Thursday, 23 February 2017

Car Technology for Fear of Driving and Anxious Drivers - How to try to overcome fear of driving... again

Car Technology for Fear of Driving and Anxious Drivers - How to try to overcome fear of driving... again

A post about car gadgetry rather than kitchen gadgetry? As some of you know, car technology has played a huge part in my life in the last year. I am driving again. Me, the girl with a fear of driving (I don't know why I don't quite like to call it a driving phobia).

I heard my husband tell someone the other day that I was a “nervous driver”. It made me giggle as I really don't consider myself a nervous driver, I have a fear of driving. Two very different things, in my case (or in my mind). But I may adopt the "nervous driver" description as, if I start saying I am a nervous driver I may not feel I have to explain much else. Whereas with fear of driving I feel like I have to justify where that fear comes from, why I have a fear of driving, which leads to a very long explanation.

I have had a fear of driving for over 20 years. When you have chronic pain directly related to how you acquired that fear of driving, it’s very difficult to shake it off. I hadn't blogged about my fear of driving for a while, I have in the past though and you can find previous posts and the explanation of the reason why here.

Fear of driving is very common. It is estimated that millions of drivers suffer from driving anxiety. For some of us it's quite strong and we can easily put off driving for months, years, decades but I have to admit, after what has been my longest driving spell in a couple of decades, I can tell you this: modern cars can bring a lot of peace of mind if your fear of driving brings a lot of anxiety to the driver’s seat. From worrying about not being able to find the right controls to fretting about taking one hands off the wheel in the first place. 

If you're reading this, chances are that you too have a fear of driving or are an anxious driver so you probably know already how exhausting it can be to drive despite that. The levels of anxiety spiral out of control

This post about car technology is just one half of my get-back-to-driving- journey in 2016. As you can imagine, the other half is way harder to write about and so I will do that in a different post when I'm ready.

In the meantime, please feel free to share any experiences, achievements and failures of your own. You are not alone. There are a lot of us out there who totally understand what you're going through. And that word "failure" is just another step on our road, failure is only negative if we let it be. From failure comes determination to succeed and so it's just a little bump on our road to success, driving success in this case.

Ready to read about the car technology that helped me drive again? 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Homemade Vegetable Stock Paste (with Instant Pot and Thermomix instructions)

Homemade Vegetable Stock Paste (with Instant Pot and Thermomix instructions)

Ever since I started making my own Vegetable Stock Paste a couple of years ago, I haven’t stopped. It’s actually really easy. You can use a ton of veg that may be going off, you can use scraps and peelings and, like I did here, even broccoli stalk (which you can also add to soups). Nothing goes to waste here!

You’re going to need a powerful blender for this Homemade Vegetable Stock Paste (and an Instant Pot!). I’m lucky to have a Thermomix so I did it in two batches. If you have a Vitamix or something of the like, it will do the job perfectly.

In total I used about one kilo and a half of vegetables. I wouldn’t skip the onions, garlic, celery, carrots or mushrooms as those are great for the taste but, other than that, you can absolutely use any vegetables you have at home that you think might go well. Feel free to play with it so that nothing goes to waste. 

You can skip the parmesan if you want it to be vegan or more economical. I personally love the flavour that the parmesan adds and try to get it on offer for homemade vegetable stock paste.

If you can find courgettes, given the current shortage of 2017, first of all tell me where! Then of course feel free to add them. I love courgettes.

For Thermomix users: you can cook the whole thing in your Thermomix but you can’t fit in the whole 1.5 kg of vegetables from this recipe in there (above all if it’s a TM31) so the Instant Pot comes in really handy.

You’re going to need jars: I used jars of different sizes 2 x 500 ml screw top Kilner jars; 1 x 500 ml (clip top Kilner jar, not totally full); 2 x 250 ml Kilner jars. I now have a shelf full of jars in the kitchen for these eventualities... Wilkos is a really good place to keep an eye on them as they're often on offer at good prices. 

How to use your Instant Pot / Thermomix Homemade Vegetable Stock Paste

Add a heaped teaspoon to any stew or soup. Use it to make Pasta Soup or Instant Pot Beef Stew with Mexican Spices. Never buy stock cubes or bouillon again because this is going to save you a fortune! In fact, I tend to use this stock for pretty much everything now, it’s that good! 

I tend to think of it as a heaped tablespoon equates to a stock cube but it's all very rough measures. I grab a spoon, any spoon, from the drawer and add stock. As you get used to use it in this format, so will you. Just go by taste.

Ready for the recipe?

Monday, 20 February 2017

Instant Pot Gooey Chocolate Pudding

Instant Pot Gooey Chocolate Pudding

We were talking about Pot-in-Pot (PIP) Cooking the other day in this post here and I mentioned that the perfect example of pot-in-pot cooking is a pudding of course. I've cooked this Instant Pot Gooey Chocolate Pudding a few times and it's really good! And so easy that even the little Tapita (6 years old) can help. 

I recommend getting a pudding basin with a lid like my Masterclass 1 litre Pudding Steamer, it's perfect for this job and you will find lots of other pot-in-pot Instant Pot uses for it, like this Instant Pot Lemony Mince in Oyster Sauce with Pot-in-Pot (PIP) Rice

I found the inspiration for this recipe in a book called Making the most of your Pressure Cooker by Carolyn Humphries. I didn't quite follow the recipe though... and then I changed it some more. No surprises there. I've now made this Instant Pot Gooey Chocolate Pudding more than once, didn't follow the same method any of the times and the last time it came out even better so I think this is the way to go. The little Tapita seems to agree! She was in charge of helping, hand modelling, holding spoons and bowls up for photos and taste testing the last time we made it, during February half term (last week).

Don't forget you'll find all my Instant Pot recipes here.

Ready for the recipe?

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Lemony Mince in Oyster Sauce with Pot in Pot (PIP) Rice

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Lemony Mince in Oyster Sauce with Pot in Pot (PIP) Rice

When I scribbled notes for this recipe, I entitled it Tasty Mince with a Feisty Kick. As you may know by now, there are days when I am all about flavours. I like to look at what's in the fridge and in the cupboard and improvise. This happened during one of those day, also known as the day after I received two pudding basins to play with my Instant Pot so, clearly, something had to happen pot in pot. Right?

So, what is Pot-in-Pot (PIP) cooking? I have a whole post about it right here. It really is not very difficult and, once you have the hang of it, you'll love it and will be thinking ahead to decide what else you can cook in your Instant Pot at the same time as your normal meals.


I used this Arga Pudding Mould (perfect for Crème Caramel too) but to be honest it is quite flimsy for the price. Although at the same time fantastic for Pot-in-Pot (PIP) cooking. You could use any bowl that fits in your Instant Pot, always bearing in mind the requirements. And a taller trivet is handy to have. Find all details of the dimensions you need in my What is Pot-in-Pot (PIP) cooking post.

You can totally cook this Lemony Mince in Oyster Sauce without the PIP rice of course! The mince is totally worth it as it's so full of flavour. Or you could replace the rice with quartered potatoes in the pot-in-pot bowl and almost cover them with water then proceed as below (pretend they are the rice). In fact this is great for those of you wanting to make cottage pie. Can I feel a new recipe coming soon?

Ready for the recipe?

What is Instant Pot Pot-in-Pot (PIP) cooking?


What is Pot-in-Pot (PIP) cooking? 

Pot-in-pot (PIP) cooking basically means cooking something inside a pot (or bowl) that is then placed inside your Instant Pot's inner pot. Pot in pot. In this case "a pot inside the inner pot". 

The bowl is placed on a trivet, with water underneath to generate the necessary steam. It can also be used for layered cooking: imagine your cottage pie mix cooking in the inner pot underneath the trivet and the potatoes for the mash cooking at the same time in a bowl placed on the trivet. 


This method maximises the space in your Instant Pot and your energy use! When you're ready to try it, make sure you give my Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Lemony Mince in Oyster Sauce with Pot-in-Pot (PIP) Rice.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Instant Pot Ox Cheeks in Stout


#InstantPot Ox Cheeks in Stout - Super easy pressure cooker stew

Ox cheeks are a cut best braised (first fried and then slow cooked for hours) or fantastic pressure cooked, so easy in the Instant Pot. The meat becomes melt-in-the-mouth tender.

You will find ox cheeks in your local good butcher, Waitrose also has them.

This was my first try with ox cheeks and I have to say: do not try to slice or dice them (it's mission impossible). Leave them whole. They are very sinewy raw but that all disintegrates when pressure cooking, leaving you with fork-tender meat.

A tip: porcini and in general dried mushrooms can be quite expensive. I got mine from Grape Tree in town. I think a 40 g bag was £1. If you have one nearby it's worth going in for the raw cashews and the big buckets of herbs and spices, which tend to be 3 for 2.

Don't forget you can find all my Instant Pot recipes here.

Ready for the recipe? I know Alli is. Here you go Alli, I'm not keeping you waiting any longer.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Vegetable and Pasta Soup with Ham Stock

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Vegetable and Pasta Soup with Ham Stock

Cooking gammon in the Instant Pot is easy, painless and, above all, tasty. Instant Pot ham though is not great for my waist line as I seem to snack on it all day (particularly good dipped in Quirky Cooking's BBQ Sauce if you haven't glazed it!). In my defence, it's really, really nice and well, it's there in the fridge, all I have to do is pinch a bit.

There are two ways of cooking Instant Pot ham, all details here. For this recipe I use the second method detailed in that post, so that I get lots of lovely stock for other uses. This Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Vegetable and Pasta Soup with Ham Stock offers a quick and delicious use for it.

The other day I blogged a delicious Instant Pot Ham and Cabbage Soup also perfect for leftover gammon stock.

This is a very simple recipe, one of those I quickly give the method for in my Pressure Cooking UK with Feisty Tapas group, in fact you probably remember it from something like Autumn 2015! I cook this type of thing regularly (it's also great with chicken stock) as it makes life easier but I never blog it because, well, it's so easy and simple that it seems overkill but I've been thinking lately that it's worth writing down these things too even if the photos aren't that great because they are great mid-week dishes that are handy for using up ingredients from the fridge.

Ready for the recipe?

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