It will perhaps be with a sense of shock that Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial sees me join her In My Kitchen series for the second month running. Up to now I’ve only managed about one a year. However, today is my birthday and these posts are in themselves a sort of celebration of what is going on in so many kitchens around the world, so it seems fitting that I share this with you.
It’s been way too long since I participated in Celia’s wonderful In My Kitchen series. It’s been going for quite a few years now and is pretty much what it says on the tin, what’s going on in my kitchen this month. Head over to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and you can see what is happening in kitchens all around the globe.
Chocolate Log Blog has a new home, here at Tin and Thyme. The world of chocolate is a wonderful place, but it now feels time (geddit?) to move on and explore my other food interests. Chocolate will always remain important to me and will feature frequently on this blog. I shall continue to create and develop vegetarian recipes as I always have done, but they won’t all include chocolate. There will be more of an emphasis on the exciting world of Cornish food and the South West in general, although other areas of the country and world will continue to feature. Whilst the focus of Chocolate Log Blog was, of course, chocolate, it has always been a fairly eclectic mix of sweet and savoury, indulgent and healthy, reviews and outings. I’ll still be mining this vein (geddit?) as I tunnel further into the mother lode of food and unearth all sorts of gems – I can’t wait.
It’s been a long time since I participated in Celia’s wonderful In My Kitchen series over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Since then I’ve had many comings and goings into my kitchen and store cupboards, the majority of course I haven’t documented. Here are a few of my favourite things … which are currently sitting in my kitchen.
A newly purchased block of Willie’s Indonesian Black -180g of solid 100% chocolate. This is a bit of a luxury, but it’s useful and I use it sparingly.
A vase of scented Cornish narcissi, a gift from yesterday’s visitors.
A few quails eggs remaining from this basket, given to me by fellow Cornish food blogger Jane Sarchet over at The Hedge Combers when I visited her earlier this week.
Some jars of blood orange curd I made a few days ago – bloody marvellous, though I say it myself.
An empty bottle of Cornish sparkling perry – drunk yesterday with friends. Or should I say, we drank it yesterday with friends. It was our first bottle of Polgoon Peren, but was so good, I hope it won’t be our last.
A half eaten loaf of a no-knead spelt & rye bread made with my new silicone bread maker.
My favourite Cornish Red side plates sitting in the drying rack, having been used for tea yesterday.
A jar of my mother’s just made Seville orange marmalade.
A Passion 4 Juice – a wipe clean booklet of juice and smoothie recipes that I won from Vanesther’s Family Foodies blogging event over at Bangers & Mash. It arrived in the post a couple of days ago.
Some drinking chocolate from Cornish company Mugz given to me before Christmas, but still awaiting review – oops!
Nominations for the BBC Food and Farming Awards close at midnight on Monday 27th January, so do please hurry to nominate your food heros if you haven’t already done so. I am passionate about real food and have been listening to Radio 4’s Food Programme almost since it started way back in the 70s. Launched fourteen years ago, the awards have been gathering strength and kudos ever since. Now they are the most valued and prestigious awards in the world of UK food. I have been following the stories of those previously shortlisted as well as the winners on the Food Programme and have found them all deeply moving and they offer much “food” for thought.
Over the fourteen years these awards have been running, I’ve nominated any number of local businesses that I thought were offering fantastic food and fantastic service. I’ve also put forward a few names who I rate for the sterling work they’ve done in promoting real food. One such was Andrew Whitley who has made and continues to make a huge contribution to putting real bread back on the British table. Since his book, Bread Matters, published in 2006, TV programmes, real bread bakeries, publications, community bakers and blog posts have been springing up all over the country, in fact all over the world. Andrew was instrumental in setting up the Real Bread campaign in 2009. Those who follow me on Twitter will know from my handle that I’m a keen advocate. In 2011, one of my nominations finally made it through and Andrew won a Special Judges Award.
Sadly chocolate has not yet featured in these awards, but I live in hope that one day it will. I’m not sure if posthumous nominations are allowed, but I have put forward Mott Green for the adventurous and ethical work he did in setting up the Grenada Chocolate Company. His tragic death just before the Food Programme aired its broadcast, the chocolate world of Mott Green, could not have been more untimely.
This year, things have been revamped slightly, following a “year off” in 2013. There are ten categories open for nominations and you can find out all about them here. The producers are particularly keen to get nominations for BBC Cook of the Year – a category for those cooks who are challenging the perceptions of canteen food and creating tasty, healthy meals on a budget in our schools, hospitals, care homes and workplaces.
Amongst the line-up of star judges such as Raymond Blanc, Valantine Warner and Tim Hayward, we have our very own food blogger Jack Monroe. The winners will be announced at the annual BBC Food and Farming Awards ceremony held in Bristol on May 1st. The winners and finalists will also feature on a subsequent Food Programme broadcast.
I have been offered no incentives for writing this post, but do so because I passionately believe in Real Food and hope that my readers do so too.
In this very busy month of December, Dom is giving us a break from cooking and has tasked us with revealing the insides of our kitchen cupboards instead. Having seen the well ordered and tidy shelves of so many bloggers through this challenge, I am not at all sure that my cupboards, stuffed to the gunwales of whatever I can fit into them, should be shared. However, in the spirit of Christmas, I am prepared to give you a glimpse.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I have a chocolate shelf. With chocolate being this blog’s raison d’être, it is an ingredient that I just cannot be without. Whilst Green & Blacks, is my go to chocolate for most things, I do have an eclectic mix of different types and brands.
Because I’m a hoarder and also like to be as economical as possible, I tend to buy my staples in bulk and store them in large glass jars – preferably with red lids. In an ideal world, I would have a nice walk in larder and everything would be tidy and easy to access. In actuality, space is an issue and ingredients can be somewhat inaccessible.
In an attempt to get organised one day, I decided I would keep all of my various flours (I have a lot) in a basket. As you can see from the picture, that basket has now become a repository for anything I can’t find a place for somewhere else – oops!
Pinterest should come with a health warning: it can be seriously addictive. When I first heard about Pinterest a couple of years ago, I didn’t quite understand why people were getting so excited, but as soon as I realised it was all about collecting and organising images that act as reminders or inspiration, I was hooked; let’s just say it appeals to my librarian mind again.
|Picture courtesy of Jac from Tinned Tomatoes|
So what is Pinterest exactly? The easiest way to think of it is as a giant virtual pinboard of images, divided into sections. Pictures from the internet or ones that are downloaded from private collections are pinned onto boards according to theme. These pictures can be seen by anyone and subsequently repinned onto someone else’s board and so it goes on. All pins link back to the original source, so if I pin a picture from Chocolate Log Blog, wherever it gets pinned and by whoever there will always be a link back to my blog. As with all social media, it’s all about sharing. Group boards are another example of this; they can have any number of invited members who can pin directly to that board, creating a more diverse range of pins or for sharing very specific topics.
Unsurprisingly, with my passion for food in general and chocolate in particular, my boards are mostly food related, whether it’s growing, preparing or eating it. The first board I created was Chocolate Log Blog, which features chocolate creations I’ve posted on my blog. My other chocolate related boards include Chocolate to Love, We Should Cocoa and Chocolate Bakes. The last two are group boards. The former is shared with We Should Cocoa participants (a monthly blogging event) who can pin their entries directly. The latter is a board for sharing chocolate bakes with like minded chocolate fans. Recently I have become interested in goat’s cheese and chocolate as a combination, so last week I started a new chocolate and cheese board which I’m quite excited about.
|Picture courtesy of Jac from Tinned Tomatoes|
Chocolate is by no means my only food interest. We grow and forage some of the food we eat and preserving this is key, so I have a board on ideas of how to achieve this: Fermented and Preserved. I am a vegetarian and always looking for inspiration on how to expand my cooking repertoire; Food to Make is the board where I pin recipes I’ve spotted and would like to try. A small but hopefully growing board is The Field where I pin pictures of food we’ve grown or would like to grow. Last year was such an appalling season, that I had nothing to pin.
If you haven’t already joined Pinterest, I invite you to do so now and follow my board Chocolate Log Blog.
As with all the big social media applications, Pinterest was conceived in the United States just a few short years ago. Not surprisingly it has a bit of an American bias but Pinterest are keen for this to change. They have launched a Pin it Forward UK campaign to not only make Pinterest more welcoming to UK users but to showcase some of the terrific UK bloggers who are pinning out there.
Pin it Forward UK is a means of passing on the news from one blogger to another. Jac of Tinned Tomatoes introduced me and now it is my turn to introduce Katherine MacGregor who blogs over at Lady loves Cake and has rather a mouthwatering selection of posts on her afternoon tea experiences. On Pinterest, she has an eclectic mix of boards reflecting her interest in not only cake, but also travel, fashion and London, to name but a few. I am now keenly following her London Afternoon Tea board in the hope of making it up to London one day, loaded with cash to make a tour of the capital’s chocolatiers and tea shops. Do pay Katherine’s blog a visit tomorrow to find out more.
Coincidentally (and it truly was), this month’s We Should Cocoa tied in very nicely with Breakfast Club. Breakfast Club was started by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours in a bid for us all to take eating breakfast a little more seriously. As host for November, I had, of course, chosen chocolate for the month’s theme. Nazima of Franglais Kitchen, who is hosting We Should Cocoa this month has chosen bread and many of those doughy entries sit very comfortably on a breakfast table. So here we go with 15 decadent chocolate recipes for breakfast.
Now who would have thought the perfect chocolate macarons would ever feature on my blog? Not me for sure, Gallic sophistication is hardly my style. I can and have made some very tasty chocolate macaroons, but not something that looks as elegant and polished as these French macarons.
I knew I couldn’t fool you for long. I must have done something right recently as I have just won these chocolate macaron earrings from Jill of Mad About Macarons. From across the Channel, these have travelled all the way from that well known capital of haute cuisine, Paris. They arrived beautifully packaged and were well protected, wrapped in the pretty floral cloth shown above. Made by Patricia Bourdell of the French Bakery, these charming earrings are not only fantastic replicas of chocolate macarons, but are also made with 14 carat gold. The French Bakery specialises in necklaces, earrings, rings and other jewellery inspired by French bakes.
Lady luck has been on my side in the past few months as evinced by the following wins:
|Gorgeous Puddings by Annie Bell from Food Magazine|
|Hamper Tower packed with preserves from Homemade by Fleur|
|Russell Hobs food processor and blender from Fabulicious Food|
I had such a lovely day yesterday. Amazingly, it was dry and even more amazingly the sun shone for much of the time. My choice for celebrating such a momentous occasion and ignoring the gruesomely significant number of years I seemed to have survived thus far was by going for a good stomp around my home turf, Bodmin Moor. This was followed by tea at my Mother’s (the house where I grew up).
Luckily, I managed to rope in a few other kindly souls to join me. Some managed the walk, some managed the tea and some managed both.
At Minions, we stopped for a cup of tea and to stock up on pasties for our picnic lunch. To my surprise I was greeted by some friends bearing a splendid banner atop a bamboo pole hewn from their moorland garden. How magnificent was that? After daring the Devil’s Chair and enjoying the stunning views upon Stowe’s Hill, we found a sheltered spot to eat by the Cheesewring – a rather impressive stack of granite boulders teetering on the edge of a precipice.
Later, there was of course, plenty of cake! The worry of having to squish everyone into my mother’s cottage for tea was allayed as we were all able to sit outside and enjoy the lovely weather. My industrious aunts, visiting from up country, helped my mother to provide a gargantuan repast including a spectacular chocolate birthday cake soaked in brandy. This was the kind of tea that never stopped – no supper required! I did of course make a few contributions myself:
- Rose and Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake
- Raspberry curd & white chocolate cupcakes
- Lemon curd cupcakes
- Chocolate friands
- Cornish Splits
- Chocolate drizzled Peanut Butter Cookies
- Spinach & feta filo pastries.
|Birthday Cake – had to get the chocolate in somewhere!|
Posts about some of these will be following in due course.
So in conclusion to the day’s events, I suggest that my chronological age takes a hike, just like I did!