Great gifts for the gadget gurus and geeks

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Gadgets galore for the kitchen gadget geek

 

Christmas is a great time to indulge the gadget loving food lover and cook with a new gadget or two. They don’t have to be big gadgets, they can even be just fun gadgets or unusual ones, maybe just things they wouldn’t get for themselves. Here’s a few choice ones, for every kind of gadget lover and budget.

 

Joseph Joseph Nest Steamer

 

Steaming is by no means a new thing, and they may have everything from an electric steamer to a traditional Chinese bamboo version. This neat little set from Joseph Joseph is fun and functional, and certainly would keep them guessing if you just wrapped each section up separately.

 

Peugeot Annecy Cheese Mill

 

Take their grating up a gear, and give them something to show off, with the Peugeot Annecy grinder that works on hard cheese, chocolate and nuts, with different grating plates for each. Sleek design but effectiveat the job it’s designed to do, this looks like a serious piece of kit for some of those jobs that just get a bit tedious with poor equipment.

 

ProQ Cold Smoke Generator

 

If they are the adventurous sort of cook, then maybe consider the ProQ Cold Smoke Generator, as they can have all sorts of fun with this, smoking everything from salmon to your own bacon, even cheese. They don’t need anything fancy to smoke things in, I love that it says you can set this to work in an old filing cabinet. There is a separate smoking cabinet you can buy, but maybe just start off with the basics.

 

Perfect Portions Digital Scale

 

Take their weights and measures up a level, particularly if they are keen on the nutritional value of their cooking, then how about the Perfect Portions Digital Scale? This is really clever and probably where the future might lie for us. Though might just keep an old skool set with weights for if the batteries run out!

 

Eddingtons Pro Sharp 5 in 1 Scissors

 

I think these 5 in 1 Pro Sharp Scissors from Eddingtons are like a Swiss army knife of scissors for the kitchen. In this one piece you get not only great scissors but also a bottle opener, nut cracker, wire stripper and garlic crusher. So as long as you don’t lose them, then you can save a whole lot of space by ditching 4 other gadgets for this one. Which means you’ve got some space for some more.

 

ETI Combo Infrared Probe Thermometer

 

If they are seriously into their cooking and baking, then accuracy is bound to play a big part in the recipes they turn out. Which probably means they need a really good digital thermometer, and whilst not sexy in styling, this combination infra-red and probe digital thermometer from ETI is great for doing the job really well. It’s really geared up to pro kitchens, but is not so inaccessible from a price perspective that it couldn’t find it’s way into any of our kitchens.

There are so many electrical type gadgets that you could get (I’m thinking doughnut maker or candyfloss maker) that might be fun once, but will end up gathering dust, probably. So I would think about the things they love to cook the most and then see what’s new in that area. Or ask me, I love a challenge!

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What John Lewis thinks you need for uni

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Just after writing my last post, I was dashing through John Lewis and this little leaflet caught my eye:

 

What John Lewis thinks you need for going to uni

 

So, it seems John Lewis and I have some similar thoughts. I mean, a kettle is a no brainer to me, although I do notice that there are more and more “young” people who don’t do hot drinks. At least not at home.

But a food processor/smoothie maker/blender? Certainly not all three. And possibly not any. I mean, you might pack them off with a Nutribullet and good intentions, but do you reckon it’ll still be in use three weeks later?

I reckon the sandwich toaster is a much sounder idea. I mean, 3am drunken toasted cheese sandwiches feel like they’re going to be a much more regular occurence than 9am healthy smoothies. Or perhaps that was just my life at that age.

And a corkscrew is on there, but not a bottle opener. Surely just as many wine bottles come with screw caps as beer type bottles come with twist off lids, so why plan for one oddity and not the other? Or does every single corkscrew come with a bottle opener these days?

Other than that, the nation’s favourite and I are pretty much aligned.  What do you think? What’s a uni catering essential in your view?

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Ready for May the Fourth again

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It’s that day again, a day for Star Wars fans of every description. And food lovers are not left out. I’ve written before about my cookie cutters, which Lakeland went on to have a similar version of.

 

Star Wars Cookie Cutters - great gift for a food lover who feels the force

And there was a whole post of gifts for Star Wars lovers last Christmas, of which the fire pit proved to be the most popular, although I think it was wishful thinking for the vast majority of us.

 

Death Star Fire Pit - perfect gift fora food lover who loves Star Wars and has been very, very good this year

 

I wrote earlier in the spring about a Death Star BBQ, which I haven’t spotted in many places online, but Menkind have a cheaper version. Just the legs aren’t so long, so it’ll need a firm surface to live on, or you’ll need to do a bit more bending.

 

Star Wars Death Star BBQ

 

And you might want a good apron for whilst you’re BBQing, and I rather like this one from Red Leader on Etsy.

 

Come to the dark side apron - great gift for a food lover who feels the force

 

This is the apron I am looking for. Don’t forget the Wookie Cookbook either, for more than just BBQ ideas. Enjoy the day.

 

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My new kitchen friends

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I just had to post my two new kitchen friends, brought to us from Paris by a very dear friend.

 

My new kitchen friends

 

They’re the only cat and dog were going to have here! Useful and decorative, these are from Pylones. The cat holds one of those metallic scrubbers, which is appropriate as I first came across these when I was in France on exchange at the tender age of 13.

And if you’re wondering why the dog’s sponge is still all neat and wrapped, well, that’s down to the shop assistant in Pylones. She said before you used it for the first time you should get a stack of other sponges and cut round it, so you had a constant supply of the right shaped ones.

Smart.

Although you can buy them on the website. But sure doing you’re own makes them cheaper than €2.50!

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When design over-rules functionality

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I’ve written many times about measuring cups, as I don’t think a kitchen can really be without a set. Mine are a very dull, stainless steel set that I’ve had for years, but they do the job.

And my recent trip to the Spring Fair showed sea creatures as a definite trend in motifs for the kitchen. So at first I just thought Sainsburys were really on it with this set of fish shaped measuring cups.

 

Fish measuring cups - design over function?

 

Lovely looking, until you look at the detail. There’s no 1/3 cup, and the big cup is 1 1/2 cups. Now, I’ve always found myself perfectly capable of doing 1 1/2 cups from my existing set with the 1 cup and 1/2 cup measure, but a little more tricky to guess 1/3. And heaven knows baking is not really fond of guesswork.

But of course the 1/3 cup would not make this look quite such a good value set, as losing the largest one would definitely lose some of the impact on shelf. But then this therefore makes the set about retailing need, not usefulness.

Whale Measuring Cups

I would say, don’t buy this one. If you want something along a similar theme, then try this whale set from John Lewis. Yes, it’s another £5 but at least these four are useful sizes for every recipe you’ll make. Not to mention on trend, if that’s important. But at least trend has not over-ruled function.

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Do you dehydrate at home?

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Dehydrating at Home - a great cookbook to gift to a food lover who likes to do it from themselves

 

And I’m not talking about the effect you feel the morning after the night before! But this book by Michelle Keogh is all about getting the most out of your dehydrator.

Now, I’ll be honest, unlike my usual review, I have not tested any of these recipes as I don’t own a dehydrator. The PR team at the publishers had said in their blurb that you could try these in the oven too. They just didn’t mention that it would need 12 to 17 hour in the oven.

I asked on Twitter and a few people who had dehydrators said they use them fairly regularly, with things like veg crisps and fruit leather getting a mention, along with drying herbs and making beef jerky.

If you do own a dehydrator though, then this might just be a good book for coming up with some new ideas to make the most of it. So yes, there are recipes for drying fruit, but also taking it up a level with things like double-dehydrated coconut vanilla bananas, which sound delicious.

Got your fruit leathers cracked? Well, how about giving salted caramel apple leather go?

Tackled beef jerky? Ring the changes and try Chinese pork jerky.

There’s recipes for things like crackers and flatbreads, and dried nuts and herbs, so making lots of additional recipes from things you might have around in the first place. In that respect, it’s a great book, along with great photography.

Fancy the gadget to go with the book? Lakeland have a 5 tray version, currently £49.99, though I was surprised to find John Lewis don’t have one.

So, one to think about if you know a food lover who has the gadget, this is currently £12.08 with free delivery from Amazon or £12.99 at Waterstones.

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A grand day out at the Edible Garden Show

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Chick chick chick chick chicken

 

We had a great day out at the weekend at the Edible Garden Show, which was a great show for those who are keen on their food from first seed through to last mouthful. Or even those who are more interested in either end of the journey.

Given my last show wasn’t a wonderful experience, then the space at Stoneleigh, both to wander and sit down and eat was a joy. Although I think for the exhibitors it was a little too on the quiet side, most that I spoke to said it hadn’t been a rip roaring success for them. Certainly MFL said he had not seen or heard anything locally about it, and I only knew about it from seeing Mark from Gourmet Spice Co post on Facebook.

But we came away with heavier bags than we arrived with, and a growing wish list…no surprise there.

 

Bacon jam experiments ahead thanks to Syms Pantry

 

We will be attempting to convert the bacon refusenik in the tribe through covert use of the bacon jam from Syms Pantry. The store cupboard now has both the regular and smoked jams in it, along with a jar of the bacon mayonnaise. Can’t wait to play with these, some good eating ahead!

 

My kind of mint: lime mint from Urban Herbs

 

I also came back with some great new herbs from Urban Herbs. The lime mint was too tempting, given a mojito is up there on my list of favourite cocktails, and I’m sure a few sprigs in a G&T or in the Pimms would work well too. I also picked up the barbecue rosemary, smells like the most amazing combo of smoke and rosemary, and was highly recommended by Mark Lloyd.

 

Every kind of chilli you could probably want

 

Talking of Mark, watched him do a great demo of a chicken terrine, which was a raised pie by any other name. Always entertaining, not to mention educational. Mark has a book out very shortly, which is on a USB stick and self published, worth a look for in a week or so’s time.

 

Mark Lloyd getting ready to go

 

If chilli is your thing, then there were lots of choices, from ready to plant and grow from Chilli Bobs, through to the most amazing selection of seeds of every kind of heat level from Sea Spring Seeds. To be fair, they had a lot more than just chillis and proved that there is definitely more to veg than the average supermarket varieties.

Two things went on our mutual wishlist: knives from Flint & Flame (which both Mark and Rachel Green raved about, both had at home apparently) and an Aquaforno. In fact, I don’t think MFL has shut up about the Aquaforno since we got back. I will write about it in more detail, but it’s probably my favourite thing I found at the show.

Well, that and Pinkster gin, but that’s a whole other story.

Overall, I enjoyed it, but as usual with these things, if the exhibitors can’t cover their costs then there is little future to a show. We thought the ticket price was a bit steep for what there was (£16 for an adult, £5 for a kid, on the door) and the more people have to pay to get in, the less there is to spend. It’s not the ’80s any more. Be interesting to see if this one is back next year.

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Bringing some classy glass to tea time

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Glass Tea-iere from The White Company

I love my tea in the morning, but always feel it lacks the ceremony, at least in my house, of making a coffee. That has a whole plethora of bits of kit, from the grinder to the tamper through to the frothing jug.

Sadly, my tea routine is usually tea bag into mug.

But this glass tea-iere from The White Company is rather lovely, and I would enjoy making tea in this. Although thankfully it wouldn’t mean giving up my beloved Yorkshire Tea, as they do a loose leaf version.

 

Glass Tea Infuser Mug from The White Company

 

If you don’t consume large quantities of tea like me, then there’s also a tea infuser mug, perfect for individual serving. If you are serious about your tea, then maybe the glass tea timer would be a lovely addition if you were giving these as a gift.

 

Glass tea timer from The White Company

 

As always, some lovely things from The White Company, whether you’re shopping for a gift for a food lover or just a treat or two for yourself.

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What I hope retailers will be bringing to shops near us soon

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The Spring Fair finished at the NEC today, which is the UK’s largest trade fair covering gifts of all kind. MGG and I went on the opening day, as it’s definitely a great place for foodie gift hunting. We walked over 6 miles that day, always with an eye on the awards we were going to hand out. So here goes:

 

The Deceptively Simple Why Didn’t Anyone Do That Before Award

 

Magicup Non Spill Coffee Cups - fantastic idea

 

This award goes to Magicup, for your on the go hot drink needs. No need to find a spout, there’s 360° drinking. No losing out on the aroma of great coffee, as the opening is always open. Except when it’s not, which is immediately if it’s knocked over. I think it’s brilliant, it’s also made and manufactured in the UK.

 

The Simply Beautiful but Completely Functional Design Award

 

Retap Glass Bottles for water

We’re giving this award to the Danish company, Retap for their beautiful water bottles. I’d featured some glass water bottles just Christmas, but I think these are even nicer. Beautifully ergonomic to hold, enlivened by funky coloured lids. Made from borosilicate glass, these are highly unlikely to break, won’t contaminate the taste of the water and can go in the dishwasher. Love them, definitely going to have a few here. Currently available through Reusablebottle.co.uk and hopefully through more physical shops soon.

 

The One That’ll Be On Many Father’s Day Wish Lists Award

 

Star Wars Death Star BBQ

 

Yes, it’s a Death Star BBQ. Enough said. There were groups of grown men cooing over it each time we passed by. Definitely got success written over it. Available for pre-order now, delivery in time for Father’s Day.

 

The One That’s Got Its Blogger Outreach Sussed Award

 

Any Sharp Knife Sharpener - apparently the best in the world

 

This one made me laugh. I’m giving this award to the AnySharp knife sharpener, which is apparently the world’s best knife sharpener. Never heard of them before, spent some time looking at them at the show, got home to find a review from Emily Leary over on A Mummy Too. Got a thumbs up from her, I loved its compact design, but it sounds like it’s effective too.

 

The Making Something More Fun and Glam Than You Thought It Could Be

 

Boska Having Fun with Cheese

 

I love cheese, always useful when you live in Stilton country. But I still think cheese has quite a staid image. But not so for these award winners, the Dutch company, Boska. All their imagery shows people having a riot whilst enjoying cheese, and they have cheese gadgets you never, ever imagined. About as far from a traditional cheese and wine party as you can get. I mean, Raclette to go? Why not? Love this idea.

 

The Nowhere Near My Kitchen Award

Of course with a show of this size, there’s always going to be things you don’t like. I never expected it to be a whole stand. But this award goes to Charles Viancin. There is no room for any of this in my kithen, most definitely not my kind of thing.

 

I hope the exhibitors had a good show, and have come away with plenty of orders. My first marketing job saw me standing their side of the stands, so I know a bit about what they’ve been through. Sure they are very footsore by now, and desperate to see some natural daylight! I’ll be writing about more of my finds over weeks ahead, but these would be the things, mainly, that I’d hope to be seeing more of.

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Hearts and romance for the kitchen

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So, I’ve done Valentine’s food and drink choices that are not too twee or tacky, here’s a few things with a heart and romance theme, but hopefully staying away from tacky!

 

Anatomical heart mug

 

A heart themed mug? But not at all twee, given the anatomical illustration. Perfect for unsentimental type who doesn’t want to feel they’ve missed out.

 

Valentine's Enamel mugs

 

For something a little more traditionally romantic but not too twee, then I really like these enamel mugs. Perfect for long romantic walks where you might want to take a flask of tea with you.

 

Personalised chopping board

 

Hoping that the couple that cooks together stays together, and if you’ve got a chopping board this lovely with your names on it, maybe staying together is a good idea. Practical but cute.

 

You're Intoxicating Heart Shaped Bottle Opener

 

This is also a practical but sweet gift, a heart shaped bottle opener. I like the message too: you’re intoxicating.

 

A romantic tea towel

 

Maybe not the most romantic way to declare your love, but if it won’t be the first time you’ve said it then it’s rather lovely as tea towels go. Or even better, use it to wrap another gift up in.

 

How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day, and are you doing gifts at all? Would love to know, without you giving anything away.

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