Monday, 28 May 2012

Rainbow vegetables - week 4

We're really rattling through our vegetables in the great rainbow challenge and I've noticed a shift in my eldest daughters willingness to try new foods particularly vegetables.  

This week I decided to pick a seasonal vegetable that wasn't on my original list.  Normally I like to stick to vegetables that are in season because they are cheaper, full of flavour & at their nutritional best.  This week we chose watercress and tomatoes.
We did another crust-less quiche using the watercress which was nice & added a lovely moistness to the quiche mixture.  I also made a watercress pesto which we had on some delicious sea bass - fancy hey!  My girls get excited about fish for some reason, its so expensive I tend to bill it as a treat.  I wish we could eat more of it because I adore fish.  
An idea that I put a lot of thought which I thought was a dead cert was the "fairy pizza" I made.  It was so simple I took a sheet of puff pastry and cut it into squares I topped them with some caramelised red onion and a slice of tomato and baked them.  My eldest was very excited about this idea but tea time ended with her in tears begging me to talk to the fairies so they wouldn't be cross with her for not eating her fairy pizza.  I Think this idea was a little too involved.  My youngest daughter picked the onion and tomato off the base and just ate the pastry.  Its so demoralising when put so much effort into your kids food and they eat none or very little of it.  It makes tea times so stressful when you spend it nagging and coaxing and fighting over food.  Its so important that our kids eat and eat well but sometimes you have to admit defeat.  I always take huge comfort in this statistic that I once read, I've no idea if it's accurate or how they worked it out but its this.  It takes a toddler 72 days to starve.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Newspaper pots

A few years ago there was quite a craze for using old newspapers to make seed pots that can be planted directly into the ground.  You could buy kits with a lovely wooden tool to help you create pots for seeds but the truth is all you need is an old jar or tin.
I know the planting season is almost over and most of us are starting to look forward to some produce but I though it had been a while since I did a gardening post.

Step One - Take a single sheet of newspaper and fold in half  bringing the two long edges together.
Step Two - Place your can or jar at one short end of the folded newspaper about 5-6cm above the unfolded edge.
Step 3 - Hold the jar, wrapped in the newspaper, with the bottom of the jar and the excess newspaper facing towards you.  You are going to fold this down in 3 sections.  Begin where the newspaper ran out and fold this down against the bottom of the jar, pressing to get it nice and flat.  Fold the next 3rd of the paper down, again try to get it nice and flat.  Fold the final piece down.
Step 4 - Remove you jar and fold the top edge over, all the way around, by about 1cm.

Step 5 - Fill your pot with potting compost, plant your seed, water and place onto a seed tray.  I like to use old tray as seed trays particularly those single tea trays as they fit nicely onto a windowsill.  

If all this is too much faff for you try this idea instead.  Cut a loo roll in half, fill with compost, plant seed just remember these pots don't have bottoms.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Eat a Rainbow - week 3

This weeks vegeatables were Carrots and Beetroot - the two go perfectly together so we'vre really packed them in this week.

My Girls love grated carrot salads!  If you are weary about this try the very child friendly version of grated carrots raisiins and a little orange juice.  My gilrs like this purple version best, grate 2 carrots, 1 large beetroot and one apple, mix together with a hunny and mustard vinegrette - yum!  So healthy and really full of energy too, my girls call this purple salad and actually request it!  This is miraculous given their dislike of vegetables and salad especially but this salad is so sweet and easy to eat.

This recipie was a spur of the monent invention as i was preparing a roast dinner but went down really well - my eldest daughter doesn't need any persuading to eat flowers.  Roasted lavender carrots, par boil some carrots transfere to a small roating tin and mix 1-2tbps of lavender hunny (or regular hunny) with 3tbps of olivie oil, coat the carrots, roast as you normally would.  5-10mins before the end of the cooking time add 1 tbsp of lavender flowers (fresh or dried depending on the season).

Like i say the lavender carrots went down very well and add a nice summer twist to a roat dinner.  At Christmas I always cook Carrot and cardomon carrot puree.  It's now become a christmas staple but is delishiouse any time of year.  Boil carrots with 2 cardamon pods until soft remove and drain away some of the water.  Fish out the caramon pods and puree the carrots in a food blender.

Carrots and beetroot are delishouse simply roated together with plenty of garlic this is my faviourite thing to do with them when they are fresh from the allotment & is a lovely earthy supper with sausages after a day at the allotment.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Facebook page

Hello Readers

I just wanted to drop in and let you know that I have set up a facebook page for my blog.  On this page I will let you know when posts go up and post some sneak peaks from time to time so if you have a facebook account and want all the latest news from me click here and then "like" my page.  If you are enjoying my blog and think your friends would too I would be very grateful if you would share a link.

 Thank you x

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Make jam not war!

The preserving season is almost upon it & I can not wait!  I have been making Jam, chutneys and Jellies as well as drying my own herbs for about 3years now & it gives me such pleasure.  

It really is so easy although I've improved my technique over the years I've never had a bad batch.  Last year I made my own recipe for lavender jelly which turned out really well.  
You may already have made some jam from early fruits such as rhubarb - rhubarb and ginger jam is delicious!  I always kick off the season with a batch of Elderflower cordial in June.  It reminds me of when I was expecting my 2nd daughter.  I was already a week overdue and having lots of false starts & going a little out of my mind - it was also very hot that year!  I tired all manner of home remedies to induce labour and eventually struck on the notion that if I started a project she was sure to arrive.  So I set about making Elderflower cordial convinced that whilst it hung overnight straining through a muslin I was sure to have my baby.  I didn't, it was another week before she arrived but we had some lovely cordial to toast her arrival.

image via decorative country living where you can also purchase these vintage french jam jars
Anyway now is the time to start collecting your equipment together and particularly collecting all the empty jam jars and glass bottles that you can lay your hands on.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Eat A Rainbow - Week 2

This weeks vegetables are... Sweetcorn and Butternut Squash

I found two lovely sweet corn recipes on the BBC's sight.  My repertoire in sweetcorn recipes extends to haddock chowder and that's it, I felt I needed to try something new.  Having had a roast chicken on Sunday and made stock with the bones this cchicken noodle soup  recipe seemed spot on.  I snipped the noodles using scissors into manageable sized pieces before giving this to the girls.  Neither of them liked it, which was a shame as I thought it was delicious.  I feel a little to grown up for children and a bit bitty too.
On Friday night we tried sweetcorn nachos as a treat.  My girls thought I was giving them crisps for tea and didn't seem to mind they were loaded with vegetables, they both asked for seconds!

I tired butternut squash two ways.  I felt a bit bad about cooking butternut squash in the spring as it is not in season and therefore expensive and long haul veg.  However I cooked it two ways a both times it was eaten and at the moment that's a massive priority.  Like I say my daughter has been unwell and lost a lot of weight because of her eating habits.
Recipe one - I diced the squash (I hate prepping butternut squash) and mixed it with some other root vegetables in a roasting tin.  I drizzled with a little olive oil and added a couple of sprigs of rosemary.  I roasted the veg for about 15mins in a hot oven and then opened a packet of sausages and laid these on top of the veg to cook for a further 20mins.
I used the left over roasted butternut squash for recipe number two later in the week.  I made a risotto - adding a couple of sage leaves with the onion and at the end added the roasted butternut squash.  This would also be nice with bacon added.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Useful little pots

Hello Readers

I'm sorry I haven't posted much lately, life got in the way again but I'm back now.  
This post is perhaps a little tongue in cheek - I know how to laugh at myself.  I've been thinking about all the bicarb I've been using up lately and what to do with all those little pots.  Here are my ideas please feel free to comment and leave your ideas.
  • Store screws and other hardware in the shed (I'm imagining a whole shelf with neatly labelled and sorted screws - the pots with the flip lids would be perfect for this)
  • store hair clips and elastics
  • hold paperclips
  • use as a cup to wash children's hair in the bath
  • punch holes in the bottom and make a bath toy
  • plant seedlings in them
  • use as a pen pot
  • store beads in them or organise your craft materials
  • Pierce a whole in the lid, place a ball of string inside and thread the end through the lid and viola a string dispenser.
My girls like to use the empty Borwicks containers to play shops with - who can blame them they are attractive looking.
image via
If you fancy decorating your pot why not use stickers or scrap booking paper.  You could even use a scrap of pretty fabric and copydex glue to secure it or simply write whats inside your pot for easy reference.

I'm sure there are endless uses for these useful little containers I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Friday, 4 May 2012

DIY Pore Strips

Another friday beauty tip for you..
Do you know those pore strips by Biore?  They cost about £8 a pop but do a lovely job of clearing and refining pores.  Guess what gelatin and milk - does the same!!!

Click here for full details.

I tried this and I didn't see any evidence that it removed black heads but it refined my pores brilliantly.  If you can get past the ick factor in this project it's well worth trying.  Try adding a few drops of rose water if you don't like the smell.
One tiny note keep it out of your eye brows unless you want them removed - oops!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


As you know we have an allotment.  We have had moderate success in our first year but there is one thing that grows exceptionally well on our allotment - weeds! 

Some people have chosen to lay weed membrane all over their plots, except the beds.  We have tried some areas of weed membrane but found it wasn't 100% effective and it is costly to do a whole plot.  Mostly it's just a case of diligently visiting our plot and hoeing every bed and maintaining the paths as best we can.  However I read this tip the other day & I want to try it around our raspberry plants as there is a lot of soil implanted between the plants where weeds grow.

Apparently weeds will not grow through wet newspaper!  Here is what to do - put your plants in and put a good layer of newspaper around them, overlap the pieces and then wet the newspaper really well and mulch over the top.  We will be using wood chipping as these are delivered to the allotment by a local tree surgeon for all to use.  Some Gardner's do not like to use newspaper because of the chemicals in the ink and the paper itself but if it will keep my weeds away I'll give anything a go.