February

to do list

(Photo by Death to the Stock Photo

Feeling a bit overwhelmed. 

Baking all the scones and all the bread. 

Making my own lemon curd. And all the to do lists. 

Booking a crochet class so I can keep up with my resolutions! 

Listening to the Longform podcast and plenty of Ed Sheeran. 

Wearing all stripes, all the time.

Decluttering my bookshelves and saying goodbye to my feminist theory textbooks. 

Spending a weekend in Sheffield with friends it does my heart good to see. 

Collecting jam jars and tea lights for hipster wedding decor. 

Eating honey mustard chicken, at least once a week. 

Reading all of our RSVPs. They’re coming in thick and fast now. 

Hosting my sister, and taking her to her University interview. 

Skipping down the street with my sweet niece. She’s so fun. 

Enjoying my rare evenings in alone. Just me and Tuna, chilling out. 

Dancing to ’00s hip hop at the Maven. So good I couldn’t leave, even when my feet hurt. 

Escaping work for lunch with two of my favourites. This needs to happen more often. 

Testing my knowledge at the pub quiz. Need to brush up… 

How about you? 

 

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Farmers & Food Markets in Leeds

kirkstall abbey

I am craving the Spring. Every time I step outside into the biting wind, or shuck off hundreds of layers to contend with overzealous central heating, I yearn for the sunshine and the ease of Spring. One of my favourite things to do when the weather is slightly warmer is to wander around one of the many foodie markets that Leeds has to offer. It’s the perfect way to while away a morning, picking up fresh bread, delicious and unusual ingredients, and something for your sweet tooth, all ready to be squirrelled home and enjoyed as a hearty lunch. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to markets in the Leeds area – here are a few to get you started! 

Kirkstall Deli Market – Last Weekend of the Month, 12pm-3pm 

My favourite of the lot, Kirkstall Deli Market is set amongst the beautiful ruins of Kirkstall Abbey. Where once monks wandered the cloisters, now hungry foodies venture for street food vans and stalls crammed high with delicious treats. I have walked away with delicious pasties and pies, piles of cheeses, locally produced honey, Yorkshire chorizo, squidgy brownies and steaks for my dinner, but if that’s not enough to be getting on with then there are plenty more options. The Saturday is the more foodie day, with crafty stalls popping up on the Sunday. 

Farmers and Craft Market, Briggate – 1st & 3rd Sunday of the Month, 10am-4pm 

This market sets up its home right down the centre of one of the busiest shopping streets in Leeds, offering all sorts of foodie and crafty goodies twice a month. It’s a nice surprise to stumble upon the green and white striped stalls when you’re shopping, and I’m sure you’ll be able to find something to tempt you at the Briggate market

Leeds Dock Market – Last Weekend of the Month, 10am-4pm

Leeds Dock Market is the new kid on the block, but this waterside market is already making a splash (pun intended). You can take a free water taxi there from Granary Wharf, and there is live music from buskers throughout the day. As well as the delicious street food and foodie stalls that you’d expect, you can grab a drink from the bar. Go on, treat yo’self. 

Chapel Allerton Farmers Market – Last Sunday of the Month, 9am-1pm 

I’ve driven past this market outside the Three Hulats pub a couple of times but never made it down to test the wares but it’s definitely on my to-do list. Maybe I’ll see you there! 

Oakwood Farmers Market – 1st Saturday of the Month, 9.30am-3pm 

This is a lovely little market just next to the Clocktower in Roundhay Park. It’s best to go early as they do run out of stuff – it’s a popular one! Great for picking up fresh meat and fish, as well as baked goods and condiments.They’ve currently relocated round the corner whilst the clocktower is being repaired but you can find out more information on their website

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Simple Tomato & White Wine Pasta Sauce

Simple Tomato & White Wine Pasta Sauce

Having a good pasta sauce recipe under your belt will serve you well in life. Pasta is the ultimate comfort food, and I think I could eat it every day without ever getting bored. This sauce recipe is super simple, stripped back to the very basics, but it’s full of those delicious, Italian flavours that we all know and love. You can knock the whole dish up in 20 minutes, so it’s perfect for a midweek dinner when you’re feeling lazy, but equally you can jazz it up for something a little bit more special. Throw some cooked chorizo or prawns in there (or maybe both), garnish with some garlic bread and pour out the rest of the wine into two glasses and you’ve got yourself a meal fit for a king. The key to the whole thing is fresh herbs – they really are worth it in the flavour stakes. I’ve been trying to grow my own rather unsuccessfully, but it is my aim to always have fresh herbs on hand. Because I’m worth it, obviously (and so are you). 

Simple Tomato & White Wine Pasta Sauce

Simple Tomato & White Wine Pasta Sauce

Simple Tomato & White Wine Pasta Sauce
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. olive oil
  2. 1 onion, finely chopped
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  4. 1 tsp. chilli flakes
  5. 150ml white wine
  6. 400g chopped tomatoes
  7. 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  8. 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  9. 1 tsp. sugar
  10. salt & pepper
  11. small bunch of fresh basil
  12. small bunch of fresh parsley
  13. 150g spaghetti
  14. parmesan, to serve
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook slowly for 5 minutes until softened, stirring regularly. Try not to let them go brown - if they're catching, turn the heat down a little.
  2. Add the garlic and the chilli flakes and fry for another few minutes, continuing to stir.
  3. Pour in the wine and allow to bubble for a minute or so, before adding the chopped tomatoes. Add the oregano, thyme, sugar and salt & pepper and stir through.
  4. Allow to simmer over a low heat whilst you cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions (don't forget to salt the boiling water before adding the pasta!).
  5. A minute or so before serving, roughly chop the basil and parsley, discarding the stalks, and stir through the sauce.
  6. Drain the pasta and mix into the sauce. Serve with freshly grated parmesan.
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/
Simple Tomato & White Wine Pasta Sauce

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Weekend Link Love

mugs

(Photo by André Freitas)

Hey friends, how’s it going? I’ll be honest with you, this week has been a tough one. I am glad that it is over. Bereavement, work stress, wedding crises, and just general overwhelm have taken over our lives and it’s been a bit rough. Of course, those things don’t just go away because a new week starts, but it does feel like a Monday is a chance to restart and rewrite so whilst no one really loves Mondays, I am quite looking forward to tomorrow. However, it’s not all doom and gloom (is it ever?). My baby sister came to stay this week to interview at Leeds Uni (she got in, obviously) so it was fun to hang out with her a little bit, even if I wasn’t at my best. It’ll be so great if she comes to this city in September – living far away from family is definitely not ideal so the more that move here the better! Today we are visiting a couple of secondhand bookshops (the best!), powering through some wedding prep, baking more bread (I’m addicted) and pub quizzing tonight. They say a Sunday well spent brings a week of content; let’s hope so. 

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10 Things I Love Right Now

phtographer

(Photo by S Zolkin)

1. Orphan Black

Paul and I have just started watching Orphan Black on Netflix and I’m already hooked. Emma recommended it to me earlier in the year but I’d totally forgotten about it until we were searching for a new series and it popped up. Don’t make the same mistake as me – watch it now! It’s dark, edgy, intriguing and perfectly paced. I’m already itching to find out what happens! 

2. AfterLight 

I’ve dabbled with various photo editing apps on my phone before, but I think I’ve found The One in AfterLight. It’s super easy to use, syncs great with Instagram (which is all I need it for, really), and is perfect for making dark photos taken in winter light look bright and breezy. 

3. Kindle Voyage 

I’m not sure how I’ve lived without a Kindle before now. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love paper books – my house is stuffed full of them – but my Kindle is so easy for everyday life. It’s light, it’s easy to use, I have a whole library at the click of a button, and the ‘percentage read’ figure it shows very much appeals to the over-achiever in me. Since I’m trying to read 100 books this year, it’s been a godsend. If you’re thinking of investing, I’d definitely recommend it! 

4. Silver Polish 

I’ve been meaning to clean some of my jewellery for months now, and I finally got around to picking up some silver dip at the supermarket this week. It was absolutely magic – I dropped the jewellery in and it changed from that horrid tarnished colour to bright silver again in seconds. I almost wish I had more to clean just so I could watch it happen. 

5. Scones 

I made Lil’s goat’s cheese & chorizo scones on Monday and now I don’t want to eat anything else ever again. I’d forgotten how good freshly cooked scones are, so now I want to bake all different kinds. Anyone got any other recipes? 

6. Uber 

Since Uber has come to Leeds, we haven’t used a regular taxi. On Saturday night we stumbled out of the Maven at 1am, requested a car and it pulled up 30 seconds later. So easy. Plus, I never have cash so it’s perfect for me. If you haven’t tried it out yet, sign up here using the code UBERAMYLIZ and get £15 off your first ride. 

7. TeuxDeux 

I’m not sure how I ever lived without TeuxDeux. I have it open all day at work on my desktop and am constantly referencing it on my phone, too. It’s just a simple online to do list, but it works so well and helps me keep track of everything – definitely worth checking out if you’re in the market for that sort of thing. 

8. James Morton’s Brilliant Bread 

I’ve been on a real bread-baking kick recently, averaging at least 2 loaves a week, and it’s all thanks to this book (recommended to me by Rachel – she knows her stuff!). I think I’ve pretty much mastered the basic white loaf, which is the first recipe in the book, and I’m moving onto rolls. My first batch were a little small and a little too crusty, but the insides were fluffy, so I think with a little work I’ll be able to get to grips with them. 

9. Fresh Bay Leaves 

We bought a little bay plant at the garden centre a couple of weeks ago and it’s lovely to be able to pop the fresh leaves into stews and sauces, where once we would have used dried. It makes all the difference! 

10. Lighter Evenings

Not having the sun set so early is making a world of difference to my mood. It’s a sign that Spring is coming, and I cannot wait! 

What are you loving right now? 

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Decluttering – Throw Away 100 Things

decluttering

I have become a bit obsessed with de-cluttering. I know I’m not the only one; the blogosphere is awash with articles on capsule wardrobes, minimalism and stripping back to basics. I am a naturally untidy person who really hates to live in a messy house. The best solution for this problem is to clear out all of the unnecessary clutter – more space on shelves and in drawers makes it easier to keep things tidy, even for my lazy self, and means we get that neat, clean look when we’ve bothered to tidy, rather than the organised chaos that I used to live in.

I usually get the urge to declutter at the end of the season, as I put away the clothes that I won’t need once the weather turns, I try to get rid of anything that I haven’t worn, or barely worn, in the past few months. It’s unlikely that I’ll fall back in love with them if I’ve gone a whole season without pulling them out of the drawers. In turn, that sends me off in a flurry, searching every room in the house for unwanted and unloved items. We naturally accumulate stuff as we go through life so it’s worth reassessing every now and again whether everything you’re storing in your house is serving its purpose. Books you won’t re-read, beauty products you weren’t wow-ed by, clothes that don’t fit (your body or your style), and other bits and pieces that are no longer working for you. What’s that saying? Never have anything in your house that you don’t believe to be useful or beautiful. 

Throwing away 100 things is a great place to get started when you’re not used to decluttering. I’ve become ruthless over the years, but I was once very sentimental and wanted to cling on to everything. However, even if you’re the type to hoard old cinema tickets and birthday cards, I bet you can find 100 things in your house to get rid of. I say throw away, but of course, I mean just remove from your house – charity shops, eBay, Freecycle and re-gifting are all better ways to get rid of stuff that you don’t want anymore. 100 things seems like a lot, but once you get started you’ll be surprised how quickly you can chisel away at the total – one trip to my bookshelf and I was almost halfway there. All in all, I got rid of: 

  • 32 books 
  • 20 beauty products 
  • 1 hair doughnut 
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 3 key rings
  • 1 Christmas cracker toy
  • 4 board games 
  • 2 photo frames 
  • 21 pieces of jewellery 
  • 12 plastic cups 
  • 2 jumpers
  • 1 pair of boots 

See? 100 things, easy. You can repeat this exercise as often as you see fit – once a month, perhaps, or just once a year. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get the decluttering bug! 

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Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble

Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble

Fruit crumble is the ultimate winter pudding. Sweet, stewed fruit topped with crunchy crumble topping and drowned in creamy custard. It’s a party in your mouth, and all the best flavours and textures are invited. Growing up, our crumbles were always apple & blackberry flavoured, occasionally with blackberries that we’d picked ourselves. Blackberrying with my Dad is one of my favourite childhood memories, and I keep meaning to go again every year. Be a darling and remind me of that at the end of summer, would you? We would come back with a glut of those purple gems, with pricked fingers and ruddy cheeks, like we’d walked straight out of an Enid Blyton novel, and they would get frozen and used for crumbles all winter long. 

This crumble, however, is made with a fruit I avoided for years. As a child I would often take a dislike to something on sight, with no rhyme or reason behind it, and would refuse all iterations of it out of stubbornness. More often than not, those once hated foods have now become my favourites – asparagus is one of them, rhubarb the other. Rhubarb is a glorious thing, and since Yorkshire is home to some of the UK’s greatest rhubarb, this crumble was a natural progression. Incidentally, although we spent all that time making apple crumbles, my Dad actually loves rhubarb. I’ll probably make this for him soon enough; rhubarbs are in season right now and I can’t get enough of those wonderfully tart, beautifully pink stalks. I urge you to go out and get yourself some, and bake it into this crumble. The little hint of heat from the ginger is a dream, I assure you. 

Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble

Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble
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For the filling
  1. 400g rhubarb, chopped into 1-2cm chunks
  2. 80g caster sugar
  3. juice of 1/2 orange
  4. 2 pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped
For the topping
  1. 80g plain flour
  2. 80g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
  3. 60g oats
  4. 50g light brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Put the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice & chopped ginger into a saucepan. Simmer over a low heat for around 15 minutes until the rhubarb has softened but not entirely lost its shape. Taste and add some extra sugar if it's too tart for you.
  2. Drain most of the liquid and transfer the fruit to a baking dish.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  4. In a mixing bowl, rub together the flour and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar and oats until everything is combined. Pour the crumble on top of the fruit and level out so it's an even layer.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the topping is golden brown.
  6. Serve with custard or double cream.
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/
Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble

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Weekend Link Love

pancakes

Happy Day-After-Valentine’s-Day everyone! I hope your life is filled with love of all kinds. Did you do anything romantic to celebrate? I ate dumplings at Dorshi and then went for drinks with all of my friends. I’m not sure if that counts as romantic. It feels it to me. This week has been pretty intense, work-wise so I’m quite grateful for a low-key weekend. We’re Pub Quiz-ing tonight, which I think is the most taxing thing that I will have to do. 

This week I ate all the Thai food at My Thai, a new place behind the Merrion Centre in Leeds. It was £30 for two of us, including two courses and a bottle of wine, making it maybe the cheapest place I’ve ever eaten. I was so full of delicious rice by the end, which is a pretty excellent result for a Tuesday night. I’ve also read two books – one brilliant, one not so much – as well as perfecting a pasta sauce recipe, rearranging my cookbook shelf, and making hundreds of pancakes for a recipe over on The High Tea Cast. All in all, a successful week. How was yours? 

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Honey Mustard Chicken

Honey Mustard Chicken Recipe

It’s so easy to get into a rut, dinner-wise. We’re all busy, and it’s easy to repeat the same tried-and-tested dishes until you realise that you’ve been eating the same three on rotation for a month. It happens to everyone – even food bloggers – and I think it’s particularly prevalent at the end of the season. When winter first comes around, we get excited for soups and stews – those big, hearty meals that we’ve missed as we snacked on the salads of summer. But slowly life gets in the way and those dishes we were once so excited for become routine and, dare I say it, a little bit boring. 

This dish, inspired by Chloe and Jack, was my attempt to break the cycle of boring dinners. It’s quick to knock up after work, and can be served with the side dish of your choice – we usually have roast potatoes because we full-on addicts, but fresh bread, rice or mashed potato would work. You could even ditch the carbs and just add a side dish of broccoli, if you’re feeling masochistic. I’ve made it at least once a fortnight since first stumbling across the recipe, tweaking it every now and then until it’s reached it’s current form, and it goes down perfectly every time. I think my favourite thing about this recipe, is getting to use my Dad’s homemade Kentish beer mustard, which is totally delicious and gives a gorgeous flavour to the sauce. Unless you happen to be perusing markets in Tunbridge Wells on the regular, you’ll probably have to find your own favourite mustard – but really any wholegrain mustard will do. 

  Honey Mustard Chicken Recipe

Honey Mustard Chicken
Serves 3
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  2. 3-4 chicken fillets
  3. 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  4. 2 carrots, cut into batons
  5. 500ml chicken stock
  6. 3 tbsp. wholegrain mustard
  7. salt & pepper
  8. 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  9. 1 tbsp. runny honey
  10. 50g spinach
  11. 200ml double cream
  12. Small handful of fresh parsley (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large casserole dish, heat the oil at a medium temperature. Add the chicken fillets and fry gently on each side for a couple of minutes until slightly browned.
  2. Add the onion and carrot and fry for a few minutes more until the onion has softened.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock and stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and honey. Season to taste.
  4. Cover with a lid and simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and add the spinach and stir in the cream. Simmer for 5 minutes more until the spinach has wilted and the sauce has thickened.
  6. Taste the sauce and add any extra mustard or seasoning if required. Remove from the heat and garnish with parsley, if using.
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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Book Club

book club 2

I’m attempting to read 100 books this year, and so far I’m on track. It’s intense. It occupies a lot of my time – both the actual reading and the planning to read, the working out when I’ll have time, when I need to finish each book to stay on course, what I’ll read next. I’m enjoying it so far, and have read some really great books. I have over 200 on my to-read list, but I’m always looking for recommendations, so fire them my way! 

Catching Fire & Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins

I have a lot of feelings about The Hunger Games series, most of which are probably as a result of reading all three books in just four days which basically gave me nightmares because it was so intense. As you can probably tell, I was pretty hooked from the beginning and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read these books – they’re unusual, riveting and surprisingly dark. I quite liked that they had a bit of an edge, and I really liked Katniss’ character throughout; I felt that she was really relatable and realistic – apart from the whole archery & survival badass thing. I didn’t even mind the love triangle, which I know people have critiqued as unnecessary. I did, however, feel that the storyline span a bit out of control towards the end and was so fast-paced it was hard to keep up. I think this is my failings as a reader though; I always want a happy ending, or at least a satisfying one, and I don’t really feel like I got that. Katniss was so out of it for most of the third book due to injury or illness that things felt distorted, and there were a couple of plot points that I didn’t agree with but which I won’t share due to the *massive* spoilers it would give. I just wish that things had turned out better for all the characters, really. I’m sentimental like that. 

Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen

I’m sure most of you have read Pride & Prejudice, whether through choice or because of a school assignment. I originally read it due to the latter, and I’ll admit that I didn’t really like or appreciate it. I was never an Austen fan, finding her trivial and sentimental – which just shows how mature I was when I was making those criticisms. Now, I couldn’t be further from that – whilst I’m not an Austen super-fan and some of her novels don’t really do it for me, Pride & Prejudice is on another level. It’s witty, it’s charming, it’s gripping. It’s everything I want in a novel and more. Whilst the love between Darcy and Elizabeth has been idolised in popular culture, for me it is the relationship between the sisters, and between Bingley and Jane that hold the real sway. Elizabeth is one of the best heroines in English literature, in my humble opinion, and I wish that there had been a sequel so I could keep reading. 

How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran is one of my favourite writers – heck, one of my favourite people – and I was very excited for her new novel. I devoured this in mere hours and wasn’t disappointed. Like her first book, How to Be a Woman, it’s laugh-out-loud funny and tears-in-your-eyes poignant all at the same time. It’s about class, sex, career, life, being a woman and trying to build yourself from the ground up – which is basically everything I like to read about. The cast of characters is a rag tag bunch, mostly well-meaning, and Johanna, the protagonist, is adorable, flawed, wild and wonderful. I’d really like to see something from Moran that isn’t a variation on this theme – working glass girl turned music journalist – because I love her ideas and her way of expressing them, her open-hearted honesty and whip-smart wit, and I sometimes felt like I was re-reading How to Be a Woman. I want more! 

Julie & Julia, Julie Powell 

A book about being a food blogger. How apt, you might think. I actually wasn’t blown away by this book, despite the subject matter, which tells the story of Julie, a New York secretary who embarks on a year-long challenge to cook everything from Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking vol. 1′ in an effort to kickstart her life. Or at least, that’s what I assume her motive is – it’s not very well explained and there are times when I just thought ‘But why?’. There was no rhyme or reason explained – but maybe there was no rhyme or reason in reality either; this is a true story after all. There were some touching moments and I enjoyed learning more about Julia Child – and about French cooking – but I just wasn’t charmed (maybe because she kept insulting her husband – if I’d been him, I would have had some serious issues with this book) and it’s not one I’ll go back to. I’m also a bit put off mastering the art of French cooking myself, especially if it involves so much offal… 

Dare Me, Megan Abbott 

I think this is my favourite book of the bunch, a story of cheerleaders with a dark edge, a mystery to solve and a friendship gone awry. It starts out innocently enough as a tale of teenage jealousy and competition, but the tension ramps up throughout the novel until it’s almost unbearable. Told my 16-year-old Addy, the book starts as a new cheerleading coach arrives, toppling Addy’s best friend and Queen Bee Beth from her captaincy – who immediately looks for revenge. Addy and the new coach become closer as Addy’s relationship with Beth becomes more strained, until events spiral out of control. The whole book feels slightly menacing, in the best way, and there’s an excellent twist. The language is brutal and visceral. I already want to read it again. 

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