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  • 3 Great Reasons To Invest In High Quality Kitchen Knives

    When it comes to cooking up magic in the kitchen, there’s inevitably one tool (or set of) which every foodie needs; a fantastic set of kitchen knives.

    There’s often a lot of confusion surrounding knives, however. To many, you can simply head to the supermarket and pick up a knife set for £30 or so. To others, this is like committing a crime.

    With that in mind, we thought we’d put the debate to bed once and for all and outline just why you need to be investing in high quality kitchen knives.

    Quality Knives Last A Lifetime

    First things first, it’s important to understand that you really do get what you pay for when it comes to knives. We caught up with Kitchen Knives who told us, “A high quality kitchen knife set really should last a lifetime. So long as the knives are looked after, sharpened regularly and kept in good condition, you won’t need to replace for many years to come.”

    There you have it. Quality knives really are better!

    It comes down to more than just that, though. When you invest in a quality knife set, you’re paying for better materials. Typically, stronger metals which will last longer and won’t go blunt as quick. Paired with a sharpener and you’re onto a winner.

    This, however, leads us really nicely onto the next point…

    Quality Knives Stay Sharper For Longer

    Have you ever tried cutting with a blunt knife blade? Difficult, isn’t it!

    Believe it or not, it’s actually safer to cook with a sharper blade as it’ll cut through foods easier and one thing for sure is that quality knives will stay sharper for longer as well as being easier to sharpen. Again, ensure you’ve got a quality sharpener, however so long as you regularly keep them in top condition, never again will you need to struggle to cut through meats or veg.

    Of course, there really isn’t just one knife for everything, despite what many think.

    The Right Tools For The Job

    You need to ensure you’ve got the right tools for the job and when it comes to knives that typically means a set which includes a paring knife, bread knife, carving knife, cleaver, boning knife filleting knife and a general utility knife.

    Sounds a lot, doesn’t it?

    Cheaper knife sets typically don’t include everything you need and whilst you certainly can go for smaller knife block sets, you need to consider carefully which knives you’re going to need.

    This article from Good Housekeeping does a great job of outline which knives you’ll need!

    At the end of the day, don’t be tempted to go for a cheaper knife set. In the long run, you’ll regret it. You’ll end up struggling to cut in the kitchen, which in itself can be a safety risk, and find you don’t have the right tools for the job.

    Yes, it may cost more to invest in a quality set of knives, but ultimately you’re making a long-term investment. Knives should last a lifetime and if you buy the right set early on, you’ll get years of use out of them.

    Just be sure to look after them and you’ll be onto a winner; we guarantee that!

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  • Cooking 101 - How to Boil Water

    Just this year, a group of American exchange students in Florence, Italy started a fire by attempting to make pasta and didn’t realize they needed to boil water first. Instead of having a delicious pasta meal, the pot burst into flames and caused a fire in their kitchen. It seems absurd that people would be so disconnected from the food preparation process, but in this era of over-processed, easy access food, many don’t even realize how to boil water.

     

    Technically, boiling water means heating it to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but you don’t need a thermometer or even an exact temperature to begin boiling.

     1. Put water into a pot or pan. Be sure not to fill it all the way to the top or the water may splash over once it boils.

     2. Place the pot on top of your stove and turn the burner to the highest setting (High or Max).

     3. Allow the water to come to a full boil. You can add a bit of salt and cover the lid to accelerate this process. A full boil is when there are visible bubbles at the top of the water.

     4. Voila! You have boiling water. Now you can add your pasta, rice or other items to begin the cooking process.

     

    Now that you have mastered boiling water you can attempt to cook rice, pasta, potatoes, corn on the cob or even seafood. You can learn more about boiling here.

     

    Cook Pasta

    To begin, boil a pot of water. There doesn’t need to be a large or exact amount of water in your pot for pasta to cook properly. If you didn’t add salt to your water before, now is a good time to add a little bit as it will enhance the flavor of the pasta. Before you add in the pasta it is recommended that you break it in half. Not only will it cook quicker, but will make it easier to eat and “grabs” more of your spaghetti sauce.

     

    Look on the package for the cooking time, but in reality most people just use that as a guide and test it throughout the cooking process. The pasta should easily fold and you should be able to easily bite through it. The thinner the pasta type the quicker it will cook. Thick macaroni such as ziti, rotini or farfalle, take longer to cook than thin angel hair pasta. Don’t forget to add the sauce too. If you’re overwhelmed, you can just heat up a can of spaghetti sauce until you’ve mastered everything.

     

    Cooking is fun and a wonderful way to spend time with friends and family. You will feel a sense of pride knowing that you prepared a delicious meal for everyone to enjoy. Start small and expand your cooking knowledge and experience. After you learn how to boil water, maybe try making eggs next time. There are plenty of great resources to learn more about cooking, including YouTube videos, cooking shows and beginner cook books. After you have mastered basic cooking techniques you can begin cooking more complex recipes.

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  • Recipes for Homemade Horse Treats

    Nearly all horse lovers and owners give their horses treats occasionally. Whether it is for a reward for a job well done or just a hidden treat in their feed, your horse will love it. Treats can be given to your horse or pony as a reward after a riding session, used as a training aid, to help catch them if they get out of the fence or just to show you love them. Treats are called that for a reason, and are meant to be only occasionally enjoyed by your horse. Be sure to vary your timing so your horse doesn’t come to expect a treat every time every time you come to the barn.  

     

    Making homemade horse treats for your horse is always the best and smartest option. Most grains, fruits and vegetables are safe for horse treats, as they are included in commercially produced horse treats sold in feed and produce stores. The digestive tract of horses has a delicate balance of microbes and bacteria that keep your horse healthy.  High amounts of treats and other items that aren’t part of their normal diet can upset their intestinal tract and add more calories than they require.

     

    Grain, Molasses and Dried Fruit Homemade Horse Treat Recipe

     Ingredients:

    • 1 Cup flour
    • 3/4 Cup beer
    • 2 Cups molasses
    • 1 lb grain
    • 1/2 Cup dried fruit

     

     Directions:

    • Mix the flour, beer, and molasses thoroughly. Add grain to mixture slowly and mix well. Then, mix in the dried fruit.
    • Pour the mixture into an oiled 12x15 inch pan and place in a 250°F oven.
    • When the mixture starts to firm up after 25 minutes, remove the pan and cut the contents into bite-sized pieces. Then, return the pan to the oven for 40 minutes and bake until the treats are firm and mostly dry.
    • Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool before taking the treats out.
    • Place the treats on a cooling rack overnight.

    Your horse will enjoy these homemade treats made with love. If you are looking for more gourmet homemade horse treat recipes, visit https://www.saddlebox.net/horse-treat-recipes-how-to-make-our-gourmet-horse-treats/.

     

    Listed below is a reference of treat ingredients that are usually safe to eat for horses:

    • White and Whole Wheat Flour
    • Molasses
    • Cinnamon in SMALL amounts
    • Peanut Butter
    • Eggs
    • Applesauce
    • Oatmeal - rolled oats, steel cut oats, Irish oats, quick oats
    • Honey
    • Sugar, brown sugar & powdered sugar
    • Peppermint and most hard candies (NO Chocolate)
    • Food coloring
    • Fruit - grated apples, bananas, raisins, dried fruit
    • Bran
    • Vegetables – Pumpkin, Carrots
    • Cereal like Fruit Loops, Rice Krispies, Cheerios
    • Beer – Yes beer!
    • Cookie Icing, frosting & sprinkles
    • Salt
    • Corn oil and corn syrup
    • Pretzels
    • Graham Crackers
    • Ginger snaps and gingerbread
    • Ice cream cones - sugar cones and cake cones
    • Pancakes and waffles
    • Butterscotch
    • Marshmallow
    • Nuts – peanuts, almonds, cashews
    • Seeds – sunflower, sesame, chia

     

    Feeding your horse treats can be a fun addition to their diet, however keep the following points in mind: 


    Be cautious of hand feeding. Most horse owners don’t have any issues, but if your horse becomes demanding or nips, just toss the treat in their grain bucket instead.


    Only give treats to your own horses. Each horse behaves differently and you don’t want to feed one to an aggressive horse or to a horse on a special diet that could have adverse reactions to the treat. 


    Treats are a wonderful way to indulge your horse, but remember that they are not necessary to their normal diet. As long as treats are given in moderation and you are watching your horse’s signals, there is no wrong way to include treats into their otherwise balanced and healthy diet.

     

    About SaddleBox

    SaddleBox is the monthly subscription box for horse owners. Each month you'll get treats, grooming products, tack and more! We're trusted by thousands of horse lovers, and shipping is always free. Visit our website at: https://www.saddlebox.net/.

     

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  • A Quick Introduction to Italian Christmas Food

    Christmas (or ‘Natale’ as it’s known locally) is as big of a deal in Italy as it is here in the UK. However, it does have a decidedly Italian twist, with each of the various regions having their own traditional dishes which they prepare over the festive period.

    We all know Italy is renowned for its food, so we’re going to take a look at some of their favourite holiday dishes and some of the traditions that are observed, hopefully giving you some inspiration to do something a little different for your own Christmas dinner.

     

    Christmas Eve Dinner

    The night before Christmas, Italians start off the Natale festivities with a lighter meal, usually consisting of lots of seafood and no other meats.

    Usually, a salad will be served up with swordfish, tuna, salmon octopus, or baccalà (salted cod), which is a regional favourite.

    Simple pasta dishes and antipasti (starters) are also cooked, but again, usually without meat.

    The idea of abstaining from meat comes from an old Roman Catholic tradition of fasting from meat for certain periods of the year and in the US, the practice has led to the ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’, where Italian-Americans make their way through seven different seafood dishes.

     

    Christmas Day Lunch

    Just like here in the UK, the midday Christmas meal is the big one in Italy and can go on for many hours!

    After ‘fasting’ the night before, Christmas Day is very meat-heavy. Things start off with a selection of antipasti such as dry-cured meats, cheeses, olives, artichokes and salumi (cold cuts).

    Next up there’s a pasta-based course, which will vary depending on where abouts in the country you’re sitting down to Christmas dinner.

    For example, in the North, lasagne is a popular choice, as are filled pasta dishes such as ravioli and manicotti, but in the South, you’re more likely to enjoy a pasta bake dish.

    The main course will be heavy on meat, with the likes of veal, chicken and braised beef being preferred to our traditional Christmas meat such as turkey or ham.

     

    Santo Stefano’s Lunch

    Finally, on Santo Stefano’s Day (Boxing Day to you and me), Italians gear up for their third feast in as many days, with more distant friends and family being invited for a slightly less indulgent meal than the one they’ve enjoyed the day before.

    There are no particular traditions for the Santo Stefano’s Lunch, but like in the UK, leftovers from the previous day will probably be used up.

    With less of a focus on tradition, Italians use this meal to get a little bit more creative and many will use it as an excuse to get out of the kitchen and enjoy a nice meal in a restaurant.

    If you want to mix things up a little and add some Mediterranean flair to your own Christmas meals this year, here are some Italian recipes for you to have a go at, or if you’d rather take it easy, here’s a flavour of the kind of fare you can expect from a Christmas menu at a top Italian restaurant, courtesy of Bella Cosa in London.

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  • A Quick Guide to Choosing Kitchen Knives

    Knives are probably the most important kitchen utensil, and as such, you’ll usually wind up spending quite a bit of money on them.

    For this reason, it’s crucially important that you make sure that you buy knives that are of a good quality, but that are also going to do what you need them to.

    With that in mind, we’re going to run through some of the most popular types of kitchen knives, some of which are essentials, and others which are more specialist luxuries.

    The Essentials

    Chef’s Knife

    The chef’s knife is the cornerstone of any knife collection and will handle the majority of general preparation tasks, from chopping vegetables and herbs to larger jobs such as cuts of meat or even hard veg like butternut squash.

    They’re a great multi-purpose knife and are usually available in a wide range of sizes so that you can find one which really suits your hand.

    The advice from KitchenKnives.co.uk is that: “Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, and you’ll ultimately want one which has a bit of weight about it, but that still sits nicely in your hand, and has a nice balance to it.”

    If there’s one knife we recommend spending that little bit extra on, it’s this one, because it’s definitely the one which you’ll be using the most.

     

    Vegetable Knife

    Also known as a paring knife, these knives are much smaller than a chef’s knife, and are usually used for the small, tricky tasks which are done in your hand, rather than on a board.

    These include deveining prawns, seeding chillies, coring fruit, and many other fruit and veg tasks which can get a little bit fiddly.

     

    Bread Knife

    As the name suggests, these knives are used for slicing bread, and also for cakes too. They have a serrated edge and a long blade which allows them to easily slice through bread without squashing the crumb. You can also use this as an alternative to a carving knife if you’d rather not own both.

     

    Tomato Knife

    These small, serrated knives, are mainly used for peeling citrus fruit such as oranges and lemons, although as their name suggests, they’re also capable of general vegetable prep, such as thinly slicing tomatoes.

     

    Specialist Knives

    Filleting Knife

    If you want to fillet your own fish, we recommend buying a specialist filleting knife. These knives have a flexible blade, which helps with the delicate motions needed to successful fillet a fish and remove its skin.

    Filleting can be tricky, so if you need a bit of a hand, check out this article from wikiHow for some tips.

     

    Boning Knife

    If you want to take things a little bit further, and do some DIY butchery, you’ll want a boning knife at home.

    These narrow knives are shaped a bit like a dagger, and are designed for cutting through ligaments, and removing bones without damaging the meat.

     

    Carving Knife

    Carving knives and forks aren’t used anywhere near as much as they used to be, but they can still serve a purpose, especially if you still enjoy a good old traditional roast on a Sunday.

    The knife blade is designed to be very fine and sharp to ensure that you get nice even slices of meat when carving.

     

    Santoku Knife

    Japanese knives are becoming more popular in Western kitchens, and you don’t need to eat lots of Asian food for one to be useful.

    They have a blunt end, and are designed to be used for slicing, dicing and chopping, with small holes or dimples on the blade to help release food once it’s been cut.

    For a more detailed run on the Santoku knife and its purpose, check out this post from The Spruce.

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