Kit – ice lolly maker

Kit – ice lolly maker

I consider myself a bit of a whizz when it comes to making ice lollies, as you can see here, so when someone suggested I try a Zoku lolly maker I got quite excited. It takes around 10 minutes for the whole lolly to freeze, and that means it’s possible to do layered lollies in minutes rather than hours. What I didn’t realise is that you have to keep quite a hefty machine, similar to an ice cream maker, in your freezer. Also, I feel that maybe my natural affinity to making ice lollies is because they are so damn easy, and that this machine, with its instruction booklet, complicates that. Anyway, I made them (with yoghurt, a mistake as it doesn’t go into the allotted slot smoothly enough) and they were far too big for my little 2 and 4 year olds. And then I realised that actually, what we had here wasn’t an appliance failure, but my kids were just the wrong age for it. Then, by coincidence, a day later, I met up with two friends and one of them started to sing the praises of her lolly maker. A Zoku. Here’s what she said:“Last summer I gave my 8 year old daughter a Zoku machine (I really wanted it for myself, but felt less guilty splashing £35 on a lolly maker, loosely disguising it as a birthday present ). £35 seemed like a lot of money to spend on a frozen water machine, but the website looked so inviting and promised to make magical ice lollies in a matter of minutes (no waiting 24 hours for...
Kit: silicone spatulas. Oh the joy!

Kit: silicone spatulas. Oh the joy!

My fridge is full of half-empty jars. In fact half-empty is probably generous. My fridge is full of virtually empty jars because I’m too tight to throw anything away. I can’t bear to chuck a mustard pot away when, in theory, there is still a scraping in there. In practise that scraping is only available to someone with very small bendy arms. So the pot stays in the fridge until it looks so unappetising that I feel within my rights to put it in the bin. So, imagine my delight on one of my many, many visits to John Lewis, when I discover that Le Creuset have created a silicone spatula for just such a situation. It’s long and thin, with special sticky-outy things and nubbins to get in those awkward curves, where the mustard, jam, Nutella, get caught. And it’s Le Creuset! So I’m not pikey and it’s not about saving money, it’s about saving the world for future generations by not wasting what we’ve got. It’s a good thing it’s not about saving money, as the spatula cost me £9.50. Which, when you consider the mustard cost £1.39 and the scraping is probably a maximum of one percent of the total, a saving of 1.39p. Which means that’s around 683 and a half jars of mustard before I turn a profit. Bargain. Claire...
Kit – poached egg pods

Kit – poached egg pods

Ok. The party’s over, the bunting’s down and it’s back to work/school/whatever. What with all these four day weeks you’ve probably slipped into bad habits and are looking to turn over a new leaf. I know I am. So I’ve binned the chocolate eggs, conceded that – although very similar to yoghurt – custard is not a good breakfast alternative and dug these funny looking pods out of the drawer. I bought them in September. Both my daughters started school (reception and nursery) on the same day and I wanted them to have something more substantial in their tummies than their normal Cheerios. So I expanded our breakfast repertoire to include pancakes, French toast and poached eggs. Does anyone remember the 1950s ad campaign: ‘Go to work on an egg’? It starred Tony Hancock and the slogan was supposedly written by Fay Weldon. As I am not sending my little ‘uns up chimneys just yet, I thought going to school on an egg instead would be a good start to the day. Eggs are full of B-vitamins and protein and contrary to popular belief – they aren’t as cholesterol-high as once thought. It may sound like a faff cooking eggs before the mad school dash, especially poached ones which are supposed to be notoriously hard to get right, but these little pods make it even simpler than boiling an egg. They are literally fool-proof and only cost a fiver for a pack of two from Lakeland. You just lightly oil each pod (we use sunflower oil), crack an egg in and lower into boiling water, stick the pan lid...
Kit – ice cream maker

Kit – ice cream maker

I bought my husband an ice cream maker for his Christmas present. It was kind of against my will. I have to move the many pieces of his juicer every time I want to get to the butter beans, so I knew this would mean further clutter in what is already a very spacially challenged kitchen. But selflessly, I bought it. And, I am SO glad I did, I’ve had a good ice cream or sorbet pretty much once a week ever since. Last night was probably one of the best. Blood orange and rose water sorbet. I’m not very good at talking about the “intense flavours of this…” and the “superb texture of that…”. All I can say is that I ate everything on my plate, then seconds, then scraped out the container and finally went into a separate room and drank the remnants from the frozen bowl of the ice cream maker. Yep, it was good. All that pleasure for about £30. I initially did an enormous amount of research, scouring Which? and online reviews, trying to decide which ice cream maker to buy. I ended up with a Kenwood which broke in the first week, so now we have a John Lewis own make and it’s fine. Also, although ice cream is very rich and a bit expensive to make, because of all that double cream, sorbet costs virtually nothing. My husband is the king of odd flavour combos, using up wierd things leftover in the fridge, but they always work. Kiwi and coriander; beetroot, apple and ginger. It’s opened up all sorts of new culinary avenues, and...
To mix or not to mix

To mix or not to mix

I’ve wanted one of these for as long as I can remember. Well maybe not that long, but certainly for a good few years which in my see-it, buy-it mindset is practically forever. But it is an eye-watering amount of money (around £400) that I have never felt able to justify for something that essentially just makes cakes. I’d have to bake a lot of buns, just as many meringues and whip a few thousand egg whites for it to earn its keep and I am just not sure I can eat that much. In their defence everyone who has one says they are worth their weight in gold (although that would possibly be cheaper) and last for years. It is comical to think that people get so het-up over food mixers but bizarrely it is a divisive topic amongst cake-heads – along the lines of the Mac versus PC debate. In this case it is KitchenAid (more expensive, more beautiful) versus Kenwood (cheaper, still pretty, but better at the job according to some). Either way in order to get my money’s worth, I need to decide soon. Lucy Claire says: “At the moment I am borrowing my brother-in-law’s Tesco Value electric beater, as I have given up on my own RUBBISH Dualit handheld blender – it sprays cake mix everywhere, despite the 5 litre mixing bowl I bought especially to contain it. I think, in the style stakes, the KitchenAid wins, although the Tesco beater has a very natty blue and red Tesco Value box. But, it does the trick and costs very little. However, if money wasn’t an...
Cutting the apron strings

Cutting the apron strings

This is the most beautiful apron I have ever seen. It looks almost too pretty to contemplate getting sticky fingers on it and would happily double up as an outfit to a wedding. All you’d need is a hat. But no an apron it is – a traditional American one no less. It wraps around and comes in oatmeal or white linen with contrasting sashes. I imagine just by wearing it life would not only feel more orderly but my cooking would improve tenfold. It’s from the stylish homeware store Natural History who also have some elegant table linen (read more about my table cloth love here) and sweet children’s aprons. Had it not been my birthday last week, the apron would be top of my list. Instead I may have to treat myself. Lucy Claire says: “My god, it’s beautiful! And I never thought I’d say that about an...