I add yet another kitchen timer to my collection…

I know, I shouldn’t have – but I couldn’t resist.

Even though I promised myself and my husband that I was not going to buy any more bits and pieces for the kitchen – the countertops and cupboard-tops of our tiny kitchen are already groaning with my tins and pans and jugs and assorted kitchenalia –  I spotted something online and knew that it would be purchased, swiftly, and welcomed into our home.

I have had a long, long obsession with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. And I love the brand so much that I have kept the tub from every new flavour I have ever eaten. Most of them are in my parents’ home but I have quite an extensive collection round our way, too.

It all started over 5 trips to America, where the flavour combinations are many and varied – and AMAZING. Here in the UK we’re stuck with the same old ones, but at least peanut butter has finally been embraced by the market.

As all fans of the brand will know, they kill off flavours now and again and send them to the ‘flavor graveyard’ so I like that I have a little reminder of them here on earth! Especially when they were weird and wonderful like Concession Obsession, which I bought in Washington DC in 2002 with my friend Tamlyn.

All I have to do is look at that tub, and I’m taken back to our little wander out in search of ice cream one hot summer night.

So when I spotted this…

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on the UK Ben & Jerry’s site, it was a no-brainer.

It’s cute, functional – I love kitchen timers, and use up to four at a time depending on the culinary task at hand – and it has taken up position alongside a few of my current favourites.

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It looks right at home, and was just a few quid – no buyer’s remorse here, that’s for sure!

 

I find a genius Fred & Friends (Christmas themed) cupcake case

There are quite a few companies who can be relied upon to consistently produce excellent kitchenalia but, of them all, Fred & Friends is my absolute favourite.

I cannot remember the first item I purchased from the American company’s range but it may have been one of the amazing sets of cookie cutters. Since then, I have accumulated lots of their sets including the fantastic gingerbread men cutters which look as if bites have been taken out of them. They are brilliant for Hallowe’en spooky skeletons with heads, arms or legs missing.

Keen-eyed friends have noticed my penchant for Fred and I have been bought some of what are now my favourite items as birthday presents. Noticing that I had one of the Russian doll range – the wonderful American measures set – one of my best buds bought me the matching kitchen timer.

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She also got me these gems – little teacup cake cases. Each comes with its own plate and they have an amazing impact when you present homemade buns in them.

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I happened upon a new snowman cupcake case last week while browsing in Paperchase, which quite often stocks a lot of F&F products. It was, despite the £14 price tag, a must-purchase for me in December.

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Each is like three cupcakes in one, and in my enthusiasm when first using them, I overfilled the cases.  Ah well, these things happen! The four year-old and I trimmed away the damage (and ate it), drizzled over copious amounts of white icing, added a few currants and boosh, her afternoon was made.

She does love cake, but she was particularly taken with the fun of these. And we even made a chocolate sprinkle snowman.  She didn’t get to taste it, however – her Dad arrived home and, in a nanosecond, it was gone.

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I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any more kitchenalia but then….

I happened upon two items I just couldn’t leave behind. I know, I know – it’s ridiculous. After all, I have just had a clear out and I vowed not to purchase anything more.

The shelves in our kitchen groan underneath the weight of my pans and baking equipment, and my other half is forever laughing at the state of the main cooking cupboard – you open it and then take cover as jars and packets of this, that and the other thing fall out on top of you.

But I did include the caveat that I wouldn’t buy anything else UNLESS it was absolutely one hundred fantabulous – which the two items I recently found completely are.

Both are retro, of course. The first thing I came upon was a Skyline rolling pin in brilliant condition – and it rotates, too. The distinctive Skyline design is one I really recall from my childhood, as my parents were given a set for their wedding. They used it right up until they dumped it (WHY?) when they updated their kitchen. They neglected to inform me what they were up to, of course, thus preventing me from having the time to book a flight home and save all the classic retro bits from being thrown away / given to charity.

Excuse the mess of the family oilcloth in the below image of my new pin – 

 

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I have also vowed that anything I buy now must be useable – not something to gather dusting posing pointlessly on a shelf – and I fully intend to put that into practise. Next time there’s a need for rolling, lovely Mr Red Skyline is going to come to the rescue.

The next item to exert its irresistible pull over me was a terrific enamel flour bin. I have always had a hankering after these, and on many an occasion I have poured over the options on a certain online auction site.

This one was in good nick and again, I knew that it would not be taken home and placed somewhere, never to be properly appreciated. Instead, I filled it with my assorted bags of flour and gave it pride of place on the kitchen dresser.

 

I still haven’t got to the stage where I can walk past it without giving it an admiring glance!

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My new Cathrineholm pot plus some speedy family dinner heroes

There’s nothing as exciting as post, especially a nice parcel containing a coveted Cathrineholm enamel pot that you’ve purchased from eBay.

I had my eye on one for a long time, but was always priced out of the market for the orange ones. And, now that it’s mine, I think I prefer the blue. I have positioned it on top of the piano so I can see it all the time. It was a small price to pay for such kitchenalia-related happiness!

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It has been a very busy week work wise, so I have had some very testing brief periods in which I’ve dashed home to get the evening meal ready, whilst also sorting out my daughter, before leaving for work again. It’s been really sunny, too, so we needed relatively light meals.

One fun thing to try was the new Veetee range of pasta and rice, a few samples of which were kindly sent to me to try. It comes in various flavours and all you need to do is pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes.

I ‘made’ the black pepper and garlic pasta one to accompany some pizza and was really pleasantly surprised. The pasta when cooked was just the right texture – not horribly rubbery or overcooked – and you could really taste both of its key seasonings. There was more than enough for the husband and me in just one pack, so it’s something I will definitely be turning to when I need a fast and tasty portion of rice or pasta. 

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The other family dinner hero is something that I regularly serve to guests and they always say that it’s delicious and ask where it came from. It’s a ranch salad pack from ASDA which costs £1 and regularly sells out, especially in hot weather because it’s the perfect accompaniment to summer eating.

The salad is composed of thin strips of carrot, red cabbage and other coleslaw type ingredients. All you do is tip its contents into a bowl, pour over the dressing, mix it well, then pour on the croutons and mix them in too. Honestly, it is moreish and tastes like it’s good for you, too. Plus, kids love it. 

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