Back to School… And breathe…
By Linda Parker
September always feels optimistic, shiny and new. It has the cheerfulness of a new pencil case, shiny new school shoes and a host of must-have (but in the event, never-used) stationery, without the gloom that accompanies January as the other ‘new start’ time of year. So, dusting off my compass and protractor I’m now getting back into the full-scale swing of kitchen planning, which was momentarily in pause position whilst we waded through the summer holidays.
Marbled Cappucino work surface
Currently trying to decide between some of these beautiful finishes; Marbled Cappucino work surface; Soapstone Sequoia work surface and splash back, both from the Prima range by Bushboard, and Ragged Copper splash back, also by Bushboard, visit www.bushboard.co.uk
The new kitchen is almost completely planned, apart from the final decision on the colour of the work surfaces and splash backs, and a delivery date is scheduled for the cabinetry. Thankfully that delivery date can be held for six months, which is fortuitous, because I doubt very much we’ll be ready for a lorry load of kitchen to be delivered by the beginning of October. I have to admit that the new kitchen will be very different from the one I had first envisaged. It’s not freestanding dark oak with black granite tops. It’s now a fully fitted design in pale ‘Cashmere’ high gloss, with an equally pale limestone-look porcelain tiled floor. The one thing I am very much looking forward to is being able to cook in a space with plenty of elbow room. My last two kitchens were lovely but on the small side, so it’s a luxury to wallow in the prospect of a run of several metres of work top space, plus a good quantity of storage space – I’ve gone for drawers rather than cupboards wherever possible, taking heed of the super-storage advice on Blum’s website, www.blum.com
We’ve all been slightly less distracted by Bake Off than usual, with many of my friends and colleagues of the same opinion – namely that we’re just a little bit bored with seeing ‘show off’ cakes that look as if they’ve been mauled to death. But, we’re very taken with the clever Anti-Gravity Pouring Cake Kit from Lakeland www.lakeland.co.uk/71023/Anti-Gravity-Pouring-Cake-Kit which is a combination of frame-stand, base plate and supporting rods. I’m not sure I’ve got the patience to try one out, but I think it will be a definite winner.
‘Superfoods’ have made the headlines with increasing regularity recently, although it’s a term that is ambiguous and difficult to define. One of the best books about the subject is ‘Unmasking Superfoods: The Truth and Hype about Acai, Quinoa, Chia, Blueberries and More’ written by nutritionist Jennifer Sygo and published by Harper Collins, £12.99. Once you get through the title itself, which is perhaps unnecessarily long, it’s a good read, which debunks a lot of the myth and mystery around the subject, and which gives a good run-down on some of the most recently over-hyped so-called superfoods. My thoughts … include almonds, avocados and kale in your diet, as these seem to be the undisputed best superfoods of the bunch which genuinely deserve the accolade. There are too many unproved claims and exaggerated effects linked to many superfoods, we should be wary and keep questioning reports that in some cases are industry-sponsored.
Instagram is still a source of foodie-related delight, follow Gizzi Erskine (search gizzierskine) for funny and sharp comments on her new book … Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite. She’s a breath of fresh air, and her previous three books, Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts, My Kitchen Table: 100 Foolproof Suppers and Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic are well worth re-visiting if you’re looking through a little inspiration before we all get caught up in thinking about Christmas puddings and mince pies. If you’re new to her books, go straight to Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite (published by Octopus Books www.octopusbooks.co.uk, available for £7 on www.amazon.co.uk) One of the first recipes I’ll be trying is Chlodnik, which is chilled Polish beetroot soup. And it’s pink, so that is a very good thing. I’m also looking forward to getting a copy of Eating Well Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale (£20, www.harpercollins.co.uk) And one more recommendation to get your appetite going for next year’s Bank Holiday food festival in the Cotswolds … The Big Feastival, go to www.thebigfeastival.com , presented by Jamie Oliver and Alex James.
Gadget-wise, this month has brought news of several must-haves for anyone wanting to have a hi-tech, super-specified kitchen. Sensio have added the SensioPowerU to their selection of kitchen extras. It’s a clever combination of plug sockets, USB chargers, Bluetooth audio speaker and a clip-on aluminium shelf. It’s positioned under a kitchen wall cabinet, has an IP54 rating, can hold an iPad, tablet or book, and is a very well-thought out alternative to a work-surface pop-up socket arrangement – especially if you don’t want to start cutting out holes in stone or solid-surface work tops. Visit www.sensio.co.uk for more details. We also love the nifty new Stellar Housewares bamboo kitchen chopping board, which has an integral knife sharpener in the corner. So there’s no excuse for blunt knives and ragged slicing and dicing results. It’s £19.99, www.stellarcookware.co.uk
Next Month: Inside the cupboards and drawers … logical solutions