Some photos from June

Kew Gardens London

I recently bought a disposable camera cause I wanted to have a little play around and see what would come out of it without seeing and editing the photos instantly. I know it is becoming a bit of a trend to go back to film cameras and whilst scanning some old photos I took on a film camera years ago, I got inspired to use one again.

Jay and Bey
Jay and Bey
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens

Sunday calling – Almond butter chocolate chip cookies

Almond butter chocolate chip cookies

I’ve been fancying that new cookie Prêt A Manger has been doing but for some reason you can’t get it anywhere these days. My local one is always out and the other day when I passed by a staff person said they’re revising the recipe.

So I’ve been scouring the web for something I can make that will temporarily fill the void of the perfect cookie lost in reinvention.

I am in no disillusion that what I’ve created today is a near enough replacement, but it is yummy still and did the job. Also, I ended up baking a load though I just wanted ONE cookie. Who am I kidding, I had 2. Might go for another one after dinner.

For anyone wanting to bake some delicious cookies. They really don’t take long to make.

What you need

Almond butter chocolate chip cookies

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seeds and 6 tbsp water. Leave for 15 min.)
  • 125g almond butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 60ml maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60g sugar
  • 140g flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100g dark chocolate chips

How to make them (about 15 cookies)

    • Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.
    • Mix in the dry ingredients in one bowl. Set aside.

Almond butter chocolate chip cookies

    • Mix in the wet ingredients in a bigger bowl (not yet the choc chips) and mix the almond butter well so it is all smooth.

Almond butter chocolate chip cookies

    • Bit by bit, add the dry ingredients to the wet batter until it is all mixed together.

Almond butter chocolate chip cookies

    • Stir in the chocolate chips.
    • Scoop little balls onto a baking tray with baking paper and press them down a little.

Almond butter chocolate chip cookies

  • Bake for 12-15 minutes at 175°C.

Almond butter chocolate chip cookies

Almond butter chocolate chip cookies

House Renovation – Floor, windows and wall

2018-07-15 house renovation wall window floor

I know, I know. I just posted an update about our house renovation progress (all about getting new beams and what to do with the original ones). But as I have been in the south of France for longer than usual, there is more that has happened in the house that I’d like to document and share.

It is not an awful lot. After all, it’s only been a week and it is hot and the beach calls us from time to time. If you watched last week’s video or read the post, we (a.k.a not me, I don’t have that kind of upper body strength) inserted new beams (in French they’re called bastaing). After inserting new beams where the future second bedroom will be, Hagen was then able to add rafters (in French chevrons, if that helps) on which he then screwed wooden planks, which serve as the basis for the floor. In case anyone is interested, the sizes used for the chevron (rafter) is 63mm x 75mm, for the wooden planks is 25mm x 150mm and the wood is spruce.

Bedroom 2 floor

Bedroom 2 floor

Since the house and our neighbour’s used to be one house and the separation wall is too thin, we built a wall from the ground up for a proper separation and also structural support. The wall has not yet been built all the way to the top, as we have floors missing and it is simply easier, if you can stand on something whilst mixing mortar and piling bricks on top of one another.

Bedroom 2 wall

In order to continue building the wall on the second floor, my mum and I built a concrete foundation first made from a gravel, cement and sand mixture enforced with iron rods. Since my mum is much better at making a wall straight, I was tasked to mix the mortar in a bucket almost the size of a bathtub. I think I am getting better and better getting the mixture right quicker, not to thick and not too thin.

We’re also getting to a stage where we need to figure out what entrance door and windows we want. Unfortunately, none of the originals are in a good condition to keep, so everything has to be replaced. Experiencing the quality of doors and windows when renovating other houses, we realised that it would be better to get the windows in Germany or maybe from a Polish vendor conforming to German quality standards. It’s a bit annoying, but you can definitely tell that they last longer, need less maintenance and are just generally easier to handle in hot weather conditions. For the entrance door, we found a company in Perpignan called Verdié that make nice and new doors with good quality.

Windows collage

House Renovation – New Beams

2018-07-08 house renovation new beams

I spontaneously decided to fly to the south of France for a couple of weeks before our big travels. It wasn’t necessarily to work on our house and continue with the renovations, but more a mix of helping in my parents’ garden cause it still needs a lot of work, to go to the beach and get accustomed to scorching heat and sun (though London isn’t lacking in that department at the moment) and maybe, maybe, work a little on the house or do research to take some decisions.

As it turns out, we are working a bit on the house because my parents’ plan changed a little after their recent vacation to the UK. So, the last couple of days we’ve been adding new beams to help support the future floors, walls and staircase. Some of the original beams are a bit rotten, need cleaning and treating but we can’t take them out as they are shared across the neighbouring house.

So I didn’t actually do much with the beams that you can see in the video below. It was mostly my expert team of two who handled the heavy lifting and clusters of dusts. I was happily cleaning iron beams in the cellar. That entailed me filing off loose rust, handling a very heavy and large ladder back and forth (it’s all about that core!) and painting it with an anti-rust treatment. They all look very neat and shiny now.

Summery Orange, Rucola and Rice Salad with Caramelised Fennel

Summery Orange, Rucola and Rice Salad with Caramelised Fennel

With this lovely weather, I am now embracing the summer of fresh and filling salads. I received some fennel in my weekly vegetable box and had some other bits and bobs left that I thought would make a great combo.

One thing that I wish I could change though is the type of rice. I only had Arborio rice (otherwise known as risotto rice), so that is what had to do the trick and it was still delicious. I’d recommend using brown rice, bulgur wheat, quinoa, couscous or any other grain rocking your boat.

Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

What you need

For 2 people

  • 2 portions of grains of your liking as mentioned above
  • 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 1 orange
  • 60g rucola salad
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • pumpkin seeds, if you fancy

Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

Here’s how you make it

  1. Start boiling your rice (or any other grain of your choice) and add the crushed fennel.
  2. Cut the fennel into strips and steam them for 4 minutes (keep the leafy bit for the dressing and salad topping).
  3. Once the fennel is steamed, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and fry the fennel on a medium heat until it starts browning.
  4. Add the maple syrup and water mixture to caramelise the fennel. Leave it until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Cut the orange in half, peel one half and cut it into small pieces and add it to a salad bowl.
  6. Cut the cucumber into small cubes and add it to the bowl together with the rucola salad.
  7. Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

  8. In a glass or small bowl, squeeze the juice of the other half of the orange for the dressing.
  9. Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

  10. Add a tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice, the fluffy bit from the fennel and salt and pepper to the freshly squeezed orange juice and stir everything together.
  11. Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

  12. Let the rice cool down a little before mixing it in with the ingredients in the salad bowl and then add the dressing.
  13. Serve it on a plate and place the caramelised fennel on top.
  14. If you’ve got any seeds available (I used pumpkin seeds), toast them and then sprinkle them on top.

Last important step, find a sunny spot and enjoy!

Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

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