Festival Number Six – My Kind Of Festival

A festival? On a food blog? In the words of Miranda, bear with!

I’ve been to a fair few festivals, all with their ups and downs:

  • Glasto – amazing but no sleep and itchy hair
  • Beautiful Days – great real ale, great camping but so far away
  • Leeds Fest – it was the first one, went alone, was ace but don’t think I could handle it now!
  • V- actually no good points, just grim, grim, grim

Last year we stayed closer to home and headed over to the beautiful Portmerion for Festival Number 6. And from the moment we stepped on site I knew we were on to a winner.

GoodEggFoodie at Festival Number 6 2014

Early morning up in the woods

It was a ridiculously sunny weekend at the start of September, we got there early so had our pick of the campsite. So let’s get the one bad thing out of the way straight away. The campsite is one big slope. We picked the least sloped area in the first field and I was still slipping from one end of the tent to the other! This year we head to a further field…

GoodEggFoodie at Festival Number 6 2014GoodEggFoodie at Festival Number 6 2014

That beach!

Site was quiet on Thursday and Friday morning so it was great for exploring. Portmerion is like nowhere else you’ll ever go in the UK. The ‘village’ itself is an eccentric mix of tiny (often colourful) buildings, an estuary, woodlands and even a village plaza. Friday morning, we walked through the almost deserted woods (the stages didn’t open until lunchtime), and it was magical. The early sun dappled through the trees, we found hammocks hung between the trees for a quick snooze and then we turned a corner and came across an almost deserted beach. We were round the bend from the estuary so hardly anyone else had made it there- in fact the only people we saw for about an hour were our tent neighbours. A gorgeous beach, soft sand…if we didn’t have a festival to enjoy we’d have stayed there all weekend.

GoodEggFoodie at Festival Number 6 2014

If you go down to the woods you might find Badly Drawn Boy and an owl DJ booth

That evening we returned to the woods to watch Badly Drawn Boy play to a couple of hundred people on a tiny stage in a glade- with lampshades hanging from the trees and tree stumps for seats. Slightly surreal, especially as there was also a frozen margarita stall there as well!

The festival is spread across the village with small stages in the woods, on the estuary and in the square, with the main stage and bigger tents in an arena area (which I think is where the car parks normally are).  There were big name bands and DJs, local acts, comedians (hopefully in a bigger stage this year as it was cozy), dance lessons, lectures, kids entertainers, a welsh male voice choir and each night a magic parade.

GoodEggFoodie at Festival Number 6 2014

The village – yep that is a Prisoner re-enactment on the plaza!

Everything was chilled out, grown up and a little bit classy without any pretentions.

For me, the festival was also a hit because of the food and drink. I once went to V Fest and survived on Pot Noodle, greasy chips and terrible, terrible toilet facilities. I think I may have had scurvy and a water infection when I got home! On the camp site here, there were hot food traders for breakfast and late night munchies. There was also a market so we could buy direct from producers – fresh fruit and veg, chocolate, artisan pies and pastries, healthy breakfasts (seriously, the porridge lady had a massive queue) and sweet treats.

GoodEggFoodie at Festival Number 6 2014

L: part of the torchlight parade
r: festival selfie- no makeup, no shampoo!

The main arena had the majority of the food traders and we ate really well all weekend. Amazing veggie Indian food from Ghandi’s Flip Flop, bonkers bangers from Piggie Smalls, posh street food from Fair Game, stone baked pizza, fresh bagels and much more- I even had a cheese board for lunch!  You could also book a long table banquet down by the estuary with a top chef or eat in the hotel on site.

Drinks fared well too. A real ale bar, Estrella for a cooling mid day beer, Hendricks gin bar, margaritas, Kraken rum and Fevertree Tonics (with or without the gin). It really was made for us.

GoodEggFoodie at Festival Number 6 2014

The main stage – what a backdrop

We’ve already booked to go back this year and I can’t wait to see Grace Jones do her thing to a backdrop of welsh hills on that main stage. I wish we could afford to go crazy and stay in one of the self catering apartments, or even hire a giant yurt in a flat field, but it’s such a great festival that I am prepared to sleep on a slope for three nights!

If you love festivals but have outgrown grubby toilets, bad food and scurvy then I suggest that you pack your bags and head to the coast this September for Festival Number 6. But don’t tell everyone- I kinda want it to stay small and perfectly formed!

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NB this is not a sponsored post, or paid review – I just like to share what a fabulous festival this is.

Eat Their Words: River Cottage Light and Easy Reviewed

My bookcase groans under the weight of cookbooks. All have been used (anything we didn’t use got culled a year ago and another cull is coming) but some more than others. Every once in a while a cookbook comes along which immediately becomes a go-to for mid-week inspiration. Currently that book is River Cottage Light and Easy.

River Cottage Light & Easy  chicken and lentils

Chicken and lentils – my hero dish

I bought this book late last year on the basis that River Cottage Veg had been a winner for me and it was only a tenner from the book man at work! I fell in love it with immediately. The premise that everything is pretty easy immediately appeals to my end of day weariness when I want to cook but am flagging. Secondly I like that meat is seen as an ingredient, not the meal itself. We’ve been cutting down on red meat generally, and this book is ‘light’ on meat, dairy and wheat without being preachy or faddy. It’s proper, wholesome food cooked simply.

My hero dish has to be chicken with lentils and rosemary. I’d never cooked red lentils in the oven like this before, but it is so simple and comforting I now prefer it to mashed potato! I’ve done a few riffs on this since, using different spices in the lentils, and replacing the chicken with sausages, but also going back to the original.  You can see the recipe here.

River Cottage Light & Easy  baked mushroom risotto

Baked mushroom risotto

Another eye opener has been the oven baked mushroom and shallot risotto. I’m addicted to risotto and this is so packed full of flavour that the parmesan didn’t even come out of the fridge. It takes longer to make than your usual risotto but it is well worth it and it only takes time, not effort.

River Cottage Light & Easy  hot and sour mussels

Hot and sour mussels

Other highlights include the hot and sour mussels (move over cream), spicy sprats (great finger food and so bloody cheap!), fragrant Asian broth and eggy fish fingers.

River Cottage Light & Easy  spicy sprats

Spicy sprats- get stuck in!

I’ve only had one disappointment, and surprisingly it was the dish which was used in all the magazines and supplements’ when the book was being reviewed. The aromatic nutty chicken has a satay-like mix pushed under the skin, but I found it dried out and left a not so nice aftertaste. Who knows, maybe I was just having a bad day.

Writing this, I have been flicking through the book looking for recipe names and realised there are so many more I want to try- I haven’t even read the treats chapter- how’d I miss that! And hubby is now shouting out recipes he wants to make- result!

This, along with River Cottage Veg, has become a fixture – one of the books I pull out when I am planning my weekly menu. The fact that we ate our evening meals for a whole week from this and Veg without ever getting bored is, I think, testament to its usefulness. River Cottage Light and Easy is a keeper and won’t be getting culled from my shelves any time soon.

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Kitchen Budget Tips- Part 2

Did you catch part 1 of my thrifty kitchen tips? No- get over there now!

Hopefully you found part 1 useful; we covered everything from coffee syrup to cheap cuts.  Today’s tips are once again my own and some great contributions from my merry band of thrifty bloggers. So enough chit chat, let’s get to

Flatiron for a steak fix

Flatiron Steak I really enjoy a good ribeye steak. As we’ve cut back on red meat it is a great treat when we eat out. Occasionally we do still cook steak at home and flatiron has been a revelation for a mid-week steak fix. I can buy a piece of flatiron to feed us both handsomely for about £5-6 – two ribeyes from my favourite butchers is upwards of £15. So we have the ribeye as a real treat and the flatiron for less indulgent days.

The key with flatiron is to cook it very quickly on a very hot griddle. It will be tender and juicy- ideal for a cheeky steak sarnie.

Dried peas for baking beans

Making your own tarts, quiches etc not only tastes better than shop bought but pastry is cheap to make as well. But before you run out to buy all of the equipment, stop! Ceramic baking beans cost a few quid, but you don’t need them. A few years back, I bought a box of Leo Dried Peas for less than 30p (they are about 45p now) and I am still using them now. Use them exactly as you do baking beans.

Stock

Vohn at vohnsvittles.com wisely suggests that a decent stock lifts even the thriftiest meal. You can pick up bones cheaply, or even free from butchers, farms and markets and she cheekily adds: ‘call your stock bone broth and you are bang on trend to boot!’

I can recommend Essential Cuisine’s range if you can get your hands on them. They aren’t cheap but you don’t need a lot and are full of flavour so are quite good value in the long run.

Dark chocolate for milk

CHOCOLATE!! (cocoa boutique)

CHOCOLATE!! (cocoa boutique)

If you reach for the choccies after a hard day at work, it can be an expensive, not to mention unhealthy, habit. I hold my hands up- I’m not a chocolate snob and I turn to the Maltesers regularly at work. But honestly, I can eat two pieces of good dark chocolate and feel sated. Green and Blacks is great, and Hotel Chocolat is my heaven but expensive, so I also indulge in Lidl’s own 70%  which is a quality bar of chocolate for little over a quid.

Get your oats

I’ve just looked at the Morrison’s online shop. Those Oat So Simple tubs that I see people tucking into in the office, work out at up to £2.05 per 100g. For oats!

Morrisons own brand oats on the other hand are just 11.5p per 100g. I don’t go for the convenience of those pots and sachets. I don’t have a microwave and I can whip up porridge in less than 5 mins. Porridge, milk, stir, bring to boil. By the time I’ve fed the cats it’s ready.  If you take brekkie to work, put your oats and milk in Tupperware and heat when you get the office. It is barely slower than the instant guff and you’ll be so much better off.

Bulk up

I’ve never been into bulk buying but Off Beat Emily and Sabina over at Fashernably Late both suggest bulk buying your basics like rice and pasta saves in the long term as you can store them. Maybe I should get a Costco card!

A wise lady, otherwise know as Andrea at All You Need Is Love and Cake, has some simple advice. Go thrifty a couple of times a week, pasta, jackets, and use the money you save to splash on a treat you really want- maybe a big juicy steak.

Love your leftovers!

Kerrie from WifeMumStudentBum makes soups, salads and other meals, and Hayleigh swears by banana and egg pancakes for when the cupboards are bare! They’re a new one to me!

Cut it out!

The UK might not have been struck by coupon fever in the way America has, but some of us do use those money off vouchers that are in magazines and drop through the door. Jennifer writes My Mummies Pennies so knows about saving cash! She says keep them in an envelope by the door and take it with you to the shops.

I’ve surprised myself writing all this down, just how much I already do to watch the pennies in the kitchen. But it never feels like I am buying bad quality items or depriving us of what we want. It just takes getting into some good habits and not being drawn in by silly offers like BOGOFs.

I’d love to hear from you! You can leave your own tips and thrifty kitchen habits in the comments.

Happy cooking! xxx

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