For a Rainy Day…

I woke up bright an early this morning to blue skies, so decided to don some warm clothes and go for a walk. Five minutes in and grey clouds appeared as if by magic. Drizzle soon followed. Back home now and ready for a cosy day inside.

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The books I am browsing through at the moment are particular handy on a day when the weather can’t decided what it’s doing….

1. Drink Me by Matt Walls (see blog post here)

2. Supper Club by Kerstin Rodgers; secret restaurants & underground supper clubs! Sounds amazing! Ex-Rock band photographer Kerstin Rodgers was one of the first people to start this dining phenomenon in the UK. This book is full of quirky illustrations and ideas for starting your own ‘Supper Club’, (which I am currently in the process of organising for my friends and I- you’ll hear more about this next month). Along with her yummy recipes and personal photographs it is a really fun book with plenty of hosting and culinary tips polished off with a directory of people doing this in their homes worldwide. So you too can venture into the unknown….

3. Baking Bible by Annie Bell; I love baking but have so much to learn. I make mistakes (often) and get very frustrated when I see the sponge sinking in the oven. Annie Bell was a food writer for Vogue, The Independent & more, who has gone on to write books like ‘The Camping Cookbook’ & ‘Soup Glorious Soup’. This is her ‘bible’ of 200 very trustworthy recipes for cakes, puddings, bread, tarts… the list goes on. It is pretty much fail-safe & easy to understand for beginners, yet still exciting and enticing for the more experienced. Totally delicious.

4. Eat London: All About Food by Peters Prescott & Terence Conran; If you live, or have visited London, then you may have realised that there are restaurants and cafes popping up at two-a-penny. This is the ultimate directory for someone wanting to discover old and new put together by the well-known Terence Conran. Plenty of recipes to keep you entertained in between reviews and a front cover that doubles up as a big map of London, so no worries about getting lost whilst in the depths of Dulwich, looking for a butchers!

5. Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo; Following her perfectly kitsch, Paris based TV show. Rachel Khoo has let us into the secrets of her life, style and recipes. Her illustrations are adorable and thankfully there are no overly complicated methods or long winded techniques to try and follow. If she can make it work, so very well, in such a small and intimate space then there is nothing stopping us all from trying it out….follow her lead. Oh and her ‘madeleines à la crème au citron’, are a must! Mmm.

6. The Simple Things; a glorious monthly magazine of all things home & garden with recipes, crafts and inspirations! A total gem. WHSmith sell the mag, but you can also look on their website to find out about the subscription. January was filled to the brim with pasta making, lantern stitching and home made pizza nights! The February Issue 6 is out now. This could be the only reason I venture into the rain again today!

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A small Arpeggio coffee from my Nespresso machine sets me up nicely for the day ahead. My pastel pink cup is from Ikea, perfect for espresso’s but also for desserts like ice cream, or a mousse! I am not sure if they are in stock at the moment, but a lovely alternative are the Ikea 365+ pastel espresso cup and saucer.


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My candle of the moment is Roses by Diptyque. It is so gorgeous and fills the entire room in seconds. For me the smell of Roses reminds me of my childhood. It is nostalgic, romantic and puts a gentle arm around me in times of need. Diptyque candles are not cheap but they are, in my opinion very, very good. Their standard size are £40 and the mini candles are £20. I got this mini Rose for Christmas, they make a really special present!

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Listening to Classic FM. Yup, tis’ true. I EVEN downloaded the app! This is coming from the same person who used to squirm when anyone (my sister!) put it on in the car, I thought it had to be ‘cool’ music or nothing at all. How things have changed. All I want on a day at home, is to have classical music playing quietly in the background. I find it so unbelievably calming and so does the cat…

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Daffodils are ALREADY in bloom in some parts of the UK. My mum excitedly informed me of such a carpet of sunshine spotted on a walk at the weekend. I decided to get myself a few bunches to have a big, early dose of Spring time in my home! Tesco’s currently have £1 a bunch on offer so forget S.A.D. and treat yourself.

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Right then, I have procrastinated enough. On with some writing!

And have a great day come rain or shine…

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Juicy Business


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Post Christmas and New Year many people desire to shed a few pounds and having one or two ‘juicing days’ is a great way to kick start this, without needing to cut down too much during the whole week.

I have worshipped my Le Duo Magimix juicer, ever since I got it a couple of Summer’s ago. It was a really hot June and I was juicing for my life; beetroot, lemon, carrots, apples, ginger and raspberries to garnish… trying out loads of different refreshing and healthy drinks. I reckon a lot of people think you need lots of time to do it, but really it can be quick and effortless, although cleaning up the equipment can be a bit of a bore. Best thing I find is to make a big batch and decant into several bottles, which will keep me going for a few days makes the whole process all the more worthwhile. If you share a fridge with others, then labelling the juices with ingredients and a date too might be a good idea.

In the beginning I was desperately trying to get a simple green apple juice but kept on battling with the ‘oxidation reaction’ i.e. it was going brown within 2 minutes. Although there is no harm in that it totally changes the flavour, the sharpness and appearance and adding lemon was not cutting it. One day, I was talking about this to a friend of mine when she emerged from a cupboard with a little tub of Vitamin C powder (scientifically called, ascorbic acid). “This is the trick” she said and so it was….

Adding even the smallest pinch to your juice right at the beginning will preserve the freshest taste and keeps your apple juice bright green, it also gives your body an extra boost!

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I store my juices in a glass bottles and they keep for a couple of days. You can get yourself a ‘Korken‘ bottle with stopper from Ikea or the swing top glass bottles from Butlers. They also do a very cool looking ‘Refill‘ one which I have my eye on for a next purchase! My only advice would be that if you are planning to put these in the dishwasher, the swing top will loosen a little and might fall out eventually. Hand washing is advisable, especially with the easy cleaning methods mentioned in this post.

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Health Benefits

I asked my mum (a Dietician), to help me summarise the health benefits of juicing and they seem pretty endless so i’ll keep it short and sweet.

Juices are great for keeping you hydrated! In winter months in particular we tend to be in and out of rooms and transport with central heating, wearing layers of clothes leading to perspiration and therefore loss of fluid. It is important to keep our levels topped up for healthy skin and essential bodily functions as well as for keeping the viruses at bay!

If you were looking to lose or control your weight, it is not a bad idea to supplement a meal now and again with a nutritional juice. If you are serious about it then it would be great at this point to get yourself a recipe book to aid you along, show you different options and diversify your diet. The book I use is called Smooth and Juicy by Joanna Farrow.

Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables provide the vitamins & minerals for general health. In the summer there is an abundance of produce, making ‘being healthy’ readily available, which I believe we take for granted. It is however, during these Winter months, when we still need the same nutrients (if not more) so juicing using seasonal root vegetables, citrus fruits & tree fruits is a good base to work on. I get my fruit and veg from my local market, where it is always seasonal and very well priced.

To find out what fruits and vegetables are in season, I found a fun chart on the Eat Seasonably website.

Recipes from Friends!

My boyfriend Isaac loves any juice with ginger in, as it give things a kick.

“My favourite is beetroot, apple and ginger. I drink it in the mornings for a fresh start to the day”

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India is a bit of a domestic goddess, she told me about her juice of the moment which she makes daily in her Breville Juicer!

“Really good for fighting a cold! It is kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon, ginger. I like it with a dash of olive oil at the end and sometimes I will add other tinctures like aloe or flax seed oil…”

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My friend Tilly and I share the same favourite. This yummy juice is cucumber, celery, apples, lime and ginger (pictured). The crispy, zingy green apples really wake you up, so this is the perfect energising drink for an early morning.

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More than a juice…

Susie wakes up to a breakfast smoothie.

Soya milk, mixed berries and low fat natural yogurt. My inspiration for it was Jamba Juice’s ‘Bright Eyed & Blueberry’”

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…and Fearne (who is about to become a yummy mummy!) is craving this delicious combo!

“I first put some crushed ice in the blender, then add a handful of blueberries, half an avocado, a skinned kiwi, some kale, and sometimes a bit of papaya too. Them some chia seeds which are so good for you! Top all of this off with a big splash of almond milk. I drink this every morning before breakfast so even if I have an unhealthy day I’ve had a load of vitamins in one go in the morning!”

Tips for the clean up!

  • Milton (used for cleaning babies bottles), in liquid or tablet form. Follow instructions on the label in terms of dosage and pop it in the bottle once you have finished with your juice.
  • Dishwasher tablet broken up, with boiling water and shake shake shake!
  • It is probably worthwhile investing in some bottle brushes, the ones you might use for a baby’s bottle.
  • A spatula is a good tool for scraping out the bits of fruit from the juicer after use. With the Le Duo, MagicMix juicer, they provide something very like a spatula for this (seen here), which makes all the difference.
  • Lastly, clean the juicer straight away otherwise it really is harder to get the dried fruit and veg out. In the Summer especially that would be a breeding ground for fruit flies, so stick it straight in the washbowl before sitting back to enjoy!

Thank you to all of my lovely friends who shared their recipes, I hope everyone enjoys trying them out.

Please feel free to comment below & tell us what you like?

Fancy A Drink?

I adore wine. Red or White and sometimes Rose (but did some damage with cheap bottles & sunshine as a teenager so it’s no longer my first choice!) I can’t say I have a favourite bottle at the moment but definitely have my ‘go to’ options. That is getting a little boring though and I am now at the point of wanting to move on from the norm.

My dad has great taste in wine, so I have always been around the good stuff. It wasn’t until recently that I wished to explore the different grape varieties and viticulture to get to know what I love, appreciate and dislike in some rare cases. I long to confidently recommend a bottle when at a restaurant with friends or pair the perfect glass when I am cooking a meal. I started the year planning a wine course and am currently looking into options for tastings around London as well doing my own research and I have come to realise that you can really learn a lot from simply stepping into a nice wine merchants and asking a few questions. Tell them what you are eating? What you like? What you don’t? If they are working there for the passion of it all then most likely they will be keen to offer advice and this will definitely help to get you off the usual suspects and try something new.

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In my local off licence just yesterday I picked up a nice bottle of Rioja and as I was talking to the very informative chap at the counter I spotted this book, ‘DRINK ME!’ by Matt Walls. It was immediately appealing, not only because of the recycled-look, cool cover and graphics or reasonable price but because Matt states in the first paragraph that it is “a guide for people who drink a bit and know a little but would like to know more.” – simply put, that’s me!

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I can already recommend grabbing a copy from a local book shop or on Amazon, especially if you are a newcomer to all of this and petrified at the thought of tucking into the heavier read that is the ‘Wine Encyclopeda’ which believe me, I have attempted.

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Matt's blog is also a good platform to start picking up helpful hints and recommendations without much effort involved on your part. He keeps it concise and leaves out the gumpf.

Hopefully this is the start of a wonderful (& potentially boozy!) journey and I look forward to sharing some of the treasures I find along the way.

Find out more about the book, the blog and the expert here-

http://www.mattwalls.co.uk
@mattwallswine

Get Me To The Farmers’ Market….

It is Sunday morning at 9:30am, there is 15 cm of snow on the ground and it is still falling thick. Not a person to be seen on the roads nor streets but waiting tenaciously under the tarpaulins at the top of Ascot High Street, is the Farmers’ Market.

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Ascot’s Farmers’ Market runs on the 3rd Sunday of every month all year round and the produce really is the best. It is part of the Thames Valley  Farmer’s Co-Operative, which you can find information about here -their motto to bring ‘local food, to local people’.

Slipping and sliding all the way there in my inappropriate footwear was worth it, because not only do you get to sample some of their delights (homemade fudge, sausage baps, goats cheese & chilli jam), you have to admire their love of excellent produce.

These days it is easy to forget where food comes from and at the Farmers’ Market food is produced for flavour and not to feed the masses. The prices are comparable with that of supermarkets but you really can taste the difference!

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With several dedicated butchers on hand to explain the heritage of the meat (pork, beef, chicken…) you come away feeling more knowledgable and satisfied. I had a brief discussion about pork chop with a farmer from Reading, who explained about the distribution of fat and demand for leaner cuts resulting in essentially flavourless meats. Personally I would much rather eat less meat with better flavour than a huge great chunk of meat which tastes of nothing, which is why seeking out these kind of market’s is worthwhile to me.

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Huddled together, with freezing fingers and toes is just part and parcel for the farmers, who rely on our custom for their livelihood. Some of them deliver of course if you can’t wait until the next month’s outing or make the most of it on the day and stock up your freezer.

Check out their website and find out when and where your local Farmers’ Market is. I promise you won’t be disappointed because this is what food should taste like…. and not a horse in sight, not even on the race course!

Thames Valley Farmers’ Market Co-operative assesses all producers before they’re accredited to trade at our markets. This means you can be sure you’re buying food and drink from the people who’ve grown, reared, baked and made it, all to the highest standards. All our markets are FARMA certified.

Hummus, Hummous, Humous…?

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I came across this magic ingredient for my homemade humous whilst making it last year and realising half way through I had no tahini! I raided the cupboards wondering what on earth I could use to give the dip some substance and that buttery, nutty flavour….then I saw it staring me in the face.

My friends seem to love it and a couple have asked what the secret is. So here we go. Enjoy!

1 Can of Chickpeas

Juice of 1 lemon

Chilli powder

Olive oil

salt & pepper for seasoning

and PEANUT BUTTER!

  1. Put the can of chickpeas into a little mixing bowl with a at least 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of half the lemon.
  2. I use a simple hand blender and blitz the chickpeas until it starts to become a smooth paste. There will be lumps in it but that is ok for now as you will blitz more shortly.
  3. Put a couple of pinches of chilli powder into the paste and stir in. I always have a jar of Rajah Chilli Powder in my cupboard as I personally find it to be one of the best.
  4. At this point, give it a little taste and then season as you wish with salt and pepper. Then stir. You may need to add in a little more lemon juice or olive oil and that is fine as it is all very personal to your taste.
  5. At this point put 1 generous tablespoon of peanut butter in and then use the hand blender again to continue smoothing out the mix.
  6. After a final taste, put your humous into a little bowl and swirl a crevice in the middle, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with a touch more chilli powder.

Ready to serve!

What Detox…?

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Nearly every year I jump on the band wagon and try out a new January detox. Not this year…oh no! For this year, I work far too close to the Electric Donuts in Notting Hill.

These delightfully soft, melt in the mouth, luxurious flavoured treats are being snatched up by locals and travellers of far & wide, on the notorious Portobello Road. The donuts can be found in the foyer of the renowned Electric Cinema and are open Wednesday through Sunday. They have a different special each day; with the Lemon & Poppyseed, Birthday Cake and Cinnamon Stack (pictured above) being just a sample of their worthy treats.

Honestly, if you are allowed to break the rules just once during the dry month of Jan, do it by devouring one of these!

(P.S. Follow the Donuts @ElectricDonuts for live updates)