I’ve mostly been a shower gel kind of girl and have been for a long time.
Soap is fine for hands but I find it too drying otherwise.
Well not anymore, because I found these:
Not only are they beautifully wrapped they are also wonderfully gentle on the skin.
At the moment I’m using the top one which is organic lavender. I can’t decide whether to use the plummy berry scented one next or the sophisticated scented rainbow.
They are handcrafted by Leaf House in Suffolk. I’m also slightly addicted to their baby lotion and rescue cream.
You can buy online or from their market stall in Bury St Edmunds.
Here’s to lovely soaps.
This weekend I ‘harvested’ the lavender from the garden.
As ever there was quite a lot.
So I’m looking for ideas of what to do with it.
So far on the list I have:
Lavender scented chicken
Lavender crust rack of lamb
maybe lavender scented jelly (I just need someone with a surfeit of crab apples to help out)
and of course lavender bags and pillows
All other ideas welcome there really is rather a lot of it
(to give you an idea of how much the picture is of it laid out on a table that’s 5ft x 3ft)
A few weeks back Julia at ‘A Slice of Cherry Pie‘ was offering 5 Mayan Magic Chocolate kits to food bloggers who promised to blog the experience. Sounded like fun and as I love chocolate I rushed in and bagged one. It arrived a few days later but it sat untouched for a while – I was busy and wanted to do it justice and also blog as much of each step as I could…..so here is what you get and do:
1. The kit:
2. What’s inside:
3. The butters:
4. The powders:
5. My chosen flavours (lavender, cardamom, lemon zest). I hardly used any of each:
6. The butter ready to melt in a bain marie (i.e. over hot water):
7. The powders after sieving (they needed it they had gone quite solid):
8. The melted butters:
9. Whisking in the powders (I added a little of the agave at the end for some sweetness but it didn’t need much):
10. Then I spilt it into 4 lots and added the flavours and kept one lot plain. I learnt here that you need to keep each lot warm else it cools so quickly you can’t pour it into the moulds properly and it becomes all mis-shapen (see later)
11. I poured (and pushed!) it into ice cube trays and got 4 ‘cubes’ per flavour so 16 cubes in total. Then it went into the fridge to set for 1.5 hours (or in my case overnight).
12. Next morning at coffee time so we popped the cubes from the trays.
13. Some worked:
14. Some looked a bit mangled:
And the taste:
The flavours were nice but over-powered any chocolatey-ness (and I only used a teeny bit of each), the plain version was okay but not brilliant.
Very grainy/gritty and not smooth at all, disappointing. Alex over at ‘A Brit’s Dish a Day‘ had the same problem so I’m guessing that’s how it is rather than us getting it wrong.
A bit. But the instructions aren’t clear that it will cool so quickly and become difficult to pour into moulds. I made it hard for myself by doing 4 flavours with one kit – the instructions anticipate one flavour being added to the melted butters before the powder.
Would I buy one?
Having looked up the price (£14.25 plus shipping, as far as I can tell, for 150g of chocolate) I had to lie down. I can get 3 different flavored Rococo bars (70g each) for this money or about 14 Divine plain bars (100g each). I’m sorry to have to say that I wouldn’t buy this either for myself or as a gift. It wasn’t enough fun, its pricey and the taste/texture wasn’t the tops.
Not currently a winner – it needs some re thinking I feel.
For those of you who haven’t guessed yet I’m a big fan of both coffee and chocolate and one of the highlights of each day is sitting down mid morning for a little bit of both. I like to try different pairings to see what works and what doesn’t. Mostly I like my coffee and chocolate pretty strong and intensely flavoured so some of my favourites won’t be for the faint hearted. I usually have my coffee made in a cafetiere and drink it black no sugar, occasionally I go for the extra hit of an espresso made in a lovely little Bialetti Moka Express stove top pot – wonderful but watch for the hit.
Today’s pairing was:
Coffee: “Paddy and Scott’s” All Day Coffee sourced from the North West Andes and roasted here in the UK by Paddy and Scott themselves.
Chocolate: The Wicked Fruit Co, Wicked Lavender chocolates (a Great Taste 2007 gold winner).
So how was it for me?
Well the coffee is a good easy drinking one, a little tangy and slightly smokey. It’s a strength 3 and for me it’s a little on the weak side for mid morning but for those who’d rather not blow their head off with caffeine at 11am then it’s a great choice. Basically I’m a one coffee a day girl as a rule so I’d rather have something startling (in all respects) than drink several cups of a milder blend. I’ve also had Paddy and Scott’s After Dinner Blend before (though rarely actually after dinner!) and that’s more up my street – intense, spicy yet still smooth.
And the chocolate? Well this was the first time I’d tried anything from Wicked Fruit Co and when I saw they did lavender ones I knew I had to give then a go. I just love lavender in cooking, check out my Lavender Biscuits post, and I’m also a fan of lavender jelly with roast lamb (The Bay Tree Food Company is my current choice). The chocolate lived up to expectations (which were very high I must say). The chocolate itself was smooth with the lavender adding a rich yet delicate note. It’s quite an acquired taste in many ways, very unusual. Of course I just had to have a second sample to check my thoughts and again the chocolate delivered with the lavender seeming more intense – at this point I thought it best to stop before I hit overload (plus, like many a good thing in life, its quite pricey so you have to ration yourself or go for bankrupt). Definitely worth the price though as a treat for someone who likes the unusual.
The pairing of the coffee and the chocolate was okay but not outstanding, the chocolate was too unusual for the coffee but each on their own were very good.
Reading several other blogs recently (particularly ‘Domestic Goddess in Training’ talking about Bara Brith) made me think it was about time I did a little bit of baking. And visitors scheduled for later this week clinched the deal. What better to offer with tea or coffee than homemade biscuits or perhaps a fruitcake?
First up the biscuits – I fancied cooking something that would have a hint of summer to come and so I hit on one of my favourite tried and tested recipes (and, I know, well liked by these particular guests). The recipe is from Sybil Kapoor’s Simply British – a lovely book of unusual recipes using classic British ingredients.
You will need:
4oz/115g softened butter (I prefer to use unsalted though it doesn’t specify that in the recipe)
2oz/55g caster sugar
zest 1 unwaxed lemon
3 teaspoons of lavender flowers stripped off the stem (hopefully ones from your own lavender bushes that you have dried and saved or I’ve found them online at Phytobotanica)
6oz/170g plain flour
caster sugar for dusting
Heat the oven to Gas 2/150C/300F and have 2 greased baking sheets ready – you’ll get about 16 biscuits.
Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until it’s pale and light in texture. Then mix in the lavender flowers followed by the flour – use your hands as this will keep the butter warm and help incorporate the flour. You are aiming for a stiff but not too crumbly ball of dough – it will take a while to get to this stage (5 minutes or more).
Then roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper until it’s only a few millimetres thick. Cut out the biscuits in whatever shape pleases you (yesterday I had to use an unturned wine glass because I couldn’t find the cookie cutters – it still worked). Place the biscuits on the trays using a palette knife – they are quite fragile so take care. Obviously use up all the scraps of dough, which will mean a few odd shapes for the cook to try later. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly brown – I usually start checking after 20 minutes to see how things are going. Transfer to a cooling rack immediately and dust with caster sugar.
They are wonderfully crumbly, melting in the mouth, the lavender flavour is quite rich and the lemon zest helps balance this nicely. Eat with abandon – though I defy you to manage more than 3 in a sitting.
Now lets just hope I haven’t eaten them all before my guests arrive……..