No.84 Tea Room and Eatery: A review

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I had a really lovely and unexpected day today. There is a pretty café about 20 minutes’ walk from my house. No.84 Tea Room and Eatery. I’ve seen it lots of times but never visited. It’s always busy, which is a good sign.

My aunt texted me this morning and asked if I’d like to go today for elevenses. We’d talked about going a few times at our handicraft meet-up so today was as good a day as any. And my cousin has just moved back home so it was a good chance to catch up.

It was already busy when we arrived at 11am but a young chap said hello and to help ourselves to a table. A big, floral sofa with low coffee table were empty, as were the two outside tables. It was a perfect sunny day so we nabbed an outdoor table quick! The café is in Echo Square, Gravesend, which is a busy roundabout. So there was a bit of traffic noise but not enough to irritate and we could do some prime people-watching from our vantage point.

It was a little while before anyone came to serve us but they were very busy and we weren’t in a hurry. Adrian was our super ace waiter. A happy, bearded man. Beards automatically get bonus points.

He reeled off a long list of cakes available. We said we’d never been before and wanted to try EVETYTHING. We asked if they did a taster plate or mini selection? They didn’t but he’d put one together for us. Perfect.

Again, it did take a while to arrive but they’d never been asked for a taster plate before and it was peak time. We had plenty of drinks and were busy chatting anyway.

And oh my goodness, what a selection it was! A lot of cake, even for four hardened consumers of pudding. My Grandma (my aunt’s mum) always makes at least three desserts for her Boxing Day buffet. We are no strangers to multiple sweet treats. But this was epic!

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We had a full slice of chocolate Creme Egg sponge for my seven year-old; then thinner sample sized portions of: dark chocolate and honeycomb cake;
lemon and raspberry cake; chocolate sponge with caramel cheesecake baked into the middle layer; ginger and white chocolate bombe; lemon and blueberry drizzle loaf; and Simnel cake. A LOT OF CAKE!

All delicious and tasted fresh and homemade. The chocolate and honeycomb was bitter and not too sweet. The lemon and raspberry was really zingy and light. And the caramel cheesecake layer cake was sweet and creamy.

Adrian topped up our teapot and replenished our milk jug halfway through. We also had a bottle of water delivered to help wash all the cake down!

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The crockery and teaspoons were all chintzy and mismatched. I tried to take a photo inside but I was on a sugary cakey overload by that point so it came out a bit squinty. But it’s a really cute, retro place full of friendly people. They hold lots of interesting events there too, which you can find out about on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/No84Tearoom

It’s great to see a small, independent business doing so well and I’d thoroughly recommend popping along.

Lucy’s List: April (week 4)

Where did the holidays go? My eldest is back to school on Monday! It’s gone way too quickly for my liking. But the weather has been amazing and almost every evening my kids have come in from a whole day in the garden half naked, muddy, grubby and exhausted. Perfect.

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We had one big day out to a farm but the rest of the fortnight the kids were happy to play in the garden or indoors; we did painting, drawing, and baking; we went to the library and took a picnic to the park; we went to a friend’s house and had playmates visit us. My mum took them both to the prom one day. The most any of these days cost was the price of an ice cream at home time.

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You really don’t need to go abroad or spend a fortune to keep the kids stimulated and satisfied during the holidays. And the eldest has still got lots to tell her friends about when term starts again.

Anyway, here’s this week’s meal plan. There’s a few fun things on there for the kids this time. The Saturday night burger feast comes from Skint Dad’s Saturday Night Fakeaway. If you don’t follow him already, check him out.

THURSDAY: hot dogs, fried onions and potato wedges

FRIDAY: fish and cannellini bean stew with crusty bread

SATURDAY: beefburgers in buns, oven chips, apple pie and milkshake

SUNDAY: Easter Sunday – hot cross buns for breakfast, followed by a roast at my mum’s

MONDAY: root vegetable soup and crusty rolls

TUESDAY: scampi, sautéed potato chips and frozen veg

WEDNESDAY: chicken fajitas, lettuce, grated cheese and soured cream

Cloth pad makers

Here is a list of makers I have experience of using. I’ve either bought from them or been sent pads to test or review. Most of these makers are really talented work-at-home small businesswomen. Some of them also make cloth nappies, washable wet wipes, washable breast pads, kids’ clothes, wet/dry bags and all sorts of other things. So even if cloth pads aren’t your thing, it’s worth checking out their pages for other lovely stuff.

 

 

PAD MAKERS

Butterfly Cloth Pads

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www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ButterflyClothPads

www.facebook.com/pages/Butterfly-Cloth-Pads

Great brand. I am a repeat customer! Also makes pad wrappers and coasters for menstrual cups.

 

 

Cheeky Mama

www.cheekywipes.com

This is a big brand in the cloth nappy world, better known for their washable wet wipes and accessories. Great wet bags too. I reviewed their cloth pads here.
 

 

Daisy Rock Designs

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www.facebook.com/pages/Daisy-Rock-Designs

These pads are a great shape for me and she stocks some cool prints. You can get 10% off your first order if you mention The Pie Patch and quote code ’3110′.
 

 

DDB Secrets

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www.dinkydotbots.com

Jacqui has been making DinkyDotBots cloth nappies for years. DDB Secrets is her new range of CSPs with gorgeous stitching on the central core. Look her up on Facebook too for special offers.
 

 
Dimplemuff by Dimplebum

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www.facebook.com/DimplebumFairy

Another cloth nappy maker branching out into CSPs. She often collaborates with My Little Patch (see below) to make matching pad/wetbag sets.
 

 
Eco Rainbow

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www.ecorainbow.co.uk

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/EcoRainbowPads

I bought my very first pads from Bex and I’m still a regular customer. Really helpful lady and will go out of her way to find that special fabric! I’ll be reviewing her new thinner design soon.
 

 
Flutterby Fluff

www.facebook.com/FlutterbyFluff

A very new maker. Offers a good range of sizes and package prices. I have one of her pads on the way for reviewing.
 

 
Gaia Moon Pads

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www.etsy.com/uk/shop/GaiaMoonPads

Beautiful unusual fabrics and really slim pads.
 

 
Green Cycle Pads

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www.etsy.com/uk/shop/GreenCyclePads

These pads have the core stitched on top of the backing fabric. This makes the wings extra thin and less bulky to wear. Pretty stitching too.
 

 
Honour Your Flow

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www.honouryourflow.co.uk

A really truly eco-friendly brand. Lovely prints in a range of fabrics with super thin wings. The pads in this photo were bought as seconds.
 

 
Lady Days Cloth Pads

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www.ladydaysclothpads.co.uk

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LadyDaysClothPads

This is probably my favourite maker for daytime pads. Excellent quality. I love the wide shape. Fabulous fabrics. I keep going back for more!
 

 
Melissa’s Makes

www.melissasmakes.etsy.com

www.facebook.com/MelissasMakes

A really approachable Canadian maker. I have a pad winging (see what I did there?!) its way to me for review.
 

 
One in a Mel’lion

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www.oneinamellion.storenvy.com

An American maker so be prepared to pay extra for shipping (or wait until she runs a special offer!). Very friendly, helpful lady.
 

 
Precious Stars

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www.preciousstars.net

Bree is very young and an amazingly skilled seamstress, confident businesswoman, and a great advocate for getting younger women and girls interested in cloth pads. She also stocks a budget range so cloth pads can be affordable for everyone.
 

 
Pretty Eco Intimates

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www.prettyecointimates.weebly.com

www.facebook.com/PrettyEcoIntimates

A Canadian maker so shipping is more expensive but her pads are so worth it! One of my favourites.
 

 
Sew Domesticated

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www.facebook.com/SewDomesticated

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OhSewDomesticated

I tested some of this maker’s early designs for CSP and even at a developmental stage they were comfy and worked well for me.
 

 
WET/DRY BAG MAKERS

My Little Patch

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http://www.mylittlepatch.co.uk/

Beautiful fabrics. This maker does all sorts of wet bags (and other things too) and often collaborates with Dimplemuff (see above) to produce matching pad/wet bag sets.
 

 
Noah’s Ark Baby

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www.facebook.com/pages/Noahs-Ark-Baby

I bought a large wet bag via Eco Rainbow (see above) and wasn’t disappointed. Big enough to store used pads until wash day.
 

 
Sewing Mom Just Accessories Etc (SMJAE)

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www.hyenacart.com/stores/SMJAE/

An American maker so postage is more but she is known for sending freebies with her orders so well worth a look.
 

 
I hope this list is helpful. It certainly demonstrates the huge range of shapes and styles available so there’s bound to be something to suit everyone. I’ll add to the list as my stash grows.

If these or any other makers want to send me their products to review, I’ll do so gladly! Email me at piepatchblog@gmail.com

Maille Culinary Challenge: Part 2

This is another meal I made using the ingredients I was given for the Maille Culinary challenge. You can read my recipe for beef stroganoff here.

This time I made a classic steak sandwich served with honey and mustard glazed vegetables. Quick and easy to make but so satisfying. It is also the messiest food in the world EVER. You need to eat this alone or with people you know and trust enough not to tweet photos of you with sticky sauce running down your chin. Have plenty of napkins handy. And maybe some wet wipes. And a hose. Just in case.

Ingredients

4 ciabatta rolls
Shredded lettuce
4 tbs Ketchup
Handful of Maille extra small gherkins
2 steaks

For the veggies:
2 peppers, sliced into strips
1 onion, finely sliced
4 mushrooms, slice
2 tbs runny honey
1 tsp soy sauce
Splash of Worcester sauce
1 tbs Maille fresh wholegrain mustard

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Method:

First things first, put some oil to heat in a large frying pan.

Meanwhile, get your serving plates ready. Slice open the rolls and arrange on the plates. Put a dollop of ketchup on each roll and add some lettuce to each plate as a garnish.

Put all the sliced vegetables into the hot pan.

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Fry them quickly until well cooked with some colour on them. While this is happening, put another pan on a high heat for the steak and prepare your meat. Pat the steaks dry, rub them over with oil and black pepper. I don’t add salt because I’m cooking for children and the glaze contains soy sauce, which is quite salty by itself. The butcher gave me four steaks but really two would’ve been plenty.

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When the pan is very hot, put the steaks on to cook however you like them done. I like mine medium rare, which needs about four minutes-ish each side. But it’s your food so do it however you like.

Meanwhile add the honey, soy sauce, Worcester sauce and Maille mustard to the vegetables and reduce the heat slightly.

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By the time the steak is cooked and rested, this liquid should have reduced down to a sticky glaze.

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Slice the rested steak and place in the rolls.

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Pile the sticky sweet veggies on top. If you can squeeze some Maille extra small gherkins into the bun, do it. I had to serve mine on the side.

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Get stuck in. But don’t forget the napkins!

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I was not paid for this post. I was sent two Maille products to use free of charge as my entry into the Maille Culinary Challenge competition.

 

Maille culinary challenge: Part 1

I must admit when I was asked to take part in the Maille Culinary Challenge my mind was a bit of a blank. I had to choose two ingredients from a very fancy list of Maille products and include them in a recipe of my own creation.

I picked the fresh wholegrain mustard – easy, I thought, coz it’s used in so many dishes. I also chose the extra small gherkins. I really didn’t think this one through. I like cocktail gherkins, cornichons, or whatever you call them. I ate a whole jar in one sitting when I was pregnant. But how the heck do you include them in a recipe?! Surely you just eat them?!

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They came beautifully packaged. So far, so French.

I decided to do my recipe for stroganoff. It’s not exactly an original dish. It’s been done many times before. My version is probably a bit of a mash up of all the recipes I’ve read over the years – a splash of Delia, a dollop of Jamie and squirt of me.

I use beef skirt from my butcher. It’s a cheap cut and can be cooked very quickly or very slowly. Either way, it won’t go chewy or tough. And the butcher diced it for me coz he’s a helpful chap.

Ingredients:

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Pickles
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 handful of Maille extra small gherkins
1 handful of fresh parsley

Stroganoff
250g mushrooms, sliced
3 tsp minced garlic
1lb diced beef skirt
1 heaped tbs paprika
Small glass of dry wine
Beef stock pot
1 tbs Maille fresh wholegrain mustard
1 tbs lemon juice
Small pot soured cream

To serve
Buttered rye bread

Method:

You need to do the pickles first so they have a chance to mingle. Put the sliced onion in a bowl with the gherkins and a good splash of the vinegar from the jar. I sliced some of the larger gherkins but you don’t have to.

The Maille gherkins have a handy little plastic gizmo in the jar to lift them out of the vinegar. No vinegar hands!

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There are some tasty little onions in the jar too but we don’t need them for this recipe.

Tear the parsley into the bowl then give the whole thing a good mix and scrunch so that the onions are well coated in vinegar. Set aside.

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Now the stroganoff. Heat some oil in a large pan on a fairly high heat. Then fry off the mushrooms until the liquid has gone. Add the garlic and beef and brown off.

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Add the paprika and allowed to cook for a minute or two. Pour in the wine and leave it bubbling so the alcohol burns off. Reduce the liquid by half. Lower the heat then stir in the beef stock, lemon juice and soured cream. Finally add a dollop of Maille mustard.

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Leave it to warm through for a few more minutes while you butter the rye bread.

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You’re ready to serve!

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I was not paid for this post. I was sent two Maille products to use free of charge as my entry into the Maille Culinary Challenge competition.

Salmon en croute (serves 2)

This is a total cheat recipe. There isn’t really any proper cooking involved. It’s the flatpack of the cooking world. All the bits are there, you just have to put them together with the aid of this handy instruction manual and an Allen key*.

(*pastry brush)

It’s not too heavy and perfect for sunny days. Serve it with potato salad, or leafy greens, or cauliflower cheese, or simply with new potatoes and veg.

Ingredients:

1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
1 tbs pesto
2 skinless salmon fillets, de-boned
1 egg

Method:

Take the pastry out of the fridge well before you want to use it. You need it to be room temperature. If it’s too cold it won’t unroll and will crack.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Unroll the pastry onto a large baking sheet.

Spread the pesto over the pastry, leaving a gap all around the edge. Then place the salmon fillets together at one end.

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Beat the egg in a little bowl and brush some around the naked edge of the pastry. Fold the pastry over the top of the salmon and pinch the edges together.

I tried to do a fancy sort of edge. It didn’t really work. So I scored diamonds across the top so that no one would notice my terrible pastry skills.

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Use the rest of the egg to brush all over and bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is nicely browned all over.

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Now you have to try to remember which way you placed the salmon fillets before you cut it in half. I knew there was a reason I took photos beforehand!

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Silent Sunday (13/4/2014)

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