Sunday, 17 July 2016

Strawberry Season

Yes, it’s that very short, but ever so tasty season again – Strawberries! We are very lucky, living just 15 minutes walk from Lathcoat’s Farm, predominantly and historically an apple growing farm producing it’s own juice, but also in summer a PYO farm for strawberries, raspberries, plums, cherries, and many more delicious fruit.

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You simply turn up with your container, or take one from the little picking hut, and pick til your heart’s content. We can never resist just one last berry, and always go home with far more than we can possibly eat, usually making jam from the remains. One of the best things about this farm is the fact that the strawberries are not along the ground, but on chest-height troughs making it far easier to find and pick, especially if you have a small 5 year old who is the perfect height to wander underneath and find all the ripe fruit! This punnet cost around £2.75.

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This year, due to the earlier wet weather, the season has been quite short-lived and much of the fruit now is going mildewy, but there are still a few lovely strawbs to gather in, and the plums will be ready soon too!

One of the things that irks me about the prep of these red berries is having to hull them. I’ve tried picking out the leaf with fingers but this always seems to leave the thicker green inner core. Another method with which I’ve had some success is to use a straw. Simply push up from the bottom of the berry, through the leaf and pick out. This works well but sometimes you still don’t get all of the green. I’ve resorted to simply using a knife to chop the top off, but am always upset by how much wastage there is of the actually berry.



So, when I heard about the Oxo Good Grips Strawberry Huller, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. The instructions seemed pretty easy – push out the blades, stick them into the leaf section, twist and pull out, then push the end to release. And it really was that easy too. Even my 5YO could do it.


It works better on bigger, firmer berries: when they are too soft, you can’t pull the hull out without squidging the rest of the berry, so choose your fruit carefully when picking!


I’ll definitely be keeping this little tool alongside my Oxo Avocado Slicer as something I use rarely, but that does it’s job fantastically, making my work much faster and easier, and much less messy. A good little tool, especially if you can’t get enough of those summer strawberries. 

I’m going to be making mine into a Strawberry Prosecco Salad. Heat a pan with a little tiny drop of flavourless oil and add those squashed berries with a sprinkle of sugar and a splash of prosecco to make a strawberry sugar syrup. Chop some mint finely, sprinkle over the strawberries before drizzling the syrup over the top.

Disclaimer: Although I was sent products to try for the purpose of this post, all views and opinions are entirely my own, truthful and honest.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Reason...

Here she excuse for lack of recent posts:

A few weeks early, but classed as term. All fit and healthy. We're back on the road to becoming a normal family again after the shock of no sleep, birth, stitches, feeding, etc. But I'm nowhere near being able to cook and blog! 

And prep. ahead has disappeared...or, as I now call it, very expensive Charlie Bigham ready meals (just like home cooked) but someone else has done all the prep! [] I don't care at the moment tho, whatever feeds us as I feed her works for me! I've also gone back to my supermarket home deliveries, finding I spend less as am less inclined to purchase impulse buys. I am, however, more likely to buy pre prepared stuff as it's easier to find and add. Pluses and minuses. 

There will be more cooking and posts...keep an eye out. There'll probably be more baby posts too!

Looking forwards to getting back to blogging, but with a 4YO too, it may be a while. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Slow Cooked Bolognaise

This is another throw-it-all-in and do as much or as little cooking as you want at the end of the day. You can do a whole slow-cooked lasagna, but I’m not quite brave enough to try that one yet, and we never have spaghetti (pasta) bolognese, so that’s what I’m going to use this mince for. You could make it into a lasagna, or change the flavours slightly for a more Taginey feel. Simply add harissa, chopped apricots, cumin, ginger, cinnamon and honey instead of the red wine, mixed herbs and tomato puree.

I ground my own mince earlier this week, seasoned, and divided and froze suitable sized portions. So once I’ve remembered to retrieve it from the freezer, all will be well! If you’re super organised, this is a really good one to use your Prep. Ahead skills on. Finely chop celery, onions and carrots and bag up ready. I did this whilst preparing the veg for the wraps – let the little ones get chopping using a safety knife on some pepper, celery and cucumber strips, whilst you complete the chopping for the rest of the week. Again, you could freeze mixed bags of these to whip out the night before and simply stir in.

Fry off the beef mince, throw in the slow cooker with the veg, glass of red wine, tomato puree, salt, pepper and mixed herbs and a can of chopped tomatoes. Add a small teaspoon of sugar to take the acidity from the tomatoes. Top up with beef stock, making sure the liquid just covers the meat and veg, but no more. You want a rich sauce, not a loose, sloppy one. Leave on low in the slow cooker for the day and serve as you will! If you don’t have a slow cooker, put on the hob and leave to simmer and reduce for about an hour – stir every so often to stop the meat from sticking.

Again, once the prep. is done, there’s noting more to do apart from put it all in the pot and leave it to do what it does best.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Wraps n Chips

How much easier could this get…I mean, really? Packed full of veggie salad stuff with a tasty dressing and oven baked chips, it’s not even bad for you!

Get your little ones to help with the prep too…this always means they’ll eat more as they’re chopping and be far more likely to try new ingredients. Make sure there are some firm favourites too – red peppers and carrot sticks in our house – but throw in a few unfamiliar ones, maybe some avocado for a change, and see what happens. You’ve got nothing to lose!

The shopping list for today suggests you buy cheese, pre-cooked chicken or ham, but really it’s up to you. Cut all your veg. into batons and long strips for the chicken. If you’re using ham, leave it in slices. Now, what turns a boring wrap into a tasty one is the dressing. I’m going for a spicy mayo, simply combining mayonnaise with some curried seasoning such as tikka powder or cajun spices. Add dash of lime or lemon juice too and some sharp red onions to the wrap for extra zing.

Either use normal or sweet potatoes, and peel and chip, or leave the skin on and wedge. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil and bake until cooked.

My little one loves these for dinner and she’s even convinced her best friend too – who’s had them every night for the past week!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Little Dish Go Gos - review


I was recently sent three trial packs of Little Dish Go Gos, a new oaty snack biscuit, perfect for toddlers on the go! I wasn't convinced as when we were originally sent a range of 'in the process' development products, my LO was not convinced. They were too solid and 'cardboardy' so I was a little hesitant that these would be given the four year old's seal of approval...but they were! She chose the ginger flavour to try and wolfed them down. Although still rather close textured, they seemed to hit the spot and she was caught an hour later debating which flavour to try next!

go gos

The little ring biscuits have been created with the help of Little Dish’s nutritionist and are wheat and dairy free with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, or refined sugar, but instead use whole grain oats, molasses, honey and a flax and chia seed mix. And because of that, each 25g bag is filled with 3g of protein too, 20% of a 1-3 YO's recommended daily intake. They're sold as suitable for children over one and even come with a little sticker to reseal the bag, or stick on 'small t-shirts' , which is where ours went! 

You can buy them in single packs (60p) or multipacks of 5, priced at £2.50 and choose from three flavours: raspberry, vanilla or ginger, which isn't too gingery or strong. I've been looking for something a little more grown-up for my four year old, but biscuity based to combat those after school sweetness craving, so will definitely be investing in a few more packs! 

Disclaimer: Although I was sent complimentary products, all views and opinions are entirely my own, truthful and honest.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Meal Planning Monday–22nd Feb. 2016

This week is a real mix with little cooking as it’s made up from an occasional left-over from previous weeks! Therefore, there is no shopping list as it’s mostly heating stuff that’s already been ready.

Monday: Shop-bought Piri Piri Chicken, Potato Dauphinois and Veg (leftover from husband’s roast dinner yesterday!)

Tuesday: Shop-bought Chicken and Chorizo Paella (frozen from Valentines meal that we never ate)

Wednesday: Hake (a nice chunky piece from Paul, my fish man who arrives every Wednesday evening) with butter and sage, wild rice and asparagus

Thursday: Sausage, Chorizo and Pepper pasta (for me and F as OH is out)

Friday: Out with friends

I’ll post the Sausage Pasta recipe as it’s one of the tastiest pasta sauces, and again, one of the simplest.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Steak, Salad, Coleslaw & Potato Dauphinois

More of an assemblage of stuff on a plate for tonight! Especially since I buy the potatoes frozen! I can never find them in Tesco, but Lidl has them in fours in the freezer (under their prestige range) and the local farm shop sells them frozen too. If you’re local, you’ll know Lathcoats Farm well anyway!
What I’ll focus on in this post is the coleslaw, since I’m fairly certain you can all pan fry a steak to your own liking and shove frozen potatoes into the oven! I watched James Martin make a dijon mayonnaise at the weekend and he made it look so simple, I thought I’d give it a go! So, this is the recipe I used … it’s a combination of the one on th video and the James Martin one online and makes quite a thick mayo, which I think is nice, especially if you’re eating it over a couple of days as the water from the veg. always loosens it anyway.
  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch salt
  • 200ml/7fl oz rapeseed oil
  • 50ml/3½fl oz olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Watch it here on YouTube

Basically, in a processor, pop in your egg yolks, vinegar (cider or white wine) salt and dijon and blend until smooth. Gradually pour in the oil, drip by drip, until thickened. You may not need all the oil. Either grate or finely slice your veg: I used the traditional carrots and white cabbage but added red onions for a sharper taste. I slice everything on the slicer attachment on the processor for ease and speed. Combine everything with the lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. It really was this easy. I ran the processor a little longer after adding the oil, just to thicken it up further, but the quantities worked a treat. I’ll definintely be doing it again…mayo without xanthan gum, stabilisers and preservative? Yes please.
This should be a fresh, crispy coleslaw to serve with a steak of your choice!
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