The people, places, books and other ‘stuff’ that I love

Lots of things inspire me. Lots and lots. The area in which I live, the battered vintage pots and pans I have sourced, my scruffy cat with his squinty eye, the many books that fill every possible space within my small cottage. Any discarded, forgotten treasures that need a new home; broken teapots, old sweet tins rusted with age, well-worn chopping boards perfect for presenting cheese and breads.

The old boys in the village and their pristine vegetable allotments and my neighbour Tony who supplies me with endless game. Then there is the environment around me; the weather worn and wind beaten trees, the rolling landscape, the sheep that stare blankly at you as you wander by. Too much to mention in just a couple of paragraphs.

I will share some of the things that inspire and ignite creativity in me, and spur me on to experiment with new flavours and ways of presenting my food.

Juanita on MasterChef

MasterChef 2016

September 20th, 2017

As soon as the cat was out the bag and everyone knew I was going to be taking part in the 2016 series of MasterChef, one of the first questions people would ask is why? It’s a damn good question.

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juanita-xmas

Twelve tasty days of Christmas

November 30th, 2016

In the spirit of giving and celebration I will be sharing 12 new recipes with you between now and the 25th. Some will be small stocking filler size dishes and others will be large, wrapped and tied with a bow type affairs. Think of it as a festive food advent calender from me to you.

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foragetop

Environment: Hidden Treasures

October 2nd, 2016

If all of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world – ‘The Hobbit’, J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve got a secret to share, I am a treasure hunter.

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ValentineTop

My bookshelf: Valentine Warner

August 3rd, 2016

I have always had a soft spot for Valentine Warner. Ever since he arrived on our screens in 2008 with his series What to Eat Now I was completely drawn in by his evident passion for food and sheer over exhuberance in the kitchen; he was like an excitable puppy and I wanted to cook just like him.

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A bee on a flower

Environment: The importance of bees

August 3rd, 2016

The other day I was sat in the garden watching a bumble bee dizzy with nectar and weighed down by pollen sacks. It slowly clambered from one flower to the next, before clumsily toppling from its perch like a miniature striped acrobat to land, slightly bemused, at the foot of a flower pot.

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Blossom

Places: The old apple tree

June 5th, 2016

When I stand at my kitchen sink and look out the window I am greeted with the sight of an old, weathered apple tree; gnarled with age, twisted by the elements and dressed in a verdant jacket of ivy.

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Spices & spandex

My bookshelf: Spices & Spandex

June 2nd, 2016

I am a frustrated traveller at heart; I never took a gap year as a student and as a result I feel like I have in some way missed out on a neccessary life experience. So imagine my joy when I discovered Spices and Spandex – an epicurean adventure down the length of the world on a hungry stomach by Tom Perkins.

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Paintings and a cat

People: The art in my family

May 23rd, 2016

During my time on MasterChef, John Torode would often refer to me as ‘the artistic one’ in reference to how I presented my dishes. I remember Gregg commenting on how my ‘Tomato, Bread and Oil’ creation looked like a painting and he wasn’t sure whether to “eat it or hang it on the wall”.

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A wood with bluebells

Places: Bluebell wood

May 13th, 2016

A carpet of flowers, heavy with scent and captivating to the eye; at this time every year the woods behind our cottage turn blue.

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Spooning with Rosie book

My bookshelf: Spooning with Rosie

May 10th, 2016

I stumbled across the recipe book Spooning with Rosie, by Rosie Lovell, whilst spending a rain sodden lunch hour exploring the cookery section in Waterstones. I was instantly drawn to the vibrant red cover and the strap-line “Food, Friendship & Kitchen Loving”

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