Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Dylan's birthday - pencil case

The two people pictured in my first ever post are two of my favourite people in the world. I met them when I was in New Zealand for 6 months during my gap year last year. I stayed with Donna-Maree's sister when I was working in Wellington and we met and became close, while Dylan is the cutest and most polite kid you'll ever meet. He was 2 and a half when I met him and it has just been his fourth birthday! I can't believe it!

I started making his birthday gift in the summer as I had plenty of time then and I knew I wouldn't later on in the term to really think about something good. Dylan is at preschool at the moment but soon he will go to proper school.. and he will need a pencil case! (I decided). I got some great cars/trucks fabric in my heydey shop order so I made him a pencil case, using the same technique I used for the zippered pouches.

I put some pencils I bought with Dylan's name on them in the pencil case and managed to find loads of cool Cars (Disney) stationary! I also put in some cars stickers and cars tattoos (he really likes cars!) and included some sweets, of course!

This was his homemade card. Still can't figure out how to turn my pictures! Or at least I know how to do it but not why they still come up the wrong way here!

Here's the birthday boy opening up his gift!

I got an adorable thank you video from him sent to me today. He was very happy with his pressies :)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Egg Fried Rice

I make egg fried rice quite a lot so I thought I'd share my way of doing it. It's much healthier than ordering it and is super easy. I usually do everything by eye but I'll try to measure it this time so the recipe works.

Egg Fried Rice a la me
Serves 2 

Enough rice for 2
1-2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2-1 tsp Toasted sesame oil
2 Spring onions
1 Egg
Sprinkle of pepper

To begin, cook the rice according to instructions. Do not overcook! Drain and let the rice cool until at least luke warm. Warm spray oil or vegetable oil in a pan, then add rice. Fry for a minute, then add the soy sauce and sesame oil. Fry for a further three-four minutes, push to the side, then add the egg, immediately breaking the yolk and gently scrambling it. When the egg is no longer raw, start to mix with the rice and fry it all for a further two-three minutes. Sprinkle in the pepper to taste then finally add the finely chopped spring onions to fry for one more minute. Serve immediately.

With this dish I did honey-soy salmon (I can get awesome things like salmon on a student budget if I go to the store an hour before closing - good tip!). I mixed clear honey and soy with pinch of salt and a clove of garlic to taste and covered the salmon with that and finely chopped spring onions. I baked it for about 10 minutes (as I like my salmon rare) and it came out as a perfect accompaniment to my egg fried rice.

Possibly my best meal as a student to date?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Steak, Ale and Mushroom Pie

Pies are one of the great British foods. I've never attempted to make a pie before so I decided to try one out. I found multiple recipes for the type of pie I wanted to make, which are here, here, and here but they all had an ingredient I didn't have, so I decided to make one on my own accord with these three recipes as a fall-back. In the end these are the ingredients I used:

Chopped beef steak
Vegetable oil
Worcestershire sauce
Tomato ketchup
Gravy Granules
Plain flour
Store-bought shortcrust pastry
Salt and pepper

I started by cooking the onions in a generous amount of oil until softened. Then I added the chopped steak and cooked until just browned. The mushrooms went in next with a bit more oil and they were cooked a few minutes. Next I added half the bottle of ale. It fizzed a lot! I stirred consistently. I added a dash of Worcestershire sauce, tomato ketchup and mustard according to my taste, and then the a bit more ale after it had simmered for a few minutes. Then I added some boiling water and gravy granules to thicken it up a bit and salt and pepper to taste. I let it simmer and ending up adding all the ale by adding a little at a time, and let it simmer some more. Keep testing the meat - I wanted to get it tender. I did add a few separate spoonfuls of flour to thicken the sauce further, and simmered in between adding it.

I didn't have a pie dish so I had to make do with a quiche dish wrapped in foil as otherwise it would have leaked out the bottom! It was a bit shallow but worked out fine in the end.

When I was happy with the thickness of the sauce and tenderness of the meat I poured it into my makeshift pie dish then covered it with store-bought shortcrust pastry. I had to trim to size and cut a small hole in the top so air could escape. This is my pie in the oven! I baked it for about 40 minutes - until I thought the pastry looked cooked enough.

Perfect accompaniment - peas! The pie was delicious, especially with some hot gravy poured over it.

This didn't last long.