Simple Caramel Fridge tart

This is probably the simplest and quickest make ahead dessert… and a well-loved favourite in most South African households!

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For those who don’t have a tin of caramel available – you can make your own with a tin of condensed milk. Simply filly a pot with water and bring to the boil – then place your tin of condensed milk (unopened) in the centre and cover. Leave at a medium temperature for 3hours – adding water when necessary and turning tin to avoid burning every half hour or so. Leave to cool before opening.

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Caramel Fridge Tart

1 tin of carnation caramel
1 packet of Marie Biscuits (South Africans would use Tennis biscuits which is a coconut based square cracker)
250ml cream

  • Whip the cream
  • Mix in the caramel
  • Layer biscuits then creamy caramel and repeat until all ingredients are used up
  • Place in the refrigerator for at least 1hr to set

yes… that simple

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CHEZWaWa (Brussels)

A new kid on the block has opened….

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CHEZWaWa has moved into the Chatelain neighbourhood…offering locals a new style of farm-to-counter California-style Mexican dining called *Roll your own Way*. What they describe as Fresh, Fast, Flavorful & made-to-order… just as you like/want it.

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HIM took me there for lunch one Saturday… we arrived early (just after 12) to avoid having to fight for space at a table (especially as we were sporting our little miss in her stroller).

Space wise – you walk into a ground area for seating with 2 bar style seating tables on one side, some window facing counter seats and a long table on a *stage*. Then up a few steps (impossible with a stroller) to more table type seating and at the back is the order/counter section. Not the most practical of set ups – but as it was quiet – we had no issues as you need to start on the left hand side (where the entrance to the toilets is) and then move right along the counter while they make up your meal to where the cashier is. Meaning that if there is queue… you are 2 queues of people deep in a somewhat constrained environment.

The ceiling décor is awesome!

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The concept sounds pretty simple –

  1. Choose your base: Burrito (flour tortilla) or Naked Burrito (no tortilla but served in a bowl) or Taco (3 corn or flour) or Salad
  2. Choose your protein: This determines the price you pay: Poultry or shredded Pork or Beef or Spiced Tofu or grilled vegetables
  3. Choose your rice and beans (and/or): white rice or brown rice or/and pinto beans or black beans
  4. Choose your salsa: fresh or mild or medium or extra hot
  5. Add the extra’s: sour cream, shredded lettuce, grated cheese (free) or pay extra for guacamole, extra salsa/meat, grilled vegetables, chillies….

Sounds simple, eh? But the combinations are just too much and I struggled to decide… even when I had it right in my head – carrying out the order at the counter while they made it up for me while I stood there had me unsure… *Do you want rice in your taco’s?” he asked…. *Am I supposed to?* I responded… *Roll your own way… it is up to you* he said… and bam.. I was confused!:)

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HIM went for a Shredded Pork Burrito with bacon rice, pinto beans, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, roasted peppers… but no sour cream (9€)

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I opted for the Taco’s… with poultry (chicken), black beans, sour cream, shredded lettuce, grated cheese (9.25€) and guacamole (extra 1.25€) – not the most lady-like food item to eat with your hands – but OH MY WORD… delicious!

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We washed it down with a Mexican Beer (they range in price from 3.95-4.50€)

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Our total meal was about 28€ and we were both STUFFED (aka very full)… so this is a really great deal and is sure to do well with anyone wanting a fast, delicious and cheap meal!

Would we return? Absolutely… plus I see that they are on Deliveroo… so I can even get my fix delivered!!

CHEZWaWa

address: Rue Americaine 91, 1050, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 534 6330

website: http://www.chezwawa.com

Opening hours: Mon-Tues & Thurs: 12h00-22h00; Wed & Fri-Sat: 12h00-23h00 and Sun: 17h00-22h00

Classico Restaurant (Brussels)

Going out for a meal with a 6month old is really REALLY (did I mention *really*?) difficult!

Firstly, there are very few places in Brussels that have sufficient space between tables to allow for a pram/stroller and those that do aren’t always offering the food that I might want. (i.e. Ikea canteen restaurants are the perfect place for any new mum in Brussels – parking, sufficient space between tables and of course excellent changing rooms…). Secondly, going out in the evening to a restaurant has proved to be tricky… since HIM works Monday-Friday evening and I am definitely not trekking out with all the baby paraphernalia by myself at night and weekends are normally jam packed with meeting up with friends. And finally, the whole baby routine thing that we are supposed to be doing… bath/feed/bed by 7.30pm…

BUT… HIM took me out for lunch one fine Saturday… and we decided that we would try the new place called *Classico* Brasserie which took over the same spot where Lucy Chang in Ixelles used to be.

First impressions (at 12noon) was that the interior was smart and sleek with a fabulous bar seating area on one side (no picture) while maintaining the maximum amount of seating on the other side of the restaurant (i.e. spaces between tables was really tight – but we were there early and placed on the end of one section so that we could accommodate the stroller).

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The staff member we interacted with was knowledgeable about the menu and friendly with a very French air about him.

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Wines were tasty but on the pricey side… (7-9€ a glass)

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Food wise – HIM ordered the Butternut Risotto (on the specials menu for 27€)

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and I got the Chicken Supreme with a piece of deep fried polenta & some vegetables (25€ Suprême de volaille fermière, polenta croquante et légumes glacés)

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Both of our dishes were delicious… and we might have been tempted with dessert if Little Miss hadn’t decided that this was the perfect moment to start crying because she was tired but didn’t want to go to sleep… (within 5minutes of walking with her after leaving she was fast asleep…). So we had to quickly pay the bill and run…

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In total – our bill came to 80€ for 2 glasses of wine, 2 main dishes and a bottle of water for 2 people. Don’t get me wrong, the food was delicious and the atmosphere classy but I consider this to be on the upper side of pricey for a Saturday lunch… especially since I still had room for dessert after my main course:)

Would we return? Maybe… for an *occasion* type dinner (anniversary, birthday, etc) – but it wouldn’t be my regular go-to-spot.

Classico Brasserie

address: 124 Rue Americaine, Ixelles, 1050, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 537 9039

website: http://www.classico-la-brasserie.com/

email: welcome@classico-la-brasserie.com

Opening hours: Tues-Sat: 12h00-15h00 & 19h00-23h00 and Sun: 12h00-15h00 & 19h00-22h00

 

Apple Cinnamon Buns (SRC)

After quite a difficult month… Brussels attacks (read about it here), both Little Miss & I being sick and of course being back at work fulltime, means that I haven’t been able to create, photograph or post as many recipes as I had hoped since the last SRC reveal (the last reveal was for a delicious potato & zucchini au gratin)

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And for this months SRC (Secret Recipe Club) Reveal – I got Cookaholic Wife blog – fantastic name, eh?

Nichole started this blog a few months after moving in with Tom… her then boyfriend – who is now her husband (since 2010) and like me… is a lover of books (although I prefer reading mine on the couch, on the bed or in the bath rather than the beach) and also finds her happy place while baking something in the kitchen!

Recipes wise… I really had a difficult time choosing just one! Because they all looked so amazing…  like the Cardamom Glazed carrots, Strawberry Basil Mojito (yes please!!!), Heart Shaped Apple hand pies & of course this spaghetti squash with pancetta and peas.

But the final decision was… Apple Cinnamon Rolls!

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Soooo good…. I didn’t use Nichole’s glaze recipe as HIM is not a huge cream cheese fan… but this is my normal glaze recipe and it worked really well!

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Apple Cinnamon Rolls

For the rolls:
1 cup of warm water
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
6 Tablespoons butter (soft)
3 cups flour
For the filling:
2 medium apple (cored, peeled & diced finely)
3 Tablespoons butter
5 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
For the glaze:
1 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon milk or orange juice

  • Combine water, sugar & yeast and allow to stand for 15minutes
  • Line your baking tray with greased parchment paper
  • In a medium saucepan, mix filling (apples, brown sugar, cinnamon & butter) and cook over a medium heat for 5minutes (until apples are soft). Allow to cool slightly.
  • Add salt & butter to your bun mixture… and finally your flour
  • Mix until combined to form a soft dough (you may need to add more flour)
  • on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle
  • Leaving a 1/2 inch border, spread the apple mixture along the dough
  • Roll the dough lengthwise, cut into 12 evenly sized rounds with a serrated knife
  • Arrange in your prepared baking tin & rest for 5-10minutes
  • Bake for 15-20min at 200C
  • In the meantime, make the glaze by mixing together icing sugar andvanilla
  • Add half the milk/orange juice to start with – stirring to make a thick glaze and adding additional liquid a drop at a time to get the consistency that you want
  • Spread over cooled cinnamon rolls (it will form a crust and harden as it cools)

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Buttermilk Banana Loaf

I have to apologize for the radio silence over the last few weeks… and give a little explanation.

The month of March saw some very disturbing occurrences in Brussels, Belgium (the city where we live)… with bombs exploding at Zaventem (Brussels) Airport as well as one of the Metro stations near the EU Buildings (Maalbeek). This left most inhabitants a bit shell shocked. We all put on our best & bravest face and tried to continue our day to day activities as much as possible, so as not to let the terrorists win with their *fear* tactics … but deep down inside, we were all hurting. For the senseless loss of life, the realization that this was happening in our own city and that no place on earth was ever truly safe… even if the army and police presence was everywhere we turned since the Paris attacks in November 2015.

Normally, I would turn to my kitchen for a bit of therapy… cooking or baking has always calmed me down and of course… eating – but instead, I spent more time with HIM & Little Miss… we headed an hour outside of the city for a little staycation around the Easter weekend. Plus, both Little Miss and I spent a good portion of the month sick (her with Gastro… poor thing… and me with a pretty intense bout of flu that still had me coughing & spluttering 5weeks down the track).

But now… the dust is starting to settle… not only are the inhabitants of the city continuing on with their lives, but even Brussels airport has re-opened with flights departing & arriving since Sunday 3rd April 2016 (even if the whole airport process is more complicated and requires travelers to be there 3hr before their flights) – and I decided it was high time that I got my “a” back into “g” (ass back into gear) and started sharing more food related posts again.

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This Buttermilk Banana Loaf recipe was adapted from “I am baker” and proved to be easy to make as well as easy to eat. It was less *banana-ish* than my normal loaves, and the inclusion of buttermilk was minor. But still… a definite make again.

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Buttermilk Banana Loaf

1/2 cup of butter (softened)
1 and 1/2 cups of sugar
2 eggs
2-3 large bananas (mashed)
1/4 cup of buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 cups all purpose cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt

  • Sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, bicarb & salt)
  • Cream butter & sugar together
  • Add eggs to sugar/butter mixture one at a time, beating between each addition
  • Mix in buttermilk & vanilla essence until just combined
  • Slowly fold in the dry sifted mixture
  • Mix until just combined and then also fold in the mashed banana
  • Pour in a greased loaf pan
  • Bake for 50-60minutes at 180C

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Zucchini and Potato Au Gratin (SRC)

And it’s that time again… Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! (which means Secret Santa style recipe swaps – for those who don’t know)

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And this month – I got Amy’s Cooking Adventures… a fellow food blogger who loves reading as much as I do… who is also a mommy (two on earth & one in heaven… this story about her little Sarah Catherine who was stillborn really made be blub BIG time…) And not only does this incredible woman do domestic goddess status with style – but she also authors TWO blogs (the other is Amy’s Confectionery Adventures – which showcases some seriously beautiful baking), wife to Hubs & stay at home mum to her 2 boys (affectionately named *dude* & *spud*), she teaches Zumba classes and still finds time to read, scrapbook & sew!

Impressive…

But not only is her life impressive, but so is her blog… with a whole range of yumminess, I didn’t know where to start… Well, I did… the same way you eat an elephant… one bite at a time:)

Recipes that had me drooling include her Rosemary Pan Bread, carrot cake cookies, and Pumpkin Banana Muffins but finally decided on her Light Zucchini & Potato Au Gratin (I substituted the bechamel sauce for cream and added bread crumb Parmesan topping. but everything else was the same)… and it was SO GOOD!

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Zucchini & Potato Au Gratin

250ml cream
450g potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1 and half cups of grated cheese mixed with a cup of breadcrumbs
salt & pepper to taste

  • Alternate rows of zucchini & potato (salting gently between) in an ovenproof dish, with 1/2 cup of cheese and a 1/3 of the cream
  • Repeat until all ingredients are used up
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45-60minutes at 190C until potatoes are tender
  • Remove the foil and leave the top to crisp for a further 10minutes

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Quick Soda Bread

One wintery Sunday afternoon (which also happened to be Valentines day), we shared the table with a few friends – eating, drinking, laughing (lots of this, especially Little Miss who decided that our conversation was hysterically funny) and essentially “breaking bread”!

Bread you say…. yes, served with a homemade pumpkin soup as a starter and only having about 2hr between church and their arrival, I didn’t actually have time to whip up a *REAL* loaf of bread… from scratch and all. So I decided to use what I had and make a quick soda bread… no waiting time for the dough to proof, no hard labour kneading… just a quick mix, quick knead and into the oven for 30min.

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I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food website and although I didn’t have wholemeal flour – I used only normal flour and the end result was more of a warm scone type bread … but still delicious with soup! (The loaf fed 6 of us as an accompaniment with our soup starter)

Would I make it again? Yes…

Quick Soda Bread

170g self-raising wholemeal flour
170g flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
290ml buttermilk

  • Place dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir to mix
  • Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring quickly with a fork to form a soft dough
  • Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly
  • Place into a greased loaf tin
  • Back for 30min at 200C

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Lemon Poppy seed Cake

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I was contacted by JolyCake to test out one of their cake collars… something that I had never used before… but am now completely sold on the idea.

“What is a cake collar?” you ask…

They are normally a clear acetate plastic strip that goes around cakes & desserts to hold the filling in. It also makes baking cleaner!!! I placed mine around the edge of my springform tin before pouring in the batter to bake and when the cake came out the oven cooked – it was easy to lift the cake collar off … leaving no crumbs on/in my tin!!

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Having said this – receiving baking aids are only fun if you actually bake with them… so I was on the search for a cake recipe… having found this Lemon Poppyseed Cake Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction – I knew this was it!

I didn’t make the glaze – and the cake was still good … with HIM declaring that it tasted like ice-cream (?????)

Would I make the cake again? Yes… Would I use JolyCake cake collars again? Also yes!

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Lemon Poppy seed cake

2 & 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 cup of poppy seeds
1 cup butter (room temperature)
2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Lemon juice (2 lemons)
Lemon zest (2-3 lemons)
1 cup buttermilk (room temperature)

  • Sift flour & cornstarch into a bowl
  • Whisk in bicarb, salt, baking powder & poppy seeds
  • In a separate large bowl, using an electric beater, beat together butter & caster sugar, adding eggs one at a time
  • Add vanilla, lemon zest & lemon juice and continue to beat at a slow speed (don’t worry if it looks like the mixture has split, it will come back together again)
  • Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in 3 phases, interspersing with a the buttermilk – and mixing between each addition (batter will be thick)
  • Place in a greased (or cake collar-ed) tin
  • Bake for 50min at 180C

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Healthy Vegetable Samosas

My recipe choice is often based on the food I have in the fridge… so when my lovely Greek colleague (who saved my bacon by being my replacement for 4months while I was on maternity leave) gave me the contents of her fridge/cupboard before she returned to Athens… I decided to find a recipe to use up the Filo Pastry that was included in this goodie bag!

I have a whole range of Weight Watchers cookbooks (even if I don’t follow the program) and found this recipe in one of them (but you can also find it online here).

I adapted it slightly by using a teaspoon of medium curry powder mixture instead of their mix of cumin/coriander/chilli/turmeric… etc . And I do love the idea of oven baking as opposed to frying… and for any purists out there… I am well aware that filo pastry is not the pastry normally used for Samosas… so these aren’t traditionally Indian, but they sure do taste good!

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Would I make it again? Yes – especially when I have wonderful Sous Chef’s like M and Tabs who rolled and made the gorgeous triangles … while I only added value by making the mixture:)

Healthy Vegetable Samosas

2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
1 medium carrot, peeled & diced
1 onion, finely chopped
50g peas
1 heaped teaspoon medium curry powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 sheets Filo Pastry (or until you use up all the mixture)

  • Boil carrots & potatoes in a pot of water until softened
  • Drain & partially mash
  • In a frying pan, cook onion, garlic & peas
  • Stir into the potato mixture along with the curry powder
  • Cut filo pastry into strips
  • Placing a tablespoon of the mixture on one side, fold over and over to make a triangle
  • use a bit of water to seal the mixture when you come to the end
  • Bake at 160C for 30min

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Introducing…. Cirkle

I remember a few years back being told about a BIO fruit/vegetable delivery service called Reason2Be, and I looked at the site… but decided that I didn’t need a regular fruit/vegetable box delivered … and left it at that.

However, the joys of having a 4.5month old in my life while going back to work full-time, means that HIM spends his days with her and his nights working, and I spend my days working and my nights with her. Which doesn’t leave much time to head out to do grocery shopping (except on Saturday mornings and even then, our time is completely dependent on Little Miss – when she last slept, ate, poo-ed, etc….) and sometimes you just want to relax on a Saturday and not rush around like a mad thing – right??

I had previously had the honour to test our recipe kit delivery services like Smartmat, HelloFresh and Flavour Delivered (these tests were done as a blogger and I didn’t have to pay for their services or the test boxes that I received) – but this time, I made the decision to try out a new option on my own (i.e. this is NOT a sponsored or promotional post)

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Back to trying out the CIRKLE  concept–  the new & improved site for Reason2Be which offers a whole range more than just fruit & vegetable boxes! You can now get quiches & tarts from Les Tartes De Francoise, meat products from well-known Butcher Jack O’Shea’s, a full range of different types of breads from Lowy,  dried natural & organic foods from SuperSec, dried tea from Unami, Oxfam fairtrade products, delicious biscuits from Maison Dandoy… not to mention a range of craft beers, Bio wines and obviously… fruit & vegetables!!!

You can choose to purchase box sets (fruit, vegetables, or a combination of both, with or without meat & eggs, recipe kits, discovery boxes, wine boxes, craft beer boxes, etc….) or you can purchase items individually and add to your cart! You create an online account, load some funds into it (VISA, Maestro, etc) – and select your delivery day and time range (day/evening). You do need to finalise your order by 06h00 the day before your delivery day – but up until then, you can go in as many times as you like to make changes to your order.

On the day of delivery, you can check your online account and it will tell you who your delivery driver will be and what time frame you can expect your delivery to be made (i.e. 13h30-14h30). You can also check their twitter account to see if they are on time or not (as they load a daily tweet to say if they are on time or running late)

I placed my first order this week and spent 85euros (which included the 3euros delivery charge)… it may sound like a lot of money for a fruit/vegetable box… but I worked out that we got 5 full meals for 2 people plus fruit, cheese, bread, hummus, etc. So a weeks worth of meals (including 2 meals with meat!)

So what did I buy??

here it is…..

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  • Meal 1: small Quiche Lorraine from Les Tartes de Francoise (which I served with a salad (ingredients already in my fridge)… and also managed to take some to work for lunch the following day)
  • Meal 2: Recipe Kit* for Spaghetti di Timilia with aubergine, baby tomatoes, basil & goats cheese
  • Meal 3: Recipe Kit* for thick butternut, lentil & garlic stew
  • Meal 4: Recipe Kit* for bacon & mushroom risotto
  • Meal 5: Pork Sausages from Jack O’Shea which I will serve with carrot stoemp (potatoes already in our cupboard)
  • Fruit: Banana’s & apples
  • Vegetables: Carrots (already mentioned above to go into our stoemp), fresh herb pot of basil, 2 green peppers
  • Other: loaf of spelt sliced bread, Danish blue cheese, block of cheddar cheese and a tub of hummus

*The Recipe kit that I purchased was a 3meal pack for 2people (39.99€) and even included a mini bottle of wine for the making of the risotto:)

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Recipe Kit #1: Spaghetti di Timilia with aubergine, baby tomatoes, basil & goats cheese

Not only was the driver, Fabien, on time and super helpful by unpacking the cardboard boxes from his cooler packs onto my kitchen counter, as I was one-handed holding Little Miss who refused to be put down in case she missed something exciting happening – but he also spent time explaining the recycling part of their offering! I can use the cardboard boxes that my delivery was made in to box up a range of items that they would collect at their next delivery. This includes batteries, old used vegetable oil, mobile phones, printer cartridges, books, CD’s, DVD’s and baby clothes to name a few. Some is for disposable and others (like the books, cd’s, etc) are then sold via Oxfam for charity.

Would I use them again? Yes… I reckon we will become regular users at least twice a month and am looking forward to trying out a few more recipe kits (not to mention their wine selection:) now that I can enjoy a glass of wine again!)

Show your support and check them out: www.cirkle.be