Wednesday
May102017

Marks marks 50 years in Northern Ireland

Marks and Spencer believe good food comes from good ingredients.  Northern Ireland's first M&S opened in September 1967 and this year they mark 50 years in this place.  For half a century the firm has supported our agriculture here by working with local suppliers to produce products for them.  Ireland and the North of Ireland supply worldclass beef, pork, venison, chicken, turkey, potatoes, bread and eggs to Marks and Spencer.

Marks and Spencer have just launched two new products developed and produced in Northern Ireland.  A new range of skinny, gluten-free sausages made by Finnebrogue Artisan and a new range, produced by Karro, Cookstown which includes popular fresh pork lines including loin steaks, pork fillets, crackling leg joints, rib racks and belly strips.

Marks and Spencer are also showing their commitment to the next generation of farming in Northern Ireland through their 'Farming for the Future Awards' run at the Balmoral Show 2017.

One of the many reasons we collaborate closely with Marks and Spencer is because of their relationships with local producers here in Northern Ireland and their commitment to working with them to provide worldclass products.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Sunday
Apr092017

Pro Tips - Easter Egg Hunt 

 

An Easter Egg Hunt needs great eggs to find - and it helps if they are chocolate, children adore chocolate.

Marks and Spencer have a wonderful selection of bright metalic foil covered, chocolate eggs which are about the size of a large regular egg.  

The Marks and Spencer's eggs come in bags of 15 or in the fun packaging of egg trays with 30 eggs.  Inside the foil are smooth milky chocolate hollow eggs.  These eggs are absolutely perfect for an outside or inside Easter Egg Hunt, as the shiny foil keeps the chocolate clean, as well as protecting the surfaces inside your home.

How to have an Easter Egg Hunt

  1. Decide on the who, when and where - invite children and adults - make sure to define times on the invitation
  2. Remember Easter Egg hunts aren't just for children, involve, parents, friends, family or even have a hunt just for adults - it is hilarious how competitive everyone gets
  3. Decide whether you are having a theme - ie do you want everyone to come in an Easter Bonnet, or Bunny Ears, or simply a fancy dress costume
  4. Decide whether your Easter Egg Hunt will happen indoors or outdoors (if outdoors, always have a rainy day plan, as to where you will hold your Hunt inside)
  5. Decide whether you are using real eggs, chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs

As well as using actual egg sized chocolate eggs, it is great to use these soild tiny Milk Chocolate eggs from Marks and Spencer in order to mix things up a bit with the search, and provide extra eggs to find.  The 1/2 eggs are filled with a delightful smooth sweet caramel.  I recommend hiding them and scattering them across the grass.

I am loving these little chickadee bags to collect chocolate easter eggs in during the egg hunt!

 

How to have an Easter Egg Hunt

  1. Decide on the who, when and where - invite children and adults - make sure to define times on the invitation
  2. Remember Easter Egg hunts aren't just for children, involve, parents, friends, family or even have a hunt just for adults - it is hilarious how competitive everyone gets
  3. Decide whether you are having a theme - ie do you want everyone to come in an Easter Bonnet, or Bunny Ears, or simply a fancy dress costume
  4. Decide whether your Easter Egg Hunt will happen indoors or outdoors (if outdoors, always have a rainy day plan, as to where you will hold your Hunt inside)
  5. Decide whether you are using real eggs, chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs
  6. Decide you going to have winners and losers, are you having other prizes besides the chocolate eggs  - colouring books with pencils, or crayons - Note real eggs should be hard-boiled no more than three days in advance and kept in the fridge in a tightly sealed container until ready to use.  Make a note of where you hide real eggs, espcially indoors as you don't want to have to do a smelly-egg hunt of your own later.
  7. We used these pretty foil covered chocolate eggs from Marks & Spencer, in large and small sizes, which are made of the most delicious milk chocolate
  8. Define your hunts boundaries, to stop your house or garden being ransacked by little feet, or sticky hands - inside keep children away from stairs, sockets, bathrooms and kitchens.  Outside keep children away from prized flower bushes, water, slippery rocks, hidden drops, steps thorns and neighbours gardens
  9. Choose the drinks and snacks to accompany your Easter Egg Hunt for children and adults - we recommend sticky sausages, and chocolate popcorn. And of course lots and lot of Marks and Spencer Easter Eggs.
  10. When the Easter Egg Hunt is over, what will you do with the children, its good to have some games on hand, like egg & spoon or three legged races, cricket, volleyball or rounders planned
  11. Have some children's films /  Disney DVDs on hand to allow children to watch after all their activity
  12. Make sure you buy lots of these delicious eggs from Marks and Spencer - buy more eggs than you think you will need, allow for up to ten eggs per child
  13. Have tissues and wet wipes on hand, as you never know with children around when you will need them
  14. Make or Buy some Easter Egg Hunt signs


On the Day of the Easter Egg Hunt

  1. Hide the eggs in a designated part of your garden or in choosen rooms indoors
  2. Give the children pretty wicket baskets, or felt baskets for the eggs to be collected i
  3. Tell the children how long they have to collect the eggs
  4. Let them hunt for the eggs with their friends and parents
  5. Allow them to count their Egg treasures and eat one or two
  6. Play Games and serve nibbles

 

Happy Easter everybody!

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Sunday
Apr092017

Easter Fun from Marks and Spencer

 

Marks and Spencer hollow milk chocolate eggs in a traditional egg carton are fun and sparkly for Easter.  They come in sets of 30 eggs and are brilliant for Easter Egg hunts. 

 

They also work really well as gifts from teachers to children or if you have any little people visiting your home this Easter, they will love to pick an egg for themselves.

 

 

These Marks and Spencer cloth chick bags are filled with milk chocolate jewel foil covered easter eggs.  The bags are firm favourites with children who can use them during an Easter Egg hunt and fill them up too the brim with chocolate.

The little Marks and Spencer jewelled eggs because they are covered can be hidden all around the garden for children and adults to find.

These little jewel eggs are filled with beautiful smooth milk chocolate, and the half eggs are filled with rich runny caramel. They are addictive - I challenge you to eat only one!  Opened out of their net bags and filling coloured glasses they make beautiful hostess gifts, or Easter presents.  I like to fill glasses with them and leave them all around the house on Easter Sunday for people to nibble throughout the day.

These Marks and Spencer wobble tins are filled with chocolate chip shortbread.  The tins are bright and cheery; great fun for little children who can push the tin and watch it wobble.

My favourite themed egg from Marks and Spencer for children is this dinosaur who sits proudly atop of speckled eggs.  Lots of little boys and girls will love this on Easter Sunday.

These little praline eggs are for adults and some older children wrapped in sparkling gold, they are easy to eat.

These little half egg chicks are filled with gooey caramel.

Easter is a time to celebrate, new life, the triumph of life over death, light and the joys of Spring - I hope you have a joyful day full of celebration.

Happy Easter,

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Thursday
Apr062017

Blue skies, green fields and stone walls

Wednesday
Mar222017

Mother's Day 2017 - some gift ideas

 

Isn't Mother's Day really rather wonderful?  A whole day dedicated to celebrating our Mums.  Whether that's with a homemade card or breaksfast in bed.  A walk on the beach or dinner out.  There are lots of things you can do the most important is spending time with your Mum.  

Marks and Spencer have some really delightful gifts for Mother's Day.  I adore their handtied bouquet of 100 stems of tulips and daffodils.

Daffodils like sunflowers are flowers that smile at you from the ground.  Looking at them makes me happy, their bright vibrant yellow reminding us of the joy of spring.

Marks and Spencer handmade nougat is a real treat soft chewy nougat with fresh crisp hazelnuts and pistachios, are blended with English spring honey and dried sour cherries.  You could enjoy it on a car trip with Mum for something to nibble or after dinner with coffee.  I would even say you could have a bit at elevense.

 This hummingbird tin filled with Scottish shortbread it vibrant and full of energy, Marks and Spencer have really chosen a winner with this colourful motif.  I love that the tin can be used after the shortbread is long eaten, filled with buttons or bobins.  

Bubbles are an essential part of any celebration - but don't whatever you do buy cheap and nasty one's - enjoy the light freshness of this Monticella DOCG Prosecco Jeroboam prosecco from Marks and Spencer.  It is a fresh lemony and light aromatic wine with pear and gooseberry, apple and violet hints, the finish is dry.  It is also available in a magnum bottle which is great fun, a party in a bottle, or so they say.

Craft 3 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Marks and Spencer is refreshing and light.  Its a good Sauvignon Blanc - with a pink grapefruit and fruity palate that is not overly bitter on the palate.  There are hints of the usual gooseberry and passionfruit, but its herby aroma makes this an interesting wine with a good texture.

I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day.

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Saturday
Mar182017

Northern Irish Gal Cup

When people arrive at my parties I offer them a drink and its always a very simple choice.  Would you like a cocktail or some sparkling water.  I am a firm believer in keeping things really simple. Not offering too much choice.  Simply lovely ingredients well cooked.  Lastnight we toasted St Patrick with this cocktail, then feasted on several kinds of sausages, champ and carmelised onions.  For pudding with had a St Patrick's Minty Pavlova.  Delicious. Simple. Straightforward.  I am a cook who loves feeding people, bringing them round my table to enjoy laughter and conversation, good food and sparkling lights.

I love Writer's Tears from Marks and Spencer.  This Irish whiskey is 100% barley and distilled in 60% malt and 40% pot still.  Writerṣ Tears” is a old style Irish Pot still Whiskey which makes it a perfect base for a cocktail.  It has a lovely honey flavour with a burst of ginger and butterscotch, there are hints of toasted oat.  It is smooth.  A result of being tripled distilled and matured in charred bourbon barrels.  

To make a Northern Irish Gal Cup - 

Add two cups of whiskey to large jug then a bottle of sparkling ginger and rhubharb presse, top with pure pear juice.  The sweetness of the pear mixed withthe sharp rhubarb, spliced with a hint of gingers fresh spice brings a fresh, mellow note to the honey Writers Tears Whiskey. Serve with ice in beautiful glasses.

 

Give this a listen while you sip - 

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Friday
Mar172017

How to make an Irish Hot Whiskey

Happy St Patrick's Day my lovelies.  May you have a day filled with blessings and laughter.

The rain is battering my window and the green is glimpsed through the mists of grey.  I've come in from walking the dogs and feeling a bit like a drowned rat.

To warm my chilled bones a hot whiskey is the ticket.  

This is a drink of few ingredients and one that doesn't need fussing.

Most important is the whiskey I love Writer's Tears from Marks and Spencer.  This Irish whiskey is 100% barley and made in a copper pot still.

It has a lovely honey flavour with a burst of ginger and butterscotch, there are hints of toasted oat.  It is smooth.  A result of being tripled distilled and matured in charred bourbon barrels.  Writerṣ Tears” is a old style Irish Pot still Whiskey, with its vatting of Single Malt and Single Pot Still whiskeys, it is distilled from 60% malt and 40% pot still.

Years of making hot whiskey's for customers means I know every trick in the book.  The secret is to warm the glass before adding the whiskey.  Put a teaspoon into a glass and fill with water that is just off the boil.  Meanwhile stud a lemon with cloves. Being careful not to burn fingers, disgard the water from the glass, add the whiskey, clove studded lemon and add a good three fingers of Whiskey to the glass, fill with hot water, stirring  to it swirls add a teaspoon of honey - or brown sugar.  Stir until the sugar is disolved.  Wrap a napkin around the glass so as not to burn your fingers and drink with your toes up in front of a roaring fire.

 

Happy St Patrick's Day!

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable