Subscription for a chocolate lover

It’s good to read other blogs. You can make new friends, support fellow bloggers – and one other thing is that you get ideas for what you can spend your money on!

One of the ideas that I got from a blog recently was about the tasting boxes from Hotel Chocolat.

I am already a fan of Hotel Chocolate! In fact, writing about my chocolate obsession on the blog is a good thing, because then friends use the blog to find out what my favourite box is and buy it for my birthday! Win!

So, as a chocolate lover, particularly when it comes to tasty treats from Hotel Chocolat, I was interested to discover that they have a tasting club.

What’s even better is that you get your first box cheaper – I paid £9.95 instead of the £22.95 that it usually costs. This wasn’t an affiliate code and I believe it is open to any customer on their first box, though of course it’s best to check first as the terms on the site may change.

You can choose from five different boxes – classic, mellow, fortified, high cocoa, and rare and vintage. We went for the mellow box with no alcohol.

We received around 25 chocolates, including one large slab. The idea was that S and I share them, but as he had to go away on a business trip and the box was left on my desk, that didn’t quite work out as planned and there wasn’t one of each type left when he got back!

I won’t list everything, but my favourites were Sicilian orange, raspberry, and lemon and lavender. The chunky chocolate slab was also great. I think salt and chocolate or salt and caramel just shouldn’t be a thing, but it’s still chocolate, so I just left them till last! Seriously though – salt doesn’t belong in chocolate … ever!

If you want to contribute your opinions, you can either use the form that’s provided in the box, or vote online. The form can either be posted back, or you can send them a picture of it once you’ve filled it in. This isn’t a very accessible way to do it for me though, so I was glad to see that you can also submit your answers online. Unfortunately, I left it too late to do this for my box. I have logged in and can find the form, but it’s for the next box, which hasn’t arrived yet. Still, the form is well-labelled and I will be able to complete it as an access technology user. For each type of chocolate, you choose how many stars you want to give it and can add your comments in a text field under the name of each chocolate.

Of course I still needed help to identify each chocolate, but I expected this when I ordered it.

Being a club member also entitles you to other things such as 5% off other orders and special things in the shop such as an exclusive deal on the extra thick Easter eggs. Of course this too will change as the site is updated, but you get information with your box about any special offers.

If you don’t want one of these boxes every month, you can snooze it as long as the box hasn’t already been sent out.

I think it’s a nice thing for us to do together as apart from the big block, there were two of everything. It’s not an “I need a chocolate fix now!” kind of box, but if you want to take your time and savour some different flavours – on your own or with someone else – I think it’s an interesting way to do it either every month, or once in a while. We have to be a bit careful with food boxes or tasting clubs because of my allergies, but the things that I’m allergic to aren’t usually found in chocolate!

I think this would also be an ideal gift for a chocolate lover if you want the gift to keep giving over several months.

You can find out more about the tasting club on the Hotel Chocolat website.

Listen to the podcast episode

I’ve also produced a podcast episode about my Hotel Chocolat subscription box. You can look for Unseen Beauty on Apple podcasts (previously known as iTunes), or wherever you get your podcasts. Alternatively, you can listen to it here:

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Easter treats with Abel and Cole

You may remember my review of our fruit and vegetable box that I did a while ago.

Well, we’ve continued to get the boxes, but I also like to browse the Abel and Cole site for what else they have. For example, I don’t like most of the Christmas desserts that you usually get, so I ordered a chocolate orange log from Abel and Cole with our Christmas order last year. Chilled things come in durable bags with ice packs. The bags are lined with sheep’s wool, which keeps in the cold and is better for the environment than some of the cooler bags that you can buy. You just put your cooler out before your next delivery is due and the driver will collect it, meaning there’s no waste.

In this week’s box we got satsumas, apples, a mango, potatoes, courgettes, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and broccoli. I’m now into the habit of checking what’s due to be in the box two days before our delivery, and I swap out anything we don’t want. So there’s never “too many carrots” as I was complaining about before. Also, if you still have a lot of fruit and veg one week, you can change the frequency to every two weeks for a while or until you catch up.

Special Easter treats

So, as Easter is coming up, I wanted to try out some of the Easter treats on the Abel and Cole site and I added a few extra things to our order this week.

I’d already tried the delicious chocolate owl lollies from Cocoa Loco, and there are some Easter bunny ones too. I got one for me and one for S – because I’m an only child and we don’t share chocolate 😉 Anyway apart from being delicious organic chocolate, I love the way that these little lollies are so tactile. You can feel the floppy bunny ears, the fluffy tail, and the shape of the rest of the body.

If you want something bigger, they also do a thumpingly chocolatey solid marbled rabbit. I haven’t tried that yet, but we just might!

I like the fact that you can read a bit about the products and their producers on the Abel and Cole page, so you know where your food comes from.

These rabbits are home-made in Horsham. The cocoa is grown in gaps in the rainforest canopy, not from clear-cut areas, which presumably means that no rainforest is destroyed to grow the chocolate. They’re listed as organic, vegetarian and fair trade.

That’s another thing – if you’re doing a search, you can put filters on your results to match your dietary requirements such as vegetarian or dairy-free..

I then decided to try a couple of things from the Authentic Bread Company, which was set up by a couple in Gloucestershire, who transformed their garage into a fully-functioning bakery. Since then, the company has won 15 awards, including 6 Soil Association awards. Now it really is a family business because the two adult children have joined as well.

The shortbread chick biscuits are made from organic flour, sugar, butter and rice flour. They’re cut into cute little chick shapes and rather moreish! I don’t think they’ll last long!

I also got some mini chocolate and orange hot cross buns. I’m not so much a fan of hot cross buns, but the addition of chocolate persuaded me to try and they’re made with chocolate chips, rather than a hint of chocolate flavouring. The orange is more subtle, but it is there.

Sunflower bread isn’t something for Easter, but I love sunflower seeds, so I decided to get a small loaf as well. You have two options for the size and I may get a larger one next time. It’s delicious, made using traditional processes, and contains no preservatives or palm oil.

These are just a few of the things available as well as the fruit and vegetables! We also got some falafel for lunch!

How about you?

Have you tried these boxes? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Also, if you’re interested in trying out one of the boxes, they do a recommendation scheme. If you send me your email address, I can invite you, which means you get £20 off your first order! Even if you get your first box half-price, you can still fill up your order to make sure you get the full value for your £20 – just remember to check out the basket (I didn’t the first time, so I only got my box and not the extra things I’d added).

Click here if you’d like to find out about our other subscriptions.

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I am an affiliate for Abel and Cole, but I only promote products that I use and enjoy.

Happy international spicy food day – in celebration of the chilli!

Some chilli facts, our curry night, and why spicy food could be good for you!

Do you like spicy food? 16th January is international spicy food day and I’d like to celebrate by telling and showing you what we got up to at the weekend!

I’ll start off by saying that we like our food to be hot and spicy. I don’t even realise I’m doing it sometimes. Once, when cooking for friends, I put “a little sprinkling” of chilli flakes in a dish and sent one of them running for a drink! I didn’t think it was particularly spicy, so in part it’s just what you’re used to!

Here are a few spicy facts for you!

  1. If you eat something that’s too spicy, drink some milk. Water won’t help because it will just spread the burn to another part of your mouth. The casein protein in milk binds to the capsaicin in the pepper, which prevents it from binding to your tongue’s pain receptors.
  2. According to archaeologists, people have been eating spicy food for around 6000 years.
  3. Scoville heat units are used to measure the heat produced by hot foods such as chillis.
  4. If you were a bird, you wouldn’t get the fiery sensation in your beak when you pecked at a chilli because you’d be immune to its effects.
  5. Chilli peppers are a good source of vitamin C.

Pathia night

We’ve been getting spice boxes from the Spicery for about 3 years now. You may remember the review that I did last year.

I don’t post about them every month, but we cook them every month – It’s a kind of stay-at-home date night idea. We cook the food together and then enjoy what we’ve made. The curry night box serves four, so we make two meals for two out of it. There are also other boxes if you prefer, such as street food, date night, curry favourites (more well-known dishes than the ones we get), and I believe there is a vegetarian option too. You can buy individual meals, or set up a subscription. If you don’t fancy the meal that has been chosen for one particular month, you can swap to one of the other boxes for that month.

You still need to buy the main ingredients yourself, but all the ingredients that are harder to get have been measured out, ground, and packaged up for you.

I like it because I wouldn’t have a clue how to make a lot of the dishes that we’ve tried, but you also get a step-by-step recipe that shows you how it’s done.

Sunday night was Pathia night. Pathia curries mix sweet, sour and hot flavours because there are sweet mangos, sour lemons and not one, but two types of chilli powder! I suppose if you wanted to, you could make it less hot by not adding the crumbled, dry-fried chillis at the end, but we didn’t want to do that!

Our meal consisted of the Pathia curry, red cabbage palya, home-made poppadoms, mango pickle, and cardamom rice.

Really this was supposed to be a prawn dish, but we don’t like prawns, so we used chicken instead. This worked out fine – you just need to remember that if you swap out ingredients, you need to think about the cooking times too. Chicken cooks more slowly than prawns, so it needed to go in sooner. Occasionally I make small changes to the shopping list because of my allergies, but we didn’t need to change anything for this one.

I’m not usually a fan of cabbage, but I ate this dish because it soaked up all the other flavours. As a child, I really wasn’t a fan of vegetables, but I eat so many more now that I know how to spice them up a bit!

If you’re interested in the pathia kit, you can get it here rather than as part of a subscription.

So, will you be doing anything to celebrate international spicy food day? What’s your favourite spicy dish?

I’ll leave you with an article from the BBC about chillis because I thought it was an interesting read!

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Blogmas day 13 – warming winter food

On Monday a box arrived from Amazon and inside was my new pressure cooker!

The reason I’m telling you this is that I used it last night to make one of my favourite winter meals – a quick and easy winter stew!

I used to have this as a child too, although my Nan didn’t use a pressure cooker. I could smell the stew as it was cooking and I knew there would be a tasty warm meal with dumplings.

Actually I didn’t make any dumplings, because I didn’t have much time yesterday, but it’s a hearty and pretty healthy meal because all I used was fresh vegetables and some meat, though of course you could do it without the meat.

I won’t write down a recipe because my stew is different every time. Yesterday I used pork, potatoes, mushrooms, a tomato, an aubergine, and a couple of onions. I covered the meat and vegetables with gravy and whatever herbs and spices I felt like chucking in! I tasted the gravy mixture to make sure the spices were right before I poured it over the meat and veg that were already in the pressure cooker.

If you like it spicy, you can add chillis. I added two because we like our meals to have a bit of heat, but you don’t need to do this if you don’t like spicy food.

I like to make stews in the pressure cooker for two reasons – it’s super quick – after I’d prepared everything and the pressure cooker started steaming, it took about 25 minutes for the meal to be cooked. Then you just need to wait for the pressure to go down so it’s safe to open the lid. The second thing is how it makes the potatoes all soft and fluffy!

You can tell when it’s ready, because even if you can’t see the steam, it starts to hiss like a big snake, which is when you need to start timing.

I will admit that I’m slightly scared of the pressure cooker because I’ve heard stories of bad things happening, and I know that there is a lot of pressure building up inside it, but I have also heard that they are safer now than they used to be, so it doesn’t put me off from using it.

I do have a slow cooker too, and I sometimes cook casseroles in there, but sometimes I don’t feel the meat tastes quite as good as when you do it in the pressure cooker.

Making this kind of meal is a good way to use up any vegetables you have left over. We do sometimes have an excess of veg because of our vegetable box, and as I don’t like waste, I’ve been making winter soups. Having some hearty winter stews as well will be a good way to mix things up a bit!

How about you? What do you like to cook when it’s cold and grim outside?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 13?

L’Occitane – I thought it was another soap, but no! It was a sugar bath cube! I haven’t tried one of those before, so it will be interesting to see what they’re like, and as it’s a sugar one, it shouldn’t be too messy because sugar is soluble.

M&S – today I got a fragrance – blood orange from Shay and Blue. I know it’s a risky business putting a fragrance in an advent calendar, and you won’t please everyone, but I really like this. I’m glad they went for a citrus one rather than a really floral one. You get 10ml, so enough to really try it out (I can’t see the point of those little 2ml ones!), and it’s something I would consider buying full size.

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Blogmas day 6 – what do people from other parts of Europe think about Christmas in the UK?

Find out what some friends from other parts of Europe think about Christmas in the UK – what’s the same and what new traditions have they discovered?

I’ve interviewed a number of people from other parts of Europe who have lived, or who are now living in the UK. I wanted to know when they usually celebrated Christmas, whether they had discovered any new traditions, whether the food in England was different to the food that they usually ate, and whether there is anything that they miss from their home country. This is what they told me.

Andrea

Andrea is from Germany and she has spent some time living in England. You can find out more about Andrea on her blog.

The important day is Christmas Eve (“Heiligabend”), the 24th December. While this is in fact a normal working day (only the 25th and 26th of December are official holidays), most shops close at 2pm and most families attend church service in the late afternoon and then it’s time for the presents.

I was used to the Christmas tree being brought into the house on the morning of the 24th December, and then we would all help with the decorations, then have lunch and then the room would be locked until the evening.

In England, my housemates bought a Christmas tree at the beginning of December and started decorating it, and also already putting presents there. Also, there’s the tradition of hanging up Christmas cards on the wall above the chimney which my Mum has since picked up, so this has become part of our own tradition now.

In Germany, we also don’t have Christmas crackers. One year, I brought them home for my family, but they were not too impressed 😉

Germans love their Christmas cookies and gingerbread. This is a very big thing here and I didn’t get quite the same impression in England. However, bringing the whole family together for Christmas and having a real feast (turkey in England, goose in Germany) is something that is rather similar.

I didn’t really miss anything since my Mum made sure that I received a parcel with gingerbread and “Stollen” (a kind of fruitcake). I invited the neighbour’s kids round for several cookie baking sessions, so this was covered, too. With all the decorations and new traditions to discover, I never had the feeling that something was missing.

Madleen

Madleen is also from Germany and she is now living in England. This is what Madleen has to say about Christmas in the UK:

Whilst in England Xmas is celebrated on 25th with a main meal and Christmas pudding and family get togethers, In Germany we actually celebrate Xmas on 24th, Xmas eve and 25th Xmas Day.

We get together with family and friends on 24th sit around the Christmas tree with loads of cake *the traditional Xmas Stollen* and home made cookies and ginger bread men to celebrate Xmas eve.

Some people attend Christmas church services and come home a bit later to share out the gifts “bescheerung”

Santa Clause will make an appearance For the young ones in the family, and if it snows he might come in a sledge pulled by horses of course with his huge sack of gifts and in the Santa costume.
The children have to recite a poem or sing a song before they receive their gifts. All gifts will remain unopened until everyone has had their share and then the big “unpacking” will begin.

Afterwards platters of fruit and sweets will be put on the table accompanied by wine and drinks.

A traditional Christmas eve dinner is potato salad with German Sausages *Wiener wuerstchen or Bockwurst*

I will never even begin to understand the rush and excitement of Boxing day sales.

For me, Xmas is all about creating a peaceful home, eating good food *even there we differ, more about this later, But here in England many people run out to pubs with their friends, and Xmas is not such a “stay at home affair” as in Germany.

On 26th people hit the stores to grab a good Xmas bargain in the boxing day sales whilst in Germany all shops remain shut for 3 4 days at the least.

Also we don’t hang up stockings for Santa to fill, And we don’t give a mince pie and milk to Santa on 24th in the evening and no carrots for the reindeer, however this is a custom I make my daughters do at all times every year!

Yes, although as the years go by, everything is changing a bit. We in Germany would eat Goose, or Duck, and in England its mainly turkey. In Germany our festive food is mainly accompanied by red cabbage and here we have all sorts of vegetables.

In Germany we bake Xmas cakes *the festive Christmas stollen with or without marzipan and currents and sugar icing* But in England we eat Xmas pudding also the biscuits are different.

I miss stollen, I can buy them here, but I like them home baked so I go to bake my Stollen every year with a really good friend in Leipzig! 😉 We bake 20 Kilos in one sitting *it takes usually 1 day* and we prepare the dough for the same in a huge baby bath tub!

I miss Domino Steine *a sweet, fruity, jammy filling surrounded by marzipan and chocolate.
Lebkuchen *ginger bread men*

But I miss the traditionally prepared Xmas duck only my mum and grandma know how to prepare with a plumb and apple filling, and red cabbage to go with it accompanied by potatoes or traditional dumplings 😉

I learned to cope without it, if I’m here and mix my Christmas meal. I cook a turkey crown with red cabbage and potatoes and bake the Christmas cookies that my children enjoy decorating. So I bring Germany that little closer to our home in England.

One thing I miss over here though is everything we’d buy at a German Xmas market/advent market. Gebrannte Mandeln *sugar coated roasted almonds* or cashew nuts and Mutzen and hot waffles / wafers are just a few to name here.

I believe the German markets bring the atmosphere we all need to get into the Christmas spirit.

But if we miss it too much, maybe we can all go to “winter wonderland!” or to the traditional mini German markets all over the country another good tip is: http://www.germandeli.co.uk ” a German supermarket where we can order our German food online.

Salomi

Salomi moved from Greece to the UK. This is what Salomi had to say:

In Greece, Christmas Day is celebrated on 25th December.

I’ve thought about this question for a while now, but no, not really, there’s nothing new I’ve discovered in the UK.

There are no big differences in terms of food. The meat is the same, roast turkey and potatoes, we don’t have Brussel sprouts in Greece and we don’t have pigs in blankets either.

I can’t think of anything that I miss from Greece at Christmas time.

Angelika

Angelika is a German teacher who lives in England. You can find out more about Angelika on her her website.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day are Bank Holidays just like in the UK, but the Christmas celebration starts on Christmas Eve, where the shops and most companies finish around lunchtime. Many people go to church and they also open their presents on Christmas Eve.

Apart from the Queen and some Germans (and possibly other foreign nationals), English people open their presents on Christmas Day and not Christmas Eve. Also it seems that only churches have an Advent wreath but unlike German Advent wreaths which have four candles for the 4 Advent Sundays, the churches have a fifth one for Christmas Day.

One big difference in terms of food is that the English Christmas dinner is turkey where as in Germany it varies. Also I had never heard of mince pies and Christmas pudding until I came to England.

My first Christmas in England in 1982 was the only time I was ever homesick. I was used to opening presents and going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve but in England I got taken to the pub before church. That just didn’t seem right to me.

During the first few years I couldn’t get any typical German sweets, so my parents used to send me ‘red cross’ parcels. In return I used to send them some mince pies … until I found out nobody actually liked them 🙂

Thanks to shops like LIDL and ALDI, nowadays I can get almost all the German Christmas sweets I like so much. Now I only need red cross parcels with Marzipankatoffeln, those little marzipan balls that look like potatoes. I wish I could get them here!
This is Angelika’s website about learning German.

Carmen

Carmen is from France and she spent a number of years living in England.

In France, the main celebrations are on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Some people go to mass on Xmas Eve. The Christmas Eve meal starts around 8:30 pm and lasts until Santa comes at midnight.

Boxing Day, Xmas crackers, minced pies, and The Queen’s speech were all new to me.

There are more shellfish in France, such as oysters; the main dessert in France is the Christmas Yule log. In France we also eat goose liver paté and boudin blanc (white meat with port or truffle in a sausage skin) at Xmas time. These are the things that I missed when I celebrated Christmas in the UK.

H3> Nic

Nic moved from Germany to the UK.

The main celebration is on 24th December. Shops are open until mid-day but then preparations get underway for the evening (cooking, decorating the tree, putting everyone’s presents underneath), as that’s when we have our actual Christmas dinner. The 25th and 26th, both public holidays in Germany, are usually reserved for visiting family, having even more food and exchanging gifts.

Christmas crackers were new for me! And wearing the hat that comes with them. And Christmas jumper days at work, which I love. Also eating Christmas pudding, which we don’t have in Germany.

Duck or fish might be more prevalent in Germany but turkey is definitely popular. No Christmas pudding but some sort of festive dessert or the home-made Christmas biscuits: some similar to shortbread but thinner, lots of “lebkuchen” (which you can get in more and more UK supermarkets, it’s a dark dough, similar to gingerbread but less gingery), cinnamon stars with icing…

Foodwise, I definitely miss the cinnamon stars, but I also miss the romantic, promising festivity that comes with having the actual Christmas in the evening, rather than the morning.
Christmas markets are missing, although I haven’t tried the ones that the UK has to offer yet.

Honza

Honza is from the Czech Republic and he now lives in the UK.

The main date for Christmas celebrations in the Czech republic is 24th December

Opening presents in the morning is a new custom for me. We open them in the evening plus the day before the British do.

Carp is the typical christmas meal. Quite often you would buy it while its still alive and have it as a “pet” in the bath before it gets served on a plate on christmas day.

Christmas is not that much of a big deal for me and I don’t celebrate it much since I am never home for it so all it is to me is just a busy period at work so I’d say I miss being on holiday during christmas as a child.

This post was first published on English with Kirsty.

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

Are you opening an advent calendar this year? If so, what’s behind door number six?

L’Occitane – today I got some conditioner. I have tried this before and wasn’t mad about the smell, but it’s still a good product and I’ll use it!

M&S: today I got a liquid lipstick – Stila stay all day in perla. I got this calendar because I knew there was a lot of skincare in there, but it was nice to see some make-up too. I usually prefer satin creamy lipsticks because I find liquid lipsticks can be a bit drying on the lips. However, this one isn’t sticky (I had a bad first experience!) and I’m happy to have it in my collection for when I feel like a change.

Question for the day

So today’s question is – Christmas jumpers, yes or no? And if yes, what’s your favourite?

I tend to wear more Christmas jewellery than jumpers because I don’t like wool against my skin. If the jumper’s made of something else, I’m fine, but I don’t like woolly things next to my arms or neck! Maybe I should get a Christmas fleece or hoodie!

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My organic fruit and vegetable subscription box

What I got in my first three fruit and vegetable subscription boxes, and what I thought of the products!

So, I mentioned in my subscriptions post that we’d just started getting a vegetable box from Able and Cole.

I thought I’d give it a couple of weeks and then tell you about what we’ve been getting.

I chose the medium-size box which gives us 3 types of fruit and six types of vegetables each week. The food comes on a set day every week, and you can choose not to have certain things if you don’t like them. So for example I don’t like sweetcorn, so I put that on my “never send me” list, and they just give you something else. You don’t know what it’s going to be, but hey, you don’t get the thing you don’t want!

You can also add other things from the store to your box – I couldn’t resist a little chocolate owl, but there are other, healthier options too. You just have to add the additional items to your basket and check it out two days before delivery.

You get a free cookery book with your first order – not useful for me because it’s in standard print and I can’t read it, but I think S will look through it and see if there is anything good in there. You also get your first and fourth boxes half-price if you’re a new customer.

If you don’t want a box one week, you just amend your order in your account settings, so there are no problems if you’re going away or if you have too much veg left over.

Week 1

In week 1 we got:

  • Bananas
  • Tangerines
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • onions

Ok so that was a good selection! I’d never cooked with kale before. I found a tasty recipe, but we both agreed that it would have been better without the kale, so I added that to our “don’t send” list. Still, it was good to try something new!

I usually buy bananas, onions, potatoes and mushrooms anyway, and it is good to get organic ones.
The pears made a nice change – I don’t usually pick them up, but I enjoyed them. The tomatoes and bananas were good quality as well, but the tangerines were a bit sour – not a fan of those, but I think it was just that particular batch!

Week 2

Week two we got:

  • Potatoes – but a different kind
  • Peppery salad
  • Sweet potatoes – because I didn’t want sweetcorn
  • Onions
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • bananas
  • Mandarins
  • Apples

Yum yum, I’m glad I said no to the sweetcorn and got the sweet potatoes! One went in a soup and the others went into some mash!

I think potatoes and onions are a staple in every box, and that’s fine with me. I was less happy about the carrots though – there are quite a few of them and I don’t use them all the time. This may become a problem if they’re in every box! Also, you don’t get a huge amount of potatoes, which isn’t a big deal for us because we also eat a lot of rice, noodles, and pasta, but if you have potatoes more than once or twice, you’ll run out.

The mandarins were better, the bananas were fine, and it was good to get some apples. I think these are smaller than the ones I usually get from the supermarket, but I don’t want to support an industry that throws away food because it’s not perfect or an exact size. I think too much perfectly good food gets slung out, and that makes me sad – so I don’t mind the odd wonky carrot or small apple!

The mixed leaf salad was good too, although I didn’t finish it all before the next box came. We use a lot of tomatoes, so the cherry tomatoes were a nice alternative to the full-size ones.

Week 3

This week we got:

  • More carrots!
  • Apples
  • Red onions
  • Clementines
  • Potatoes
  • Aubergine – instead of pepper
  • Spinach – instead of kale
  • Peppery salad
  • Bananas

So more bananas, potatoes and onions, but this time a different kind of onion. Fine for us because they will get used up, although I am getting behind on bananas!

I was very happy with my substitutes – I buy both aubergines and spinach, and I think they are nicer than the things we would have got! So yay for substitutes!

The carrots may be a problem if they continue to be in every box – I’m going to look for “interesting things to do with carrots so they don’t just taste like boring carrots” – any ideas welcome! I wish it were mushrooms every week because we use them so much more than carrots!

Apples and oranges again, but that’s fine – I haven’t tasted the tangerines but the fruit was in good condition and you get about 5 of each thing.

More salad – I think similar to last time. I probably would use it up – the only reason I didn’t was because we made a load of pumpkin soup.

We’re getting through most of the fruit and vegetables and I do think it’s a good way to try new things that you wouldn’t pick up. I did need to buy more mushrooms last week, but apart from that we haven’t had to stock up with extra fruit and veg from the supermarket – well apart from to feed my mango obsession!

For now I’m really happy to keep the subscription going, though if I see carrots in the next box, I may have to stop them!

There are also a lot of recipe ideas on the site, and you can get the newsletter, which gives you three new recipes each week, although these are not specific to one box. You can also get different boxes – smaller ones, ones for only fruit, ones for the slow cooker etc. Oh and I’ve just noticed a cheese club mmmm!

Have you tried these boxes? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Also, if you’re interested in trying out one of the boxes, they do a recommendation scheme. If you send me your email address, I can invite you, which means you get £20 off your first order and I get £20 credit too! Even if you get your first box half-price, you can still fill up your order to make sure you get the full value for your £20 – just remember to check out the basket (I didn’t the first time, so I only got my box and not the extra things I’d added).

Update

I’ve since realised that there is no need for any unwanted carrots. If you go into your account, then click on the subscription box, you will then see what is going to be in your next box. I think this works two or three days before the box is sent out. Rather than adding the carrots to the never send list, I can click on them and see some alternatives, one of which is extra potatoes, so if you are finding that you don’t get enough of them, you can add in extra.This is also a way to select what you want instead of a mystery veg option if there would normally be something from your “never send me” list.

Click here if you’d like to find out about our other subscriptions.

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We tried out some Japanese chocolate and snacks

So, this is the part where S gets roped into helping on the blog – by eating chocolate! Good deal, isn’t it?!

I decided that I wanted to try out some Japanese sweets and snacks, so to make it a tiny bit more objective, I bought up a bunch of stuff from Amazon and we had a taste test together – although not all at once! I was pleased to say that there were only a couple of things that I really didn’t like, and I enjoyed having the chance to munch on some new and unfamiliar snacks.

I was first introduced to Japanese food when a Japanese student, who soon became my friend, came to study at my school for 9 months when I was in year 12. She brought different things for us to try, such as seaweed and some cute little biscuit bears with chocolate in the middle!

So I was keen to see what else was available online – Amazon makes all things possible!

I bought two packs – one which was just different types of Japanese KitKat, and the other one was snacks. Actually I just thought they were sweets, but when it arrived, there was a mixture of sweet and savoury stuff in there. You don’t have to choose exactly what you want because you are given a random mixture each time, though no two things were the same.

There was no English on the packets, so it really was a lucky dip, unless you find the same picture on the internet with English descriptions – S did manage this for a couple of things, and he recognised some of the words. However, if you have an allergy and are used to checking ingredient lists before you eat things, this won’t be a good idea for you. It did concern me a bit, but my allergies aren’t life-threatening so I just did it at home with S so I could be comfortable if I didn’t feel great. I was fine, but I wouldn’t recommend that people with allergies do this!

KitKats

We got a pack of 14 Japanese KitKats. I didn’t measure them, but they’re minis, so you get two little fingers in each pack, or one of them just had one, like a mini KitKat chunky.

My favourites had to be the green tea ones. I’d never thought of chocolate and green tea before, but they went well together! I would buy those again. The sake (a type of alcoholic drink made with rice) KitKat with white chocolate was good too.

The only one I didn’t really like was made with some kind of nuts, and I’m not a fan of any kind of nutty chocolate, so that was to be expected. Still, I was happy that only one of the bars had nuts in it.

There were a couple that tasted like the KitKats you can buy here – a milk one and a plain one. They weren’t quite the same though, so as well as the packaging being different, there must be different ingredients in the chocolate too. The wafer in the plain one tasted less sweet than the ones you can buy in the UK. There was also a white chocolate one that must have had something else mixed in with it – I like white chocolate, but this one was very sweet.

There was also a mint one – yum yum! I do like a good bit of mint chocolate!

Another interesting taste was the ginger chocolate – I do wish we could have more experimental flavours in the UK. Ok you can find them if you know where to look, but you don’t get things like that in standard chocolate bars.

Finally I need to mention the strawberry one, because I’m a fan of fruity chocolate!

Snacks

So these were the snacks that I originally thought were just sweets – but they were actually a mixture of 20 sweet and savoury snacks. Here are some of the highlights although in some cases, I can’t tell you exactly what they were!

There was a packet with small, square snacks like rice crackers. I like the rice cracker idea, but I found these a bit salty. In fact, I’d say that about a lot of the savoury things, but then I’m not a fan of salty snacks in general.

There were a number of Umaibo – like long, thin, crunchy rolls made of puffed corn, which come in a variety of flavours:

Tonkatsu sauce – this was sweet and zingy – I could taste the vinegar!
Mentai – marinated roe of Pollock. I would eat these at a party or something, but not being a massive fish lover, I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them!
Pizza – I could definitely taste the pepperoni or barbecue sauce
Peperoni
Green salad – this really tasted like slightly spicy whatsits!

We had a bag of some kind of cereal balls with something like tomato or prawn cocktail flavouring – a bit like skip-flavoured whatsits!

The only thing I couldn’t finish was the squid, but I really don’t like most seafood and some fish. Still, I gave it a go!

The other thing that I wasn’t particularly fond of but which I did manage to finish was the dried fish sticks. They tasted a bit like cardboard until you started to chew, and very fishy!

The first sweet thing I tried was the Daifuku – this was good, but we only got one, so I tried to tear it in half! It’s like a cross between a jelly sweet and a marshmellow, with a strawberry filling inside. I could definitely eat more of those!

There was a tasty star shaped chocolate infused wafer.

My favourites were some tasty, sweet cracker things, softer than rice cakes and a bit thicker than crisps. They were slightly sweet and tasted a bit like waffles!

There was one salty dried plumb – dried plum = good, salty dried plum = not good!

There was something like a boiled strawberry sweet – nice enough, but only one in a packet? It wasn’t very big!

Who remembers flumps? There was something that looked like a larger one of those, as well as a bag of teeny tiny marsh mellows!

There was a card with some chocolate-filled sweets that looked a bit like smarties, but you had to push them out of the plastic in the same way that you would headache tablets! Interesting packaging, but the sweets were good!

How about you?

Have you tried any of these things? If so, what did you think of them? Have you had any taste testing boxes from other countries? Let me know in the comments!

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(This post contains some affiliate links, but all views are my honest opinions.)