Austerity Makes You Fat

Why am I writing about austerity on a food blog?  Aren’t food blogs for foodies and people who love cooking?  Shouldn’t I just stick to sharing recipes and giving culinary tips? Perhaps – but austerity affects a lot of people and eating healthily and exercising is something we all need to do.  According to new reports, almost half of Britons will be obese by 2045 if current trends are not halted. A record number of primary school children are leaving school severely obese – more than 22,000 children!  Is it possible that austerity is responsible for this trend?

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Food Blog – Relaunching after an Eight Month Break

I’m sorry guys. I abandoned my food blog. I find it hard to believe that it’s been eight months since I last posted on my blog. It wasn’t intentional. Whenever I write my dogs lay by my feet, and sadly I lost my two Labradors within the space of a couple of weeks – Sasha aged 11 years and Holly who was only 5. I simply lost my motivation to write. I’m sure my fellow dog lovers will understand, but I am conscious of the fact that others have far greater losses to bear – so please accept my apologies.

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Plastic Waste – Can Caterers Afford to Say No to Plastic? A Caterer Trying to Say No to Plastic & be Kind to the Environment

Plastic waste is damaging our planet.  As a caterer I undoubtedly contribute to the pollution of our planet and I want to stop. But – can I afford to stop using plastic as the alternatives are more expensive?  Although I enjoy catering, I work to earn money, and replacing the catering disposables I use with eco-friendly alternatives will cut into my profits. Will my customers embrace my efforts to be ‘plastic free’ and help absorb the increase in my costs? How much is it likely to cost me to say no to plastic?  Here’s what I found out.

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Caring Caterers – Five Examples of Caterers helping the Homeless

Caring Caterers across the UK are providing the homeless with free food but it is often difficult to find out who these caterers are.  Newspaper headlines sometimes report on these caterers; similarly they report on those who refuse to serve the homeless.  Here I showcase some of those caring caterers and I have just added the five examples given in this post.

Caring Caterers - Five Examples of Caterers Helping the Homeless

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Valentine’s Day – How to Tempt your Loved One

Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world. Although the origins of the mystery saint are unclear, with some contending it’s a pagan celebration, what is clear is that millions of people exchange cards and gifts on 14th February every year. Romantic meals for two are also common on Valentine’s Day with restaurants getting booked up very quickly. Why not save your money and instead cosy up with your loved one on a cold winters night with a dinner for two? For dessert may I suggest a delicious chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce?

Valentine's Day. How to tempt your loved one

SERVES 4

Sponge

100g Margarine
100g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
150g Self Raising Flour
50g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
2 tbsp Milk

Sauce

500ml Milk
30g Cocoa Powder
30g Caster Sugar
25g Cornflour

Beat the Margarine and 100g of Sugar together in a bowl until it becomes light and creamy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well into the mixture.

Add the flour, 50g of cocoa powder, vanilla essence and milk and fold into the mixture.

Distribute the mixture equally into 4 plastic pudding moulds.

Steam the puddings for one hour.

After 45 minutes, put the milk, 30g of sugar and 30g of cocoa powder into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Mix the cornflour in a cup with a tbsp of water. Gradually add the cornflour to the chocolate flavoured milk, stirring all the time until it thickens.

When the puddings are ready, serve with the chocolate sauce poured over the top.

Did You Know?

  1. No record of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day exists prior to a poem Chaucer wrote in about 1375.
  2. As well as being the patron saint of engaged couples and marriages, Valentine is also the patron saint of beekeepers, epilepsy, the plague, fainting and travelling (history.com)
  3. In Victorian times it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine’s Day Card.
  4. Approximately one billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year.
  5. 3% of pet owners prefer celebrating Valentine’s Day with their pets and buy them gifts.
  6. In the 1800s Richard Cadbury invented the first box of heart-shaped chocolates.

Single?

There is no reason to miss out if you’re single!! As an alternative to chocolate pudding you may like to consider some other comfort foods such as Guards Pudding or Steamed Raspberry Pudding.  Enjoy – and let me know what you think.

Stuffed Seafood Mushrooms

Stuffed Seafood Mushrooms

The Perfect Starter

Method

Serves 6

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Put the breadcrumbs, grated cheddar, prawns, crab meat and lemon juice in a mixing bowl, add the seasoning and mix well to combine all the ingredients.

Take each mushroom and spoon the mixture into them as equally as possible and place on a baking tray.

6 Large Flat Mushrooms
50g Wholemeal Breadcrumbs
60g Mature Cheddar Cheese
150g Peeled Prawns
170g Crab Meat
Juice of 1 Lemon
Seasoning
50g Melted Butter
10g Grated Parmesan Cheese

Total Cost:  £7.80

Cost per Portion:  £1.30

Melt the butter and spoon a little over each mushroom.

Finally sprinkle the grated parmesan over the top of each mushroom.

Place them in the oven for 45 minutes.

For more recipes, click here

Plastic for Dinner Anyone? Your Choice!

Plastic waste is killing our oceans and could ultimately kill us too.  A Plastic Planet asked me on Twitter the other day “What do you do to help make the world plastic free?” I answered truthfully “not enough…”, but the tweet made me question myself on whether I should be doing more – both as a caterer and as an individual.

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Guards Pudding

Guard's Pudding

The recipe for Guard's Pudding was traditionally served to the officers and Guards on duty at St James Palace or Whitehall

Method

Serves 6

Prepare a 15cm (2pt)pudding dish. Grease and flour the surfaces.

Blend the margarine and sugar together until creamy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and blend well.

Fold in the bicarb, breadcrumbs, oats, ginger and honey. Do not over mix.

125g Margarine
125g Brown Sugar
0.5 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
60g Wholemeal Breadcrumbs
65g Oats
2 Eggs
1 tbsp Honey
18g Ginger

Additional Honey and Fresh Cream to Serve

Total Cost:  £1.34

Cost per Portion:  22p (Plus Garnish)

Place the mixture into the prepared pudding dish and cover with foil.

Place the pudding into a steamer and cook for 90 minutes.

When cooked, turn out the pudding and serve with a spoonful of honey and a pouring of fresh cream.

For more recipes, click here.

Wedding Savings: Don’t call the Caterer

Wedding catering is expensive.  The catering together with the venue hire are likely to be the most expensive part of your wedding. You will cherish fond memories of your wedding day for the rest of your life, but is there a way to reduce the costs? Do you really need to call the caterer? Continue reading for 10 ways to cut the catering costs for your wedding reception.

According to a survey in 2017 of 4,000 brides, the average UK wedding now costs £27,161 – the highest it’s ever been.  Venue hire is revealed as the most expensive cost at an average of £4,354, followed by the honeymoon, and then the food at an average of £3,353 (www.hitched.co.uk).  The Bride’s Magazine puts the catering costs as high as £3,959.

What is a Wedding Reception?

Wikipedia describes a wedding reception as a party usually held after the completion of a marriage ceremony as hospitality for those who have attended the wedding, hence the name reception: the couple receives society, in the form of family and friends, for the first time as a married couple.

Traditionally it was the bride’s parents who paid for the wedding reception – and that included the venue hire, food and drink. Nowadays it’s more common for the cost to be shared by both sets of parents and the couple getting married. However, in the current economic climate with stagnating wages for many; increasing living costs; lack of accommodation for first time buyers and with student debt, a lot of couples are finding it difficult to finance their dream wedding. Why forfeit a house deposit or risk getting into debt for one day?

10 Ways to Cut Catering Costs for your Wedding Reception

  1. An obvious way to reduce your costs is to limit the number of your guests to the wedding breakfast.  Menus are priced per head, so naturally it would be cheaper to feed 50 people than 100. 
  1. Have a buffet instead of a sit down meal. This reduces the staffing costs and is also easier to cater for vegetarians and vegans. You can always decide to have a waiter/waitress for the top table and let the other guests help themselves. The typical ratio of waiting staff to guests is 1:10 and normally you cannot hire anyone for less than four hours.
  1. Tell your caterer that you have a budget and ask what they could provide for your budget.  Most caterers are happy to work with you to keep your costs down.
  1. Don’t overfeed. Again your caterer can help with this. Also, if you marry later in the day your guests will not want so much to eat in the evening. You could get away with a smaller buffet e.g. a cheeseboard, for your evening guests and your not so hungry earlier guests.
  1. When you choose a venue for your wedding reception it is often more expensive if you have to use their in-house caterer. Competition between caterers can invariably bring the costs down, so try to choose a venue that does not tie you to a particular caterer.
  1.  Why not try street food?  These are estimated to be typically 75% cheaper than the average typical caterer (according to feast-it.com. Prices tend to start at £7 per head and many can cater for weddings indoors as well as outside. The type of food the offer is varied:
  1.  If you have friends and family that are willing to help, it is possible to do it yourself.  You do not have to call the caterer!  This could be in the format of an afternoon tea – where a station is set up spread with homemade cakes and tea. Alternatively, you could set up a number of tables specialising in different foods, e.g. a salads table, a cold meat table, a hog roast, a cheese and biscuits table, a desserts table, etc.  A DIY hog roast from Don’t Tell Porky’s theflyingporky.co.uk costs approximately £280 for 50 guest portions or £340 for 100 guest portions)
  1. A mixture of DIY and street food. Here you could call upon friends and family to prepare some items, such as a cheese and biscuits table or a desserts table, and hire a street van for other items. The variations on this theme are many.
  1. If you have a catering college near you it is possible they may be able to help you reduce your catering costs – it is worth an enquiry.  They may be able to cater for your whole event, or they may be able to assist you with providing the staff for your event.
Wedding Savings: Don't call the caterer
  1. Wedding Cake.  These are traditionally expensive to buy, and in fairness it is labour intensive to make and the ingredients are expensive. It is usually recommended to set your budget at £500 for a three tier wedding cake.  There are however alternatives – from sponge cakes to cupcakes, although these can work out expensive too. The cheapest alternative would be to have a desserts table with cakes and desserts made by friends and family.

You don’t have to call the caterer for your wedding reception. Everyone wants their wedding day to be perfect – it is after all a celebration of two people’s love and commitment to one another. But no one wants to start their married life in debt. If money is no object, then the world is your oyster – but if you are watching the pennies then there may be a need to compromise.  Most people realise that weddings are expensive, and true friends and loving family members just want to make memories of joy and happiness for you both to remember.  If you can afford to, you’ll probably want to be pampered on your special day and you don’t want to be too tired or stressed to enjoy yourself – but there are ways you can cut the costs for your wedding catering. Also, you may want to provide ‘doggie bags’ for any food left over, or alternatively donate the waste food to those who are less fortunate (for more information click here link to previous blog 30/11/17)

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