This week I fancied doing a bit of baking. Brownies are always a winner in our household and the Mary Berry Chocolate Chip Brownie recipe from Mary Berry's Baking Bible seemed super easy. Preparation is minimal. I halved the amount of cocoa powder as the little people were going to have it too. The recipe is super easy - just bung everything into a bowl, pop into a tin and bake.
The addition of chocolate chips really adds to the flavour and in the end we had a lovely moist, chocolatey brownie. I served it with ice-cream and raspberries. Delicious.
My nails have been pretty weak all year, a by-product of uninterrupted nail polish use and exposure to harsh chemicals when I should be wearing Marigolds. My nails were flaking at the tips and the skin on my hands was grey and chapped. I tried quite a few nail strengtheners, and gave them each a good few months to work all with no success, that is until I tried Dr Lewinn's Renunail Nail Strengthener.
I was a bit sceptical about the treatment at first, it has quite a strong smell of formaldehyde, which can be a bit off-putting. On Day 1 I apply two coats of the nail strengthener, followed by a single coat on the subsequent Day 2-6. On Day 7 everything needs to be removed. I normally did this just before bed, as my nails were so weak, that without the scaffolding of the varnish they'd peel with any trauma. On Day 8, the cycle started again for another 3 weeks.
I've just finished my fourth week of treatment and my nails are starting to grow and the flakiness has finally stopped. I've also stopped filing my nails and instead use really sharp nail clippers (I owe that tip to Sali Hughes' Guardian column). I use a pair from Tweezerman which work really well.
I've also realised that I need to take better care of my cuticles. I apply a cuticle oil every night. My favourite is Essie's Apricot Oil which sinks in very fast. Once a week I apply a cuticle remover, as I find that my cuticles tear quite easily if I don't do this (ouch).
I've spent quite a bit of time in Cape Town and have very fond memories of being there. My happiest Capetonian memories are of time spent in the outdoors. Here is the list of my favourite places to appreciate the natural beauty of this wonderful city:
I've only recently started watching cooking videos on YouTube and at first I was a bit unsure whether it was a format I was comfortable with. I've watched the Food Channel in the past, but had never ever attempted any recipes where I didn't actually have a print copy first.
I stumbled upon Byron Talbott's Orange Chicken recipe quite by chance. I think it might have popped into my YouTube What to Watch list and I was immediately interested.
My favourite makeup look when I'm in a hurry but still want to look like I've made an effort, is the bronze smokey eye. I can put on this look in two minutes which is a great help when I'm running late.
Edinburgh is lovely during the summer, especially when the weather is dry. July is relatively quiet in the city compared to the frenzy when the Edinburgh Fringe, International and Book Festivals take place in August. The chaos can be fun, but sometimes it can be a bit of a relief to leave the city for a while, even just for a day. All my day trip suggestions will take just a few hours and are suitable for everyone, including kids.
Cramond Beach is in the north of the city and can be reached by car or the Number 41 Lothian bus. This is a popular location for families, runners and dog-walkers. It has a cafe and a pub and an ice-cream van is parked along the promenade during the summer. The Cramond Kirk is very pretty and the 'secret' walled children's play park can be found just past the kirk hall. The highlight of any visit to Cramond, however, is the walk across the causeway to Cramond Island, which is one mile out to sea. The causeway is only accessable at low tide, so it is crucial to check tide-times in advance of any visit and also to check the safe crossing times at the entrance to the causeway and leave enough time for the return leg.
Linlithgow is a charming town to the west of Edinburgh and Linlithgow Palace, which is now a beautiful ruin, was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. The town can be reached by train from Edinburgh and a typical journey takes about 20 minutes. The Linlithgow Canal Centre is a 5 minute walk from the train station and during the summer, boat trips from 30 minutes to 2 hours are run during the afternoons. This is a wonderfully relaxing way to while away an afternoon. For the more active, a walk around the picturesque Linlithgow Loch takes about 45 minutes, and has wonderful vistas of the palace.
The curry is quite mild and has a lovely creamy feel due to the coconut and an earthiness from the coriander and fenugreek. I used chicken thighs which I feel benefits from slow-cooking - the meat just fell from the bone. The preparation for this curry is very fast and despite it's hour-long cooking time, will become a week-night staple. I served this with basmati rice, peas and coriander leaves but naan bread will also work well.