The Scamp Cooks

With the start of the new semester, and going back to work after a Christmas break of poor sleeping habits, I am finding it difficult to get back into the swing of being an adult. I’ve still yet to complete my list of 22 things I would like to do in 2022, and I have not really been committed to much of anything personal health or hobby related.

One thing that will be on my list, and has been on my list since 2019/2020 is to cook and prepare healthy meals that will help me not only have a more well-balanced diet, but will also give me something fun to do if I ever become social again (dinner party at the Davis Hovel anyone?). One of the things I like about being able to order my groceries online from Tesco is that they have suggested recipes. When you scroll through them, if you find one that you like, you can add all the ingredients to your cart automatically. I’ve found three recipes so far, and tried the first one out last week.

Prep work for homemade salsa

And what do you know? It was a success! Turns out I can follow a recipe and make a very simple meal of fish finger tacos.

Fish finger tacos

Now some of you who know me as more than words on the page know that I love making tacos, but rarely do more than cook the meat and make my own guac. Usually it is more about opening jars and grating cheese, heating things on the stove (and sometimes microwaving instant rice), rather than making things from scratch. I can actually cook and bake a lot of things, but lately have been living off meal deals and microwave meals.

Because of this, I was proper chuffed with myself for making these super delicious tacos, including my own tartare sauce to enjoy for a few days. If you want to recreate this meal, never fear, I have the recipe for your enjoyment.

Ingredients

  • 12 frozen fish fingers
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 50g pickled sliced jalapeños, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g pack crunchy taco shells
  • 1 Little Gem lettuce, shredded

For the tartare sauce

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped gherkins
  • 2 tsp capers, finely chopped
  • 15g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. Cook the fish fingers to pack instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeños (if using), half the lemon juice and the oil in a bowl and season.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, gherkins, capers, parsley and remaining lemon juice.
  4. Fill each taco shell with some shredded lettuce and 1 tbsp of the tomato salsa. Top with a fish finger and a little tartare sauce to serve.

The only thing I skipped was the gherkins.

My next adventure will be a veggie soup, and if I make this again, I will probably skip the fish fingers and try breading and cooking my own fish….you know, just to be fancy.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 5

I’m a week late. I have not been motivated to write lately. I’m tired and have been running around for data collection, meetings with students and teaching in the evening. All of this is good though. Things are progressing nicely in all of those areas, and I am feeling much better about where I am in terms of my work compared to last year at this time, and I think I am finally on a steady path. I didn’t like the writing challenge for last week, and today marks my 30 day countdown to turning 30, so I thought it was time to update the list.

16. Create a budget to pay down my student loans. Unfortunately this one involves my mom helping me out for right now. There was no way I could afford to pay that and go to therapy, so I am burdening her for a bit longer. The loan is getting paid though, and I am a couple months away from being under $10,000. I’m really excited about that.

18. Create a solid workout routine. Even though the sleep doc couldn’t really help me with my sleep issues, she did give me some ways to help my joints during the day that forces me up and around, and I found a couple of yoga classes to do before bed. My phone also has a help app that guilts me into walking around more during the day. It works, as I try to get at least an hour of walking in a day.

22. Learn to cook a fancy meal. I made my own Chinese food! Orange chicken, chow mein, and egg fried rice. The rice I cheated on, but I made everything else.

The chow mein was a little bland, so I will have to keep working on that, but it wasn’t bad for my first attempt.

With 30 days left, I still have some big things to cross off the list. I’m working on the rap song, but finding a horse and hot air balloon here is super difficult. I’ve managed to get 20 things crossed off and still have some time to work on the rest. There is one thing on the list that I realize might be hard to cross off, but I am going to remain hopeful.

20 days until sunshine.

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries (1/3 done with my trip to Malta, next up, France in November and Hungary in December)
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp is a Slow Cooker

Betty Crocker I am not. Since the weather has been cold and stormy here lately, I thought that it would be wise for me to buy a slow cooker so that I could make soups and other warm treats to get myself through winter. During Black Friday I bought a nice little Crock Pot and a book of 200 recipes using the slow cooker. I was super jazzed about it. My mom is a slow cooking queen, and I have been having dreams about her homemade chicken noodle soup.

Instead of making chicken noodle soup (which is something that I know how to do) I thought I would make pot roasted chicken with veggies and potatoes. The boy was on night shift this week, so I thought something warm and hearty would be good, and help carry him through his shift. I’ve cooked dinner for him before, and it turned out just fine, so I really thought I had this in the bag.

Boy was I wrong.

So, this is what the meal was supposed to look like:

2015-12-06 20.41.17

It just had to simmer for 5 hours with the veggies, some chicken broth, herbs and lemons. Easy. Really easy.

Here is what it looked like at the start:

2015-12-06 13.54.14

This what it looked like at the end, and I was so grossed out, I couldn’t even serve it. I tasted some of the meat, it was tender and cooked all the way through, but then it was bland, and much of it was soggy and gross. The potatoes were over cooked, and the other veg was soggy.

Major fail on my part. I may actually puke just from the reminder.

The boy was a good sport. He did eat one bite and tell me it tasted good, but then we called for Chinese, walked next door to pick it up, and laughed our way through the meal. I was proper sad about my lack of skills for a bit, and did a bit of moping, but he was really nice about it all, and even now, a few hours later, as I munch on cold spring rolls and prawn crackers, I am laughing to myself at how bad it turned out. I’m also really glad that I have leftovers for tomorrow….as well as loads of dishes.

2015-12-06 21.34.48

So I learned a valuable lesson today. Just because I own a slow cooker and a cookbook doesn’t mean I can make 5 star meals. All well. One down, 199 recipes to go. Next up: chili black bean stew.