Wonky Supper Club

Oddbox Wonky Supper Club

Most readers will know by now that I am a big fan of our Vegetable & Fruit box delivery service, called Odd box. You can read more about them in this blog post here and on their website here, but basically they help fight the war on food waste by rescuing F&V that gets rejected by the supermarkets.

Readers who live in London might be interested to know that Oddbox is now organising their first Wonky Supper Club to be held on 12 July, location The Grosvenor Arms, SW18 4ED (Earlsfield). Aside from sharing an enjoyable (vegetarian meal) with fellow wonky V&F supporters and foodies, you will also get to try out a cake made by yours truly!

I don’t want to give away too much info, but I can say some wonkyness will be involved … 🙂

If this sounds like something you would like attend (yeah, come on of course you know you want to!) head to their website and save your place!

Looking forward to see you on 12 July!

 

To be Odd or not to be Odd

Hello,

Please meet Mr and Mrs Odd. Oh and Junior.  They are beets. Bet you didn’t notice that as you were so distracted by the fact that Mr Odd is wearing a hat. And has a moustache. And yes, I know that Mrs Odd went a bit overboard with the false lashes. Junior is fine. He has a bit of an hair issue (probably inherited from his mum) but other than that he’s fine. Seriously.

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Ok, jokes and photoshopping aside, what’s so Odd about them? Well, they got rejected. By the supermarket. Apparently, being Odd is out. At least, that is what supermarkets say. They don’t like Odd. They like normal. Like in same old, same uniformly evenly boring normal. Thirteen a dozen as bakers say. And the family Odd doesn’t fit in that dozen. Because they are a bit wonky. And Junior is small. Maybe he will grow, but not fast enough to make it to the supermarket shelf. So they got left behind. For being Odd.

Well, to be honest, if I have to choose between being normal and boring, or being Odd, I rather choose the latter. As you know, I am a grown up woman who still goes into happy overload mood whilst creating cute bunnies or piggies from rice balls, so some people will probably say that I’m not normal anyway.

But I digress. Because how come that whilst the family Odd didn’t make it to the supermarket they still ended up in my kitchen? Because of Oddbox. Oddbox are my new foodheroes. They rescue wonky veg and fruit. They fight foodwaste. And they give to charity. Plus they don’t mix up avocados with mangoes…. Did I already mention they are my foodheroes?

Oddbox buys up Odd produce from local suppliers, packs that into boxes and delivers this to your door. They are my new weekly veg & fruit box delivery service and we love them. Cheaper than other schemes, a generous quantity, seasonal produce (no nonsense about #courgette crisis or #lettuce rationing) and just look at these amazing colours:

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Ok, maybe that pear looks a bit wonky, and, hmm, that apple didn’t pass the red colour test (yes really, supermarkets reject apples because they are not red enough!), but I can tell you they taste gorgeous. So farmers happy, Oddbox happy, and we happy. 

Unfortunately though for the family Odd, this story didn’t have a happy ending for them. Rejected by the supermarket they briefly perked up being selected by Oddbox and featuring in a photo shoot. They also were quite pleased with themselves about having a whole blog post dedicated to them. But in the end they ended up where food should end up and they were eaten.

It was nice to meet you family Odd. And you were delicious!

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(Roasted beets with goat cheese and walnut salad)

If you would also like to be a food hero and rescue Odd fruit and Veg, Oddbox is now offering a 50% discount on your first box with ref code: REFBOX (They currently deliver in South London only, but are expanding).

Mango Sorbet

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Whilst most of the UK population is enjoying the sunshine outside, I have to confess that I have been hiding indoors to escape the heat!  Don’t get me wrong, I do like the sun, but all in moderation and the temperatures that we had this week here in London are just a bit too high for me.

However, it was a great reason to use up those mangoes I had and turn them into mango sorbet.

We have a biweekly vegetable and fruit box delivery, and although there is the option to have a “surprise” box, sometimes I opt to pre-select my choices and order a custom box. So, I was a bit surprised to discover two mangoes in the box instead of the two avocados I had ordered! They were very green mangoes…so I guess the person who packed them isn’t very familiar with either….

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Anyway, the mangoes were very green, ie unripe, so I just stored them in the brown bag until they were nice and ripe to be used this weekend.   I have never made mango sorbet before, but a quick google learned I only need mango (✓), sugar (✓) and water (✓). And an ice cream maker….Hmm… definitely lacking an ice cream maker, but apparently you can make it by hand as well, just a little bit more work.

So, first, I peeled the mango and roughly cubed it, before blending it into a smooth puree.  The recipes I found online all indicated a 4:1 ratio puree and sugar syrup. My puree was just over 500 grams, so I made a simple syrup by dissolving 125 grams of castor sugar into 125 ml of water. Mixed up the two together, transferred to a metal bowl (to speed up the freezing process), covered with some cling film and popped into the freezer.

For the next 4-5 hours I took out the sorbet every 45 minutes or so, and stirred the mixture. For the first hours, the mango sorbet just changed from very fluid to a sort of slushy mixture, but after 2 hours it started to turn slowly into a sorbet, mainly along the sides of the bowl. In the end it took almost 6 hours to more or less freeze enough to transfer to sorbet from it’s bowl to it’s container and another night until fully scoop-able.

Lovely and refreshing!

 

Brunch anyone?

wp-1457946498445.jpgI’m not a big breakfast person. Or actually I am, I love a proper fry up (think bacon, lots of bacon) but wouldn’t want that on a daily basis, more like once a month or so or perhaps as an evening meal with added fried potatoes (mjom mjom, haven’t had that for some time…)

I think my favourite meals are lunch and dinner. If I could, I would love to eat two hot meals a day – and sometimes I do …. 🙂

Anyway, back to breakfasts or in this case, back to brunch. On workdays I tend to skip breakfast, instead I eat some fruit or yoghurt halfway through the morning (it has also been known that cake makes it’s appearance around 11-ish….) and in the weekend or on my free days, it tends to be more like a brunch. Scrambled eggs is a big favourite, as is smoked salmon.

Today, I had some overripe avocado, smoked salmon and I had picked up this cheese/quark at the Polish corner shop. No clue what it was, but it was cheap and stored next to the feta type cheeses so thought to give it a try.

It turned out rather boring though as it was pretty tasteless! A bit like cottage cheese but much drier and crumblier. However, it worked pretty good together with the avocado and especially with the smoked salmon as the one I got this time turned out to be quite salty.  So all in all a very satisfying brunch.

 

Btw, can anyone guess the city on my “brot brettchen”?

London Korean Festival Trafalgar Square Sunday 9 August

Just to let you know that there will be a  ‘London Korean Festival 2015’ in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 9th August 2015, free entry!

 

The event brings together an exciting mix of modern and traditional Korean culture with a dynamic programme of K-Pop, dance from classic to break dance and delicious Korean food, plus E-Sports Games and live music.

  • K-Music – Leading K-Pop group f(x) & Rock band Guckkasten
  • K-Dance – Break Dancing Battles with World Champion B-boy crews
  • K-Tradition – Gilnori traditional, instrumental & contemporary dance performances
  • K-Cuisine – Live cooking demonstrations by Chef Judy Joo and Chef Joo Won & Korean Street Foods
  • K-Contents – Animation screenings, gaming & technology demonstrations, fashion shows

The event is organised by the Korean Cultural Centre UK, Korea Tourism Organisation, Korea Creative Content Agency and supported by the Mayor of London (more info here)

There is also a competion to win a free trip to Korea, you can download the form here

See you there!

Jerusalem artichoke, a lunchbox recipe challenge!

In my veg box yesterday:

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Jerusalem artichoke!

I have eaten them before, mainly roasted or in salads and love the taste, but never cooked with them….

So I thought it would be fun to put a challenge to my readers and ask you: what should I make with these? 🙂

Suggestions should (ideally) be something with a Japanese or Korean twist AND/OR suitable to put into my lunchbox. Plus of course it should be something that I would like….. 😜

(At Hilary: NO that doesn’t mean a mayo-based salad…)

If one of my lovely readers/followers comes up with a great (and for me workable) idea/recipe, I will dedicate the resulting lunchbox/bento/dosirak to you & will link back to your blog (if you have one)!

Please put your suggestions in the comments box and I am curious to see what you’ll come up with!

ActiviTEA (product review)

Just before Easter I got send the activiTEA by Adagio to review but as you know, life got in the way and I took a bit of a blogging break, so I didn’t get round to writing up a post about it until this weekend.

To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to write a review post. Of course I love a free product and I am a huge tea drinker, have even used green tea in my Ochazuke bento (see post here) so anything tea related is a big hit with me. But I was, and still am, a bit doubtful, whether it would fit in with my blog (after all my blog is mainly focused on lunches, not at tea) and whether my readers would like or not like me to review products. I know I have written before about products, but those were products that I use regularly to make my lunches, and I had always paid for them myself (with the exception of the book I won).

Anyway, I gratefully accepted the free gift and did check that I could write my honest opinion, so here we go 🙂

The activiTEA is a portable tea tumbler, with which you can enjoy loose leaf tea on the go. It consist of 4 parts: a double walled container/tumbler, a holder (with strap), an infuser and the lid. It holds 300ml. Although the instructions on the box doesn’t indicate it, there is a video on the website which tells it’s dishwasher proof.

It came securely packed in a box with instructions on it, and it looks very pretty, a bit sleek & modern and size wise it fits very nicely in my hand. Adagio also very generously sent me lots of tea samples, including favorites like Earl Grey, Jasmine Pearls and Green Tea varieties.

The first tea I tried out was a Citron Green which smelled gorgeous when I opened the packaging. It is a green tea mixed with lemon and lime and the smell is both soothing and refreshing. All the tea samples that I received – and I thus assume all their loose tea- were packed in a resealable package and have the appropriate steeping instructions on it. However…those instructions said 180°… eek… I suspect they meant 180F, which google tells me is 82.22°C…. 🙂

Luckily my kettle has different temperature settings, so 82 it is…(or at least as near to 82 as I can get…). I filled the tumbler with water, measured 1 teaspoon into the holder (fitted with the infuser) screwed that on, closed with the lid and turned it all upside down to steep. Upside down! Yep, because the infuser is quite shallow (unless other infusers, this one doesn’t “descend” in the water), you have to “bring” the water to the infuser by turning it upside down.

I didn’t screw the canister and lid tightly enough and it leaked a bit….. Oops….so I quickly remedied that and the tea steeped merrily upside down until it had reached my desired strength (the packaging also gives instructions on quantity and steeping time, but of course this may vary according to your taste. I like my teas quite weak).

After steeping, I turned the whole thing up again, removed the canister bit (you can see how much the tea leaves have swollen), and screwed back on the top lid. Drank the tea 🙂

I later did the same thing over again, but tried a black tea, the Earl Grey Bravo, and this time I measured the tea first, and poured the water through the tea into the tumbler. (The instructions on the box says first water, than holder with tea, the video says first holder with tea, then water…). The upside is that your tea steeps quicker, the downside is that you need to pour quite slowly to avoid over-drowning the opening.

Lastly I tried using the activiTEA with the Phoenix Jasmine Pearls. Jasmine Pearls need quite a lot of space to unfold and to properly infuse the tea, and I just felt there wasn’t enough room for that in the infuser/holder, so I put the pearls directly in the tumbler and use the infuser to strain the leaves whilst drinking. I always tend to drink multiple cups from just 3 pearls so this way I just kept topping up with water.

The teas I received were all delicious. I especially liked the Citron Green as it has a very nice refreshing taste without the citron being too overpowering. (Apparently it can also be drunken cold, so will have to give that a try.) And I love the Phoenix  Jasmine Pearls! The smell is just gorgeous and I love how you can make multiple use of the pearls without having the tea turn bitter! I am actually drinking another cup of this tea whilst writing this post 🙂

Adagio sells a lot of different tea varieties, or as they call it “artisan loose leaf teas”,  divided in categories such as black, chai, herbal, green, masters etc and both as a loose tea and in tea bags. They also sell teaware, including something called ingenuiTEA which looks actually quite clever, and pretty teapots and mug/infusers. Their website doesn’t tell much about the company, but I did found this article with some background information on them.

So, what are my thoughts on the activiTEA?

Pros:

  • It looks very good, it has a sleek and modern design.
  • It also feels very comfortable in your hand and the outer wall doesn’t get too hot (when using 100°C water)
  • Tea keeps longer warm than in a regular mug.
  • Once you know how it works, it’s very simple to use.

Cons:

  • I am not sure if I would use this for travelling. Although it feels pretty robust and is leak proof (if you screw the lid/canister on properly), it’s still glass…
  • The holes in the infuser are quite large, so it wouldn’t be suitable for all loose teas, as finer tea leaves slip through.
  • Also, the tea doesn’t really have much room to expand & infuse, so you could consider user the infuser the other way around, as a “sieve” to avoid drinking the leaves, but probably only for non black teas (as I did with the Jasmine Pearls).

Would I recommend?

Hmm, maybe not as a travel mug, although it looks sturdy, I wouldn’t want to risk taking it on the London underground! But as an loose tea infuser to use at work, or at home, definitely yes. As said, it is very pretty, keeps your tea warm and once you know how it works, it’s easy to use.

It would be great if it there were different infusers that fitted in the holder, with different sized holes, for different teas, or even an deeper infuser that wouldn’t have the need to turn it upside down. I also missed a little drip holder for putting your holder (with the wet tea leaves in it) once you have finished steeping.

I think that most reviewers give an end score, so my score would be 8 out of 10. Good, but not perfect. Yet 🙂

Just to point out again, I was sent this product free of charge in exchange for writing a review on my blog. The above is my true and honest opinion of the product. 

Hello Kitty Steamed Buns

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Some time ago I was invited to join Our Growing Edge, a monthly food blogging event, that aims to connect and inspire us to try new things. The rules are very simple, open to anyone, you don’t have to join each month, no prizes or winners, it’s just a way to share new experiences. To enter, the blog post needs to be about achieving a food related challenge that you have been meaning to do (or redo). That can be all kind of things, trying out a new cuisine, growing your own fruit & veg, mastering a new technique etc. As long as it is food related and new to the blogger 🙂

There are a few more rules/submission Guidelines, which you can all find here: Our Growing Edge

I have been thinking a long time about which food challenge I wanted to try. There is lots of inspiration on other blogs/Pinterest but I wanted to choose something that fitted in with my blog subject. Initially I thought of trying out a rice cooker recipe. As some of you might know, I am in LOVE with my rice cooker, but still haven’t tried to cook anything other than rice in it…

Then, this week, I saw a fantastic tutorial on how to make Hello Kitty Steamed Buns by Bentomonsters, and thought, WOW, I want to try that. I have never made steamed buns before, so this would be a great challenge! For the full recipe and step by step instructions, please see the post at Bentomonsters, her buns look much prettier than mine, but I am still quite pleased with my results 🙂

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There are a few things I learned today:

  • My steamer needs to be used more! It was hidden in the depth of my under the stairs cupboard…so I had to dust it off a bit :-). Unfortunately, it only has 1 setting, I think the buns would benefit from a slightly “lower” steam, to avoid bursting.
  • I lined the steamer with some baking parchment, which I punched a few times.
  • Dough expands! My steamed buns ended up a lot larger then I expected!!
  • Re making the buns:
    • I didn’t have the pancake mix that Bentomonsters uses, but luckily she gave an alternative recipe as well, which uses plain flour. It makes a very soft, elastic, nice feeling dough, although I was surprised that there wasn’t any yeast in it as I had seen some other steamed bun recipes that did have yeast. But it worked and tasted very good 😛
    • I would recommend covering the dough, in between various stages, with a barely wet towel, this avoids drying out. It also helps to keep the dough slightly sticky, so that  the face details don’t  keep falling off…
    • Wash your hands in between colouring the dough!!! You really have to knead the dough thoroughly to get an even colour so your hands will get quite stained… I gave Hello Kitty a green nose as I didn’t have any yellow food colouring and as I wasn’t sure whether tumeric would work or not. I also used a red colouring instead of pink for the bow.
    • I have never made steamed buns, or filled buns for that matter, so didn’t know how to pinch/pleat the dough over the filling, but I just sort of pinched it and it seemed to work fine. There was no leaking which is always good…
    • Instead of cutting the dough to create the ears, I decided to sort of “pinch” them. I cut the ears on the first bun, and unfortunately my cut was too deep or my dough too thin, and the filling spilled out. I tried to cover it up by making an extra bow, but you can see that the bun has burst
    • I had some left over coloured dough (I think that next time I would half the quantities set aside for colouring the dough), so I just made some plain buns with left over filling. Not sure how the “brown cacao” one will taste…
  • And most importantly, aside from looking cute, these buns are delicious!!! 😛

Below are my step-by-step photo’s:

It was a great new recipe to try out, and I will definitely do this again. As said, for the full recipe and instructions, see the original post at Bentomonsters. She is a very talented & creative lady and her bento’s always look amazing!

This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This month is hosted by Cynthia from EatMunchLove (who, btw, has a one-pot-tomato-rice-rice-cooker recipe that sounds like an easy recipe to finally start using my rice cooker more!)

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Daily life in London (from 6 am till 8.30 am)

Something completely different today!

Inspired by the challenge of HarsH ReaLITy “Daily Life in ___.” I would love it if you could include some photos of your everyday life, your city, your town, or basic “daily photos” that will share your life and country with us. Remember that a view or landscape may be mundane to you because you see it every day, but to others these scenes may be as exotic as they come. I believe these posts will generate a lot of attention, interaction, and will be fun!”, I am today sharing some photo’s with you of my morning!

Warning: lot’s of photo’s

Not sure if my photo’s will count as exotic… ;-), but it was fun making them, and I got triggered to look more around me for photo opportunities and discovered some new sights!

I live in London and my day normally starts around 06.00….when it’s still dark…..although I can see the sky slowly lightning up at the back of the house.

I usually start with packing my lunch for that day before shower/getting dressed. Today we received our veg/fruit box, this is delivered overnight, and although I can check on the website what will be in it, I like the surprise in the morning. Today’s box had swede, leek, onions, cavalo nero, cauliflower, carrots, pears and oranges. I also order eggs with them (we go through a lot) and sometimes fish or meat. This morning’s fish arrived in a special insulated box with an ice pack.

My lunch today has some focaccia bread (as I am out of prepped rice), a tomato/egg salad, some cheese and carrot sticks. I also added orange wedges in a smaller container. Before leaving the house, I put rice in the cooker and time it to be ready for tonight.

It’s definitely getting lighter on my way to the station 🙂

My commute goes via Waterloo station, but luckily it’s not very busy yet – although I did leave the house earlier than usual to allow for extra time making photo’s! These are some photo’s of my commute,around Waterloo Station, the poems in the tunnel under Imax and views from Waterloo bridge.

From Waterloo, I usually take the bus to work (I work in the Bloomsbury area), but sometimes I walk, like today and once you start to pay more attention to your surroundings you notice a lot more things like this “barrel clock” – with the wrong time, a ballerina with a globe as head in a large glass globe on the facade of the Royal Opera House and this old arch for a drinking water fountain above a modern tap!

More photo’s of my walk through Covent Garden / Bloomsbury

At work! Time for tea whilst quickly uploading these photo’s and typing a draft post before work starts. (Will finish at lunch time and publish!)

Hope you enjoyed sharing part of my life 🙂