Be my veggie guest! Barbecue edition


IMG_1634While plenty of you are not vegetarian, I know lots of people like to try a meat free day or two most weeks. And isn’t it nice to look beyond meat at a barbecue? Do you really feel great after craploads of grilled burgers and sausages? So whether you’re veggie yourself (woot! woot!) or just want to add a few options for the not so carnivorous amongst us, here’s some quick ideas for your scorching hot al day al fresco meal.* Featuring no frozen fake meat, at all!

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Midweek Madness: Speedy Peanut Stir Fry Sauce!

Stopped momentarily on the way in from work to appreciate these beauties.

Things have been a bit haphazard since… ooooh, well, all this year basically. Continuing along the meandering path that is my career, I have two sort-of jobs. I’m adulting hard – I’m self employed now you see, it says so on the 76 page form I sent to the tax office.

In job number one I worked all through January, and have done the odd shift since then. Then I took on a few weeks work (job number two) in a different company at the beginning of February and two months later I’m still there. So I’m basically working full time until I’m told otherwise – it keeps getting extended (yay!) and we have a very understanding creche. I have to turn down shifts that I’m offered in job number one just in case I get more work in job number two (I prefer it you see). But I am conscious of ‘keeping in’ with job number one and not forgetting how to actually do the job, so I have committed to sporadic weekend shifts there.

Which is all to say my meal planning and organization is disastrous at exactly the point that I could really do with it being the opposite. I do have a couple of speedy midweek specials that I roll out and one of them is a stirfry – rice or noodles, tofu or quorn or neither and whatever veg are to hand. Always topped with nuts or seeds, and often with this super good peanut sauce.

Now, don’t laugh. I signed up to Snapchat (@jillo_properfud). Luckily I don’t have a child old enough to point and laugh at me. When I told my husband he looked confused – though strangely not threatened – and said is that not just for teenagers sharing nudie pics? Loads of great bloggers are on there, and even though I’m not sure I have exactly cracked it in terms of how to best use it, I did realize very quickly that the Story function is perfect for recipe videos. This is my first one. It’s very rough and ready. VERY. But I’m not entirely ashamed of it, and I don’t care what my voice sounds like after a good conversation with fellow bloggers made me realise everyone thinks they sound like a dickhead at first.

Super Easy, Ridiculously Tasty Peanut Sauce

I keep chunks of peeled chopped ginger in a ziplock bag in the freezer. When you need to use just steep it in some boiling water for a couple of minutes before sticking it in the blender.

  • Blitz a big garlic clove & and inch or so of ginger.

Now add everything else and blitz it till smooth.

  • ½ a cup of smooth peanut butter. I use the Meridian brand for all my nut butters.
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. I’m probably a bit more liberal with this.
  • Juice of half a lime.
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. I’m not sure that it matters if it’s dark or light, I just like to use the soft one, not demerara or anything like that.
  • Chilli flakes to taste. You could use half a red chilli either if you and yours like a bit of heat
  • ½ a cup of water (less if you want a thicker sauce)

That’s it! It’s that easy.

This keeps in the fridge for a few days, so you can be nice and prepared and make it in advance. When you’re ready to use it just toss it over your veg and stir it through until warm.

Because I was actually trying to feed my family in a hurry I didn’t take any actual nice pictures of the dinner as well as snap chatting so instead, here are a couple from a trip to Cork last week. Don’t be fooled. It rained for 75% of the time, but when it was good, it was very very good.

IMG_1097Dreamy rockpool


#tbt to this day forever please

IMG_1192Pondering jumping fish. Rarely is he ever transfixed for so long.

Perfect Pancakes, under Pressure from Peppa.

We were early this year with the pancakes. Even though Easter is early and thus Pancake Tuesday is early, we were early-early. I dished them up last weekend.

Actually, first: Why is Pancake Tuesday associated with crepes? Why not American style pancakes?  We eat them loads without fanfare. Is that because they’re called drop scones in some parts on this side of the pond? Does it really matter what people did with their eggs and flour to get rid of them? Why were they even getting rid of them…*

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The Pool, The Stitches and The BB8 Cake

BB8 Star Wars

Like a harbinger of doom the by now six year old started asking questions in the car on the way to his party. Quite chirpily, he enquired “What happens if a mammy dies when a baby is in her tummy? Like, if her body stops working?” Now, there is no baby in mammy’s tummy and nothing quite so tragic befell us between our house and the swimming pool but we didn’t escape the day drama-free nonetheless.

I know what you’re thinking. Who would have a pool party for a six year old? Why would you do that to yourself? Luckily having read this cautionary tale I had checked the T’s & C’s: parents did not need to accompany the kids into the pool. That meant one hour of coffee drinking and viewing gallery sitting for us. Nice one. Continue reading

A Trifling Matter


I am attempting a trifle later this week. I have never made one before. I do like a challenge but I’m feeling the pressure when there’s twelve adult tasters involved. Somehow in the Great Christmas Dinner plan (in my brother and sister-in-laws house) I was delegated the trifle. Not by the hosts who are of course wonderful to have us all. There was a person, who shall remain nameless, who volunteered to make one then subcontracted it out to me due to circumstances beyond their, or clearly my, control. I could have been making an Ottolenghi-like starter or wowed them similarly with some meat free delight that would cause all to gasp and renounce the turkey* but no, I’m making a trifle. Ah sure grand so, that’s that decided then. Or is it?

See that? Now that does nothing for me.

When I had it growing up, often courtesy of a very well meaning great aunt it was full of jelly, readymade custard, tinned fruit, soggy sponge and cooking sherry. So far, so 1980s. Younger me preferred to head straight for the selection box instead. My mother-in-law makes a fabulous one that her whole family leap on each year, but I’ve been put off the whole thing as a concept.

I had an idea though. I would go off piste with the recipe. Apparently this is controversial as there are hardcore Classic Edition trifle fans attending. But they are not making it; I am, so to that end I am making this Chocolate Trifle with Baileys and I have high hopes. (Also, I don’t even eat jelly except the Veggie Percys in M&S.)

What can go wrong? Look sure, I have a checklist done.

  • Massive bowl. Borrowed: Tick.
  • Making a chocolate loaf on thursday morning: Tick.
  • Custard anxiety: I do not trust myself to make something with seven egg yolks that has the capacity to curdle. So I am going with ready made but Birds custard and other yellow sludgy monstrosities have been eschewed. Only the expensive posh creamy Madagascan vanilla stuff will do. Tesco and M&S stock same: Tick.
  • Whole shebang getting assembled thursday evening: Tick.
  • Massive bowl has a lid for car/lap transportation. Cream will be added at the final destination: Tick.

If the worst comes to worst? Who on earth is actually hungry for dessert on Christmas Day? Anyway there’s always most of a bottle of leftover Baileys to drink.

* It is twenty years, TWENTY this month since I did in fact renounce the turkey. I think it’s an anniversary worth mentioning.