Monday, 29 May 2017

A commitment to a moment.

Recipe of the week...
... Spinach and Mushroom Spaghetti

Ingredients: 200g wholemeal spaghetti, 1 vegetable stock cube, 120g fresh spinach leaves, 250g chestnut mushrooms, 1 white onion, 150-400g Greek yoghurt (depending how creamy you like your pasta), cooking oil, and salt and pepper.

Serves: Two decent platefuls of spaghetti.

Time taken: Half an hour or so.

Hi readers,

How are you all today? Are you doing okay? Not feeling too worse for wear, I hope, as we near the end of the Bank Holiday weekend. (Yes – to all readers outside the UK – we’ve had ANOTHER Bank Holiday weekend. Can’t get enough of them! Although, sadly, this does spell the end of our glorious run of four day weeks – we aren’t treated to another til the end of August now. Sigh sigh sigh).

Have you been up to much with your long weekend, readers? Hope you’ve been out enjoying the sunny Spring weather, while it lasted! And I hope you’ve been making the most of your time in the sunshine, spent with friends and family. As a write, readers, I’m in bed in my room in Sheffield and it’s raining a little bit outside. My room doesn’t look much like mine anymore as I’ve officially Started Packing, ahead of moving house next Saturday.

With just a week to go, I rolled my sleeves up this weekend and set about bagging and boxing up most of my things. There are now three different heaps of my stuff about the house. Mounds of shoppers filled with homeware and kitchenware and books and shoes... and I haven’t even packed any clothes yet (which, really, you’d think is all a human being needs – their clothes) but already there is A Lot of Stuff.

Like, if I lay down on the floor and my stuff was rained down on me, I would definitely die. It’s a killer amount of stuff. So, it’s been  good to have had the long weekend, really, as an opportunity to get cracking with packing (see what I did there??). But. Knowing that I have to unpack it all again, somewhere new, next weekend is like ohhhh MY GOD why why why why whyyyyyy meee. The prospect isn’t filling me with joy, readers.

Sadly contemplating my shell of a bedroom right now, I’m reminded of a line from a book I’ve been reading these past couple of weeks. Bittersweet, by Stephanie Danler. If you appreciate good food and drink, witty / clever / sarcastic lines, and the lure of a dangerous man – do go read this book. Pronto. The line that spring to mind, as an apt descriptor for my mood at present, iiiiis…

“You know what I dislike? When people use the future as a consolation for the present. I don’t know if there is anything less helpful.”
Bittersweet, Stephanie Danler. p.346

… this, I firmly agree with. Yes, maybe I’ll be moved in five days. Maybe I’ll have dropped a dress size and attained a gorgeous boyfriend in the process. Two of them! Who knows. But right now: It’s drizzling. And I’m sat in a stripped room populated mainly with re-usable carrier bags, bulging with my stuff and including certain items that I shouldn’t really have packed. I was being overenthusiastic and now I can’t find several things that I want back. It’s likely I won’t find them for a week or more. They’re lost in a sea of supermarket branding.

This present moment may be a little shit, readers, but – do not fear – as I’m going to turn it around with some great food. There will be a girly evening in. Nail polish, chocolate, chick flick. All will be well again. First, though, I want to say a big GO YOU to anyone who got the worker bee tattoo done this weekend, in support of the fundraiser for those victims and families affected by the terrorist attack in Manchester last week (you can donate here).

For anyone who doesn’t know, there’s been a tattoo appeal going on over the Bank Holiday weekend and tattoo parlours up and down the country have been giving their time to help out. If a person donates £50 towards the MEN fundraiser, then they can go get the worker bee tattooed at no cost. Loads and loads of people have been doing this, they’ve been queuing to get through the doors of tattoo parlours, and now the fundraiser is over 90% of the way towards hitting its target. Incredibly, with over fifty thousand supporters.  

I’m awed by it. By people! And the great things that they can bring about and achieve. As is the point of the quote from Bittersweet, there is no help in telling those poor people on the receiving end of the Manchester attack that tomorrow will be a better day. Help comes from those people who go out and do something about it – anything they can do – to make a real difference today. High five to anyone with a worker bee healing on you right now!

It feels to me as though, when everything rocks a little, like everything did seem to do last week in the wake of the attack, that people come together more. Like shaking a box full of beads. It’s felt by all and it’s experienced in unison. Everyone’s rattled. We’re all still thinking about it and talking about it, and trying to comprehend what happened. And we go on.

In another excerpt…

What did he call his tattoos?
A commitment to a moment?
Bittersweet, Stephanie Danler. p.228

… it’s a wonderful and a terrible moment that we’re in, readers. I’m grateful to experience the spirit of togetherness, fostered in the wake of the attack, and I hope that it won’t be lost as the tattoos heal. And – with that – I’ll say no more. I’ll leave the fundraising total to rise and will leave you, terrific readers, with one final thought… which is that good food alllways improves the present moment. Disprove me, I dare you. Or try your hand at my recipe of the week, which can be yours in just ten simple steps…

Recipe: Spinach and Mushroom Spaghetti

1.     Pour a drink, calm your mind and set something upbeat playing.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Me and my dad have been listening to the album that’s been released alongside Guardians of the Galaxy 2, with all the songs from the film. There are some GREAT tunes on there – I recommend. 
2.     Fill the kettle and set it boiling, and sort veg prep while you wait. Peel your onion and chop into small pieces, and quarter your mushrooms.
3.     When the kettle’s boiled, set a two-portion amount of spaghetti cooking in a saucepan with half the stock cube crumbled in.
4.     Heat some cooking oil in a wok or a large frying pan, and fry your mushroom and onion for five minutes until they’re beginning to brown.

5.     Then, add 200ml water from the saucepan, along with your yoghurt and the rest of the stock cube.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: I added 150ml yoghurt as I’m not a fan of very creamy sauces, but if you’re thinking ‘the creamier the better!’ then go for it. Add up to 400ml if you like.

6.     Meanwhile, once your spaghetti is cooked you can take this off the heat and drain.
7.     Leave the contents of the pan to simmer until the ingredients come together, and they begin to thicken and look more like a sauce than a liquid.

8.     When things are getting saucy in the wok, tip your fresh spinach into the pan and – one wilted – then add the pasta.
9.     Give everything a good stir together and season with salt and pepper.
10.  Then, take off the heat and divide between two plates. You can serve up and tuck in!

Et voila!
A plateful of Spinach and Mushroom Spaghetti
What do you think, readers? Are you keen?? Does this sound do-able? I found the recipe in Tesco’s May 2017 edition of their free magazine (entitled ‘The Healthy Issue), on page 67, and decided to give it a go as a simple, healthy, tasty dinner. Ordinarily, I almost always rely on a shop-bought sauces, but this recipe provides a great way to make your own sauce without many ingredients and without it being particularly time consuming or difficult to do.

Also, I like that you can make this dish more or less creamy to suit your taste. And that creamy sauces don’t necessarily have to be cheesy, though they often are. Plus – you have options. You could switch the spaghetti for tagliatelle, if you like, or a regular pasta like penne or fusilli. And, if you’re vegan, you could adapt the recipe by switching the Greek yoghurt for a plant-based alternative (like Alpro).

Have I convinced you yet, readers?? If not, may I add what a filllling.. delllicious.. richhh and indddulgent plateful of food this is. Truly, it’s a delight! Go on, readers, give this recipe a try and please let me know what you think. Did things go to plan in the kitchen? Did your pasta turn out well? And did you enjoy the taste of it?? Keep me posted on your antics in the kitchen (good or gory) and please send all recipe feedback my way! Hit me with it!

Until next time, readers, in a new room on a new road in a new month,

Spaghetti safely,


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