What Will You Do With Your Extra Hour?

PARTNEREDPOSTIn the words of Ned Stark, ‘winter is coming’. But in the real world that’s less a sign that white walkers will soon be invading our land so much as the onset of grey gloomy skies, cold wet weather and long, dark nights.

I always hate the switch to British Summer Time in the spring – that loss of an hour feels so much more than a mere 60 minutes. But at least it’s offset by the delights of spring, with days growing ever longer and brighter, and a calming profusion of lush green and colourful flowers.

In contrast, winter is heralded by the return to Greenwich Mean Time with clocks going back by an hour on the 30th of October. Most years, I greedily take that as an extra hour in bed, or at the very least an hour longer to read a good book or have a long hot soak in the bath.

But this year I’ve been asked by Elizabeth Shawto use that hour do something thoughtful for someone else instead’. I love this idea! It’s a perfect reminder that a single hour is enough time to make a difference to those around you. It’s easy to be put off thinking about what you could do to help others because of the assumption that you can only contribute usefully if you volunteer several hours a week on a regular basis or take part in a huge time- and energy-intensive event.

Of course, that’s not true at all and what I want to talk about are the easily achievable small gestures you can do to improve someone else’s day and bring a little more happiness into the world.

Homeless sign with text and (c)
Source image from shutterstock.com, text added by me

I am lucky to know many enormously decent, kind and lovely people. When I asked for their ideas on the kinds of things we can do to help others if we have just one hour to give, the response was staggering (in a good way) and hugely inspiring. I want to share with you all the things my friends do to make the world a brighter place.

All of these are ideas that you can do if you have an ad hoc hour or two spare.

  • Does your area have a local homeless shelter? (Citizens Advice should be able to provide a list). Instead of going shopping for yourself, go out and buy items to give to the shelter which they can distribute amongst their residents. A friend of mine who does this whenever she can recommends asking the shelter for guidance, first. For example, if you’d like to buy food items, ask whether residents have access to cooking facilities and if so, whether they have use of an oven, a stove top, a microwave, a fridge… and choose your donations accordingly. Ask what toiletry and hygiene items are most in need – toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, female sanitary items, shaving foam and razors
  • In a similar vein, get in touch with your local food bank and ask how and when to contribute. At mine, you can leave donations pretty much any day of the week, but with others they are only able to accept donations on certain days. Your food bank will be able to give guidance on what they are particularly short of as well as items that are considered a special treat. I like to donate a mix of affordable food essentials – pasta, sauces, tinned food – with a few items that may be a welcome treat – chocolates, good quality biscuits, a nice jar or honey, jam or chocolate spread. (And a note for fellow food and drink bloggers – if, like me, you are often sent product samples beyond what you need for review, consider donating what you can – just make sure everything you give is within the use by period).

shutterstock (food donations)
Image from shutterstock.com

  • If you grow fruit and vegetables in your garden or allotment, you’ll almost certainly already be sharing gluts with friends, family and colleagues. You may also be able to donate fresh produce either to a food bank (check if they can handle fresh produce first), or to a local homeless shelter or other organisations that cook and feed those in need.
  • Even if you can’t offer your time on a regular basis, local charities can often use help on an ad hoc basis. Organisations that provide meals to the homeless are often happy for help with kitchen prep, even if you can only offer it now and again. If you have specialist skills, can you offer to help with their accounts, tax returns, website or marketing? Maybe the organisation in question has an administrator who could do with better Excel skills – commercial training courses can be expensive, but a one-to-one lesson from a patient and willing helper could be just as useful. One of my friends is a master chef and he donates his time by way of cooking classes for a community cooking school, for various events and demos, and at his local shelter. A family member of mine has run cooking classes for a local education group, helping parents learn to make good, affordable and nutritious food for their families.

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Cake sale image by Jo Brigdale, individual orange cakes

  • Have you got a spare hour in the  kitchen? Bake a cake (or two or three) to give as a gift or donate for fundraising. One of my friends suggests freezing extra cakes, and she can then donate several at a time when there’s a bake sale. Another loves to surprise neighbours with cakes and other baked treats now and then, just because.
  • One of my favourite ideas for those who enjoy baking is a scheme called Free Cakes For Kids, run entirely by volunteers. Members provide birthday (and other celebration) cakes for children (and occasionally adults) who wouldn’t otherwise have them. A friend of mine has signed up to her local group and finds it a lovely way to do something small that has a huge and positive impact on someone’s day. Recipients can be referred by schools, social workers and other aid organisations. The requests are sent out to volunteers by email, and there are enough volunteers in my friend’s group that there is virtually always a volunteer who can accommodate each request.

Cakes Collage Jennie
Cakes made by my friend Jennie for Free Cakes For Kids

  • One way of doing something that can benefit a whole community is to join a community group that organises activities in your neighbourhood. A few of my friends belong to church groups and other community groups, and one is a member of Good Gym, a community of runners who combine exercise with doing good. Members of these various clubs take part in group activities such as litter picking, weeding and gardening in parks, community gardens and other communal areas, fixing or painting park benches, fences and railings, planting trees, running fundraisers or community social events, and helping elderly locals with home and garden chores. The advantage of these groups is that while some members may be able to attend every time, those who can only attend sometimes are still welcome.

On a more personal note, there are plenty of small gestures that can make such a big difference.

  • If you have any elderly or housebound neighbours, go around for a cup of tea and a chat, perhaps taking a cake or some biscuits with you. Those with reduced mobility and living on their own, can easily become lonely and isolated. If you don’t know anyone personally, contact Age UK (a merger of Age Concern England and Help the Aged) and ask if they know anyone in your vicinity who may appreciate a visit.
  • One of my friends helped a neighbour decorate their home for Christmas. Getting decorations down from the loft and putting the tree up can be difficult, and for some it might be easier not to bother with a tree at all than to ask for help from others. A good tip from my friend is not to just tell someone to ask you if they need any help, but to make a few suggestions of specific tasks you could help with – it’s easier for people to say yes to a specific offer of help than to ask for something they feel may be too much of an imposition.
  • What kind of tasks could you offer to help with? An hour’s time is plenty to mow a lawn, tidy up a garden, sweep autumn leaves or clear the front path of snow, or do other small maintenance tasks such as repainting a front door or garden fence.  Perhaps you could do someone’s weekly shop for them at the same time you do your own – it can give more peace of mind to have a friend or neighbour to do this rather than relying on supermarket deliveries – especially for those who are not confident ordering online. Think about whether any of your neighbours or friends could benefit from this kind of help, or again, ask Age UK if they know of people in your area.

Autumn thoughtfulness
Collage created using images from shutterstock.com

  • Do you have friends suffering from depression or anxiety? Offering to accompany them for a walk in a nearby park or the local neighbourhood can be hugely appreciated; a way to get some fresh air and a different perspective.
  • Professional babysitting services can be very expensive and many people simply can’t afford them and may have no extended family who can help. Offer to babysit for a friend (whose children know you) or have their children over to yours for a few hours so the parent(s) may enjoy some time out.
  • Do you know someone who is a full time carer to an elderly, disabled or chronically ill relative? Perhaps you could take their place to allow them to get out of the house for an hour or two – not everyone has extended family that can share the role. If you don’t know anyone personally, you may be able to find a local carers support organisation that could connect you with someone in your vicinity.

Although I’m focusing predominantly on the kinds of gestures you can make even if you only have the odd hour or two now and again, my friends also mentioned many ways of volunteering for those who can give time more regularly.

  • These range from joining your children’s school Parent Teacher Associations, where there are all manner of activities you can help with, to becoming a leader for a local Guide or Scout group – a great way to help children in your community learn new skills, develop confidence and be more active.


To make a small gesture of their own, Elizabeth Shaw are offering a hamper of their delicious products to one reader of Kavey Eats. Click here to find out more and to enter.

Kavey Eats was commissioned to write this post by Elizabeth Shaw Luxury Chocolates. All opinions and suggestions are my own.





Kavey’s Hot Multicultural Buns

Yesterday I read a news article mocking the English Defence League for failing to realise that a satirical news story claiming a bakery had decided to remove the ‘offensive’ cross from traditional hot cross buns was indeed a spoof and reacting with their usual rabid froth of outrage.

One indignant commenter declared, ‘What next, ”hot crescent bun” …?

And that was it, the idea for my Hot Multicultural Buns was born. I mean, if right-wing bigots think it’s a bad idea, surely it’s a bloody excellent one, right? And of course, I took it a few steps further too!

Kaveys Hot Multicultural Buns 1 mini

I enlisted Pete to help me make these buns today, so keen was I to counter the rhetoric of the EDL.

Using a Nigella Lawson recipe from her excellent book, Feast, we made eight buns. I pasted a traditional Christian cross on two, an Islamic crescent and star on two more, a Jewish star of David on another two and a Hindu swastika on the last pair.

My icing skills aren’t great and we forgot to egg-wash the buns before I piped on the shapes but you can just about make out the designs and I hope you’ll enjoy and perpetuate the idea.

Kaveys Hot Multicultural Buns 2 mini

Kavey’s Hot Multicultural Buns

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Hot Cross Buns
Nigella makes 16 mini buns with this recipe; we made 8 regular sized ones instead.


For the dough
150 millilitres milk
50 grams butter
zest of 1 orange
1 clove
2 cardamom pods
400 grams bread flour
1 x 7 grams packet easy-blend yeast
125 grams mixed dried fruit
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg
For the egg wash
1 large egg (beaten with a little milk)
For the multicultural patterns
3 tablespoons plain flour
½ tablespoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
For the sugar glaze
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon boiling water

Extra equipment: You will also need a clear plastic freezer bag or piping bag to pipe the multicultural symbols onto the buns.


  • Heat the milk, butter, orange zest, clove and cardamom pods in a saucepan until the butter melts, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse as it cools down.
  • Weigh the flour, yeast and dried fruit into a large bowl and add the spices. When the milk has cooled to blood temperature remove the whole spices and beat in the egg. Pour the mix into the dry ingredients and bring together into a dough.
  • Knead by hand or with a machine with a dough hook; if too dry add a little more warm milk or water. Knead until the dough is silky and elastic, though the dried fruit won’t allow for a satin smooth finish.
  • Shape into a ball, place into a large bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove overnight in the fridge or for several hours in a cool room.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge and set aside for half hour to come up to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF.
  • Punch the dough down and knead again.
  • Divide the dough into 8 portions and roll into rounds.
  • Line the buns up fairly snugly but not quite toughing on a silicon baking sheet or lined baking tray. Cover with clingfilm or a clean teatowel and leave to rise again for 45-60 minutes.
  • Brush the buns with an egg wash.
  • Mix flour, sugar and water into a smooth, thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with narrow nozzle or plastic freezer bag, then snipping the very tip of the corner off.
  • Pipe crosses, crescents, stars of david and swastikas as you like.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  • Just before taking the buns out of the oven, mix sugar and boiling water together for the glaze.
  • Brush each bun with the glaze as soon you remove them from the oven to give a sweet and shiny finish.

Kaveys Hot Multicultural Buns 3 mini

Enjoy warm, halved and spread generously with good quality salted butter, or leave to cool and serve toasted with butter and jam. Indeed enjoy them however you like, but I do hope you share them with friends of all colours, backgrounds and faiths!

Edit: Please be clear. The swastika iced onto my buns is a Hindu swastika, a symbol perverted by the Nazis to be sure, but reclaimed here as a symbol of the Hindu faith. I do not hold with suggestions that Hindus (and others) may no longer use the swastika, which has been associated with their faith for hundreds and hundreds of years. If you cannot see past Nazism, that is your prerogative, but this post is absolutely not showing any support whatsoever to Nazism or its supporters.

Ichiryu Hakata Udon House

Ichiryu brings fast food udon noodles to London’s increasingly diverse Japanese dining scene and it’s about time!

In the last 5 years, ramen has spread its wings and there are now umpteen London restaurants specialising in ramen – including a few small chains – selling delicious bowls of the much-loved Japanese noodle soup.

But udon noodles haven’t enjoyed the same rate of growth; not yet at least. Koya, particularly loved by the fooderati, has been a stalwart of course, but the main restaurant closed it’s doors last year, leaving only Koya Bar still in operation; in any case there was never any expectation of the brand expanding. Den Udon in King’s Cross was open for mere months before it closed its doors again, perhaps a victim of its rather out-of-the-way location. And so the best bet for udon-loving Londoners is usually a general Japanese restaurant that happens to offer one or two udon dishes amongst the sushi, katsu and teriyaki.

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7917

As one of those udon-loving Londoners, I’m hoping that 2016 is the year that udon makes more of a splash!

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Located on New Oxford Street a few steps away from Tottenham Court Road station, Ichiryu Hakata Udon House, to give it its full name, is another business venture from entrepreneur Tak Tokumine, founder of the long-established and much-loved Japan Centre in 1976, as well as Shoryu Ramen — now a chain with five locations. Tak’s hometown is Hakata, in Fukuoka city, Kyushu which claims to be one of the birthplaces of udon in Japan. Just as Shoryu’s original menu focused on Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen (there are now multiple styles of broth available), Ichiryu also looks to Kyushu for inspiration.

Note that Ichiryu is set up for fast dining, though not as fully self-service as your usual burger or chicken joint.

Guests are seated and given a menu as in most restaurants, but must place and pay for their orders at the till, giving their table number on ordering. Food and drinks are then served to the table by staff, and tables are cleared by them too.

The menu focuses on udon and tempura with a range of sides, a few rice bowls and some sushi and onigiri.

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The Hakata Bun (£4.50) with its filling of BBQ pork, Cod Tempura or Chicken Tempura inside a pillowy white steamed bun will be familiar to Shoryu customers, and it’s just as delicious here. I love the combo of pork, lettuce, cucumber, Japanese mayo and barbeque sauce.

Tempura is hit and miss for me. The single Tempura Prawn (£2) is decent; the batter light and crisp and the prawn cooked just right. But the mixed vegetable Kakiage (£2) is very unwieldy to eat and very quickly goes soggy as steam gets trapped within the ‘nest’.

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After these snacks it’s on to the udon. For those of you not yet familiar with these noodles, they are thick and white with a distinctive chewy texture that is enormously satisfying. Ichiryu’s udons are made fresh daily using Japanese wheat flour.

From the Hot Udon list we choose Niku Beef (£11.50) described as sukiyaki beef, spring onion in tsuyu bonito soup.

The broth is light yet with a decent beefy flavour, and the noodles are cooked to retain that lovely chew. My surprise on tasting this is that the generous portion of thinly sliced beef is plain and not marinated in a soy, sugar and mirin mix as I’d expected from the sukiyaki label. That makes the dish a little blander than I’d like, overall. It’s good but doesn’t blow me away; when it comes to soup noodles I’d prefer a bowl of intensely rich tonkotsu ramen.

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7926 Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7936

Our choice from the Cold Udon list is something far more special.

Ontama Egg (£8.40) comes with an ontama poached egg, spring onion, ginger and tempura pieces in tsuyu bonito sauce. There’s a dollop of fresh ginger paste too.

This dish shows off the udon noodles far more successfully, and the first mouthful of noodles, slippery from the sauce and studded with a few crunchy bits of tenkasu, transports me immediately to Japan. It’s an immediate visceral reaction that remains with me through subsequent mouthfuls. The cold perfectly poached egg, the soft raw ginger, the fresh spring onions and the crunchy tempura fragments combine with the noodles and sauce in perfect harmony.

This is the dish I will be returning for again and again and again.

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7947 Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7950

For dessert, Pete enjoys a Kagua Rouge Craft Beer (£6.30, 330ml, 9% abv), brewed on license in Belgium.

I can’t resist Mochi Ice Cream (£6 for 3 pieces) and am delighted to find that they are Little Moon ice cream mochi, which have admired since they launched a couple of years ago. From front to back, they are matcha, sesame and yuzu flavours.

Ichiryu Udon Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -7937

With it’s fast food approach, Ichiryu doesn’t take reservations. Opening hours are Mondays to Saturdays 12 – 22:30 and Sundays 12 – 21:30. Last orders 30 minutes before closing.

Do yourself a favour and find time to drop in for a Hakata Bun and a bowl of Ontama Egg Cold Udon. You will not be sorry!


Kavey Eats dined as guests of Ichiryu Hakata Udon House.

Square Meal
Ichiryu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Year In Review | 2015 on Kavey Eats

13 days off from work has been blissful. I started the holidays full of determination to tick things off my To Do list – as always, I have a long list of posts I’m eager to write and share. In the end, I did far less than planned – quickly succumbing to the realisation that I just needed to rest and relax.

It’s been a tiring year, with some tough times but of course, there have been many positives too, and as always, lots of great food, drink and travel.

Before I get too far into 2016, here’s a look back at 2015 on Kavey Eats.


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I started off the year with my handy guide to visiting Borough Market, Maltby Street, Bermondsey & Bankside.

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In 2014 I launched a series called Meet The Blogger, interviewing the bloggers behind some of my favourite blogs. I carried this into 2015, but let it fall by the wayside somewhat as the year progressed. One of my goals for 2016 is to resume the series as a regular feature.


I continued my love affair with Japanese food, visiting Kouzu restaurant in Victoria.


I reported back on my trip to the beautiful city of Vilnius in Lithuania.

I shared a killer recipe for the richest, densest dark chocolate ice cream ever – simplified to make in a power blender. Pour it into ice lolly moulds for the best ever fudgsicles!


Despite it being the shortest month, I crammed a lot into February!

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I started by sharing all the reasons why I love my microwave, asking fellow food writers, bloggers and chefs for their input too.

You may also enjoy my recipe for Easy Microwave Salted Caramels.


I shared more about the phenomenon of Super Tasting, from a personal perspective.

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One of my most popular posts was this guide on which cuts of beef are best for which kind of recipes, including a few lessons from a master butcher.

There were more restaurant visits – including Japanese yakiniku at Kintan and delicious cocktails and food at Old Tom & English.


And a warming cider braised pheasant with shallots apples and thyme.


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If you don’t already read Fig Jam & Lime Cordial, you should – it’s a wonderful blog written by my friend Celia, who lives in Sydney. Celia has been spreading good cheer, good bread and good friendship by way of deyhdrated portions of her super sourdough starter, Priscilla. In March I introduced you to Pussy Galoaf, as we called our Priscilla offspring. She makes amazing sourdough!

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My Japanese addiction was catered to by way of a Japanese afternoon tea, an umeshu (Japanese plum wine) tasting event and a matcha masterclass by Lalani & Co.

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I absolutely loved the Peruvian-inspired cocktails and food at Pachamama restaurant in London.

Also on the dining out front, I had an incredible supperclub experience at my friend Jason’s Peranakan Palace and tasty Moroccan food at Le Menar.

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My personal favourite recipe of the month was my grandfather’s spicy tomato ketchup, a recipe I’ve been making for several years using tomatoes from our garden. But there was also a lot of interest in this chocolate and coconut dairy-free ice cream, rum optional and my Chorizo, Cod & Pea Fish Pie.


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I started the month by sharing some recent instagrams including a visit to the Sky Garden, some juicy lychees, being a judge for the International Chocolate Awards again and a delicious tea tasting wit Momo Cha Fine Teas.

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I swapped my enormous sous vide water bath with a nifty, space-saving and affordable Codlo sous vide adaptor. Codlo is priced at £119, available here.

Collage Glazebrook interiors (c) Kavita and Pete Favelle

This month, my travel piece was a staycation in glorious Glazebrook House Hotel, a luxurious hideaway on the edge of Dartmoor.


On the recipe front, it was a really simple idea that caught readers’ imaginations this month: I’m not one for green smoothies – the kind featuring kale, spinach, wheatgrass or other green vegetables – but I do like to add matcha into a regular fruit smoothie – for flavour, caffeine and L-theanine – believed to boost concentration.


By the way, the single best thing that happened last year was nothing to do with food or travel; my gorgeous baby nephew was born! He’s grown up so much as the year has progressed. All of us absolutely adore him!


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After a few weeks of play, I published my review of the new Huawei Ascend G7 smartphone. There’s a lot to like, especially at the price point, but a fair few frustrating niggles too.

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Having been a bit remiss in sharing more of our 2014 Iceland trip, I wrote a few more postcards from Iceland for you in May and June.

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2015 has seen me turn more and more often to my trusty Froothie Optimum power blender. Read here for a summary of why it’s so great.

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When Pete and I eat lunch out locally, we tend to favour Japanese. Sushi Mania is a relatively new local restaurant with great food (but frustratingly, consistently poor service).


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One of my favourite cookbooks this year has been Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand. This Chicken with Pumpkin, Cream & Gruyère recipe has quickly become a regular weekday supper.

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This month’s travel post is a visual report on our fourth trip to Islay, a beautiful island off Scotland’s West Coast, best known for it’s numerous whisky distilleries.


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My most popular post this year has been this guide on how to make pour-over coffee in a Chemex coffeemaker. This beautifully elegant glass jug coffee apparatus looks modern but was invented back in 1941!

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I’m delighted that you’ve also given a big thumbs up to both July’s recipe posts too – Lebanese-inspired Carob Molasses & Tahini Chocolate Brownies and Eton Mess Ice Lollies (strawberries, cream & meringue on a stick, what’s not to like?)


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We enjoyed eating out this month. Jamie’s Italian really surprised us; we loved it! We were similarly impressed with Lobos Meat & Tapas next to Borough Market. And the modern Filipino food we tasted at Luzon left us keen to try more.

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Since our first visit to Japan back in 2012, I’ve been trying to learn more about sake and to develop my palate and understand my own tastes. In this guide, I’ve shared everything I’ve learned about sake, and given you some handy information about classifications, different varieties and some recommendations too.

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Two key recipes this month. The first is another summery ice lolly, roasted banana and cream paletas – the roasting really intensifies the banana. The second is Lizzie Mabbott’s Chinese Spag Bol from her excellent book, Chinatown Kitchen.


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Pete and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary this month. That’s weird mostly because in my head we’re still the barely-adult youths we were when we met!

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Of course, I was still loving Japanese food, this time at Shoryu’s Liverpool Street branch, with proper robata grill.

Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle - textoverlay

I’ve been gradually sharing my experiences in Canada since my September visit, with many more still to come. The first was this delicious sticky buns recipe which we learned from Chef Anna Olson when visiting her and husband Michael Olson’s home in Welland, Niagara.

We also loved dining with a view over London, in the Sky Garden’s Fenchurch restaurant.


Marche Jean Talon Collage - Kavey Eats

I published my first Markets of Canada post, on Montreal’s Marché Jean-Talon.

 Vietfood London - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0289

My favourite meals out were at newly opened Viet Food in Chinatown.

Quick Golden Baked Peri Peri Chicken Yoghurt and Rice Cake - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (text2)

Pete and I developed a few new recipes this month, including this absolute winner: quick golden-baked peri peri chicken, yoghurt & rice cake, not only a showstopper but very quick and easy to make too.


Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (4)

The second home-developed recipe was a potato rosti pizza base, not only delicious in its own right but also a great alternative for gluten-free diets.


From the Canada trip I wrote about my fine dining experience at Toqué restaurant and enthused about another market, Quebec City’s Marché du Vieux-Port plus nearby Île d’Orléans. For a preview of the entire trip, check out the overview I shared.

It was a month of books with reviews and recipes from NOPI: The Cookbook, Wild Drinks & Cocktails and Nikkei: Japanese Food the South American Way.


Little Moons Tsuki Mochi on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7671 Little Moons Tsuki Mochi on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7684

You can tell that Japan is never far from my thoughts. I loved telling you about the Japanese legend of the mochi-making rabbit in the moon.

Cookbooks fans will hopefully enjoy my pick of favourite cookbooks from 2015.

First Nation Cuisine at Huron-Wendat - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle - notext-1559 First Nation Cuisine at Huron-Wendat - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-9746 First Nation Cuisine at Huron-Wendat - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1565

I finished the year with another travel post from my trip to Canada, this time learning about First Nations food and culture at Wendake’s Huron-Wendat Museum.


Many thanks to all my readers for visiting Kavey Eats, and especially to those of you who leave me a comment on a post you’ve enjoyed. I appreciate every single one, and love hearing your reactions to recipes, reviews and travel experiences.

Wishing you a happy new year!

A Personal Ramble About Trees And Broccoli

I’m taking you on a slight departure from my usual content today, to share a personal ramble about trees and broccoli.

It was prompted by this link that I came across on Twitter, of a story about a project in Melbourne in which individual trees were given email addresses. The intention was to give locals a quick way to report issues related to the threes that might need local government attention, but what happened was the most delightful correspondence, in which locals wrote letters to their favourite trees instead.

It made me smile. In fact it made me grin with delight!

Image from

I love trees. I love to talk to them. I often admire them. Whenever we drive anywhere – unless it’s one of the trips in which I fall quickly asleep and snore all the way – I excitedly point out the most pretty trees to Pete , to which he usually responds with disappointing disinterest or a reminder that he should really watch the road rather than join me in judging the beauty of trees.

I used to want to eat all the prettiest leaves because some of them are just so green and beautiful. But since I didn’t know which ones were poisonous I did stop myself from doing that. It’s odd really that I’m not as drawn to salad, but it just isn’t the same as leaves from trees. Sometimes I pluck a particularly beautiful leaf and lick it but I keep this to a minimum since, you know, that whole poisonous thing and I have enough trouble with people assuming I’m a loon as it is. And only ones from above the dog piss line, obviously.

I thought at first that I would write rather a lot to trees if our local ones had email addresses. But perhaps I’d eschew email and stick to talking to them, since I don’t think any of the ones I know have access to computers. I am confident they can hear me when I talk.

Then I got to thinking… (I know, the insights above are probably a scary enough look into my mind already, but bear with me.)

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Images from shutterstock.com

I have never liked eating calabrese broccoli, because to me it looks halfway between a tree and a shaving brush.

Allotment harvests

I do like sprouting broccoli though, because, less tree like. The purple stuff is the best because it’s purple!
Are you a broccoli fan? And what about trees?!

Who? Why? Huawei?

Since my first smartphone, I’ve been a loyal Android girl. Having worked extensively with Apple macs in a professional capacity I was never as bowled over by their alleged coolness as many of my contemporaries, nor willing to pay the premium. I started with an HTC Wildfire which didn’t disappoint; I quickly became used to checking and responding to emails and social media, navigating via Google Maps and accessing the full extent of the web.

In 2012 I was given a Nokia Lumia 800 to review but quickly discovered that despite loving the physical design I absolutely hated the Windows platform. With a vengeance. I switched back to my HTC before the Lumia and I came to blows. When I eventually looked to upgrade the Wildfire I stayed loyal to the brand – that proved to be a mistake; the entry level HTC Desire was three years newer and yet slower, with poorer battery life, than the Wildfire it was intended to replace.

I was reluctant to blow the big bucks when I’d only just upgraded but was seriously considering it… when along came an offer to review the brand new Samsung Galaxy S4. I totally clicked with my S4 phone and have been using it happily for two years now.

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Out of the box; after a few weeks

My latest review item is a Huawei Ascend G7, launched in the UK late in April.

The Ascend G7 is an Android smartphone with large screen size, smart, slim, metal casing, 4G capable and an attractive midrange price point – currently around £200.

If, like me, you hadn’t heard of Huawei, here’s the cheat sheet: Huawei is a global Chinese company specialising in telecomms networking and equipment; one of the largest manufacturers in the world. You may well have encountered their products before, as a large part of their business is making white-label products for other brands. Now they are promoting their own brand mobile handsets across Europe.

I’ve now been using the G7 for a few weeks. There are a few aspects I really like, but quite a bit that I find frustrating – I haven’t yet made a decision on whether I’ll be stick with the G7 or switch back to my S4.



Physical phone

The slim form metal case is attractive, there’s no denying this is a good looking phone.

But bigger isn’t always better – I’ve come to realise that the size is just that little bit too large for my hands; the extra 7 mm width means I can’t comfortably use the G7 one-handed without quickly feeling muscle strain. That’s a personal issue, of course, and not a criticism of the G7 and it will suit those who are looking for a larger screen.


Image & Sound Quality

Sound quality seems pretty similar on the S4 an the G7, certainly I’ve not found myself thinking the G7 is better or worse than the S4. In fact, I just played the same music video on both phones and I’d say the sound is definitely comparable.

Officially, the resolution of the S4 is much higher (441 ppi against the G7’s 267 ppi) but I think the G7 does a fantastic job of harnessing those pixels – everything looks good and sharp, with nice colour definition and,to my surprise, I haven’t felt a step down from the S4.

However the (impressively large) screen shows every fingerprint and smear in a way that my Galaxy S4’s screen doesn’t. The smears are really intrusive in bright light, and I’m constantly rubbing the phone against my trouser leg trying to clear up that display.

Likewise, I struggle to see the screen in bright light, making outdoor photography and general phone use rather tricky when the sun is shining.

Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-164306


Phone Manager & Battery Life

Hands down my favourite feature of the G7 is this clever app management (and security) software which allows me to easily and quickly close apps and clear trash files, thereby hugely extending battery life. I can choose myself which apps will never be closed by the Phone Manager and can manually override on an individual basis.

There are a number of power save settings available, which will likely come in useful for those occasional times when I am not able to plug the phone in for a charge overnight.

Apparently there is also a harassment filter which can be used to block nuisance calls or messages from specified numbers and even a Do Not Disturb mode which blocks all calls save those from your personal Allowed list.

And by the way, battery life is phenomenal – I’ve never come close to draining the phone, even on a really heavy-use day.

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Before running the optimisation and after


Missing Apps Tray

In their infinite wisdom (I hope you can hear the sarcasm in my words, even in the written format?) Huawei have done away with the Apps Tray which means that every single app you install, plus all the ones they’ve preloaded the phone with (including quite a few useless ones), are crowded into your five home screen pages.

Having an Apps Tray (a standard part of the Android platform) means that all apps are automatically listed in alphabetical order, which makes it very easy to find those I only need to access very rarely. I can therefore create shortcuts on my home screen pages only for those apps I use on a regular basis, creating a layout that is customised to my needs.

On the G7, every time I install a new app it randomly inserts itself into one of the few free spaces in one of my home screen pages, and I have to waste several minutes moving several other app shortcuts around (rather fiddly) in order to position the new app in alphabetical order. This is utterly nuts and a really stupid decision on Huawei’s part, no doubt an attempt to emulate the iPhone platform.

Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-26
My customised home screen centre page


App Names & Icons

Speaking of icons and shortcuts, I’ve quickly discarded Huawei’s own Calendar and SMS Messaging apps – they just aren’t very good – and unfortunately, when I install my preferred Google Calendar and the standard Android SMS, the G7 doesn’t pull through the relevant icons, using instead the same ones as it’s own label versions. Very confusing. I’ve had to hide the Huawei versions away in a dumping ground apps folder in order to keep them out of the way. (Yes, still missing the Apps Tray, here).



The camera really failed to impress for the first couple of weeks. I couldn’t understand why my images were so frequently out of focus until I eventually realised that it seemed to be back-focusing. Since social media is a key reason I use a smartphone, a camera that didn’t work for me was an immediate deal breaker.

Thank goodness, Pete suggested trying some other camera apps to assess whether it was the camera hardware itself at fault or just a poorly-written camera app.

I’m currently using the Google Camera app, which is much much better and gives me handy exposure compensation controls, which I appreciate. Certainly I’m not having any trouble with focus / sharp images anymore. Unfortunately, this app plays an annoying shutter click sound even when my phone is in silent mode and there’s no setting I can find to override that. That said, it has at least proved to me that the camera hardware itself is fine, which is a huge relief.

I’m keen to find a better solution and am considering Camera FV-5, but the free trial version restricts me to very low res images which are hard to assess properly. If you have any experience of Camera FV-5 or other good Android phone apps, please leave me a comment – I’d be hugely grateful for your suggestions!

For number crunchers, the G7 has a 13 MP main camera with f2.0 aperture and LED flash. The front (selfie) camera is 5 MP. (Virtually the same as my trusty S4, the only difference is a f2.2 aperture).

I’ve not explored the G7’s camera software features much as I so quickly gave up on using Huawei’s camera app but the app boasts HDR, panorama settings (on both front and rear cameras) and a facial-enhancement feature called Beauty Mode. An intriguing All-Focus mode allows you to take a photo and then select the focus later, blurring the foreground or background appropriately to create shallow depth of field after the fact – weird but it does work, should you want it!


File & Image Folders

Samsung’s Gallery feature was irritating as hell but once I worked out how to turn it off, I was happy with image organisation and could easily create folders and move / copy images between them.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be possible to create folders and sort content within the G7 File Manager, and that applies to image files too. Irritating!


Notifications, Shortcuts & Settings

Both Push Notifications and Shortcuts to key settings are accessed by swiping down the top menu. Unfortunately, the Huawei skin hasn’t made this user friendly.

On my S4, the first swipe down immediately lists notifications, and then a tap on either of the two icons provided will take me to either Shortcuts or to full Settings. On the G7, swiping down gives me access to either Notifications or Shortcuts, seldom the one I want at the time, and I have to switch between them.

Furthermore, the Shortcuts list is truncated and there doesn’t seem to be any way to tell it to always display in full; given that you can’t customise which settings are shown in the list, and that all the ones listed fit easily on screen, this seems a pointless extra step.

The main Settings panel has also been reskinned for no good reason, making everything that little bit trickier to find, but not offering a single advantage over the Android standard.

Although I’m open to innovations that provide a benefit, I’m really not a fan of change for change’s sake.

Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-41 Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-48
Shortcuts shown as they first come up, and expanded



I remember from my brief switch to the HTC Desire (before I got my S4) the frustration of slow performance when I was used to fast.

Although the tech review sites have highlighted laggy performance in their G7 reviews, I can’t say this is something I’ve noticed at all and I’m very happy with the phone’s performance.


Other Niggles

I nearly always set my phone to Vibration mode (zero volume, buzzing for incoming calls and notifications) and it’s easy enough to select that option. Unfortunately, time and time and time again (several times a day) I discover that the G7 has switched into completely Silent mode, without vibration. This is driving me crazy, so if anyone has an answer to how it keeps happening, or better still, a way to stop it, I’m listening!

And speaking of Vibration mode, the vibration is really weak. Perhaps that contributes to the excellent battery life but I’d sure like a way to pump it up a little. (Hey, get your mind out of the gutter, yes you!)

Like most of Huawei’s in-house software, the Phone Dialler must surely also have been written by people who just don’t use phones very much! I can work out how to call a number from my Contacts and I can see how to type a number in myself. What I can’t readily do is paste in a phone number that I’ve copied from an email or tweet – the only way I’ve found is to start typing a number in to the Diallier, paste my copied number in and then go back and delete the number I typed in to bring the field up in the first place.


In conclusion

Although my review isn’t altogether positive, the Phone Manager / battery life are such strong additions to the Pros column that they do go a long way to balancing the Cons. And if Huawei gave up their insistence on replacing perfectly good default functionality with crappy in-house versions, most of the Cons could be crossed off the list.

Let me end with a few photos taken on the G7 (and posted to instagram):

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Kavey Eats was provided a Huawei Ascend G7 for review purposes.

Novelty Star Wars X-Wing Knife Block

One for the Star Wars fans, this – an X-Wing Knife Block – created by bluw to celebrate the release of the seventh film later this year.

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The officially licensed set contains an X-Wing shaped knife block with five stainless steel knives – a bread knife, a carving knife, a utility knife, a paring knife and a cook’s knife. Each knife has a protection sheath that it slots into.

The block is frustratingly flimsy – you have to hold it with one hand to pull a knife from it with the other and the knives are very lightweight too; it’ll be interesting to see how long they last. This is much more of a novelty gift than a serious kitchen set, I’d say. However, I can’t help but smile at the idea, regardless. Prices vary considerably from £48.99 to £79.99 so it’s worth shopping around, if you want to buy one.

Kavey Eats received a product sample from bluw.

Farewell to 2014

I’m wont to extremely long and rambling annual round ups, when it comes to the end of the year. When I start looking back, I get so excited about so many things I saw, did and ate that I struggle to narrow it down. This year is no different!


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My recipe for Yakitori Chicken Hearts turns out to be the most popular one of the year, which I find encouraging, given how many people I know turn their noses up at offal. I posted this at a time when my culinary heart was still yearning for Japan (which we visited for the second time in late autumn 2013).

I also had fun learning all about cooking sous vide.



The older (and more experienced I get) the better I become at adapting recipes to suit our tastes. There have always been some dishes I have been able to cook more instinctively, but when I was younger, I didn’t have the confidence to make changes that might improve upon the recipes of others. Making a few minor adjustments to this Baked Chorizo, Cod and Potato dish elevated it into a firm favourite that we’ve made again more than once.

Much of the content I published in February harked back to the second Japan trip, including several photo essays, a review of Burger King’s Kuro Ninja and a visit to Suizenji Joju-en Park in Kumamoto.



My most popular recipe this month (and one that continues to garner praise from those who make it) is my Mum’s Lucknowi-style Lamb Biryani.

March was definitely a recipe-lead month, with my primer on sous vide steak, our Japanese yakiniku at home experiment and cheese, ham and chilli jam pancakes for pancake day.

I was also surprised and fascinated by the responses to my little survey about ready meals versus home cooking.


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There were two recipes I loved sharing in April – my Sous Vide Southern Fried Chicken and this unusual Smoky Paprika Coleslaw recipe featuring, of all ingredients, condensed milk! It really works! I also made a home made Mr Whippy ice cream; it worked superbly well but is a bit of a faff.


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The filming was earlier in the year, but May was the broadcast date for Heston’s Great British Food Chocolate episode, to which I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest. An incredible experience!

Individual Marzipan Cakes

These Individual Marzipan Cakes, a tweaked Nigella recipe, are definitely overdue to be made again.


Salivating as I think of it, I had one of the best Lebanese meals I’ve had in the UK, at Warda restaurant in Southgate (North London). We’ve been again several times since and love it so much we’re taking my mum there for her birthday next month.


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More inspiration from Japan this month in two of my recipes – Green Beans with a Tofu, Miso and Sesame Dressing (Saya Ingen Shira-ae) and Quick & Easy Yuzu Ice Cream.

I also had great fun filming a recipe video for vouchercodesuk. You can view the video but also access the written recipe for my Chorizo, Spinach, Onion & Potato Frittata, here.

Another recipe I posted in June must surely be my simplest ever, with just a single ingredient! But readers and friends have let me know they have been delighted to learn about the slow cooker method of cooking jacket potatoes.


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In July, I shared a mammoth travel post, rounding up all my favourites from a city break in Brussels.


The recipe of the month was definitely these deceptively simple, beautifully bling Brazilian Brigadeiro Chocolate Bonbons but a second runner would be Little Orange & Lime Cakes, also from Brazil.


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In August I shared some great recipes made using my new Optimum 9400 Blender by Froothie. This smooth-as-silk White Chocolate Vanilla Ice Cream was one such recipe, as was this Quick Courgette & Blue Cheese Soup.

Our garden and allotment began to reward us with lots of delicious courgettes. Unlike some, I relish the glut and shared a long list of courgette recipes including fabulous Sausage-Ragu Stuffed Globe Courgettes.

This month, I also launched my Meet The Blogger series, in which I introduce readers to some of my favourite bloggers by way of an interview.


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The undisputed highlight of my summer was attending my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Sharing images from the day, not to mention our dining highlights, was a lovely way to relive the occasion. I can’t wait to go back when it’s less searingly hot!

Pete and I also had a great experience attending the Billingsgate Seafood Cookery School’s evening class on smoking fish.


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This tasty month included a recipe that turned out even better than I hoped; this Burnt Apple & Bourbon Ice Cream plus a taste of Iceland, after our 20th wedding anniversary trip to Iceland in August and September.

I was also very happy with my Chorizo, Pumpkin, Spinach & Giant Couscous Salad.


Celebrating my end-of-September birthday with lunch at Kurobuta restaurant was an excellent choice, one that still has me dreaming about some of the dishes. My review went up in October.


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I shared more from our trip to Iceland, with my Reykjavik Postcard full of our favourite sights, food and drink.


Having been reworking the recipe since I first posted a version last year, I finally posted an updated recipe of my Easy Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon Brittle.



First, another postcard from our late summer visit Iceland, the fantastic Viking Sushi Boat Excursion.

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More travel, but this time in the form of an educational visit to Almeria and Murcia to learn about their agricultural Green Revolution.


And my latest recipe, a choice of two recipes for lemongrass and coconut ice cream and decorative dried pineapple flowers with chilli.


Alongside all of that has been a steady flow of restaurant reviews, lots more Meet The Blogger interviews, some cookery book reviews and recipes featuring home grown produce from our garden and allotment.

This year I finally also joined instagram which I’ve really been enjoying, sharing the little food experiences (and wider life ones) that don’t make it onto Kavey Eats. This has proved particularly food fun during my travels, with friends kindly letting me know how much they’ve appreciated travelling along with me via the images and captions.

To readers old and new, thank you for taking the time to visit Kavey Eats. If you enjoy a post, a recipe, a tip or a story, do please leave me a comment with your thoughts or feedback. I love hearing from you.

Wishing you all the best for 2015!