Before I started this book, Amy Poehler was just Regina's Mum in Mean Girls and Lesley Knope in Parks and Recreation. I'd seen her book recommended on several lists and was mid Parks and Recreation binge, so decided to see what the fuss was about. Now I love her.
Not even a quarter of the way through the book I was already recommending it to friends. I laughed out loud several times, admired her honesty and at times felt myself being inspired by her words of wisdom. I really wasn't expecting a book by Amy Poehler to be filled with advice and more of a 'self-help' style book than the comedic autobiography I expected, but I suppose I should have anticipated that considering it was on so many 'Quarter Life Crisis' reading lists.
One of my favourite comments was "You can't be everything, so find out what you're best at and have that as your currency". I find it hard at times being a very average but very competitive person and should probably live by this a bit more. I just need to find out what I'm best at first!
After reading the reviews on Goodreads, it appears not everyone loved Amy's book as much as I did and it's very much a Marmite read. Although the audiobook does seem to be a good shout. Take a trip to the library and loan out this book, if you're in your twenties, a fan of Amy and just want an easy read, I'd say you'll like it.
P.S. If anyone knows how she makes her fringe stay so perfect, please do let me know.
It started off with a lot of drama, which could only be calmed by Tim Horton. As I've said before, that man is always there when you need him. After a slight change of plan, we were on board a bus and heading to our hostel in Banff. We arrived to definitely the nicest, most lively and helpful hostel we stayed in during our trip. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone going to Banff. We were exhausted, so unfortunately couldn't witness the karaoke we could hear from the cellar and went straight to bed ready for adventures in the morning.
Banff was everything I expected Canada to be. We'd arrived in the dark, so when we stepped out the door the next morning we were taken aback by the sheer scale of the mountains around us and just how beautiful it was. I spent the whole time unable to believe that it was real.
We got our free bus pass and went to the top of the Banff Gondola. It was blooming freezing at the top and were most definitely not prepared for this. After taking a rather large amount of photos, it was time to go back down the mountain to visit the Upper Hot Springs. A few hours in the hot springs, followed by a massage in the spa was just what we needed and felt perfectly refreshed, ready to walk back down into the village. We had a 4 course fondue meal, which included wild boar and venison and melted Toblerone for dessert. Why oh why have I never thought to melt Toblerone before?!
After walking off our four course meal whilst browsing the shops, it was time to head back up to the hostel to collect our bags and catch our bus to Lake Louise.
The bakers on the show seemed to make a bit of a mess of these, but I guessed without the pressure of the bake off tent upon me, I could manage to whip up a few.
Now they aren't the prettiest, I definitely should have wiped the sides a bit before I glazed them. Plus I had to use Mary's grill method, opposed to a blow torch unfortunately.
My family and I tucked into these the other night and seemed to get good reviews all round, so here's my recipe for creme brulee.
500ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g caster sugar
5 egg yolks
1. Preheat the oven to 160C/320F/Gas mark 3.
2. Pour the cream and vanilla extract into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to simmer gently.
3. In a different bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until a pale colour.
4. Bring the cream back to boiling point, then add to the egg mixture and keep whisking until it starts to thicken.
5. Strain through a sieve and then pour into 6 ramekins.
6. Place the ramekins in a large roasting tin and fill half way up with hot water.
7. Bake for 40 minutes until just wobbly. Remove from the tin and leave to cool.
8. When ready to serve, sprinkle a little sugar over the top of each creme brulee and either caramelise with a blowtorch or under the grill.
I loved Toronto. The city atmosphere with an ability to walk 5 minutes down the street to the harbour and island area, definitely won me over. There's so many things to see and do, from the obvious such as the CN tower, to the less obvious like the Hockey Hall of Fame, Steam Whistle Brewery and China Town.
Not to mention, Toronto introduced me to the new man in my life, Tim, who I have to say is perfect. He's always there when I need him, sweet, efficient and basically just everything I want in a man. It's long distance, but I'm sure we can make it work.
On our penultimate day, after a bit of hassle, we managed to get to Niagara Falls. The area itself really wasn't what I was expecting. It was like Blackpool mixed with Vegas - casinos, tacky gift shops and American chain restaurants. Nevertheless, it was still a great sight to see. If I every go back again, I think I'd like to book onto one of the tour buses, so I get the chance to see Niagara-on-the-Lake and explore the vineyards too.
I was sad to say goodbye to Toronto, so was very glad to have Banff and Disneyland ahead of me on my adventure. If it wasn't for this, I don't think I'd have left. I'm already planning a trip back there as soon as possible.
In the meantime, I shall eagerly await these photos...
I've fallen behind. It was inevitable, but I didn't think I'd be behind on week three! My excuse being that I moved flat, started a new job (with normal, sociable 9-5 hours, woohoo!) and had a mini trip to the Isle of Wight. That doesn't make much time for baking. Therefore, a quick bread was just what I needed this week. I loved the sound of Prison Paul's Cranberry and Orange Soda Bread, so I hunted down the recipe and whipped this up one evening after work. A nice welcome to Autumn just around the corner.
The recipe can be found on BBC Food.
400g Plain Flour
2tsp baking power
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
1 1/2 unwaxed oranges (zest)
1 large egg
1. Preheat the over to 200C/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with parchment.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Using your fingers, rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the cranberries and orange zest.
3. Mix the egg and buttermilk together and stir into the dry mix. Use your hands to bring the dough together, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball.
4. Place the dough on the prepared baking tray and cut a cross into the top. Bake for 35mins until golden brown.
Week 2 of Bake Off is biscuit week! I didn't really fancy making a biscuit box or arlettes. I'd never heard of arlettes before this weeks show and after a Google search, none of the internet seemed to have either. I've just done another search and there's now a whole tonne of recipes - the power of Bake Off!
I'm going off tangent. Biscotti seemed most favourable for eating during this weeks episode. The best part about this recipe is you can eat the end pieces for 'quality control purposes' before they're ready to serve. Anyway, here's my recipe for Cherry, Almond and White Chocolate Biscotti.
Recipe - Biscotti
115g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
100g dried cherries
100g chopped almonds
100g white chocolate, well chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs.
2. Add in the dry ingredients (flour and baking powder) until a soft dough is formed. Add in the cherries, almonds and 75g of the chocolate and mix until evenly combined.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and place onto a lined baking sheet. Flour your hands and form them into nice rectangular shapes.
4. Bake for around 25mins until just firm and golden. Remove from the oven an allow to cool for 10 minutes. Don't forget to leave the oven on, you'll be needing it again!
5. Slice the baked dough carefully. Gently lay the slices on the baking sheets and cook for a further 10 mins.
6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. As the biscotti are still fragile, make sure you leave them on the tray until they have firmed up. Once cool, melt the remaining chocolate and drizzle or dip the biscotti for decoration, whatever your preference!