Saturday, 28 May 2011

Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons á la Smitten Kitchen

Bread is pretty much my favourite food and my comfort food, and one of the things that often gets reduced at the end of the day in Sainsbury's; so it's not surprising that I occasionally end up with too much of it. This week while I was eating my way through another bargain lot of Waitrose mini bagels (25p down from £1.25) I managed to neglect the end of  the french stick I'd bought last weekend and it went stale. It didn't go mouldy like normal bread though, it just went completely dry and hard. I was wondering what to do with it & thinking of bruschetta-like things when I remembered this recipe I'd seen on Smitten Kitchen. Her version was based around amazing tomatoes from a farmers market, my version is made with Sainsbury's basics and stuff I already had, but it was still delicious. The "croutons" on top stay hard and crunchy but the bits underneath go all smushy and lovely, full of tomato juice. The tomatoes stay juicy too. It's really very simple but also very excellent.
I had some cold when I came back from the pub last night & it was still good & I'm having it for lunch today too! It's tasty enough to be a meal in itself but could also be an accompaniment to, say baked chicken. I haven't decided yet if I can call it healthy, it does have oil & bread in it.
Here's my interpretation of the recipe, using what I had, with only rough measures and made-up timing (plus I forgot the sugar). It still turned out awesome so it's probably idiot-proof!

I could be a TV chef...
 You need:
Saucepan/frying pan, oven-proof dish, little dishes if you want to be organised as above
Bread - cut into cubes, I used about a 6in/15cm of stale sesame seed baguette including the end
Olive oil - a couple of sloshes at the appropriate stages
Onion - I used half a small one & two salad onions. (I didn't follow the recipe exactly and just assumed there'd be onion in it somewhere!)
Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped or pressed
Tomatoes - ~6.5 basics largeish tomatoes (the 0.5 resulted from sandwich making), chopped as above & nasty yellow stick-like bits removed
Cheese - Grated, enough for a decent sprinkling on top of your dish (mine's Grana Padano)
Balsamic vinegar - ~1tbsp
Basil - roughly chopped, fresh is best (I have a plant :)) but I imagine dried would be ok
Salt & pepper

  1. Chop everything! Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, 350 Farenheit
  2. Fry the onions/garlic in a little oil until softened & put to one side (I dumped them in my oven-proof dish temporarily)     
  3. Fry the bread in more oil, stir lots so it doesn't just soak up the oil, make it look toasty/crouton-y
  4. Dump all your chopped tomato in with the bread, plus vinegar, salt & pepper
  5. Cook it for a few minutes on the hob, don't smush the tomatoes too much
  6. Take off the heat, stir in the basil
  7. Transfer to the oven-proof dish, sprinkle cheese over the top.
  8. Bake for 30 mins (recipe said 45-50, I was impatient)
  9. Eat!
 This is how it looked post-ovening

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Flowers, Food & Film

I've been busy revising away these last couple of weeks, and it's been pretty unexciting, but obviously worthwhile. Today I had my first exam (Computer Architecture) and, while there were some horribly tricky bits, I think I generally knew what I was talking about. The paper was sadly nowhere near as nice as the past papers and example questions. My average from the first two courseworks is something like 60%, and that makes up 40% of the unit, so I should definitely at least pass this unit!
Next up is Linear Algebra, which is BIG thing, my Maths units are totally exam based (there's homework every week to help you keep up & to back you up when exams go wrong) so it's pretty important too. Hopefully tomorrow's revision class should give me some confidence.

In between all the revision I've done some nice stuff too, including having lunch with my Mum at a local deli - we shared a plate of 4 salads with bread and leaves and some exciting cheese and drank fancy organic lemonade (Luscombe - it's yummy).  I was too busy eating all that and talking to Mum to take any photos of it but we did persecute someone's front garden with our cameras. These lovely roses are on the corner of the street and the garden also has lots of herbs and a cat. Ideal!

Mum also brought me a pair of lovely sparkly cupcakes from The Mall Deli in Clifton, the other one was pink! Tasty as well as pretty.

One day I went to the darkroom with the boy and some friends to develop our colour films. Photosoc was very kindly given a load of gear by the widow of an amateur photographer and the clever darkroom-y chaps have figured out how to develop and print colour film. It's more exciting and cheaper than taking it to a shop, but of course you still have to scan it yourself and there's always the chance you'll mess something up. Poor boy went and absent mindedly opened the lid of the tank and mostly ruined one of my films, but he's taken on the challenge of scanning it & trying to salvage the pictures. It's a shame it was that film as there was a photo of him in a suit!

We made little film people! The holes were made by the clips we use to hang the film up to dry. The little one on the left is completely unexposed (a solid black picture) and the other two are completely exposed (solid white).

Explaining the many holes in the Holga
The Jobo! Magical C41 film developing machine

This week has been mostly sitting in the Computer Science department eating fruit (Sainsbury's Basics strawberries - good AND cheap AND from Somerset!) and trying to learn about logic gates and MOSFETS (which annoyingly I didn't need to know in the end). I've also taken a fair few trips to Waitrose on the way home, since their end of day reductions are better than anyone's. Sometimes you can get a really fancy loaf of bread that's meant to be £1.69 for 19p.
On this particular day I picked up reduced parsley and spring onions (potato salad!) and soda farls, which came to £1.02, then I found Pie Minister sweet pies reduced from £1.99 to 49p each, so I picked up two, bringing my total to £2.03. When I went to the check out, the till applied "Pieminister 2 for £3 offer" and took 98p off. Free pie!

I did feel a bit like I was robbing them but the check-out lady didn't object, and apparently this is a known problem but they can't be bothered to fix it! So yes, apple & raspberry pie and vanilla ice cream. Om nom.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

No More Coursework!

This is Linear Algebra, it's not much fun.

I've just finished with my last coursework of the year which is a great relief as CS courseworks tend to take ages and be pretty frustrating! Sadly I don't get a break as my first exam is a week on Thursday. That's why my bed currently looks like this:
I've got lots of colourful folders & dividers to keep everything together, and when I'm done with all my exams, this years notes will be confined to the largest of the brown boxes featured in my last post and put away under the desk!

I haven't been spending *all* my time working though, I'd go crazy if I didn't have a break. Sadly I missed the crazily wonderful spectacle that is the Eurovision Song Contest (& accompanying barbecue party) , but it was for a good cause - I went to see The Wave Pictures play :D Some bands are just disappointing live as they sound nothing like their recordings but this was definitely not the case here. It was just excellent. The songs which the drummer sang were especially lovely. Bliss! And a wonderful break from the stress of coursework.

Yesterday was my first day of freedom from coursework and I took advantage of it! I made up some lost sleep by sleeping in, then made my way to lectures via my favourite run of charity shops on Cotham Hill, where I found this lovely skirt for £3.99:
And picked up an old duvet cover (£1.99!) to make into a muslin/toile for my attempt to replicate this dress of mine that I really like the shape of. It was only £1.99 and hopefully will provide plenty enough material for a decent attempt. It's also light and fairly sparsely patterned so I should be able to see what I'm doing...

Now what colour buttons should I use on this if I end up with something wearable?!

I've also been playing Carcassonne with the boy, I beat him 149-93 last night!
This is a game from February but you get the idea.

And I'll leave you with the tiny crane I made from a Fruitella wrapper :D

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A Sunny Sunday Photo Summary

 On Brandon Hill, sitting about with friends. Bristol's rather lovely.
In the photo on the left you can see the masts of the SS Great Britain.

 Making chocolate chip banana bread, it gets more appealing looking as the process goes on...

 Classic LNER posters á la Adam, discovered in the girls loos in the engineering department of my university. Strange & unexpected but lovely.

 Next  door have lovely flowers! I went out to buy a fuse for the toaster and enjoyed the sun and pretty flowers along the way. Turned out it's kaput despite new fuse.

I bought myself some big brown storage boxes which turned out to have pink inside! This one's for negatives and camera stuff. The next biggest will house all my notes from this year once I'm done with exams; last years are in a spotty box.

The pink crochet blanket of incredible ugliness has entered a new phase! Hot pink and baby pink stripes next. It might even be done by winter. The first two colours (far left) were from Wilkinson's, the next (far right) were from an indpendent sewing/craft shop in Great Yarmouth, and the last two are from Credit Cruncher in Bristol. Credit Cruncher is the kind of shop that sells everything made of plastic - bins, washing baskets, cutlery drainers etc. and cheap homewares.

My Agfa Silette SLE is sitting on my shelf now, it's taken over from the Agfa Optima I which has gone to live in my new box (as it works and this one doesn't)

 New toaster is banished to the windowsill to burn out all it's nasty chemically new toaster smell. We love it already because it has a "bun warmer".

Lovely leafy... Bristol. <3