Thursday, June 14, 2018

Daft Burger 13: Falafel Burger

I've only had falafel once so I'm keen to try this burger. We used a falafel mix packet but you could easily make it from scratch with chick peas if you want to.

1 packet falafel mix
4 pitta breads
spinach leaves
plain yoghurt

Make the falafel according to the packet instructions.

Make patty shapes from the falafel mix then fry them in oil until golden brown and crisp. This part was a nightmare, the mix was a bit moist so I added some flour. The patties ended up a bit mis-shapen but luckily we're not fussy when it comes to food.

Toast the pitta breads lightly to make it easier to slice them open. Spread some hummus inside each one. Put a falafel blob in each pitta along with some cucumber, spinach and a spoonful or two of yoghurt.

These were tasty but something was a bit unsatisfying about them. The flavours were all good together but everything was on the soft side. It was a bit dry too. Not one of our favourites so far!

Ratings: JD - 2, Emma - 2

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Emma's Exercise Experiments - Tai Chi

Here we are halfway through the year and still on track with doing a different exercise each month. This last month has been difficult because I injured my knee and had a week where exercise was out of the question. Luckily Tai Chi is gentle exercise so I was able recuperate then go back to finish off the month with the last class. 

When I contacted Alison, the instructor, she was organizing a beginner class so JD and I joined up and went along on a Monday night in a local church hall. 

The class started with various warm-up stretches. Moving each part of our bodies with slow mindful movements to prepare and relax. I always enjoyed this part of the class.

Duck stance.

Next we got to know some of the Tai Chi stances. Eagle, bear, horse, dragon, leopard and monkey. These were interesting to learn and varied how the weight was distributed in your legs as you positioned yourself. 

Gathering celestial energy.
We also started to learn the Tai Chi form. It's made up of 50 movements and we learned groups of movements at a time. I think we got up to number 17 in the few weeks we attended the class. The movements are all done slowly and carefully. It's a nice relaxing feeling to move that way. Each group of movements has a name. We learned Gather Celestial Energy, Play the Guitar, Fair Lady Weaving and Crane Exercising it's Wings.

Crane Exercising Its Wings.
Practising the form took up most of the class. Going over and over what we'd learned each week. I always felt that I couldn't remember what we'd done but it came back a bit once I was back in class. A couple of times Alison (and other more experienced members) went through the full form of 50 movements. It was really nice to watch to see what we were aiming for. 

We learned other stretches over the weeks too. Single Iron Arm, Beware the Bear and Change One's Mind each with different health benefits. Alison emailed us all the details of what we'd done in class so we could practise at home which was a really nice idea.

Tai Chi is a martial art so the movements can be used as defense. We were shown how some moves could be used in this way. JD and I are used to attacking each other after the Boxing so we enjoyed this part.

The classes always finished with another stretch Five Lotus Petals and then a finishing bow (see below).

Alison and I bowing.

We enjoyed the classes. Alison was friendly, approachable and welcoming.  We loved learning the form, the slow mindful movements gave us a graceful feeling (whether we looked graceful is another matter!). We did feel like we'd have liked to know more about the chi part of Tai Chi. Even so, it's another exercise that I'd like to come back to. I think there's much more to learn.     

If you're interested in learning Tai Chi in Harrogate then this website has the details for you to get in touch with Paul Kenny who will direct you to Alison.    

Previously on Emma's Exercise Experiments:






Sunday, June 3, 2018

Smoothies: Green Tea & Blueberry

I'm not really a fan of green tea, I can't get past the taste of it. I keep a box in the cupboard because my Mum drinks it. I've nicked a teabag for this smoothie, don't tell her!


3 Tbsp boiling water
1 green tea bag
2 tsp honey
1cup frozen blueberries
1 banana
¾ c cup milk

These amounts seem really specific but I think it's still good if you deviate a little. Steep the teabag in the water and leave to cool a bit before you blitz everything up.

I couldn't really taste the green tea in this smoothie but it's good to know it's in their giving me it's goodness. It was a nice thick smoothie and a lovely colour.

Green tea & Blueberries have tons of health benefits :)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Family Game Review: Dungeons & Dragons (Starter Set)

We were all excited to play this game but a bit wary because it seems complicated. JD was going to be the Dungeon Master so he was tasked with reading through the instruction books so he could guide us through the game.

My character sheet

Everyone else picked one of the pre-set character sheets and read up on what our characters were like. We got a bit overexcited and made some props.

I was a female dwarf soldier called Helja Ironfist, complete with realistic beard.

Erin was a wealthy noble called Amafrey Illuskan.

Leigh was a halfling thief called Kit with a homemade dagger.

We were all ready to play.

Progress was a bit slow to start with as we were unsure what to do in some situations. There was fights with goblins, then dogs, caves to explore and we almost got swept away by a huge wave.

Despite this excitement Erin was starting to get bored. And then a bit complainy, wanting to abandon the game to do something else. This annoyed JD because he'd spent ages setting up the game for us to play it. It ended with an arguement and Erin going off upset.

We carried on but it was harder with less people playing. After about 2 hours we decided to stop to finish another day.

Dungeons and Dragons has a lot of potential to be a game we all enjoy but it takes a lot of patience and effort to get started. We're going to have another go at it sometime and alter things to make it a bit easier so there's a bit more action and less tediously slow battles.

We all enjoyed the role-playing part of the game, each trying to be like our characters and act how they would. I feel sad I don't actually have a beard.

Ratings: JD - 2 , Emma - 3, Leigh - 3 and Erin - 2 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Back in Time for Dinner - 1910s

Last year we watched a TV show called Back in Time for Dinner. A family had their kitchen changed as they ate food from each decade from the 50s onwards. It was really interesting to see how food had changed through the years.

Watching it, I thought to myself "Ooh, I'd like to try doing that" (as I often do) and so I am. Starting from 1910 (roughly 100 years back) I'm going to make us a meal from each decade to try.

Today we're eating Red Flannel Hash.


1 cup cubed corned beef
1 cup cubed cooked beetroot
1 cup cubed cooked potatoes
1-2 chopped onions
 1/4 cup lard

Melt the lard in a hot pan and cook the onion. Add the other ingredients and stir as it cooks.

 We had ours with some freshly made granary bread.

This meal was great. It cooked in just one pan and it was very simple. It was weird making food using no seasonings but it was really tasty as it was. Using lard was different too as we usually use vegetable oil for cooking. This meal was useful for using up leftover cooked potato and other vegetables so it often had carrots or swede in as well. Really any cooked veg you wanted to use up. I've never had corned beef hash with beetroots before but they're a really nice addition giving flavour as well as colour. JD and I have decided we could easily eat this way, now we just have to convince the kids!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Emma's Exercise Experiments - Pilates

I didn't know what to expect from Pilates, I had to google what it was before the first session! Joseph Pilates invented this system of exercise that works to strengthen your core muscles and improve balance. He called it Contrology but now it's known by his surname.

We went along on a Wednesday night to a local school hall and took our place on mats with about 10 other people. It was easy to arrange as you just turn up and pay on the door. £7 a class run by Heaven & Hell Fitness.

The instructor, Claire, led us through a full body workout with stretches, squats, push ups, planks and much more. Some of the positioning was hard to get and it was tricky trying to follow Claire at the front of the class while on your back with your legs in the air.

After the first session I was pleased I'd been able to do most of the stretches. Claire asked how we'd got on and told us Pilates only has 36 movements so the next time we'd know what to expect more.

Squats while circling arms.

A lot of the movements felt similar to Yoga but were a bit more fast paced. Instead of holding a position, Pilates has you repeating the stretch about 10 times until you can feel the burn in your muscles.

The next week felt a bit easier as we knew what moves were coming up. Also we did some leg stretching using straps to help which felt great for my knees.

We did 4 weeks in total and I could feel some stretches getting easier the more we did them. After a long day at work I was often reluctant to go but after the class my legs always felt better, less tired and well stretched.

JD's favourite stretch was the Child's Pose.

It's a great way to tone muscles, you don't really get sweaty doing it but it's very effective. We could feel a difference after just a few weeks. Our class had men and women of all ages which was nice to see.

I enjoyed the classes, they were led well and adaptations were given for people at different levels. Claire was very welcoming and friendly. Overall though I felt Pilates wasn't for me, but it's a great exercise and it was lovely to see lots of people enjoying it.

If you want to give it a try visit the Heaven & Hell Fitness website

Previously on Emma's Exercise Experiments:





Thursday, May 3, 2018

Vegetable Update Part 2

I'm back again with more vegetable adventures! Even more ways to try get your 5 a day.

Mushrooms in Tomato Sauce

I couldn't find a recipe for what I wanted but this is just sliced mushrooms cooked in passata. I'm not going to lie, I hate mushrooms. I gave this a try but just felt mildly upset it was touching my other food.

Cumin Roasted Carrots

These look burnt but actually they're just fashionably blackened. Very nice dipped in a bit of mayo.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

This was really good. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. JD and I were surprised how much we enjoyed it.

Chunky Blender Salsa

Ridiculously easy to make (so I'm told, JD made it) and really tasty. We polished off this entire bowl using tortilla chips and smothering it on chicken wraps.

Slow Roasted Onions

We used balsamic vinegar instead of the suggested red wine vinegar but even so this is a simple but delicious recipe for onion lovers. Soft onions soaked with flavour, yum!

There you go, 5 more vegetable dishes to try at your leisure. :)