Renna's Discoveries: January 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Don't you just hate it when:

You pour water into your mug onto your teabag and then realise the kettle didn't boil......

You're trying to get your skinny jeans off late at night when you're super tired and everyone's asleep...

You clean the bathroom, and then someone has a shower straight away.....

Your mind goes blank as soon as you get to the top of the stairs.....

The kids stop listening to you!

Your nails that you are desperately trying to grow keep splitting...

Your friends let you down at the last minute......

You go to the shop and completely forget to buy what you went out for....

People park in Parent and Child Car Parking spaces when they have no child. (Especially men in their precious suits that they don't want to get wet!)

Huge vans park over two disabled spaces when they are not disabled, and have no where else for their vans to go.

What are yours ?

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Refinery Bar and Restaurant in London - Mixology Class

Cocktails and Food are two of my favourite things, so when I was invited to have a Cocktail Mixology Class at The Refinery Bar in London I was very excited. 
I took along two of my wonderful friends, so we could eat and have a catch up and make a night of it.
It's just over a five minute walk from Southwark Station, so it was easy to find. It's right in the middle of an office and apartment block, in a large glassed area. 
On first impression, it's huge. It also has a wonderful outside area, which I'm sure is absolutely packed over the summer months. There are blankets on all the tables, and a quirky feature is the silver teapots for ashtrays. Which I loved. Stops ash flying everywhere when it's windy. 
Inside the Refinery, the piping is all exposed in the ceiling. It also has a lot of little quirky features all around the restaurant and bar area. Flowers in different displays, a wall of wool, baskets and the chairs are all different too. Its full of lots of funky different features without looking messy.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Home Remedies - Health and Harmony in Stanmore

When its winter time, I always seem to get ill. Whether, its from the kids, or just being out in general, I can't escape it. Recently I've been ill with a cold that turned into a head cold. I've done as much resting as a mother can possibly do. I actually did two mornings on then sofa before picking up the youngest from nursery.
I've been taking medicines, and then not, as they were making no difference. I feel as if I've had a permanent headache. 
I was suggested to try something. And.... I do actually feel a bit better. I still have a headache, but my brain isn't so fuzzy and I haven't said or done something incredibly stupid today. Like carrying all the recycling upstairs, or putting milk in the cupboard, or feeling so exhausted that even my arms hurt when they are lifted.
Anyways, enough of me, check out this delicious drink that I was recommended to drink. 

Health and Harmony recommended : Hot Water, Shredded Ginger, Drop of Honey, Squeeze of Lemon and a Pinch of Turmeric.
Sounds good doesn't it ! 

It actually tastes delicious too. We all know that the good ole Honey and Lemon drink is always good to drink when you have a cold but I'd never bought of adding ginger and certainly not turmeric. However, I am hearing a lot of great things about turmeric lately, so I'm thinking it's worth using it more

I've been using a lot of Haughton Honey lately, as its so amazingly delicious. So this drink is 100% natural and good for making me feel better. 
“Make your own recovery the first priority in your life.”
My thought is......someone took their time in sharing a great idea with me, so I'm sharing it with you all. 

Banana & Haughton Honey Loaf

My last blog post was all about Haughton Honey, and I wanted to make a cake with it. So after going through many many recipes, I decided on a simple honey and banana loaf.
I like making cake loaves as they need minimal decoration, if any. I like to taste the cake and not be overwhelmed with icing.
This is the recipe I found using
However, I changed it ever so slightly.

60g Butter
200g Caster Sugar
2 Ripe Bananas
1 Egg
2 tablespoons of Honey
250g Self Raising Flour
1 teaspoon of Baking Powder
1 tablespoon of Milk.

How to Make:
Preheat your oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
Cream together sugar and butter. Mash bananas until really soft. Add together along with the egg and honey. Once it's all mixed properly, then sieve the flour and baking powder into the mix and fold well. Add the milk and mix well again. Pour into a greased and lined Loaf Tin - Easy!!

As you can I cheated with a loaf tin liner. These are brilliant and the cake never sticks! 
Ever ! So I would recommend these. Plus, if you are giving away as a gift, at least it's already in a wrapping! 

Next step is to put it in your oven.
Keep it at the temperature of 180C (mines fan assisted so I reduced it to 175C) and cook for 30 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 160C / Gas Mark 3 and cook for a further 30 minutes.

I just drizzled it with some normal icing sugar and that's it. Cake Done!
I thought this was really nice. Perfect to go with a cup of tea! 

Have a look at Haughton Honeys Website for some very interesting recipes, including a
Parsnip Cake. (Intrigued?)

I gave a jar to a friend of mine. See her Blog Post of Haughtons Honey

Haughton Honey

Honey is something everyone should have in their cupboards. It can be used in loads of recipes and is an alternative to sugar. I wouldn't say it was hugely healthier than sugar, but it sure is more natural. Humans have been collecting honey, ever since humans realised what it is, and how to actually obtain it from bee hives. They were clearly very brave or stupid at the beginning, as we all know that bees sting. 
I've always used honey in different ways. Simply spread on bread or toast, or any kind of croissant or pastry. It can be made into hot drinks when you are unwell, added to all kinds of different cakes, added to meals to sweeten them up. Homemade mushroom soup with honey is just delicious.

The Quintessential Sahara Scarf

Shop owners and stockists, have a look at this beautiful scarf that I was given by Quintessential.
The quality of the Sahara Scarf is amazing. It has a beautiful design and really stands out from the crowd.

I've had a lot of comments saying how gorgeous it is, plus it goes well with my pink coat.
As its absolutely freezing out at the moment, I've been enjoying wearing it around the house to keep me warm aswell as outside. It's so comfortable I forget I'm wearing it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Best Cleaning Products

As I am a full time mother at present, and I spend a lot of time cleaning and trying to keep the house organised, I just wanted to quickly recommend two products that I now Can Not clean without.
These are Viakal and Harpic Power Plus.
I have tried so many different cleaning products, as the two things I always struggled with was Limescale around the sink and bathroom and the toilet that just never looks clean. Living with kids, the toilet doesn't get flushed as much as it should which makes the toilet get dirty after a while. Especially overnight, when you're trying to be quiet.
I have tried most of the budget and supermarket own brands, and these are all perfectly fine for cleaning the surfaces in the kitchen and for the floors. I will literally get anything that's on offer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Watford Intu

After a long day shopping in the Sales in Watford's Intu, we decided to have dinner out as a last treat of 2014. I had heard that the Gourmet Burger Kitchen had recently opened, so I suggested we give it a go. We have already dined in a Birmingham branch, but it was such a long time ago, so we couldn't remember if it was worth revisiting. 
Anyways, we entered into an extremely busy restaurant , with incredibly friendly staff. Smiles all round. We were told to go to the top part and tell Simon to seat us, as he had One spare table. 
The restaurant is at the front of Intu Watford, in the old Waterstones, so it's easy to find. 
Simon seated us and gave us menus. We were informed to go to the bar to make our orders when we were ready. I have to say, I have no idea why they don't take orders at the tables ...... Especially when you hear the prices.
Prices aside, GBK has clearly proved incredibly popular, as after opening their first restaurant in 2001, they now have over 60 restaurants. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lucy's Dressing Punchy Plum Relish

Relish ! Who doesn't like relish?
I love it. I love all kinds of flavours, from mild to sweet to spicy (but not blow your head off spicy!)
Lucy's Dressings have plenty of different condiments, however, she sent me this particular relish to try as it's part of the new stock.
I love the packaging and the logo design. It's super cute and really stands out.
This is described as : "A richly spiced sweet and sharp plum relish."
*UPDATE there is a new gorgeous logo design
I could eat relish with pretty much anything. It adds a punch to any meal.
Lucy's certainly adds a punch. 
With my homemade sausage rolls hot or cold !
With hot mozzerella sticks is absolutely delicious !
Relish is great just plonked on the plate to add with each mouthful, or hidden inside a sandwich for a surprise. 

I really enjoyed Lucy's Punchy Plum Relish. Today I actually had it with my lunch of vegetarian sausages, tomatoes and a hard boiled egg. 
Lucy Mackenzie started Lucy's Dressings with her own homemade oils and dressings. Due to the popularity of the flavours, she has produced further kitchen table condiments.
They all taste homemade, which is a huge added bonus. Plus.....they actually are. 
All the dressings and relishes all have local British ingredients in them. 
Lucy's other relishes include Blushing Beetroot and Lemon Tree Mayo. I love the names, they are funky and fresh.

Lucy's dressings include:
Blishing Beetroot
Classic Balsamic
Light Asian
French Bliss
Great Golden
Zesty Mayo
These are priced at £4.50 each.
They also ALL have Great Taste Gold Awards !!
Have a look at Lucy's Website, and make sure you get your orders in.
Lucy is looking for further establishments to stock her delicious goods too. So if you own a restaurant or deli, please do get in contact. With Lucy's Dressings on your tables, your customers will be spreading the word which is great for you and great for Lucy!

Happy Relishing !!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Meat Porter

Over the past few years the delivery of food to your home has become increasingly popular. People seem to have less time to go shopping apparently. I have tried online food shopping when the kids were babies. However, I was never overly pleased with what they picked for me and then they would substitute for the next best thing. I personally prefer to pick my own, as I know I'm getting the best of the bunch.
So when a friend of mine offered me her Turkey Box from Meat Porter, I thought it was just going to be the last of whatever they had in the shop. wrong was I ! Have a look !
The meat is all packaged nicely and securely in a polystyrene box. It has dry ice in it too, to keep the meat cool. This is what is included in the Turkey Box. Please note that Meat Porter has joined with Gressingham to supply Turkeys and Ducks.

1 x 4.25-5kg Free Range East Anglian Bronze Turkey with Giblets
1 x 1lb British Smoked Streaky Bacon
1 x 16 Classic British Premium Pork Chipolatas
1 x 500g Premium British Sausagemeat Stuffing
1 x 150g Free Range British Goose Fat
1 x Recipe book and cooking guidelines
This is priced at £79 with free delivery.
Amazing hey ? 
I've separated out the box so you can see clearly what is included.

Even has the best Goose Fat for amazing roast potatoes. 
Here's a picture of our turkey cooked and decorated with the bacon. 

With the sausage meant I decided to make Sausage Rolls instead of fresh stuffing, as I knew these would be eaten by the kids! Infact, my 6yr old made some too. This was the first time in years I had made these. Actually, if a six year old can make them, there is no excuse for anyone! 

Homemade food is always so much nicer. 
Here are my Sausage Rolls. They were so easy and delicious.
Have a look at Meat Porter, I promise you that the quality of the Meat is really good. This is your fantastic butcher that is delivered straight to your door. Plus its organic and Free Range which makes for amazing tasting meat. (Quite frankly, all meat should be organic and free range - no excuses)
Check out their Website for other boxes and what they can deliver. You can customise any order to get exactly what you want. ( They make it fun to order too - but you'll have to click the link to find out why)
When you're in a rush or the husband has arrange a last minute BBQ, don't panic, because they have Next Day Delivery too!!

I would definitely recommend Meat Porter, to anyone and everyone for all year round.

*A friend won this box through a competition, and offered it to myself as she wasn't home for Christmas

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Cote Brasserie in St. Albans

For our Girlie Christmas Dinner, we decided to go to Cote Brasserie in St Albans. This is a group of French Restaurants, that are spread all over the UK and we now have one near us, which is brilliant. We have all heard great reviews and one of us has actually been to one in London before. So we knew we were onto a winner.
I was greeted at the door and the waiter promptly took me over to our table.
There was just the four of us (the rest were unfortunately unwell) so we had a nice small table at the back of the restaurant. It was incredibly busy, even at 7pm, it felt very full.
The restaurant itself, is lovely and has that Warm Cosy feeling about it, due to having dark wood everywhere.
Where I was seated, I could see the kitchen service area which I always love watching. The chefs were very composed throughout the evening. Very professional.
My friends ordered Champagne (as they all work and have ridiculous sized wallets). The first bottle was promptly brought over and opened, (whilst spraying over the back of my beautiful new red top....a quick apology and that was it) the waitress then poured us all a glass to start our evening off.
 Cheers and Merry Christmas !
The menu was pretty extensive, however, I saw Scallops and Seafood Linguine and didn't bother looking anymore. I always like to have fish when I'm out as I rarely cook it at home.