Monday, 30 September 2013

MEATliquor Brighton Review

Those who know me well will know that I love a good burger. For the past couple of years I've been trying to find the time to go to MEATliquor, MEATmission or MEATmarket to try one of their famed burgers. Whenever I finally get up to London to try them there is either an insanely long queue and my rumbling tummy can't wait that long, or I'm swayed by my friends (or my own noodle addiction) to go elsewhere.

When I heard on Twitter that MEATliquor was opening in Brighton, and it was 50% off for the first week, I cancelled all my plans and headed into Brighton. Handily my hubby works in Brighton so we decided, in an effort to beat the queues, we'd go straight after he finished work. Located on a shabby looking street close to the North Laines, it's about a 10 minute stroll from the centre of town.

We turned up at MEATliquor at about 17.20 and just walked straight in, we even got to choose where we sat. This was a great start. Queuing for food is not my idea of fun.

The poor waitresses looked a little harassed, and took quite a while to take our order, but that is to be expected on the second day of opening. Waiting to be served gave me a chance to have a good look around. Densely patterned wallpaper, neon signs, abattoir-esque plastic curtains and metal tables all added to the feeling that we were eating in some kind of industrial butchery meets underground punk club.

As I wasn't driving I had a cocktail, I think it was called Summer of Love. It was nice but didn't blow my socks off taste-wise. I'd love to have tried some others but it was a school night. I had great cocktail envy looking at other tables.

Much to the Waitress' amusement we ordered a lot of food. I imagined most people would do this, but apparently not. We went for a good selection of sides, some hippy fries and a burger each. This all came on a tray lined with paper, not just thrown on but actually done rather neatly. I love digging into food without any cutlery, although hubby seemed a bit perturbed.

The bingo wings were a huge portion of chicken wings, deep fried until crunchy and then thrown into a hot sauce. The sauce was sweet, sour and spicy all at once. I loved it. I was also astounded at how the wings managed to stay crunchy but saucy at the same time. Mind blowing. As hubby is a pescatarian I had all the wings to myself and when I couldn't finish them I was very tempted to just lick the sauce off them all. Equally as nice was the blue cheese dip with actual chunks of blue cheese.

I was most excited about the deep fried pickles. I love pickles. These were big slices of pickle dipped in batter and deep fried. They did exactly what they said on the tin. Very tasty. We also ordered massive onion rings that were almost as big as my head. I only managed one of these because I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by all the deep fried batter I was consuming. Perhaps we should have ordered either these or the pickles.

There was almost an argument when it came to ordering fries. I'd have loved to have tried the chilli cheese fries, but as hubby doesn't eat meat we went for the hippy fries again. I loved the tangy hippy sauce and tonnes of sweet caramelised onions piled on a portion of fries easily big enough for 2-3 people. The main problem was having ordered so much food these went cold quite quickly. Hubby didn't eat much of these as I think the idea of digging in with his fingers didn't appeal, but like a savage I enjoyed picking up piles of fries, with onions and sauce dripping off of them.

Then came the most important bit. The burgers. Exciting for non-meat eaters, MEATliquor Brighton not only has it's mushroom and haloumi burger, but also has a selection of fishy things. Hubby had a Fish Sandwich. A lovely fresh bun with lettuce, tartare sauce and a deep fried, battered piece of white fish. The fish was moist and flakey, maybe the nicest posh fish finger sandwich I've ever stolen a bite of.

I, rather unsurprisingly, had the bacon cheeseburger. Rather than pokey out bits of bacon, the bacon came as a crispy disk on top of the burger, a revelation. I was surprised at how the soft tasty bun managed to support such a chunky, juicy burger right until the last bite. The burger sat on a nest of lettuce and generous chunks of pickle, which caught all the burger juices after each bite. The burger itself was cooked on the rare side of medium (perfect for me, but I know this would be too pink for some of my friends) and just oozed tasty meat juice. About 3 bites from the end I thought that I was going to explode but it was so delicious I just struggled on. This led to a rather embarrassing, slow waddle back to the car.

I really enjoyed this naughty burger meal, although probably due to all the deep fried things I ordered and simply eating too much, I had awful heartburn until the next day. As it was 50% off it was stupidly cheap at £25 for the two of us. Even paying full price would have still felt like a bargain.

We left before 7pm and there was already a queue forming outside. Although it was an awesome burger I'm still not sure how I feel about queueing outside. Okay at this time of year, but there will be some chilly burger-lovers in a couple of months!!


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Lurgy

I have had a hectic couple of weeks. At work we have been exceptionally busy and the main downside to my job has reared its ugly little head. The lurgy.

The lurgy (otherwise known as "a bad case of sniffles"), is the fear of all those who work with children. It sneaks up on you unexpectedly. One minute you're fine, the next there is that hint of scratchy throat or the first little snuffle and before you know it you feel as if you've swallowed a family of small hedgehogs and your eyes are going to drop out of your nose.

Typically for me I have caught the lurgy just as I'm starting 2 weeks of annual leave. I'm not sure if this is recurrent bad luck, or if my immune system decides to go on annual leave when I do.

I've spent the last couple of days mostly holed up at home, munching my way through strepsils like they're going out of fashion. In all honesty it's been a great excuse to curl up in bed and catch up with the TV shows I've missed and to finish the books that I've been reading. It's also been lovely to have some kitten-cuddle times.

Today I finally feel as if the lurgy is starting to lift. A thick layer of Nivea Creme on my nose has protected it from looking too Rudolf-like, so as soon as this sneezing stops I'll be ready to join normal society again.

Tomorrow I might feel well enough to use my new steam mop. The excitement I feel about this only confirms the fact that I must be taking too strong medications.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

A Year Ago...

This day last year, rather like today, I was coming home and getting ready to go to sleep before another night shift. It had been an exhausting week. My first ever set of nights as a doctor and they were in A&E! My head was all over the place. The 13th might be unlucky for some, but it had been a very lucky night for me. 

We'd had a strange night. Exceptionally busy early on, our team had referred a couple of patients to the medical team who promptly came down to see them. Strangely we then had a massive lull, not one new patient who hadn't been seen in the department. Perfect time for a cup of tea and a natter with the team. My Registrar had been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour so he was showing off his amazing pictures and I was moaning about how much I wanted to go but no-one would go with me. "We should go together!" butted in the Med Reg. Being a massive loser I presumed that he was saying that out of pity and laughed it off before nervously blurting out my love of lego and other childish things. He left. My Reg was in hysterics at my panicked and frankly embarrassing reaction to some mild flirting, but honestly who would flirt with me in the middle of the night while I'm in scrubs with no make up. There was also a high chance that I hadn't brushed my hair for days at this point. 

Some more patients turned up so I pretty much just knuckled down and got on with things, but in the back of my mind I was thinking "What if he did mean that he wants to go with me?". There wasn't much I could do about it anyway. It's not like I could bleep the Med Reg and say "Hi! It's that A&E SHO... can I have your number to sort out Harry Potter?". 

About 06.30 the Med Reg came back into A&E. I immediately went tomato red and thought about hiding in a cubicle. Turns out he just wanted to speak to my Reg, so much for thinking that he'd come back for me. I sat down and started to write in my last patient notes. The Med Reg hung about, asking how the night had been and making other small talk. By this point I was so confused. "Does he want to talk to me or not?"I thought. Just as I was about to go and check some patient results he asked "So when are you going to Harry Potter?". I took a deep breath, gathered my courage (helped by the insanity of working a week of nights) and said "Well I thought we were going together so you'll have to tell me when you're free"

He quickly scribbled a message on the back of a scrap of paper "If Harry Potter.... Andrew... 01234567890" I still have it somewhere. 

I went home very confused. Perhaps he wants to go as friends? Maybe he doesn't like girls and I've read the situation wrong? What if he doesn't text back. I'd be so embarrassed at work.

When I got home I hardly slept all day and managed to hold back texting him until I woke up in the evening to go back to work.  He text me back... and exactly 3 months later we got married. 

Friday, 13 September 2013

World Sepsis Day... thanks guys!

Today is World Sepsis Day. To some people this will mean nothing, and this is why it's so important. World Sepsis Day is all about increasing awareness of Sepsis both in the general public and amongst health care professionals.

Sepsis is (a pretty scary) life threatening condition when the body's response to infection damages internal organs. It's incredibly common, anyone who works in a busy A&E or acute medical department will tell you that they see it multiple times a day. The World Sepsis Day website states that one person dies every 3 heartbeats from sepsis. That is a lot.

Until last October sepsis was something I saw and treated at work. I followed the Sepsis Six guidelines to give my patient's the best chance of survival and involved my seniors early. It was scary but just one of those things. Then things changed.

I called my Dad at 11pm after finishing work to catch up before he went to bed and his phone was answered by one of the barmaids at his hotel in tears.

"Your Dad is on the floor. He can't breathe. We're waiting for the ambulance"

I felt like my whole world was crashing around me. My Mum died when I was 12 and since then my Dad has done a fantastic job of caring for me, he means everything to me. I was hours away from home.

I knew that I had to get to him to make sure he was OK. My now husband (who at that point I'd known for a fortnight and wasn't even really dating) happened to call straight afterwards. He decided I was too upset to drive to Kent so he offered to drive me.

We got to the A&E department my Dad was in about 2 hours later. I used to work there. I rushed into A&E majors fully expecting to see my Dad sitting up on a trolley wondering what the fuss was about. Unfortunately that's not what happened. As I walked into majors there were a crowd of nurses and two  doctors around a trolley. My Dad's trolley. He was incredibly confused and groaning in pain, struggling to breathe. I looked at the monitor. His heart was beating too fast, his oxygen levels were too low and his blood pressure was dangerously low. He was covered in sweat from the fever he had.

At first I thought I was just going to sink to the floor and cry. I took a peak at his blood gas results. A lactate of 3.7. Not scarily high, but enough to be worrying. The junior doctor looking after him was giving him fluids but he wasn't looking any better.

He was swiftly moved into resus and another doctor called. Slightly panicking the junior asked my now hubby (who was a Med Reg), if there was anything he'd missed. He hadn't. He'd followed the Sepsis Six guidelines. My dad had oxygen, fluids and antibiotics. They had sent cultures and other samples to the lab and they were measuring his urine output.

As more fluid went in he started to perk up. Suddenly his blood pressure was staying at an acceptable level. Within 6 hours he was visibly more comfortable, in 12 he started to be able to say some words and in 24 hours they were weaning him off oxygen.  A further 3 days later they were switching his antibiotics to tablets, and the day after that he got to come home.

I am so thankful that he was given the right care in a timely enough manner that he got better because for a while I really thought that he was going to die. It's thanks to the Sepsis Six and the doctors and nurses who followed it that he's better and we got to celebrate his 60th birthday this summer.

So thank you everyone who has put so much time and effort into raising awareness of sepsis and educating health care professionals on how best to treat it.

(As I have a lack of Birthday photos... hubby is holding them hostage on his camera... this is one of my favs...)

Monday, 9 September 2013

Spicy Sweet Potato Chips

There is something comforting about a big plate of carbs, especially as the weather starts to get colder. It's even better if that plate of carbs needs minimal preparation. Strangely, I'm not a massive fan of normal chips, or normal potato at all. Conversely I could eat sweet potato until I turned into a starchy orange ball of loveliness.

I can't claim that this idea was mine. I've spent many an evening having food envy when the lovely @trufflepotamous has been showing off her spicy sweet potato chips. I don't know how she makes hers, but this is how I make mine.

I won't bore you with quantities, I'm guessing that most people know how much potato they will eat. If you're a bit afraid of the spices just add them gradually and have a taste of the spicy oil.

Sweet potatoes
Olive oil
Chilli powder

1. Heat oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into chunky chips.
3. Put in a bowl and coat generously with olive oil.
4. Season with as much salt, chilli, paprika and oregano as you like.

5. Turn out on to a baking tray and cook for 20-30 mins (or until they are going brown on the outside and are smooshy on the inside) giving them a good shake half way.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Giggling Squid - Reigate

As a post-nights treat hubby and I decided to take a wander around the posher-than-where-we-live town of Reigate and go for a bite to eat. I am a spice monster. I love spicy food of all types, but Thai is definitely my favourite.

Enticed by the funny name I decided I fancied going to Giggling Squid, a small chain of 9 restaurants, for some "Thai Tapas". I'll be honest and say that I was a bit worried by the concept of Thai Tapas, but actually looking at the menu it's just smaller portions of all the same lovely things, which is a great idea for a piggy like me who loves trying everything.

They do some mixtures of different tapas dishes, so we went for two of those and some extra bits. Hubby had the descriptively named "vegetarian" which had a vegetarian green curry, vegetable stir fry, jasmine rice and spring rolls. The thai green curry was deliciously creamy, spicy and perfectly balanced with just the right amount of sweetness. The stir-fried vegetables were still crisp and highly perfumed with spices. I had the "starving squid" with thai red chicken curry, jasmine rice, vegetable spring rolls and dumplings.

The curry was creamy and well flavoured, but not as punchy as the green vegetable curry. The servings were very generous, although they were "tapas sized" I'd guess that there was at least as much curry as I'd cook for myself at home for a whole meal. The steamed dumplings were juicy, chewy yummy dim-sum, made even better by the sweetened soy dressing they were served with. The only let down on the plate were the spring rolls which didn't taste of much except the sweet chilli they were drizzled with.

We also ordered Salt and Pepper squid. The batter was light and crisp, while the squid remained nice and tender, but I felt it could have used a bit more salt and pepper. The chilli dip was very tasty though, reminding me (in a good way) of the bottles of Encona chilli sauce you can buy.

Tempura vegetables were also nice, with a light cripsy batter and a good choice of vegetables. Much to my delight (and Hubby's horror) they even had some cauliflower in there.

With a pot of green tea and a bottle of diet coke the whole thing came to around £29, which is a bargain  in my eyes.  I haven't mentioned it yet, but the service was also great. This was probably of the nicer thai meals I've had on the high street and while it doesn't compare to places like the Blue Elephant, it is also great value for money.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

Twitter Christmas Cake Cook-A-Long Part 1 (#twitcakebake)

Some of you will gasp in horror at my use of the C-word, but for those of us who love Christmas, the end of the summer marks the start of Christmas preparation. I'm not yet at the stage where I feel I can openly admit reading Christmas craft books and planning the gifts I will get people but I have started to think about food. Even the most bah-humbugish people who won't put up a Christmas tree until late December, can't deny that a decent Christmas cake needs to be started early.

Growing up with parents a parent who was both French and hated fruit cake I have to admit that I've never had Christmas cake. My wedding cake last year was a fruit cake, so I'm guessing that it was just a non-boozy Christmas cake.

As per usual I'm working over Christmas this year, so I was hoping to make a nice cake to look forward to when I get home (and perhaps even share!).

When I confessed my virgin-cake status on Twitter the very lovely @reddy1408 suggested a cook-a-long, using Delia's recipe with a few tweaks. Quite a few of us are now taking part; @the_learnaholic, @tablet_girl and @thesteth for sure, but maybe some others. It should be interesting to see how they all turn out, although unfortunately I won't get to taste them all.

I got started with soaking my fruit today.

Delia's recipe suggests weighing up lots of different types of dried fruit and soaking overnight with 3 tbs of brandy.

Debs' tweaked recipe suggests 900g of mixed dried fruit with a many glugs of fav alcohol. She uses sherry and if that's good enough for her it's good enough for me.

I ended up using 800g of mixed dried fruit and just over 100g of glace cherries at the request of hubby, as for him a fruit cake is not a fruit cake without them. Having grown up in a family that has a generous approach to adding booze to anything I've put half a bottle of sherry in the fruit. I'm not going to be afraid to add more (just don't tell Delia!).


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Pre-Nights Day

I survived induction at work. Everyone seems lovely and friendly, but there are so many different things to learn and so many different types of shifts in different areas that I'll be doing over the next year. In fact the most traumatic thing about the whole day was getting lost on the walk home and ending up practically having to hike up a huge hill. By the time I got home I thought that my legs were going to drop off!

Due to a a bit of confusion it turns out that our induction only lasted 1 day, so instead of a second day of induction I am getting ready for a night shift a day earlier than I thought. On the plus side I will get to do the night shift with someone else, so I can ask all my stupid questions about working the computers and finding the right forms for things. On the downside I am having to rearrange everything.

I like my pre-nights day to be pretty relaxed. Everyone has a different way of settling into night shifts. I like to sleep normally the night before, get up early and then go back to bed after lunch. I can use this morning to cook things for the week ahead and do anything I have to do. With this change of plans I'll still get a good pre-nights day today, but tomorrow will be a bit pants. I have to drop off forms and talk to occupational health in the morning, then once I get home I'll get a few hours sleep before the landlord is coming over to do something or other. That probably also means that I'll have to do some cleaning and tidying tomorrow so that the landlord doesn't have to wade through piles of washing up.

The most night shifts I've done in a row is 4, which I feel is about right. I don't know how some people managed to do a week or two.

Anyway I am going to spend the rest of this morning catching up on reading and then eating the lovely tomato, bean and cinnamon soup I've cooked to keep me going over the week. Nom nom nom. I also think I'm going to have to have lots of kitten cuddles from a very grumpy post-vaccination and microchip kitten (have you seen how big that needle is?!).

Sunday, 1 September 2013

New Job Nerves

It's September already, I can't quite believe it. I've had the last 5 weeks off of work, but as of tomorrow I start my new job. The job I have wanted for ages. The start of my dream career. I've been excited about this day for a long time, and that excitement has only grown as I've sat at home bored for the last couple of weeks as Hubby has gone to work.

Now that it's less than a day until I start I'm petrified. To be honest I've been getting nervous for at least the last week. As usual for me the nerves have started with bizarre work nightmares, getting so bad that the night before last the kitten sat stroking my face with her paws to cheer me up.

Each time I start a new job I worry about not knowing the place, not being good enough and not making any friends. The fact I've survived it so many times doesn't make it any easier. On the plus side lots of us are in the same boat tomorrow, so I imagine everyone will be as nervous as I am.

To try and subdue my nerves I always like to get extra organised and spend my day writing up my new rota, courses and social engagements in my diary. I like writing them in with my favourite pen that I'll have swapped for a cheap biro by tomorrow, due to my habit of leaving a trail of pens wherever I go. Last year I tried to just use my iPhone as a diary, and as much as I love it, it just wasn't the same. I'll also be spending most of the evening emptying and refilling my bag, just like I did before school years ago. I develop a panic that I've forgotten something. I need pens, spare hairbands, diary, purse, stethoscope, hand-cream, paracetamol, water bottle and snacks. That's before I've even begun to remember all the official paperwork and ID documents that I should take. Eek!

Packing and unpacking my bag should be made that little bit more fun as I've decided I'm going to use the bag Hubby bought me a couple of months ago. It is the beautiful Donna Leather Satchel by Ollie and Nic. I just adore everything about it. It's big enough to carry everything I need without looking daft and I hardly ever lose anything in there because it's split into two handy sections. Mostly I love it because it's simply beautiful. It looks beautiful, it feels beautiful it even smells beautiful. I had a minor guilty pang when choosing it in the shop as it was a bit more than I wanted (Hubby) to spend on a handbag, but it was worth every penny. I am really going to enjoy taking it to work!