Category Archives: News

Resignation is a piece of cake for Mr Cake

mr cake resignation cake

What a fabulous way to resign from a job that you’re not happy doing!

Chris Holmes (AKA Mr Cake) felt that he needed to pursue his dreams of being a fulltime baker rather than be be doing a job he wasn’t 100% doing. So he resigned but rather than write a letter he baked a very unique resignation cake as you can see above.

The story has gone like, well, hot cakes on the social media networks. I caught sight of it because someone on twitter had retweeted Holmes’ brother-in-law’s tweet and photo above.

I sincerely wish Chris every success for the future!

 

Middleton’s cake company not rising yet

treasure chest cakeThe cake company run by James Middleton, the brother of the Duchess of Cambridge, is not yet fully-baked and the founder has turned to his family for financial support reports suggest.

James Middleton, who has founded the Nice Cakes company, has accepted financial support from his family as he continues to develop his personalised cake company. Middleton is also behind another cake company called The Cake Kit Company that sells products via his parent’s party supplies company. It’s certainly a family affair!

To be fair to Middleton, the Nice Cakes website does indicate that the business is in its early stages. If the personalised greeting card business is anything to go by, personalised and photo cakes could yet prove to be a good market to be in?

Waitrose leaves Delia Smith on the shelf

Delia SmithUpmarket supermarket Waitrose announced this week that is it to end it’s marketing relationship with Delia Smith.

Known to millions of us as just Delia (pictured on the cover of one of her earliest cookery books), she has fronted several press and TV advertising campaigns for Waitrose since March 2010. While her contract with Waitrose ends next month, her celebrity chef sidekick in the adverts, Heston Blumenthal, is being retained.

Commenting upon the tie-up with Delia, Rupert Thomas, Waitrose Marketing Director said: “It has been such a fantastic experience working together and we have been really appreciative of the work Delia has done with Waitrose. We remain on very good terms and will be continuing to work closely with her until the end of February.”

I wonder if the marketing exec’s for Waitrose feel that Delia doesn’t relate to younger home cooks? While perhaps she doesn’t have the street cred of say Blumenthal, the passion of Gordon Ramsay or the seemingly global appeal of Jamie Oliver, her no-nonsense and easy-to-follow recipes must still have a place in most kitchens.

We’ve got an update version of the book pictured, though it’s still about 15 or so years old, and we still use on a regular basis. The birthday cake that I made last month is based on Delia sponge recipe and it is really easy to do. On Christmas Day her book was in use again …the timings for cooking the turkey! I can’t see ditching Delia any time soon to be honest.

How about you …do you think Delia deserves to be left on the shelf? Have your say in the comments below.

The Snowman and The Snowdog music

snowman and snowdogA quick non-cooking item of news for you all.

If you wondered who wrote the music score for tonight’s The Snowman and The Snowdog animation then I can tell you is was British composer Ilan Eshkeri and the singer/songwriter Andy Burrows. You can find out more about their collaboration right here at imediamonkey.com

We watched the animation as a family and we all enjoyed it but there’s a part of me that wishes that they hadn’t made a ‘sequel’. My wife suggested that the music sounded a similar to Cold Play. How about you?

Merry Christmas!

Is your toilet seat cleaner than your chopping board?

chopping boardAsk anyone if they’d consider chopping food on a toilet seat and they’re bound to say no. They’ll most likely say that’s unhygienic and that they would obviously prepare food on a chopping board. But they could well be wrong!

In a recent study of how bacteria spreads within the environment, scientists discovered that toilet seats are one of the cleanest things you’ll encounter in your day-to-day life. Dr Chuck Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona comments: “It’s one of the cleanest things you’ll run across in terms of micro-organisms. It’s our gold standard – there are not many things cleaner than a toilet seat when it comes to germs.”

It transpires that one of the dirtiest households items is the chopping board; usually there are about 200 times more faecal bacteria on the average cutting board than on a toilet seat, the scientists claim. Dish clothes and sponges are even worse, with about 10 million bacteria per square inch on a sponge, and a million on a dishcloth. Professor of virology John Oxford at the University of London and chair of the Hygiene Council concurs: “always the dirtiest thing by far is the kitchen sponge”.

Other everyday items that are well known for harbouring germs include:

  • kitchen fridge
  • bathroom seals
  • kitchen towels
  • telephones
  • shopping trolleys
  • bags for life

Apparently there can be more faecal material in a bag for life than in a pair of underpants …yuk!

And although the winter vomitting bug appears to back with vigour again this year, most of us seem to fend off all these hidden bacteria that are alive and well in products we use every day. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take care when preparing ingredients for your dinner tonight. Always make sure that you wash your hands after handling raw meat, fish and poultry. You should watch how you use your chopping boards – ideally use separate boards for veg, meat etc and ensure that you clean them thoroughly after use. Wash non-wooden chopping boards in your dishwasher where possible and use hot, soapy water for wooden boards, rinse and allow to dry naturally.

If you’ve read this and are now thinking that you’ve had the same board for too long then take a look at our range of quality chopping boards in our store now.

Branston Pickle …it’s turning Japanese

Branston pickleThe somewhat very British Branston Pickle is turning Japanese!

Food conglomerate Premier Foods has agreed to sell the pickle brand for over £92M to Japanese company Mizkan (more information about them here) according to reports in the business press. The two companies have struck a deal before as Mizkan also purchased Sarson’s (the vinegar company) for £41M earlier this year. The uniquely British condiment will still be made at a factory in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk with Mizkan agreeing to continue pickle manufacturing at the site for at least 15 years.

At home, we’ve recently become reacquainted with Branston Pickle having not bought any for probably a few years. Our children were asking what it tasted like having seen an advert for it so we bought a jar and it’s been something of a hit with our two!

I got the jar out of the fridge earlier to see what goes into making a jar of Branston. The somewhat lengthy ingredients list includes:

  • carrots
  • rutabaga (swede or turnip to you and me)
  • onions
  • cauliflowers
  • marrows
  • gherkins
  • apples
  • sugar
  • vinegar
  • spices
  • lemon juice
  • tomato paste
  • garlic extract

Who knew that there were so many ingredients!

I like it on cheese on toast or in a cheese and ham pitta bread. How about you?

World Porridge Championships 2012: English beat Scots

golden spurtle winnersAn Englishman has won this year’s World Porridge Championships after beating off competition from the Americans and the Scots no less.

The Golden Spurtle (a spurtle is a traditional, rod-shaped utensil used to stir porridge) is awarded annually to the maker of the best-tasting traditional porridge. The competition has been running since 1994 and is held at Carrbridge, Scotland.

This year’s worthy winner is Benedict Horsbrugh, a 45 year-old Londoner now living in Germany. He is pictured (centre) alongside Speciality Trophy winner Laurie Figone from California for her dish called Italian Pinhead Torta and People’s Choice Award winner John Boa for his creation hazelnut honey swirl.

Mr Horsbrugh began making his own porridge as a child after failing to be impressed with his father’s mix. He said: “When I was nine I was inspired by Tom Baker in the book Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster. He has a disagreement with Sarah Jane about making porridge, and I learnt that you just need to use a pinch of salt.”

Now that autumn has arrived porridge makes for a great, healthy and energy-rich breakfast. Rather than giving you a potential sugar high-low that you can encounter with breakfast cereals, porridge offers a low GI start to the day. Having said that, Tour de France winner and Olympic gold-medallist Brad Wiggins is rumoured to have a bowl of porridge before he goes to bed!

Oh Fork! Snake found in cutlery drawer

snake in cutlery drawerAn Aberdeen woman got more than she bargained for when she went to get a teaspoon to make a cuppa.

As she opened her cutlery drawer not only did she see her cutlery but a snake! Not knowing quite what to do the terrified resident of Coningham Terrace contacted the police. They in turn called the local branch of the Scottish SPCA (an animal welfare charity) and they despatched an animal rescue officer.

Now named Spooner (pictured), the red, black and brown striped milk snake (apparently they’re harmless to humans) is being cared for at the Aberdeenshire Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Drumoak.

Animal Rescue Officer Lynne Craib said: “The poor woman got a real fright when she reached into the drawer to grab a teaspoon and found Spooner the snake instead. Snakes need heat to survive and it was quite warm in the lady’s kitchen so that may be why Spooner went inside the drawer.”

“We’ve rescued snakes from all sorts of unusual places over the last few months, including behind a washing machine and around a lamp post”. She adds: “Snakes are really good escape artists so there’s every chance Spooner has an owner nearby who is missing him.”

We can guarantee that there aren’t any snakes in our cutlery drawer!

Vote for the best invention in the history of food

old fridgePasteurised milk, the tin can and the fridge are the three most significant inventions in the history of food, according to a poll of distinguished scientists. Refrigeration is currently topping the poll being undertaken by the Royal Society.

Apparently artificial refrigeration was produced commercially in 1805 following a first demonstration of the idea nearly 50 years earlier in 1756. Scotsman William Cullen demonstrated that his “fridge” could create a small amount of ice but at that time the concept of storing food in a cooled device didn’t occur to anyone. Of course since then fridges (like the old one pictured – source) revolutionised food preservation and longevity and it’s pretty hard to imagine managing without one (though many, many people around the world have to ).

Commenting on the findings, Sir Peter Williams, Honorary Treasurer and Vice President of the Royal Society said:

“Royal Society Fellows have played vital roles in improving people’s lives for 350 years and science has a major role to play in meeting the global challenges of the 21st century. We thought it appropriate to look at how that innovation has shaped what we eat and drink. The poll reveals the huge role science and innovation have played in improving our health and our lives. This is something to which the scientific community continues to add.”

If you’d like to vote for your favourite food invention then you can cast your vote over on the Royal Society facebook page.

Frogjaw: Versatile kitchen gadget

frogjaw product specMany thanks to Rory O’Loughlin for sending us a free frogjaw kitchen accessory to try out.

Frogjaw (pictured) is a quirky kitchen utensil gadget that can be used to rest your utensils on. You simply squeeze the frog legs to grip frogjaw onto your wooden spoon, spatula or whatever and then frogjaw stands up on its legs supporting your utensil.

frogjawThe aim is to keep your worktops clean …say you been spreading icing with a spatula and need to put it down for a second; just squeeze a frogjaw onto the spindle of the spatula and it’ll keep the icing off the worktop.

The product has been selected along with 30 others to be showcased at the London Design Festival later this month.

Frogjaw is made from silicon (by the looks) and is both dishwasher and food safe. It’s also heat resistant to 250c.

I can see a need for having different sized frogjaws in order to fit a wider range of kitchen utensils …I’ll look out for those. Meanwhile, keep up-to-date with Rory’s progress over on this facebook page.