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Clingfilm that actually clings - and Lakeland Ltd

Clingfilm gets mentioned many times in this online cookbook, so I ought to mention that much of what is sold as clingfilm is remarkably lacking in cling. I found this very frustrating until I discovered the Thorpack brand, which really did stick very tight to both glass and plastic dishes and had the additional advantage of coming in much longer rolls than the average supermarket variety.

Unfortunately this mainstay of my kitchen seems to have vanished off the face of the Earth, and I tried a number of alternatives unsuccessfully before discovering the even bigger rolls of film sold by Lakeland Ltd (12in by 250ft or 1000ft and 18in by 500ft). They do two kinds: Purecling is supposed to contain a bit less of the things that might make clingfilm harmful, but Freshcling is clingier so that?s what I use. It?s just about as clingy as Thorpack. I bought an excellent plastic dispenser with my first two rolls, which makes the film very easy to manage.

I?ve observed two strange trends in the clingfilm market lately. One is to produce rolls that are perforated like toilet-rolls. This seems particularyl stupid, because I don?t always want a piece of film 12in square. The other is to produce film which is microperforated all over for microwave cooking. It?s a poor do if a cook can?t poke a few fork-holes in the film if a bit of ventialtion is needed.

Microperforations also defeat a trick that I discovered early in my microwave cooking career: vacuum packing. If you cover a bowl of food tightly with good clingfilm and then microwave it until the steam pressure inflates the film into a dome, something rather wonderful happens. As the food cools, the pressure is reduced and the film is eventually sucked down onto the food, leaving little or no air in between. The bowl can then be frozen just as it is. Yes, I know you?re supposed to be careful about leaving clingfilm in contact with foods (especially fatty ones), but when you smoked for thirty years, you?ve eaten every scrap of fat that has come your way ever since you were weaned, and you habitually thunder up and down the autoroute at 100 miles an hour, the odd micro-dose of chemical plasticiser doesn?t seem like a very serious threat.

Anyway, more about Lakeland Plastics. I first heard about them from my stepson and his wife who, knowing - and enjoying the fruits of - my enthusiasm for cooking, bought me a whole sack of gadgets from Lakeland one Christmas. Since then I?ve sent off two or three wide-ranging orders and greatly enjoyed fishing around in the polystyrene macaroni to find all the bits I?d forgotten I?d ordered.

My biggest purchase to date has been a Magimix Professional deep-fat fryer - a wonderful device that comes apart into its component parts (most of them stainless steel) in seconds, allowing everything except the element and control box to go straight in the dishwasher. I bought it when I met Patricia, because her fish and chips and mushy peas are legendary (her hotelier/restaurateur ex-employer used to ask for them virtually every Saturday lunchtime). It has a double thermostat (one for temperature control and one as a safety cutout) and I?ve checked it with one of my late Dad?s old laboratory thermometers: at 180ºC it?s spot-on. Provided you wipe the control box while the thing?s hot, the rest is a doddle to keep clean - unlike any other fryer I?ve ever seen.

The Lakeland catalogue is a goldmine - something no enthusiastic cook should be without. You can get one by phoning 01539 488100, and once you?ve bought something you?ll get regular updates, Christmas gift catalogues, Spring/Summer picnic and barbecue catalogues…you name it.

Personal site for Paul Marsden: frustrated writer; experimental cook and all-round foodie; amateur wine-importer; former copywriter and press-officer; former teacher, teacher-trainer, educational software developer and documenter; still a professional web-developer but mostly retired.

This site was transferred in June 2005 to the Sites4Doctors Site Management System, and has been developed and maintained there ever since.