Food & Drink notes

Ginger spice; make a pig of yourself; the splendour of the blender; Howard's way

Ginger spice

Spice up your festive cooking by reaching for the bottle. Culpeper, the herbalists, make edible as well as beneficial and aromatic goodies and their Ginger Juice Syrup, made from Malaysian wild ginger, is indispensable for adding a warming spicy glow to cakes, puddings and biscuits. And whisky. Or add fizzy water for a non-alcoholic tonic. Ginger's a good digestive, and helps travel sickness - helpful when you're schlepping between relatives. £5.50 a bottle; 0870 9509001 for stockists.

Make a pig of yourself

Give the turkey a break, set the goose loose, make like the Italians this Christmas with pork. This is a unique version of porchetta, a suckling pig rolled round in seasonally flavoured apples, orange and lemon zest, sultanas, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pugh's Piglets also make a more traditional Italian porchetta stuffed with rosemary, bay leaves and garlic. A 2.25kg Christmas porchetta is £59.95 from Forman & Field (020-8221 3939/; last orders for Christmas by Friday.

The splendour of the blender

You've got the toaster, now you can add the Dualit blender to that professionally tough kitchen armoury which, with the battering most kitchens take this month, is fairly essential. Redoubtably British, the Dualit blender, like the famous toaster has that industrial chic, classic look. The glass jug is shatterproof and suction feet stop it shimmying across your worktop. Leftovers into soup in seconds, fruit into healthy smoothies at the flick of a switch, but it also comes with a cookbook for more ideas. The Dualit blender is £99 in cream, glacier blue, red and metallic charcoal, £130 in chrome. From Allders, John Lewis, House of Fraser and Harrods; 01293 652500 for other stockists.

Howard's way

Don't you love the word pantry? Don't you love knowing someone else has whipped some scrumptious mince pies out of theirs? Lime Tree Pantry roll their short crust pastry by hand and you could pass off their pies - black cherry, beef with Guinness, rhubarb, steak and kidney, to pick a few - as your own. Their mince pies are amply filled, perfectly crumbly and available from top farm shops including Chatsworth. Other stockists and mail orders from 01623 863575/ Six pies for £3.