Almond Milk Smoothie

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Was it almond milk that Cleopatra used to bath in?

If it was I don’t blame her. The stuff is just wonderful. I have been making all kinds of things with it. Rice pudding, porridge, lattes and now smoothies. Our smoothie drinking has unfortunately been somewhat curtailed by the blender on my ancient food processor breaking down, but despite that I have a great recipe to share.

The mention of smoothies tend to go down with a bit of a groan in this house. It’s not that people don’t like them, but when you live in a house full of blokes, this type of drink having a girly reputation, seems to invoke much macho scoffing. I am relatively thick-skinned and choose to ignore most of this. Also the arrival of ‘vintage paper straws’ seems to sweeten the deal and happily this pastel-coloured creamy delight has been slipping down a treat.

You will need (for 2):

300ml Almond Milk, 1 Banana, about 5 Strawberries, a working blender, 4 ice cubes.

Pop everything into the blender and blend until smooth, although the odd lingering lump of ice-cube will be fine. Pour into suitable glass and enjoy with breakfast or as an after school fill you up.

Almond Milk: I buy it in Sainsburys, so unlike Coconut Water, it is readily available in the section with the longlife milk, milk powder and longlife soya milk. It has a natural very slightly sweet taste and in coffee imparts a flavour not dissimilar to using one of those syrups. To my mind this is infinitely more pleasing than the soya milk alternatives to milk. I also understand (although don’t quote me on this) that it is anti-allergenic so even better for you soya milk (to which some are allergic).

Lady Grey’s Iced Tea

Iced Tea seems very English but is in fact fairly hard to come by here in the UK. I believe this is something of a tragedy, as if you want a lovely long non-alcoholic refreshing drink which isn’t too sweet, the choices seem to be limited. Possibly because we rarely have suitably hot weather, we don’t seem to cultivate such drinks and the ‘tea council’ or some such body like to propagate the notion that hot tea will cool you down on a hot day anyway! Whilst this may be theoretically true, I’ve never found it helpful in this regard.

So here are a couple of suggestions for Iced Tea with a bit of a twist.

Try and get hold of some Lady Grey tea bags. Twinnings supply it and it is readily available in supermarkets. Ideally the day before make a pot with about 3 tea bags and 800ml of boiled water in a teapot for preference or if not a large jug. After 5 minutes or so pour the tea into a large jug if not there already or remove the tea bags from the jug and leave to cool down and then chill in the fridge.

To make a hi-ball sized glass of tea you will need per glass: about 6 ice cubes, a quarter of the tea (200ml or so), 1 -2 tsp sugar, 100ml orange juice or cold water, a slice each of orange, lemon and cucumber cut in half and a sprig of mint. Combine, stir and sit back and sip.

800ml of tea should provide enough for 4 glasses.

Lady Grey has a lovely citrus-y flavour, enhanced by the orange slices if not by the orange juice and a very low tannin content which is desirable with iced tea I feel. The sugar quantities can be adjusted to taste.

Cutest Cakes loose in London: Food, Furries, Pharoahs, Falafel and Feathers.

We have had a Bank Holiday here in England and unusually we managed to get away for a few nights. Child 2’s school has an annual May Fayre on the Bank Holiday Monday and typically this precludes time away as cakes must be baked and bunting must be hung etc. etc.

London and it’s environs was the destination and so I think a round-up of pictures is the most amusing way to illustrate a lovely weekend with the fam.

We began with Friday night is Pizza night,

a Child 2 special:

½ Margherita, ½ Pepperoni,                                whereas I’m more into rustic style

I found this printed across my napkin and I think it sums up my world view:

The following morning we set off for Whipsnade Zoo, which is part of London Zoo despite its location north of the M25! We had a ball and due to freezing conditions the crowds were kept to a minimum and the wildlife was up and about:

European Bears

Melman and Co.

A family favourite: RED PANDA on the move!!!!

Lightening quick picnic lunch due to the temperatures – cheese sandwiches with homemade bread, strawberries and left over volcano cake (don’t ask: a long story)

Then the highlight – Macaws and Timbo the bonkers African Grey Parrot (flew so fast couldn’t get a pic)

Sea Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Pod camping WITH Rhinos, Linx, Lions – it was all going on.

Next day we were in London proper – oh yeah, London baby! I just love it: the energy, the scale of it all, the food, the brick colour. I adore the place.

Coffee is always high on my list of priorities: this was a good one

We had mini croissant style confections filled with a kind of butter icing or Nutella!

On to The British Museum

Rameses II?

These are actual Gold Medals that will actually be handed out in August!

and then on to a Cake Shop via Tube, Taxi and muggle magic….

At this point I shall pause as cake is involved. For anyone who is following The Cutest Cakes on Facebook, you may have noticed that I ‘like’ Violet Cakes. The owner is an American and used to be a pastry chef in the US. She now has a shop and café and although she was not around I was thrilled to have made it to her glorious bakery.

We had salted caramel cupcakes, rhubarb crumble, almond polenta muffins, cheese toasties and take-out Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Goats Cheese Tart. Divine and much food for thought as well as tummies. A few pics…

The place was simple, nostalgic and inspirational. On the way back to our hotel we picked up some gigantic falafel in Camden – these formed the local street food – awesome.

From Wine to Wallbangers

I’m not quite sure when I took my eye off the ball, orange in fact, but we seem to have rather a lot of them glowing up at me from the fruit bowl. I’m a little bit scared to go out to the shed where we keep the overflow from the veg/fruit delivery at this time of year as the last time I was out there struggling to get bikes out or tumble drying done I think I saw a few more lurking.

We really like orange flavour in our house; squash, juice, lollies, sweets, chocolate, ice-cream, cake, marmalade, duck (!) you name it we’ll happily eat it. But not so much if peeling and faffing with the pith is required. The kids seriously can’t be bothered with it, my better half similarly has an aversion to this (clearly patience for peeling oranges is a genetic issue) and I consequently do not have the time, inclination or finger nails to perform this task on everyone’s behalf!

I do have a standard, slightly dinner party-ish, ‘Oranges Steeped in Brandy Syrup’ dessert which I usually make at such moments (that would use up about 4), except I don’t have a dinner party planned and quite frankly this would be a pip in the crate, so to speak. Cakes generally would use 2 at a push, Delia’s famous Chicken Basque only needs a half!

This isn’t going well.

Juicing I think is the only option here and as it’s Friday…. oooh I’m warming to my theme…I think the cocktail hour might be upon us (come 6 o’clock anyway). Yes definitely! The situation is so bad juicing and adding to alcohol/or not as the case may be, is the only solution.

Excellent. What shall I make then. I hardly ever have cocktails.

Luckily I have been chatting with the very talented scarpetta dolcetto who’s blog here at wordpress.com jumped out at me from the aptly named Freshly Pressed page. I’m a sucker for anything Italian sounding and so I just had to have a look. She has a fab picture up of a grapefruit/vodka concoction and when I investigated further she reminded me of all the orange juice cocktail options I have. So we are switching our more usual Friday night tipple from wine to Wallbangers, or something similar.

Screwdriver or Wallbanger?

So to ‘fess up for a moment we actually did this last Friday to celebrate the end of Half Term.

 I had 15 oranges dotted about the place which I juiced. This supplied enough liquid for 4 drinks as follows: Pour a shot of vodka over crushed ice in a hi-ball, then fill up to about the 1/3 point with cranberry juice,  and up to the top with the orange juice, squeeze a couple of teaspoons of lime juice into this mixture and stir. I don’t like things too sweet and neither did my companions so we found this to be perfect. I also tried one without the vodka, and that was delicious too. I seem to remember, from a trip to TGI-Fridays or some such place, the non-alcoholic version can be topped up further with sparkling water for a really long drink. All very enlightening. Grazie scarpetta ♥.

P.S. A shout out to office.microsoft.com for this cocktail picture. Free artwork, photos and more to download and use, and just how perfectly identical to my cocktail, slice of lime and all!

P.S.S. You may or may not have noticed the new Top Page – Recipes:No Chat. This is all the original recipes without all the crap chat. It’s a bit more concise and should lend itself to printing off better too.

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