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Saturday, 14 March 2015

Joseph Joseph Adjustable Pastry Rolling Pin Review

It's not exactly a secret that I love baking.  I love to make pastry and biscuits, but I've always struggled with gauging the depth when rolling out dough, or getting an even thickness.
My wonderful husband took me to Lakeland to choose my Christmas presents last year, and this nifty rolling pin really caught my eye.

The rolling pin is by Joseph Joseph and features different widths of plastic rings that ensure you can roll your pastry to not only the correct depth, but also that you have an even finish.  Initially the price put me off big time.  At £22 (price correct for December 2014) for a simple wooden rolling pin with coloured plastic ends, it seemed really over priced.  I didn't even put it on my Christmas wish list as figured I could find a cheaper alternative on Amazon.

Well I did scour both eBay and Amazon and there were a lot of alternatives, but they either had terrible reviews, or looked so cheap I knew they would break after a few uses.  Plus, the quirky colourful design had kind of grown on me.  I added it to my wish list and Father Christmas (under the guise of my husband!) delivered it to me in time for Christmas morning!

I've only used it a few times, but each time it has made rolling my pastry a cinch!

The rolling pin is solid and sturdy, made from long lasting beech wood.  It is long enough to cope with most standard pastry recipes, although rolling larger batches may not be possible whilst using the plastic guides.  You are somewhat restricted to rolling pastry no larger than 35cms whilst using the guides as this is how long the rolling pin is.

The rolling pin has measurements written on the shaft.  It took me a little while to figure out how to actually use these and then I cheated and checked the Lakeland website! Basically, there are mirrored increments of measurements on either end of the rolling pin.  If you want to measure 4" the space between the 4" mark on the left and the 4" mark on the right is 4".  If you want to measure 6" the space between the 6" mark on the left and the 6" mark on the right is 6" - and so on.  There are also measurements in mm too.

These markings have not been printed on, instead they have been etched/burnt into the wood meaning that they will last as long as the rolling pin itself.

The rolling pin has a solid feel to it, although it is light enough to easily roll.

I now love the fact that all my dough is the same thickness all the way through!  Perfect if you're a little on the OCD side like me.

The plastic ring guides come in either 2 mm, 4 mm, 6 mm or 10 mm.  They are also colour coded which makes it easier to match the ends and quickly grab the depth you need.  The green turn key to keep the guides on is made from chunky plastic and feels well made.  The screw thread of the rolling pin has been made from the actual wood, so there is no fear of rust or plastic wearing down.

The reviews on Amazon are pretty impressive - to date it has earned 4.5 stars from 35 reviews.  The only negative review refers to the older model (grey rings) where she complained the pastry sticks to the rough wood.  I can honestly say that I haven't encountered this, she either had a dodgy batch or they've updated the smoothness on the new model.

Each time I've used it, it's given me a flash back to Art class at school where we used to use wood blocks and a rolling pin to achieve a uniform depth in our clay - this would have been a perfect alternative!

I think this will last me years and with that in mind, perhaps the outlay isn't too bad.  I probably still wouldn't just buy it, but I think it does make a great item for a present wish list! 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

My Pinterest Obsession

Like most of the world I am obsessed with pinterest.  I can easily lose hours looking through all the awesome things that I plan to replicate some day and pinning to a board that I have every intention of coming back to make from.
The sad truth is that like most although I put the hours into pinning, very little time is ever spent actually creating anything from my boards.  Periodically I may have a little pin or board cull where I decide to organize my jumble, but even then it is rare that I see a DIY I decide to actually make.

I mean how awesome is this tea set from Good Housekeeping? When I saw it, I thought it was adorable and would be really cute in our kitchen.  Heck, I even have the porcelain pens to create it!  However, I've never gotten round to it.

This amazing etched glass trifle bowl by makeit-loveit was one of my very first pins!  In fact, this DIY was one of the reasons I bought my Silhouette Cameo!  A friend even presented me with an exact replica trifle bowl as an anniversary gift so that I could make my very own.  But, after some not so great attempts at glass etching, I always manage to talk myself out of it :(

It's not just homeware DIYs either!

When I spotted this cute skirt from iCandy, blog hopping on Kojo Designs, I was desperate to make it!  Sadly the sewing machine has not been out to whip this up, instead I continue to look lovingly at it sat on my 'Sewing Patterns to Attempt' board.

It's not all doom and gloom though, I mean I have managed to create a few pinterest finds!

 Who could forget our awesome Wizard of Oz Dorothy glass?

And we actually use pinterest as a family quite a bit when it comes to arranging dinner recipes!

I have two main boards; 'Possible Dinner Recipes' which is where we store all the recipes we would like to try as a main meal and 'Tried and Tested Recipes' which is an elite board that only the yummiest recipes are pinned to.  For our pins in the tried and tested board, I use the description text to make any notes about the recipe.  For example we have a mean pizza dough recipe that we slightly alter by omitting the corn meal, but adding Italian herbs into the dough.  Adding notes ensures I don't forget when whipping up the next batch.

I actually know of a few ladies that have made it their New Years resolution to make one new thing from their pinterest boards a week.  I'm not sure I could quite manage one a week, but I'm definitely going to try and increase the amount.

In an effort to start as I mean to go on, tonight I am making Roasted Cabbage Wedges by MeandPinterest.  Fingers crossed it makes it onto the Tried and Tested board ;)


The roasted cabbage wedges were okay, but not amazing.  In truth, I probably wouldn't make them again as both myself and Chris prefer boiled cabbage!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Do you know what's really in your cake?

We all know that cakes are bad for us, but have you ever actually read the ingredients list on shop bought cakes?  Believe me when I tell you that there all kinds of nasty chemicals, unnatural additives and a ton of 'ingredients' that in my opinion shouldn't be there.

Mr Kipling Mini Bakewell Tart

Even the packaging that touts 'natures' own will have some not so natural additions, and if the cake is organic, I can guarantee that to act as a preserver they've used a ton more sugar than you should consume.

So, should you give up cakes?  God, no!  To me the thought of not having a sweet treat in the house sends me into palpitations, a dinner is not a meal without an indulgent pud to finish it off.  So what can you do?  Simple, make your own.

I'm not going to lie, it will be more time consuming, (slightly) more expensive and even stressful at times, but you will have the benefit of knowing exactly what has gone into your cakes and bakes.  I promise that 95% of the time they will even taste better than the shop bought stuff!  There is something very fulfilling about having a tin filled with cakes, I get an enormous sense of pride knowing that I am carrying on the traditions that my Nan taught me - always a home baked treat to share with loved ones.

If you've never baked before or are somewhat of a novice, then start simple.  No one is expecting you to be churning out patisserie standard confections!  I've been baking for a few years now and my husbands favourite cake of mine is still the humble Victoria sponge.  Your time spent baking should be one of indulgence and an act of love to both yourself, family and friends.

You may worry that you don't have enough time in your schedule to squeeze this in.  We are a single income household (mine) and on top of working full time, running two businesses, general household chaos and spending time with my family, I still manage to bake at least once a week.  No, I'm not being smug, just telling you it can be done; I just tailor my bake to the time I have available.  Forward planning is a must and so whenever possible I will decide what I will be making in advance and ensure the ingredients are ordered with the weekly shop.  Simples.

I shall share some of my easy bake recipes with you, just click here for a full list.  I'd love it if you commented below with links to your creations!

Enjoy :)