Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Autumn is in the air.

Actually I think I can say autumn is here. Its been getting colder every morning this week. We had to dig out the coats and scarves from the back of the cupboard and air the winter duvets. But I do love autumn  - the colours of the trees, going for walks  and then home again for a nice cup of hot chocolate or tea. Snuggling in bed in the morning trying to make those minutes stretch into hours before you have to get going again. Another thing I love about autumn is the food , warming soups and pasta bakes.

We picked our butternut squash and pumpkin this week and they are now sitting on the windowsill trying to harden off. I am quite proud of our efforts this year 5 beautiful butternuts and one lovely pumpkin, ooh I cant wait - butternut risotto , butternut soup, vegetable curries here I come.

Its also back been back to school and trying to adjust to the new school routine, with swimming, tennis, rainbows and beavers to contend with. The kids have still been helping out in the kitchen but its been a bit less frequent. Saying that we did make some delicious "crunchies" or ANZAC biscuits. These are biscuits I used to make with my gran when I was a little girl , we called them "crunchies" but the recipe I followed called them ANZAC biscuits. They are very similar to flapjacks but a bit more biscuit like. 
Here is the recipe if you want to have a go - they really are very easy to make and even easier to eat. ( We made ours in a baking try and cut them into rectangles but you can easily do round ones as the recipe says).

85g porridge oats
85g desiccated coconut
100g plain flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter , plus extra butter for greasing
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Put the oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the golden syrup. Add the bicarbonate of soda to 2 tbsp boiling water, then stir into the golden syrup and butter mixture.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter and golden syrup mixture. Stir gently to incorporate the dry ingredients.
Put dessertspoonfuls of the mixture on to buttered baking sheets, about 2.5cm/1in apart to allow room for spreading. Bake in batches for 8-10 mins until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Bach again soon with some more news and maybe a recipe or two.
Enjoy your autumn !

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Expanding our food interests - more food adventures.

We have had a busy week this week trying out some new recipes and trying to tempt the children to try some new tastes. These are some of the recipes we have tried.

Homemade Pasta 

Having watched a program called Simply Italian on channel 4 we decided to give making our own homemade pasta a go. It was surprisingly easy although next time I  need to make them a little bit thinner.

The link for the recipe is :-


Our raw pasta bows.

Cooked with basil pesto and parmesan - delicious.


Mexicana Salad

We also had a mexican dinner with tacos and guacamole etc. Looking for something new to add we decided to make a mexicana salad.


1 tin red kidney beans drained and boiled for 3 minutes
500g sweet potato diced and boiled until tender.
1 red onion diced
1 green pepper diced
2-3 tomatoes , diced
a handful of basil leaves chopped

1 clove garlic crushed
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all the ingredients and dress with the salad dressing. Very delicious and went very well with the tacos, guacamole and sour cream.


Homemade Bagels

Having watched The Great British Bake-Off on BBC 1 a few weeks back and seeing them make bagels we decided to challenge ourselves and see if we could do it.

Using our bread maker we made a dough with:-

1 cup water - tepid
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups of breadflour
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast.

When the dough was made we divided it into 10 bits and rolled them into sausages about 20 cm long. Then you join the ends to make a ring, making sure the join is pinched together to seal. Place them on a greased tray and over with cling film and leave to prove for 20-25 minutes.

When they have proved , bring a large pot of water to the boil and add 20g caster sugar to it. When boiling gently place the bagels in the water about 2 or 3 at a time and cook them for about 1 or 2 minutes turning them gently half way through. Gently lift out with a slotted spoon and drain off excess water then placed back on the baking tray. Glaze with egg yolk mixed with a little water.

Bake them in a preheated oven ( 200 degress celsius) for 15-20 minutes till golden . Transfer to a rack when cooked and leave to cool.

This is the end result.
Lunch - a tuna, sweetcorn and guacamole bagel.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Butterflies in the garden.

We have been very blessed with lots of butterfly visitors to the garden this year. I have managed to catch some on camera. These are some photographs of our summer visitors.

Peacock Butterfly

Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Brimstone Butterfly

Red Admiral

I will try to add to the page when i am able to photograph some more. Getting them to pose for me is quite tricky.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Simple food even the kids can cook - 3

The recipe this week was a great success, even our "I don't like fish" boy Corbin had two of them as he said they were delicious.


Salmon Burgers with homemade chips and fennel with pesto dressing.


4 skinless salmon fillets , cut into chunks
1 lemon , zested
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp capers
45g fresh breadcrumbs
oil , for frying
1 tbsp tartare sauce
4 rolls, halved and toasted
tomato sliced
gherkins sliced.


Put the salmon , lemon zest and capers in a food processor with 2 tbsp of mayonnaise.
Pulse until roughly chopped. 
Put in a bowl then season really well and mix in the breadcrumbs. 
Form into four burgers.
Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan and cook the burgers for about 5-6 minutes on each side until golden.

Serve the burgers in buns piled up with lettuce, tomato and gherkins and a dollop of the tartare sauce or  mayonnaise.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Simple food even the kids can cook - 2

This week it was Corbin's turn to cook the dinner and as he is a big fan of pasta we decided it should be a pasta dish.


oven temperature 180 degrees celsius.

200g pasta shapes
2 tsp vegetable/olive oil
4 bacon rashers, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
250g broccoli
1 cup (250ml) cream
2 eggs
1 cups (80g) grated cheddar

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain, return to the pan.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon and onion in the oil over a medium heat until soft and lightly browned.

Break the broccoli into small florets. Boil or Steam  the broccoli until tender. Use a fork to mix the cream and eggs together in a jug.

Add bacon, onion, broccoli and the cream and egg mixture along with 1 cup (80g) cheddar to the pasta. Stir. Spoon into an ovenproof dish. Bake until golden ( about 20 - 25 minutes ).

Monday, 13 August 2012

Make, Do and Mend .

As the saying goes - Make, Do and Mend, well that is the weekend we had.

The Make part - was a dream catcher for Aimee. With a lot of improvising we raided the craft box and with a bit of garden wire we made a pink and silver dreamcatcher. End result one very happy little girl.

The Do part - well that has to be our trip into London to take the children to the theatre to see Horrible Histories - Barmy Brittain. I remember as a little girl going each year to see a play or musical as a special treat for my birthday and with the children being able to sit still for about an hour we educated them in a trip to the Garrick theatre in London. They seemed to enjoy the experience and seeing the old theatre. In fact we heard noises of can we go again, I want to see .... and the list started building.

The Mend part - Corbin has been asking for a desk to write on for ages now and being a bit tight on space we have left the project for a while. Last week while in the garden shed I noticed something tucked in the back corner and hey-presto it was a small child's desk. Looking a bit weather beaten and with a water rotted bits not to mention spider webs we dug it out and had a look if we could do anything with it. A bit of a cleanup and removal of the bottom legs , a new coat of paint and this is what we got:

All in all a lovely productive weekend.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Simple food even the kids can cook - 1.

I decided during the summer holidays to start introducing my children to the art of cooking, so that one day when they are older they will be able to feed themselves and not rely on ready meals and the like.
Aimee is 5 and Corbin is 7 and they love the idea of learning to cook. They take in turns  - each of them cooking dinner for the family one night each week. Obviously I help them out with using the hob and oven and cutting with sharp knives. So here is the first of our food recipes they cooked.

Aimee Fish ( Herby fish bake ).

oven 190 degrees celsius.

white fish fillets ( pollack, cod, haddock )
4 tablespoons natural or greek yogurt
2 tablespoons red pesto
chopped parsley, dill or chives.

Place the fish in an ovenproof dish.
Mix the yogurt, red pesto and herbs together and spread over the fish.
Grill/Bake for 7-10 minutes

We had it with homemade chips , and fresh homegrown beans and courgettes and peas.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Natures bounty..

Its summer time and the vegetable garden is in full swing. Its been a bit of a hard year with the terrible cold weather and rain/floods we had in April , May and June but with some sunshine in July things started to look up.

We have had strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, blueberries, broadbeans, green beans, a few peas so far and more is coming -

 blue berries


The tomatoes have started going red now and the florence fennel looks wonderful too. Some new additions to our garden are a mini kiwi fruit - looking good so far , fruits should be ready in October.

Mini kiwi fruits
And as if we didnt have enough lovely vegetables - we managed to get a crate of beautiful vegetables from the local nursery's farm shop.

What a treat - made some soup , froze some of it , eaten most of it and even tried my hand at making piccallilli .

recipe  :-


Traditionally, all the vegetables in a piccalilli are salted, but I find the flavours are punchy enough, so I skip this stage. Substitute courgette for the cucumber and runner beans for French beans if you wish. It’s delicious with ham, cold chicken, Cheddar or the game terrine.
Preparation time:
30 minutes
Cooking time:
25 minutes to 30 minutes
Total time:
55 minutes to 1 hour 60 minutes


  • 700ml Malt vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Coriander seeds
  • 500g Cauliflower, broken into 3cm florets
  • 2 Onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp English mustard powder
  • 3 tbsp Plain flour
  • 1 tbsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp Ground ginger
  • 150ml Cider vinegar
  • 100g French beans, trimmed and cut into 1cm slices
  • ½ Cucumber, quartered lengthways and cut into 1cm slices
  • 2 Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 200g Granulated sugar


  1. Place the malt vinegar and coriander seeds in a large preserving pan and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower and onion and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly softened but still crunchy. Meanwhile, put the mustard, flour, turmeric and ginger in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the cider vinegar until smooth. Add the remaining vegetables, garlic and sugar to the pan and stir over the heat for 2–3 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Drain over a large bowl to collect the vinegar.
  2. Put the mustard mixture in the pan and bring to the boil. Gradually add the drained malt vinegar and simmer for 10 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Add the drained vegetables and take off the heat. Spoon into sterilised jars – if they’re not kilner jars, cover them with plastic discs and elastic bands rather than metal lids, which can sometimes react with the vinegar.  

I used courgettes instead of cucumbers and white vinegar instead of malt vinegar. It has to mature for a little bit ( 2 weeks minimum I believe ) and should keep for up to a year.

We have feasted on wonderful food this week and we feel very spoilt - I love it !

Summer holidays weeks 1 and 2.

A snapshot of the first two weeks of the summer holidays. Along with enjoying the wonderful sunshine and watching the olympics its been quite a busy 2 weeks. It took us a while to find our feet as we all seemed to suffer the odd illness while our bodies relaxed and got used to being on holiday and then we hit our stride. Back doing what we enjoy most  - cooking and creating.

The children have been taking turns to cook ( with a little help from mum) dinner for the family one night a week. This is what they have cooked so far :-

Aimee -
Homemade chicken kievs - filled with green pesto and cream cheese , with baked sweet potatoes and fresh vegetables from the garden.
Marmite and cheese scones.

Corbin - salmon and pollack fishcakes with peas and sweetcorn , followed by krokan ice-cream ( ice-cream with nut brittle bits in it ( Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes cookbook for kids. )

Krokan ice-cream.
Ingredients: Servings: 4 Units: Metric 
25 g butter 
75 g almonds (skinned) or chopped nuts
150 g sugar 
vanilla ice cream 
1 Lightly grease a piece of kitchen foil (or parchment paper) placed on a baking tray. 
2 Mix the butter, almonds and sugar in a heavy frying pan. 
3 Place over a moderate heat and stir all the time, taking care that it doesn't burn. 
4 When it's a good golden color, pour the mixture onto the greased kitchen foil and allow to cool completely. 
5 Place in plastic bag and lightly crush into small pieces with a rolling pin. 
6 Soften the ice cream and then stir in the crushed Krokan until thoroughly mixed. 
7 Place the ice cream mixture back in the freezer until it is frozen again. 

We have also been crafting too -
After my last efforts of the pretty photo frames I made another batch for Corbin's room.

Made Aimee a new top with some lovely Hello Kitty Fabric.

Superheroes to the rescue - made superhero masks with the kids.

Baked a kit kat and krokan  ( almond / nut brittle  - see recipe above ) birthday cake for my niece.
A sponge cake with buttercream icing and kit kats round the side and crunchy sugaru nuts on top.
We are enjoying our holidays so far and more will follow soon.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The start of summer.

Judging by the weather you wouldn't think it was summertime here in the UK. Its been cold and rain for ages now and summer is not showing any signs of showing her sunny face. But nevertheless the garden is working its magic and the fruit and vegetables are coming along nicely. Lettuces, carrots, beans are all growing well and the strawberries and raspberries are wonderful. So once again its time to create some tasty treats.

Raspberry jam and blackcurrant cordial - little tastes of summer. Hopefully more to follow.

I have also been creating for the home too. I made these pretty photo inlays to brighten up Aimee's bedroom. She is very pleased with them.

Hopefully summer decides to join the party soon until then we will keep on creating.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Garden Tiger Moths ... The Grand Finale.

Finally after waiting and watching our moths have emerged from their cocoons.

They are quite "ugly" when they first emerge and the wings are very small.

Slowly the wings fill out and get bigger

Almost there.
A garden tiger moth in all its glory.

We then released then into the garden to be free and explore.

The empty chrysalis from inside the cocoon.

Quite a transformation from caterpillar to moth.

from      to   

Now we will have to wait till next year and find some new ones to watch.

Monday, 18 June 2012

My latest sewing adventures

I'm getting better and better each time.
A simple skirt

Double layer skirt

A t-shirt dress

Caterpillars - some news.

Well its almost another month since the last Caterpillar update and sadly we only have 4 remaining. We dont know if it was due to a rather hot spell of the weather ( even though they are inside where it is cool ) or if something else caused it but most of the caterpillars have died. We have just 4 left.

I can also report that those remaining 4 have now all made cocoons and are pupating which is rather exciting. 

This one wrapped himself in a leaf and a cocoon.

You can see the pupa inside the cocoon.
Now we have to wait and see how long they pupate for and what happens next.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Caterpillars update ..

Our new additions seem to have settled into their new home very well. Sadly one didn't survive, but the remaining nine are doing great. They are very amusing to watch and everytime we give them new food they act like children and rush around exploring the new foliage like it was a playground. We soon found out that they really like raspberry leaves luckily for them we have lots of raspberry plants in the garden. They also like to climb and are surprisingly fast. Here is a picture of them taken on 22 April 2012.

Now almost a month later look at how big they have grown.

April 2012

May 2012

Yesterday I found another caterpillar in the garden so we have added him to the collection and are waiting to see what he grows into.