Stir Fry Soup

This was my favorite soup growing up. It is just so warm and simple and satisfying. This blustery day called for soup! Just throw in your left over stir fry veg and you are golden!

Stir Fry Soup

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:Stir Fry Soup

  • 2 1/3 -1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 baby bok choy, sliced
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 of a small onion
  • 5-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup diced or shredded chicken

DIRECTIONS:

  • Bring chicken stock to a rolling boil and add in onions and carrots.
  • Boil 3 minutes and add in mushrooms and bok choy.
  • Boil 3 minutes then add bean stouts and chicken. Add soy sauce to taste.
  • Drizzle scrambled egg over boiling soup and simmer for 5 minutes, until egg is fluffy.
  • Mmmmm….
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Living in York on a Budget: Sight Seeing and Restaurants

It is really easy to spend money here because there is so much to see and do. York is a wealth of museums and tasty treats. We have been here almost 6 months and I feel like we have barely scratched the surface. The trick is knowing where to find the deals 🙂

York has a bunch of free or very cheap things to do:

Our favorite one is walking around on a weekend (Friday-Sunday) and watching the buskers. York is home to quite a few hilarious acts. There are great street musicians and funny escape artists. Cost: 2-3 hours and a cup of coffee. 

York Minster is a glorious sight. When visiting, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAyou absolutely must see it. While the Minster tour costs £12 a person and takes you up to the roof, going to Evensong any night of the week at 5:15 or a Sunday morning service is free and stunning. Not only will you hear amazing music, you can walk around inside and see everything but the roof 🙂 Cost: 1 hour and happy eyes and ears.

The National  Railway Museum is a free museum. It is really quite fun! Very interesting and perfect if you have small children. John and I enjoyed it without children, though and it was a happy Saturday afternoon. Cost: £5 donation if you would like, but it isn’t at all necessary.

Walking along the Ouse, through the Museum Gardens and into Rawcliff Meadows, is a great way to spend an afternoon. It feels like you are in the country even though you are less than a kilometer from the centre of York.IMG_4644 Cost: a sunny afternoon and beautiful pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Wall. York is surrounded by a wall and it is free and open to the public. You can see out across the different parts of York as you walk. My favorite coffee shop, Gatehouse Coffee, is on the wall in Walmgate Bar. Cost: 3 hours and £2.60 for an iced caramel macchiato at Gatehouse Coffee.

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Clifford’s Tower is the best vantage point to view the city in it’s entirety from up high. There is so much history surrounding the tower it is easy to get lost in it and the view. Cost: £4 a person and several hours of learning some history.

 

The nice thing about most free things is that they don’t get old. Every time you take a walk you find something new. We just discovered an alley we had walked passed for 6 months and just saw for the first time.

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Now restaurants are pricey here. BUT they are also very good! There isn’t a whole lot I can say except you can pretty much find whatever food you are in the mood for whenever you are in the mood for it.

You can grab a fish and chip dinner on almost every corner. Cost: £4-£10 

Early Bird Specials are your friend. Many restaurants have a discount if you eat dinner between 5-7.

Takeaway places can be a hit or miss with pricing. Some are very nice and cheap, others are kind of high for what you get. For those I just recommend trying things out and deciding for yourself. We have our favorite places and I am sure you can find yours!

 

 

 

 

Spring! A recital, a birthday, and a tree

Spring has officially sprung here and we are enjoying it!

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We have been out taking pictures in the beautiful weather. A post of John’s photos will be coming shortly!

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This one was a wonderfully busy weekend that bled over into the next week.

Friday: John, Katie, Bec, Ben, and Emi, gave their term two consort recital (feat. Owen, tenor, and Ben, continuo organ). The music was stunning and their delivery shone. It was so much fun to see how they had grown as an ensemble over the term. I just couldn’t help smiling when they performed two pieces semi-staged and off-copy. Delightful fun!

That evening, we all attended Even Song at the Minster and then popped off to dinner. ‘Twas a good day!

Saturday: The day of Ben’s 23rd birthday :p we all went out to Yo! Sushi. What a fun place! It is one of those sushi restaurants that has the conveyer belt with different shush on it. When you see one you like, you just pluck it from the belt and eat it!  The servers were wonderful too! We asked if we could have a birthday cake there and they said, “Sure! Would you like candles?” They turned out the lights and we sang! York is pretty neat!

Sunday: Lazy day and lots of visiting.

Monday: This day started out just like Sunday, very nice and lazy, and ended with us chopping up a tree. We helped one of John’s professors take down a tree to the trunk in his garden.

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Tuesday: We finished the tree and played with a kitty names Rio 🙂

Today(Wednesday): House cleaning and grocery shopping are in order. Happy Spring Break 2016!

Living in York on a Budget: Groceries

York is a beautiful city, but it can be expensive if you don’t know where to shop for food. It is very touristy and where we live is very close to the city centre with shops and restaurants. Because of this there is a whole bunch of ready made food at our finger tips, but we have to walk a little more to the grocery deals. For me that is the fun! I love hunting deals and looking around for new and improved ideas.

When we first moved here in September, I took it upon myself to write down the prices of every little thing I bought, just to get an idea of what things cost all over. From there it was much easier to tell where to go and look for deals.

After about a month of shopping around and learning the lay of the land I decided that we could get away with spending around £6 ($9*) a day for Breakfast and Dinner for us both and lunch for me. John is often on campus for lunch and so he has his food allowance 😉 So basically, after a whole lot of shopping around I can feed us very very well for £42 ($63) a week. Here are a few of the tricks I have learned.

York Grocery Stores I frequent (there are many many more outside of the centre of town but they are quite far for walking with bags):

  • Tesco: for your meat, fish, butter, milk, canned fruit, and sparkling lemonade
  • Marks and Spencer: for harder to find ingredients, frozen veg, the occasional tasty splurge.
  • Sainsbury: for snacks things (donuts, chocolate, and some candy), also good for flour, sugar, and milk. Best for fruit and veg.
  • Poundland and Poundworld: eggs, pop, pasta, canned soups, household  good (toilet paper, dish soap, sponges, etc).

 

  1. Meat is expensive! I would say if you are moving to York become a vegetarian and you will save loads. Either that, or learn to like chicken and the occasional salmon or ground chuck. The hardest part of eating on a budget here was finding affordable meat. It turns out that buying a whole chicken is the best way to go. Both Tesco and Sainsbury always have £4 chickens (Tesco’s chicken is always a few grams bigger). For 2 people this lasts for several meals. I roast it and then boil the bones for broth which I freeze.
  2. Casseroles are your friend. They might seem dull, but with all the veg here you can easily jazz a casserole up brilliantly. Casseroles allow you to make a larger amount of something and either freeze for later or eat all week. We do both.
  3. More cheese, please! While the meat is high, the dairy is low… AND exceptional. They have very happy cows here and once you have had double cream there is no going back. Eggs are also a steal. They are almost always free range and around £1 ($1.50) for 15 if you look carefully. Butter. is. wonderful. But cream cheese is very different as far as consistency goes, much more spreadable.
  4. Baking can be tricky. I have noticed that while many of the baking staples are readily available (flour, sugar, butter, eggs, salt, etc) there are just some things that are very hard to find, like canned pumpkin, and other things, like baking chocolate, that are quite expensive. It is nothing you cannot handle however, and it makes it an adventure to discover ways around these barriers.
  5. Lists and discipline. Lists are what really keep me on target for the week. Any time I think of something we need I write it down. Since I go to the grocery store or stores once a day we never really have to be without anything. The trick is to plan ahead. Monday usually has a slightly longer list of things needed since the weekend has happened so plan accordingly. Maybe pull some change from a change jar and go over the £6 mark or just splurge. I usually just go without something for a day and get it the next day. On days that you have very little to buy, stock up on something you will need.  This may seem odd, because in the end you are spending the same amount over the whole week, BUT it is all about discipline of spending £6 or whatever your budget is, and not really the amount.

All this is to say, you can have a whole bunch of fun shopping and finding the best deals. I chose to break my budget down by day because I like waking up in the morning and deciding what I feel like cooking today. That is a luxury I have not had before. We have always shopped by the week in the past so this new (what feels like) freedom is really fun.

 

*All amounts are based on the current exchange rate of 1.5 US to UK

Fool Proof Brownies

As my college roommate can tell you, I am not a natural brownie maker. So when I found this recipe that I could make perfectly every time I tried, I labeled it Fool Proof. These brownies are always fudgy and excellent. The bake time varies with the oven, but usually they take about 30 minutes for me.

 

Fool Proof Brownies

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:Brownies1

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.
  • Melt butter and stir in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in cocoa powder, flour, and baking powder.
  • Spread batter evenly into the pan.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes.

Pi Day Pie!

Happy Pi Day!

Today is a beautiful day here and in honor of the sunny Spring weather I am in the mood for a lemon tart. I am going to try my hand at some mini Tart an Citron. I am so excited.

I started with a half recipe of Easy Dessert Tart Crust from Chowhound. I was not sure how much this would make since the original recipe was for a 9 inch tart case, but half worked out perfectly and I had just enough crust for 4 mini tarts.

Next, I made a lemon curd recipe from prettysimplesweet.com. The recipe is so simple and easy, this coming from someone who has trouble making pudding pud.

Here is my wonderful day of baking.

Tart Crust

  • Servings: 4 mini tarts
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbs salted butter (if using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt)
  • 1 1/2 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbs all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine the butter and sugar, in a large bowl and stir until evenly incorporated. Add the measured flour and stir until just combined and a soft dough forms.
  • Sprinkle the dough over the bottom of your mini tart cases. I used silicon cases for easy removal. Using your fingers, evenly press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the cases.
  • Cover the tart shells with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Once chilled, prick them all over with a fork and bake until golden brown, about  10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before filling and removing from the pan.

Lemon Curd Tart

  • Servings: 9 inch tart or 8 mini tarts
  • Difficulty: easy-ish
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INGREDIENTS:

  • Fully baked and cooled tart crust(s)
  • 3 whole eggs
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons for both zest and juice)
  • 1/4 cup double cream
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
DIRECTIONS:
  • In a medium heatproof bowl, place eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and heavy cream and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook on moderate heat, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick. For me it was 20 minutes, but it could be less. If you have a thermometer, it should register 170F/75C; otherwise, it should coat the back of a wooden spoon and leave a clear pass if you run your finger through it. The curd will thicken more once cooled.
  • Remove from heat and immediately strain mixture through a sieve. Add butter, a few cubes at a time, and whisk until completely melted and incorporated, and mixture is smooth. Take your time with it—the whisking makes for an airy and light texture. Allow to cool to room temperature before filling the tart.
  • Fill the tart shell with lemon curd, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours until chilled.

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Crocheting: an accidental hat

The other day I decided it was time to re-learn how to crochet. My E-mama had taught me when I was little. My E-mama is an amazing teacher. When all the grand girls were little we all learned how to sew from her patient, methodic, wonderful hands. She always made everything seem so easy and could make everything easier for you by just talking. E-mama knew how little hands and minds worked and when I was learning to crochet she put my ball of yarn in a round tupperware with a hole in the top for the yarn to feed out so it wouldn’t roll away. I have great memories of learning to crochet, but I never made anything except a very very long chain. 😀

This month, after around 15 years, I decided it was time to remember how to do it and to actually put it to use! So I started out with a blanket in mind. I figured that I couldn’t mess up a little blanket…. its square…. I could just practice…

I was incorrect. Somehow the first 5 rows came out in a perfect ruffle and then all of the sudden it was perfectly straight and correct… I could not recreate it if I tried. haha! I went on and everything was fine, cute even. About 30 rows in I thought… this kinda looks like it could be a hat… so that is what it is now. It is a lovely, adorable, 20s style toddler hat! haha. My next project really will be a blanket!

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*many thanks to the water bottle that graciously allowed me to use it as my model*