Thursday, 31 May 2012

Foodie Pen Pals

If you haven’t heard of the Foodie Pen Pal scheme, allow me to enlighten you a little. I came across it via the blog of Northwest Nosh, who is a member of the program and whose posts I read regularly. 

It was started in September 2011 by Lean Green Bean in the USA and now runs in Canada and the UK too.  The UK program is organised by Carol Anne at This is Rock Salt. The idea is that anyone interested registers and is matched with both a 'giver' and 'receiver' - you receive a parcel from one participant and send one of your own to someone else - it's open to anyone who wants to take part, not just bloggers and I certainly didn't blog when I signed up. This is Rock Salt has full details if you fancy giving it a go.

I was matched with two lovely ladies, Sarah as the person who would send me a parcel and Vanessa as the person I would send a parcel to. 

Sarah and I corresponded very quickly - not only to say hello and introduce ourselves, but to go through the more practical elements - allergies, preferences and, most importantly, address to send the parcel to! I then sat back to await my parcel....

... I was not disappointed.

Sarah sent me a parcel of divine goodies, including a lovely card, giving details of each item and her reasons for the choices.

Firstly my attention was caught by the beautiful tub of smoked paprika - one of Sarah's favourite spices, but one I've not really experimented with.

I then spotted the little box of cheese biscuits. I did mention in my email to Sarah that cheese was my real weakness and these little biscuits disappeared very quickly. They are heavenly little things.

The strawberry huller included in the parcel has been fantastic. I love strawberries and this year seems to be brilliant for British ones.

Towards the back of the box were two brown paper bags. The larger of the two was filled with Summer Blend Tea from Sarah's favourite tea and coffee shop in Northampton, Blenders. This has been in my office teapot every day since it arrived. A lovely blend of black tea, peaches and a hint of citrus. It really does smell of summer. I keep promising myself I'll try it as an iced tea... but I get distracted and make another pot instead.

The second paper bag had the prettiest cake toppers, perfect for the Jubilee celebrations. I'm looking forward to using them for our next Manchester WI meeting, so I can show them off.

In a beribboned transparent bag was the piece de resistance. Sarah had made for me, the most amazing tiger butter chocolate. This combination of peanut butter and chocolate marbled into a rich confection is amazing. And perfect fuel for my 10km run (at least that's what I told myself every time I popped a piece into my mouth). I've never had anything like it. Sarah, I need the recipe for this....

Finally, there was a bulb of smoked garlic, which has since joined the smoked paprika in a spring vegetable risotto and a jar of Earls Barton honey, produced locally. It's an incredibly sweet set honey, creamy, almost icing like in texture.

Almost immediately I had an idea for the honey and using some eating apples left over from one of my hubby's many 'healthy eating' jaunts.

Grating the apples, I put together a quick cake batter and popped it into muffin cases.

Thank you Sarah. I've loved this whole experience and think that your parcel had a lot to do with it. Thank you to Vanessa who was so much fun to buy for. Thank you Carol Anne for your work behind the scenes matching us up. And thank you Lindsay for the idea in the first place.

I can't wait for the next one...

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