Jamie’s AMAZING Chicken Tikka Masala

I LOVE a good chicken tikka masala, it’s my favourite curry by far, but there are so many crap restaurants out there, and here in Oxford in particular I find most of them pretty awful – the kind of thing that comes in a neon red/pink sauce and tastes horribly sweet and you can’t even imagine what ingredients might have been used….

However I found a few years ago a really good Jamie Oliver recipe which makes curry for about 20 people, and today I decided to try a slightly different version which serves 4 (a different but similar Jamie Oliver recipe) and it was A-MAZING.

Like, properly the best curry I’ve ever made – DELICIOUS.

His original recipe is here, I have just written it out here for your convenience with a few notes – try it, you won’t be sorry! Continue reading

Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

Got this recipe from a free magazine at the Co-op a few weeks ago, and it’s also on their website.

They were surprisingly delicious and truffley, and a good thing to make if you’re stuck at home and need a treat (assuming you can find the ingredients).

Ingredients:

  • 40g toffees
  • 50ml double cream
  • 200g 85% dark chocolate broken into pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder/desiccated coconut/ground pistachios or alternative things to roll them in!

(I found this really really super dark, so ended up adding a lot more cream than the recipe suggests. I think next time I would try half dark half milk chocolate maybe for balance – they were MEGA rich in the end, though this may have been because I doubled the amount of cream!).

Steps

  1. Put the toffees into a saucepan on a low heat and stir occasionally until melted (I was very impatient with this part but they do go eventually)
  2. Stir in the double cream and then add the chocolate, keeping on a low heat, stirring gently until melted and smooth
  3. Take off the heat and stir in the salt, then transfer the mixture to a bowl and leave in the fridge to cool for at least 4 hours (I tried after 3 hours but it wasn’t enough – this def needs the full chilling time).
  4. Once cool, lay out your toppings on plates and make small balls and roll them in the topping of your choice. (The original recipe suggests oiling your hands but this didn’t work at all for me – my hands were so warm they melted in my hands almost immediately and it all got VERY messy. I found it easier to use a spoon to squish and roll the ball shape first, so it didn’t melt too much while I was making the balls).

Quarantine Diary: Week 1

Sunday 22nd March

Took the toddler to the supermarket as we had been away and needed to do a weekly shop. We arrived around 10am, which is when the shop usually opens on a Sunday. Was shocked to discover the car park was FULL. I’ve lived here 9 years and never once seen it full. Grabbed a trolley and joined the queue to get into the store – lined up all along the car park, but was quite fast-moving so only took around 20 mins to get inside.

Continue reading

Lockdown

By now, Coronavirus, or Covid-19, is one of the most well-known illnesses around the globe. It has caused widespread fear, panic-buying, stockpiling and empty supermarket shelves, closed down schools and businesses, caused a shortage of hospital beds and ventilators, and of course many, many deaths. It has shut down entire countries, one by one like dominoes falling in a line and is likely to lead to a pretty serious worldwide recession not seen since the great depression of the 1930’s. It’s a very strange time to be alive, and certainly one that will be taught in the history books in the future. Living through it feels exactly like every Hollywood disaster movie – the signs were there but were we too slow to take action? Continue reading

Who you gonna call?

So, I don’t plan on entering into the huge Coronavirus debate on here. I have my thoughts, and lots of people I know disagree with my viewpoint, so I have no desire to start any further debates here. I also feel that the media and social media are huge driving forces adding to the panic and hysteria so writing more about it isn’t all that helpful.

However, in spite of all that, I realised that this virus presents a very strange and unique predicament that I might need to plan for, which I thought was worth writing about. Continue reading

Celebration Day

Even though the Adoption Order was granted on the 7th January, when everything was formally made legal and official, there have still been quite a few minor admin things to do.

We needed to wait for the court bureaucratic wheels to slowly turn and issue various bits of paperwork so that she can be entered officially into the Register of Adopted Children, which once completed means that you can apply for an Adoption Certificate (which is very similar but slightly different from a birth certificate). This document has her new legally changed name on it, which you need to supply in order to do other official things, like apply for a passport, or change her name on other official things like the NHS/Dr’s surgery records, and her child benefits account, etc.

i have now received this, she now legally and officially has my last name/family name, and I have already applied for a passport so that we can hopefully go to Australia soon and visit my brother and dad and the rest of our family can meet my daughter! Continue reading

Lentil Salad

I sometimes make a healthy-ish batch of salady things for my lunches. I like salads but need them to be quite solid and hearty otherwise I’m hungry again an hour later, which is why I like a lentil salad.

This recipe is delicious, reasonably low-calorie as long as you don’t put too much oil in, but it’s also accidentally vegan so if you ever need to come up with something for a vegan guest it’s handy to have in your back pocket (just don’t add any feta!). Sadly I have once again failed to take any pictures to show you how delicious it was though.

Ingredients

  • Courgettes (two large or three small ones)
  • 1 tin of green (or puy)  lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 4 or 5 Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red onion
  • Small handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • Lemon juice
  • Balsamic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh Feta cheese (optional)

Method

  1. Chop the courgettes (you can do rounds, half-rounds, or even long slices – any way works) and red onion. Toss with olive oil and roast at around 190 for half an hour or until they are soft and starting to go a little black and crispy.
  2. Allow them to cool, then add to a bowl with the lentils and sun-dried tomatoes and basil
  3. Add a little lemon juice (approx 1-2 teaspoons) and balsamic (approx 1 tablespoon), and if you like you can add a little oil (I often use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes for extra flavour) and toss it all together

For a non-vegan version this is really good with crumbled feta mixed in too, and you can experiment with mint, coriander or parsley instead of basil for slightly different flavours. You could also roast some red pepper along with the courgettes.

A non-story

Recently we had a really bad day. I started writing it all down in excruciating detail before remembering that I’m an incredibly boring mum now and have nothing interesting to say nowadays apart from the minutiae of our tiny little lives and not many people actually care. So I decided (for once) to edit myself.

In a nutshell, I made the wrong choice as a parent, I did something which I thought would be ok and things went wrong, and it was upsetting for both of us and led to an extreme amount of mum-guilt and tears all round.

Suffice to say I have now made more work for myself and also learned a valuable lesson.

Basically that’s all you need to know – I felt really crappy and beat myself up about it but it’s all fine now and I suppose parenting is all one massive learning curve so occasionally you will get things wrong. It’s inevitable, and it’s hard not to feel crushed by guilt when it does, but all you can do is have a good cry, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try to do better next time.

Forever

Today, on the 7th January, 2020, a judge heard our case, and as there were no final objections or appeals to be lodged, she granted my daughter’s adoption order.

A mere 6 months after I met my gorgeous baby girl for the very first time, I am now officially, legally, her mama.

Forever.

And ever.

It was such a monumental moment in both of our lives. and yet also slightly weird and mundane. I got the call while we were at toddler group, her social worker called me as soon as the hearing was over to tell me the good news, then we had a snack and went home for a nap. We celebrated by going to a soft play centre in the afternoon with some friends, and in the evening I did my best to explain to my baby girl that a wise judge said I could be her mama forever and ever, though I don’t think she has really understood any of it!

It’s such a huge, mega thing, and yet we carried on going about our day in a very normal way, mostly I guess because I already am her mama, but it’s been unofficial for the last 6 months.

In some ways this was really just a formality, as nothing about our daily lives will change in the slightest. And yet, she’s going to get an adoption certificate that says I’M her mummy, and she’s going to have MY family name, and I can apply for a passport for her, and all sorts of things. I was able to give her a new middle name (she already had two so I changed the 2nd middle name to a name that I chose for her). In giving her a new name, and a new family name, today she became a little bit more MINE in a way that she wasn’t before. (The books tell me this is called “claiming behaviour” and an important part of attachment, though we hardly need it!).

I still find it so hard to believe it has only been 6 months since she came into my life – it feels like she has been in my life for so much longer than that.

There is still a slew of paperwork to be done in finalising everything, but it’s all over, it’s official, no more waiting, no more bumps (other than the usual mother-daughter bumps) – we are now, and forever, a real, proper family.

It feels amazing, and weird, and lovely, and strange. I’m the happiest mama in the world.