Tuesday Thoughts – Roaring 20s, Fabulous 30s

Tuesday Thoughts

Last weekend the Boyo was away so we didn’t go wandering. Instead I went to the hairdressers and had a lovely Saturday night in watching films, eating Galaxy chocolate and drinking a wee glass of Baileys. We are going to a wedding next Saturday and my hair was really needing sorted, I am even thinking about getting my nails done which I have only done before twice in my life so we’ll see. I shall have a wee blog post tomorrow all about the outfit for the wedding and other dresses. So if you like dresses and pretty things have a look tomorrow, if not I shall be posting about food again on Friday.

I wasn’t sure what to write about this week, inspiration wasn’t hitting me and then one of my oldest friends turned 30 yesterday and it got me thinking about our 20s and everything we have achieved and what I would really like to achieve in my 30s.

I started off my 20s trying to put things right after a bout of depression. I had to repeat a year at University, I had to sort out my head and work out relationships with my friends and family and myself after depression had left everything (or so it felt to me) in tatters. By the time it came to my 21st birthday I was well again and life was more or less back on track. In fact we even had a party – I have never been one for birthday parties but my 21st was great. At the time Baileys were doing a drink called ‘Baileys Glide’. It was basically a Baileys Milkshake, oh it was lovely.

The highlights of my early 20s included a trip to ‘Wild West America’, exploring Vancouver, going to Malawi on a charity trip, my first serious relationship (the end was actually a highlight as well), learning to teach EFL, going off abroad to China and Hong Kong for 2 fantastic years. A holiday in Vietnam with teacher friends. Those 2 years abroad taught me so much and I will blog about EFL, Hong Kong and living abroad at a later date

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Then it was back to Scotland and a post-grad Masters, living with my sister once more and getting to know her not as a moody teenager but a beautiful adult (scary) who knows best when it comes to my fashion choices (or lack of).  My best friend also got a puppy, this is very much a highlight, I love this wee doggy very much, and doggy-sitting the wee black furball always makes me smile. Lovely friends getting married (3 in 1 week!)

Dog

Then we reach my very late 20s, reconnecting with special friends, meeting The Boyo who made me accept that all clichés about love & mush could in fact be true. Seeing one of my very best friends getting married was beautiful. Becoming an honorary Auntie to a beautiful wee girl and spending time with my family. Learning to drive (reluctantly) and becoming an enthusiastic home cook & baker.baby shower

During this time there have been lows as well, the Dreaded D (my MSc dissertation) could not have been done without my Boyo’s encouragement, the job hunting and interviews, and the loneliness when living on the other side of the world and missing special occasions, the saying goodbye to relatives who I will always miss, dealing with family illness. The stress related migraines and chronic headaches that working through a merger brought. Having said all of this I don’t think I would change anything, I really believe that the challenges in life are part and parcel of who we become. I dealt with horrendous bullying in my school years; I dealt with depression and bereavement in my 20s but my overall feelings? – being lucky and fortunate and happy. I am surrounded by special people; wonderful memories, my achievements and I look around and see photos of my friends and family, objects from travels all over the world, I see a happy home and a very happy life. I have 3 months until I turn 30. In that time I will attempt to learn to sew, I will climb trees with my Dad, I will eat scrumptious food, I will get cuddles from my favourite toddler, I will explore the countryside. My 20s have been rather great, I can’t quite imagine how my 30s will be but I know that it will involve countless more happy moments.

Happy Days

I’ll blog again closer to my birthday with some ideas I have for my year of being 30. Knowing me it will involve many foodie delights and wanderings!

So I will leave you now to reflect on your happy moments… if you have any ideas for my year of being 30, or if you partook in some celebrations yourself do let me know.

Merry Vietnam

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Foodie Friday – Sweet Potato & Gammon Pies

Gosh time flies… we are nearly at the end of summer, I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, catching up with good friends, work and unfortunately a family bereavement but I have a few posts lined up so my blog will become lively once more.

 

The madness is about to start. Note this section will be library related, scroll down to get to the tasty recipe!

I work in an FE College, the teaching staff have just returned from their summer break, my to do list has grown rapidly and the students are set to return on the 1st of September. It will be chaos and madness and I will be working 42 hour weeks until Mid-October, but the truth is that this part of the academic year is actually my favourite time. I love getting to meet the new students; I remember the feelings of optimism, enthusiasm and nerves of my first few weeks of post-school student life. I also get to ‘teach’ the students about the library and some basics that will help them as they begin their studies. As a former EFL teacher I actually love the induction sessions where my teacher and librarian skills fuse together. I get to meet the students in small groups and my ultimate aim is that they leave the session feeling that they can come to us in the library for support and help… actually remembering how to use the catalogue can wait as long as they feel that they come and ask. Often students are nervous to ask their tutors as they think they will be judged for not already knowing, they don’t want to ask classmates for fear of looking stupid but here in the library we do not judge we just help. Often that is reassuring them that the tutors 100% will not mind being asked. I think as a student especially at the beginning you are so nervous and really lack in confidence, here in the library we aim to be the friendly people who quietly support you and encourage. Often in life we assume people are really confident and capable but underneath we all have the same worries about whether we are doing as well as we can or doubting our abilities. So trying to be friendly and no-judgemental and making assumptions is something I actively try to avoid and when I do I try to remind myself that we never really know what is whizzing through another persons head.

 

Now I am getting onto the Foodie stuff…. I am soon going to working very long days 2 days a week so I will need to cook a bit more at weekends and feed my freezer with nice meals that are easy to warm up as I know fine well that I won’t be wanting to cook late in the evening and when you are tired it is easy to start relying on potato waffles and chicken nuggets! My recipe this week can be frozen and warmed up. I have made pies but the filling could be a nice casserole dish served with cous cous or salad (if I ate salad) or even nice on it’s own with some crusty bread. However the pies are super tasty and very filling.

 

So I present to you…

 

Sweet Potato and Gammon Pies

 

For a veggie version try swapping the chicken stock for a vegetable stock and adding peppers instead of the gammon.

You will need 4 individual pie dishes or 1 large pie dish, a large pot, a masher and a couple of other bits and bobs which are stated later in the recipe. I bought Individual oval pie dishes from Amazon recently which I plan to use for pies, pasta bakes and other things. Good way of some portion control!

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Ingredients

4 x large(ish) Sweet Potatoes – cut into small chunks. Sweet potatoes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, you want to allow for a portion per person, so if you have monster ones then perhaps you will only need 2-3.

½ Onion – Chopped finely

Chicken Stock

Herb Flavour Pot

Hot Water

Black Pepper & Salt for seasoning

Dried Thyme – around a teaspoon

Mustard – 1 teaspoon. I had a hot and smooth mustard but I was planning on using a wholegrain one, so whatever you have available will work fine.

2 large gammon Steaks

Seasoning for the gammon – I used smoked paprika as I had unsmoked gammon steak and felt a bit of smoky flavour would work well with sweetness of the potatoes. I also used a pinch of brown sugar and a teaspoon of a garlic and pepper mix. I love the Organic Blending Company, I always have the Garlic Pepper in my cupboard.

100g Grated Mature Cheddar Cheese

½ block of Shortcrust Pastry

1 egg lightly beaten.

 

Method

  1. Boil the kettle and pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Prepare the Sweet potatoes and onion, and then place them in a pot. Add the stock cube and flavour pot, thyme and seasoning. Remember the stock cube will have salt so very little salt is needed. Add the hot water so it just about covers the mixture, you don’t want to add too much water at the beginning as the water will be absorbed by the mixture to become the ‘juice’ for the pie, so if you add too much you will have a watery pie. Cover with a lid and simmer the mixture on a low heat until the water has been absorbed and the potatoes are soft and cooked through.
  2. Once the potatoes have cooked use a masher to lightly mash up the mixture. You don’t want it to be smooth but rather a thick consistency with no large chunks of potatoes. Leave the lid on to allow the mixture to absorb more liquid whilst you prepare the gammon.
  3. Place the Gammon steaks into a deep oven dish – during cooking the gammon with create a tasty ‘juice’ some of which will be added to your pie for extra flavour later. Season the gammon with the herbs/spices you have chosen and the little sugar. If you aren’t sure what herbs you would like, have a look at the ingredients of the flavour pot and use that as inspiration. I wanted some seasoning to add a smoky, savoury flavour to balance out the sweetness of the potatoes, hence smoked paprika and my garlic and pepper mix. Cover in tinfoil and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of the meet) until just cooked. We want the meat to be as juicy as possible so watch not to over-cook.
  4. Once cooked cut up the gammon (I find using scissors I keep for the kitchen easiest) and add to the sweet potato mixture. Add a spoonful of the ‘juice’ from the oven dish to the mixture for extra flavour as well. Give it a good stir, add the cheese, then stir again. Taste and add more seasoning if required.
  5. Now you have a choice. You can use this tasty mixture as meal on it’s own, freeze for later or use as pie filling. I’m going to turn it into pie so for this fill your pie dish or dishes with the mixture until nearly at the top and then prepare the pastry. .
  6. Get your pastry and roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Add a pinch of thyme (and cheese for extra flavour if you wish). Fold over the pastry and roll out again. You want the pastry to be ½ cm thick.
  7. Cut a 1 cm wide strip and use that to cover the edge or you pie dish or dishes. This will give your lid something to grip onto. Using a brush lightly cover this pastry edge with a little beaten egg. Then get a large piece of pastry, cover the dish, cut away the excess and use a fork to press the edge and lid together. Brush the top of the pie with egg to give the pie a nice finish (I have a friend who is allergic to egg when she is visiting I would use just a little milk for this part instead of egg). If you have excess pastry then use it to decorate the top, and brush it with egg. Using the point of a sharp knife make 2 small piercings into the top of each pie to let steam out whilst it is cooking.
  8. I advise placing the pie dish on a baking try to make getting it out the oven easier, cook at 180 for around 30 minutes until the Pie is golden and delicious looking. If you are worried about the pastry browning too quickly, lower the temperature.
  9. Eat the tasty pie. You will be very full afterwards.IMG-20140815-WA006