Thursday, 31 March 2011

Day 10 and 11

First American Adventure
Travel day unleashed the biggest thunderstorm on me when I arrived, (got to love standing in the rain in shorts and a t-shirt). Hello Florida, Hello home.  Flying on British Airways to Orlando meant that there were plenty of little children running round on their way to Disney, except today this did not annoy me at all, they were adorable and I was going home. Through customs without a problem and picked up by Ashley Kushner who volunteers with me at the Crisis Center we stopped at Bento on the way home…oh how I have missed my garlic chicken rice bowl!
Fantastic first day back, even after a two-hour practice, weights and walking home in the rain, I cannot stop smiling. My home away from home and my family away from family, back in one place and ready to continue with my challenge.
Tonight is Chicken in Salt (p180) and Roasted Veg (p220); cooking for Devon Lochte, Matt Norton, Balazs Gercsak, lets try my first British Jamie Oliver on my Americans and see what happens..
Fresh Market was easy navigable and I found everything I needed, except I wanted to try duck tonight but they didn't have that so chicken was the next best thing! 
Prepared the chicken in all the salt and forgot the eggs so just poured the beaten eggs over the salt…whoops!
Timing today was perfect and the veg stayed in for a good hour but still turned out fabulous.
Chicken and Veg

SUCCESS!! I think this is going to be a good few months if I keep cooking like that, chicken was perfect and the veg turned out wonderful too. Devon wouldn’t stop saying “this is really good” over and over, and everyone else tried a bit! It looked and smelled great and having Liz Goldson in the house now to tell me all her little tips is even better. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Day 9

Favorite meal turned even more favorite...

Kinda Spaghetti Bolognese (p125) for dinner tonight, this is by far the best one that I have made up until now. After a long emotional day; a viewing of Despicable Me over dinner was perhaps the best way to end it.
Spag bol has been my favorite meal since I was a kid, and I have always added a pinch of sugar so this was the Gemma touch to Jamie today, but this recipe was definitely way better than I have ever, ever cooked spag bol before in my life.
Dad said "very pleasant" and Peter: "best spaghetti bol I have had in a long time" ...YAY a meal that satisfies all.
Last day before I fly back to Florida, I was wondering around Sainsbury's today, having finally figured out where everything is and I am going to have to re-start my adventures and get my bearings in Florida tomorrow...Hopefully Publix and Fresh Market will supply me with the same variety of herbs...or I shall have to grow my own!

Looking forward to getting back to one place after traveling for about 4 months it will be nice not to live out of a suitcase.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Day 8

Last lazy day and a few too many split peas
Fish Buttie
My last lazy day consisted of a lot of TV watching and 3 of Jamie's comfort grub recipes, starting with lunch: FANTASTIC FISH FINGER BUTTIE (p39) and I don't know why Jamie was embarrassed to have his photo taken with was perfect for a lazy day infront of the TV, one of those days EVERYONE deserves once or twice, and yes I know it is Monday and the rest of the world is working but that just made it taste EVEN better!

Dinner however was a little disaster really...a rescued crisis but still a crisis.
Curry over Lemon Rice
Chicken Curry
I had just watched 'The Last Song', I can't watch any movie without crying even just a little bit; even some comedies when something a little sad happens, however today I was crying like a baby! Dinner was supposed to be a comfort....Chicken Curry (p32) now this probably was almost there but I don't think I needed the water added, too much liquid and not enough 'double cream consistency'. Not too bad, however on top of the Lemon Rice (p35), well.. I struggled to pick out the good bits and ended up throwing some of the rice out.. The rice was over run with split peas and I felt like I had just got home from the beach and was eating with sandy hands....way too much crunch from too many peas, I think the popping mustard seeds threw me as they exploded out of the pan and I chucked in a LOT too many peas, next time I need to measure better! 

Crisis averted, I still managed to eat most of the curry and as much of the rice as I could find without too much crunch... I left the non flavored rice for my brother with some curry sauce to re-heat when he got back from London. I hope he likes it!!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Day 7

Left-over lunch and sizzling, spitting sausages

Toad in the hole
Lazy day today, tried to pack some of my stuff for leaving on Wednesday..I think I did too much shopping while I was here, too many clothes not enough space in the case!

Lunch today thrown together, left-over cucumber from the other day with my ginger dressing and left-over tomato and basil paste from yesterday on a cheese toasted sarney...YUMMY.

Dinner for Dad and I, one of Daddy's fave dishes so I hope I did it justice..toad in the hole, now why it is called that I will never know, how are sausages anything like toads? But other than the batter maybe being a little undercooked, and a little spitting oil as I cooked the sausages today was another success!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Day 6

Two-in-one day

Glorious day in the sun today at Gunwarf, Portsmouth. 
Location: Tiger Tiger
Company: Laura Chase
Lunch: Chicken Nachos.

Fantastic conversation and surprisingly wonderful weather before I drove home to cook dinner for Dad. Sainsbury's only had one monkfish tail, so I made the decision to attempt two meals in one; Salmon with Horseradish and Beets (p60) and Magnificent Monkfish (p159).

Dangerous cooking tonight in a white top while cooking with beets and sun-dried tomato paste. Somehow managed the whole meal without splashing anything down me. Although I thought I needed the salmon, in fact just the monkfish on mash would have satisfied us. Both delicious but definitely stuffed full now.

Maybe a little too much balsamic drizzled on the top but overall SUCCESS! No training today but I must go run tomorrow before I go back to hard-core training on Wednesday, back to the grind in Florida, needed with all this cooking and eating!

Salmon and Monkfish

Friday, 25 March 2011

Day 5

After yesterday, and having my first two-practice in a day, day, I took a break today from the cooking. 

8 recipes down, 2 desserts made I think I have made a HUGE dent in my challenge... 

The drive home today was long and stressful to add to the stress of yesterday's dinner making I think my break was well deserved!

Resume tomorrow! 

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Day 4

Dinner Party for 7

Day 4 and an EPIC stress-fest unfolded. Jem and I attempted Hamilton Squash (p226), Baked New Potatoes (p211), Honeymoon Spaghetti (p126) AND Marinated Pork Fillet on Rhubarb (p174).

Timing was the biggest difficulty, we took on a big task and Jazz Carlin, Adam Mallett, Meg Gilgrist, Rob Welbourne and Martin Littlefair were our testers. Error on the length of waiting time for swimmers after a long practice, waiting around with the anticipation of this meal that we had promised to be amazing...what if it wasn't?! We probably should have stuck to one easy dish that wouldn't take an hour and a half to get ready, by the time they piled in to fill their plates Jem and I were exhausted!

Silence and they filled their plates and silence as they ate it...what did that mean? Didn't they like it, and were they just too polite to say so? 

Pork demolished; defiantly a hit! Squash maybe not cooked fully and was tasty but could have been better. Potatoes: Good. Spaghetti might have had a few too many chilli's in for my liking and most had a dab on by the end of their portion. 

All in all I would call it a success, can't always please everyone. I hope they weren't all just being polite and that it actually was good like they said!


Dessert made by Meg was fabulous, tired now from a food coma, bed and training twice tomorrow!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Day 3

Perfect Pancakes
Wonderful lie-in this morning ready for the biggest brunch ever. Jamie-style pancakes, and he did well AGAIN. Whisking the eggs was a mission again due to not having an electric whisk.

Jem and I have attempted pancakes before with not such success, more like cake fried with chocolate chips and way too sickly to eat too many. Today however Jamie-style we demolished brunch enough for what Jamie thinks would feed 8....yea just the 2 of us athletes Jamie!

Raspberry and Banana Pancakes
Off to see Tom Haffield in Cardiff later tonight, more training with them so I needed the energy from our deliciously fluffy pancakes with rasberries and banana's. Perfect Pancakes to start a wonderfully sunny day in Wales.

Challenge being fought head on with 5 recipes and 2 desserts successfully completed! Will be taking a break on travel days so I am glad I have soared ahead. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Day 2

Prawn with Chilli

Welsh Adventures

After a long tedious drive, 4 hours across the country to Swansea, Wales I finally arrived: Bible in hand.

I explained to Jemma Lowe, my friend, new roomy for the next few nights, ex-Florida swimmer and fellow olympian about my challenge, both of us now excited about the up-and-coming Jamie meals. Jemma my very own human dustbin, the smallest, thinnest dustbin you will ever see who is up for any food, anytime, anywhere.

 On the menu, after my first exhausting session back in the pool, is Prawns with Chilli, Parsley, Ginger and Garlic on Toast (p153) and King of Puddings (p182) for dessert.

For thursday we have planned a big dinner party for 7, this will the 1st Jamie stress-fest. We bought all the ingredients at the same time as tonight's dinner, dragging our feet through Tescos, starving from my first swim session and my body feeling completely annihilated.

Dinner went well except we didn't take the tails of the prawns off; eating it proved messy, and we started toasting the bread a little late.

I impressed myself by eating the chilli, I am trying to explore some more of my taste buds; my mouth and face doesn't normally like hot spices, I usually stream: eyes and nose. Today, however, I managed the entire plate, possibly due to the juxtaposition of the lemon juice and possibly due to being so hungry. Satisfaction.

Pre-King Pudding
Even better was dessert, without an electric whisk the meringue proved a little more work than expected, end result completely worth it. Dessert amazing. 
King of ALL puddings

Monday, 21 March 2011

Day 1

Pre-Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad


Pineapple Disasters turned Fabulous

From the sleep I managed last night, anyone would have guessed it was
2012, the day of the 100m Backstroke final in the London Olympics,
everything having gone right. With the excitement of my challenge
infused with the nerves surrounding my cooking abilities, or lack
there of, I reverted to a childlike Christmas Eve insomnia. I imagined
the sweet and sour chicken (p179) over rice and the king of puddings
(p282), as well as trying to picture which salad would be best for my
first Jamie Oliver lunch as the clock showed 1.36am, 2.33am and

On a slight tangent, while awake far into the night I definitely heard
the light pitter-patter of mice feet somewhere in my room, I tensed,
terrified of the sound from the creature, especially as the mousetrap
was empty this morning…my own little Jerry must still be alive!

Adventure Day 1; Sainsbury’s was out of breadcrumbs, or didn’t have
any to start with, so the King of all Puddings was out of the
question. I stupidly left Jamie at home and so came home pudding-less.
However, on the plus side, my herb knowledge increased from
supermarket trip number one, I now know what root ginger looks like!
Lunch: Japanese Cucumber Salad with Ginger, Coriander, Mint and Rice
Wine Vinegar Dressing (p97 &115)
Note: A thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated, does not mean grate your
actual thumb!
Lunch was a success and there is enough left for me to have on my way
to Wales tomorrow. Jamie’s insistence that herbs MAKE a meal was
satisfied by the surprising infusion of ginger, mint and coriander.
Dinner: Pot-roasted Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce (p179) over
rice, with Pukka Pineapple with Bashed-up Mint Sugar (p262) to follow.
Pealing pineapple is no easy feat; those little black bits that get
stuck on the outside are a pain! Dinner is prepared and ready to be
put in the oven with time to spare. I just hope it all turns out ok.

And OK it turned out, even if I do say so myself, I even added a small Gemma touch to my Jamie meal using the left over pulp from my sauce in with the simply boiled rice, delicious. Enthralling conversation with my gorgeous friend Anna accompanied my very first interesting Jamie Style Meal, for company. Even the pineapple with mint sugar tasted glorious with day one complete in typical Gemma fashion, I have exploded head first into my
challenge with 3 recipes and one dessert down, 91 and 12 to go
respectively, and mores to the point I am enjoying the process!

Sunday, 20 March 2011



Having just watched Julie & Julia, I have decided that with time now suffocating me with boredom (having graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida) I could finally learn how to cook. Who better to learn from than the famous chef from my home country: Jamie Oliver?

Happy Days with the Naked Chef will become my Bible and a journey of ‘Comfort Grub, Quick Fixes and Fish, meat and vegetables’ will unfold.

The Challenge: 100 days, 94 recipes, 13desserts and a healthy eating regime.

With dinners being a social part of my lifestyle I will start this journey tomorrow cooking for my fabulous old friend Anna Forrester and my Dad, what I will start with will be decided when I wake, and my journey to the supermarket as Amateur Cook will be my first adventure.