Saturday, 9 November 2013

Cooking Diaries: Chilli con carne and rice for the student on a budget

Image by cyclonebill

Hello! Baawo! Ndewo! Hola! Aloha! Salut! Shalom! Guten tag!
You know, I've been really enjoying all the recipes from the "student on a budget series" like Spaghetti Bolognese and Shepherd's pie. Its been a great way for me to enjoy quality without having to break the bank. I can use the money saved towards other things like buying gifts for myself and my family for Christmas.Speaking of Christmas, has anyone made a shopping list? I certainly have, it mostly consists of books I've been wanting to get on Amazon and some cool Jewellery. I've already started buying things for the "fam", because you never know who is going home for Christmas and when the person will be going. Anyway, I digress. I made something really delicious and easy this week. I made Mexican chilli con carne with rice(First it was Italian, then Irish, now Mexican; I feel like my mouth is making international trips!). This recipe is probably the easiest one I've made so far in terms of technicality so I'll keep my explanations short and sweet. The ingredients include:

450g beef mince
1onion, peeled and chopped
100g mushrooms, chopped
1 tin kidney beans
1 beef stock cube(Knorr)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chilli powder
225ml water
125ml red wine - reduced to half by boiling
salt and pepper
200g rice(50g/portion)

 -Fry the mince in a pan until it has all browned, then add the chopped onions, mushrooms and chilli powder and continue cooking for approximately 5 minutes, then add the other ingredients and simmer for 25-30 minutes season with salt and pepper to taste.
-Meanwhile cook rice in boiling water for 10-20(depending on the type).

This was the first time I'd ever tried Mexican food, I'd always wanted to try it back in Nigeria but there weren't very many Mexican restaurants and it didn't seem like a very popular cuisine in the Lagos scene. I must say I loved it, Mexican chilli is definitely something I'll be trying again(next week maybe?) because I have some left over ingredients. Its so delicious and spicy, I made mine especially hot but you can minimise the hotness by putting 1 tablespoon chilli powder instead of 2 and even removing the bell pepper from your recipe. Its easily customisable to your preference. Enjoy!

Cooking Diaries: Shepherd's pie for the student on a budget

Image by cyclonebill

Hello! Baawo! Ndewo! Hola! Aloha! Salut! Shalom! Guten tag!
Its been a minute hasn't it? I recently got some feedback from a friend who enjoyed the blog post on Spagetti Bolognese and promised to try it(I'll definitely hold him to that promise). That positive feedback gave me the courage to try out another recipe and share it on the blog. This time, it was the British/Irish staple, Shepherd's pie. Initially I was bit sceptical, because of the idea of baking mashed potatoes(I didn't think I'd find baked potatoes delicious) but I turned out great! Here's how I made mine, starting with the ingredients used(Recipe for 4 portions):

450g beef mince
1 onion, chopped
150g mushrooms
200g salad mix or
100g carrots(chopped) and 100g peas(cooked)
4 tablespoons tomato ketchup
4/5 large potatoes

The Process?

- First, fry off the mince in a pan then add all other ingredients and place in an oven-proof dish.

grease the oven proof dish with butter

- Peel the potatoes and dice them.

- Cook the diced potatoes in salted boiling water for 20 minutes and mash them up with a little butter and skimmed milk.

- Place the mashed potatoes on top of the cooked mince.

- Bake at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for approx 30-35 minutes until lightly browned on top and around the edges.

garnished with a dollop of mayonnaise

You can serve with other vegetables of your choice, probably a vegetable salad? I loved eating it just as is but if you feel like having an accompaniment, it might as well be something healthy like vegetable salad. Enjoy!


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Guerlain's La Petite Robe Noire: The perfect dress in a bottle

I'm sooo excited! After several weeks of going on a "perfume fast"(which I was forced to do because I couldn't couldn't find a perfume I liked and I didn't want to buy another bottle of my D&G's The One), I finally got a new scent. I bought La Petite Robe Noire a few days ago after smelling it on a colleague. I loved the sweet softness I perceived on her and after confirming the name of the perfume, I proceeded to stalk it in stores and online. Unfortunately(or should I say fortunately), I couldn't get the EDP formulation at the perfume stores close to me, some didn't even have it in stock at all. I had to check online for the perfume which turned out to be cheaper online than in some stores.

Fresh out of packaging.
When I finally got the perfume, I knew I had made the right choice. The perfume bottle is much more beautiful in person, I don't think the pictures do it justice. I also got a whiff of some nutty sweetness on the box(sealed new box)which I assumed came from the Almonds in the fragrance.

What does it smell like?
On first sniff/application, It has a beautiful fruity sweet smell like Ribena and vanilla( that's what comes to mind! :-). I don't find the sweetness sickening which is a bit surprising because it contains Liquorice. I don't like Liquorice as a sweet, I find its sharp smell to be really irritating(It is about 50 times sweeter than sugar) so when I find out that a perfume contains liquorice, the chances of me buying a full bottle of the perfume are slim. However the sweetness of the liquorice was balanced by the fruitiness of the red berries and the bergamot which has a certain sourness. I think anyone who likes a fruit sweet smell (which includes most women I know) would be convinced to buy it on first sniff, its definitely pleasant enough.
Thirty minutes later, the initial fruitiness gives way to some herbal spiciness. I'm not sure whether its the tea or the rose in the middle notes but I like how the perfume gradually reveals itself and gives way to the spiciness of its heart. You don't sniff yourself thirty minutes later and experience a drastic shock.
A few hours into the day, it finally reveals that nuttiness I first got a whiff of on the pack. It is glorious and warm. I think half way through at the middle note, the initial warm effect one feels is slightly reduced by the spiciness but on dry down, Its back to its warmth. Or maybe after some hours, one becomes used to that level of warmth? Either way, its sufficiently balmy and sweet throughout. And make no mistake, this is a vanilla fragrance. You will smell the vanilla from the first sniff to the dry down several hours later however I don't think its that annoying generic vanilla scent in most perfumes rather its a complex vanilla, a vanilla with a story to tell.

In terms of longevity, La Petite Robe Noire is good enough and lasts most of the entire day. For the sillage however, I don't think it has a strong sillage; I mean, no one has asked about or really noticed the fragrance on me. I did smell it on my colleague though so it probably reacts differently on my skin(not that I mind anyway). Would I wear it every day? Definitely! Then again, it depends on your fragrance personality. While some people might find it a bit too chic for day wear, some(like me) would like to be more glamorous with their day scents than their day clothes. I like La Petite Robe noire, its a pleasant fruity floral; a modern offering by a historic perfume house. I won't call it girly, rather I would say its youthful and fresh. Like Guillaume Henry (Former Carven designer) once said, "[Freshness] is not question of age, its a question of identity" and I think this is a fragrance that a lot of women would identify with.


Monday, 7 October 2013

Cooking Diaries: Spaghetti Bolognese for the student on a budget

The first recipe I tried in the recipe booklet was Spaghetti bolognese, a meat based Italian sauce. Its a classic and you don't really need a lot of ingredients to make it. I'd made it before in Nigeria but not as rich and as tasty as this. In the original recipe, beef is used however I'm not particularly fond of beef so I decided to use turkey mince which is a leaner and healthier alternative. This recipe serves 4 meals.

450g beef/turkey mince
1 Large onion, peeled and chopped
150g mushrooms(I used chestnut mushrooms for their strong flavour)
1 beef stock cube
1 level dessertspoon dried oregano
1 level dessertspoon dried basil
1 tin chopped tomatoes(I chopped raw tomatoes)
200ml red wine-reduced by 1/2
150ml water
1 level tablespoon tomato paste
1 level dessertspoon corn flour (to thicken)
Salt and pepper
Carrot peels (optional)

70-100g Spaghetti/portion (Cook in boiling water for 15-20 minutes with a pinch of salt)

The process?
- In a saucepan fry mince off, (the mince usually contains enough fat to fry dry, but its advisable to add a small amount of oil to prevent it sticking) for approximately 10 minutes.

- Add chopped onions and mushrooms to mince.

- Place red wine in another small pan and boil fast until reduced by heat.

- Add stock cube, oregano, basil, chopped tomatoes, reduced red wine, water, tomato paste and salt and pepper to mince and simmer for 20 minutes.

- Stir in corn flour, to thicken just before serving and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- I added carrot peels to the sauce just to try something different.

 - Bolognese sauce could also be added to macaroni instead of spaghetti to create an interesting alternative or rice(I should try that *wink*).
- To reheat frozen portions, defrost  for 4 hours and then reheat in a pan for 5-8 minutes or reheat in microwave oven(covered) for 3-4 minutes alternatively microwave from frozen (covered) in 8-10 minutes.

Spaghetti bolognese is a really delicious hearty dish and I'll definitely be making it regularly from now on. Before I even added the corn flour, I was literally salivating and couldn't wait to finish making it. Sorry this post is coming late, I basically strong-armed myself to finishing up this post before midnight, I'm just busy busy busy!  As you can tell, I modified the recipe to my taste and preference. As you get better at making it, you  can gather more recipes for it and become more creative with it. Enjoy!


Friday, 27 September 2013

Bournemouth Diaries: Discovering new tastes

Hello! Baawo! Ndewo! Hola! Aloha! Salut! Shalom! Guten tag! (I googled them, I'm not that cool!) I'm so glad to be back on the blogosphere, I've missed a lot! Now that I'm settling into a routine, I just want to share a few pictures of food dishes and snacks I've tried, and found to be interesting. 
I had Lamb balti and nan(bread) for the first time; I'm in love with Indian food!

I didn't like this though

Caramel macchiato(yum!)

falafel, humus, taboule (Israeli/Lebanese dish)

No matter what country you're from, pizza is universally loved!

Got this from M&S, basically I can move to Belgium because of this! #lovebelgianwaffles

It was a tearful departure! #thelasttwostanding

Working on my blogposts

when I first saw this, I thought "naa I can cook" until I opened it and found out that I could only make 3 out of the 14 meals in the booklet! #neveroverestimate #britishdishes
The thing about coming to live in a place where the percent of black residents is estimated at about 1% of the population is that you'll probably not get a specialty store that sells your country's food ingredients. This has been a hard pill to swallow for most of my Nigerian (in fact African) friends here but I decided to take the opportunity to discover new cuisines and hopefully get some cool recipes. I've tried out a few dishes and snacks, I'm definitely going to try more, especially at restaurants. I haven't tried out any traditional English dish but I'm hoping the recipe booklet I got from the chaplaincy would help with that. In fact, in order to put some pressure on my lazy ass to make something,  I'll post a dish I've made from the book in eleven days (Mon. 7th October). I can't wait, till next time!

Bournemouth Diaries: Discovering new places

Bournemouth Diaries: Discovering new places
Its been a while since I last blogged, in fact I've also been away from social media in general for some months now. Initially it was due to my Job and some volunteer work I took up in my church, trying to balance work with other activities I was interested in. It wasn't easy and unfortunately Internet activities had to suffer for it(I honestly don't know how other bloggers do it, they must have super powers!). Now that I'm trying to write this "comeback" post, hopefully I'm forgiven! 

 I decided some months ago to pursue a foreign masters degree, although initially  I was not sure what country I wanted to study in. Eventually I decided on the UK, specifically Bournemouth University. I chose the school for two reasons:
  1. The widely acclaimed media school.
  2. The great weather.

Now that I'm here in Bournemouth, the reasons have increased (mostly because of the town itself ). I'm happy I made this choice, although it wasn't easy initially. I experienced some serious culture shock when I got here which I wasn't prepared for. I had (wrongly) assumed that because I spoke English(spoken it all my life!), watched Downton Abbey a few times, read the Financial times online and loved trying new food that I would not experience an intense culture shock. But I did. And along with that, came loneliness and slight depression(I'm still recovering from that). However, I've realized that these are normal feelings that come with being in a new country with a different culture and different values. Its okay to be initially confused and a bit depressed, just know that all the other international students are going through the same feelings and you're not alone.
Anyway, I'm really excited to share with you a few pictures of places and things that have caught my eye this past few days. 

The frist day I arrived

My view

Bournemouth uni has some nice art displays around the campus

Like I said, our media school is awesome!

Art installation for the "arts by the sea" festival, Bournemouth beach

Bournemouth Pier


Cheap and slightly effective

There were many pictures and I'd love to post them all but if I did, this would be be one very long post. You can check out more (better looking) pictures on my instagram page @TFORTOPE.
The top reasons I love Bournemouth(the town and the Uni) are now the following:
  1. The widely acclaimed media school (like seriously awesome!)
  2. My classmates(too many awesome people!)
  3. The beach.
  4. The great weather(better than most parts of the UK at least).
  5. Dolphin shopping centre (TOPSHOP, Primark, M&S, NEXT, NEW LOOK, The Perfume Shop, so many affordable options! )
  6. Indian food(check new next post)
  7. Belgian waffles(still part of my next post!)
P.S. - I'm certain that I'll have a longer list by the end of my Masters!
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