Greetings, food lovers, and welcome to this week’s edition of Friday Feast, once more featuring me. And what fun we’re going to have too, because I have toys to show you!
But first, the roller-coasting fun that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. With the rise in temperature so does my golf game continue to improve. Not in great leaps and bounds, as one would like, but slowly and surely. I’m even trying smarty-pants shots. Admittedly not all of them pay off but one day soon they’ll begin to. I can feel it in my waters… Or maybe that’s just an omen of where my balls will end up if I continue the smarty-pants act. We shall see!
Right, as always we need a lovely read for you to check out. This week we’ll look at my latest release, The Falls.
For as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.
Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.
But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.
Talking Books Blog described The Falls as “A knockout of a read that had me completely captivated from the first page…” And this great story could be yours with just a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Big W or your favourite bookstore.
All set? Now come join me in playtime!
My Favourite Gadgets
Ooh, I adore a good gadget. They call to me from the windows of cooking shops and chef’s supplies, from catalogues and department store shelves, and don’t get me started on the sink that is the internet. I have been known to escape for hours into Peters of Kensington, Kitchenware Direct, Kitchen Warehouse, and places far flung.
I’ll admit to buying quite a few items that I’ve never used and probably never will. Those ravioli cutters I bought spring to mind, along those wanky steel rings for plating up salads into perfect towers. And silicone egg poaching pods. Who the hell thought those were a good idea? Me, obviously, seeing as I have half a dozen of the useless things clogging my kitchen junk drawer. Palette knives are another dud buy, along with dough cutters. I mean, I know they’re lovely and I have used them, but it’s far easier to grab a knife from the rack, and god knows I have a pile of those things too. Knives of every persuasion, from teeny-tiny fruit knives to giant cleavers and the most beautiful carving knife from Toledo. What do I use most? The cheap Chinese chef knives with the soft steel that sharpen fast and blunt just a quickly. Mind you, at least I don’t cry when I break the tip off those, unlike my others.
Yes, I cry over broken (good) knives. Doesn’t everyone?
But, you know what? For every dud gadget I own, there’ll be another that’s paid for itself many times over. In fact, there are a few things I’ll admit to being perhaps a tad obsessed by.
The Best Whisk Evah
I bought this in Cologne, Germany, and wish I’d bought one in every size plus the one with the Teflon-coated balls on the end. Over ten years on and I’m still stroppy that I only bought this one, and live in fear of it somehow disappearing from my life. This whisk is the GOODS. Seriously. It whips faster than any other whisk, ingredients don’t get caught up like they do with balloon whisks, the beads catch every corner, it makes a satisfying noise when you use it, and it’s plain cool. I would go back to Cologne just to buy another of these whisks. ‘Tis the truth.
El Cheapo Knife Sharpener
$14-99 from Aldi and one of the best gadget investments imaginable. Before this baby I’d persevered with steels of all persuasions, without success. I don’t care what the purists say, sharpening knives the proper way when you have no prowess has knobs on it. But with this, a few strokes through the slots and my knives are back razor sharp. Yeah, they’ve probably had about ten layers of steel stripped off them in the process but I don’t care. At least my knives get used now. Before they sat in their racks all blunt and annoying because I could never get them sharp enough to use again once the store edge wore off. Now they are. I rest my case.
Porcelain Pastry Beads
Once upon a time I used to go through bags of rice and beans, simply for blind baking tart bases. Not anymore! Now I simply pull out my pastry beads and away I go. They’re nice and heavy, cool fairly quickly and store away on the shelf in an old passata jar next to my rolling pin. Great investment! Oh, but do not drop the bottle or container they’re kept in, or spill them when lifting from the pastry case. Ever. These beads bounce, far and high. You’ll be picking them out of your home for the next year.
What did we do before Microplanes? Can you remember the torture that was zesting citrus before these came along? The zester in particular is a must in any kitchen. You need one of these, oh yes you do. It is a thing of much beauty and will transform your zesting life.
Like The Best Whisk Evah, I’m a little obsessed with this gadget. I bought it in Stockholm from a lovely big cooking shop that I discovered during my wanderings. The truth is I wanted a pure stainless steel version but the price of the one I had my eye on put me off. This one cost 495 Krona – about $80 or so – and it’s a cracker. It slices and shaves and juliennes and crinkle cuts and cleans up a breeze. Yup, those Swedes sure know a thing or two about design.
Mortar and Pestle
There’s something very satisfying about bashing things in a lump of granite and watching tough foodstuffs like lemongrass pulverise into pastes. The pestle makes a really cool ring when you use it, and the fragrance of the ingredients when they release all their goodness makes the cooking process even more exciting. I have two of these. A mid-sized one for small jobs and then the big mama for things like curry pastes.
The Mixmaster That Will Not Die
You have no idea how much I crave a new mixmaster. I look at all that lovely new technology out there and want to weep because I can’t justify buying any of it because my 20+ year-old Sunbeam refuses to die. The engine occasionally overheats when mixing highly resistant things like dough but even then it keeps churning away. Sometimes, when I’m feeling naughty, I walk away from it in the faint hope it’ll vibrate its way off the bench, but no. It stays there, whipping, mixing, doing its thing as it’s always done. I hate it. But I love it too. Oh, faithful cooking servant.
There are lots of other gadgets I could wax on about – my pasta machine, digital scales, Mouli, the humble garlic press, so many knives (now that they’re kept properly sharp), the really cool sieve I bought specifically for making one sauce and rarely use, a bazillion pots, pans and tins, that work of art meat tenderiser I bought in Vienna (cos they know aaall about schnitzels there) – but the above are the tools I can’t do without. I love them. Like, really, really love them. Which is a perfectly normal way to feel about a life-saving kitchen gadget, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
What about you? What’s your favourite kitchen gadget? Or maybe there’s one you want some clever-trousers to invent?
Share away. You might entice me, or someone else, to a new obsession!
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