Time to get busy on the pie front

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Celebrate British Pie week by getting making your own at home

This is one of our favourite weeks, British Pie Week. The British Pie awards were judged yesterday just up the road from us in Melton Mowbray, and there’ll be a chicken and mushroom pie featuring soon on the menu here.

Are you all set for pie making? These would be my essentials.

Silicone mat for pastry rolling out

Professional silicone pastry mat

Ok, until I had one of these I never thought this was an essential. Now I have one, I wouldn’t give it up. It makes it easy in terms of not sticking, but also for rolling out to the right size. It doesn’t take up much space, can also be used for things like chocolate and tuiles, so I think it makes a good addition to any kitchen.

An adjustable rolling pin

 

Adjustable rolling pin from Joseph Joseph

So, once you’ve made getting the right size of pastry sorted, then there’s also the thickness. I’ve often still worked with a pound coin at the side to check, but this clever rolling pin definitely takes a lot of the guesswork out of it. I love that Joseph Joseph continue to think about how to make things just that little bit easier.

A conversation-stopper of a pie funnel

 

Rooster pie funnel for pie perfection

 

There’s nothing like the sight of a fabulous, steaming pie heading to the table, and especially when there’s an interesting pie funnel in the middle of it. I’d like a set of these animal ones for different kinds of pie, so rooster for our immediate plans, but there are cows and lambs as well, not to mention apples and other fruit.

A great set of tins

 

Simple Simon Pie Moulds

Who says that it has to be all about one big pie? Although that is never a bad thing, I really love this set of tins from Simple Simon for making a set of small raised pies. It’s a clever adaptable bit of kit in terms of size, and definitely useful for if everyone likes a different filling, or for making pies for a fabulous buffet spread.

A beautiful pie dish

 

Fluted stoneware deep pie dish

 

I’ve always been in two minds about ceramic dishes. You certainly need to work a bit harder to avoid a soggy bottom, but when you’ve got that cracked then there are so many beautiful dishes around. I really like this fluted stoneware one from Nom Living. A beautiful dish for a wonderful pie.

Five things to make at home pie making a little easier, or a little more stylish. Although if I don’t get round to making a pie, then maybe it’s time for another order from Bray’s Cottage. Still our favourite pork pie maker bar none.

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Port & Lemon anyone?

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Fish & Ships Galley Cloth from Port & Lemon

 

No, not a Christmas drinks order in early, but just wanted to flag this new to me design company. Port & Lemon are very inspired by all things nautical and sea shore, and I think these are great for any kitchen, whether you’re by the sea or not.

I’m hoping for fish and chips next week when we’re by the sea, so I like the play on words of Fish and Ships.

 

Any Port In a Storm Galley Cloth

 

There again, Any Port In A Storm might be appropriate given we’re down on the Gower Coast, and it’s October. You can have these on tea towels, or coaster or place mats, and mix and match to suit the humour or taste of the recipient.

 

Port & Lemon Mugs

 

They also have lovely mugs too, so you could definitely pull together a great gift for someone. Wrapping stuff in tea towels makes a good alternative to gift wrap, so gift and wrap in one. Products seems to be focused on UK manufacture as well, so a good local business to support.

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The art of Wedgwood, 286 years on

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Happy birthday Josiah Wedgwood

 

It’s 286 years today since the birth of Josiah Wedgwood, and all credit that the brand that bears his name is still going strong. That said, I don’t think he’d recognise the designs now, they’re certainly different to the blue and white traditional image we might have of Wedgwood.

 

Green Chinoiserie by Jasper Conran

 

I mean, the Green Chinoiserie by Jasper Conran for Wedgwood looks like something modern and vibrant, and yet has elements of classical design to it. The one thing Josiah was great at was understanding trends and what people wanted, so working with a taste maker like Jasper might well have met with his approval.

 

Vibrance from Wedgwood

 

Or the sheer exhuberance of the completely aptly named Vibrance? Rich, sumptuous, indulgent…all things he wanted for his original wealthy clients. Whilst he is credited with the industrialisation of the manufacture of pottery, he wasn’t in the cheap end of the market, far from it.

 

Intaglio by Wedgwood

 

But Wedgwood was also riding the wave of a new enthusiasm for classical design. Intaglio would seem to be doing that in my book, beautiful white pottery but with superb detailing for interest.

Wedgwood isn’t really a brand I think about very often, as I’ve not thought it was my style for quite a long time. I can see now though that this brand has kept moving forward, and actually is more appealing than I might have thought. I think Josiah’s legacy is safe for quite a bit longer yet.

What do you think? Were you ahead of me on this one? Or still thinking of blue and white trinket boxes?

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Getting the kitchen ready for the Chelsea Flower Show

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Where else do you find a Tardis in a garden?

 

I love the Chelsea Flower Show, and not just because I’m over 40. I first went in my mid 20s, and worked there for the week. Best. Fun. Ever.

I mean, where else would the Tardis turn up in the gardens?

Well, until I got to go for the day, which was even more fun. Which is nothing to do with how much Pimms was consumed on the way round. But as I’m not lucky enough to be going this year, then I thought I’d celebrate what I hope will be a glorious and inspirational week with some wonderful, colourful blooms for the kitchen and beyond.

 

Flowers of Libery Betsy Print Jug

 

British and florals? Well, only right that Liberty appeared in this list. This is Betsy, one of the Flowers of Liberty prints, and every kitchen and table needs a great jug. What you put in it is up to you.

 

Morning Bouquet Tray - bright and beautiful gift for a food lover

 

If you are heading to the Flower Show, then you’ll need a good morning cuppa delivered to you, preferably on a beautiful tray. This Morning Bouquet tray from Anthropologie is abstract, but definitely says gorgeous, vibrant flowers to me.

 

Purple Bouquet Apron from White Stuff - great gift for a food lover

 

Whatever you’re cooking up in the kitchen, bring the flowers with you. This Purple Bouquet apron from White Stuff is bright and bold, proving practical things don’t have to be boring.

 

Hedgerow Mug and Jug from Hannah Turner

 

There has to be time to stop for a coffee, and I rather like this Hedgerow Mug from Hannah Turner Ceramics. Floral but modern, and perhaps for those who don’t like it quite so bright. Especially first thing in the morning.

 

Pink Floral Napkins from Lula and Nat

 

But if you do like it bright, then these pink floral napkins are definitely going to do that. From Lulu and Nat, there are six in the set, perfect for summer dining, inside or out.

 

Amrapali Peony Tea Cosy from Designers Guild

 

And once you’ve walked round the show, carried home your new plants and kicked off your shoes, then you’ll be needing a strong cup of tea. And best make a pot. And then keep it warm with this beautiful Amrapali Peony tea cosy from Designers Guild. Can also be used if you’re just going to be sitting at home and watching the coverage with Alan Titchmarsh.

Enjoy this year’s gardens, I’m sure there’ll be drama and disaster as well as just glorious blooms and incredible design. Hoping for all involved that the weather plays nicely, makes a huge difference.

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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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Marking Shakespeare’s 400th

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Stratford on Avon - home to the bard

 

Not quite the same as your 400th birthday (Shakespeare would have been 450 last year) but there’s a lot going on this year to celebrate 400 years since the bard’s passing, on 23 April.

I wrote last year about how much I love Stratford, and I love Shakespeare too.

Well, certainly well done Shakespeare, there’s no longer an evening than badly acted Shakespeare.

So to celebrate this landmark, here’s a few things that have caught my eye, great gifts for literary food lover perhaps.

 

Shakespearian Insults Tea Towel

 

Starting with a couple of tea towels, as I do love a good tea towel. First off, something he was great at, a tea towel of insults. Useful to learn to cuss the slower minded with, it’ll have sounded so good they won’t realise till you’ve left what you actually said.

Greater Shakespeare Map Towel

I like this tea towel from the RSC shop, which shows the personality types that occur from play to play and the connections between the characters. Just don’t get this out in the middle of performance to try and work it out!

 

Shakespeare Character Mug

You’ll need something to dry up, so another way to get to know the characters with this mug from the Literary Gift Company.

 

Shakespeare Cookie Cutter - to bake or not to bake

 

And you might need a biscuit to go with whatever is in the mug, so how about making your own Shakespeare cookies? I guess the question is, to bake or not to bake?

 

Portia Dark Espresso Chocolate Bar

 

Can’t be bothered to bake? The RSC have a great range of chocolate bars, based on different female characters from the plays. Just don’t rustle the paper loudly if you’re in the theatre. I am very fond of the Portia, which is an espresso coffee flavour.

 

Shakespeare's County Ale

 

Now, wine and ale get plenty of mentions in the various plays, and sure the bard was partial to a drop or two. If you’re in Warwickshire then you might well find this on tap in local establishments. From the Warwickshire Beer Company, this is Shakespeare’s County, a light easy drinking beer apparently.

Shakespeare Wine Quote Coasters

Something to put your wine glass down on, these coasters have quotes about wine from the plays. “Have we no wine here?” continues to be a question on a far too regular basis here!

 

Shakespeare Not Stirred

 

Talking of drink, a great friend sent me this book at Christmas. Combining two great loves, Shakespeare and cocktails, I think it’s fantastic. I’ll be consulting this for something appropriate to drink to the toast the occasion. Shakespeare, Not Stirred is definitely a great gift, I can’t believe I hadn’t found it before I was sent it.

 

Shakespeare's Kitchen - get your own banquet ready

 

Of course you might want to do a full on Shakespearian banquet to celebrate, in which case Shakespeare’s Kitchen by Francine Segan should do the job. Beef Purses sound like quite the kind of thing Falstaff might have been fond of, and this covers every course and a banquet or two as well.

I’m told it’s pretty impossible to get reasonable priced accommodation in Stratford on 23rd April, but there are lots of events planned throughout the year. I’ve written before about places I love there, and I never tire of time there. Of course, there are plenty of tourist trap type places, but also some great eating to be had. And I still love a drink after a show in the Dirty Duck, you just never know who you’ll bump into.

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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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Ten great mugs for tea in bed for Mum this weekend

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Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and breakfast in bed is a tradition in many homes. Well, breakfast in bed is bound to need tea in my book, so here are ten great mugs for delivering that first brew of the day in.

Mum is my hero mug from Emma Bridgewater

Simple styling, lovely sentiment from Emma Bridgewater, sure to bring a smile to any mum’s face.

 

Mama Bear Mug from Plewsey

 

Show her she’s the mama bear in your tribe with this lovely mug from Plewsy.

 

Spotty China Letter Mug

 

 

No one else can claim this lovely spotty mug with her initial on it.

Chalkhill Blue Enamel Ware Mug from Mini Moderns

Go a little different, with this Chalkhill Blue enamelware mug from Mini Moderns. Definitely going to keep the tea warm.

 

Catch of the Day Mug from Port & Lemon

 

I like this Catch of the Day mug from Port & Lemon, the design is really appealing but unfussy.

 

 

Olive Berries Small Mug from Repeat Repeat

 

Not every mug has to be an enormous bucket of tea. For something elegant, then try the Olive Berries Small Mug from Repeat Repeat.

The Boss. Because she is.

The Boss from Ban.do. Because she is. Simple as that.

 

Greasy spoon mug from Gillian Kyle

 

Dishing up a fried breakfast for mum? How about this Greasy Spoon mug by Gillian Kyle?

 

 

Peggy the Chicken Mug from Joules - perfect gift for a country loving, tea loving mum

 

If she is a country mum, or just fancies the country life, then about Peggy the chicken from Joules?

 

 

Home is where my mum is mug

 

 

Home is where my mum is. For some it always be the truth, so let her know it. To be fair, if you’ve never moved out then she might be very well aware of it!

Of course you could gift wrap the mug, but would be so much nicer to deliver it to bed, full of tea!

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Hurray! Kikki K comes to the UK

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Kikki K stores hit the UK

 

MGG and I were very excited to discover Kikki K has come to the UK, as it was one of our favourite discoveries on our trip to Australia. It was also quite an expensive discovery as it is exactly my kind of shop.

Now, it’s not just about fabulous stationery, although they do that amazingly well. But they have some lovely stuff for the home as well. I’d love any of these in my home, and think they could make amazing gifts.

 

Every Day is a Fresh Start with a cup from Kikki K

 

I love a good cuppa, and I like this cup and saucer a lot, mainly because it’s quite a decent size. I love the colour way and the upbeat quote is a good way to start the day too.

 

Svenska Hem Gift Pack from Kikki K

 

If you want to go large, then this gift pack complete with gorgeous little teapot is also beautiful. I think the styling is lovely, really in line with their Swedish design aesthetic. I’d be thrilled to receive this, can’t imagine many people who would object to it.

 

Cute lunch box from Kikki K

 

If you’re doing the homemade lunch thing for January, then feel even better about it by having a lovely new lunchbox. Cute by name, cute by appearance.

 

Recipe organiser from Kikki K

 

Being good at stationery, then they have some lovely recipe organisers. Some of us do still like the old school of writing out recipes, or pasting cuttings in from magazines. If you want to do the retro thing, then something stylish like this to put them in has to be a great thing.

 

Meal planner from Kikki K

Maybe they’re the efficient type, or want to be. In which case this lovely meal planner might be a great gift. We are trying to do this so maybe this would be a good starting point.

So, if you’re in Covent Garden soon, drop by the store, as they are beautiful stores. And if not, the online store could prove to be very tempting too. Hoping they do start expanding around the UK. Although my bank manager might feel differently.

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