September 29, 2014

the aldeburgh food festival

On Sunday afternoon I headed to the Aldeburgh food festival, which I've made sure to visit for around four years or so now. The festival runs for two days over a weekend usually in late September at Snape Maltings in Suffolk. This year, the festival was blessed with the most beautiful late Summer's day which meant it was the perfect excuse to stroll around with a cider. In the courtyard area is sold hot food to eat straight away, and in tents and lined across the path on the way in are food stalls selling everything from jams, dressings, cakes, cheese and fudge to fancy dog's biscuits. There's even live demos with celebrity chefs and also cookery classes that you can take part in too, if you happen to be based in East Anglia then you absolutely must give it a go one year.


My favourite products that I discovered at the festival were the wensum white goat cheese from fielding cottage, passionfruit and lemon curd from scarlett and mustard, sloe lemonade posh pop from breckland orchard, garlic mayonnaise from hillfarm, basil pesto from purely pesto and last but not least live natural yoghurt from marybelle. I literally would buy each and every one of these products by the truck load, so if you ever spot them online or in store definitely try them out.

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September 24, 2014

the iphone 6 gold


I've never been one to rush and buy the latest model of anything in particular, but after umming and ahhing over the new iPhone 6 I finally decided it was time for an upgrade and to take the plunge. I say upgrade, but in reality my mum will be taking over my old contract for my iPhone 5 which she is more than happy about. Although I very nearly went with the silver model for the iPhone 6 due to being a little concerned that the gold version was too flashy I decided that along with a black leather case it would look great with subtle flashes of the gold metal showing through in places. After much deliberation on the memory size to go for too I eventually settled on 64gb, this is a massive increase from the 16gb on my iPhone 5, which after 3,000 photos has almost given up on life. If you're thinking of going ahead and splurging on an iPhone 6 then here's a little list of pros and cons I've come up with that I was most impressed by.

The good:

| Incredible speaker volume which pretty much eliminates the need for the whole glass speakerphone contraption 
| The gold metal looks as if it's a cross between rose and yellow gold meaning it looks sophisticated and not at all cheap
| Feels much sleeker and the screen itself has rounded edges which creates an almost bubble effect
| The battery life is excellent. It claims to have a 10 hour life for internet browsing and up to 12 days in standby mode, far better than the three hours or so that my iPhone 5 is currently lasting.

The bad:

| The sleek design of the phone can mean it feels almost slippery which makes it easy to drop, for this reason I recommend getting yourself a case if you're as clumsy as I am.
| I really hate the white signal strips on the back of the phone, to me it just looks sloppy and unfinished and doesn't reflect typical apple design at all. 
| The glass casing for the camera sticks out at the back meaning the phone doesn't sit completely flat once you lay it down.
| With the screen being so huge it's impossible to type with one hand which is something I loved about the iPhone 5, I prefer my phones to be small and functional over large and bulky. I was convinced for most of the first day using it that Apple had made a mistake and sent me the iPhone 6 plus because of how huge it felt in my hand.

I discovered after just 24 hours of having the phone in my possession that it certainly isn't waterproof. I was running myself a bubbly bath, left the phone on the side and somehow it decided to go all water baby on me and swim to the depths of the bath tub. It was in there for less than a second and I put it straight into a bowl of rice and into the airing cupboard, alas it has left me to go to iPhone heaven. Although I'm as clumsy as it gets I do put this accident down to the shape of the phone, if I had put my old iPhone on the side there would be no chance of it moving anywhere down to it's flat surface. Take it from me, if you get this phone, be extra careful with it.

For me, the perfect iPhone would be one that had the size of the iPhone 5, the shape of the iPhone 6 and without those god awful white bands across the back of the metal. That all being said, I'm still really pleased with it and I'm even more happy about the prospect of never having to worry about lack of space on my phone again.

Here's a video I took of milo to test out the video camera quality and slow-mo function:



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September 16, 2014

rhubarb and custard cupcakes


I've caught the baking bug once again, side effects include: watching american wedding cake making programmes, midnight meringue making, obsessing over great british bake off and buying lots of bakeware from lakeland. Rhubarb and custard sweets have always been my favourites so once a bottle of rhubarb food flavouring came with my rather large order from lakeland I came up with the idea of cupcakes inspired by the boiled sweet version. I didn't go by a recipe and just invented it up as I went along, somehow I managed to strike gold as they came out absolutely perfect. The buttercream frosting has custard powder and vanilla extract and the cake sponge itself has pink food dye along with rhubarb flavouring, sod regular boring cupcakes when there are so many flavours you can invent and try out.

Ingredients:

For the sponge: 
4oz self raising flour
4oz sugar
4oz unsalted butter
2 large free range eggs

For the icing:
5oz unsalted butter
10oz icing sugar
2tbsp custard powder
1-2tbsp milk

Method:
  • Start by getting your butter out of the fridge and leaving it to warm up to room temperature so that it will be super easy to mix, then whack your oven up to 180°c and line a cake tin with pretty cupcake cases.
  • For the sponge, mix the butter until it becomes light in colour and soft, then add the sugar and mix until creamy and smooth. Whisk together your eggs until combined, then slowly add to the cake mixture bit by bit whilst still mixing. At this point add in your pink food colouring until you are left with a rich pink colour, I highly recommend using wilton gel food colours as they give the best results. Once you've reached a lovely shade of pink, sift in the flour and gently fold it into the mixture, be nice and gentle.
  • Drop a tablespoon of the mixture into cupcake cases then bake for around 15-20 minutes until the top of the cakes just begins to turn golden brown. Catching them at just the right point is key, you want them to be springy and moist enough so the colour is left vibrant without being over or under baked. 
  • Once your cakes are out of the oven and cooling on a wire rack, get on with the buttercream frosting. Mix the butter until it's soft and light in colour then add in half the icing sugar and get mixing once again, once that's incorporated then just add in the other lot along with the custard powder, vanilla extract and milk. At this point the icing should be an off white colour and be easy to mix, if you find it's not soft enough then just add in a little more milk until you've got it where you want it. Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle and pipe away, if you don't have a piping bag set then just spoon the icing onto the cakes, the taste will win over the presentation on this one.

I'm currently in the process of setting up my own baking company, so if any of you fancied being super kind and liking the facebook page I'd love you forever, plus you will get to see lots of yummy cupcakes and sweet treats pop up on your news feed too.

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