Foodie Penpals April 2013

This month, I have made a point of sitting down to write a proper Foodie Penpals reveal post. It is so easy to get swept up with things, whisked off into the cyclone of ‘I don’t have time!’ and tumbled in a big mess of minutes that seem to go too fast and days that seem to disappear. Life is busy, for all of us, but sometimes (often) it’s possible to collect up some of those minutes, keep hold of them, and then release them all in one go, to give yourself time to do something – like write a blog post. Poor, trapped minutes, doing my bidding. I hope they don’t mind too much.

While we’re sort of on the subject: part of the reason for my blogging absence, and my FPP post brevity, is that I have a second job – one that I didn’t really announce. I will do so now: I’m working as an intern for Leite’s Culinaria. Some of you may have seen me mentioning Leite’s before now, as until I became their web production intern I was a recipe tester for the site. Food glory abounds, there, and for the last four or so years it has been my first port of call when I’m on a recipe hunt. It is exciting to be working with the team in a bigger capacity, now – they are a delightful bunch. Also it means I’ve spoken to David Leite on the phone – he’s a great chef, he’s been on the TV and all sorts, and he has my mobile number. No biggie.

While we’re talking about Leite’s, let me offer you a link to the latest endeavour from that fine culinary establishment: Talking With My Mouth Full, the Leite’s Culinaria podcast. If you like food and drink, or if you simply like hearing people bicker good-naturedly, tune in and see what you think.

Wait, wait, I have another link to share! I SAID WAIT! I know there are photos down there but hang on just a moment longer.

This Saturday, my chum Miss L is running a fundraiser for the MS Society – I’ll be posting a blog with more details tomorrow, but for now allow me to share two key pieces of info. One, the event involves CAKE and STAR WARS which are both exciting and should tempt you down to the Flying Duck in Glasgow, from 1pm, to buy and eat cake (and hang out with me, obviously). Two, if you cannot make it to the actual event to buy cake and raffle tickets, but would still like to offer help and support, you can make a donation of any size here: Consider it a Foodie Penpals call to arms.

Right, back to the original point of this post – my Foodie Penpals parcel for this month. My parcel came from Ireland, sent by the fair hand of Bridget at From a Country Cottage. The very first thing I saw when I opened the top of my parcel – which was all wrapped up in dotty paper, which made it feel like a lovely present – was this guy smiling up at me:

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He is the Tayto crisp man! I’ve heard a *lot* about Tayto crisps from Irish chums, over the years, and I couldn’t wait to tuck into them. I had no idea they came in such happy packaging! And how did Bridget know that salt and vinegar is my favourite? The FPP Psychic Streak comes into play, yet again. They lasted about a minute after me opening the parcel – long enough for me to photograph everything, and no longer. They truly are lovely – really crunchy, but not the same as Kettle Chips, or Brannigan’s, or any other crisp I can think of. I suppose they’re just Tayto, and that’s all there is to it.

Bridget had also included a long note, explaining to me what all the items were, and letting me know that she’d sent me all Irish products bar one item, which is really good going. I like to send Scottish products but so often get beguiled by more exotic (to me, at least) goods, and end up filling my parcels with an eclectic mix. I feel like Bridget really took time and effort to choose Irish things to send to me, and I really appreciate it.

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Next was a selection of Irish chocolate – a big bag of caramels (still going – I’m planning a baking adventure with them unless I eat them all first…), plus a macaroon bar and a mint crisp bar. Bridget said she remembered buying the macaroon bar when she was at school; that’s one of the things I like about Foodie Penpals, you can try things that people really have an emotional connection with, and happy memories of.

The macaroon was completely different from a Lee’s macaroon, which is a Scottish staple, and an item I’ve sent to more than one penpal before now. Ours is made of mashed potato and icing sugar (yes, mashed potato) and then coated with chocolate, then coconut. This macaroon was solid chocolate with little crunchy coconutty bits inside, and not nearly as sweet as the one I’m used to, which will give you fillings if you look at it for too long. I have to admit a preference for the mint crisp, though – I love anything mint chocolatey, and the little nibbly minty bits in this satisfied that craving more than satisfactorily.

The caramels are real jaw-welding chewy, with just at thin layer of chocolate and a creamy flavour. I suspect they will be rather good wrapped up in cookie dough and baked – but that’s a story for another day. Also it might be a horror story where I set my kitchen on fire, or at least end up with a baking tray indelibly covered in caramel. We will see.

FPP April 13 009 FPP April 13 011My next treat was a packet of Lovely Day tea, which was so charmingly named that I liked it even before I tasted it. How can you dislike a tea called Lovely Day? It’s beyond me. As you can see from the label, the tea contains lots of lovely fruits, and is so refreshing. I made up some tea bags, using the empties I bought a while back, and have sipped my way through a couple of huge mugs at work. I really enjoy a herbal tea as a pick-me-up, especially in that slow hour after lunch. This was the perfect antidote to the usual lethargy that creeps over even the best of us of an afternoon…

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This ginger is the only non-Irish item in my parcel – but you may remember that I love crystallised ginger, to the point of making my own a while back. The ginger was accompanied by a recipe for rhubarb and ginger jam, which is seasonally spot on! The G man’s mum has a rhubarb patch so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to try making this jam with home-grown fruit; if not, there’s always the farmers market. I still have aspirations to be a jam maker, yet another ambition on the ever-growing list!

Bridget also included these pretty cards from a local company:

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It is always good practise to have some blank cards around the house (you should see the selection my mum always has, it’s immense) and so now I am prepared! I especially like the blue tit, such a pretty bird, but I also like the vintage look flowers, and the bee buzzing around the fresh lavender – they are all gorgeous, and will surely come in handy – perhaps I will even spread the love and pop one in next month’s Foodie Penpal parcel.

Bridget, thank you so much for my cheerful, day-brightening parcel – it made my day when it arrived and has been continuing to add little rays of sunshine in the days that have followed. So kind of you to really stop and think about what to send, I love all of your choices.

If you would like to find out more about Foodie Penpals, here are your links:

For Euro Foodie Penpals, check out the drop down menu at the top or click here.

For USA and Canada Foodie Penpals, visit The Lean Green Bean.

For Kenyan Foodie Penpals, visit Foodie in the Desert.

To see some of this month’s Foodie Penpals posts from around the world, go over to the linkup post on The Lean Green Bean.


About Rock Salt

Seasoning while rocking out since 1983. View all posts by Rock Salt

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