Friday, 19 December 2014

So last Saturday I had the chance to meet with some amazing food bloggers for a festive afternoon tea.  I was going to write a nice big post on it, but most of the pictures I took on my phone were blurry, so instead - here's a collage and a summary instead...

Food was nice, not the best afternoon tea I've ever had, but the little pot of melted cheese with dipping sticks really got my motor running.

I did not enjoy the macaroons with food colouring on quite as much.  I'll leave you to decide why, but the little gingerbread men and walnut whip Christmas trees were delicious!

The ladies were lovely - I fully recommend you check them out (their blogs, not them personally, even though they are all annoyingly gorgeous)  Anyway, here they are:

Emily's recipes and reviews, Gingey Bites, Birmingham Student Foodie, Hannah Bakes Things, The Foodie Couple, Full to the Brum, Unorganised Chaos,  Penne For Your Thoughts and Hello Terri Lowe

This week I've not had the time to write a post, which is why I'm kinda glad that I've been tagged into a few Christmas themed posts.  Now usually, I don't do these, but I love Christmas and I love talking about Christmas, so nerr.

Using a mish-mash from the tags I've been, well, tagged in.  Cheers to Day dreaming foodie & Emily's recipes and reviews.  

Favourite festive food?
Well, I think we've established these questions weren't thought up by a food blogger.  I don't have a favourite.  It's all amazing.  Apart from Christmas Cake, which needs to die.

Favourite snowman accessory?
I always give mine rather sizable balls.

Favourite reindeer?

Favourite day of Christmas?
I'm going to go with the shocking choice of Christmas day.  Though I do love Christmas eve, but only because of the excitement of the next day.

Favourite Christmas song. 
I have four that I play constantly

Favourite present?
I like hand-made gifts, or food that people have made me.  Things which have a lot of thought put into them.  You don't have to spend a fortune to make me happy.

Favourite festive cracker toy?
You gotta love that crap fortune telling fish, right?

Favourite cracker joke?
Who is Santa's favorite singer? Elf-is Presley!   Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha.

Favourite Christmas decoration?
I like these:

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

No but that reminds me of this.... which makes me smile... Go to 1:10... and excuse the quality, finding that scene on youtube is impossible.

Favourite Christmas scent?
Mulling spices, trees and candles.

Favourite Christmas movie?
The Muppet's Christmas Carol.  It was a tough choice, but I love that film.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
He's made from plastic but we don't care.  We love him anyway.

Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
I get a wonderful feeling when I think about Christmas eve's I had as a child.  Getting excited, no school, putting out milk, cookies and a carrot for Santa and his reindeer.  It was all THE BEST.

What are your winter clothing staples? 
Crap Christmas socks are a must, along with jumpers.  I like easily wipe-able things as I spill a lot down myself.  Well, I read that back and I bet you are all thankful I don't run a fashion blog.

Hope you all have an amazing Christmas, and I'll see you all soon!  I tag anyone that wants to do it :)

Friday, 12 December 2014

You've probably already read a hundred and one gift guides for Christmas this year.  All of them awesome in their own way and perfect for finding your sensible foodie friend a good bottle of gin, or a really cool bit of equipment. (FIY, I wouldn't mind a bottle of gin or a tin of biscuits for Christmas.  I fall into that category.)

But what if the foodie in your life has a penchant for novelty items?  What if they adore spice?  Or are addicted to pinterest?!

This alternative gift guide is for those weird, hard to buy for foodie friends & family.  With this gift guide you can find an alternative present for the foodie in your life who:

  1. Has a lot of novelty household items.
  2. Always complains a dish isn't spicy enough.
  3. Will literally try anything once.
  4. Has a nutella problem.  Really bad.
  5. Loves to experiment.
  6. Is really depressed since Breaking Bad ended.
  7. Loves homemade sweets (but you can't be arsed to make them)
  8. Is a pinterest addict.
  9. Is a food blogger.

Pizza Chopper Motorbike Pizza Cutter

image credit:

For the foodie in your life who:  Has a lot of novelty household items.

We all have that one friend or family member.  You go round their house and hang up your coat on a the arse end of a plastic dog.  You drink out of giant mugs with knuckle dusters on the side.  They have popcorn makers, and candle sticks shaped like forks.  They love a gadget and a good pun, so why not indulge in all three with this (probably very hard to actually use) pizza 'chopper'.

Blair's Mini Death 4 Pack

Image Credit:

For the foodie in your life who:  Always complains a dish isn't spicy enough.

For that one hard to please guest you had last year, who spent the whole time complaining about how weak your curry was,  nothing says "Merry Christmas" more than a gift with the word death in the title that is decorated with skulls.  It says "I bet this is spicy enough for you asshole!" Whilst retaining the sense of joy and giving that accompanies the Christmas season.

Salt and Vinegar Crickets Crispy Critters

Image Credit:

For the foodie in your life who:  Will literally try anything once.

They say "ooh, I'm not fussy!" whenever you are making them dinner, and they are the first to try a  new menu item at a restaurant and they jumped at the chance to try reindeer burgers at the Christmas market.  They usually go "Ooh, wonder what that tastes like!" when watching 'celebrities' munch on kangaroo bollocks.  Tick something off this adventurous foodies' list by buying them some insects to eat.  Festive!

Nutella 5KG XXXXL jar

Image Credit: Monarchy Catering - Amazon.

For the foodie in your life who:  Has a nutella problem.  Really bad.

Ah look, is has a bow on it.  Bet that's a big ass bow.  Anyway, this foodie will go through jars of nutella daily.  They have somehow created a recipe for everything possible with nutella in it.  They even know that it's pronounced new-tella.  You're pretty sure they've started a cult about it actually.   Give them this and prepare to be the most favourite person in the entire world.

Molecular Gastronomy Kit

Image Credit:

For the foodie in your life who:  Loves to experiment.

For the Heston Blumenthal in your life.  The fact that this looks like a science kit will not go over the recipients head.   Let them turn their kitchen into a den of experimentation of froths, goo's and other weird stuff that looks manky but tastes like heaven.  Perfection.

Baking Bad cookbook

Image Credit: Waterstones

For the foodie in your life who:  Is really depressed since Breaking Bad ended.

Since breaking bad ended this person is a shell of their former selves.  They post parodies to your facebook wall, they are anxiously awaiting the spin off.  Bridge the gap with the pun and in-joke filled baking book!  With brilliant recipes such as 'Heisen-batten-Burg Cake' and  'Ricin Crispie Treats' you can't afford not to get this.

Handcrafted Marshmallows - Spiced Clementine

Image credit: Mello Mallow

For the foodie in your life who:  Loves homemade sweets (but you can't be arsed to make them)

They turn their nose up at mass produced sweets and declare that any sweets made by robots don't have that handmade touch.  They love homemade rustic sweets, but you haven't quite mastered the whole boiling sugar thing yet..  So pay someone else to make it!    These festive flavoured marshmallows might literally go down a treat.  Last orders for Christmas are December 15th, so get on that!

Mason Jar Shot Glasses

Image Credit:

For the foodie in your life who:  Is a pinterest addict.

They spend their days looking at awesome home ware ideas, cupcake plans and food blog props.  They are slowly but surely turning their house into a live-in pinterest board.  Help them along with these teeny little mason jars.  Pinterest friendly and they will also make you feel like a giant.  Which is awesome.  So actually, this would be good for your vertically challenged foodie friends too.

H&F Plank Bench

Image Credit:

For the foodie in your life who:  Is a food blogger.

Bare with me here.  Food bloggers love a good bit of rustic wood.  Why not treat them to their own little bench of photographic background heaven?!  Small, probably not very easy to move around, but RUSTIC and WOODEN.  I can't emphasise this enough.  You could probably go ahead and buy them a dining room table set too, but that might cost you a few bob.

So there you have it.  Some alternative ideas for the foodies in your life this Christmas.  Please don't blame me if they try to hump you out of excitement, force-feed you crickets or blame you for a burny bum-hole.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Disclaimer:  Tower sent me their soup maker to review, but my words, thoughts, recipes and soul are my own.  I was not paid to write this review.  I did make hot chocolates with it instead of soup though.  Which I think proves my point.  Did I even have a point?  Does anyone even read this?  Boobies.

When I first opened up this soup maker, I looked it up and down and thought "You beautiful beast, I am going to make hot chocolate babies with you."

And so I did.  Beautiful, fattening buttery rum babies.  It is Christmas after all.

If you're like me, then you aren't a fan of the powdery, chalky hot chocolates from a packet, but you are in love with the creamy, frothy homemade versions, made with real chocolate and topped with a nice bit of whipped cream.

I live in a world where my husband only has to cough a few times and he has a six pack but I seem to attract weight just by being in close proximity to naughty foods.  Like a magnet dropped into a bag of paperclips.

So this is a nice treat, and a messy one.  When I normally make hot chocolates it involves a blender, a saucepan, a bowl, a whisk, spoons, measuring jugs and of course, the mugs.

Let's see if this soup maker is up to the challenge of taking on about 80% of that work.

I'm currently living at my parents while we have work done on the house, this means I have their kitchen (which doesn't have much natural light) which means I got very cross because all the pictures taken inside needed a lot of editing.  So please stay with me on the difference in quality.

So before we get down to the recipe - here's my thoughts on this handy bit of kit.

The Tower Soup Maker review

Is it easy to put together?
It has four parts.  The lid, the removable blades, the jug and the base.  You simply put the jug on the base, pop in the blades, attach the lid and away you go.

How does it work?
You pop the contents in, set the timer for how long you want it to cook, and when it's done - you use the blend function to well, blend it.

Life saving qualities?
To work, the lid needs to be properly clicked in (brilliant for clumsy folk such as myself) and it has a function which turns off the heat if the contents inside the jug reaches too far past the max line.  (A handy feature which stopped my milk spilling out the spout).

The only downside I found, is that the jug slots into the connectors via a little piece of rubber (Which keeps the jug in place whilst blending) and there is a real knack to removing it from the base.  A knack I only discovered after pulling on the jug quite hard and whacking myself on the jaw when it finally released.

Which resulted in a plaster on the chin and a cool bruise to show off.

Once you have the hang of the jug, it's pretty plain sailing.  That would be the one thing I would watch out for.

 You also can't choose a heat setting, which if a recipe called for low heat, could be a problem, but for soup making, hot chocolate making and sauce making, it's the right temperature, nothing burnt or went overly mushy.

Other uses?
It can be used as a stand alone blender.  Also, I have made hot chocolates, soups and sauces with it.  It also says you can use it to make baby food, which I didn't try as I don't have a baby.

Do I like it?
Duh.  It takes away so much hassle in the soup making process.  I can't be the only one that uses about 20 different things to make soup normally, My hand blender ruined my last stock pot, so I have to decant the boiling contents into another bowl to blend.  This results in lots of burns.  With this, everything is in the one place - I put in the veggies, I let it cook, I blend it.  I pour in into my bowl.  Then I give the jug a quick wipe down (you can only submerge the lid and removable blades).  Less washing up, less mess.  I'm won over.

Is it worth parting with your hard earned cash?
I am going to say yes, and I'm a difficult person to convince I need appliances for things I've been doing without before.  There are a lot of soup makers out there, but this is one of the more reasonably priced ones.  I have found many other uses for this, and it comes with a 3 year guarantee, which is what we like to see!

Plus, it's easy to use.  There isn't a hundred different buttons to work out, or settings to...set.  Just a knob and a blender button.  Pretty simple.

Overall I give it a good 9 out of 10.  It loses a point because it hurt when I punched myself with it, but earns it's strong 9 points from it's ease of use, good price and the fact that it's easy to clean.

So let's get onto the recipe I made with it, shall we?

Of course, you can make this recipe without a soup maker.  Instead of putting the ingredients in a soup maker, pop them in a saucepan.  Instead of blending, you will need to whisk.  This is worth the effort though.  Double promise.

This recipe makes two mugs worth.

700ml milk or soy milk
150g dark chocolate (at least 60%)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
20g salted butter (cut into small cubes to reduce cooking time)
2 shots of rum
Whipped cream to garnish

Grate or finely chop up your chocolate.  This make it easy to melt into the milk, which prevents you from over boiling your milk.  Set up your soup maker, or place your saucepan onto a medium heat.

Pour in your milk, vanilla extract and maple syrup/honey.  Give it a mix and add in the chocolate.  Give it a stir and add in the all spice.  Let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring (or blending if you're using a soup maker) every couple of minutes.  Finally add in the butter.

Once all the butter and chocolate are melted, and your milk is starting to bubble, it's time to blend (or whisk).  This gets air into the liquid, which makes it lovely and smooth (and helps beat out any pesky bits of unmelted chocolate)

Finally, pour the lovely contents into mugs and add a shot of rum into each one.  Top with whipped cream and enjoy!  Add a sprinkle of nutmeg on top for a rustic flourish.

Enjoy your boozy buttery mug of joy.  Especially if you used your dads rum to make them.

Lovely jubbly.

Cheers to Tower Housewares for the soup maker, you can find the model I used here.  It makes pretty good soup too (I promise I didn't just use it to make hot chocolates.)

What's your favourite flavour of hot chocolate?  Do you make your own?  Comment below!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Watching TV the other day, Husband and I were laughing at how ridiculous most adverts are on TV.  People riding dancing elephants to sell car insurance?  A woman doing an Irish jig with a greyhound to advertise a gambling site?

What a load of bollocks.

You wouldn't have that in the 'old days'  would you?

You mean the days where they would sell insurance and syrup with pictures of baby arses?

 They aren't even the only examples I could of come up with in my search.  The past is littered with pictures of baby bums.

I found women humping processors calling them sexy, I found 5 year old being sexed up, I found racist soap ads and, overall, have come to the conclusion that advertisments have and always will be, utterly bonkers.
Here are 14 creepy vintage food advertisements to give you nightmares.

Merry Christmas.

Good with bacon?!

Scene: Old timey advertising agency.

Ad guy 1: Right, let's brainstorm on this sauce account.
Ad guy 2: Okay, here's my thoughts...
AG 1: Hit me.
AG 2:  Think little red riding hood, with the basket and everything.
AG 1: I'm liking it so far.
AG 2: But PLOT TWIST it's a boy, he's a bit of a scamp who has written on the fence and now he's running away...
AG 1: I love it.  Why is he running?  Did someone see him?
AG 2:  I was thinking, and stay with me on this... I was thinking he could be running away from a worried pig.
AG 1:  Hmmmm...... How worried is this pig?
AG 2:  Moderately.  It's moderately worried.  Like it was trying to avoid you in the street, but you saw him and now he has to make awful small talk with you.

AG 1: Perfect.  Draw it up.

That's how I like to think the brainstorming for this particular picture went down.  Winstons' face (I've called the pig Winston by way) is one I shall be using to show contempt, confusion, disgust and hatred from now on.

What makes a pudding genuine I wonder?

"Try this plum pudding, or don't - whatever - I don't even care what you think." - Sassy Chef.

I love this picture.  I think it's because the chef reminds me of Christopher Biggins, (I have only fond memories of him as pantomime dame) or because he's just so sassy remains to be seen.

Creepy Mr. Bean

First course: Beans.  
Second course: Your immortal soul.

The first picture to legitimately give me the creeps.  The smile that says you're next, the creepy under face lighting.  The fact that it's coloured as red as the flames of hell.  You want to know the REAL creepy thing?  IT WORKS.  I WANT SOME BEANS.

Be good = get crappy cornflakes.  No win.

And when mothers back was turned, she murdered her with a spoon
Because what she really wanted was pancakes.

I can't speak for any other parents out there, but I got breakfast in the morning whether I was very very good or not.  If I did, by some miracle, happen to be an amazing child, I got pancakes, which was a big deal because my mum hated making them.  You know what else?  Most poems rhyme and it annoys me that this one doesn't.


We won't talk about the fact that spam burgers give you the slippity slops.

Flippity-flop is now my new favourite swear word.  Two thumbs up for artsy colouration of the most unappetising looking burger on the planet.

"He rides in on an English toasted muffin?"

"I'd avoid that Frankie Doodle Dandy, Give him a blanket of cheese and he'll open his legs for anyone"

You have to stop what your doing right now.  Out there, in the past, is a recipe with the phrase "Dip into boiling water until arms and legs spread"  This exists.

You can trust Otis.  He's 'rugged'.

-You know what would make me buy cereal?
-Children playing in between the legs of a giant thrusting Scotsman.

I literally have no words.

Silence of the fish

My Italian is rusty and awful, but I'm pretty sure this roughly translates to Tavern of Live Fish.  Let that sink in.

They were aiming for Disney, they got Thomas Harris.  The only way to describe the horror of this picture is to imagine a terrifying giant in a chef hat gleefully sauteing midgets.  HE'S LEARNT TO HOLD A CARVING FORK.  RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.

Wow, looks great...

Let's go ahead and move those quotation marks to the word "salad"

Nothing says holiday tradition more than "Let's set the salad course on fire."

Time to earn your stripes boy...

He's behind you.

They say, if you eat a bowl of frosted flakes, and "They're grrreat" three times, Tony the slightly too touchy tiger will appear.

Jolly good 

I don't think your ready for this jelly....

Ladies! Be more sociable! Wear nothing but your finest heels and a matching plate of jelly to your next dinner party.

I just woke up this morning and thought, "You know what would go a flippity flopping treat whilst I make the kids waffles?  Meth."

Oh god.  Those eyes.

Coming to a cinema near you:  Italian Rapunzel - Tangle-iatelle  ;)

I'll see myself out. 

There's just so much to love about this picture.  The mans face.  The shoes.  The fact that this is supposed to be a pasta factory and he's just swinging around on there like he doesn't quite know what's coming out of the machine.

Campbells: Serving you soup with a side of nightmares.

Ugh.  The head tilt.  UGH.

Do you have any vintage advertisements decorating your home?  Do they give you the creeps?  Comment below!

Monday, 1 December 2014

So here are the official rules for when you can start talking about Christmas.

If you're a scrooge:  Christmas Day.  Maybe Christmas Eve.  Maybe Never.
If you're a lover of the festive period:  Pretty much as soon as it hits October.
If your birthday is in December:  After your Birthday.  Even if your birthday is the 24th.
If you're a shop/company/supermarket:  Pretty much as soon as July hits.
If you're a little obsessed:  People usually set you a date when it's acceptable to start talking about it because you are constantly counting down to Christmas / getting excited.

I fall into the latter category, as I LOVE Christmas.  My family set me the date of Bonfire night (5th November) until I could start getting excited and talking about it, but I've got American friends who had to wait until after Thanksgiving.  I don't really know what that is, but if Friends taught me anything, it's that you watch Football and eat a roast dinner, so apparently Thanksgiving is pretty much celebrated every Sunday in my house.

I can't put my Christmas Decorations yet, as we're still doing up our house (don't mean to brag but there's a bath in my living room) but I do start planning my Christmas Gifts around now.  Usually because I make them.

This year is no different, a homemade edible gift, is the nicest thing I think you can receive.

First of all - If someone got me something for Christmas that involved them washing up, I know they love me.
Second of all - You get food.  Homemade food.
Finally - You have no piles of useless stuff clogging up your house for weeks after.

So what to make?

Why not these lush little christmas lollipops?

-They only have three ingredients.
-They are sparkly (Everyone has one friend that loves a bit of sparkle)
-They take less than half an hour to make.
-They taste like candy canes.
-Everyone will be impressed with your sugar crafting skills, and will probably make you their best friend.

You're probably thinking you need a lot of expensive equipment for these, but actually, you only need one specialist bit of kit - A sugar thermometer.  You can pick one up for about £4, and it's handy as anything to have.

420g white granulated sugar
140g Liquid glucose (light corn syrup for my American Friends)
2 fl oz (about 60ml) water
3 teaspoons peppermint Extract

FOR DECORATION: (I've included links to the products I used)
Lollipop sticks
Edible Glitter

NOTE: Working with hot sugar can be dangerous!  You can still be a badass AND take steps to insure you are safe.  I wouldn't recommend making this with children.

Before you start, you will need to set up your lollipop making station.  Having everything ready is VITAL to making this an easy process and stop you getting burnt.

-  You will need to set up a cold bowl of water (ice cold), big enough to submerge the bottom of your saucepan.
- Have your peppermint extract and edible glitter next to the bowl, ready to use.
-  You will also need to set up a sheet of baking parchment or a baking sheet (and put that onto something heatproof like a heatproof chopping board of baking tray).  Sprinkle a small amount of edible glitter onto the sheet under the lollipop sticks.
- Set out your lollipop sticks ready to pour your sugar onto.  You won't have time to do this once you start cooking.

(There are two ways to make your lollipop shapes.  The first is freestyle pouring, however if you want uniform lollie shapes, use the foil wraps off tealights, cut a slit for your lollipop sticks and use those.  See below)

My lollipop making station
(Top row made the tealight way, bottom row made free style)

Now all that's done, let's get to making these bad boys!

Put your liquid glucose, sugar and water into a pan and warm it up on a medium heat, mixing until all the sugar is dissolved.  Whack up the heat to high, attach your sugar thermometer to the side and let it come to the boil.  You shouldn't need to stir it during this.

Using a brush dipped in water, wash down the sides of the pan to stop sugar crystals forming.

Keep an eye on your mixture at all times.  It should be bubbling on nicely.  Watch the thermometer.  Once it reaches  310ºF (hard crack stage) on there, remove it from the heat and submerge into the bowl of cold water.  This stops it cooking.  Keep stirring it for roughly 5-10 seconds as it cools.  This is the time to add your extract and roughly 1/2 teaspoon of edible glitter.  Stir it up until it's all combined.

Head over to your lollipop making station.  Slowly pour your sugar mixture onto the lollipop sticks.  The slower you pour, the more control you will have over the shape.  The mixture will harden quite quickly, if it becomes unmanageable, just heat it up until it softens slightly.

Before your creations set, grab your edible glitter and sprinkle more onto the tops.  Leave to cool.

After about 10-15 minutes, your lollipops should have hardened.  I give mine and extra few minutes so they don't misshapen.  They should gently peel off the sheet.  If you used the tealight method, they take a little longer to cool, the foils should peel off as well.

They are ready to eat!

These were my 4th attempt at freestyle pouring (it takes a bit of practice) but nothing says 'home made' more than a slightly wonky lollipop.

The different layers of glitter should add the same sparkly effect as here, it really does look quite pretty.  Hope you enjoy them!

When do you start to think about Christmas?

Visit the cotton traders advent calender here.

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