I was browsing the internet the other day and I came across the Dorset-based designer Minna. Minna make the most gorgeous ethical dresses, which are hand embellished and made from sustainable, organic, recycled and locally produced textiles. I couldn’t help but think they would make stunning ethical wedding dresses:
They are marketed as general dresses, but I think at around the £200 to £400 mark for a dress they are quite pricey for everyday wear. I think, however, they would make perfect ethical wedding dresses or ethical bridesmaid dresses. They certainly look special enough to be classed as wedding wear, especially if you’re not looking for a traditional wedding dress, or are having a wedding in a relaxed setting.
Wedding dresses are typically one of those wedding items that can cost thousands of pounds, and are worn only once. I personally am not a fan of most traditional meringue style wedding dresses, so if I ever got married then I would definitely go for an elegant and timeless dress that could be worn again, like one of these beauties from Minna. I’d hate to buy an overly ‘wedding’ dress and only be able to wear it once – instead I’d like to be able to wear it on anniversary dates (how great would that be!) and other special occasions. And as far as wedding dress prices go, I’d imagine these to be fairly budget friendly wedding dress options, as well as being ethical.
What are your thoughts on wedding dresses? Traditional or non-traditional? Meringue or non-meringue? Long or short? So many aspects to consider!
The humble, much maligned Brussels Sprout is, I think, a fantastic winter vegetable. In season from October through to March, it sadly suffers from a bad image problem. To many people they are foul smelling, sulphuric and soggy poor relations of the cabbage, only tolerated once yearly as part of Christmas dinner. The problem, more often that not, lies in how they are cooked – more often than not boiled to within an inch of their life.
This cheap, quick and easy to prepare Brussels Sprout Gratin, made with store cupboard essentials, is a fantastic way to turn how you view the Brussels Sprout on your head. Instead of seeing them as soggy and vile, the addition of the cheese and mustard sauce to the Brussels Sprout Gratin invites you to instead enjoy them as a decadent comfort food. It’s absolutely perfect for cold nights when you need something delicious and hearty to warm your cockles.
This Brussels Sprout Gratin is great as an accompaniment to meat/meat substitute, or even a baked potato. It’s also a good way of using up any bread that has gone stale, and additionally makes wonderful leftovers for the next day.
If you also omit the salt and go easy on the parmesan style hard cheese then it’s great for babies and toddlers. My one year old daughter adores this dish!
This tasty Brussels Sprout Gratin, with it's cheesy mustard sauce, makes for a deliciously comforting winter treat, that is sure to delight even the most ardent Brussels Sprout hater!
For The Gratin
500g Brussels Sprouts (buy locally grown ones if you can) - washed, trimmed and cut into quarters
25g plain flour
100g cheddar cheese or similar hard cheese, grated
30ml whole milk
ground pepper and salt to season to taste
2 spoons of mustard - coarse or smooth.
For The Topping
30g cheddar cheese, or similar, grated
10g parmesan cheese, grated (if you’re vegetarian Sainsbury’s sell an “Italian hard cheese” which is veggie friendly and similar in taste)
30g breadcrumbs (roughly equates to 2 slices of bread) (I use stale bread and a food processor to achieve a good crumb. It’s also less messy than grating).
Heat the oven to gas mark 5/190 degrees C.
Prepare your sprouts by washing, trimming and cutting them into quarters.
In a large pan, bring a large amount of water to the boil and add your quartered sprouts. Once the water comes back up to the boil, let the sprouts boil for two minutes, then remove from the heat and drain.
Melt the butter in a small pan, and then add the flour and milk, continually beating to create a smooth and lump free paste. Warning – this bit can get very very spitty so wear an apron and keep at arms length! If, once you’ve added the milk and the sauce is still very thick, keep adding a little bit of milk at a time until it’s smooth.
Once you’ve got a nice consistency, lower the heat and add the grated cheese, the two spoons of mustard, and your salt and pepper (to taste). Give it a good stir to mix it all in.
Add the sauce to your sprouts, stirring well so that the sprouts and sauce are well combined.
Spoon into an ovenproof dish and spread it out so that it is evenly distributed.
Mix your grated cheese(s) and breadcrumbs in a separate bowl.
Cover the sprouts evenly with your grated cheese(s) and breadcrumb mix.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve and enjoy, and never pass on the sprouts again!
* I adapted this recipe from the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook (affiliate link). The original recipe called for infusing milk with bay leaves, peppercorns and onion, but I feel that life is just too short to spend it infusing milk! I’ve tried it with and without the infused milk and to me there is no real perceptible difference. I also felt it needed a bit more mustard, and the addition of some parmesan style hard cheese helped up the flavour.