Tuesday, 26 November 2013

RECIPE: Duerr's Baking for Boys and Easy Berry-Orange Jellies

Duerr's resident master bakers, Richard and Paul, have created their own YouTube miniseries, called Baking For Boys. They've been keeping it in the Duerr's family, one of the oldest jam making business in the world, ever, ever! These short films are full of great recipe ideas and hints and tips on how to create your own baking masterpieces.

I particularly liked the recipe for Chocolate Orange cake. Have a look for yourself below, it's a pretty easy recipe to follow. I must confess that when Duerr's sent me some of their lovely jams and marmalade's through to try for myself I went for something even easier to start with! In this cold weather, I found there was nothing more satisfying in the morning than having a bowl of steaming porridge with a dollop of beautiful Duerr's strawberry jam in the centre. I stirred it through for a ripple effect and a delicious sweet strawberry hit in every mouthful. This really set me up for my cycle to work, but as I say I'm not really sure if that counts as a recipe! I would definitely recommend it though!

Today we're having a lazy day in the house and there is no flour in, so baking is out the window, but luckily I rummaged through the store cupboard and found a few packs of trifle sponges just begging to get the Duerr's treatment, so I decided to make the ultimate lazy pudding - my totally made up Easy Berry-Orange Jellies.

Easy Berry-Orange Jellies


  • Make up the jelly as per the instructions. I used slightly less cold water to dilute and added the frozen blackberries instead so they could release their water as they thawed and help to set the jelly more quickly.

  • Generously smear the trifle sponges with Duerr's Fine Cut Seville Orange Marmalade.

  • Break up the sponges and press into a jelly mould, adding some of the blackberries in each layer. 
  • Pour over the jelly. 

  • Put into the fridge to set.

I used my lovely little rabbit mould for the first time, and also made a smaller portion in a lunchbox so I can take some to work for a nice treat over the next couple of days!

Once the jelly has set firm, turn it out and serve with whipped evaporated milk with a little icing sugar for a delicious creamy topping that goes really well with the sweet, sharp flavours. Easy, but delicious! The rabbit shape looks like it'll be more visible with an opaque jelly, but I still liked the way it turned out.

What do you use your Duerr's jam for?

Monday, 25 November 2013

REVIEW: Matey Bathtime Book

My bubble bath as choice as a young 'un was always Matey, so it caused a great deal of nostalgia when they sent me one of their limited edition bathtime books to have a look at. I seem to remember I was quite jealous of friends who had a character on their bubble bath, until one day my mum got me one of the talcum powders with a ghost character on it and I thought it was ace. Easily pleased, but there's nothing wrong with that.

But enough about my memories of bathtimes gone by. According to Matey, 60% of parents believe bathtime is one of the most important times of day where they bond with their children, but a quarter of parents sadly don't make it home from work in time to enjoy it. Also, the research revealed that bathtime can be stressful, with worries of tantrums, baths that are too hot, or bath water being generally inhaled, ingested and otherwise taken on board by the little mites.

This is why they decided to produce a bathtime book to make the experience more chilled, enjoyable and relaxed for everyone involved. Written by mum of two, Emma Greaves, the book features the Matey characters Max, Molly and Peg Leg. A limited edition run of these hard wearing yet foamy and soft books has been produced .

I passed the book on to a friend with a three year old to road test and they told me that it had become a regular part of the bathtime routine in their house. Waterproof, but colourful and interesting the simple poem narrative held the children's attention and the illustrations stimulated further discussion and enjoyment. All in all, a great success and rated an impressive 9 out of 10 Mummy Points!

The books have been released at a recommended retail price of £2.37 (so you might be able to pick them up for even less!) and are available from Asda and pharmacies. At that price these are super cute little stocking fillers that will become a regular addition to your little ones ablutions.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Campaign For Real Salad: US Walmart Ceaser Salad Comparison

I thought it was time the Campaign For Real Salad hit international waters and made a comparison of the UK Chicken Caesar Salad with it's American counterpart. I picked the Ready Pac Foods Bistro Chicken Caesar Salad 6.25oz which is available at Walmart, although I do not know the price as the fresh produce is not available via there website.

On first glance, I was pretty impressed with the nutritional information that was available on the website. It looked clear and easy to understand.

Then I realised that Walmart too are doing the cheeky thing of making their labelling confusing so that it is hard for customers to easily check what they are eating. The product is advertised by weight in ounces, but the serving size is given in grams. Now in this case it doesn't really matter because the product is single serve, but they do offer a lot of salads which serve up to four people, so this could be really hard for people to portion up correctly. The same way that Brits really don't get ounces as a measurement for drinks or pre-packed products, I'm pretty sure Americans are not au fait with grams.

So, the comparator. How do our American cousins fare when it comes to the great Campaign For Real Salad dressing overkill issue? Well, according to my previous calculations, Tesco's Caesar Salad offers 190kcals, 3.9g sugar, 14.5g fat and 2.3g sat fat per 144g serving. Walmart-owned Asda's 108g serving has 196kcals and 15.5g of fat while Sainsbury's full fat take on this salad was 223kcals, 3g of sugar, an eye watering 17.6g of fat of which 2.4g is saturated fat per 133 grams. The Ready Pac version contains 230g calories, 16g of fat of which 4.5g is saturated fat. If we work these figures out per gram then we'll get a level playing field for comparison:

Tesco: 1.3 calories and 0.1g fat per gram of salad
Asda: 1.8 calories and 0.14g fat per gram of salad
Sainsburys: 1.68 calories and 0.13g fat per gram of salad
Walmart: 1.3g calories and 0.09g fat per gram of salad

Interestingly, the Walmart version is therefore the healthiest out of all those compared, just about - Americans are getting a larger portion size, but slightly healthier ceasar salad than the Brits, but overall we're all getting around 200 calories or more and an average 16.1g fat per bowl of salad. This remains too much. I thought it was really interesting that the Walmart version highlights its 230 calorie content on the packaging as an enticement to portray it as a 'healthy choice' - I do not consider 230 calories to be appropriate for a salad and neither should you. The packaging is tellingly silent about the fat content as well. 

To put these stats in context, a hamburger from McDonalds, according to their US website nutritional information, contains 250 calories and 9g of fat. That's 20 calories more than the salad, but 7 grams of fat less. The salad contains 78% more fat than a hamburger. If you think this is wrong, then sign and share the petition to support the Campaign For Real Salad.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Bloggers Christmas Slimming Club

I have been terrible at blogging my progress here, so I thought I'd get on it while it was on my mind. I haven't weighed this week yet (will do so after step tomorrow) but I did the last two weeks and then didn't write it up!!

The 28th October, I stayed the same and last week I had lost a grand 100g! But overall that puts me at 2.2kg down, which is really an achievement with Christmas (apparently) rapidly approaching. I have a swank, but local awards ceremony to attend in 10 days so I am hoping to get into a beautiful dress my mum picked up for me from a charity shop last time she was in the UK, so I would really like to do it justice. Another 0.5k would be fantastic.

Saturday night's in like this may not help!

6.3k before Christmas is probably outside of my reach because I haven't been exercising as much recently with work and excuses and other excuses. I did Step on Monday and as always I am cycling everywhere it isn't the end of the world, but now bootcamp has ended I'm hoping to get back into the pool this week and also get along to aerobics on Tues and Thurs, other commitments permitting. We shall see. Let's hope for a loss tomorrow (may be optimistic) and see if I can shift that last little bag of sugar before the awards.

And after that? Onwards directly towards Christmas, hopefully looking better and feeling better to match.

How did the rest of you do?

Edit 19/11/13 - I went to the gym tonight and weighed myself and I stayed the same - woop!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

'The Tea Picker' - Sugar cube mosaic

My latest mosaic has just been unveiled at the Experimental Food Society Spectacular. She was made to complement the breathable tea bar at the exhibition. I was invited to become a member of the society just over a year ago and it is rather exciting to be in such a select group with great artists like Bompas and Parr and Blanch & Shock.

The workspace (the floor)
The piece is called The Tea Picker and is made out of 4220 sugar cubes. Each has been individually handpainted and then fixed in position. It has taken me about two months to construct and she will be getting another airing at the Experimental Food Society Banquet on 14th and 15th November, so if you would like to see her in the flesh, the chance is still there to buy tickets!

Sunday, 3 November 2013


Now That's What I Call Brunch! Jus-Rol Croissants

Did you know Jus-Rol has been around since the 1950s? I didn't. Making pastry easier for nearly 65 years.

This morning I made a relaxed brunch. I had picked up Jus-Rol's croissants in a can because I confess to being rather curious and for some reason pastry in a can seems like quite an American thing to me and I don't remember having ever actually seeing it in the UK before.

You peel the label back on the can, which is the hardest bit because I didn't really understand what I was doing. It's actually a big twist of cardboard which then pops open and reveals the fresh pastry inside. You then just unroll the pastry block, pull the pastry triangles apart along the perforations and roll into a crescent.

Stick in a preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes and Bob's the creepy guy who your mum invited round when dad was away. The packet recommended giving them a light wash with egg or milk before baking, but of course that assumes hat there are eggs or milk in. Which there aren't currently.

But this is extremely easy and if you're like me you can serve them warm with a selection of cheese and salami and it will be epic. They're a little smaller than regular packaged croissants, but that means you can eat more! Delicious.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Campaign for Real Salad: Reducing Food Waste

Tesco has been in the news this week for publishing its food waste figures for the first time. Now when they tell us that nearly 30000 tonnes of food went to waste in the first six months of this year alone, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Campaign for Real Salad petition has little relevance. But actually I think it's all sides of the same coin. These are small changes that could be made to improve our environment and our health. Tesco are already saying that they will look to reduce the size of their bagged salads to help avoid waste. (Which is very generous of them. I'm sure the price of this smaller portion will be commensurately lower?) I am suggesting that prepared salads should come with less dressing to avoid waste and cut down on needless fat and calories.

Which brings me to one of the worst culprits. You all know it. The Caesar salad. That dressing is a diet killer and the supermarkets are giving us WAY too much of it.

Tesco's creamy caesar salad kit. 22% dressing - 63.14g of dressing. 

Half a pack (the recommended serving on the website) contains 190kcals, 3.9g sugar, 14.5g fat and 2.3g sat fat.

That's 0.5g fat more than a serving of McDonalds chicken nuggets and only 60 calories less. For half of this bag of salad.

Asda's offering, Caesar salad kit is 23% dressing, so that's 49.45g of dressing - less than the Tesco but a similar proportion as their salad is smaller.

Online, the nutritional info is only given per 100g and does not give a recommended serving size. For fairness, I'm assuming half a pack, same as Tesco, although this pack is 215g overall, so would be a smaller serving.

So, my maths gives us a nutritional value per serving of 196kcals and 15.5g of fat. There is no info available for the sugar content or the saturated fat breakdown. So you would have less salad than you get in a bag from Tesco, but you're having 1.5g fat more than a serving of chicken nuggets and only 54 calories less.

Sainsbury's equivalent Caesar salad is a similar proportion again, 23% dressing, that's 61g in real terms. Per half a pack you get 223kcals, 3g of sugar, an eye watering 17.6g of fat of which 2.4g is saturated fat.

Therefore, half a pack of their salad is only 27 calories less than a serving of chicken nuggets, but 3.6g of fat more than those little golden brown, deep fried goodies.

In fairness to Sainsbury's, they also offer a Be Good to Yourself version for the same price as the full fat option which is 143kcals per half pack and 8.4g of fat (still 12% of your daily recommended fat intake). But why is this not just the only option? Why offer a salad where one half a bag will give you a quarter of your total fat intake for the day at all? Why not offer a Caesar salad with just 30g of dressing per bag, or 20g even and slash the nutritional damage. We can all agree that the lettuce isn't causing us any problems, so it's got to be the dressings, the croutons, the parmesan.

If you're not happy with these figures, why not sign the petition and I'll try and get something done about it.

Alternatively, swerve the supermarkets altogether and try this great recipe from Channel 4's Cook Yourself Thin instead.
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