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The Foodie Gift Hunter is entertaining toddlers

September 17th, 2014 · Foodie gifts

No, this is not a new career move, and I am not available for birthday parties. Rather the house is being taken over by a couple of little guests for a couple of nights, so writing time will definitely be in short supply.

So, in the meantime, here’s a beautiful dessert:


Dessert break

Normal service to be resumed shortly!

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These are definitely my teacups

September 15th, 2014 · British favourites, Foodie gifts

My team will smile when they see these. Or possibly grimace.


Grammar teacups


Poor grammar, bad spelling, terrible punctuation…I’m renowned for loathing all of them. Must have a reputation as someone I don’t even know very well in the office brought me a badly written letter to look at.

Maybe what I need is a nice cup of tea to calm down. And these might help. Sadly, they are not available to ship to the UK, unless perhaps we all lobby nicely. In properly spelt emails. So in the meantime, maybe this would do:


Eat Grandma


I’m a bit more of a mug girl anyway, there’s not enough in a teacup for my liking. Etiquette obviously not such a strong point for me!

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Lakeland are in the Christmas race too

September 13th, 2014 · Christmas foodie gifts, Foodie gifts

Gosh, they’re all at it now! The early starters are off, and now Lakeland are ready to show you their Christmas wares. Here’s five on my wishlist:


Rydal Hamper


What I love about the Rydal Hamper is that everything tasty it’s packed with is made in Great Britain. There’s tasty popcorn from Joe & Seph, Tracklements Christmas Chutney to go with your Boxing Day cold cuts and Perry Court Farm Pear Juice. Even the platter is made in Staffordshire.


Russian Doll Cookie Jar


I love this cookie jar, very cute, although sadly you don’t get a stacking set of them. Great for keeping cookie treats safe and in great condition.


Layering Tool


This one is a great stocking filler for any would-be mixologist. This niftly little tool allows you to create fabulous layers in cocktails, and surely Christmas Day is a great time to try them out?


Choc on Choc Handbag


Here’s another great stocking filler. Handbag, phone, lipstick. Three daily essentials all in the other daily essential: chocolate. Couldn’t be better in my book!




I’d be tempted to give the Cucumbo to someone without any of the packaging, to see if they can work out what it is. I mean, you could give them a cucumber too, but that’s just making it too easy. I quite like little gadgets like this, and anything that makes veg more fun for kids is a good thing in my book.

These are just five, there are lots of new things in the range and for every kind of person on your list, not just the cooks and bakers. Let the festive planning begin!



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First out of the Christmas email starting gate!

September 11th, 2014 · British favourites, Christmas foodie gifts, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

Maybe it’s because I’d been browsing the mustard on The East India Company website last week, but today I’ve had an email from them with their early bird Christmas offer.

Hands up, who’s feeling organised?

I mean, shopping now with them saves you 15%, gets some of your shopping out the way and means you can relax a bit in the months ahead. And there’s some lovely stuff, like the Afternoon Tea Time Christmas Gift Hamper.


Afternoon Tea Time Christmas


To me, this is perfect for an older relative, or just a real tea lover like me. Darjeeling tea, perfect for afternoon tea, plus caramel and sea salt biscuits and raspberries covered in chocolate. Beautiful presentation, almost wouldn’t need wrapping up.


Christmas coffee


I’d be very tempted by the spiced date and fig chutney, as a gift or for Boxing Day if there’s leftover turkey to be had. And I love the Christmas Coffee Blend in a tin, which is beautiful looking, and sure the coffee is tasty too. I mean, notes of cinnamon, hazelnut and chocolate sound like a good festive indulgence to me.

So, the prices show up on the website already with the 15% off, and you can advance plan deliveries of hampers whilst still taking advantage of the offer. If you can be that organised, then it sounds like a good place to start. Let’s face it, Santa’s been at work for a long time already!

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What I should have seen at the Specialty & Fine Food Fair

September 9th, 2014 · Foodie gifts



I was a complete muppet on Sunday. My plan to go to the Specialty & Fine Food Fair came a cropper in spite of advance planning all down to leaving my purse on the the kitchen table.

So, in spite of some lovely time in my garden, I missed out on meeting some businesses I was really looking forward to chatting to, and trying their products. Whilst I can’t say I’ve tried any of these, then these were the businesses on my radar to catch up with, and certainly hope to find out more in the months ahead:

Nim’s Fruit Crisps – got to love a healthier snack, and another way to get your daily fruit. I can imagine works particularly well with kids. Love the sound of Orange and Melon, very tropical.

Hectares Sweet Potato Crisps – another good sounding crisp alternative. I really love sweet potatoes anyway, so fab to see them turning up on their own as crisps, not just lost in a bag of vegetable crisps.

Big Banana Bread – apparently banana bread is much more readily available in Australia than here, and Big Banana Bread is here to try and change that. Sounds yummy to me.

SugarSin – I have been in SugarSin’s shop, but had MGG with me so had to escape before it cost me a fortune. Great looking products, really like the look of their handmade lollipops, very cute.

These are just four, there were so many, not to mention meeting people that I’ve known longer but possible not met face to face. Ah well, next year! Hope it’s a show that’s gone well for the exhibitors and lots of retailers have found great new products for great shops around the UK.



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Cutting the mustard

September 6th, 2014 · British favourites, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

Lapsang Souchong Mustard


I’m running short of mustard, which is testimony perhaps to not having been to France this year. Normally I know what to get in the supermarket, so there’s never been much variety going on. I don’t use it a lot, so it’s a fairly standard smooth French and a wholegrain.

As there’s no trip to France on the horizon any time soon I had a bit of a mooch round to see if there was anything interesting. I’m not much of a connoisseur but I rather liked the sound of the Lapsang Souchong Mustard from the East India Company. It sounds like the smokiness of the tea flavouring might mellow out the mustard, but also then add something interesting and extra to the flavouring.

If you like something a bit spicier, then sounds like the Bulldog might be more up your street, as it has plenty of chillies in it, or then there’s the Roman Mustard with a herb blend to bring extra flavours to the mix. All sound good to me, so might have to seek them out.


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Topping up the charcuterie

September 4th, 2014 · Foodie gifts

I mentioned this in passing in an earlier post, but MGG and I are working our way through some venison chorizo from Great Glen Charcuterie.


Venison chorizo


We both really liked this and love a good snacking charcuterie board. I like the slightly stronger taste of this compared to a pork based chorizo, and I love to put this out with some smoked almonds and a strong cheddar. It’s a really nice thing to have a more local, British product, and produced from game, which is severely under used in the UK.

We’re both wimps on the heat front, so didn’t try the chilli version of this, but if you’re up for it then I can imagine the two things work well together. Rather than heat things up then I’d rather try the bresaola, which I’m very partial to but have only ever had Italian versions.

Worth checking out, Great Glen Charcuterie have won many Great Taste awards, and they are well deserved.

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My cookbook challenge

September 2nd, 2014 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts

And no, the challenge is not to not buy any more, but it is to make more of the ones I’ve got. And probably I should add to it not get any more but that’s not the main purpose!


The shelf of most used books


I do have a lot of cookbooks, and that’s after a major clear out. It’s not deliberate, but I still have over 50 books on the shelves. So my plan is to cook a recipe from one each week. My only rules for myself are that it can’t be something that I’ve cooked before, as for a big chunk of the books on the shelves then I have cooked something from them. I just don’t think I’ve done enough.


The ones from the side of the bed


And yes, there are still a few on there that I’ve not cooked from at all. There’s plenty of variety up on these shelves, including Christmas and Halloween ones, so should be able to cover any eventuality.


The bottom shelf in the utility


I’m starting this week with The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales by Lindsay Bareham. I really like Lindsay’s writing style, and the idea behind this book of all the different cooking pots and utensils. I’ve made the classic fish pie with parsley sauce and I think that’s it. I’m going to make the Sri Lankan Ginger & Lime Chicken Curry, as MGG has also challenged me to come up with the best chicken curry that she will love. Which means flavour not spice.


The other utility room shelf


I’m quite looking forward to it, if only because it will mean getting books back down the shelf and having a read of them to find a recipe to try. And I’m looking forward to trying some new stuff, and challenging myself should be fun. Maybe I’ll end up with a new favourite cookbook, or maybe I’ll end up with some empty space on the shelves.

Where should I go after The Trifle Bowl? Open to suggestions!


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Our Edinburgh food fun & finds

August 31st, 2014 · Foodie gifts, Foodie things to do, Foodie Travel, Places to eat

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably know that MGG and I have been in Edinburgh, enjoying lots of Fringe shows, a night at the Tattoo and some great food in great places. These were some of our favourites:


Exploring Stockbridge


Stockbridge Farmers’ Market – I have Lea Harris to thank for this one, as she suggested we went on the Sunday when we had no shows planned. We had gyoza for breakfast from Harajuku Kitchen, great coffee from Steampunk Coffee, and smoked salmon from Dunkeld. Not a bad start to the morning.






Peter’s Yard Cafe – I’ve written before about how much I like Peter’s Yard crispbreads. Well, now we can add that we love their cafe too. So much, we went twice. I loved my sweet potato hummus with roasted peppers on walnut bread the first time, and a cardamom bun and good coffee the next time. I’d move to Edinburgh just for this being my local caff!


Starting our walking tour


Eat Walk Edinburgh – we did a great walking tour, combining food tastings and a bit of a history lesson of the lower part of the Royal Mile. MGG tried haggis for the first time, and liked it. I had Edinburgh Gin, but I knew already I liked that. We stopped in at Cranachan & Crowdie, which I thought was a great store. We came back to buy the venison chorizo that had been in the tasting, and added a few more things too. Very tempting store!


Beetroot Bacon & Blue Cheese


Tin Tin in a Tea Pot


The Crafter’s Barn – we had a late but relaxed lunch here, as we were both a bit footsore and a bit tired from dashing between shows. We were both well revived by the beetroot, bacon and blue cheese pizza (now added to our Friday night make at home pizza repertoire). I was well revived by my first ever beer cocktail, a Tin Tin. Which also had more Edinburgh Gin in it. And arrived in a teapot. Which you drank it from. Looked dodgy, tasted great!

One final one that I don’t have any photos from but definitely deserves a mention is Social Bite on Rose Street. If I lived in Edinburgh I would have to split my coffee time between Peter’s Yard and here, because this is social enterprise at its best and serves darn good coffee, not to mention great porridge. Go, buy your breakfast, buy your lunch, and suspend a purchase or two for someone else.

We loved our time in Edinburgh, and certainly ate really well, with great variety. I’d go back tomorrow, but think my waistline and bank account need a few weeks off first!


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The Friday Five – pack some excitement into packed lunches

August 29th, 2014 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Friday Five

So the countdown is really on for all schools to be back (apologies to Scottish readers, I know, your kids have been back for weeks already). This week I’ve featured lunch boxes already, but you’re going to need good stuff to go inside them. It’s really easy to fall into a rut with packed lunches, which, like most things, is when they get dull and unappealing.

The ideas in these books are definitely neither of those!


Yum Yum Bento Box

Yum Yum Bento Box – let’s face it, the Japanese are masters at this, and I’ve loved my trips to Asia where I’ve come across all kinds of gadgets to make these kind of lunches. I’m not suggesting that many of us have time to do these every day, but they’re certainly fun, and would cause plenty of conversation at lunch. I’m quite fancying rice chickens for Monday though!


Homemade Kids Lunches


The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet – well, it’s quite a title to live up to! Plenty of suggestions, and even ideas if your kid needs gluten, soy or nut free. But with 200 recipes that should see you through the next school year!


Funky lunch

Funky Lunch – this is probably a more British version of the bento ideas, as it’s more based on having fun with sandwiches than messing around with rice. I could see this being more accessible to most of us on a more regular basis (I mean am I the only one who made houses from luncheon meat as a kid? Surely not?). Who doesn’t want a smiling giraffe sandwich in their lunchbox?


Mason Jar Salads


Mason Jar Salads and More – I think it’s optional for it to be a Mason jar, and possibly not a good idea for young kids, but if it’s more about your lunch then this has some really appealing ideas for something a bit more interesting. Let’s face it, a damp lettuce leaf isn’t interesting at home, it’s certainly not going to be after hanging around your lunchbox for a few hours.


Just Bento Cookbook


The Just Bento Cookbook – this is bento for grown ups, and is more about healthy combinations than cute rice concoctions. This is definitely about making stuff that’s “healthy” interesting and flavoursome, and then presenting it in ways that look enticing, without too much faff!


So, let’s make this term about something more than a cheese and pickle sandwich and a packet of crisps! If you’ve got a new lunchbox it deserves better!




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