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My name is Saima and I live in London, England. Welcome to my blog where I have been writing since November 2000. Please make yourself at home.

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January 5th, 2011
Stir Fry For Idiots

Over the last few weeks, coming home from work and cooking whilst listening to some music has become one of my greatest pleasures in life. Sometimes it is accompanied by some great dancing but mostly there is lot of terrible singing involved. Today I decided a prawn stir fry would hit the mark for a few reasons: 1) I love prawns 2) a stir fry is quick and easy and 3) it’s a relatively healthy meal.

I’m not much of a cook and by that I mean my culinary repertoire is limited. The meals I can conjure up are pretty decent; it’s just that I haven’t cooked enough in recent years to confidently whip up a vast variety of dishes. This is something I hope to change over the next few months, starting with stir fry. I have made a stir fry on many an occasion but this is the first time I didn’t use a stir fry pack, the type that should really come in garish yellow packaging saying Stir Fry for Idiots.

I searched for a few recipes online and found this to be the simplest and by simplest I mean it had the smallest amount of ingredients that needed to be purchased and prepared. As with most stir fry recipes you just chuck everything in and hope for the best. Thankfully, the skill levels needed here are somewhere between making a cup of tea and not burning the accompanying slice of toast.

The music that accompanied me this evening was Michael Jackson’s Michael. I know I slated it in my review earlier but there’s a couple of tracks on there I am guiltily addicted to.


  • 500g/1lb 2oz medium egg noodles
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil, plus extra for tossing the noodles
  • 2 red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • thumb-size piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 400g/14oz raw tiger prawns, shelled
  • 2 large or 3 small pak choi, or 200g/7oz Chinese flowering cabbage (choi sum), shredded
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Preparation method

  • Cook the noodles according to the instructions given on the packet. Drain and toss in a little sesame oil to prevent them from sticking together.
  • Heat a wok and add the sesame oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chillies, ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for 30 seconds before adding the red pepper, spring onions and shelled prawns. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the prawns have turned pink. Add the shredded pak choi or choi sum, noodles, lime juice, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. Stir-fry until heated through and serve straight away.

Of course, I went and ruined all the healthiness by making tempura prawns to go on top.

Prawn Stir Fry with Tempura Prawns

Posted at 11:29 pm | 3 comments | Category: Food, Music

November 13th, 2010
Interesting Things I’ve Eaten This Week

This has been an interesting week, food wise. I’ve been struggling to get back to healthy eating which in my case means reduced carbs due to my insulin resistance problems. As it is with any healthy eating plan I try to undertake I find myself making excuses as to why I can’t start that particular week. (Heaven forbid I start one mid-week. No, it must always be a Monday.) My excuse this time around was my new job. I can’t possibly adjust to a new routine on lettuce leaves and tuna!

So instead of that I have gone completely the opposite way and eaten lots of nonsense (but yummy) food. My pancreas has sent me hate mail in response.

Cardamom Chocolate. Sometimes you find a food item in the house that nobody knows the origin of. But you eat it anyway. I spotted a box of “Diwali” chocolates in the kitchen cupboard and intrigued mainly by the glitzy packaging and the novelty of Asian festival branded chocolates, I tucked in. It would have been easy to take ordinary chocolates, label them with Happy Diwali and call it a day but the producers have tried to experiment with unique flavours, some of which are delicious. Now, I am used to finding cardamom in sweet dishes since many Indian sweets incorporate the spice, but this particular combo was a bit strange. Kind of like eating chocolate and brushing your teeth at the same time.

Super (Duper) Humous Salad from Pret. This is not technically a nonsense food but in my case, at 25.2g of carbohydrates per pack I think I can safely class it as one. I’m not quite sure why duper needs to be in brackets but I think the claim to the salad’s “super” nature is due to the seeds that have been sprinkled on top. These seeds quite frankly seem like a poor after thought as they all fall to the bottom of the box so that you spend the rest of the afternoon trying but failing to fish them out with a fork. The humous is indeed chunky and suffers for it. Humous already suspiciously resembles post-food, must we highlight this further with chunks? The real winner in this salad is the feta which I had previously written-off along with its other cousin cheeses but in fact went well with the other ingredients. This salad promises so much but if my favourite ingredient in it is a cheese then it has sorely failed. I much prefer the tastier version from M&S.

Chips on the DLR. No, the District Light Railway hasn’t introduced a catering cart to their fleet. We were out flat hunting and feeling particularly pikey, we decided to get some chips for the journey home. We’re not DLR aficionado so were quite surprised that the DRIVER SITS WITH YOU. No separate cubicle for the driver, he must sit with the rest of us plebs, driving the train with a pathetically tiny joystick. We shared our chips with him as consolation. Not really, the striking bastard.

Posted at 4:33 pm | Leave a comment | Category: Food

October 25th, 2010
Jamie Oliver takes over the world

Jamie Oliver is everywhere right now and for good reason. He has had great success with school dinners in the UK and USA, his many restaurants openings and other projects. Currently he is promoting 30-Minute Meals; I’ve bought the book and am really enjoying the TV series. I think it’s a great idea for this day and age where we are time poor but still want to make and eat good food. In fact, it’s such a hit in our family that its youngest teen members have attempted several of the recipes, succesfully!

I’m loving the way Jamie sets his table, it’s all mix and match and rustic. Here he is explaining the process. There are a lot of other informative videos on his You Tube you may want to check out.

Posted at 10:19 pm | Leave a comment | Category: Food, TV

October 9th, 2010
I Made This: Lemon Cupcakes


Posted at 7:41 pm | 2 comments | Category: Food | Tags: ,

September 14th, 2010
A Review of Cakes by Shelly in Eaton Bray, Luton

I don’t like complaining but when I receive such terrible customer service I feel it my duty to warn others so they don’t make the same mistake.

For my sister’s 19th birhday party she wanted a special cake so she ordered a topsy turvy one from Cakes by Shelly in Eaton Bray (near Luton, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard). We picked up the birthday cake on Saturday, kept it at room temperature in our store room and then took it to the venue on Sunday. When we cut the cake at around 5pm on Sunday it was terrible, so dry that it was inedible. The chocolate sponge wasn’t even brown, it had flecks of white like it had been sat out for days. The vanilla sponge was just as dry. Noone ate it, all the pieces we cut were left in their plates, what a terrible waste of £60. We called the cake company and left a phone message on Monday at 4.30pm but noone called us back until Tuesday. When they did call back it was a chap called Daniel, the lady that made the cake, Michelle did not talk to us as she was “busy”. Here are some photos which unfortunately don’t show how awful this cake was. It was dry as a bone and hence why the cake wasn’t finished.

Cakes by Shelly

Cakes by Shelly

They did not accept liability but instead gave us these excuses:

  • We didn’t call within 24 hours – we called within 24 hours of cutting the cake. We didn’t know there was a problem before that, we’re not psychic! Their website said the cake should be good for three days, we cut it within one day and complained within two.
  • They claimed they made the cake on Saturday – in my opinion the cake was so dry it tasted and felt like it had been left out for days or been baked too much.
  • There was a problem with their phone so they couldn’t pick up our call before that – that’s not our issue.
  • They then changed their story and said they don’t pick up calls after 4 because most bakeries/cake shops close before that. (There’s no mention of times to contact on their website.)
  • They didn’t get to see the cake soon enough to assess the quality – we offered to take it around but they said it was too late now. If they had picked up the phone on Monday we could have taken it straight around.
  • They offered us a 50% discount on the next order as a “goodwill gesture” but that’s not good enough. Why would we order such a sub-standard product again and even then only get half off?
  • When I said I would blog about this ordeal and that word of mouth is powerful they retorted with “reputation is powerful too”. Why do they think these two things are mutually exclusive? Your reputation isn’t just based on the number of awards you’ve won.

Not only are we disappointed with the product but their customer service is shocking, they just make excuses for their mistakes and were adamant in blaming us. They didn’t even give us a chance to show them the cake. Wouldn’t it have been better to admit your mistakes than lose a customer and many potential ones who read this blog post? I’m an amateur baker and I could have made a cake miles better than this one! What a waste of £60 and a disappointment to my sister on her birthday. We certainly won’t be ordering from them again and recommend you don’t either.

Posted at 8:12 pm | 8 comments | Category: Food | Tags: , , , , ,

August 26th, 2010
Cooking for Scientists

The chemist deep inside me must have these oil & vinger and salt & pepper lab flasks for the kitchen.

Posted at 10:49 pm | 1 comment | Category: Food, Style | Tags: ,

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