- My engagement ring.
- The blue coat I had made last winter.
- A silver christening spoon.
- The armchair which belonged to my great-grandfather.
- The portable writing-desk my grandfather gave me, which belonged to his aunt.
- My Tod's handbag (a 30th birthday present)
- My bed, with the headboard a friend made for it.
- (Maybe) my apple laptop.
Friday, 30 July 2010
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
Following on from her kitchen equipment list, here are my chef sister's suggestions on how to eat well, where to economise, and where not to, when food shopping:
It is obvious and much repeated but if you only shop in season you’ll get better value for money. Buy English strawberries only in mid-season and you can eat them every day. Asparagus just coming in is expensive, but hold on a bit for the price to go down.
Investigate the end of line baskets at supermarkets, they often have interesting random vinegars etc in their fancy foreign muck sections which don’t sell, so end up going cheap. The same goes for bin-ends for wine - you can find some interesting things.
Do what peasants around the world have been doing forever – just use a little meat in a hotpot/stew/whatever as a flavouring. One of the loveliest things I ate on a very greedy holiday in Andalucia was a stew of mostly potato, onion and pepper, with just a little pork, all cooked in delicious stock. The potatoes took on all the meaty flavour as they cooked.
Do not scrimp on:
Bread – it is such a major part of our diet but most people make do with the dullest, cheapest stuff. Don’t put up with it! Buy the nicest you can, and then ‘something on toast’ is transformed.
Pasta – don’t ask me why, but supermarket value brand stuff is just not as good as more expensive versions.
Baked beans and tomato ketchup – only Heinz will do in my opinion.
Potatoes – have realized why the value bags are cheap – they sometimes seem to be a random selection of diff varieties and all cook at different speeds, so you end up with a pan of falling-apart and rock hard. Disaster.
Thursday, 15 July 2010
As mentioned in an earlier post, I asked my sister, a Leiths' trained chef, for her suggestions on where to spend money on kitchen equipment. Here is her, surprisingly short, list.
Kitchen Equipment List
Knives! One big chef’s knife, one small paring/office for veg cutting, and one steel for sharpening – serrated is also useful for tomatoes and fruit, but not vital.
1 big saucepan, one small, both stainless steel, not non-stick, the best quality you can afford – they will last. A handle that isn’t screwed on, is part of the pan, or it will start wobbling and fall off.
A good big chopping board, wood is good as long as you don’t worry about hygiene! Just don’t use it for raw meat, get a plastic one and keep it only for that.
A frying pan – opinion is divided on this one. I like a good, solid non-stick one which, I admit, won’t last forever unless you’re militant about no metal utensils and watch other people like a hawk if they use it…Or some serious types get e.g cast iron and just season it very carefully. Never seem to manage it myself.
A good large mixing bowl; lightweight metal is good for most things.
A nice big balloon whisk, electric hand whisk also v useful., or see below if you have the funds…
[Digital scales: I recently had to reprimand Penny for using old-fashioned scales for baking. They just aren't accurate enough for cake-making...]
More extravagant items include
A lovely, solid, and supposedly lifetime-lasting Le Creuset. A casserole for 6-8 people is probably your best bet, in whichever colour you won't get bored of.
A Kitchenaid or Kenwood mixer. Kitchenaid is my preference, but Kenwoods are known to be v reliable and long-lasting, though just don’t have the glamour factor.
Monday, 12 July 2010
Monday, 5 July 2010
- Getting a water butt for the garden several years ago. I like this because it is environmentally friendly, while also providing free water, enough for all our gardening needs. (Though my mother would say that I don't water the garden enough, so that may be why....)
- Working out the cheapest way to pay regular bills - for most bills this is by monthly direct debit- and setting up payment accordingly. I first did this many years ago, and do now review the situation every so often.
- Putting dryer balls (mentioned in an earlier post) in my tumble dryer.
- Fitting water-reducing devices into our lavatories years ago, which saves a considerable amount of water.
- Using second-class stamps for all non-urgent post
- Putting the end of a loaf of bread in the freezer for later use as toast, before it goes stale
- Using plastic carrier bags as kitchen bin liners
- Putting vegetable matter, tea leaves, and coffee grounds onto the compost heap
- Contributing a proportion of our income to our pensions, whenever we are paid, at the same time we save money for tax. (This doesn't happen automatically, now that we are both self-employed.)