It seems odd that only four weeks ago I read a blog post about Foodie Penpals, and thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice to start that in the UK?’. One comment on The Lean Green Bean later and I was doing just that! All it took was some encouragement from Lindsay, a few tweets and retweets and a simple spreadsheet, and I was matching Penpals up within the week. I was (and am) amazed and delighted by the initial response, and we started out with 16 participants. Nowhere near the 300+ in the US and Canada, but great for such an impromptu undertaking. Everyone played by the rules and contacted their penpal, and for the most part the parcels were also shipped out before or on the 20th (which is also part of the rules). I’d like to thank all the participants for this month, and also all the new participants I’ve already added to the list – we’ve grown by 50% already!
I’ve got a little ahead of myself. If you don’t know what Foodie Penpals is, let me explain. It’s a scheme whereby food bloggers and blog readers sign up to send one other person a foodie parcel, of a value up to £10 or €10. The parcel can contain edible treats, local specialties, ingredients, baking accessories… Anything you can think of, as long as it’s food related in some way. The parcel also contains something hand written, like a note or a recipe. You post a parcel to one person, and a whole other person posts one to you! It’s a lovely way to meet other bloggers and, if you’re a parcel addict like me, it adds a special excitement to one morning when you receive your parcel in the mail.
If you want to join in this month, there’s still time. Foodie Penpals is open to the UK and Europe through Rock Salt, and the US and Canada through The Lean Green Bean. To join from the UK/Europe, simply read the Terms and Conditions and How it Works, and if you like the sound of it use the contact for at the bottom of the How it Works page to sign up. The cut-off is the 3rd of April – but if you sign up after that I’ll add you to the list for May, and you can watch the Twitter hashtag #foodiepenpals to see all the chatter as other people prepare, post and open their parcels.
So, enough words! We need pictures! My Foodie Penpal for this month was Fee (@feehatesrain), a brand new blogger who also lives in Scotland. She sent me this beautifully wrapped parcel:
Doesn’t it look enticing? I opened it up carefully and slowly, like a priceless treasure. It pretty much was a priceless treasure , come to think of it.
The first thing I noticed was Fee’s beautiful writing – I am quite jealous of people with lovely handwriting, mine is almost always a disappointment to me. Fee has also consistently spelled my name right, and for that I say THANK YOU.
The first three items are a packet of fruit yoyos with a modest bear on the front, a Bellini cocktail mixer (just add Prosecco) and a Divine chocolate orange bar. I used to work in the Co-op and developed a real taste for Divine chocolate, it’s lovely stuff, and Fair Trade, too. The other two items I’ve often seen but never tried – great choices.
The next item was a pouch of Earl Grey Blue Flower tea – also Fair Trade. I am aware that I don’t always make the effort I should to buy Fair Trade, though I am improving in this respect, and it’s amazing that Fee would send me Fair Trade items without me even mentioning it. The tea looks and smells incredible, so fresh and aromatic, and those tiny blue flowers? They’re so pretty!
They also match my Chinese crockery, including my teapot, so this was the first thing I tried from my parcel. The tea tastes as good as you’d imagine, fragrant and sweet from bergamot oil, a delicate tang from the black tea and just a hint of floral undertones from the flowers. Delicious – each little cup was stronger than the last as I drank my way through a pot, becoming more and more golden amber in colour without ever getting bitter. A great cuppa.
The next three items are a packet of mini sparklers (we use these a lot at girls nights when we celebrate birthdays, so this is another great choice, some quality black pepper oatcakes (the same brand but a different flavour than the ones I just recently bought myself, I’m starting to think there is some mind reading going on) and a cool cob of corn for popping. It’s blue!
I’ve looked at these so many times and never bought myself one, I’m looking forward to trying it out at the weekend, it’ll be perfect for movie snacks. You put the whole cob into a bag (supplied) and then into the microwave, and before you know it you’ve got a whole bowl of blue-tinged deliciousness to snack on.
I’ve saved the best ’til last – a jar of Fee’s own homemade strawberry jam, complete with hand drawn label. I admit to hoarding this up until I have the perfect loaf to go with it – hopefully by the time I post this I’ll have made or bought one so I can have a couple of slices of toast and jam for supper one night.
Check out the big linky post on The Lean Green Bean, to read about more Foodie Penpals parcels from the UK, US and Canada. My Penpal this month was Mandy at Chilli and Chai - hop over to her blog to see what I sent her, and the recipe the Cocoa-Spice Glazed Nuts that I sent her is also live on Rock Salt now! Finally, you can go to Fee’s blog, Fee Hates Rain, to see what she got from her penpal. A lovely circle of foodie awesomeness.