Food: Stepping Into the Industry

The food industry is always something I’ve felt rather passionate about. I’ve preferred to buy from smaller, more independent brands who genuinely care about the ingredients and (most importantly) the final product.

 photo 15c16f2b-b748-45f9-bc38-f7a96dde8243_zps62fd85a6.jpgOne of my dreams is to set up a small company selling frozen pastes in individual portions. Curry paste, pesto, even pasta sauces – they’re great timesavers for busy people yet all too often I can never finish a jar. Homemade is far better and I’ve been making and freezing these things for a while now – and I’d love to share. This pipeline dream is likely to take a backseat for a while as my chosen career is far too time-consuming, but who knows where the future will take it?

 photo Young Entrepreneur Scheme Logo_zpsv655vgfl.jpgAnd if I do decide to go for it, I’ll definitely remember Cotswold Fayre and their Young Entrepreneur award. They are offering £1,000 in funding and on-going mentoring from company Founder, Paul Hargreaves to help progress the chosen business.  An amazing opportunity, not just for the funding but the knowledge you would gain.

 photo Chris Overly_zpsgvzp6din.jpgLast year’s winner, Chris Hannaway, co-founder of Overly said: “Winning this award has been great. As a business, we’ve managed to get a listing with Cotswold Fayre, the UK’s best wholesaler for farm shops and delicatessens. They really are a great team that are so helpful and supportive to new suppliers. On an individual note Paul’s advice has been great. He’s helped me to develop the way  think about the industry and has given me some great ideas as to how we can take the business forward.”

Applications are open until the end of June for 16-25 year olds, so if you have a dream to get a food or drink business off the ground its worth having a go – I think if I had more time I would be applying!

*Sponsored post, as always all opinions are my own.

Would you like to see recipes for some of the freezable sauces I make? What kind of food & drink company would you love to set up?

Personal: Itchy Feet

For travelling that is…

I’ve never been hugely interested in travelling. I went on a good amount of European holidays as a child, ranging from beach-bum relaxation in Portugal to sightseeing cruises around most of the Med. I visited Switzerland in 2012 and that was what really opened up my eyes to what I haven’t seen. The country itself is stunning, it truly is amazing what natural sights exist. I blame this holiday alone on my current itchy feet.

 photo 293801_3323895148611_845060848_n_zpsnemazdal.jpg photo 481096_3323969390467_557970421_n_zpspoum63y7.jpgI realised there’s so much I want to see. Photos are all very well and good, but there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself. Take Apollo’s temple in Side, Turkey. There’s hundreds of photographs online, but not one gives any idea of how huge these ruins actually are. I’ve been four times and it never fails to take my breathe away. With all this in mind, coming up with a Travel Bucket List for Transun was pretty easy. And hey, maybe I can win a Northern Lights trip in the process!

Thrill Seeking in New Zealand & Australia

It surprises most people I meet, but I’m actually a pretty big adrenaline junkie. I’ve loved high ropes courses, survived zorbing, and love the watersports I’ve had a go with. I’d love to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, go white-water rafting near Queenstown (NZ). My love of rainforests from geography throughout school means that a tree top adventure would be a must, and I’d also love to visit family in New Zealand. I’d maybe get the courage for a bungee jump too…

Man vs Food Tour of America

I absolutely adore this program, as weird as it sounds! Me and W have watched all of them now, and I’ve got a list of the places Adam recommends people visit. I’d love to try all of the typical American places as well as some classics. Chicago deep pan pizza? Yes please! Poutine? Sounds right up my street! New York bagels? Let me at ’em! The greasier the better, I reckon I’d need to pack a whole suitcase of clothes a few sizes up for this one!

Road Trip of the Scottish Highlands

It’s no secret that I’ve adored the time I’ve spent in Scotland. Edinburgh is my perfect city, I’d adore to live there one day. My love of Highland Cattle (seriously, they are so sweet!), rolling hilly roads and stunning countryside means I’d love to hire a campervan and tour the Highlands. This is the one thing I’m earmarking to do before I’m 25, so fingers crossed it won’t be long before I get to experience this!

Those are just my top three, and they are pretty broad. I’d love to take a trip round Scandinavia, inter-rail round Europe, visit both the tourist-trap and the off-the-beaten-track parts of Mexico, volunteer at the Elephant Nature park in Thailand, spend a weekend in Istanbul (the feature of my GCSE art coursework) and freeze in Iceland’s Ice Hotel before a trip to the Blue Lagoon. I’m pretty varied in what I want to do, what I want to spend. I just want to see as much as I can, do as much as possible, make the most of living. Because after all, we only live once!

What’s on your travel bucket list? Are you ticking off anywhere this year?

University: Surviving Nightmare Housemates

It happens at every university. Someone, somewhere has terrible, terrible housemates. Now this post is a little tongue-in-cheek, but it’s built on actual experiences that either I went through or was told about.

 photo 2014-09-03182139_zpsa66d8208.jpgUse your own chopping board. And disinfectant is your best friend.

I wish I had a picture of the chopping board in my halls kitchen to show you. Put it this way; it was white when we moved in. I binned it at Christmas and it was black. The only time I used it I got food poisoning.

You may end up housesharing with someone who’s hygiene isn’t quite up to scratch. Whether its just mildly annoying, like the person who does not, who will not take the bloody bins out, to something a little more risky to your health, it’s quite likely to happen. I witnessed things I would rather forget in my first year, and smelt things that I doubt I will ever leave behind. A BBQ Pizza left on the table for a week, then put in the fridge, then cooked a week later? Believe me, not pleasant. The same person also used to sellotape up the plug-hole every time they showered (around once a fortnight). Que a minor flood, and about ten handfuls of hair all over the bathroom. And the very obviously dirty underwear that hung in the bathroom for around two days. That was the unclean side. The dirty side resulted from the inability to wash up after handling raw meat, the refusal to empty their fridge shelf of old food before piling fresh stuff on top of it (I once could only identify a packet of green beans because thats what the label said they were), and the chicken that was defrosting behind the microwave for at least five days.

Moral of the story – stay clean yourself, and you’ll survive. I got by with only two extremely dodgy tummies in the year – and one could have been a restaurant meal. I kept all my cooking stuff upstairs, sprayed and wiped the surfaces before putting my things on them (even the sink before washing up!), and emptied out the fridge every term. Oh, and if their washing up stuff was left longer than a week, it went in a cardboard box. And then I chucked that in the bin at the end of the term. It killed me that once that included some Joseph Joseph kitchenware. Trust me, I tried my damn hardest to chisel whatever it was off. No luck.

 photo 2013-05-18205833_zps1c1190a2.jpgGuard your cutlery with your life.

Especially your teaspoons. I swear they must grow legs and walk off…I buy about 10 teaspoons a year and most of them disappear. I tell a lie…I have a habit of accidentally throwing them in the bin with my teabag in the morning. And having read the first point in this post you’ll understand why I didn’t want to retrieve anything out of the bin.

But anyway, a lot of people I know had housemates who like to “borrow” things. Most of the time it was a genuine borrow, but things didn’t get washed up, things got broken (plastic handled spoons and freezer-cold ice cream don’t mix). My advise is that if you have something you are really precious about, leave it at home. Take things that can relatively easily be replaced. Or just hide everything in your room. Simples.

CheesyPastaBake photo CheesyPastaBake_zps5b08a68c.jpgBe wary of food thieves. Especially around April Fools. 

On 1st April of my first year, I was met by a note on the fridge. Apparently the guy upstairs had heard a noise at 3am, gone downstairs to find the kitchen window wide open and his bacon missing from the fridge. Now I have issues with his story for a few reasons. Firstly, no way in hell could someone have easily got through that window. Secondly, what was wrong with my sausages also sitting in the fridge? Oh, and referring to the first point in this post – why would anyone want anything out of our kitchen?!

But food stealing does happen, unfortunately. Other than a bit of cheese I never had food stolen myself (probably as it was mostly upstairs!) so I was relatively lucky. I knew of a house where someone left the back door (leading to the kitchen) unlocked. A group of people snuck in, blocked off the kitchen door, and cleared their cupboards, fridge and freezer of everything. You have no idea how devastated I would be if I woke up to all my food gone.

So, stay clean, hide things and keep doors locked. 

They’re my top three student tips for surviving nightmare housemates, and probably my top few tips for surviving university in general. I’ve written this post to take part in #CurrysStudentHacks competition, which you can read more about here.

Have you ever had to live with ‘difficult’ people? How did you survive? Any top tips for university?

Baking: Grandma’s Treacle Tart

Quite a fussy child, when my grandma brought out cakes to go with tea when we visited, I’d only go for two options. If there weren’t there, I’d go hungry. Actually that fussiness hasn’t completely gone away, as the texture of any dried fruit is still a no-go for me – which means no fruit cake, no mince pies, no Christmas pudding, you get the jist. Anyway, I’d either eat jam tarts, or treacle tarts. To this day Grandma’s Treacle tart is one of the best I’ve eaten, and I think I’ve finally managed to replicate it.

 photo 150544d1-991c-40a6-be3c-c0aed1be8d5c_zps2b5ce75d.jpgIt’s quite a bit denser than your traditional Treacle tart, and is best served gently warmed. If you want a gooey, looser filling, simply leave out the oats. I personally prefer it, it’s a bit more substantial, and keeps me from getting a major sugar rush. Perfect with cream, even better with ice cream, this one is a winner for a cold Autumn or Winter night…which is exactly why I’m entering it into Topps Tiles A/W14 National Baking Week Challenge. A few bloggers were hand-picked to enter, and sent some gorgeous baking goodies (currently at my home; I couldn’t quite carry them on the train) and then told to post on this week. Here’s mine, fingers crossed as I know my mum would love to new tiles, and I definitely wouldn’t say no to a Kitchen Aid…

 photo 0e317927-29b0-4ab8-977d-510db4f8226d_zpsb770a9bc.jpgRecipe

  • Pastry case – you could try making my pastry here, replacing any salt/pepper/herbs with a little sugar. Blind bake, cool, then fill. Alternatively buy read rolled and blind bake, or even a ready made pastry case. The steps in this recipe assumes you’ve got a pastry case all ready.
  • 400g golden syrup – I bought a 450g tin and just left a spoonful for porridge the next day
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 80g breadcrumbs, which I found was roughly 1 rolls worth
  • 2 tablespoons of oats

 photo 6c1326b7-22dd-421a-9bda-1749b349d6b0_zps526a45a0.jpgPreheat your oven to 160g. Grate your lemon zest into a bowl, and pour over the golden syrup.

 photo b2b7d888-8500-40ee-a350-621b08c0d2e0_zpsa1d669bb.jpg photo 0b78cf1a-8444-4d29-a854-66f0919cd762_zpsd8e289b3.jpgStir in your lemon juice and your breadcrumbs/oats. Stir well, until it is all combined. The mix should be thick, but still able to ‘move,’ i.e. when you pour it into the pastry it should spread itself to the edges.

 photo 96f0caff-20bf-4932-a46f-982e678641f4_zps1c1b7f9c.jpgAdd to the pastry case, and then bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Keep an eye to make sure that the top doesn’t catch – you may want to lower the heat.

 photo 6a831efd-b8a2-4816-9b59-ada55a97ce6a_zpsba7cee49.jpgThe mix will be quite wobbly and ‘wet’ when you fetch it out – it will firm up on cooling. Enjoy slightly warm (the microwave does this perfectly) with cream or ice cream.

 photo 7d706961-68c8-4d60-9278-a58b7b2a603d_zpsf42b6d25.jpgI absolutely love this bake, warm and comforting, and ridiculously simple to make. I’ll never buy one in again – even with buying a pastry case the ingredients are far less science-lab, and there’s something so lovely about the smell of it cooking too. One of life’s greatest pleasure, and I’m very thankful for my Grandma for introducing me to her recipe.

What’s your favourite comforting bake for cold weather?