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The kitchen has always been the heart of my home.  This is where the magic happens.  It's where we gather together to converse, share daily happenings and adventures, nourish our bodies, and more than likely the one place where I am most likely to sit you down and offer you  a nice hot drink, something tasty to munch on and the opportunity for a good old fashioned natter!

I love my kitchen.  It's quite simply my favorite room in the house and the place where I spent the most time.  As it is rather small, it only makes sense that it would be well organized, tidy and clean.  A kitchen which is cluttered, messy or dirty is  not a pleasant place to work . . . or play!

I just love it at the end of my cooking day when I go to leave the kitchen and turn back to glance at it . . . everything is clean and put away, the dim glow of the nightlight making everything look cosy  . . . and the sweet smell of my day's labours still lingering in the air.  That spells contentment to me.

Hints and Tips Which Keep My Kitchen Running Smoothly

1.  Arrange things in the  kitchen so that ingredients and equipment are as close as possible to where you'll be using them.  All of my spices and sauces are kept in a cupboard next to my stove, as well as my spice racks etc.  That way they are always within arms reach when I go to use them.  All of my baking ingredients are in the cupbard nearest to the mixer and blender and food processor.  The wall directly across and slightly to the right  from my stove holds my ladles, spatulas and baking racks.   I keep my glasses cups in a cupboard directly over the sink, and all of my hot drinks etc. are in the cupboard directly over the microwave and my Tassimo machine.

All of my spices are now stored in several of these really nice stackable spice cupboards now.  I have two large ones and they are just perfect and help to keep all of my spices in order and in the dark.  I love them so much that I also bought 4 of them to hold my acrylics in my art studio.  Best thing I have ever purchased for the kitchen.

2.  I don't  know a home that doesn't have a junk drawer in the kitchen.  I would say it's pretty much a necessity . . . but that doesn't mean it has to be a disorganized jumble.  I use expandable dividers to organize and separate things.  This helps me to find things when I need them, instead of wasting precious time searching.  My junk drawer is where I keep batteries, (all sizes) a couple of flash lights, rubber bands, sticky labels, a few pens and pencils, scissors, etc.

3.  Keep a list of what's in the freezer on the side of the refrigerator, and then cross things off as you use them.  Add new things as you buy them.  That way you will never forget what you already have and always have a running list of things you need to pick up next time you shop.  I also keep an up to date list in a folder on the desktop of my computer, and add and take away from it as a current shopping list.  That way I can just print and go.

4.  I am the plastic container Queen.  When I get home from shopping, all of my dry goods are transferred to stackable, labelled, airtight plastic containers. (Cereals, sugars, flours, mixes etc.)  They take up a lot less room than regular packaging and are kept bug free as well, as nothing can get into them.  It's tidy, accessable, and saves me a lot of time looking for things.  IN a small kitchen, this is a real plus.  Also use square or rectangular containers wherever possible.  They take up less room, are easier to stack and less likely to tip over.  LABEL, LABEL, LABEL.  (I can't stress that enough!)

5.  Keep a running inventory (same as the freezer) of all of your pantry goods, ie, canned goods, sauces, jams, pickles etc.  When I use the next to the last jar or tin of anything, it goes onto my shopping list on the computer.

6.  Stack things in the cupboards (baking dishes, pots and pans, etc.) according to size, with largest on the bottom working on up to the smallest on top.  I am pedantic about putting them away as well.  A few extra minutes spent in putting things back into their proper place and order saves me tons of time in the long run.  I'm a busy person and I'm sure you are too!!

7.  Keep your countertops as clear as possible.  They don't need to be magnets for every stray object that turns up and you don't have to have all of your smaller appliances out on show at all times.  I store alot of my smaller appliances (the ones I use most frequently) on a shelf in the cupboard which is under the stairs (which also happens to be in my kitchen).  The other's that are used not very often are on a shelf in our bedroom closet.  I know where they are when I need them, and I don't mind having to go up and get them.  It's great exercise and helps to keep my valuable working space, which isn't very large to begin with, uncluttered.  Be pedantic about putting these away when you are finished with them too.  (I always give them a good wipe clean before storing.)

8.  Put your groceries away as soon as you get home from the shops.  Don't leave boxes or tins in bags on the floor or stacked on the counter, waiting to be put away "later on."  (If you are like me you'll get distracted or be tired and it won't happen.  Do it now is my rule of thumb, or it doesn't get done.)

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1.  To easily skin walnuts.   Toast them in a hot oven (200*C/400*F/gar mark6) for 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove them from the oven and tip them into a metal colander.   Rustle them gently in the colander.   The skins will fall off and through the holes of the colander, leaving the nuts intact.   (I do this over the sink and then just rinse the skins down the drain.)

2.  To chop fresh herbs easily, strip the leaves into a glass tumbler.   Using your kitchen scissors, snip down into the herbs.   Presto-chango . . . chopped herbs, in one place and not all over the counter.

3.  To prevent the waste of items which you only use once in a while  freeze leftover pesto, chipolte chilies, curry paste, tomato paste, garlic paste, anchovy paste, harissa paste and the like in ice cube trays.  Once frozen, pop them out and into zip lock bags and return them to the freezer.   You now have TBS size dollops of what you need and you haven't had to throw any of it away.  This also works well for chopped fresh herbs.   Just mix them with a tiny bit of lemon juice, stock or water first.  They won't be quite the same as fresh . . . but when you are only putting them into soups or stews, it doesn't really matter.

4.   To easily skin hazelnuts, roast them in a hot oven (as above).  Remove and tip them into a clean tea towel.  Rough them up in the tea towel, rubbing them briskly.   The skins should fall away and you will be left with perfectly toasted and skinless hazelnuts.  (filberts)

5.   To break up stranded pasta prior to cooking, into small bits.   Take a handful of pasta strands and roll them up tightly in a clean tea towel.  Run the tea towel down over the edge of the counter.   It will break automatically into one or two inch lengths.  Easy peasy, lemon squeasy.

6.   If you forget to take your eggs out of the refrigerator, you can warm them up very quickly by placing them in a bowl full of warm water. Just 5 or 10 minutes in a bowl full of warm water – hot water may cause the egg shells to crack – will take the chill off of your eggs.

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Flavour Pairings
Have you ever wanted to cook something different and wondered which flavours go with what?   Wonder no more.  Here is an extensive list of flavour pairings which hopefully will help to fuel your inventiveness!
  • Allspice pairs well with: apples, beets, cabbage, caramel, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, juniper, mace, mustard, nuts, nutmeg, onions, pears,  pumpkin, root vegetables, yams.
  • Almond pairs well with: apple, apricot, banana, caramel, cherry, coffee, fig, honey, orange, peach, pear, plum
  • Anice pairs well with:  apples, beets, caramel, carrots, chocolate, citrus, cinnamon, coconut, coriander, cranberry, fennel, figs, fish,  garlic, peaches, pomegranates,  pumpkin
  • Apple pairs well with: caramel, cardamom, chestnut, cinnamon, cranberry, currant, ginger, hazelnut, mango, maple, rosemary, walnut
  • Apricot pairs well with: almond, black pepper, caramel, cardamom, ginger, hazelnut, honey, orange, peach, vanilla, plum
  • Asian Pear pairs well with: almond, apple, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, honey, macadamia, nutmeg, raisin, vanilla
  • Banana pairs well with: caramel, cherry, chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, ginger, hazelnut, honey, mango, molasses, papaya
  • Basil pairs well with: capers, chives, cilantro, garlic, marjoram, oregano, mint, onion, parsley, rosemary, thyme,  artichokes, eggplant, green vegetables, mushrooms, olives, Sweet Basil is the best basil for pesto and tomato salads.
  • Bay leaf pairs well with: artichokes, beans, garlic, grains, juniper, lentils, marjoram, mushrooms, nuts, oregano, parsley, potatoes, sage, savory, thyme and tomatoes
  • Beets pair well with: Apples, basil, beef, butter, cabbage, caraway seeds, carrots, cheese, chives, dill, hard-boiled eggs, garlic, honey, horseradish, lemon, mint, mustard, olive oil, onions, orange, pepper, pistachios, salt
  • Blackberry pairs well with: apricot, black pepper, cinnamon, citrus, hazelnut, lemon, other berries, peach, plum
  • Blood Orange pairs well with: almond, cardamom, chocolate, cinnamon, clove, fig, ginger, honey, other citrus
  • Blueberry pairs well with: other berries, cardamom, mango, lemon, hazelnut, ginger, fig, lavender, other citrus
  • Butternut Squash pairs well with: sage and rosemary, either of which can be used fresh or in dried form.  The warm “pie spices” of nutmeg and ginger are a good match for butternut squash, both underlining and balancing its sweetness. For a savory approach, consider cumin.  Chilies provide sweet-and-spicy flavor combination.  The naturally sweet taste of butternut squash is enhanced when paired with fruit, such as fresh and dried apples, fresh pear, orange juice and dried cranberries.
  • Caraway pairs well with: apples, beets, broccoli, cabbage, pears, sauerkraut, allspice, almonds, cardamom, chili, cinnamon, coriander,  dill,  fennel seed, juniper berry, onion, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, parsley, thyme.
  • Cardamom pairs well with:  apples, bananas, beans, caramel,  citrus fruit, coconut, ice creams, nuts, mango, allspice, almond, cardamom, chili, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, curry, dates, fennel seed, ginger, mustard, paprika, pears, pepper, star anise, turmeric, saffron
  • Carrot pairs well with: anise, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, walnut
  • Celery pairs well with: cabbage, cilantro, cucumber, cumin, garlic, ginger, mustard, onion, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, tomatoes, thyme
  • Celery Seed pairs well with: tomatoes, allspice, black pepper, caraway, chili, cinnamon coriander, cumin, fennel seed, ginger, sage, turmeric
  • Cherry pairs well with: apricot, black pepper, chocolate, citrus, nectarine, peach, plum,  vanilla
  • Chestnut pairs well with: apple, caramel, chocolate, coffee, pear, vanilla
  • Chives pair well with: asparagus, basil, cheese, cilantro, dill, fennel, green vegetables, horseradish, mushrooms, olives, paprika, pasta, parsley, tarragon
  • Chocolate pairs well with: oranges, nuts, Allspice, almond, aniseed, cinnamon, clove, curry leaf, fennel seed, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, onion, vanilla
  • Cilantro (coriander) pairs well with: apples, apricot, avocados, berries, cherries, citrus, coconut, nectarine, peach, plum, tropical fruit, Allspice, Cardamom, clove, cumin, curry, dates, fennel seed, garlic, ginger,  mint, sun-dried tomato, turmeric, tomatoes.
  • Cinnamon pairs well with:  allspice, apples, bananas, cantaloupe, caraway, cardamom, clove, cacao, chilies, caramel, cauliflower, chocolate, corn, curries,  coffee, coriander, cranberry, cumin, dates, figs, ginger, mint, nutmeg,  grapes, oranges, peaches, pears, winter squash, star anise, sun-dried tomatoes, tamarind, turmeric, vanilla
  • Chervil  pairs well with: artichokes, asparagus, carrots, chives, citrus, grains, green beans, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, onions, parsley, tarragon, thyme,and  vinegar
  • Clove pairs well with: allspice, apples, beets, bay leaf, cakes, cardamom, cacao, carrots, chocolate, citrus, coriander, cumin, curry, fennel, ginger, mace, nutmeg, orange, peaches, pineapple, pumpkin, red cabbage,  star anise, tamarind, turmeric,vanilla
  • Coconut pairs well with: Allspice, banana, basil, black pepper, Brazil nut, caramel, chocolate, citrus,  cumin, curry leaf, garlic, ginger, guava, lemongrass, passionfruit, pineapple, sun-dried, tomato, turmeric, vanilla
  • Coriander pairs well with: allspice, apples, bananas, beans, chili, cilantro, cinnamon, citrus, cloves, cumin, curry, fennel, fish, garlic, ginger, mace, mint, mushrooms, nutmeg, onion, parsley,
  • Cranberry pairs well with: apple, chocolate, cinnamon, citrus, mango, mint, pear
  • Cumin pairs well with: allspice, anise, avocados, bay leaf, beans, cabbage, cardamom,  cilantro, cinnamon, citrus, coconut, coriander, cucumber, curry, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger,  lentils, mace, onion, nutmeg, parsley, tomatoes
  • Currants, Black and Red, pairs well with: cassis, chocolate, citrus
  • Dill pairs well with: anise, basil, cabbage, capers, caraway, carrots, chives, coriander, cucumbers, cumin,  fennel, garlic, ginger, horseradish, mint, mustard, oregano, onion, paprika, parsley
  • Elderberry pairs well with: apricot, fig, honey, lemon, mandarin, other berries, peach, plum
  • Fennel pairs well with: anise, artichokes, basil, beans, cabbage, cheese, cilantro, cinnamon, cucumber, cumin, dill, eggplant, fenugreek, figs, garlic, lemon balm, lentils, mint, olives, onion, oregano, parsley, pork, thyme, tomatoes
  • Fig pairs well with: almond, black pepper, cinnamon, citrus, hazelnut, pear, vanilla
  • Garlic pairs well with: basil, caraway, chili, coriander, cumin, curry leaf, marjoram, mint, mustard seed, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sun-dried tomato, thyme
  • Ginger pairs well with: allspice, almond, anise, apple, apricot, banana,basil, berries, Brazil nut, caramel, carrots, chives, chocolate, cilantro, cinnamon, citrus,cloves, coconut, coriander, cranberry, cumin, curry, dates, fennel, grape, hazelnut, passion fruit, peach, pear, pineapple, plum,  nutmeg, onion, peaches, pears, pepper, pumpkin, raisins, turmeric, vanilla
  • Gooseberry pairs well with: citrus, hazelnut, honey, other berries, white chocolate
  • Grape pairs well with: chocolate, citrus, fig, honey, ginger, raisin
  • Grapefruit pairs well with: basil, black pepper, caramel, citrus, mint, rosemary, thyme, tropical fruit, vanilla
  • Guava pairs well with: citrus, lime, coconut, huckleberry, kaffir leaf, pineapple, strawberry, tropical fruit
  • Hazelnut pairs well with: apple, apricot, banana, berries, caramel, cherry, chocolate, citrus, fig, mandarin, peach, pear, plum
  • Jicama pairs well with: acidic fruits and juices such as lime, lemon and orange juice.  Red pepper and hot pepper sauce,  avocado, cilantro, cucumber and grapefruit.
  • Kaffir Leaf pairs well with: banana, citrus, coconut, lemongrass, tropical fruit, watermelon
  • Kiwi pairs well with: apple, banana, berries, cherry, citrus, coconut, mango, tropical fruit
  • Kumquat pairs well with: berries, cherry, chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, persimmon, plum
  • Lavender pairs well with: chocolate, lemon, blueberries, vanilla, thyme
  • Lemon pairs well with: apricot, berries, black pepper, cardamom, cherry, citrus, ginger, nectarine, peach, plum, prickly pear, tropical fruit
  • Lemongrass pairs well with: cherry, berries, citrus, coconut, ginger, guava, kaffir leaf, coconut, tropical fruit, vanilla
  • Lime pairs well with: apple, berries, cherry, ginger, papaya, plum, strawberry, tropical fruit
  • Lychee pairs well with: citrus, ginger, gooseberry, tropical fruit, vanilla
  • Mace pairs well with: allspice, asparagus, beans, cabbage, carrots, cheese, cinnamon, cloves, coffee, cranberries, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, peaches, pumpkin, potatoes, vanilla,
  • Mandarin pairs well with: cardamom, cherry, chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, fig, ginger, nutmeg, tropical fruits, vanilla, star anise
  • Mango pairs well with: apple, banana, berries, caramel, citrus, coconut, melon, tropical fruits, vanilla, cinnamon
  • Marjoram pairs well with: artichokes, basil, cinnamon, cumin, eggplant, fennel, garlic, mushrooms, onion, oregano, parsley,  thyme
  • Melon pairs well with: berries, citrus, lemongrass, lemon verbena
  •  Nutmeg pairs well with: allspice, asparagus, cabbage, cardamom, carrots, cinnamon, cloves, coffee, coriander, cranberries, cumin, ginger,  mace, onion, peaches, pumpkin, thyme, vanilla
  • Orange pairs well with: almonds, basil, berries, brandy, cherry, chocolate, cilantro, cinnamon, coffee, cranberry, fig, ginger, grape, hazelnut, mint, nutmeg, persimmon, pineapple, vanilla
  • Oregano pairs well with: basil, cinnamon, cumin, eggplant, fennel, garlic, marjoram, mushrooms, onion, parsley, thyme, tomatoes
  • Paprika pairs well with: allspice, caraway, cardamom,  garlic, ginger, legumes, oregano, parsley,  rosemary, saffron, thyme, turmeric, vegetables
  • Papaya pairs well with: citrus, black pepper, lime, mango, tropical fruit
  • Parsley pairs well with: basil, bay leaf, chives, dill,  garlic, marjoram, mushrooms, grains, onion, oregano,thyme, tomatoes
  • Pear pairs well with: almond, apple, caramel, chestnut, chocolate, cinnamon, citrus, ginger, hazelnut, vanilla, walnut
  • Persimmon pairs well with: apple, black pepper, cinnamon, citrus, kumquat, pear
  • Pineapple pairs well with: basil, caramel, cilantro, coconut, macadamia, rosemary, tropical fruit
  • Plum pairs well with: almond, cinnamon, citrus, chestnut, black pepper, hazelnut, honey, vanilla
  • Pomegranate pairs well with: apple, citrus, cucumber, mint, tropical fruit
  • Prickly Pear pairs well with: citrus, lime, tomatillo, tropical fruit
  • Raspberry pairs well with: apricot, cinnamon, citrus, ginger, lemon, nectarine, other berries, peach, plum, rhubarb, thyme, vanilla
  • Rose water pairs well with: saffron, cardamom,jasmine, almonds, pistachios and coconuts.
  • Rosemary pairs well with:  apples, asparagus, basil, citrus, cranberry, fennel, garlic, grains, mushrooms, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, thyme, tomatoes
  • Rhubarb pairs well with: apple, apricot, berries, black pepper, citrus, ginger, nectarine, peach, plum, strawberry
  • Sage pears well with: apples, bay leaf,  capers, caraway, celery, citrus,  garlic, ginger, marjoram, onions, paprika, parsley, rosemary, thyme, tomatoes
  • Sesame pairs well with: citrus,  garlic, ginger, thyme
  • Sorrel pairs well with: chives, beans, leafy greens, oregano, parsley, thyme, and squash
  • Strawberry pairs well with: apple, black pepper, chocolate, citrus, coriander, mint, rhubarb, vanilla
  • Thyme pairs well with: bananas, basil, bay leaf, beans, carrots, citrus, dill, garlic, mint, mushrooms, onion, oregano, parsley, sage
  • Tomatillo pairs well with: berries, citrus, mango, prickly pear, tropical fruit
  • Walnut pairs well with: apple, apricot, banana, caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, nectarine, peach, pear, plum, rum

(Note, this page is a work in progress and will be added to and updated as and when I get the time.)  ☺


  1. I haven't seen CASTOR sugar in the market...can I substitute granulated?

    1. Hi Colleen. You can substitute granulated sugar for castor. Caster is just extra fine granulated sugar. Caster sugar, however, is much finer and dissolves much easier than granulated sugar which is coarser in texture. If using granulated sugar you may end up with small brown spots on your cakes where the sugar hasn't completely dissolved, but most times they will be no problems. Caster is excellent in meringues though. You can run your granulated sugar in a food processor for a short time and it will be pretty much like caster sugar.

  2. Thank you for this post! I love the little "mixes" that show up in the sidebar for making your own self-rising flour, baking powder, pumpkin spice mix, poultry seasoning, etc. Do you have this in one easy post to print out or save to Pinterest? I tried to find it but couldn't but happy to stumble onto this blog post!

    1. Hi Sandy, I have created one handy print out post for you for all of this:

    2. And if it was just the Did You Know bit you wanted, here is a link to a printable for that:

  3. Denise Flinchbaugh28 September 2016 at 00:08

    Here is instruction on how to make caster sugar

    Start with a little more granulated sugar than you will need for your final recipe. Some of the sugar will turn to dust, so it's better to make a little extra superfine sugar. Pour it into a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
    Cover the food processor with a kitchen towel--making superfine sugar produces sugar dust, and it can get the kitchen a little messy if you don't cover the processor.
    Turn the processor to high speed and process the sugar for about 1-2 minutes. The exact time will depend on the quantity of sugar and your processor. You want the granulated sugar to be much more powdery and in a very fine grain.
    After you process it, let the dust settle back into the processor for 10-20 seconds, then remove the lid. Your superfine sugar is now ready to be used! Store it as you would regular sugar.

    1. Thanks Denise, I am sure my readers will find this quite helpful! If you are alright with it, I will add it to the main post! xo

  4. Hi Marie, since the blog layout has changed I cannot find your recipe for self raising flour or mixed spice. They used to be in the sidebar. I swear by both, they're perfect. Where can I now find it with this new look?

    1. Hi Noelle, I have re-added it to the side bar. I also have a handy printable, if you like. Here's the link:

  5. Hi Marie, you used to have a very handy conversion chart for USA measures to UK llb and ozs. Can't find it anywhere on your blog now. Is it still available? Can I say I love your blog, it is the first one I look at every day.

    1. Hi Eleanor, I have found it for you. Here is the link:

      I also like to use this page here, which is invaluable:

      Also my new cookbook which will be out soon will be a great resource for all these things! xo

    2. Thanks for answering my query so quickly Marie.

    3. You're very welcome Eleanor!

  6. Hi Marie, good morning just a little note, I love receiving your newsletters with food + book reviews and recipes it inspires me to make and try different things. Your blog is great, I love the article on food pairings which I have just discovered thanks this will be really useful. I love the make your own section too. Thank you have a lovely day

    1. Thanks very much! I appreciate your comments! You have made my day. I really am pleased with my work is appreciated! You have a lovely day also! xo

  7. Thank you for this Pairing List, I am forever having to google "What goes with this etc" I will keep this very handy.

    1. Thanks very much Karrie! I hope you find it quite useful! xo

  8. Thanks for the hints and tips. Having an organized kitchen will make you stay in the kitchen for a whole day.

  9. This is my first time in your blog. And already finding a lot of useful things. I can't help but appreciate all the tips and support you provide. I'm not much of a good cook. Since I'm stucked in the house for pandemic, I'll try to grab some of your recipe. Wish me luck. LOL

    1. Thank you very much. I wish you great luck. I am always happy to answer any questions that I can if possible, although it might not be right away due to differences in times, etc.

  10. I discovered your blog for the first time. I am a strict follower now

  11. Loved the tips. They are very helpful and interesting. I always find myself in trouble with the kitchen storage because I have a small kitchen. Thanks for sharing your precious ideas.


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