I hope you'll join me in creating memories and sharing the passion of experimentation.

Anything goes, but food, sewing, hosting and DIY are my favourites, what are yours?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Venturing into the world of home smoked foods

Smoked bacon is my boyfriend's (Josh) favourite thing in the whole world (I'm pretty sure it comes above all friends and family). So after weeks of agonising over what to get him for Christmas, I suddenly had a revelation in the form of a smoker, so that he could make his own.

"Cold or Hot smoker?" I hear you ask... I didn't know there was a difference either :s

Simply, hot smoking cooks whatever you put inside, and cold smoking doesn't. Hot smoking uses wood chips, and cold smoking uses wood dust. Smoked salmon and bacon (as you would see in the shops) is cold smoked, and other fish, ham and ribs etc would be hot smoked.

I decided to go for a cold smoker, as bacon was the key driver to this smokey present plan. I researched several cold smokers, but found that this one, from "Hot Smokers" called the "ProQ Eco Smoker", seemed to tick all the boxes.

Smoking requires the wood dust to burn very slowly, so Hot Smokers sell an ingenius product, which allows the dust to burn in a long line, in a maze type fashion. Well done ProQ!!

TIP: You could very easily fashion one of these smoke generators out of some wire mesh, or even a flatish sieve, then fold some tinfoil into long strips (around 3 sheets thickness) and make a circular pattern. This would form a swirl which you can light at one end. Then all you need is a tall, sealable cardboard or metal box which will fit your smoke generator and a shelf in

I bought the ProQ smoker box set and a selection of different wood dusts. Plus the shipping is FREE, amazing!

Starter Bacon Curing & Smoking Kit

Wood Dust Collection
TIP: Make sure the dust is well dried out, if it is a little moist and your struggling to keep it alight, try putting it in a warm oven for an hour or so

A present has never been so well received; everything you can think of has been smoked (garlic, cheese, pork, salmon, nuts...the list goes on), but the bacon is incredible, Josh's new weekend regime always starts with a trip to the butchers and then curing begins!

TIP: It's probably a good idea not to put your smoker inside your house as it does smell pretty smokey; a shed would be best, or outside when it's a little warmer

Here's a quick peak at the first lot of bacon that was made. This was made as per the the "Hot Smokers" instructions that came with the set, with a 1kg loin of pork. However we've since tried it using several different techniques, which i'll post full instructions for soon! YUM!!

TIP: We've found that smoking when it's freezing outside doesn't work as well as when it's around 10degrees. If it is freezing when you're trying to smoke, then try putting a heat mat down underneath the box

Our next project will definitely be making a hot smoker out of an old metal box! I'm so excited to see the results, and will share pictures when it's up and running.

This is a bacon lover's dream, try it, or buy it as a present. I can't recommend it enough; it's brought so much excitement to our house, and amazing meals with it.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Winter Vegetable Curry

Lets keep warm and cosy this winter with a seasonal veg curry. I always try to make the most of each season's vegetables, and try to minimise the amount of food that gets shipped from millions of miles away. So lets make the most of what Britain has to offer!

Efficiency: Not only is this recipe great on a frosty evening, but is also so simple, and you can leave the pan simmering away whilst you get on with all the other things that you have to get done that evening

(This is one of the meals I included in my vegetarian friend's birthday hamper)

1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
500g potatoes
1.5pints vegetable stock
2tbsp of curry paste (flavour of your choice, or make your own - TIP: make lots at one time, freeze in small containers and use later for a quick, healthy curry
150g red lentils
few sprigs of thyme, and one more for decoration
any other seasonal vegetables you wish, however I like to use:
    - 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
    - 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
    - half a butternut squash, peeled and chopped
low fat yogurt or crème fraîche for a finishing touch

Serving: 4. Time Saver: Why not try doubling up and putting portions in the freezer for when you want a nice quick cosy dinner by the fire

1) Put a good glug of oil in a large heavy based pan

2) Fry onions and garlic on a low heat until golden (around 4minutes)

3) Put all raw the raw vegetables in the pan, and fry on a medium-high heat for around 7 minutes - the veg should brown, but not burn

4) Stir in the curry paste, making sure to cover all the vegetables. Then season, add the stock and bring to the boil

5) Add lentils and thyme. Leave to simmer for 20minutes, until lentils have swelled and sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally and enjoy the gorgeous aromas that will now be filling your kitchen

6) Don't forget to keep tasting as you go and season as you require. You could even add a little chilli if you felt like it needed more spice

7) Serve with yogurt and fresh thyme, maybe even some poppadoms or naan bread if you have some. Enjoy :)

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Presenting a new contemporarytraditionalist feature ... 'Pinny of the Month'

Everyone has their weaknesses, and mine is for pinnys - I fall in love with almost every pinny I see, and spend far too much time (when I should be working) scouring the internet and shops for new additions to my collection.

So, instead of spending the money I should be saving for a house deposit on pinnys, I will be taking the time to search for my absolute favourites, and limiting my purchases to the real crème de la crème of pinnys!

To help me decide I will post my favourite ones from each month on here in my 'pinny of the month' feature. Can't wait!

I might even show you some of my homemade pinny creations throughout the months.

Enjoy :)

To start us off, here's my first one from Anthropologie. I love how Anthropologie make their pinnys look like old fashioned style dresses. I love this one because it's so colourful, and the pleats make it that bit more special. PLUS it comes in a kids version too...get them started early :) Ahhhh I might have to purchase it (bye bye house deposit fund).,5,shop,forhome,shopbyhome,kitchenaprons

If you have any thoughts or have found any better pinnys, please share them :)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Scrumptious Breakfast Granola

I look forward to this guilt-free breakfast every morning; it's one of my favourite discoveries!!

Are you ready to eat the table by 11 o'clock every morning after having a bowl of cereal or toast? Are you bored of the bland taste of healthy breakfasts by Wednesday? I was, so I went on a hunt in the shops for a healthy, filling and tasty alternative for my breakfast. Did I find one?? Somewhat unsurprisingly... no!

I quite fancied having fruit and yogurt, but that still left me wishing my pen was edible about 2 hours into the working day, and granola in the stores is SO bad for you. So, after searching far and wide for a homemade granola recipe that ticked all the boxes and several failed experiments, I came up with this.

TIP: Try adding some small pieces of fruit to the granola mix, to make different varieties of granola. Everyone likes different things in our house, so extras get added in the bowl in the morning. 

You might want to play around with the quantities of each ingredient for your taste - you can't really go wrong. But here's what I do.

Half a pint of vegetable oil, or groundnut oil
50g unsalted butter
50g brown sugar
25g caster sugar
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
120ml maple syrup
600g porridge oats (or enough to absorb all liquid)

TIP: If you like your granola in lumps, substitute some of the oil for butter. If you like the oats more separated, substitute some of the butter for oil.

Serving: around 15 servings


1) Put all ingredients except the oats in a large pan, and place over a low heat until butter has melted and sugar starts to dissolve (3-4 minutes) TIP: don't let the mixture boil or the sugar will burn - yuck.

2) Take off heat and add the porridge oats - add enough to absorb all liquid so that each oat is just about covered. My preference is for it to be fairly dry, but still stick together in lumps when pressed.

3) Once covered, spread out onto a tray (no need for it to be non-stick) and bake in the oven at 160degrees (140degrees fan) for 1 - 1.5 hours, depending on how crunchy you like it. And enjoy the gorgeous smell that's about to waft around your house. Lovely. 

Voila - one zero effort, guilt-free, tasty breakfast. Put in a Kilner jar for a truly country feel :)

Time Saver: Possibly my favourite thing about this breakfast is that I can make a whole weeks worth on a Sunday night without it interfering with my evening. On a Sunday night I make a big batch, which takes around 5 minutes to put together then I leave it in the oven for just over an hour whilst I get ready for bed, turn the oven off before I go to bed and leave the granola in overnight. Then I can look forward to a weeks worth of prepared breakfasts in the morning, with barely any effort.

TIP: Admittedly, none of the ingredients in this recipe are good for you, BUT you eat so little at a time, it really isn't bad at all. I eat this every morning, it keeps me going until lunch, I look forward to eating it, AND I've very successfully lost weight whilst eating it. Have it with low-fat yogurt and some fruit and you too can have tasty, guilt-free breakfasts :) Enjoy, and let me know if it ticks all of your breakfast boxes! 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Recommending Bloglovin

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>
There are loads out there, but websites to help you keep track of all of those amazing blogs aren't always so user friendly - I love this one! Try it out :)

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Sunday Treats - My absolute favourite breakfast

Now this is pretty indulgent, BUT incredible...Cinnamon breakfast rolls. This is the closest I can get to the real 'Cinnabon' taste. Pure heaven. Let me know what you think!

TIP: While these are probably considered a treat, and you may not want to eat all 12 - the great thing is that they freeze so well! Just pop them in the freezer before you cook them. To defrost place them on a plate for around 10 mins then cook them for 5mins longer than you would normally. The icing also keeps well in the freezer and takes next to no time to defrost on side whilst you perpare your rolls.

Time Saver: Use a bread maker to start the dough - it's a really great investment - quick, simple & makes the house smell amazing! But if you don't have one, it works just fine without one (and great when you require a bit of stress relief), just follow a normal dough-making recipe with the above ingredients.

For the bread machine
230ml of warm milk, gently heat in saucepan or microwave
2 medium eggs, preferably at room temperature
75g melted margarine (TIP: butter doesn't work so well - it makes the rolls tougher. Therefore you can use a low fat margarine if you prefer)
610g bread flour
1tsp salt
7.5-8g dried yeast
1 level tablespoon ground cinnamon
Inside the rolls
200g light brown sugar
80g softened butter
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Icing
100g mascarpone cheese
75g softened butter
175g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract, good quality if possible
pinch of salt

Serving: 12 regular rolls or 24 mini rolls


1) Place ingredients in bread machine according to owner's manual. If you don't know where your manual is, usually the best way is to put in the liquid ingredients first, followed by the dry ones, putting yeast in last - this is so that the yeast doesn't get activated by the warm liquid too early.

1b) If you're not using a bread machine, add ingredients to a large bowl in the same order, omitting half the flour, stir with a wooden spoon as you go.  Leave until bubbles appear and the mix looks a bit 'spongey' - i.e. the yeast has started activating. Then gradually add the rest of the flour, stirring until it gets too difficult stir. Then you can get stuck in with your hands and knead knead knead. Really go for it for about 10 minutes! Then leave, covered with a clean tea towel in a warm place for around 45 minutes. Once risen knock it back, punch all of the air out. I told you, great stress relief!

TIP: This is the time you can do your normal day-to-day activities, all the while knowing that soon you'll have some really scrummy treats for your efforts- the mixing of ingredients really doesn't take much time.

2) Take out of machine or bowl and lay dough on a lightly floured surface. Cover it again and leave for 10 minutes. In the mean time mix together the cinnamon and sugar, for the inside of the rolls, in a bowl

3) Roll dough out into a rectangle that is about 1cm thick (around 40x52cm or 60x35cm if you're doing mini versions)

4) Spread the softened butter over the dough - I find it's easier with the back of a metal spoon. Then sprinkle with then cinnamon sugar mix

5) Start at one of the long edges and begin to roll into a long sausage shape

6) Once rolled up cut into 12 rolls of around 4.5cm thick (or 24 of around 2.5cm thick)

7) Place rolls on a baking sheet fairly far apart, as they will grow. If you're doing mini ones, grease up a muffin tin and place one mini rolls in each hole. Now cover again and leave for another 30 mins. They should double in size (ish). Also, the butter will begin to melt and it may look like it's oozing out, don't worry about this; it's seeping into the dough to make yumminess too! Preheat oven to 190degrees (170degrees for a fan oven)

TIP: More time to get on with the boring chores. The pieces of heaven are getting closer to completion

8) Uncover the rolls and place in the oven for 15-20minutes until golden. Don't leave them in too long as they'll go hard, soft and gooey wins every time.

9) Whilst rolls are in the oven cream together all of the cream cheese icing ingredients. Don't forget to sift the icing sugar.

10) Take rolls out of the oven, and appreciate the smell in the house, leave on tray for 2-3 minutes and spread 3/4 of the icing over the warm rolls. Serve immediately with the extra icing on the side.

Indulge and enjoy these little beauties. Let me know how you get on, and how they compare to the real thing. And don't forget...freeze them before you bake them and you can have them every Sunday morning - no effort required :)

Sunday Love x x x x

Sunday Treats

Everyone like a bit of indulgence, so why not enjoy your Sundays, slow down a little and appreciate the simple things.

To help out, i'm going to introduce Sunday Treats - posts on a Sunday which may take a little longer to achieve, but are worth the effort. 

Don't be put off by the idea of it taking too long and I know most of you don't feel like you have much time to spare - so i'll help out where I can, suggesting ways to save time and incorporate it into your other daily commitments :) 
So join me and treat yourself to Sunday...
                       ...and you might just get to catch something like this
View from our kitchen on a Sunday evening. Lovely

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Introducing Freddie and Delilah

Here are the two newest editions to our household (along with my beloved Bamix, which I am fully in love with)....Freddie and Delilah, two call ducks, who are now happily living, with the two hens in the garden. First collected at 5 weeks, they are now 3 months old and are my little babies.

At 5 weeks
Their favourite things are leaves and water dripping from a hose pipe. Too cute for words.

When we first got them home, ready to go outside in their warm house
At 3 months
They are now ready to embark on their first "big duck" pond. Cant wait to share the pics :)