Visting FarGo Village, Coventry

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This weekend we paid our first visit to FarGo Village in Coventry. I’ve read lots about FarGo over the past few weeks and was really interested to take a closer look as it sounded fab.  We’re going to ignore just how long it took me to catch on about the name. I spent days, maybe weeks, pondering how they came up with the name FarGo and literally twigged when walking down Far Gosford Street. There are no flies on me. My husband was disgusted.

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FarGo Village is a brand new creative “village” on the edge of Coventry city centre, a hub of independent shopping and creative arts in an old bicycle factory. The aim is to bring a bit of a Camden vibe to Coventry with niche and unique shops, studios, creative workspaces and crafts, cafes, markets and entertainment.

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First impressions were good, we loved the design of the development, it was really well done and lots of thought had been put into it. We liked the shipping container units and the old bicycle factory had been sympathetically developed without losing it’s old character and identity (Coventry’s bicycle heritage is very important).  There’s a great mix of shops – vintage and new and I can see that this is could be a really great place to pick up some nifty and unique Christmas gifts.

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Three of my favourites were

The Big Comfy Bookshop – beautiful, light and well-organised which is quite unusual for a secondhand book shop, totally loved it and will spend a lot more time in there. They have local author book signings and are currently running a children’s writing competition.

The Dashing Blades Barbershop – Mr M decided to get himself a haircut whilst he was here and it was a great experience. Robert, the owner, was very dapper indeed, the most awesomely styled barber I’ve ever come across and I loved the whole style of the barbershop.

CaBloom Flowers – CaBloom was displaying some stunning arrangements of beautiful, vibrant flowers. If only I had someone to buy me some.

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There is obviously so much more and you can read a little about the other tenants here.

I’m a sucker for somewhere I can meander and mooch around, and even better if there is some nosh on offer.  You won’t be disappointed if you wander on down to FarGo at the weekend when Scoff Street Food are in residence. When I visited there was three of the most amazing street food vendors serving up some pretty top notch food – Spectacular Goat, The Meat Shack and The Hungry Toad. I’ve been fortunate enough to try food from The Hungry Toad (Nachurrito. A NACHURRITO. That’s a burrito with nachos in it to you and I. One word. Amazing) so this time I thought we’d try out the other two vendors. The children had a pretty awesome pizza (The Marge) from Spectacular Goat whilst I opted for a burger from The Meat Shack. I’d heard nothing but good things about these burgers so couldn’t wait to get my chops around it and it did not disappoint. Wowsers. I will be back for more, that’s for sure!

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FarGo Village have got tons of spooky fun planned for half-term week and I can’t wait to get back down there. It’s such a fantastic development and I feel, a massive asset to Coventry. I really hope that more people get themselves down there to support this creative community. Every single person I met there was friendly and helpful and I think it would be amazing to see this really flourish.

If you’re local to Coventry or even just passing through, make sure you stop by FarGo Village and check it out!

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Meal Planning Monday (20th October 2014)

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Hello! Happy Monday!

Hope you’re all fine and dandy today. Little bit late today with Meal Planning Monday but I’ve been having a productive morning Christmas shopping, choosing bathroom flooring, baking and playing with an 8 week old puppy! Unemployment is starting to really suit me…!

I’ve done an easy meal plan this week, mainly because we’re all getting over colds and bugs at the moment and I just want food to be simple this week so here it is;

JO Fajitas
Spaghetti Bolognese
Toad-in-the-Hole
Chilli Beef Stir-fry
Garbage Frittata and Salad
Fish’n’chips

Easy but tasty!

I swear not a week goes by without a spag bol in this house!

Okay, mealplanners, it’s your turn! Let’s see what you have got on the menu this week.

If you are a newcomer to my blog and Meal Planning Monday then the idea is simple. Read more about Meal Planning Monday HERE.  All you have to do to join in is write a blog post about your meal plans for the week and add it to the Linky below. No blog? No matter! Just leave a comment below with your plans or you can join in with our Facebook group and let us know over there.  We’ve also got a great Pinterest board going on.  If you want to join this collaborative board then let me know. We’ve currently got over 890 followers so it’s another great way to share your recipes and posts with the masses!

Follow At Home With Mrs M’s board Meal Planning Monday’s Family Favourites on Pinterest.

I’d really like to drum up some more interest in Meal Planning Monday this autumn, so please do share your posts and RT so we can get as many people on board as possible!  Use the hashtag #mealplanningmonday over on Twitter and I’ll share as many as I can without annoying everyone!

Look forward to seeing what you’re all cooking up this week.  Keep your eye on the blog this week as the next Meet the Mealplanner will be posted this week!

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Meal Planning Monday (13th October 2014)

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Good morning! How was your week? I must admit I am not doing a very good job at keeping up right now and checking all your blogs to see your meal plans which makes me sad. I will try harder this week.

Did you see the first Meet the Mealplanner post last week? If not you can catch up with it here. They’ll be another one coming next week. If you’re interested in being part of this feature, drop me an email.

I really need to find my groove this week with cooking again. After school activities take up so much of my time that I always feels there’s not enough time to make a proper dinner but I am going to start pushing through that – getting myself more organised, doing more advance prep and using my slow cooker.

This is what the plan looks like for this week!

Lasagne Soup
Sweet Hawaiian Chicken and Rice
Country Club Chicken & Spaghetti
Pizza Nachos
Spaghetti Bolognese
Roast Chicken & trimmings

I’m also making a Peach & Amaretti Crumble as well as doing a spot of baking this week. I’m totally getting my cooking on!

Ooh I’m actually looking forward to eating all of that now!

If you are a newcomer to my blog and Meal Planning Monday then the idea is simple. Read more about Meal Planning Monday HERE. All you have to do to join in is write a blog post about your meal plans for the week and add it to the Linky below. No blog? No matter! Just leave a comment below with your plans or you can join in with our Facebook group and let us know over there.  We’ve also got a great Pinterest board going on.  If you want to join this collaborative board then let me know. We’ve currently got over 890 followers so it’s another great way to share your recipes and posts with the masses!

Follow At Home With Mrs M’s board Meal Planning Monday’s Family Favourites on Pinterest.

I’d really like to drum up some more interest in Meal Planning Monday this autumn, so please do share your posts and RT so we can get as many people on board as possible!  Use the hashtag #mealplanningmonday over on Twitter and I’ll share as many as I can without annoying everyone!

Have a great week everyone!

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Cookbook Review: Jamie’s Comfort Food

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I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I am a Jamie Oliver fan. It wasn’t always this way, in fact I used to be quite dismissive of Jamie as many people seem to be but I bought a couple of his books, tried some recipes and fell in love. I’ve never made a recipe from a Jamie Oliver book that I didn’t love and some of most-thumbed cookbooks are his. It stands to reason therefore that I was quite excited to get my little mitts on his most recent book Jamie’s Comfort Food.

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Jamie’s Comfort Food accompanies the current TV series of the same name.  The idea behind the book is that is about food that you really want to eat — ultimate comfort food. Jamie has taken inspiration from childhood memories and guilty pleasures to bring together 100 ultimate versions of all-time favourites.

The book is presented in typical Jamie-style. Beautiful lifestyle photography accompanied by eye-catching colour and great use of fonts.  For me. cookbooks aren’t all about the recipes. I know that sounds weird but I appreciate a pretty book too.

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It is split into sections as follows

Nostalgia
Good Mood Food
Pick Me Ups
Ritual
Guilty Pleasures
Sweet Indulgence

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Let me start by saying this isn’t really a day-to-day cookbook, although there are some great meal ideas included. It’s more aimed at celebrations, occasions, holidays and my personal favourite type of food – weekend food.  That’s what I call anything that takes a bit more effort and might be considered a bit naughty.

As always, I’ve broke out my trusty sticky notes to make the pages of everything I want to cook. This is somewhat of a ritual for me with a new cookbook. I don’t always get around to cooking everything I mark but certainly with a Jamie Oliver book I have a ruddy good go.

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Things that have jumped out to me as immediate must-tries include;

Chicken Tikka Masala, Beans on Toast, Retro Layered Salad, Big British Meatballs, Insanity Burger, Katsu Curry, Nasi Goreng, Black Cod, Divine Dosa, Greek Egg and Chips, Bloody Mary Beef, Winter Nights Chilli, Crispy Duck Lasagne, Mighty Greek Moussaka, Chicken and Mushroom Pie, Unbelievable Provencal Bake, Milk Tart, Jamaican Ginger Cake, Hummingbird Cake, Beautiful Black Forest Gateau.

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Of course, there are many other things I would like to try too but I think there is enough there to get me started. I’m going to go with the Chicken and Mushroom Pie followed by the Hummingbird Cake first I think.

There’s something to please everyone in this book, no matter how fussy and eater. I think there’s a good chance this will become my favourite Jamie Oliver book!

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Meet the Meal Planner – Caroline Makes

Meet the Meal Planner is a new feature on At Home With Mrs M, designed to introduce everyone to the people who get involved with Meal Planning Monday each week.  This is each meal planners chance to tell us who they are, why and how they meal plan. I hope you enjoy this new item and feel free to leave a comment for the meal planner below!

Hi there and welcome to Meet the Meal Planner! It’s great to have you here. Lets start by introducing yourself. Please tell us a little more about who you are and all about your blog. (If you have one!)

My name is Caroline and my blog Caroline Makes is mainly baking but also crafts – basically anything I make – and I have recently branched out into restaurant reviews as well since I eat out quite often. I live in Surrey with my boyfriend and my cat, and work in the City in the communications department of a large bank. So I write for a living but blogging is my creative outlet!

Lets get down to business. I’d like to know you have been meal planning for and what inspired you to start?

For years now (pre-blog) I’ve made a list of what I was planning to cook each week, as it makes sure I only buy food that I will need, and that I use things up – for instance, I plan two recipes using the same ingredient. I also love to cook proper recipes rather than just bung something in the oven, so unless I work out what I’m doing in advance, I won’t have the right ingredients! I started really planning my menus in detail, and sharing them on my blog, when I joined Slimming World as it helped me see if I was eating the right things on the diet plan.

It’s time to start writing your meal plan for the week. What do you do first? Talk us through your planning.

I begin by checking my diary and seeing which evenings I’m going to be out or if we have plans that week. Then I list each day and just pretty much go through one at a time writing down whatever comes to mind.

Where do you find your meal-planning inspiration? Do you have a list of go-to meals or do you like to get creative and mix it up?

As I like to blog about recipes that I make, I try to always make different things. I have never liked eating the same thing more than once every few weeks either, as I like a lot of variety, which I think my boyfriend took a bit of getting used to when he moved in with me, as he was used to having the same things on rotation week in and week out! He is a very fussy eater so it’s hard for me to sometimes come up with meals he likes and at least a couple of times a week I cook us different things so he can have one of his favourites and I can try something different. I love to go through recipe books- I have over 100 – to choose recipes, but I don’t always have time. In those cases, I will think about what I have in the freezer, or a type of meat or fish I haven’t had in a while, and either plan a meal using a recipe I already know, or Google it and see what comes up.

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What cookbooks do you use the most? Is there a website resource you would recommend to other meal-planners?

I have so many cook books that there isn’t really one I go to more than others, though my Slimming World books get used a lot these days. I use Google for inspiration a lot and will search on an ingredient or type of meal that I fancy, and see what comes up, whether it’s from the BBC Good Food website or another blogger.

So you’ve got your meal plan ready…do you ever go off-plan or do you always stick to it rigidly?

I stick to it as best I can because I generally have only bought the ingredients for those meals, but often I will be home later than expected and not have the time or inclination to cook what I’ve planned, or my boyfriend will want takeaway, or we will go to have dinner at his mum’s (who lives nearby) so whatever I was going to cook goes into the freezer. I really like having the structure of a meal plan but I think it’s important not to stick to it rigidly and to have the flexibility to deal with working late, or just not fancying what you’ve put on the plan for that day.

What benefits have you seen from meal planning? Do you find it helps you to cut waste? Save money?

I think it does save money because you only buy what you know you are going to use. Also, if I have to buy a special ingredient for one recipe, I will make sure I cook something different using that same ingredient later in the week. I don’t find that it makes any difference in terms of leftovers; in fact if there are leftovers then I ignore what I had on the meal plan for the next day and have that instead! My main benefit has been trying to follow the Slimming World diet, planning helps me to make sure I am ‘food optimizing’ (as they call it) and counting my ‘syns’ (points based on calorie and fat content).

Any top tips for meal planning?

Starting with a blank sheet of paper or web page can be daunting so break down your page into days, and if you want into breakfast, lunch and dinner as well. Then go through and write down any meals where you will be eating out, or home late and know you will just want a ready meal. Then take each meal at a time – so rather than worry ‘what on earth am I going to cook all week’, think ‘right, what shall I make for dinner on Monday’?

And finally, purely because I am nosey, what kitchen utensil/gadget could you just not live without? 

It sounds shameful as I want to mention some fancy gadget but I would have to say my microwave – not that I eat a lot of ready meals (hardly any at all) but it’s a godsend for those who work full time and have a long commute. I’m not home until 7pm and usually have forgotten to defrost something, or want to reheat leftovers, or want a baked potato and haven’t got an hour. And did you know that if you are desperate, you can even bake a cake in the microwave in a matter of minutes?!

Why not pop over to Caroline’s blog and see what she has planned for this week? She’s also got a great review of the Cake and Bake Show 2014 which I now really wish I had gone to!

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