Archive for April, 2013

April 10, 2013

Sage and Thrift Cookbook Swap.

On Sunday 21st April, Sage and Thrift  (a project that I dreamed up with my lovely friend Jo) will be holding its first Cookbook Swap!

Sharing is at the heart of all our plans for Sage and Thrift. We want to build a community of like-minded people to come together to share – whether that is food, skills, resources or time. Food is central to that thought, purely because nothing brings people together like filling our stomachs.

The idea for the Cookbook Swap stemmed from my enormous and ever-growing collection of cookbooks. Regular readers of this blog will know that I cannot resist them. The sheer beauty of them together with the promise of perfection lying within each one draws me in like no other kind of book. Even though I know that I don’t have the room for them, it’s only a matter of days since I bought my last one – Simon Hopkinson’s The Vegetarian Option, which is excellent – and I cannot be the only person with this kind of habit, yet without either the money to fund nor the space to house such a collection.

I’ve done Cookbook Challenges, and culled a few from my collection to the local charity shop, but most of them I can’t bear to part with forever. Having said that, I am always happy to lend them out, and know that I would love to try new books for a while in return. Hopefully, other folk will feel the same way.

Too many cookbooks ...

Too many cookbooks …

So, here it is the premise:

Come along to the Cookbook Swap – bring a book with you! One that you either love but have tired of, or one that you’ve never got on with. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a cookbook!

We’ll have a spreadsheet set up on the day, so we can take your details and the details of the book you’re leaving to swap. You need to be happy to lend the book out and know that it might come back a bit more spattered with cooking oil than it went out. If it’s too precious to you, leave it at home.

Then have a browse of the books available. Once you hopefully find one you like the look of, bring it back to us with our fancy spreadsheet and we’ll log that you’ve borrowed it. Take it home, cook up a storm, and bring it back to the next one. If you want to bring us some fabulous food you’ve cooked, so much the better …

One of the things we’re going to do is give out a little ‘passport’ with each cookbook. We’re hoping that people will write a little bit in them, just to say what they cooked and how things went. This will help us to build a record of how each book has been used and a bit of history of the swap.  Plus, we’re getting a stamp made with our logo on, so it’s rather a good excuse for us to get stamping crazy. The passport will stay with each book for as long as that book is part of the Cookbook Swap and then go home with the original owner as a memento of the project.

So, if you’re in Leeds on Sunday 21st April, between 2-3pm-ish and you’re interested, do come along. We’re very fortunate that the lovely folk at Brewbar Espresso (located just underneath Leeds Art Gallery) are letting us host the event there, so bring some pennies to buy yourself a cup of their fabulous coffee, and we hope to see you on the day!

April 8, 2013

Seed and Bean Chocolate from Millies, Leeds.

Easter has come and gone for another year and with it, an enormous quantity of chocolate has been consumed by my kids. I fight a losing battle when it comes to chocolate, particularly with my daughter. Even if I’ve bought it specifically for myself, she usually ends up eating most of it! I think I’m too much of a pushover. However, this Easter, I planned to secret some away for myself. Grown up chocolate from Seed and Bean – just for me. Or so I thought …

Seed and Bean are chocolatiers with a difference, as they are one of the very few ethical chocolate producers in Britain. It’s organic, fairly traded and sustainably produced. Excellent stuff. Award winning too – they’re rated as 100% ethical by the Ethical Company Organisation.  But to be honest, although that is a wonderful result, it doesn’t help if the chocolate itself isn’t great. Their five Great Taste Awards suggest that it is actually really good.  Which is why I was excited to be given the chance, thanks to the brilliant Millies in Leeds to try some of their wide range of chocolate for myself.

After some deliberation, I chose Creamy White Chocolate with Lemon and Poppy Seeds, Rich Milk Chocolate with Sicilian Hazelnut and Almond and Extra Dark Chocolate (72% cocoa) with Pumpkin Seeds and Hemp Oil. If I’m honest, I was choosing rather more grown up flavours especially to make sure they’d be less attractive to my Dairy Milk loving daughter!  Other flavours include lavender, espresso, cardamon, and chilli and lime, alongside the more usual white, milk and dark, so it would make a good gift choice for a serious food lover too.

Beautiful chocolate. Image courtesy of Seed and Bean and Millies.

Beautiful chocolate. Image courtesy of Seed and Bean and Millies.

And, let me say, the taste does not disappoint either. First to be eaten was the White Chocolate with Lemon and Poppy Seeds. I sometimes find white chocolate too sickly-sweet, but the lemon oil helps to somehow cut through that sweetness and the little savoury crunch of poppy seeds continues that. This one was my favourite of the three that I tried. The fabulous Jo Murricane made white chocolate mousse with this chocolate, which sounds amazing. Might have to give it a go myself!

Then, the Rich Milk Chocolate with Sicilian Hazelnut and Almond. I didn’t actually open this one myself. It was opened for me. The conversation went something like this:

“I’ve had some of your chocolate”

“Well, that’s ok – what did you think of it?”

‘Erm … It’s really good. I might have actually eaten quite a lot of it …”

“It’s nearly all gone! I’ve only been out of the room for five minutes!”

“Well, like I said,  It’s really nice.”

After which I made damn sure that I got to try some for myself, before it all vanished. And, he wasn’t wrong. It is really good. Smooth, rich and creamy, with a lovely light taste of the nuts it contains. Very moreish too. Obviously. So, my cunning plan foiled, it appears it’s not just my children who eat all my chocolate. I could sulk, but I suppose that it’s a good way of demonstrating how great tasting it is – so good it gets stolen from me by my loved ones!

The final chocolate of the three I tried was the 72% dark chocolate with Pumpkin Seeds and Hemp Oil. This is definitely a grown up chocolate, to be eaten slowly, a square at a time. Definitely not a chocolate to be wolfed down in one go (which is a good job, otherwise I’d never get any!) it has an unusual, somewhat savoury flavour, but I liked it. I also think it’d be an interesting chocolate to cook with.

Having tried these three very different flavours of chocolate, I’ll definitely go back to Millies for more, assuming that I find a decent enough hiding place to keep it …