This might seem like a slightly random item to review but bear with me.
I have over the years organised and hosted dozens of events from parties and lunches to corporate events and fundraisers. One of the best things to remember is to always keep people fed and watered.
And being British tea is pretty important to keep people happy.
That’s where a hot water urn comes in. This one holds quite a lot of hot water – 8.8 litres, about 35 cups.
It has safety handles and nozzle so you don’t scald yourself which is definitely an improvement on some of the dodgy old ones I’ve come across in the past and some handy indicators so you don’t have to open the lid to check the water’s hot.
I think this would be perfect for events like a charity coffee morning or to keep spectators warm at a sports event. It’s not too heavy or bulky to transport and even full isn’t too much for one person to carry or move.
All you need is some cups, tea bags or coffee and the all important milk and sugar in order to keep a crowd happy. Just don’t forget the biscuits.
*This post contains gifted or sponsored items but all words and opinions are my own.
Happy St David’s Day to any Welsh followers I may have.
While I’m not Welsh myself my godmother is and I have lots of happy memories of trips to visit her in Cardiff (although she’s originally from North Wales) and having her try to teach me a little Welsh.
I’m sure you all know that the national flower of Wales is a daffodil and the national vegetable is the humble leek.
There’s probably some ancient recipe for cooking with daffodils (although they might be poisonous) but today I’m whipping up a little dinner from the British Leeks’ cookbook.
Leeks make a great ingredient, we like them covered in cheese, grilled with a roast dinner or added to a lettuce gratin. They’re part of the same family as garlic and onions, and like their cousins are great in loads of dishes.
So for dinner tonight we’re having a delicious dish of pan roast chicken with leeks, chorizo and cider.
Serves 4 (or 2 hungry people)
You will need;
4 chicken breasts
100g chopped chorizo
400g leeks, trimmed and sliced
1 chopped clove of garlic
2 handfuls of chopped parsley
2tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp flour
100ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat your oven to 190°c
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken breasts till golden brown and then do the same on the other side. Then place in an oven dish.
Add the chorizo to pan and fry for a few minutes till golden. Add the leeks, garlic, thyme and parsley and fry for 10 minutes till softened. Add the flour and stir.
Stir in the stock and cider and bring to the boil. Season and simmer.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the chicken was cooked through.
Serve with your choice of potatoes (boiled, mashed etc) or some nice crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
Cook’s tips: if you don’t drink, swap out the cider for cloudy apple juice, remember to taste as you season and adjust as you see fit.
The resulting dish is aromatic and deeply tasty, the leeks are soft and buttery, contrasting with the peppery chorizo and the warm chicken.
What’s your favourite way to use leeks? Are you celebrating St David’s Day? Let me know in the comments.
hapus Dydd Gŵyl Dewi
*this post contains items that have been gifted or sponsored but all words and opinions are my own.
I enjoy baking but I’m not quite Bake Off standard and one of the things I’ve tried to do more of is free from baking.
I have lots of friends who have food intolerances (as do I) so I like to make sure they feel catered for if I’m having them round.
When the team at Indigo Herbs got in touch about using their natural, free from ingredients I said yes please!
Indigo Herbs is an independent business located in the heart of Somerset, in Glastonbury and has a huge range of interesting products available online and in store. Plus they’re friendly, which is always a bonus.
On with the recipe!
Everyone loves chocolate brownies and chocolate pairs really well with cherries so combining the two was a doddle.
This bake is vegetarian but not vegan as I’ve yet to find an egg substitute that works as effectively without leaving any trace.
150g Purple Corn Flour*
150g Organic Coconut Sugar*
1.5 tbsp coconut oil
200g dark chocolate of your choice
1tsp gluten free baking powder
1.5 tsp Acerola Cherry Powder*
A few glacè cherries, chopped
Sprinkling of Organic Puffed Quinoa*
A very lazy cake to bake
Oven on 200°c and locate cake tin (I used a loose bottom one), line with baking parchment.
Weigh and measure your ingredients – do not drop any of them on the floor.
Mix your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (I used a spatula but you could use your electric mixing bowl/whisk – I could only locate 1 prong attachment thing).
Melt the coconut oil and chocolate in a bowl in the microwave – this takes about 3 to 4 minutes. You could use a Bain Marie but that takes longer and requires more room in the kitchen and the brain.
Add the eggs to the dry mix, do not get any shell in there. If you do, fish it out, wrong kind of tasty surprise.
When the oil and chocolate have melted, pour it in. Be careful the bowl will be hot.
Mix everything together. Add the glacè cherries. Stir them in. You would be best to do this bit by hand.
You could be really clever and coat them in a little flour first so they don’t sink. I forgot to do this.
Pour into the lined brownie tray (or a cake tin like I did as my brownie tray is huge) and smooth the top. Or leave it slightly uneven if like me, you’re lazy and perfection is tiring.
Sprinkle the popped quinoa over the top. This provides a nice little crunch – a textural opposition to the soft brownies.
Pop into the oven for 20-30 minutes. Check whether a knife comes out clean. If it does, then it’s done, if the knife is sticky, pop it back in for a few minutes more. Ovens (and cakes) can be unpredictable.
Do the washing up or load the dishwasher and thank whoever invented this life saver.
Once the baking is done, take it out of the oven (switch the oven off – no one ever tells you to remember to do this in recipe books).
Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes as it will be soft. Then carefully transfer to a cooling rack (I got a set of three of these on Amazon – you’re welcome).
Once cool, you can decorate with more cherries or just slice and serve. Cream or custard (dairy free if preferred) go well with this.
Obviously you can skip the cherries or swap them for something else, try popcorn instead of quinoa, add extra chocolate, make a bigger batch. Basically, make it your own. Then send me the results – cake by post.
My independent taste testers gave this tasty treat two thumbs up, so give it a go.
*items provided by Indigo Herbs for the purposes of this recipe post. All opinions and recipes my own.
Time to shine a spotlight on another foodie fave of mine. Made in the UK in a range of delicious flavours, Yum Yum Tree Fudge is made with more dairy than most fudge – except for their dairy free fudge that is!
I took advantage of a recent offer and made an order of a bunch of flavours, they have an extensive list of choices, offering not only dairy free but also diabetic friendly fudge.
Flavours I picked; Double Ginger, Rum & Raisin, Strawberries and Cream, Chocolate Mint, Salted Caramel, Madagascan Vanilla, Dairy Free Coconut.
The dairy free one is made with coconut milk – my only complaint is that it’s not quite coconutty enough – some desiccated coconut in there would boost the flavour.
The fudge can be stored in the fridge or even frozen – if you can resist that long.
To order visit their website, my delivery was super quick and totally satisfying.
One of the stalls I made a purchase from was Green Sisters – a small but growing business making delicious gluten free samosas and other snacks. I bought two packets of the frozen Party Pack – and we finally got around to munching our way through them.
We cooked ours in the oven but you can fry the samosas. However, from our experience you need to keep a weather eye on the oven as they quickly go from crisp to overdone. Although our oven is utterly rubbish, so it might just be us.
These are the first gluten free samosas I’ve seen and I highly recommend them as they’re delicious, freezable, and come in a range of tasty flavours. The team behind them were all super friendly and I’m always happy to support an independent business.
This past Saturday my mother and I went on one of our increasingly common outings. This time we went to Kensington Olympia to explore free from foods and allergy busters.
When my mum isn’t buying me lunch (thanks!) she’s an incredibly hard-working and somewhat brilliant nurse working in public health and school health. She recently celebrated 40 years in nursing and is my go to for any ‘should I take this weird thing to a doctor’ query (lucky her).
We had free tickets because the event gives loads away every year – I will share the link for next July once I get it. I did however miss the blogger meet up because I was too busy sampling cakes, oops.
I also failed miserably to take any photos of use, although I will include the entirely random few I did manage at the end.
Seriously I blame all the free cake samples and the abundance of dairy free treats. I had a truly delicious magnum style caramel ice cream and got chocolate all over my white top – I shouldn’t be allowed out.
We did stop for actual lunch too – the prices in the Olympia’s cafes are eye watering for two salads and two drinks.
My mum became pals with an allergy nurse from a children’s asthma charity – discussing epipens and inhalers. Joy.
I located the make up stand and got a bit of a makeover while I was at it – once a beauty blogger, always a beauty blogger (this will be getting it’s own post so stay tuned).
I even came home with not just a goody bag full of snacks but some little purchases including gluten free samosas, rocky road mix, vodka cocktails (mum and I split 4 between us, she enjoys the odd tipple and free samples) and a few other little bits and bobs. I also found some new and some familiar brands to add to my shopping list.
There was some live music from the imaginatively named Thomas and Thomas who played cover versions of a range of songs that definitely had at least one fan – the little boy dancing away in front of them! They were actually quite good but the dancing was very entertaining and quite distracting.
We were ambushed by the man from the WWF and spent the rest of the day not walking past him again. I know why charities rent stands at these events but I wish they wouldn’t.
I managed to get us lost finding the cocktails stand when we decided to make our purchases before leaving, thank goodness we found them again! Maps are very much not my strong point, though I can scent a goody bag at 500 paces it seems.
Anyway, it was really interesting to see how far the free from and allergy market has come along since I was a sniffly asthmatic kid with eczema now that I am a sniffly asthmatic adult with eczema.
My partner turns 30 this week and as we were having his parents over, when bakerdays offered to send me a letterbox cake in exchange for an honest review, I said yes.
The postman delivered a slim brown box which contained a tin and some birthday favours (balloons, candles, blower) as well as a sweet card from the bakerdays team.
Now the cake is quite small but it needs to be to fit through a letterbox! But it is beautifully decorated – you can personalise your cake with a photo, name, preferred message, you name it. And it comes in a range of tasty sponge flavours, which taste great.
And now the reason I’m telling you all this
You can win the letterbox cake of your choice from bakerdays delivered to your door. Here’s how.
– follow ramblingmads the blog (and on Twitter and Instagram if you aren’t already)
– post a comment telling me what special occasion you’d like to celebrate with a bakerdays letterbox cake. Please include your Twitter handle or email address to make it easy to contact you if you win.
The winner will be chosen at random a week from today Tuesday 27th July 2027.
The cake will be sent to you direct from bakerdays so I will need to ask for some details if you win. This will include which letterbox cake you’d like and your UK postal address (no P.O Boxes). Please see the bakerdays website for cake options.
UK only due to the fact the cake will be sent via Royal Mail.
I can’t digest lactose – found in cow’s milk, properly. It causes havoc with my gut and makes me quite unwell. Overshare warning – I’m talking non-stop diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting. Also hives and a super sexy all over rash have featured.
Now, I always say that life’s too short to never eat cheese or chocolate but I have to be very sensible. The mac and cheese I made last week was delicious but it had me in agony all night. Too much dairy.
Lactose is a protein in milk – most people digest it pretty happily. It’s not found in sheep or goat’s milk fyi – but they tend to be much more expensive as you get less per animal. Though goat’s cheese is delicious.
I have tried dozens of milk alternatives over the years – from soy milk to oat milk and most nut milks.
Hazelnut milk is like drinking a milkshake – sweet and creamy, I drink this on its own.
Almond milk is my preferred alternative – doesn’t have too strong a flavour, copes well in hot drinks, cereal, porridge, makes good smoothies and shakes.
Coconut milk – I cook with this, bake with it, it goes pretty well in most dishes with lots of flavour – curries, casseroles, mac and cheese, cake. I also use coconut oil in baking.
Cashew milk – this was very expensive (cashew nuts are pretty pricey) and was lumpy. No thanks. Shame as it didn’t taste too bad but I’m not straining pre-made nut milk every morning.
Soy milk – my mum swears by this but I honestly can’t get along with it. To me it’s basically coloured water – no flavour, no creaminess like nut milk.
Oat milk – I was really curious about this, would it be liquefied porridge? I bought a carton when it was on offer (free from being the most expensive thing out there apart from maybe caviar), and was utterly disappointed. It went all funny in my hot chocolate and made my cereal taste a bit odd. I know there are different varieties (mostly made by one company) including one designed specifically for hot drinks, but I want to be able to buy one milk for everything.
Milk itself is a deeply weird thing – we don’t all keep drinking breast milk as we get older and cows milk is essentially breast milk for baby cows. Cows are kept in a perpetual pregnant/feeding loop to produce milk – no wonder they always look grumpy, and their babies are taken away from them.
I’m not vegan, or even a very good vegetarian (sorry Mum) but milk is one of the things I find a bit weird. Who discovered you could drink it? Turn it into food stuffs (cheese, chocolate, yoghurt, ice cream, cream, custard etc etc). Who is that person?
This is a great way to use up potatoes left over from a previous meal. Oh and eggs. To make it vegan, just skip the eggs. A quick tip – book the eggs and potatoes in the same pan if you’re using raw potatoes.
1 or 2 hard boiled eggs per person
A few potatoes boiled and chopped up
Tin tomatoes or passata
Celery, 2 or 3 sticks, diced
Ginger – 1 tsp fresh or frozen
Garlic – 1 tsp fresh or frozen
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Chilli powder – 1 tsp or a small fresh one chopped
Masala powder (optional) – 1tsp
Salt & pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes (10 minutes till al dente) and eggs (7/8 minutes till you’re happy they’re done).
Brown your onion and toast the cumin seeds, add the ginger and garlic and leave to mingle for 5 minutes. Add your spices and season to taste.
Pour in the tomatoes, mix and cook for 5 or 6 minutes. Drain the potatoes and add them and the celery. Mix in well and simmer.
When your eggs are done, run them under a cold tap, peel and slice. Add them to the pan for a minute and spoon some of the sauce over them.
Serve. You can add raita or yoghurt to serve or your choice of Chutney etc. I don’t tend to serve it with rice because of the potatoes but it’s up to you. I do like a piece of naan to dip.
This is based on a recipe from my lovely work wifey whose family come from Gujarat in India. You can use different vegetables to bulk it out and it tastes just as good reheated the next day minus the eggs.