Midweek Eat! Tasty cheese and spinach filo pie

So for a blog called Hungry Escapades there was a distinct lack of something… Hmmmm, what was it? Oh yes, that’s right people! FOOD!

We love our culinary delights, but in our savings mission we have cut drastically our usual fancy pants food budget. This has severely limited our food choices and meals out, hence our lack of recipes. Then we realised that’s a feature in itself. Tasty food on a budget! Most people are having to cut costs nowadays, but budget doesn’t have to mean bland (think that could become a catchphrase?).

Here marks our brand new feature:

MIDWEEK EAT!!

We will bring you tasty treats from our budget for two people. We spend £60 ($90) a week on groceries (including food, toiletries and everything else for the house) and most weeks we are closer to £50 ($75) mark. So to kick us off here’s our first ever recipe… Enjoy!

Tasty cheese, bacon and spinach filo pie

This pie is yummy! It feels like a bit of a treat and is so easy to make. There’s not even any rolling involved for the pastry. You can pretty much throw anything in there. I’ve made it with bacon here but it can easily be made in to a veggie pie with roast vegetables.

Servings:

It makes 4 servings and apparently its only 245 calories per portion.

Ingredients

• A bag of spinach (washed and trimmed)

• 5 rashers bacon

• 1 tsp olive oil

• 1 medium red onion finely sliced

• 6 halved cherry tomatoes

• 25g/1oz cornflour

• 300ml/½ pint semi-skimmed milk

• 3 free-range eggs beaten

• 25g/1oz extra-mature cheddar cheese, finely grated

• salt

• black pepper

For the pastry

• 1 tbp sunflower oil plus extra for oiling the tin

• 4 sheets of filo pastry each about 32 x 38cm/13 x 15in

 

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Preparation method

1. Wilt the spinach by pouring boiling over boiling water. Squeeze out any excess liquid.

2. Trim any fat off the bacon and cut into 1cm/½in strips. Add the oil to a pan on low heat and gently fry the onion and bacon until lightly browned, stirring regularly.

3. Add the onion and bacon to the bowl with the spinach, toss lightly and leave to cool.

4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat.

5. Lightly oil a 20cm/8in loose-based fluted flan tin that’s about 3.5cm/1½in deep. Pour the rest of the oil into a small bowl.

6. Place a sheet of filo pastry in the flan tin, pressing it firmly against the base and sides. Using the tip of a pastry brush, brush the pastry with a little oil then cover with a second pastry sheet Brush with more oil and cover with a third sheet, brush with the oil and cover with a fourth sheet. Roll and crumple the overhanging pastry back on to the rim of the tin, and brush lightly with the remaining oil. Place the tin on the baking tray.

7. Put the cornflour in a non-stick saucepan and stir in 50ml/2fl oz of the milk to make thin paste. Pour over 200ml/7fl oz of the milk and stir well. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.

8. Cook for a minute over a medium heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick and smooth.

9. Season, then remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the milk to cool and loosen the sauce.

10. Stir in the beaten eggs until thoroughly combined.

11. Scatter half the spinach, bacon and onion mixture over the base of the pastry case and pour the white sauce gently on top. Scatter the remaining spinach and bacon mixture on top and all the cherry tomatoes and press down lightly, then sprinkle evenly with the cheese.

12. Bake on the preheated baking tray in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned and crisp and the filling is set.

13. Take the pie out of the oven. Serve warm or cold. Goes great with salad or new potatoes (add a squeeze of lemon, knob of butter, and black pepper).

We absolutely love this recipe and for some reason the leftovers taste even better the next day for lunch!

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A message from an old friend

I remember the days when I longed for travel. I spent almost every evening obsessively reading other travel bloggers tales. I was awe inspired by them and hoped one day I would be able to up in leave just like they had. In the end Kellie and I decided to go for it and even launched this blog.

Since joining the blogging world I have already experienced a few high and low moments. They range from the early happy days when you think ‘wow we have had 3 views today!!  3 people in this world have actually read my ramblings!!’ It was probably my mum, dad and sister, but hey who cares?!!’

Once we had been up and running a couple of months I began to have moments of self doubt, questioning ‘why haven’t I got 3 million facebook likes yet?! Damn you! Listen to me…. erm… please! Look, I’m jumping in a picture! Surely that’s worth an extra like?!’

Then comes the blogger jealousy, ‘their blog looks so amazing!! I want to be them!!!’

Or worse still ‘Their blog sucks, why on earth have they got more likes than the world’s population?!’

I admit this last one isn’t very becoming, but sometimes jealousy does this to a man…

It was in a moment of self-doubt I received a message from my old friend Martin, who I haven’t seen for a couple of years. We had met on my previous travels at an organic farm in Australia, where the owners were just a little bit fascist.

Martin-Go-Kart

My good friend Martin

I think it’s a rare moment when you completely click with someone (a bromance I call it), but under the grip of our farmyard oppressors Martin and I did. I vaguely recall a drunken karaoke duet, where we belted out ‘Born To Be Wild’ in the local tavern to an unimpressed audience of two. Are all good friendships cemented with Karaoke? Sorry I’m digressing, back to the story…

Camp-martin-and-rob

Extremely dodgy farm photo!

I was beginning to think ‘why am I spending hours each day working on a blog?’ ‘What’s the point?’ ‘Does anyone give a monkeys about a bearded Yorkshireman and his extremely short girlfriend?’

I know it’s heart breaking tale isn’t it?! Grab the tissues and dry those teary eyes my friends. Yes poor me, about to disappear off on an adventure on the other side of the world. I am sure your heart bleeds for me.

I freely admit it is a bit pathetic. Thankfully just at the right time Martin decided to send me a message of support over the World Wide Web to help me regain my mojo.

Here it is:

“I really enjoy reading your blog because of the way you write it; so honest and in a normal words kinda way. Especially the farm part with those weird fascist owners.

I really admire you and your girlfriend and your plans to go and travel. it makes me jealous and every time I read it I have almost tears in my eyes, cause thats all I  wanna do.

I still have one more year of my studying to do and all I really want to do is to get out. Just go, you know what I’m talking about.

I hope one day i can do it too!!!!!

I wish you all the best and i will keep reading your blog
all the best love from Martin in good old Germany”

It was the kick up the bum I needed. We hadn’t spoken since our last meeting nearly two years ago and had no idea he was even reading the blog. To receive his kind words was a complete shock and a huge boost to my faltering ego. Plus I knew all too well his desire to just get out and do it!

His message took me back to when we started the blog. I thought it would be a great way to keep a record of our travels and keep in touch with our friends and families and provide tips/inspiration for others looking to make the big leap. Plus I’ve always had huge (but secret) urge to write and finally I decided to stop the excuses and DO IT!!

I have now made a vow:

‘FROM THIS DAY FORTH I WILL STOP MY SELF PITYING AND WHINING.’

Comparing yourself to others just leads to jealousy. You need to do something because you love it, not to become popular. That would be missing the point completely.

Having unexpected support is an (amazing) extra bonus and I am over the moon that at least one other person out there connects with it!

So thanks to my friend Martin for the support and giving me the chance to reflect on what is important to me. I have no doubt his hopes and desires to travel will soon become a reality. If you want something enough you can make it happen.

Choosing the perfect backpack

Bizarrely choosing the right backpack seemed like a bigger decision than deciding to quit our jobs and book a one way ticket to Mexico. We spent hours researching the perfect backpack online and visited so many outdoor shops that we are now experts in fleecy layers and all things Goretex.

From the advice we received it seemed like if we made the wrong decision our world may implode. Opinions vary wildly, from the too cool for school backpacker ‘I just take a thimble to carry my belongings’, to the fearful hoarder ‘I don’t go anywhere without my bowling ball and entire collection of make-up’.

It can get very confusing and stressful, but here’s what we went for:

Kellie – 38l Osprey Farpoint size small

Rob – 55l Osprey Farpoint size medium (Main pack 40l, with detachable 15l daypack).

backpack-empty

Reasons – the girl/boy perspective:

1) SIZE –

Kellie – I’m small, in fact according to height charts the size of an average 12-year-old, so lugging around a huge backpack isn’t practical and I look ridiculous. My previous backpack was a 55l and simply looked massive on me and when I’d filled it to the brim I often needed some assistance getting it on my back. So something smaller was the only option.

Rob – I  wanted to buy a small(ish) pack to make me streamline my belongings. On my previous travels I carried far too much stuff just because I could fit it in my huge 80l backpack. It was completely knackering when searching for hostels/accommodation in the heat and humidity and too bulky for many long bus journeys! I didn’t even use half the stuff. If you do need anything extra you can usually buy it a lot cheaper on your travels.

2) ZIP FRONT –

Kellie  – This offers easy access to all your belongings rather than the top loading packs. My previous backpack was a top loader and it drove me crazy. If you want to quickly grab something from your backpack you often have to route around blindly hoping you find the pesky lost item or end up pulling everything out of your backpack to display to the world. There was no question, we were NOT buying a top loader.

Rob – What she said.

3) SECURITY –

Both – You can padlock the zips on both our packs. Obviously this isn’t going to prevent a hardened criminal, but it will stop any opportunist from delving into your bag.

4) QUALITY –

Both – The Osprey packs feel extremely well made. We want our few belongings to stand up to the rigours of backpacking. Fingers crossed they will.

5) COMPARTMENTS –

Both – We are big geeks and hate messy backpacks! The Ospreys have lovely little compartments to separate and organise your stuff, add in a packing cube and we couldn’t be happier.

6) COMFORT –

Both –  The padding on the reserve of the pack is amazing and the straps feel like luxury. Basically when we tried them on we kind of made a ‘aaahhhh’ noise. They fit like a glove.

7) COLOUR –

Kellie – This was important for me, I really wanted mine in Lagoon (blue) but they didn’t have it in a small back size, so I had to compromise and settled for Charcoal. Even with the perfect backpack there has to be some compromises. It just means that Rob and I have matching bags now, how cool are we?!?

Rob – Colour? Are you insane? I don’t care…

8) DAYPACK –

Kellie – The Osprey Farpoint 38l didn’t come with a daypack so I went with the Osprey Axis 18l. Like my main bag it’s not too big and will fit in all our important and valuable items. It’s also got comfortable straps so we when we go on longer walks it won’t cut the circulation in our arms off. Plus for long treks it has a hydration system (actually says headphones but works just the same).

Negatives – not able to padlock – but can easily wear on your front if needed.

Rob – The 55l Osprey Farpoint come with a detachable 15l daypack. It’s small, comfy, has lots of handy compartments and you can hook it onto the front of your backpack for when you need to be security conscious. Has a hydration system (again labelled headphones slot but works just fine).

Negatives – not able to padlock – but can easily wear on your front if needed.

Kel-an-Rob-Backpack

Test run 4 – obviously it needed a photo to mark the occasion

Test Packing

It’s about four and half months until our trip and we have already packed and unpacked our backpacks 5 times (ok actually 7 times) just to make sure everything fits. It does! Plus it doesn’t feel like we are carrying an elephant each. They feel like a nice comfy pair of slippers! Not very rock and roll but we don’t care.

To be honest when you find the right backpack you just know. It might be stressful, but keep the faith, there is one out there with your name on it!

We will release our packing list in the next couple of months once it’s finalised and update you on whether we made the right backpack decision once we are on the road.

The Marshmallow test – delayed gratification

Today marks 5 months until we leave the UK bound for Mexico. Sometimes the waiting can be unbearable! To help with this over the last few weeks I’ve been sorting though my possessions to ready myself for the trip and to feel like I am getting a step closer each day.  Whilst looking for something at work I came across an article on the famous Marshmallow Test, which pretty much sums up my itchy feet mood of late.

The Marshmallow Test is an experiment on delayed gratification. In 1970 psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University, devised a study to look at look into this. Children aged between 4 and 6 years old were led into a room, empty of distractions and given a marshmallow. The children were told that if they wanted they could eat the marshmallow, but if they waited 15 minutes they would be given an extra marshmallow. Mischel observed that some children would cover their eyes with their hands, or turn around so that they couldn’t see the marshmallow, others started kicking the desk, or tugged at their pigtails, or stroked the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal. Some would simply eat the marshmallow as soon as the researchers left the room. Over 600 children who took part in the experiment and only a minority ate the marshmallow immediately.

Interestingly researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes (this is very much debated though). I hope this is a good omen for my travels!

I feel a little bit like one of those children at the moment. The dream of travelling is there, it’s tempting me, I can touch it, feel it, read about it, and live vicariously through others doing it, but I can’t have it. Not just yet…. I have to control myself and keep on our savings mission!! It can be so frustrating! But it will be worth it, as those last few months of saving will enhance our trip so much.

When the time comes to start our escapade I’m going to be that kid at the end of the clip. He waits and doesn’t eat the marshmallow, so he gets two and shoves them both in his mouth same time! 5 months from now I’ll have waited and will be rewarded and when that time comes, it’ll be so much more satisfying. I’ll grab it with both hands and eat it all at once! Some things in life are worth waiting for.

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