03 July 2014

WTF Fennel Bulb -- Sesame Fennel Rice (GF)

I get the feeling fennel bulbs are one of those vegetables nobody knows what to do with.  You see them in the grocery store and think, "ooh, that looks fancy!" and maybe you bring it home and then the only recipes you can find for it are veggie stir fries and salads.  Which are fine, but maybe not as inspiring or original as you hoped.  I mean, turning a vegetable into a salad or stir-fry is not a big stretch of the imagination.

My husband found a pile of fennel bulbs in the reduced produce sale bin (I swear, half my posts are inspired by what my husband finds cheap at the grocery store!) and I made this dish two nights in a row, we liked it so much!

It's easy.  Thinly slice a fennel bulb (go ahead and use any fronds from it, too), and chop an onion (I used chopped ramsons, but I'm guessing they don't grow in your area) and maybe some garlic, too, toss it in a pot with some brown rice (I used about 1 cup of uncooked rice per fennel bulb, but I would usually use 1 bulb per 2 cups of rice -- the rice-to-fennel ratio is completely at your discretion), and cook it all together at once.  When everything is cooked, toss in some sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and lime juice (again, proportions are at your discretion -- if in doubt, just use a little, taste the result, and adjust accordingly).

26 June 2014

Goodness Direct Goodie Bag Review

A few weeks ago, the doorbell rang and an unexpected parcel arrived for me from Goodness Direct.

They are my favourite on-line health food store and I've been ordering from them ever since my friend Lizzie pointed me in their direction.  "I can't find popcorn kernels anywhere!  Where can I get bulk nuts?  I need nooch!*  ASDA stopped stocking my favourite eco-deodorant, whatever shall I do?"
"Goodness Direct!" she said, and then told me to use her tell-a-friend reference number with my order so she could get free organic chocolates.

Speaking of organic chocolates...

They even taste expensive.

It was so nice to get this parcel.  I was in the middle of a chicken pox epidemic with my 3 sons, hadn't left the house in weeks because they were under quarantine, and even missed our summer holiday.  So an unexpected care package was very gratefully received.  It came with this cute hand-written note:

They are thanking me for sampling their goodies.

Of course, I am happy to review their treats.  Let's start with the Booja-Booja Truffles

The box is so nice, I'm using it to store my fountain pen nibs now.
These guys are dusted in cocoa powder, which is the first thing you taste.  It's unsweetened and hits you with its intense and almost bitter flavour.  This is a wonderful prelude to the dark chocolate encasing the velvety organic Fine de Champagne-infused truffle center.  When I had one, I laughed.  They even taste expensive!  At 70 calories a pop, these guys are organic and vegan-friendly; dairy, soya, GMO, and gluten free; and delicious.  (Yes, that is a correct way to use a semi-colon.)  There are even some raw truffles in their range. I come from a long line of dark chocolate lovers and I can say with certainty that these would be a big hit on my dad's side of the family.  But hey, even if we weren't all huge fans of dark chocolate, these would still be a hit!

And then there were the Eskal Fruit Cremes and Mint Collection.  Both of these are vegan and certified Kosher.  The Fruit Cremes came in 4 flavours:  lemon, orange, strawberry, and dark cherry, all covered in dark chocolate.  I'm pretty sure the dark cherry was my favourite, but they were all really good.  The Mint collection had some dark chocolate mints, these dark chocolate mints with crunchy bits in them, and mint cremes.  I think the mint cremes tie with the dark chocolate mints with crunchy bits as my favourites of the bunch.

I also got some Nutri Snax -- Cashew Supreme and Ginger Rocks.  This is where I tell you a funny anecdote.
As someone who has been breastfeeding and/or pregnant for the last 6 years, I always carry snacks in my bag, which I call "emergency rations."  I have to carry loads because if I pull one out to eat, my sons and husband start begging me to share.  Kind of like when you are walking around a sea sidey town and want to eat something and suddenly you find yourself surrounded by seagulls who are dive-bombing and pecking and trying to get in on your snack.  My middle son also likes to raid my handbag for emergency rations when we are at home.

So my middle son came in with one of the Nutri Snax and told me he had a butt-rash, so he needed to eat an emergency rashion.  (He did not actually have a butt-rash, our affectionate term for diaper rash, nor is he in diapers.)  Actually, I think what he first said was, "I have a rash on my buttocks..."  Am I the only one with a 4 year old who uses the term 'buttocks'?  He probably picked that up from watching me do P90X.  Tony Horton is always going on about buttocks.  But I digress...
Anyway, these Nutri Snax are wheat free and vegan.  They are your standard dried fruit and nut fare snack bars and they are very tasty.

Last, but not least, the Provamel Almond Drink.  This is probably the most almondy almond 'milk' I've ever had and it even had a bit of almond pulp at the bottom.  Again, my middle son claimed this was a necessity and that he needed to drink it because he had the chicken pox.  I caved, of course, and let him have most of it.

Thanks for the treats, Goodness Direct!

You can also check out Goodness Direct on facebook, where they currently have a generous money off voucher code for £10 off an order of £35 or more (orders over £35 get free shipping).  And if you place an order with them, will you please use my Tell-a-Friend Ref No G8085693?  :D

The goodies reviewed in this post were given to me for free in the hopes that I would review them, and everything I've written here is my honest-to-goodness real opinion.  Nobody twisted my arm and I didn't drink the kool-aid!  ;D

*  Nooch is the affectionate term for nutritional yeast.  Nooch is delicious.  My kids love it sprinkled on their pasta.  Some people make fake mac'n'cheese-style sauce with it.  Just don't take the advice on the box and stir it into juice because that is just silly.

I got 99 problems, but a stitch ain't one.

09 June 2014

Sheaffer VFM Handwritten Review and A Pox Upon My House!

My oldest son took this photo of my middle son!
Guys, I know I promised lots of posts, but my house has been hit with the chicken pox.  I've been in quarantine for the best part of the last month -- first they had colds, then, one by one, my children got the pox.  My oldest son and husband are on holiday while I am at home with the other two sickies, trying to keep them happy.  So now is probably a great time for my handwritten review of the Sheaffer VFM which I won from The Pen Company.  I am usually a fountain pen girl, but not all paper is cut out for fountain pens, and I like ballpoints, too.
I'll try to get some recipes out to you soon, but in the meantime...
The Sheaffer VFM.
Click the photo to zoom in!

28 May 2014

Birthday Month, and an Optrex Eye Revive Moisture Mist Review

Where did all the time go?  Since my last post, I completed P90X (before/after/progress photos here), started writing in my diary every day,* did lots of knitting, and mastered Irish soda bread (I was inspired to by the photo in this post (scroll down)).  I'm also homeschooling, although we've taken the week off because my almost 6-year-old has the chicken pox!!

It's birthday month here -- my 3 sons have birthdays within 31 days of each other, and each of them get the cake and frosting of their choice and a handmade gift for their birthday.  (Do you guys want a vegan cake and frosting tutorial?  I can do that!)

Punk rocker bonnet -- we won best bonnets
in the Fun First Easter 'parade!'
 I have a few things planned in this blog for the next fortnight:
  • Soda Bread...Master this recipe so you can learn:
  • Awesome banana bread that happens to be unsweetened and fat-free (it's a soda bread variation and my favourite banana bread recipe at the moment).
  • Sheaffer VFM ballpoint pen review (I won one from The Pen Company and it included a nice little note asking if I'd mind reviewing it -- of course I don't mind!)
  • Goodness Direct goody bag review!  (I've reviewed products from them before, and was pleasantly surprised to get a package of goodies from them with a handwritten note in the post yesterday.)
  • More recipes (cake and frosting?) and maybe even some knitting patterns (find me on Ravelry)!
Nikita Cowl pattern, anyone?
I also received a trial Optrex Eye Revive Moisture Mist product to review (thanks BzzAgent, for the sample -- Marie Clare declared it a "handbag essential"), so here it is:
I don't usually suffer from dry eyes, but I thought this would be fun to try anyway. I was VERY skeptical of the claim that it wouldn't smear my make-up, so I did a trial run at home before I popped it into my handbag. My make-up didn't smear (!!) and the cooling sensation from the mist was very refreshing. I like the ingredients, too, they look like they will do a nice job of taking care of the skin around my eyes. So I know I said I don't usually get dry eyes, but I feel like _every_ time I am in this one grocery store, my eyes have some kind of weird dry episode and I end up wigging out. I was popping into the store's loo the last time this happened. "Blimey, my eyes! WTF?!" I thought to myself. And then I remembered the Optrex spray in my handbag. I tried it and immediately felt better! I am going to be honest here: I did not think this was going to work. I thought I would have clumpy mascara at the very least, but my eyeballs felt normal again and my make-up looked exactly the same. So, congratulations, Optrex. I am a major skeptic, but this spray is pretty awesome.
(And no, I didn't drink the kool-aid, I really did like the Optrex.)

So, see you all again in the next day or so!   Leave a comment to say hi or to nag me to post my cake and frosting recipes!!  ;D

*  Mostly with fountain pens.  Anybody else keep a diary?  Or like fountain pens?  Or any kind of pens? What are your favourites?  What do you write on?