Category Archives: misc

Merry Christmas one and all. Have a fabulous 2012.

Christmas Food Gifts & Essentials

As you can imagine food is quite important to us over the festive season. Some of these foods have traditional or nostalgic connections and some are just because they taste so good. Many of these suggestions below will be great on your festive dinner table or will make equally good gifts. To see what I recommended last year see this blog post.

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Christmas Cookbook Countdown

With only *whispers* 2 weeks left until Christmas. It’s fair to say Christmas is a hectic time of year for me and the business. Today is my first day off in two weeks and from tomorrow will not be stopping until Christmas Eve. Hubs’ & parent’s presents are sorted, as for everyone elses? Thank for the lord for the internet and Derby Westfield opening late in the run up to Christmas.

I will admit I’m a cookbookaholic, but it takes a lot to impress me with a cookbook. If you’re looking for a great Christmas gift this year here are my top cookbooks of the year. Go here to see last year’s selection.

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A Dapper Welsh Adventure

After last year’s cider fuelled glamping fest in Herefordshire as soon as we saw the fabulous Dapper Camping Club, north of Brecon, through Canopy & Stars we knew we had to visit. As a child I visited the area often on PGL holidays and wanted to return to show Hubs how beautiful Wales can be. This time we were in a bell tent, with a proper bed loaded with blankets and both a kitchen and bathroom all to ourselves. Anyone who has camped before knows this is a serious luxury! Everything on the site had been so well thought out from the decanter of complementary sherry, very much-needed on cold Welsh nights, to the well-stocked larder of provisions, freshly made pesto and daily generous breakfast hamper. Oh and a porcelain leopard; naturally.  Dapper Camping Club is run by Jasper & Lucy who made lovely hosts and have deliberately styled the tents in a quirky, quintessentially British feel but using both vintage & modern furnishings. Read the rest of this entry


As some of you may know in July 2010 I left my job to start a business. I had taught cookery a few afternoons a week in my old school but decided to combine my science background, food geekery along with 5 years experience in education to teach children how to cook. The last year has had huge highs and lows and it’s been one steep learning curve but I don’t regret it. The smile on a child’s face when they finally master something as simple as cracking an egg without shell going everywhere is priceless. I know the market I work in is very different to similar business throughout the country and I tailor the classes depending on the pupils and area. The main goal is for me to provide accessible, realistic, cross-curricular and creative food education for all, no matter your background or budget. One of my business goals is to make enough to fund me to do MSc Food & Nutrition Policy at City. I’m getting there slowly! Read the rest of this entry

A visit from the Fairy Hobmother

Anyone who read UK food blogs at the moment couldn’t have failed to notice the Fairy Hobmother from Appliances Online popping up everywhere. When Eat Like a Girl wrote a blogpost about the Fairy Hobmother visiting her and giving her a Magimix I knew I had to take my chance and see if they would pay me a visit. It’s a kind of Chain Fairy, hopping from blog to blog and spreading some good will. Appliances Online, sell cookers and other white goods. When we finally move house I know where I’ll be heading to fill my new kitchen.

It’s no lie that all my money at the moment is being ploughed back into my business so when I was emailed to say I was being given £20 Amazon voucher I wanted to spend it on something for me. Unfortunately Amazon or Appliances Online don’t do haircuts so instead treated myself to a pair of Le Creuset Stoneware Soup Bowls in almond and a Kuhn Rikon Decorating Squeeze Bottle.

If you would like to have the chance of the Appliances Online Fairy Hobmother making a visit to you all you have to do is leave a comment below.

Well that was May!

May has zoomed by and I’ve only just spotted that it’s been nearly a month since I’ve blogged. Hello serious drop in my Wikio rating! While I’ve been quiet on the blogging front it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy.

* I’ve appeared on BBC Radio Derby twice; once to talk about current affairs and the other time to talk about the uptake of school dinners in Derbyshire.

* I visited the Real Food Festival in London and met some great bloggers and producers. The rubbish blogger I am meant I deliberately didn’t take my camera with me. I was already lugging enough stuff with me.

* Both of us helped Wendy from Quirky Cookies out on her stall at Derbyshire Food Festival in the grounds of the beautiful Hardwick Hall. We had a lovely time and it was a great insight to seeing a food business being run.

* The first half of the summer term has been and nearly gone. I’ve been busy in my business teaching kids the art of baked apples and calzone along with turning up to a class to find Spy Dog entertaining my pupils.

* The cookbook I helped to test recipes for is about to be released. Everyone keep an eye out for Vanessa Kimbell – Prepped.

* I’ve been working on a top-secret & exciting project with a big brand. I can reveal all very soon.

* Hubs has been on at Food Smoking course at Seasoned. When I can pin him down to write it, there will be a blogpost.

* After a harsh winter and early spring the garden is springing back to life. Most importantly the grapevine we were given for our wedding is fruiting for the first time. Just in time for our 4th wedding anniversary  next week where the traditional gift is fruit.

Next week is half term so expect a flurry of blog posts again!

Win Dorset Cereal goodies

It’s not often I run competitions on my blog, however when Dorset Cereal approached me about running a competition I knew I couldn’t say no as I know many of you love Dorset Cereal as much as we do.

Dorset Cereal have recently launched a new cereal, Good Honest Crunch, that comes in two flavours – Strawberries & Raspberries and Toffee & Pecan. Dorset Cereal were kind enough to send us a case of this cereal and we are thoroughly enjoying both flavours for breakfast. I like these because they are not as sweet compared to similar products on the market and one of the few cereals that keep being going until lunch time.

To be in the chance of winning a case of the Crunch, two of bowls and two mugs from our the new Dorset Cereal crockery range leave a comment below finishing this sentence – “Life’s too short…..” To help you get inspiration have a look what other people have said on the Dorset Cereal website.

Competition is open to UK entrants only and closes 11pm on Saturday 30th April. A winner will be drawn at random.

ETA: Congratulations to Lynne. The Dorset Cereal goodies are one their way to you now.

Valentine Wishlist

While surfing the web over the last for weeks I’ve spotted fantastic ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t have to be a box of Milk Tray and flowers from the garage down the road or even a huge bunch of roses, it’s about a token gesture to show someone how much you appreciate and love them.

Storeyshop has a beautiful selection of hand cut and laser cut cards in her Folksy shop. She also does commissions. For our wedding anniversary she made me a I love you more than my KitchenAid card.

HWR Designs Helen is based in Hilton on the Derbyshire, Staffordshire border. I particularly love the fabric birds she makes at the moment.

The Blossom Tree Flowers on the 14th of February don’t always have to be roses. Tulips and anemones are some of my favourite flowers and I certainly wouldn’t be unhappy if this beautiful bouquet arrived for me. Kerry is also giving 10% off orders over £25 if ordered before 31st January. Just enter iloveyou at the checkout.

Pong – Say I Love You with cheese. I’m a big fan of Pong, but just be warned lots of the cheese they sell are true to their name! Always fantastic interesting choice of cheeses with great service.

The Montpelier Basement – This Supperclub, based in Bristol, is hosting an Anti Valentine weekend that is perfect for those of you want to avoid dodgy dining experiences around the 14th.

A Quarter of – They do say a way to a man’s heart is thorough his stomach and I know the hamper from A Quarter of I gave Hubs for his birthday went down very well. I admit I’m partial to a packet of fizzy Love Hearts.

National Trust Tea Room – While many National Trust properties are closed at the moment many of the gardens and tea rooms are still open. How about a lovely walk followed by a well-earned cream tea from one of their renowned tea rooms? I can personally vouch for the fabulous cream teas served at Calke Abbey and Berrington Hall.

Quirky Cookies & Cakes – Wendy is also based in Derbyshire and makes fantastic biscuits and her rocky road is to die for!

River Cottage Valentine’s Feast – We attended this feast a few years back and it was an amazing experience. A I write this they have a few tickets left for this fabulous event.

2010 Round-up

2010 has been a busy year for both of us and who would have thought that this year’s resolution to turn my love of food in to day job would come true. Along with trying new recipes and techniques we have eaten and experienced many fabulous places.

Croissants – if the hits on the blog are anything to go by Croissants are top. Although they are time-consuming to make I very much enjoyed making and eating these.

Tandoor Oven – One of Hubs’ most recently projects. The lack of summer did mean it didn’t get used as much as we hoped so crossed fingers for a decent Summer 2011 so we can brush up on Naan bread making.

Murgh Makhani – Mallika made me realise that Indian food can be easy and delicious.

Gingerbread Men – My top google hit of the year which hit a spike over December. Not surprising given it’s one of my favourite recipes in my cookery classes.

Northcote –  Our first Michelin starred experience came courtesy of a visit to Northcote. A superb meal along with Afternoon Tea with a fantastic stay in one of their rooms.

Our glamping staycation – Perfect summer weather, a clay pizza oven, friends, open fire and cider from orchard less than a mile down the road. What more could you want?

A colourful gardening – The theme for our garden this year was very much bright coloured vegetables and edible flowers. Due to the success of the peas in the garden they will certainly be returning next year.

As for 2011, who knows what it will bring? Let’s hope it’ll be friends, food and fortune.

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