Saturday, 24 May 2014

It's Show Time!

I love live entertainment; music concerts, theatre shows, stand-up comedy, festivals. Anything with performers & audience feeding off of one anothers energy. The past month has been show packed & it’s been awesome!

First my sister & I went to Birmingham to see McBusted - the combination of bands McFly & Busted! We used to go to a lot of music concerts at Birmingham NEC but it has been years since we last went so this was a fun return to one of our favourite ways to spend time together. We have seen McFly live many many times over the years, we actually first saw them as a support act for Busted in 2004 so to see them again 10 years later, all together again (well, without Charlie ‘I’m too good for you even though I’m really not that good’ Simpson from Busted) was a chance we jumped at. We really weren’t disappointed – the concert was great. High energy, happy, singing, dancing fun times! We left with hoarse voices & big smiles. I even managed to drive all the way home (with a quick stop at Bristol services for coffee) without falling asleep – result!

 Having not been to Birmingham for a concert for what feels like a lifetime, I have now been twice in as many weeks as Mike & I got last minute tickets to see another of my favourite pop acts – Katy Perry. My name is Teri-Ann & I am a KatyCat! The concert was great, filled with cool costumes, great dancers, lights & lasers. And of course – the lovely Katy Perry. Lots of her old songs, mixed with songs from her new album. I had a really good night singing along. I have to say I was grateful to share the driving with Mike though; I was much sleepier so we split the driving between us.

 As well as two concerts, we have also been to the theatre twice! First we had a weekend in London, with lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, Wahaca – great Mexican food & even better margaritas! In the evening we went to see ‘Charlie & The Chocolate Factory’ in the West End. I love the Roald Dahl story & the two film versions so I was excited to see the stage production. It was really good. The cast were great, the sets & staging were great, the music was fun & it followed the story pretty well. Last night, we went to Plymouth to meet up with Mikes parents to see ‘Evita’. With Marti Pellow as Ché & Madalena Alberto as Eva heading up the cast, it was a really great performance. Mike & I saw Evita on Broadway when we went to New York in 2012 (with Ricky Martin as Ché!) but I would say the performance we saw last night was better! I wasn’t 100% sure about Marti Pellow initially but actually he was great (but not as good as Ricky Martin, haha!) and Madelena Alberto was a fabulous Eva. Thank you to Mike's parents for taking us to see the show.

 After a busy month of shows, I am looking forward to a more chilled out June. A week in Spain should fit the bill just right!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Baking & Ice-Cream Making

Yesterday Mike went out for the day to work on his car at his parents so I was home alone. I made the most of the day, sewing, sorting through some letter writing supplies, watching a film & experimenting in the kitchen.

I recently saw an ad for Not On The High Street where one of the featured items was a beer bread mix. It looked interesting. I like beer, I like bread, surely I would like beer bread! I ordered a starter kit which comes with four mixes; Original, Garlic and Herb, Chilli and Garlic & Italian Cheese. The idea is the kit contains all the required dry ingredients, you just at 330ml of beer (or cider or soda water), mix & bake. The mixes are nicely packaged in hand-sewn calico bags & just look really appealing. I can see them making nice gifts for foodie friends.

Beer Bread mix and Innis & Gunn Rum Finish

I decided to start with the original mix & team it with a beer I really enjoy – Innis and Gunn Rum Finish. It’s a really flavourful beer, fruity, warming & spicy so I didn’t want to mix it into anything where it would overpower or be overpowered hence just going with the original mix. I dumped the mix into the bowl of my Kitchenaid, added the beer & set the mixer going on the lowest speed, just long enough to make sure all the dry ingredients were fully incorporated. The dough was then scraped into a lightly greased loaf tin, ground salt & pepper on top & into the preheated oven it went for 45 minutes.

Ready for the oven

Oh my, the smells coming out of that oven! When the bread came out it took all the restraint I had not to just tear into it, smother it in butter & eat it there & then. As it was, I did manage to restrain myself & instead took it with me when I went to join Mike at his parents in the evening for dinner. The bread had a good crust & a really enticing scent as I cut into it. The taste of the beer was certainly there, though if you were not a fan of beer you wouldn’t have been put off. I was really pleased - it was all around lovely!

Fresh from the oven & smelling fantastic

Not only did I make bread yesterday I also had a go at making ice-cream. I have been lusting after an ice-cream machine for some time so a couple of weeks ago I bought one! I haven’t gone overboard on the machine – it is from the lower end of the price options but I thought for a first machine it would do the job. I really want to experiment with dairy free, vegan ice-creams so that was my plan yesterday. I followed a recipe from ‘The Vegan Scoop’, a book filled with wonderful sounding dairy free ice-creams, for a coconut milk ice-cream. 

All I needed for lots of yummy ice-cream

The recipe was simple enough & the churning went well. After 30 minutes in the machine I had a passible coconut ice-cream! I separated off half of the ice-cream & stirred some chocolate chips through by hand, popped it into a cute cardboard ice-cream tub & into the freezer. The remaining half I decided to go a bit avant-garde & mixed in 2 tablespoons of Hot & Spicy Mango Chutney. I am always drawn to sweet-savoury treats & love chilli in chocolate so I was fairly confident I would like this combo. I was right – I really like it! It’s probably not to everyone’s taste but I didn’t make it for everyone, I made it for me!

Coconut Choc Chip and Coconut Hot & Spicy Mango

I took the fruits of my kitchen experiments with me for dinner at Mikes parents house. The bread was lovely alongside the ‘clear the fridge’ dinner Mike’s dad had prepared & the Coconut Choc Chip ice-cream was lovely with the gooey chocolate pudding that I must admit came from the supermarket! Even my spicy experiment received good reviews & was likened to something you might get in a top flight restaurant; a savoury ice-cream that might surprisingly accompany a main dish. I’d be just as happy to have a scoop of it in a waffle cone!