How not to help others during Coronavirus

OK folks, I’m not about to tell you how to live your life. It’s your life, do with it what you will – all I ask that you don’t hurt anyone in the process.

But really? This is the best these celebrities could come up with?  Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, a bunch of rich people singing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, (I thought that was a song about world peace? I don’t think Coronavirus is listening, but hey worth a try I suppose), whilst holed up in houses that many 5 star hotels are jealous of. I know their hearts were in the right place but, it comes across as completely insensitive, and highlights the divide between rich and poor, the haves and the have nots.  When this is all over, they will return to lucrative jobs, whilst many of their fans may not have a job to return to. They are people who may not have a roof over their head by the end of the week – and sadly they may be considered when this is all over, to be the lucky ones.  People are dying, people are suffering, people are starving now, others are bearly surviving – the last thing in the world we need, is to listen to a bunch of well meaning celebs singing at us.

When you face an uncertain future, you’ve lost your job, visit super markets with empty shelves, and have no money to pay for anything even if they were full, and (un)like Simon, you’re down to your last sheet of loo paper, I can imagine that this particular song, with this particular group of people, will provide little comfort.

Look, I feel helpless like a lot of people, made worse by the fact that it’s Mother’s Day, and I won’t be able to see her.  But I am trying to prepare for the future.  I know some people who may struggle over the next few weeks, so I’m checking up with friends and family with regular phone calls and keeping in touch with neighbours in case they need things from the shop. It is not much, but I like to think it’s a bit better than singing an inappropriate song at people, whilst living in the lap of luxury.

Or am I being too harsh?

UK Bank Interest Rates to Double | Champagne Twist

money pink coins pig
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

I flipped on the TV last night by chance, and caught the tail end of the Martin Lewis Money Show, and learnt that bank interest rates are set to double.

DOUBLE

DOUBLE

The fear and panic that came over me was so overwhelming, I immediately burst into tears. Thoughts included – I am bearly keeping my head above water as it is, and now could literally face bankruptcy.  It was all the more hurtful, as I was having a good day up to that point.  I have been making good, meaningful and positive inroads into my plans for the Champagne Twist social network and up coming business.

Then this bombshell.

To say I have been knocked for 6, is the understatement of the decade, and as this new decade is only 8 days old, that’s saying a lot.  But after a calming and reassuring chat with my mum (yes I resorted to that age old standard of calling my mum at the first sign of a crisis, don’t judge me, and if you do, I don’t care!) – I feel a little more hopeful.  I didn’t get much sleep, but as the daylight increases, things aren’t looking quite so dire.

What angers me, is that my financial institution has not informed me of these new changes.  This sneaky, underhanded way banks deal with their customers these days, is beyond appalling. Many charge nearly 40% in interest rates, but only give up to 1% for savings. As for their customer service, don’t get me started.

There is hope on the horizon. Next week The Martin Lewis Money Show is dedicating a major part of the show to dealing positivity with the new overdraft charges.  I strongly suggest you watch, even if you are financially sound.  With the uncertainly of recent world events, it would be wise to keep abreast.

Stay blessed everyone, and if you can, pass this post onto as many people as you can. Spread the message, you can help someone, and that’s a great thing to do.

 

The Martin Lewis Money Show

Monday 13th January 2020

ITV, 8pm and ITV+1, 9pm

 

The Garden Reflections Wooden Bird House – review | Champagne Twist

Picture Source - QVCUK.com
Garden Reflections Wooden Bird House. Picture Source – QVCUK.com

It’s arrived! I have been waiting an absolute age for this, and after weeks of internal self debate, I finally took the plunge and purchased the bird house and it arrived yesterday.

Of course, knowing my luck the delivery was twice delayed by the worse delivery service known to, well everyone, but still I’m so happy that my brand new, half price bird house has finally arrived.

It may not be the colour I wanted, sage green, but that was snapped up by faster shoppers, so I’m for the moment happy to make do with the grey.

Setting up the flat packed bird house wasn’t so challenging, the instruction sheet wasn’t the best, but I managed to muddle through the DIY process in about 40 minutes, only slowed down by taking photographs and the ridiculous lack of pilot holes.  Honestly for an item that was originally priced as the best part of £40, you would have thought they could have drilled in the pilot holes.  For the DIY novice, who may be a little heavy handed or over enthusiastic with a screw driver, this could prove disastrous.  The wood used isn’t very dense, I suppose to ensure a lower end cost, however it means that it is quite easy to split the pieces, rendering the entire bird house unusable.

That said, the top is very heavy once assembled, and I wonder if the design could be further improved with a quadrapod rather than a tripod base – we shall see.

For the sale price of just under £20, I think I may have made a good deal.  I certainly wasn’t going to purchase it for the original sale price of around £40, it simply isn’t worth it, considering the rather poor standard of the pieces.  I’m glad that they included a couple of spare screws – at least I hope they are spare – but the paint finish looks like it will need retouching in only a matter of weeks.  I have a sample pot of Wilko English sage green in standby.

Picture source - Wilko.com
English sage paint – picture source Wilko.com

 

The over all look of the bird house is pleasing, and which initially led me to this item.  I’ve compared other bird houses in a few major DIY and garden stores, and shape wise, this is my favourite.  Selling from £40 upwards, the quality varied from cheap and tacky to fairly robust but over priced.  So for £20, I’m pleased with the end item, but it’s just a pity that more attention to detail and quality control, this could have been so much more.

Rating 3 out of 5

Bird House purchased from QVCUK.com – https://www.qvcuk.com/Garden-Reflections-Wooden-Bird-House.product.518199.html?sc=SRCH

 

 

 

Saving the birds and No New Year Resolutions | Champagne Twist

I have long given up on making new year’s resolutions.  Partly because by this time of year, i.e. the 2nd of January, I’ve broken half of them.  But I have started to implement my plans to help encourage birds and beneficial pollinators to my outdoor space.  I’m starting with the birds by making sure that I supply various foods to sustain their diet during these cold winter months.

January and February tend to be the coldest months of the year, and food is very scarce both for food gardeners and wildlife.  I’ve taken advantage of the Christmas and New Year sales and purchased a bird table and bird food supplies.

Wilko is my go-to bird food supplier, I normally buy a tub of 50 fat balls for £4.  The birds which especially love these fat balls are robins, blue tits, magpies and the occasional big pigeon.

 

In an effort to attract a wider variety of birds and to tempt the blue tits away from my already blossoming honeysuckle, I’m trialing these suet blocks.  So far, however, they are not at all tempted by the, preferring to stick to the fat balls.  I’m think maybe I need to give the birds a bit more chance to discover them, or move the blocks elsewhere in the garden.  I’m hoping when the bird table arrives, I can place the blocks on it, and save my poor honeysuckle!

DSC_7042

DSC_7041 2
DSC_7527 2

I also placed a bird seed feeder outside, but again, the birds are not biting. Oddly, I’ve never had much luck when it comes to loose bird seed.  A few years ago, I was filling a seed feeder, when I spilled some on a now defunct garden table. I went inside to get something to clean it up, and in the few seconds I had turned my back, a family of squirrels appeared in the garden.  For a split second, I thought I was a Disney princess, and the squirrels had come to visit me in my fairy tale garden. Then I remembered how I spilled the bird seed.  I admit I was more than a little hurt that the fantasy didn’t pan out, and more than a little bit cross that at least 10 squirrels, came from nowhere to deprive the birds of their lunch.

I’m glad to say that the squirrels have not returned in such numbers, although we do get the occasional visit from a solo squirrel, one who I suspect keeps digging up my raised beds. But thanks to the neighbourhood cats, mainly stays out of the way on the roof tops.

While I hope that encouraging birds into the garden now, will encourage them to help me control the snail and slug population later in the Summer, I’m also doing this to help increase the local bird population. Some species have been declining for years, so every effort I make can only help them flourish.

I’m looking forward to receiving the bird table, and hopefully a bird feeding stand, currently on waitlist, and will review them, along with the bird food in due course.

This may not be a new year’s resolution in the true sense, but I’m glad that I’m actually doing something that will help the environment.  Far better than trying to be more healthy – that kinda went out the window yesterday morning when I ate 6 Spiced Blueberry Panacakes for breakfast, which I covered with icing sugar (not so bad on sugarless pancakes), vanilla yogurt (quite good) and half a bottle of maple syrup (ooops!).

Wait, blueberry is a super food right? Maybe I can still keep my ‘be more healthy in 20’ resolution then!

OK maybe not.

Spiced Blueberry Pancakes recipe – Champagne Twist

Spiced Blueberry Pancakes recipe | Champagne Twist.jpg

Well, it’s the first day of a brand new decade.  It’s a sobering thought that we are now in the new 20s era.  Personally, I’m hoping that this decade is better than the last one, and that all my plans and hopes pan out in a positive way.

With that, here’s the new look Champagne Twist YouTube Channel, the theme for this year being “New Vision”.

This year I’m starting with a bang food wise, with an easy and delicious recipe for Spiced Blueberry Pancakes.  These pancakes don’t have any sugar as the sweetness is derived from the blueberries, the vanilla yogurt and just a drizzle of maple syrup. You can of course use a cheaper golden syrup, but I think the Maple syrup adds a unique spicy hit which compliments the mixed spices, so is for me worth the extra expense.

When combining fruit with spices, the usual go-to flavour pairing with blueberries is cinnamon.  As it is still the Christmas season, I wanted to keep the festive flavours, but add a slight twist. So I plumped for a mixed spice blend, which does include cinnamon, as well as other spices – dill, coriander, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

So here’s the recipe, let me know if you try this and what you think of it, it would be great to hear your considered opinions.

Here’s wishing everyone a peaceful, fun, healthy, happy and safe new year.

Spiced Blueberry Pancakes, with vanilla yogurt and maple syrup

Ingredients

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 egg
  • 300ml milk
  • knob of butter, melted
  • 150g fresh blueberries
  • oil or butter for cooking
  • maple syrup and vanilla yogurt to serve

 

Method

  1. Mix together flour, baking powder and mixed spices in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate, small bowl, beat the egg, then add the milk and melted butter and combine.
  3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dr, to form a smooth batter.  Fold in the blueberries.
  4. Heat a teaspoon of oil or butter in a non-stick frying pan.
  5. Pour a small ladleful of batter into the pan.
  6. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve with vanilla yogurt for a healthy breakfast, and with maple syrup for a pudding or treat.

Mince Pie Filling Recipe| Champagne Twist

This is a quick and simple recipe for the festive season. You can use this recipe for mince pies, or as an ingredient for fruit cakes. A useful store cupboard standby.

Mince Pie Filling Recipe | Champagne Twist

 

Ingredients:

  • 100g glace cherry halves
  • 400g jumbo raisin mix
  • 200g dried cranberries
  • 100g mixed citrus peel
  • 100g ginger
  • 1 tbsp of ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of brandy
  • 1 cup of orange liquor

Equipment:

  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 spatula or spoon
  • 1 large sterilised glass jar

Method:

Mix all the fruit and spices together in a bowl and then fill your sterilised glass jar, ensuring that you leave room for the alcohol.

In the same bowl or jug, mix together the vanilla and alcohol, then pour over the fruit mix in the glass jars.

Allow the mixture to steep for at least a week in a cool dark place. The longer you leave it, the better.

mince pie filling - champagne twist
mince pie mincemeat filling recipe

There you go – proper luxury mincemeat. Also serves as a lovely Christmas foodie gift. Just grab a label and some ribbon and you’re done! It’s also a good way to use up all those half empty bottles of alcohol.

Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins recipe | Champagne Twist

Apple Oat muffins | Champagne Twist

Using apples from my recent fruit and veg shopping trip at the Chiswick House Kitchen Garden sale, I decided to make something healthy and delicious for breakfast, making a welcome change from the usual cereals and scrambled eggs.

Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup medium stoneground oatmeal
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup golden caster sugar
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup of semi-skimmed cow’s or plant based milk (almond milk adds a lovely nutty flavour which compliments the apple)
  • 2 large apples (approx 1 1/4 cups), peeled and diced

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 F/ 177 C/ Gas Mark 4, then line a 12-cup muffin baking tray with cup cake cases.
  • In a medium sized bowl sieve the flour, oats, baking powder and cinnamon.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, butter and milk.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, followed by the apple.  Using a folding motion, combine all the ingredients gently together to form a thick batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. I used an old fashioned ice cream scoop, but a 1/4 cup measure can also be used.
  • Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about 20 mins, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Allow the muffins to cool in the tray for 5 minutes, before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Serve warm for breakfast with a cup of your favourite brew, or for lunch with a cheese salad.

Let me know if you try this recipe, it would be lovely to hear your feedback.  Thanks for reading, and enjoy your baking.

Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist

Roqberry Coco & Joe black tea – review | Champagne Twist

Roqberry tea - Coco and Joe review | Champagne Twist
Roqberry tea – Coco and Joe review | Champagne Twist

Purchased at the National Tea Day event in Woking, East London earlier this year, Roqberry’s Coco & Joe is a fascinating blend of 3 of the world’s favourite hot beverages – Tea, Coco and Coffee.  Usually, when I hear the mere mention of coffee, I run a mile.  I maintain that coffee is the drink of the devil and should be cast aside in all instances in flavour of the elegance of a good cuppa.  But apparently not everyone feels the same way as I do, so I reluctantly sampled this blend.

Perhaps I’m edging towards the dark side, but I found this tea to be delicious, enjoyable to drink and as it turned out, provides a great winter warming cuppa.

Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist
Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist
Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist
Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tea is flavourful, the cocoa combining well with the black tea to provide a sweet, chocolatey taste.  The coffee, is there, but in a supporting role boosting the cocoa flavour notes.  It can be drunk with out milk, but I think it is best with, and I believe almond milk helps to bring out the nutty notes of the tea and coffee and compliments the cocoa.

I also found that when I was feeling very cold and low during the cold Autumn months, the tea helped to boost my spirits.  If you are thinking about cutting out sugar in your tea, I suggest rather than going cold turkey, to switch to this blend, as you can enjoy the sweet flavours, without all the calories.

Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist
Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist

Retailing at £6 for a box of 18 pyramid bags, represents good value for money.  It is recommend to use 1 bag per cup but you can get easily get away with 1 bag per 2 servings. The bags are also easy to dispose onto the compost heap.

Halva Pistachio - Seseame Kingdom | Champagne Twist
Halva Pistachio – Seseame Kingdom | Champagne Twist
HALVA chocolate Trio - Sesame Kingdom | Champagne Twist
HALVA chocolate Trio – Sesame Kingdom | Champagne Twist
Elle's Ultimate Banana Chocolate bread recipe | Champagne Twist
Elle’s Ultimate Banana Chocolate bread | Champagne Twist

 

I paired this tea with my Ultimate Banana and Chocolate Bread, recipe to be published soon, but this tea would go well with any tea, coffee. nut, fruit or chocolate based dessert. It is a tea that can be enjoyed on its own, and makes an ideal gift for tea lovers.

I don’t usually give full marks, but I can’t fault this tea at all. Even if it does contain coffee!

Rating 5/5

 

Knitting and Stitching Show – Harrogate Convention Centre – 28th November – 1st December | Champagne Twist

knitnstitch discount code | Champagne Twist

The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace is over for another year. But never fear, the next show will be held at Harrogate this winter on the 28th November to the 1st of December – just in time to grab supplies for all those Christmas makes and gifts.

And to help your fabric and yarn piggy banks stretch a little further, I have a ticket discount code.  Just take a look at the video below to find out more.

 

Africa Fashion Week London – Ankara Fabric, featuring Fola Ogundare of Diligent Hands Fabrics (part 2) | Champagne Twist

Screenshot 2019-07-26 at 09.03.14In the second of the AFWL special posts, Fola Ogundare of Diligent Hand Fabrics, takes us through caring for Ankara fabric. Over to you Fola!

Ankara Fabric Care

As one who has owned lots of fabrics and clothing made from my collections, here are some of my tips;

  1. Hand washing / dry cleaning is best.  If machine washing, do so at low a temperature, say 30 degrees.
  2. Do not soak for a long time before washing. Hand wash any soiled areas prior to machine wash.
  3. While most fabrics are colourfast, wash inside out using a mild laundry product.  Dry using a cool heat and avoid hanging in direct sunlight for hours.
  4. Ironing would be easier if you use fabric conditioner and use spray starch to keep in shape.

Once again thanks go to Fola for her kindness and generosity in sharing such wonderful tips. The first article can be found here.

Diligent Hands Fabrics at Knitting and Stitching Show 2018

So there you go, there is no excuse now, try making something with Ankara fabric. Check out Fola’s range at http://www.diligenthandsfabrics.com.

There will be plenty of fabric shopping opportunities at AWFL, so why not make something fabulous now you’re armed with all of Fola’s tips.

In the next `AFWL post, I will be showcasing my own Ankara fabric makes, so subscribe to Champagne Twist to ensure you don’t miss out.

Tickets for AFWL are still available for purchase, just click here to find out more.

 

 

Africa Fashion Week London – Ankara Fabric, featuring Fola Ogundare of Diligent Hands Fabrics (part 1) | Champagne Twist

Screenshot 2019-07-26 at 09.04.45

African textiles, in particular, Ankara fabric, allows for a vast range of creative and crafting opportunities. But, for some, tackling this fabric can be daunting. So in order to banish any fear of using Ankara fabrics, I asked Fola Ogundare of Diligent Hands Fabrics for some tips. So for the first time on Champagne Twist, I hand over this post to Fola.

Ankara fabric: 3 tips for creative success, by Fola Ogundare.

  1. Cotton African prints most times when new can be a bit stiff, so they are most suited for clothing that requires a bit of structure with minimal drapery.
  2. Pre-wash your fabrics ahead of sewing for projects. By experience, shrinkage may be up to 10%.  You could also adjust measurements to allow for shrinkage.
  3. Use print fabric to glam up simple garments like monotone or plain colours.  A pop of print is as potent when mixed with plain cotton or lace fabrics.  You may also make a headband or oversized purse with leftover fabric.  Don’t forget hair accessories like fascinators and button earrings and bangles.  There are lots of online resources if you need help.

Diligent Hands Fabrics at Knitting and Stitching Show 2018

Thank you Fola, for sharing your great tips. Check out Fola’s range of fabrics and accessories at www.diligenthandsfabrics.com.

In the next post, Fola will take us through the essentials of Ankara fabric care. Subscribe to Champagne Twist to ensure you don’t miss out.

AFWL 2019 logo

There will also be plenty of fabric shopping opportunities at AWFL, so why not make something fabulous now you’re armed with all of Fola’s tips.

Tickets for AFWL are still available for purchase, just click the link to find out more – AFWL tickets.

Africa Fashion Week London, Model Casting | Champagne Twist

AFWL 2019 logo

Below, is a fascinating video of the AFWL model casting released yesterday on the Africa Fashion Week London YouTube channel.  Take a look and don’t forget to book your tickets for the hottest event in town.

Tickets can be purchased here.

AFWL – 9 & 10 August 2019, Freemasons’ Hall, London

Africa Fashion Week London 2019 – Pinterest Image Collection

With the countdown to Africa Fashion Week London 2019 well underway, I thought this would be a good opportunity to invite you to visit my Pinterest board – Africa Fashion Week London 2019.

Screenshot AFWL 2019 pinterest | champagne twist

 

This collection of 100s of photographs has been especially collated for this year’s show, with more added each day.  With a wealth of ideas, influences and imagery, it will surely get you in the mood to strut your stuff, ready for this Summer’s event.

So why not visit the AFWL board and maybe share some of your own fashion images too.

Countdown to Africa Fashion Week London | Champagne Twist

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Photo source/credit : AFWL

AFWL 2019

If you love fashion, then clear your designer diaries for Africa Fashion Week London, August 9-10, 2019.

SAVE THE DATE

9-10 August 2019
Freemasons’ Hall
60 Great Queen Street
London WC2B 5AZ

Doors open from 1pm for Exhibition browsing and entertainment

Friday Catwalk Shows: 5pm & 7pm
Saturday Catwalk Shows: 3pm, 5pm & 7pm

To purchase tickets, click the link here.

Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose review | Champagne Twist

The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas : Strawberry & Rose | Champagne Twist

Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose review | Champagne Twist
Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose review | Champagne Twist

Today, I’m moving away from black based teas and tying out a more fruity and floral number. Twist Teas Strawberry and Rose tea is today’s subject tea for review.

Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose review | Champagne Twist
Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose | Champagne Twist

Strawberry and Rose contains a list of delicious sounding ingredients – Chinese White tea, apple pieces, rose hip, hibiscus, freeze dried strawberry, elderflower, orange blossom, rose petals and orange peel.

This is a tea to be served without milk, but can be cold brewed as well as make a hot beverage.

Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose review | Champagne Twist
Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose review | Champagne Twist

Out the pack, the tea has a lovely aroma, and when hot brewed develops into a beautiful pink hue. I would serve this at an afternoon tea as an alternative to black tea.

Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose review | Champagne Twist
Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose review | Champagne Twist

Cold brewed ‘Strawberry and Rose’ makes a light and refreshing drink, ideal for a summer time soiree. I reckon made with sparkling water, with sliced fresh strawberries and a slice of lemon, it would make a great non-alcoholic drink.

Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose review | Champagne Twist
Twist Teas: Strawberry Rose review | Champagne Twist

With all the wonderful ingredients, I was surprised that I couldn’t detect any rose or strawberry during the taste test. It was more of a general fruity flavour, pleasant as it was, rather than a strawberry or floral blast.

Rating : 3.5 out of 5.

 

For more information check out these links:

Twist Teas – https://www.twist-teas.co.uk

National Tea Day – https://www.nationalteaday.co.uk

FesTeaVal 2019 day 1 highlights – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtEwh6YFXdA

FesTeaVal 2019 day 2 highlights – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPQQ5lvwifU

FesTeaVal 2019 review – TBC

 

Next review : Twist Teas ‘Mint Choc Chip’.

 

The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas : Breakfast Boost | Champagne Twist

5T Breakfast Boost

Yesterday, I tested the first of the Twist Teas tasting menu, ‘Afternoon Perks’.  Today, it’s the turn of ‘Breakfast Boost’.

Breakfast Boost by Twist Teas | Champagne Twist - The Tea Twist Taste Test
The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas: Breakfast Boost – Champagne Twist review

Like ‘Afternoon Perks’, ‘Breakfast Boost’ includes Sri Lankan black tea, as well as Indian Assam Black tea, Yerba Mate (1) and Siberian Ginseng (2). The tea can be enjoyed with or without milk.

(1) Yerba mate is used to make a beverage known as mate. When served cold, the drink is called tereré in Guaraní. It is traditionally consumed in central and southern regions of South America, primarily in Paraguay, as well as in Argentina, Uruguay, southern and central-western Brazil, the Chaco region of Bolivia and southern Chile.[3] It is also popular in the Druze community in Syria and Lebanon, where it is imported from Argentina.[4] Yerba mate was first cultivated and used by the indigenous Guaraní people and in some Tupí communities in southern Brazil, prior to European colonization. Yerba mate can be found in various energy drinks on the market, as well as being sold as a bottled or canned iced tea.

Yerba mate has been claimed to have various effects on human health and these effects have been attributed to the high quantity of polyphenols found in mate tea.[22] Research has found that yerba mate may improve allergy symptoms[27] and reduce the risk of diabetes mellitus and high blood sugar in mice.[28]

Mate also contains compounds that act as an appetite suppressant and possible weight loss tool,[29] increases mental energy and focus,[30] improves mood,[31][32] and promotes deeper sleep; however, sleep may be negatively affected in people who are sensitive to caffeine.[30]

Before 2011, there were no double-blind, randomized prospective clinical trials of yerba mate consumption with respect to chronic disease.[33] However, many studies have been conducted since then, pointing to at least some probable benefits from some claims, such as reduction of fat cells, inflammation and cholesterol, although more research is needed.[32] Some non-blinded studies have found mate consumption to be effective in lipid lowering.[33] Another study determined that mate reduces progression of artheriosclerosis in rabbits but did not decrease serum cholesterol or aortic TBARS and antioxidant enzymes.[34]

Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_mate

(2) Some people use Siberian ginseng to improve athletic performance and the ability to do work. They also use it to treat sleep problems (insomnia) and the symptoms of infections caused by herpes simplex type 2. It is also used to boost the immune system, prevent colds, and increase appetite.

Source : https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-985/ginseng-siberian

Perhaps it’s the high caffeine content, that this tea reminds me of a builder’s tea, only posher. In terms of flavour it packs a punch. The black teas provide a strong, yet pleasant taste, and is ideal, I imagine, served with a wide range of breakfast styles, from traditional full English to Swiss muesli to pancakes with fresh fruit and yogurt, or on its own to set you up for the day ahead.

The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas: Breakfast Boost – Champagne Twist review
The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas: Breakfast Boost – Champagne Twist review

Personally, I would drink this tea with milk, although if you like strong black teas, or require it for baking, the Breakfast Boost should work well.

The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas: Breakfast Boost – Champagne Twist review
The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas: Breakfast Boost, with milk – Champagne Twist review

I really enjoyed ‘Breakfast Boost’, and would be keen to conduct cooking experiments with it. I think it could add a unique flavour profile to, for instance, tea breads or cakes.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

For more information check out these links:

Twist Teas – https://www.twist-teas.co.uk

National Tea Day – https://www.nationalteaday.co.uk

FesTeaVal 2019 day 1 highlights – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtEwh6YFXdA

FesTeaVal 2019 day 2 highlights – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPQQ5lvwifU

FesTeaVal 2019 review – TBC

 

Next review : Twist Teas ‘Strawberry and Rose’.

 

Twist Teas Afternoon Perks - Champagne Twist review

The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas : Afternoon Perks | Champagne Twist

Twist Teas Afternoon Perks - Champagne Twist review
The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas Afternoon Perks – Champagne Twist review

Yesterday (Sunday 21st April 2019)  was Easter Sunday and National Tea Day. A double celebration for those who, like me, love tea.

Today, I kick off a new blog series, called The Tea Twist Taste Test, where I taste and review a number of teas from new and established brands. Most of the brands I will feature, I discovered, or in some cases rediscovered, at the recent FesTeaVal event run by National Tea Day.  The first brand in this series is Twist Teas  (love the brand name already!), which has been producing a wide range of teas for 3 years. The first tea I’m taste testing is ‘Afternoon Perks’, from their Whole Leaf Tasting Menu.

Twist Teas Afternoon Perks - Champagne Twist review
The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas Afternoon Perks – Champagne Twist review

Made with Indian Darjeeling and Sri Lankan black teas and Gotu Kola, ‘Afternoon Perks’ can be drunk with for without milk.

Gotu Kola is used for fatigue, anxiety, depression, psychiatric disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, and improving memory and intelligence. Other uses include wound healing, trauma, and circulation problems (venous insufficiency) including varicose veins, and blood clots in the legs.

Source : https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-753/gotu-kola

I found the tea refreshing in both formats, although I slightly prefer the tea black, with maybe a lemon slice. Just as the ‘twisting notes’ on the tasting menu pack claimed, the tea was energy boosting, after a busy morning in the garden.

Twist Teas - Afternoon Perks by Champagne Twist - without milk
The Tea Twist Taste Test – Twist Teas Afternoon Perks – Champagne Twist

I like the idea of including Gotu Kola in the blend, as I feel it helped with my fatigue. I wonder, with prolonged use, if it would prove to be a good memory boosting aid. Regardless, the tea tastes lovely, and is ideal as a post- noon pick me up. I will certainly be adding this to my collection.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Twist Teas – https://www.twist-teas.co.uk

National Tea Day – https://www.nationalteaday.co.uk

FesTeaVal 2019 day 1 highlights – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtEwh6YFXdA

FesTeaVal 2019 day 2 highlights – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPQQ5lvwifU

FesTeaVal 2019 review – TBC

Next review : Twist Teas ‘Breakfast Boost’

 

Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 – Review​ | Champagne​ Twist

Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 Review

Was the Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 about authentic Caribbean food, or just Jamaican Jerk?

Caribbean food month, August 2018, Champagne Twist

Continuing with Caribbean Food Month on Champagne Twist, last Saturday, I visited the Caribbean Food Week Festival at the new venue, Bernie Spain Gardens, on the Thames’ South Bank.

If you love Jerk Chicken, Curried Goat or Rice and Peas, the Caribbean Food Week Festival was a celebration of these 3 dishes, but if you wanted to learn about authentic Caribbean Cuisine, the menu was disappointing.

 

Bernie Spain Gardens Southbank - Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist

The Bernie Spain Gardens on the South Bank of the River Thames hosted the 2-day weekend food festival, just ahead of the London Carnival. Sadly, the opportunity to showcase the regions vast cuisines was missed and gave a poor overall impression of Caribbean Food.

In the age of plant-based diets, I was extremely disappointed not to see much of the fresh fruit and vegetables the Caribbean has to offer. Worse of all, the event was billed as a colourful celebration of Caribbean food, yet the main colours showcased, green, black and yellow, were that of the Jamaican flag.

JFB Jerk Grill - Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist

It is now clear to me why so many people in the UK believe that Jamaica is the Caribbean and the Caribbean is Jamaica. The confusion is not helped when only 3 dishes from 1 island seemed to be ‘celebrated’, and the opportunity to sell fresh Caribbean fruit and veg was missed.

Officials from the Voice newspaper stall gave away an African and Caribbean restaurant guide, which was a great idea. I was also given a bag of free literature, including a newspaper from June and a magazine celebrating African heritage from October 2016. A two-year old magazine which didn’t even reference Caribbean food. I was also informed that they had run out of literature to give to patrons, shocking as the show started at 11am and before noon, they had run out. This hardly gave a positive impression.

Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist

Reading the phrase “Caribbean food’, I had expected examples of cuisine from each or at least the majority of the countries within the Caribbean. So when 95% of the available food was Jamaican based, of which 80% consisted of Jerk chicken, Curry goat and Rice and Peas, it did nothing to counteract the image of Caribbean food being limited.

Jerk Hot sauces - Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist

There seems to be a sense of ‘protectionism’ over this cuisine, while understandable due to the historical exploitation of the region, the time has come for the Caribbean to promote its own food in an age when Western cultures are crying out for organic, pure food and drinks. Gone are the days when sugar was the cash crop. Coconut is now the superfood of choice, yet the majority of coconut products, despite the abundance, doesn’t come from the Caribbean.

I have often wondered, with its huge variety, and abundant fruit and vegetables, unique meat and world famous seafood, why Caribbean food isn’t that well known in the UK. This event goes some way to answering that question.

Referencing a tiny selection of Jamaican cuisine as representative of Caribbean cuisine not only limits people expectations of Jamaica food, it limits and potentially damages the reputation of all the countries within the region.

For vegetarians, it was almost impossible to find anything suitable to eat.  I ended up with a dish consisting of Halloumi, fries and jerk sauce.  While it was lovely, it was hardly a showcase of Caribbean food, especially when only 1 element of the dish, the jerk sauce, could be attributed to the region.  Good luck to you if you’re a vegan! There were tofu sausages available on one stall, but not all vegetarians or vegans like or eat tofu.

Grace Foods stall - Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist

I also hoped to listen to experts discussing Caribbean food and drink in relation to health, particularly in the wake of Dr Karin’s speech remarking the coconut oil is ‘pure poison’.  Although, I was pleased that Grace Foods, the event’s hosts had provided a number of recipe leaflets, which included drinks and some plant-based recipes.

Chef Solomon Smith, Brixton Soup Kitchen Charity - Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist
Chef Solomon Smith with host Nicola, Caribbean Food Week Festival, Bernie Spain Gardens, South Bank, London

The cooking demonstrations were also interesting and proved to be the highlight of the festival, but again more should and could have been made of this. Over the weekend there are 2 different chefs, I attended the last day so was treated to 3 of the 4 live demos lead by Chef Solomon Smith. Unfortunately, the demos were meat or fish based and not vegetarian recipes. Samples were plentiful, but none were solely plant-based, which limited the number of people who could enjoy the samples.

Picnic Bench - Caribbean Food Week Festival | Champagne Twist

The 3 picnic benches were beautifully painted, to encourage people to actually sit down and eat, but more benches should have been provided. A few large parasols wouldn’t have gone amiss, providing shade from the sun, or the rain, yet still keeping visitors in the area and providing relatively low-cost advertising.

Brixton Soup Kitchen charity van - Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist

In the middle of the space was a large grey vehicle, which many thought was a delivery van. Naturally many thought it should have been moved prior to the start of the festival.  As it turns out, the van was there to help promote the Brixton Soup Kitchen, a charity which feeds and assists homeless people in the area. I am curious as to why there was no signage, or anyone standing by the van to explain the vehicle or the charity.  It was only when I attended the cooking demos, that the situation was made somewhat clearer. More of this in a later post.

Brixton Soup Kitchen - Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist

Brixton Soup Kitchen Chef Solomon Smith charity van - Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist

Travel companies missed a trick by not taking advantage of holiday seekers. There was one stall for people wishing to purchase or hire overseas property, but only for Jamaica, yet again, limiting choice.

The festival is now in its 3rd year, so still in its infancy. Previously held in Brixton, the move to the Bernie Spain Gardens was a stroke of genius, as the location is more central, making it more accessible for patrons, and taking advantage of a beautiful wide open space, flanked by the Thames, and a beautiful floral oasis, with multicultural art galleries, restaurants and shopping in the form of the OXO Tower and the Gabriel’s Wharf.

It usually takes at least 5 years or so for such events to become established, so I still have high hopes. A little fine tuning supported by the services from a good PR company, actively promoting all or least as many of the countries within the Caribbean, more emphasis on fresh produce, and celebrating the health benefits of the product, the festival could the late summer fixture, and the essential prelude to the Notting Hill Carnival.

Heck, all they need to bring on the colour is a flag display from all the countries in the region and maybe a few poster maps, establish a few fun and educational games (other than just a big Connect 4 and a few bean bags) for the kids, some fresh produce stalls and you have a true celebratory family-oriented festival. More live music wouldn’t go amiss, the obligatory steel pan band imagery is getting a little stale.

bean bags green black yellow Jamaica - Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist

In fairness, for a free event, it’s not bad and such food festivals should be encouraged. There are a number of fundamental changes that need to be made over the next 2 years, if the festival has any chance of creating a movement that sustains and actively promotes the food of the Caribbean. Granted, the organiser of the festival is a Jamaican based company, so naturally, they are going to promote their country of origin. But that should not be at the near total expense of the other Caribbean countries, especially when the festival is called ‘Caribbean Food’. If they continue down this path, they are just shooting themselves in the foot and risk bringing down the entire region with them.

There is more to the Caribbean than Jamaica and Jerk seasoning, it’s about time people were made aware.

Grace Food products - Caribbean Food Week Festival 2018 | Champagne Twist

 

 

Semaj’s Organic Dried Sorrel review | Champagne Twist

Hello,

Caribbean food month, August 2018, Champagne Twist

Traditionally enjoyed over the Christmas season in the West Indies, sorrel, fresh homemade sorrel that is, is a wonderful surprisingly fruity, spiced drink that is as refreshing as it is pretty in colour. Fill a glass with ice, pour the drink in, sit back and enjoy.

Sorrel drink | Champagne Twist

Which is why Semaj’s DIY pack version is such a disappointment.  Firstly, the substitution of whole cloves, an essential ingredient in for sorrel, with fennel seeds is inexcusable. If you can’t trust the ingredients list printed on the packaging, it will be difficult to trust the end product. Fennel seeds also tend to be cheaper than cloves, so it also makes me question the ‘value’ of the value pack.

That said, the product was easy to make, and adding cloves from my own spice cupboard, as well as other flavours made a difference. But having to source the spices defeats the object of buying this product.

Organic Dried Sorrel Semaj | Champagne Twist

As a quick introduction to sorrel, this drink had potential as a mixer. However as a stand-alone product, especially with the errors in the ingredients list, this drink cannot be described as authentic and in no way compares favourably with the real sorrel drink.

Rating 1 out of 5

 

 

Caribbean Food Month – Recipe ideas using coconut milk | Champagne Twist

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, coconut milk lends itself to a multitude of cuisines, sweet and savoury dishes and everything in between.  Following are a few simple recipe ideas featuring coconut milk.

 

Elle’s coconut rice

Elle's Coconut rice - champagnetwist.com

Ingredients

1 cup of rice

1 1/4 cups of water or coconut water

3/4 coconut milk

2 sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp chilli flakes

1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt (optional)

 

Coconut rice in bowl - champagnetwist.com

Method

  1. After washing the rice, place it in a large saucepan, with the water or coconut water and coconut milk.
  2. Add rest of the ingredients then bring to the boil and allow to simmer until the rice is cooked.
  3. Serve immediately. You can also use as a base for rice salad or as a side.

Rice salad - champagnetwist.com

 

Coconut Chai traybake – https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/coconut-chai-traybake

Vegan Hot Coconut Drink – https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/horlixier_49938

George’s Dal – https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/georges_dal_75678

Sweet Potato Curry – https://www.connoisseurusveg.com/sweet-potato-caribbean

 

Dunn's River coconut milk champagnetwist.com

I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know if you try any of the recipes mentioned, it would be great to see how you use coconut milk.

More Caribbean Food Month treats on Monday, see you then.

Caribbean Food Month – Dunn’s River Coconut Milk review | Champagne​ Twist

Wow, how come it’s Friday already?

coconut milk Dunn's River champagnetwist

Hello,

For day 3 of Caribbean Food Month, it’s time for a review.  Coconut milk is one of the stables when it comes to Caribbean cookery. This versatile ingredient can be used in sweet and savoury dishes and lends itself to a multitude of international culinary treats. It also serves as an alternative to dairy.

Dunn’s River Coconut Milk has a thick, smooth texture with a light coconut flavour, meaning that it will work well with tea and coffee. It doesn’t have that sometimes clawy aftertaste when sampled on its own, although it does have a tendency to separate. But a quick stir with a spoon soon resolves that issue.

Dunn's River coconut milk champagnetwist.com

As a product in its own right, I can’t find much to fault it.  As the saying goes, it say’s exactly what it is on the tin. As an ingredient, it works well without any problems, responding to heat well. It’s a great product to have in your pantry.

Coconut milk champagnetwist.com

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Tomorrow’s blog includes recipe ideas featuring Dunn’s River Coconut Milk. Please return to find out more. Thanks for reading and if you’re in the UK or Spain – try to stay cool. I adore the sun, but 38 degrees is my limit. The thought of having to work in potentially 48 degree heat, makes the mind boggle. Best of luck!

Jerk Seasoned Roasted veg with rice - Caribbean food month | ChampagneTwist.com

Caribbean Food Month – Jerk Seasoned Roasted Vegetables​​ – Champagne Twist

Hello, happy 1st of August and happy Caribbean Food Month here on ChampagneTwist.com!

We’re deep into summer now and the heatwave we’re currently enjoying in the UK is akin to the summers enjoyed in the Caribbean. All that’s needed is a golden sandy beach, a bowl of rum punch and a tropical music soundtrack.

Well, I can’t provide the beach or the soundtrack, but I may be able to produce a few food and drink ideas for the Champagne Twist, Caribbean Food Month.

Caribbean food month, August 2018, Champagne Twist.jpg

Kicking off this month’s culinary extravaganza is Jerk Seasoned Roasted Vegetables. Jerk seasoning is fairly well known as a Jamaican herb and spice blend used to season meat, particularly chicken. But in this recipe, I thought how could vegetarians get in on the act?

This is an easy, flexible recipe staple which allows for a quick exit from the kitchen – let’s face it, who wants to spend hours in a hot kitchen in 32-degree heat? Make a large batch and portion up for healthier frozen meals or barbeque side dishes.  The vegetables are cut into different shapes, of roughly the same size to provide visual interest and to ensure even cooking.

Jerk Seasoned Roasted Vegetables | Champagne Twist

Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish.

Fresh vegetables - Caribbean Food Month | ChampagneTwist.com
Fresh vegetables | ChampagneTwist.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium white onion, finely sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 or 4 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, cut into batons
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 large broccoli head, cut into florets
  • 1 large carrot, cut into batons
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium courgette/zucchini, cut into batons
  • 1 corn on the cob, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/2tsp jerk seasoning (try Dunns River)
Cut vegetables Caribbean food month | ChampagneTwist.com
Cut vegetables – Caribbean Food Month | ChampagneTwist.com

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
  2. In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients and ensure all the vegetables are completely coated with the coconut oil and jerk seasoning. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Place the contents of the bowl into a large roasting tin. Roast for about 45-60 minutes until the vegetables are roasted.
  4. Allow to cool slightly before transferring into a serving dish. Enjoy with plain white or coconut rice.  You could also create a rice salad by simply mixing the seasoned veg with the rice. Try substituting with brown rice for a nuttier flavour.
pre roasted root vegetables - Caribbean Food Month | ChampagneTwist.com
Pre-roasted vegetables | ChampagneTwist.com

Remember with Jerk seasoning, a little goes a long way. Err on the side of caution, use a scant 1/4 tsp of Jerk seasoning if you prefer a mild flavour. Don’t be too heavy-handed, it will taste great, but it will feel like your mouth is on fire. Use the wet mix, not the dry spice blend.

Jerk seasoned roasted vegetables | ChampagneTwist.com
Jerk seasoned roasted vegetables | ChampagneTwist.com
Jerk Seasoned Roasted veg with rice - Caribbean food month | ChampagneTwist.com
Jerk Seasoned Roasted veg with rice ChampagneTwist.com

 

 

The national dish of Barbados, Cou Cou and Flying Fish

August is Caribbean Food Month, on Champagne Twist

August is Caribbean Food Month, on Champagne Twist

August. The 8th month of the year, the summer holidays are in full swing and the temperatures, for once, rival that of many a West Indian island.

So, in celebration of the new month, summer and the relaunch of the Champagne Twist website, August has been designated Caribbean Food Month.

Vegan Jerk seasoned vegetable medley | Champagne Twist
Vegan Jerk seasoned vegetable medley | Champagne Twist

Caribbean Cuisine despite its popularity amongst holidaymakers, has been omitted from the fashionable culinary radar in the UK. Elements have on occasion had it’s 15 minutes of fame, such as ‘Jerk Chicken’, ‘Jerk Pork’ and ‘Jerk just about everything else’, but it hardly matches the success of other culinary greats such as Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Indian food.

When attempts have been made to delve into the genre of Caribbean food, the results have been misleading at best.  Adding coconut or pineapple to fish and chips doesn’t make a dish traditional West Indian fare. Nor does eating rice and peas with everything constitute Caribbean style.

The national dish of Barbados, Cou Cou and Flying Fish
A modern take on Cou Cou and Flying Fish, the Barbadian National Dish

So in an attempt to put this right, over the next few weeks there will be new recipes, product reviews and a few surprises, in celebration of this undervalued cuisine.

All starting from tomorrow, here on Champagne Twist.

Cold Pressed Golden Delicious Apple Juice by Coldpress

Apple juice. It’s sharp, tart and tongue-twistingly sweet. Coupled with the often odd, unnatural looking colourisation, which let’s be honest can be mistaken for something else, apple juice is usually best avoided where possible.  Or so I thought until I tried the cold pressed Golden Delicious apple juice from Coldpress.

DSC_4204

As it’s namesake suggests, the apples are cold pressed rather than heat treated to extract their juice resulting in a clean, fresh, refreshingly enjoyable drink.

The ingredient list is reassuringly short, just apple juice and added vitamin C. An added bonus, the usual saccharin sweet flavour associated with some apple juice drinks, has been usurped by a true apple taste that can only come from apples, in particular, the Golden Delicious variety.

DSC_4206

Instantly impressive it is clear to see how the cold-pressed process has enhanced this juice, to produce a product that can be regarded as a healthy alternative to sugary soft drinks.

Straight out of the fridge cold is the best way I believe to enjoy this apple juice, and beyond the obvious thirst quenching qualities, as an ingredient, this drink could prove ideal for cooking and baking recipes, such as smoothies, apple pies, cocktails and apple bread. At around £1.40 for a 250ml bottle, the price isn’t bad either.

Being the best apple juice I’ve tried since I can’t remember when, the only fair score I can give this drink is a full 10 out of 10.

DSC_4205

 

Just V Show / Love Natural, Love You Show – Day 1|Champagne Twist

Allergy and Free From Show / Just V Show / Love Natural, Love You Show / Eat Smart Show|Champagne Twist

Day 1 – Friday 6th July 2018

 

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Allergy and Free From Show / Just v Show / Love Natural, Love You Show / Eat Smart Show – Champagne Twist

 

With 4 shows under 1 roof, Olympia is the place to be if you’re a foodie.

 

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B Free stall, Allergy and Free From Show, Olympia, Kensington, London | Champagne Twist

 

Last year I felt overwhelmed by the vast number of stalls, the bags of free food, the number of talks and demos.  So this year I planned ahead.  I downloaded the show map, exhibitor list, and timetables yesterday, studied which talks I wanted to attend and the quickest routes to take to get from 1 talk to another.

 

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Good To Bee stall, Allergy and Free From Show, Olympia, Kensington, London | Champagne Twist

 

Friday, I’m guessing, is the least busiest day, due to work and school commitments,  and major events such as Wimbledon, Grand Prix, World Cup and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.  Plus, with this unusually prolonged summer heat wave, where we actually have sunshine and the associated hosepipe bans to contend with, who wants to be cooped up in a huge building contending with massive crowds?

I also noticed this year that more people have followed my lead and brought their trolleys, suitcases and wheelie bags. I’m such a trend setter!

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Personally, I find it funny that I have attended a health show and purchased various chocolate puddings and cakes, with plans to purchase more. But I do this for 2 important reasons – 1, to review the produce purchased and in the case Freaks of Nature puds, to stock up.

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Freaks of Nature Puds, show offer sign, Allergy and Free From Show, Olympia, Kensington, London | Champagne Twist

I’m going again tomorrow and on the final day of the 3-day event – which I didn’t manage to do last year, mostly because I found the whole event overwhelming.

But not this year. I have a plan!

More to follow.

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Lemon and elderflower cake recipe - Champagne Twist

Lemon and Elderflower Royal Wedding Cake (aka Sussex Violet​ Cake) – recipe | Champagne Twist​

No sooner had I posted my predictions for Spring food trends 2018, Meghan and Harry announced that their wedding cake was going to be made with lemon and elderflower!

So not only am I going to call it and say that Champagne Twist is the social media network to get accurate predictions in regards to anything food, arts and crafts, I’m now going to reveal my version of the wedding cake.  Enjoy!

Lemon and Elderflower Cake (aka the Sussex Violet Cake)

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 8oz butter, softened
  • 8oz golden caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8oz self-raising flour, sifted
  • zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

For the glaze

  • 1 tbsp elderflower syrup or cordial (I used Ikea but would also recommend Belvior)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar (reserving 1 tbsp for decoration)

plus fresh edible flowers such as violets, roses, elderflowers, for decoration.

original picture source - Kensington​ Palace twitter
original picture source – Kensington Palace twitter

I used violets in tribute to Violets Cakes and the creator of the original Royal Wedding cake for Meghan and Harry, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  In a nod to the wedding couple, I also renamed my version of the cake the Sussex Violet cake.

Method:

For the cake –

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
  2. Line a 20cm round tin with parchment paper.
  3. With a food mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale in colour, and light and fluffy in texture.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in the sugar-butter mix in between.
  5. Fold in the flour and lemon zest until well incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, and place on the middle shelf of the video.
  7. Bake for 45-55 mins. To test if the cake is baked, use a skewer and poke it through the middle of the cake. It should come out clean when removed.
  8. When baked, remove from the oven and set aside. Add the glaze at this point (instructions below) still in the tin.
  9. Carefully remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire cake rack to cool completely.

For the glaze –

  1. While the cake is still hot, mix the syrup, granulated sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl.
  2. Poke a few holes at random intervals through the top of the cake, with a skewer.
  3. With a teaspoon ‘feed’ the cake with the glaze, making sure to cover the entire top of the cake. The glaze should soak through quickly and will leave a sugary crust.  Leave the cake in the tin for about 10 mins.
  4. Carefully remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. When the cake has completely cooled, sprinkle the reserved granulated sugar on top, and scatter violets or your edible flowers of choice on top. Serve with a cup of tea, perhaps Wedding Blend from Fortnums or Clipper’s mint and green tea.
Lemon and elderflower cake recipe - Champagne Twist
Lemon and elderflower cake recipe – Champagne Twist

Congratulations Meghan and Harry.

 

National Tea Day – 21st April 2018 | Champagne Twist

creative | London | lifestyle-4.pngHello,

Can you believe it’s that time of year already? Yes, National Tea Day is coming up this Saturday and as, for me at least, it’s one of the most important days of the year, I collated a tea quotes video for your enjoyment.

More tea-related treats coming up this week, but for now, grab yourself a cup of your favourite brew and indulge in some tea wisdom. Enjoy!

 

Food trends for 2018 : Update | Champagne Twist

Well, what do you know? No sooner had I posted my article about the top 5 food and drink trends for 2018, it was announced that a London bakery was picked to make the wedding cake of the year. Meghan Markle and Henry Wales on the day they exchange vows, will be cutting their wedding cake flavoured with lemon and wait for it … elderflowers!

Yes, as I predicted, floral flavours are set to be one of the major food and drink trends this year.

elder-1440094_1920

I may have to wander to Hackney and sample the baked delights Violet Bakery has to offer.  Well, someone has to make sure the cake is perfect for the Royal Wedding.

Megs and Harry, you can both thank me later. I’m still waiting for my invite, btw!

Video​: Top 5 food and drink trends 2018 | Champagne Twist

pexels-photo-434230.jpeg

Elderflower, lavender, rose, chive blossoms, violet, hibiscus and pansy. Prepare to see these floral favourites and more, everywhere, from cakes to teas, from cocktails to salads.

Champagne Twist On Vacation: Barbados Series Preview​ now Live!

It’s finally here, the series preview of my new travel series.

The new series, Champagne Twist On Vacation: Barbados starts news week. There will be reviews, blog and vlog posts, travel guides and tips and so much more.

It all starts next week, so subscribe and make sure you don’t miss out!

5 Food and Drink You Should Look Out For in Spring/Summer 2018 | Champagne Twist

The Beast from the East may be making a snowy return, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking forward to the super hot summer weather* and the delicious foodie treats that will be heading their merry way to an eatery near you.

*May not be strictly true, but we can dream.

1 Mocktails.

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As diners steer more and more from alcoholic drinks and seek healthier alternatives to sugar-laden soft drinks, mocktails are fast becoming the trendsetter in the drinks industry.  Using colourful and unusual fruits and vegetables as the base, drinks are set to be not only healthy but fun too.

2 Caribbean cuisine.

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There are been so many dawns and false starts with this culinary masterpiece, but 2018 is set to be the year, finally, for West Indian food and drink.  This oft-overlooked cuisine is making a mark this year as the food to look out for. And it’s not all coconut-based either.

3 Tea.

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Yes, of course, I was going to add this one, it’s my favourite after all. But tea as we know it is going to have a serious makeover in 2018 and not before time too. Herbal teas, fruit tea and even iced tea will all be on trend this summer.

4 Plant-based food.

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The trend for Vegan and Vegetarian food shows no sign of abating, as increasing numbers are seeking alternatives to meat-based diets. Who would have thought 10 years ago that beige food would be referred to meat pie!

5 Floral flavours.

pexels-photo-434230.jpeg

Elderflower, lavender, rose, chive blossoms, violet, hibiscus and pansy. Prepare to see these floral favourites and more, everywhere, from cakes to teas, from cocktails to salads.

 

 

On Vacation​ – New Travel​ Series: Country Reveal | Champagne Twist

Hello,

So excited to finally reveal which country I visited. Take a look at the video below to find out. Did you guess correctly?

Also, the series preview will be posted on Tuesday followed by a weekly video series, featuring travel hints and tips, food, culture, history and a little adventure thrown in.  Stay tuned to find out more.

Champagne Twist: On Vacation – New Travel​ Series – Coming Soon

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Hello,

It’s been a while since I posted, but there was a reason. A good reason.  I had been given the opportunity to do a little traveling and I thought I would blog about it.  The location will be revealed soon, but here are a few promo videos to give you a taste of what is to come.

A brand new YouTube series with corresponding blog posts will be published soon, so please stay tuned to make sure you don’t miss out.

 

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Marvellous distractions during Coronavirus

At the time of writing, (11am), my day has already been made. Why?, you may ask. Well, after checking today’s TV listings, I discovered that Marvel’s Avengers Assemble is being broadcast later on BBC1, and now I’m planning my whole evening’s entertainment around this movie.

Yes, I know it’s sad, but a) I don’t care – I fully acknowledge that this is a ‘sad’ act, and fully embrace it. I love Marvel movies and I’m happy for the whole world to know it.  OK so the only being I can physically tell this to is the neighbour’s cat, but it still counts and b) my thinking is, we should all take whatever joy, whether it be big or small, and make the most of it.

Funny enough, I was planning on downloading the Marvel Infinity Saga – that’s over 20 movies in case you were unaware – this morning, until I realised that at around £14 per movie, they are way out of my price league.  Hence, you may now understand why I’m made up that the BBC is broadcasting the Avengers tonight. It’s only 1 more, but it makes a huge difference. It’s saved me £14 already.

Films, whether it be new discoveries or old classics are the main distraction for me, as I try to ride out this whole isolation situation. In fact, films have helped me through numerous situations, from the stress of waiting for exam results, to distracting me from the general annoyances of daily life. In a way, I view this weird period of life as a welcome distraction in itself.

Up until a week ago I was working all the hours I could to set up my business, only for it to fall at the first hurdle because of this dreaded disease. Well it didn’t even get the chance to reach the first hurdle. It never occurred to me to include ‘near total global shutdown of life as we know it’, on my S.W.O.T. analysis report. The biggest threat I listed was an attack of greenfly, and I felt silly writing that.

I count myself as very lucky and am so grateful that I’m able to sustain myself at least for the time being. The point I’m badly trying to make is, make hay while the sun shines. This is a wake up call for all of us.  How many times have we said ‘oh I want to see that movie’, only for something trivial, but we think vitally important at the time, to prevent us from enjoying our time?  How many family events have been missed, how many times have we pushed back on our dreams.

I’m not saying that self isolation is fun for everyone, but I am suggesting that everyone, if they can, should take this time and just think where we are all going in life.  Do we really need to live the way we do in order to have a good life? Do we really need 200 pairs of shoes, when we many of us today can’t even wear one pair to walk past our front gate?

Tomorrow, I’m going back to the drawing board, and will try to salvage what I can from my business plans.  I will also be sowing more vegetable and flower seeds, just in case this situation continues for a prolonged period.

But tonight, imagine me parked on the sofa, with a big bowl of warm, freshly popped popcorn, watching the formation of a group of super heroes, fighting the invaders of the planet.  Maybe it will provide a few ideas for our current real life situation.

Shopping during Coronavirus

This is just a quick note to say hi, and I hope you are all well and doing OK under these strange circumstances.

And also just to say this.

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Here, in the UK, we are fortunate to live in the 5th richest country in the world. You do not need to stock pile on loo paper  – or anything else for that matter. Please do not stock pile, and just purchase what you need.  There is more than enough for all of our needs, but not enough for our greeds.

Panic buying will only make an already bad situation potentially far, far worse.  It won’t be this horrible virus that will end us, it will be our collective selfishness and greed.

So, please, before you head down the shops, think before you buy.

I will be posting more content over the next few days on Twitter, YouTube and on this platform, so stay tuned for tips, hints and even the odd joke.

Take care of yourself and each other.