Tag Archives: Recipes

The Wonderbag!

The Wonderbag!

logo-wonderbag

I have made a ‘wonderful’ discovery and it is a wonderful bag called a ‘Wonderbag.’  Seriously.  Much to my chagrin this is not a sponsored post so I can’t actually give you a demonstration as to how wonderful a ‘Wonderbag’ is, but I’m reliably informed that it is indeed wonderful.  My friend has one and loves it.  Here’s a picture of it:

I am in absolute wonder at the Wonder Bag. Cool innit!  No it's not a hat or a pet bed.

I am in absolute wonder at the Wonderbag. Cool innit! No it’s not a hat or a pet bed.

What is this you may ask?  As I’ve said, it is a bag that is full of wonder.  Well, not quite.  I don’t quite know how you’d contain wonder in a bag, I guess it would be rather difficult.

Speaking half sensibly though, this is a low tech version of a slow cooker as far as I can see.  I own a slow cooker and I love it, it’s great for cooking warming soups and broths and making cheap cuts of meat taste like food fit for royalty.  This is one step on from this method of cooking, only cleverereereerer.

The images below describe very succinctly how to use one of these:

img-how-wonderbag-works

All you do is heat your food up on the hob and then you bob it in the Wonderbag, pull the drawstring so the bag is closed, leave it for hours (exactly the same principle as a slow cooker) and then when you decide your food is thoroughly cooked and ready to serve……you dish it out and eat it!  Simple really.

Hungry?  Sort of like the 'boil in the bag' principle but better.

Hungry? Sort of like the ‘boil in the bag’ principle but better.

The bag itself is made up of two layers of fabric (inside and outside) and the filling is recycled polystyrene which is the insulator that allows your food to cook whilst in the bag.  Basically this a heat retention device that cooks your dinner.  I’m impressed.

As you know, if you cook a casserole the initial part of the process is on the hob and then you have to leave it in the oven for hours using gas or electricity.  The Wonderbag allows you to miss out the last stage and all the associated energy costs.  You kickstart the cooking process on the hob and leave the bag to do the rest.    This week British Gas announced profits that were frankly too ridiculous for me to remember exactly, something like 60 million, put it this way, it was a lot.  More than I have in my piggy bank for sure.  I would love to stop putting money in their pockets and keep a bit more for me and my family, as far as I can see the Wonderbag would be a great way of doing that.

What I really love is that this product was designed with the developing world in mind.  For every Wonderbag that is bought, another Wonderbag is donated to a family in Africa.  Share and share alike. *round of applause from me*

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In Africa the Wonderbag is ideal as they have limited fuel resources and  facilities for cooking in some areas.  It’s a brilliantly practical invention and it’s made with recycled materials too, so the environmental impact is limited.

I am surprised that the material used is either hand wash or machine wash in cool water, surely food is going to end up dripped on the bag quite regularly and it would be so much more helpful if you could just chuck it in the washing machine? Then again, I’m no expert, maybe there’s some reason for this I don’t know about.

The Wonderbag have a very informative, interesting WEBSITE that I’ve spent ages browsing, their ethos is admirable, their product seems perfectly practical and I just think they’re worth investing in.  I know I’m saving up for one.  They do seem rather pricey at £30 for a small one and £70 for a large one, but if you consider that you’re actually buying two and giving one to charity, it suddenly doesn’t seem quite so bad.  Mind you you can get a decent slow cooker for about £15 squid these days, but they do still use energy.  The Wonderbag will no doubt save you money over time after the initial blow to your bank account.

This one is my absolute favourite.  Love the colours!

This one is my absolute favourite. Love the colours and the little flower pattern.

I can see the Wonderbag being an absolute gem if you go camping a lot.  Bring your food to the boil, bung it in the bag whilst you’re out climbing mountains  and then come back to a hot dinner.  If you go on a long journey in the car, just take your casserole or rice dish with you (you can actually cook a whole range of things in this) and have a proper meal en route.  Forget soggy tuna butties, you can eat something far nicer with one of these.   ‘Don’t eat sandwiches that sag, eat wonderful food with a Wonderbag!’  Honestly, I should do more slogan competitions.  Or maybe I should just ban myself from exclamation marks and bad poetry.

No more soggy saggy butties!

No more soggy saggy butties!

If I ever manage to save up for one of these I promise, hand on heart to post recipes that’ll make your mouth water and you’ll maybe think about getting one yourself?  It seems like such a great product and such a good cause.  Donating money to charity is one thing, but I think I feel better donating a gift that will keep on giving.  You buy yourself something that eventually saves you money and you help a family in Africa too.  Plus they look fantastic and I’d love to have one to display in our kitchen (once I’ve cleared all the mounds of washing up  away that is).

This is not a sponsored post, I just think Wonderbag, and everything about it, looks wonderful. End of. I only have my friend’s recommendation to go off, but I trust her implicitly and can’t wait to get one myself so I can start cooking wonderful recipes and saving a bit of cash too.

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Come Dine With Kay!

Come Dine With Kay!

 Turkey Meatballs & Chickpeas in a Piquante Pepperdew Stew!

This recipe is being entered in the Peppadew ‘I love British Turkey’ blogging competition.  Many thanks to my Mother In Law for the recipe, she is a far better cook than I’ll ever be.  Right, here goes nuffink!  Please click play on the link below, and use it as background music?  I’m trying to set a scene here…. ;O)

In the true spirit of ‘Come Dine With Kay!’ you have all arrived fashionably late…..bearing huge bottles of wine and gifts boxes of chocolates, lovely!  I’m wearing my best smart casual outfit (jeans and a clean T’shirt for once), and I must say you all look very swish too!  And wow!  Look at you! …..my goodness, you’re not shy with the sequins are you!

While I faff around in the kitchen trawling the fridge and the cupboards for ingredients, I would love you all to have a comfy seat in my erm…mostly immaculate living room.  Please make appropriate small talk and kindly ignore the towering pile of toys shoved into the corner.  I’d appreciate it if you could stop kicking the toybox and setting off the Zhu-Zhu hamsters.

First of all I’m going to raid the cupboards and the fridge for my ingredients and have a small glass of wine to steady my nerves.

Ignore the Basil, it just wanted to be famous so it barged in on the photo shoot.

Here I have fresh coriander, 400g of minced turkey, a tin of chopped tomatoes (with the same amount of water added), 2 sliced onions, 1 small chopped chorizo sausage, 2 mushed cloves of garlic, ground cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, cayenne pepper, chilli flakes, a tin of chickpeas, paprika and last but not least Hot Whole Sweet Piquante Peppadew Peppers!

Right, so this is the bit where you wander around the house checking out if I’m a nutter or not.  Up the stairs you go, I’m happy here banging the cutlery about.  ‘Don’t worry about me!’ *Pours another glass of wine*

Oh no! I’ve forgotten to tidy away my antique, priceless, collection of silverware.  It’s all on display.  Silly me.

First of all I mix the garlic with the turkey mince:

Do I really have to stick my hands into that lot? *shudders*

Next I roll them into small balls, whilst giggling nervously and making a crap joke about small pink balls.

You have to have balls to attempt this kind of thing!

Then (whilst ignoring the bangs on the ceiling and the laughter from upstairs) I begin frying the chorizo in the pan until the fat starts to flow a little.

Why are they making such a racket upstairs and why did I choose a dish that spits fat at me all the time! ‘Ow!’  And my top is ruined!  Grease spots galore. Oops.

‘Ah, you’re all back!  Did you enjoy your tour?  So sorry about leaving the silverware out….’  *waits for complements*  *doesn’t get any*

‘What do you mean you went through my wash basket?!!!  Oh no, of course I don’t mind.  You’ve brought something down with you?’ *Kay lapses into a stunned silence as you (yes you with the sequins…)  wave around my all in one, fluffy, multi-coloured fish, fleecy adult-baby-gro outfit that I wear on very cold evenings and on camping trips*

‘No I don’t mind!  I said you could look around didn’t I! *smiles sweetly*

Kay thinks: ‘Well, it’s the burnt bits at the bottom of the pan for you milady!’

I return to the kitchen and begin shallow frying the meatballs in a glug of olive oil whilst swearing under my breath so my guests can’t hear me.

‘Where is my goddam spatula?!’ Fry meatballs till browned.

‘I’ll put on some music shall I?  Some nice relaxing classical music maybe?’

‘What? You prefer Guns and Roses?!!!’

Kay thinks: ‘Sequin top lady is cruising for a bruising, I might have to drop a meatball or two on the floor at this rate’ 

I have another slightly larger glass of wine and listen to the male guest with the blue spikey hair who is ‘art-critiquing’ my favourite sea-side painting.  I just like seagulls!  Get over it!  (I think this rather than say it because I’m trying to be nice and get more points)

‘Oh yes I agree, these sort of paintings are rather outdated, but I do like them!’ *stares daggers*

I return to the kitchen and:

Fry onions till translucent.

Return chorizo to the pan, add spices. 1tsp of cumin, 2 tsp of paprika, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or chilli flakes. Sneeze. Not on the food obviously.  Put this on a high heat for a couple of minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes with additional water. Splash my top even more.

You should all be slightly plastered now as I’ve kept the ‘Come Dine With Kay!’ evening rolling along nicely with the strongest red wine I could find at Morrissons.  Great!  I’m sober as a judge though.  *hiccups*

‘Would anyone like another glass?’ *fills everyone’s glasses to the brim*

Kay thinks: ‘Well, it if I get them drunk they won’t notice if the food tastes rotten.’

Add chickpeas, and a quarter of a jar of roughly chopped Sweet Hot Peppadew Peppers. Simmer for half an hour. Drink more wine to numb your tastebuds. Not sure how this will taste….

I’ve had to split up spikey haired bloke and you.  I think to myself, ‘Oh hell, I should have found a cattle prod as well as a decent recipe.’

‘Just come into the kitchen and sit down will you?’ ‘There’s no need to cry now…..I know your outfit is well…a little erm, showy, but the man has no taste!’  ‘I think you look lovely! Kylie carried the look off beautifully’ (about ten years ago, but I’m not going to say that am I?!

You stagger back into the living room, sloshing your drink onto my pastel blue carpet.  I begin to wonder if I’m seeing double, and the spikey bad-hair-cut-man is threatening to chew his own arm off (I think I’ve taken too long), and I think it’s time to serve up!  Brace yourselves! I proudly carry my prized praline Denby casserole dish into the front room.  I am showing off, but then this is the telly, I’m pulling all the stops out here!

Taaaaa Daaaaah!!!!!!! Thish ish a lovely dish innit! (slurs)

*hiccups*  *pours another glass* *downs in one* *fills glass again* *T’is nerve medichine you see*

There you go!  Plonks casserole dish on the table.  Knocks a few knives and forks on the floor. Ah well, a bit of dirt never did anyone any harm.  I pick them up and put them back on the table and sway slightly.

Dinner is served!

‘Well, tuck in everyone.  Let me know what you think!  It’s not like it took any effort or anything!’  Pitta bread goes nicely or you could add rice.  I chose pitta bread because I always make soggy rice and you can’t go wrong with grilling bread can you? Or can you?

‘Stop spitting out the hard bits of bread!  It’s just not nice!  Honestly I’m  not inviting you lot round again.  No, you can’t dip ZhuZhu hamsters in the food.  Oh for gods sake, I give up’

*********************End credits scroll down the screen******************

Narrator:  ‘Will Kay win or did the guests think her dinner was just a turkey of a meal?  Find out next week…..’

Narrator: ‘This dish features delicious moist turkey meatballs, complemented with a lip-smacking spicy tomato and hot sweet piquante Pepperdew pepper sauce. The chickpeas add an exciting slightly nutty contrast. Best enjoyed with a sensibly sized glass of red wine and good company.  Ahem!’

Best recipes of 2012

Menus4Mums A Review! The Saviour of the Busy Mum?

Menus4Mums Review

The Saviour of the Busy Mum?

I see my family’s health as my responsibility, and try very hard to feed them what I see as being the right diet.

The problem with this is that my family do not always see me as the warder of their well-being, more as the provider of ‘orrible bread with bits in’, or a pusher of unbranded weetabix that ‘dunt taste as nice as the other stuff’ (because it has less salt in!)  Sadly, they do not always appreciate my efforts.

I do try and cook healthy food, but more often than not it takes forever and is invariably not eaten – which is infuriating when I’ve spent so much time slaving in the kitchen with a two year old hanging over the safety gate screaming for ‘Cheeeeeesse!’ at regular intervals.  I swear my lad is half mouse.

That is when I’m trying hard. When I’m having a less conscientious day I am prone to Pasta N’ Sauce with a tin of sweetcorn chucked in for added veg, or what I call ‘Defrosty-Tea’, which is basically last week’s leftovers frozen and reheated. The less conscientious days are, to my shame, more common than the reluctant domestic goddess ones.

Then one evening I came across Menus4Mums.  It looked like the saviour of our mealtimes!  The perfect antidote to Defrosty-Teas and over-elaborate inedible dinners.

This is how it works as I see it.  You subscribe for your chosen length of time, and you have access to recipes and meal plans on a two week rota, which updates weekly.  They include shopping lists for the week’s food and approximate prices; they list offers and promotions at different supermarkets and include handy hints on how to take short cuts for the next day’s meal – e.g. make mashed potato and keep some aside for the next day’s tea, obvious really, but easily forgotten.

The meals are nice too, my kids have eaten almost all of them, which is a minor miracle for them (apart from the green veg, but that goes without saying).  It seems very balanced too; fish at least once a week and a good balance of meat and carbohydrates.

So far, I’ve found the recipes very easy and quick to make, which is exactly what you need when you’re in a rush.  They are generous portion sizes and I’ve often been able to freeze leftovers for lazy days (maybe defrosty-tea hasn’t quite disappeared), which is handy.  The shopping list is helpful too, although I think it is more practical for internet shopping, as you can put exactly what you’re searching for into their query box on the supermarket’s page.  Personally, I found myself traipsing up and down a real supermarket looking for precisely the right ingredient for a recipe; usually I’m one of the ‘just grab it and bung it in the trolley’ brigade, so I did find this a bit time consuming.  Having said that I come up with meals that aren’t half as nice as the ones Menus4Mums have come up with, so maybe the time is worth investing.

I have struggled with a few things, but I think that is simply because of my own circumstances, rather than a failing on the part of Menus4Mums.  The prices they quote are supermarket  estimates, I don’t drive so often have to pick things up from local shops which vary in price quite a bit, and to be honest, I do like to support my town centre which is struggling in the face of competition from bigger competitors, namely supermarkets.   If you ignore the pricing issue and the supermarket bias, the recipes and meal plans are still fabulous in themselves though.  I’d not let that put you off.

Something that has amused me greatly is that Menus4Mums sell themselves with the phrase ‘Save time by being more organised in the kitchen’ which is exactly what they aim to do.  They are so brilliantly organised with the neatly presented shopping lists and tick boxes, and the clearly laid out recipes, the neatly totted up prices, the handy hints etc etc.  You simply cannot fault them for preciseness and clarity.  The problem lies in their target audience.

If you’re a disorganised person it is very hard to follow a meal plan and a shopping list or even a recipe sometimes, in a logical way.  Menus4Mums may be aiming to organise the impossible in regards to me at least.  I have succeeded in forgetting to read the ‘handy hints’ so I’ve not been able to take the short cuts for the next day – I’ve forgotten my password at a relatives so I couldn’t get the week’s shopping on that day (the only day we had spare) – I’ve not had time to do certain recipes and have left them until other days, meaning the ‘leftovers’ from the previous day which were meant to make up the main body of the meal, weren’t there to cook with – so I’ve ended up making the meals in a completely different order to the one suggested.  I’ve not got a working printer so I can’t print out the shopping lists either.

All in all, if you’re an organised person or even a slightly disorganised person,Menus4Mums is a dream come true.  If you’re simply the kind of person who struggles to know their arse from their elbow half the time, such as me; Menus4Mums is possibly even harder to keep a handle on than just writing up your own shopping lists and meal plans and bungling it.

I’m hanging on in there until the end of my subscription, maybe they’ll convert me to ‘Organisedness’ by the end of this, just maybe….