What encourages your weekly shop?

Most times it’s what I have planned out for my meals, which dictates what I buy. I like to be quite strict to avoid buying anything I don’t necessarily need and to make sure I don’t buy unhealthy snacks etc. However I have been known to see something advertised on TV and treat myself, but in general I try to be good. (more…)

Looking Good At Your Dinner Party

So you’ve done all the preparation work: you’ve selected the proper table cloths, picked up flowers, made hors d’oeuvres, got your bird in the oven, put together a salad, and have dessert waiting on the side. You’ve selected the right liquors for the evening, and even put out soda for those teetotaler guests. But after you’ve finished preparing for your big night, you still need to make sure you look the part.


How to Take a Break from the Kitchen When No One Else Steps Up

Every homemaker needs to take a break from the kitchen sometime. Whether you are a man or a woman, there comes a day when you decide enough is enough. It is time to let someone else do the cooking. Unfortunately, not every time does somebody else step up to the plate, so to speak. When those moments occur, no need to panic or get upset. It’s time for a change of plans. It’s time to go out!


Make Your Mouth Water

As a 21st century adult, it’s important to have a variety of skills.  People of all genders and gender identities alike need to be able to change a tire, to identify the smell of a gas leak, to stop the smoke alarm when it gets set off accidentally, and, perhaps most importantly, to cook.  Whether we’re feeding a family, a significant other, or just ourselves, we are what we eat.  The ability to compose delicious, nutritious meals, will not only keep us full and healthy, but also do a great many favors to our wallets.  Nothing can tighten the monthly pursestrings quite as effectively as eating out regularly.



All you need to know about French Ovens

Is it a Dutch oven, or a French oven? Some say they are basically the same, while others disagree saying the meal actually has a different taste when prepared in one or another. So, let us see what the French oven really is, what it is made of, and for what dishes you should use it.

How it all began?

A casting specialist Armand Desaegher and an enameling specialist Octave Aubecq founded Le Crueset in the French town of Fresnoy-le-Grand in 1925. The first cocotte i.e. French Oven was produced the same year, and the revolution of cookware had begun. Desaegher and Aubecq were first to glaze enamel, so they modeled the first color after the intense orange hue of molten cast iron inside a cauldron, in French “creuset” . Le Creuset is now the leading manufacturer of these ovens.


The Oven

When it comes to the shape, the French and Dutch oven are practically the same. Tall, round pots with lids, nevertheless their construction usually differs. Unlike Dutch ovens, which are made of metal, French ovens often have a metal core coated in enamel and operate exceptionally in an oven. Le Creuset’s cast iron core soaks up heat lightly and spreads it equally over the cooking surface.

Having an enameled surface means, Le Creuset will require no scrubbing, but it will be a delight to clean it. Moreover, it does not absorb flavors so any dish you prepare in it will not have the aftertaste of a previous one. Furthermore, French oven is energy efficient; it requires low to medium heat. Its heavy lid seals in heat and flavor, and you can also put it in a freezer without worrying whether it will be damaged, because it will not. It is suitable for all cooktops, including induction, and it is best to use wooden or plastic utensils when cooking in it. You should hand wash it for better maintenance.



A French oven is precisely what you need for preparing stews and long braises. Considering it has the cast-iron, the pot will hold heat perfectly, thus creating the equal and steady temperature inside the dish. This is very important if you want to make the meat and tough vegetables completely tender. Moreover, the French oven is splendid for simmering a pot of beans, making a quick pasta sauce, or incubating a batch of yogurt.

When you hold it, the oven should feel heavy, and have equally thick walls and bottom. You should make sure you would be able to grip the handles and the knob on the lid, with the oven gloves on your hands. A 6-quart oven would be perfect for braising a chicken or making enough chili to a bigger family. Peters of Kensington offer a great choice of pots, in various sizes, shapes, and colors, so make sure to check it out for a perfect pot. These ovens can be expensive, the lowest price can be $50, and it can go up to $300 or more for one Le Creuset pot. Nevertheless, when it comes to cookware, in the majority of cases the price cost is a good indicator of quality.

The main material for coating these pots is enamel; however, in 1995 Le Creuset began exploring new product categories such as, stainless steel, stoneware, silicone, enamel on steel, textiles and forged hard-anodized aluminum. It turns out that porcelain enameled cast iron adjusts to almost all heat sources, including gas, electric, induction, and ceramic top ranges. Phenolic knobs and handles are oven safe to 450°F/232°C, which makes a high quality pot.

French oven is an exquisite piece of cookware, so if you do not already have one, buy it and watch how a  delicious meal can be prepared in it. Remember, you might pay a little extra money for it, but you will have a pot that will last for many years.


Hot Wings: A Few Interesting Aspects Explored


Hot wings have emerged as quite an integral part of our culinary rarities. Today, we will be taking a closer look at this particular dish—its origin, how it’s cooked alongside several other aspects. It is always interesting to trace the history of a delicacy—especially once it starts enjoying such unprecedented popularity across the globe. Please read on to find out more.

What are Hot Wings?

Hot wings refer to the chicken wing section known as “flats”. These also include the chicken drummettes that are deep fried and then laced with sauce. These wings are known by myriad names including buffalo wings, hot wings and chicken wings among others.

The origin of hot wings

These wings originally hail from the place Buffalo, New York. Though the combination of hot wings and hot sauce is much revered today, most of us actually do not know whose brainchild this combination is. It is solely owing to the fact that there are contradictory stories behind the origination of this combo. It was Anchor Bar in Buffalo New York which first served the buffalo wings in the year 1964. Teressa Belissiomo was the co-owner of this particular bar. She had come to the bar one night with a group of friends who needed to eat something. And, it was Teressa who came up with the idea of fast snack by deep frying chicken wings and dipping them in to cayenne hot sauce. Though this is the most popular version of the “hot wings” story, there are other versions which do the rounds as well. Anchor Bar, however, is universally hailed as the exact place where the hot wings had originated.

Baked and grilled hot chicken

Besides hot wings, chicken wings are also served “baked and grilled”. While deep fried hot wings are actually one of the most popular versions of chicken wings, the baked and grilled wings are preferred by those who are very conscious about their calorie intake. The baked and grilled version can be prepared in a very interesting fashion. The wings are first baked in order to retain the juices in the meat. The grilling is done to render the much coveted crispiness which hot wing lovers adore. It is important for you to have a roasting pan so that you can bake the wings. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the wings on the roasting pan (after you’re done with preheating). Cook the thawed wings for about 40 to 45 minutes. After that you can place the wings on the grill on medium heat. Turn them over at frequent intervals until they are totally crisp and brown. Pour the sauce on the grilled hot wings after placing the latter on the pan. Now it’s time to place the sauced wings back on the grill and serve!

Avail the best of hot and spicy BBQ chicken wings from Westin Gourmet. This remains one of the most well-known online wholesale meat providers in the market. Start buying from them for impeccable quality and competitive pricing.


How To Use Nigella Sativa

Also known as fennel flower, Roman coriander, black caraway and kalonji, nigella sativa is a plant which originates from south and southwest Asia. Egypt is known to be the one of the earliest cultivation areas of the plant, which seeds are used as a spice in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. It was also found in Tutankamun’s tomb (Egyptians entombed their pharaohs with items that were to assist them in the afterlife). Let’s see what positive health effects nigella sativa has and how to incorporate it into your cooking.


Image source: wikimedia

The health benefits of this plant’s seed (also referred to as black seed) are various. Thymoquinone, a phytochemical compound found in black seed, kills leukemia, colon, oral and breast cancer cells, and reduces tumor growth. It affects glioblastoma cells the same way by inducing apoptosis (cell death), with glioblastoma being most aggressive brain tumors of all. Black seed helps those who suffer from type 2 diabetes by decreasing insulin resistance, reducing blood sugar levels and increasing pancreas’ beta-cell function. It also has heart-protective qualities, boosting overall heart health, and antiepileptic effects, reducing the frequency of seizures among children who resist standard epilepsy treatment. Nigella black seeds were found to be effective in treating asthma and in long-term opiate addiction treatments. It enhances skin complexion, cures eczema, diarrhea and boosts memory due to its neuron-protecting and antioxidant properties.


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Nigella seeds are small, black grains. Their surface is rough, while the interior is oily-white. They have a slightly bitter and peppery flavor, and are fried or crushed (mortar and pestle) before use. Nigella is widely used as a spice or a pepper substitute, especially in Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Outside Asia, they can be found in well-equipped organic food stores. There are also online organic food stores that deliver your orders directly to your home. Buying nigella sativa at Organics on a budget will, for example, relieve you from all shipping costs and provide you with nigella seeds for your cuisine.

The simplest way of consuming nigella sativa is by making tea. Pour hot water in a cup over a tablespoon of seed, and let in brew steep for 10 minutes. You add a few seeds to your favorite tea or coffee.

Nigella is used as main and decorative spice. It can be added to breads (in India they often put it in bread dough), casseroles, salad dressings or sprinkled on salads (in grinded form). Combined with lemon or cilantro, it serves as a great addition to fry dishes. Oil is also made from nigella seeds, and it is comprised of proteins, carbohydrates, plant oils and polyunsaturated fatty acids. This oil is great for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.

Find traditional recipes online for preparing Balochi fish, Balochi and Katonji chicken, Black pepper beef, and vegetable dishes such as Bhindi Basala (green vegetables) and Tomato Bhujia. You can make Alushahi (an Asian version of doughnuts) and Black Seed Flat Bread. It goes great with rice along with saunf or jeera, and any type of stew or curry is more than welcoming for nigella seed. Nigella is included in the famous Bengali five-spice mix called panch phora or panch puran.

Now that you know the variety of nigella sativa health benefits, practice and experiment with new, exotic dishes and this ancient spice, or simply add it to your current cuisine. It will spice up the food nicely and provide a vast array of positive effects to your overall health.


Creating the ultimate cooks kitchen

Having a well-planned kitchen helps you to be a better cook; it makes the process of preparing food more enjoyable and saves time. A chef-friendly layout is one that intelligently accommodates storage, cooking and preparation areas, meaning you are not constantly moving back and forth to get a bowl, knife or cloth.  The most efficient way to divide up your culinary activities is to separate them into specific zones, so when one task is finished, you move to the next without having to clear a space.



Easy Grow Foods That Compliment Any Meal

Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a rewarding activity, but it is time-consuming to do properly. There are other options, however, which will add a lot of flavours to your cooking and for far less effort. In this article, I’m going to take a look at how to grow four different kinds of plants that are easy to maintain, but great for adding to your cooking. They will all last for long periods of the year, and will infuse your food with flavour at every meal time. Let’s take a look at these four amazing foodstuffs right away.


Chrissa Brown, Flickr


Even if you don’t do spicy food, chillies can add a the subtlest of spicy kicks to any food. And, once you get started on the addictive chilli-growing train, you will soon get to know how much to use each and every time. Chillies fair batter in the warmer climates, but you can grow them wherever you are in the world. However, you might need some equipment to grow from seed. Think about getting a windowsill propagator to help them get going. You can plant them in the New Year and they will be ready, ripe, and juicy by the summer.   


Raspberries are simple to grow and take very little looking after. The amount of fruit that you can get from just a couple of raspberry plants is quite remarkable, and should last you all the way through summer and into the middle of autumn. I love to use raspberries in almost any dessert going. There isn’t much that they don’t compliment. And when you pick them from your back garden, they are never tastier. They also go well with ice cream. Serve them up to your partner to round off a nice, romantic dinner.


Herbs are incredibly easy to grow and are an essential part of making your homemade food taste amazing. All you need to do is one of two things. First, you can just buy herb plants from your local store and re-pot them. They look great on your windowsill, inside or out. Alternatively, you can grow them in your garden from seed or the pot. Growing basil is the easiest of the lot, but rosemary, thyme and mint are also garden classics. They will also give off a lovely smell at certain times of the year.

Stinging Nettles

No, that wasn’t a typo. Stinging nettles are packed full of nutrients and contain even more vitamins and minerals than broccoli or spinach. They are also very tasty with a very distinctive taste that can be used to create interesting dishes on their own or for added flavour. The taste is quite similar to typical greens, but with a definite fizz to the mouth that is perfect for boosting limp veggie meals. As we all know, are hardy plants that last for much of the year. However, it is best to pick them during March and April for the best flavours. You’ll need to cover yourself up to avoid stinging, but as soon as they are boiling in water they will be sting-free.

So, there are four foods that are easy to grow and that we think will compliment any meal. Have any other ideas? Let us know!

4 Tools Every Baker Needs In Their Kitchen

Are you new to baking? Have you only ever made the odd tray bake or two? Don’t worry, we all have to start somewhere. And, believe it or not, one of the best things about baking is that with a bit of practice it is super easy to pick up.

But first things first, before doing anything it is important that your kitchen cupboards are well stocked with useful baking ingredients. As well as all the equipment you will need.

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If you are new to baking, then you may be unsure of what you need in your kitchen to be a successful baker. And, even if you aren’t new to baking, your kitchen may be missing some of the baking essentials.

To help you stock your kitchen with the most important pieces of kit, here is my guide to four kitchen essentials that every baker needs.

1. Measuring scales

Unlike other areas of cooking, bakers like me, need precision for our recipes. Without it, there are plenty of recipes that sadly, just wouldn’t work. That is why measuring scales are so important for us bakers.

In my opinion, every baker needs a set of measuring spoons, as well as an electronic weighing scale for measuring out larger quantities of ingredients.

2. Food mixer

One of the most important items a baker can have is a high-quality food mixer. It may not sound that important, especially if you are used to doing things by hand, but trust me, a good quality mixer is essential. Especially, if you like making meringues and other yummy desserts that require a good deal of whisking.

While a mixer can seem rather expensive, think of it as an investment for your kitchen. A good quality mixer can last up to ten years and so is most definitely worth the money.

Make sure to choose a model that is at least 325 watts of power. Otherwise, it may not be strong enough. It is also important to choose a mixer that has various different speeds and comes with various attachments for different forms of baking.

3. Chocolate melters

If, like me, you are a real chocolate lover and love baking desserts and cakes with melted chocolate in, then a chocolate melter is an absolute essential for your kitchen.

Instead of having to fiddle around with a DIY double boiler and worry about burning and curdling, a chocolate melter is so much easier to use. Plus, it saves time, too.

4. Rolling pin and decorating set

If you plan on decorating your cakes and bakes or are a fan of pastry, then a rolling pin and decorating set are both kitchen essentials.

If you would like to learn how to decorate your cakes, have a look online for Youtube tutorials and ideas of how to do so.

5. Cookbooks

You may not think that cookbooks count as a piece of kitchen equipment, but they are as important as any piece of kit.

Although there are plenty of recipes available online and on cooking apps, I find that cooking books have many fantastic recipes in them. Especially, speciality cookbooks.

Now that you have all the most important pieces of cooking equipment, you are ready to start baking lots of yummy treats.