Sunday, 10 July 2016

MADE: Juicing with Panasonic Slow Juicer

I try and be as healthy as I can 80% of the time...although looking at my Instagram feed you may disagree. I like to get my daily recommended allowance of fruit and veg in so when Come Round UK contacted me asking if I'd like to trial and review the new Panasonic Slow Juicer, I jumped at the chance.

It's no secret that I'm a big lover of my Nutribullet, using it not only to make daily smoothies but curry pastes, soups etc and I couldn't imagine my life without it. 

Then the Slow Juicer entered my life and I've used it everyday since.

It's quick to use, really easy to clean (which is my main want in a juicer) and compact enough to sit on your kitchen worktop.

Come Round UK were kind enough to send me a lovely little party pack to use alongside the juicer but as I'm moving house (twice - from my own house and from my family home) I unfortunately had too many boxes surrounding both houses to have the juice party I never knew I wanted but definitely do!

The main perk of using the Slow Juicer is the blade presses the ingredients rather than chops them, meaning vitamins are retained and you've got none of that frothy pulp in there that messes with the smooth texture of a juice. The slow extraction and make up of the juicer also reduces oxidisation, meaning the juice lasts even longer.

I've not yet used the frozen attachment but you can even make sorbets and frozen yoghurt with the thing - it's honestly too good to be true.

The Slow Juicer pieces together really easily but make sure to check out the instructions the first time as each piece fits together a certain way.

I started off making an apple, strawberry, banana and lemon juice, mostly because it's all we had in the fridge. 
It's best to alternate the different types of ingredients you use so it keeps flowing through. It also mixes the flavour up a little easier, even though I'd recommend a good stir at the end anyway.
The juice was smooth, full of flavour and a really good consistency - no lumps and bumps, which you'd expect from juice.

One of the best things? It's SO easy to clean. All you do is dismantle everything and wash it - make sure you check the cleaning info though as some bits are dishwasher safe and some aren't. The Slow Juicer also comes with a cleaning brush meaning an nooks and crannies you can't get into or places where the pulp doesn't quick make it through the pulp tube, you can get it out in a matter of seconds.

I left my juice in the fridge overnight as a I made a full jug and it tasted as fresh the following day as when I first made it. Winner!

The next juice I tried as apple, carrot, lemon and ginger. Totally different to the first juice (obviously!) but equally as smooth and full of flavour.

I never realised carrots were so pulpy - the main life lesson I received from this juice.

Again, even with different ingredients it was super easy to clean.

I'm disappointed I haven't managed to jump on the Slow Juicer fro-yo/sorbet hype yet but intend to do so this week and I'll make a separate post for that so you can see what all the fuss is about.

Very, very impressed with this product and one I would 100% recommend you invest in - even if it's just because your current juicer is an absolute pain in the arse to clean. Most are, and that's the crying shame with juicers - the manufacturers don't consider people's busy lifestyles and that we don't have umpteen hours to spend trying to get pulp out of the various components of the thing. Luckily, Panasonic kept this in mind and did a bloody good job on this.

If there's any juices you'd like to see, more information on the frozen attachment etc. Please tweet me or comment below.


**Huge thanks again to Come Round UK for bringing this bad boy into my life - I'll be forever grateful that you've made juicing so easy for me. Despite this being a freebie for review purposes, all opinions above are my own. As ever, I will only positively review a product if I genuinely believe what I'm typing!**

Monday, 27 June 2016

LET'S TALK: Taking A Break

At the moment, it's safe to say I'm struggling a bit.

I've had A LOT of changes in the last 7 months. One of my oldest and closest friends had a bad accident (she's now doing a little better) and my parents separated.

These two changes were huge for me. Caitlin and I have been friends for over 20 years. She's the mother of the group, the reliable one, the clever one - she's everything a person could be. She's the best person.

My parents had been married 27 years. It's all I've ever known. My childhood home is all I've ever known. My dad and I have a stronger relationship now than we've ever had. My mum and I have crumbled. She's not interested but that's another story for another day. Let's just say, I've had my heartbroken twice in my lifetime - by my first love when he left for university and didn't speak to me for over a year. The second, by my mum. Who, to be honest, I can't even call my mum anymore. The person she has become is certainly not the person that raised me and one of the people I'd consider to be my closest and best friend.

So, in a sense, over the last 7 months, the two people that would be the first people turn to in crisis, I can't.

For Caitlin, her focus and everybody else in her life's focus, is that she put all her strength and energy into getting better. I haven't and wouldn't burden her with this. She's aware but all we want is for her to stay on track and progress with her recovery.

The person I used to be able to call my mother has turned her back.

Thankfully I have several incredibly close friends to turn to, the most supportive dad there is and a boyfriend that, despite his tough love approach, has helped me stay afloat through all of this more than he will ever realise.

Over the next few months I will be moving twice - my family home has now been sold and within the next four weeks, will no longer be my family home. Although, I no longer call the three of us a family. My dad is my family and I know that he would never, ever let me down in any way shape or form.

I am also going to be moving out of my Northampton home. My housemate is moving to Bristol and I'm not sure I really have many options at the moment.

I am hoping to live with my dad once things are sorted, but that's all pending right now.

In all honesty, I don't know how people can really afford to rent alone. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not on the worst wage in the world but forking out £650+ on rent for a decent place in the Midlands with council tax and bills thrown on top of that is steep. Not impossible but very tough.

So right now, I'm struggling to focus whole-heartedly on things.

This post is just to say, I guess, we all have our struggles. I've always used Unorganised Chaos as an online diary, a place for me, my thoughts and my memories. One day I'll look back on this time in my life and I'll see that quote above and I'll smile. I'll smile because it will have been the truth - the future will be bright, not just for me but for Caitlin, for my dad. By that time the negativity in our lives will be gone or at least almost faded.

This post is to assure people that everybody's highlight reel on Instagram or Facebook is just that - it's   the good part of our lives, not the behind the scenes bits - the sad bits, the nasty bits.

This post is to say, I'm taking a break to work on staying afloat, on processing these last few months and sorting out these loose ends that are fast approaching.

I'm doing this with my little army of heroes, the ones that haven't left my side - the ones that have shown their true colours during this time, the ones I can rely on.

I'll still post when I can as I've got a few recipes, restaurants and trips to tell you about but I can't promise how regularly these posts will reach you.

One thing I've learned - things are completely out of our control sometimes but it's about dealing with situations the best way you know how, with the best people you know and, one day, in the end, things will work out. When one door opens, somewhere down the line, another one opens. And behind that door might well be something way better than before.


ATE AT: The Old Bridge Hotel, Huntingdon

I'm very lucky living in the Midlands...a sentence many would be unlikely to say. But, hear me out.

Living in the Midlands (well, basically the South - 50 minutes from London) means having access to not only to the wide array of brilliant restaurants in London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leamington, Leicester...BUT, I have the luxury of Cambridge and Oxford not too far away. Huntingdon, part of Cambridgeshire, is about 40 minutes from my house and I have at least one definite reason to make that journey there.

I was invited to a friends 70th birthday lunch at the Old Bridge. This friend, well, he doesn't do bad food. Nor does he do bad atmosphere, bad décor or bad company.

I'll be honest, I wasn't entirely sure where Huntingdon was on the map, but I knew it wasn't far away and I couldn't resist an opportunity to try somewhere new.

I was kinda hoping it wouldn't just be Sunday roast options as I'd had 10 days of eating carby, heavy food in Italy and fancied something lighter - I was in luck.

The birthday boy had hired out one of the rooms so we were in this gloriously decorated room (which I failed to get a photo of!), we were served teas, coffees and Prosecco upon arrival and chatted for an hour or so before being seated to our grand table.

I set my eyes upon the menu and was thrilled to see a variety in dishes - not just roasts; fish options as well as a pasta option!

I had firmly made my mind up on a starter within 10 seconds of seasonal asparagus. I went for the asparagus, hollandaise and poached egg. At least half of the table (a table of 25) went for the crab croquettes, which I'm told were delicious.

The asparagus was cooked to perfection, the hollandaise is number two on by best ever hollandaise chart (nobody will ever beat beetroot hollandaise at Friends of Ours) and the egg was spot on.

For main, I decided on the seared tuna steak (served rare) with baby kale and grilled potatoes with lemon and crème fraiche . Again, beautiful. The tuna was cooked better than I've ever had before, the flavour of the kale wasn't overpowering and the potatoes were cooked with a soft inside and a very slight crunch to the outside - just how I like 'em.

All of the mains looked amazing, I saw a few with venison (apparently amazing), a beef roast (again, amazing), a few people with lamb. Opposite me sat a pasta dish; really tasty filling and al dente, just how it should be.

All in all, an incredibly happy table after the first two courses.
For pudding, I really couldn't decide and, unfortunately, I think I chose wrong (even though it was delicious). I went for the cheesecake with roasted apricots. Don't get me wrong, it was really really good. The cheesecake was the perfect texture, the apricots were okay but didn't completely wow me. But I mean, what do you expect from an apricot?

The other thing I wanted, the strawberry pavlova with basil ice cream. YES, basil ice cream. Sounds great doesn't it...well, that's what I wanted. I tried my friends next to me and the basil ice cream was incredible. Like seriously incredible. So, I had dessert envy, big time. Don't let that put you off the cheesecake though, it is really tasty. Just, the basil ice cream was on another level.
We finished off with teas, coffees and chatter before all heading in our different directions home.

We were made to feel incredibly welcome by our waiter (whose name I've rudely forgotten) and other staff we encountered while dining. The décor of the place is absolutely beautiful, a mixture of country home and estate house with a dash of modern thrown in. It's really hard to explain, but it's just got this great vibe to it - relaxed but an upmarket place to go.

The best news? A three course lunch is only £39. Which, for the quality of food, is an absolute bargain.

I'm already planning my next trip there to see what the rest of the menu is like!

Shout out to Hannah too - we've followed each other on Instagram for a while now and her parents actually own the place (which I didn't know!) It's a real credit to them, such a great place.