So far, January is looking pretty juicy, don’t you think? I do! We’re over a week into 2017 so far, David Attenborough is still alive and so are we. Not bad ey? So far 2017 is strutting its stuff. It’s a good month for us too as we are off to Whistler in 3 days time. Excited doesn’t even cut it. OHMYGODIAMBEYONDECSTATIC is a little closer. Read more
I have been vegetarian on and off for around 10 years. In that time we have had a few Christmases. My sister and brother are now both vegetarian, so it is a very veggie Christmas affair. Every December, my mum will send us a message asking what we want to eat on the big day. We will ping her some recipes over and then make a selection from that. I would happily have all the trimmings, without a show stopper. This year I fancy something different, I have yet to pick from my every extending shortlist. I’ve gathered here some of my favourite recipes, some show stoppers, some easy makes, to please meat free friends far and wide. I’m sticking savoury here, because there’s enough festive desserts on the internet to keep you going for another 100 years or so. Enjoy the festive season friends, may yours be merry and bright. Read more
Now, while I love to cook, and cook often at home. I have yet to brave a dinner party. The thought of having a group of people sit down and eat food I have made, whilst looking at me, scares me a little! I used to cook for a huge, hungry crew when working at festivals, but a dinner party, in my own home? No, that’s a little too scary. Plus, who would do all that washing up!? When La Belle Assiette got in touch to see if I’d like to host a dinner party with a twist, I was a little apprehensive, until they explained they would send a chef in.
They offer a directory of chefs across the UK, each with their own menu options. Read more
Last month I was invited to an evening at Demuth’s Cookery School for one of their popular courses ’20 minute suppers’. If you’re from the South West, or if you’re vegetarian, you have probably heard of Demuth’s. Rachel Demuth owned award-winning Demuth’s Restaurant for 26 years, she sold it to focus on the cookery school. Now she is joined by an experience team of chef tutors who teach beginners to experienced cooks a varied selection of vegetarian courses. There are longer diploma courses, to weekend, day and evening courses. Demuths is located in the centre of Bath and has stunning views out over the city.
I am never one to be organised around the Festive season. Instead I seem to find myself running around on Christmas Eve eve frantically trying to get everything I need. This year I am trying to be a little more prepared. I also know that I am pretty difficult to buy for. So I decided to put together Rough Measures Foodie Christmas gift guide. Here you’ll find small gifts to larger ones, and hopefully something to please even the fussiest loved ones.
Last week saw another trip to Devon, to attend an evening soirée at River Cottage. It has been just over a year since my last trip there, and I was excited to explore the place once again. River Cottage, was of course made famous by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his famous Channel 4 show. Hugh has a wide range of cook books, and has been vital in promoting reducing waste. At his River Cottage Canteens, nothing goes to landfill!
I travelled down with some local bloggers; Chris from Thinly Spread, Kate from Veggie Desserts and Diana from Little Sunny Kitchen. We all live within 30 minutes of each other, and it was good to have a natter and catch up on the way down. We arrived and rain welcomed us. We ran into the shelter and huddled around the wood burner until our chauffeur driven tractor ride arrived to collect us. The ride takes 10 minutes, down a bumpy mud track, but the views across the Devon landscape and down onto the farm were stunning.
Since starting this blog, I have been invited on some great days out and trips away. This last week saw an invitation to Yeo Valley Farm, organised by the Soil Association, to learn more about Organic September and why we should all be more aware of what is in our food. Yeo Valley is set in the beautiful Mendip countryside, not too far from Bath. I hopped on a train to Bristol and waited eagerly with some other like-minded bloggers.
I wanted to write a post about a topic that it is incredibly close to my heart. The use of ‘bad’ palm oil. 2 years ago we travelled around South East Asia, and spent 3 weeks in Borneo. I knew about the negative impact of palm oil plantations before we went, but spending 3 weeks there really made it hit home how damaging it is to the rainforest and it’s inhabitants. We spent 8 hours on a coach, and all we passed for about 5 of those 8 hours was palm oil plantations. We spent some time in a rainforest conservation area, and sat for hours watching a female Orangutan in a fruit tree, just 2 metres away from us. We had lengthy chats with the staff at the conservation area, who’s passion for their country was breathtaking. ‘Bad’ palm oil is a not only a disaster for the environment, but for animals and people too. We came away from it with a serious passion and commitment to avoid ‘bad’ palm oil.
If you’ve ever looked into what’s in your food, how it was made and where it has come from (which I’m sure lot’s of you do), you’ve probably heard about palm oil being bad for the environment. I try my best to avoid it but product labelling is sneaky and confusing sometimes. Taking care in products you buy, such as free range eggs, organic produce etc, palm oil should be high on our lists of ‘warning’ ingredients.
That’s why I was stoked to get involved with RSPO and their new campaign that has just launched. We want to let people know that we do have a choice between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ palm oil. Artist Jessica Dance has created cute knitted foods which star in three short films, specially designed to raise awareness and encourage us all to share this important campaign to let the industry know that they need to take action, and take it now.
You’ll find palm oil in more than 50% of all the food you buy and it can be found in everyday items like margarines, biscuits, breads, cereals, noodles and even shampoo, lipsticks and detergents.
If you’re thinking ‘what can I do?’, fear not, as this is where GOOD palm oil comes in. Certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is now being produced to the strictest of standards. It helps to protect forests and wildlife, meaning no more destroying Orangutan homes, no more chopping down the rainforest, and it secures an income for farmers by making more palm oil from less land.
However, at the minute, good palm oil only accounts for 21% of all palm oil consumed across the planet, so that’s why I want to share the story of #GoodPalmOil and make sure that brands and retailers know that we, as consumers, care about this issue strongly and want them to take action.
If you want to get involved and help support the production of good palm oil, then you can spread the word and share this campaign around with your pals and families.
The campaign is being run by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), they are a not-for- profit association that champions sustainable palm oil. By 2020, RSPO wants ALL palm oil being used in our food to be sustainably sourced but we can only make that happen if you join me in putting pressure on the industry and letting them know we care. Let’s make this happen!
I was asked to take part in this campaign. This is a topic extremely close to my heart.
Last weekend I had the joy of spending the weekend in Dorset. I was invited, along with 12 other fab bloggers, on a Dorset Foodies Trip, courtesy of holidaycottages.co.uk in one of their fabulous properties – Ranmoor. A weekend of food, sampling local produce, and tours of the local farms were on the cards. I couldn’t wait.
I headed down to Dorset with Chris from Thinly Spread, Kate from Veggie Desserts, and Helen from Fuss Free Flavours. It was good to break the ice with a journey before arriving at the house. We arrived at lunchtime to find we were some of the first ones there. Our hosts Emma and Sarah showed us to our rooms, and we dumped our bags and got onto exploring the house.
The house was vast, surrounded by open fields, geese and even alpacas! There was a pool, trampoline, snooker table, badminton and table tennis! I could tell we were going to have some fun here, and we hadn’t even looked in the fridge yet! Once the other guests arrived and we had all had a natter, we ventured onto our first food activity – vodka and cheese tasting! We were introduced to Black Cow Vodka, which is made from milk. It’s made by separating the milk, using the curd to make cheese, and the whey gets fermented into milk beer, which then gets triple filtered and distilled into some seriously smooth vodka. We sipped it neat and nibbled on the cheese. I have to be honest, the idea of milk vodka seemed a little odd at first, but it was delicious. We also got to test and indulge in Percy’s biscuits, Cerne Abbas Brewery Ales, Dorset Nectar cider (you HAVE to try their Elderflower cider!), Conker Gin (a copper pot distilled local Dorset gin).
On Friday evening, we were treated to a delicious 3 course meal courtesy of the Dorset Fine Dining Company. My vegetarian dishes were feta and fresh mint pastillas, Moroccan chickpea stew with Israeli cous cous, and a gorgeous mocha eclair. All washed down with some Furleigh Estate wine, with their grapes grown in Dorset. It was a treat to be waited on, and a chance to have a nice foodie chat.
I woke up early on the Saturday morning, I decided to make use of the hot tub, and whiled away an hour, watching the fog slowly rise off the land and the sun break through. Breakfast was a feast of eggs (cooked by the lovely Becca from Amuse Your Bouche), pastries and a gorgeous mug of Reads Coffee – which is hand roasted in the local area.
Soon we headed out to Goldhill Organic Farm, where we were given a tour of the farm, explaining the growing process and how they harvest rain water. Goldhill’s land is all Soil Association approved and has been for many years. We were then treated to a lunch of bean stew with flatbreads, salad from the farm, and of course, some Dorset Apple cake – made by the lovely Tea and Sympathy. It was lovely to see a group of people so passionate about their produce. They have just started offering veg boxes, juice boxes, and will soon be launching soup boxes. After lunch we headed back to the house, for a rest, and more food. Bethellbridge Bakery had put on a huge spread of afternoon tea, and somehow I found room to fit in some more food! After all that food, it was time to put our feet up, and a few of us sat on the ginormous sofa and watched the rugby, stretching out our stomachs.
We had a late dinner that night, Dorset Pies were kind and sent a shed load of pies for us to share. My favourite was the spicy bean pie. We even managed to squeeze in some decadent ice cream and sorbets from Purbeck Ice Cream, my favourite was their beetroot sorbet. We sat and laughed at the pure excess of the weekend, it was such a treat to be looked after so well, in such lovely surroundings.
All too soon it was Sunday, and time to pack our bags. I cooked up a big batch of veggie bubble and squeak with all the left overs, to fuel everyone for their journeys home. There were hugs all round and plans to meet up soon, before it was time to leave. Off we set down the road back home, when I realised (thanks Andrea!) that I had left my bag at the house! A quick turn around to grab it and it was back on the road.
We got to sample all sorts of treats over the weekend, and even take home a goodie bag stuffed full of treats. I never knew Dorset had so many fab local companies. I’ll be putting them on my foodie list, and if you are ever in the area, make sure you hunt down some of these delicious goods.
You can see what we all got up to on Instagram using #HCBloggerTrip
Here are some other posts related to this fab trip;
Holidaycottages.co.uk invited me on the complimentary Dorset food and drink weekend away. A blog post was not required and all opinions are entirely my own. I truly had a fantastic time! Big thanks to all the partners for their generous contributions.
How was this trip over a month ago?! I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks. After our trip, I was in full blown ‘job-search’ mode, and didn’t let myself get distracted by much else. Thankfully, this has paid off and I am now employed, hurrah! Anyway, let’s get down to business, yes?
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
We spent 6 days and nights in the Big Apple. We managed to bag ourself a pretty sweet loft style apartment in Williamsburg. Right next to the subway and around the corner from a cute little coffee shop-come-bar – which incidentally turned out not to serve any alcohol!? The loft was spacious, with a huge open plan living room / kitchen area, lovely bathroom and some choice pieces of decoration (see second to last picture….!) The rooms were slightly odd, and paper thin walls, but hey, the beds were comfy and we were so tired everyday that we slept soundly. I’d highly recommend Williamsburg as an area to stay, the restaurants and cafe’s were plentiful, from French style brasseries to Jewish cafe’s. The first night we arrived, we were tired and jet-lagged, with growling stomachs. We found an amazing pizzeria called Motorino. It served wood-fired pizzas and a selection of salads. I went for the Kabocha Squash Calzone, YOU GUYS, this has to be one of the best (if not THE best) pizza dishes I’ve ever had. Moorish squash, coupled with gooey goat’s cheese and fresh thyme. I was in heaven. If you’re in Williamsburg PLEASE check these guys out!
The next day we spent the day making our way along the New York High Line, an old railway line that’s been turned into a beautiful little walkway, high above the streets. We ended up at Chelsea Market and spent an hour exploring the different food outlets. I managed to find a place that served ale in a little takeaway jar, how cool? We grabbed a snack from Amy’s Bakery, I went for the Coconut Dream Bar. It reminded me of a millionaires shortbread, sweet and gooey, but with added coconut. Delicious!
Saturday was a real highlight for me as we headed to Smorgasburg, an outdoor food market on the waterfront in Brooklyn, with MEGA awesome views across to Manhattan. I had read about Smorgasburg before we arrived in New York, and my high hopes were perfectly met. When got down there around midday, and although there were less vendors than normal, as it was the last one of the season, we were spoilt for choice. From lobster rolls, to duck wraps, mango lassis, to deep fried sprouts (they were insane!), Smorgasburg catered for all 7 of our varied tastes. I set myself off on a loop of the stalls before deciding which stalls were going to get my dollars. In the end I went for a Calexico Beet Burger from Chickpea and Olive, a delightful Mango Lassi, polished off by THE biggest Hibiscus doughnut from DOUGH. The day carried on with strolls around Brooklyn, and possibly too many drinks at The Blind Barber – a sneaky bar hidden behind a barber shop in the East Village.
Sunday was race day. My mum set off early to get to her start point. We headed to Brooklyn for breakfast. NYC Marathon has an app where you can track your friend / family member while they run (how cool is technology these days!) We’d noticed we were near mile 8, and upon checking the app saw Mum was coming up to mile 5. We headed down to surprise her and give her a cheer. We had agreed to wait for her at mile 23, but later in the afternoon. We spent the rest of the day until then walking what felt like THE WHOLE length of manhattan! We arrived at mile 23 and the app told us Mum was only a few blocks away. The atmosphere was amazing and there was so much energy from both the runners and the crowd. We spotted mum running and started screaming her name, she said she couldn’t stop, so my sister and I ran 100m or so with her, giving her one last boost to see her over the finish line. She did it, all 26.2 miles! Although that night she told us she’d never do a marathon ever again, I reckon by now she might be persuaded. Chicago Marathon 2016 Mum?? We celebrated the day with a delicious meal at a lovely French bistro in Williamsburg (more sprouts!) and a much deserved glass of red for my Mum!
The rest of the days were spent meandering around various NYC districts, checking out Greenwich, seeing the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, walking the Brooklyn Bridge, battling the crowds in Times Square, picnics in Central Park, drinking cocktails on rooftop bars right next to the Empire State Building, and a fair bit of shopping. Memorable breakfasts at both Jack’s Wife Freda and The Butcher’s Daughter. Both had been on my ‘must-eat’ list and did not disappoint.
We crammed so much into our 6 days I feel as though I could write about it forever. It was such a great trip, and the memories will stay in my head for a long time.
Have you been to New York recently? What were your highlights? Do let me know!
You can see more of my NYC photo’s over on my Instagram!
Here’s a couple of other fab New York round ups for you: