Weekend Catch-up

I haven’t been feeling quite myself this past week. From time to time my stomach decides to throw a bit of a hissy fit and leaves me feeling bloated and nauseated – and this week has been one of those times 😦
So I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself and not been getting up to as much as I would have liked.

It’s been especially frustrating as I have (finally) got myself a job, which starts a week on Monday, so I had been hoping to make the most of my last weeks of freedom.
I’m going to be working for the local University, engaging with local companies who have been involved in a University project to find out the benefits they got out of working with the Uni. It’s actually only a three month contract to start with, with the possibility of extension, but it’s definitely the best (only) offer I’ve had all year!
It’s sounds like a really interesting role, but on of the best things (other than getting paid) is that it’s only a five minute walk away from the house 🙂
It’s also been an excuse to do some clothes shopping, which I haven’t really been able to do for a long time as I haven’t had an income. Even though it was only work clothes it was still nice to be able to treat myself. I mostly bought trousers as I have tops that are work appropriate but the only trousers I really have are jeans that I obviously can’t get away with in an office. I might get around to taking some photos for you to see when I’m feeling less bloated and obese.

It has got rather cold here as well this week – so as well as being ill I’ve been staying inside to avoid the cold. I’m hoping the office where I’ll be working has got good heating :/
The cold isn’t all bad though as it means we get to put the fire on and get snuggled up in a blanket. The animals (cat and dog) are definitely on board with that plan too- they’re either trying to psych each other off of my blanket or spreading themselves out in front of the fire. They aren’t the best of friend, but their mutual love of warmth had brought them closer together than ever these past few days.

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I’ve also been doing quite a lot of crochet again, it’s a good snuggly winter evening activity 🙂 I’ve been working on some animal xmas baubles that are quite easy but super cute. The pattern is an original design by All About Ami which you can find here, there are also loads of other great designs and helpful hints and tips all really well illustrated with photos.

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I’m on my own this evening as the parents are away in Vietnam and Pete is out seeing a friend who has come up to climb in Snowdonia. Evenings on your own only mean one thing – personal indulgence 🙂 Not wanting to tempt fate, but my stomach is feeling the best it has done in 2 days, so I might go and treat myself to a mug cake!

Hope you are all well,

Love,

Betty

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Pulled Pork Stew

This summer I completely fell in love with Pulled Pork – it was cheap, easy and very, very tasty. It’s something I meant to blog about all summer but never got around to.

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Now, whilst Pulled Pork is a barbecue style dish (not that mine involved the use of a barbecue) and could generally be considered to be summer food, there obviously isn’t any reason why you can’t enjoy it in the winter – slow cooked spicy meat still sounds like a great, comforting winter meal.  However, I was inspired by a recent email from Tesco to put even more of an Autumnal-Wintery twist on my summer favourite and make a Pulled Pork Stew.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it uses Pork Shoulder, which is a really affordable cut of meat – Asda have Pork Shoulders available from £3 per kilo (I used around 700 grams of shoulder steaks and that was more than enough for 4 people).
Another great thing is that it is really quite low effort – as a slow cook dish, so you can put it on in the morning and it can cook all day to be as good as ready when you get home from work 🙂

Pulled Pork Spice Rub

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1. Mix the rub ingredients together in a bowl. Rub half into your meat then cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours or over night.

I have previously used Pork Shoulder Joints but used Shoulder Steaks this time for the stew, however, I think I would probably recommend Joints over Steaks

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 2. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius  Place meat into a roasting tray/tin, add a cup of water and cover the whole tray in tin foil. Cook for 4 to 5 hours (for 1 to 1.5 kilos)

To make stew mixture
(any time after putting the meat into the oven) 


3. In a large pan/casserole dish – Soften a chopped onion and sliced celery (optional) in olive oil

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4. Add tinned tomatoes and water (number of cans depends on number you are feeding, I used one tin of tomatoes and one tin of water for 4 people)


5. Add chopped veg of your choice (I generally use carrot, peppers, courgette, tomatoes, green beans…)


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6. Add beans – I used tinned kidney beans in chilli sauce, but you can use any type of bean, fresh, dried (and soaked) or tinned (even baked beans) or skip the beans all together if they aren’t your thing (but they are very good for you and if you cook them for a long time you’ll probably not even notice they’re there!)

7. Add more tomatoes and/or water if more liquid is needed

8. Season to taste – salt, pepper, smoked paprika/cayenne pepper/chilli, tomato purée

9. Now you have a choice, which partly depends on how long you have left til the meat is cooked
– If it is still a few hours til the meat is ready you can either put the pot in the oven with the meat (make sure it is oven proof) and leave to slow cook or you can simply turn it off and leave it covered
– If the meat will be ready soon (within 30 minutes to one hour) you can leave the pot, covered, on a low heat on the hob or pop it in the oven with the meat

Bringing things together


10. Once the meat is cooked, remove the layer of fat (which will be weird and squidgy, not like crackling as Pete is always disappointed to find) then take two forks and pull the meat apart (hence PULLED pork) and mix in the spicy juices in bottom of the tin

11. Add the meat to the stew mixture – If you took the stew mixture off the heat while the meat cooked then do warm it up on a mid to low heat hob, or in the oven, before mixing the meat in

12. Serve. 
I served mine with savoury corn muffins made using this recipe, although substituting buttermilk for soy milk with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.

I certainly enjoyed it, and everyone else seemed to as well.

WinterPulledPorkCollage

I hope you are all well and enjoying some hearty and warming meals now autumn has definitely arrived.

Love,

Betty

x

 

Halloween 2013

Halloween this year was not quite as much of an event for me as it has been in previous year.

A combination of factors including our recent move, work and a lousy mood that overcame me for most of last week meant I didn’t have the time, effort or cause for a big fuss.
I got to dress up a bit on the Wednesday when I helped with children’s craft activities at the National Trust property where my mum works. I wore the same Pearls & Swine Devil Horn fascinator as last year because, well, there aren’t exactly a great range of occasions when one can wear a devil horn fascinator. It was an enjoyable but very tiring day – something in the order of 120 kids got involved in making Halloween Trick or Treat bags and kept me on my feet (in heels) for 6 straight hours without a break!
On Halloween itself I found time to bake a cake; orange with chocolate fudge frosting. I’m not sure what happened but my first attempt went horribly wrong and barely rose at all. That one had to be consigned to waste and I had a second go that was marginally more successful. I was rather disappointed as it was a recipe I have used several times before and has always produced brilliant light, fluffy sponge. It was perfectly edible and tasted nice, but it fell short of my expectations and I don’t get on well with baking failures 😦

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As I had been quite busy I was rather tired, that combined with my low mood meant I didn’t really feel like going to the cinema in the evening, so we didn’t get to see Frankenstein. Again, I’m a little disappointed in myself now that I didn’t feel up to it. Fortunately there is another opportunity to see it, this time with Jonny Lee Miller as The Creature, later in the month, so I hope to still get to see it.
Instead, Pete and I carved pumpkins (also rather delayed by being do busy) and watched The Walking Dead. We’re a bit late to The Walking Dead and are only on Season 2 at the moment, only 2 episodes from the end of the season now. I was even quite lack-lustre in my pumpkin carving and stuck with a fairly classic scary face. It was still a nice evening and appropriately Halloween-y.

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Alf wasn’t completely convinced by his pumpkin doppelgänger

Apologies for the poor quality of the photographs. Taking pictures with my camera is another thing I’ve not been so good at lately, so these are just ones I have taken with my iPod. If you want to see more pictures from me you can follow me on Instagram.

 

I hope you all had a good Halloween, whatever you did or didn’t get up to 🙂
Listening to: Alkaline Trio (the only band for Halloween)
Watching: The Walking Dead, Season 2
Reading: Wuthering Heights (I’ve been reading this for ages and am trying to slog through the last few chapters)
Love,
Betty
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