Thursday, 13 July 2017

Bring back the joy of home cooking

On watching an episode of Supermarket Shopping Secrets on BBC last night, I was surprised by the UK's reliance on convenience food and how the supermarkets are really cashing in on it. The programme touched on some fascinating aspects such as creating the perfect easy-peel orange which takes years of genetic research but also then told of a piece of fresh salmon which has already been scaled, boned, flavoured and packaged before it got to the shelf and all the consumer had to do was pop it in the microwave and it would open itself for you. Doesn't that all seem a bit too much?

Since moving in to my own house three years ago, and way before that when I was living at home, I've always loved cooking my own food. Don't get me wrong, I'm no saint, I do love a cheeky takeaway and there is almost always a back-up jar of pasta sauce in the cupboard, but the majority of meals that I eat are lovingly cooked by me.

As a young person with a full time job, a homeowner living with my partner, I admit I don't have too many responsibilities that take time away from being able to get creative in the kitchen. However, what we put into our bodies should be of paramount importance to us when half the time we don't understand the ingredients going into some shop-bought items.

Bring back the joy of home cooking - BBC Supermarket Secrets

With our want for convenience only continuing to grow, I worry what the next generation will do when it comes to food. Will all their meals come from a packet? Especially as now even fruit and veg are pre-cut and packaged for the customer. Will they be able to catch a love for cooking from their ready-meal loving parents?

As a whole host of food and fitness bloggers continue to make good food accessible to younger people via social media, I wonder if this will intrigue more young people to start cooking, or will they be turned off by the expensive superfoods and sometimes lengthy recipes. In a generation of people who want things instantly where is home cookings place?

For me cooking is something I really enjoy, which I understand for a lot of people is not the case. I love the process of finding great food to try, planning out my weekly meals, going to the supermarket to source the ingredients and finally taking the time to put together our meals. I'm someone who likes to get creative, always trying to find something new to try that week be it from Pinterest or blogs, and solidifying our favourite meals cooking them every so often.

This passion and love for food is what I'd like to try and instill in others. It really does make me feel bad when I watch things like this and hear that the UK has too little time for a Sunday roast or to cut their own apples. Taking time to prepare and cook your food allows you to see what's going into your meal, gives you time to slow down after a busy day and also time to connect with your family.

Bring back the joy of home cooking - BBC Supermarket Secrets

I'm not sure what I wanted to achieve with this post but I wanted to get my feelings down and see if anyone felt the same. Do you cook most of your meals or is your reliance on ready meals or prepared sauces? What's stopping you from having a go and creating your own?

Lastly to finish, cooking doesn't have to be a long and complicated process with a million different ingredients, start simple with an easy pasta sauce (garlic, onion, tinned tomatoes & mixed herbs) and you'll soon gain confidence to undertake other recipes.
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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Dining at the Lotus Lounge, Yarm

How exciting is winning a competition? Getting pulled out of the hat to win something for nothing is a pretty epic feeling and I did just that last month on Facebook. Lotus Lounge randomly selected me to go for a two course dinner with a plus one with a bottle of wine thrown in for good measure.

Before going for our meal, neither myself or Matt knew much about Lotus Lounge as a restaurant. It's a pretty well known establishment as a bar, but as for food I wasn't convinced. When we walked into have our meal to where I thought we might be sat downstairs in the bar, we were then shown upstairs to a part I never knew existed. Upstairs was clearly where the majority of the Lotus Lounge's food is served, if not all, as it was bright, full of tables, boasting its own bar.

It was quiet when we arrived around 6.30pm on a Saturday, but as we ate more people filtered through. When offered the wine menu, we both had a nosy but not knowing anything about wine or really liking it, we were at the mercy of the waitress but in conversation I did mentioned I like Prosecco and asked if it was an option. At first she said that it wasn't part of what we'd won, but then when she went away to get our wine she came back with a bottle which was a lovely suprise.

Lotus Lounge Restaurant Review Yarm Stockton Teesside Food
Lotus Lounge Restaurant Review Yarm Stockton Teesside Food
Lotus Lounge Restaurant Review Yarm Stockton Teesside Food
Lotus Lounge Restaurant Review Yarm Stockton Teesside Food

We both decided to have a main and a dessert and funnily enough, we picked the same for both. For our main meal we decided on the 8oz sirloin steak which was accompanied by chips, salad and a red wine and thyme butter. I also had a Bearnaise sauce whilst Matt had Poivre. I thought the steak was delicious. It was super tasty and I loved everything that went with it.

For our dessert we chose the chocolate pudding with peanut butter ice cream. The pudding itself was very cake-like but came away very smoothly and with the ice cream it was divine. The only let down was the plate, or rather the slate which was a bit awkward to eat from.

At the end of the meal I briefly spoke to the lady I'd been chatting to on Facebook to arrange my visit and she was lovely, as were all the staff. I'm really pleased I had the chance to visit the Lotus Lounge as it wouldn't have been first on my list to try for food but now I'd happily go back.

Have you tried the Lotus Lounge for food?
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Saturday, 10 June 2017

Stepping into Summer with Turtle Bay's new menu - Middlesbrough

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take Matt to Turtle Bay and show him what it was all about. Having visited on the press night with my fellow Teesside bloggers, I was invited back to try out the new menu and review which I was happy to oblige.

We popped along on a Friday night feeling extremely hungry after a long day at work. I started with my favourite cocktail, discovered on my last visit, the Marley Mojito. I'm not a fan of normal mojitos but this one is so refreshing and fruity with ginger beer, watermelon and melon liqueur.

We both had a tough time deciding what we'd get for our mains as there was so many delicious sounding meals listed. I really wanted to have the beef ribs again after trying them before but the two-way chicken burger caught my eye. As we don't have lamb at home, Matt decided that's what he'd be trying. 

My burger was a spicy panko crumbed chicken fillet topped with pull jerk chicken, crisp gem lettuce, fresh pineapple chow & herb mayo accompanied by fries and coleslaw. I did enjoy my burger as it was unusual to have the two types of chicken, but I did kind of wish I'd chosen the beef ribs as it was something different. Matt's lamb was grilled and jerk marinated served with coleslaw, sweet potato mash, green seasoning and sweet onion chutney. He really enjoyed the lamb and said all of the different aspects worked really well together.

Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough
Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough
Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough
Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough
Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough
Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough

We both ordered another drink before our next course with Matt ordering a Red Stripe which was on draught and I delved back into the cocktail menu. Sounding very Caribbean,  I chose the Bahama Mama which had coconut rum, banana liqueur, pineapple juice, pomegranate syrup and bitters. It was super sweet and tasted very familiar to something I'd had before but neither of us could put our finger on what it was.

For dessert I decided to have the rum and raisin bread pudding as I'd tried some at the opening event and knew I had to have a whole piece. It was soft, ooey gooey and warm, perfect with the ice cream. I finished the lot. Matt was more safe with his dessert and chose the dark chocolate brownie. He said it was nice, tasted home-made but could have done with more ice cream.

Turtle Bay has definitely cemented itself really well in Middlesbrough with almost everyone I've spoken to having a good word to say about. We will definitely be back as we've still got a lot more cocktails to try and so many more food options to taste!
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