Category Archives: Food

Check out healthy, tasty and easy recipes. I usually share at least one per week!

5 (Really Easy) Ways I’m Reducing the Plastic in my Life

Plastic Free Grocery Shop

For a long time, reducing plastic has been on my radar – a vague mission I’d never had the energy to put into practice. I’m rarely one to get involved with a bandwagon but, with the ever increasing visibility, and ever increasing volume of the plastic-free movement’s voice, I figured this was one trend I’m totally into following.

It’s hard. The modern world just isn’t geared up to help us be plastic-free, but the good news is that increased coverage of the importance of reducing plastic waste is paying off – its becoming easier to take baby steps towards being plastic free/reducing plastic. And for me at least, baby steps is best – you can’t always make a huge change at once.

Here are 5 things I’ve been doing recently to reduce the amount of plastic in my life (note: I don’t want to say “plastic free” as, right now, that’s an unrealistic goal, for me).

Buying vegetables locally

It’s really handy to pick up veg like cucumber and bagged salads when I’m cruising in Sainsburys, but the amount of unnecessary plastic is sinful. Recently I found a greengrocer nearby that sells naked cucumbers, fresh salad unbagged and jarred snacks like salted fava beans. I still pick up any loose veg I can get in supermarkets (onions, carrots, mushrooms, toms etc) but go to my local greengrocer for everything else. It’s a little more expensive, but its also all organic, locally grown and you can taste the difference. And they save their salad greens for Brian

Cutting down on Online Shopping

I like to shop online now and again, but recently I’ve noticed an obscene amount of plastic involved (and I don’t even buy that much). So I decided to head back to the high street – and I’m loving it. For starters, I’m saving money on shipping, but also getting to try things on, check material labels (ecommerce, why aren’t you showing us material contents?), try my luck in charity shops and use my own canvas bags. I’m finding so many bargains too, today I picked up some black Converse All Star Dainty pumps for just £10.50 brand new from The Outlet PLUS they disposed of the box for me so they’d fit in my bag. Another unexpected plus side is that I buy less, because I can’t actually be bothered going into town to shop unless I really need something…

Bringing a Bottle, Cup and Cutlery

Yep, I’m now the kinda girl who has a travel mug, water bottle and full set of cutlery rattling round her handbag (and subsequently, a massive handbag). It’s so handy though and I know how clean they are and I’m never in a position where I have to use those rubbish picnic cutlery sets, or buy an emergency bottle of water. Most cafes will fill up your water bottle for free (or if you buy a piece of fruit or something – and we could all eat more fruit) and every single coffee shop I’ve visited in the past 6 months has been happy to fill my coffee cup. Easy.

Using Up, Recycling, Re-purposing & Replacing

It was so tempting, when I started thinking about plastic, to throw away all the plastic stuff I have and replace it with non-plastic versions. How stupid is that? I’d be creating a problem in the name of solving the problem. Instead, I’ve decided to carry on as normal, and only when something needs replacing will I switch it up for a plastic free version. This will apply to as many items as possible – and so far its proving interesting, as it’s encouraging me to research products before I buy them.
Wherever possible, when a plastic thing I’ve got stops being functional for its main intent, I’m trying to give it a new job – like using a lunchbox with a lost lid, or some staining, as a plant pot. If I can’t find a new job for it, I’ll drop it at my local recycling center.

Homegrown tumbling tomatoes

DIY and Growing my Own

Guys, I love little tomatoes and strawberries and fresh herbs for cooking – and I used to buy all those pre-packaged spices in shrink wrap, and strawbs/toms in those weird plastic coffins almost daily. Now I have a couple of hanging baskets producing amazingly luscious fruits & a modest but prolific herb garden out in our back yard – I’m saving a bit of money and everything tastes 10x better knowing its home grown.

I’m also thinking about getting back into knitting and learning to sew – that way I can pick up old woolen/cashmere jumpers in second hand stores, unravel them and re-knit into something more my style (because somehow I never find things I just love) and make minor repairs on fashion instead of throwing it out.

Wow, this turned out to be a really long post. But those are 5 of the things I’ve been focusing on turning into a habit, in the hopes I can reduce plastic from my life. I have to be honest, the thing I’m struggling with the most is dish soap – any plastic free people out there with more experience than me got any suggestions?

What steps (if any) are you taking to reduce your plastic use?

Kitty

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The Creamiest, Chocolatiest, Most Indulgent Hot Chocolate Recipe. Ever.

Czekolady Manufakurer Krakow

You know those days where it’s really cold and you’ve been so well behaved and you just desire a super indulgent, straight-to-the-hips hot chocolate?

This is the recipe you want.

It’s decadent, creamy, chocolatey and full of guilt (and calories) – use all the ingredients sparingly and embrace this most indulgent of hot chocolates. Whilst you’re at it, you may as well top it with whipping cream, sprinkles and marshmallows and write the day off.

Super decadent hot chocolate, serves 2

Ingredients

1 large bar Belgian milk chocolate (approx. 200g)

1 pot double cream (284ml)

Cup of whole milk

½ tsp cinnamon powder

1 capful of navy rum (optional)

1 pinch cayenne pepper (seriously)

For topping:

Whipped cream

Mini marshmallows

Chocolate sprinkles

Cinnamon powder

Imagination

Are you ready, this is literally the simplest but most rewarding recipe ever. The steps are quick, so have your best cups at the ready!

-In a saucepan or bain marie melt the chocolate until it’s a little soft, then pour in the cream.

-Stir continuously until the chocolate is mostly dissolved.

-Add in the rum, cinnamon and cayenne pepper

-If it needs thickening up, slowly stir in a little whole milk at a time to achieve the right consistency

-Pour out, top with cream and adorn with sprinkles.

This should be enjoyed guilt free, without regard for the gym or sugar intake. If you’re going to misbehave, might as well be worth it, eh? It’s winter after all.

(P.s. if you really want to jeopardise your BMI then enjoy with a chocolate smothered croissant like we did…)

Kitty

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Tastes of Spain | El Rincon de Rafa, Manchester

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Hidden behind Deansgate is a little culinary gem that I have loved since the moment I set foot in there several years ago. El Rincon de Rafa (Rafa’s Corner) serves up authentic tapas in a beautiful rustic setting at obscenely reasonable prices (considering it’s city centre).

It’s fast become a treat date for Mr K and I, and we visited a couple of weeks ago – I decided to share a few thoughts on my favourite ever restaurant. Mostly because I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for 3 years and never mentioned it…

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Tottering down the stairs to the basement-level taverna always fills me with joy – the comforting aromas of Spain (oil, garlic, seafood) drift about you, promising delicious things. It’s like a little slice of Spain on home soil – something which transports me back to fond childhood memories.

As a duo, it’s very hard to get a table – the taverna is constantly bustling, and because of this they don’t take reservations for 2. It’s no problem for us – we’re quite content to sit by the bar, enjoying dos estrellas and watching the world go by. Incidentally, it’s not uncommon whilst waiting to see the cast of Corrie, or even some has-been celebrity taking a lunch break from The Palace pantomimes (we’ve seen Jason Donovan there). It’s easy enough to while away a couple of hours sat here waiting – and it doesn’t hurt the bank. 2 pints costs around £7 which is about standard for Manchester city centre.

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We’re usually seated within 20 minutes, and that’s when the magic starts. We have some go-to dishes we mostly order every time;
Filetitos – steak cooked in cream and brandy
Patatas Bravas – Potato in tomato salsa
Pulpitos en Salsa – Baby octopus in tomato sauce
Gambas Pil Pil – Prawns in chilli
Magro en Salsa – Pork in honey sauce
Chorizo al Vino – Chorizo in red wine
Albondigas – Meatballs in tomato sauce

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The menu is extensive, enticing and above all, authentic. Many hours have been spent (not wasted) at this stage pondering what to try next – but the truth of it is that you’ll never be disappointed. Their paella is addictively good, as are their specials and stews (try the Galician stew).

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Like good tapas, the dishes arrive in drips and drabs – the focus is on eating whilst you chat, and we’ve had some of our best conversations whilst waiting for the next few dishes to arrive.
We tend to pick slowly, biding our time until all of the dishes have reached us.
They aren’t skinny with bread, which is great news as the sauces are the absolute best – we rarely send a dish back without wiping it completely clean. You just have to watch – the table staff are very quick to clear away – sometimes before you’ve finished with your sauce!

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It’s easy to while away a few hours (or even a whole half a day) in El Rincon de Rafa – arriving for a “quick bite” before going out almost always results in leaving at closing time – happy and full of food.

As a guide point, ordering all of the above with 2 beers cost us around £35 – so it’s absolutely value for money, and I’d happily pay double. The staff are great (they help with your Spanish too!) and always happy to have a chat with you, when they can find time.

If you live in Manchester, you probable know about El Rincon (if you don’t – go!). For visitors, I’d seriously recommend making this part of your touring schedule because you will absolutely not find a place this good anywhere else.

Kitty

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