Today I spent a spooky Halloween day in London with my pal Clementine. While in Liberty, we came across the most adorable… I mean, creepy, range of candy and other sweet treats ever. Everything from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies somehow looked both appealing and rather unappetizing, in vintage-style packaging with rather unsettling names.
(Whoops, the vague sense of unease caused myself to have some shaky hands when snapping the last pic.)
Since it is Halloween, I really could not resist. I snagged myself a jar of Thickest Human Snot (which may or may not actually be lemon curd) and some Impacted Ear Wax, while Clem went for a traditional Olde Fashioned Brain Jam.
Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is run by the Ministry of Stories, a creative writing and mentoring centre for youth ages 8 to 18 in London. It sounds like a really cool initiative, and all the more reason to love these amazing treats. I definitely want to visit the actual shop the next time that I am near Hoxton Street and see if I can spot a “Vampire, Werewolf, Sasquatch or some Thing else entirely” they claim to have all the essential items for!
Like basically everyone, I have a mobile phone which I use for everything. One of its prime purposes is my day-to-day camera. In fact, despite the fact that I own several cameras, including a rather expensive DSLR, most photos on this blog are from my humble iPhone 5.
When it came to decorating my flat last year, I decided I wanted to print some photos from my phone, and I came across this site called Origrami. Recently, I had another batch printed. Both experiences were really great, so today I am here to share the love and gush about them (and, no, I’m not being paid to do so– I doubt anyone at Origrami knows of my existence).
Origrami is used specifically to print photos from Instagram which is fine with me because I love some hipster filters. I will gladly admit to that. I paid tuition to learn how to take proper photos in post secondary, but nothing gets me going like the filter ‘Valencia.’ I just wanna look tan.
The interface for grabbing photos off Instagram is really quick and easy to use. While I’ve only ever gone for plain-backed “Squareprint” photos, there are a few different styles to choose from. At $21.95 AUD for a package of 36 photos (of the Squareprint), the price is right. The company is based out of Australia, but shipping to the UK was a very reasonable FREE. Yes, you read that correctly. Shipping is FREE, and extremely prompt! I bet you’re beginning to see why I am gushing.
The photos arrive in the most adorable packaging which keeps all of the images very safe. The card stock used is fairly sturdy. The photos are matte, which is my preferred finish for the vintage feel that I favour.
Overall, this is just a fabulous product that I would use again and again, and recommend wholeheartedly when people visit my flat and ask me where I had them printed. Plus, if you like things in your life to complete a circle, the Origrami Instagram account, which features the Origrami prints of their clients, is one of my favourite follows. So cute!
I definitely don’t intend for this to turn into a food blog, but I was struck down by the flu this weekend, so not much has been happening! While sorting through some photos I came across pictures from in July when I made some Algerian borek as part of my work’s World Cup Food Day! I drew the countries Iran, Croatia and Algeria from the sweepstakes and… well, I wasn’t feeling too confident about my ability to pull off one of their cuisines, if I’m honest.
Thanks to the Internet I was able to find a few recipes for “Algerian borek.” I had eaten Turkish borek before, which is similar. So, I decided to give this a bit of a go! Obviously I needed it to be gluten free, but as a bonus I also made it vegetarian (as we have two veggies in the office). In my last entry, I admitted that it was my first foray into gluten free pastry making, so… yes, I used a pre-made gluten free pastry for this. And while we’re being honest, I also used store-bought mash! I’m horrible! But it made the whole thing a lot easier, and more of the kind of dish you could easily put together for a lunch, make en masse for a potluck, etc.
- 2 packages of pre-made pastry (apparently spring roll wrappers work well too).
- A flour/water paste that you can use to seal each roll.
- 4 cups of mashed potato (like I said, I used some pre-made stuff from Sainsbury’s. Cut down on dishes and prep time!).
- 2 cups of aged cheddar cheese, grated.
- 1/2 medium sized onion, chopped.
- chopped parsley
- chopped gherkin pickles
- salt and pepper
Basically I just mixed the filling ingredients together, kind of tasting it as I went along. I know, that is not a very precise instruction! I should not be teaching culinary skills, you might say. Well, for me, it’s always been about following my instincts and seeing what tastes good. I’m not a huge fan of pickles and parsley, for example, so I may put less than you would (although I did put more than I would usually feel comfortable with in this, and it was delicious). Resist the temptation to eat all of the filling as if it is a potato salad (although that is an excellent way to use any potential leftovers!).
To create each roll, I divided my pastry into chunks that would create rectangles about 3 inches wide and 4 inches long, when rolled about 3mm thick. It might take a few rolls to figure it out, but soon you’ll find the perfect amount of pastry. (Just be sure if you’re using a gluten-filled pastry that if you work the pastry too much that you let it rest again… the longer you handle pastry the more gluten will build up which results in a tough pastry… and nobody likes a tough pastry).
Leaving a bit of space around the edges, I filled each pastry about a third of the way, folded the edges and rolled them carefully. Try to avoid any cracks because we will be frying these bad boys! To seal the edges and ends, I just dipped my finger in a paste I made of some flour and water, ran it along the seam and pressed down. They stayed together quite well, I was able to keep them together on a plate before frying!
I’m not going to lie, I had fun doing every one of the steps of this recipe, but my favourite part was frying them. I mainly did them in batches of 2, as I didn’t want to risk becoming preoccupied and burning any. It was so satisfying to watch them go all crispy and golden brown. I just turned them quite frequently, then used tongs to hold them on their sides so they could get a bit of colour (another good reason to keep batches small).
At this point, Katy had returned to my flat from the knitting conference she was attending that weekend, and I took my opportunity to use her as my guinea pig. The result? She really seemed to enjoy them, and asked me for another! I liked them too, quite different from the Turkish borek I was used to. They reminded me a bit of a crunchier cheese and potato perogy, although the pickle and parsley obviously amps up the taste a bit!
One of the best things about these was how great they tasted at various temperatures. I enjoyed them hot from the pan, slightly cooled and even a few hours later as I snatched a few for a Sunday night Netflix marathon. I bet they would freeze pretty nicely as well. Thanks, soccer championship, for allowing me to embrace a new food!