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There is always something happening in supermarkets - new products, product demonstrations, shelves reorganised so you can't find anything. Not always interesting, quite often boring and sometimes a chore but just occasionally something catches your eye, something is interesting . . .

December's just too busy in the supermarket

Crisp 'n DryEveryone is so busy shopping for Christmas that the supermarkets don't really bother with special promotions or new lines so finding something of interest appeared a bit difficult . . . that is until this morning when visiting a horse tack shop! I know that sounds bizarre but bear with me.

The lady who runs the shop knows I love cooking and we got to talking about food and health, which led to my comment that "My doctor says I should cut down on olive oil because of the fat content" which naturally led on to the subject of rapeseed oil.

Do you use rapeseed oil? Have you heard of the benefits of using and eating rapeseed oil?

  • High burning temperature (fat that burns is bad for you in the long term)
  • Rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6
  • Rapeseed oil also contains Omega 9 which may have a role in helping the immune system and cancer prevention
  • There are claims that rapeseed oil will lower cholesterol
  • Rapeseed oil has half the saturated fat of olive oil – which is often recommended for its health benefits . . . so if olive oil is supposed to be good for you then logic says rapeseed oil must be even better!

Omega 3 is regarded as beneficial in many ways:

  • Cancer – shown to aid in the reduction or treatment of some cancers
  • Cardiovascular disease – seen as beneficial to the heart and associated disorders
  • Brain - indications that it helps keep brain more alert and prevent deterioration due to ageing
  • Inflammation - benefits have been shown in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers

(There is no categorical statement saying Omega 3 is this or that but all the indications are that you will be better with it than without it. Always consult your doctor.)

Now most of the rapeseed oil I have bought has been expensive which is what I said to the lady from the horse tack shop . . . which is when she asked me if I knew that Crisp 'n Dry was made from 100% rapeseed oil.

I was amazed because it is a brand name I have been aware of all my life - I think my mother used to use it (and that was a long time ago). I don't know whether Prince's, who produce Crisp 'n Dry, have failed to capitalise on the trendiness of rapeseed oil or whether I just missed it but this opens up whole new options in the kitchen.

The pricing is good as well. I have been paying over £5 for a half litre bottle whereas doing a Google search I could buy it online at £1.85 for 1 litre and £3.40 for 2 litres. It is of course widely available in all the supermarkets. I can now keep my more expensive oil for salads and dressings.

As a lover of chips (against doctor's orders) and roast potatoes . . . and, to put it bluntly anything I can deep fat fry, I am now going to fill my chip pan with rapeseed oil with the smug satisfaction that I have become healthier!

Editorial note: This site is not paid to promote Crisp 'n Dry and nor is it an expert on health matters.


Spanish Kitchen Knives

Kitchen KnivesArcos – one of the world’s oldest knife manufacturers

In 1875, Gregorio Arcos Aroca began to turn his small workshop where he made Spanish knives into what is now the largest knife factory in Spain. As a family business Arcos has been in the pursuit of excellence for over 130 years and displays antique pieces in the Madrid museum.

Arcos manufacture more than 600 different knife designs from their Color Prof range designed for chefs and caterers to their top of the range Kyoto, Saeta and Terranova models. Arcos knives are of supreme quality with ergonomic design, each carrying a 10 year guarantee and have styles suggesting class and elegance. Based in Albacete Spain, Arcos now export their quality pieces worldwide to both the domestic gourmet and professional chefs.

Cooks knives ~ Chefs knives ~ Gift sets ~ Knife blocks

A craftsman’s work is made easier and ultimately safer depending on the tools they use. Arcos continues to invest research and expertise into making knives that become valued tools for every professional. Success in the kitchen is also supported by the correct tools with top quality knives instilling confidence.

Whether you are searching for a set of high quality knives or a single piece consider Arcos for guaranteed performance, style and heritage.

To view knives: or


Celebrations are soon behind us as we move into January but it is still nice to take time out and have a romantic meal with your partner. Here is a simple idea which tastes out of this world.

Baked Trout or Sea Bass


2 medium Trout or 2 small Sea Bass
4 lg spring onions sliced lengthways
1/4 orange bell pepper diced
65gms wild mushrooms cut in half or quartered
7 or 8 thin slices of fennel bulb
Small bunch flat leaf parsley / Italian parsley chopped
4 thick asparagus spears
2 oz butter

How to make:

  • Preheat oven to 200ºC / Gas Mark 5
  • You will need two large pieces of oven proof tin foil.
  • Prepare all your vegetables - chop, slice, dice, etc.
  • Melt 1 oz butter.
  • Brush each piece of tin foil with melted butter to an area the size of the fish.
  • Lay the fish on the tin foil and brush with butter.
  • Place mixture of vegetables in cavity and over the top of fish laying two Asparagus spears on top of each.
  • Pour any remaining butter over top and add pieces of butter to top of each.
  • Fold tin foil over fish to form a sealed envelope.
  • Place envelopes on a baking tray and bake in oven for approximately 40 to 50 minutes depending on size of fish.


  • You can vary the vegetables used to suit your tastes or availability.

Serves 2

Remember measurements only have to be approximately the same so don't panic if you can't get exact quantities.


Creamy Carrot Soup


7 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
4 tblsp butter
2 lbs fresh carrots, peeled
3 leeks, sliced in half lengthways and thoroughly cleaned
1 sweet potato, peeled
4 stalks celery
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 pint double cream

How to make:

  • In a large pot, bring stock to a boil.
  • Chop all vegetables into small pieces (approximately 1/2 inch cubes).
  • In a sauté pan, over medium high heat, melt half of the butter. sauté vegetables with ginger and nutmeg for approximately 15 minutes, or until vegetables are browned. Add remaining butter as needed.
  • Add sautéed vegetables to stock, reduce heat, cover with a lid, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool to room temperature and then puree in a blender. Soup should be thick and smooth.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • To serve, add approximately 1 tablespoon of cream per serving and reheat. Do not let boil.
  • Serve in warmed bowls.


  • Browning the vegetables before simmering them brings out their naturally sweet flavours. The browner (without burning), the better.
  • Vegetable sautéing may require two pans.
  • Adding the cream at the reheating stage, rather than all at once, extends the refrigerator life of the soup.
  • If you attempt to puree soup before it has cooled down, the top of the blender will blow so wait until it cools.
23rd-29th Farmhouse Breakfast Week

It’s time to Shake Up Your Wake Up with Farmhouse Breakfast Week.

Farmhouse Breakfast Week is an annual campaign run by HGCA (HGCA is the cereals and oilseeds division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) which has been running since the year 2000. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast and demonstrate the variety on offer.

With one in four people regularly skipping breakfast, HGCA are challenging the nation to re-evaluate their morning routine.

Everyone can get involved in the celebrations . . .

  • Hold an event
  • Try a quick and easy breakfast idea
  • Offer a breakfast product promotion

Why eat breakfast . . .

  • Breakfast eaters tend to be slimmer than breakfast skippers.
  • Eating breakfast can aid concentration and mental performance at work and at school.
  • It provides you with the nutrients and energy needed for an active lifestyle.
  • Research shows that breakfast eaters are less depressed and have lower levels of stress than breakfast skippers.

So whoever and wherever you are, join us and Shake Up Your Wake Up with a healthy balanced breakfast.

Click for more

  29th-30th Potato Day

Spudtastic time for gardeners

Over 200 different potatoes are listed on the British Potato Variety database and gardeners can look forward to a choice of over 130 of them at Potato Day at Ryton Gardens.

This famous event aims to get more of us growing our own portion of the average 500 potatoes we each consume each year with a spud event on Saturday 29 (MEMBERS ONLY) and Sunday 30 January 2011 (open to the public) in conjunction with Webbs Garden Centres.

This year’s Sixteenth annual event will give budding growers the chance to buy from over 130 different types of seed potatoes, with 40 organic varieties.

Garden Organic’s Pauline Pears, who has attended all sixteen Potato Days, said, ”Many people think the growing season begins in spring when it actually starts in January, the ideal time to buy seed potatoes and start chitting them! Most of us have had a go at growing tomatoes or runner beans, but not potatoes, and yet they’re one of the easiest and earliest vegetables to grow.”

At the event, visitors can buy seed potatoes by individually by the tuber and in special promo packs, including blight resistant Sarpo potatoes alongside less common Edzell Blue, Peach Bloom and Yeltholm Gypsy varieties. They will also have a once a year chance to lay hands on rare vegetable seeds no longer available in the shops at the Heritage Seed Library Seed Swap.

Click for more
  29th-30th Love Food Weekend

Love Food Weekend on 29th and 30th January 11.00am to 3.30pm at Big Pit, the National Coal Museum in Blaenafon South Wales.

What better way to celebrate Saint Dwynwen's Day than by exploring the best of local foods with your loved one?

Sample the delights of local suppliers around south-east Wales and browse the best of their products in our special 'Love Food' weekend.

Click for more

This recipe has been handed down through the generations on my father's side of the family and is something rather special on cold winter days.

You will either need a mincer or an electric mixer to do the preparation. I always cook my faggots ahead and then warm them up when I wish to eat them. This allows the flavours to intensify and makes the faggots richer.

Welsh Faggots


1 lb (455 g) lambs liver
1/4 LB (115 g) onions
6 ozs (170 g) white bread crumbs
4 tsp dried sage
1 beef OXO cube
Knob of butter for each faggot
1/2 pt (330 ml) water


  • Make your bread crumbs by putting the dried bread in the mixer on a high setting until you have fine bread crumbs.
  • Put bread crumbs in large mixing bowl.
  • Chop onions in the mixer and add to the mixing bowl, this can be as fine or as coarse to suit your own tastes.
  • Chop the liver in the mixer and add to the mixing bowl, this can be as fine or as coarse to suit your own tastes.
  • Add the sage and mix thoroughly.
  • Shape the mixture into small balls (should make 8 to 10).
  • Place in a greased ovenproof dish or tin.
  • Put a small knob of butter on each faggot.
  • Make stock with OXO (beef) cube and water and pour around the faggots.
  • Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven (180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4) for fifteen minutes.
  • Remove foil and cook for further fifteen minutes.
  • Remove faggots and when cool cover and keep in the fridge until required.

To serve:

  • To reheat place the required number of faggots in a saucepan with beef stock (OXO or preferably Bovril) two-thirds of the way up the faggots. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Thicken stock to make a gravy and pour over.
  • Serve with garden peas (or mushy peas) and thick slices of freshly buttered bread.

Makes 8 to 10


Cooking in the oven

Don't you just hate cleaning oven pans where the juices or fats have got burnt on? If so the answer is simple - line any dish or pan you are going to use in the oven with tin foil.

For my sausage meatballs (to accompany Christmas dinner) I placed them on a tray with a sheet of baking paper under them . . . no sticking to the surface and no heavy washing up.

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