Pho, for when you’re feeling poorly

Last week, I had such an urge to make some Pho and set about doing some research to make Pho Ga, the chicken version. I gathered my ingredients, set to work and eight bowls worth of delicious Vietnamese soup were finished in no time. A very productive Friday night and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Honestly, Matt should just marry me now, right?

chicken pho pho ga

Flash forward an hour and I’m sending my Mum photos of a strange mark that appeared on my back and telling her I didn’t feel well. We swapped notes and decided I probably had shingles. Never a nice thing to have, but they can be quite dangerous if you’re immunosuppressed like I am.

Ten minutes later, I’m on the phone to a Nurse who’s calling me up to the Hospital to get checked out. Another hour and I’m being handed antivirals by a Doctor. It drives me bonkers that even small things have to be a big deal when you’ve got chronic health problems, but thank you NHS for being so wonderful.

Coming back to the pho, I’m pretty sure that my body knew what was en route before I did. When you’re feeling poorly, weak and in pain, pho is exactly what you need and I had a bucketload in the fridge. It’s like a hug in a bowl.

I spent the weekend napping, watching Suits from the comfort of the bean bag and filling up on pho whilst Matt took great pleasure in addressing me as ‘the riddled one’. Despite a rough few days, I feel like I’ve gotten off lightly. Almost a week later I’m feeling much more human, just in time for Easter weekend.

Do you have plans? If you fancy spending some time in the kitchen and you like Asian food, I recommend giving the soup a go. I went with Smitten Kitchen’s recipe with two tablespoons of coriander seeds and some star anise. Next time I might play about with some more spices but for my first attempt at the chicken variety, I was pleased with the results. Pho seems quite time consuming compared to other soups and broths, but it looks after it’s self, you just have to step in a few times along the way. I promise you it’s worth the extra time!

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My Sunday

This weekend, Matt was away in Birmingham to see some friends which meant spending a rare weekend at my Parent’s. I guess with it being Mother’s Day it was well timed and the weather made it all the better.

It was warm enough to sit outside with my coffee. No jacket required.


Fynn and I wandered down to collect the eggs from the hens, soaking up some welcome warmth. He was really poorly earlier in the week so it was so nice to see him enjoying the sunshine and being his usual self, searching the field for traces of any intruders and running around like a crazy pup.

I love the lighter streaks he gets on his head and the little crimpy bits of hair on his ears.

springer sniffing

The temperature change has set the hens in full swing again, which always means more cake baking. There were six eggs for me to attempt to juggle back. I need to remember to take a box next time.

eggs laid

And the old bird? Well we’re sending her indoor skydiving as her Mother’s Day present. I wonder if she’ll let me blog that?

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The one trick game changer that transforms a fajita meal kit

Do you ever pick up Old El Paso meal kits? They’re easy to turn to when you’re lacking some meal time inspiration and almost anyone could knock up fajitas or tacos following the instructions. I’m about to share a really simple trick that will transform a meal kit in to something a little more special.

We’re going to make fish tacos, they’re going to taste mouthwateringly amazing and no one will know you made it from a box in a supermarket.

assemblefishtaco.jpgInstead of the usual chicken or beef, head to the fish counter and ask for the cheapest, firm white fish they sell. More often than not it will be Basa, Panga or River Cobbler which is a type of Vietnamese Catfish. It got a lot of bad press some years ago but the Aquaculture Stewardship Council have certfied it as sustainable and responsibly farmed. It’s meaty, easy to cook and half the price of cod or haddock. You’ll need two fillets to feed a family of four if you have lots of extra condiments or a fillet each if you are feeling extra hungry.

The trick I’ve mentioned? Add two tablespoons of cornflour to the spice mix, coat the fillets in the mixture and fry in a large skillet or frying pan with a tablespoon of oil on a medium heat.

Watch the fish turn opaque and flip it over when it’s white half way through. Fry for another 5 minutes then turn out on to a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb any oil.


You’ll be left with perfectly cooked fish in a light, crisp, spicy batter, ready to be wrapped up in warm tacos and topped with all your favourite condiments. You’ll want to check out my holy trinity recipes and probably pick up some lettuce, mild cheese and soured cream. The kits come with salsa but if you’d like to try your hand at that, I have a recipe for a knock out blackened salsa. Optional extras? I love Old El Paso‘s corn relish and Matt loves sliced jalepenos.

Load it up…


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Learning to laugh

My week has been odd. So many things didn’t go to plan that I’m putting it all down as an exercise in learning to laugh. I could tell you so many little stories here, but hopefully the four snippets below give you a glimpse at the clumsy adventure that is my life.


One. With three days left on the warranty my beautiful MacBook Pro hit the grey screen of death. It wouldn’t boot, didn’t recognise any system files and there was nothing I could do. Looks like a logic board problem so UPS whipped it away to a Mac hospital and I’m praying it gets back to me soon. It was a laugh or I’ll cry situation.

Two. On Friday I nipped to Superdrug to pick up some new nail varnish but the ones I wanted were all out of stock. I was one of those customers retail assistants hate; in just before closing time and leaving empty handed. As I headed towards the door, it opened and a burst of wind blew against the cardboard advertising sleeve that was covering the security scanners. Seeing the movement out of the corner of my eye, dizzy me thought the entire thing was falling over and leapt out of the way as if I was being attacked. Queue an entire store of workers laughing at the girl that probably looked drunk. So cool.

Three. Matt and I picked up weekend supplies in Tesco. I had some vouchers to use up so I picked up lots of pastry. We hit self service to try and skip queues but as we got to the pay screen, the checkout froze and we had to move over to another and scan it all through again. If self service wasn’t already torturous enough, I was hangry (hungry/angry) and then… “unexpected item in bagging area”. Assistant comes to help. Crash. Repeat. I believe I now hold the record for the longest check out time. It all got a bit stressful.

We got back to the car and the second I sat down it dawned on me; through all the messing around at the checkouts, I hadn’t even used the vouchers for the mountains of pastry I’d bought. UGH!

Four. I had a real ‘deaf girl moment’ on Saturday morning. Matt woke me up and we lay around chatting and catching up on news and our twitter feeds. I won’t tell you exactly what he said, but I completely missheard and a few awkward seconds passed before Matt realised I’d got the wrong end of the stick and corrected me. This has been happening so often lately, I’m just glad we can laugh about it!

How was your week? Did you get attacked by any security scanners? Have you hilariously misheard something?

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