Friday, 26 February 2016

Chunky Oven-Baked Ratatouille and Pasta

It's now 13 days until BUSOM's production of Back to the 80s starts (and 10 days until we start rehearsing in the theatre itself).  Last Sunday, I cut a cursor out of cardboard on my bedroom floor for the one scene that I will be appearing in and will soon be learning the choreography for.  On Tuesday, we had our first full run-through with members of the tech team coming to watch us and take notes for the set of the production, and I heard and saw some of the songs that I hadn't heard being rehearsed before and I was very impressed by the sound and choreography.  Yesterday's main focus was Act 2, from which the choreography to Dancing On The Ceiling, the line delivery of "The only difference between you and a bucket of crap is the bucket", and the choreography of a fight scene between two characters.  I've now also seen most of the costumes, including a black sparkly dress and a few of the tie-dye T-shirts made at the fundraiser event we held a few weeks ago.  I'm getting more and more nervous about this every day, but I'm also very excited and very proud of the cast and the rest of the production team.  Tickets are on sale at!

Get your tickets now for our main show 'Back to the 80s'.Be sure to get them before they're gone! ...
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Getting closer every day!⏳ #backtothe80s #mainshow #countdown #musicals #musicaltheatre #teambradford
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Friday, 26 February 2016

Meanwhile, my final project group development plan was submitted today, meaning that 15% of the marks have now been accounted for.  The main areas that I wrote were the competitor analysis of the other websites that have similar features to what we are going to provide with the website we are developing, and the industrial budget for the project, for which I was constantly updating the final totals after changing one figure after another.  The next 15% is for my 2000 word individual reflective report which is due next Friday.

I've heard some people say that they think a plant-based diet is too expensive for them, but it's been proven to be possible.  There is the Live Below The Line initiative in which participants fed themselves on £1 (or Australian $2, seeing as I followed agirlnamedally's Live Below The Line journey) a day for 5 days to gain an insight into the amount of money that those who live "below the poverty line" are able to spend each week on food.  There are also plenty of blogs by vegans who have a lower budget, including students.  I found this recipe in a little booklet called "Meat-Free: Feed four for under a fiver!" that I picked up at a stall at my university's volunteering fayre promoting volunteer work with animals, anti-animal testing and veganism.  What I like most about this recipe is that it's full of delicious vegetables!

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 large red onion - peeled and cut into chunks
1 large courgette - cut into chunky pieces
1 large aubergine - cut into chunky pieces
2 red peppers - de-seeded and cut into chunks
2 yellow peppers - de-seeded and cut into chunks
8 garlic cloves - peeled
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
400g can plum tomatoes
several sprigs of fresh basil
Your choice of pasta


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius OR 350 degrees Fahrenheit OR Gas Mark 4.
  2. Put all the vegetables into a roasting tray or large shallow casserole dish, and sprinkle with the lemon juice, oil and pepper.
  3. Mix so that all the vegetables are coated.
  4. Bake, uncovered, in the oven for 20 minutes, giving the vegetables a stir after about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
  6. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions whilst the vegetables cook for another 10-12 minutes.
  7. Season the vegetables with more pepper if necessary, tear the basil over the top and serve with the pasta.

Also, I'll be posting soon about my weekend in Newcastle over Valentine's weekend (it was for a 21st birthday party and had nothing to do with Valentine's Day though)!

    Monday, 15 February 2016

    Toasted Quinoa Bowl with Falafel, Avocado and Red Cabbage Salad

    I'm writing this a couple of days late while every part of my body is crying out for me to go to sleep, but I thought I should sort this post out once and for all before I start writing the post for this new week (based on the weekend I've just spent in Newcastle).  This recipe was one I found in the January 2016 edition of Tesco Food Family Living, and I can't help but notice that there seems to be an increasing number of vegetarian and also vegan recipes in this magazine and the February edition (which is currently on the kitchen table).  If it's not just me noticing this, it's exciting!

    Ingredients (serves 6)

    1 x 264g pack of frozen sweet potato falafel
    2 large corn on the cob
    200g (7oz) quinoa
    450ml (3/4 pint) vegetable stock
    1/2 lemon, juiced
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    300g (10oz) red cabbage, finely shredded
    3 carrots, grated
    60g (2 1/2 oz) wild rocket
    1 avocado, sliced
    1 x 200g pot tzatziki


    1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, 180 degrees C (when using a fan oven), or gas mark 6.  Put the falafel in a large roasting tin and bake for 18 minutes, turning halfway, until crisp and hot.
    2. Wrap the cobs in foil and bake alongside the falafel for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove the cobs and discard the foil.  Slice off the kernels with a sharp knife and set aside until needed.
    3. Meanwhile, put a large frying pan on the hob over a medium heat.  Add the quinoa and toast, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, until golden with a nutty aroma.  Pour in the stock, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are tender.  Remove from the heat and leave to rest, covered, for 5 minutes, before stirring in the lemon juice and olive oil.
    4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the red cabbage, carrot, corn and rocket.  Add the quinoa and gently toss until well mixed.  Divide the mixture between 6 serving bowls.
    5. Slice the falafels in half and divide them between the bowls.  Top each salad with a slice of avocado and serve with a dollop of tzatziki.

    Sunday, 7 February 2016

    Harry Potter Book Night at Waterstones, Bradford

    On Thursday, I made the last-minute decision (well, it was about 5 hours before I had to set off for the event, but it was still too late to get my Hogwarts and Hufflepuff pins from home and too late for me to have put my camera in my bag) to go with a set of friends from BUSOM and one from RamAir to a Harry Potter Book Night event at the Waterstones store at the old Wool Exchange in Bradford.  Two of my friends came in full-on Slytherin attire (one in a Slytherin uniform with tie, scarf, wand and a dark mark temporary tattoo, and the other in a Bellatrix-inspired costume complete with Bellatrix's bird skull necklace and a dark mark ring, as well as a wand and a dark mark temporary tattoo), while a couple of the other girls just wore house-relevant T-shirts/scarves/hoodies.  Meanwhile, I was just in my BUSOM hoodie and my Moby Dick show T-shirt.

    To start proceedings, each attendee was sorted into Hogwarts houses for the competition aspect of the event, as we would be scoring points during each activity.  We each had the Sorting Hat placed on our heads and we picked a folded slip of paper containing our house at random from a hat.  This meant that many of us were sorted into houses that were not our official houses.  For example, my two aforementioned Slytherin friends were both sorted into Hufflepuff, and a Gryffindor friend and I (a loyal Hufflepuff) were both sorted into and scoring points for Ravenclaw for the evening.

    I was sorted into Ravenclaw for the night ...

    But I'm a Hufflepuff!

    The first activity was a treasure hunt where we each had a piece of paper with the names of ingredients involved in making polyjuice potion (powdered bicorn horn, leeches, lacewing flies, knotgrass, fluxweed, and shredded Boomslang skin), and we had to raid the children's section of Waterstones to find these ingredients and write the letter that identified each ingredient onto the sheet.  As there were only approximately three Ravenclaws, we only scored 3 points for each of the first two activities.

    The second activity was a wordsearch, where we had to find a large set of words associated with Harry Potter, including Riddikulus, Morsmordre and Expelliarmus, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally as well as forwards or backwards.

    After a short break for buying ourselves presents (see below), white hot chocolate and either jelly beans or chocolate frogs (Freddo bars), the third and final activity, the quiz, commenced.  We teamed into our houses (due to there being a lot of Hufflepuffs, Hufflepuff had the largest number of groups, while Ravenclaw only had 2 teams for their 3 members) and answered questions on charms and spells, jinxes and hexes, transfiguration, potions and ingredients, curses and the dark arts, and a "wildcard" round.  Having not read the books (not because I don't want to, but because it would take a lot of concentration and time I currently don't feel like I have), I could only answer a few of the questions myself, but my aforementioned true Gryffindor friend was very enthusiastic and keen to share her knowledge of Harry Potter and we managed to achieve 100% in every round, reaching a total score of 2190 points!

    In the end, Hufflepuff (probably due to their having several teams for the quiz) won both the quiz and the competition overall, followed by Gryffindor and Slytherin, while Ravenclaw came 4th with 3000 and something points (we suspect someone else had a small Hufflepuff team).  One of my friends in a Hufflepuff team won a bookmark for being the most enthusiastic team member, and we were all given certificates of attendance.

    My certificate of participation in the event!

    This was next to the display of Harry Potter books and other Harry Potter things and it's so cute.

    I also treated myself to the Harry Potter colouring book and a Harry Potter snow globe!

    My new colouring book.

    My Harry Potter snow globe.


    Friday, 5 February 2016

    Pistachio Ice Cream

    Earlier this week, Ben & Jerry's announced and released their brand new and much-anticipated almond milk-based, dairy-free, vegan range of 4 ice creams, which include vegan-friendly versions of Chunky Monkey, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Coffee Caramel Fudge, and P.B. & Cookies.  As far as I can tell, they're not available in the UK yet, but it's nice to know that if/when the day comes that I "go vegan", I'll still be able to have Ben & Jerry's ice cream!

    I know there are other less well-known vegan-friendly ice cream ranges, but I don't know where I can find them here so my easiest option is to make my own banana-based "nice cream".  I found this recipe for pistachio ice cream in the Make More Of It section on inventive ways to use leftover ingredients (in this case, avocado) in the January 2016 edition of the Tesco Food Family Living magazine.


    4 bananas, cut into slices
    2 avocadoes, chopped
    50-75g pistachio nuts, chopped


    1. Place the banana slices into a Ziplock bag and freeze for a few hours or overnight.
    2. Once frozen, process the frozen banana slices and chunks of avocado in a blender or food processor until thick and smooth.
    3. Fold the chopped pistachio nuts through the ice cream mixture, and then scoop into bowls to serve!