Please excuse me if I have a little crow…. I have just completed what turned into a 30 year project! Well, maybe ‘project’ is pushing it slightly, although I have been meaning to do it for 30 years – but you know how it is…
When we moved into this house, a long time ago, and I had the chance to plan/build my own kitchen, I decided that a larder was an essential luxury. Not that we had space for a proper marble-shelved walk-in number, but we could run to a substantial stand-in corner cupboard. But having been brought up with very wide-shelved cupboards which ensured that you could never find what you wanted as it was always at the back behind all the other pots that you didn’t want, I decided to equip my new ‘larder’ with narrow shelves so nothing could get lost. However, about ten minutes after all the shelves were finally installed, I realised that I had gone a little too far and that the shelves were now so narrow that they only just held a single row of pots and that if the pots were too large, they were liable to topple off.
Well, I kept meaning to do something about it, but….
However, spurred on by the need to get the house ready for the FreeFrom Foods Awards judging sessions which start in three weeks time, I have just re-shelved my larder! And it is amazing! An extra 100mm of shelf all round has transformed it from a jumbled mess that would have done a ‘Pound shop’ proud to gleaming, neatly stacked shelves which would not look amiss in Fortnum and Mason’s. Mind you, a good deal of the improvement comes from the wholesale binning/recycling of some of my more treasured antique food samples – I think that teff flour ‘best before August 2003’ was probably the most venerable – although I have still refused to be parted from my late father-in-law’s bottled plums which date back to 1988. Indeed they now have a shelf all of their own!
Meanwhile, the FreeFrom Food Awards spring cleaning gale is sweeping through the rest of the house. To make way for the box-loads of samples which arrive every hour, Cressida and I cleared all the cupboards and shelves in the main office yesterday – recycling boxes of 15-year old accounts, binning a staggering accumulation of box files (what on earth could we ever have filed in them all) and halving the much treasured collection of old, to-be-re-used jiffy bags/envelopes which took up most of a cupboard on their own.
Next to be attacked is the workshop where the spare chest freezer lives (along with all the rubbish that no one can think of anywhere else to put) and which needs to accomodate a spare refrigerator for the ambient samples…
And finally, all those little piles which tend to take root where people drop them… The bag of tools which no-one could be bothered to put away, the Gap bag with that cheap Tshirt that you didn’t really need but seemed like a good buy and you keep forgetting to take upstairs, the lamp shade that needs mending and that will never get mended if you put it away because you will forget about it… The saddest little pile at the moment, sitting half way up the stairs, is an extrememly battererd, coverless 1920s copy of Mrs Beeton which I cannot quite bring myself to throw out but, given that I already have four other copies in much better condition from the same period, I cannot really justify keeping either…
But – they all have to go by February 1st!!
At that point our judges arrive for five days of intensive tasting of every kind of free from product from breakfast cereals to beer! Food professionals, food allergy/intolerance sufferers, coeliacs and dairy/lactose intolerants plus ‘normal’ people to benchmark the products against ‘normal’ products. All the judging will be done blind – the judges will not know who made the products until after they have pulled out a shortlist and then chosen the winners, highly commendeds and commendeds. By the end of February we will be ready to publish the shortlist, and then get ourselves geared up for Antony Worral Thompson, once again, to present the awards on the 6th April….
Want to know more? Check out the website at www.freefromfoodawards.co.uk – where you can also check out this year’s amazing roster of sponsors, headed up by Juvela, our main sponsors who have just launched into the main freefrom world with their new breakfast cereals. Category sponsors, led into the fray by Livwell, faithful supporters of the awards and sponsors this year once more of the Innovation Award, include (in alphabetical order…) Asda, Delamere Dairy, the Food and Drink Innovation Network, Genius Gluten Free, Genon Laboratories, Goodness Direct, Lactofree, Mrs Crimbles, Produced in Italy, Swedish Glace and Tesco.
Stop Press: New sponsor…. We are delighted to welcome Hale & Hearty as last minute sponsors of the Puddings, sweet pies, deserts and cheesecakes category!