July Foodie Penpal – Sent!

Let me just preface this with how much I love the Foodie Penpal Swap. I received an amazing package from Emily of The Breukelen Life and I sent out my package to Ashley of Running my Way to a Full. My boyfriend Mark was laughing at how into my package I was getting. I was illustrating my labels, using my beautiful neon washi tape, and thinking of fun packaging. I had a blast putting it together. Ashley gave me some good criteria to work with, such as she is mostly healthy but has a sweet tooth, loves homemade and is training for a marathon and has lots of 1/2 marathons planned!

The Lean Green Bean

I tried to think of things that were local to Healdsburg (which is a lot) that combined make a total of less than $15 (not a lot). I raided my cupboards to contribute a few things, but mostly I made/shopped for the rest. I also wanted to make it seasonal and think of things that are fresh now and how to make them last for the winter.

Enter cherry vinegar. I love cherry vinegar made with balsamic. Super easy too – take beautiful ripe cherries that you would rather eat than do anything to, put them in a jar/bottle/etc mash them up, top with balsamic (even the cheap will do) let sit for a month, or to taste, and then strain out the cherries. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I loved making the label and attaching it with the tape.


The box was layered with – the black cherry vinegar (made with local cherries), Hawaiian black lava sea salt (not local, but looked too good to pass up), Kokomo winery Verjus (made in Healdsburg of semi-ripe and unfermented grapes – think vinegar). The next layer was made up of some homemade S’mores bars and some Gaterade gummy chews (for the running!). Mark was making fun of me when I was stressing that the orange of the chews didn’t match my black, white and pink theme.. Luckily that pink tape is just see-through enough to disguise the color and still let you see the packaging. Lastly came the written element – a welcome card as well as a card describing each item.


I loved putting the whole thing together and it felt especially good to actually use some creative skills again. I probably spent the majority of the time making the labels and cards, which I loved and now am feeling hooked! This is the salt label before it was inked:


I unfortunately won’t be participating in the August swap as I am in Canada at my family summer cottage (tough life, I know), but I am SO looking forward for September! We are going apple picking so that might be a theme… Getting excited and collecting ideas!

My week in Instagram

I guess I should say my two and a half weeks in Instagram.. With last Monday being a holiday and us having no internet(!!), scheduled posting was delayed. Now that the Virgin has decided to honor my payments and allow me to have internet again.

Our Easter was really nice – having the four days off was amazing. We have had a friend staying with us until she moves into her flat (tomorrow!) so we went out a few nights and we went to Cambridge on Saturday. Cambridge was stunning and the whole time I kept thinking I was in Harry Potter. Beautiful. I could move there in a heartbeat. On Sunday, we had Gavin’s perfectly cooked soft-boiled eggs with homemade spelt bread for breakfast. For dinner we had ham/gammon, new potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli with some chocolate for dessert – it was Easter after all ;)

The weather here has certainly turned from the warm summer-like temps we had to cold, grey and rainy. I can’t complain too much though because we are in a drought. And they made for some glorious pictures and some great sewing time :)

If you want to see all the other photos I’ve taken, you can follow my pictures here! Are you on Instagram? My screen name is sydthewyd, hope to see you soon!

Garlic Parmesan Monkey Bread

Success! I actually completed my first ever Pinterest Challenge! I joined a bit late, so I only had a weekend to make it so I made food. Garlic Parmesan Monkey Bread.. Tasty. I actually ate some for breakfast. It’s pull-apart so I couldn’t eat too big of a piece ;)

It was pretty simple to make, I’m not sure if I’ll make it again though.. I bit too white-bread-y and dry for me.. Maybe I just didn’t have enough garlic or butter! If I do make it again, I’m going to at least double those.. If I’m to splurge on fat calories, I’m going to splurge on the fat calories – you know? The Pastry Affair version that I pinned, used a bundt pan, which I don’t have, so I used a baking dish. Worked fine. We dipped in oil and balsamic.. yummy :)

PS… Do you want to join in the Pay it Forward fun?

The Pinterest Challenge

I love Pinterest. Like most people who have succumbed to it’s charms, I can literally spend hours browsing through cool things that people have found via the world wide web. I have a “Make This” board which has all the crafty/sewing-related things that I want to make. Or use as inspiration to make. There is also an “Eat This” board, which, you guessed it, I want to eat. Actually, make and then eat.

I pin all these things with the best of intentions.. I really do plan on making these things. The problem is, I never do! That where the Lovebumps Pinterest Challenge comes in! Lovebumps blog, along with other bloggers aptly called the PinAddicts, has decided to challenge bloggers around the world to actually make things from their boards and then post it on the first Monday of the month. Since that is only 4 days away, I thought I would make something edible. It’s Gavin’s birthday tomorrow as well, so if I make him something off my board that’s two birds with one pin-shaped stone!

Since I have been fairly obsessed with the no-knead bread that hit the web about two years ago, I am going with bread. Monkey bread. Garlic Parmesan Monkey Bread to be specific. And this is the very specific Garlic Parmesan Monkey Bread:

Mmmm… It’s from The Pastry Affair and damn.. I could eat that whole thing myself. Right now.

So come on! Join in!

Fantastic Soup!

Let me tell you about the soup that I ate last night. It was perfect for the evening, which was cold and rainy. I had 2 cooked chicken breasts, rice, and kale in the fridge. Hence this soup made it’s way into the world.

Basically, it’s an Asian-inspired soup.. I cooked diced onions down until they were browned, added garlic and ginger and let bloom for a bit. Then I dumped in a bunch of chicken stock. Let that simmer while chopping up kale. I dumped the kale into the pot and started to flavor the broth. Heck yes. This is where the fun starts.

Step one – salt. Soy sauce is good. Adding marmite to soy sauce? Even freakin’ better. Seriously. Step two – heat. Chili-garlic sauce (rooster sauce (sriracha sauce)) to taste – I like it hot enough that you feel it but it doesn’t blow your head off. Step three – balance. Add some acid to complete the sweet(onion)/salty(soy)/spicy(chili)/sour(vinegar/lime) combo.. I used rice wine vinegar. It was good.

Once the broth was to my liking (I did a LOT of tweaks til I was happy), I added the chopped chicken breast to the broth and kale to reheat. To serve, I filled a bowl with rice and spooned the soup over the top. So freaking good. I bet it would be good with tofu. Or as an egg drop soup… Mmmm…

Dinner Party

Tonight Gavin and I are having 2 friends over for dinner tonight so sorry for the lack of content… I decided to make my very easy dinner (slow cooked beef) much more complicated by making Apple Pie Cookies from Smitten Kitchen. It was my first time making pie dough from scratch, by hand, but I tasted the “mistake” cookie and it was good! Let’s see what the others think… If it passes the test, I might make them for Thanksgiving! Woohoo!

Tinniegirl Blogtoberfest 2011

Summer Days

Well not really summer. Apparently it’s October! You wouldn’t know it by looking at the thermometer! It was 25C/77F and yesterday it was even warmer. On Thursday it was the hottest September day since 1895! It was amazing as here in London we never really got summer. Instead, we were boiling in late April/early May and then after that it was just rain and gloom. Until now! It is weird though – it feels so summery but smells like fall. Good combo!

Yesterday was a wonderful day. We had some good friends Paul and Beki over for a BBQ in our garden. We got really lucky and got the last 2 BBQ’s the shop had! We had sausages, chicken kebabs, burgers and lamb kebabs. Quite the meat feast. Today we are making up for it with lots of veggies as we definitely did NOT get our 5-a-day!

Tonight, I am going to get busy and get stuff done. I have to finish my friend’s wedding invites and save the dates, finish my embroidering on my current quilt block, figure out how to design a quilt for my niece Kitty, and figure out how to make an advent calendar for my nephew! Christmas is starting in the peak of “summer” in our house!

Now – off to the pub for one final hurrah. We discovered a wonderful Swedish apple and red current cider! Mmm! Then dinner – pepper coated tuna steaks with asparagus and a cucumber salad! Healthy!

Tinniegirl Blogtoberfest 2011

An ode to late summer, food style

As summer never really materialized in the UK this year (it was the coldest and rainiest ‘summer’ since 1993) I decided to take matters into my own hands and at least taste summer. My mom makes a mean tomato cheddar pie. Honestly, that thing is one of the best things I have ever eaten. Unfortunately, it is super time consuming (hello pie crust) and not the most healthy thing in the world (mayo and cheddar cheese) so I decided to go a different route. Enter the tomato tart.

I was inspired by David Lebovitz’s French Tomato Tart but being me (and my mother’s daughter) I altered it a bit. I didn’t make my own pastry crust as I had some leftover puff pastry that I had to use so that decided that mine would be a free-form tart – that and the fact that I don’t own a tart pan. I had also roasted a boat load of peppers and had a bunch left in the fridge. I also had some zucchini that were threatening to go off so they got thrown in the mix as well.

I was kinda shocked at how good it was. It was totally better than the sum of it’s parts. It screamed of sunshine and warmth even though it was chucking down buckets outside. Gavin, the meat lover even went back for seconds!

So here’s what I did:

Free-form tomato tart
One sheet of puff pastry, or a smallish block, rolled out real thin (1/4″)
Dijon or whole grain mustard (I used whole grain)
2-3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 roasted peppers, sliced in biggish chunks
olive oil
fresh thyme
soft goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to about 400F/200C
2. Roll out pastry and start spread with mustard. Let dry for a few minutes
3. Layer the veggies on top. I alternated tomatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, tomatoes, etc. until the whole pastry is covered, leaving room around the edges (about 1″).
4. Sprinkle with thyme and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
5. Slice goat cheese and lay over top.
6. Fold the edges up and pinch the corners to seal.
7. Bake that bad boy until the pastry is cooked and golden and the cheese is browned, about 30 minutes.

Here is mine, just after I layered the veg and sprinkled with thyme. I thought it was just so pretty I had to take a photo!

And after baking.. excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard!

“Clean-out-the-fridge” pasta dinner

This week I have just been so tired, I can’t even be bothered to cook.. Plus I have taken up embroidering (yeah, I’m cool). Tonight, I was wondering what on earth I was going to cook, when I decided that I was going to: a) use up the massive bag of baby spinach as well as the lone zucchini in the fridge, and b.) not buy anything as I can’t afford to (payday is tomorrow, thank goodness). I settled on spinach and zucchini pesto. It was super easy and it is pretty tasty to boot! The color was phenomenal! Like totally neon green. I mean look at that!

The pesto is more of a paste as I don’t have a food processor… I know, but they are ridiculously expensive here and I have no disposable income..

And this is it mixed with spaghetti… mmmm…

So good… I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow to eat it again!

Edible crayons!

This would be so great for kids, or me. I think I would have a lot of fun with these. These are crayons that actually draw and are completely edible (and healthy). Restaurants could start doing supplying these for kids to draw with and then the parents would able to take them home and use them as a snack the next day! These would have been really fun at school as well.. I just wonder how they taste because Luxaire (who makes them) are talking about the process, they say that the foods were chose for their color, not for their taste.

via Luxaire