Working from home, we drink a lot of hot beverages during the day – the kitchen is less than 10 paces away from where we sit at the computer. We tend to have one or two cups of coffee in the morning, then switch to loose leaf teas for the rest of the day.
We drink all sorts of tea – black, white, green – depending on the time of day or what we’re eating. I also cook with tea leaves occasionally.
We tend to buy our ‘everyday’ tea (Yorkshire Tea) at the supermarket,our ‘special everyday’ tea from Fortnum & Mason, our usual brand white tea from Amazon and green and jasmine teas from a Chinese supermarket in Manchester.
Tea subscriptions were made for people like us. We’re always up for trying new ones that you wouldn’t normally find in the supermarket. What kind of tea(s) do you drink?
- Teabox: from £39.70 for 3 months
- Silver Lantern tea: from £36 for 3 months
- Fortnum & Mason: from £45 for 3 months
Almost everyone (disclaimer… over the age of 18!) would appreciate unwrapping a gift of Christmas spirit of some description.
We all have our different poisons. I’m not a whisky (or whiskey) drinker – I’ve never been able to even smell the stuff – nor do I much care for brandy (except for in an Alexander or Christmas pudding). However this Christmas, I’d happily sit in front of the fire and quaff a bottle of Chocoholic stout or glass of port. Justin, on the other hand, does dip into whisky world – and loves an old fashioned glass of Maker’s Mark with one ice cube. Our minds and tastes meet at a full-bodied red wine – a fruity shiraz maybe… or cold, dry, crisp bubbly of any type – champagne, prosecco, cava – perhaps all three – it’s Christmas after all!
Here’s a selection of tasty tipples that might take your fancy.
- Two Birds Christmas spiced vodka – 70cl: £32.95
- Dalwhinnie Winters Gold: £37.90
- Grahams 30 year old tawny port: £64.79
- Babycham sparkling perry 20cl & glass gift pack: £7.99
- Slingsby rhubarb gin: £39.99
- Saltaire Triple Chocoholic stout: £2.75
- 30 year old whisky gift set – 5 x 3cl: £150.00
Moscow Mule – it sounds so Cold War Soviet Union. In fact, the cocktail was invented in the early 1940s by two American drinks distributors.
On 28 July 1948, it was reported in the New York Herald Tribune:
“The mule was born in Manhattan but ‘stalled’ on the West Coast for the duration. The birthplace of ‘Little Moscow’ was in New York’s Chatham Hotel. That was back in 1941 when the first carload of Jack Morgan’s Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer was railing over the plains to give New Yorkers a happy surprise. Here was ginger beer in crockery bottles tasting exactly like that of old England.”
“Three friends were in the Chatham bar, one John A. Morgan, known as Jack, president of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products and owner of the Hollywood Cock ‘n’ Bull Restaurant; one was John G. Martin, president of G. F. Heublein Brothers, Inc. of Hartford, Conn., and the third was Rudolph Kunett, president of the Pierre Smirnoff, Heublein’s vodka division. As Jack Morgan tells it, ‘We three were quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d’oeuvre and shoving toward inventive genius.’ Martin and Kunett had their minds on their vodka and wondered what would happen if a two-ounce shot joined with Morgan’s ginger beer and the squeeze of a lime. Ice was ordered, limes procured, mugs ushered in and the concoction put together. Cups were raised, the men counted five and down went the first taste. It was good. It lifted the spirit to adventure. Four or five later the mixture was christened the Moscow Mule… and for a number of obvious reasons. “
The exact reason why Moscow Mules are traditionally drunk out of copper mugs is a bit lost in time. However, the material certainly suits this cocktail – the metal keeps the drink colder for longer, necessitating less ice. And it apparently makes the acidic lime taste sharper.
I’d happily quaff Moscow Mules from any of three of the mug collections above. But I’d choose the hammered version over the other two. Firstly, I like my mugs with a handle – there are no freezing (or burning, if glugging Glühwein) fingers to contend with. Additionally, I know it goes against what I’ve just said, but the hammered body is so tactile…
- Copper Moscow Mule mugs (set of 4): $63, Food52
- Set of 6 pure hammered copper Moscow Mule mugs: £83.25, Amazon
- Tom Dixon Plum Moscow Mule glasses, set of 2: £55, John Lewis
We love to punctuate the day with a few cups of strong tea. The 4 o’clock sit down with tea & biscuits or slice of cake is a particular pleasure. It’s the time to take a moment – rest the feet if we’ve been on them, reflect on the day, think about what’s next – an enjoy the hot cuppa of course.
Our daily brew is usually supplied by Taylor’s loose leaf Yorkshire tea which we like and is readily available in any supermarket. We haven’t sampled the Whittard Robert Fortune as yet, but it sounds good. We were actually given a present of some Fortnum & Mason Queen Anne blend a while ago – it was delicious and immediately became a favourite.
Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire leaf tea – £2.10 (250g)
“A proper brew. Pure and simple. To give our blend its refreshing flavour, strength and colour we use top quality Assam and African teas.”
Queen Anne tea – £9.95 (250g)
“Created in 1907, our bicentenary year, this popular blend commemorates the reigning sovereign in the year that Fortnum & Mason first began. The smooth blend of carefully selected TGFOP Assam and Ceylon FBOP teas produces a strong, smooth tea that is refreshing at any time of day.”
Robert Fortune Blend – £8.00 (100g)
“Something of a hero in the world of tea, Robert Fortune was the James Bond of the British tea trade… We’ve tracked Fortune’s travels with a blend of teas from India and China, adding a delicate touch of high-grown Himalayan tea and an elegant homage of white Camellia tea flowers. You’ll find the rich, fruity notes of Chinese Yunnan tea is a superb match for the varieties first cultivated by the British in northern India – all in all, it’s a tea which tells a story, and a rather delicious one at that.”
We’ve just received this Oxo cold brew coffee maker to try out. We were very intrigued when we first saw it. It filters ground coffee without boiling water. According to the maker:
“The cold-brew process is known for delivering smooth, low-acid coffee. Since the grounds never come in contact with hot water, the result is a less acidic, less bitter flavour. Steeping the grounds in cold water releases only the most aromatic flavours, and the concentrate created from the cold-brew process stays fresh longer than regular coffee.“
It’s easy to use and store… and actually good looking enough to leave on view if you’re planning to use it regularly… which you might very well want to do after trying it for the first time. In effect, it produces a cold espresso. This has the perfect, intense coffee flavour which is ideal for using in baking, ice cream & frappuccinos – and with the addition of boiling water or hot milk to the cold press, a gorgeous cup of real, hot coffee – which knocks spots off a teaspoon of instant!
We’ve been trying it out for a few days now, It’s great having ready-made, real coffee that just needs hot water or milk added. It’s like making & drinking instant coffee but with the superior real coffee taste. We’ve got a funny feeling our latte and frappuccino consumption is going to go through the roof!
Even if you’re not much of a coffee drinker, you can use it to cold brew your tea leaves.
If you fancy getting your hands on your very own Oxo cold brew coffee maker, why don’t you enter our competition below? Give it a go!
Oxo cold brew coffee maker giveaway
Shared on: Superluckyme | The Prizefinder | Loquax
Our bumper crop of redcurrants from the allotment has so far gone into jelly and a tart.
Today I made a bottle of redcurrant cordial or vinbärssaft in Swedish (although when I ran the word through Google Translate it came up with ‘coleslaw’! 😀
A kilo of fruit only made about 600ml of cordial. It felt like a bit of a waste disposing of all that fruit pulp.
But once I had that first taste I felt that the profligacy was worth it.
It was fruity, tart and sweet, all at the same time – almost like cranberry juice but not at all dry. It’s delicious simply mixed with iced sparkling water, but can also be incorporated into cocktail recipes… and a dash in a glass of champagne is wonderful too!
Prune and almond fruit cake
- 115g butter, softened
- 115g soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs, whisked slightly
- 175g self-raising flour
- ¼tsp almond extract
- 200g pitted prunes
- 1tbsp flaked almonds
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- Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
- Grease a deep 18cm/7-in spring-form or loose-bottomed round cake tin and line base & sides with baking parchment
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
- Pour the eggs over the mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a tablespoonful of the flour between each addition to help prevent the mixture curdling
- Mix in the almond extract
- Fold in the rest of the self-raising flour and combine well
- Gently fold the prunes, stirring with a wooden spoon until well distributed through the mixture
- Spoon the mixture into the tin and level off the top with the back of the spoon
- Sprinkle the top with the flaked almonds
- Bake for 1&frac;12 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
- Once done, remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in its tin
- Store in an airtight lidded cake tin or plastic tub
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