Making A Change #1

Certainly in real life, I make no bones about the fact that I hate exercise. And I have no qualms about saying it loud and proud, and do so very often.

I used to have tennis lessons when I was younger and played football in my formative years of secondary school, but you know, it got to a point where I discovered rock n roll and life in general and never looked back, like most people. But even then I was never that sporty to begin with.

After attempting numerous gym memberships, fitness dvds and even running...! I've come to the conclusion, exercise just isn't for me. I don't know what it is but I just find it intensely boring, I don't get a rush of satisfaction afterwards, and I don't really ever see a difference in my fitness (but that's probably down to the fact I've never stuck at anything long enough to see a change).

You may remember back in June, I went to Barry's Bootcamp for the first time. I was nervous, nay, petrified the week running up to it. Having done a little bit of prep with exercise dvds the few weeks running up, my fitness levels weren't as bad as they could have been, and I fumbled my way through - including running so fast on a treadmill I thought I was going to fly off the back of it. Just terrifying. Needless to say, that was the last time I exercised... until last week.

I decided to book myself back into Barry's, because although I felt like I wanted to die during the class... I actually, weirdly, in some sick and twisted kind of way enjoyed it?! 

Er what?

Ok, I admit and hold my hands up - I enjoyed it. That hour of hell, I can see that it did me some good. So on Friday, I travelled to Euston to give Barry a second chance, in the hope of making it more of a regular thing... and low and behold, I'm booked in again for this Friday. I'd also just like to point out, I was always that annoying person that would jibe someone for going to the gym on a Friday night; 'why on earth would you want to go to the gym on a Friday when you could be out, having fun? L.O.S.E.R!!!!' would be somewhere along the lines of my train of thought. Now here I am, I'm that person, going to a gym on a Friday night.

Ok it's only my third time this Friday but, I like the idea of it, it means I'm not out spending loads of unnecessary cash on booze and potentially ruining my saturday morning every weekend. I come out at 9pm and feel great. I feel energised and like I've done something productive with my life. A turning point, I'm sure you'll agree.

So I'll be heading there on Friday, to get my fill and carry on whipping myself into shape. What's even weirder though, is that I've also committed myself to a yoga class next Monday too, to compliment the high intensity work out. Maybe it's just a fad, who knows but I feel like my mindset has altered slightly.

A few months back when I was out with some friends and boasting about how much I hated exercise, a friend suggested that perhaps I hadn't found the right form of exercise yet to make me enjoy it, and suggested group sport. Although going to a gym class isn't exactly playing a team sport, it's still in a group but with direction and I now believe that is exactly what I've been missing - the direction and motivation found in the Barry's environment.

I'm not saying I'm a changed person, but I guess my point is, if I - the person who hated exercise the most out of anyone in the world - can find something to latch onto and even enjoy then I guess anyone can.

Three cheers for my new found motivation for exercise and long may it reign.

Bake Off Bake Along #7 | Eclairs

Morning all!

I'm still catching up on my bake off series, so here's week 6 for you, even though I baked these last week. I'm well aware of the fact that all that This Particular seems to be at the moment is bake off posts, and to be honest if I didn't have these, I'd probably be quite stuck and there'd be no new posts for you to read. It's not that I don't want to write at the moment, quite the opposite, I just don't feel like I have anything to write about. So please bear with me during this little dip in productivity, I'll get there soon.

So here's my less-than-adequate attempt at eclairs. I'm not sure if I cheated here but I have made eclairs once before, and fairly successfully; I'm a thorough believer in the fact that a much bigger deal is made out of choux pastry than needs to be. If you can follow instructions, you can make choux pastry. However before, I slightly over-salted the mixture (ha ha) and made them... very savoury to say the least.

This time however was a much sweeter affair, I used this recipe by Paul Hollywood and the actual buns turned out quite well - thank you Mr Hollywood. The only thing I think I would have done differently, is waited much longer before turning the oven temperature down (see recipe), as they are quite pale - unless they're supposed to be like that? Who knows.

And I think this is where I fell down a little. I had every intention of making a raspberry coulis and mixing into the cream slightly to make a marbled, swirly effect (technical term for you there), then topped with a shiny and much more fluid chocolate ganache.

I think I was being lazy and just decided to plonk the raspberries in the cream whole once piped into the buns, which looked neither completely appetising, nor professional (not that any of my bakes are but I like to try y'know). And also because raspberries are now out of season, they were definitely too tart.

I made 1:1 cream:chocolate ganache which was the wrong type. Paul just says to melt some chocolate and dip the buns in, but I didn't think that would be enough, and still don't. Next time I'll make a 1:2 ganache for sure so that it's nice and soft.

Either way, as usual they still tasted alright, and I didn't have any complaints so I guess that is proof there is a silver lining to every cloud.

Have you ever made choux pastry before?

This Last Week #3

Feels like a long while since I've done a catch up post like this, probably because it has been. So since I got back from holiday at the beginning of last week (and trust me, it feels like it's been much longer), it feels as though I've been darting about all over the place but I think I've actually had a nice balance of hectic and chill time.

On the first day back, we both booked a tactical day off before the return to work. Nobody wants to go in straight for the plunge after a 2:30am arrival back home. And maybe this is a bit naughty after the indulgence of a holiday but nobody wants to be cooking at that point either, so we ordered a takeaway pizza in and spent the whole afternoon binging on Orange Is The New Black. Sadly, we've now finished the series so will have to find something to fill the void... suggestions are welcome.

Then on Thursday after work I merrily skipped along to Camden with a friend to watch Jessie Ware perform at the Roundhouse for the iTunes Festival. I don't know about you, but I have tried for years and YEARS to try and get tickets for this thing and finally, my time came. It was so brilliant. I'd never been to the Roundhouse before, but heard a lot of good things about it and as a venue, it exceeded all of my expectations. It sounds weird I know but it's such a clean and well-thought out music venue. Thoroughly impressed, and now willing to go back at my first chance possible.

Friday was chill to say the least, I got myself in a bottle of one of my favourite wines and caught up on all of the episodes of GBBO I had missed... all two of them. Still after watching the soaps and then GBBO it got pretty late. I'm a sad individual I know. But I am also a thorough believer in the art of relaxation and for me, Friday was just that.

On Saturday the boy and I went to the Model Market Street Feast for the second and last time of the summer with some friends and ate some VERY good food. I didn't bring my camera because y'know, I already wrote about it and wanted to take the opportunity to relax and enjoy. The place was rammed, being the penultimate weekend of the season but that didn't stop us enjoying the tasty food on offer. As a group we all had a hotdog from the Dogtown Hotdogs and then the boy and I had some Butternut Squash Arancini Balls from the Cheeky Italian. I have to say, both choices were out of this world and I'm a little sad we'll have to wait til next year to go back. We also picked up some more Salted Caramel Brownies from the SE Cakery & Brownie Bar for the next morning's breakfast.

Since then I've just been pottering along really, there's not much else to add. Apart from the fact, I am still really enjoying baking along with the bake off, but I feel like I'm going to need to have a sugar detox when it's all done. It's getting a bit too much. Hopefully this will start with my trip back to Barry's Bootcamp on Friday evening - I'm a mix of pumped up and scared, all rolled into feeling motivated. It will be good.

I know I do this a bit on and off but here's some posts I've really enjoyed reading since I've been back and catching up on all things blog-related:

Kellie's pictures from her holiday in Croatia, with an appreciation of disposable cameras! Long live film!

Emily's White Chocolate & Salted Caramel Éclairs, I think just the words 'salted caramel' make me salivate, they look absolutely gorgeous!

Amanda's Sweet & Spicy Beer Can Chicken, beer infused chicken is something my dad loves to do, so I've had it a lot but never made by myself. This is a fab way of incorporating it into autumn eating habits, i.e. without the barbecue!

Anya's roundup of 8 weeks sugar-free, I am definitely inspired by this and would love to give it a go, especially after all the baking I've been doing recently! And it all looks so delicious!

Bake Off Bake Along #6 | Babka

Due to being away, and the thought of catching up on so much baking feeling quite overwhelming I wasn't going to join in on week six... but then when I saw it was 'European Cakes' I couldn't resist. I think I'm addicted to baking.

With Polish heritage, I KNEW I had to make a babka, I'd have to learn at some point as my mum always makes one for Easter and I'm sure one day it'll be my turn to host. Plus I love babka.

As a yeast-risen cake, it leans a lot more towards a bread, I always like to explain it as very similar to a panettone, just not as tall and with a hole in the middle. Delicious. I used this recipe, as my mum says it's the best she's tried.

I think I did really well on this one, the dough proved really well in the mixing bowl and then again in the tin. I really love that the raisins are pre-soaked as it makes them nice and juicy within the cake and adds another dimension to the texture.

Baking this babka was time consuming but very satisfying as it smells amazing in the last 10-15 minutes in the oven and it looks very impressive, even when still in the pan, and obviously even better when turned out.

I love the look of this cake when it has been iced too, it looks quite majestic and you can see why it is baked at Easter, a time of celebration.

This cake is absolutely perfect with a cup of tea and that's what I'll be having it with this afternoon. Overall I'm quite pleased with how this turned out and seeing as I haven't awarded myself star baker since ciabatta week, I think I deserve it :)

Bake Off Bake Along #5 | Tarte Au Citron

It's been a few weeks and my my, it's good to be back on track. I had every intention of getting this one out of the way before holiday but ho hum, life happens :)

I must admit, pastry is probably one of my least practised baking skills. I successfully made a lemon meringue pie once, but that's about as far as it goes. I wanted to keep it simple, and as this was the week our dear Norman left the competition, I thought I'd honour him by creating his 'signature' bake, a Tarte Au Citron.

I quite enjoyed making this one, and I think I felt a lot more accomplished when taking it out of the oven, perhaps because I don't normally make pies or tarts, or maybe because of the fear of creating lemony scrambled eggs by accident...

Ok, so a few things I struggled with; how slippery and weak the pastry became by the time I'd finished rolling it out - although I was grateful for the tip of rolling out in between two sheets of baking paper. And this is definitely by own fault but I well over-beat the eggs, into soft peaks. I don't know why, I just did and it left a small bubbly layer on the top whilst baking.

Also, I seem to have lost the knack of my oven and keep setting it too high as the tart gained a 'golden' brown colour early on whilst baking, so I promptly turned the temperature down. I guess nothing a bit of icing sugar on the top couldn't fix.

It's not the neatest tart and certainly wouldn't win prizes, but the verdict from the boy was 'I think this might be the best thing you've ever baked'... high praise indeed. It does taste pretty darn good if I say so myself.

So there we have it, Tarte Au Citron, another string to my baking bow!

What's For Lunch Today? Yogiyo | Rupert St Market

It's been a while since I've been down to the Rupert St market for lunch, and it's now a fully-fledged market hosted by the Street Food Union, with more seating and proper marquees. Excellent stuff.

Today I wondered down to the end of the market and found Yogiyo, a little metal trailer serving the most delicious looking Korean Street Food. I actually see their trailer driving up the Old Kent Road in the mornings whilst on my daily commute, from that I was intrigued as the trailer is a stand out compared to many of the others on that market but more than anything I can now say the food is pretty spectacular too.

Yogiyo offers a relatively simple menu, much like many market traders, with four options. I went for the Bipimbab - a Korean rice bowl with vegetables and the choice of chicken or steak of which I chose chicken.

I don't actually know what else to say than it was completely and utterly delicious, the chicken was cooked really well in the most amazing sauce with so much flavour and the vegetables were perfectly crunchy. They give you a little pot of chilli sauce too, which I was told is good for mixing it all together and they weren't wrong. The chilli sauce was hot but not too hot, the perfect amount of spice as well as being nice and thick. 

Sorry for the poor picture quality, I was too excited to actually eat it!

The rice bowl set me back £5.50 but I think it was well worth it. Half an hour after finishing and I'm still dreaming about it, in fact I wish I had more because it was just so yum. The portion size was perfect though, it will keep me full for the afternoon (but that's not me saying I won't get a snack later...) but I'm not stuffed in anyway. 

If you get a chance to get some food from Yogiyo, I thoroughly recommend doing so, they're my new market favourite.

Turkey | Canon 100D

I don't know if I've mentioned before but my DSLR is the Canon 100D, and I use the standard lens that came with it... currently :)

I like the camera, it serves me well and lives up to my expectations. The main reason I chose the 100D over any other is because it is small and compact and insanely lightweight. I wanted something that I could sling in a handbag and not worry about, which is exactly what I've got.

These are some of the photos from Turkey that were taken on my DSLR by yours truly. I haven't edited any of them, mainly because I don't really feel like they need it, apart from a couple that are slightly crooked - which seems to be a recurring problem of mine, but I'm getting better at taking more time when looking through the view finder.

As you may know, I often get a bit self-conscious with the camera in public places so most, if not all of these are just landscapes as I didn't get the chance to take many in restaurants or in the markets. 

But I guess there's always next year!

Butterfly Valley

View from the boat off the coast of Olu Deniz

St Nicholas Beach

View from St Nicholas Beach

Swimmers at St Nicholas Beach

Sunset on Olu Deniz Beach

Clouds over the mountain in Olu Deniz

Scuba Diving Bay

One of many amazing lamb kebabs from the beach front in Olu Deniz

Water structure in Pamukkale

Calcium Pools at Pamukkale

Contrast view at Pamukkale

Pierogi with Mushrooms & Sauerkraut

There's nothing more comforting to me than homemade Polish food, and pierogi is up at the top of the list of 'ultimate comfort'. We usually eat pierogi on Christmas Eve but I love it so much I like to make it every now and then as a treat.

There are a number of traditional fillings for pierogi but my favourite has to be mushroom and sauerkraut, and believe it or not they are SO easy to make!! Like seriously easy!

What you will need:

453g '00' Grade Pasta Flour
An egg
Big Jar of Sauerkraut
About 500g of Closed Cup Mushrooms
A White Onion
Trex or other Vegetable Fat
Salt and Pepper for Seasoning
An 8" or there abouts cookie cutter
A small bowl of water

What you need to do:

Empty your jar of sauerkraut into a sieve/colander and rinse the sauerkraut out
Fill a medium sized saucepan with water and once boiling, add the sauerkraut to boil - it will need about 30 mins
Next, very finely chop your onion and your mushrooms, but keep separate
Take a small knob of vegetable fat and place in a large frying pan on a medium heat and let melt
Once the pan is hot, add the onions to soften slowly for about 5-10 minutes
Add the mushrooms and fry off until soft and they are mixed together
Add a little more vegetable fat
This should now be 30 mins so take your sauerkraut off the boil and drain
Once you're happy as much excess water has drained as possible, add the sauerkraut to the onion and mushrooms and mix well
At this point you can add a bit more vegetable fat, but it's optional, my babcia always says it when hot, the mixture should have a nice sheen to it
Season with a little salt and pepper
After about 10 mins you can take the pan off the heat and leave to rest

Now it's time to make the pasta, this is easily done in a food processor, a stand mixer or by hand
Weigh and sieve your pasta flour
Then add your egg
Then slowly pour your warmish water bit by bit, making sure that the dough comes together equally and doesn't become too sticky and wet
I haven't given a measurement because I always just guess the amount of water - mum if you're reading this, let me know how much water and I'll amend :)
When the dough is nice and firm, you can dust a surface with flour and roll it out
It needs to be quite thin but not too thin, otherwise you'll risk the pierogi bursting - about the thickness of a 2p coin, maybe more

Start cutting out circles of pasta

Add a teaspoon of mixture in the centre of one of the circles

Lightly dab some water from your little bowl round the edge, making sure no mixture touches the edge of the circle

Fold the circle in half, pressing tightly on the edges

Use a fork to press down and lock the two bits of pasta together, but not so hard as to puncture the pasta

Set aside on some greaseproof paper, to dry out for a few hours, you can turn them over after a couple of hours or so to make sure both sides are dry

Repeat with the rest of the pasta
If you need to make more pasta, that's fine or just freeze the rest of the filling

When cooking the pierogi, boil a pan of water and add to the pan, they only need 3 minutes to cook after floating at the top of the water

Melt some butter to pour over and serve

It depends on the size of your appetite but I think about 6-7 pierogi are a perfect amount for a meal.

Hope you enjoyed this and let me know if you try them out!

Reflecting | Ten Days In Paradise

Oh hiya!

So after 10 of the most amazing days in Turkey, I'm back and ready to roll! Despite having a complete break of all phone (bar like an hour of wifi on our third to last day), social media and blog related activities and truly relaxing - it wasn't until half way through the 10 days we found out another royal baby is on the way YAY - I'm glad to have this little slice of the internet back in my control.

As you may have seen, despite my pre-holiday efforts, none of my blog posts managed to go live as scheduled, which is terribly annoying. I managed to publish one but that was all I had time for. I'll make sure they all still go up.

But anyway, where did I go, what did I do? I went to Olu Deniz, Turkey and perfected the art of relaxation. Staying in a beautiful apartment, in a beautiful area, we chilled by the pool, went to the beach (including a place called the blue lagoon), went on a boat trip, tried out scuba diving, saw some ruins of an ancient city, and ate some bloody fantastic food. In fact by the end of the holiday, it's safe to say we didn't have one bad meal out there. Every single meal was fantastic, I mean having olives as part of your breakfast every day - take me back to heaven! It's also really acceptable to eat loads of kebabs because that's what they do best, and they're nothing like the greasy processed doner you get over here, it's all fresh, natural ingredients, in a beautiful hand made fresh pitta or pancake wrap. Get ready for some serious Turkish inspired recipes in the coming weeks, as I can't seem to get enough.

At it's highest, we felt a temperature of 36c, so you can probably believe that I'm pretty happy with my tan situation now. But what I loved the most about Turkey? Despite the amazing cuisine, the weather and landscapes, was the friendliness of the Turkish people. Not once did I ever feel unwelcome or like I was invading, every single Turkish person we met went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and made sure we had a good time, and that really makes it.

I took quite a few cameras whilst I was out there but for now I've only got my phone and DSLR pics so here's just a couple for now and the DSLR ones will go up tomorrow. 

I hope you enjoy :)

How have you all been? x

Sunset at Olu Deniz Beach (in the day the water is literally turquoise!!!)

Me before dinner on our penultimate night

Pretty lanterns

Turkish Menemen - the most delicious breakfast I had!

View at the Blue Lagoon

Our last sunset before our airport transfer

Holga 135 BC | Views of Swansea Bay

Using my Christmas money in 2012, whilst in my final term of my final year at uni I bought myself a Holga 135 BC camera; the camera that kinda started it all.

This was one of the first films I shot on this camera, so I walked down to the beach, which was only about a 15 minute walk (definitely didn't take advantage during my time in Swansea) and snapped away to my little heart's content.

As you will see, Swansea really is a beautiful place and if you haven't been, you should go and then go to the Gower, but I'll carry on about the camera. The Holga 135 BC has a plastic lens with artificial vignetting to enhance the effect. I love how the pictures come out with this camera, they have a moody dream-like quality to them. 

Although these pictures were taken over two years ago, I know that the film was a Kodak Superior Xtra 400 (I always make a note on the packet of prints when I get them back). And again, I chose to have the photos printed matte with a border.