Top 10 Essential Winter Kitchen Items

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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”.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Perfect Pie by Mason Cash

Mason Cash Perfect Pie

It may be because I’m Northern, but to me there is nothing better than coming home on a chilly Autumn evening to home made pie. The weather seems to have suddenly taken a dramatic turn for the worse this weekend, and I’m really starting to struggle not to turn the heating on. Cool evenings in the garden are now being replaced with hot drinks under a blanket and I’m finding myself dismissing the salads and lighter foods in favour of some heart and belly warming, wintery stodge.

Shop bought pie is one thing, but I always prefer to make my own, so I can get it exactly how I want it. The perfect level of lovely butteriness in the pastry, and the correct pastry to filling ratio. Plus I love a slightly crusted edge, which is where a shop bought pie often falls down. Having said that, I wouldn’t consider myself a pro at pastry baking, and there have been numerous flops over the years. This is where Mason Cash come to the rescue.

Mason Cash are a brand recognised for traditional designs and values, and their name is synonymous with home baking. Best known for their traditional cane mixing bowls and white pudding basins, Mason Cash have expanded over the years to design and develop more and more ranges of bake ware and to include more and more specialist products. Their products are not only known for their attractive looks, quality materials and affordability, but also for their practicality. Mason Cash will look at the consumer needs in a particular cooking or baking niche, and design the products around current pitfalls or problems, to perform to the task in hand and offer the cook or baker an easy solution.

Mason Cash Perfect Pie Baking Dishes

Mason Cash researched some common problems associated with pie baking and delved into possible solutions that could help someone with recurring soggy bottom syndrome, burnt bases or shrinking pastry. The Perfect Pie range has been designed with all these problems in mind, and built in solutions to see that you make the perfect pie, every time.

The Mason Cash Perfect Pie range offers four different pie dishes, one large rectangle, one oval and two round pie dishes. The dishes are made from tough stoneware, which is great for cooking evenly because stoneware heats gradually and evenly throughout the dish. The base is slightly raised on “feet” which allows air to circulate underneath the dish and provides ventilation, allowing the base to cook evenly as well, and ensuring it does not end up soggy while the rest of the pastry crusts nicely.

Mason Cash Perfect Pie Range

The interior embossed design on the pie dishes is not just for aesthetics. These fine ridges not only improve the heat distribution further, making sure the pastry cooks and browns evenly, but they also make it easier to remove your pie, meaning it comes out the perfect shape and does not fall apart.

The rims of the pie dishes feature a pastry anchor to add grip to the pastry and prevent it shrinking and slipping down into the filling of the pie.

Mason Cash Baking Beans

The Mason Cash Perfect Pie range also offers other helpful accessories for baking pies and pastries, such as cutters, pasty moulds, a pastry blender to evenly blend your pastry ingredients, pie birds to act as a steam vent in your pie, and ceramic baking beans for perfect blind baking.

Home made pies, perfect every time with Mason Cash.

Mason Cash Perfect Pie

Top 10 Essential Christmas Cake Baking Tools from Mason Cash

Mason Cash Mixing Bowls

Welcome to October, home of Halloween, nights drawing in, dark mornings, colder weather, oh and the beginning of the Christmas preparations! What? I hear you exclaim. Christmas prep already? Yes, we know it seems a little early but if you like to plan ahead and be as prepared as possible for the upcoming festivities, you will understand that October actually is the best month to start your Christmas planning.

For anyone who has made their own Christmas cake before, you will know that this is one home baked cake that needs plenty of time to mature. There are arguments as to how long exactly, but this really depends on taste. Some people like to start three months in advance while others feel six weeks is enough. The choice is yours.

Home baking has boomed in popularity over the past few years, and we have TV shows such as The Great British Bake Off to thank for this. Plus the economy, which demands we shell out less on expensive, professionally made foodstuffs, combined with a raised awareness of what goes into our food that encourages us to spend less, and know more about what we’re eating by making it ourselves. Add to this that home baking is a fun pastime we can enjoy with family and a great way to entertain ourselves throughout the winter months. So what better time to try your hand at making your own Christmas cake?

Mason Cash is a name synonymous with home baking and what they don’t know about home made cakes, pies, puddings or bread is probably not worth knowing. Your mother would have known and your grandmother before her, that to be a truly devoted home baker, you must own at least one Mason Cash mixing bowl, if not a whole set. Well, if it’s good enough for Mary Berry and her Great British Bakers, it’s good enough for us.

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As a first time Christmas Cake Baker, there are a few essential pieces of equipment you will need and, trust us, Mason Cash can help with all of these. There are an obvious few that anyone, even a first time student in favour of a tin of beans and a microwave would find in their kitchen cupboards, but for the rest, put your trust in Mason Cash and we promise, you won’t go far wrong. We’ll start with the easy stuff.

1. A wooden spoon Fairly standard, fairly obvious, if you want to mix anything, it’s a good idea to keep one of these to hand. If you are one of the chosen few that has not yet invested in the essential wooden spoon, Mason Cash do offer a great hard wearing environmentally friendly rubber wood version, with a nice little thumb indent to protect those pinkies while your stirring up stubborn mixtures.

Mason Cash Mixing Bowl

2. A large mixing bowl To make the perfect Christmas cake, it is essential to have a large roomy mixing bowl to mix your fruits and booze together. You will also need a second bowl to mix up your cake mix. Mason Cash offer a huge variety of fantastic mixing bowls of all sizes, whether you’re a fan of the traditional style or a more modern, colourful version, and there is nothing better to have in the kitchen that a top quality, heavy duty stoneware mixing bowl that you can pass down to your children when you’re done baking with it.

3. Weighing Scales A decent set of weighing scales is essential to get your cake mix just right, and Mason Cash do a great 5kg scale in their Essentials range. Available in cream or red, this scale is perfect to accurately weigh out your Christmas cake ingredients.

4. Skewer Making sure your cake is done before removing it from the oven is crucial, and the Mason Cash skewer is perfect to check that your cake is cooked right through.

5. Newspaper Okay, we aren’t offering this on sale because we’re pretty sure you can find a free piece, but newspaper or brown paper is really useful when baking a Christmas cake to protect the cake when cooking. A Christmas cake contains a lot of sweet and dried fruit and sugar and the cooking of the cake can take over 4 hours. Wrapping the cake tin in newspaper and standing it on a few sheets of paper during the baking process prevents it from cooking too quickly or burning during the long slow cooking process.

6. Rolling Pin Moving onto decorating your cake, a rolling pin is essential for getting your marzipan and icing layers rolled out to perfection. Mason Cash have a fabulous non stick rolling pin which is perfect for rolling out icing and will be useful for year round cake decorating after you are done with your Christmas cake.

7. Spatula Such a simple, but useful tool. The Mason Cash 28cm spatula is perfect for levelling your cake before cutting, for decorating your cake and making sure everything is smooth, and even for removing you cake from the cake tin, if it is being ever so slightly stubborn.

8. Turntable This is very useful if you intend to get creative with your Christmas cake decorating. The Mason Cash tilted turntable allows you to easily sculpt and decorate your cake, easily without causing damage trying to turn it around.

Mason Cash Cake Decorating Turntable

9. Icing Bag and Nozzles Okay we may be straying away from “essential” kit here but if you want to give your cake a professional finish, then what better way that to pipe icing around the edges for a stunning finish? Mason Cash have an easy to use 6 Nozzles, Icing Bag and Scraper Set, which caters to all your decorative icing needs.

10. Cake Stand Show off your home baked creation in all its glory on a gorgeous stoneware Mason Cash cake stand. What better way to end your Christmas feast?

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So, now you’ve got the equipment, here are a few Christmas cake recipes for you to try out:

Mary Berry’s Christmas Cake

BBC Good Food Christmas Cake

Tesco Classic Christmas Cake Recipe

Product of the Month: Typhoon Novo Teal Bread Bin

Typhoon Novo Teal Bread Bin

They say blue is the number one favourite colour and although I don’t know who “they” are, and I don’t know where the study relates to, I do believe it is true that if you choose blue, you can’t go far wrong. This goes for anything and everything, from your evening gowns to your jeans, to your walls or, of course, to your kitchen accessories.

Blue is a serene, tranquil colour. It brings about a sense of calm and makes us feel refreshed and clean. Are there any other colours out there that make you feel relaxed and energised all at the same time? Nothing springs to mind!

Darker blues are considered powerful and a symbol of knowledge, while lighter shades are soft and healing. In nature, we are surrounded by differing shades of blue, be it from the sea or the sky, and we have come to see this as a dependable colour, something to inspire trust, honesty and responsibility.

So, what better colour to accessorise a kitchen with than this calming, fresh, clean favourite? You can even mix and match lots of different shades of blue to really make the most of this beautiful colour in all its many guises.

It is no surprise then, that our current best selling product is the teal bread bin from Typhoon’s Novo range. This bread bin is a winner on every level. Offering stylish storage solutions, a fabulous, fashionable accessory for your kitchen sides and a well designed, practical bread bin that will deliver exactly what you would be looking for in a bread bin: plenty of space and the ability to keep your bread clean and fresh.

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The Novo Teal Bread Bin is a perfect example of Typhoon’s focus on design led style. The bold teal enamel coated steel makes a statement and cries out to be admired, while the stylish curves and stainless steel accents bring a retro vibe to the overall appearance. The ventilated sides and interior rack allow a little air flow, helping to keep the contents fresh and dry, while the generous size allows space for two loaves. Plenty of space to cater to the demands of a hungry family. The magnetic front opening door adds to the retro charm, whilst simultaneously assisting in the practical side of things by ensuring the door is properly closed and thus keeping your bread as fresh as possible.

The Typhoon Novo Teal Bread Bin is available individually or as part of the Typhoon Novo Kitchen Storage Set. The range also consists of large and small storage canisters, utensil jars, mug trees, spoon rests and weighing scales. And, if unlike the rest of the world’s population, blue is not your favourite colour, Typhoon also do this stunning range in white, cream and red.