Wet & Dry Foundation SPF 30 £13.90
3. KIKO Velvet Passion Matt Lipstick – Gossamer Emotion £10.90
4. The Body Shop 3 in 1 Brow Definer £9
5. The Body Shop Bold OverSized Felt Eyeliner – Black £10
6. NARS Duo Eyeshadow Hammamet £25
7. The Body Shop Face & Body Brush £16

Well that was a disappointing. MAC, Clarins, Benefit, Maybelline, Estée Lauder, Bourjois, Rimmel and Clinique, shame on you! From my research, I found that most of these products claim to be cruelty free but admit to testing on animals when ‘required to by law’, this means they’re sold in China. In China it’s compulsory for any company that sells cosmetics to conduct tests on animals. So, I guess I won’t be buying those again anytime soon, but what are the alternatives? This is what I’ll be researching in the coming weeks, starting with foundation.
I’m very upset about my Clinique foundation, I’ve been using it for years and with good reason. Not only does this foundation offer up good coverage for my spot prone skin but it also contains an anti blemish formula. It’s buttery lightweight texture makes it a dream to apply, damn you Clinique! This one’s gonna be hard to replace, wish me luck!

HOUMOUS WEEK: Houmous Olympics

This week is houmous week. And why is it houmous week? Because I said so, hooray! This Middle Eastern, middle class delight has exploded (not literally) in popularity over the past decade and it’s not hard to understand why. So, join me and a few friends in saying a big thank you to the humble chickpea by eating as much of it as humanly possible. Over the next week I’ll be testing the chickpea to it’s very limits, I’ll be spreading it, cooking it, buying it, making it and of course eating shit tons of it, all in the name of science… Well not really in the name of science but that sounded good. Anyway, without further ado, lets kick off the festivities with a little contest I like to call ‘The Houmous Olympics’…

The Houmous Olympics:
My housemate and I are obsessed with houmous, we go through at least three or four pots a week. Our staple buy is currently ‘Sainsbury’s So Organic’ but think it’s time for us to broaden our houmous horizons and test some of the other major players on the market. Unfortunately, Aldi, Asda, Budgens, Co-op, and Morrissons will not be participating in this compitition because those supermarkets aren’t in Camden (and I wasn’t willing to get the bus to Holloway).

Each houmous will be tested by houmous enthusiast and housemate Isabelle, her boyfriend John, my best friend Johnny and myself. We’ll be judging the contenders on texture, value, flavour, eatability (yes I know that’s not a word but whatever) and… Oh that will do. Now, the contenders are:

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1. M&S Houmous With Extra Virgin Olive Oil £1 (200g)

2. Lidl (Meadow fresh) £1 (300g)

3.  Sainsbury’s So Organic Houmous £1.20 (200g)

4. WholeFoods (San Amvrosia Health Foods) £1.69 (142g)

5. Tesco Organic Houmous £1.05 (200g)

6. Waitrose Organic Rich & Creamy Houmous £1.25 (200g)

LET BATTLE COMMENCE!!!

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(Also, I’m aware that I perhaps picked the wrong table to do this on)

In 6th place…
M&S Houmous With Extra Virgin Olive Oil
What a surprise, Isabelle and I thought this one tasted like dust and vomit. It had the texture of cake mixture and paste and it unpleasantly coated our mouthes leaving a lingering rapeseed flavour, not pleasant. But at £1 it’s very reasonable, so if you’re skint and don’t mind the taste of sick, this houmous might be the one for you. 1/5

5th
Tesco Organic Houmous £1.05
Not much better, a very mousey mayonaisey texture, which again left our mouths feeling unpleasantly caked. Not quite so flavoursome but had a bitter artificial aftertaste. Too much sesame seed paste and not enough citrus, pretty sickly. 1/5

4th
Lidl (Meadow fresh) £1
This one was easily the best value but the pot didn’t come properly sealed which bothered me. Made me think there was some kid out back with a bucket of houmous just slopping it into plastic pots. The texture was very loose and sickie but the flavour wasn’t bad, very nutty. I found the tahini flavour overpowering, John thought it tasted like dog food but Isabelle really liked it. Mixed feelings. 3/5

3rd
WholeFoods (San Amvrosia Health Foods)
I LOVED this one, I’ve been going out of my way to buy this houmous for years, however it doesn’t stand up as well as I thought it would. It had a very subtle flavour but a lovely firm but smooth buttery texture. However, at £1.69 for what can only be described as half a pot it doesn’t deliver on value. Mildly disappointing. 4/5

2nd
Sainsbury’s So Organic Houmous
Coming in at a very impressive second place is my household fave, trusted old Sainsbury’s. This houmous is moreish without being sickly, it’s subtle flavour make it an all rounder, a serious crowd pleaser. It has a smooth but firm texture, I could happily eat an entire tub like a yogurt. I know, I’m a monster. 4/5

1st
Waitrose Organic Rich & Creamy Houmous
Okay so this houmous is the clear winner and the king of everything. It’s perfection, it has a beautifully smooth texture but is ever so slightly loose. It’s rich and flavourful without being sickly and has a fresh citrus after taste. Well done Waitrose, best £1.25 I ever spent. 5/5

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Quorn for thought…

I don’t really know much about Quorn, I know it’s some sort of protein from a fungus which sounds a bit rank actually, but I’d have given my right arm for it when I was a kid. My massive ugly veggie burger, disintegrating and staring at me on the BBQ next to all the other uniform beef burgers. “Errrr, what’s that? It looks like a poo” my friends would squeal, “yeah, it tastes like one too” I would think to myself, before running off to eat my embarrassing burger without anyone else noticing it’s freakish appearance. I like to think that Quorn was invented for tortured vegetarian kids like myself.

Who has a larder anyway

I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t have a ‘lahhhdahhh’ and don’t think I know anyone who does. I have a small cupboard that I share with my housemate, it’s so full that every time I open it, I risk a couple of cans of chickpeas falling on my head and killing me. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I feel increasing pressure to stock my imaginary larder with canned goods, nuts and other stock cupboard ‘essentials’ in the event of an apocalypse or a spontaneous cake bake, both wildly unlikely. That’s not to say that I don’t love to bake cakes, I do, but what’s wrong with buying ingredients for things as and when you need them like the Italians do? It just doesn’t seem very economical to stock up on things you don’t even think you’re going to use. Every week I try to make my shop stretch as far as possible by only buying what I need (mainly because I’m skint) but subsequently this has made me a more imaginative and experimental cook. Hooray for being poor! My mum has a larder/lahhhdahhh (most mums do of course) although I’d sooner turn it into some sort of kitten obstacle course.

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