29 May 2012

Recipe: Spicy honey-sesame chicken

My sincerest apologies for the mad radio silence all of a sudden! I was busy last week, see. I spent the week here:

Indeedy, I was in London for the week. I was supervising a massive group (110 students in total!) of 1st year students (secondary school, so that's year 9, or 12/13 years old) from my old secondary school on the annual trip to London where we:
- visited an English school
- took a Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour through the heaviest of London traffic I have ever witnessed which resulted in me having a pretty nasty sun stroke at the end of the day
- Went to the London Dungeon where I ended up sitting out most of the tour because some boys got sick (booh, hiss, shall remedy that someday soon)
- Went to St. Paul's Cathedral and climbed up all 528 steps for a magnificent view over the capitol, on one of the hottest days of the year so far (I think it was about 28 degrees but it felt a hell of a lot warmer in that tower!)
- Walked for miles and miles through London with my group of rascals
- Walked atop the White Cliffs of Dover on our way back home

And I did all that without warning any of you that I'd be gone! So, in order to make up for that, I hereby present you with a little recipe that you NEED to try. It's the easiest and most delicious of quick-and-easy recipes the BF and I have tried in the past few years and I can't wait to eat it again! I found it on a lovely blog called A Full Measure of Happiness where the lovely Lauren posts delicious recipes and weird cat-pictures. And this was one of them! The delicious recipes, I mean. Not the cat-pictures.

While the recipe in itself is delicious enough, I tweaked it a bit by adding some spice in the form of 2 red chilli peppers. The honey and soy combination tastes really good, while the crunch from the sesame seeds and the spice from the peppers make it more interesting. The coating on the chicken is so easy, but keeps the chicken much more moist, while also soaking up the sauce perfectly. This is such an easy dish that it can be made in about 15 minutes!
I have been told the leftovers also taste good cold, but we never had any leftovers to speak of, unless you count some stray sesame seeds stuck to the side of the pan!

Spicy Honey-Sesame chicken
(recipe adapted from A Full Measure of Happiness)
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts cut in chunks
2 chili peppers, thinly sliced in rings or strips. Discard the seeds if you want to tone down the spicy, otherwise, leave in and burn away, baby!
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 egg
4 tbsp honey
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp sesame seeds
oil ( I used special wok-oil, a mixture of peanut oil and some light spices. You can just use regular oil, though)
Noodles. (I used thin rice noodles)

Cut your chicken, peppers and onions.
Combine the egg and cornstarch and mix it with the chicken chunks until all the chicken is covered. It will look weird. Don't worry.
Combine the honey, sesame seeds and soy sauce in a bowl and set aside.
Bring water to a boil for your noodles.
Cook the chicken chunks with a bit of oil in a wok or frying pan until nicely browned. Add the onions and peppers and cook for another minute, then add the honey-soy mixture and mix thoroughly to coat all the chicken chunks with the honey sauce. Let simmer for a minute or two on medium heat while you boil the noodles, and leave it on (while stirring occasionally) until your noodles are boiled, strained and ready to eat. It doesn't take long!

To serve, simply fill a plate with a healthy helping of noodles and pile the chicken on top. Make sure to get plenty of that lovely, sticky sauce!

14 May 2012

This & That: Why I won't be online this week

This edition of This & That is all about new hobbies!

On the one hand, I picked up a new physical hobby: running! Yep. After loooong deliberation, and more procrastination because I didn't have the money for my shoes, I bought a proper pair of running shoes last week and have started running. I am so out of shape, it would be hilarious if it weren't so painful (I am so sore. I mean it. I am hurting in places I was not expecting to be hurting in. My feet, oddly enough, are fine though. Must be the awesome running shoes.). I found the Couch to 5k-training programme last year and have been interested in trying this because I thought it would be doable. Let me be honest with you: it wasn't. The first step, alternate running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds, for a total of 20 minutes, was already too much for my bad shape! I know, it's pathetic! So I'm taking it slow, and am slowly, slowly, slowly training to become better. Maybe next year, I will be running that 5k with ease.(I'm not getting my hopes up, though.)
On the other, a less physical hobby, and the real reason why I won't be online too much this week... Diablo 3 is coming out this evening at midnight! I AM SO EXCITED YOU GUYS. Diablo 2 was the first game the boyfriend and I played together, and played for hours and hours on end. We only stopped playing Diablo 2 because they announced Diablo 3 more than 4 years ago, and switched to World of Warcraft as an in-between game for a year or so. It turned out to be slightly longer than that. I have played the Beta, and we've tested all classes, so I can say with fair certainty that I am going to be playing a female Monk first. The storyline was always the main reason I played Diablo 2, and what I've seen and heard so far is looking very promising indeed. So this week, I'll be immersed in Sanctuary, saving the world from Prime Evils. And maybe angels. I don't know yet. That's why I'm excited!

11 May 2012

FO: Spring Ripple Scarf

It's done! All done, blocked, and ready to go! The Spring Ripple Scarf I made for Mother's day, I mean. And it's lovely! The pattern confused me a bit at first, but I think that's the case with most written-out lace patterns for me (I tend to lose track. I have the attention span of a.. hey a butterfly!), but the pattern comes with a graph which was very, very helpful when I tried to get the sides and turns right. Once you get the pattern right, it's smooth sailing until the end of your yarn. No border, so no fiddling with when you need to make your last row in order to not run out of yarn half-way through your border. Always a bonus! I used two balls of Regia Extra Twist Merino Color (such a mouthful!), and I managed to get the last row in with exactly 3 cm. of yarn left. It's a nice length, even though unblocked it barely came past my chest when I wrapped it once around my neck and personally, I like my scarves on the long-ish side. Once blocked, though, it gained a ton of length and is now longer than my favourite scarf, and the pattern opened up really nicely. So yeah, success!

Even though the pictures make it look more grey than blue, it's actually a lovely colour of blue and purple (damn that horrible weather we've been having!). I was afraid that the colour-changes in the yarn would make the scarf look messy, which often happens with variegated yarns in crochet, but thanks to the pattern I actually quite like it. The light spots, the only part of the yarn I'm not too happy about, aren't too noticeable if you wear it. The yarn itself is soft and squishy, and because I was careful during blocking, the stitches still stick out and haven't been flattened.

To 'top it off', haha, I crack me up, I made a little card with some doodles to go with it, in which I have written some instructions on how to block it and wash it. That way, hopefully, she can enjoy it for a long time to come!

So now that this one is all done... I am at a loss for a new project. I would love to try and make a garment of some sort, maybe for the summer. Any suggestions?

8 May 2012

I'm a proud mama

Bird-update! It's been a while.

These two have been behaving so well lately! They've taken to preening our hair when we stick our head into the cage, they accept food from between our fingers when they're outside the cage, they're more relaxed outside the cage (well, mostly, apart from that one time that Anzu missed his landing and ended up in a tall vase. We had to tip the vase over before he realised what way was out.. Poor thing.), they have learned how to shred paper into longer and longer strips, which indicates that they're slowly leaning towards nesting behaviour...

We have had some scary, unpleasant moments too, though: Apart from that time that Anzu missed his landing (he was aiming for a roll of wrapping paper), the other day we let them fly loose for a while and then shut the cage again, but we forgot to close the top of the nesting box properly and Alar got out. I walked into the living room and she scared the living hell out of me, being on the other side of the room, all panicky, clinging to the curtains... However, we were able to lure her back to the right side of the room with nothing more than the wooden stick we use when we're playing with them outside the cage, so we got Al'ar back inside in no time at all. She's been much more outgoing since, though. It's pretty weird. Not that we're complaining, mind, just unexpected!

(I'm calling them him and her now, but we're still not sure what gender they are. Unless one starts laying eggs, I'm afraid we won't find out for a while, either! But I don't mind. )

7 May 2012

(almost) FO: Spring Ripple Scarf

An almost-FO? Yep! I'm going to need your help on this one, people.

Last week, I decided (during blog week, go me, as if I did not have enough to do already) to make a scarf for Mother's Day. I had been toying with this plan for a while because I was given a ball of Regia Extra Twist Merino Color in a swap and my mother had been dropping hints about how well the colours matched her coat. If you visited during Blog Week, you may have seen it feature in a few posts...

She wasn't very subtle about it, either. But hey, dropping hints about wanting to receive hand-made gifts doesn't make her a bad woman, it just means she's an enabler to my crafty hobbies.

So after much deliberation, I picked out a pattern, the Spring Ripple Scarf, ordered more of the same yarn (and crossed my fingers that there would be no distinct difference between the dye lots) and got to hooking the thing.

It's as long as it's going to be with 2 balls of yarn worked into it (and the final row was a real struggle to get done, I had about 3 cm. left after the last stitch and worked it into a really tight knot, so I hope it will just hold), but there's a lot of extra length still to be won from the blocking process and it really needs to be blocked, since it's a massive blob of wobbly wobbles right now. And I'm not even exaggerating.

So here's where you guys come in. I have only blocked a few items in my life, and the last time was the first time it actually worked out okay. So how would I go about blocking this puppy? It's a merino/nylon blend (it's sock yarn). What would you suggest is the best way to block this scarf so that it will maintain its shape? Do you have a favourite blocking method for this type of wool?