Recently, I asked my friends “The Mapes” to review Five Valleys Cordials for Kavey Eats. There are seven cordials in the range, made from natural ingredients with no artificial flavours, sweeteners, colourings or preservatives. They are available from Waitrose and Ocado, as well as a number of Gloucestershire retailers.

Over to “Daddy Mape”, Mark:

fivevalleysrange

When we received the cordials we decided to make a game of trying them with our children. Each new bottle was chosen at random and the label kept hidden. We then made up glasses of the cordial and tried to guess what the cordial was. Between us we always got the main ingredient and about half of the time we got the second ingredient.

IMG_1815 IMG_1816

We used some of the cordials with our SodaStream and ice lolly maker.

Reviews

Cherry & Beetroot

Nice cherry flavour, strongly reminiscent of cherry flavoured cough remedies (which L found slightly off putting) but if that’s the flavour of cough sweets that you’d choose, we would highly recommend.
3/5

Apricot and Ginger

The bottle wasn’t big enough and was emptied very quickly! If not drunk quickly it separates into two drinks – a really refreshing apricot followed by delicious ginger; this is not necessarily a bad thing but makes for an interesting experience.
5/5

Lemon & Mint

Very minty, not a preferred choice as we never quite worked out the best way to drink it. If you like mint drinks or have a favourite mint cocktail would highly recommend.
2/5

Sloe & Raspberry

Disappeared quickly (too quickly to try the serving suggestion of drinking it hot). Very reminiscent of a posh Vimto.
5/5

Coconut and Kaffir Lime

Confession time – only one of the 4 of us likes coconut! All of us tried it but it was too coconutty for three of us. L found it really refreshing and it would be a great drink on a summers evening.
1/5 or 4/5

Peach and Lychee

Sweet as you’d expect, in fact too sweet for us. We could smell the lychees more than taste them.
1/5
Made good lollies 3/5

Rose and Pomegranate

Turkish delight in a glass, what’s not to like? You could use the smell to scent your room.
5/5

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Summary

The cordials on a whole were really good and we’d drink most of them again. For us they’re not for everyday use but we’d happily buy for a summer party or if we wanted cocktail mixers.

 

With thanks to Five Valleys Cordials for their review samples and to “The Mapes” for their review.

 

Today is Kavey Eats’ 5th Birthday! Where did the time go? Over 800 posts shared, and I’m still learning, still bubbling with ideas, still enjoying the process and still feeling like a newbie in so many ways. Thank you for visiting, for reading, for commenting and for sharing my content with your friends. I am so grateful!

To celebrate, I thought I’d share some Favourite Fives with you. Click on the links to go straight to any section or settle in for a long scroll down!

Five Favourite Kavey Eats Recipes
Five Favourite Travel Posts
Five Favourite Cookery Book Reviews
Five Favourite Lessons on the History of Food
Five Favourite Recipes by Pete
Five Favourite Hotel Stays
Five Favourite Random Lessons
Five Favourite Restaurant Reviews
Five Favourite Gardening & Allotment Moments
Five Favourite Cookery Classes
Three Favourite History Lessons

 

Five Favourite Kavey Eats Recipes

Many of the recipes I blog are by way of reviewing a cookery book, but here are five of my own that I’m particularly proud of:

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A chicken tarragon pasta bake that turns leftover roast or poached chicken into something special.

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Candying (confit) clementines is surprisingly easy, as is making rich, sharp-sweet lemon posset.

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Although I love boston baked beans, Pete was never keen on the belly pork that is a common accompaniment. I created a culinary handshake between America and Britain with these British Bangers & Boston Baked Beans. Leave soupy or cook longer to reduce to a thicker, stickier mass.

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I won first prize for chutneys in our local allotment show with this apple, date, ginger and chilli chutney so I’m very proud of it, especially as I had to be encouraged to enter by an allotment friend!

BeerandNutsIceCream-9355 BeerandNutsIceCream-9361

I adored my stout (beer) and salty roasted peanut ice cream – the representation of a pub in a sweet frozen treat. I wrote this as a guest post for my husband’s blog, Pete Drinks.

Other recipes I really like are my chicken liver and port pâté, these fun bacon pancakes, coffee and rum walnut brittle ice cream featuring home made walnut brittle, and a home made strawberry vodka liqueur that turned out wonderfully thick, sweet and fruity.

 

Five Favourite Travel Posts

I love to travel, especially when there’s also great food involved!

Lebanon AbuKasem-7454 Lebanon AbuKasem-7493

The day we spent talking za’atar with Abu Kassem was a highlight of our trip to Lebanon.

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We had great fun spending a weekend eating and drinking our way around Amsterdam. There was so much to eat, so little time!

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I can’t pretend the Falklands Islands are a dream foodie destination but we ate well and spent lots of time appreciating the local wildlife.

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Our latest visit to Islay for the Islay Whisky Festival 2013 saw me eating fabulous fresh seafood as often as I could, which turned out to be every day!

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It’s been so hard to pick just one of my many Japan posts to include here, but I’ve chosen a little place in Kyoto selling Japanese specialities, amazake and warabi mochi.

Also in my shortlist was a really old introduction to eating in Morocco, that I originally wrote for a short-lived travel blog I abandoned almost as soon as I started!

 

Five Favourite Cookery Book Reviews

I own far far far too many cookery books!

LeonBook4-3751 LeonBook4-3756

The book I was probably the most excited to see was Leon Book 4, featuring three of mum’s recipes, photos of mum with her parents and with baby me, and an explanation of how Mamta’s Kitchen came into existence.

SarabanBook-6259 SarabanBook-6266

Saraban, by Greg and Lucy Malouf, is enchantingly beautiful. The recipe I shared, Tahcheen-e morgh, proved very popular, and more recently it inspired my Persian Peri Peri Fusion version.

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I’m a big fan of Angela Nilsen’s approach of taking a classic recipe, researching it, sourcing tips from a range of experts and then creating the ultimate recipe and she shares 50 such recipes in this book. Here, I make her Ultimate Quiche Lorraine.

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My friend Uyen Luu’s book is a visual feast, full of beautiful images, evocative writing and delicious recipes. We made several recipes, including her Caramelised Sardines in Coconut Water.

Vareniki-6136 Vareniki-6140

My last choice is a book I wish I had on my own shelves, the wonderfully named Please To The Table, full of Russian recipes. Pete made Cheese Vareniki and Meat Pelmeni and they were mighty fine!

A few that didn’t quite make the top five but offer tasty treats include a fabulous smoked cheese gnocchi from The Amalfi Coast, Gastrogeek’s Roasted Aubergine Macarone Cheese and Billy Law’s Coca Cola Chicken.

 

Five Favourite Lessons On The History of Food

Sometimes a topic really catches my attention; when that happens, I love to read as much as I can to learn all about it and then pull everything together into an essay-like post!

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Our visit to the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale last year was fascinating. We learned a great deal about the history of the collections from our super guide, Mike, and I was inspired to do more research about the history of the apple in the UK, when I got home.

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These days, turkey is relegated to little more than a Christmas staple, but a visit to the Kelly Bronze farm prompted me to look more closely into the history of turkey eating and breeding in the UK.

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This post had been simmering for several months, the majority of it written after our first trip to Japan in autumn 2012 but not completed until after our second trip in 2013. I only just got round to posting it! It gives a history of yakiniku in Japanese cuisine.

Parma-8226 Parma-8499

A press trip to Parma allowed me to discover the origins and methods of making parmigiano-reggiano (parmesan cheese) and prosciutto de Parma (Parma ham).

 

Five Favourite Recipes by Pete

Pete does so much of the cooking in our house. Here are five of my favourite recipes he’s created.

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I’m always begging Pete to make his Chocolate & Porter Cake. Most recently, he made it for an afternoon tea, and it went down very well!

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Pete’s Cheesey Potato Bake is simplicity itself but so very tasty. It’s also a great way of using up the remnants of a varied cheeseboard.

CobnutBread-1145 CobnutBread-1170

Home made bread is one of Pete’s fortes and I loved this Cobnut Bread he made using British cobnuts and oil.

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I dubbed this invention of Pete’s Courgette-Saka, in a reference to Moussaka, though I’ve come across similar dishes called courgette lasagne. It’s made by layering ragu, slices of courgette and bechamel before baking.

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Pete’s Crumpet recipe is a winner. Nothing like hot, freshly made crumpets oozing with melted butter for a fantastic weekend breakfast!

 

Five Favourite Hotel Stays

I guess this could come under travel, but in these posts I’m focusing on the beautiful places we stayed.

Japan2012-2600 Japan2012-2527

We stayed in Ryokan Kankaso in Nara on our first trip to Japan and it remains one of my favourite experiences in Japan. They served us an amazing kaiseki ryori feast.

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Sometimes when you visit a place, it seems to have been designed with your personal tastes in mind. So it was at The Scarlet in Cornwall.

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London’s Syon Park Hotel is shiny and new, and the exterior isn’t particularly attractive, but I really appreciated what it offers inside.

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I didn’t particularly love our hotel in Abisko in Sweden’s Lappland but its location and the surrounding views were spectacular!

Japan2012-2533 Japan2012-3001

Yes, two ryokans make it into the list – we also had a wonderful stay at Shiraume Ryokan in Kyoto’s historic Gion district.

 

Five Favourite Random Lessons

A little mix-bag of miscellaneous topics!

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I had a great time attending a food styling photography workshop by one of the best in the business, Alastair Hendy. I’ve shared lots of his tips in my post.

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In a rare departure from the food and travel content I usually post, I created a framed artwork of heart shaped maps of places that hold special meaning to Pete and I. Here’s the tutorial on how to make your own digital heart maps collage.

ApplePieFillingCanning-0026 ApplePieFillingCanning-0034

I’ve been happily making jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys and ketchups and storing them long term in sterilised jam jars and glass bottles. But before I embarked on my first canning project (where the food is heat treated inside the jar) I did some research on the various methods of preserving food at home. This post shares what I learned and was followed by my instructions on how to can apple pie filling.

Japan2012-2154 Japan2012-3168

I found the temples and shrines in Kyoto and across Japan utterly fascinating and wrote this article to help visitors to identify a Buddhist temple from a Shinto shrine and to understand and appreciate what they are seeing. Here too are 6 earlier posts in which I shared information and images from several shrines and temples we visited.

UKFBA stall-9582 UKFBA stall-9573

This one isn’t so much a lesson as our experiences running a food market stall for just one day, in Covent Garden’s Real Food Market.

 

Five Favourite Restaurant Reviews

I love to eat in and I love to eat out. Here are restaurants I particularly enjoyed.

FatDuck-9003

It’s probably not a huge surprise that one of the most memorable meals I’ve written about is Heston’s Fat Duck. My sister took me there for my 40th (and her 37th) and it was a great experience.

ClubGascon-9976 ClubGascon-9955

Given the distinction of being the only place I’ve written about where we ordered one of the dishes a second time during one meal, I must mention Club Gascon, which we visited when they were offering a special menu to celebrate their thirteenth birthday.

LauncPlaceTasting-3909 LauncPlaceTasting-3928

Tristan Welch is no longer at the helm of Launceston Place, but he and his team made another birthday very special for me and my friend Chaundra

Dishoom-3455 Dishoom-3465 Dishoom-3470

History was always one of my favourite subjects at school (and indeed I studied it at uni too) so I was happy that my added content covering the history of Bombay Cafes and Thums Up Cola were of such interest to readers in my post about Dishoom.

TheSportsmanKent-1964 TheSportsmanKent-1985

The Sportsman in Kent reminds me of myself, but is altogether far tastier!

This was probably the hardest category to narrow down to five! I wanted to share Hida Beef, Tempura, Yuba and Yakiniku from Japan, enjoying a Nutter Genius’ kitchen table, crying over the loss of the Oriental City Food Court, my addiction to Kookoo Sabzi, the wonderous oddity of mac’n’cheese sushi style and a most wondrous meal at Pierre Koffmann’s rooftop popup.

 

Five Favourite Gardening & Allotment Moments

We’ve been growing our own fruit and vegetables in the back garden and, for the last three years, at a nearby allotment too.

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We spotted this fox fast asleep one morning, nestled amongst the tomatillos and gourds in the back garden. He woke after we’d admired him for a while.

FirstPSB-5523

I’ve never been a fan of regular broccoli but discovered that I do really like purple sprouting broccoli varieties.

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Wanting to make the most of the yellow raspberries and blackberries from our allotment, I made a fruit tart. It features my homemade plum jelly, made from allotment plums, too!

RedcurrantPortJelly-0758

Some confusion on my part lead me to make this redcurrant and port jelly but it turned out so well (despite being a little runny because of too much port) that I’ve since been eking out the remainder!

SungoldTomatoKetchup- SungoldTomatoKetchup-2

Tomatoes are one of my favourite things to grow. I adore the sweet taste and beautiful colour of Sungolds, and decided to preserve some in this lovely spicy yellow tomato ketchup.

 

Five Favourite Cookery Classes

It’s always a pleasure to learn new skills.

Billingsgate-7513 Billingsgate-7573

The impact of our single cookery class at Billingsgate Seafood Training School cannot be underestimated! Not so much in the frequency with which we cook fish at home, but in the way it’s helped to change Pete’s eating habits to the extent he will now happily eat fish on the bone! That increase in his fish eating habits helped give me the confidence to finally book our first trip to Japan!

HerbertBread-6732 HerbertBread-6557 HerbertBread-6598

Pete’s the bread baker in our house but we both hugely enjoyed this comprehensive two day course from Master Baker Tom Herbert, held at the Bethruthan Steps Hotel in Cornwall.

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I love the warm, friendly and very hands on nature of cookery classes at Food at 52, and this Flavours of Italy class was no exception.

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To celebrate ten years of running Mamta’s Kitchen (back in 2011), we decided to run some Mamta’s Kitchen Cookery Classes, to raise funds for various charities. Feedback was super and the experience was very rewarding.

HashiCooking-1544 HashiCooking-1585 HashiCooking-1632

I’ve grown ever more interested in Japanese food over the last few years and have now attended a few of Reiko’s Japanese sessions, which showcase traditional dishes with a modern twist.

 

Just Three Favourite History Lessons

I always loved studying history, and with these three posts, I took a little step back to my academic days.

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At school, college and university I studied history, with a focus on the 20th century. For Remembrance Day 2010, I shared a history of the Battle of Britain.

650 pixTitanicpostcard

More history, this time in the sinking of the Titanic, and the stories of some of those aboard.

eic-logo eastindia

When The East India Company name was resurrected, I wrote a piece explaining the history of the original East India Company.

 

Oh and for those eagle-eyed readers who’ve noticed that the archive dates back to 2006; after I started the blog in 2009 I copied across bits and pieces I’d written and shared via email and online discussion boards in the previous few years. That’s the time I describe as my “stealth blogging” period – I had the enthusiasm you’d expect from a blogger to record my thoughts about food, cooking, restaurants, equipment but no actual blog!

Thanks for joining me on my slow stroll down memory lane!

 

When I was a child, I never could understand grownups telling me that time seems to pass faster the older you’d get. “Another year has whizzed by”, they’d say, as I furrowed my head and thought, “no it hasn’t!” What’s more, I couldn’t foresee that I would ever come to feel the same way or say those same things. And yet here I am, marvelling bemusedly at how fast another year has whizzed by and, hang on a second, wasn’t it just a few weeks ago I was trying to remember to write 2013 rather than 2012?

And yet, when I look back through the posts I’ve shared through the year, I can say that it’s been another wonderful year, regardless of how quickly it seems to have sped past.

 

January

CoffeeRumWalnutBrittleIceCream-4660 Japan2012-2818
Japan2012-2810 Japan2012-2197 BillyColaChicken-3947

On the recipe front, I loved Billy Law’s Coca Cola Chicken and was delighted with my Walnut Brittle.

The Apple, Date & Ginger Chutney I made went on to win me first prize for chutneys at our local allotment show later in the year.

I also enjoyed reliving some of our first trip to Japan the previous year, with a post on Mitarashi Dango and an incredible Kaiseki Ryori meal at Kankaso Ryokan in Nara.

February

MiniMoosKaveyEats-4803 KingOysterPasta-4805
CuredTrout-MaCam-13 ApplePieFillingCanning-0034

I was thrilled to be able to share my favourite food photographs on the back of my new Moo mini blog cards.

For Christmas 2012 I made a strikingly colourful Beetroot and Lemon Zest Cured Trout, finally sharing the recipe I used just in time for Valentine’s day. If that sounds too time-intensive, I also made some really quick No Bake Mini Lemon Ricotta Cheesecakes. Probably the recipe that excited me the most (and has kept on giving us pleasure as we work our way through the jars) was How To Can (Bottle) Apple Pie Filling. We’ve made variations of the simple King Oyster Mushroom & Cream Pasta a number of times since.

On a more gadget-focused note, I reviewed a spice and nut grinder from Cuisinart.

March

2941_el Japan2012-3137 Japan2012-2555
Japan2012-2568 Japan2012-2573 Japan2012-2584 Japan2012-2589 Japan2012-2592

I wouldn’t usually include a giveaway in my annual roundup but the chocolate badger from Bettys really caught readers’ imaginations and I’ll be sharing further news from that later this year.

Still reliving the holiday to Japan, I posted the last of my six posts about Japanese temples and shrines we visited and took you on a Meander through Kyoto’s Nishiki Market. Back in London, I found a taste of Japan at Bincho Yakitori in Soho.

Things were quiet in my kitchen, but the No Churn Jelly Belly Ice Cream Recipe was fun!

April

Japan2012-3048 JapanKitKats-4963 FarmisonChicken-4836
GastrogeekMacCheese-0125 ChickenKatsuCurry-4901 Skrei FishPie-5073

You’re probably realising right about now that I remained obsessed with Japan for the rest of the year! In April I wrote about Yuba and Japanese Kit Kat flavours.

There were more recipes on the blog including Butter, Sage and Lemon Roasted Chicken, Cheat’s Chocolate Cherry Baked Alaska, an incredible Roasted Aubergine Macaroni Cheese recipe by Gastrogeek, tasty Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry Rice and a Billingsgate Fish & Egg Pie.

May

PinterestBoards Japan2012-3084
ChickenTarragonPastaBake-0160 MisoCod-0176 Tom Soup-0168 GraigLambRoast-4914

Pinterest and I are good friends. I explained why I love it and how I use it, here.

I sneaked in another post about Japan, sharing our little rest stop for Amazake and Warabi Mochi at Bunnosuke Jaya.

And there was lots more cooking including a Chicken Tarragon Pasta Bake I urge you to try, a Simple Miso Cod which we served with pak choi and rice, a delicious Home-made Tomato Soup and classic Garlic & Rosemary Roast Lamb.

June

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LuizJapaneseSupperClubMay2013-0325 JoselitoJamon-0471 PhoneSock-0863

That roast lamb made a delicious leftovers meal of Lamb & Spring Onion Hoisin Lettuce Wraps.

There were fabulous 3D Safari Cookies. I tasted the best ham in the whole world.

Supperclubs have been steadily growing in number and popularity for the last few years, but I don’t get to many. I did have a lovely evening at a Japanese supperclub hosted by The London Foodie.

Oh and I got a new Samsung S4 phone, which I still love!

July

IslaySeafoodShack-134808 LemonThymeLimoncelloSorbet-5122
bettys-113531 EdibleOrnamentals-5024 Rodells-0896 CaldesiCheeseGnocchi-6

In late May we returned to Islay for the whisky festival, our third time attending. I loved up some Squat Lobsters and Crab.

We had some grand days out to Bettys in Harrogate and to Edible Ornamentals near Bedford.

I experienced the shock of finding great food a stone’s throw from where I was working in Watford.

My favourite recipe was a feather light Smoked Cheese Gnocchi, another we’ve made again since. You could follow that with a refreshing Lemon, Limoncello & Thyme Sorbet.

August

123StirFry-8 Naamyaa-183525
PeachTarteTatin-1365 Frittata-1420 BaconPotatoSalad-1583

I never did write up the lovely weekend I spend attending the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery. But I did share an excellent guest post on the basics of Cooking a Stir Fry, written by my friend Diana, who I met over the weekend.

We had a lovely meal out in Naamyaa Cafe in Islington.

Recipes this month included Flat Peach Tart Tatin, a simple and very versatile Pea, New Potato & Goat’s Cheese Frittata and a Heart Attack Potato Salad laden with bacon and gherkins.

September

BrogdaleNFC-1506 SungoldTomatoKetchup-2
AVBakedRice-4392 ButternutSoupCandiedBacon-1838 teabagspice (1 of 1)

A quiet month on the blog, as I was immersed in planning for our second trip to Japan.

I wrote all about the history of apples and our educational visit to the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale.

September recipes included a Persia Meets Mozambique Peri Peri Baked Chicken & Yoghurt Rice, Spicy Sungold Tomato Ketchup and Easy Butternut Squash Soup with Candied Bacon.

And a little tip on using DIY teabags to immerse spices into one’s cooking!

October

WatfordMarketSushiStall-2 CourtesanDimSumBrixton-1917 TapasRevolution-1724
BakedBaconEggs-102712 OpiesSalad-2199 ApplePie-172823

Another winner in Watford (who’d have thunk it?) was Grandpa’s Sushi in the covered market. I also wrote about dim sum and tapas restaurant visits.

In the kitchen, I made some quick Bacon Baked Eggs, a chef-inspired salad and a classic Apple Pie, with home-grown apples.

And just before we headed back to Japan for our second trip, Pete spent the day with the London Brewing Company in The Bull in Highgate, creating a collaboration Coffee Porter.

November

MightyFine-2096 Set 2, ham HiggidyPorkApplePie-4103
TheSportsmanKent-1985 DuckWaffle-2027 KaveyRosie1994 (1 of 1)

I enjoyed hot chocolate and fudge at Camden market.

My friend Diana wrote another guest post, this time sharing some comprehensive tips on making Egg Fried Rice, with many variations. Pete made a really tasty Pork and Apple Stroganoff Pie with Cheddar Crust.

I enjoyed some excellent food at The Sportsman in Kent and Duck and Waffle, in the City.

And I wrote a letter to my beautiful niece.

December

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CocoaRunners-5957 BeefeaterLuton-134829 MrsBeetonScones-152426

This month has been altogether more Christmas-focused with my 2013 Gift Guide full of ideas for the best presents, my recommendations for bottles to buy for a sweet-toothed alcoholic celebration and a review of marzipan fruits.

I also introduced Cocoa Runners, a great way to buy the very best bean-to-bar chocolate from around the world.

In a fit of nostalgia, I did a restaurant review of childhood favourite, a Beefeater restaurant.

And my last recipe of the year was a really old classic – Mrs Beeton’s recipe for scones, served with home made black cherry jam.

 

That’s it, the year is done. Hope you’ve had a great one too!

Wishing you happiness, health and success in the new year.

 

PeteCake

I just can’t resist sharing the cartoon Pete made me this morning, over on Facebook!

(Hey, cake is food; this is a food blog!)

May 142013
 

I’m always cheered by the arrival of spring, no more so than when the trees burst into bloom, their boughs heavy with blossom.

I often feel inspired to take quick snaps on my phone camera; the quality of the images doesn’t do justice to the beauty but I wanted to share.

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April – Home (and car)

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May – Work, Near Office

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May – Visiting a friend

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May – View from mother-in-law’s flat window

I hope you’ve been enjoying spring too!

 

A few months ago, I talked about the way we organise the contents of our freezer.

Next, it was the turn of the larder – a large under-the-stairs cupboard which stays relatively cool year round thanks to an air brick through the outer wall.

 

Before

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Before we re-organised, all the shelves looked a bit like this one. Although items were roughly grouped together, they were often moved when trying to find things or to fit in new things. Lots of items were stacked on top of each other, as the shelves are deep and tall.

 

After

LarderOrg-1200

A few inexpensive shelf inserts were all it took to make the space more usable and then it was simply a case of grouping items logically – preserves are at the top; sugar and sweet baking items are next along with a few other sweet items such as tinned fruit, speculoos spread and cereals; below that is a shelf full of savoury foods including staples such as flour, pasta and rice as well as olives and a couple of pasta sauces. The bottom two shelves are set aside for drinks and the door shelf units hold shorter term snacks such as biscuits.

The cupboard was reorganised a few months ago and so far, it’s proved to be fairly easy to keep it orderly.

The next improvement will be a list on the inside of the door to list the contents of each shelf. However as there are many more items than in the freezer, I think our freezer whiteboard solution won’t work. Any ideas?

Dec 302012
 

2012 has been busy for Kavey Eats, with over two hundred posts shared over the last year!

Here’s my pick of posts from each month:

 

January

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The year started sweetly, with several tasty cookie, cake and dessert recipes. A cracker was the Confit Clementines and Lemon Posset I made for the previous year’s Christmas day lunch.

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The savoury eating had a good start too, with my review of a magical celebratory meal with my sister at The Fat Duck.

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I also had the pleasure of cringing at myself on the telly when the BBC food quiz, A Question of Taste aired.

 

February

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Still in the grips of winter, I shared my recipe for Beef Cheeks Bourguignon, a hearty classic with a Kavey Eats twist.

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But the recipe which garnered far more attention was these Bacon Pancakes, an idea I picked up from American food bloggers and had to try myself.

Towards the end of the month, I re-launched Kavey Eats, having moved from Blogspot to WordPress and created a completely new look and layout.

 

March

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March saw me post another hearty recipe, this time my culinary handshake between America and Britain – Boston Baked Beans and British Bangers.

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A Clafoutis Black Cherry Pudding made a great winter warmer dessert.

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Memories (and photos) of childhood abounded when I made Knicker Bocker Glories as part of my second ever BSFIC challenge.

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Pete and I amused ourselves by Making Triangular Omelettes in a Sandwich Maker, just to see if we could!

 

April

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We had fun checking out the new Hawksmoor Spitalfield Bar.

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I got wrapped up in the history of the loss of the Titanic, after a tasting at Berry Bros & Rudd.

Chicken Savoyarde was utterly delicious, though not very photogenic!

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I was bowled over by Satong Sumbat (baby squid stuffed with spiced minced chicken) and other dishes at Umami Restaurant, all the more surprising given that it’s a hotel restaurant.

 

May

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Pete and I had a fantastic weekend in Amsterdam during which we did nothing but eat and drink our way around the city. I shared a comprehensive list of local specialities to look out for, some delicious places to find Coffee, Cake and Snacks in Amsterdam and lastly our tips for Amsterdam Restaurants & Bars.

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Several eager panellists joined me to carefully cogitate over as many brands of Jaffa Cakes as I could find, which resulted in the Great Jaffa Cake Taste Test. The winner surprised all of us as it was neither the best known brand nor the most expensive, by a long shot!

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I shared a non-food project I was very proud of – a collage of heart-shaped maps of our significant places, which I made for Pete as a gift for our 20th anniversary of being a couple.

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I was a very proud wife when Pete won Saveur magazine’s Best Wine or Beer Blog 2012 after only 6 months blogging at his own site. Go visit, have a look around, leave a comment or three and add him to your RSS reader!

 

June

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I learned and shared a recipe for Easy Dauphinoise Potatoes. They’re delicious and have become a regular feature in our house!

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Pete and I went to Dublin’s Bloom In The Park, and encountered many wonderful Irish food and drink producers.

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We tried Club Gascon’s amazing Marmite Royale & Toasts shortly before it was launched at Taste London.

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Pete made the most delicious Cobnut Bread. The recipe would also work well for hazelnuts or walnuts.

 

July

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We enjoyed a superb dinner at Paul Merrett’s pub, The Victoria in East Sheen.

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I had fantastic fun attending The Flavours of Italy cookery class at the new Food at 52 cookery school.

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Discovering how easy and tasty the condensed milk and double cream no churn ice cream base recipe is has made it even easier to make ice cream at home. This honeycomb ice cream was fabulous.

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I gorged myself on crawfish at Bea’s Crawfish Boil.

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This year I enjoyed visiting many more Indian restaurants, including Cinnamon Soho, for a family Sunday brunch.

 

August

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My genius came to the forefront (or so I maintain) when I came up with the idea for these Pickleback Ice Lollies – yes, that’s bourbon mixed with pickled gherkin brine and frozen!

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The view and the food were both pretty amazing when we attended Claude Bosi at The Cube, located on top of Royal Festival Hall.

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I may have confused redcurrants and cranberries, but my home-made Redcurrant and Port Jelly made an appearance on Christmas day, regardless!

 

September

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I talked about my tips for organising the freezer.

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After attending two wonderful fish and seafood cooking classes with Lee Groves, I posted an interview and his recipe for Ray Wings In Pepper Brown Butter Sauce.

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I was thrilled with how well this Sichuan Pepper Ice Cream came out. Delicious!

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I’m not one for hero worship but I have long admired Atul Kochhar so I was delighted to not only meet him but attend a mini cooking class in his restaurant kitchen, before sitting down to a lovely meal in the dining room.

 

October

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After another great visit to Abergavenny Food Festival, I enthused about my favourite exhibitors.

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I enjoyed getting my chops around a Tongue n Cheek ox heart burger.

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This Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with a Stout Honey Glaze was absolutely fantastic. It’s long past due for another outing!

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A residual memory from summer came to the surface when I shared the photos from our day at a Kentish Hop Farm.

November

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In October, Pete and I spent a truly wonderful 2.5 weeks in Japan. In November, I started writing up our experiences – there are so very many I want to share. First, an introduction, itinerary and resources list. On to eating, I posted about the challenges of Japanese vending machines, a delicious meal at Tempura Tsunahachi Honten and being intimated by Piss Alley before finding delicious Ramen for dinner.

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Probably the post that garnered most attention was my Guide to Staying in a Japanese Ryokan.

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Mum and I were very excited to finally see Leon Book 4 because we contributed a few recipes to it, not to mention some photos from the Gupta family album!

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I enthused about one of my favourite cookbooks of the year, Jekka’s Herb Cookbook.

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This year, I’ve discovered some fantastic teas. I reviewed my favourites for my Fantastic Teas 2012 Great Gift Guide.

 

December

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After an eye-opening (not to mention palate-opening) visit to the Kelly Bronze Turkey Farm, I wrote about the history of turkeys in the UK and about the difference between intensively raised white birds and Kelly’s bronze ones.

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For once, this dessert-wine drinker was given matching wines for all courses, at The Vineyard in Stockcross.

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Ever keen on quick and easy recipes I shared two this month. The first was for Chocolate, Amaretto and Amaretti Ice Cream. The second was an impressive Speculoos and Mascarpone Pancake Cake.

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More from Japan, in the form of Hida Beef and Owara Tamaten and a very photo-heavy meander through one of Takayama’s morning markets.

And there you have it! Believe it or not, that’s only a small selection of what I’ve posted on Kavey Eats this year. I hope you enjoyed my monthly picks. Happy New Year and see you in 2013!

 

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Carved detail on Hachiman Festival Float, Takayama, Japan

 

When I was a kid, mum had an enormous chest freezer. I have strong memories of being asked to go and fetch something and having to move half the contents around in order to find something right at the bottom, not to mention my fear of falling in and freezing to death!

So we don’t have a chest freezer.

Instead, we have an under-counter fridge (with no space wasted with tiny box freezer compartment) and a separate upright freezer with drawers. It’s fairly old now, but – touch wood – it’s still working fine.

The main challenge over the years has been to remember what we have in it, and which drawer everything is in.

Previously, we’d periodically take everything out into cool boxes and re-sort the contents back into themed drawers, one for meat, one for frozen ingredients such as vegetables and stock, another for frozen meals… but the problem was that, over time, new items were inevitably shoved in wherever we could find space, items were moved around and the system fell apart.

This is what I came up with a few years ago:

Our solution

  • Fix a large sheet of sticky-back white board to the front of the freezer. This is not expensive, and available from stationery suppliers.
  • Draw lines to divide the white board into drawers, as per your freezer unit.
  • Use a white board pen to write down everything that goes into the freezer, in the space for the relevant drawer.
  • Whenever you take something out to use, rub it off the board.
  • If you move something to make space for something else, update the board with its new drawer location.
  • If an item has a short freezer life, add the date you put it into the freezer.
  • Regularly scan the list so you can make plans to use up older items, and avoid buying items you already have.

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It might not be the most attractive appliance, but our kitchen wouldn’t be featured in any home design magazine anyway! And it works very well for us.

What do you think?

Do you have any tips to share for better kitchen organisation?

 

Note: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been sitting in the scheduled posts queue since then. Some of you will have seen my anguished tweets a couple of days ago when we returned home from a couple of days in Kent to discover that our freezer was switched off. (One of us must have knocked the power switch, accidentally). Having the information on the front allowed us to more quickly check the status of the contents without keeping the freezer open very long. We discovered that the top shelf and the lower two drawers, both less densely packed, had suffered most but that the contents of the meat drawer, chock full and with other drawers above and below, were still frozen solid.

 

As some of you will know, my husband Pete started blogging about beer as a guest writer here on Kavey Eats back in June 2010. A year later, he was writing so regularly that it became obvious that he should launch a blog of his own. Pete Drinks went live in October 2011 with the Great Alcoholic Ginger Beer Taste Test.

That was just 6 months ago!

Since then, he’s branched out further and now shares posts about beer, whisky and his homebrew efforts. There are even occasional food posts, where alcohol is a key ingredient, of course!

I know I’m biased… but I think his blog is pretty good, so when I saw Saveur magazine invite nominations for their 2012 blog awards, I went ahead and nominated Pete Drinks. The magazine received nearly 40,000 submissions across its 16 award categories before narrowing the field down to just 6 finalists in each category. Just being in those 96 is a great achievement!

For those who don’t know Saveur, it’s an internationally renowned food publication, written and produced in New York, but with a global focus. The content is informative, interesting and well-written and I have been enjoying the online site for quite a while.

So, late one evening, just as we’re about to go to bed, Pete turned to me and asked me, “Have you heard of a save-you-er dot com? I wonder if this is spam, they’ve just tweeted me about some award voting thing…”

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“Whaaaaaaaaat?!”, I squealed in disbelief and ridiculous excitement. And proceeded to tell him exactly who Saveur are, just how amazing this was and that yeah, in my opinion, it’s a pretty big deal to be selected as a finalist! It was a few hours before I calmed down enough to sleep!

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To view all the finalists in all the categories, do visit the site, and of course, add your votes. You will need to register with the website, but it’s a very quick process and doesn’t require the normal rigmarole of waiting for a confirmation email, clicking on the link and so on.

Check out all six finalists in the Best Wine or Beer Blog category, and if you think Pete deserves your vote, so much the better!

Voting closes on the 26th April so if you’re planning to participate, do get your votes in soon.

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