Welcome to my 7th monthly update, all about what I’ve been up to on Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen in January 2015.
As always I’ll share with you my experiences and hopefully pass on a few helpful tips, as well as the usual visitor and income numbers.
If you’ve not read one of my reports before and want to know a bit more about why I write them, then take a look at my very first report.
January 2015 – A record breaking month for Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen
This month I have seen an 800% increase in visitors to my site with over 12,000 people popping by (welcome all!). I put this down to three things (all of which conveniently start with the letter P!)…
Anyone who reads my monthly reports will have noticed that getting my food photographs onto photo-sharing websites like Tastespotting and Foodgawker has been high on my list of priorities.
I’m happy to say that I’ve now reached a point where I’m mostly successful (yay). However, over Christmas Jon (my husband) and I were discussing whether there were any alternatives to Foodgawker and Tastespotting. He kindly offered to help me out by having a look into this, so now I’m going to hand over to him to tell you all about what he found…
Every year when it comes to Shrove Tuesday I always end up Googling “Pancake Recipe” and aiming for the first thing that comes up.
This has led to some hit and miss pancakes over the years. Some too stodgy, some lacking flavour, and fortunately some good ones too.
This year I decided that enough was enough. No more pancake Russian Roulette. I was going to figure out what I think is the perfect pancake recipe.
I have now lost count of the number of pancakes I’ve made (and eaten) over the past week (not to mention my Lemon and Raisin Pancakes which I also made this week too!). Some of them weren’t even particularly good. However, after much experimentation I’ve found something I’m really happy with.
It’s Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day as I prefer to call it) on the 17th February so I’m busy busy busy pulling together recipes for some of my favourite pancakes, one of which is these Lemon and Raisin Pancakes.
Unfortunately this means that my mission to build my repertoire of healthy breakfast recipes has stalled after the banana and almond breakfast smoothie, but I’ll be back on it again soon, I promise.
This month we celebrate both Valentine’s Day on the 14th and Chinese New Year on the 19th so I thought it would be fun to make fortune cookies (although it turns out from my pre-posting research that fortune cookies are actually an American invention).
The great thing about making your own fortune cookies is that you can personalise the message however you want. Although if you’re stuck for ideas there are websites like Fortune Cookie Message where you can get a few ideas. I particularly like “Your shoes will make you happy today” and “Sometimes you just need to lay on the floor”.
I’m not a vegetarian and generally I tend to eat meat as a major part of most of my meals. However, I’ve always enjoyed vegetable lasagne so thought I would have a go at creating my own.
There are a couple of other reasons for creating this vegetable lasagne recipe…
I’m always looking for ways to sneak extra fruit and vegetables into my family’s food. By cutting the meat and making the dish all about the vegetables it gives me the perfect opportunity to cram in as many as possible (This vegetable lasagne contributes two of your five-a-day).
It’s that time again to launch the #FoodYearLinkup for February 2015.
Thank you to everyone who joined in last month, we had some fabulous recipes linked up. My favourite recipe from last month was this Pannetone French Toast for Breakfast Week from Laura at A Girl and Her Home.
Béchamel (white) sauce is a really versatile little sauce. I use this white sauce for lasagne, pasta bakes, cauliflower cheese, fish pie, there are so many possibilities.
It’s really simple to make at home with everyday ingredients. I use a roux base (butter and flour) and then add milk, cloves, bay leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper. Some recipes also add onion (which is removed before serving). However, I find it a little overpowering as the sauce has a delicate savoury flavour so I prefer not to.
Saltimbocca is a dish traditionally eaten in Italy, Spain, Greece and Southern Switzerland. It was traditionally made using veal. However, over time the recipe has been adapted to use other meats such as chicken, turkey and pork¹.
I was inspired to make a pork version after buying something similar ready-to-cook from Marks & Spencer, which I enjoyed. It’s so simple to prepare, theres really no need to buy something ready-made. I also make this recipe using turkey breast steaks instead of the pork loin which works really well too.
My mother-in-law makes brilliant carrot and swede mash and for a while I’ve been trying to emulate it. I always failed. No matter what I tried it just lacked the level of flavour she could get.
Masterchef to the rescue
Then just before Christmas I was watching an episode of Masterchef: The Professionals and one of the contestants was making mashed potatoes. Rather than boiling the potatoes before mashing them, he roasted them. Apparently this gives them more flavour. It gave me an idea. If you can increase the flavour in mashed potatoes by roasting, then surely the same approach would work for carrot and swede.