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By: Dustin Harrison

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Monday, 6-Aug-2012 02:13 Email | Share | | Bookmark
For a present with a difference, give gift vouchers for a London

When it comes to presents, gift vouchers which offer experiences are far better than items. An afternoon at a London cooking school can be a wonderful experience that will last a lifetime.

Gifts can be fantastic. They can make us feel special and loved. They can allow us to experience new, wonderful things. Or they can be rubbish. Let’s face it, buying good presents is difficult.

Luckily, it’s easier if you know a little about what makes people happy. That’s the purpose of a gift, after all. The mistake most people make is to give things. Unless you know the recipient incredibly well, or know exactly what they’d like, things can be difficult. And if they’ve told you what they want, a physical present is actually quite boring.

If you make a mistake and buy the wrong ‘thing’ it’s even worse. Not only is the recipient disappointed, they feel they have to lie to you about it and then feel so guilty they keep the stupid thing anyway. None of us need more clutter in our lives, but this has probably happened to everyone at one time or another.
Another factor is that with technology changing so quickly nowadays, physical objects quickly go out of date. You may have really wanted that boxed set of Buffy videos ten years ago, but where is it now?

Professor Richard Wiseman suggests that experiences are better than things at making people happy. In giving an experience with a gift voucher, you promise to spend time with the person. Often, that shows more love and care than any object could. And experiences are more memorable. Most of us can’t even remember what we got for Christmas, but we remember experiences – they are the units that make up our lives.

Gift vouchers for a London cooking school make the perfect present. Learning a new skill alongside a professional can be a powerful experience, and cooking is an activity that speaks of comfort and affection. You can learn deliciously simple recipes for starters, desserts and mains in a top-end London kitchen. A cooking class also has ‘going out for a meal’ built in, as you eat what you’ve cooked at the end.

You might think that visiting a cooking school is a one off and once it’s over, it’s over, but you’d be wrong. Giving a gift card or voucher sets up a whole sequence of events which you and the recipient can enjoy. London schools offer a vast range of cooking classes, and part of the fun is going online to choose the workshop you’ll attend. You could have a lesson focussed purely on recipes for desserts, learn some knife skills or make pasta for the first time. The choices are virtually endless.

But once you’ve chosen the class and been to it, that’s it, right? Well, not really. Not only will you come away with some great memories and new found culinary skills, the school will provide simple recipes for the dishes you’d created. This means that you can recreate the experience at home, enjoying professional quality food for a fraction of the cost.

While gift vouchers make a fantastic present for a partner or close family member, they also make useful corporate gifts. Many companies use the kitchens of cooking schools as modern locations for team building, corporate events and product launches, so a voucher for a cookery class can be the icing on the cake. Clients and staff members need a day to remember every once in a while; it’s good for business.
A lot of London cooking schools have simple recipe videos on their websites, so you can have a look at the sort of food on offer before you make a decision.

L’atelier des Chefs is a top London cooking school, with two kitchen locations fitted out to an exceptional standard. They offer Gourmet Gift Cards which can be used for cooking classes and in their cook shop, as well as hosting corporate team building events. Give a wonderful gift today: visit the website.


Wednesday, 1-Aug-2012 06:44 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Preparing a Backyard Chicken Coop – the House, Bedding and Run

Find out how to prepare a chicken coop for happy and healthy birds. Read handy tips and advice on raising birds in your garden.

Raising poultry in your garden is a rewarding experience. Whether that means a constant supply of delicious fresh eggs, organic meat for your roast dinners or a fun family-friendly pet, once you have a brood in your life, you’ll never look back. When raising backyard chickens, preparing a safe, comfortable, clean, dry and warm coop is essential for happy and healthy birds.

Chicken House
Your chicken house needs to be big enough for your brood. Ready-made poultry houses will come with a guideline number of birds. If you are making your own house, large chickens and layer hens require a minimum of 2 sq ft per bird inside the coop, and 10 sq ft per bird in the run. This is a minimum though, and allowing for extra space will help avoid health problems amongst your birds.

Natural lighting promotes egg production; hens are happier when they can see their friends. Extra lighting can be provided through well-placed windows, which will also promote ventilation. You may require extra vents, however, to prevent the air becoming stale.

Chickens instinctively want to roost off the ground. Building nests and roosts off the ground encourages your birds to use their wings, as well as being safer and more hygienic. Nests should be approximately one and a half times the size of the bird, and a gap should be placed between them.

Chicken Bedding
chicken bedding you use should be absorbent, hygienic and affordable. There is a huge selection of poultry bedding on the market. Wood chippings are ideal as they are affordable and safe for young stock. They resist compression well and recycled wood has a lower moisture content than freshly cut timber, helping to reduce mould, spores and mites. After being used, wood chippings can be reused as handy compost or fertiliser.

Modern hemp-based poultry bedding materials are an absorbent ‘green’ alternative. They are made from the inner core of the hemp plant stem, without chemicals or bleach, for an organic product. Like wood chippings, hemp-based bedding can be recycled into compost once removed from the coop.
Avoid hay and straw based products for your chicken bedding. These encourage the spread of mites and lice, and removing them can be a costly expense.

Run
Your run should be spacious enough for your birds, and well protected against foxes and other predators. Your coop requires a roof, and ideally your pen will have one too. If not, the fence should be tall enough to prevent animals like dogs from jumping over. Ideally, it should provide access to edible vegetation, and smaller runs can be portable to allow vegetation rotation and constant provision.

Cleaning
To clean your chicken house, simply remove the bedding and use poultry safe, DEFRA approved disinfectant to sanitise the house walls and floor. Various sanitising products are available for cleaning waterers and removing flies, lice and red mites from the coop. Your disinfectant and cleaning products need to be completely harmless to birds, so only buy from a specialist in chicken supplies.

I Like Chickens is the one stop shop for poultry supplies and accessories. Whether you need supplies and equipment for raising your own birds – or you just want to add some fun to your home with some chicken-themed homeware, you’ll find it all at I Like Chickens.


Friday, 27-Jul-2012 03:54 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Whipping up a Treat: Cooking workshops to improve your culinary

Learning to cook can be a joy, enriching your life in many ways. Attending a cooking class in a London school gives you time to learn new culinary skills, make friends and relax.


Food is a huge part of life. Good food is an absolute delight. Bad food is a nightmare. Many people will forget the monuments or museums they saw on a trip but will remember the excellent restaurants or the incredibly horrible eateries.
For many, sitting down to a well-cooked meal is a pleasure. Unfortunately, people don't get a chance to do this as often as they would wish. One of the reasons is time. People often need to “eat and run”. Another reason is knowledge and skill. Even if people have the time to cook, they may not have the “know-how”.
One way to increase your chances of a great meal is to learn how to cook one. That's right, cooking classes. Cooking classes are a fun way to expand your kitchen expertise. Many cooking schools offer a wide range of options to suit differing food preferences and levels of skill.
Some cooking schools offer courses. People sign up for a specific focus, such as French cooking. They book and pay for a set number of meetings.
Other schools, such as those in London, have realized that this may not suit today's lifestyles. These schools offer “one off” classes. The classes cover a variety of dishes and skill levels. They are held on varying days at various times for differing durations. There can be classes lasting as little as half an hour and as long as four hours. For example, people could attend an Indian cooking class on Monday August 20 from 11:00 to 12:00. Also, there are classes covering different food niches, such as easy meals, kids food, and formal dining.
On the day, participants just show up at the place and time, and take part. All the equipment and ingredients are provided. The professional chef guides them through the recipe, explaining and demonstrating as necessary. At the end of the class, each participant has succeeded in preparing the dish or dishes he or she signed up for.
The beauty of “one off” classes is flexibility. People can take the classes they want when they have time to take them. Although classes can be booked in advance, they can also be booked at the last moment. People can vary the type of food they explore – one time Sushi, one time Italian desserts. Also, participants are able to match the class to their skill level. A person with experience in pastry can take a masterclass. The same person, just starting out with classic British food, can take a class suited to beginners.
Cooking classes have several important benefits. One is relaxation. Many people find cooking calms them down and lifts their mood. Another is self-esteem. Learning how to handle new foods and mastering challenging cooking techniques builds self-confidence.
Perhaps, however, the greatest benefit is the joy of being able to prepare and serve a fine meal. It may be a full-course dinner. It may be a “quick bite” between coming home from work and chauffeuring the children to swimming class. Whatever it is, it will be healthier, tastier, and filled with more caring than any “ready meal” could ever be.

L’atelier des Chefs is one of the top cooking schools in London, offering a huge range of courses at times to suit you. If you’d like to brush up your skills and whip up a treat, visit the website today.


Thursday, 26-Jul-2012 04:58 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Why cooking classes are perfect for corporate events in London

Good corporate or team building events can be hard to find but corporate cooking classes in London could be the answer. No other team building activity balances fun and engagement with teamwork, time management and discipline in quite the same way. Steer clear of dull away days, head into the kitchen and enjoy learning some new skills in a cooking class led by a professional chef.

Cooking is an activity that has many different associations. It can bring comfort after a hard day; the perfect antidote to stress both as you mix the batter and take a batch of cupcakes from the oven. It can be art, as with a display of pastel-coloured macaroons or handmade ravioli. It can be an astonishing display of culinary skill, professional chefs working together to produce fine cuisine.It can be a corporate event.

Team building
Cookery classes may not seem the most obvious choice for a team building London activity, but offer all the right ‘ingredients’ for a successful event. Taking your employees to a top London cooking school to produce a meal together can be tremendously exciting and they’ll learn much more than culinary skills. Cooking requires time-management, teamwork, an ability to follow instructions and good communication. There is pressure to perform but at the same time it’s something everyone can get involved in. As your staff won’t be cooking for a demanding public, you can have a good laugh if something goes wrong.

The level of interaction possible during a cooking class is far more than would be found in other activities often used for team building. Staff may discover they have a common interest they didn’t know about before. After all, who doesn’t love food? There is also time for relaxation and reflection, as everyone sits down together to enjoy the meal they’ve created at the end of the day.

Brand launches, PR and media events
Kitchens can be great setting for product launches and PR events, especially if the product is food-related. London cooking schools have state-of-the-art kitchens and dining areas which provide a clean, modern backdrop for the product. Venues can be hired by the hour, although some offer other services from the creation of menus to the organisation of the whole affair.

Hospitality
Corporate cooking classes also provide an opportunity to entertain clients. Business relationships can benefit from doing something a little more interactive and the event will be much more memorable than just going for a meal. It’s not every day you have the opportunity to brush up your culinary skills with a professional chef, after all. London cooking schools often have private dining areas so that you can eat and chat in comfort when the cooking is done.

Corporate gifts
If you do choose to entertain clients in a London cooking school, you might want to give them something as a memento. Branded aprons, items of cookware and gift boxes are all possibilities, or you could offer gift cards so they can return to participate in a class with their families. If the school has a shop, you can exchange the cards for kitchen equipment from pots and pans to knives and silicone bakeware. You can also take the recipes home so you and your clients can practice your new skills.

Located in London’s West End, L’atelier des Chefs is a cooking school with a difference. Not only do they offer classes with professional chefs to the general public, they have a host of options for corporate events, from team building and hospitality to press events and PR.


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