Tourist Tuesday: South Africa Lion Park

Remember how I told you Ryan was in South Africa for work? Well before he left I made him promise me that if he did something awesome he had to write a Tourist Tuesday post. And he did do something awesome, so below is his post. Thanks to Ryan for being the first ever guest poster!


Good day ladies and gentleman.  I am honored to join you as the first ever guest author at Cooking is Messy.  While not usually known for my prose, I’ve been generously asked to share my recent trip to the Lion Park in Johannesburg, South Africa with the loyal CiM following. (more…)

Butternut Squash and Beet Burger

Butternut Squash Beet Burger

A few weeks ago, after Ryan and I went to Kew Gardens, we went to the pub with a few friends. It wasn’t anything special, just a pint or two to relax with at the end of the weekend. While we were there I glanced over the menu and saw they had a butternut squash and beet burger with goat cheese. I wasn’t hungry, so I didn’t order it, but I thought it sounded delicious.

I decided I wanted to try to make it for myself, and I decided the perfect time would be while Ryan was in South Africa. Along with Greek salad, veggie burgers are a food I eat when I’m by myself. I used to eat veggie burgers all the time when I lived alone and was in graduate school. They were cheap, quick, and easy to make and eat. My favorite was a black bean burger, and you can find the recipe on a blog my friends and I used to write together. But, I eat veggie burgers when I’m on my own, because Ryan tends to like something heartier for dinner. And I get it, for most people a burger has to have meat.  (more…)

Raspberry Limeade Slushy

raspberry lime slushy

This past week Ryan has been in South Africa for work. He’s been busy working, but not too busy to send me photos of him hanging out by the pool in 80°/27° weather. Needless to say, I’ve been jealous.

So yesterday, Ryan was having an awesome day. I won’t tell you any more about that because I’m saving it for later. Anyway… I was at home in very rainy London doing chores. Not nearly as exciting as South Africa, but to toot my own horn, I dominated those chores. I did everything on my list, which hardly ever happens. I trudged to the super market in my wellies, I did all the laundry, I cleaned the bathroom, I snaked the drain, and I vacuumed. After all that productivity, I wanted a treat to make myself feel like I was on vacation in a warm and sunny place.  (more…)

Tourist Tuesday: Dorset

Beach in Dorset

After working six days in a row during half-term when it was crazy busy at the museum, I was exhausted and ready for a little break. To get some much needed relaxation, I escaped the city and had a little vacation visiting my friend Sarah in Dorset. On Saturday straight after work I went to the coach station and waited for my bus… which turned out to be delayed. What was worse is that all around my fellow passengers and I were other buses going to the same destination. Those buses kept loading and we were kept waiting. After an hour, when another bus was loading, at our gate, to go to the same place – and we still weren’t going anywhere the people started to go crazy. There was yelling, a manager was called, people started throwing insults, we were told it was going to be another hour, and it got ugly. One lady start yelling about her dog, and race, and how English people don’t stand up for themselves. I decided to get out of there. I got a voucher for a free future bus ride and I had them change my ticket to the next morning. I went home and would start again in the morning.

Sunday morning was smooth sailing and I got to Sarah no problem. Sarah is my friend from work. I actually met her at the interview for the job and we kept in touch a little between the interview and the first day of work. I was so excited when I heard that she got the job. Sarah is smart, passionate, warm and honest. She’s traveled a ton, she’s knowledgeable about all kinds of interesting topics, and she has strong opinions but is open to chatting and learning about other points of view. After I first met her, I hoped that we would get to be real friends, but I didn’t want to come off needy. Lucky for me, it all worked out. And now, here I was in Dorset with my friend and she was going to take me to walk on the beach in February.  (more…)

Brown Sugar Carrot Bread

Carrot Bread

I’ve started to do online grocery delivery. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like grocery shopping but sometimes it can be a real pain. Before I started work I had all the time in the world to go to the store and it was always fairly empty, I could read labels and not be pumped. I could muse over which brands to buy. And the checkout lines were short. It was glorious. And then I started work and I had to shop with the crowd on the weekends or after work. There’s children crying, people stopping their carts in the middle of the aisle, and general crowded nonsense. It’s exhausting and takes all the fun out of wandering around and pondering what looks good.

Online shopping has changed all that. No more carrying heavy bags, bumping into people, and long lines. Online delivery means I plan meals so I get home from work and have everything I need for dinner. It means I can order tons of heavy juice containers or the obscure ingredient I can’t find on the shelves. But if I’m honest, every time I place an order I make a mistake. Usually it’s been a small one. I order two cans of something when I only meant to order one. Or I order a giant carton of milk when I meant to order just a pint. But my biggest mistake has to do with carrots. I meant to order four carrots and I ordered four, 1 kilogram bags of carrots. SO MANY CARROTS. (more…)

Tourist Tuesday: Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens

This past weekend I was in the mood to get out of London. I had visions of train rides outside the city to somewhere lovely and beautiful. But, as is so often the case weekend laziness and the desire to sleep in kept that from happening.

Instead, Ryan and I went to Kew Gardens with our friends Adam and Angie. Kew is absolutely wonderful and just as good as a trip outside the city. At one point, Kew was considered the countryside (in the way that uptown Manhattan was once the countryside for downtown). Anyway it’s such a beautiful space, so large, and so charming that it really does feel like being away from the city.  (more…)

Crab Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese with Crab

I’m planning a trip to go to Dorset next weekend with my friend Sarah. Dorset his her hometown and I’m really excited to get out of London, see a new area, and learn about where she grew up. But, thinking about her hometown made me a nostalgic for my hometown. I grew up in Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. I haven’t lived in Maryland since 2008, but I still feel a strong pull to my home state.

Maryland might be a small state, but it’s got a lot going on. Maryland has lots of waterside vacation spots from the Chesapeake Bay, Deep Creek Lake, and Ocean City. Sure, Ocean City isn’t the fanciest or classiest beach, but it’s a beach and that’s awesome. Maryland is the home of the Star Spangled Banner, major sports teams, the Wire, and Hairspray. Yeah, the Wire makes Baltimore seem a  little scary, but that show was amazing.  If you haven’t seen it go out and watch it immediately. Maryland has busy cities like Baltimore and picturesque ones like Annapolis. And finally, Maryland has a sweet flag, an awesome accent, one-eyed Natty Boh, and most importantly for me delicious food. See, I told you Maryland has a lot going on.


Ranch Dressing

Ranch Dressing with Carrots

Something I really enjoy about cooking is that fact that it opens me up to all kinds of new things. Whether it’s trying a new ingredient or learning a new method of cooking, I find that there is always something new to discover. And something I continually learn is that some foods you can make at home and they don’t only come from the store.That might sound like an idiotic thing to say, but hear me out. There are some foods like Oreos, Twix, or Cheez-Its that only seem to exist in the grocery store and I never consider that I could actually make them at home until I go on Pinterest and see how awesome and creative some people can be.

And that’s what brings me to ranch dressing. Last week when I made the Siracha roasted cauliflower, I thought about ranch dressing because it’s my favorite dressing to have with wings and other hot foods. And then I thought, “could I make that?” Because in my mind ranch dressing only comes in a Hidden Valley bottle from the store. When I told my friend Abi that I was making ranch dressing she said, “what’s even in ranch dressing?” My thoughts exactly. As far as I knew, ranch dressing is a delicious mystery. (more…)

Tourist Tuesday: London Eye

London eye

Recently Ryan had some American coworkers in town and he organized an outing for a few of them to go to the London Eye. I jumped on that trip as quick as I could. The London Eye is a giant, 443 feet tall, Ferris wheel. About 20 people fit into a pod and it takes about 30 minutes to go around. It’s a nice ride, but most importantly, the city views are just beautiful.

I love cities. I grew up in the suburbs, but I’ve grown to love cities. My family would go into Baltimore for trips to museums, fancy birthday dinners, and fireworks on New Years Eve. That’s where I started to love cities. I learned that they were places with lots to do and great for celebrating special occasions. (more…)

Old Bay Plantain Chips

Old Bay Plantain Chips

I have a strong sweet tooth. I love cookies, candies, and more cookies. But, that’s not so great for my teeth and my health, so sometimes I gotta pick something slightly healthier. So today, here’s a recipe that highlights two of my favorite savory flavors.

I’m originally from Maryland, the home of Old Bay. If you’re not familiar, Old Bay is a spice seasoning usually put on crabs and other seafood. But I think it’s good on everything. I always put it on broccoli and roasted potatoes. It’s good in bloody Mary’s and on popcorn. Old Bay will do the trick for any recipe where you want a little salt and a little zing. I’ve even read about Old Bay in sweet recipes. In Maryland there is Old Bay ice cream and Old Bay chocolates! When I’m in DC next month, I’m going to have to see if I can get my hands on some of those. But, all of that gushing is to say that Old Bay is a really important flavor for me, and when in doubt, Old Bay is my secret ingredient.


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