Yelly Writes

Starting my day right

Breakfast will always start one’s day right.  I remember when I was growing up, Mama would never let us leave the house until we had a hot breakfast; we simply had to eat.  I’m afraid to say that I haven’t kept up the practice.  I get ready for work and rush out the door.  In the process, I think I may have screwed up my eating habits!

I am a Christian by faith and a Protestant Methodist by denomination.  I am proud to say I grew up in church, and I am thankful that I did.  Living away from everyone I love can be difficult, to say the least.  When you are, essentially, alone, there is very little to cling to: and for me it was my God and my faith in the God that sustains me.  I am thankful to be blessed with a faith that strengthens me and I am blessed because my faith in my God has sustained me during the toughest times of my life.  It has been challenging living away from everything familiar but that in itself has strengthened my faith.

I walk past the Chelmsford cathedral everyday as I walk to work and everyday I whisper a prayer for God to bless my day, for God to take control of my day, for God to help me achieve what I need to achieve, and my most fervent desire, for me to be a blessing to others.  Somehow those words quickly whispered set my day off perfectly.  Because I lift my day up to the Lord, whatever good, whatever bad, my day is the Lord’s.

I am reminded of a prayer I used to read and reread.  It was a prayer I posted in my old blog.  It was a prayer for concentration at work because the work environment then wasn’t conducive to concentration (there was a lot of swearing going around and being in an environment where profanity and bad language is about is never conducive to real positivity, I think!).  It was based on a prayer I also read online and a prayer that I adapted so that it fit my thoughts.  It’s helped me.  I thought I’d post it here again, because it might help someone else.

Dear Father,

I draw near You to seek Your help.  I have the assurance that You love me so very much. Lord, the Scripture says that You love the prosperity of Your children.  You know the importance of being able to concentrate at work.  Father, bless me with Your guidance and let me work on my things to do list properly.  Lord, I confess that I get distracted easily; I have more interest in less important things instead of what is urgent in my in-tray.

Please forgive me and gird me with You grace (I love the word gird Lord, because it makes me feel like I am going to battle, and oh I do love a battle!  See Lord, I am digressing, yet again!) and strength so that I concentrate in my work.  Without Your help I cannot achieve any success Lord!

Please help me to overcome all my weaknesses and strengthen my mind. Take full control of my wandering thoughts and give me Your wisdom and knowledge. Let me shine at work, Heavenly Father and let me be a blessing to to everyone. I lift all this up in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

prayer

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Yelly Writes

Happy birthday Mama!

It’s my Mama’s birthday today and I really wish I could be there to celebrate it with her.  It’s sort of a milestone birthday.  She’s 65 today.  In the Philippines, 65 is retirement age.  For everyone, male or female.  But she isn’t retiring quite yet as her office has asked her to extend for 6 months.  My mum, I think, is looking to enjoying her retirement, but at the same time, I think she enjoys her work because she finds her work experiences challenging.  I think that’s why she didn’t mind extending for a few months.

Mama

Dearest Mama, my respect, love and gratitude for you is no different than your love for me, without boundaries. You are my crowning support and one of the best things in my life. It does not matter how old I am, your hug is still the warmest and safest place on the earth for me.

Happy Birthday Mama! I love, love, love, love you!

Yelly Eats

Spinach and bacon quiche

It’s quite the wintry day today and I couldn’t really be bothered to cook anything too complicated for lunch.  Hence the quiche.  I could, in theory, make my own puff pastry.  But the whole point of making a quiche this afternoon was that it was going to be quick and comforting.

This has been quite successful so I’m quite happy to share it.

Spinach and bacon

Ingredients:

  • 320g shop bought puff pastry sheet
  • 260g spinach
  • 250g bacon (about 6-8 rashers)
  • 1 medium sized onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed and minced finely
  • 150ml single cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or 10g butter)
  • 100g grated mature cheddar (or Monterey Jack)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Unroll pastry and lay over a 25cm loosed based round flan tin.  Once the flan tin is lined, put back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
  3. In a sautee pan, heat up olive oil and add minced onions and sautee.  Once onions turn transluscent, add garlic.  Stirfry the garlic and add the bacon. Once bacon is golden brown, add the spinach and cover to wilt the spinach.  This should take about 2 minutes.  Once spinach is wilted, give the mixture a gentle stir.  Put the lid back, take of the hob and set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl beat eggs well and add single cream. Spoon 1/3 of the spinach and bacon mixture into the cream and egg mixture to temper the eggs.  Mix well and then add the rest of the spinach mixture.
  5. Bring out the pastry-lined flan tin and fill the pastry with the spinach-milk and egg mixture.  Top with the grated cheese.
  6. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
  7. TIP:  To avoid the now infamous “soggy bottom” and because you are putting in quite a liquid mixture and a soggy bottom is almost inevitable, I find that putting in a baking sheet in the oven while it’s preheating will help the soggy bottom from not being too soggy.  Once you’re ready to bake the quiche, just slight the flan tin onto the baking sheet.
Yelly Eats

The taro project!

I went through a phase of craving bubble tea.  Bubble tea is a tea-based drink very popular in Taiwan and its Asian neighbours (there is a milk tea/bubble tea revolution in the Philippines, if my friends’ Facebook and Twitter photos are to be believed!).  If you’ve never had bubble tea (where have you been?), think your typical cup of tea mixed with a milk shake (it’s served cold) with tapioca pearls sucked through a big, fat straw.  There is a myriad of flavours but my favourite is the taro milk tea (in the Philippines, I used to have mine with taro pudding which is basically taro jelly).   And since most of the bubble tea bars are in London, I had to find a way to satisfy my craving.  It wouldn’t have been financially responsible to run down to London everytime I had a bubble tea craving.  So I bought taro milk tea powder, the straws, oolong tea and the tapioca pearls.

The taro milk tea powder comes in 1kg bags so after a few sessions of taro milk tea indulging, I still had more than half a bag of the taro powder!  So I had the brainwave of making a taro-flavoured chiffon cake.  It was all an experiment so I wasn’t sure it would work.  After the mixture was put together and I put it in the angel food cake pan, I looked at it with a lot of trepidation!  The colour wasn’t as deep as I wanted it to be so I was VERY worried!

taro chiffon1

But after the baking time, it came out and it was quite the yummy and light little thing.  It’s still a bit unstable (probably owing to underbeating the egg whites!) and I want a deeper taro flavour, but it was a good start.  What surprised me most is how the colour deepened as the cake baked!  I’m looking forward to tweaking the recipe and having it come out all lovely and lilac!

Watch this space!

taro chiffon2

Yelly Writes

Careful is as careful does!

I slipped on ice tonight.  Not surprising as I am known to be a klutz!  I just thought I’d put it out there.

I had just gotten off the train from work.  I was walking carefully because it was cold and the platform was very wet.  I could see clumps of salt thrown around.  One moment I was walking carefully and the next I was sitting down on my backside!  I remember choosing carefully where to put my feet because I knew there was a possibility I could slip.  I had walked quite safely from the platform into the tarmacked pavement and breathed a sigh of relief because I thought I was safe–or so I thought!  It was dark though in the area where I slipped and I remember looking up at the lightless lamp.  If the lamp post on the train station had a working light bulb I would’ve probably seen the icy patch.  But alas, there was no light and I was walking in the dark.

Mind you, it was more my pride that was hurt more than anything as there were people walking behind me.  I ended up on my bum with my left leg under my thigh.  Who knew I was that flexible?

Yelly Eats

Tea loaf!

I’ve been meaning to make a tea loaf for ages.  I fell in love with the Yorkshire Tea Loaf that used to be available in the supermarkets (there are other tea loaf brands but I did love the Yorkshire Tea loaf the best).  Apparently, it was no longer cost effective to produce the cake.  I think I’m not the only person who was absolutely gutted to no longer find this particular cake brand on the supermarket shelves.  They had a very good thing going and it’s very sad that they chose to pull the product instead of resize it.  Resizing the loaf would have been more acceptable to consumers like me who loved their cakes!

I have been getting over a lingering bout with a certain nasty virus but today has been a really good day (albeit the cotton-woolly head still).  It’s quite a good thing because I do want to go back to work and I’ve taken too much time off work for my peace of mind!  I thought I’d try my hand at a new recipe today.  Mind you, I did bake custard creams yesterday for the first time and they turned out great.  As a personal rule, I don’t necessarily bake when I’m not 100% because I kind of feel like your food reflects your well-being so I think that if I’m not in the best of moods or health, my food reflects it.

I may have overbeaten the batter a bit too much which might explain why the cake is a bit too crumbly.  But the taste is wonderful.  I may have to tweak the recipe according to my preference because I do love a dense tea loaf.  I got the fruity tea loaf recipe from the Good Food website.  They call it a tea cake, but I’ve always thought a teacake is a marshmallow on a biscuit covered with chocolate!  I’ve always trusted the recipes on there, I’m sure a few tweaks to fit personal taste is welcomed!  After all, we’re all allowed to make food our own as we are going to eat it! 🙂

As exercise go, I think my first tea loaf went well.  I think it might work with my no-fail loaf base.  I will probably work on the tea loaf recipe again soon.  Which is good because I’ve still got dried fruit and mixed peel left!

My first ever tea loaf!

Yelly Eats

Custard creams!

Cooking and baking has become a way for me to reconnect with the food that I loved to eat in the Philippines.  Since moving to the UK, I’ve had to rely on my food prep skills instead of having my mum cook my favourite dishes for me.  I’ve always loved it and cooking and baking were my creative outlets.  It always made me smile when people said that something I made was really good.  But when I was in the Philippines, cooking and baking the dishes I wanted to prepare was more frustrating than relaxing because I couldn’t get a lot of the ingredients that I needed.

Things have changed though since I moved to England.  I can now attempt most of the recipes that I’ve been wanting to try because the ingredients are more accessible (it’s the Southeast Asian ingredients that are now not as accessible as they were in the Philippines! Ha!).  As a result, my cookbook collection has grown to a 32-strong contingent!

This year, the resolve is to actually USE my cookbooks and cook or bake 1 recipe a weekend.  A Passion For Baking by Jo Wheatley

I decided to start with a custard cream recipe from Jo Wheatley’s book A Passion For Baking.   I’ve been reading a lot of good things on Twitter and Facebook about Jo’s recipes.  Jo Wheatley was the winner of the second season of the Great British Bake Off.  I must admit that it was because of the GBBO shows that I took up baking again.  Before that I would just bake the occasional cake or cupcake but now I’ve been reading up on baking techniques and expanding my baking repertoire.

Jo’s custard cream recipe is great.  She breaks the down in stages and the preparation instructions are easy to follow.  I had to chill my cookie dough though for about 30 minutes instead of the suggested 20.  As each oven is different, I baked my biscuits for 15 minutes instead of the prescribed 10-12.  They weren’t golden enough.  But once out of the oven, they smelled heavenly and the biscuits were lovely and short!  What I loved the most is that the recipe page is laid out in two columns.  One column has ingredients and the suggested equipment that lets you prepare them before you start baking.  The other column has the preparation directions.  It was so lovely and organised!  I try to be organised in the kitchen becaused I think the trick to cooking and baking well is being organised.

My cookies are lovely and golden and what I appreciate most is that it doesn’t have as much sugar as I thought it would.  Being a diabetic means that I have to limit my sweet treat moments and unfortunately for me, custard creams are a guilty pleasure.  Maybe now I can develop a custard cream recipe that is more diabetic-friendly!  But the best bit of the recipe is that it makes about 20 biscuits which makes 10 custard creams.  They are moreish but at least there isn’t a lot scoff down!  Ha!

Custard creams