Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Some refreshing new sauces from the Lake District Dairy Co


As you know I get sent new products to try out from time to time and a few weeks ago I was sent a lovely hamper from the Lake District Dairy Co, containing their new Cooking sauces along with some fresh ingredients so that I could cook some recipes using the new flavours . . .  Garlic & Herb, Tomato & Basil and Tikka Sauces.

Included in the hamper were all the necessary ingredients so that I could cook Gnocchi with Spinach and Tomat & Basil Quark Sauce, Chicken Tikka & Quark Rice, and Spaghetti Quarkonara.

First a bit about the sauces:

The new Lake Districk Dairy Co. Cooking sauces are ideal for those who are pressed for time and who are health conscious.   Naturally low fat, convenient and naturally nutritious they taste deliciously indulgent, yet because they are made with Quark, they boast half the calories and treble the protein of other stir-in dairy sauces.  They recently won an award at the World Dairy Innovation Awards.   You can simply swap these cooking sauces into recipes as an alternative to traditional dairy ingredients such as creme fraiche or double cream to create  a variety of healthy and flavoursome day to day dishes, from creamy carbonaras to tantalizing tomato bakes.

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The first recipe I tried was Chicken Tikka & Quark Rice.  The sauce itself was delicious as was the finished dish, however the recipe was inconsistent with the ingredients sent, with uncooked rice being called for in the recipe and a pouch of already cooked rice being sent in the hamper.  I decided to go with the recipe and used uncooked rice.

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This was our favourite of all the dishes cookes.   Coming in at only 382 calories a serving, it was quite satisfying and very delicious.  We all really enjoyed this.

(click on photo to enlarge recipe)

The Lake District Dairy Co - Naturally Low Fat Tikka Cooking Sauce
(RRP £1.75 per 200g pot)
One of the nation's favourites - a beautiful blend of herbs and spices for perfect curry dishes with minimal fuss.  contains NO preservatives or artificial flavours
Nutrition (per 100g)
75 kcals, 4.5 g Sugar, 2.6g Fat, 0.6g Saturates, 0.74g Salt

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The next dish I cookes was Gnocchi with Spinach and Tomato & Basil Quark Sauce.  Everything for the recipe was included.  It went together very easily and I found the sauce to be quite delicious.

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The finished dish was attractive and very tasty.  We all really enjoyed this as well.

(again click on photo to enlarge recipe)

The Lake District Dairy Co. - Naturally Low Fat Tomato & Basil Cooking Sauce
(RRP £1.75 per 100g pot)
Great for adding a sumptuous Italian twist to meat and pasta dishes.
Contains NO preservatives or artificial flavours.
Nutrition (per 100g)
79kcals, 6.3g Sugar, 2,8g Fat, 0.6g Saturates, 0.83g Salt

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The final recipe which I cooked was Spaghetti Quarkonara using their Garlic & Herb Sauce.   I have to say that we did not enjoy this recipe at all.   First of all, I thought there was too much pasta per sauce ratio, and I would never use quick cooking spaghetti myself.  I would like to try it again, using regular spaghetti and less pasta per sauce.

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The ham added nothing to this recipe.  You couldn't even taste it really.  I added peas because I thought it could use some colour, but again, this wasn't our favourite dish

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The sauce itself was quite flavourful, but this recipe let it down in my opinion.  I would use the sauce again in another way, but not this recipe.

The Lake District Dairy Co. - Naturally Low FAt Garlic & Herb Cooking Sauce
(RRP £1.75 per 200g pot
Smooth and indulgent, with a deliciously fresh garlic taste - great for mixing with fish, chicken or pasta.
Contains NO preservatives or artificial flavours
Nutrition (per 100g)
76 kcals, 5.6g Sugar, 1.5g Fat, 0.4g Saturates, 0.74g Salt

For more information about The Lake District Dairy Co. Quark, including delicious recipe suggestions to suit every occasion, visit and follow @LDDCQuark on Twitter.

Over all I found the sauces themselves to be filled with flavour and I love that they are all natural and relatively low in fat which make them a great option for someone who is looking for convenience along with healthy options.  Many thanks to The Lake District Dairy Co. for sending this lovely hamper to me. 

Biscoff (Lotus) Granola

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I think you would pretty much have to live under a rock to not know what Biscoff, or Lotus cookies are.   They are those gorgeous little caramel flavoured biscuits that they hand out in coffee shops and that get handed out on Delta Airlines etc.  I just adore them.   I just love Nutella and Peanut butter . . . so when I found that they make a Lotus (Biscoff) Spread  I was thrilled and of course I had to buy some.  Oh boy that is some good.  I could eat it with a spoon.    All caramel rich and gooey . . .  lovely on crackers or plain biscuit/cookies.  Or sandwiched between two . . .  just sayin!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Easy Oven Baked Pasta

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Sometimes you just feel really lazy, don't you?  It can't just be me, can it?  I confess . . .  I do have days when I feel really lazy and I can't get motivated to do much of anything, and yet I am absolutely starving!     That is when a recipe like this one here today comes in really handy.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Custard Corncake with Berries and Honey

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In America there is a debate between bakers in the south and bakers in the north about whether there is sugar in a proper cornbread or not.  Up north, and in Canada actually, we use some sugar in our cornbread and our corn muffins.  Down south they do not.     In their eyes, once sugar is added . . .  it becomes a cake.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Flaky Goat Cheese and Chive Biscuits

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I am a huge fan of quick breads . . .  muffins, loaves . . .  scones, biscuits.   Scones and biscuits are really quite similar.   The basic ingredients are essentially the same . . .  flour, butter or shortening, milk or cream, leavening, and a bit of salt and possibly sugar. The method of preparation, too, is pretty similar . . . you sift the dry ingredients, cut in the fat, and add the liquid. As with biscuits, the scone dough is rolled and cut into shapes.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Blackberry and Clotted Cream Shortcakes

One of our favourite things to eat here in the UK at this time of year are blackberries and they are pretty much free for the asking, as they grow  wild in the hedgerows all across the country.  They are quite prolific and need little or no care really, which is probably why they can be found in such abundance.  They can be somewhat of a nuisance to home gardeners whose aim is to have a very manicured garden, as they do have a habit of popping up in the most diverse of places, their canes travelling beneath the ground.  I, for one, don't really mind.  We love blackberries and cannot get enough of them when they are at their best, eating them fresh as often as possible . . .  and I  try to freeze as many as I can as well, for winter time treats.   We grown our own in our garden . . .  well, I say that.  We actually planted tayberries, but they've become blackberries for the most part.  The blackberries which grow in the hedgerow bordering our property have taken over somewhat and intermingled with them, so what we have now is a happy mixture of them both.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

All About Knives


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One of the first things I was taught, amongst other things, when I went to Culinary school was the proper use and care of knives.   A good knife is one of your most important tools as a chef, or a cook . . .  and it's really important that a person knows how to use and care for them properly.   Not only are they one of the most important tools in the kitchen, but they are also one of the most dangerous tools in the kitchen, so proper care and safety is essential!  Knives must always be handled with respect, used correctly and taken care of so that a professional performance can be achieved.

Some safety rules for knife use are:
  • Always carry your knifes, point held downwards
  • Knives placed on tables must be placed flat and not project over the edge of the table
  • When using knives, always concentrate on the job at hand.
  • Keep knives sharp and use the correct knife for the correct purpose.
  • After use, always wife the knife, blade away from the hand.
  • Keep knife handles clean and do not leave in the sink.
  • Never misuse knives.  After use wash, rinse, dry and safely put away.
  • Colour coding of knife handles can assist in preventing cross contamination
Two tools are available for sharpening knives, a steel and a carborundum stone.  Periodically knives may need to be ground.  To retain sharpness, always use a cutting board.   A good craftsman or craftswoman never blames his or her tools since they always take good care of them.

It goes without saying that for a tool as important as a knife you will want to invest the most that you can in them, as you will want them to be of good quality and to last you for a lifetime.  It is more than worth the money to invest in something as important as a good set of knives.  My mother is still using the same knives she purchased back in the 1950's.   They may have seemed expensive at the time, but they have more than paid for the initial investment through the years and have served her very well.    When I was getting kitted out for culinary school, the knives were the major part of my financial investment, aside from the course.  I can never under-estimate the important of having good tools to work with.   Some of the best quality chefs kitchen knives can be found online at kitchen specialist websites such as Milly's Store.

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It's important to remember also that speed is not essential when using your knives properly.   When watching celebrity chef's on the telly, they always whiz through their chopping amazingly quickly and it can be impressive to watch.  Don't forget that they have had years of professional training and experience . . .  and their knifes are really sharp The most dangerous tool in the kitchen is a dull knife.  Never forget that.   Remember also, that control is much more important than speed.  With time and experience you may well become just as fast as they are, but really all you want to be is safe.

So, with good quality knives, taken care of and used safely . . .  you can be well assured that you are well on your way to becoming a master chef in your home kitchen.

Sweet And Sour Chicken Balls . . . Combo Number Nine Part Deux

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 Following on from yesterday's post on a Chinese Combo Plate Number Nine, here are the delicious Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls which went along with the Beef and Broccoli which I cooked for us the other day.  If you go to a Chinese Buffet (in Canada at least ) these are the first things to disappear!  Followed closely by the won tons and the chicken wings!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Beef and Broccoli . . . Combo Special Number 9

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I wouldn't like to call myself predictable, but I guess there are some choices which I obsess on choose predictably identically all the time every time.  Things like always sleeping on the left hand side of the bed . . .  or getting up at the same time each morning and going to bed at the same time each night . . . drinking diet coke as the drink of choice when we go out for dinner, or always having Turkey for Christmas  . . . I suppose we all have our own individual quirks and obsessions!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Macaroni, Cheese and Tomato Bake

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Interestingly enough the food here in the UK isn't all fish and chips and roast beef or curries.  They're also very fond of macaroni here, and other pasta's too.  In fact it is said that at the beginning of the 19th century they used to call their dandies "macaronis" because the  wigs which they wore were said to resemble macaroni!

 There is a saying over here which goes . . . "There's naught so queer as folk."  I believe that would apply in this instance!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Amaretti Stuffed Peaches

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This is something I have wanted to make for a long time, but I never got around to it, because . . .  I either had the peaches and no amaretti, or the amaretti but no peaches.   This week my stars must have been aligned because I finally had everything in place to do them . . .  but then I couldn't find the recipe I wanted to use.   Grrr . . .  I hate it when that happens, and it happens all too often to me!  I need to create a folder that I save all the recipes in that I want to cook one day, instead of just mentally filing them in my head.  My head is a notoriously bad filing cabinet, and with each year that's passes it's not getting any better!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Apple and Bramble Hat

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Apple and Bramble (blackberries) have to be the quintessential flavour combination for September here in the UK.   That's when the apples are ripe and the hedgerows are bursting with fresh blackberries, free for the picking.  When we lived down in Kent, we were surrounded by orchards and we were welcome to go scrumping each autum, which is the word they use to describe picking up the windfalls.  

Friday, 19 September 2014

Glazed Meat Loaf Burgers

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We had the Missionary Elders over for dinner the other night.   They are always such nice young lads.   I love to have them in our home and I do so love to spoil them.   I usually try to cook them something which reminds them of home.   They both really enjoyed this and have requested the recipe from me so that they can either make it for themselves  or pass it on to their mums/girlfriends when they get home.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A new Fetish for the Foodie in You

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As any foodie will know there is not shortage of food related sites out there!  There are food blogs galore as well as food photography sites in abundance.  There is nothing like a little food porn to get your tastes buds tingling and inspire one to get into the kitchen and start rattling the pots and pans!

Can there ever be too much information out there for the ultimate foodie to enjoy???  I think not and with that in mind . . .  allow me to introduce you to  Zugme, the new social networking system with a unique twist for the foodie to enjoy! Their topic @ city feed structure allows foodies and foodie communities to gather and represent local gastronomic delights and indulgences, exposing other  users and creating a hub of activity in the process. For the foodie this means a chance to discuss or research your favourite restaurants, recipes, ingredients, food fads and other food related content  with "like minded individuals", both locally and nationwide . . .  and even internationally.

Their iFollow and myPeople functions allow industry professionals, food related bloggers and gastronomically minded folks to communicate directly with foodie fans, orchestrating a well-executed method of engaging like minded users within a protected and comfortable space!

With plenty of food related content already available via the internet already, Zugme offers the "food, recipe, restaurant,  and cooking" fan (ie "foodie") a really easy to use and viable alternative to anything they are using at the present time, and I predict that it will soon be the platform of choice for foodies to engage and share with each other all over the UK.

Sign up and join in today, and follow Zugme on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Apple and Blackberry Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding and Degusta Box

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I received another tasty Degustabox at the end of August and have been enjoying it's contents in the ensuing weeks.  You can see evidence of that in the lovely Apple and Blackberry Bread and Butter Pudding I bakes with the package of Brioche Pasquier I received in the box, but more about that later, right now  I want to tell you all about what I got in the August box . . .

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Cauliflower Cheese Pie


I think Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables, and cauliflower cheese is one of my favourite things to do with it . . .  with a dish like that you don't really need any meat . . . rich and indulgent and very, very tasty.

Today I decided to kick it up a notch or two and added a puff pastry crust.  Talk about good . . .
 I love pies of any kind.  If it's got a crust on top . . . I'm well ready to get stuck in!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Hot Dog Roll Ups

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I confess . . .  I put my hand up.  I like hot dogs, and not what passes for hotdogs over here in the UK . . . I mean the frankfurter type of hot dog . . .  smoked and from the chiller cabinet, not a tin.  Nothing grosser than a tinned hot dog.  Trust me on this.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Chow Mein

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 We're usually starving when we get home from church on Sundays.  If I've been smart I will have gotten up early enough to get something into the slow cooker, but if I haven't we have to resort to whatever I can come up with at short notice, because . . . we are absolutely famished by that time!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Cupcakes Galore!

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Today marks the beginning of National Cupcake Week, September 15 to 21st, 2014.  This week people all over the UK will be baking up a storm of cupcakes in their  quest to become the cupcake baking champion of the UK.  Be prepared for oodles of cupcake deliciousness!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Fresh Blackberry Tart with Spiked Creme Anglaise


Today I baked a Fresh Blackberry Tart with Spiked Creme Anglaise recipe from a cookery book I have had for a while by Kelly Jaggers, called Not so Humble Pies.  This is blackberry season here in the UK at the moment and they are something that I have a lot of and that I love to use in the autumn.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

White Chocolate and Ginger Curd Cheesecake

He's cheeky.  He's handsome.  He's one of my favourite Princes.  He's a ginger . . .  and he's turning 30 on Monday, the 15th September.  Happy Birthday Prince Harry! 

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The totally unique and indulgently delicious Luxury Ginger Curd is perfect for celebrating the birthday of our own favourite ginger-haired Royal!  Prince Harry will no doubt be celebrating his 30th birthday on Monday with the best and most luxurious food and drink so enjoy a little luxury  of your own with The English Provinder Co. Luxury Ginger Curd.

Perfect drizzled over lemon sponge cake or swirled through ice cream, the Ginger Curd is simply heavenly with creamy vanilla cheesecake or meringue.  Create your own delicious dessert  using the following recipe for a fabulous English Provender's White Chocolate and Ginger Curd Cheesecake  It's a winner/winner!

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*White Chocolate and Ginger Curd Cheesecake*
Serves 8

Delicious!  Very easy to make as well.  Do plan ahead as it need to chill for one to two hours.  

75g of butter (1/3 cup)
150g of plain chocolate digestive biscuits crushed (can use 1 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs)
200g good quality white chocolate (7 ounces)
500g marcarpone cheese ( 2 cups)
315g jar The English Provender Co. Luxury Ginger Curd (1 1/2 cups)
grated white chocolate or chocolate curls to decorate  

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the biscuits.  Press into the base of an 8 inch diameter loose bottomed round cake tin.  CHill whilst preparing the filling.

Place the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water and heat gently, stirring occasionally until melted.

Place the mascarpone in a bowl and whisk in the ginger curd until smooth.   Whisk in the melted chocolate.  Spoon over the base and chill for 1 to 2 hours.

Carefully loosen and remove from the tin and decorate with grated chocolate or chocolate curls.  Cut into slices to serve.


RRP:  £2.49 and available from The English Provender Co.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Squares

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The two young Missionary Sisters who are serving in the Chester Ward at the moment came over today to do some service in our garden.   We just love our Missionaries, we really do.  I did them some grilled cheese sandwiches for their lunch which I served them along with some potato chips and some of my cherished sweet pickles from home that I hoard.   They were really happy with that, but when I cracked open my Chocolate and Peanut Butter Squares, they were just thrilled!

Friday, 12 September 2014

French Onion Panini

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I can still remember the first time I tasted French Onion Soup.  It was 1974 and I was attending Acadia University with my then husband.  We had a friend named Geoff and he had a girlfriend named Julia who was from Quebec City and who loved to cook.  She had a fancy dinner party one night for the four of us,  and the first course she served was French Onion Soup.  I couldn't tell you what anything else was that she served, but the French Onion Soup bowled me over completely.  (No pun intended!)

Thursday, 11 September 2014

One Dish Chicken and Spanish Rice

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Rice was not something which my mother ever cooked when I was growing up.  I came to love it as an adult and it was something which I used at least once or twice a week when my own family was growing up . . .  steamed and as a side dish, or as a delicious main.  My children love, loved my Quick and Easy Chicken Fried Rice.  And they were oftly fond of Spanish rice as well.  

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Really "Grate" Meal

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I was sent a really nice piece of kitchen kit a few months back from the people at Eddingtons.

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The PL8 Gourmet Slicer.   I've been really putting it through it's paces over the weeks and wanted to tell you all about it today.   Since I've been using it for all sorts, I've kind of thrown together a meal for your viewing pleasure . . .  some really delicious marinated lamb chops with a potato side dish, a deliciously fruity slaw and a tasty dessert, most of which (with the exception of the lamb) I have been able to use this handy piece of kitchen kit for!  In other words . . .  a really "Grate" meal, every pun intended!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk, Cardamom, Vanilla and Manuka Honey

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It doesn't take much to mak the Toddster incredibly happy.   He's a simple man with simple tastes.   Rice pudding does it for him every time.  I am one of those cooks who can't leave well enough alone however  . . .  and today I just about outdid myself with this lovely version of rice pudding I created just for him.  I had been sent a lovely jar of Manuka Honey a while back and I decided that it would be perfect for both sweetening and flavouring this delicious dessert.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Tuna Salad Tartines

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Don't think I'm getting all hoity toity on you now . . .  this really is just a glorified open faced tuna sarnie!   But Tartine sounds very special doesn't it?  Okay so maybe it is a bit hoity toity . . .  but sometimes it's okay to expand your horizons a tad.  That's my story anyways and yes, I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Blackberry Pie Bars . . .

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Today is the Toddster's Birthday.   He requested a fruitcake for his birthday.   That is his favourite of all cakes.  He's just an old fashioned guy with old fashioned tastes.   No chocolate  fudge cakes for him . . . no Victoria sponges  . . .  no raspberry celebration cakes.  Just a plain old fruit cake and he's a happy camper.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Cinderella's Pumpkin Cake

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We have two sets of missionaries serving here in the Chester area, a set of young women and a set of young men.   We love to feed them and endeavor to feed each set at least once a month if we can.   Earlier this week we were blessed to feed the Sisters.  I usually try to cook them a meal which  will remind them a little bit of home.  This week it was Chicken Divan Casserole (a great way to get some broccoli into your loved ones) a tossed salad and peas and chantenay carrots.   For dessert I baked two things.   I will show you the first one today and the second one tomorrow.   (I know I do spoil them I do.  ☺)

Friday, 5 September 2014

Some delicious Lemon Butterfly Cakes

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I love September.  It always reminds me of when my children were growing up and it was back to school time.  I always endeavored to have something delicious to pop into their sac lunches, or waiting for them when they got home from school.  I love to bake and my kids loved to eat what I baked.   No kiddos in my home anymore . . .  but that doesn't stop me from baking.   Today I baked these lovely Lemon Butterfly Cakes using a recipe that I picked up on the Flora Baking Pages.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Chicken Shortcake

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This is something which I used to make every once in a while when my children were growing up.  It started with a recipe I found in an old Shaker Cookbook, but gradually morphed into my own recipe through the years.  The original recipe used leftover chicken and had no vegetables in it.  I adapted it to  include some vegetables as well as poached chicken for tenderness, but do feel free to use leftover roast chicken if you wish.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Hopps & Woolf Milk Maker . . . an incredible machine.

 Several weeks ago I was contacted by a company called Hopps & Woolf and asked if I would like to try out their innovative Milk Maker. I always like to try new things and so I agreed.  I've also been really interested over these last few months in non dairy alternatives to milk.   They can be really pricey however.   This was another reason that I was interested in trying this machine out.

The Hopps & Woolf Milk Maker is an innovative machine which enables a person to make pure and natural nut or soya milk using raw ingredients with no added preservatives or flavourings.

 This unique machine is the result of the creative endeavours of two young Bristol Uni graduates, Alex Hoppenbrouwers and Thomas Woolf. Inspiration struck when Woolf, who studied engineering, was tasked with coming up with a business idea as part of a project. He says: "A girl in the group was saying 'I find it annoying, I can't buy the soya milk making machine I use in China in the UK'." Woolf mentioned the idea to Hoppenbrouwers, who was president of the university entrepreneur society, and the rest is history.  In July their Milk Maker, which makes milk out of soya beans, almonds, and hazelnuts, was launched, and they also supply ingredients available through a weekly subscription.

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It's a very attractive machine, not much larger than a kettle.  This is important to me.  I don't have a lot of room in my kitchen and I have come to learn through the years that things which take up a lot of space usually get relegated to the bedroom closet or the shed and end up only ever rarely being used.

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 It came with a simple to read and easy to use instruction manual, a handy cleaning cloth, a step by step instruction card, a strainer to strain the resultant meal from the milk  . . .  and . . .

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Two 120g bags of one each organic soya beans and whole California almonds.

The machine itself  has a very attractive brushed stainless steel body,  high grade stainless steel blade, an 800W heater and a 250W motor.

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You measure out your ingredients and then let them soak in water over night.

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The next day you just place them into the milk maker with the requisite amount of water, put the lid on and press a button.   The Milk maker automatically gently heats the ingredients and blends and pasteurizes them to a pre-set program.   It takes about 25 to 30 minutes.  The 25 minute cycle slowly releases nutrients to achieve great flavour.

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This is what you find at the end of that time.  

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You simply then strain out the meal with the handy strainer which is included and presto chango . . .

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There you have it  . . .  a lovely big jar of almond milk (in this case) or soya milk.   All natural and additive free, and it will stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to five days! 

And it costs pennies in comparison to most factory made alternative milks . . .  and contains many more nutrients.   Did you know that most nut milks are created by only using about 4 nuts?  How nutritious can that be?   And all those flavourings and chemicals, stabilizers, preservatives, etc. they add.  How good can that stuff really be for you?

I love that this is all natural.  I love knowing that it has been made in my very own pesticide free/clean kitchen. 

You can also use it to make simple soups and or use it a a blender. 

To find out more about  this machine and how to get one of your own,  do check out the Hopps & Woolf site. 

Follow them on Facebook.

Follow them on Twitter. 

Many thanks to Hopps & Woolf for sending me this machine and making me a believer!  The milk is tasty and so easy to make.   I have been truly converted.  (It's great on cereal, etc.  YES IT IS!)