Top 10 Mother’s Day Gifts 2015

mothers day

Mother’s Day falls on March 15th this year, so that doesn’t leave much time to be inspired and to find a great unique gift for the World’s Greatest Mum. Here at Silver Mushroom, we love to be helpful so we’ve come up with our top 10 best Mother’s Day gifts that will really show Mum how much you appreciate her this year!

Heidi - lifestyle1. Our new collection of Ulster Weavers textiles are not to be missed, and make fantastic gifts. Your mum can cook in style with one of our stunning aprons. And if you want to get her that little bit extra, we’ve put together some sets with matching oven gloves, tea towels or mugs so you can really splash out on her, without actually breaking the bank! Ulster Weavers are known for their gorgeous designs and top quality products so we can promise, these will not disappoint.

2. If, like most Mums, your mum loves a good brew, serve her a well deserved cuppa in a beautiful mug from Hudson and Middleton. These mugs are made from fine bone china, in the UK and we stock a great range of different artists’ designs. And they come beautifully gift boxed, so there’s no fiddly wrapping.

hudson mugs

In the forest bowls3. If your Mum is a keen baker, why not treat her to a stunning set of Mason Cash In The Forest Mixing Bowls. These beautiful woodland inspired bowls bring the outdoors in and will definitely put a smile on Mum’s face as she goes about her cooking and baking. Featuring a Fox, Owl, Rabbit and Hedgehog design in sizes 29cm, 26cm, 24cm and 21cm respectively, this set is perfect for all your baking and food preparation needs.

4. If your Mum loves all things home made and organic, why not butter her up with Kilner’s fabulous new Butter Churning set. The Butter Churner makes real home made butter in just ten minutes, while the paddles can be used to shape your finished butter which can then be served in Kilner’s lovely glass butter dish. Spread the word!

Kilner butter churner lifestyle

5. Show Mum how much you love her with a Romantic Hearts mixing bowl by Mason Cash. This pretty range features a generous sized mixing bowl in pink, red or cream with embossed hearts around the outside. Perfect for baking, or to use as a fruit or salad bowl.

2006.0091

6. Our new Typhoon Vision range of scales are no small measure and would make a great, unique gift for Mum. With a variety of colours available, there is sure to be something to suit your favourite Mum. Weigh them up here.

scales

7. If your Mum is a bit of a party animal, why not treat her to a stunning 5 litre Kilner Drinks Dispenser? Ideal for cocktails, punch and soft drinks, this is sure to be a talking point at any soiree!

Kilner wedding drinks dispenser

8. For the colourful characters out there, this set of 4 brightly coloured mixing bowls is sure to go down a treat. Classic shape Mason Cash bowls finished in gorgeous red, yellow, blue and green glazes will definitely brighten up Mum’s day!

10314527_1012239915472865_7568382495764236230_n

9. Our Time For Tea gift sets from Creative Tops are a lovely heartfelt gift, especially for the animal lovers out there. Gift sets with a china mug, and matching coaster and scatter tray make brew time that little bit more enjoyable.

GS7-1955

10. Who says Dad has to do the BBQ? We bet Mum would step up the challenge immediately if she had this beautiful set of BBQ utensils in a stylish carrying case. Everything you need for perfect summertime alfresco dining. Just add sunshine.

0303.074_1-e1423763191260

That’s our top 10, but for more Mother’s Day gift ideas, check out our Mother’s Day section on our website.

Baker Street: A Mason Cash Revolution

baker street

For over two centuries, Mason Cash have been providing us with top quality bakeware and to this day, their original designs are still popular across the globe. Recent decades have seen new production techniques, new products being added to the core ranges and colourful twists on the original designs. Pretty pastels, brave bold colours and fun slogans have all contributed to Mason Cash’s movement into the 21st Century, and they have successfully delivered time and time again. It is no secret that some of Mason Cash’s more modern ranges have been inspired by past eras, Bake My Day paying homage to the 1950’s house wife, while Flour Power is openly inspired by the 1960’s era of Peace and Love, and 2012’s Jubilee range featured puns inspired by historical monarchs. Despite moving with the times and creating more functional products for the modern day kitchen, Mason Cash can safely say, they have not forgotten their roots, nor the kitchens that have inspired and guided them through two centuries.

This season, Mason Cash have gone further back in time, stepped out of the kitchen (just for a moment) and found their inspiration in the Industrial Revolution. A time and place with far more grit and grime and altogether darker and more intriguing than your average 1950’s kitchen! A far cry from their usual bright colours and pretty statements, this Baker Street range centres around a mechanical inspired cream and steel grey theme, putting an ultra stylish twist on the classic designs. Far from being dismal or boring, this steel grey industrial design makes as bold a statement as the Revolution it was inspired by. And although designed around a 200 year old landmark piece of history, Baker Street is completely cutting edge right now, and bang on trend. Perhaps quite apt considering that the Revolution was the foundation for, and transition to, the way our manufacturing processes still work today!

industrial revolution

The beauty of this latest Mason Cash collection is that it can genuinely adapt itself to any situation and any home. The materials and shapes are undeniably Mason Cash design classics which are associated with a rustic, traditional kitchen and home (pick up any copy of Period Home or Country Living and you’re sure to find at least one Mason Cash cane bowl nestling somewhere amongst the pages), yet the steel grey colour scheme and bold fonts combination lends itself to the contemporary as much as to the classic. Think city apartment, open brickwork, stainless steel cabinets and then throw in the Baker Street range! Sit perfectly? Thought so! Now imagine a cottage kitchen, open fire, range cooker…..you catch my drift! And I challenge you to claim this range as either masculine or feminine. It’s so bold and brave and mechanical…..but it’s oh so pretty! You see? You can’t!

The Baker Street range is also as useful as it is stylish. From storage tins, to mixing bowls, pudding basins, oven ware and a great range of food preparation accessories, not to mention glass worktop savers, egg storage, flour shakers and even gift sets, Mason Cash’s Baker Street has everything you need to totally kit out your kitchen in style. The perfect range for a keen baker with a sense of class and finesse. We absolutely love what we consider to be Mason Cash’s boldest move yet, and are so excited to be a part of this 21st Century style revolution.

Have a look at the Baker Street range now available on our website.

baker street 2

Miniature Tea Break Gingerbread Houses

Ginger House 1

Last week, we shared a picture on our Facebook account of incredibly cute and festive miniature gingerbread houses, that sit on the side of a mug for the perfect tea or coffee break. We actually dug this photo out from last year’s archives because we think it’s just too darn cute not to share. Somewhat predictably, it attracted the same flurry of attention it enjoyed last Christmas. The only problem? We did not actually know where the heck the picture came from, or have a set method for making these little beauties! So, like the nice people we are, myself and my pro baker, Kate, promised we would do our best to work out the best way to make these tiny, tasty houses and then share it with the rest of you.

First, let me tell you, this was not as simple as it looks! Secondly, these photographs were not our first attempt. Thirdly, if you have no patience, click onto the next article now, because these things are a little fiddly. But just a little, so if you do have an ounce of patience, stick around.

The first time around, we tried cutting out the pieces for the houses separately before baking them, as you might do with a large gingerbread house. This failed miserably. Because the houses are so small, even the slightest rising or spreading of the mixture whilst cooking, meant the pieces did not fit together and quite frankly, ended up looking like we’d tried to glue a load of ginger biscuits in a lump. We attempted this twice (see, we are persistent!), before deciding to try a different way. We had no idea if it would work to cut the shapes out after the gingerbread was cooked, but we gave it a whirl, and hey presto we did it. The three key things you need to remember before you start this recipe, are: a) draw and cut out paper templates before you start cooking, so you can cut your shapes quickly, b) roll the gingerbread as thin as possible before putting it in the oven, and c) cut out all your shapes quickly, while the gingerbread is still warm and soft. It does not matter if they harden before you stick them together, as long as they are cut out.

You will need three shapes for your templates, and each house uses two of each. So you need a roof panel, a side panel, and a front/back panel. Like this…..

Templates

Okay, onto the recipe. You will need:

120g unsalted butter
100g dark muscavado sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
500g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2.5 teaspoons ground ginger

For the decoration:

80ml water
500g royal icing

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C

2. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan on a medium heat, making sure the mixture does not burn or stick to the pan.

3. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger in a mixing bowl.

4. Add the melted mixture in the saucepan to your dry ingredients, and fold in to make a dough. If you feel it is necessary to add more flour at this point, then do so. You should be left with a solid dough

5. Roll out very thinly and place on a flat baking tray. You may find it easier to do this in batches, and make a few at a time, as the gingerbread cooks very quickly and you want to be cutting out shapes while it’s warm, so you don’t want to have too much cutting out to deal with at one time.

6. Cook for approx 5-10 minutes until the edges begin to turn brown.

Once you’ve got your shapes cut out, you can relax a little and start to prepare to stick them together and decorate them. We used Royal icing to glue the houses together, and decorated with icing as well. You could also add hearts or star shapes, glitter, hundreds and thousands or whatever you like.

To make the Royal Icing:

Combine the Royal Icing sugar and water in a bowl and whisk well, until the icing forms a stiff mixture. Spoon into a piping bag, and get ready to build.

Use the icing to stick the houses together, and then pipe on snow, and roof tiles in whatever style you like. Pop the houses on the side of a mug and prepare for the compliments to come flowing in from your guests!

photo 2

Top 10 Essential Winter Kitchen Items

2007.9721

One of the things I love the most about winter, aside from open fires and woolly jumpers, is the food. Nothing beats coming home to a delicious home cooked meal on a cold wintery day. Hearty stews, succulent roasts, tasty casseroles, a home cooked pie or a lovely big bowl of hot soup. When it’s cold outside, there’s an abundance of recipes available to keep you warm and cosy inside.

We’ve come up with a list of our top 10 essential winter kitchen items that we just could not live without this season.

1. A Traditional Mason Cash Mixing Bowl

Traditional Mason Cash Mixing Bowl

A heavy duty mixing bowl definitely makes our top 10 this winter, for all the scrumptious home baked treats we want to make that are too heavy for the summer months, not least a home made Christmas cake. Mason Cash have a massive range of stunning ceramic mixing bowls, in a variety of designs, colours and sizes. But we have to admit, this traditional cane mixing bowl is still our ultimate favourite.

2. A Traditional Mason Cash Pudding Basin

7

Nothing beats a sponge pudding and custard on a cold night, and if you want to make your own, then a traditional Mason Cash pudding basin is a must have winter accessory. These little beauties are available in seven different sizes, so you can make individual puds or a big family one. These traditional Mason Cash pudding basins are so iconic that they are still used in the Royal British Household today.

3. A Teapot

5

Friends and family will be stopping by over the festive period, and we can guarantee they’ll be wanting a warm brew when they arrive, so it’s always a good idea to keep a pot of tea on the go. Price and Kensington have a stunning range of teapots in a variety of sizes, from the tiny two cups to the family sized ten cups.

4. A Mason Cash Petit Beurre Baking Set

2007.9721

Nothing beats walking in to the smell of home baked biscuits, and this Mason Cash Petit Beurre set makes it super easy to make tasty, professional looking biscuits whenever you want. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the Petit Beurre baking set, you could always keep some cookie cutters to hand to make whatever shapes you choose.

5. A Large Stock Pot

6

Home made soup is a fantastic winter snack and a great way to use all those hearty winter vegetables. This Swiss Diamond stock pot is perfect for filling with yummy veggies and simmering away to make the perfect winter warmer.

6. A Clay Cooker/Casserole

4

Winter root vegetables lend themselves perfectly to belly warming, one pot dishes and if slow cooked in a Mason Cash clay cooker, or a casserole dish, they come out just perfect. These are also fabulous for those days when you want to come home and have your dinner ready to eat. Simply slow cook your casserole on a very low heat throughout the day for a scrumptious dinner . The clay absorbs moisture so your meat will not dry out, it will only be more tender and delicious the longer you leave it.

7. A Pie Dish

2

What better way to feed a cold and hungry family than with a home made pie? Keeping one or even several pie dishes in the cupboard is essential in winter, to do just that. Mason Cash have a great Perfect Pie range, which offers several dishes designed to help you make the perfect pie.

8. A Kilner Dispenser (filled with warm mulled wine)

Kilner Drink Dispenser

If you’re having any parties or gatherings this winter, this is a fabulous party accessory. Fill with mulled wine, or warm cider for a super tasty Christmassy tipple.

9. A Mason Cash Basting Kit

Mason Cash Basting Kit

A winter roast is the perfect way to spend a Sunday, and then of course there’s the Christmas turkey to think about. This basting kit from Mason Cash contains all the essentials to create that perfect roast dinner.

10. A Large Roasting Tray

1

Last, but certainly not least on our list of our top 10 winter essentials, the stainless steel large roasting tray. We’ve already said it above, but a home cooked roast is truly one of our highlights of the colder months, and a large, strong roasting tray makes it so much easier, especially on Christmas day. And this Mason Cash stainless steel version only costs £17.49 and is a generous 31.5cm x 41.5cm, so you can cook a giant roast and save your hard earned pennies for more important things……like presents!

How To Care For Your Non-Stick Pans

swiss diamond 6

A decent set of non-stick pans in your kitchen can make all the difference in the world to your cooking. Not only does a good quality, well looked after pan give better results, it also makes cooking (and cleaning) far more enjoyable in my opinion.
A good non-stick pan is one of the staple ingredients for a complete kitchen and a happy chef. Whether you want to invest in a top of the range brand that will last a lifetime, such as Swiss Diamond, or if you prefer to keep costs down but prolong the life of a lower or mid-range brand, there are a few tricks and tips that will keep your pans in tip top shape, and ensure they last you as long as possible.
When you first get your non-stick pan home, you will want to give it a wash with some warm soapy water before use. Do not use any stronger cleaners, as they are unnecessary and far too harsh. Some manufacturers advise “seasoning” or “conditioning” a non-stick pan before use by coating the surface lightly with oil, baking it, and wiping it off. This will help the non-stick quality of a pan, although some of the superior non-stick brands may not consider this a necessary step, so check the manufacturers guidelines if you are unsure.

How-to-Season-Cast-Iron-Pan-caboose-spices_com-7

Whilst cooking with non-stick pans, it is often advised that you do not use metal utensils at all, as they will very quickly damage a lot of non-stick coatings. This is slightly different for certain brands such as Swiss Diamond, as their pans are made with an ultra-strong diamond coating, which can withstand a lot more than most non-stick coatings. They are in fact metal utensil safe. However, it is still not advised to use knives, forks or other particularly sharp metal items, even in top quality pans such as these, because eventually this will take its toll, and why cause wear and tear if you don’t really have to? Plastic, wooden, silicone, rubber or nylon utensils will definitely prolong the life of your pan, whatever the standard of non-stick coating, so it is always best to bear this in mind, even if you do have a pan that is tough enough to withstand metal.

Swiss-Diamond

The chart below gives an indication of the lifespan of your non-stick coating. Swiss Diamond tested a number of different types of non-stick coating by rubbing them with sandpaper, to see how many strokes it took to remove the non-stick layer. The thought of rubbing a non-stick pan with sandpaper actually goes right through me, but we’re glad someone did it so that we can see how long our pans will last!

Chart_NoOrig_White

Another tip to protect your non-stick coating is to not bake it in the oven at more than about 450°F. Again, there are certain top quality non-stick pans, that will withstand higher temperatures, but it is rare that you would need to cook at a higher temperature than this anyway. Intense heat will eventually damage the finish, so do avoid this wherever possible. Non-stick pans often produce better results at lower temperatures than ordinary pans anyway, so play about to find the best temperature for your cooking and you will likely find you do not need particularly high heat.

swiss diamond 2

Once done with your pan, let it cool before cleaning it. Submerging a hot pan in cold water can warp and ruin the non-stick coating. As can abrasive cleaners! Never use an abrasive cleaner, bleach or chemicals to clean your pan. On some occasions, simply a sponge or dishcloth wiped over the surface will suffice. Otherwise, warm soapy water and a soft sponge or brush. Do not use metal scouring pads! Also, do not ever put your non-stick pans in the dishwasher. The high temperatures can eventually damage the non-stick coating and void the warranty.
Do take care to clean your pans properly and thoroughly. Food residue left on a non-stick pan will eventually be baked on and will become carbonized. Once this happens, it will be very difficult to see or remove the residue. It is sometimes a good idea to wash each pan twice over to ensure you have removed any trace of food and oil or butter. This way, it will be as good as new each time you cook with it.

faecf1966cadde5266197e903197ea5a

Lastly, think about how you store your pans. Stacking them in a cupboard may seem like the easy option, but this can easily cause scratching over time. It is best to hang them up somewhere or use some sort of cloth or soft fabric in between each pan if stacking really is the only option.
It may seem like a lot of bother, but simply treating your non-stick cookware with love and respect will give you much more use, better results, easier cleaning in the long run, and will ensure your warranty is intact should something unavoidable happen to your precious pans.

NEW! Hudson and Middleton Fine China Mugs

Hudson-and-Middleton-May-2014-Fine-Bone-China-Photos5

We’ve added some new, fun designs to the Hic Haec Hoc collection of Hudson and Middleton fine china mugs.

The Hic Haec Hoc collection offers an exclusive combination of amusing statements with stylish graphics from a brand new designer that fuses a witty combination of classic and contemporary innovation. A lot of their designs are sports focussed, although they have also turned to gardening and cooking designs as well (I suppose they are a sport to some of us!). The designs are clean, minimalistic, and fun; the slogans witty and ever so slightly risque in parts, which we absolutely love. The three designs below are the latest additions to our collection, but watch this space because we will be adding more.

Every Hudson and Middleton mug is made in the UK, from fine bone china, and comes individually gift boxed. They are the perfect Christmas or birthday present, and no matter who you are buying for, there is sure to be a mug to suit.

Hudson and Middleton work with many UK based designers to create these gorgeous fine china mugs. Proud to still be producing 100% of their wares in their Stoke on Trent based factory, they are best known for their high quality mugs, memorable, heartfelt designs, and for being “very nice people”.

HicHaecHoc_Baker-562x528

The Hic Haec Hoc “Great Baker?” design features a fun play on words, that any keen baker will find amusing. Begging the question, “Great Baker?” on the one side, with the play-on-words response “Prove It!” on the other. A perfect present for anyone who likes home baking, especially bread!

HicHaecHoc_Cooks-562x500

Next is Hic Haec Hoc’s “Cooks Can Wok” design, featuring the fun slogan “Cooks Can Wok Wonders!”. Perfect for those who love a bit of Asian wok cooking.

HicHaecHoc_Obsessive-562x535

The last new design (for today) is the fun “Obsessive Cooking Disorder”, a fun slogan for those who are obsessed with being in the kitchen, cooking up a storm.

We will be looking for more new Hudson and Middleton mug designs to introduce to the website in time for Christmas, so keep an eye on our Mugs and Cups section!

Quick Christmas Pudding With a Chocolate Twist

sm-18

Love it or hate it, the great British Christmas dinner would not be complete without a traditional, steamed Christmas pudding afterwards. The problem is that traditional, home made, steamed Christmas pudding can take a lot of time to prepare and to cook. And then when you’ve slaved over a pudding for days and cooked it for hours and hours, half the family (often the younger generation, but we aren’t pointing fingers) complain that actually, they don’t even like it. The thing is, much as we all know we should have a Christmas pudding for dessert on Christmas day, it has gained a bit of a Marmite-esq love-it-or-hate-it status.

So, as much as we wanted to keep the tradition alive, and make a Christmas pudding this year, our professional baker, Kate Moss, and my non professional baking self, decided to try and come up with something a little different that might appeal to a wider audience. We also wanted to come up with a recipe that could be made on the day, so as not to be a slave to a Christmas pudding for the next two months.

This quick Christmas pudding recipe offers all the fruity, boozy, gooey goodness of a traditional pud, but the chocolate and orange flavours add a fresh twist and taste absolutely divine alongside the mixed fruits and liquor. The rich dark chocolate and Cointreau sauce further enhances the flavours of the pudding and makes your Christmas dessert that little bit more indulgent.

For this recipe, we have used ready made mincemeat. If you do have the time, this can of course be replaced by home made mincemeat (but you can’t call it “quick” then I’m afraid).

photo aEquipment:

Mason Cash Pudding Basins – 1 x 20cm or 2 x 16cm

Large Mason Cash mixing bowl

Wooden spoon

Greaseproof paper or Muslin squares

Large saucepan

String

Ingredients:

300g mincemeat
175g fine cut marmalade
4 tablespoons treacle
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 2 oranges
3 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons Cointreau
100g light brown sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
200g dark chocolate chips
225g self raising flour
100g butter, frozen

For the Sauce:

300ml double cream
200g dark chocolate
Zest one orange and the juice of half
1 tablespoon Cointreau

Method:

1. Mix all the ingredients except for the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl, and mix well. Coarsely grate the frozen butter into the mixture, stir in, and then follow with the flour. Your mixture should be quite sloppy at this point and easily fall off a spoon.

2. Grease your pudding basin(s) with a little butter then line the base with discs of greaseproof paper and ladle in your pudding mixture.

3. Cover your pudding with greaseproof paper or muslin cloth, and secure with string.

4. Place your pudding basin(s) in a large saucepan, and pour boiling water around so that it comes halfway up the sides of the pudding basin(s). Cover the pan, and bring the water to a gentle simmer.

5. Steam this way for 1-2 hours if using smaller pudding basins, or 3-4 hours if making one large pudding. To check your pudding is ready, insert a skewer. If it comes out clean, your pudding is good to go.

sm-20

6. While you are waiting for your puddings to steam, pour the cream into a saucepan and heat until almost simmering. Be careful not to boil your cream, though.

7. Remove from the heat and add the dark chocolate and the orange zest and half the juice of the same orange. Mix well.

8. Add a tablespoon of Cointreau and stir until smooth. If you want your sauce to be a little stronger, you can always add more Cointreau to suit your own taste.

When your pudding is steamed to perfection, turn it out onto a plate and dust with icing sugar, finish off with holly leaves if you want to be really Christmassy, and serve.

This recipe will serve approximately 8 people.

Recipe by Kate Moss

How To Care For Your Kitchen Knives

http://silvermushroom.com/product-category/food-preparation/loose-knives/

A good set of kitchen knives are a chef’s best friend, and with a little love and care, they can last for years, and still work as efficiently as though they were new. Keeping clean, sharp, good quality kitchen knives to hand will keep your kitchen running efficiently and safely.

1. Keep your knives dry:

Knives can rust, even when you may think they are not doing. Do not leave them to soak, dry them immediately after washing, carefully and thoroughly.

2. Do not put knives in a dishwasher:

The extreme heat and chemicals used in a dishwasher can cause a lot of damage to your kitchen knives. Add to this that they clunk against other objects, and can become damaged and are left to stand in a hot, moist environment which is a bad idea all round!

3. Use a wooden chopping board:

Chopping onto glass, metal, slate etc can cause severe damage to your knife blade, as the surface is too abrasive. A good quality, wooden chopping board will protect your knife blade, as the sharp blade will be cushioned by the soft wood grain as opposed to meeting a harsh surface which blunts it. For top quality wooden boards, have a look at our Handcrafted Chopping Boards by C4 Designs.

DSC_1938

4. Hone your knife regularly:

Not to be confused with sharpening. A honing steel (a long, thin metal rod with a rubber or plastic handle) is used to keep your knife blade straight. Every time a knife is used, it bends slightly from the contact with food, and the chopping board. Using a honing steel straightens out any tiny kinks built up over time, and keeps the blade working like new.

5. Sharpen your knife regularly:

Equally, not to be confused with sharpening. You need to sharpen your knives with professional sharpening equipment or a whetstone. How often you sharpen your knives will be determined by how often you use them. A good way to tell if they are in need of sharpening though, is to cut through a single sheet of paper. If your knife slices through easily, you’re good for a little longer. If it does not, however, it’s time to get sharpening.

tew-slideshows-tew-slideshows-chantrymod

6. Keep them clean:

Leaving food residue on a knife will cause bacteria to build up, which could be passed to your food, and can also cause knives to rust. Keep them clean by washing them in hot soapy water after use, and immediately drying them. Do not use harsh detergents or cleansers containing chlorine bleach, as these can accelerate corrosion of the blade steel.

7. Store them individually:

Keep your knives in a knife block, or sheathed in a drawer. Storing knives loosely will cause them to grate against each other and damage each other.

tew-slideshows-inblock

So remember, if you are going to invest in a good quality knife, treat it properly and it will serve you well. Keep it clean, keep it dry and keep it sharp.

Safety Tip: A blunt knife is more likely to slip and cut you than a sharp one. While a sharp cut may be more severe, a cut from a blunt knife will be messier and take longer to heal.

Top 10 Home Made Kilner Christmas Gifts

ab9323a8a2bbd1b4bf1cf9105f53b2d7

Saving a bit of money is always a welcome thought towards the end of the year, and making your own Christmas gifts can be a very thoughtful way of saving some pennies and offering something completely different and unique. The Kilner jar lends itself brilliantly to home made Christmas gifts, as it is so versatile, not to mention available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Even standing alone and empty, its traditional, rustic looks are a charming sight and a worthy gift for anyone’s home.

1. Kilner Sweet Jar

Probably the easiest of the home made Kilner Christmas gifts, and a very versatile one. We probably don’t need to explain, but all you have to do is choose your favourite shape of Kilner Jar, choose a sweet to suit whoever your gift is for, and decorate with ribbons or bows, and a gift tag.

Kilner Jar with chocs

2. Kilner Painted Flower Vase

These Kilner Jars are painted in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, which we absolutely love. The colours on offer are stunning and the soft texture is lovely to the touch and gives a unique matt finish. You can choose your favourite Kilner Jar, but we find the Kilner 1 Litre Preserve Jar is a great size and shape, and the embossed Kilner logo looks lovely. Finish with a bunch of fresh flowers for the perfect, heartfelt gift, that can be used again and again.

b3f71ec875e8c758ea69a1081882372e (1)

3. Kilner Body Scrub

This is ridiculously easy, and makes a lovely gift. All you need is sugar, oil and essential oil, and possibly food colouring if you want to brighten up your mixture. You could either simply make the body scrub in a Kilner Jar, and decorate it with a ribbon, or you could make your Kilner Body Scrub as part of a gift set, and add a body brush, loofah or bath mitts.

To make the scrub, you will need sugar or salt. Salt is a little coarser so if you want a scrub that is more gentle on the skin, use sugar. If your Kilner Body Scrub gift is for someone with particularly sensitive skin, use a darker brown sugar as this is softer still.

Next you need to choose your oil. Baby oil works fine, or you can use olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil or whatever oil you prefer. You need to be mixing two parts sugar or salt to one part oil, however much you decide to make. So you could make a nice big Kilner jar full, as a main present, or use a tiny 125ml Kilner jar as a stocking filler. Mix the sugar and oil well, but don’t be alarmed if the sugar or salt settles to the bottom, with the oil at the top. This is normal as the two parts usually never stay mixed.

Body Scrub

Once mixed in, if you want your scrub to smell heavenly, or even offer therapeutic properties, you can add a few drops of your preferred essential oil. We found a list of essential oils and their therapeutic properties here.

Your scrub is now ready to use, but if you wanted to make it a coloured variety you could add a few drops of food colouring, although we probably should note this will work best with a sugar and baby oil mix, as it will start off a nice clear/white so it will colour well. Dark brown sugar and vegetable oil mixed with food colouring could be disastrous.

4. Kilner Candle Jars

This is another super easy, versatile home made gift that can be extremely cost effective, especially if you make home made Kilner candles in bulk. You can choose from a massive variety of colourants and essential oils, and decorate the jar however you see fit.

All you need to do is carefully melt your wax in a glass bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water. Never ever leave melting wax unattended. Once your wax is fully melted, you will need to let it cool a little before adding your fragrances or colourants. Some fragrances can lose their scent in high temperature liquids. Most craft store bought waxes come with a guide to tell you what temperature you can add fragrance and colour, so have a food thermometer handy.

While waiting for your wax to melt and cool a little, you can prepare your wick. to do this, wrap one end of the wick around a straight stick or a pen, making sure there is enough wick hanging down to just touch the bottom of the Kilner jar when the stick or pen is rested across the top. This makes sure your wick is nice and straight and does not move while the wax dries around it.

5999e3410c45b01104d46f3e31e20977

Once you have added the desired amount of scents and colour, mix well and pour your wax into the Kilner Jar and leave to cool and set. Your candle is now ready. If you want to go that extra mile, you could also decorate your jar in whatever manner you choose to make it that little bit extra special.

You can buy candle supplies for your Kilner Jar Candles in any good craft store. We found Hobby Craft had some great stuff.

5. Kilner Infused Olive Oil

Recipe Rosemary Garlic Infused Olive Oil, herb infused DIY (7)

Infused olive oil is a fantastic present for someone who enjoys cooking and eating and experimenting with good food. The safest way to infuse oil, especially if you don’t want to inflict sickness on your friends and family for Christmas, is to use dried herbs. Fresh herbs contain water which causes bacteria growth in the oil, so if using fresh herbs, you will have to dry them first.

Dried herbs that work well are thyme, rosemary, sage, basil or oregano. These work well on their own, but if you want to get creative, you can blend more than one herb.

The simplest way to infuse your oil is to put the herbs in the bottom of a Kilner bottle and pour your olive oil over the top. Obviously the quality of the oil you choose to use will determine the quality of your finished gift.

If you wanted to infuse the flavours faster, you can heat the oil and herbs on a stove top. This will not only bring out the flavour of the herbs more quickly, but also prevent bacteria growth. Strain the herbs if you want a clear mixture. Store in a cool, dry place for one week.The flavour will intensify over time. Your oil should then be stored in a refrigerator and with dried herbs, should last for anywhere between a few weeks and several months. If the mixture should spoil however, discard it immediately. If you have been brave enough to make your Kilner Infused Oil with fresh herbs, you should store in a refrigerator and use within one week.

6. Kilner Toiletry Kit For Her

The introduction of Kilner’s coloured clip top jars has made it very easy to put together his and hers gift sets. Choose a pink clip top 0.5 litre or 1 litre jar and fill it with girlie trinkets. You could do a nail kit including nail clippers, file, cuticle sticks, hand cream polish and remover pads. Or you could do a mini facial kit with miniature cleaner, toner, moisturiser, cotton pads and a facial scrub, or anything of your choice really. simply fill it with goodies, tie a pretty ribbon round it, and voila. The perfect gift for her.

Love Jar (all their favourite things)

7. Kilner Toiletry Kit For Him

Do exactly the same as the above but with a blue Kilner jar and a shaving kit. Or he may want a mini men’s facial kit. That’s up to you.

Kilner Fathers Day

8. Kilner Jar Wall Mounted Planter

A great home made gift for someone who likes to grow their own herbs, or this can even be used to store utensils up and out of the way. You could give it as an empty planter, or fill it with ready planted herbs to make it extra special. All you need is a decent piece of reclaimed wood, flush mounts for hanging on the wall, clamps, screws and Kilner Jars. If you are anything like me, you’ll be looking for the most rustic piece of wood you can lay your mitts on, but if not, you can easily go to your local hardware store and buy a piece the size you want. And while you’re there, don’t forget to pick up the clamps and screws.

The first thing you will need to do is screw some flush mounts into the back of the wood at either side. Make sure they are level or whoever you give your gift to may have problems with wonky plants!

il_570xN.482132270_oj16

Next, simply drill holes in the clamps and secure them to the wood with one screw. Lower your jars into the clamps and tighten them snugly around the jar.

If you are planning on planting herbs before you gift your planter, put some stones in the bottom of each jar, as there is no drainage in the preserve jars.

262a2a282806b3da496deddab25b2b4c9. Kilner Jar Pin Cushion Sewing Kit

Again a very simple idea, but one that can be versatile and looks really creative when done properly. All you need is a little fabric of your choice, some stuffing, a Kilner Preserve Jar and some glue.

Separate the lid of the Kilner Preserve Jar so you have a metal ring and a disc. Draw around the metal ring on the fabric, then cut it out leaving an extra inch or so around where you have drawn. Place your cut out circle of fabric in the palm of your hand then a chunk of stuffing. Push the fabric and stuffing half way through the metal ring, leaving some spare fabric on the inside of the metal ring to catch and trap the disc. Push the disc on to secure your fabric, making sure it is smooth and raised on the top side of the ring, and hopefully starting to look like a pin cushion. Use a little glue to secure the disc in place, and hold your fabric and stuffing in place behind the disc.

Fill the jar with essential bits of sewing kit, pop your fabric pin cushion lid back on, and you’re done.

10. Kilner Jar Lamp

These are super simple and very impressive gifts. All you need is a drill with a hole cutter, a lantern cord kit, and a large Kilner Jar with a screw top lid.

Find the centre of the lid, drill a hole to mark the middle, then place on a gripping surface like an old piece of carpet, so the lid does not spin, and cut a hole with the hole cutter, big enough for the end of the lantern cord. Neaten any sharp edges with a file, then fit the bulb end of the lantern cord kit through the hole and secure in place by screwing the other half on inside the lid. Fit the bulb, replace the lid and you’re away!

ea602017eeebac510bc4d2aaaab38606

So, whether you want to be frugal, or just fancy getting creative with your gifts this Christmas, make sure the Kilner Jar is on your shopping list!

Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Nespresso Citiz and Milk

8121141_fpx

Any lover of coffee will know, there are a million different ways to make the “perfect” cup of coffee, and a minefield of machines, gadgets and techniques, all designed to help you enhance your coffee and make it that little bit more of treat, without nipping out to your local coffee shop and having it made for you by a professional barista. Clearly, we are not short of available gadgets, but the nagging question is, how many of them really work? Are we really getting what we pay for?

I have tried and tested several different coffee machines in my lifetime, from the Coffee Machine/Alarm Clock, that used to wake me up with a shrill alarm and a cup of dishwater disguised as coffee to the swanky built in machine my mum had fitted into her new kitchen, which never made even one cup of coffee how I actually thought I had programmed it to do (I tended to get half a cup of mind blowingly strong coffee with a head of milk froth, or it’d be a milky mess that overflowed and resulted in half an hour’s cleaning up after a seriously disappointing “coffee”) I had started to lose faith in the idea of barista style coffee in your own home. That was until I had one last ditch attempt, and bought a Nespresso machine.

I cannot speak for other Nespresso models, but the Krups Nespresso Citiz and Milk is far and away, the best coffee machine I have ever had the pleasure to own. I would even go as far as to say I prefer a cup made by my own fair hand, with the help of the Nespresso Citiz and Milk of course, to a coffee shop bought version. A bold statement considering I am definitely no barista, but that is my belief and I’m sticking to it. There are a number of deciding factors that make the Nespresso Citiz and Milk so fantastic, so I have gathered together what, in my humble opinion, are the top 10 reasons to invest in one of these little beauties.

1. It makes the perfect cup of coffee

Let’s get this one out of the way early. The coffee tastes fantastic. Of course, who can say what the perfect coffee tastes like, when there are so many different ways to drink it? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the beauty of the Nespresso Citiz and Milk is that it uses Nespresso’s custom designed pre portioned coffee pods, of which there is a huge range to choose from, catering to all tastes and preferences. Once you’ve chosen your personal favourite, you then have the option to vary the ratio of espresso shot to milk, and whatever way you choose, it cannot be denied that the result is delicious. The Aeroccino milk frother prepares divine light and creamy hot or cold milk, ideal for innumerable coffee recipes, whatever the season.

Nespresso-1024x598

2. It’s simple and easy to use

The Nespresso Citiz and Milk is extremely simple, quick and easy to use, with no mess. The capsule is held in place in the top container, and your coffee is brewed at the touch of a button, while the milk is frothed simultaneously in the Aeroccino, also at the push of a button. Could not be simpler. After use, the capsule drops down into the dispenser underneath, which is easily removed for emptying later.

3. Variety

The Nespresso catalogue of Grand Cru perfectly portioned coffee offers a variety of tastes, strengths, flavours and intensities, so you can choose the perfect coffee depending on your taste, mood or time of day. You can vary the size of cup, the size of espresso shot and control the amount of milk you add, to create the perfect blend for you. Start the day with an intense, woody Roma, enjoy a creamy smooth Dulsao Do Brasil mid afternoon, and an after dinner Decaffeinato Intenso in the evening, so you can enjoy flavoursome coffee, without the caffeine keeping you awake. If you like a flavoured coffee, there are vanilla, caramel and chocolate perfectly blended with a round and balanced Livanto coffee.

295352_10151245383408345_430119830_n

In addition to choosing your favourite coffee, you can also programme the Nespresso Citiz and Milk to pour however much water you need for your perfect drink.

4. Perfect Portion Capsules

Nespresso’s signature coffee capsule system means that you get the same results every time, as each capsule offers the perfect portion of smooth, delicious coffee. This also means no faffing about with coffee beans or granules.

5. Nespresso’s coffee is selected from the top 1-2% of the world’s green coffee production

Simply put, it’s the cream of the crop. Need we say more?

6. Nespresso’s focus on sustainability

Sustainability is important, to maintain healthy ecosystems and environments for our planet and the humans and other living organisms that live on it. Nestle Nespresso have a long term, holistic approach to sustainability, and their trademark Ecolaboration program provides a framework for partnerships and innovation to drive on-going, sustainable development. Throughout all the processes involved in their coffee production, from sourcing the coffee beans, to capsule recycling, Nestle Nespresso are committed to ensuring sustainability across all operations.

coffee-beans-hd-wallpapers

7.Nespresso Members Club

Nespresso’s relationship with consumers and members of their Nespresso Members Club is of high importance to the brand, and every day they cultivate relationships with millions of devoted consumers, allowing them to continually strive to meet the expectations of their members.

8. Easy to Clean

A vital factor in buying a coffee machine, as there is nothing worse than either having to spend copious amounts of time pulling a machine apart and cleaning all its nooks and crannies, or worse, not being able to clean it properly, resulting in funky tasting coffee that has run through unclean pipes, and been mixed with slightly sour, aged milk!

The Nespresso Citiz and Milk poses none of the above problems. The Aeroccino is a separate container, which can be lifted off and rinsed right after use. To clean the machine, simply lift the lid to dispense the used capsule, then run through a cup of hot water with the touch of a button to clean any remaining coffee residue from the pipes. Could not be easier.

9. It looks fantastic

Well, we didn’t want to be superficial and focus on looks too early on, but let’s face it, it is a factor, and a pretty big one if you’re into style in your home. The Nespresso Citiz and Milk is delightfully neat and compact, and features beautiful curves and textured surfaces, that combine to make this a statement accessory that looks as great as it performs.

iStock_000043520720Medium

10. Quality Assured

Last, but by no means least, in our top 10 reasons to buy the Nespresso Citiz and Milk is that you are assured of the highest quality of both machine and coffee. All Nespresso machines are designed to guarantee consistent quality, with the entire system working towards this promise. Add to this that every Grand Cru coffee capsule in the world is produced in one of two state of the art production centres in Lausanne, Switzerland, to guarantee quality control for every capsule sold in the world.

Coffee_capsules_-_anieto2k

Since 1986, Nestle Nespresso have had one simple goal: to enable millions of people to create and enjoy the perfect cup of coffee, in the comfort of their own home. And if I didn’t believe it was possible before owning a Nespresso Citiz and Milk, I certainly do now.

Have a look for yourself at our Krups Nespresso Citiz and Milk machines, and see if you agree.

Nespresso