Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tefal Fresh Express Review

I've had a few chances to play with the Tefal Fresh Express now, so I feel qualified to put up a review on it. I've taken a few videos so you can see it in action. I was too embarrassed to talk on it (who doesn't hate the sound of their own voice), but you get the idea. I had a few people around for some chicken fajitas so this was the perfect chance to cut up some different things and let everyone see how easy it is.

The first thing you can see here is me setting it up and then grating a carrot. I've used the large grating cone (red cone) and it's no trouble to grate up the carrot.

Here's the Fresh Express slicing a cucumber. Again, it's nice and easy. I've used the thick slicing cone (dark green cone). You do get a little bit of the skin that seems to wrap around the cone, but it doesn't stop it slicing and I don't really miss it on the cucumber.

Again using the thick slicing cone to chop an onion. This works pretty well, but the slices can be a bit uneven as the ends of the onion go through in one thick piece. It's good enough for every day, but I think if I was having a dinner party I would be using my knife. At the end of the video I've shown how you get the cone out after using it. Just a quick turn of the feeder and the cone pops straight out.

Lastly, I've grated some cheese. Again, I've used the large grating cone. It grates the cheese nice and quick, but there is a little bit left at the end that gets stuck to the cone. You get this leftover bit when grating the traditional way, but with the Fresh Express it's trickier to snack on it. ;)

I've also tested this out on some hard cheese, using the extra fine grater (yellow cone), but found it struggled a bit. It did get through it, but it took a while and I had to push really hard on the pusher.

The manual also says you can grate chocolate, biscuits and nuts, so I'm going to give that a go too. See my results here.

I've also got one Tefal Fresh Express to giveaway to Australian readers. Giveaway details here.


I love that all the cones store on the unit itself, so they don't go missing in the back of the cupboard. It's bright, funky and compact, so doesn't look too functional sitting on the kitchen bench.

I think it's pretty much replaced my hand grater. It's much quicker and easier to use the Fresh Express than grating by hand and just as easy to clean. All you need to do is rinse the cones and the feeder and then pop them in the dishwasher. If I've only grated a carrot or two, then I don't even put it in the dishwasher, rinsing is enough.

If you had some young kids, it would be a much safer way to get them working in the kitchen than using a hand grater. When the cones are on the machine, there are no sharp parts and the length of the feeding tube means it's impossible to grate your fingers. I think it would also be a great gimmick to get the kids eating more fruit and vegetables, or at the very least, you can grate them up and hide them in everything.

If I was just slicing one onion, I'd stick to the knife as you need to prep the onion anyway, but for any grating, it's perfect.

The feeder tube is just wide enough for a large cucumber, but I needed to chop my onion in half to fit it in.

Disclaimer: I was given a Tefal Fresh Express for the purpose of doing a review and giveaway. I received no additional compensation. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Zucchini Slice

Zucchini Slice

Would you believe I've never actually made Zucchini Slice before? As a kid, it was not something my Mum ever made, so it's not something that comes to mind. I think I've been missing out though, as this was one of the easiest things to make and was super tasty. Roman loves it too. I left out the cheese as hubby doesn't eat it (I swear it's his only flaw) and it was still very good.

This was a good test of the Tefal Fresh Express too. It did a great job of grating the zucchini and got through it in no time. I have a Tefal Fresh Express to give away to one lucky reader, so if you live in Australia, head on over here to enter the competition. Entry to the competition is via the Things for Boys Facebook page.

Zucchini Slice
makes one 20 x 30cm slice

5 eggs
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
450g zucchini (3 medium zucchini), grated
1 large onion, finely chopped
300g bacon (about 6 rashers), chopped*
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
60g (1/4 cup) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F). Grease and line a 30 x 20cm slice pan.

Put the eggs into a large mixing bowl and lightly beat with a spoon. Add the flour and beat until almost smooth (there will still be some lumps, but that's fine), then add zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese and butter, stirring to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in oven for about 45 minutes or until cooked through and golden on top. Serve warm or chilled straight from the fridge.

*I have also used 300g diced leftover Christmas ham in this before.

Zucchini Slice

Friday, 25 November 2011

Tefal Fresh Express Giveaway!

**This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Amelia McDermott!**

Update 26/11/11: Due to a limitation of the Blogger commenting system, I have had to change how to enter this competition. Entry is now via Facebook only, so that I can get in touch with you if you win. If you previously entered by commenting below, please enter again. Apologies!!

The generous people over at Soup have sent me a new Tefal Fresh Express to test out. Even better, they have offered to send one lucky Aussie reader of Things for Boys a Tefal Fresh Express of their very own!

The Tefal Fresh Express is a mini food processor, designed to make getting your daily intake of fruit and veg that little bit easier. It comes with 5 cutting cones that slice and grate your fruit and vegetables, perfect for sneaking into everything you cook. On first impressions, it's a cute little machine and looks funky sitting on the kitchen bench without taking up much room. The cones store on the machine when not in use, so it is definitely a lot smaller than my regular food processor. So far, I haven't had a chance to give it a good go, but it did make quick work of grating a carrot for some pasta sauce.

Over the next week, I will post up my full review of the Fresh Express and some recipes using it.

1. “Like” Things for Boys on Facebook and
2. Post a comment on the Things for Boys Wall, telling us what your favourite kitchen gadget is. 

Official Rules:
Giveaway starts on 25/11/2011 and will run until 8/12/2011 at 11:59 pm AEDST.
Giveaway is open to Australian residents only. Apologies to my readers outside of Australia.
One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random. I will email the winner and they will have up to 3 days to claim their prize or another winner will be selected.

Disclaimer: I was given a Tefal Fresh Express for the purpose of doing a review and giveaway. I received no additional compensation. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Cutlery Storage Roll - Tutorial

Cutlery Storage Roll

Do you have one of those 'good' cutlery sets? You know the ones, they get pulled out for Christmas and then for the rest of the year, take up a huge amount of space in an awkwardly large box.

Well, I decided to store them in a roll, like chefs knives. They take up a lot less space and still stay nice and shiny. You can see below, that they use about 1/4 of the space of the box. To make this a quick job, I used tea towels, as they are already hemmed around the edges.

Cutlery Storage Roll Cutlery Storage Roll

You could use fabric, but you would want to finish the edges first. This would also be a great project to make use of souvenir tea towels, if you have a pile of them laying about.

Cutlery Storage Roll

You'll need:
Tea towels - For my 56 piece set, I used 3 jumbo tea towels (60 x 90 cm)
Piece of ribbon, tape or cord for the ties. I used 3 pieces of twill tape, all 1m long.

If you bought tea towels specifically for this job, then pre-wash them.

Lay out a tea towel and then lay out the cutlery along the middle. Make sure you leave a little wiggle room so that the pockets aren't too tight. The bottom part of the tea towel gets folded up and sewn to make pockets for the cutlery and the top part folds over when rolling it up to stop the cutlery from getting scratched.

Cutlery Storage Roll Cutlery Storage Roll

Fold up the bottom of the tea towel and pin in between each piece of cutlery. I used the lines on the tea towel as guides for placing the pins evenly and a mark on a post-it note to make sure I made them all the same width.

Cutlery Storage Roll Cutlery Storage Roll

Remove the cutlery and sew channels at each place that you have a pin. Again, I used the lines on the tea towel to make sure I sewed straight.

Cutlery Storage Roll Cutlery Storage Roll

Now, add the tie to your roll. Finish the ends on the twill tape, by folding over twice and sewing or with some fray check. To find the point to sew the tape onto the tea towel, place the cutlery in the pockets and fold over the top flap. Place a mark halfway down the edge on the pocket part of the tea towel, not the top flap. Fold the tape in half and sew onto the tea towel at the mark. I also labelled the ends of my ties so I know what is in each tea towel without having to unroll them.

Cutlery Storage Roll

These are great for steak knives, servingware, picnic or outdoor cutlery sets too.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Cocktail Hour - The Bee's Knees

Bee's Knees

This drink is great, as long as you like gin and honey. I therefore, love it. With the combination of lemon and honey, I was a bit worried it would taste like a cough lolly, but the complex flavour of the gin stops that. The lemon prevents it being too sweet, but the flavour of the honey really comes through. A surprisingly grown up drink.

The Honey Syrup keeps indefinitely in the fridge, so you can make up a good amount and keep it in a jar for when you want it.

Bee's Knees
serves 1

2 shots gin
1 shot Honey Syrup (1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup water)
1/2 shot lemon juice
cracked ice

To make the Honey Syrup, mix 1/4 cup honey with 1/4 cup hot water. Stir until the honey is dissolved. This should make enough for 4 drinks.

For the cocktail, combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake until chilled. Pour into a martini glass to serve. This cocktail has a lingering sweetness, but if you prefer a dry cocktail, add a bit more lemon juice, or cut back on the honey syrup.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Boxing Up and Preserving a Wedding Dress - Tutorial


I, like many others was horrified at the price I was quoted to have my wedding dress packed up. It has since been hanging in the cupboard for the last 6 years. My sister in law hasn't had hers sitting around for quite that long, but when spring cleaning her house, I offered to box up her dress.  It's one of those things that I think isn't really all that hard to do yourself.  It will take up a lot less room and get it out of the terrible plastic dress bag they always seem to come in.

All you need to do this is a heap of white acid free tissue paper and a box. Easy!

Firstly, get your dress cleaned. I was a bit crazy and cleaned my own, but if you're not that brave, get it professionally drycleaned. Your dress may look lovely and clean, but it's likely that there's stains just waiting to come out. Sweat, white wine, deodorant and perfumes can all stain your dress over time.

It is recommended to remove any buttons or accessories on your dress with metal parts as they can rust over time and stain the fabric.

Now it's time to fold up your dress. Lay the dress out front down on a bed or a sheet on the floor. You now need to fold it to fit in the box. You want to make the folds fairly symmetrically and aim to have the bodice sitting neatly on top of the folded up skirt. Try to make the sections fairly even and about the size of the bodice, so you end up with a uniformly sized package at the end.

Preserving Wedding Dress Preserving Wedding Dress
Preserving Wedding Dress Preserving Wedding Dress

The tissue paper is used to buffer any folds so that they don't create permanent creases. Fold a piece of tissue paper in half and the lay it where you want to make a fold. Fold the fabric so that the tissue paper gets folded in half inside the fold of the fabric (shown above). Repeat this, buffering each fold in the dress. For outside folds in the fabric, scrunch up some tissue paper and pad the folds.

Preserving Wedding Dress Preserving Wedding Dress
Preserving Wedding Dress Preserving Wedding Dress

Fold the skirt in until you have a long column the width of the bodice. Fold in any waist ties. Then, fold the skirt up, working from the bottom, up to the waist.

Preserving Wedding Dress Preserving Wedding Dress
Preserving Wedding Dress Preserving Wedding Dress

You should end up with a neat pile of tissue and fabric from the skirt and the bodice of the dress underneath. Turn it over so the bodice is on the top. Scrunch up sheets of tissue paper and stuff the bodice so that the bust sits nicely.

Preserving Wedding Dress Preserving Wedding Dress

The size of the box you need depends on how large your dress ends up when it's all folded. You really need to fold the dress up first, but the box will need to be at least as large as the bodice of the dress and deep enough for the dress and all the tissue paper.

Lastly, wrap the entire package in a few sheets of tissue to protect it from the outside world and lay it in the box. I like to put a lavender sachet in the box to keep any bugs away.

Preserving Wedding Dress Preserving Wedding Dress

It's a good idea to take the dress out once a year and make sure that no bugs have ventured into the box and that no stains have decided to make an appearance.

NOTE: I am not a professional preservationist, this is simply what I believe is required to preserve a dress. This is what I think will do a good job after a bit of googling. If you want to do this yourself, do a bit of research first to make sure you're happy with the process. You do only have one wedding dress after all.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Countdown to Christmas

Christmas decorations

Well, there is less than 6 weeks until Christmas and I'm getting excited! I tend to go a little crazy around Christmas. I love to have carols playing while I put up the tree and decorate the rest of the house. I try not to go too over the top, but I love how festive the place looks when it's all done. I didn't really do any decorating last year when we were in the flat in London, so I might need to make up for it this year.

To really get in the Christmas spirit, I thought I'd commit myself to doing 12 Christmas themed posts during December. It's my 12 Days of Christmas, so if you love Christmas like I do, then stay tuned. There'll be cooking, sewing, decorating and gift ideas to get you into the Christmas spirit too! Ho ho ho!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Cot Rail Teething Guard - Tutorial

Cot Rail Teething Guard

Roman's cot has teething rails...along the sides only! It didn't take him long to figure this out, so he chews on the ends. I made up some teething rail guards so he can chew on those instead.

Cot Rail Teething Guard

They are simply some rectangles with straps on the sides that snap onto the back to hold the guards in place.

I made them out of a cute cotton print, also used on the sleeping bag, and used an old towel for the backing.

To make these up:
Measure the width of the cot inside the side rails to get the width for your fabric. Measure the length you want. At the same time, measure the length of straps you will need. As you can see in the bottom picture, I made mine a fair bit longer than needed.

Cut out 2 rectangles of main fabric and 2 of your backing fabric using your measurements, plus a seam allowance. Cut out 4 strap pieces, using your measured length, plus about 3cm extra and twice the width of the strap you want.

To make up the straps, fold the fabric right sides facing and long edges together and sew around the edge, leaving one short end open. Clip the seam allowance at the corner and turn the strap right side out. Repeat for remaining straps.

To make up the guards, take a rectangle of main fabric and a rectangle of backing fabric and place right sides together. Sandwich the straps in the middle with the open ends of the straps sticking out. Sew all the way around the edge, leaving an opening to turn your work. Clip the corners and turn right way out. Press

Top-stitch all the way around the edge. This will close the opening you had for turning.

Attach one side of your snaps to the main part of the guard and then put the guard over the cot. Mark where to put the other half of the snap on the strap and then attach the snap. Repeat for remaining snaps. You want to have the snaps on the outside of the cot so that your cheeky little one doesn't make a game of un-doing them.

To make guards for the sides of your cot too, just leave off the straps, and put snaps along the length snapping between the bars.

Cot Rail Teething Guard

Friday, 11 November 2011

It's a Girl!!

Baby Julia

I'm an Aunty! Julia Lily was born last Friday and I'm totally smittern. Mother and baby are doing very well and we're all so excited to have a new baby in the family. I lasted about 5 minutes from first hearing the news to starting to decorate the little onesie above. I used my alphabet stamps and some Versacraft ink for the lettering and made the little bow out of some cotton scraps.

Baby Julia

I'm not sure how excited Roman is yet, I think he was a bit unsure of her. He wasn't too impressed when I gave her some cuddles. I think he felt a bit left out!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Roman's Smash Cake Session

Smash Cake

On the weekend, we did a Smash Cake session for Roman's 1st Birthday. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a Smash Cake is a cake made just for the baby. They get to squash it, poke it, eat it and play with it...all in the name of fun! The idea is to take a heap of photos and I think it's a great way of capturing a baby's 1st Birthday.

The day before we planned to do it, I made up the cake. I made a Sugar-free Carrot and Date cake, which was delicious. You can find all the details on the cake here.

In the morning, we checked it wasn't too cold, and after Roman had finished his breakfast and had a little play, we got to it.

Hubby did all the setup in the garage, while I decorated the cake. For our setup, we took the car out of the garage and gave it a quick sweep. Then we rolled out some lino that we had. I liked the look of the brick wall in the background, so we left it as is. This also meant we didn't need to bother trying to find a nice white background. The morning sun streams into our garage, so we put the garage door about halfway down and then sticky-taped a sheet up to block any sun coming directly onto the lino. To even out the light, we used a flash in a soft box. This connects to the camera with a super long cord, although there are wireless ones out there.

We had lots of fun and I'm so pleased with the results. The only problem, is trying to pick just one photo to get blown up.

Smash Cake

Smash Cake

Smash Cake

Smash Cake

Here you can see our setup, although we also had a sheet sticky-tapes to the bottom of the garage door, because there was a little too much light coming in. This is a pretty basic setup, but I'm so happy with the results.

Smash Cake

Sugar-free Carrot and Date Cake

Smash Cake

I'm in two minds about using sugar in a cake made specifically for a baby. On the one hand, it's their birthday, and the only time they have cake, so a little bit of sugar isn't going to do any harm. But on the other hand, they're a baby, they don't need, want or crave the sugar so why get them hooked on it?

I think this cake is a perfect compromise. The dates are nice and sweet, so it doesn't taste like you're missing out on anything when you have a piece, and everything in the cake is good for babies, so you don't have to feel guilty if they eat the whole thing. This cake is ideal for smash cakes, or a healthy cake for your baby's 1st birthday, or any other time.

I made up this cake to use as Roman's Smash Cake. It is based on a recipe from Gill Rapley's Baby-led Weaning Cookbook. The cake turned out really well and tasted even better the next day. The dates had melted into the cake, so it just tasted like a regular, sweet and delicious carrot cake.

Sugar-free Carrot and Date Cake
makes 8" cake or 12 cupcakes

200g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
130g dates, stones removed, and finely chopped
50g shredded coconut*
110g butter, melted
110g sultanas (golden raisins)
1 cup grated carrot (about 1 large carrot)
2 tbsp milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
whipped cream and sprinkles to decorate (optional)

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Lightly grease an 8" round cake tin** and line the bottom with baking paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder and ground spices together. Give it a good stir to make sure it's evenly combined. Stir through the dates and coconut.

Combine the melted butter, sultanas, carrot and milk (I use the saucepan I melted the butter in). Add to the dry ingredients and mix gently until evenly combined. You should have a very thick mixture. Add the eggs and give it a good stir.

Smash Cake

Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 45 - 60 minutes (about 30 mins for cupcakes) until done when tested with a skewer. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack, removing the baking paper, to cool completely. Store in a tin or wrapped in foil until ready to use. Decorate just before serving. The whipped cream is a great frosting if you're using this for a smash cake. It can be tinted to any colour, and is much better for your baby then buttercream or fondant.

Smash Cake

*I prefer to use shredded coconut as I think it doesn't catch in your throat the way desiccated coconut does, but feel free to use desiccated coconut if that's what you have.

**I used a 6" round tin and also make a few cupcakes with the extra mixture.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Cocktail Hour - French Martini

The French Martini is a great beginner's Martini. Like the Appletini, it's fruity and a little bit on the sweet side. That can often be your downfall though, as the bite of the vodka gets hidden away and you don't realise how potent they are until you've had a few and then get dizzy when you stand up. But don't let a little thing like that stop you.

French Martini

French Martini
serves 1

1 shot Vodka
1/2 shot Chambord Raspberry Liqueur
2 shots pineapple juice

Shake all ingredients vigorously in a cocktail shaker. Shaking the pineapple juice gives a nice frothy top to your drink (you can't see this in my picture, because I'm still pouring it). Strain into a Martini glass and enjoy.
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