Lockdown diaries: Hit the road Greggs!

Yesterday I made some sausage rolls and Greggs is shaking in its boots! The CEO is pleading with me not to put them out of business; “Think of all our workers!” s/he cried.  So it is for this reason that I have decided not to open up a sausage roll shop.  

In the spirit of conquering daunting tasks, I decided to make some sausage rolls. I have made them before way back in the day and they were actually quite nice. Plus I had to a ton of flour left over from my mac and cheese and decided might as well make some sausage rolls.

The first step was finding a recipe for sausage rolls and this turned out to be a more infuriating process than I anticipated for a couple of reasons:

  1. Get to the bloody point! My goodness. All I want is the blooming recipe; I don’t care about when you first fell in love with sausages. I don’t care that your grandfather was shot during the war and the only thing that saved him was the puff pastry in his breast pocket which then ignited a family long obsession with sausage rolls. Just give me the recipe. Now I know what you are thinking; errm don’t you do the same thing? You tend to ramble on before getting to the point. In response I say shut up and stop missing the point. If I had a cooking blog I would at the very least include an option to skip the faff and go straight to the recipe.

     2. Does no one make homemade pastry anymoooooorreee? I had my flour, all I         wanted was a recipe that showed me how to turn that into delicious pastry but every single one called for ready made puff pastry. I was losing my mind. I eventually had to google “Sausage rolls from scratch” before I managed to find two  recipes that told me how to do this. I disregarded all of the extra stuff and just focused on the pastry. 

I was blown away that all I needed for the pastry was flour, butter, salt and water. Wild. I hate minced meat and really just eat sausage rolls for the pastry (no kidding I literally scrape out the filling) so I just got a pack of burger beef patties and did not bother to do anything else with them.

I just thought of a genius idea: I could just make pastry with no filling! This will be my next project. 

For now here is the uber simplistic recipe below (recorded here for my benefit). 


Flour (225g or 8oz)
Butter (100g)
Salt (1/3 tb
Beef patty/sausages/marshamallows (whatever you want really).
One egg


-Add the butter and salt to the flour and mix until it looks scrambled. There was some talk of using a food processor but I obviously do not have one of those. My butter was rock solid so I warmed it a bit in the microwave first. 

-Add some water- a few tablespoons should be fine. Just enough to make it smooth and shape it into a ball. It should not be sticky.

-Wrap the ball in clingfilm and chill- I was quite confused by this. Does this mean chill the dough in the fridge or did the recipe call for me to chill as in relax? Anyway I put the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes (most likely less. I was impatient).

-Prepare the filling- in my case bring out the beef patty and mush it.

-Roll out the pastry to preferred thickness. I must have done something wrong because the texture felt odd. I either did not put in enough water or didn’t let it chill enough. I guess we’ll never know

-Put in the beef and coat the ends of the rolled out pastry with egg. Eggs are a luxury item in this age of coronavirus and I was understandably reluctant to crack open an egg and not use the whole thing. I saved the rest of the egg to be fried in a sauce

-Roll the pastry like sushi and paint the top with egg

-Preheat the oven (probably should have done this sooner) to about 200’oc 

-Put in sausage rolls and leave in for 20-ish minutes

-Devour hungrily. 

I have helpfully included a photo collage of the recipe below. 




Le verdict? They could have been better but what would I know seeing as I only ate the pastry bit and that was satisfactory. It made for a nice snack with a smoothie. It feels so good to be able to cook. 

A bientot!

PS: I just found a pciture of my first ever attempt at sausage rolls over seven years ago. These look a bit better and tasted amazing. Sometimes the first attempt is the best. 

sausage rolls


In all things, give thanks.

What a messy bitch this year is turning out to be.

It amuses me to think that just three months ago when we were all proclaiming the year twenty twenty as our year, the universe was out there snickering at us, laughing her flat ass off over what she had in store for us.

It really has been one thing after the other: Barely a few days into January and there were already tensions between the USA and Iran. In February Australia was on fire. For March Corona came through like a wrecking ball and shut everything down. Of course the virus has been wreaking havoc much longer than March but everything has gone to hell in a basket in the past few weeks.

I have been working from home for two weeks now, and I’m not going to lie to you, I love it. I do not know how I am going to go back to work when this is all over. As a lifelong introverted loner homebody, I have been social distancing from everyone long before the lockdown. So this is really like normal life for me. Except it isn’t.

To my surprise, the first couple of days were rough. There is a difference between staying at home because you want to and staying at home because you must due to the fact that outside is bad. I was disoriented, moody, sick of work and all the endless catch-ups and updates, and anxious about meeting deadlines. I was also feeling unwell and dizzy. I thought I might have the Coronavirus but it turned out I was just sitting too close to the heater.

My mood has improved drastically since then and I wake up happy. These days would be better were it not for the pungent fear permeating everywhere. Every cough is an assault and every sneeze is regarded with suspicion. I am pretty calm as long as I am in my room, but whenever I venture out into the kitchen and run into one of my flatmates, I am immediately convinced I have the rona. One of my flatmates is a doctor who is doing the Lord’s work by fighting the virus daily on the frontline. He does amazing work and I am terrified that he will get it and pass it on to me.

Still life is good, and I have so much to be thankful for. I have a place to live, and my room even has a study area in front of a window with a reasonably nice view. I have food to eat and water to drink. Though I would rather be with friends and family at this time, I have Netflix and youtube to keep me company. I am healthy. I am happy. I have no children to drive me crazy, literally no serious responsibilities. Life could definitely be worse.

I have managed to be productive by cooking more and I am amazed at how easy cooking actually is. I went panic shopping about three times before the lockdown was announced because I had no idea what to get. The first time I simply got sweets and ingredients for mac and cheese. Then I got some meat and noodles but didn’t get any stir fry vegetables. The third time I had my wits about me and actually bought some food. These past few days have taught me that my fear of cooking is all in the mind. Once I got over the hurdles-figuring out what to cook, shopping for the ingredients, dragging my lazy butt out of bed to cook- it was actually as simple as ABC. Yesterday I actually made some sausage rolls- the pastry only required two ingredients! (four if you count salt and water).

I have also taken up knitting and yesterday I completed my first project- a headband. Again I was amazed at how easy it was. I love taking down these daunting tasks and realising there is really nothing much to them; just follow the instructions. With all my degrees and qualifications I should be able to do just that.

I have also had more catch-ups with family and friends which has been lovely. I have not left my house in over a week and I have had bread and butter every single day. All in all life is good and I am thankful for that.

Today I am warm, fed and happy. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but today I am thankful and that is enough.

All about CATS…Meow! Miaow!

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”

Much has been said about cats in recent times, starting with the critically insulted movie- CATS which is based on a long running theatre play of the same name. I first heard of CATS-The Musical from an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (amazing show!) where Titus Andromedon (amazing character!) manages to bamboozle his way into the cast. The running gag was that nobody knew what was going on, not even the cast, they just did random shit and apparently this is how it is in the real musical.

Knowing this, it is a mystery why anyone thought that CATS- the movie with cat like humans or human like cats would be the blockbuster of the year. It may not even be that terrible of a film, but you know how the children are. The very second the trailer dropped on the internet (maybe even before it dropped), it was savaged and ravaged and torn apart that I am impressed that makers had the courage to release the full movie at all. I thought they would just go hahaha psych! Just kidding. But nope, they went ahead to release the film which bombed on arrival. I still have not seen the trailer or really read anything about it; everything I know about this film I have learnt by accident- this is a testament to how passive I am about pop culture (even though my eyes are literally glued to my phone). Apparently there were so many celebrities in it-Taylor Swift, Judi Dench- today I saw a news article refer to Idris Elba as the “CATS actor” which is how I knew he was in the movie.

Believe it or not, the purpose of this post is not to talk about Cats the movie, thus making this the longest intro yet. Anyway ever since CATS was unleashed upon us I have been seeing cats everywhere.

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There’s nothing to fear but fear itself…

From the title, you might be expecting a philosophical babble about conquering fear. Yes but no; this is a recipe for Macaroni and cheese. Hear me out.

I have a love-hate relationship with cooking (emphasis on the hate). It is not even the actual act of cooking, but everything else-putting together a recipe, sourcing the ingredients (so expensive), having to do it multiple times, and worst of  spending all that time and effort only to end up cooking something that is not edible. So I have often abstained from cooking save some intermittent bursts of optimism when I find myself in a cooking frenzy.

One thing that I have been trying to cook, and that has always seemed a bit intimidating is mac and cheese. I did not even fully realise this until I started writing this post. The first time I tried to make it was during one of my cooking frenzies- I don’t think I had even ever had mac and cheese at that point, but I just wanted to cook it. I dislike Macaroni but I love cheese so I thought I would for sure love cheesy macaroni seeing as everything tastes good drenched in cheese. I don’t remember how it tasted, but I remember thinking it was too cheesy and M&C is not for me. I took it to a potluck the next day and one of my friends ate it all with her hands, probably because it was the only non-spicy option. Anyway seeing her eat it all made me very happy but I didn’t eat it myself. Then I sated my craving with Krafts mac and cheese before I just had enough of the whole thing and did not eat it again.

Fast forward a few years and it’s Thanksgiving. I am staying with a friend and we decide to celebrate it. She makes a roast with all the trimmings and I offer to make mac and cheese. I google an easy recipe, and under the watchful eye of my Master-Iron-Chef friend the mac and cheese comes out edible, nice even.

Few years go by and I am spending Christmas alone with my sister. We get some chicken from Nando’s (hold the tears please) and I decide to make some mac and cheese to go with it. I did not pay attention to the recipe, and my bechamel sauce was lumpy as heck but I closed my eyes and just mixed everything together and threw it in the oven. Needless to say it was completely inedible.

Another couple of years go by, and it’s March 2020. The world has gone to hell in a basket and everyone is stocking up on food and toilet paper. What do I do? Go to the store and get ingredients for Mac and Cheese of course, what else? This time was different; I was going to kill it. A friend had given me what was essentially a cookbook for dummies, and in it I found two recipes-one for mac and cheese, and one for cheese sauce. I read both of them over and over till they imprinted in my brain. For the first time, I was not just following a recipe. I actually understood what needed to be done, and it is easier to understand once it has been broken into its components. It is really quite easy you see;

First the Mac;

-Buy Macaroni
-Boil it according to the packet instructions
-Drain and set aside

Then the Cheese

First is the Roux; Roux is equal parts flour and fat mixed together and is used to thicken sauces. For this you will need flour and butter (which serves as the fat).

Then the Bechamel sauce-This is formed by adding milk to the Roux. The danger with this is that the Sauce will be lumpy and the solution is to use warm milk, add it in slowly and stir until your arms fall off. JUST KEEP STIRRING UNTIL THE LUMPS VANISH!

Then the fun part-the cheese sauce. Add all the cheddar and Parmesan until the sauce is thick and gooey and cheesy.

Then add the macaroni to the cheesy mixture and you have your mac and cheese.

If you need measurements, you would probably be better off reading a proper recipe then.

Some people eat it like that, others like to bake it in the oven- in which case sprinkle the remaining cheese on it first.

That’s it! For years I read recipe after recipe online, terrified to make the mac and cheese. And when my bechamel sauce inevitably became lumpy I gave up in despair. No more. I have mastered the Macaroni and cheese and can only get better from here on.

*Lemony Snicket voice* I wish I could say this story ends on this happy note but alas you know how life goes.

The mac and cheese was delicious and I was overjoyed at my success. The recipe book said to then put it under a grill for 5 minutes. Now now I thought that was a bit weird-surely it takes more than 5 minutes to bake mac and cheese. But I did it all the same. The cheese on the top turned brown pretty quickly which I thought was a good sign-but actually didn’t taste good so I scrapped it off. But the whole things was muy belissimo and I gobbled it down hungrily and licked off every scrap of cheese. I did not eat as much as I would have liked because I wanted to have leftovers for the next day.

Well the next day, I returned from work with joy in my heart and a skip in my step and rushed over to warm my mac and cheese. I sat down to eat,  took one bite and nope! It did not taste good. It was more congealed than cheesy and I was a little disheartened.

Just as I was about to go to sleep, it hit me. The recipe I used said to grill the mac and cheese for 5 minutes, most likely because she and her family of four were going to gobble it all down that evening. What I should have done was bake the Mac and Cheese for about 40 or so minutes rather than just put it under the grill. My cooking IQ is improving! I am so proud.

The lesson still stands and it applies far beyond cooking– sometimes the fear is just in your mind. Look at the task before you, break it down into its components, familiarise yourself with each one, and then tackle them. And if at first you don’t succeed, erase all evidence that you ever tried  dust yourself up and try again.  Despite the leftover mishap, the success of my Mac and Cheese has given me the confidence to cook more. Yesterday I decided I wanted some mashed potatoes and chicken for dinner so I just went and made some. Whereas in the past I would have toyed around with the idea for days trying to summon the energy to make it happen, before eventually getting takeaway from Nando’s. I am actually excited to cook now, to try new (simple) recipes that I can add to my food rota, and to create a food rota. Now is as good a time as any, seeing as we are all stuck inside till thy kingdom come. Thanks Covid!


happiness is an acquired taste

“It is a curious thing, but as one travels the world getting older and older, it appears that happiness is easier to get used to than despair. The second time you have a root beer float, for instance, your happiness at sipping the delicious concoction may not be quite as enormous as when you first had a root beer float, and the twelfth time your happiness may be still less enormous, until root beer floats begin to offer you very little happiness at all, because you have become used to the taste of vanilla ice cream and root beer mixed together. However, the second time you find a thumbtack in your root beer float, your despair is much greater than the first time, when you dismissed the thumbtack as a freak accident rather than part of the scheme of a soda jerk, a phrase which here means “ice cream shop employee who is trying to injure your tongue,” and by the twelfth time you find a thumbtack, your despair is even greater still, until you can hardly utter the phrase “root beer float” without bursting into tears. It is almost as if happiness is an acquired taste, like coconut cordial or ceviche, to which you can eventually become accustomed, but despair is something surprising each time you encounter it.”

― Lemony Snicket, The End

The year of realising things

The great modern philosopher Kylie Jenner declared 2016 the year of “like, realising things”. At the time the detractors laughed, but she turned out to be right (Trump, Brexit). 2020 is also shaping out to be another year of realising things, for me anyway.

I started this post a few days into the new year, I’m sure by now 2020 is a year of realising things for everyone!

Sometime in 2018, I started breaking out heavily. I have never had spotless blemish free skin, but this was ridiculous. As always I ignored it for a few months, hoping it would just go away. When it persisted I started blaming the breakout on everything; stress, lack of sleep, hard water, towels, Nando’s peri mayonnaise, makeup, evil people. It just was not fair; I washed my face twice a day and never ever slept with makeup on. I did not deserve to get so much acne. Every day there was a new pimple on my face, and in its wake was a dark spot. I stopped eating certain things, and in a particularly low moment I actually bought Proactive. Nothing worked.

Fast forward to Christmas 2019 and I am on holiday with my family. During the short break my skin miraculously improves and I even get compliments about how my face is glowing.  Holiday ends and I return to my normal life, high on life and full of positive energy for 2020. Almost immediately my skin starts to break out again! What the hell? I took the time to review what was different on holiday

*music scratches* It was at moment that I realised the root of my problems.

See I did not eat much junk food on my holiday. I slept in till mid afternoon, ordered room service, went out to eat, and rarely ate any sweets. Then I came back home and immediately resumed my routine of devouring  sugar custard doughnuts, chocolate chip muffins, chocolates, and cakes. It was then that it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, my problems were due to sugar.

I already suspected junk food was not my friend due to my weight gain and dental issues. Despite my brushing twice a day without fail, I developed a cavity and had to get a filling. At the time I also bemoaned the unfairness of it all, but I have since had to accept that maybe I do consume too much sugar. In fact, I am eating more junk/sugar now than I ever did in my entire life. Growing up I did not have easy access to sweets and chocolate, seeing as I had no money of my own and couldn’t take myself to the store, so I had those in moderation. Nowadays I literally always have a treat every single day, and I always made sure to have something sweet at home to nibble on after dinner.  On my way back home on Fridays I would stop by the stores to stock up on junk for the weekend: chocolates (not my faves but still), pastry, candy, juice e.t.c. Looking back at it now, it is actually ridiculous, but at the time I did not think anything of it. I have now developed a habit of looking at the sugar content of the stuff I buy and Mon Dieu! There is so much sugar in everything. One pot of sticky toffee pudding has 42g of sugar-I would have two. Even the healthy options such as fresh juices have a lot of sugar just I would drink them like water. Speaking of water, I was struggling to drink more than a few glasses a day. This was my life, go to work, stop at the store on the way home to buy rubbish, go home and eat nonsense till I fall asleep.

Then I had my second realisation.

It all comes back to loneliness. I spend so much time by myself, alone in my room, that I have nothing else to do but to eat and watch TV (and procrastinate on all the productive things I could be doing instead). Spending Christmas with my family away from home made me realise that I have fewer junk cravings when I am with company. To be honest I don’t have that much cravings anyway, I just eat because it is something to do.  Plus I know that custard doughnut tastes good so I buy it and keep it eating it until it is all gone, regardless of whether I am actually craving it. Having snacks around is another problem; I have zero willpower in the presence of sugar. I can resist temptation when the temptation is still in the store, but once it is in my vicinity I have to eat it.

Of course I was aware that people eat out of boredom, but I did not extend that to loneliness and to myself until now. Boredom and loneliness can be entwined and sometimes they are one and the same. When I am around friends and family, I am sated by the conversations and laughter and arguments and silence; and I rely less on food and internet to do that. But when I am by myself with no one to engage with, food and TV fulfill that need.

The effects of loneliness are pervasive and truly astounding. The first step is realising you have a problem and then taking the necessary steps to mitigate said problem. For Lent, I tried to replace my addiction to food and phone with more productive things, and it has honestly been touch and go. Still I have definitely been better with the sugar intake and I can see this in my skin. The trick is to fill the lonely moments with more productive things-reading, writing. cooking (ha!), colouring, creating a scrapbook/vision board. My goal is to fill the loneliness with something more tangible, to replace the snacks with creativity, and to make something more fulfilling. The real test will be saying no to sweets that I am offered, but sadly I have not reached that level yet.

What have I realised in the first week of the new decade? Something I have always known: I eat junk to fill the boredom, and it is wreaking havoc on my skin and teeth.

I am excited for all these lessons and realisations, and despite how raggedy this year is turning out, I am still looking forward to ending this year a better version of myself.

Travel Series: Amsterdamn!

AmsterDAMN! Yeah yeah I know there is no N at the end, but there might as well be.  Amsterdam- the land of sex and Mary Jane, of art and canals and little pancakes and a whole lot of other things.

Besides Paris, Amsterdam was the one place I really wanted to visit. I don’t know why exactly I was so gung-ho about it, seeing as I have zero interest in cannabis which is one of the selling points of Amsterdam.  I just really wanted to go, and then one day I did.

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I would like to be everyone.

“I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love’s not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I’ll ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time…”

-Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath