2 November 2012

Back South

This last week I traveled back down to my Grandma's where I used to live. I came to see off my cousin Jeffrey, who is emigrating to America, where he was born. He was supposed to leave Monday, but then a little thing called hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and airways went to standstill. At present, the plan is for him to leave tomorrow, assuming the weather conditions become a little less hostile -even so, he will be without electricity for a few days.

On the 26th, Jeffrey and I went to see Skyfall, which was incredible. I'm under strict instruction not to slip any spoilers, but I will say this about one scene: Home Alone. With guns.

I spent the first half of this week catching up with friends. I met Miriam all the way from Devon for lunch, and decamped along with my girls Sophie and Katie to a girl's night in at Lauren's, who is just about the coolest person you'll every meet. Watching the Hunger Games at Lauren's had me totally inspired to get active in a different way; I may not be able to practice weaponry and fire dodging at stunt school, but I can try kick-boxing or climbing. My issue with exercise is being engaged. I love the endorphin-filled rush of a good sports session, but much of the time I get bored. Aside from the odd handful of fitness-inspired weeks, I find doing lengths at a pool, or going for runs dull. Maybe I need a new route or a running partner, but I can't get motivated. I love dance classes, so I'm gearing myself to have a go at Zumba, but anything that will get me using my body has to be good.

Like an idiot, I continually forgot to take my camera out without me over the week, and as much as I like instagram, ipod-quality  photos aren't really blog worthy. However, this did mean that my Grandmother's neighbour's adorable puppy got my full photographic attention:
Albert, a name so old fashioned that it is cute, is a Jug, a cross between a Jack Russel and a Pug, and he is just the littlest ball of energy. He's so tiny that in the colder weather he needs to wear a little jumper or coat, which is beyond sweet.

I only ate dinner at my Grandmother's a couple of times. There was just the two of us, and my challenge was to find two different uses for a packet of pork meatballs. I cut each meatball in half for both recipes:

Meal One: Last of the summer vegetables pasta  -serves two
1 onion, chopped
1/2 packet meatballs
2 carrots, pealed and chopped
1 medium courgette, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
1 jar pasta sauce -homemade or from a shop.
100-200g pasta such as penne, depending on how hungry you are -this is pretty filling; I didn't need much

1. Cook the onion in a frying pan over a medium high heat with a little olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add the pork balls and brown then for a few minutes.
2. If you have any red wine pour in a small glass at this point. Tip in the pasta sauce and the chopped vegetables and bring to a boil. Leave to simmer.
3. While the sauce is simmering, add the pasta to a large pan of salted boiling water, and cook according to packet instructions. Try to get it 'al dente' so that there is just a little bit of a bite to it when you eat it.
4. Season, add some parmesan cheese if you fancy. Dish up and enjoy!

Meal Two: Pork stew with apple -serves two
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/2 packet meatballs
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 small apples, peeled and cored
Couple of spigs of thyme
300ml chicken stock
New potatoes

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/gas mark 6. Lightly grease a casserole dish
2.  Put all the meatballs vegetables and apples into the dish. Season with salt, pepper and the thyme. Pour over boiling chicken stock.
3. Chop the potatoes if they're a little large and lay them on the top of the casserole. Cover and cook in the oven for 50 minutes.

I like to make use of the oven and serve up some baked plums for pudding:

Cut four plums in half and remove the stones and place in a small baking tray. Warm a tablespoon or so of honey. If you have any flavoured syrups, brandy or rum, add a little to the honey and pour over the plums. Sprinkle over a pinch of brown sugar, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
Serve with marscapone cream: to do it properly, you add double cream and whisked eggs whites, but I substituted this for 2 tablespoons of low fat Greek yogurt stirred into 4 tablespoons of marscapone. Sweeten with a little icing sugar. Delish!
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