Crossing Over with Tideford Organics

I’m often asked to review products on one of my blogs or give an opinion. I turn down most companies, mainly because I believe in clean, healthy food. It’s the kind of food we planted and harvested on the farm in West Virginia where I grew up, and the kind of food I prepare for my own family still. I could never be bothered to review products that don’t fit into that profile, and sadly, many do not. Enter Tideford Organics. A most unusual company. Unusual in all the best ways.

If you haven’t yet heard of Tideford Organics, they have been around since 1996 and were built on a commitment to organic food and the environment. They are now in a purpose built factory in Devon and designing food that tastes like you made it at home. If you haven’t already read it, here is my review of the products I was sent.

Back in October, one of my friends/readers saw that Tideford was looking for food bloggers to review their new line. Normally, I would pass the link on to another blogger, but I found Tideford intriguing. I’d seen their products while perusing the gluten-free tag on the Ocado website. I always look at the ingredients lists of products if they are available and was impressed by the fact that their soups and sauces seemed to be all prepared from fresh organic ingredients. So I agreed to review all the gluten-free vegetarian items that they’d like to send my way.

A few weeks after my review went live, you can imagine my surprise when I got another email from Tideford saying they were sending me a second batch of goodies that had been “tweaked in response to your comments on your blog.” What? I was stunned. Where was the normal “thank you for your review, we’ll take your comments into consideration” or the dreaded “like us on facebook you could win in a £250 voucher!”  I told you they were unusual! I was also amazed at how much they’d accomplished with just a few lines of suggestion. For that is what it was, only suggestion, I had no idea that after a 3rd batch tasting and discussions with the managing director that we’d be in negotiations for my consulting on next season’s line.

So there it is. I’ve now crossed over from independent reviewer to consultant. I thought you should know, and I’m hoping to be able to share as much of the experience as possible in the coming months. I’m headed down to Devon on Thursday next and cannot wait to meet up with the team. I’m so pleased at the prospect of working with a company that holds the same ideals about food that I do. Stay tuned for the next chapter!

First Attempt at Designing Jewellery with Sugru

Have you heard of Sugru? It’s this amazing self-setting rubber that comes in tonnes of amazing colours! Steve came home with large packet of it after a conference around 4 months ago. The first thing I though was…wow! I’ll bet that would be great for setting stones! And of course…it is! This particular necklace has a 2ct. mystic topaz set with sterling silver rings and square sterling wire.

I think I need to do a bit more tweaking, perhaps find some kind of sealing agent because it’s not impervious to marks from a fingernail, but as a jewellery material it is incredibly light, strong and feels great to touch! Can’t wait to design more! The possibilities are endless!

If anyone wants to buy this prototype (it’s signed and dated on the back as well) Shall we say £35 with sterling silver chain?


Great Music in Birmingham

Hi there lovelies! I have to say it’s been a long time since I’ve played an open mic night…but I haven’t played out at all in Birmingham yet and this one was suggested by my good bass playing friend Kev (Reg) Cooke. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was certainly one of the best open mics I’ve ever played. The bar for music seems to be high here in Brum…which is fantastic. There was gorgeous uke and mandolin playing, a fantastic beatboxer, even some fab jazzy hip-hop at the end. One of the stand-outs of the night for me was Louise Petit. Wow, so so lovely. You just need to see her for yourselves! She’s playing a free gig at the Yardbird Jazz Club in Birmingham on December 7th, so go have a listen so you can agree with me wholeheartedly! 😉 Plus I believe that my lovely friend Kevin Cooke might be playing bass at that gig as well. He played with me last night on two songs and I am so looking forward to more! Perhaps we’ll work out that jazz set I’ve always wanted to do.

I’ve also heard about a music night that happens on Sundays called The Free Love Club at The Island Bar so I’m looking forward to checking that out as well. So yes, YAY. Till next time! x

this original photo I’ve used in the above post is by photosteve101 and licensed through creative commons. Thanks Steve!

Spicy Sweet Potato Stew

This is one of my favourite recipes, and I find myself craving this when I feel as if I am coming down with a cold. Â You can adjust the spices to your taste. Some people prefer more cumin and less cinnamon, or more heat. Â It’s a very forgiving recipe so feel free to play!

African Sweet Potato Stew

2-3 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
2-3 medium white or red potatoes peeled and cubed
3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped finely
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 inch piece of fresh Ginger peeled and chopped finely
1 medium onion diced
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili flakes or one fresh chili snapped and added (this way you can take it out if it’s getting too spicy)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
salt to taste
Boiling water
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp honey or 2tbsp agave

Add olive oil to heated soup pan or Dutch oven set to medium heat, fry onions until transluscent, sweet potatoes until slightly brown and caramelised, add garlic and Ginger until you begin to smell them. Add spices and  salt and stir to coat.  Incorporate tomatoes and mix well and then add enough boiling water to cover mixture by 1/2 inch. Boil lightly for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Many thanks to Dave Lifeson for the gorgeous photo, licensed under creative commons on flickr. Click on the photo to see more of his work.

Desert Island Foods

flickr series...annoying things to be stranded on a dessert island with....a skateboard and a hairbrush. Click for more from Minifig!

Since my post on quinoa last week, I’ve been thinking about which foods are most important to me in terms of nutrition.  This led me to start thinking about what my top 5 desert island foods would be. While most ‘desert island’ lists are made for pleasure,  I suppose this list would have to contain carefully thought out items that would help one to survive.  Let’s start out by assuming that this island has lots of clean fresh water.  My five foods would then be…

1. Oranges – oranges have been a lifesaver for me…they are a natural antihistimine and I use chewable vitamin C to stave off allergy attacks.  Since I’ve been using them for this purpose, I also find that I get sick a lot less often as well.

2. quinoa– as we talked about in my quinoa post…this is pretty much a complete protein.

3. ginger– wouldn’t do much for calories, but the anti-inflammatory and medicinal uses as well as the seasoning options got this on to my list.

4. sweet potatoes – nice carbs, lots of vitamin A, and such a versatile food.

5. chickpeas– high in iron, calcium, folate, and trace minerals.  One of those foods that could keep you alive for a long time!

My list is also targeted at foods that can be ground into flour.  Quinoa, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes are all items that can made into nutritious flour.  That would leave us even more options for versatility.

(so what comfort food could I not live without??? it’s hard for me to decide between chocolate and cheese really…cheese is my guilty pleasure.  I’ve had to live without it many times in my life due to allergies, and since the birth of my son I can eat it again. Hooray!  )

What are your desert island foods?