Food

Recipes I try and love and that above all are easy and not time consuming – great for family meals.

I have been so quiet haven’t I? Well it’s not all entirely my fault, my dongle has been playing up again and I’ve been on the phone for hours trying to get me connected again! and Here I Am. I must admit I have enjoyed the break spending time with Paul and the girls and as much as I love blogging I do believe that a break does the brain the world of good, leaving me restored, refreshed and bursting with ideas to start off the New Year.

I quickly scanned a card I received years ago from mum which I love too much to throw away, the image is not the best but I hope you like the words. I want to wish everyone a marvellous 2011, packed full of joy, love and laughter, if we can have an easier time financially that would be good and if it’s my turn this year to win the lottery that would be fantastic!

Tonight I shall be spending the evening with friends at home, I am preparing a meal for the 9 of us and I am praying the girls will be in bed throughout! Here’s my menu

Nachos

Smoked Salmon

Posh prawn cocktail :)

Picky bits of chicken and Indian samosas, bahjis etc for non fish lovers

***

Roast Beef

Dauphinoise potatoes

Yorkshire puddings and gravy – lots mmmm

Brussle Sprouts (gotta be done!)

Carrots and peas

Lentils with sausages – Italians swear it brings good financial luck and I’m up for that!

***

desserts are kindly being provided by the guests but I am opening a Rubis brought from the Taste of Christmas fair,

 a fortified red wine with a premium chocolate flavour, we tried it and loved it! Of course wine and champagne to accompany are being provided too and special Bloom Gin and Tonics also found at the fair….in fact that’s quite a lot to get ready so I best get cracking.

So let me wish you all a wonderful evening and I look forward to chatting in 2011, Happy New Year everyone :)

Who remembers that slogan from years back? and what product was it related to?

Right difficult stuff over and done with and well done to all those who shouted at their computer screens The Honey Monster from Sugar Puffs. Breakfast cereal. It’s amazing isn’t it how a good advert sticks in your mind for years, whether the product is one of your favourites or not? In fact I would class myself as quite an Ad critique these days. I tut in disgust at one that fails to grab my attention and will talk to anyone who cares to listen about one I find funny, interesting or ‘spot on.’

Last week I had both girls down with a wretched bug that kept us housebound for a few days so I will admit to being on the PC more than usual, flitting between blog world, Facebook, Twitter and Bejewelled Blitz when a tweet caught my eye. Aaron was asking if there was anyone out there who would like to try some honey and write a review on it.

‘ME!’ I shouted out and Bob’s your uncle a couple of days later a box turned up with 2 jars of Manuka Honey and a squeezy bottle of a light honey all from a company called Rowse. Now I have never heard of Rowse so I Googled it (as you do) and happily discovered they are the UK’s leading honey company which goes to show how much attention I pay in the supermarket!

Another phrase that caught my eye from their home page was” Since people walked the Earth, honey has been called The Food Of The Gods.” Well if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!

I remember having quite a bit of honey in my childhood, on sandwiches, dribbled on porridge and on toast, I can never remember once not liking it. In fact when I lived in Italy and in the midst of winter would come down with an atrocious cold that made me want to chop off my nose, my only remedy that worked was a spoonful of honey in warmed milk with a drop or two of brandy (for antiseptic purposes, of course).

So with two poorly little ones I opened up the Manuka honey jar and gave them a teaspoon neat. Delicious! I had one/two myself just to keep the bug at bay. We tried it on toast but they didn’t like the lemon taste which had been added to it (which is exquisite I hasten to add, it’s just they are very much in fussy mode at the moment which is driving me insane) so I gave them the other Light and Mild Honey from the very easy to use, no mess at all sqeezy botttle and that got full thumbs up all round and cries of ‘More mummy, more!’ which I LOVE to hear.

So how to make this review a little bit more special I wondered amongst all of myselves what to do? We and came up with a ‘sticky survey’, please see below

  1. Have you ever heard of Manuka honey? If yes what do you remember?
  2. Have you ever heard of or seen the Rowse brand name? 
  3. What do you know about the healing properties of honey?
  4. Do you have honey in your kitchen cupboards? Do you use it? What for? 
  5. Do you try to see that your children get some honey in their diet if so how?

Here are my answers

  1. Yes, I have heard of it, it supposed to be a ‘special’ honey with healing properties. Manuka Honey read here for more info :)
  2. No, not before receiving their products but I shall look out for it now in the supermarkets
  3. I used bee pollen in my fertility boosting days before the girls were conceived. I have used propolis for sore throats and tonsilitis, I have used body creams with honey in them
  4. I always have some form of honey, Acacia, Orange Blossom even chestnut once! I have dribbled chestnut honey over chunks of parmesan cheese as a dessert and it was very nice.
  5. It’s difficult now as they are so fussy and are always suspicious of new entires into their daily diet but I hope to more and more as they grow.

Please be a ‘hun’ and leave me your answers in my comment box – I’ll bee your best friend :)

 Just in case you are as ‘golosa’ (love your food/sweet toothed – Italian) as I – here’s a link to one of Rowse’s recipes Baked Cheesecake with Caramalised Honey Sauce

Photo credit – Mamboman1

Fabulous to be back in Jenny Matlock’sAlphabe Thursday on time for once and with an idea of an E very close to my heart – that of Eating and Entertaining. No eating disorders in this house if not for the constant dieting to compensate the constant eating, it’s a hard life folks.

It saddens me to hear of people with eating disorders as food and eating together has been a constant in my life since a was a babe in arms. My mother is The Best Cook Ever and although I will never reach her giddy heights I can produce some mean cooking when I put my mind to it. It’s a favourite pastime of mine and one that has been put to one side a little whilst I concentrate on the tiny people in our household. I want to make sure they have a healthy relationship when it comes to food, that they will try at least once most dishes and see eating as a happy way of socialising. Treats are just that right from the start, not to be had on demand throughout the day but to be savoured in special moments. Here are a couple of pictures of the girls learning that eating is fun

First off, a picture of last year’s Twin Club Christmas party with older twins smartly dressed up in Crimbo outfits looking Excellent

Twin Club Xmas party 09

This is where we start to learn about the importance of food in our life and the fact that food can be fun when eaten in company. Here’s another photo of a 4th birthday party to which the girls were invited, a fabulous spread that Eager parents (me) had to stop diving into, it was Extremely hard believe me.

Thomas’s 4th birthday party spread

A final family snap of probably my favourite meal in the whole year – Christmas Day lunch. I love to Entertain and have held Christmas Day family get togethers now for the past 5 or 6 years since I returned to the UK. A lot of thought and planning goes into the menu, we always have traditional Roast Turkey and ALL of the trimmings, we skip starters but Christmas pudding is a constant with brandy butter, cream or custard as everyone has their own special preference, mine is brandy butter, of course it is – the one with the most fat in it! I also prepare a massive spread for the evening where people can go and pick whatever they wish till they’re heart’s are content. Cheeseboard, ham, leftover turkey, crisps, nuts, and anything during my Christmas shop that catches my eye.

Christmas Day 09

From the oldest family member at 90 to the youngest at 1 and a half (in bed when this photo was taken) everyone is seated around a groaning table. Notice each and every chair in the house comes out for these occasions and of course no Christmas would be perfect without the paper hats, silly jokes and gifts from the traditional Christmas Cracker, you just gotta have ’em.

Fish pie in the making and future menus

Here is my entry for Tara’s The Gallery this week who very wisely chose food. There are some brilliant salivating entires and I do suggest you have a look however, here is mine first. 

Fish Pie, dinner for last night. As you can see I forgot to take the finished photo with the mash on top and grated parmesan, after baking it at 180C for about 30 mins, because as it came out of the oven it was served with peas, baby carrots and broccoli and swiftly placed on the waiting table to be devoured instantly. My God it was good and the first this autumn. Definitely a family favourite, well the girls get to try it for tea tonight, fingers crossed. 

What else? There are some plums I saw in Morrisons for 50p a punnet (I cna’t think of anything costing only 50p these days can you?) so I bought two, a mix of crumble topping (cheating? I don’t care, I have very little time) and it’s there waiting to be made asap. Also in the background the remains of my apple pie which I also threw some dried apricots into if you’re wondering what the orange in it is. That has now gone and tin is on the side waiting to be washed up (I can’t put tins in the dishwasher – doesn’t feel right) 

Also a brand new loaf tin that came with two packs of butter on special offer from Lurpack, the recipe book has Apricot brioche in it and yesterday I bought the strong flour, dried yeast and I’m looking forward to giving it a whirl. 

I love cooking, trouble is I don’t have as much time now with the girls at this age (2) – they need constant watching, entertaining and assistance in playing. I’m hoping this passes soon as they learn to play together and not fight as is the current case. 

Next culinary challenges include lunch for my nan and uncle on Thursday – I’m thinking risotto of some sort. A Halloween party for the twins club organised for – you got it – our Twin Club and a family get together here on Saturday 9th Oct when I have my two older kids Tommy and Megan with granddaughter Gracey over from Italy (I. CANNOT. WAIT) I’ve invited my lot over and there’ll most likely be 15 of us. I have a massive side of beef to do a good old English Roast, yorkshire puds an’all.

Find the missing object

After taking the first photo I realised there was an object in it that shouldn’t be there. What is it? What’s it doing in my kitchen? And why was it placed there?

Don’t you just love being British and everything that encompasses? Not many nations can match our love for tea with milk, cucumber sandwiches and the delightful oddities that make us one of the most misunderstood populations in the world.

We drink too much alcohol some say, we have no fashion sense say others and we eat all the wrong foods say many.

But we love, greasy fish and chips wrapped in paper, hot steaming pies, sausage and mash and our beloved Roast Dinner with gravy. We have the most incredible sweet tooth and our sweet counters are second to none, our bakerys offer delicious doughnuts, Eccle cakes and scones with lashings of cream and strawberry jam. Our beer is delicious and we’ve even started making our own wine which is being recognised out there in the wine world.

One good thing about the likes of us, is we’re always up for a go, “When in Rome” and all that, we’ve dabbled in snails, we’ve downed an ouzo or four in the name of ‘being one with the culture of your host country’ Moroccan, Indian, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, you name it we have a restaurant somewhere in ‘Ol Blighty’ that can serve it up.

But what about our own lesser known cuisine? The foods we eat in our families and woof down gustily, no spice, no fancy names, no stinky breath at the end. Good old plain sailing British food. People are sitting up and taking notice. They’re glancing over the pond to see what’s cooking on our back burners and they’re checking us up on the web, it’s time to showcase the Best of British.

From 18th September to 3rd October it is British Food Fortnight have a mosey on down and check out hundreds of ideas from growing your own to buying British and where to eat British.

Here is a copy of their list 14 things you can do in the fortnight.

  • When you are shopping make a special effort to seek out British food. Pause when you select your food from the supermarket aisle. Look at the label. Does it tell you where the food has come from? Does it provide a description of who produced it? And if it is imported is there a British equivalent in-season?

 

  • Shop in local butchers, greengrocers, farm shops and markets that source locally and will be able to tell you a little about the person who produced the food you are purchasing. Remember, shopping for food warrants the same amount of time as choosing that perfect DVD for a night-in or the latest computer game.

 

  • Seek out food in season – look for, for example, the English plum, marrow and squashes, which are in-season during British Food Fortnight.

 

  • When next in the pub, team up a local beer with a local speciality for an authentic experience that reflects the character of the area where you live. Ask the pub staff to point you to local food on their menu. Enterprise Inns, Everards, Marston’s Pub Company, Mitchells & Butlers, Orchid Pub Group, Punch Taverns and Youngs all support the Fortnight so there will be an abundance of good pub grub.

 

  • Think beyond the chicken nugget when planning a family meal out. If there is not a good children’s menu ask for children-sized portions of the main menu.

 

  • Explore food from different regions of Britain as a fun way of experiencing our culture and heritage. Though there is still much bland, mass-produced food that belies little of the region it has come from, organisations like the National Trust and the Youth Hostel Association make a special point of serving quality regionally distinct produce from local producers.

 

  • Ask the caterers who provide the food for your staff or school restaurant if they will consider serving distinctly-British produce. This could take the form of a special seasonal section on the menu. Don’t take no for an answer. More and more caterers are finding that if they form long-term relationships with suppliers and perhaps encourage small producers to form co-operatives it is possible to serve quality food in a mass catering environment.

 

  • Encourage teachers in your children’s school to run food-related activities during the Fortnight. All schools have been invited to take part in the event and all have been provided with the definitive guide to teaching children about food within the national curriculum. Your school could win class sets of cooking equipment.

 

  • Cook a British meal for friends – nothing beats the old favourites like Cottage Pie or Apple Crumble. Consider inviting friends round for a British Food Fortnight feast.

 

  • Planning a family outing? See our What’s Happening pages to find out what is going on during British Food Fortnight. Visit a National Trust property – lots organise food events: stay in a Youth Hostel with a special British menu: or a bed and breakfast that uses locally sourced ingredients; and shop in your local Country Market.

 

  • Pick your own. What is better or healthier than being able to enjoy fresh fruit selected and picked by yourself. See here for a list of fruit farms near you or rummage in the hedgerows for blackberries.

 

  • Grow your own. Eating food you have grown yourself – even if it is just a lettuce! – is immensely satisfying. Potatoes, herbs and carrots are easy to grow and you do not need much space to do so.

 

  • Celebrate the Harvest. British Food Fortnight takes place at the time of Harvest Festival. You do not need to be a regular church-goer, or have a particular faith, to take part in the celebration. Contact your local Church to find out what they are organising.

 

  • Last, don’t forget the carrot! Britain has wonderful speciality cheeses and meats and delicious condiments but enormous pleasure can also be gained simply enjoying fresh, in-season vegetables.