Banana Curry

I LOVE to cook. When the kids were smaller (and by smaller I mean babies, because clearly they’re still small now!) I pretty much prepared everything from scratch, and although we’re a bit too busy for that every night now I do still like to cook in batches at the weekend and freeze for reheating later in the week.

Banana curry is one of our faves. The kids love it because its got a slightly sweet taste, friends love it because they don’t expect to enjoy a curry made with banana, and I love it because its vegetarian and super easy.
The recipe was adapted from various red lentil curries I have tried over the years. Try it for yourself and let me know how you get on 🙂

You’ll need:

– 4 or 5 banana’s roughly chopped. You REALLY need very ripe/brown bananas for this or it wont taste right!
– 1 cup of split red lentils (wash thoroughly first)
– 2 cups thick coconut cream/milk
– ½ cup of soy milk or veg stock if sauce becomes too thick
– 1 large onion, finely chopped
– 1 sweet red pepper finely chopped
– 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 2 tablespoon of tomato purée
– Juice of one lime
– 3 tablespoon ground almond powder
– 1 tablespoon garam masala
– 2 tablespoon curry powder
– ½ tablespoon of chilli powder
– 1 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1 teaspoon coriander
– 1 teaspoon turmeric
– 2 crushed cardamon pods (pick out after cooking)
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder

This looks like a lot of ingredients but it’s not really as long as you have these basic spices at home already. I’m a bit obsessed with collecting herbs and spices. Its sad really, when a person gets excited over a new jar of smoked paprika.

Method:
1. Slowly fry off the onion, pepper and garlic until soft and brown in a little oil (peanut oil is fantastic) over a medium heat.
2. In a bowl mix the almond, lime juice, garam masala, chilli, cumin, curry, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon with a tiny bit of warm water to make a paste.
3. Add this to the onions and garlic, along with the tomato puree and cardamon. Mix well.
4. Slowly stir in the coconut cream over a lower heat until it starts to thicken.
5. Add the red lentils and half the banana’s. Leave to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add stock/soy milk if it becomes too thick.
6. After 30 minutes of simmering add the remaining banana. Simmer for a further 30 minutes or until you’re ready to serve.

Alternatively throw everything (except lentils and banana) into a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hrs. Add banana and lentils 1 hr before serving and cook on high.

Taste throughout the cooking process and up the spices if its not hot enough for you. Add more coconut milk if its too hot!
Serve with rice,  a spoon of natural yogurt, and a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh mint. Tastes even better when left overnight then reheated.

Enjoy!

My children

Not much to say today – Just wanted to share a picture of my children. Because I Love them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
That is all.

From Poland with love

This past weekend I went to Poland for a wedding. It was an interesting experience.

Things that I learned:

  • Poland has lots of trees
  • Polish people can drink LOTS of vodka and still have the ability to throw a punch
  • Polish people eat way too much potato/meat. Even the salads contain meat. No joke
  • Polish people don’t like people with blue hair

Ok so that last one might be a bit generalistic. (Is that a real word? Its is now …) Well they’re all generalistic to a point, but I can only go on what I experienced.

I really did have a great time at the wedding and language barrier aside I met some great people and feel like I’ve come away with some fantastic new friends. But there were exceptions to the rule, especially on my last day in Poland when we went to a town called Inowrocław.

I’m used to people looking at me, maybe occasionally pointing – I do have blue hair – but I don’t think I’ve ever been made to feel so disgusting before. People were walking past and pointing at me, giving me ‘the look’. You know, that dirty look when you skim someone from head to toe then look at them like they just shit in the popes hat.
I stood on that street for less than 10 minutes and at least 15 people walked past and gave me the look. I felt like crying. I’m proud to be that little bit different and see my hair as a way of expressing myself, but for those 10 minutes I stood desperately wishing that I was normal. And that makes me disappointed in myself.

Returning to London with its anonymous culture and people that won’t make eye contact and neighbors that don’t know your name felt like coming home. Ironic.

I’m trying not to let the experience completely ruin my opinion of Poland and doing my best to look at the incident with a touch of humour. Who knows, maybe they thought I was Lady Gaga.

A New Start

… Aaaaand I’m back.

Updated to-do list:

1. Find house
2. Rent house
3. Furnish house
4. Move children to new house
5. Find childcare
6. Register with a GP
7. Get specialist care sorted for Xander
8. Remember to eat and sleep

The past 3 weeks has been complete madness.  I found and successfully rented a new house, relocated my children from Hereford to London fully and started on the long and perilous journey of being a working mum with 2 young children in a new place.
My eldest child Xander has special needs and this makes things a little more complicated. All of the specialist help he had back in Hereford needs to be found here in London – and that means back to the bottom of the waiting list for everything! Early starts (5am!) and full working days means I’m in bed by 9pm, and my love-life, well, lets not even go there. And yet I’m ridiculously happy.

Anyone that knows me will know that my past year was hellish. Away from my children, struggling to save for a house deposit, getting sick, loved ones getting sick, and so on. But I struggled through. I guess you don’t realise how strong you are until you’re forced into a situation where its fight or lose everything.

Its really not possible to describe the absolute overwhelming pain when life forces you to leave your children behind – for any length of time. Being a parent changes you in deep and unknown ways, and not being able to do the simplest things from having breakfast with my children to reading them a bedtime story left me feeling like I had this huge empty black space inside of me.

So although it quite literally hurts my brain to wake up at 5am, I do it with a smile on my face knowing that I’m waking up to the most important people in my life; my children.

And so begins my new life. Here’s to Happiness and Joy all round.

आनन्द  Ānanda.

Photo credit: Cieleke @ Flickr

Down time

I’m taking a blog hiatus. My life is throwing lots of complicated and time consuming things at me right now, so I need to go away and sort things out … then I’ll be back and dare I say it, even better than before. Ha!

A Twitter competition done right

I woke up this morning in bad mood. A really bad mood. One of those “look at me the wrong way and I’ll bite your head off” moods. So it was a very nice surprise to open up my twitter and find that I had won something.
“How and What?!” I hear you shouting eagerly. Well, a couple of days ago I noticed an influx of tweets on my feed with the hash tag: #2020tweets. Intrigued, I clicked the tag (as you do) and found that it’s for a campaign Orange are running from their @OrangeTheFeed account. The premise is simple, tweet something that you’d like to be tweeting in the year 2020, and Orange will choose a few of the best to win something as a “kick-start towards making their future-dreams come true”.

Never one to shy away from a trending hashtag, I went ahead and added my own ‘future dream’, and as you can see below Orange thought it was inspired enough to win a little something:

Now I know the idea of a twitter competition isn’t something new, but I think this stands as a firm example of it done right. It doesn’t have a long list of complicated rules, and they’re not asking people to spam their followers with endless links or try and get x amount of retweets. Quite simply, they’re asking people to talk about themselves, and a handy by-product of that chatter just so happens to be those same people talking about and promoting Orange.
When Orange contacted me to let me know I had won, not only did I retweet that to my followers, I also took it over to my facebook to share it with my friends and non-tweeters there, and here I am writing up a blog about them too. Word of mouth in action.
And don’t forget that a positive impression isn’t limited to a social media platform, it transcends into the real world too, and for me personally comes at a time when I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with my current provider and its uninventive top-up surprises.

Update (18/03/11)
I DM’d Orange (thats a direct message for you non-tweeters) yesterday and asked them if they wouldn’t mind giving me a few moments of their time and few words about the idea behind the competition.

Martin from Poke (the creative agency that run The Feed for Orange) said:
“Twitter is usually all about what you’re doing right now. But, we reckoned, what about using it to talk about what you want to be doing? We thought #2020Tweets would be a nice way to invite people to think about their aspirations for the not-so-far-off future, and to give them a bit of a nudge towards making it happen.”

And when I asked Emily (also at Poke) why they chose to go with a hashtag as opposed to a RT she answered:
“We always use hastags on our weekly posts. One of Orange’s main objectives is to create conversations, so hashtags are a nice natural way helping to start those.”

Clever people with a real and authentic approach to social media. Well done Orange, and well done Poke! I am now officially a convert, and will be bringing my custom to Orange as soon as I can find find a contract (and new smartphone) that suits me. That’s not a hint, honest 😉

7 Day Song Challenge [Day 5,6,7]

Having been a bit busy these past few days I did neglect to keep up with the 7 day song challenge. However! This does not mean failure since I don’t remember specifying that the 7 days had to be consecutive, ha!

Anyway, rather than continue spamming my own blog with 3 more days of videos I thought I’d just go ahead and catch up on all 3 days in one nice big video-heavy post.

And so we begin/continue! Day 5 – a song that makes me laugh

Flight of the Conchords – Bret you’ve got it going on:

This is a favorite on my iPod (much to the bewilderment of non-fotc fans) and it deeply saddens me that the TV series has ended and I never had the opportunity to see them at a live gig. Bad times 😦

Day 6 – a song that I can play on an instrument

I can only play (badly) 2 songs, on 2 different instruments, so lets go with both.

Nirvana -About a girl:

Back in ’05 an awesome guy I knew offered to help me learn to play the guitar. I owned a beautiful purple acrylic string bass and up until that point had done nothing but throw it appreciative glances and stroke it lovingly. This was the first (and only) song I learnt before giving in to the realisation that I really wasn’t dedicated enough to continue and live with the ever present finger burns.

The Animals – House of the rising sun:

My mum was great on the keyboard, and she taught me how to play this when I was a child, using the handy addition of little lettered stickers on the keys. I don’t have a great musical talent (unless memorising song lyrics counts?) so this remains the only song I can play, and I certainly don’t do it any justice! A fantastic song by an equally fantastic band.

Day 7 – a song that reminds me of childhood

Without a doubt this has to be The Steve Miller Band – The Joker:

Invokes memories of sitting at the top of the hallway stairs (well past bedtime) listening to this playing on my dads stereo, whilst he strummed along on his guitar surrounded by a haze of cigarette smoke. Remains a favorite and is a regular on my iPod shuffle.

7 Day Song Challenge [Day 4]

Ah, a new day, a new song! 7 Day Song Challenge, Day 4 – a song I’d like played at my wedding. Today’s portion of audio-lyrical goodness will be brought to you courtesy of The Editors, with their fantastic song ‘The Weight of the World’.

Perhaps not the most conventional wedding song, what with the opening lyrics being about those you love being there when you pop your clogs, but it has a very personal meaning for myself and my other half and as such is one of ‘our songs’.
Really hope I’ll be able to make it to their special Royal Albert Hall show in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. Tickets are insanely expensive, but its a worthy cause and the acoustics at the Royal Albert are amazing, so who knows! (*hint hint Mr P*)

7 Day Song Challenge [Day 3]

Good Morning from Me, Myself, and my breakfast of home made brioche with morello cherry conserve. Dont be jealous.

Todays song in the 7 Day Song Challenge has to be a song that reminds me of someone, and there is no one on this earth that I love to think about more than my beautiful children.

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Snow (Hey Oh)

Back in summer of ’07 my eldest child Little X was just coming up to 6 months, and if he wasn’t attached to me (and by ‘me’ I mean my breast) then he was usually crying. In my desperation for a few hours rest I dug through my virtual music collection and came out brandishing ‘Stadium Arcadium’ by RHCP. During my pregnancy I had played lots of music to my bump – possibly in the hopes that he’s grow up to be a rockstar, what? – and from the increased kicking during ‘Stadium Arcadium’ it seemed to be a firm favourite.
So I popped it on repeat, and lord have mercy, Little X slept for a good 6 hours for the first time. Over the months (and years) the album became part of his (and Little P’s) nighttime routine (who needs Twinkle Little Star?), and one we put on to dance around the house, and to this day his little face still lights up in recognition when he hears this song.

7 Day Song Challenge [Day 2]

7 Day Song Challenge, Day 2, a song that’s a guilty pleasure: Enrique Iglesias – Do you know?

*cringe*

I know I’m going to get some virtual stick for this, especially from my music-nerd friends that would rather have their left arm removed than listen to (or admit they listen to) something as uber-cheesy-pop as this song. But that’s the whole point of a guilty pleasure isn’t it? You’re supposed to rue the day that someone finds this mp3 in your otherwise super-cool music files. And yet here I am, exposing my Enrique love to the world, for the sake of humanity my 7 day challenge. I’m a brave little music soldier. And I’m going to regret this post in the morning.