Some months ago I showed the husband the above video. He liked it (so much that “all retch and no vomit” is his current sig on forums) but as we tend to do, it was filed away in our minds. I find the statement “this video will change your life” which usually accompanies this video to be a touch hopeful but nevertheless, it can be a catalyst to change.

On Monday, the husband and I made a change because for us the answer to the question of what we would like to do if money were no object was easy to answer. We’d like to spend time together with our son, explore creative projects. He’d play the guitar and I’d bake. We’d travel and recreate the highlights of our travels thus taking the experience into our very souls.

For starters he’d quit his job.

Friday was his last day.

And breathe!

Now we’re not totally mad. We’ve got three months worth of mortgage, council tax etc in the joint account if we live frugally. I own a successful marketing agency, let out a number of properties and we’re about to launch a business I have high hopes about. This is probably about as calculated a risk as we could make and we’re in a fortunate position but it is very scary. Still, our son won’t be tiny forever and at five months old he’s just getting really awesome.

I’m returning to The Thursday Column to chart this journey. Hopefully it’ll be something to look back on fondly from our holiday home in Istanbul a few years down the line. I’m thinking the husband is making some tea while I glance over my files as a reminder of how it all began before the interviewer arrives to do one of those god awful pieces on women who have perfect lives and who you always hope have cellulite.*

I really hope that is what happens.

Meanwhile, as I dream of drinks overlooking the Blue Mosque (I have done this before, it’s utterly gorgeous) my current activities are a little less grand. For I have planted herbs and fried falafel.


* I’ll have cellulite. Pinkie promise.

The Herb Pot

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I have always failed at growing herbs so was rather excited to read an article in the March edition of Red Magazine that was all about easy to grow herbs, reliable vegetables and so forth. Rosemary, thyme and sage were thus on my list to try. Imagine my joy then a couple of weekends ago when on Gardener’s World (it was the first time I’ve seen it and boys was it exciting) Monty Don explained how to plant just these three. I waited as long as I could before bounding upstairs to wake the husband to talk about horticultural grit.

He took my enthusiasm rather well considering he’d been up between 2.15 and 5.45 with our son who was rather under the weather. It was 11am so he’d had chance to sleep in fairness and I had made him a coffee. That afternoon we headed out and spent £15 on grit, three plants and some plant food. Yikes! That’s hardly budgeting but I’m trying to have faith that we’ll have lots of herbs all summer and it’ll be worth it.

For this project I used:


  • Cobbles from a badly designed pond by my houses’ former owner
  • 1 large plastic container (left over from a plant my mum gave us for the garden)
  • Top soil from the hole my mum dug to insert plant into said garden
  • Horticultural grit (£3.99)
  • A Rosemary plant (£2.99)
  • A Sage plant (£2.99)
  • A Thyme plant (£1.49)
  • Herb food (£2.99)

 What I did:

  1.  Filled the container with cobbles to leave a space about 9 inches deep
  2. Mixed soil and grit 50:50 and planted the herbs within this
  3. Gave it all a good water, poured on some feed and put it in a sunny spot

Where I’ve been going wrong it seems is that these “Mediterranean” herbs like well drained soil and sun. By planting them in compost I was keeping them too damp.


Falafel

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Part of my plan is to eat good food as cheaply as possible. I had a 500g bag of dried chick peas and decided to make Falafel. I made 8 servings for around £3 which is great. Where the expense lies is the salad but I bought a punnet of “living salad” from Lidl and am hopeful of keeping it alive and reharvesting it.



Ingredients:
  • 1 litre vegetable oil (£1.59 from Tesco**)
  • About 100g plain flour (about 8p)
  • 500g dried chick peas (£1.09 from Tesco – I’m sure these can be bought in bulk for far less)
  • 3-4 small onions (about half of a 69p bag from Lidl)
  • ½ bulb of garlic (24p from Tesco)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium free range eggs (approx 70p from Tesco)
  • 3 tbsp Tahini paste (£1.49  for a 180g jar from Sainsbury’s)
  • 2 tbsp dried cumin
  • 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Method:
  1. Soak chick peas for 24 hours then simmer for an hour.
  2. Finely chop onion and garlic (I use a food processor) and sweat in olive oil until soft.
  3. Put 1/3 of the chick peas in the food processor with 1 tbsp Tahini paste and blitz. Add an egg and process until smooth. Scrape into a large bowl and repeat twice.
  4. Add onion mixture and spices and mix thoroughly.
  5. Heat oil in a large lidded pan until a small cube of bread sizzles upon contact.
  6. Take large dessert spoonfuls of falafel mix and drop into the flour, dust lightly then roll between your hands. Make 24 falafels.
  7. Using a slotted spoon lower the falafels into the hot oil. Only cook 3-4 at a time or you’ll lower the temperature of the oil. They’re ready when they’re a dark golden brown. Drain well on kitchen towel.
  8. I allowed three per person so kept six aside and froze the rest. While they taste best straight from the pan I was batch cooking late afternoon so to serve they went on a dry baking tray in a 180 oven for 15 minutes to warm through.



** Oil used for frying can be used three times. Just allow it to cool and decant back into the bottle. It looks manky I warn you.






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