Kitchen design ideas

I’ve written a lot lately about our home renovations and even though the Kitchen will be the last room in the house for a makeover, I’m thinking about it already.

During hour long Pinterest marathons, I’ve completely fallen for monochrome kitchens. I know they won’t be for everyone, but to me they’re dreamy.

monochromekitchen.jpg

onetwothree

The first kitchen studio I filmed a recipe in (this one in fact) was entirely cream, apart from a gorgeous collection of turquoise glassware in one corner.  It’s something I’d have never thought of doing but it was so effective. Since then, I’ve loved the idea of adding a pop of colour with art and accessories that could be easily swapped whenever we felt like a change. A monochrome kitchen would be the perfect base for that.

The open shelving is a must have for me, it seems to open up the room and provides easy access for the essentials. A magnetic knife rack is a must have in my dream kitchen too.

I’d also choose deep wide drawers over cupboards for most of the units after using my parent’s new kitchen. The drawers are perfect for pans, plates, utensils, appliances… You can see at a glance what is in there, you don’t have to bend down to find out what’s lurking at the back. There’s plenty of drawer organisers on the market to keep smaller items in check if you’re worried about them turning in to a jumble.

homebasekitchen

Odina feel white kitchen from HomebaseKilner push top jarXeno Kitchen with wrap over worktop, Magnetic chalkboard paint

A pantry style cupboard would hold all the food stuff for quick ingredient grabs with staples in Kilner push tops. I’d paint our smallest wall with magnetic chalk board paint and turn it in to a notice board and scribble on ingredient reminders so I could see it each time I walk out of the door.

I really like the sleek look of a ‘wrapped’ work top like in the photo above. Are they actually called that or have I just coined the phrase? Either way, I plan on ending our units that way.

What would you have in your ideal kitchen? I should add that I would definitely have a dishwasher. If you’re reading this Matt, that might be a hint. I’ve written this post in association with Homebase, but each item has been handpicked by me and as ever, the opinions (and hints) are entirely my own.

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California Dreaming

I love a lot of things about my home county. The Lake District has, in my opinion, some of Britain’s most astounding views. Our landscape is incredible. I’m passionate about our farming industry and the shellfish that comes from our coast. But heck, it rains a lot here. We actually get more rainfall a year than anywhere else in England and on those rainy days, I’d easily swap it all for California.

See, California seems to have everything I need. It has the valleys and mountain ranges that I adore so much here. It has the seafood and a massive agriculture industry, but it doesn’t have the rain. Then, let’s not forget the bonus of a built in wine region.

californian skyLocal food and produce is important to me and in that sense California truly has it all. If the sky was my only limit, I’d live there and I’m sure we’d eat better and be healthier for it. Our fruit and vegetables would be almost entirely local and plenty home grown, which as you know is my dream no matter where I live.

The food of California has a distinctive style thanks to it’s abundance of fresh produce and stylish nature, but it would be difficult to stamp a single cuisine on a state that’s such a melting pot of cultures. It really is the epitome of fusion food. They do pizza well, but not in the traditional sense, toppings are more abstract thanks to Wolfgang Puck‘s influence. There’s a strong latin influence that finds it’s way to work with unexpected dishes, taco pizza, taco soup, taco salad, taco everything! I think of Californian food as laid back, fresh and unpretentious.

Imagine the recipes I could concoct with so many fresh, local ingredients to hand. As you’d guess, my Californian dream revolves around food. I daydream about travelling the state, cataloguing tastes and plates and blogging my way through. Here’s how I’d begin:

1. Eat our fill of sushi, and plenty of California rolls.

2. Get a drive thru In-N-Out double double burger with animal fries

3. Stroll down Venice Boardwalk, people watching, street food in hand.

4. Skip breakfast and eat our way around a farmers market.

5. Find a waterfront sea food shack in Malibu and watch the surfers as we eat.

6. Dine out at The French Laundry. My love affair with all things French probably will never end but this Michelin Star restaurant is on my life long bucket list.

The-Frenc-Laundry-Yountville-CA-4th-Course-Spanish-Mackerel-En-Escabèche-Heirloom-Tomatoes-Crispy-Artichokes-Mizuna-and-Pine-Nut-Vinaigrette

7. Get a hotdog from the original Pink’s stand in Hollywood – I don’t care about the queue.

8. A wine tour of the Napa Valley

9. Have lunch at The Ivy

10. Pack a picnic and take in the sights at Lake Tahoe

Of course I want to explore, but once the big city adventures were over, what I’d really want to do is find a table in sight of the Napa vineyards. I’d settle outside with a glass of wine for a late night candle lit meal with Matt.

napa valley

We’d sit, enjoy our wine and just soak it up. You know the type of places that just a fleeting memory of fills your senses? I feel like California will be one of those, where you can feel the atmosphere and adventure and the scent and sounds will stick with you for life. I want to go and bottle that up for my rainy Cumbrian days.

There’s much more to California than the food I’d like to eat, I imagine I could fill a month of travelling in that state alone. Seeing Yosemite, Death Valley, The Hollywood Sign, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Columbia Historic District, Red Wood National Park, Coachella, Google Campus, Hollywood Walk of Fame,  Newport Beach, The Jurassic Museum, Huntington Pier, Lake Tahoe… the list goes on…

Have you ever been to California? If you have, I want to here all about it. I’m hoping to work with Visit California more in the future, but for now, it’s my big dream. What’s yours?

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Growing things

Growing up, I don’t remember a time when we didn’t have our own fruit and veg in the garden. I remember picking strawberries for Mum’s strawberry jam every year, and purple stained hands from the blackberry harvest. Add to that my Dad’s onion, potato and mushroom growing experiments and the feeble cress contribution I’d bring home from school and our ‘grow your own’ was pretty much sorted. My Great-Grandad (the only Grandad I’ve known) was a fruit and veg hawker. I spent Saturday mornings on my Uncle’s farm, climbing hay bales and collecting the eggs from in between. Home made meals with home grown bits and pieces just makes me happy, I guess it’s in my blood.

I don’t expect us ever to be completely self sufficient in the fruit and veg department, but this year, our garden has given us all sorts for a fairly minor investment.

My Parent’s picked up two bulbs of garlic from a farmer’s market in France last year. We split them in to cloves for planting and in return for less than 2 Euros, we have 16 huge bulbs of garlic to see us through the rest of the year.

growgarlic

garlicdrying

Elsewhere in the garden between pots dotted and two belfast sinks sunk in to a wall, we have a good stock of herbs. Bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, lavender, parsley, mint, fennel… These are freshly picked for meals most of the time but this year I’ll be drying them to restock our jars.

drying bay leaves

Of all the things we planted this year, I wish we’d planted more spinach. I love the leaves in a salad or wilted down in my South Indian Fish Curry, you can see it filling my wrap in my Mojito Chicken and there’s often a handful in my smoothies too! I’m not alone in my spinach worship either, Matt has spinach, bacon and poached eggs every morning without fail. Even if all you have is a windowsill, spinach will grow readily in a pot there with a little care. You can buy 300 seeds for £1.79 including delivery on Amazon.

spinach

Our ‘Summer Ball’ courgettes are just starting to be harvested and the beetroot, carrots, beans and peas won’t be far behind.

summer ball yellow round courgettebeetroot

Are you growing anything? We’re starting to think about what to plant next and I’d love some suggestions.

If you don’t have anywhere to plant up, you’ll still manage a good share of produce from your local area. In my Parent’s field there’s year round foraging for elderflower, elderberries, wild raspberries, blackberries, wild garlic, hazelnuts, sloes, damsons, gooseberries, wild strawberries and crabapples. No upkeep required. I’m sure if you start to look, you’ll see food in hedgerows that you’d never paid notice to before.

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South Indian Style Fish Curry

I remember my first fish curry vividly. It felt like a daring choice at the time and it intrigued me. Without a doubt it was the most flavoursome and aromatic dish I have ever eaten. I was a convert.

This South Indian style curry is quite different to the fish masala I ate that day, but it keeps with it the qualities I saw in that first fish curry. It’s aromatic and flavourful, but it certainly won’t out spice you. It’s complex and deep, yet can be on the table in under fifteen minutes. The fish is melt in your mouth tender and bursting with the notes of the curry.

south indian curry

It’s a simple recipe to make in large quantities and is sure to impress your guests. I urge you to give this a go, I’m sure you’ll love it as much as we do.

fish curry

To serve four you’ll need:
1tsp Coconut oil (or groundnut)
2 Onions, finely sliced
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Minced ginger
2 Green chillies
1 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
20 Curry leaves
2tsp Turmeric
1tsp Fenugreek
400ml Coconut milk
300g chopped tomatoes, drained if tinned
500g Firm white fish – Basa, hallibut, sole, cod, haddock, catfish
Handful of chopped spinach
 
 

With a large pan on medium heat, add the coconut oil and allow it to liquify. Fry the Onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, mustard seed and curry leaves. Once the onions become translucent and the mustard seeds have popped, stir in the fenugreek and turmeric.

Add the coconut milk and tomatoes and bring to a steady simmer. Once simmering, cut the fish in to chunks and poach in the liquid. Once the fish is white throughout check the seasoning, stir in the chopped spinach and it is ready to serve.

mild curry recipe

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Spiked watermelon agua fresca & a giveaway

I love coconuts, and I like rum, so by all logic Malibu should be a drink I enjoy but until recently, we weren’t friends. Malibu and lemonade? Too sweet for me. Pina Colada? Too sickly for me. This weekend I made it my goal to find a drink that I enjoyed it in. Obviously testing and developing cocktails is an arduous task, but I’ve found the drink for Malibu naysayers. Spiked watermelon agua frescas.

watermelon aguafrescawatermelon cocktail recipe

You can make these in any blender, but I have a new kitchen gadget to introduce that I’m sure you’ll see a lot of over the coming months. See, I’m currently testing a Nurtibullet Pro for Selfridges, so I’ve been using it in as many recipes as possible - I’ve even made pastry in it! It’s replaced our bulky juicer, the blender and the now ancient smoothie maker that my Nanna once won at Bingo. It doesn’t technically juice because it doesn’t remove the fibre, but my juicer was just too much hassle to clean in comparison.

Anyway, recipe time. For two long drinks, you’ll need:

1/4 watermelon cubed, rind removed 
Juice of half a lime
A handful of ice cubes
50ml Malibu (or 100ml for double measures)
 

Add the ice and watermelon chunks to the blender, squeeze in the lime, add the Malibu.

watermelon cocktailslime and watermelonmalibu cocktails

This is the reason that my new gadget is so easy to clean, the extractor blade just screws on and off the cups.

nutribullet lid

Here is where the ‘oooh’ comes in if you like a good kitchen gadget. Blend that cup. The first and last photos in this gif are taken two seconds apart.

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I know the Nutribullet is more about the health shake/smoothie side of life, but it’s much more versatile than that. The individual cups and blades make it the perfect bartender for fresh and frozen cocktails. The Nutribullet Pro is coming very soon to Selfridges, I believe the Pro edition is around £140, but they also stock the standard (less powerful) Nurtribullet for £99. The price tag makes it more of an ‘investment piece’, but considering it’s replaced three other small appliances in our house and does a better job than each of them, it’s well worth it.

cocktails with malibu

Monday morning could be deemed a little inappropriate for cocktails and liquor giveaways, but maybe it can work as an incentive for you? Picture yourself, Friday night, sipping a spiked agua fresca. Surely that reward will make the week go a little faster.  With that disclaimer, I’m giving away a limited edition bottle of Malibu designed by the amazingly talented Sera Ulger. The bottle is inspired by this season’s catwalk trends and features a bright feather design that just cries out with carnival spirit. There are lots of ways to enter, all listed in the Rafflecopter widget below. If you enter – good luck! If you make some agua frescas this weekend – enjoy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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