Thursday, 22 August 2013

Book Review: The Really Hungry Student Cookbook

The infamous student diet is most typically associated with carb-concentrated frozen dinners, alcohol and greasy takeaways. Oh and let's not forget the comfort foods during exam time! Let's be honest, living on a student budget can leave us feeling uninspired when it comes to cooking. Sometimes it's just a lack of know-how when it comes to basic kitchen skills but more often than not, it can be down to a lack of time, what with deadlines and socials, and a serious lack of money, meaning that we often stack up on cheap eats and fast-foods to get us through our days at university.

However, if you're looking for some culinary inspiration and to cook up something besides your usual frozen chips and pizza, The Really Hungry Student Cookbook is any student's go-to guide for getting up to speed on delicious, quick and easy recipes that aren't so harsh on your pocket.

The cookbook is packed with 'stress-free' and easy to follow recipes designed for healthier eating and home-made dishes on a budget. Recipes range from indulgent breakfasts and desserts to home-made comfort foods and light lunches. It also offers an array of delightful vegetarian options and goes on to cover party snacks and foods that'll show your mates that you actually care about your palate with a section of 'posh nosh foods'.

Some of us have tried (unsuccessfully) to whip up an impressive meal for our hall mates to envy only to conjure up something that actually appears inedible due to an admirable amount of guesswork and some questionable substitutes. Well, not to worry as the book offers an entire section dedicated to kitchen wisdom (removing odours from your Tupperware?), kitchen safety (how not to use a microwave) and a list of handy ingredients to store in your cupboard so you can master the realms of your student kitchen and the art of cooking well.

So if you're a hungry student wishing to change your eating habits, dodge your Goodfella's pizza and make yourself some mini 'pizzettes' or add some variety to your usual pasta dish with a puttanesca sauce (my personal favourite).

The Really Hungry Student Cookbook can be found at Ryland Peters and Small for £9.99

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Ciao Venezia!

Hey everyone!

After spending a lush week away in the sweltering heat of Venice I've returned, ready to get my job/internship hunt on! (Wish me luck folks...)

But anyway, onto the real details. Of course Venice was just lovely, unique as it stands on its waters with beautiful, classic Venetian architecture towering above, adding to the character of this already enchanting city. Wooden shutters provided some mysticism as we wandered through the narrow alleyways of Santa Croce, a quiet neighborhood hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Venice's main attraction, San Marco.

We stayed at the Carlton on the Grand Canal, a four star hotel that came with really good service, though maybe a little over priced as we ended up paying 6,50 euros for a large bottle of water... Oops!
We mostly walked everywhere, staying away from the busy water buses, as there really is so much to see and take in- old churches with awe-inspiring frescos of magnificent detail, vacant Venetian masks haunting every "calle" from tourist shops and artist boutiques and then these grande, flaking buildings ridden with vines and shrubs.
Curious smells hung in the air from the waters of the Grand Canal soon to be overtaken by the all too familiar smell of freshly made pizza from a small risorante or the smell of freshly baked bread from an artisan bakery in the corner.

On our third night, we went on a gondola ride at a hefty price of 100 euros! Pricey it was but you just can't beat the peaceful ambiance that comes with this intimate boat ride. I mean, you've got to try everything once, right?
The food was beautiful but I have to say, I think I've had my fair share of carbs for at least a month with all the pizza, pastas and breads you can eat! Like the city, the food is Venice is rich!

I feel a little nostalgic already, it was a really great getaway!

Venice I miss you!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Women on Bank Notes: there is a point.

If you haven’t heard by now, 2017 will see the release of a new £10 note featuring the portrait of one of the most prominent British female writers in literary history, Jane Austen. Her face will go on to replace that of the current Charles Darwin and while some see this as a huge success for women everywhere some are not so convinced, asking if there was any real point to kicking up such a fuss about a woman on our bank notes and if Jane Austen was really a worthy candidate.

The Bank of England made the decision after a series of protests lead by feminist activists, namely those from The Women’s Room, after they announced they would be removing Elizabeth Fry from our bank notes, Britain’s only female historical figure to date that isn't a part of the monarchy. Fry's face would cease to appear on the five pound note, only to be replaced by another male.

While Jane Austen’s novels may not be for everyone, with certain critics deeming her work dull and over-rated, a “chronicler of petty squabbles and small lives” - some have questioned if there’s any real point behind the Bank of England’s decision.  

However, I’m inclined to think that a majority do regard her works as quality pieces of fiction, after all, Austen is a definite part of our literary canon whether you like it or not. Her novels are renowned for their stark humour towards upper class sensibilities, not to mention their witty observation surrounding the everyday conventions of female life in the early 19th century. These themes are perhaps amplified in Pride and Prejudice, one of Austen's most loved works, as she mocks the genteel snobbery of the Bingley family and equally the ignorance of characters such as Mrs Bennet, a boisterous mother whose only ambition is to marry off her daughters to wealthy suitors.Writing in a time when the woman's place was mainly at home, Austen mocks the mundane trivialities of domestic reality.  

On the face of it, Jane Austen was herself an ordinary person; there was nothing particularly unusual about her as one of 8 children and educated at home by her father, a clergyman. Her vivid imagination and her ironic humour are perhaps what marked her out from other writers in her time as her novels were such a success they equivocated her to her male literary peers. But alas, in her lifetime Austen's novels were supposedly that of some anonymous Lady. Her talents were acknowledged posthumously with her author identity kept hidden until her death in 1817 when her brother, Henry, announced it to the world. 

As a woman who couldn't even take credit for her own works to now being the face of the new bank note surely this counts as a huge achievement for Austen and British women. With less than 25% of women making up our parliament today, Jane Austen's recognition only shows that, actually yes, the British do have more female representatives out there.