Al fresco is coming

An essential piece of the al fresco summer table is the stylish sterling silver and crystal salad bowl. The sterling silver salad servers seen in action during one of my recent evening meals complement the bowl perfectly. Still in the dining room at the moment- but I have high hopes for some warm summer weather to come soon!!

Salad bowl

You may wish to add other important items such as the sterling silver oil and vinegar set and the sterling silver salt and pepper mills not forgetting a sterling silver and crystal decanter for your chilled Chablis.

Enjoy the summer soon to come!

What to make next?

I am sure I have probably written about this before – forgive me if I have but it seems to happen every year. There comes a stage where I am up to date with the current order schedule and I have time to make some items for stock. The question always is what to make this time?

I do wish I had a crystal ball and could predict what customers are going to buy. I have tried many ways before to look at sales trends from previous years, to look at what seems to be popular out in the shops, what are other websites putting forward as special offers or even can I look at the weather forecast!!!!

Well here goes again. Nothing has seemed to work 100% in the past but I seem to be doing reasonably well and will go for the ever popular Salt & Pepper Mills from the JA Campbell “Appetite” range. These silver mills are part of the matching collection that I designed about 25 years ago now.How time flies.

It is a contemporary range  and sits well against the more traditional items in the “Classic” range.

They are quite time consuming to make which is why I tend to always ensure that I have some in stock as they would be difficult items to make in a rush. However complicated things are to produce, as long as I have the time, I enjoy creating beautiful silver tableware.

That is one of the reasons I became a Silversmith and I still enjoy my work today.

The joy of freshly ground spices

I have been creating a curry or a stir fry on a Saturday evening for a good few years now. Some recipes call for ready ground spices, but a few state ‘whole seeds to be ground’. I was not aware of the huge difference until I ground a tablespoon of coriander seeds. You will need a mortar and pestle or spice grinder for this. What a difference! I had not realised coriander could give off such a pungent aroma, and what you need to be aware of is, not only the improved aroma but improved flavour also. This wonderful flavour from freshly ground seeds, in my opinion, seems to be three times stronger than ready ground. Try it and see what you find!

This principle obviously applies not only to coriander, but all seeds and spices used as flavourings, including peppercorns. How much nicer it is, especially using a sterling silver pepper grinder, to have a fresh grinding of black pepper over your scrambled egg on toast for breakfast in the morning. As much or as little as you like. A pepper mill distributes the grindings much more evenly than a pepper shaker.

There is a misheld belief that black pepper is hot! This is however not the case as white pepper is hot, but black much more flavoursome.

Buying spices from supermarket spice racks in small glass jars can be expensive. Using a small independant Asian store can be a pleasurable experience and you will also find fresher, larger, less expensive packs along with some good personal knowledge and advice.

John Campbell

Designer & Master Silversmith

The Silversmith.Never too old to learn!

Having made around 5000 silver salt & pepper mills throughout my career, in a variety of different shapes, I consider myself something of an authority on this subject. What one has to take into account though is that while I might be an authority on making silver mills I am obviously not as proficient with using and maintaining them on a day to day basis. I do however use one at least once a day everyday.

I discovered a few days ago, on topping up a mill with fresh peppercorns, that a mill kept full, or nearly full, produces far more ground pepper than a lesser full one. (A nearly empty mill grinds painfully slowly – even a JA Campbell mill fitted with a Peugeot mechanism.)

 The simple reason for this is that the weight of the corns pressing down on the grinding mechanism is much greater when the mill is full ,or nearly full, forcing more corns through per turn.

As with all spices there is no comparison between freshly ground and ready ground.

For information, even though we do not make a coffee grinder, the same applies to grinding coffee beans and you will find it easier in the beginning than at the end, but it is worth it for the fresh aroma of newly ground coffee beans.

In a recent silverware blog I gave information regarding how to clean silver salt & pepper mills and I highly recommend you read this to ensure you do not accidentally cause damage to the mill bodies or the mechanisms in the mills.

Whenever you use JA Campbell Silver remember to enjoy it, use it, do not keep it shut away in a cupboard, it improves with use and will give your friends and family pleasure as well as yourself.

John Campbell

Master Silversmith at JA Campbell