Super good for you ramen

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Photo from my instagram, where all good food goes to gloat.

One of my favourite mid-week lunches is my super easy, amazingly tastey, so fucking good for you udon noodle soup. Working from home means I get to enjoy this all the time, and I’m pretty much okay with that.

The beauty of this soup is in its simplicity. I make it in around 20 minutes, and never weigh anything out. It’s gone few a few variations in the past few years, but I think I’ve got it perfected now.

You’ll need:

1 litre of so of stock made with a stock cube (vegetable, and I never measure it out) + a splash of light soy sauce
1 fresh red chili
1 block of frozen grated ginger, or about a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
Healthy squeeze of ready grated lemongrass (comes in a tube), if you don’t have this then just omit it
1 grated clove of garlic
1 star anise (this is important, it adds a whole new dimension to the soup)
2-3 Green cabbage leaves
2-3 chunks of frozen spinach
Small handful of frozen sweetcorn/peas/whatever other frozen vegetables you have.
1 pack of udon noodles (I use Sharwoods straight to wok udon noodles)
Massive handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 chopped spring onion (scallion)

The method is sooooo simple. Sooooooooooooo simple.

Add your stock to a pan and heat it up, add a splash of soy sauce and the chili, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, star anise. Simmer it for a few minutes until it’s bubbling away nicely. In the mean time, rinse your cabbage leaves and roll them up like a cigar. Slice the cigar cabbage up so that you get long noodle like strands. Add this to the stock with the frozen spinach. Keep it simmering for a few minutes. Add your sweetcorn and udon noodles. Simmer it until the sweetcorn’s cooked. Remove from the heat, add your fresh coriander and top with the chopped up spring onion.

Eat. Enjoy. Fight crime.

To feel even more amazing: eat this after working out. You’ll be the smuggest bastard in town.

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Go Greener

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We’re sort of lucky where we live in that we have a green recycling bin to put out cardboard and various other recyclable rubbish, we used to have a glass bin that was collected each month too… but the council scrapped that. We try and recycle as much as possible: take re-usable bags to the super market, keep our thermostat down, use energy saving lightbulbs… but there are SO many other things we could be doing.

In an effort to be greener, these are some of the things I’m going to try to do…

  • Take shorter showers – I’m terrible for long showers.
  • Get a water butt for the garden to collect rain water.
  • Take less short trips in the car. I’m totally guilty of taking walkable journeys in the car, all for the sake of saving time.
  • Eat more locally grown/reared produce.
  • Eat more seasonal produce.
  • Check that all unused electronics are turned off at the plug. Lamps, chargers etc. I’ve heard that even if they’re not being used, if the plug is switched on then some energy is being wasted…
  • On that note, charge my phone during the day rather than leaving it plugged in over night.

I think one of the best motivations is that most of the things listed above will also save money, win-win! Do you have any other tips for how to be greener?

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Collecting

Do you have a collection? I’ve been thinking about it, and I don’t think I’ve currently got an active collection of anything.

I used to collect blythe & pulip dolls, but they’re currently all in storage and I haven’t added to that collection in over 5 years. I guess I sort of collect dinosaur things, too, but I don’t have a shelf full of vintage hair driers or radios. Nothing like that.

I’d love to start a collection, something I could continue to add to without having to spend loads of money. Something I could have on display at all times, or actually make use of. So instead of showing you my non-existent collection, here are some ideas for collections…

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Matchbooks - these would look awesome framed, don’t you think?

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Vintage water colour tins - I already have a vintage dinosaur water colour tin, perhaps I should find some more!

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Rolling pins - perfect to fill an empty wall in the kitchen!

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Plates - We have a few plates on our walls already, but I love that this collection is all state plates.

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Vintage tins - I’ve never seen tins displayed like this, it’s a great way of showing them off!

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American Gods

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With lots of debate, I’ve come to the conclusion that American Gods by Neil Gaiman is my favourite book. I have lots of favourite books, though, so it was hard to put that stamp on just one. I could’ve easily picked the Harry Potter series, or His Dark Materials. But no. American Gods.

I first read American Gods 11 years ago. Adam and I had just started going out, and he introduced me to his favourite graphic novel author – Neil Gaiman. Turned out I’d already read something by him that I loved, his collaboration with Terry Pratchett on Good Omens.

Adam bought this copy when he was in Canada for a family holiday, and gave it to me to read while I went on a family holiday to Florida. Any boy that could lend me my favourite book was surely a keeper!

Since then we’ve both read and re-read this particular copy of American Gods, for a paperback it’s held up pretty well. I have another copy, a recently released “Author’s preferred text” version. However, when it came to meeting Neil Gaiman at a signing in Manchester a few years ago there was only one book that I wanted signing.

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American Gods intertwines folklore, mythology, faith and the human condition into one gloriously epic tale that sticks with you for years. I never tire of it, and still read it ever couple of years. There’s going to be a TV adaptation soon which makes me nervous and excited. I’m confident it won’t be a fuck up, Neil Gaiman is heavily involved with the screenplay.

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May Travel Wishlist

Travelling is one of my loves. I have serious wanderlust and have been lucky enough to visit some amazing places over the past few years, including:

  • Driving through the Canadian Rockies
  • A road trip around the west coast of the USA
  • Taking the train & greyhound all around the USA for 6 weeks
  • Flying to Sydney on my own to meet Adam, and heading up to the Blue Mountains
  • Visiting Hong Kong for a couple of weeks
  • Being in Venice for the carnival
  • Driving from Orlando to Key West down the Tamiami trail
  • A couple of European trips (Munich, Paris)

I was hoping to be able to get over to Bologna in Italy at the end of this month, but plane prices and times are conspiring against me so I’ve had to cancel those plans. On Sunday we’re heading up to the top end of Scotland for a whisky trip with my parents, we did the same thing last year and it’s a nice little holiday.

My travel wishlist is huge and ever expanding, but it’s likely that we won’t get to take any larger trips for a while, at least while our new pooch is small (hopefully when it’s bigger it can go on its own holiday while we leave the country).  Luckily, a couple of my current wanderlusts are places easily visitable from the UK for a weekend.

stockholm

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I’ve been lusting over Stockholm for a while now. I love Scandi style, and have a little Dala horse on my desk. I’m a little bit of a Viking nerd, so visiting some of the historical artefacts they have in Stockholm would be really interesting! Stockholm looks to have an interesting mix of new and old buildings, perfect for a walking tour. Maybe a trip to the world’s largest Ikea might be in order, too?

iceland

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Another cold place I’d love to visit is Iceland. The scenery there looks absolutely stunning, I still love to look at the photos Kris took when she visited. A trip to the blue lagoon and a drive through the country to see the landscape would be definite musts.

Other places high up on my travel wishlist include India, Nepal, Mexico and Borneo. I’m not sure we’ll make it to any of those places in the next year or so, but hopefully at some point in the future!

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