Don’t Be Sloe Off The Mark…

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If you’re the outdoorsy type then you will know that our British Blackthorn trees are soon to be aching with fruit, and not just any fruit- Sloes. As an avid drinker of Sloe Gin, and any other Gin related drink, this excites me. Sloe Gin is simply gin infused with sloe’s, exactly what it says on the tin, and it is a delicious winter warmer- perfect for this chilly weather.

Sloe Gin has been made all over the British Isles for centuries yet there is still a mystery around the different ways of making it, so since we’re embarking upon winter times I felt this would be a perfect time to talk about it.Two months is the minimum amount of time needed for sloe gin to mature, and as in two months it will be coming up to December, now is the perfect time to get prepping.

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You can buy ready made sloe gin from pretty much anywhere, but honestly, where’s the fun in that. Everybody knows that everything tastes better when its home made, especially when its as easy as pick, prick & bottle. After that, all you have to do is wait!

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So, without further ado, lets get into the process.. First up, you need to find your sloes; they usually grow quite high up, so get a big stick and start shaking those branches. The easiest way of telling whether the berries are ripe is to pinch them in between your finger and thumb, if they pop easily then they are ready; you should pick enough to fill around half of the bottle you plan to make the Gin in. You should then place the berries in the freezer overnight, this will simulate the ‘first frost’ by which the berries split their skin and realise their natural sweetness. If you skip this step your sloes will be bitter and highly astringent, not ideal.
The next step is to place the sloes into the bottle with a couple of heaped tablespoons of caster sugar, depending on how sweet you like your drinks then top up with a gin of your choice. Please note that the better the gin you use, the better your sloe gin will be, so we recommend a fairly good one!

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The final step is by far the easiest, simply place the bottle on its side out of direct sunlight, and twist it 180 degrees every other day for at least two months. The longer you leave your concoction the better, but if you really cant wait- 2 months and you’re good to go!

We love Sloe Gin so much we now sell a superb quality 8 Piece Sloe Gin Set by Kilner. It has one 2L Kilner Glass Jar to make the drink in, four 250ml Kilner Clip Top bottles to store the sloe gin in once ready, a Kilner funnel to prevent mess and a lovely muslin cloth to mop up any spills; it also comes with a recipe just incase you lose this blog post! It would make the perfect gift for any gin lover, or a wonderful treat for your self. If you fancied getting really creative you could even make the sloe gin yourself and give it as a thoughtful & homemade gift, the options are endless!

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Everything You Probably Didn’t Know About The Great British Bake Off

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 16/08/2016 - Programme Name: The Great British Bake Off 2016 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: **NOT FOR PUBLICATION BEFORE 00:01 HOURS TUESDAY 16TH AUGUST 2016**

(L-R) Rav, Tom, Kate, Lee, Val, Candice, Benjamina , Michael, Selasi, Jane, Andrew & Louise  - (C) Love Productions - Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Now that series 7 of our much loved Bake Off is well and truly underway we felt it was time to dig a little deeper into the secrets of the tent. Seriously, we have so much love yet so many unanswered questions for the show. Who eats the bakes? Who does the washing up? Do the bakers drink the hotel bar dry every weekend in celebration? We need answers!

So without further ado, here are all the weird and wonderful facts we could conjure up about the nations favourite show..

1. In order to eliminate the chance for contestants to blame any failed bakes on technical issues with the ovens, the crew bakes a batch of Victoria Sponges. In every oven, every day! We cant even imagine how incredible that tent must smell!

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2. The application process might actually be harder than the show its self! According to insiders, applicants must fill out a seven page form and theres an endless list of rules you must abide by. Including no branded, labelled or striped clothes!

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Win a Set of 12 Kilner Jars #WWBO

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Well that’s week 3 done of the Great British Innuendo (ahem….sorry Bake Off) done and dusted but do not fear. As you wait patiently for next week’s episode, we can keep you entertained with our super exciting comnpetition: Win With Bake Off! We’ve already given away a fabulous Mason Cash Cane Mixing Bowl (as seen on the show – just saying!) and a Mason Cash Varsity Bakeware set. This week, you’ve voted for a prize from our favourite brand, Kilner!

For your chance to win a set of 12 x Round Clip Top 0.5 Litre Kilner Jars, just answer this simple (sort of) question about Bread Baking:

Q: WHEN BAKING BREAD, WHAT SHOULD YOU NEVER DO WITH YEAST AND SALT?

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Answer us on Twitter or Facebook for your chance to win! Good luck folks.

Our winner will be announced before next week’s show.

Top 9 British Bake Off Innuendos!

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We all love the Great British Bake Off, with its delicious deserts and of course Hollywood’s baby blues, its no wonder that it’s the nations favourite program. After 7 series and a collective 45 million viewers, the program has got us well and truly hooked. By 2016, I think it’s safe to say that its not just the gripping bakes that have caught our attention; lets not forget all those side-splitting innuendos. Yes yes, these dirty, punny inudendos are arguably part of the reason for the shows popularity and so we’ve compiled a list of all our favourites.

You’re going to want to put the cake down for these, some of these moments are utter filth & we love it! Don’t say we didn’t warn you..

  1. We understand that the adjective ‘moist’ is inevitably going to crop up on a baking show, but Mary Berry really stepped things up a notch this time.

landscape-1444230590-10At least she’s enjoying her self, eh?

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2.  And as for the contestants.. Who can really blame them, they’re only following in their mentors’ footsteps….

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Oh, hey Andrew, fancy lending a hand to your fellow baker Candice?…

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3. Hollywood’s as jammy as ever. A gentleman never tells, right Paul?

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Well, they say sharing’s caring! #BroCode

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4. Do you ever just forget to think before you speak? Yeah, same here Mary.

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Yep, your secrets out now, Berry.

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5. The bake off is not all sponges and soufflés.. Thanks for the tip Mary!

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*no comment*

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6. Wow, um… It’s not really that kind of show Sue!

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7. Moving swiftly onwards.. Or not!

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8. Ah, yes. Surely we can count on Mel to bring us all back to reality.

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Unfortunately we cannot. Oh stop it Mel!

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9. Well that’s very considerate of you, at least you’re considerate Sue.

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10. Last but not least. They don’t say you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure for no reason!

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tumblr_nd57ifxaeW1rs8ltio1_500tumblr_oci4hfNDRi1us3a2uo1_400Oh we do love you Selasi!

WIN WITH BAKE OFF! #WWBO

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Tonight sees the return of the baking behemoth that is The Great British Bake Off. This year, we will be running a competition alongside the UK’s most watched TV show, offering the chance to win an array of fantastic prizes and get involved in our Twitter chat. Expect sweat and tears, soggy bottoms, showstoppers and more than likely some life changing events (anyone remember Bingate 2014?)

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To celebrate the return of the greatest show on Earth, we will be giving away one fantastic prize every week, to one lucky winner. All you have to do is follow us on social media and answer the qualifying question each week. The question will be relevant to that episode and the winner will be announced at the end of the next week’s episode.

Prizes will include Mason Cash Mixing Bowls, Paul Hollywood’s very own bake ware range, Mason Cash Pie Dishes, Master Class Artesa Wood and Slate Stands and much much more!

Contestants

Tonight’s Opening Night prize is a fantastic classic Mason Cash 29cm Mixing Bowl! Tune in to our Twitter @silvermushroom1 and use the hashtag #WWBO to answer our qualifying question each week and be in with a chance to win some fabulous bakeware and bake like a pro! Spatulas at the ready……

Mason Cash 29cm Mixing Bowl

Follow us on Twitter: @Silvermushroom1 Like us on Facebook: Silver Mushroom Ltd and don’t forget your hashtag: #WWBO

Tonight’s episode starts at 8pm on BBC One. See you there.

Steak Stones: We’re Bonkers for Beef!

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Before I begin, I’d just like to warn the vegans and vegetarians that the contents of this blog get meaty, pretty quickly. In fact, thats all I’m going to be talking about. Meat!

Here at Silver Mushroom we are lucky enough to stock many weird and wonderful products, from Spiralizers to Vintage Barrel shaped Drinks Dispensers. When we begin selling a new product we like to do research and trialling so that we can discuss the products truthfully with customers. This is part of what gives us here at Silver Mushroom a personal and friendly touch. And also why I feel that, as your friend and confidant, I owe it to you all to tell you about one very special product that we stock, The Steak Stone. Before we really sink our teeth in, I thought I’d just give you a little background on us carnivores.

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It all began some 3.4 million years ago. Scientists have found evidence to suggest that markings made on animal remains were actually butchery marks. Human remains from the same time-period displayed a decrease in a bone lesion called Portico Hyperostosis, which resulted from a lack of vitamins B9 and B12, due to a lack of meat. Scientist Dominguez-Rodrigo states these findings suggest that human brain development would not have happened to the extent it did without a diet based on regular consumption of meat. So, to sum up, we don’t just like meat, we need meat.

Now, we’ve got the evidence that humans have been eating meat for a ‘bloody’ long time (get it?). But when did we begin to experiment and eat it rare or tartare (that’s basically raw for those of you who aren’t sure)? The French nicknamed the English ‘les rosbifs’ (yup that is ‘Roast Beefs’) in the 18th century precisely because of the way we like our meat, but the idea of a bloody joint of meat did exist in the 1950’s. In those days people who preferred their steak bloody were perceived to be in cahoots with the devil. The switch from us Brits eating our meat like a well cooked car tire that chews like a slab of leather to a succulent, juicy piece of steak dripping with flavour happened fairly recently; around the time we stopped viewing food as not just a source of energy but a source of pleasure.

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It’s this concept of food being a source of pleasure that has inspired the idea of lava stone cooking. I remember the first time I was served my rump steak completely raw, to the side of a piping hot slab of stone, years ago on a family holiday in Portugal. I sat and simply gawked at my Mum in bewilderment. Thankfully, she put two and two together and realised that I was to cook my meat myself, right in front of me. The idea might seem a little odd at first. We go to restaurants to be served food, not to cook it ourselves, right at the table! However, I soon realised that this invention was an absolute game changer.

So, what’s so great about cooking on one of the SteakStones sizzling sets? First of all, they make for an incredibly sociable way to cook and eat. Meal times are a time for you to spend with friends and family, an enjoyable way for you to chat and laugh over delicious foods. In some countries the idea of meal times is almost ritualistic, and even warrant their own holidays. The well known Mexican holiday, Dia De Los Muertos (Day of The Dead) involves families celebrating their loved ones through all sorts off different breads, deserts and sugar skulls! The SteakStones take this concept and run with it, they take the oldest tradition of all, eating, and combine it with new concepts such as cooking at the table and preparing and eating food at the same time.

Not only are the SteakStones perfect for searing steaks and fish. You can pretty much cook anything that you want on them! The concept is brilliant for all of us who get a little panicked over the idea of cooking multiple meals, be it the stress of flavourless food, or the daunting concept of well done, medium rare, rare and every chef’s favourite, the old “rare, but not too rare” classic. Well, with SteakStones you can chill out and forget how your Auntie Sally wants her fillet because the process is mind-blowingly simple! All you have to do is heat the Lava stones to between 280 and 350°C. You can do this in the oven, on the hob, under the grill or even in the barbecue for around half an hour. Once your stones are hot you simply place them into the specially designed steel tray fitted into the sturdy bamboo serving board and you’re good to go! The sets come with little sauce pots and side plates so that your guests can dip away.

SteakStones Sharing Plate

The real beauty of the SteakStones is the fact all your guests will receive their perfect steak. Let’s face it, we’re a nation of fuss-pots, ones idea of steak-heaven is another’s hell. Whilst this pickiness really does make us all incredibly diverse and splendidly unique, its a really bellyache for the chef.

As the stones are made from top quality Lava Stone they maintain their sizzling heat throughout your entire meal, meaning that every mouthful is piping hot. The stones don’t require any oil or fats, making them an incredibly healthy way to prepare meals. The dry, searing heat traps in the delicious natural flavours of your chosen meat or veg ensuring that every mouthful is succulent and flavourful, exactly how you like it.

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SteakStones are a brilliant concept, and could be considered an investment piece (well worth it, if I say so myself). However, I myself am an advocate of ‘try before you buy’ and so if you fancy using the stones before taking the plunge and buying them then you’re in luck. Because clever restauranteurs all over the country are cottoning onto this genius idea and serving their sizzlers on a SteakStone! Trip Advisor will no doubt give you information and reviews on any steak houses near to you, but we can at least vouch for the North West. An absolute gem of a restaurant as opened up in Rawtenstall, Lancashire; The Fire Pit. Set in an old train station, this quirky modern restaurant and cocktail bar specialises in steaks served on SteakStones. The atmosphere is always lively and the food is always brilliant. If you are local and fancy using a SteakStone in person then give them a visit, you will thank me later! And if you’re over in West Lancashire, they have opened up another branch in Southport in an old converted warehouse. Fingers crossed they start popping up all over the country!

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Whether it’s in a restaurant or in your own home, there is no doubt a lava rock steak is the ultimate way to entertain, and satisfy your innate meat cravings! Just be careful who you invite to dinner because once you serve up your sizzling steak, you won’t be getting shut of anyone fast!

SteakStones are available to buy at Silver Mushroom, along with all the necessary accessories and also the new Himalayan Salt Stones, which we will be reviewing over the next few months. Click here to have a browse!

Why we are Enamoured with Enamel!

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There is a trend that is sweeping the foodie nation, working its way into restaurants, bars coffee shops, and even festivals. It reminds us of our childhood, of camping trips and family picnics. Our grandparents started it, and now we’ve made it cool again. Yes, we’re talking about enamelware. Have you seen it? The blue rimmed camping plates of bygone eras, the lightweight tin mugs that you use to sip marshmallow topped hot chocolate from by a campfire (you might still!)? Now you can sup soup from them at your favourite trendy caf! Who would have thought state of the art London eateries would be choosing to serve their food on picnic plates? Is that not the equivalent of serving your champers in polycarbonate cups , you ask? Well, the quick answer is no! It isn’t.

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I personally have always loved the enamelware so when we noticed it creeping back into fashion in the S/S 2015 product launch, we did get rather excited. But there are a number of reasons why we, as a nation, are simply enamoured with enamel.

Ok, we’ll get the practical stuff out of the way first. The fact that enamel is trendy is a bit of a godsend for commercial kitchens, the most obvious reason for this being its strength and durability. Enamelware can be used again and again and will last an awful lot longer than its breakable counterparts, porcelain, china or glass. This is a clear bonus for a restaurant, coffee shop or tearooms where crockery is frequently broken and needs to be constantly replaced. Enamelware can be chipped if it has a bad fall or a serious knock, but your plates and dishes won’t break and little chips only add to the rustic charm.

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Another practical reason to use enamelware is its functionality. Enamel pie dishes can quite happily be used for both cooking and serving pies, vegetables, sides, sauces, puddings and much more. They go in the oven or on the hob and then straight to the table. Less fuss, less mess, still bucket loads of rustic charm. Just don’t microwave them please, whatever you do!

The heat conductivity of enamel ware also makes it fabulous for cooking. No longer will your pie have a soggy bottom or your lasagne be burnt on the edges and cold in the middle. So you get perfect results using cookware that is stronger, lighter and more versatile. That’s a win win right there if ever I heard one!

Ok, that’s the boring (but necessary) stuff out of the way. Let’s get down to the good stuff. In a nutshell, enamelware is cool!

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I think the first thing that springs to mind when we see traditional blue rimmed enamel plates and mugs is childhood memories and a lovely warm sense of nostalgia. Summer picnics on hazy days, lounging around on a picnic blanket or frolicking in a meadow. Family barbecues and beautiful sunsets. Or a Sunday roast at Grandma’s house, cooked in her favourite old enamel roasting tin. We love to look back on the good old days, even if we’re only in our twenties and they aren’t really that old! And enamel crockery, just like grandma’s old gingham picnic blanket, sparks a wonderful warm and fuzzy feeling that we just can’t get enough of.

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One of the biggest attractions to enamelware is its outdoorsy-ness. The rise in popularity of festivals, camping trips, barbecues, hiking and outdoor sports plus the ease with which we can share our experiences with the world in carefully framed and filtered pictures on social media (has anyone else noticed how utterly brilliant the social media generation are at photography?) all lends itself perfectly to this insta-friendly dining ware. Whether it is the traditional blue and white or an updated version like our Living Nostalgia Vintage Enamel range, or even a beautiful printed design like the gorgeous pieces we’ve seen on various blogs from companies like Emalco in Poland, who will print anything you want onto your enamel or offer their own stunning designs.

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Whether you want it plain, branded or to customise your own, there’s no doubt that your cupboards, picnic baskets or camping kit will benefit from introducing some enamelware. Its retro style and vintage charm will always be a popular choice and the variety of shapes and sizes available mean you can tailor your collection to your needs perfectly. A practical crockery and cookware set that serves your needs perfectly but invokes fond memories and warms a nostalgic heart each time it’s used. What more could we ask for?

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5 Short Cuts to the Perfect Summer Party

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Here in the UK, especially in the North, we all know that the weather can be somewhat varied and unpredictable. Looking at a weather forecast is futile and guaranteed to bring disappointment in some form. Whether it be the crushing disappointment at seeing little animated rain clouds next to every day of the week (especially weekends), or the horrible feeling of being spectacularly let down when it promises sunshine, only to dash your hopes when you plan a barbecue a week in advance and it pours down on you, your disgruntled friends and your sausages!

Winter is easy. It’s cold, it rains. Party indoors and everyone stays safe. But Summer is different. We are all striving for that Holy Grail: the perfect summer party. Balmy evenings, fine wine, good friends and endless fun in the sun. A night you’ll never forget, mainly because you won’t have another like it for about four years!

When you get so little of something, it’s only natural to want to make the most of it. Once temperatures hit higher than 25°C in the UK, anything is fair game. Pulling a sickie from work is no longer taboo, it’s expected of you (your boss wants to play out too, you know!). Kids are allowed to play out later, clothing is optional rather than mandatory (even in some town centres, although this could be specific to Lancashire…) and mid week partying in some form is absolutely expected. No one wants to be that person sat indoors looking at everyone else’s sunny good times on Facebook, while watching soaps and prepping for an early night. In the UK, sunny days are a blessing, and we should treat them as such. “Make the most of it.” they say, “It won’t last!” And although that may be considered a pessimistic view, it is most definitely true. As I sit here writing this, basking in 32°C heat in Chorley (yep, that’s Chorley Lancashire, you did hear me correctly), I can hear the weather report on the radio telling me that tonight brings a storm that will dump 3 months worth of rainfall in 24 hours. I look up at the clear blue sky, not a cloud in sight, and find it hard to believe. But I do believe because this is England, and sometimes Summer really does only last for one day. So it’s even more important to seize that day and show how grateful we really are, and also to gloat to my Australian family who are currently experiencing their Winter (don’t feel too bad, it’s still 17°C and sort of sunny over there!)

Never knowing when our day in the sun is coming means we can do very little to plan ahead, but over time I’ve found some little ways to make those hurriedly planned, impromptu celebrations turn into a night to remember. So whether it’s a barbecue with friends, an al fresco dinner, a night in the beer garden, a full blown garden party, or a picnic in the park, break out these simple ideas to give it a finishing touch to turn it from a hastily organised dinner into a spectacular summer evening….

1. The Kilner Drinks Dispenser

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Well, it had to be didn’t it? Ever since the famous Kilner Drinks Dispenser was introduced in 2013, it has been a must have accessory for any party. But it is especially great for a summer party. No one wants to be to and fro-ing from the kitchen to the patio for drinks all the time when the aim of the game is to relax and have fun. Load it up with ice, and a cocktail or juice of your choice and while away the evening without ever having to shift your bum off your sun lounger.

Since the launch of the classic 8 Litre Dispenser, we have seen a variety of different shapes and sizes hit the market. They all look fantastic and are sure to make it look like you’ve gone the extra mile to make a good evening absolutely great!

Have a look at all our dispensers in the Drinks Dispenser section.

2. Handled Drinking Jars

Match your drink ware to your dispenser with these great Kilner handled jars. You may not always want to be risking your finest stemware outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to serve in style. Keeping a handful of these bad boys in your cupboards is a simple but effective way to impress guests. The handled jars are tough and durable, dishwasher safe so your clean up is easy, and the matching lids help to keep out dust and insects. They are also suitable for all drinks so whether your guests prefer cocktails, beer or soft drinks, you only need one type of glassware.

For the full collection of handled jars, including coloured versions (do not put them in the dishwasher or you might as well just buy clear ones), vintage shapes and miniatures, check out our Handled Drinking Jars section.

3. Enamelware

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Stay stylish without risking your crockery with lightweight enamelware. Enamel is so hot right now and absolutely perfect for picnics and al fresco dining. Originally designed with camping in mind, retro enamelware has made a huge comeback and is now seen in trendy restaurants and bars across the country. Keeping a handy stash of enamelware means no need for flimsy, ugly paper plates. This retro style dinnerware range offers plates, bowls, mugs, trays and pie dishes so you can make sure al fresco table is dressed to impress. And if you’re going on a picnic? This lightweight crockery is way easier to transport than hefty ceramics, and it is all dishwasher safe so still easy to clean up.

For our full range of gorgeous enamelware, check out the Living Nostalgia Vintage Enamel section.

4. Miniature Serving Solutions

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Okay so this is a bit of a cheat, because these items are a must-have for any dinner party, not just a summer one, but the fact remains, these are a fantastic little finishing touch to keep in the cupboard at all times, ready to break out and impress your guests. There is something about food being served in miniature pots that we as humans just adore. Restaurants and gastro pubs focus more than ever on presentation these days, serving on slates, wooden boards, in glass jars and miniature serving pieces. I use the robust Master Class Artesa 6.5cm Copper Mini Saucepans with brass handles to serve up sauces, vegetables, starters or anything I can think of, and trust me, it goes down a storm every single time!

There is a vast array of different shapes and sizes to choose from, so have a look at what would suit you best in our Mini Serving Pans section.

5. SteakStones

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And the pièce de résistance: the Steak Stone! The sun’s out, your friends are coming for an unplanned dinner, you’re at work and have no time to prep. Fear not! SteakStones are a simple but seriously effective way of creating the perfect outdoor meal without too much fuss on your part. All you really have to do is buy the meat. The stones can even be heated on a barbecue if you want to really make the most of being outdoors.

Once hot, your guests can then cook their own steak to their liking, at the table. Not only is the pressure off you, but it makes for an entertaining dining experience that won’t be forgotten in a hurry! I used my SteakStones for a Come Dine With Me evening once and was afraid my friends would accuse me of cheating because technically I wasn’t cooking. Once we got started, however, they seemed to forget we were ever in competition and now turn up with the finest cuts of steak every time they come over, demanding that we repeat the experience. I can’t guarantee you’ll be treated to expensive cuts of meat on a regular basis, but I can guarantee you’ll be a sure fire hit!

Just be sure to purchase the SafeHands gloves if you’re handling hot lava stones. Burning through an oven glove or tea towel does not always make for the most impressive party trick!

Have a look at our full range of SteakStones here.

So there you have it: my top five ways to cheat my way into making it look like I’ve gone to a lot of effort when actually, I’ve been sat enjoying the sun for most of the day. Well….got to make the most of it haven’t we? 🙂

Lancashire Summer 2016: 18.07.16 – 19.07.16

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Top 5 Healthy ‘Unhealthy’ meals

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You’ve probably noticed that more and more people are paying attention to what they put in their bodies. We’re a nation inundated with faddy diet-plans and strict fitness programs, fat-loss pills, weight-loss teas, cellulite creams all of which supposedly hold the ‘secret’ to getting the bod of your dreams. I am no health expert but the idea of a quick fix just doesn’t sit well with me, call me a fuddy-duddy all you like but I’m doing it the old fashioned way.

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