Vlogs from my childhood: 1990 – 2001

I can’t actually believe I am sharing this publicly, but I’ve just found years and years worth of footage on an old hard drive. The main summary? (Other than the bad teeth and hair?) It seems I’ve had an obnoxious desire to show off in front of the camera since a very early age.

Snapshot 4 (12-10-2015 13-15)

I used to make a lot of horror films and ‘documentaries’ (I nearly vomited from laughing so much whilst watching them this morning) but I can’t upload those ones sadly as they’re all appallingly offensive and they implicate other people too. Think Brass Eye, but ten times worse. We certainly had morbid fascinations.

Feel free to marvel at my teen awkwardness. Oh and that bit where I’m singing in the black dress? Why can’t I have that body now. I’m TWELVE there, for god’s sake.

Thank you very much Daddy (or Ray, as I seemed to call you for the first five years of my life) for converting the original films to digital and sticking them on a hard drive so we can all marvel all their ridiculousness. A cinema night with Katie is being arranged!

My second vlog is up!

Firstly, thanks for all your lovely emails, tweets, comments, ‘thumbs ups’ and so on since my first vlog was uploaded last Thursday. I was a bit frightened that there wouldn’t be any sort of audience for my kinda nonsense but people watched it and said nice things so THANK YOU. Even if you were just being polite, it made me very happy.


In this week’s vlog I have a ridiculously perfect meal at Kurobuta Chelsea, make mushrooms brilliant with a bit of help from Vegan Street Food, check out Amanzi – Soho’s latest snazzy tea room, try not to die of cakey lust at Cutter & Squidge, head along to the Dualit x Charlene Mullen press day (yes, press days for toasters and kettles do exist) and even predict the future with terrifying accuracy, as you will find out if you watch to the end. All this….AND MUCH MUCH MORE.

Oh and the (amazing) emoji pillow is from Firebox.

You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here :)


New favourite recipe book alert: Vegan Street Food by Jackie Kearney

It’s not very common to fall head over heels in love with a recipe book. Not in my experience, anyway. How often do we get excited about buying a new book, finally get it and then find ourselves leafing past recipes thinking “sounds nice, too complicated”, “might try that one, oh no wait I need to go to Whole Foods at least three times for the ingredients” or just “meh”?

As a general rule of thumb, if I find just three or four fantastic recipes in a book that I’ll use time and time again, I consider that book to be £15 well spent. There’s a carrot soup recipe for example in an ancient copy of a Crank’s cookbook which I’ve made/eaten once a week for at least the last fifteen years…you can’t really put a price on a recipe like that.

But ever so often you find a recipe book which is a game changer, where every page you turn brings YET ANOTHER recipe you want to try out that instant. It hasn’t happened to me for a really long time but it has done with Jackie Kearney’s Vegan Street Food.

Vegan Street Food

I’m a plain ol’ vegetarian rather than a fancy vegan so I wouldn’t normally seek out vegan recipe books, but as the strapline promised “foodie travels from India to Indonesia” I knew I needed to get my mitts on this book. I don’t want to speak on behalf of all veggies, but I’ll happily declare Asian cuisine as the best for us herbivores. The choice of flavours and textures in vegetarian Asian cooking is about as far away as you can get from goats cheese quiche and greying mushroom risotto. The variety is just astounding.

So when the book arrived the biggest problem was simply narrowing down which recipes to tackle first. I genuinely want to try them ALL. (I never ever think this when I get a recipe book!).

Cachumba SaladCachumba Salad

LeftoversOh and all the leftovers make perfect lunches. I can tell you that with good authority.

As you can see from the pics in this post and my general fangirling on Instagram, I’ve tried a few of the recipes already. Some of the ingredient lists can look daunting on occasion, but I’ve often had all the required spices and so on in the cupboard. This isn’t one of those books where you need to start ordering speciality bits online or going to three different independent grocerery and health food shops on your way home from work to even have the bare bones of the recipe, I’ve been able to buy everything I’ve needed (so far) from Sainsbury’s.

Vegan Street Food goodness

The shashlik skewers recipe is heaven on earth. I now always have the shashlik marinade in my fridge. In the above pic I’d served it with sticky BBQ tofu skewers which probably isn’t the pairing Jackie would recommend, but we loved it! ST said it was his all time fave tofu dish…and we eat a lot of tofu.

Some of the recipes take longer than others, but I’ve yet to try anything too complicated. The lengthier ones I’ve tried have only taken a while because of marinading times as opposed to hands-on stuff.

Mushroom Claypot from Vegan Street Food

Mushroom Claypot – HEAVEN

The mushroom dish above that you catch a glimpse of me making in this week’s vlog (insanely delicious, FYI) only took 15 minutes to make, including prep.

Jackie’s publishers have kindly allowed me to share my favourite recipe from the ones I’ve tried so far and if you’re after something to make this weekend I *definitely* recommend this next recipe! Especially as there are pumpkins a-plenty in store at the mo :)

Spiced Tofu with Spinach Masala & Pumpkin Rosti Recipe…

Spiced Tofu with Spinach Masala & Pumpkin Rosti

All the pics on here including the above are my attempts at the dishes if it’s not obvious! Rest assured the gorgeous food photography in the book is a lot better!

From Jackie:

“I wowed the critics with a version of this dish during MasterChef. The original dish was inspired by the classic crowd-pleaser, saag paneer. Using tofu works really well, as it takes on the flavours of cumin and mustard seeds during baking.

This is ideal for Indian fusion dining at home. If you are making this a ‘fine dining’ plate, you can assemble it as a stack and decorate with edible flowers, such as violas or nasturtiums.”

Ingredients (Serves 4):

500 g baby spinach leaves

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil

500 g firm tofu, cut into 5 x 5 x 1-cm slices

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely diced

½ tablespoon ginger paste, or 2.5-cm piece of root ginger, peeled and grated

1 tablespoon garlic paste or crushed garlic cloves

2 tablespoons garam masala

18 cherry tomatoes, halved

100 g creamed coconut block, mashed with 3 tablespoons warm water to form a

smooth cream, or 100 ml coconut cream


1 small pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded and grated

1 large potato, grated

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely diced

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced

1 small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper


2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

100 g tamarind concentrate/paste


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

To make the rosti, place the grated pumpkin and potato in a large bowl. Add the chillies and the fresh coriander, and season. Squeeze the mixture in a clean dish towel to remove excess water, then divide it into four patties and squeeze them between your palms to make firm patties.

Heat the oil in a frying pan/skillet over medium heat. Fry the patties on both sides for 3 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a baking sheet and put in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Place the spinach in a pan and wilt over medium heat for 30 seconds. Blend using a food processor or blender to make a coarse purée, adding the salt and ½ tablespoon of the oil. Set aside.

Put the tofu slices in a shallow bowl and sprinkle over a little of the remaining oil and half the mustard and cumin seeds. Let marinate for 20–30 minutes. Heat the rest of the oil in a separate frying pan. Fry the tofu slices in batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan over medium heat and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes until softened and lightly coloured. Add the rest of the mustard and cumin seeds and fry for a few minutes. Add the chillies, ginger and garlic, and cook for 2–3 minutes. Add the garam masala and cook for 1 minute, then add the spinach purée and the tomatoes and cook for 3–4 minutes.

Put the tamarind glaze ingredients in a pan with a little water over high heat.

Reduce by two-thirds. Strain. To serve, place a rosti on a plate, then add some spinach masala and several pieces of fried tofu. Drizzle with tamarind glaze and coconut cream.

Taken from Vegan Street Food by Jackie Kearney, photography by Clare Winfield, published by Ryland Peters & Small. More info: http://www.rylandpeters.com/vegan-street-food

I’ve become equally obsessed with the spinach recipe as a standalone to be honest, I’ve made it a few times by itself just as a quick dinner. I’m also wondering if it could work as a naughty fusion-esque brunch with a potato rosti and fried eggs with green chilli on top. HOW GOOD WOULD THAT BE?! (And, errrrr, not vegan, so obvs don’t try that at home if you are).

The hardback book (it’s gorgeous) retails at £16.99 here and $21.95 in the US but on Amazon UK it’s currently on offer at £11.89….at time of writing, I should add!

You definitely don’t need to be vegan to appreciate this book, you don’t even need to be veggie to be honest. You just need a mouth. And a hungry tummy :)


My first ever spinning class at Boom Cycle – terrifying or amazing?

Regular readers will of course know that exercise is not “my favourite”. In the likes and dislikes field of a personality questionnaire I wouldn’t exactly be professing my love for sweat and lactic acid. My interest in sport – as a participator – rarely stretches beyond pool swimming, open water swimming and maybe a step class if I can find a particularly 90s instructor. Sport on the telly? YES! Love it. Feed me more. Sport when it’s me? No thanks, do you not know about books and sofas and box sets?

But as you’ll know if you watched last week’s vlog (yep, I’m on YouTube now, subscribe to my channel here) I went to my first spinning class last week. If I’m honest with myself, I have always wanted to try spinning…I’ve just been too scared. It’s been a huge craze and I’ve always wanted to know what all the fuss was about, but I was also well aware of all the fashion mags claiming that spinning could burn 700 calories in an hour. And I’m smart enough to know that anything which can burn 700 calories in an hour is going to be exceptionally hard work.

So whilst the impressive cardio benefits and calorie burn estimates attracted me, I think it was also what put me off. It just seemed HARD. Like, really hard.

But when my friend Anna Sinclair qualified as a spinning instructor at Boom Cycle, I knew I couldn’t really put off trying it for much longer. If I was going to try spinning, Boom had always been where I wanted to try it. Famed for its kickass instructors, fiercer than fierce attitude, dark lights and pumping music (you’ll know if you’ve walked past Boom, you can hear it from the other side of the street), a class at Boom is promised to be more like an intense hour on the dance floor of your favourite club than another boring sesh at the local leisure centre.

I really was in a panic about going though (again, the vlog makes this very clear!) and I couldn’t stop Googling “how much does spinning hurt?” and “can unfit people do spinning?” and “can my mum write me a letter so I don’t have to go spinning?”. The fact that some forum posters seemed to be serious when they suggested wearing two sanitary towels to protect your arse from the seat didn’t exactly give me much hope.

But I trundled along anyway, making sure I was early so that I could chat to Anna about setting up my bike and ensure I could sit as far away as possible from everyone else. During the booking process you can choose which bike you want (assuming you get in quick enough, classes regularly sell out) which I liked, as some people will naturally want to be closer to the instructor or further away. I thought I was maybe getting extra attention as I knew Anna, but once the rest of the class arrived I realised she went around to every bike individually to make sure everyone was happy with their bike positioning. She also checked in with everyone for any injuries, pregnancies, medical conditions and so on, which I found really reassuring.

You wear your own trainers or borrow special shoes when you get there to ‘clip in’ to the bike, I opted to keep my trainers on as I didn’t want anything extra to worry about. Other than that you only need to remember to wear leggings/shorts/fitted trousers (to avoid loose fabric getting caught up in the bike) and to bring a big bottle of water (and you will need water, you sweat like crazy!). Padlocks for lockers are provided and the showers have all the products you need – REN products, no less!

Boom Cycle Holborn

The studio really was dark as you’ll know if you’ve seen the vlog, the pic above was taken before the class started and the lights went down! And as promised the music was super loud and brilliant. It’s the type of music you’d want to dance to on a night out, which definitely helps keep you motivated once the spinning gets hard (which in my case, was pretty immediately).

But how hard was it?

I’ll be honest, as an unfit spinning virgin I couldn’t do what the other folk could do. I was always cycling and I never stopped pedalling to rest completely, but I couldn’t do the standing sections for the length of time everyone else was and the more co-ordinated stuff where you sit up a bit, back a bit, forward a bit (not the technical terms for the positions, I’m sure) were often too tricky for me….but I could feel myself getting the hang of it more towards the end. I’m sure my resistance wasn’t set as high as everyone else’s, but I always turned it up and turned it down when told to so I was still getting a good workout “for me”. I knew I was pushing myself and I guess it must have been working too as I was sweating buckets.

Anna was superbly motivating, constantly reminding us that the ride would only be what we put into it. She made a point of saying she wasn’t going to be coming round and checking what resistance we were riding on, but that it was up to us not to cheat ourselves. I loved that, as every time I wanted to slack she seemed to come on the mic right on cue to say that it was up to us as individuals to have a good workout that morning. I really liked that and it definitely made me work harder.

There wasn’t a clock – or if there was, it was too dark for me to spy it – which I really liked as I’m normally a hideously bad clock watcher when exercising. I had to just let it go and do what Anna said really, not knowing if a particularly upbeat song was coming or a slightly more relaxed one. I’m sure I worked harder because of that too, as I wasn’t in control of the routine.

My favourite bit? When Anna turned the lights completely down and we cycled to Rihanna’s Diamonds in pitch black. The only hint of light was the flickering of a candle at the front. It was a bizarre but electric feeling…and I realised I was beginning to understand why Boom has such a cult following.

It was a week ago today that I went and as I’m writing this, I’ve surprised myself by actually feeling like I want to go back sooner rather than later. It’s not the most convenient location for me (there are studios in Holborn and Shoreditch at the moment, I went to Holborn) but I still think there’s perhaps a place in my schedule for heading into town early once a week and having a session despite the fact I could go to regular ol’ boring spinning at my local gym more easily. I’m sure there are loads of people who go to Boom who have memberships elsewhere, just because spinning in a strip lit gym is never going to compare to the type of experience you’re getting at Boom.

Cost-wise, they use a credit system which is explained here. 30 minute rides and early morning rides work out to be less credits and if you bulk buy credits then they’re cheaper, but the most you’ll pay is £16 for a full session and a half hour session max price would be £8. There seem to be lots of offers too, new users can get three full sessions for £20, which is hard to argue with.

If you’re new to it then I’d definitely give yourself ten minutes to get there a bit early and chat through any questions with the instructors, they’re there to help you and assuming they’re like Anna, you’ll be very well looked after.

You can find timetables, studio details, instructor profiles and all that other good stuff on Boom’s website here. Oh and I should point out that Anna is a PT too, so if you’re after personal training advice in London then her personal website is here :)

I’m glad I faced my fears and tried spinning because – as always – it wasn’t as horrendous as I predicted it would be and I actually quite enjoyed myself. I can’t believe I enjoyed it but hey, I did!


A rant about socks…

When you think of sock rage, what do you think of? The fact that no matter how carefully you wash them in pairs, half will always emerge from the washing machine an hour later without their significant other? Or what about the fact they leave unsightly compression marks on your ankles? Or maybe if you’re female it’s the fact that YOU’VE JUST WORN MEN’S SOCKS FOR THE FIRST TIME AND REALISED YOU’VE BEEN CHEATED YOUR ENTIRE LIFE?!

That was me during London Fashion Week. A laundry miscalculation and a need to desperately run out the door meant that I just grabbed a pair of ST’s socks and hoped I wouldn’t grow male genitalia by the end of the day. Guess what? Nothing sprouted down below. In fact nothing sinister happened at all, except for the fact I realised I’ve been lied to for nearly thirty years.

I would generally class socks in the “they definitely don’t need to be gendered, they should all just be unisex” pile, but not all socks are created equally. I can see why women’s socks exist – generally women have smaller feet and a size 4 woman probably doesn’t want to wear socks designed for a size 11 man – but other than sizing, why should there be a difference? Socks are socks, designed for warmth and protection, whether you’re male or female should bear little influence on your daily sock requirements.

But there I was, walking and walking and walking between shows and suddenly I realised something that had probably NEVER happened before: my feet didn’t hurt. I checked my phone and I had walked ten miles. Ten miles without any rubbing, blisters or silent inward cries. What new world was this? Oh yeah, the world men already live in where socks are ACTUALLY GOOD.

It wasn’t until I wore ST’s socks that I realised how crap my ‘lady socks’ were. Why would I have known? It’s not one of those things you ever think of. For the rest of LFW I wore his lovely black socks (normal ‘worky’ type ones, not sport socks) and continued to average 10-12 miles a day without a smidgen of foot pain. I also enjoyed that they were much longer, meaning I could wear them half way up my shin and feel like I was getting a constant little ankle hug under my jeans.

Naturally, I headed to Twitter to share my new-found discovery and a number of girls chipped in that they had also seen the glorious light that is luscious men’s socks. Is it that they’re generally thicker? A superior cotton? Just generally made with better re-enforcements at the toes and ankles? I can’t quite put my finger (toe?) on what it is exactly that makes them so much more comfortable, but I can only assume it’s a mixture of the aforementioned. They also wash a lot better, ALL my socks seem to go stiff as if they were once elasticated and now they’re inwardly perishing whereas ST’s socks survive for years and remain soft. I wash them together, so it’s definitely a fabric thing rather than a laundry mishap on my part.

It’s not like ST’s socks are posh ones either, they’re just your usual M&S/Next/Sainsbury’s boring old cheap black socks. Granted, they don’t have cute faces on like a lot of my exceptionally mature favourites (ahem) but my god I’d give up the bunny ears in a flash if I could walk around town without my feet throbbing.


Luxury socks? Now that’s a different ball game altogether, but once again a corner of the market that the men seem to have wrapped up. I haven’t written about menswear for years really but I remember always liking the socks, albeit never having worn them. But then Nik Speller kindly pointed me in the direction of Form&Thread who specialise in contemporary high quality men’s socks and I got some and I am now a woman converted.

Form&Thread socks


You may have noticed my mint green pair in my first vlog

Snapshot 4 (01-10-2015 13-09)

I’m not sure if you can appreciate the beautiful knit from my shoddy photos but they’re quite something.

Form&Thread describe their socks as “made from the best quality materials, combining distinctive knit constructions and textures to form a unique series of products” and I can only add to that by describing them as “really bloody lovely”. Like, they are the BEST SOCKS EVER. They’re marketed for men but I have size 7 feet and they’re perfect for me.

So there’s no real point to this post really, other than to say that if you’re female: steal some socks from a boy. You won’t regret it. (As long as they’re clean).