Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

 

 

 

Where did Christmas go? One minute I was shopping like there was no tomorrow in anticipation for the big day and now it’s NYE! Mr. D and I have had an awesome Christmas break. We’ve just been chilling, eating, drinking (perhaps a bit too much!) watching movies, snuggling, sleeping til whenever we want, waking up whenever we want and generally hiding away from the rest of the world – and we’ve loved it! And yes, I have written a few blog posts in that time. I’m thrilled that I took the initiative to book a few extra days off work so I don’t have to return straight after New Year’s Day. Yay me! Although talking of work, I don’t mind having to return and catch up with my colleagues and students again.  I wonder what awaits us this term…

I’m getting a little emotional realising that this is going to be my last blog post of 2013. I started this blog six months ago and I have had an absolute blast. I promised that Mrs. D’s house would be full of fun – and I think I might have been right!

It took several attempts to get Chez Mrs. D just right. I realised that the blog host was not right for me and I tried about a million times to get the style and design right. Once I’d done that I just had to wait for inspiration for writing my blog posts. Well I didn’t have to wait for very long because there was inspiration EVERYWHERE! If I’d managed to write all the posts I’d wanted to this year, I’d have had to give up my job!

I really enjoy writing for Chez Mrs. D. because it’s such a versatile blog and I can write about absolutely anything. What’s awesome is that there are many of you out there who seem to like Chez Mrs. D and appreciate the effort I put into each blog post. So a big thank you to everyone who has followed, liked or commented on this blog. It’s you guys who make it worthwhile.

Happy new year everyone. See you in 2014! xx

 

 

 

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Malten Lava Chocolate Soup

 

I stumbled across this recipe for a dessert called hot chocolate soup which sounds like a cross between the hot chocolate drink and a chocolate fondant pudding. And apparently if you leave this in the oven for long enough, it will become a fondant pudding. It’s an unusual dessert and I wanted to give it a go but unfortunately don’t have a couple of the ingredients (and I’m too lazy to nip out to the shop across the road) so I’ll try this out tomorrow.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try and create this little piece of molten chocolate magic!

Malten Lava Chocolate Soup

SERVES :6

PREP: 15 MINS

COOK: 15 MINS

INGREDIENTS:

50g butter

50g milk chocolate, broken into squares

25g dark chocolate. broken into squares

50g Maltesers, crushed

40g cocoa

2tbsp golden syrup

2 large eggs, separated

100g golden caster sugar

1 tub of clotted cream

METHOD:

1 Heat oven to 150C, Gas 2. Melt butter and chocolates in a small pan over a low heat.

2 Remove from the heat, stir in the cocoa, honey and egg yolks and 3tbsp clotted cream to make a paste.

3 Whisk the egg whites until stiff, gradually whisk in the sugar.

4 Fold the egg whites and sugar into the chocolate paste.

5 Divide amongst 6 heatproof cups or ramekins. Put on a tray and bake for 10 mins just until a thin crust forms on the top, but underneath is still runny.

6 Top each one with a small scoop of clotted cream. Serve straight away!

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Merry Christmas!

 

It’s my favourite holiday of the year so I would like to wish each and everyone of you a very merry Christmas. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who follows, reads, comments on and likes this blog. It’s a pleasure to put together but sometimes it can be hard work. And I’m thrilled that my efforts are appreciated.

Have a great Christmas – and go easy on the Christmas pudding! xx

 

How Cool Is That! Make Your Own Ice Ice-Bucket!

 

It’s Christmas; time for eating drinking and being very, very merry! Socialising is one of the best things about the festive season, and I love having a full house.

Of course, along with drinks comes the need to keep them cool. I found this method for making a beautiful ice- bucket using a plastic bottle and water! You can decorate it however you like using a range of materials. The end result is stunning – and costs virtually tuppence!

 

You Will Need:

Empty 2ltr plastic bottle

Empty 1ltr glass bottle

Water

Decorative materials for ice-bucket e.g:

flowers

leaves

fruit slices

petals

sprigs of herbs

berries

food colouring etc.

METHOD:

  1. Cut the top off empty plastic bottle.
  2. Place glass bottle inside.
  3. Fill two-thirds of bottle with water.
  4. Push decorative materials around the sides (or add food colouring. Do not stir if you want a marbled effect.)
  5. Stand the bottle in the freezer for 4-5 hours until frozen.
  6. When ready to use, run glass bottle quickly under a hot tap so that it slides off.
  7. Place hand-crafted, highly original ice-bucket on the table along with drinks and mixers.
  8. Wait for admiring comments!

TOP TIPS:

  • Use boiled, slightly cooled water for a crystal clear finish.

 

  • You can also apply the method to making ice-bowls to serve ice-cream (place a smaller bowl inside a large one) or make shot glasses.

 

Cinnamon Island: A Taste Of The Exotic

 

Mr. D and I were very lucky to spend the weekend with Mr. D’s uncle who had flown over on business. Eager to show him some of this fantastic country, we took a trip to Dover – a place I hadn’t been to since childhood. As expected, it was a huge hit with Uncle P. but the problems began when we were looking for somewhere to have dinner before hitting the road. Maybe we were just unlucky but it seemed as though Dover is full of recently shut-down restaurants! Plenty of take-away places but nowhere for a proper sit-down meal.

And then we stumbled across Cinnamon Island, a restaurant which specialises in cuisine from the Indian subcontinent. The honest truth was that I was desperate for a tiramisu and a hot chocolate so Italian was my preferred choice that night but we weren’t having a great deal of luck with restaurants. In any case, Cinnamon island didn’t look too bad from the outside so we went in.

So glad we did…

LOCATION: Cinnamon Island is situated in the heart of Dover in a Grade II listed building, not far from the cliffs, pier, Dover Castle and Dover Museum.

INTERIOR: Spread over two floors, the first thing that hits you is the striking décor. Tastefully decorated in a hot, spicy combination of colours including red, mustard and gold, it sounds horribly clashing and could have been very overwhelming and in your face but it actually works. Far from feeling like you’re in an Indian restaurant, you feel as though you’re sat in someone’s home – a sentiment shared by both Mr. D and Uncle P which proves that the overall atmosphere is cosy, intimate and inviting. The two dining areas are not massive but unlike some places where they try to cram in as many tables as possible, they tables are adequately spaced out so diners don’t feel hemmed in.

 

SERVICE: From the moment we set foot in the house, I mean restaurant, we were greeted by friendly staff and made to feel very welcome. We were the first people there that evening so we were able to sit wherever we wished. We ordered poppadums and condiments, and staff were very helpful in explaining what each of the little dishes contained: sweet and spicy tamarind sauce; yogurt with mint; chopped salad; lime pickle; mango chutney and Cinnamon Island’s very own sweet red sauce whose ingredients are a closely guarded secret!

As the menu was quite extensive and the dishes all sounded quite delicious, we couldn’t make up our minds and really took our time deciding. If the waiting staff were annoyed by this, they didn’t show. We didn’t have to wait too long for our food which was a good job as we were famished! Any requests we had were catered for and we were looked after very well. After our meal, we were served with cut orange slices, little glasses of cream liqueurs and After Eight mints. A delightful and unique touch.

FOOD:

Starters

3 plain poppadums

3 spicy poppadoms

condiments

Mains:

Lamb balti with plain white rice (Mr. D.)

Tandoori salmon served on a bed of spiced potatoes with a side order of  mushroom and garlic rice (me)

Flambed salmon bhaja with lemon and ginger rice (Uncle P. )

Garlic and cheese naan bread

Cheese and coriander naan bread

Drinks:

Salty lassi (Uncle P.)

Sweet lassi (Mr. D.)

Mango lassi (me)

After mains:

Calypso coffee (me)

Regular coffee (Uncle P.)

I was torn between the salmon dish and the lamb biryani but eventually chose the tandoori salmon because it sounded unsual and I felt I was unlikely to sample that dish in most other Indian restaurants. Uncle P. chose the highly inventive salmon flambé and we couldn’t wait to check that out.

Our lassis were delicious but I was surprised at how pale my mango one was as when I have ordered it in other restaurants, it had always been a deep orangey-gold colour. It was however, still very tasty but I think I preferred Mr. D’s sweet lassi – something I have never tried before.

On the whole, the food was delicious. Mr. D. loved the lamb balti although it may have needed to be slightly milder for him (he’s still getting used to spicy food!) However,  Uncle P. and I were a little disappointed that our salmon was extremely dry due to it being overcooked. However the flavours were all there so we were still able to eat it – we just wished that it had been a little more moist. I also think that my tandoori salmon needed to come with a separate quantity of sauce as the salmon along with the potatoes needed it to break down the dry texture.

The naan breads were cooked to perfection and we loved our rice dishes which were full of flavour and tasted as delightful as they looked. Our only complaint there was that the quantities of rice were far too small – although the portions of the rest of the food were just right. The food was very neatly presented but I commented to Mr. D. that I didn’t think that Gordon Ramsay would have been too impressed with the abundance of cut vegetables used in the presentation of the dishes which could have come straight out of the 1980s ( we know from being avid Masterchef fans that Gordon is not a fan of such methods) but it added to the kitsch vibe that Cinnamon Island has going on and there was something strangely comforting in seeing that presented on a plate.

 

We had just enough room for dessert which is mine and Uncle P’s favourite course so we took a look at the dessert menu. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a great deal of variety as far as desserts were concerned as the majority of the sweets on offer tended to be ice-cream or sorbets which we didn’t fancy. I understand that most people will be too full but dessert lovers like me would still want something to satisfy the cravings of their sweet-tooth. Exotic fruit salad (not your bog-standard apples, oranges and bananas) or bananas cooked in spiced coconut milk would have been light enough and delish enough to have gone down a treat. Cinnamon Island prides themselves on the fusion elements of their cuisine. Perhaps an eastern twist on a classic panna cotta containing cardamom and served with mango would have won me over… We may not have ordered dessert but  I absolutely loved my calypso coffee which contained just the right amount of rum.

Despite minor problems, we were not at all disappointed with the food. Many Indian restaurants we have frequented have served up food that was too salty; way too spicy to be palatable, and saturated in oil. I am thrilled to say this was not the case at Cinnamon Island. The food was delicately flavoured with just the right amount of spices, seasoning and herbs. Definitely one of the more healthier menus I’ve encountered in a restaurant.

PRICE:

Actually very reasonable and a lot lower than we expected. As we were happy with the food (for the most part!) and extremely happy with the service, we thought it was well worth the money.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE:

I don’t know how soon or how often we’ll go to Dover but if we do, we’ll most definitely be paying a visit to Cinnamon Island. We don’t have to think twice about that. Friendly staff; great food; and fantastic ambience… what’s not to like? From the moment we set foot in Cinnamon island we knew that we were in for a dining experience like no other – and we were right! Other diners who arrived after us seemed equally happy and judging by part of a conversation that I overheard, it appears that one set of diners were regulars. If Cinnamon Island was closer to London, we would be happy regulars too! However, I would advise the waiting staff to issue a word of warner to diners at the table to keep back a little – the flames just whooshed up in front of us and Mr. D and I very nearly went home without our eyebrows!

HIGH POINTS:

  • Helpful and friendly service with a smile!
  • Clean interior with elegant décor.
  • Enough space to move around without bumping into other diners.
  • Delicious well-spiced, well seasoned food with no ‘nasties’ (i.e.- huge amounts of fat, oil, salt etc.)
  • Good size portions.
  • Wonderful ambience.
  • Didn’t have to wait long for the food.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Good choice of drinks.
  • Liqueur coffee was to die for!
  • Unique special touches (i.e.- serving cut fruit and liqueurs at the end of the meal)

LOW POINTS:

  • Salmon was overcooked and dry.
  • Need more variety for the dessert menu.
  • We needed to be warned to lean back a little when salmon was being flambéed.
  • Would have liked the portions of rice to be a little bigger as it was extremely tasty.

Cinnamon Island Dover

1 Cambridge Terrace

Dover, Kent

CT16 1JT

Tel. 01304 241688 / 240185

Mobile: 07894 523142

Open everyday including bank holidays

Lunch 12 noon – 2.30pm

Evening 5PM – 11.30PM

 

Sparkling Pomegranate Fizz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party over at mine!

 

SPARKLING POMEGRANATE FIZZ

Prep time: 5 mins

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

500ml pomegranate juice

150ml gin

200ml sparkling wine

2 pomegranates

12 red rose petals

Method:

  1. Cut the pomegranates in half.
  2. Hold above a plate with the cut side down and tap with a wooden spoon to release the seeds.
  3. Mix together the pomegranate juice, gin, and wine in a jug until well combined.
  4. Pour between 6 glasses.
  5. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and rose petals.
  6. Enjoy!

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Put The Public Back Into Public Transport

 

You’d think by now I’d be used to people’s shenanigans when they step on board a bus or train. You think I’d be used to people’s selfish, inconsiderate, me-me-me behaviour. But every day, I see yet another display of absolutely appalling behaviour which sadly is now considered the norm. I very rarely hear people complaining so I believe that either I’m the only one who’s noticed or I’m the only one who’s seriously annoyed by this.

I think the problem is that people are intent on making themselves more comfy than they need to be at the expense of other commuters. It’s almost a case of ‘Goodness! Am I sharing this vehicle with other people? I thought it was just for me!” They seem totally oblivious to the fact that it’s called public transport for a reason. Yes, having to use public transport can be a bit of  a nightmare at the best of times and naturally every one wants to get comfortable especially if they have a long commute but some people are making things worse than it needs to be with their bad behaviour. They feel that because they’ve paid the grand sum of £2.40 that that gives them the right to make themselves at home. Er, it doesn’t.

Here is a list of some of the worst offenders:

1. Everyone on the top deck must hear my phone conversation.

 

“So I said to her, yeah, ‘You been messing about with my man?’ and she said, yeah, ‘he ain’t your f***ing man, he’s mine.’ So I went yeah, ‘Come say that to my face, you b***h, I’ll f*** you up big time. And she goes…

Almost simultaneously you can hear: “Listen, you’re not getting another penny out of me, you evil cow. I’ve paid for Jonny’s trainers plus for his school trip to the farm. You could have at least forked out a tenner. You’re determined to ruin me…”

The only thing being ruined are my poor, assaulted eardrums. I realise that there will always be a few nosey parkers who feel that knowing the real-life ins and outs of other people’s affairs is more entertaining than an episode of Eastenders but quite frankly most of us could do without the in-flight entertainment, especially after a long day. Either these loudmouths love the attention or they seem to forget that they are not in the privacy of their own home.

2. You just have to know what kind of music I’m into.

 

Thanks to the invention of mobile phones, iPods and MP3 players, we can now have music wherever and whenever we want. But  the reason why people use earphones is so that they – and they alone- will know what it is they’re listening too. But some people have to have their music on so loud, I really don’t know why they bother with earphones. And then of course there are the ones who don’t even bother with earphones and are very kindly willing to ‘share’ their  music with passenger on both upper and lower decks. And don’t get me started on those who think that Simon Cowell may actually be on the same vehicle as them and start ‘auditioning’. Lord help us all…

3. Enjoy the aroma of my not- so- sweetly- scented food.

 

I totally understand that sometimes people have to eat while they’re on the go. But is it really necessary to chomp on food that’s just a little bit, shall we say, over pungent to the point where it makes the rest of us want to gag? A friend of mine was actually very direct with someone who was eating a kebab on a packed bus:

“Admittedly I was a bit drunk,” confessed Friend, “but I couldn’t stand the smell any more, so I was like, ‘Mate that stinks. Do you think you could put that away?’

Yep, it was put away. Well done Friend! If only we were all brave enough.

4. I’m looking for free childcare.

 

I love kids as much as the next person. But just as I’ve hauled myself onto public transport first thing in the morning before I’ve had a coffee or after a long hard day before I’ve had a Malibu and pineapple, I really don’t want to be drawn into games of peek-a-boo or pick-up-my-shoe-as-I-throw-it-over-to-you. Neither do I want a stranger’s child clambering all over me, trying to knock the book I’m trying to read out of my hand, or playing with my bag. While Mum (or Dad) is totally oblivious to the situation either gazing out of the window, yapping to whoever they’re with or on the phone… or reading a book of their own.

And we’re all well aware that kids run around and individually make more noise than a crowd at a football match but it really wouldn’t hurt parents to tell them to settle down and not to create obstructions on the stairs or in the aisles and certainly not to kick the seat of the person sitting in front of them. After all this isn’t their home!

5. I have to have a minimum of two seats for myself.

 

I cannot begin to tell you how much this makes me want to punch somebody (of course I never would!) It is the biggest display of selfishness, arrogance and how people never think about anyone other than themselves. By now you’ll all know how much it bugs me to see passengers who think it’s necessary for their bag to have a seat all to themselves – as though their bag has paid for the privilege while other passengers have to stand. I’ve even seen passengers come looking for a seat and Mr. or Mrs. Bag-Owner ensures that their beloved bag stays put. Although now it’s not just bags – I have seen passengers sit between two seats so that they have two all to themselves. It’s like “Hello! Can you not see where the seat begins and ends. Do you seriously think the line is there for you to rest your crack on?”

But I have to officially congratulate the passenger who reached new heights. Last week a man hogged a record-breaking three, that’s right, three seats to himself: one for his bum, another for his bag and a third for his feet. Then he fell asleep and couldn’t hear the passenger who ever-so politely tried to ask him to remove his bag. If only I could make myself as cosy and comfy!

6. The bus driver is here for us to take out our frustrations on.

 

As someone who has spent years working with the general public, it annoys the hell out of me (and that’s putting it super mildly) when I see passengers be unnecessarily rude to bus drivers. Some of them actually think that the driver is their personal chauffer who will pick them up and drop them off wherever they want. I know travel fare is expensive but believe it or not you still have to pay a little more if you want your own driver. And furthermore, the driver is not responsible for traffic jams, delays or other equally ignorant passengers, so don’t take it out on the driver, who has a hard enough job as it is.

7. Is that a seat in front of me? I thought it was a footrest!

 

In a bid to get even more comfy, passengers are now using available seats in front of them as somewhere to rest their tired and weary feet. It’s now reached the point where drivers are making announcements asking passengers who are putting their feet up on seats to kindly remove them.

Are these people five? Is it really necessary to tell them that seats are to park your bum not your feet?

8. No littering the streets… but it’s OK to make the bus a complete mess.

 

People are beginning to understand that dropping litter on the streets is wrong. But they seem to think it’s fine to litter the bus until it resembles the inside of a dumpster. It used to be crisp packets and coke cans but now litter bugs have upped their game and added half eaten burgers; take away cartons and apple cores to the floors and seats of public transport. It’s such a mess that there are areas where no one will sit. And who do litter louts think will pick up after them? I’m sure ‘free maid’ is not one of the conditions of their travel card purchase.

9. Lean on me. When you’re not strong…

 

I consider myself to be a very mild-mannered person. So mild mannered in fact, that when the passenger beside me sat so close to me that he practically took up half my seat and was leaning against me so much that he had me pressed against the glass, I told myself that he probably didn’t realise. That’s right – he probably didn’t realise that he wasn’t just sitting next to me but he was sitting on me! I mean I’m so small, he probably didn’t even realise I was there. he obviously couldn’t feel that he was in such close contact with me… “EXCUSE ME!” I shrieked as I shoved him really hard and made my way to another seat. I was done making excuses for him. This was a man who clearly didn’t understand the concept of boundaries. And would you believe it, the same episode happened on another occasion – with the same idiot!

In fact just last week, a female passenger excused herself to the person she was speaking to on the phone to yell at the woman sitting beside her who was taking up more than her fair share of the seating area.

“What’s your problem?” snarled angry-lady-who’d-just-got-off-the-phone, “Your seat begins here and ends there. This is where my seat begins…”

I can’t people today are so stupid you have to show them how to sit.

10. The wheelchair access area is for wheelchair users? Really? No one told me that!

 

This one really makes me question people’s intelligence (or lack of) more than I already do. The wheelchair access are on buses is exactly what it says on the tin – an area for wheelchair users. When there are no wheelchairs, it can be used for prams, strollers, trollies, luggage etc. But as soon as a wheelchair user wants to use it, you have to clear the space. Simple, right?

Wrong!

Despite repeated announcements from the driver to clear the wheelchair access area as there is a passenger waiting to use it, the person whose belongings are hogging up the space has suddenly lost their sense of hearing. In fact they seem to have developed amnesia as well because when other passengers tell them to clear the space, they look completely baffled as though they can’t ever remember leaving anything in the wheelchair access area. In the end, the wheelchair user gets so fed up they tell (‘tells’ putting it mildly) just to move on.

Just a few weeks ago, I saw an extremely lazy woman act as though it was such a mission to remove her pram from the area and let a wheelchair user on. So she stayed on the bus despite the bus driver getting a right ear-bashing – only to get off two stops later. selfish and inconsiderate don’t even come close!

But of course, most of the above happen if you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, you’d have to witness mindless acts of violence or theft. Who can forget the videos we’ve seen of passengers who think nothing of hurling racist abuse at other people. And today, we ‘ve been confronted with images of a young lady being viciously kicked in the stomach. It’s easy to suggest that people complain but these days you really take your life in your hands if you dare to open your mouth – even if you’re in the right.

All of the above indicates that many ‘people’ (if you can call them that) now see it as their right to behave however they wish, wherever they are. People just don’t realise that if you’re decent, there’s a code of conduct when you’re out and about in public. If you don’t give a damn about other people, maybe you’re better off staying at home – it might be the best place for you.

 

 

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