Kitchen Hell: Utensils

I love spending time in the kitchen (you would never have guessed what with all the recipes I post on here…). Cooking relaxes me, it makes me happy and chills me out when I’ve had a hard day. I like to challenge myself in the kitchen too, giving myself recipes that I never thought I would be able to make and then taking a stab at it anyway. Nine times out of ten, after much air scorching profanity hard work and perseverance, the results are exactly what I wanted and I leave the kitchen feeling fulfilled, both in my cooking ability and in my belly.

So you would think that if I’m one of these people that cooks to relax, surely I love everything to do with cooking. Well, no. The kitchen can turn very quickly from my little oasis of serenity into a coliseum of abject hatred pitting hungry, angry lions against a toddler armed only with a butter knife stressful arena of irritation and annoyance. Unfortunately it only takes one thing to do this: Utensils.

I’m not going to lambast all kitchen utensils – most are generally quite useful. No, instead I’m going to list what I think are the MOST annoying, vexing, irritating, downright frustrating and pointless utensils ever created and exactly why they need to be sent to:

kitchen hell

Sieves
Does any other utensil take quite so long to wash as a sieve? Trying to get it clean is like trying to make a donkey do a Charleston. It won’t work but even if it did no one would ever believe you anyway. Other than this issue, I’ve got nothing against sieves, but my hatred for washing them up is enough by far to force them into Hell with no remorse. Goodbye you messy devils.

Tea Strainers
See ‘Sieves’. Enough said.

Graters
I have lost count of the amount of times I’ll be absent mindedly grating something and then BAM I manage to grate my fingers into the same pile as the rest of my food. You might say that this could be solved by me paying more attention when I grate, but I have managed to do it even when fully concentrating, on that last bit of cheese/carrot/etc that tricks you into thinking it’s large enough to grate. I don’t know if you’ve ever done it yourselves but its akin to someone rubbing you down with sandpaper after a relaxing full body massage.

Whisks
I hate whisks purely because I can’t find one in the size I want that isn’t silicone. It’s been two years and it’s still driving me nuts.

Paring Knives
Living as I do on a student budget, it is impossible to afford a top of the line knife block with a paring knife that is halfway decent. Unfortunately my paring knife is too short to be of any use, I mean it slices perfectly fine and doesn’t need sharpening but it’s just too small to be used on most of the veg I buy. It’s a shame really but I don’t really need a “button mushroom knife”…

Now in the immortal words of Gandalf the White: “Send these foul beasts into the ABYSS!”

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It was too much for Gandalf to bear when he was asked to clean ALL the sieves in Minas Tirith

 

Are there any useless utensils that you think I’ve missed? Do any more deserve to go into KITCHEN HELL? Do you think any of mine should come out of the abyss? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Recipe: Skinny Lemon And Blueberry Cake

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It’s time I told you a big secret about me. I am a huge fan of cooking shows. What? You already figured that out? Oh…

Yes, it’s true I’m a massive fan of any television programme involving food! Current favourites include the Jamie Oliver “Double the time it takes me to make these meals” series and recently, The Hairy Dieters. What intrigued me most about the the Hairy Bikers new show was that they attempted to keep eating the same foods that they loved whilst trying to lose weight and get healthier. This ranged from the creation of a slimline pie and a waistline friendly quiche to one of my personal favourites: Skinny Lemon Cupcakes.

In case you’re new to this blog, I’m an avid baker and I especially love baking cakes (don’t get me started on buttercream icing though, I have a long running vendetta against that foul creation). With my love for cake, but also my love for exercise, this seemed like the perfect recipe to try especially due to everybody having New Years resolutions to eat healthier or lose weight! sadly due to the fact that I left my cupcake tins at home after the holiday this had to become a full cake. What a shame.

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Ingredients:
for the cake
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g golden caster suga
100g blueberries
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 large eggs
150ml low-fat natural yoghurt
2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
50ml sunflower oil
and for the icing
200g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees
Grease or line a cake tin
Sift flour and baking powder together in a large bowl and storing the sugar
Zest the lemon and add to the mix along with the blueberries
Whisk the eggs until smooth and add the oil, milk and natural yoghurt – stir until smoothly combined
Add mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together with a large metal spoon
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes
Enjoy a nice relaxing cup of tea whilst you wait
Once cooked, remove and allow to cool.

Mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together until you reach desired consistency
Take a spoon and liberally drizzle the icing over the cake, it doesn’t need to look fantastic, it’s a rough and ready tasty cake!

And that’s it! The calorie count of this cake is roughly half of a a standard, with butter cake BUT that isn’t an excuse to eat twice as much!
Leave me a comment if you make the cake and let me know how you get on!
Now you have your cake, go and eat it too!

A while back I answered a call for guest bloggers from one of my favourite food blogs, The Ranting Chef! It had to be a recipe that I haven’t posted before and I had been sitting on this one for a while, as I am PARTICULARLY proud of it, due to it being my own creation! Here you go, finally out there, Rob’s Chelsea Cupcakes!

Also, please make sure you go and checkout The Ranting Chef in all his glory over at http://rantingchef.com

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

The more blogs I read, the more writing styles I recognize. In many ways it makes me reflect on my own style. I like to open each post with a short sentence that is meant to state the theme or grab some attention. I generally love to make my titles plays on words. I use parentheses a lot (I mean a lot). One that I don’t do, but find great is the intentional strikethrough and immediate revision but I like it. The funnier, the better. Rob from Eat, Sleep, Procrastinate has used this in the post below, causing me to spit out my coffee upon first reading. I love it and I know you’ll both the post below and Eat, Sleep, Procrastinate

Over this last summer (and because I had a lot of work that I should have been doing) I became obsessed with a TV show called “The Great…

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Stop Doing That… At The Library!

Well the holidays are well and truly over and all of us students have gone back to struggling our way through the mountains of work that have somehow managed to accumulate themselves, even though we’ve been keeping an eye on them. No, that was not sarcasm, I honestly thought I had less work than I seem to have now! This is why my new best friend is: The Library!

The library is great! There are loads of books, plenty of tables, access to the University’s intranet and all the software they have in the Open Access commuter suite. Heck, it’s even got a cafe in it and a park out the back to go for a walk around for a break! It’s a great place to go, sit down and power your way through all the work you’ve been doing.

There is, however, a problem with the Library.

It’s full of PEOPLE.

More specifically, stupid people that don’t know what they should and shouldn’t be doing, which leads the rest of us to get annoyed and turns the library from the tranquil, intellectual refuge that it should be into a teeth grinding pit of annoyance, stress and resentment.

In an effort to simplify my life (and therefore those in my immediate surroundings, also) here is a brief list of a few of the most common misuses of the library and why you need to stop doing them immediately.

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STOP: Taking phone calls
There is nothing more irritating than being sat in the same room as someone who insists on hollering details of their inane life down the phone the entire time they’re in the library. You’ll be trying to work and they’ll just keep going and going and going, these people have no off switch. Here’s an idea for you, turn your damned phone off when you come to the library. You’re in here to work, not organise plans for “a sick night out, bro!”. If the call is THAT important, then shift to one of the corridors or go outside where you can jabber away to your hearts content, if you don’t then don’t look at me like I’m the bad guy when I loudly sigh and tut at you.

STOP: Using the computers for Facebook
I cannot tell you how many times I haven’t been able to do work in the library, or any, computer room because it is chocked full of morons staring at their news feeds hoping something has happened in the last 2 minutes. I need the software on these computers to be able to do my work and you’re staring at your friend Jessica’s holiday photos/pictures of a cat in an outfit/a club night that you want to go to but “only if you get the work done first”. Here’s a novel idea: GET THE HECK OFF FACEBOOK AND DO YOUR WORK! I will fantasise about dipping you in molasses and covering you in fire ants if I see you wasting time on Facebook when I need to do actual work. One of these days I may even follow through with it. You have been warned…

STOP: Putting books back wrong
You know those little tags on the bottom of the spine of the book? Those ones that have the little numbers and letters on them? That’s a reference number so that everyone can find the book, where it is supposed to be. It just makes it easier and less time consuming. So stop just chucking a book back anywhere when you’re finished with it. Try and stick the book back at least CLOSE to the books with the same numbers on the notice! Imagine trying to find a book in a world where no one catalogued them and didn’t keep them in an order. It would be like trying to look for a literary needle in a page turning haystack. Think about other users and learn to use the system, please.

STOP: Eating loud food in the silent area
By all means bring whatever food you like and enjoy it. I bring food to the library all the time, when you’re doing a day of work you have to! The only thing I’m saying is that don’t crack open a bag of Doritos or whack out your “healthy option” of celery sticks in the silent area. The clue is in the name and we’re all in here because we don’t want to be disturbed, so with that said and done we don’t need you marching in here crunching away on the loudest foods known to man. In an attempt to forewarn you, if you ever come and sit next to me in a silent area and start munching away on foods that sound like a frost giant cracking its knuckles, I will not hold back from smacking you around the face with it. 🙂

STOP: Sitting in aisles
This one re-he-healy bugs me. There are tables for a reason. Get up off of the floor, get the hell out of this TINY CRAMPED AILSE and sit yourself down where you should be. People sitting in the aisles make it incredibly difficult for other people to get past and find the books that they’re looking for. Common courtesy guys!

STOP: Using the library to start up pointless discussions
I’ve seen this happen a few times over my time at Uni. Someone will be walking along, notice that someone is reading a book on a certain subject and then, for some inexplicable reason, will strike up a conversation essentially quizzing the poor soul on their beliefs and views on the subject! Chances are that person didn’t want to be bothered and here you are, basically poking and prodding them in the face to try to provoke them into having a discussion, which you’ll likely turn into an argument. Go and get a coffee or something and leave strangers alone.
(I should point out that this last one has never happened to me personally, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s because people don’t want to argue about a book called “Applied Fluvial Geomorphology for River Engineering and Management”.)

Well, there you go. If you have any more that you think I should add to this little list then please leave them in comments! Happy studying guys!