Christmas in London: Harrods Gentleman’s Hamper


Christmas, for me, has always been a rather special time of year. No, not for any particular religious reasons or for the promise of presents (though the latter is a rather good excuse for, oh, I don’t know, maybe a new hand mixer? Especially considering how mine blew up in my hand the other day) but because of the food. An excuse to eat yourself silly and not be judged for it? Yes please.

So when I was offered a Harrods Gentleman’s hamper, one of the new food and wine hampers, to have a sneak preview of for Christmas of course I said yes. It may be called the Gentleman’s hamper but honestly, I’d be pretty happy to receive this one myself!


We Are The World: Kids Cook The World


A while back I received a copy of a lovely charity cookbook called Kids Cook The World, a book written by Solidarity Sports specifically to help families and children cook healthy, affordable family meals together.

Now I don’t have my own family yet and I won’t for the foreseeable future but this is a lovely book, jam-packed full of great recipes to cook with your family, and it’s endorsed by Ferran Adria! He notes in his preface that in this age of overfeeding and overabundance, food related problems are steadily growing and, worse, affecting our children. He says:

“If we do not find a solution soon, problems relating to unhealthy diets could become an unsustainable cost for most nations…healthy food is not more expensive and represents benefits that are felt in the short term. Only in this way will our youth and children truly know what well-being and quality of life mean…we (parents, doctors, cooks, teachers, etc.) must all lead the way.”

I love that – it’s easy to forget that we are not just a generation who live for ourselves but one that must lead by example for all future generations and, whilst it may sound a little preachy, we have to take steps to help ourselves, our children and our children’s children.


Fund A Fun Documentary: Good Taste & Gatherings


So by now you guys have all heard of Kickstarter, right? If not then you’ve probably been living under a rock but I’ll give you the Spark Notes – have an idea or venture that needs funding? Kickstarter’s your friend. Simply describe what you want to do and how much it’s going to cost, set a time limit and then see if you make your goal. If you get the funding your project is greenlit and you receive the backers’ money, if you don’t reach your goal nobody gets charged. It’s a fantastic way for artists, filmmakers and alike to get the funding for a project from the people that matter the most – the public, ie. you and me. Previously, Kickstarter has brought to life the amazing Nomiku home sous vide – an affordable and portable device to turn any pot in your kitchen into a sous vide!

A little while ago I was contacted by the folks behind Good Taste & Gatherings, a new documentary web series who are trying to get their project greenlit through Kickstarter. Essentially the documentary follows three different groups of “foodies” who create “extraordinary community experiences” through food – in this current trend of pop-ups and supperclubs, the documentary sounds like a great way to gain insight into why regular folk love to make and share food. In Saralyn Critchlow’s (the associate producer) & Dawn LaMattina Asher’s (the producer) words, they “want to see lives changed as a result of ‘Good Taste & Gatherings'”.


Summer Drinks: Harveys & Vanilla Speculoospasta Ice-Cream


So as we come to the end of summer I finally have a bit of time to sit down and write up everything I’ve had queued up. This summer’s been a funny one (and I’m still actually kind of hoping that it’s not done yet and September will see more sunshine and lazy days) but it’s been jam-packed full of amazing people, fun, travel, food and drink, a new house, new housemates and my loved one, then finished off (unfortunately) with a trip to A&E at the hospital this past week; regardless, it’s been fantastic. I’m only sorry that I’ve neglected my blog so much – I’ve been kind of busy trying to fit everything in before I start Leiths in October.

The kind folks at Focus PR sent me a bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream, the British sherry that’s been around forever but is enjoying a new run in the spotlight and marketed as a Summer drink. I would never think of sherry as something for the Summer, especially Harveys, it feels more like something you have by the fire in the dead of winter, but perhaps that’s exactly why it needs a new image. Besides, the Spanish have been drinking sherry for years and my fondest memories of it are in the height of summer with a big plate of tapas and jamon! So why not?


Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater


A few days ago a lovely chap by the name of James contacted me asking, rather tentatively, if I might be interested in their little infographic – a cheat sheet for the novice/intermediate/experienced UK cook. He assured me that it was very pretty but, having the high standards I have, I was a little dubious. So I clicked on the link, fully expecting a hastily hobbled together Photoshop job, and instead was very pleasantly surprised when I was greeted with this absolutely stunning bit of work.

I simply love the font, the graphics and most of all, the fabulous tips, hints and cooking info (or culinary magic, as I often refer to it) and, best of all, it’s free! Print it out, stick it on your fridge or even laminate it and create a kitchen shrine for it – I probably will. I don’t know how many times I’ve ended up getting sticky fingers all over my laptop because I need to check a conversion, weight or safe cooking temperature – this not only looks great, it’s useful and it’s actually correct (huzzah!).

So a big thank you to James and Everest for creating something useful for the British home kitchen. A link to printable PDFs is down the bottom!


Childhood in a Can: Drop Drink Review


Way back at the beginning of the Summer, I received a vaguely ominous email from a company I didn’t know asking me for my address so that they could send me a sample of their brand new drink. Normally this kind of communication would go straight into the bin but I’m a) far too trusting a person and b) they promised me that the drink would taste like pear drops.

Any of you who have grown up in the UK will know that pear drops are those beautiful little pink and yellow tear-drop shaped hard boiled candies (they’re supposed to look like pears but I’ve always thought they were more like tears… of joy), found in sweet shops all over the country (and M&S for those of you who were born in the 90s and beyond). They scream nostalgia, they break and rot your teeth, give you tongue ulcers and they’re simply the best sweets ever.

So I tentatively sent an email back to Drop Drinks and agreed to meet for a sample of their soda – one day my trusting nature is going to be the death of me.


Winners Aren’t Sinners


Image courtesy of ICanHasCheezburger.com

Not really but I am sorry guys, I’ve been a little all over the shop lately. I’m trying to get everything in my life packed up for my move to greener pastures on Saturday but so far have only succeeded in piling a bunch of clothes on a chair and then leaving it – packing is one of my least favourite tasks in the world. I’ve still got to go back and shove them into a bag and then into my car but I promised you competition winners so here they are! Drumroll please…

The winner of the Five Minute Bread give-away was Katie – here she is with her prize:

And the winner of the George Foreman give-away was Char who blogs over at iNom. Her winning comment which was chosen by the random generator (it’s a very scientific process – I assign all the comments a number, enter the variables into a random number generator and then press ‘Go’) was:

“Oooh easy. I’d have my huge cleaver. You can chop, slice, dice, mince, smash, carve… you name it! Also it’s handy for self defense, haha – oh and if shiny enough a mirror! All in one! LOL. (I’m totally serious btw =P)”

And here she is with her prize:

Congrats to Katie and Char – hope you’re enjoying your prizes! Until next time (which will hopefully be very soon), peace and love.

Jax x

Cookin’ Up A Storm – The Tesco Real Food Challenge + Interview with Carol Vorderman


Image courtesy of Tesco’s.

A few weeks ago I had a mystery phone call from a friend. He had something huge to ask me but I had to keep it secret until it was launched because wow, this was so huge if it got out he’d probably be hung, drawn and quartered, and I would be tossed into a dungeon for crossing the powers that be.

…just kidding. But this was huge and I really couldn’t say anything about it until after the launch. You see, Tesco’s were running a huge recipe competition that was going to be televised later this year and he’d like me to be involved – how could I say no? Even better, I was going to be heading up the Me-Time Meals section with a greatly admired and well-loved British celebrity – the very lovely Carol Vorderman. What’s a girl to do, eh? Clearly get on the blower to Carol for a five-minute chat about all things food.

For the interview with Carol Vorderman, information on the competition and Carol’s recipe, read on…


Get Your Grill On – A Review & A Give-Away!


Did you know that last week was National Get Grilling Week? Neither did I, but then some lovely folks with George Foreman got in contact and asked if I’d like to review a grill for it, and oh, by the way, would you like an extra one to give-away to your readers? My response? Bow-chicka-wow-wow!

Yes, I have one brand-spanking new George Foreman to give away. It’s the black Heritage Family Grill which retails at £49.99 and you could have one for free. Bow-chicka-wow-wow indeed! Read on for my review & details of how to win…


Cookbook Review: Five Minute Bread + A Give-Away!


One of my food goals for 2011 was to bake more bread, so you can imagine how thrilled I was when Zoë François and Ebury Publishing asked me if I’d like to review a copy of her US best-selling book Five Minute Bread (in the US known as Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day), co-written with Jeff Hertzberg. Newly released in January of this year, the book claims to contain a “revolutionary new baking method: no bread machine, no kneading!” – well, for it to be the no. 1 baking book in the US it certainly seems to have caught onto something good here!

When the book arrived I eagerly tore open the packaging, read it from cover-to-cover, and then decided that there was nothing left for me to do but to pull out the flour and yeast and get baking! But why just read what I have to say about the book? Why don’t you decide for yourself? Ebury have very kindly offered to send a copy of the book to one of you guys so that you can have a go at baking from it – how generous is that? For the book review and details of the give-away read on…


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