November 10th, 2016

I bought a non-plastic kettle!

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Hihi everyone!

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This time, I’d like to show off my brand spanking new kitchen equipment!

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cocoandme_ottoni_fabbrica

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Ta-da~!!!!! :) :) :)

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It’s an ALL-STAINLESS-STEEL electric kettle by Ottoni Fabbrica, & it’s non-plastic!!!

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Ooh it makes me so happy! :) :) :)

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I do slightly fear that I may come across as a bit silly getting all excited over just a kettle…, lol, but you’ve gotta understand (!)
this is a cumulative result of me searching high & low for a non-plastic kettle for an age! Did you know that finding a kettle with absolutely zilch plastic parts is really hard?! You’d think that the stainless steel kettles out there on the market would be good enough, right?, but no…, they all have some sort of plastic part that would be in contact with the boiling water. For example the mesh lime scale filter by the spout – it has a plastic frame… And if the kettle has a a water level window on the side, that’s going to be made out of plastic too.

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cocoandme_ottoni_fabbrica_2

(Inside shot)

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cocoandme_ottoni_fabbrica_3

(The kettle by Ottoni Fabbrica has a stainless steel mesh filter on the spout side. The mesh is the same height as the kettle, & although it doesn’t look it, it is actually removable for washing!)

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You’re probably wondering what the fuss is all about, right? Well, I’m on a mission to get away from the plastics. This is because I worry about harmful cancerous chemicals entering mine & my family’s body. My personal concern is especially bisphenol A (BPA) that mimics the oestrogen hormone. Was it this that fed my hormone-receptive breast cancer…? Having had the first-hand experience of cancer, where ever I can, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

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“… considerable data indicate that exposure of humans to BPA is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, miscarriages, decreased birth weight at term, breast and prostate cancer, reproductive and sexual dysfunctions, altered immune system activity, metabolic problems and diabetes in adults, and cognitive and behavioral development in young children”

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Mind you, it’s not just bisphenol A (BPA) that’s bad…, yikes…:

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“Three plastics have been shown to leach toxic chemicals when heated, worn or put under pressure: polycarbonate, which leaches bisphenol A; polystyrene, which leaches styrene; and PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which break down into vinyl chloride and sometimes contains phthalates that can leach.”

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(Quoted from breast cancer fund)
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So, here’s my review about the use of an all-stainless kettle in general & specifically about the Ottoni Fabbrica kettle:

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Pros:

  • In general, an all-stainless kettle has no plastic parts touching the water. It’s strong material will likely last for a long time. Stainless also doesn’t impart or absorb flavors or smells.
  • The Ottoni Fabbrica kettle is considerably a lot quieter than the plastic kettle I had previously! And the design of the spout on the Ottoni Fabbrica kettle is really nice – it pours water beautifully. Also worth mentioning is the large opening on the top which makes putting the water in easier.

Cons:

  • In general, an all-stainless kettle is heavier than it’s plastic cousin. In my opinion, elderly people might find it cumbersome. It also gets pretty hot to the touch on the outside wall.
  • The Ottoni Fabbrica kettle is expensive compared to the standard price-point of it’s plastic cousin. The handle is still plastic (but atleast it’s not touching the water directly). I wish the handle was wooden…! It’ll really suit the rustic appearance of the kettle! Using wood will make these kettles truly plastic-free!

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By the way, as far as I know, this is the only all-stainless steel interior electric kettle that I know which is available to the UK market.

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The Ottoni Fabbrica kettles comes in two different shapes. To make the decision to choose harder, they have these in  an assortment of twenty colours & finishes to colour-match your kitchen! Below are the four that I liked the best: 


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Ottoni Fabbrica Italian Top Kettle “Alice Crema” 

The colour-combo of white & silver reminds me of my iPhone.
 

 

 

Ottoni Fabbrica Italian Top Kettle “Alice Nero”
I like simplicity, so this one below with the black handle was a possible candidate. It’s a classic look that you won’t get tired of.
 

Ottoni Fabbrica Italian Top Kettle “Alice Elegance”
Similarly, how about an all-black one like below?? Rather slick don’t you think? It oozes calm modernity. Oh choices, choices…! :)

 


Ottoni Fabbrica Italian Top Kettle “Fjord Satinato”
Below’s the one I went for. It’s over twenty pounds more expensive than the others… but I liked the shape of the spout, & I liked the brushed stainless steel surface. I think the somewhat retro/ vintage-y/ nostalgic appearance is rather charming!
 

 


_Hello, nice to meet you Mrs. Kettle, welcome to mine!_ :) :) :)

February 29th, 2016

Japanese kitchenware!

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Firstly, I was going to write ‘Happy New Year to you all~!‘ but it’s just so late for me to post this, it’s too silly right? But I do want to squeeze in a cheeky blog post before it’s March atleast, so here it is, on a leap day of all days!

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But seriously, can you believe that it’s almost March…??
Can I ask, how have you been doing so far this year? Have you acted upon your new year’s resolution? (that is, of course, if you’ve made one?)
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My new year’s resolution this year is to get fitter (cliché! I know! Lol…), so I have joined a local fitness club!
I must say, I’m pretty chuffed with myself for actually ‘really’ signing up to it! Y’see, normally I slack on these types of actions until the very decision get dusted under the carpet… (of shame…)
But! But! But! Not in 2016! No, this time I’m doing it, & to prove a point, I have so far been to pilate classes twice a week since the beginning of January already! Yay to me! ^^
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Anyway, as promised in my last post, here’s pictures of the kitchenware I purchased during my Japan trip! 
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1. Japanese fish scaler.
The phrase “… the scales won’t fly everywhere!” on the packet was the clincher for me! Try as I may, to my annoyance, the pesky scales ‘ping’ away high, so hopefully with this promising tool those days will be over…?!
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Japanese cfish scale remover kitchen tool / kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
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2. Cabbage shredder.
I l.o.v.e eating shredded cabbage! I will happily tuck in to a big mound of it, no problem! I love it even better when it has a guilty squeeze of ‘Kewpie’ mayonnaise on it…, &, &, oh,,,, whilst on the guilt trip, I might as well give in & accompany the cabbage with a calorific deep fried ‘tonkatsu’ (Japanese breaded & fried pork cutlet)… hmm…, writing this paragraph makes my craving go unmanageably wild… (cue the sound of stomach rumble.)
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Japanese cabbage shredder kitchen tool / kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
Anyway, whenever I have tried to cut the shredded cabbage manually with my knife, it is always on the thick side…, but… hopefully no more with this handy gadget! Airily fine shredded-cabbage-heaven is on the horizon…?
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3. Stainless steel water flask. 
Lol, this one, I had no intention of purchasing. It was meant to be one of those items that you pick up off the shelf to have a briefest of looks, & then put down, y’know, as you do when browsing a shop. Then…, I made the fateful action of having a peek inside…
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Japanese water flask with a smiley opening - www.cocoandme.comcocoandme_flaskwithsmile
Gahhhhh! Cuuuute… It’s got me~!
I imagined how every sip taken from this bottle will make me smile… like forever… & ever.** – SO it was off to the till with an item I had no intention of buying… I think it was helped by the ‘I’m on holiday, I might not come across this EVER again’ feeling. Do you ever get that? There’s something about being on holiday that makes one’s purse-strings loosen, don’t you think??
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4. Bento-ware
For the past two years I’ve been making packed lunches for my children to take to school – because they are not much of a fan of english school dinners. To make their bento, I have to wake up an hour before everyone else in the house, but I never really find it boring or tiring. I keep my interest up by having inspiring tools. Well that’s the excuse for these purchases anyway! Lol! ^^
So I bought:
– A set of plastic toothpicks in shape of stalks. If you pierce mini-tomatoes on the ends, it’ll look like cherries! Fun! ^^
– Two ‘furoshiki’ style cloth bags for transporting the lunchboxes. You tie the two ends in to a knot to close the bag! Simple & beautiful.
– Seaweed punchers. You can punch out cute facial features from a sheet of ’nori’ seaweed sheet & stick it on to ‘onigiri’ rice balls! My almost-teenage son wouldn’t dare be seen with such cuteness at his secondary school, so I’ll use these only for my seven year old daughter…
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Japanese bentoware / kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
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5. Stainless steel lunch box from Seagull
I’ve been lusting after a stainless steel lunch box for a while! Apparently theses are leak-proof. Super cool. ^^
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Seagull bento box / lunch box/ kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
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6. SpreadTHAT Self Melting Butter Knife with serrated edge
Made from thermal conductive titanium, this modern looking knife transmits the warmth of your hands to heat the knife itself! It makes spreading the straight-from-the-fridge cold butter effortless. I’ll enjoy using this! ^^
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Spread That butter knife/ kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
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7. Traditional “Jyu-bako”

And then, saving the best ’til the very last… – my best friend A surprised me with this beautiful present for Christmas!!! Wow…, I now own MY VERY OWN jyu-bako… I feel so grown up & proper…! ^^ Thank you Mrs.A!

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Japanese jyu-bako/ lacquered three-tier box kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
It is a lacquered three-tier box called a “Jyu-bako”. It is traditionally used as a special food container on New Years Day, or on special occasions during the year, for example Japanese people might use it for ‘ohanami’ = which translates to ‘flower-watching’. Japanese people picnic feast under the cherry blossom tree in Spring.
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Talking of cherry blossoms, just last Saturday, I noticed that there were petals drifting in the air in front of my stall. For the initial second, I thought it was sprinkling snow because it was so c.o.l.d. that day, that it wouldn’t be so surprising that it did! Instead, it was nature’s gentle reminder that Spring is around the corner.
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Anyway, for now, best of days to you all,
T xx
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October 21st, 2014

Two pictures

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Two pictures to share with you:
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an alternative design for an apple galette. Chain link pattern on round puff pastry. Caramelised apple sauce. Tamami. www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me

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Sometime ago, I was playing around with an alternative design for an apple galette.

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The recipe goes something like this:

1. Peel Granny Smith apples & thinly slice with a mandolin.

2. The raw apple slices are too brittle to loop in to pattern, so blanche them for 1 minute, then dunk in cold water to stop it from cooking further. (This method also stops them from oxidising & turning brown!)

3. The chain design only works with similarly large slices, so to use up the unused end scraps of apple, make a caramelised apple mix which will go in-between the apple chain & the puff pastry base.

4. Use an apple corer to cut a circle in the centre of the apple slices, then loop them up to make a chain pattern.

5. Then assemble that on puff & caramel mix, & bake…

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… The recipe itself was a definite success, super moreish, the caramel layer really made it special together with the flakey puff pastry. But the chain design was too fiddly to say the least. Perhaps I’ll ditch the pattern idea & go for a more universal look after-all, like how others do it, layering the slices like roof tiles, so that I can share the recipe properly with you one day…?

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Gifts from Paris - Chocolon (chocolate covered macaron) from Sadaharu Aoki Paris and Mendiants Chocolate bar from Alain Ducasse. www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me

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Last Saturday I had a surprise visit from Mrs.C & her husband Mr.E from Paris! :) :) :) It was a super happy moment. :) :) :) Smiles (Mrs. C), smiles (Mr.E), smiles (Me) !  It was really great to catch up on each other’s news! The extra surprise was that they’d brought with them a gift for me too! Wow… thank you… It was chocolate-coated macarons from my favourite Japanese patissier Sadaharu Aoki, & a mendiant chocolate bar from the one & only Alain Ducasse! I own cookbooks by both of these men* & absolutely respect them, so believe me when I say that these sweet things are highly valued by me & will be truly enjoyed, ~ slowly…, not a single crumb will be wronged by landing anywhere other than in my mouth.

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In fact, why not try one now as I write. Oooooh… (fingers dancing over the macarons), let’s see…, the…, yes, the mac with the red top. Ah! Raspberry! Or should I say ‘framboise’ since it’s from France. ~ (sigh) I needs me a trip to Paris again .Yep… (scoff), yep… (munch).

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* Here’s a confession ~ I’ve not counted (& I dare not want to ~ it’ll be a bad reality check of my spendings), but I think I have around 150 food-related books in my bookshelf… When I’m ‘in’ to something, I like to get ‘in’ to it knee-deep obviously. Lol… Recently I’m ‘in’ to dropping in to the local Oxfam Bookstore (a charity second-hand bookstore here in UK) to check their latest offerings. Last time I was in there, I bought a signed Raymond Blanc book from 1991 for £5. The pictures are a little dated, but every single one a fantastic, no-nonsense recipe. I’m learning a lot from it, currently cooking from the vegetable section. I also plan on making the pumpkin soup from this book for Halloween! ^^

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September 3rd, 2014

Summer holiday 2014 – Japan – PART 2

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One of the places where I just “had” to go to while in Tokyo was a Kitchen Town called Kappabashi. It is a stretch of street approximately 800 metres, & it is lined with just kitchenware shops.

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Knowing I’d be wanting to shop there thoroughly, (& I mean ‘thoroughly’!), I really didn’t like the idea of going there with the children, including Mr.D (sorry). Listening to “Are you done yet?” & “Can we pleeease go now?” while considering which size pan to get is not my idea of a fun shopping experience, nor theirs.

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And besides, it’s such a specialised area, if cooking is not your ‘thing’, that 800 metres will probably be a mere 10 minute stroll for you, whereas mine can easily be 2 hours.

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Luckily for me, Mr.D agreed to take the kids with him to see a friend for lunch & also go get new glasses made for himself. (Glasses in Japan? Yes, it is much cheaper & quicker to make it there compared to in the UK.) – – So yesss! I had freedom! (Lol) In Japan! And the cherry on top was that my childhood friend A came with me to shop there without her children too! A girly outing buying kitchenware…, for me it is the best…

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Let me tell you a tiny little bit about my friend A (& in fact, about her mum too afterwards). We’ve been friends since age 14. And we did teenager-ey things together. ^^ – Sure, we’re actually very different people, we have diffrent friends, we listen to diffrent type of music, & have a different dress sense. But when you share such fond memories, I guess the strong connection transcends the years of  living in a separate country now. I remember, at the time going for sleep-overs, & oh boy, those super-lengthy telephone chats on land-line! Back then, handy little things like mobiles weren’t yet invented, so I’d often be strewn across my parent’s double-bed, casually stretching the telephone coil while talking about God knows what for hours-on-end. Something super-engrossing for teenage ears I guess…!?

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Anyway, I must say a big *hello~* to her mum Mrs.U on here! I recently found out that she has been regularly reading my blog! Isn’t this fantastic!? When I saw Mrs.U during this trip, she told me how she’d been making the french toast from my recipe. She also told me how impressed she was with me, which made me feel very proud & very happy. – Although it kind of made me blush a little. I remember once going for a sleepover to theirs with a peculiar clothes sense…, lol, I think it was a mixture of Grunge & a bit of Camden. Oh, dear teenager, how I envy that beautiful ability to self-believe…

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When I met up with A at Kappabashi, A told me her mum gave her some pocket money that is for me to spend, I was to buy whatever kitchenware I wanted. After a pingpong match of “oh no, I mustn’t” & “oh you have to, I’ve been told to spend it for you”, I did accept. So, here’s pictures of my kitchenware purchases from Kappabashi that Mrs.U has very kindly bought for me. Thank you Mrs.U! (The pictures also contain goods bought from a store called Tokyu Hands in Shinjuku).

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me -  Japanese tamagoyaki maker copper egg omelette traditional

Copper Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette) frying pan.

I really wanted this!! I have a teflon one already, but this copper one is the don. You probably already know this, but copper has superior heat conductivity, meaning it gets hot speedily. On top of that, the heat distributes well, so that your food cooks evenly!

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So it’s my first ever copper ware! :) I’m so happy!! :) This pan is for making Japanese omelettes. You make it by frying a thin sheet of egg (just like when making crepe), which you then fold in to three. You then put this to one side of the pan while you make another sheet. When this next sheet is half-cooked, you fold it around the first, & then you repeat this process until you have a thick roll. Basically you end up with sheets of egg stuck together like a log. Think baumkuchen, only it’s rectangular.

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I make tamagoyaki often. I make it sweet by mixing in some sugar, & flavoursome by mixing in some dashi stock & soya sauce. It is a popular fixture for the bento I make for the kids. And I’m in love with the ritual of waking up early to make this, in a strange way it makes me feel like an “old-school Mam-ma” & I sometimes put on a nice apron to go with the occasion. (Does this make any sense?! LOL…Too much time spent in the kitchen makes for one’s madness!) Interestingly, quite often, my current state of being reflects on to the tamagoyaki. This dish needs your patience & full attention to cook each sheet, & so when I’m unhappy it doesn’t turn out well. On the other hand, when it does turn out beautifully, I  breathe a barely audible sigh of relief, revel in my competence & smile at my perfect tamagoyaki.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me -  Japanese cooking pot nabe beautiful silver dented pattern

www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me -  Japanese cooking pot nabe beautiful silver dented pattern

Yukihira Nabe hammered pots.

Often used in traditional Japanese cooking, the sides are hammered to strengthen the pot, & create more surface-area to be heated. I also think it’s aesthetically pleasing too! :) And I’m a sucker for wooden handles anyways…!

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me -  Japanese Kitchenware silicone cooking chopsticks miso stirrer rice scoop surikogi stick

From left to right:

– Silicone cooking chopsticks x 2 (I never used silicone chopsticks before, but I thought I’d give it a try!)

– Surikogi, a wooden stick used together with a grinding bowl

– Miso stirrer – to blend in miso paste in to your soup without lumps

– Rice scoop x 2 (from Tokyu Hands) which stands up

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me -  Japanese cooking kitchenware - otoshibuta wooden lid pot glove heat

From left to right:

– Super short oven gloves. I thought it’ll be cute to use when you take a dish to the dining table.

Otoshibuta. A lightweight wooden drop-lid. You place this in a pot that is bigger in diameter, so that it directly sits on top of the food. It is mainly used for simmering with less water. As the boiling cooking liquid hits the lid, it then reaches over your ingredient so it cooks evenly. It also holds down the ingredients in place so that it doesn’t dance around & lose it’s shape, which is especially useful when you have delicate potatoes.

The one I’ve got is zig-zaged on the other side to pick up on the scum from the surface of the broth. It’s important if you want the cooking liquid to be clear.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Coco and Me -  Japanese Kitchenware bento box items goods chopsticks pouch furoshiki

My new bento-ware! (all from Tokyu Hands)

From top left:

– Bento pouch.

– 2 x silicone dividers used to divide food inside the bento box.

– 2 x wooden bento box. What I like about these is that the insides are carved out, & that there are no hard corners.

– 2 x wooden chopsticks in a portable case.

– Mini ice pack – (Moomin looking a bit cold!)

– Furoshiki – cloth wrap for the bento box.

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October 5th, 2011

Bunting for the stall

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Just recently I bought this bunting on ebay.

(continues…)

www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - coco and me - bunting with woodland animals - small

(‘scuse the harsh shadows… midnight photography…)

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I was on the look out for bunting for ages so I was so happy when I finally found one I liked! I wanted a design that was not too twee or country-chic/ shabby-chic. And I didn’t want to go for the usual tricolour of red, white & blue that I’ve been seeing everywhere.

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This lovely handmade bunting is in an old & rare Cranston print fabric called Bank Holiday. Depicted are dressed up woodland animals enjoying themselves at a country fair.

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Currently on my stall I have a fair bit of ‘animal-theme’ going on! ^^

I have the bird design on the cheesecake & on the chocolate tart (pictures of those can be found here & here.) Then there are bunny shaped biscuits on the large cakes & tarts too (picture of the biscuit can be found here). I also have tiny yellow birds clipped on the cake racks! So having this new animal bunting is just the fitting addition, I think!

www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - coco and me - broadway market - stall - animal bunting

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - coco and me - broadway market cake stall - Tamami

(The yellow blobs at the bottom of the picture are the bird clips…)

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Anyway, hope all is well everyone, & I do hope to write another recipe for here soon…!!

Warmest regards, Tamami xx

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