October 2014 Foodie Penpal

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My October Foodie Penpal parcel arrived last week, and it was a bumper month. The lovely Dawn put together the most amazing box for me. It was a bit like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag where she kept pulling things out of the bottom like a floor lamp and a pot of tea! This wasn’t far off.

The first thing I noticed was taped to the shoe box it was sent in, was a recipe and picture of Spiced New Potatoes.

Clever box wrapping

Clever box wrapping

It was like gift-wrapping that keeps on giving. Dawn is trying to shirk responsibility and claims she re-used the box (and idea) from her previous sender, but I’m giving the credit to Dawn for recycling it.

After reading through this recipe and deciding to make this dish that night, I opened up the box, and started pulling out item after item after item. It was borderline embarrassing, but I loved it!

First came some garlic and rosemary oatcakes. These are very delicately flavoured and are absolutely delicious with some really sharp cheddar cheese and a bit of red wine.

Garlic & Rosemary Oatcakes

Garlic & Rosemary Oatcakes

The garlic is not over-powering, and it’s a really delicious way to start off an evening.

Next came out some rice cakes, which I do like munching on, but these were covered in dark chocolate.

Chocolate covered rice cakes

Chocolate covered rice cakes

It was a real decadent feeling of mixing chocolate with rice cakes. And fairly guilt-free, which is always nice.

My next item was a lovely picture of Ainsley Harriott on one of his cous cous packages.

Who doesn't love Ainsley?

Who doesn’t love Ainsley?

I love this particular flavour of cous cous, and I almost always have a spare one of these to hand for ’emergencies’, but my cupboard was bare, so I was so happy to get another packet of cous cous, and especially this particular flavour.

Moving on into the box, I found this curry kit for making methi chicken, which I’ve seen on the menu every time I go out for a curry, but never tired. Well now I’ve tried it, and it was NOTHING like I thought was going to be.

Curry in a kit!

Curry in a kit!

So this little kit was mind-opening, and so easy to use.

And of course if you’re going to make an Indian meal, you need to have the proper ‘afters’. For some, that’s a little plate of After Eight mints.

For fresh breath . . .

For fresh breath . . .

But many Indian restaurants offer you a small plate or bowl of these little seeds, which is surprisingly refreshing.

I’m no stranger to teapigs, but I’ve never tried this flavour, which is creme caramel.

Dessert in a teacup

Dessert in a teacup


Well this was just dessert in a teacup, let me tell you. This was delightfully authentic, and I really enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. It went perfectly with my next item.

I know I’ve sent other people this ‘nakd’ brand of snacks before, but I’ve never tried one myself. So I was delighted to finally get one that I didn’t buy myself! This was really good.

Cashew cookie

Cashew cookie


Cashew’s got to be one of the best nut flavours anyway, and this, married with a cup of creme caramel tea was really gorgeous.

I really feel the next item needs no explanation at all. Green & Black’s. Dark chocolate. End of.

The best dark chocolate

The best dark chocolate


In all seriousness, though (and I never kid about dark chocolate), this is truly life’s best dark chocolate. This is what I would bring to Willy Wonka’s Wonkavision machine in so I could reproduce this in massive bars. I was grateful to get this bite-size bar though.

I am constantly making stews and casseroles, and truly the three herbs I use the most are rosemary (mostly on my potatoes), sage (mostly on pork), and thyme (mostly on . . well . . everything).

No parsley, but definitely the sage, rosemary and thyme!

No parsley, but definitely the sage, rosemary and thyme!


So getting this little stack of my three best herbs was brilliant.

My penultimate treat was this citrus lollipop. Actually, this barely made it down for the photoshoot. About 5 seconds after snapping this picture, this was being unwrapped.

Citrus lollipop!

Citrus lollipop!


It has been years and years since I’ve had a lollipop, so it was such a nice treat. I don’t know where this one came from, but it was gooooooooooooood . . .

And finally, my favourite part of the box was this jar of homemade apple butter. I love when I’m sent something homemade. It’s such a snapshot of the person behind the box.

Home made apple butter

Home made apple butter


This was delicious, and after a couple of email exchanges, Dawn shared the recipe with me. When I’m brave enough, I’ll give it a go.

So I’m sure you’ll agree that this was a magical box, full of lovely gifts of all shapes, sizes and influences. Dawn, you did such a great job with all your selections. Thank you so much.

If you are inspired by this parcel or even think you could do better (unlikely!), please visit http://thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/ if you living in Europe, or http://www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/ if you are in the USA.

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