Friday, 23 September 2011


Recently I have been working on a booklet as a gift for my friend (illustrated above!) who has just moved into her first student house. The main reason I wanted to write this booklet for her was that I was aware she was moving into a house with seven other people, something which I experienced during my second year of university. I remembered how hard it could be to live in a normal sized house but with so many people and I wanted to share the knowledge I had gained from this experience. 
I also knew that, as she admitted herself, she wasn't the greatest culinary whizz, so I also included several recipes and useful tips to get her started. To make the book special I decided to do some quick, light hearted little spot illustrations to brighten up the pages. 

After presenting her with the book yesterday I have decided now that it's no longer a secret to share a little extract with you all - and the section I have chosen to share is the list of useful utensils you'll need in your student kitchen. I hope any fresh students that are reading this find it useful, and I also hope that any not so fresh students agree from their own experience that my advice is informative! 

Useful stuff to have in your kitchen

"In a student kitchen there only needs to be a few utensils to make your life easier. I start this list with one piece of advice – unless your flatmates are wonderful and all use their own personal plate, make sure you have one clean plate before you cook as there is nothing worse than having to wash a plate to eat from when your lovely meal is all ready and going cold. The following bits of kit will make it easier to make my recipes as well as other simple staple meals.

A wok  - This is the perfect pan for a student kitchen. Not only is a good wok useful for frying things such as onions or mince, it can also be used as a pan so that everything you do can all be in one pot – and that means less washing up!

A good knife – if you’re cooking meals from scratch it’s a good idea to have one good knife to chop all your vegetables and meat – though don’t forget to clean it before and after washing chicken.

A chopping board – for all that chopping of course. If you can get a plastic one that would be good – but a wooden one is perfectly fine, just make sure you wash it quickly after chopping chicken.

A colander – good for draining your endless meals of pasta! You can also use a sieve for this if you don’t have a colander. A colander also makes a brilliant robot hat for those freshers parties. 

A measuring jug – how else are you going to make gravy my darling?

A good can opener – for the days when you want to ignore my recipes and get out a can of beans and miniature sausages.

A potato peeler – for that yummy mashed potato that we all know and love.

A slotted spoon – good for serving your peas and getting pasta out of the pan to check if it’s done.

A cheese grater – because buying pre-grated cheese is simply on the unacceptable side of laziness.

Other useful things that are fairly obvious are – a good wooden spoon, a decent set of cutlery, a mixing bowl, a spare bowl (so you can put the leftovers in the fridge for the next day) and if you don’t have a wok I recommend a decent saucepan and a good frying pan."

Hope you enjoyed my little snapshot of my booklet, I might post a recipe from it in the next few days. 

Thursday, 22 September 2011


It's been a bit of a large break in between blogs at the moment as I have been working on lots of different things. Today though, I can reveal something I have been cooking up 'Willy Wonka' style for my friend Amber's 18th birthday. A few months ago, she found an image of a rainbow cake and asked me if I thought it was possible to make - so I decided to make one for her birthday. I settled on a brilliant recipe from a blog called The Whisk Kid, whose recipe was not only fantastically written and easy to follow, but the photographs were to die for! So much so that it made me want to be a food photographer for a long time after I read this recipe...

 Anyway, I managed to get some Sugarflair gel food colouring from a brilliant local shop called Angel Cake (which you can also get online at places like this) and after two days of mixing with six separate wooden spoons and icing with a massive spatula, I arrived at the cake. Here's a few pictures of my progress (sorry for the quality, ridiculously bright cake batter and camera lenses don't mix!)

Part of the mixing process - it's a good job our kitchen is heavily overstocked when it comes to bowls and wooden spoons!

The finished cake - I opted for a lilac buttercream over a white crumb coating to hide the cake's gloriously colourful centre.

The offcuts of the trimming process demonstrate how bright the final product was!

 I presented the cake to her this morning in a custom cakebox, with a logo on the lid that I designed myself (above) so that she has something of the epic cake to keep once she has eaten it all. I even managed to sneak a piece of cake for myself and managed to get a couple of better quality photos for you.

Happy 18th Birthday Amber!