Monday, 26 October 2015

Creamy Chicken Chowder

A note from Joelle... 
Okay, I lied, it's not really a chowder. It's more like a creamy stew, full of hearty veg and delicious flavour (I just like an alliteration!).


If you read THIS post, all about eating well on a student's budget, you'll know that I'm a big fan of making stews/casseroles, because:
A) They are bloomin' delicious
B) Are relatively cheap to make
C) Don't require any fancy cooking skills whatsoever!

It not the most Instagrammable of dishes, but it's too tasty and rich to pass up. Perfect for frosty autumn evenings.

You will need:

4-6 Chicken thighs/drumsticks

1 pound thinly sliced Mushrooms (I use button, but any kind is fine)
1 Broccoli (I often use a whole one and chop in into rough pieces)
3 big White Potatoes (diced) - could also work with sweet potatoes or even rice if you prefer
75ml Double cream
1 tbsp grainy mustard (the secret ingredient, shhhhhh!)
Splash of white wine
1/2 cup Chicken stock
2 Onions (one spring, one white)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
4 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Olive Oil


Method:
1. Let the butter melt in a strong casserole dish and add the oil and the chicken pieces
2. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and allow the chicken to brown on both sides
3. Take the (still uncooked) chicken out once fully brown 
4. Add the mushrooms, garlic, onion into the dish and stir, making sure the garlic doesn't burn
5. Pour in the wine and let it reduce a bit before adding the cream, mustard and any other herbs you want (rosemary, thyme and a hint of chilli powder go quite well here)
6. Add the chicken back in and make all the pieces get coated in the lovely sauce.
7.Add the chicken stock and stir
8. Add the potatoes and broccoli at this stage and season more with a bit of salt and pepper
9. Pop the lid on and let your marvellous creation bubble away for at least 15 mins.
10. When the potatoes are soft, season one last thyme (see what I did there) and then serve it up!

Ooooh, this is making me hungry again. I'll be making this again very soon.
Season's eatings!
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Saturday, 24 October 2015

CTRL

A note from Joelle... 
'CTRL' by Joelle A. Owusu
computer, laptop, and programming image
source
I like the way the school bell
Rings without a chime.
Like me, it does its own thing.
I choose to talk in rhyme.
The hallways are so busy,
But white noise is my friend.
It shields me from their callous larks.
On it I can depend.
Like shadows, I’m here, but not really.
I doubt you'll know my name.
But like shadows, I’m with you forever.
Do you like your unknown fame?
The name’s Jay, in case you wondered.
I could be a girl or boy.
I’ve got things to do, so i'll leave that you you,
While I work on my next ploy.
Indoors, they say I’m “nice”.
Vanilla, plain and beige.
Outdoors, I’m rather different,
When I'm let out of my cage.
So in a way, it’s your own fault.
You made me who I am.
Side-eyes, rolled-eyes and sniggers.
Your sacrificial lamb.
I was synonymous with anonymous.
A big mouth without a voice.
But you know of me now, don’t you?
You didn’t have a choice.
It’s scary that a smile can hide
The little remorse you showed.
You did your best to phase me out.
Now, I’ll break you with my code.
You won’t believe my savvy skills
with the “DEL”, “PRTSC” and “ALT”.
I could leak all of your stupid files
And you’d think it’s your fault.
My code took me a lifetime.
In my world, that’s a week.
It took so long, but I’m virtually strong.
Your stuff I’m gonna leak.
Holy shit, this is a goldmine!
I now CTRL your world.
I try to forget that I bet you regret
Verbal venom that you hurled.
My finger is on the ENTER,
Eyes glued upon the screen.
Are you ready for the world to swallow you whole?
I don’t care that you’re fifteen.
Daddy X can’t block my sly attacks
With mystic walls of fire.
It’s cute that he cares, but I’ll leak if he dares.
Surely this fame is what you desire?
In my head, this makes perfect sense.
Are you scared of the dark?
‘Cause you did your best to shut me out.
But you'll never put out my spark.
You tried to take me under.
Bury and make me bleed.
But you forgot one special thing:
You can’t, ‘cause I’m a seed.
Seeds are small and live in dirt.
Damp and sunlight makes them grow.
I guess you can say that I’m drowning in rays
And I’m aiding friend and foe.
I may have changed my CAPS LOCK mind.
Can monsters have a heart?
I don’t know, but I know this has to END.
It’s time for an F5 start.
I had the power to end you,
But like you said, I’m “nice”.
I’ve let you ESC this time around,
But please take my advice:
I had to learn the hard way that
You can’t BACKSPACE in life.
To NUM the pain, just SHIFT the blame.
Don’t let your F8 run a-rife. 

FN.

Thanks for reading! I'd love to know what your thoughts are towards this piece. 
See you next week for another Poetry Corner session! :)

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Friday, 16 October 2015

The Girl Who Isn't Me

A note from Joelle... 
The Girl Who Isn’t Me
By Joelle A. Owusu
Does she notice the four sugars,
You sneak into your tea?
What’s she like, this girl?
The girl who isn’t me?

She hasn’t even realised,
The weird dent on your knee.
Who even is this girl?
The girl who isn’t me.

It’s been more than a fortnight,
Since you made me leave my key.
Did you give it to the girl?
The girl who isn’t me?

She’s thinner, smart and cooler.
No one can disagree.
But can you learn to love,
A girl who isn’t me?

Your clothes are where you left them,
in piles on the settee.
That girl calls it a ‘sofa’.
The girl who isn’t me.

Fuck this, I’m getting wasted.
One shot turns into three.
I’m tempted to drunk text her.
The girl who should be me.

It’s not like I’ve been stalking
Your profiles frantically.
I just can’t believe you’re seeing
A girl who isn’t me.

Does she put up with your mood swings?
When you’re loathing your degree?
How can you stand to be with?
A girl who isn’t me?

Just answer this one question:
What do you really see?
In that wretched girl you’re dating?
That girl who isn’t me?

I must be going crazy.
Who still writes poetry?
I bet your girlfriend hates it.
The girl who isn’t me.

I’m keeping your new console,
And your comfy blue hoodie.
That’s what you get for kissing
A girl who isn’t me.

Maybe I’m just jealous?
I think it’s clear to see.
You clearly love your girl,
Your girl who isn’t me.

You told me all your secrets,
Under that big oak tree.
Can you trust this girl?
This girl who isn’t me.

You can’t, that’s why you grab her.
Silence her every plea.
You laugh and call her stupid.
That’s what you did to me.

I must have dodged a bullet.
I know I’ve been set free.
I hope she breaks your heart.
The girl who isn’t me.

I cannot be the girl,
The girl I used to be.
I guess that’s why you’re now with
A girl who isn’t me.

I see this as a blessing,
It surely has to be.
You’re now stuck with a girl,
A girl who isn’t me.

Your days, my friend, are numbered.
You listening to me?
‘Cause I still know your secrets.
And they’re not safe with me.

The cuts, the bumps and bruises,
I claimed I could not see.
Does your girl have them too?
The girl who isn’t me?

I’ll do my best to save her.
She’s too naïve to see,
that you can’t control your temper,
with a girl who isn’t me.

I wear these scars like war paint,
For all the world to see.
They show how hard I fought,
For that girl and for me.

I did my best to save her.
I tried to help her flee.
But you damaged, hurt and ruined
the girl who’s now like me.

The creaking of your window.
How cold your house must be?
You’ll always have to live with,
the girl who once was me.

I hope this poem haunts you.
I’ll never say sorry.
That girl you called a weakling?
That girl just isn’t me.

I hope you enjoyed my little piece of poetry. 
Feel free to interpret this in any way you like. It's been really interesting hearing so many different versions!
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Monday, 12 October 2015

10 Ways To Eat Healthily On A Student Budget

A note from Joelle... 

♫♪'Chiquitita' - ABBA ♫♪

When I set off for uni 4 years ago, I thought I'd be super healthy, living off salads and drinking green juice out of those hipster milk bottles. 
Alas, it wasn't to be and Instead I gradually gained two stone in the first year almost overnight. 
I honestly had idea how it happened. I went to regular fitness classes, but still managed to pile on the lbs. That's when I realised that it was my diet and reckless spending - they went hand-in-hand.
These days, I spend about £20-25 on shopping and make that last for roughly 15 days (I know, that sounds impossible, but it's not!)
Now I'm in my final year (and am 3 stone lighter!), I want to share with you some radical changes I made with my eating habits:

1. PLAN YOUR MEALS - Take 5-10 minutes every week to plan your meals (ingredients/method/utensils). This means you know what you'll need to buy the next time you go shopping and are less likely to go waste time (and money) cruising down every aisle. 

2. SHOP BEFORE CLOSING TIME - I've found that a lot of the fresh food like fruit, veg, bread and cooked meat is heavily discounted around 1 hour - 30 mins before supermarkets close. They don't want food waste, so they often relabel them and sell them for a fraction of the price. You can get a bag of roast chicken drumsticks reduces from £2 to 50p and a loaf of crusty bread from £1.70 to 40p. #bargain

3. INSTAGRAM INSPIRATION - I know, it's cringe, but I found searching tags like "#eatclean", "#veggie", and "#healthyfood" are really useful for finding easy recipes.
Also following healthy foodies like Deliciously Ella, The Body Coach, Lena Haas, Nutrition Stripped, Naturally Meghan, Soy Division, Superfood Siobhan, Flourishing Healthis great because they share their beautiful, healthy recipes for free on their sites/blogs! Some of them are influential fitness/diet experts, so you know you can take their word for it.

4. HOST A SUPERCLUB - I loooooooove doing this! 
You and your mates can take it in turn to host a casual dinner party. Everyone brings a homemade dish/pudding and a drink. There's nothing better than eating food and good company, right?
This way, you'll get to sample good you've probably never tried before, swap recipes and just have a merry time.
If you want to take it a step further, you can even host your own 'Come Dine With Me'. Rotate around your friend's flats every week and rate each others cooking skills (not too harshly!). That's basically a free meal every week...

5. LEAVE YOUR CARD AT HOME - This sounds bonkers, but when you leave your credit/debit card at home and take cash, you're less likely to overspend and buy stuff that's not on your list. This stuff includes last minute chocolate, sweets and magazines that are stocked by the tills on purpose.

6. FREEZE YOUR FRUIT AND VEG - On average, how much food and money do you waste throwing wilted veg out because you didn't use it in time. Well, a good way to make fresh produce last longer is to chop it up and freeze it before the use-by date. This way, you have at least another month to use it up.
Buying frozen fruit like frozen mango and mixed summer berries can often work out cheaper than fresh fruit. Plus they are great in smoothies and keep them chilled without watering it down.

7. MEAT-FREE MONDAYS - This has honestly revolutionised my attitudes towards vegan and veggie foods. I am a full-carnivore, but taking one day out of the week to experiment with fruit/veg/pulses and other sources of protein has done me wonders.
I am now cooking with more fish and seafood, as well as pulses and tofu, which I thought I'd hate. 

8. COOK IN BULK - We are all busy and often opt for the ready-meal/oven food, because standing over a stove can be tiresome and dull. But how about cooking meals in bulk on a Sunday, storing meals in cute tupperware and them not having to cook for a whole week?
This works really well during exam season. You're still eating a healthy, hearty meal, but without the daily kitchen aggro.

9. SLOW COOKING - This goes hand-in-hand with tip no. 8 because you can easily get 3-5 meals out of this... Introducing the slooooooooooooooow cooker!
This thing is bloody brilliant. 
Just chop up your veg/meat, pour in water/stock/herbs and let the slow cooker do its thang.
Go away for a few hours and when you come back, you'll have a perfect stew/casserole that your Grandma would be proud of. 
Even though you did absolutely nothing, feel free to take all the credit.

10. BYO - "Bring Your Own". I do this all the time at uni and it's saved me so much money! Not only do I bring my own flask to the uni cafes (this is also creating less paper cup litter), I often bring my own tea bag (Twinings Lemon & Ginger, is my favourite). 
This means, I'm only paying for hot water and nothing else. I also get double the amount of tea because my flask is bigger than the average paper cup.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found some new ways to save money and eat well for less! Let me know if you do anything I haven't mentioned. I'd love to try new ideas. :)
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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

THE "F" WORD

A note from Joelle... 

♫♪'New Soul' - Yael Naim ♫♪

When people think of the "F" word, it's usually "fuck" or even "feminism". Fair enough.
But in my opinion, there's one other "F" word that trumps all the others.
I'm going to let you into a little secret here... there's only one thing that has ever really scared me. 
I could face clowns, dentists and maths exams, but this? Naaaah, forget it.
No joke, this word once crippled me with fear. 
So much so, that I stopped doing things I loved and taking part in my favourite activities. 
For a time, it stopped me from being aspirational and optimistic. It stopped me from trying, yet alone trying my best.
Failure.
I can't even define it, but I consciously gave it the power to almost wreck me.
What even is it?
Not getting what I want? Not achieving a certain grade? Not being where I thought I'd be in life? Being rejected? Being humiliated?
It's different for different people.
The "F" Word
This year, I failed at a lot of things. Personally, creatively and academically, I straight-out flatlined.
For a while, it really got me down, because obviously, I felt like shit. I came to achieve something and didn't follow through.
But guess what? It was the best thing that has ever happened to me...

Rejection and failure was the reality check that I needed. 
As a former overachiever and perfectionist, I managed to just cruise through life, doing things my way. It made me somewhat complacent and made me work a little less harder than I should have. Furthermore, it made me lose sight of my real dreams. Wanting to go everything well was too vague, but I thought I could do it. Hahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaa. Ha.
"You pass failure on the way to success."

For me, failure takes me one step further to success. That's one step closer to someone really believing in me and what I'm about.

Understand what went wrong > pick yourself up > start again.

Failure has made me re-evaluate a lot of things and make some changes. I used to be so afraid of change, but how else are we meant to grow? 

What would this world be if Thomas Edison gave up on trying to make a light bulb? Blogging by candlelight would get annoying after a day, right?
It took him over 1000 attempts. ONE THOOOOOOUSAND!
He failed a ridiculous amount of times, but he knew he was one step closer to making a working prototype and changing the world forever.
And anyway, did he really fail? Or did he just find 1000 ways how not to make a lightbulb? #ThoughtOfTheDay.

What would this world be if J.K. Rowling accepted defeat after multiple failures before and during writing the first Harry Potter book?
She was a depressed, suicidal, single mother living in dire poverty, getting by on benefits during her early writing days.
Even after completing the first book and getting an agent, it was rejected by TWELVE publishers. Can you believe that? And if things weren't peak enough, she was then told to get a day job because she probably wouldn't make any money writing children's books.
I don't need to explain how she ended up, we all know what an icon she is now!

For me, failure isn't the important thing. Yeah, it sucks, but  what's important is what you do after you've failed. Will you stay angry, bitter and upset? Or will you get up, make changes and try again?

What's the plan?

1. Set smaller clearer goals - my goals were too hazy and confusing. I knew I wanted to achieve a lot of things, but ended up being a jack of all trades, master of none. My dreams will never get smaller, they will get clearer!

2. Ask for more help - I've always been one to hide my work when a teacher/higher authority comes around, and that didn't help anyone. These days, I'm constantly emailing and turning up at their office door (not in a weird stalker way, promise) in order for them to check my progress and give me advice. Asking for help doesn't mean you're stupid or weak. It shows humility and a keenness to grow.

3. Reward myself - One of my issues was productivity. Social media and Netflix were the key culprits, but now I have a system. I have to complete three things from my list before I can take my phone off silent and go on social media. I allow myself 1 hour of TV/Youtube only after I have completed half of my work.
It sounds bizarre, but I've taught myself discipline and self-control.

4. Talk to the Lord - The most important one for me and I try to do it as much as I can. For me, it's not healthy to bottle up everything and be a closed book.
My main goal now is to actually listen to what He says and obey it. Most of the time, it's not what I want to hear, but it always seems to work out! Casting all my worries unto Him and resting knowing that He's got my back is honestly the best feeling in the world.

5. Fearless mindset - I was not brought into this Earth to be fearful and not aim for success, and neither were you. Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a risk shows a great deal of strength and determination. It shouldn't be feared as much as it is. What good comes from staying in your comfort zone?
With a fearless mindset and a positive attitude, I've been able to do things I never ever thought I could. 
Failure is actually another notch on the ladder to success!

So the next time you and I fail at something big or small, we should remember that you are actually moving forward! It won't feel like it at the time, but you are.
We should be our own cheerleaders, championing ourselves and filling our minds with support and positivity. 
We owe it to ourselves.
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Monday, 5 October 2015

RECIPE: Caramelised Banana Bread

A note from Joelle... 

♫♪'Mad About The Boy' - Ava Leigh ♫♪

So we are deep into autumn and it's time to whip up some comfort food! 
I made this bread/cake on a whim last week when I was sick and tired of spending money in the library cafe. 
I thought about how much money I would save if I made my own version of the really good toffee banana muffins they sell, so set myself a challenge...
I had to make a banana bread, which was not only delicious, but also healthier than the one I usually buy.
So I reached into my fruit basket, pulled out two overripe bananas (that I was planning to throw away!) and got to work.
It's safe to say, it turned out pretty well and some of my uni friends really liked it!
Because it turned out so well, here's my original recipe:
Even though it's a cake because it has not yeast or bread flour, I call it a bread because it's baked in a wee loaf tin! 

You will need:
2 ripe bananas
140g Plain flour
140g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Baking powder
2 medium eggs
1 cap Vanilla extract
140g Unsalted butter
Splash of milk
Cinnamon
Nutmeg

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4
Mush up one banana with a fork
Whisk the eggs and sugar together
Add the melted butter and vanilla extract and stir well
Sieve in the flour and baking powder and fold until a batter is formed
Add a splash of milk, cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg
Pour into a greased loaf tin
Chop up the other banana into thin disks and line them on top of the batter
Sprinkle with a little bit of sugar and bake for 25 minutes or until the batter is not sticking to a skewer
Because of the cinnamon turning the batter brown, it's hard to tell if the loaf is done or not
Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before serving


Next time, I going to experiment by rolling a whole banana in brown sugar and then placing it in the centre of the batter. Hopefully it will caramelise and hold its shape, creating a cool toffee-ish banana core. We'll see!
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Sunday, 4 October 2015

The 'Deen Scene: Ardoe House Hotel - Part 2

A note from Joelle... 

♫♪'Victory' - Cry Of The Celts ♫♪

Welcome to part 2 of my Ardoe House Hotel adventure. Have a look at Part 1 if you haven't already!
This post is all about the scrumptious food Claire and I got to eat in the Hotel restaurant.
The Dining experience in Ardoe House is rather special, as you can choose from two menus: the luxurious Blair's menu or the 

I think I'll let the pictures do the talking in this post. Enjoy!
When we got to our hotel room, this lovely selection of treats was waiting for us on the table. How sweet! D'geddit?
The slate slab was a nice touch too. No word of a lie: these chocs were devoured within seconds!
Supper
Monkfish & Squid with Pork Belly, Sprout Shells, Red Wine Jus and (what I believe to be)  a Squid Ink gel base
It was one of the best dishes I have eaten in years.
Claire went for this Roe Deer, Loin, Shoulder, Beetroot and Blackberry main.
She loves deer and she loved this dish!
For pudding, Claire went for this lovely-looking Yoghurt Panna Cotta, with Heritage Apples, Red Currants and Gingerbread
smiles all round
I went for the (humongous) Macerated Cherry Souffle and Sorbet
[insert multiple heart-eyed emojis here]
It didn't really taste like a pate, more like blended pulled pork. But it was still really delicious, with generous portions!
Pork & Ale Sausages, Arran Mustard Mash and Pale Ale Jus
As you can see, the portions are large and they are not stingy with the sausages!
Claire chose the Hake with Smoked Mussels and Girolles Fricassee 
Chocolate & Praline Cheesecake with Toffee Cream
Sticky Toffee Pudding & Muscovado Ice Cream
Absolute heaven. 
Breakfast 
Breakfast each morning had a slightly different set up. You could either order from the breakfast menu or get a cooked breakfast from the buffet. 
As big foodies, we chose both... #NoShame.
Eggs Royale with smoked salmon - ooooooooh yeah

Not much can beat a Full Scottish Breakfast!
They also have veggie options, fresh fruit, cheeses and cereals, so there's something for everyone



What I loved the most about the food on the menu is that it say precisely where the produce came from - all farmed in the Scotland. They take great pride in using Scottish produce and every dish was cooked to perfection.

The staff were all so kind, on-the-ball and took the time to explain what the menu consisted of as soon as we sat down. Their knowledge was so impressive and went a long way!

But hey! Don't just take my word for it, have a look at Laura from Liparazzi's post about her staycation at Ardoe House!
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