Subscriptions, why are they so popular ??

You can get practically anything from subscription companies these days. From learning how to become a belly dancer in your own home, to novelty tissue boxes ! You probably wouldn’t consciously be aware of it but even Netflix and Amazon Prime are “subscriptions”, the definition means paying on a regular basis for a service. Subscriptions are actually very similar to… Read more →

Summer is finally here !!!

SUMMER_HEADER

Bacon isn’t just for breakfast !

There is so much more you can do with bacon than you think. Summer is finally here so why not experiment by adding chopped bacon to your salads.

Jazz up your lunchtime’s with this delicious open sandwich, perfect for laid back summer days.

Grilled ciabatta sandwich with caramelised apricots, bacon, mozzarella, green salad

Caramelised Apricots

What you need;

30g/10z butter

1 tbsp brown sugar

100g/3 1/2oz fresh apricots, halved and de-stoned

What you do;

Gently heat the butter and sugar in a pan, when it starts to bubble, add the apricot halves and keep cooking until the sugar and apricots become darker in colour.

Slice the ciabatta roll in half and gently grill until light brown, place on one side.

Fry some slices of streaky bacon and place on top of the ciabatta halves.

Roughly chop some mozzarella over the top of the bacon, add some of the caramelised apricots and re heat under the grill until the mozzarella starts to melt.

Serve on a bed of fresh salad leaves.

 I’ll be coming up with more delicious summer recipe ideas, so watch this space.

Autumn Bacon Casserole

With Autumn upon us it was time to dig out the big stove pot & make a casserole, a bacon casserole naturally, here follows the recipe though the weights & measures are very approximate as the Bacon Wizard I am not, much more a smoosh it in the pan all together making it up as I go along sort of cook, but judging by the second bowls everyone went for here at Bacon Towers the results were all the tastier for it.

 

Ingredients

Serves 4 (It turns out I made enough for 10 so have just tried to dial down the amounts)

 

  • 4 leeks thickly, sliced
  • 1 onion thickly, sliced
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200gms pearl barley
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 dollop of butter
  • 1 slosh of olive oil
  • 1 packet bacon snipped into smallish pieces

 

Extras

(I found these in ‘Lady P’s Pantry’)

  • Sea salt
  • Celery salt
  • Fennel seeds
  • Ground cumin

 

Method

In a frying pan heated with the butter and olive oil I fried the bacon- in this case it was one of our flavours in development ‘Jamaican Jerk’- over a medium heat until the fat just started to colour. I then added the leeks, onion and garlic & stir fried for another few minutes.

I then transferred this to the pre-warmed stove pot and added the pearl barley, sweet potato, chicken stock so that it was nearly covered and extras. This simmered for about 45mins with occasional stirring, tasting and adjusted ‘extras’ until the stock had been nearly fully absorbed by the barley.

I popped a lid on it to let it sit for five minutes or so & served up big dollops of it with crusty bread.

To my mind it would have been significantly improved with the afternoon off and a clutch of scrumpy cider, but our accountant’s a devil for wanting accurate information so that idea had to be parked. For now.

Cheers

Hargreaves

 

autum

When is handmade not handmade?

Back before Christmas we launched an advertising campaign on Twitter which featured the phrase “Handmade Bacon”. The response was slightly overwhelming with a myriad of responses:

“How can bacon be handmade?”

“Surely the bacon is pig made”

“How can you make bacon out of hands?”

The list goes on and on, and started a debate whether these points were fair and that we had inaccurately described our process. So for the record we though it only right that we outline the production process from butchery through to packaging.handmade

  1. .

Each loin is handled more than 6 times. For those that don’t know bacon comes from pork, pork comes from pigs, you cannot make our bacon without the process outlined above which is by hand.

We could fully automate our production process and no doubt make it much more efficient until that time comes we are more than happy to say our bacon is handmade, because quite simply it is!

We are open throughout the week so you are more than welcome to come and see for yourselves how Cure & Simple Bacon is made.

‘Super Bacon’

It’s the party season and last night you’ve kicked it hard – and why not? Tis the season and you’ve earnt it…..today though the morning is a foggier, less hospitable place than the night before and you need help, restorative, comforting, warming help, but where to turn for this short cut to wellness?

Simple.

A big, fat, tasty bacon sarnie – which my friends, is science, as Elin Roberts science development manager at the Centre for Life in Newcastle reported to the UK national press in 2009: “Food doesn’t soak up the alcohol, but it does increase your metabolism – helping you to deal with the after-effects of over-indulgence. So food will often help you feel better. Bread is high in carbohydrates and bacon is full of protein, which breaks down into amino acids.

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“Your body needs these amino acids, so eating them will make you feel good.  Bingeing on alcohol depletes neurotransmitters too, but bacon contains a high level of amines which tops these up, giving you a clearer head.”

There’s even a scientific formula behind that, oh so, aromatic delight of a bacon butty.

Elin adds: “If you’ve got amino acids and reducing sugars at a heat above 150 degrees centigrade, it kickstarts the Maillard Reaction in the pan. That means lots of lovely smells are released and it’s this which draws us in. I know of three vegetarians who have been broken by the smell of bacon.”

So we can all enjoy ourselves this festive season, safely please (eh? I really am 40 now), knowing that we can help put things right with plenty of fluids and a sizzling pan.

Thanks Bacon!

Cheers!!

Hargreaves

Top, Top Artisans?

Oxford English Dictionary, Noun; Artisan “A worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand “.

Words as we know follow fashions and trends like all else in life and the two that I constantly hear bandied about at the moment are ‘Top, Top’ and ‘Artisan’ – technically that’s three words I know – but, as a football and a Liverpool fan ‘Top, Top’ shot into my conscious when Sir Alex Ferguson described Steven Gerrard, in his 2013 Autobiography, as ‘not a top, top player’, which made me bristle a fair bit, as with a maximum of only 198 players on the pitch at any one time in the premier league I would say that anyone securing a regular position in the starting line-up most definitely is a ‘Top, Top’ player, especially when considering the amount of people trying to do exactly that. Having once had a trial at West Ham or Tottenham Hot Spur definitely doesn’t count – did they just have a policy of letting everyone have a go in the ‘80’s?

However, the term ‘Top, Top’ has since become an easy way for pundits, both professional and pub based, to segment the merits of different players and so my question is- will we see the same sort of segmentation for all things labelled ‘Artisan’?

New-Artisan-Economy-logos-1

 

The word’s roots are French from the mid 16th Century and based on the Latin artire, ‘to instruct in the arts’, but in English usage was “often taken as typifying a social class intermediate between property owners and wage labourers’ (OED).

So to be artisanal was an aspiration for the majority of the poor beleaguered work force, as to be employed in a profession that required you to be able to manufacture with a great deal of learning and care in a skilled trade was to really improve your lot in life. No wonder then that in recent years it has become such a popular label in the food industry in order to connote on a product that it is something hand crafted, created with more care and skill than the mass produced, industrial process driven ‘fayre’ that is most commonly retailed. And it really is an industrial process, see Charlie’s article ‘After all a pig is not square’ to understand how they do it.

Labelling a product ‘Artisan’ is now so popular that a quick Google search has revealed that it’s been applied to Domino’s Pizza (who then confusingly say they are not Artisans, but then that actually they might be), Starbucks ‘Breakfast Sandwich’ and Mcdonald’s ‘Artisan Roll’, as well as Gel Nail Polish, Investment Management Services & Injection Moulded Plastics – I kid you not!

And after plastic bankers I doubt there’s a lot left for the term to be applied to, but real Artisans – ‘Top, Top Artisans’ will always be worth searching out as price is what we all pay, value is what we get.

 

Cheers

Stephen

Website development

Fortunately for myself my career up to this point has been immersed in building websites. I originally started out building very small static websites for local provincial retailers over 15 years ago. More recently I was fortunate enough to be let loose on developing web platforms for some of the world’s largest technology and media brands. Along the way many valuable lessons have been learnt, sometimes through skill and dexterity (or so I think), sometimes through luck and perhaps the most important lessons I have learnt has been through failure.

Drawing on these experiences we set about building the website presence for Cure and Simple over the summer of 2013. If you are new to building websites these are the steps we went through to build cureandsimple.com and can be utilised to build your website.

Commercial Specification – are you retailing one-off products, or doing a subscription based model with recurring billing. How do you collect your £££. How you manage the supply chain, are you going to automate this or make this a manual process. This includes fulfilment, stock management and payments. Lots of questions you probably already have the answer for. The purpose of this is that the developers can start to get an idea of what sort of tech / systems they can use. Are we going to build something from scratch or buy something off the shelf?

Flow Chart – What is the journey for the user from finding you, right through the process of seeing your offering to signing up? The below is what a basic flow chart looks like.

workflow-diagram-example-ecommerce

Application Specification – This is what you actual want your website to do this will be a document which outlines every process and requirement, this will be the benchmark for the guys building the platform. Remember to ensure what devices you want your website to be viewed on. Not to include mobile is a very dumb thing to do unless there is a very good reason.

Wireframe Generation – A builder uses architect drawings, a website developer uses wireframes. The link below is the first set of wireframes we used for Cure & Simple, one of the most important aspects to website development is to get this absolutely nailed http://internal.fieldshires.com

Design – The creative aspect of the website development with all the design / graphic elements. Some of the early designs we did not use, are below:

home02

Build – Building the website, now the developers have all the information they can then set about putting the site together.

Test – Make sure the website works it works across and performs how it is expected to across multiple devices and is running on your hosting environment

Launch – Get the website out there

By following this process we managed to get the website launched and taking orders in the very first hours.

In regards to who should do this work for you if you don’t have the required skills, there are three schools of thought. Get a company to do this for you, lots of very good companies out there, get a freelance web developer, where there are also plenty or finally build your own team. The benefits of using a company is that they will have all the required skills to deliver the outline above, however you will be paying a minimum of £500 / day for a web developer through this, as well as all the other associated fees, Account Managers, Project Managers etc. If you are well organised and want to jump in at the deep end then you will be able to secure and experienced web developer for as little as £300 / day, unless you find a real gem you will also potentially need to find additional freelancers to project manage or creative design. If you are going to build your own team this is by far the most expensive but will give you the most flexibility and the ability to make changes and adaptions as you grow remember if you are a dotcom your web site requires constant nurturing and development.

For the technical bits or for those who are intrigued, our site utilises the following technologies: php / MySQL we use Codeigniter which is a PHP MVC framework (unfortunately support for this framework was dropped after the website was developed), not that this will stop the site from running but advice would be to look elsewhere, we hear Cake is very good. Client side nothing revolutionary jQuery and twitter bootstrap for the responsive aspects (responsive design means the design of the website changes depending on device and screen size)

We also have multiple API services running built in Codeigniter that interact with 3rd party applications, including MailChimp for email handling, Royal Mail for deliveries, Chargify for subscription management and our merchant services provider for dealing with credit cards

We use Windows VMs for our hosting, which are managed for us by our friends at Zsah.

We have learnt lots on the way and more than happy to share our experiences with you, simple drop us an email at hello@cureandsimple.com if you want to know more.