Price Points: Fruit salad homewares

Fruit salad homewares | H is for Home

This run of sunny weather has seen us spending hours & hours in the garden each day. Pottering amongst the plants, al fresco lunching, reclining in deck chairs with cold drinks… oh, and doing some work of course.

It’s obviously had a big influence on this week’s Price Points post – bright, optimistic and fun.

Check out this cute selection of fruit salad homewares – each one under £30!

  1. Banana night light: £10.90, Amazon
  2. Sunnylife watermelon doormat: £29, Paperchase
  3. Outdoor garden pouffe – kiwi design by Fallen Fruits: £19.99, Selections

Perfectly English oven-baked recipes for St. George’s Day

Perfectly English oven-baked recipes for St. George's Day

In England, we seem to love sticking things in the oven. The Americans grill, the French sauté and the Germans brew, while here in England we won’t touch it if it hasn’t got that oven-gilded glow. As St. George’s Day is on a Sunday this year, we figured there was no better time to do a little baking in the true English spirit, but we think well try to change things up a bit. The oven will still play a central role – don’t worry, but let’s see if we can’t come up with a few creative ideas to make St. George proud. Here’s our run down of some favourite recipes for St. George’s Day.

Oxtail stew

Jamie Oliver's oxtail stew

This recipe comes straight from Jamie Oliver and is sure to please any crowd. From the look of it, it seems like a typical English stew, but delve a little deeper and you’ll see that it’s anything but. The fantastically chic ingredient oxtail is tender and delicious, and the addition of dark fruits and spices makes this one a true adventure.

Ploughman’s scones

Ploughman's scones

Ploughman’s + scones = English overload. It’s also delicious! You might have trouble deciding whether these sweet and salty morsels are best for breakfast, lunch, dinner or tea, but we say why not munch on them all day long? Fresh fruit and fluffy, cheesy scones will remind you why it’s so great to be English.

English muffin pizzas

English muffin pizzas

We owe it to the English muffin to top it with everything humanly possible, and just when we thought that that had already been done, in walked the English muffin pizza. All you need is to toast a few English muffins, top them with tomato sauce, cheese and your favourite ingredients, and stick them in the oven. They’re a perfect idea for a movie night or a St. George’s Day party with friends. If you’re worried about your oven being occupied by pizza-making fiends all day, you can always order the sides on one of the UK’s many food delivery apps such as the Hungry House app. Don’t worry, we won’t tell!

Caramel and whiskey bread pudding

Caramel and whiskey bread pudding

This traditional dish is known for having origins in the poorest of houses in the country, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t do a bit to turn it into something fit for a king. This bread and butter pudding uses thickly cut bread, Irish whiskey, raisins and salted caramel to make every bit moist and exploding with flavour.

Manchester tart

Home-made Manchester tart

An incredible, decadent dessert or accompaniment for tea, the Manchester tart makes the top of the list for English tarts. This reimagined recipe was crafted by the renowned English chef Marcus Wareing and includes caramelised bananas, jam and thick cream. Making it isn’t so hard; it’s the waiting an hour while it cools in the fridge that’s the difficult bit!

Bonus: Dragonfire gin & tonic

Dragonfire gin & tonic

One last bonus to pay homage to St. George’s famous nemesis, the Dragonfire gin tonic is a colourful and creative take on the classic cocktail. It’s easy enough to make, just make a classic gin and tonic, add a spritz of mango juice and garnish with a thick wedge of dragon fruit.

What’s your favourite English dish?

[disclosure*]

Price Points: Luxury, ethical Easter eggs

Luxury, ethical Easter eggs | H is for Home

It’s Easter in a couple of weeks and this year, Justin’s birthday falls during the bank holiday weekend. I’ve already got him a present however, I’m thinking about getting him an additional one. One of these luxury, ethical Easter eggs will be just the ticket!

  1. Booja Booja large almond & sea salt caramel Easter egg – 138g: £26, Ethical Superstore
    These wonderfully presented handmade Easter egg gifts are created by artisans in Kashmir, India using papier-mâché and hand painted with truly unique designs before being hand packed in Norfolk with Booja Booja’s melt in the mouth superior quality and award winning, dark chocolate, almond and sea salt caramel truffles. A truly beautiful and ethical Easter egg gift for the vegan in your life.

    Booja Booja is a UK company with a refreshingly different mindset to its competitors; it strives to be minimal, renewable and of course beautiful! All of Booja Booja’s products are organic; free of dairy, wheat and gluten, are suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and are GMO free.

  2. Dark chocolate Easter egg with chocaviar 75%: £50, Venchi
    Dark chocolate Easter egg coated with delicious 75% Chocaviar pearls with an elegant jewel gift inside.

    To uphold ethics, Venchi buys its raw materials directly from the local community, guaranteeing a fair price that not only ensures the community a stable present and future, but also encourages research and development of the best extra fine cocoa varieties.

  3. Ostrich egg – dark: £75, Hotel Chocolat
    Dark ostrich egg is made with half 70% dark chocolate with almonds and a dash of salt, and half 70% dark chocolate with hazelnuts and another sprinkling of salt. Served with a tray of 27 chocolates – pralines, truffles, caramels, patisserie and more – plus six golden eggs hidden inside the box for you to hunt, all in all this comes to more than a kilo of chocolate!

    Engaged Ethics is the name we coined for our direct programme to create sustainable cocoa growing communities. It differs from most other ‘trading fairly’ programmes as it goes beyond simply writing out a cheque and standing back (which is still a great deal better than doing nothing!) It’s a roll-up-the-sleeves, take risks, long-term approach, which has led to a remarkable set of results so far.

Christmas gifts of the day: Foodie books

Newly published foodie books | H is for Home

Here’s the first of our 2016 Christmas Countdown gift guides. We’ve researched newly published foodie books and made a short-list of ones that any epicurean would gladly unwrap on Christmas morning!

Keelham Farm Shop

Keelham Farm Shop entrance

We had a lovely drive over to Skipton today to visit Keelham Farm Shop.

Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton

We saw the shop on television at the weekend on the Countryfile programme. We were really taken with the Huddersfield-produced halloumi that was featured.

Keelham Farm Shop floor, Skipton

So we decided to go buy some of that – and see what else was on offer. We filled a trolley with all manner of deliciousness!

Coffee shop upstairs in Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton

There’s also a large ground floor restaurant and mezzanine café with a vintage industrial vibe – now bedecked in its Christmas decorations.

Adelle in the Keelham Farm Shop coffee shop

We found a Hygge-friendly corner! Adelle had a cute little penguin to keep her company while relaxing with a cup of coffee and slice of carrot cake.

Stairway looking down on to the shop floor of Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton

We bought quite a selection of (mainly) Yorkshire produced food & drink… including two types of the Halloumi (or Haloum! – as they call it). A mint variety and a fiery chilli. Justin bought himself a pork pie – he always judges and establishment by its pork pies. To be honest, he bought four different kinds of pie! As well as bread, cheeses, soups, ales, biscuits and puddings.

Selection of (mainly) Yorkshire produced food & drink | H is for Home

We’ve been sampling items for both lunch and dinner – they’ve all got top marks so far! We’ll be making a return trip very soon as we really like Skipton anyway – and this shop is just one more good reason to go.

Price Points: Preserve starter kits

Preserving starter kits | H is for Home

  1. Kitchen Craft preserving starter set, 4 pieces: £10, hobbycraft
  2. VonShef 9L Maslin pan jam preserving starter set bundle: £32.99, Amazon
  3. 5-Pieces preserve starter set by Kilner: £69.99, Wayfair

One of the things I love about the start of autumn is making jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys and all manner of other preserves. I made a batch of apple and chilli jelly this week… the first of the season.

Late summer is spent foraging for fruit such as wild raspberries, elderberries and blackberries. They’re added to the redcurrants that were harvested from our allotment in and are made into mixed fruit jelly.

You really should try it – it’s really easy, satisfying and far superior to most shop bought stuff. Get yourself one of these preserve starter kits and you’ll be quickly on your way to making your own.

Each has its own merits however, I’ve chosen #2 as the best of the preserve starter kits for a number of reasons. The most important component is the jam/maslin pan. It needs to be large, sturdy and made of the right material. It needs to be made of a non-reactive material such as stainless steel. Reactive metals such as aluminium and untreated cast iron can give a metallic taste to the food and can also cause discolouration. The pan also needs to be a good conductor of heat, for example, copper so that it achieves the high temperatures necessary in jam-making.

The next most important component is the thermometer. It’s not absolutely essential but, if you’re not entirely confident with using the cold saucer method, a thermometer is the foolproof way of knowing that the magic 105ºC/220ºF temperature has been reached.

A jam funnel is very useful if you’ve got shaky hands like mine, however buying the other components are less necessary. I have a huge store of different sized & shaped jars – I never put the finished jars of honey, mayonnaise, pesto etc into the recycling. With a little pre-planning, you shouldn’t need to buy jars specially for preserving. Just make sure ones you’re reusing have no chips or cracks and have their original airtight lids.

Having said all that – yes, both #2 and #3 come with jars as part of their kits. The former has the edge over the latter as the single 1-litre jar is much less practical than 6 smaller ones. If you store a litre of jam, jelly, chutney etc in a single jar you’ll have to eat all the contents within a couple of weeks of opening or it will go off. Also, you should store your preserves in the fridge once they’ve been opened. I usually have too much other stuff in the fridge to accommodate a litre-sized pot of jam.

In the years I’ve been preserving, I’ve never used a jar lifter (I use a pair of kitchen tongs), a jar wrench (just twist a dinner knife between the space between the lid and the jar) or a magnetic stick (again, I use kitchen tongs). So that’s 3 of the 4 Kitchen Craft items that would be neglected at the back of the cupboard. You could buy each preserve making component you think you’ll need singly – but it’s often cheaper to buy them as a bundle.