Category Archives: Fruity Fridays

Fruity Fridays… The Banana

Fruity Fridays Banana

We have many exotic fruits here, so armed with my camera I went to the local fruit market. Well, lots of oranges are in season at the moment as are Watermelons galore and the mangoes are just coming back into the season….but what I was looking for…not in season

Back home I went disappointed and thinking hard as a lot of the fruits are what I call staples available most of the year and now because of progress available all over the world.

What can I feature??? Well, I am sure most of you can get Bananas in your supermarket which will probably be the Cavendish by name as the original Banana favoured by the supermarkets was the  Gros Michel which became extinct by 1960 as it was wiped out by a fungus called the Panama Disease.

This could happen at any time as Bananas are actually clones and if they become infected with a fungus it just runs rampant and kills them all.

Banana it is then..here in Thailand and in my garden Bananas grow in abundance.

Its scientific name is Musa Sapientum which roughly translated  means  Fruit of wise  men

Here it is called Kluay pronounced glue eye.

Seasons vary slightly around the regions and it is a tree-like perennial and officially classed as a herb, the world’s largest herb as it can reach 25 feet in height. The fruit is also classed as a berry. Did you know that?

Here in Thailand leaves are used to serve food on or wrap food in like these little parcels of tri coloured sticky rice topped with shredded pork floss.

Tri Cloured sticky rice with pulled pork

Coloured Thai sticky rice with pork floss

The saying that you eat with your eyes certainly applies here as so much of the food is just so beautifully served and such lovely colours like this rice isn’t it pretty and all wrapped in a banana leaf.

The purple flowers of the banana are steamed and eaten with a spicy dip see the picture in the header image.

To make Thai spicy dip:
Finely chop one small shallot, 1 clove of garlic, finely slice 6/8 fresh chillies, add 3 tbsp fish sauce and 2 tbsp fresh lime juice…I stir in a little-chopped coriander. If the dip is too salty add a little warm boiled water.

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Thai Chilli Dip

The inside of the skin is also used to stop itching and inflammation of insect bites and burns. It is also said that if you tape a piece of banana skin side down over a wart every night that the potassium in the skin makes the wart disappear with 1-2 weeks.

Mashed and mixed with a tbsp of heavy cream, and a tbsp of honey and then applied to dry hair covered with a shower cap and a hot towel. Left for an hour and then rinsed off before shampooing the hair it is a wonderful moisturising treatment.

There is no end to the properties of this low calorie, no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol berry which is also rich in Vitamin C, Potassium, fibre and B6.

Here it is used to make bread and muffins.

Banana Bread https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/if-your-dreams-dont-scare-you-they-arent-big-enough/

If cooked the banana skins are edible, you will see fried bananas in abundance on the street food stalls…they are fried in batter, grilled on the BBQ in their skins and turned into golden fritters ( Kluay phao)

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Banana spring rolls with a sweet dip or eaten green and raw with a spicy dip.

To make Thai spicy dip:
Finely chop one small shallot, 1 clove of garlic, finely slice 6/8 fresh chillies, add 3 tbsp fish sauce and 2 tbsp fresh lime juice…I stir in a little-chopped coriander. If the dip is too salty add a little warm boiled water.

They can be used to make a beautiful Banana Blossom stir fry.

Green unripe bananas are also used to make Tam Maak Kluay which is a version of the famous Som Tam ( Papaya Salad) which I first had from a roadside stall near Bang Tao beach in Phuket and it is beautiful.

My most recent favourite dish with green bananas is a recipe from my blogging friend Reena…I have made it a couple of times now and it is awesome we just keep eating them they do not last very long and a great way to use green bananas when you get so many bananas as we do…

Green Banana Koftas

Ingredients for Kofta’s

Raw Green bananas-2
Cottage cheese—1/2 cup(optional) Did not use the cheese.
Finely Chopped onion- 1/4th cup
Grated ginger- 1 tsp
Chopped green chilli- 1 tsp (or more) I used red chillies as had no green.
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Shahi Garam masala powder– 1 tsp
Red chili powder- ½ tsp(optional)
Amchur(dry mango ) powder- 1 tsp…I used a squeeze of lime juice.
Corn flour- 1 tbsp(as binding agent)
Chopped dry fruits for filling(cashew, walnuts, raisins, pistachio or dry berries)
Butter cut into very small cubes
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

green kofta ingredients
To Make Koftas
Slit the top and bottom of the bananas. Pressure cook the bananas with skin on till soft. Peel and mash the bananas add all ingredients except nuts, raisins, butter and oil.
Mash everything nicely to make a dough. Its better to use your finger to make a dough. Make equal sized balls out of the dough. Take one ball on your palm and make a hole in the middle with your finger. Fill the hole with dry fruits and a butter cube in it. Close the hole and reshape it like a small oval. Repeat and make such ovals out of the dough. Sprinkle, little cornflour over it and keep aside.

green banana koftas frying
In a deep wok add enough oil for deep frying the koftas in batches of 3-4. Deep fry in medium flame till brown. Do not fry in high flame otherwise, the koftas will be browned from outside and inside it will remain undercooked.

As this was the first time I had made these I didn’t make Reena’s curry sauce but I had a small pot of sauce in my freezer which I defrosted and used with the Koftas. Purely because I didn’t know if we would like them. They were amazing…Well, the menfolk queried the lack of meat but they are such carnivores…lol

green banana koftas in curry sauce
They are lovely eaten as a snack and also with the curry sauce…

As you can see from the original list of ingredients I use red chilli instead of green and lime juice instead of the mango powder and no cottage cheese…I was going to use feta cheese instead but thought I would try them without. The mix of filling for the centres I used pistachios, walnuts and raisins chopped finely.
With thanks to Reena for a lovely recipe for Green Bananas. They are amazing my friend…Thank you

 

Just a piece of trivia...did you know? That more songs have been written about the Banana than any other fruit.

Previous Fruity Friday posts you may have missed.

https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/fruity-fridays-the-pineapple/

https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/fruity-friday-the-humble-fig/

https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/fruity-friday-pomegranates/

Thank you for joining me for Fruity Fridays I hope you are enjoying the posts and recipes if you have any fruits which you want me to feature then please just message me with a name and or picture.

Also sharing is caring so if you love my posts please reblog or share on your favourite social media channel..Thank you xxx

 

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Fruity Friday…The humble Fig

The Fig…You can get it dried almost anywhere in the world and fresh and luscious from September through to autumn.

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There is nought like the taste of a fresh fig and dried they are different but sweet, with a chewy flesh and crunchy edible seeds.

Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches …The blossoms are inside the fig. Many tiny flowers which produce the crunchy little edible seeds that give figs their unique texture.

They are sweet with a chewy flesh, smooth skin and crunchy edible seeds.They are also one of the only fruits to ripen on the tree.

Did you know? Fig puree can replace fat/sugar in baked goods? Well neither did I until fairly recently a fig puree can be used as a sugar and fat substitution.

Just combine 8 ounces of fresh figs and 1/4 -1/3 cup of water in a blender; puree until smooth. If using dried figs, soak figs in water until softened before pureeing. Use as you would applesauce in baked recipes, as a substitution for both fat and sugar. Replace up to half the fat in a recipe with fig puree, and reduce or eliminate the sugar required.

Or use the puree as a spread over toast and fruits; or thin it out with more water and use as a liquid sweetener for coffee, drinks and in place of honey or maple syrup in your recipes.

The fig is also a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. It has Vitamin A, B1, and B2…. 3 figs have  5 gm of fibre..so if you are not careful you could if you eat too many figs end up with the “back door trots”. This is an old English saying just in case you were wondering.

In the Indian sub-continent, it is made into a soothing, calming salve which if applied by a topical application it can provide relief to Venereal Disease.  Although more research needs to be done to prove its effectiveness.

The Spaniards introduced figs to California in the early 16th century. The priests who lived in San Diego at the “Mission” originally planted the figs and the dark purple figs became known as Mission figs.

Native to the Middle East and western Asia the fig tree Ficus Carica is also a symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness cultivated since ancient times it is mentioned many times in the bible and probably why many also believe that it was not apples in the garden of Eden but figs which tempted Adam and Eve. Now that is a thought.

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Figs made their first commercial product appearance with the 1982 introduction of Fig Newtons cookies…I just love fig bars.

Did you know that eating one-half a cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking a half a cup of milk?

Figs also go wonderfully with blue cheese and wrapped in parma ham they are to die for. Just saying…

So all in all like The Fig lots of these herbs, fruits and vegetables which we take for granted or don’t think about even think of trying…and if you did you may even like them… Most have amazing healing properties and I think we should look at what we have growing naturally in our beautiful world instead of buying all these ready-made processed foods which are not even convenient most of the time and full of nasties…

Here endeth the sermon…

This fig sauce is made with dried figs and is lovely over duck breasts or chicken.

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Fig Sauce

  • 12 dried black figs with the stems trimmed off.
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh chicken stock
  • 2 sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 1 sprig rosemary although I will admit to adding a bit more…
  • Salt and pepper to Taste

Firstly in a small saucepan cook the black figs in the chicken stock for about 10 minutes until soft, remove from the stock and chop finely and return to the stock. Set to one side.

In a small pan melt the butter and add the finely chopped garlic and mushrooms cook for 30 secs don’t allow to burn as garlic it catches quite quickly. Add the brandy and simmer for 1 minute.Add rosemary sprig and fig stock and figs simmer for 3 minutes until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Just serve over your sliced duck breasts it is a lovely rich sauce and nice for that special occasion.

If fresh figs are in season then they are lovely served with the duck breast…

I hope you are enjoying Fruity Fridays don’t forget if you have a fruit you would like me to feature please send me a picture…

Previous weeks posts in case you missed them.

https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/fruity-friday-pomegranates/

https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/fruity-fridays-the-pineapple/

 

Retired no one told me and Orienthailiving weekly roundup…Pomegranates, Pancakes and Water Chestnuts…

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Hello and welcome to the weekly roundup of all my posts…

Starting with the beautiful vibrant red arils of the jewel-like fruits of the Pomegranate…and the easiest, cleanest way to deseed the Pomegranate, Isn’t it always easier when you know how?

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https://wordpress.com/post/blondieaka.wordpress.com/15291

It was then over to Orienthailiving for a visit to Borough Market and my favourite Covent Garden in London.

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https://myhealthyretirement.com/london-covent-garden-borough-market/

And the best of British Food and who is ever going to agree on that?? Is it a full English Breakfast? Sunday  Roast? Pie, Mash and Liquor??

Sunday Roast at SR

 

https://myhealthyretirement.com/best-british-foodpie-mash-liquor/

It was then back over to Retired no one told me for everyone’s’ favourite…Pancakes…

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https://wordpress.com/post/blondieaka.wordpress.com/15297

 

Carol’s boot camp aka how to eat your favourite food and lose weight…Say no to dieting…Say yes to Healthy Eating!

https://wordpress.com/post/blondieaka.wordpress.com/15303

Hopping back to Orienthailiving it was a visit to Koh Panyee a Thai sea gypsy village.

houses on stilts Koh Panyee

https://myhealthyretirement.com/travel-thailand-koh-panyee/

Carol’s Food Column over at Sally’s and this week it is the Water Chestnut what a lucky find that was for me lovely fresh water chestnuts.

https://wordpress.com/post/blondieaka.wordpress.com/15309

That’s it for this week there will be a few more next week as I have guest posted over at my friend Steph’s blog to help her out and my monthly post on Thr Recipe Hunter comes out tomorrow and I will be doing a culinary crawl through the alphabet each month jeez I have just realised that is over 2 years of posts… I wonder if Esme has worked that out yet… Good idea Carol…Oooppps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruity Friday…Pomegranates…

The Pomegranate with fruit like beautiful red jewels glistening in the sun always makes me think of far-off climes and hot sandy deserts.

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It just says eat me it is another fruit which grows in abundance here and I can see the little pomegranates as I type. The branches swaying in the gentle breeze.

It has beautiful flowers and is grown as an ornamental tree because of these.

Although not native to Japan or Korea it is widely grown there as when they mature the bark makes unusual, twisted patterns and hence this tree is very suitable for Bonsai trees some trees live up to 200 years.

Originally from Iran, it has been successfully cultivated throughout the Meditteranean and North India. It grows very successfully from seed and we have many pomegranate trees here..well in almost every garden, this edible fruit is a berry and the tree is extremely drought tolerant so suited to the climate here and other Asian countries.

Medicinally the fruit rind is used to treat chronic dysentery and diarrhoea. The pulp and seeds are used as a laxative.

Like many people I was put off by getting those little seeds out from the surrounding membrane don’t they make a lot of mess? but if you separate the seeds in a bowl of water it is much easier to do. Tricks of the trade so simple when you know how!

They make wonderful juices, smoothies, garnishes for cooking…I just love seeing those little red jewel-like berries scattered over some lamb, duck or just a simple eggplant dish and Pomegranate syrup is a lovely thing and elevates many a dish.

Lovely in a cocktail as well…just saying…lol

Just make a lovely gin and soda cocktail and add a handful of pomegranates and a splash of the syrup..very nice and a beautiful pink colour.

Pomegranate seeds are also used to make a spice called anardana which is very popular in Indian and Pakistan cuisine it is made from the dried seeds of the pomegranate and then ground to a fine powder. It is used as a flavour enhancer in many dishes from salads, meats, smoothies and yoghurts.

Pomegranate salad eggplants

I cannot buy pomegranate syrup/ molasses here but it is is very easy to make and I love it poured over Ice cream.

Let’s Cook!

To make the syrup you need

  • 4 cups of Pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice.

Put the arils….which is what the fleshy coloured coverings are called into your blender and pulse just enough to break them up. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. You will need enough to make 4 cups of pomegranate juice.

Put the juice into a large wide pan on the medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, let the juice simmer until it has reduced to about a cup or a cup and a quarter and is nice and syrupy. Pour into a sterilised jar/ bottle, cool and keep in the refrigerator.

Because Pomegranates vary in their sweetness and acidity you may need to add more or less sugar/lemon juice. 

Guinea Fowl, walnut and pomegranate stew.

Guinea fowl with pomegranates and walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 free-range guinea fowl jointed into 4-6 pieces
  • 1 ltr of fresh chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic sliced
  • 300 gm walnuts shelled
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 125 ml pomegranate molasses/syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Garnish with a handful of pomegranate seeds, coriander, parsley, tarragon, chives mint or basil and some sliced spring onions.

Let’s Cook!

Toast the walnuts on a baking tray in the oven at 180 degrees/gas 4

Then whizz them in the food processor I have a small little chopper until they have a smooth texture, scrape the sides down occasionally it will look like a smooth peanut butter.

Put the walnut mix in a large pan add the chicken stock and 1 ltr water and bring to a simmer cook until the mix has reduced by half stirring often so the walnut mix does catch and burn about 45-50 mins.

Heat the oil in a wide shallow dish when hot add the seasoned guinea fowl skin side down fry over a medium heat until the skin has browned.

Turn over and sear the other side transfer to a plate and cook the remaining pieces the same way. Set the plate to one side.

In the same pan add the onions and on a medium heat cook for about 10 minutes stirring often add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes then add cinnamon, sugar and tomato puree bring to a gentle simmer and add the walnut mix and the pomegranate molasses bring back to a gentle simmer add the guinea fowl legs skin side up and cook for  30 minutes. Add the breasts making sure everything is evenly placed to ensure even cooking and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the guinea fowl is cooked through. Check the stock every so often and if it is reducing too much top up with chicken stock or water and gently stir.

Once ready check and adjust the seasoning you are looking for a sweet but sharp, savoury balance of flavour it might require more molasses or sugar.

Scatter with the pomegranate seeds and a garnish of the freshly picked herbs.

N.B Guinea fowl can be tough to portion so get your butcher to do it or use chicken portions or baby quail.

This can be made a day or two in advance just loosen the sauce with some water when reheating.

Serve with rice or couscous…It is a lovely rich dish and ideal for that special occasion I just love the flavour the pomegranate molasses impart to this dish.

Enjoy!

Lastly, Pomegranate vinegar makes a lovely present and is also very nice and can be used to make a very nice personal gift which any cook would be pleased to be given.

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I use apple cider vinegar as it is readily available but a good quality wine vinegar can be used or a balsamic vinegar as it gives a sweeter tasting vinegar.

To make you will need equal quantities of pomegranate seeds to vinegar. What I do is decide on the bottles or jars I am using and measure the vinegar in that then once I know the amount of vinegar I then work out how many arils I will need( they must be deseeded)

.Put the pomegranate seeds in a saucepan and flatten them to release the juice ( use a plastic cup or something to flatten the seeds.

Bring them to a slow rolling boil not completely boiling so as to release the pomegranate juice and turn off the heat. Pour everything into a sterilized jar or bottle and cover the top loosely and allow to cool completely.Once cool put the cap on the jar or bottle and store in a dark cool place or in the fridge the flavour will develop as the days go by…When ready to use strain the vinegar you can add some molasses to strengthen the flavour or add sugar to sweeten.

It can be used as a drink by adding a tbsp or two of vinegar to a glass of water and sweeten with honey. OR used to make salad dressings either on its own or by mixing with Olive oil, garlic or mustard.

It also makes a lovely Christmas or birthday gift..who doesn’t like a bottle of a handmade vinegar…

I hope you are enjoying these Fruity Fridays …Thank you for reading and I hope you love the recipes …If you do please share on your favourite social media xxx

 

 

Fruity Fridays! The Pineapple…

 

Carol cooks! duck curry 2

Introducing Fruity Fridays which is replacing Fish Fridays I hope you enjoy the recipes and chit-chat that I will be bringing to you on a Friday. I thought I  would start with the pineapple as it is a fruit which is available in one form or another all over the world.

It grows here quite freely and is available everywhere and as crisps, smoothies, in curries, ice cream the pineapple is a very versatile fruit and it always looks very pretty when the outside is kept and used to put your Pina colada in or your pineapple fried rice.

The pineapple is packed with vitamin C, minerals and antioxidants it is also used in smoothies and cocktails and there is nothing better than sitting on the beach with a lovely Pina colada watching the sunset…

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I know you are all now probably thinking that it is alright for some while you are dealing with the cold and snow…Soz…but it also makes a beautiful curry it pairs with duck really well and is one of my favourites.

Tip:   It is also a great meat tenderizer.

Red Duck Curry ( Kaeng Ped Pett Yang)

I had Duck curry for the first time on a little island just off Phuket, Thailand it is a fiery curry offset by pineapple and tomatoes. Some add lychee as well as pineapple but we found it a little sweet for us but experiment, everyone’s taste is different….I also add some vegetables, mange tout or sugar snap peas may be a few florets of brocolli..really whatever I have in the fridge.

Duck Curry

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 duck Breasts.
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • 10 cherry tomatoes.
  • 6-10 mange tout..or other vegetables of your choice.
  • 100 gm Thai eggplant cut into quarters.
  • Pea egg plants

    Tiny pea eggplants used in Thai Curries

  • 100 gm pea eggplants.
  • If you can’t get these any small eggplant will be ok I sometimes use small purple ones if I can’t get the green.
  • 1-2 tbsp red curry paste.
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves torn
  • Bunch Thai basil washed and leaves picked…
  • 2 tsp lime juice.

Lets’s Cook!

Firstly cook your duck breasts, we like ours medium rare.

Put the duck skin side down in a cold pan, turn the heat to medium and cook the duck breasts for 6-8 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy, turn the breasts over and just sear the other side for 1 minute. Turn over so they are breast side up and put in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes before slicing the breasts thinly.

To make sauce put a very tiny drop of oil in the pan over a medium heat add your curry paste and stir to cook for 1 min, add fish sauce. Gradually add coconut milk whilst still stirring.

Bring to a slow boil and add torn lime leaves and eggplants cook for 5/6 mins and add tomatoes and pineapple, cook for a further 10 minutes then add mange tout and stir in some Thai basil leaves and lime juice.

Now taste and adjust curry paste if you want more heat. If other seasonings need to be adjusted you can also do that now. Thai flavours are very pronounced and if you get it balanced ..very nice if not…I have had some disasters and I don’t mind admitting that…which is why I always say TASTE and Taste again.

The very first duck curry I made was ok…so we left out the lychee next time and it was much better…also, I know which curry paste to now use as they are all so different….Please don’t let this put you off making it as when you get it right it is a lovely thing.

When you are ready to serve then add sliced duck to the sauce and just warm through and serve with some Thai basil over the top and a sliced red chilli if you like.

Serve with steamed rice.

Enjoy!

I also love pineapple in an upside down pudding my mum used to make it… She just used to make normal cake mix and put pineapple in the bottom of a heatproof dish and put the cake mixture on top. Bake it and then serve it with custard…It is one of those childhood memories… Mine …well I had to tweak it somewhat but I am sure you didn’t expect any different from me…Did you??

Pineapple and ginger upside down cake.

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Ingredients:

  • 25 g (1 oz) sultanas
  • 100 g (4 oz) castor sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 175 g (6 oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon Powder
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 115 g (4 1/2 oz) butter
  • 227 g (8 oz) tin pineapple rings, drained or fresh pineapple cut into rings.

Let’s Cook!

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4.

 

Grease and base line a 20.5cm (8″) round cake tin. Heat the golden syrup and 1 tsp grated Ginger with 15 gm (½oz) butter until melted.

Meanwhile, arrange the pineapple in the base of the tin, sprinkle over the sultanas and pour over the syrup mixture.

Whisk the remaining butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs. Mix the flour with the Cinnamon and remaining Ginger and fold into the cake mixture. Spread on top of the pineapple.

Bake for 45 minutes until firm to touch. Allow to cool slightly before turning out.

Serve with custard and enjoy!

I hope you have enjoyed my recipes for the lovely pineapple until next Friday when I will bring another lovely fruit…Take care, have fun and laugh a lot..laughter is free and the best medicine x

If you have enjoyed my post then please share on your favourite social media…Thank you xx