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When I was at university in Sheffield, me and my friends used to pile into a place called Belly Busters after one of our weekly seminars and devour bacon baps, fried egg baps, and the occasional full English. The place was basically a mad house.

There was a dog that ran free in and out of the kitchen (hygienic) and on more than one occasion “escaped” out the front door and bounded into the busy street. Cue lots of drama and yelling. We loved that place.

The kind of full English breakfast they served was proper good stuff. No frills, no fancy ingredients; just lots of lard, runny eggs, and fried bacon. That may not sound like your cup of tea but

A few months ago I discovered real English bacon at my local food co-op in Minneapolis. This had previously been unheard of in these parts. I may have shrieked and embarrassed my husband, and I may have panic-bought way more than was necessary. The point is, I found a little slice of home.

If you google “full english breakfast” a few variations on the classic will come up and my version is of course a variation too. It’s all about where you grew up, what your family traditions are, and what you happen to have in the fridge. Plus, how bothered you are about gaining 8 pounds after one meal.

I used to make my full English at home with lard – it was really common in England for a long time, although it’s gone completely out of vogue now. Pah. Healthy eating.

Your Full English should include at least bacon (preferably English back bacon) and/or sausages (Cumberland for me, please), eggs (mine’ll be sunny side up and runny), toast or fried bread and most definitely some of the following:

> baked beans
> fried mushrooms
> fried tomato
> black pudding
> a mug of milky tea

Cooking a full English might read like a bit of a nightmarish juggle, but I promise it’s easy as can be. Bacon and sausages are very forgiving and personally I like them with browned edges so don’t worry if you’re waiting for things to come together. Get things going in the right order and you’ll be dandy.

Full English Breakfast
serves one


  • 2 rashers of English bacon
  • 2 English sausages, if you can find them
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup baked beans
  • 1 slice bread, to toast
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • H P Sauce (otherwise known as brown sauce), as desired


  1. Sausages take the longest (about 12-15 minutes), so get them going first. Fry in a pan with some preheated oil, turning regularly.
  2. After about 4-5 minutes add bacon to the same pan that the sausages have been cooking in and fry, until your preferred crispiness is reached. The cooked bacon can be kept hot on a plate in the oven.
  3. Place your baked beans in a small sauce pan and heat over medium-low until hot and little bubbles are starting to appear (don’t boil them), about 7 minutes.
  4. Cut the tomato in half, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Place cut-side down in the frying pan and cook in the bacon/sausage fat without moving for 2 minutes. Gently turn over and season again. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until tender but still holding its shape.
  5. For ‘proper’ fried bread it’s best to cook it in a separate pan. Ideally, use white sandwich bread that is a couple of days old. Heat a frying pan to a medium heat and cover the base with oil. Add the bread and cook for 2-3 minutes each side until crispy and golden. For a richer flavour, add a knob of butter after you turn the slice. You know you want to. Alternatively, just toast the bread. Your arteries will probably thank me for that suggestion.
  6. I am certain you don’t need instructions on how to fry an egg but just in case: gently crack an egg into a lightly greased pan and cook until white has set but yolk still wobbles, season, and gently remove.
  7. Serve everything on a warm plate and enjoy straight away with a good squeeze of brown sauce. Don’t forget your cuppa!

homemade pumpkin pie spice

November 10, 2010

I’ve seen a lot of autumnal recipes recently calling for pumpkin pie spice, which is something I had never heard of before! Anyone else with me? I mean, really, have you ever heard of something so completely marketed to middle class white women? It’s kind of ridiculous.

It also happens to cost a pretty penny in most grocery stores so I decided to make my own and I encourage you to do so too!

It’s super versatile and creates a unique flavour that you’ll probably use a million times between now and the end of the year.

It’s certainly not just for pumpkin pie – in fact, I doubt I will try my hand at that this year – I’ll be using it for cupcakes, pancakes, and cookies, stirring it into my oatmeal, sprinkling it over roasting winter vegetables, dusting it over vanilla ice cream and making homemade pumpkin spice lattes!

It’s as simple as this:

Pumpkin Pie Spice


Makes 2 tablespoons

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. Blend ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

I’m in a blending frenzy. Can I call it that? I think so. Ever since I got a blender a few weeks ago, I’ve been unstoppable. I’ve got all sorts of smoothie combos on the go. The green smoothie is a standard. Smashed peas with mint bruschetta? No problem. I’m getting all hot and bothered about the idea of making pesto.

I actually whooped when I realized that I can now make my own hummus. The best thing about it? About everything I like to cook? E-A-S-Y.

I bet you five bucks you have 90% of the ingredients in your pantry. Admittedly, if you don’t make hummus often, you may not be stocked up on tahini, but apart from that, it’s all pretty standard.

As with lots of my do-it-yourself posts, I got excited about the money saving potential of this. If you like hummus then you probably spend a good chunk of cash on it each month. I know I do. It costs about $4-5 a pop where I live and we definitely buy a tub every time we go shopping. You’re saving a fair amount of moolah by making a batch of hummus yourself and you also get bragging rights when you serve it up to your friends.

Homemade Hummus
adapted from The Kitchn


  • 1 15-oz can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 of a fresh lemon, juiced
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced finely
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika


1. Combine all ingredients except the smoked paprika.

2. Blend until smooth. If it is a little dry, just add a little more lemon juice or olive oil, a teaspoon at a time, until you have the desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper if you like.

3. Scrape out the hummus in a serving bowl and sprinkle the smoked paprika on top.

4. Serve with raw veggies, or spread on some pita bread.

I am discovering a million ways to tart up hummus. Or houmous as we say in England. Just think of all the variations you see in the shops and you realize you can do exactly the same thing at home.

Some variations I’m excited to try:

> adding one cup roasted vegetables (e.g. zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms)

> adding toasted pine nuts

> adding olives

> beet hummus!

> adding chili powder and lime for spicy hummus

Do you make your own hummus? What are your ingredients of choice?