Friday, 10 July 2020

Black Insomnia 100% compostable coffee pods

Black insomnia compostable coffee pods


Black Insomnia first to launch 100% compostable coffee pods in the UK

Black Insomnia Coffee Company, the maker of the world’s strongest medium roast coffee, has launched a revolutionary Nespresso©-compatible coffee pod which is 100% home compostable.

The new pods, which are certified by TÜV Austria as ‘Ok Compost Home Compost’, present a completely eco-friendly alternative to the standard aluminium and plastic capsule. This means they can be disposed of alongside home food waste and will compost in the garden within six weeks.

According to research, 39,000 coffee capsules are produced every minute globally, of which 29,000 end up in landfill. Nespresso themselves concede that 71 per cent of their capsules are not currently being recycled.

Even those capsules which are recycled require vast amounts of energy to do so, making compostable pods the most eco-friendly solution. Black Insomnia is the first coffee company to provide coffee in this new eco-friendly way in the UK.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Looking for a hammock this summer?



It's finally summer - the sun is out and there is so much to do in the garden. Watering, feeding, potting up, planting out, sowing more seeds - it seems like it has just been go, go, go for a few weeks now!

But as the garden takes on life, it's time to relax and a hammock will do just the trick. 

If you are looking one, you will find beautiful hand made hammocks at Tropilex.  Made from 70% cotton, these hammocks are suuuuuuper soft and so relaxing, you will want to take a snooze, snug as a bug, while you listen to birds singing sweet songs all around you. 

They come in single for one person, double for a cozy duo or even an extra large size for the whole family (with a capacity of 200kg). 

My favourite is this single hammock in natural blue (RRP £79). Not just appealing to the eye, this is a top quality Columbian hammock featuring extra suspension cords which allow the hammock to spread open easily and for body weight to be distributed more evenly. This, of course, means optimal comfort. The cords are also a part of the hammock, rather than attached separately, meaning there is less chance of them breaking.

Tropilex hammocks and hanging chairs are woven and finished by hand by traditional hammock weavers in Colombia and India. Yarns and material used in 80% of their products are certified by Oeko-Tex® 100 which means they have passed tests for harmful substances in every phase of its processing.

Hammocks featured are available from Tropilex or Hammock Giant.
As a member of 1% For The Planet, Tropilex donates a minimum 1% of annual sales to support environmental non-profit organisations.


Disclaimer: I received a Tropilex product as a gift.


Sunday, 19 April 2020

Stay at home: Zucchini / Courgettes and Squash seeds to sow

Top left: Genovese, Rugosa Friuliana & Striato 

Starting your kitchen garden? Grow Zucchini & Squash

Custard White
If there was ever a vegetable plant made for the novice gardener, it has got to be the humble courgette (zucchini).  Easy to sow from seed and generally low maintenance they produce an abundance of fruit throughout the growing season making it one of the most productive in the kitchen garden.

This year, I am sowing not just zucchini but also squash seeds from Italian company Franchi. They stock interesting and unusual varieties that will make your zucchino growing journey anything but boring.

Note: I ordered seeds from their website during the UK covid-19 lockdown and they arrived within the week.

Here are some that I've grown in the past from the Franchi range:

Rugosa Friuliana (zuchetta) - a firm favourite of mine with knobbly, pale yellow fruit and tasty dense flesh.  There is no need to peel them and they are delicious.

Custard white (zucchino) is pretty round fruit with scalloped edges and their shape makes them perfect for the summer barbecue (sliced).  The fruit can be harvested both small (sometimes sold commercially as 'patty pan squash' in it's baby form) or larger. The skin is delicate and there is no need to peel them before cooking/eating.

Genovese and Striato are both typical classic shaped zucchini but their colouring is what makes them striking. The former is a pale green, creamy fleshed variety from Genova and the latter a dark green striped one.

This year, I am going to try Bolognese with oval fruits, Greyzini Ibrido F1 and Spaghetti squash.
Rugosa Friuliana (Zuchetta) 

Genovese (Zucchino)

Zucchini and squash do require a good amount of space as these are large plants (about 90cm between plants). They are prickly too, so best not placed in a spot where you are likely to brush up against them.  It goes without saying that good soil is a must and I like to boost the plants with seaweed fertiliser (like Maxicrop). Once they start producing, the general rule of thumb is to keep picking them small and pick, pick, pick or you'll end up with marrows (and lots of them!). 

And importantly, don't plant out seedlings too early - it is generally safer from June once the risk of frost has passed.

Franchi seeds can be purchased online from Seeds of Italy here (UK Only).



Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Stay at home : Harvest & Preserve herbs





Harvesting and Preserving herbs from the garden

Getting food into the house has proven to be challenging over the last few weeks. We normally use Ocado for food deliveries but in recent weeks, both their app and website have been impossible to get into.  We are gradually adapting to our new way of life but being in isolation means we can't simply just pop out to the stores as we have done so often in the past.

With dwindling fridge supplies, I walked around the garden today for a breather and was grateful to find three clumps of largely neglected chive plants - two in the herb garden and one in the vegetable patch.

There was rhubarb and herbs too; bay leaves from a potted bay plant, marjoram with new growth, hardy rosemary and some overgrown spring onions.  I breathe a sigh of relief - we won't starve - sign of life in the garden means we won't starve. 

My plan is to keep harvesting new leaves for preserving (either by drying or freezing). The plants should then continue to grow over the coming months, leaving me with a bountiful harvest of herbs by the winter when the plants slow or die down.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Stay at home: Conserving and Extending spring onions


UK lockdown:  Day 4
Self isolation: Day 14 

Our family of three have been 'self isolating' as we have symptoms of the coronavirus. It has been 14 days now and our last food delivery was over a week ago.

At a time when getting food and supplies to the house has become increasingly challenging, I am trying to conserve what I can and make it last just that little bit longer. Herbs, garnish all seem a little lavish in the current climate when so many are struggling to get basic essentials.

Even More Spring Onions
Here's something you can do that will extend the life of your spring onions. Ask the kids to help and be responsible for caring for their plants.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Richard Buckley's "Plants taste better": Vegan recipe book



Plants Taste Better by Richard Buckley

Chef Richard Buckley has released his second recipe book Plants Taste Better, a beautiful hard back book with sophisticated vegan recipes.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Stir Crazy by Ching-He Huang

Stir Crazy by Ching-He Huang (Photo courtesy: chinghehuang.com)


Mastering the wok with Ching-He Huang

This week, I was delighted to receive a copy of Ching He-Huang's latest cookbook in conjunction with the launch of her line of organic soybean and edamame noodles for Yutaka.

Stir Crazy is Ching's collection of everyday stir fry recipes written with the busy in mind.
In it, she offers plenty of tips on how to cook the perfect stir fry - with simple recipes that most people can try at home. 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Japanese inspired burger with panko breadcrumbs

Japanese inspired burger with panko breadcrumbs (photo courtesy Yutaka)
Give Your BBQ A Japanese Twist

Who is feeling the heat this summer? With temperatures soaring, it's the perfect weather to be cooking on the BBQ.  This week, I was sent some sample Yutaka products to review -  their miso paste, panko breadcrumbs, wasabi paste to name a few and some recipes to add a Japanese twist to traditional BBQ-ing.

Now, I really love miso paste and try to add it to just about everything, so this Japanese-inspired miso laced burger really hits the spot.  Top with wasabi mayonnaise and what more could your heart desire?   

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Edible Science: Multi-coloured unicorn noodles for kids



SIZZLING SCIENCE FUN FOR SUMMER...

The Kitchen Science Cookbook is a “recipe” book with a unique twist – each recipe is a science experiment that you can do at home with your family using the everyday ingredients you’ll find in your kitchen.  You don't have to be a science expert – if you can follow a recipe you can help your children do these unique experiments.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Forage and make homemade elderflower cordial



Look out for elderflower in June ......

Since arriving in the UK and discovering elderflower, I drink it all the time, usually in the form of shop bought elderflower pressé.

This year, I am making my own elderflower cordial, which as it turns out, is quite simply made from elderflowers, lemons and a basic sugar syrup.  It is so refreshing and the scent of freshly picked elderflowers is intoxicating.

For my first attempt, I used this BBC homemade elderflower cordial recipe.


Make a sugar syrup, and then simply immerse the flowers and lemon slices, and leave to infuse for 24 hours.  As I didn't have citric acid, I made a smaller volume of cordial, to be consumed quickly.

You can also watch Mary Berry making her elderflower cordial, although she uses both citric acid and campden tablets, which I've since discovered can be ordered online from Lakeland (lakeland.co.uk).

Forage for elderflower


Elderflowers can usually be found in hedgerow and can be large shrubs. In fact, you'll struggle to reach the flowers from the tallest branches, so pull down the branches you can reach and snip of the flower heads.

The best flowers to use are the ones which still have some unopened buds.


Carefully wash the flowers before using, to remove any dirt and small insects.