Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Let's get this out of the way.  It's getting colder, and we're all preparing for the onslaught of pumpkin spice, stews and soups, knitting projects and the countdown to Christmas.  You might think this blog would be different, but you'd be wrong.  I am going to wax lyrical about my love of the colder weather too.


I like crunchy leaves and big scarves.  Roaring fires are cool too.  Yay for weather as long as it's not raining.

Nailed it.

Us food bloggers like to look on the bright side when the seasons change.  Sure it's cold outside, and it's getting dark earlier, and everyone is sick, tired and grumpy...

But look at all the cool food we can make now.

We're dusting off our slow cookers, hauling big pumpkins out of the market (even if we don't quite get the hype about them) and using the rainy freezing days as an excuse to make big pies and mugs of hot chocolate.

Just don't mention that we're getting a little pudgy and we'll all be cool.

The only downside that none of us can avoid, is the damn winter cold.  I'm surrounded by snotty zombies everywhere I go, and we all know there is only two ways to avoid becoming one yourself.

Option one: Lock yourself in your house until summer.  Or go outside in a hazard suit.  Or sell your soul to be one of those annoying people that never get colds and brag about it as others lie dying in a pool of their own snot.

Option two: Eat up a buttload of veggies.  Like this fantastical easy-to-make stew that's full of vitamins and good stuff like that.


I call it THE COLD WARRIOR, because it does a banging job of fighting the bugs off, and because that sounds way cooler to offer to people than "A nice pot of healthy stew".

If you're into this kinda thing - It's also filling and healthy.  Perfect to counteract all those hot chocolates, slices of pie and, let's be honest here, stupidly early discount boxes of christmas biscuits.


Packed full of flavours and really easy to make, armour up your immune system with this badass.  The fresh herbs are well worth the effort when it comes to flavour.

Depending on your portion size - this can make between 4-6 servings :)

1 can of chopped tomato
2 tablespoons concentrated tomato puree
3 cloves garlic - crushed
1 small can of kidney beans
150g green lentils
150g red lentils
1 red onion
1 white onion
3 tablespoons garden peas
2 tablespoons broad beans
4 tablespoons sweetcorn
Handful of kale, chopped small
80g quinoa
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 pint of vegetable stock
few springs of fresh parsley
5-6  leaves of fresh basil (sub for 1/2 teaspoon dried if need be)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
few sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves removed from the stalk)
about 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
Splash of olive oil

Grab yourself a stock pot, splash in your olive oil and chopped garlic and onions.  Lightly fry them until browned.

Now here's the hard bit.  In the stock pot add the kidney beans, garden peas, broad beans, sweet corn, kale, herbs and spices.  Add the vinegar and give it a mix around.  Finally Add the can of chopped tomatoes, lentils, quinoa and stock.

Give it a good stir, things should be bobbling around in there, if it isn't add a little bit of boiling water, as the lentils and quinoa will soak up quite a bit of the stock.  Keep some water by the side in case of emergency during cooking.  You will have to use your judgement, you don't want it to be too runny, but you don't want a hash!

Keep your stew stewing on a medium heat for about an hour.  Keep checking on it, giving it stir making sure it's not drying up, and if by chance it's looking a little dry, just add some more water and let it stew.

After all the lentils are cooked up, and your stew is looking nice and thick and bubbly, it's time to serve.  Beware, as it will be really bloody hot.  Top off your stew with a bit of chopped parsley, mostly to be fancy but also because that stuff is good for you.

Armoured up.

Can't beat a good stew.

Here's to winter!

What are your thoughts on winter?  Love it?  Hate it?  Wish you could wrap yourself in a scarf from head to toe?  Comment below! :)

Friday, 3 October 2014

This week I haven't eaten anything except blended banana, peanut butter and almond milk, vegetable juices and soup.  It's not some stupid fad diet, I've just been sick, and it sucks.

Not being able to chew obviously made me think about food.  A lot.  I might not be able to eat it, but damn, I could think about food.  I dreamt about it, I watched my husband eat it like a weirdo watching a girl undress through a pair of binoculars.

As I sat there, sipping on a bowl of very green soup, feeling just a little better from the warmth of a nice big hug in a bowl, I thought about what moments in my life went hand in hand with food.

So I'm doing something a little different today and sharing some of the milestones meals in my life.  It also made me realise how much I celebrate with food.

So buckle in for stories of a giant pizza, being a princess, how I cried at my 21st birthday and our romantic conversation over a book made of skin.  Work out how that fits in.

My 18th Birthday.

The day I turned 18, I was asked what I wanted for lunch before everyone turned up. This was my first step into my big girl pants.  My chance to shine out and prove my worth as an adult.

"I want... THE BEAST"

-Cue gasps and fainting-

The beast is a giant square pizza, with a mighty thick base and tons of toppings, it's the equivalent of three extra large pizzas.  It's recommended serving is for 12ish people.  There were only 3 of us at that point.

So, I wasn't allowed the beast.  I removed my big girl pants and put on my pouty pants.

However I was allowed the one down from that "The kind-of-beast" with a name so similar I can't remember what it was actually called.  I remember big jugs of pimms, being surrounded by my college friends and eating pizza.  I can't remember what we talked about, or what we did, but I know that I was happy because whenever I walk by the pizza place that we ordered it from, I feel warm and fuzzy.

My 18th birthday party, a big affair in a converted barn, which was the next day, is not included in this list because

 a) I can't remember anything other than throwing up out of a moving car
 b) I can't recall actually eating anything other than a cigarette butt I was trying to hide from my dad.  Man, teenagers are stupid.

Or maybe that's just me.

The month of events

Drunken shot of my birthday cake.  Surrounded by booze.  Don't say I don't inject class into this blog.

If you've been here before you know that my birthday falls in the same week as both of my Brothers.  The year of my 21st however, was a biggy.  Along with me turning the big 21.  It was my future husbands 21st as well.  My younger brother was turning 18 and my youngest brother was turning 16 - top that off with my Auntie turning 50 and my parents celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and you've only touched the surface of how much food I consumed.   All the space of a month.  So we decided to celebrate, and celebrate hard.

Along with a joint birthday meal at a carvery with my future husband and both our families (it totalled up to about 28 of us) we had a various nights up the pub, another carvery meal with the rents and three large parties.

The day of my brothers birthday (which is the day before mine) we held a joint hawaiian themed barbeque, with all our friends and family.  Even the dogs were dressed up and excited.  We all sat there, in our hula skirts, and bright coloured tops and lit up a barbecue.

I sat, nursing a jug (yes a jug) of pimms to myself, eating my dads amazing barbecued chicken and thought about my life.  Then I got sozzled, blew out some candles and decided to deal with it some other time.

Too old to act 18, too young not to try.

Which leads me to the next day on my actual birthday, I had another buffet barbecue and invited some friends over.

So why was this meal in particular so special?  Well, because it was literally the turning point in my adult life (so far anyway.)

After this meal I was about to do three things:

  1. Join weight watchers, lose a shit-ton of weight and make lifelong friends (hello you utter babes)
  2. Start saving to buy a house
  3. Get proposed to.
  4. Get my shit together.
  5. Write the list.
What the hell is the list I hear you ask?  That sound totally ominous like the start of some creepy horror film I hear you scream!

I'll get to that.

So let's go back to the meal.  I actually cried through it.  None of my so-called party friends at the time had bothered to show up, I felt like a big poo and I was questioning all my life choices.  Like any good 21 year old - I dampened these feelings with lots of cheap beer and that large plate of buffet food.

I was going through that lovely transitional phase a lot of people who have just left education go through, where we have no idea what the hell to do with our lives and feel utterly useless.

Okay, so right now it doesn't sound like the best meal ever, but I think you underestimate the pure delicious of my dad's marinade / barbecue skills.

As I cried over some delicious, amazing food, to the few people that had bothered to come, I decided that I was going to make some changes to get myself out of the big stinking rut I was in.  I made a list of things to do before I was 25 and vowed to meet some new people and pursue a life of awesome.

I actually took me a further year to do that, but I do like to take my sweet ass time.

First home.

Two years on from my 21st birthday, almost to the week, we got the keys to our first home.  We had never lived anywhere else but with our parents, so we went from easy-living to mortgage in 0-60.   The memory of moving in is tainted with sad memories, as it was around this time we lost quite a few family members and friends.   Moving on with your own life during the passing of people you admired, sucks lemons.

Even though it was the most grown up moment of our lives, even though we were both tired and sad... we literally opened the front door and ran around the whole house screaming like a bunch of toddlers on haribo.

 No one ever really tells you how friggin scary it is to realise that you are now in charge of something so big.   Neither, does anyone tell you just exactly HOW broke you will be until you have your first payday in your new house.

We spent 2 solid weeks painting and waiting for furniture while continuing to live with our parents, so our first meal ever eaten in our home was a takeaway,  on cardboard box furniture.

They are the best memories.  I remember laying on a flat back box, with a pot of noodles in one hand, pointing out where I wanted things to be in my kitchen.  We were covered in paint, and exhausted, but the feeling of contentment was not to be rivaled.

My Hen Party.

My hen party wasn't exactly a wild affair (no school girl outfits here).  That's exactly how I wanted it. We took a private bus to Stratford, Drank tea, ate food, had a tour (with the rudest tour guide in the world) at the Royal Shakespeare company and then finished it off with a buffet, drinks and games involving willies (I was told there had to be willies at some point or else everyone would be disappointed) It was perfect for me, and I had the best day ever, hanging out with my favourite ladies.

Downsides were I couldn't invite my male friends as they were all with Kris.  Upsides were that I got to wear a crown and I do love a good crown.

However the food was amazing.  It had to be, and my bestie knew that.  She made sure I got the most awesome day of food in my life.

It was so good, I hardly got any pictures of it.  There was no time.  I had to eat it.

There was afternoon teas aplenty, cocktails so strong my face sucked into itself, posh food eaten in the RSC rooftop restaurant and in the evening we ate a traditional banging buffet, complete with disney cupcakes, because we discussed this earlier, I was wearing a crown and was therefore a mofoing princess.

The whole day meant a lot to me because I was surrounded by some of my favourite people, and everyone got on.  We bonded over the awful tour guide, drank tea together and enjoyed every second.  Not to mention the moment my 80-year old neighbour unwrapped a vajazzle kit and proceeded to have the room in fits by reading out the instructions and warnings.

"Ohh ark at this.. it's a choking hazard!"

Brilliant.  We ended the evening flat out knackered on the floor blowing unpoppable bubbles into each others hair.  Perfection.

For the first time in the post, I'm not sozzled in one of these bloody events.  Honest.

Getting Hitched

These will be the best pictures because YAY PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS.

When we set a date for our wedding, the first thing I started to research was the food.  Everyone thinks I'm kidding when I say that, but I'm really not.  We ended up picking a venue which came with it's own catering company, and they were so posh they'd served food to the queen.  I had high, high hopes.

They let me pick and choose every element of each course, which is why to this day, the first meal I had as a 'mrs' was possibly the best I had eaten.  To have that much creative control might freak some people out but for me, it was the closest I could get to cooking the meal myself, and that's how I show love.  I feed people.  I wanted to show everyone in that room that they were the dogs bollocks to me, and so I poured my heart into it.  I still get people telling me how good the food was.  I take that as a job well done.

I probably shouldn't admit that I wasn't one of those brides who flapped about "too nervous to eat".  I literally stuffed my face the entire day.  There were quite a few food stains on my wedding dress.  I'm a delight.  Truely.

We had mini strawberry scones as my canapes, with tea, coffee, hot chocolate and juices.  To save me having to write out the whole bloomin day, I'll just post the menu here:

I'd spent months and month designing and printing all my own graphics for the wedding, so when the time came to sit down to eat, I felt like I was inside my own mind, where I'd been creating this thing for months.  So many people had helped me, and they were all in that room with me, getting sozzled and eating amazing food.

I thought back to the craft nights with lots of pop, and snacks as we made poms poms, menus, order of services and stuck straws of favours.  A lot of food had gone into the planning of this day.  And now I got to eat more food.  Life was good.

 I feel blessed to live in an age where the day after your wedding people send you pictures of the pudding they loved the night before.  Many discussions were had over which was the best mini pudding.

As we danced to our 50s jive band and ate sweets and drank tea. I felt perfectly happy.  Nothing really had changed, but I had a belly full of food, and some banging memories.

And I got to strut my stuff in a dress.

Like a mofoing princess.  AGAIN.

My honeymoon.

The highlight of my honeymoon came at a place called the surgeon's hall museum.  Which is exactly what it sounds like.  As I peered at a death mask and a book said to be made from William burkes skin, I watched a young couple nervously chatting around some preserved leg leather (yep, that's exactly what it sounds like too.)  As he turned to take her upstairs, he looked at her and said "I'm glad you finally agreed to go a date with me today, it's been fun"

Being the nosy little arse that I am, I nudged  Kris and "Bit of a weird place for a first date isn't it?"

To which he looked at me and smiled, and said "Emma, we are on our honeymoon and you are eating dried apple whilst looking at bits of skin.  I don't think we're anyone to judge.  If anything, we're probably weirder"

"Yep, fair point. I stand corrected."

We spent about 80% of our honeymoon sharing a love of food, going to tiny backstreet restaurants, little independent coffee shops and out-of-the-way pubs.  We ate so much food that I even shared this photo when I returned because people kept asking me what we got up too:

We visited every museum we could find, walked for miles around the old windy streets and just took it all in. My memories of my honeymoon are full of sore feet, history and a full belly.  Can you get any better than that?

So I think the moral of this post is that I eat a lot of food, and I despite years of fighting against it, I'd quite like to be a princess.  Preferably one with lots of food.

What are you favourite memories with food?  Are they big ones like milestone birthdays and first homes or something smaller but equally important? 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Let's sit down and have "the talk" - Since you asked (no one asked)  This is where recipes come from.

When someone, like myself and food love each other very much, they want to create a recipe together.  Pahaha, I can't even continue on that route, I'm actually giggling at my desk, I'm too British for this.

Creating recipes are complex and strange thing, because I've never met one person that does it the same way..

I once asked a TV baker for his process in creating a recipe.  He said he thought of his cookbook style, what his chapters were going to be around, what flavours he could use, and then went from there. 

I watched an interview once with a TV chef (My memory fails me as to which one) who said that he puts days of research into each dish, testing different flavours and textures and using his base knowledge of prior recipes to get it right.

Then there are some people who have a recipe they love and strip it down to make it healthier.  Every creation story is individual.

My process is a little different.  It all depends on how hungry I am, what's in my fridge and then throw a whole shit-load of luck in there as well.

Here is my thought process - From start to finish.  A conversation with myself, and the birth (if you like) of a recipe that is on this blog - You'll probably guess which one before hand, but I will tell you at the end...

- I am so hungry.  All I've seen today on the internet is pictures of pie.

- I quite fancy a pie actually.


-Right, the fridge, my second source of inspiration.  Hello you beautiful bastard.

- Aaaand it's pretty empty.  Why is it always empty?

- Can I be bothered to go to the shop?  This time of evening who knows what sort of ruffians could be hanging around outside.

- Ugh, and you just KNOW they will ask you to buy them booze.  And their ring leader will probably be smaller than I am.

- Ah, c'mon, it will only take 5 minutes.. I can get pastry for the pie!

- I'm already in my pyjamas though.  Hmmm...

- Unless I made a stew instead.  I could totally make a stew.  I have all the ingredients for a stew.

- Hmmmm, but maybe I was right to make a pie?  Maybe I could do one with a potato top instead of a pastry?

- Easy way to decide this.  If I have potatoes, I'm making a pie.

- SCORE.  I found potatoes in the pantry.  PIE IS A GO PEOPLE.

- Ah crap.  There's washing up in the sink.  Why is there ALWAYS washing up.

- A lot of washing up, actually.  Eww, and the sponge is slimey.  And there's food in the plughole.  Fantastic.

- Guess I'm cleaning out the plughole then.

-Ergh.  When the hell did we have spaghetti?  Last week?  The one before?

-Ahh man, my chopping board is at the bottom all covered in grease!

- That's fine.  I'll wash that first then.  Whilst preheating the oven.  For my pie.  God I'm so good at multitasking.  I should have my own show.

- And people would say "Gosh, how does she do it?!"

- Pretty sure that would be the name of my show.  It would also be my catchphrase.  BOING!  "How DOES SHE DO IT?!"  -Fake laugh track-

- And the camera would zoom in and I'd shrug and be like "I'm just normal folks!"

- This is actually starting to sound like a sitcom.

- Either way I'd probably be dressed real nice.  Like stock photo nice.  Lots of white trousers, drapes and no slimey sponges.

- And I wouldn't be in my pyjamas.  Probably.

- Actually screw the white trousers, these PJS have happy vegetables on them.  Way cooler.

- Hmmm, speaking of vegetables, what ones do I have in my empty fridge?

- Slightly off looking Mushrooms, a sorry looking carrot and some kale.  Interesting.  Interesting.

- I bet Jamie Oliver would be able to make an 8 course meal out of that.

- And he'd be all like, I love a bit of kale, throw that in.

- He probably would wear Pyjamas too.

- Okay, Jamie.  You're on.  I am going to use Kale in my pie.  I can be sophisticated and junk.

- God, why do they only sell shredded kale at the market?  It gets everywhere.  It is impossible to only bring a handful out.

- Grr!  It's like the leaves hug onto their shredded brethren.  "IF YOU LEAVE, I LEAVE.  DON'T LET GO KALE-LEIGH!"

- Pahaha.  Brilliant name for my humanoid kale.  Kayleigh, .. Kale-leigh... Kaleigh? pahahah.

- Apparently kale goes well with eggs... maybe I should make something with kale and eggs?

- The stinky duo.  Kaleigh and er... Edgar?  Eggar?  Benedict?  Gregg?

- I sense there is a childrens story in this.  I am just rolling in good ideas today.

- ....aaaaaaaaand surprise!  We have no eggs.  Back to the pie we go.  This is gonna be good.  I can feel it.

- Okay.  Let's get some garlic in there.  Garlic must go in every pie.

- I hate peeling garlic.  Why is it so fiddly?

- It's at moments like this I remember those garlic presses that I keep forgetting to buy.

- But when I'm in the cookshop, it's all "Buy this random chicken jug!" and "Get this chocolate mould shaped like daleks!"

- Bloody brain.

- Garlic is peeled and crushed.  Finally.  In the pan it goes.  Let's glug some oil in there...

- How have I made this much mess from just peeling garlic?

- Just found some shredded kale on the floor.  Point proven.  It. Gets.  Everywhere.

- Chop the onions.  Onions are a must.

- Oh god, this is a strong onion.

- Abort!  Abort!  My eyes are on FIRE.

- Why are onions so freakin evil?  Everytime!

- Mascara companies would make a mint if they targeted people peeling onions.

- Though knowing them, the chef would be some beautiful tall woman, who would daintily wipe away one stupid tear as she cut up one tiny bit of onion.  In her stupidly tidy and bright kitchen.  In her stupid white trousers.

- Right, Garlic is as black as my mascara smudges.  Ah well.  Adds to the flavour.

- Bollocks.  Just realised I forgot to peel and boil the potatoes for the topping.

- Gah! My timings are off.  They do say never cook when you're hungry...

- But then, like... when are you supposed to cook?!  Isn't the point of being hungry to make some food to eat?

- I'm thinking way too deep into this.  Back to my pie.

- Right.  This is definitely looking more like a stew.  Stew it is.  We'll say it was supposed to be that way.

- Transfer to stock pot is going well.  Only a few runaway onion pieces.

- Right, stock.  Need some stock.

- I don't care what anyone says, stock reminds me of crap school dinners.

- and it's beautiful. -GIANT SNIFF-  Everything on school dinners had crap stocky gravy on it.

- Chips?  Put some gravy on it.

- Sausage and mash?  Put some gravy on it.

- Beans?  Put some gravy on it.

- Pudding?  Put some gravy on it.

- Damn it, I really want sausage and mash now.  I don't want stupid pie stew.

- Could I have a side of sausage and mash with my pie stew?  Maybe I could do a sausage stew.

- Feck it.  I have some sausages.  Let's make a sausage stew.

- This means I HAVE to put some beans in this.

- It's like an unwritten sausage rule.

- Sausage is a weird word.


- Sahhh Sige


- Now it sounds stupid.  Pfft.

-I should definitely make this into a post, I bet it's gonna look badass.

- Must not forget to prick the sausages.  Don't want them all puffed up and exploding oil like last time.

- Must make a mental note to put that in the post.  Don't want people coming to me saying my recipe caused a sausage to explode in their eye.

- Ha.  That's a funny image.

- Can you imagine explaining that to an A&E doctor?

- Though to be honest, I watched a programme on BBC3 about people who had gone into A&E with weird injuries like lightbulbs stuck up their bums so maybe sausage oil incidents wouldn't be that weird.

- Like how would you even stick a light bulb up there?  Without it even breaking?

- Actually kind of impressed and repulsed at the same time.

- I'm concerned that I'm thinking too much into this.

- Hmm, this whole time I've been thinking about lightbulb colonics, I've added too many lentils to this stew.

- Naturally.

- This dinner is a disaster.

- Alas I continue on as I refuse to waste food.  Even over-lentil-ed sausage pie stew casserole.

- Hey brain, remember that time we ate very burnt homemade banana chips?

- Good times.  Good times.

- I will peel my potatoes.  For my mash.  I am having mash with this now.

- So actually, this is more of a casserole.

- Just had a lightbulb moment.  Giggle.  I am making a casserole.

- I can use my new casserole dish!  Let's transfer from stock pot to dish...

- Wow, my washing up pile is really stacking up.  And all I've done is burn some garlic and transfer cold vegetables between three containers.

- Screw it.  Let's just put this whole mess in the oven and see how it comes out.

- Good job I forgot to turn off the oven from earlier.  Even if it is now hotter than the sun.

- Ahh, added bonus is the extreme heat from half an hour of pre-heating means it's burnt all the cheese stains to a crisp.

- I should probably clean my oven soon.

- But then again, it's probably just seasoned, right?

- Like with cast iron pans?

- Yeah I'm sticking with that if anyone ever comments on the cheese stains.

- And they'll probably believe me if I put enough confidence into it.

- Food blogger bullshit.  That should totally be a thing.

- Things like "Oh my oven is seasoned, and it wasn't supposed to come out that way but it was 10 times better that it did!"

- Is it done yet?

- I could wash up I suppose..

- Ughh, I'm too HUNGRY to wash up.

- I'm so hungry I don't feel hungry anymore.

- I can at least put the potatoes on the boil for the mash.

- So productive.  If only my teachers could see me now.

- Let's give it a quick check.  Ohh it actually looks like a thing.  IT LOOKS LIKE REAL FOOD.

- Maybe I should post this.  Hmm, what's the weather like outside?

- Pants.  It's sunny.  Not exactly stew weather.

- But this isn't a stew really is it?  It's a Pie-stew-casserole.

- Hmm... what would be a good name for that?

- I'm so rubbish at naming recipes.  Casserstew?  Stewpie?

- Pfft that is stupid.

- hang on.... STEW-pid.

- STEWPID!  Yes, let's work with that.  Hmm..

- Ah man, I dunno.  Stewpid Sausarole?

- Hold on, can I remember what I actually put in this?

- Garlic, onion.. carrot.. a shitload of kale and then I got sidetracked thinking about stuff...

- Ah well.  Nevermind.  At least I remember what went into the sauce.

- Only because I've not tidied up any of the ingredients.

- It pays to be messy kids.


- Ah man, the sausages do NOT look cooked.  Must check with husband.

- "If you think they're cooked, serve them"

- What an answer.

- That puts all blame on me if we get the trots.

- Screw it.  I'll put it in for five more minutes.

- This is the longest five minutes of my life.

- I swear, this has been about 5 years.

- I'm soooo hungryyyyyyyy.


- That looks better... right?  I'm sure it's cooked.  I mean, it's got to be, everything is bubbling around it.

- Dishin up my stew-a-role.  This is a real mish-mash of food.

- Mash, hah.


And that ladies and gents, was how I came to create this recipe.  Which if made properly won't use up 3 different pots and pans.  I'd like to point out that I'd made it twice after that and several times since.  And I didn't forget the potatoes the next time.

What's your way of creating a recipe?  Are you more structured?  Do you go off on tangents?  Comment below!

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Disclaimer and all that jazz:  Adagio teas sent me some samples and one of their lush new infuser mugs to review, but they haven't paid me for my opinion or told me what to write at all.  All graphics, opinion, photos and taste buds are mine.

I really like loose leaf tea and I don't think it get's enough love.  I mean, I get it.  Loose leaf isn't as easy as popping in a teabag, but seriously, life is better loose.  If you catch my drift. -wink-

This weekend, we set about doing some DIY, this including battering the hell and staining some wooden shelves, painting, and other various DIY activities using my beloved hilarious 80's DIY book.  For those who haven't been with me very long, the book is in this post.  It's the best.  Dungarees RULE.

Anyway, I digress.

Anyone who has ever done all their own DIY before can attest that it takes up all your time, and that you need a good cuppa to keep you going.  So naturally, I thought this would be the perfect time to review some loose leaf tea and a brand spanking new infuser mug from adagio teas uk.

They promised me I'd love it.  Let's see if they are right.  Along with the mug, they sent me 5 teas to sample.

One day of DIY.  One mug.  Five teas.  Absolutely no time for photos.  Let's do this.

Blood orange

Brewing time: 5- 10 minutes.

Type: Fruit tea.

Smell: This smells amazing, I am tempted to rub this on myself in the vain hope that I'll smell like sweet oranges. 

Hopes:   I don't have high hopes for this one, as fruit tea is my least favourite.  I usually add a bit of green to it, to give it a kick.  But I've got an open mind.

While it brews: It surprises me by turning red, I take my pictures, and head off to DIY.  I have to say, so far, I'm liking the mug.  I put the lid on whilst it infused to keep it warm, and then it doubles up as an infuser holder!  No mess.  Bang on.

Verdict: Better than I thought.  I say it tastes like warm squash, and has a lush sweetness to it instead of that musty tang that most fruit teas have.  I think I prefer the smell of it more, but if you're into fruit tea, you'd probably like it.


Brewing time: 3 minutes

Type: Flavoured Black tea

Smell:  Giving it a whiff, it smells like cheap chocolate, the kind without sweeteners in it.  It's got that kick of black tea though, which kinda adds to it.

Hopes: I had really high hopes for this one.  I like chocolate tea.  Plus, with it being a black tea, there's the option to add milk if you fancy.

While it brews: It brews like a black tea would.  I have to say, the smell once you add the water is 10 times better than the smell of the dry leaves.  It smells like rich melted chocolate.

Verdict:  I took a sip and the smell was definitely stronger than the taste.  I added an extra teaspoon of tea and left it for an extra minute.  The next sip was much better, the chocolate flavour isn't overwhelming, but the black tea is nice, which definitely adds to it.  Tastes pretty good with a dash of milk as well.  More like if you'd melted chocolate in a mug, and then had a tea in it straight after without washing it.  That's the best way to describe it.

Masala Chai

Brewing time: 5 minutes

Type: Ceylon chai infusion

Smell: I can smell it through the bag.  I stick my nose right in and feel like I've been punched in the face with a spice bag.

Hopes:  I have to be in the mood for chai, but I like it if it's prepared properly.  I can see whole cloves, pulled bits of ginger and whole cardamom seeds, so I'm pretty hopeful actually.

While it brews:  I didn't have time to make it the traditional way, I stick it in my infuser and hope for the best.  My kitchen smells like an exotic spice shop.  The cloves make me think of Christmas.  I say as much to my husband who tells me it's too early to think of such things.  Whatever, I don't play by no rules.

Verdict: Lovely.  Not too strong, but lovely and warming.  There isn't one overwhelming flavour, which screams out to me.  This is definitely a tea for winter, but not for one if you don't like spices or overwhelming flavours.  Husband doesn't agree, but he doesn't like cloves.

Silver Sprout

Brewing Time: 3 minutes

Type: Green tea

Smell:  Earthy, like a proper green tea.  Though if I'm honest, I've still got the nose punch from the chai, so it is affecting my sense of smell slightly.

Hopes:  I really do like trying new green teas.  It took me ages to like them, so I'm an open book to this one.

While it brews: Smells like a nice green tea.  I like watching it unfurl in the infuser.  Husband is excited about this one, he loves plain teas.

Verdict:  It really is lovely.  It's really rich and smokey, I think that's the only way I can describe it.  It's not too strong, but doe pack a punch.  Husband greedily brews another mug up to have whilst we paint.

White Peach

Brewing time: 3- 5 minutes

Type:  White tea infusion

Smell:  Imagine biting into a fresh juicy peach.  I don't know how they did it, but that is EXACTLY how this smells.  Right down to the juiciness.

Hopes:  They are high.  The hopes are very very high.

While it brews:  Hopes are still high, the smell that is wafting out of this mug right now is amazing.  I want to marry this smell.

Verdict:  This is it.  This is my favourite.  It's sweet, very delicate - it's not too tangy and it definitely doesn't taste artificial.  I'm not ashamed to tell you all that there is maybe one cups worth of tea left in this packet now.  Husband and I have drank our way through the whole thing in a few days.


So this mug:  I was promised three things:-

  1. Easy to use
  2. Easy to clean
  3. Great tasting tea

I can tell you that it did deliver on all three things.  The infuser is large enough to let the tea infuse properly, lot's of space for the leaves to get jiggy.  This does affect the taste in a positive way.  Jiggy leaves = Tasty leaves.

Another plus is having the lid to seat the infuser on.  It means you can just take the whole thing with you.  No waiting around for it to brew so you can take the infuser out.  I literally brewed the tea, popped the lid on, and off I went.  This makes things incredibly quick.  The infuser is easy to clean out as well.  A 30 second rinse and it was done.

The downside, for me, is the size of the mug.  During the day I have a big BIG mug.  Was perfect for my morning cup of mate though.

Gen is indifferent to the mug.  She is more interested in my sandwich that is out of shot.

Cheers adagio for sending me this stuff to review, if you're interested in their awesomely wide range of tea, you can visit them here.

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