Tag Archives: carrot cake
Well, we might as well start with the obvious one because, frankly, if you haven’t got one of these then what have you got? Voted, fairly constantly, as the best ever kitchen gadget, it’s the only grater worth having. Once you’ve used one of these you can’t go back. Microplanes make light work of cheese, lemon zest, chocolate, you name it. And you can get a nifty little attachment for ginger and garlic so you don’t take your fingers off while you’re grating. Apparently, it was invented to smooth wood, until a Canadian woman discovered it was great for grating, as it were.
Average Cost: £16.95
Amboine Nutmeg Grinder
Regulars in the kitchen will know that Peugeot doesn’t just make cars, it also makes, for some reason, the best grinders and mills. And for anyone who’s scraped their fingers and knuckles and spent 10 minutes lying on the floor trying to relocate the nutmeg that just bounced off the mini grater, this is for you. A beautifully designed grinder that comes filled with seven nutmegs and will grind as much or as little as you require with a simple turn of the handle. It’s also worth mentioning that it has a similar gadget for dried chillies.
Usual Cost £37
Kycocera Ceramic Knife
A few months ago, I went for a cooking lesson, during the course of which I learnt how to make a lot of fancy things that I will never attempt to reproduce. However, I did pick up one piece of useful knowledge and that is the brilliance of the ceramic knife. It’s incredibly sharp, never blunts, never needs sharpening and makes light work of meat and vegetables. It’s lightweight, harder than any cutting tools except diamonds and stays sharp for ever. The only danger is that you might drop it. Once you’ve tried cutting with this you won’t go back to steel.
Average Cost £44
Remosaka Electric Cooker
A friend of mine was given one of these recently and it’s a brilliant bit of kit. It makes your oven practically redundant and uses hardly any electricity so it’s cheap to run. Invented before the Second World War, it sank into obscurity before two Czechs scraped together all the money they could find to buy the machinery in 1990. Roast chicken, toad-in-the-hole, toasted sandwiches, casseroles and frozen pizza. It will even make cakes and scones. And as it just plugs in, it’s totally portable.
Average Cost £88
Stainless Steel Rotary Grater
My grandmother had one of these and using it is my earliest cooking memory. I have no idea what we were making but just that it was immensely satisfying turning the handle and watching the cheese fall out into the bowl. One of these makes light work of recipes that call for large amounts of grated cheese and I seem to recall she used hers for parsley and some herbs as well. Good for getting small children interested, as it’s a safe gadget with quick results.
Average Cost £5.99
Kitchen Aid Artisan Food Mixer
It was designed 75 years ago and is still one of the best sellers on the market. In addition to that, it’s almost never on sale, which means it doesn’t need to be because people will always pay for it. If you need a mixer, save up and get this one; Good Housekeeping says it’s the best and it does know about that sort of thing. The pleasingly retro design now comes in 15 colours, too, including apple green, black, bronze and plum.
Average Cost £331
I am currently preparing ideas for a friends party. She wanted a garden party with a twist so we put some ideas together and have decided on a Moroccan themed party. All the guests will wear Moroccan style dress and the garden will be decorated in brightly coloured lanterns and tables and the food will too be inspired to compliment the night. If your planning a party this year I can recommend many of these tips and ideas to get you inspired
Think of a menu that most people will like, give it a theme but don’t stick too rigid to the theme or you may put people off attending. Say that the dress code is desired but no essential, some people really feel uncomfortable dressing up and will avoid attending the party
Don’t spend too much money on decoration, the local pound shop will have plenty of items to create that special atmosphere, if you do buy expensive items make sure they can be used again, and not left in the garage for the odd party
Get creative. If you like a cocktail or shot why not make it into a cake or cheesecake. I recently made a boozy Tequila and lime Cheesecake for a party, it went down a storm! But do warm people it contains alcohol before they dive in
Parties can be stressful to organise, maybe, like me you thrive off the challenge and enjoy putting together new ideas to try. If you hate the thought of organising ask everyone to bring something, we all have an item of food we like to prepare. Get everyone to tell you what they are making and form a menu around everyone else, you will still look like a great party organiser without actually doing too much
Enjoy your party! Don’t spend all night in the kitchen warming food, get organised so you can mingle and enjoy the evening.
How are you going to cool drinks? Do you need additional ice? I know a friend that always invites a couple of neighbours, that way she can use their fridge to store extra drinks and make additional ice. Very clever if you ask me
Remember the mess. once all the guest have left you will be left with glasses, plates and probably a very untidy house or garden, enlist people that are prepared to help clean up. The feeling of the big ‘clean up’ is enough t take the shine off the good memories of the night before
Music. Prepare the music ahead of the night and if possible have at least 6 hours of music that will suit most people. I have admittedly got very unusual taste in music and most people would not call it party music, i usually give someone the job of putting together the music for me..No red face when people cringe!
Why not try the Tequila & Lime Cheesecake for your next party?
Lazy Vanilla Cheesecake
This is a cake perfect for Sunday lunch, it takes no time to prepare and there is no cooking. You can decorate the cheesecake with any fresh fruit you fancy but strawberries drizzled with melted dark chocolate always give the wow factor!
You will need a 9” spring form tin, lined
- 4 x 200gram Full Fat Cream Cheese, at room temperature
- 300 gram of icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ vanilla pod, seeds only
- 10 x Digestive Biscuits – Crushed into small crumbs
- 125 grams melted butter
- 1 Punnet of Fresh Strawberries, halved
- A few squares of melted dark chocolate
- 4 Shots of Tequila (taste before adding to base, you may wish to add more)
- 2 Limes, zest and juice (again try once added as you may like more)
Melt the butter and pour over the crushed digestives in a large bowl. Mix together until the crumbs are damp and will push into a shape with the back of the spoon. If required add a little more melted butter. Spoon the mixture into the tin and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
Place the cream cheese and all the remaining ingredients into a large clean bowl and gently work together, don’t over work or the cream cheese will become too runny. Spoon the cream cheese over the cheesecake base and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to set. Just before you are ready to serve run a knife round the edge of the cheesecake and release from the tin. Place on a cake stand and decorate with the zest of lime, finely grated
There have been many studies on the benefit of cooking for stress, but does it really work?
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CULINARY THERAPY?
Cooking is a basic skill for daily living, yet many people don’t feel comfortable around food or in the kitchen. In addition to learning a valuable life skill, cooking therapy offers the following benefits:
- Stress relief
- Improved social skills
- Balance and coordination
- Sensory awareness
- Improved physical health
- Enhanced ability to plan and organize
- Time management skills
- Relief from boredom
- Improved memory, attention and focus
- Self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment
I am certainly no psychologist but I would definitely agree, and here are the many reasons why cooking has a therapeutic value:
- Most people will gain a certain amount of pleasure by simply cooking for others, it may be a simple soup or an exquisite cake that takes hours of preparation.
- Cooking with others allows for flowing conversation, we open up more when we are relaxed
- Cooking can help calm nerves and chill out an over active mind
- Insomnia can be eased with cooking, plan an evening of cooking and settle down to sleep having achieved something and taken your mind of the daily stresses
- Not only can cooking help with stress but relieve boredom, when we are bored our minds can be on things that really don’t matter, which can lead to more stress
- Learning to make something new can give a massive amount of satisfaction, at Christmas many people make cookies, fudge or jam as gifts. They are always a welcome and I never met anyone that didn’t enjoy giving gifts
Having watched a recent television show on the obsession of hoarding I was astounded at the efforts of a physiotherapist trying to assist the patient and help them clear out the ‘visual noise’ that had taken over their life. Living in just 2 rooms of their house and becoming more and more reclusive the patient struggled to change their mindset. After 6 weeks of little movement the therapist resorted to Cooking Therapy, and the results were immediate! There has to be something in the cooking process that help unclutter this ladies mind, she left the session with a renewed enthusiasm for the new life she wanted. There must be something in it.
I know when I have had a busy or stressful day the first thing I do is head for the kitchen. At the weekend I always set aside time with my son to make and enjoy a cake or cookies, he definitely shares the same passion and is very impressed with his own ability
Maybe there should be cooking therapy on the NHS, free cooking lessons for all. I for one would back any government prepared to offer this as a free service
From Grandmas best to school dinner favourites we all have picked one type of cake which gives us great memories, what we would like you to do is post at the bottom of this article and tell us what your favourite is!
Cant wait to hear from you!