My new food blog is up and running!

Some of you may have noticed this already as I have linked to it on my sidebar and I think I’ve mentioned it once or twice on here (and eleventy times on my Twitter). But it’s true, my food blog is up and running with a few recipes now and a lot more to come.

I eventually settled on the name The Amateur’s Digest, because, well, I’m not really going to explain the pun here as I think you’ll get it if you think about it long enough. But the amateur part of the title holds true – I am very much an amateur, having taught myself from a mixture of different cookbooks by people much better than I, various websites and most particularly a lot of experimentation. But while I’m far from professional, I do really love cooking and baking and I think there are many people out there who eat poorly because they think they could never learn to cook or bake when it really isn’t that hard. So this blog is for them. But it’s also for people who want a bit more of a challenge, because I will be putting up the occasional harder recipe too. Pretty much I’m putting up anything I think is tasty, really.

Anyway, enough of listening to me rambling. Go check out my food blog here! Let me know your thoughts, and especially let me know if you make any of the recipes! I’m hoping this will be a fun shake up of my blogging routine, but don’t worry – this will still be my main blog as always!

Eat on readers, eat on!

The Conundrum of Multiple Blog Syndrome, or, A Third Blog? Really?

That’s the question I have been asking myself for a couple of weeks now. Am I crazy for wanting to start a third blog when some months I struggle to stay on top of my main blog and my second blog (the lists one) has slowed down to one or two posts a month? Personally I don’t think so, although it probably is true that I am crazy for one reason or another anyway.

I’ve been blogging now for nearly three years, and not only has the blogging world changed a lot in that time but I have changed a lot in that time, as has my blog. This particular one started off as mostly a book blog, also sometimes including music reviews and different writing tips and things (some of my poetry form posts from 2012 are still very popular, much to my own surprise). But lately it’s taken a more personal turn as I’ve come to write about my experiences immigrating to Sweden, as well as just whatever I feel like really. I like the personal feel of my blog, but some of my interests I have been wanting to write about I fear would take over my blog and potentially alienate my readers too.

One interest in particular that I’ve developed this year is cooking and, more recently, baking. Perhaps because I’ve had more time and energy, I’ve made myself learn to cook really nice dinners properly. I’ve been training myself to understand how to adapt different recipes to suit my own tastes, how to make things from scratch and how fresh always tastes a million times better. I’ve started to bake from scratch and now I’m even baking my bread myself. I’m no professional chef, but I kind of like that I’m becoming a self taught cook and I feel like I’m developing my own style of cooking as a result of not being 100% competent in the kitchen just yet.

So, unsurprisingly, I am pondering starting a food blog as my third blog. I am passionate about it, and one thing I have learned is that being passionate about your blog subject is one of the most vital things to a successful blog. My concerns, among many, are things like the fact that does the world really need another foodie blog by somebody who doesn’t really know what they’re doing but is pretty good at pretending he does? But then, if I thought that about a book blog I wouldn’t be a blogger at all now would I?

I think I need to consider more how to make a food blog something unique and typically “me”, as well as making it interesting to others whether they are foodies or not. I also need to think of a good name, which is half the challenge in itself. But if and when I do start this new creative venture, I’ll make sure to post about it on here!

To all my blogging readers, do you keep up multiple blogs? Why did you decide to create other ones? Do you find it challenging to keep all of them updated?

Chocolate Brownie in a mug, in minutes!

Chocolate brownie in a mugThis is one of those recipes where I’m unsure how I lived without it before, to be honest. It’s simple, quick, but most importantly it tastes amazing – these are some of the best brownies I have ever tried, if I do say so myself. It’s great for an easy dessert for one, or for an afternoon snack, an accompaniment to coffee – any excuse will do quite frankly. Here’s how you do it:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of flour

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in the bottom of a mug in the microwave. Mix in water, vanilla sugar (substituting for vanilla essence would work fine too) and salt – if you want it slightly saltier you can add more than a pinch, as I’ve been adding somewhere between half and a full teaspoon and it’s fine. Whisk together well with a fork.
  2. Add in cocoa (2 tablespoons is enough, but I like mine with extra cocoa), whisk well. Add in sugar, whisk well. Lastly, add in flour and whisk until it’s all blended together.
  3. Put mug in microwave. How long you microwave it for will depend on both the power of your microwave and how gooey you want the brownie. I like it a little bit gooey but not too much, so about 75-90 seconds on 600w does it perfect for me. A minute or less on 600w leaves it half gooey still, much more than 90 seconds and it’s fully baked.
  4. Enjoy! Add a bit of cream to the top for extra indulgence.

If you try this recipe please let me know your thoughts! I’d also love to hear if anybody else has any similar recipes!

Larousse Gastronomique – The ultimate cooking encyclopedia

Larousse GastronomiqueAlthough I don’t talk about food as much on my blog as I do on other social media (especially Instagram, I know, I’m one of those people), I do have a fondness for food and a growing curiosity – some may even say skill – for cooking. Recently, I bought a cookbook I have been wanting to buy for a few years now – Larousse Gastronomique.

There are plenty of good cookbooks out there, but Larousse Gastronomique is considered one of the ultimate cookbooks. Many of the most renowned chefs around the world have used this book in some form in their kitchens, and indeed many contribute to this edition as well. At over 1200 pages, and over 3800 recipes, this encyclopedia provides information not only on the recipes, but also on the ingredients themselves, their origins and variations, the history of different cuisines, how to use different cooking utensils (with some new ones added in to this 2009 edition), as well as biographies of famous and influential chefs. It’s no wonder that in the 76 years since its first publication it has continued to be so relevant and so well used, and even in this era of information overload on cooking through the internet, cookbooks and cooking shows on television, this tome still works as a back to basics comprehensive guide to the kitchen.

I thought I’d just show a few pictures from inside the book so you can see how it works – it’s quite different to other cookbooks, but not in a bad way.

Here you can see a lot of things on this two page spread, from how to make Hollandaise sauce on the left, to different types of Honey in the table on the right. On the rest of the page are other pieces of information including a number of recipes.

Here you can see a lot of things on this two page spread, from how to make Hollandaise sauce on the left, to different types of Honey in the table on the right. On the rest of the page are other pieces of information including a number of recipes.

Most of the pages look like this, however - just a lot of writing. Don't let the lack of pictures fool you though, because this book isn't about looking pretty. On these 2 pages, amongst the chef bios and cuisine and method explanations, are 9 full recipes. As I said, this book is back to basics, but I personally like it.

Most of the pages look like this, however – just a lot of writing. Don’t let the lack of pictures fool you though, because this book isn’t about looking pretty. On these 2 pages, amongst the chef bios and cuisine and method explanations, are 9 full recipes. As I said, this book is back to basics, but I personally like it.

There are some very visual pages such as this one, which shows all the different types of aromatic herbs and leaves (it goes on for a few pages). Put simply, this book uses images when it needs to, and only when it needs to.

There are some very visual pages such as this one, which shows all the different types of aromatic herbs and leaves (it goes on for a few pages). Put simply, this book uses images when it needs to, and only when it needs to.

Lastly, the back of the book contains these two amazing recommendations - chances are if you like cooking, you like at least one of these two chefs (or you will if you look into them).

Lastly, the back of the book contains these two amazing recommendations – chances are if you like cooking, you like at least one of these two chefs (or you will if you look into them).

I’m not expecting to become some sort of amazing chef overnight, but I am quite sure this book will help me to better my cooking habits and to learn new and exciting ways to experiment with food. If you love cooking, I think you’ll also love this book.

What makes a good cookbook for you? What are some of your favourite cookbooks and chefs, and what is it you like about them so much?

The Coffee Machine

When I moved into my new home in Sweden, I pretty quickly went out to the shops (including the biggest shop I’ve ever been into, Ullared – but that’s another post on its own) to buy all the things I really need, like kitchen utensils, basics for my pantry, snowpants and…uh…a coffee machine. What? It’s a necessity, okay?

The totally-worth-it-coffee-machine.

So anyway, it’s a Nescafé Dolce Gusto, a machine that works with those little pods that you put into it and it does everything else for you. Well, I mean, you have to put water in the back, and change the size of the drink to suit your needs and wants and the rough guidelines of each type of coffee you can make, but otherwise you don’t do much. It can make all your standard coffee drinks, plus different flavours of some (there’s more than one caramel flavoured drink), hot chocolates – it even makes tea (though I find myself reluctant to try that). Not only that, but the thing is fast – it’s warmed up and ready to go within about 30 seconds, so basically you can have a decent coffee in under a minute, all with the press of a couple of buttons. See, totally worth it and necessary, right?**

Here’s my favourite three drinks I like to make with it at the moment:

  1. CappuccinoThe Cappuccino – a classic coffee, I have already gone through nearly two boxes of pods for this one (and frankly I need to slow down). It’s tasty and warming on these cold winter days, and my only real complaint about it is that it’s a bit weak – this is easily fixed up by adding an espresso shot to it, but then you’re using a third pod and those pods aren’t super cheap.
  2. ChococinoThe Chococino – I’m 99% sure this has no coffee or caffeine in it – it’s just a really intense, well made hot chocolate. It feels like you’ve been punched in the face, only with a chocolate fist, and not so much punched as gently caressed and…is this getting weird? I think this is getting weird. Anyway, chocoholics will love this. Non-chocoholics will probably also enjoy this. Chocolate haters will be sad and jealous of this.
  3. Caramel Espresso and NesquikHot Nesquik mixed with a Caramel Espresso shot – the Nesquik hot chocolate flavour isn’t as good as the Chococino, but it does only use one pod to make each drink, instead of two, so it is cheaper. But I find sometimes, especially in the afternoon, I feel like hot chocolate and coffee at the same time and I’ve found this particular combination is great. It’s tasty but also perks you up very quickly. Yes, I was drinking one while writing this. Yes, I am considering a second one.

I still have instant coffee because I just can’t afford to drink this stuff all the time (at least not until I’ve landed stable work), but it is nice and I don’t regret buying it at all. It’s great for guests, or for when I just want something a little bit nicer, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to sitting down at my laptop and writing for a while.

Do you have any kind of coffee machine at home? If so, what kind of machine? What are your thoughts on these pod-based machines?

**I think I should be paid for such generous marketing of this product.