I love going round kitchen and cookery workshop suppliers – there used to be a truly fantastic emporuium in my local town. It was filled from floor to ceiling with rack after rack of the most divine culinary objects – many of which it would be almost impossible to hazard a guess its purpose. This small independent family owned retail outlet was really well known in the wider area, mainly because they were prepared to get into stock jut about anything innovatie and useful. They also souced the unusual item for the serious chef or cook. Fish kettles in 10 sizes, minute single sauce pans, utensils in every shape, size, metal, colour. They would display everything in mini kitchen displays so there would be for example, a huge expensive mixers/food processors with every conceivable attachment would take centre stage, then the rest of the company’s kitchenalia list would be spread around it. Absolute culinary heaven!
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I had the chance to enrol with chums at a chocolate making workshop the other summer. It was actually part of a a whole host of hen party activities and we all had to select from a choice of 8 things, which ones we wanted to attend (and pay for). No one will be at all surprised that a full house wanted the chocolate based activity! As it happened, for all the expense, we didn’t make the chocolate – that was already made and we just made different choccy sweets, adding flavoured fillings and all sorts. This was a bit disappointing, although I guess 20 giggly women with expensive ingredients could make an awful mess! It did inspire me though to look at the more serious side of the venue’s menu of courses and bought into the fish buying and preparation and how to cook sensibly and economically for one. A good outcome from a sticky beginnings.
I had the opportunity to join a pal on a rather high end shopping trip recently. This was a reward voucher she’d had for some spectacular achievement at work. I know not what the value of the gift was, but it involved a very nice department store in the new shopping mall that has opened not a million miles away. I drove us both on the day so chummy could concentrate on getting dressed in sensible, easy to remove and replace clothes. Well, this was such a laugh as the shopping/floor walker made us both feel really welcome and then set us at ease with small one liner quips. There was firstly a colour consultation to see how our choice of clothing could affect how certain outfits look on us. This was ideal for when we wish to browse our favourite sites too.
I have promised to provide two items of Christmas festival food for my hostess – she is already providing enough food for the entire wetern world, but there will inevitably be folk at the table who do not like conventional christmas pud or cake. So I said I’d make alternatives. This offer was made in a moment of feeling very confident and still flushed with the success of having provided a really good emergency standby meal for the same parties. Having not had much notice, I was able to cobble together a really healthy and surprisingly tasty all in one oven bake. That’s something I have not done for some years since family life was reduced to solo living!
I realise I haven’t made anything much lately and lack the confidence I used to show whenever family gatherings arose. Hmmm maybe a cookery workshop would be a welcome present – note to Santa coming up!
At this time of year, i.e. autumn , there are fewer programmes showing the light salad sort of meals that I content myself with most of the time. Being on my own, I tend to take the easier course through the intricasies of healthy eating. I do avoid over processed meals – mainly because they do seem to contain a frightening amount of sugar, salt and other sins. I just do a mix of veg or salad and add a meat, fish or egg item to that. Culinary masterpieces they are not, but quick, nutricious and damned cheap they are! However, there have been times when I fancied attending a proper fish cooking course, or more useful still, a course in how to deal properly with beef. I adore beef and I very rarely cook it myself now, for fear of ruining it. Online cookery workshops will be the next browsing subject for this baby!
On a visit to a working museum set in an old copper mine complex brought some very unexpected pleasures and experiences. After the obligatory rid on the train down into the bowels of the earth – well a few hundred metres anyway, we came back up and took the trourist route to see what the rest of the barns contained. Amongst the predictable grocery store exhibits of original food packages and tins and old washing dollies etc were some more interesting ones like the history of chocolate, with a chance to make a lolly each. Then there was the bread roll making . . . delicious. That prompted some of us to take advantage of a cookery session to be booked there and then. From that began an interest in other cookery courses and great fun has been had by all of us who now meet up on a regular basis every few months at other culinary education episodes!
Oh the fun of a birthday treat – afternoon tea out at a local emporium or up to town for a super swish extravaganza. The prices these days do rather dictate the programme of events. The local tea room will offer a full size tea and buns, not necessarily the most sophisticated fare, but good honest home made grub. All for around £12.00 a head. The London set with their vintage themese will set you back around £30 to £70 a head.
I attended an AT for a very aged relative recently – at a smart local outlet. The poor old dear was far less interested in the food – in fact she hardly looked at anything, it just went down the hatch with the same lack of interest as her care home dinners. It was the gorgeous vintage chinaware that caught her eye. Beautiful floral tea cups and matching pot and milk jug. So elegant and worth the trouble of the car parking episode!
I have been very fortunate in the past few years in terms of having acquired some really lovely pieces of crockery and chinaware from various relatives. Having helped empty the bungalows of two aged relatives as they transferred into care homes, the painful task was slightly cheered by having the chance to take home those much loved items seen so many times during family visits.
There is something really touching about being able to take afternoon tea from the same beautiful rose patterned fine bone china cups and saucers, the hot brew poured from the elegant teapot. Ok, it drips a little, but a carefully placed tissue sees to that. The only other way to get hold of these gorgeous artefacts is to tray and sources them online via several excellent sites that dedicate themselves to obtaining and merchandising fine china, porcelain and retro kitchenware.
Cookery workshops are a relatively new idea for joint gatherings like hen parties and girlie functions. A couple of former colleagues in a previous existence were recently moving from a company to start up their own enterprise and instead of a leaving gift each, they requested a contribution towards a cookery workshop specialising in afternoon tea presentations. They gained a wealth of information and it proved so much more to them than the face value of the voucher itself. They are now happily starting their second quarter in the afternoon teas sector of catering.
The choice online is fantastic these days – it is possible to pick every single discipline of the chef’s exetensive repertooire. As the name suggests, a workshop gives an overview of what is required in say, fish cookery – being encouraged to try naming, selecting, skinning and boning a whole fish and then getting down to cooking it correctly before serving.
A distant cousin was getting married the other year. Plans had been announced a good 2 years before the big day – save the date texts received all round. Time aplenty for getting help with wedding present ideas – cookery workshop perhaps, some kitchenware to complement . . . . . Eventually the real business kicked in. Invites to the wedding and reception for the inner set, invites to the evening do only for the outer set. Then the stag dos were organised and of course, the bride’s hen parties.
Cookery with high end chocolate workshops was one of the choices in our case. Fantastic fun, a professional chocolatier had batches of chocolate ready made and we watched in awe as he flashed brilliant skills and inspiration aplenty for bride and hens to take away. This idea had been sourced online from a site dedicated to themed workshops – they offered fish cookery, variations on vegetable presentation etc. Fantastic, not just for hens!