100 Follower Giveaway | Winner Announced!!!

Hi all!

Thank you so much to those of you that entered my giveaway to celebrate This Particular reaching 100 followers!

I've this morning woken up to see this little blog now has 150 of you dedicated to reading my regular ramblings which is just bloody fantastic!

I have loved reading all of your entry comments and being introduced to so many amazing new blogs that I wouldn't have found otherwise - so thank you!

I really wish I could pick you all to win, but unfortunately I'm just not rich enough to buy prezzies for you all haha! But trust me when I say I wish that wasn't the case.

So after much deliberation I've picked a winner:

Holly from Holly In Your Pocket 
Holly, I will email you to sort out sending you your prize!


And again just a huge thank you to all of you, I love writing a lot and knowing that you're all there reading along makes the whole experience of writing a blog SO amazing, even more amazing than just putting all these posts together. I love this little community and I think you're all BRILL!

Much love xxxxx

What's For Lunch Today? | Clock Jack Oven

First of all, I'd just like to say, look at the amazing quality of the camera on my new phone. I'm a full android convert.

ANYWAY... Yesterday I went to Clock Jack Oven in Soho, just behind Piccadilly Circus for a colleague's leaving lunch, and it was delicious and very very filling.

Clock Jack Oven is a restaurant where about 90 per cent of the menu revolves around roast chicken which is quite a nice, simple idea. Infact the only options that don't involve chicken are the beef burger, which we were advised is HUGE (although no one I was with had it so I cannot confirm on size of said burger) and the vegetarian burger, which in my humble and honest opinion, looks amazing! Those who chose the veggie option were very impressed, and to be honest I'd like to go back to try it.

However, I opted for the Chicken Club Sandwich, which in all honesty sounds a little boring, but with the promise of toasted sourdough bread, fresh roast chicken and a load of greenery, it was what I wanted most from first looking at the menu. I have to say the sandwich didn't disappoint and was so so filling. I didn't have any sides but came out feeling quite stuffed, but not overly stuffed. Stuffed but still functional.

I did order a little pot of ranch sauce to go with my sandwich, just because I wanted to try it and it didn't disappoint. In fact I'd probably like to have seen that on the sandwich instead of the mayo.

My only slight qualm - and trust me, it's a small one - was I would have liked the roast chicken in my sandwich to have been warm, but alas it felt more like 'left over' chicken. Not in a really bad way, I just think the sandwich would have felt more restauranty if it was hot.

Overall, I really rate this place, I'd never heard of it before, but I definitely would like to go back and try out more of the menu - plus they have an 'express salad bar' for weekday lunches. The restaurant itself is quite the pinterest/blogger's dream with soft drinks served in mason jars and the drinks menu presented on a small clipboard, but I like that kinda thing. The vibe was chilled and the staff were friendly and attentive.

I probably wouldn't pick Clock Jack Oven for an evening meal, purely for the limited menu but as an indulgent lunch whilst out shopping or just as a treat, why the hell not.

August Bank Holiday | Baking, More Baking & Monopoly

I am most certainly not happy about the lack of sun but I have to admit, I did like the dreariness of the weekend, it really gave us a reason to stay in, relax and watch a shed load of TV. Including a four hour binge of Orange Is The New Black on Saturday evening, by far not our worst binge but thoroughly enjoyed, with wine.

I don't actually want to admit how many empty wine bottles I put in the recycling from the weekend, but the wine consumed was immense. Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon 2 for £10 at ASDA was taken advantage of more than once.

It was also quite a productive weekend on the baking front though. I made my ciabattas, I made pierogi - which I'm considering doing a post on, do let me know if you'd be interested in that, my pictures only tell half the story really - and also a coffee and walnut cake with a salted caramel and chocolate ganache. Unfortunately I under baked the cake ever so slightly, and so it shows quite dense in the pictures. But I can assure you it tastes more than acceptable. 

And when Monday in all it's rainy glory rocked around, the boy and I knew that the only suitable thing to do was to play a monster game of monopoly. So I got the bus to Peckham, popped into Argos (via Primark, Boots, Superdrug... you know the usuals) and came clambering back (via ASDA too *ahem*) board game in hand.

I think we probably played for about 4-5 hours, and I don't think I've laughed so much in quite so long. Monopoly was always a childhood favourite of mine, I used to beg my sister to play with me, much to her disappointment - every, single, time. 

So that sums up my weekend really, a lot of cooking and baking and a friendly competitive game of monopoly amongst friends.

Hope you all had a fab one, because it's the last one until Christmas - cry!!!

Re: plaster on whole middle finger - it's simple really, don't put your hand in a food processor, there are blades in there :)

Don't Forget!!!
I'm holding a giveaway to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to say thank you to all you lovely lot.

Bake Off Bake Along #3 | Ciabatta

There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven, floating through the house on a Saturday afternoon. Or the excitement of actually being successful in said bread-making activities.

There's also nothing quite like bread week on GBBO.

So I thought I'd tackle the technical challenge of Ciabatta. I used Paul Hollywood's recipe, which seemed to me to be the one they used on the programme as they all baked four loaves from their dough mixture.

In Paul's recipe he says to use a mixer with a dough hook - cue KitchenAid wonderfulness. It's a very wet dough that needs a good mixing before you leave it to prove. So I did as I was told and once all the ingredients were in the bowl, I mixed for over 5 minutes on a medium speed until visibly smooth and stretchy.

Here you will see my dough before it was proved, I just left it on the work top in the kitchen.

And here is a picture of the dough after about an hour and a half. It rose quite quickly and I left it to prove for about two hours over all, by which point the dough had reached the top of the bowl. A successful prove.

I then smothered my kitchen work top in flour, to avoid the dough from sticking to the counter and slowly turned the dough out. As expected, the dough was wet but had lots of air bubbles in which was a really good sign.

As I had used a round bowl instead of the required square, I cut the dough in four lengthways to create four batons and using a palette knife, and yet more flour I transferred the dough onto pre-prepared baking trays.

As you will see below, the baton second from the left was the first bit of dough to be handled and therefore had the most air knocked out of it. The ugly duckling of the group.

And yes, they're not uniform and perfect looking but HEY, they look rustic. They didn't rise a whole lot in the oven but they still came out cooked and well, bready. 

For a first ever shot at ciabatta, I don't think I did too badly. And now I just want to make it all the time. I wish I'd take a picture of the actual inside of the loaves, but I was too busy dipping chunks into olive oil and balsamic vinegar #mybad.

But just for reference, the bubbles were of different sizes and dispersed well, which was one of Paul's criteria's on wednesday.

Ok so I don't think I would have come first in the technical bake, but I maintain, for a first try, it ain't half bad. And they tasted delicious too! I can't wait to try it again and get creative with toppings.

Don't Forget!!!
I'm holding a giveaway to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to say thank you to all you lovely lot.

Bake Off Bake Along #2 | Biscuits

I'm well aware of the fact that this post is over a week late, I was ill at the beginning of next week which threw everything kinda off balance, but as you well know I'm back to normal now. So here it is, my second bake off bake along.

I have to admit, I've never made a biscuit before, apart from maybe in year 7 food tech, where I tried to make some checkerboard chocolate and vanilla (ambitious) biscuits, which ended up being more of a 'marbled' effect. I can't remember the grade I got but I do remember the teacher being quite impressed to a certain extent so there we go.

My attempt at this though, was less than half arsed, I knew I was already behind and to be honest, I baked them on wednesday, after watching GBBO, and quite clearly giddy from 'bread week'. Justified I think.

So I won't go into too much detail but here are my week two biscuits, 'Red Onion & Garlic Shorties'. To which someone at work quaffed at, but to me, red onion and garlic is a winning combo. With a bit more fine tuning on the taste, I'd say this biscuit would be a perfect accompaniment for cheese. Although I'd definitely prefer it as more of a cracker than the sweetness of a shortbread. I was pushed for time and didn't research properly. Silly.

Still, the bake was good, the texture spot on and the colour of them almost perfect I'd say. Just an issue with their actual shape - I tried cutting, I really did.

What did I learn from this week's bake? That I'm not too fussed on learning to make biscuits, but that I would like to learn to make this in cracker form, served with a nice stinky cheese.

Don't Forget!!!
I'm holding a giveaway to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to say thank you to all you lovely lot.

Street Feast | Model Market Lewisham

Last Saturday, we took a short bus ride to Lewisham to visit the Street Feast at the old abandoned covered market, the Model Market.

I'm sure you're aware of the 'street feast' pop ups, so I'll spare you any back story but when I found out at the beginning of the summer that our own fair Lewisham would be hosting some delicious food, I knew I had to go.

We arrived before 7pm, so avoided an entry fee. As soon as we walked in there was a great buzz about the place, music blasting through the sound system and people perusing the food stalls and what was on offer.

After doing a couple of laps of the food stalls to see what was on offer, and getting ourselves a drink, we headed back to the entrance to the 'grill my cheese' stand to try some of their 'beer cheese dip' with croutons. It was different, and nice and the lady gave us some more croutons because we were sharing between two of us. It was a nice starter.

Just look at that oozy cheese.

We then found ourselves following the sweet aromatic scents of Rola Wala, mini naan breads with different toppings. Indian food is one of my favourites anyway but I have to say the food from Rola Wala was the best of the night. So much flavour, so easily accessible and just offing delicious. I'd go again just to eat there again.

And then we found ourselves clambering over to Sambal Shiok, who I recognised from the Rupert St market in Soho. Malaysian Street Food. The little testers looked good so we'd thought we'd give it ago.

I loved the idea of putting the flavours in a bun, making it much easier to eat. My favourite of the three was most definitely the lentil satay, and it was probably the most spicy as well. I want to get myself some of that spicy peanut sauce. YUM.

Then we took a little break and bought ourselves another drink. And THIS I was mightily cheesed off at. We paid £5 EACH for a glass of wine at the bar... you'd think ok £5 for a glass of wine, is a bit steep, hopefully it's a large. NO. This wasn't even a 175ml 'small' serving, they served us two plastic glasses of 125ml of wine for £5 each. Sort it out Street Feast.

But anyway, rant over.

We eventually made our way into the SE Cakery & Brownie Bar to get some dessert to take home with us. I've heard of these brownies and follow the company on twitter so was most excited to try them out. We grabbed two brownie bites to take home, whilst chatting to the lovely lady who runs the company. And also sampling some of her salted caramel sauce, which was really really nice.

We bought one salted caramel bite and one cocknie mojito bite with every intention of eating them when we got home, after being stung at the bar.

But we ended up saving them for breakfast the next morning. Which is probably the best breakfast idea ever. I must admit the rum in the cocknie mojito was a bit tough to take first thing in the morning, but all the flavours were there and it tasted so good.

If you get a chance to try some of the SE Cakery brownies, then please do. They're so SO good, probably some of the best brownies I've ever had.

And that's where we left our night. To be honest, we probably stayed for about an hour, and I could imagine you'd probably stay longer if you were in a group for a night out. However, I am hoping to make it down there again, there's some food stalls that I still really want to try and I'll definitely be making it down to the Dalston Yard Street Feast too. All in all, a good night, despite the most expensive 'glass' of wine I've ever had.

Don't Forget!!!
I'm holding a giveaway to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to say thank you to all you lovely lot.

Nikon FG-20 | Expired Film

A few months ago, my dad gave me his old SLR, a Nikon FG-20 that he had bought way back when (in the 80s I think) but basically hardly used.

I tried using it when I was about 14, but couldn't quite get the hang of it, the pictures were blurry and not in focus, under-exposed and quite generally... crap. It was disheartening, but for the last few years I've been getting more and more into photography, which sparked up my interest again. So I've now permanently taken the camera of his hands and am using all the film I bought when I was 14 or so. All of the film has expired now, by a good 3-4 years but this just goes to show that if the film is kept well, i.e. not boiled by heat, then it's still good to go.

I must admit, I was expecting the pictures to come out a little dull toned and maybe they have, I can't really tell but I'm more pleased with the actually images - if I could speak to my 14 year old self I'd say; 'hang in there, and don't give up because you'll get it eventually'. 

I also have to say that I actually much prefer not only how images from film come out as opposed to digital but I actually prefer using my SLR more than my DSLR - it might be because I'm still learning to use the digital properly but going manual allows you the time to really concentrate on what you're shooting, and the rewards are much, much sweeter.

I made a bit of a boo boo by scanning in the images on a low resolution so, sorry they're a little on the small side but I can't fathom sitting to scan them all again. I asked for these photographs to be printed matte with a border, which unfortunately has been cropped out by my scanner (I'll figure it out for next time), but I'll always favour matte over gloss, I just think the pictures look so much more professional that way. And just for the record, although the film was expired, it was just a bog standard tesco film iso 400.

I know the photos aren't perfect but let me know what you think... I cannot wait to load in another film and get shooting again with this camera.

Don't Forget!!!
I'm holding a giveaway to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to say thank you to all you lovely lot.

Hackney Flea Market

I've been feeling quite icky the last few days, but before my weekend was wiped out completely I did manage to be a little productive.

On Saturday I got myself out of bed at a respectable time and ventured across the river, wandering round car boots and the Hackney Flea Market. It was a nice chilled way to spend a Saturday afternoon and I managed to take some pictures whilst there. I'm not sure how regular the flea market is, but if you're ever around Stoke Newington on a Saturday I'd go check it out as you never know what gems you might find.

Don't Forget!!!
I'm holding a giveaway to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to say thank you to all you lovely lot.

This Last Week #2

It's been quite a while since I've done a bit of a catch up post like this, and to be fair lots has happened so we'll consider this a 'this last week and more' kinda post. Alright? Cool.

Last week actually consisted of 'post-wedding fever' and reminiscing of what was a beautiful day. I couldn't stop looking through the pictures for a good few days and I still have a big grin on my face when more get uploaded on to Facebook from the day. Lovely vibes, I can assure.

Last week saw the 5th anniversary of me and my boy, five years seems like a long time and that's probably because it is. 'Half a decade' as we came to realise. It does seem strange to think that we've been together for such a long time but at the same time, it just feels like normality. We did a mini celebration on the day, Thursday, by going out for a few drinks after work and then taking a bottle of wine back home to enjoy. Because if you can't have a few drinks on a Thursday, then what can you do? I also took a little trip to the Hummingbird Bakery in Soho to grab some celebratory cupcakes. I accidentally forgot to get cash out before hand and as they have a £5 minimum on cards, I just *had* to buy another cake... I know, poor me. I thought about saving it but when 3pm rolled around that day I made myself a cup of tea and enjoyed my vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting guilt-free. Delicious.

The second instalment of anniversary celebrations saw us taking a trip to the football (don't worry it was my idea) for the first game of the season. So we took a bus to London Bridge to meet the boy's step-dad and the drinking began. I have to say, I enjoyed myself *a lot*, considering how slightly apprehensive I was feeling beforehand. The weather was bloody fantastic and the atmosphere in the ground was great, albeit a little aggressive at times. And now I can safely say, I'm looking forward to going back on a regular basis.

After the game we headed off back home - a short 20 min walk, so ideal - and stopped at the pub for a couple of pints and then onto the chippy for a well-deserved fish & chip supper, one of our favourite takeaway meals to have. Whilst polishing off our dins and yet another bottle of wine (you don't want to see our recycling bin, trust me) we settled down to watch Frost/Nixon, which I haven't seen in ages but promptly fell asleep for.

Sunday was a relatively chilled day which consisted of waking up early making some Salted Caramel and the sponge fail swiss roll for my bake along. It still tasted good so I'm not too upset but I do want to give it another go to prove I can bake a good swiss roll, to myself y'know.

Relatively early on, on Sunday I started to get excited/nervous for the blogger meet up at Polpo in Covent Garden, but with the boy realising I'd leave him around dinner time with no food in the fridge, I rustled up some Kotlety for dinner. Kotlety is a Polish pork style patty, with fried onions in, and covered in bread crumbs. To me, they are one of the ultimates in stodgy comfort food, and we enjoyed them with some cheesy mash, coleslaw and pickled gherkins. Quite the traditional Polish meal if you ask me. Kotlety are probably one of the easiest things to make EVER, and pretty much resemble a burger, just with pork, but if you'd like me to do a post on them just leave me a comment telling me so :)

So later on that evening off I popped to Covent Garden to go and meet a lovely load of people who I hadn't yet had the chance of meeting. I had SUCH a good time and pretty much didn't stop talking for the whole time I was there. I didn't take any pictures at Polpo because I'm a fool, but I can confirm that the food was lush and the cocktails were, ahem... strong! I'm looking forward to going back there for a sit down meal to enjoy what the rest of the menu has to offer.

And since then I've just been plodding along for the rest of the week. Yesterday this little beaut of a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 came into my possession and I'm so looking forward to taking it on holiday and snapping away. I've wanted one for so long and still hadn't used any of my birthday money so this and some more film will fit the bill perfectly.

The weekend coming will again be a chilled one as I'm only a few weeks away from holiday and need to save some dollar bill to be able to enjoy myself whilst away. BUT, Friday I'm looking forward to some payday drinks with work, and the rest of the weekend will probably be spent watching Netflix and baking (and desperately trying to think of some decent biscuits to bake for my bake along) as well as a potential visit to the Model Market Street Feast in Lewisham to experience some culinary delights. Sounds like a winning formula to me.

What have you all been up to? Surely some more interesting events than my own?

Don't Forget!!!
I'm holding a giveaway to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to say thank you to all you lovely lot.

Bake Off Bake Along #1 | Swiss Roll

So as our Wednesday evenings are finally filled with the joyousness of the bake off, this year I thought I'd bake along for funsies, and to widen my repertoire of baked goods. So every week, I'll be baking one round of the show, whichever tickles my fancy and posting it up on here, much to my embarrassment and hopefully your enjoyment.

This week I decided to bake a swiss roll, which was the signature bake of the episode. I have made swiss roll before, and plenty of roulade too but a few weeks ago I made a meringue roulade that pretty much failed miserably. It didn't rise, it certainly didn't roll and it had a crack on every turn. Utter failure. I still brought it in to work to be devoured, which it was but I was too ashamed to mention it on here. Just awful.

And as you will see from the thumbnail of this blog post, my swiss roll isn't much of an improvement either. I will not be winning the star baker award anytime soon. I'm sure of it.

I was on a bit of a budget so I decided to go with a plain vanilla sponge, hoping that the quality of my bake would make up for the simplicity. HA. I used the recipe from my Basics Baking Handbook, which has previously served me well, but oh no, not this time.

The sponge didn't really rise, I think I had actually over beat the mixture, and I think it probably could have done with another minute or so in the oven - in other words, under baked. Still, it tastes alright and you can definitely taste the vanilla - instead of just using vanilla extract I went the whole hog and used vanilla pods.

I guess the star of this bake really has to be the salted caramel that lines the inside of the roll, with whipped cream OBVIOUSLY. I posted about the salted caramel here, and to be honest, it really makes the bake.

The saltiness of the caramel with the sweetness of the cream and the strong vanilla flavour in the sponge actually works rather well.

So there we have it, my miserable first bake off bake along bake. No soggy bottoms this week but it's certainly not up to scratch and Paul & Mary would not be best pleased. But you live and you learn hey? And there's a silver lining to every cloud because I still have half a jar of salted caramel in the fridge.

Winning. At. Life.

My friend Amanda at Rhyme and Ribbons is coincidentally doing a similar series over on her blog, I would thoroughly recommend checking out her bake for this week as mine is a little underwhelming to say the least. Anyway, enjoy!

I'm holding a giveaway to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to say thank you to all you lovely lot.