What I got up to during my Reading Week…

Week 6 is a great opportunity to not only catch up on some work, but also some much-needed rest. Taz shares what she got up to during her week at home…

Ah, Reading Week… a time to forget about my degree, hibernate in bed, and to watch as many series on Netflix as humanly possible…

Whilst I’d love to admit that this is how I spent my Reading Week, I actually got up to a huge amount; most of which I can thank my huge to-do list of uni work for.

My Reading Week was spent at my home in Kent. This meant I had plenty of opportunities to get up to things which I don’t have the luxury of doing at uni. Some of which included having a warm bath, enjoying meals made by my mum, and catching up with family members I haven’t seen in a while. Amongst everything, the week was a time for me to rest, catch up on my studies, and to enjoy some ‘me’ time. And here’s exactly what I did.

Studying

Having taken up three assignment-heavy modules this term, reaching Week 6 meant that I had a large amount of work to get on with (and deadlines fast approaching). Working on my assignments at home meant that I was able to focus all of my energy on ploughing through the work without the distraction of social events and other aspects of my student routine. Unlike most people who prefer a desk or library setting to work at, I opt for my bed where I can spread all of my text books out whilst feeling comfortable at the same time. Even better, working at home gave the added bonuses of having my attention-seeker of a cat to keep me company, and to enjoy as many cups of tea as I wished.

Me Time

At times when I wasn’t completing uni work, I was also able to give myself a chance to relax and do the things that I enjoy. These included several much-needed lie-ins, a couple of runs around the countryside setting of my village, and a visit to the coast to make the most of the slightly warmer weather and a bag of warm chips. Additionally, the week was also an opportunity for me to kick back and enjoy some Netflix. This consisted of the new series ‘Dirty John’ (very gripping!) and The Hobbit which I was watching for the first time.

Family catch-up

Although I’m naturally a family-person, and it is rare for me to go a week without facetiming or texting a member of my family, Reading Week offered the chance to enjoy the face-to-face company of my mum, sister, and step-dad, whilst also catching-up with my auntie and cousin during a day trip to London Zoo. I also managed to fit in visiting my grandparents towards the end of the week. Taking a day or a couple of hours away from uni work throughout the week allowed me to recharge my batteries and think about something completely different for a change.

I’m a big fan of Reading Week and am lucky to have chosen a uni that offers students a chance to visit home, catch-up on work, and enjoy a break. How did you spend yours?

Celebrating Chinese New Year: Stir-fried chicken with celery

What better way to celebrate Chinese New Year than with a home-cooked feast? Elliot shares one of his go-to Chinese-inspired recipes – quick and easy enough to make on a weeknight, and delicious when reheated for a low-effort lunch the next day.

Now that the Chinese New Year (Happy Year of the Pig!) has begun, it’s the perfect time to learn about Chinese cuisine!

Stir-frying is a batch-cooking technique, which involves frying food by constantly stirring, in small quantities of extremely hot oil – traditionally in a wok. The technique began to gain traction in China in the mid-1300s and was popularly practiced by the mid-1600s (also known as the Ming Dynasty). Its appealing balance of protein, vegetables, and very light sauce makes this an easy and complete meal which maintains a reasonable calorie count – students will find it a reliable and forgiving fall-back, as the protein and vegetables combinations can be altered to fit your tastes and nutritional needs.

This recipe is perfect for using up extra celery, and pairs well with sweet sticky spicy tofu –refrigerated leftovers for both will keep very well into the next day. A very hot pan will work well in place of a wok. Bear in mind that olive oil will not work, since its low smoke point will cause it to burn and bitter well before you are done cooking- vegetable oil or any other high smoke-point oil is recommended.

Allergens

Sulphites

Portions

4

Ingredients

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 carrot

1 bunch celery

½ tsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp cornstarch

½ tsp Chinese cooking wine (or any white wine)

1 large piece ginger

1 clove garlic

1 shallot (1/2 onion can be substituted)

1/3 cup chicken stock

½ tbsp soy sauce

Kosher salt

Vegetable oil

Prep

  1. Cut chicken breast into small, bite-sized pieces.
  2. Cut ginger into 3 large slices – dice one, and reserve the other two.
  3. Combine chicken pieces with: diced ginger; sugar; salt; cornstarch; wine. Mix well, and leave in a bowl to marinate (minimum 30 minutes)
  4. Cut ends off celery, wash thoroughly, and separate stalks– slice each stalk in half lengthwise, and cut each into 2-3 inch pieces.
  5. Wash and peel carrot – slice half lengthwise, and cut halves into thin (1/2 – 1cm) slices.
  6. Peel and finely dice or crush garlic.
  7. Finely dice shallot.

Method

  1. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil on high until just smoking. Add first ginger slice, and 1 large pinch of salt.
  2. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
  3. Add celery and carrots and cook, stirring constantly until tender (about 5 minutes). Discard ginger, and remove vegetables to a separate plate.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil until just smoking. Add second ginger slice, shallots, and garlic. Stir for less than 1 minute (until garlic is fragrant), and immediately add chicken.
  5. Stir chicken and aromatics until evenly coated in oil, and chicken has all changed color (about 6-8 minutes).
  6. Add soy sauce, and mix evenly into chicken and vegetables. Reduce heat to medium high.
  7. Add stock, mix thoroughly, and allow to reduce by half, forming a clear sauce.
  8. Add cooked carrot and celery mixture, discarding any accumulated juices (adding this will make the dish overly salty). Toss to coat all vegetables and chicken in sauce. Discard ginger.
  9. Serve over rice or noodles.