Curry night (not from the takeaway but the freezer)

Curry night (not from the takeaway but the freezer)

Saturday night is more often than night curry night in our house. We draw the curtains, light the fire, choose a film or some Saturday night TV, and snuggle down. My husband has something like a Madras and some pilau rice, whilst I have a daal, onion bhajis and a Peshwari Naan. We rarely deviate from this tried and tested formula, but recently (duh duh duhhhhh!) the kids have been staying up and having it with us. They are at that age now where we can’t fob them off with a seven o’clock bed time because one is nearly 11 and the other is 8. Our time together as a couple has shrunk but actually, Saturday night curry is starting to be a wonderful family routine. We started the girls on pappadums (aka giant crisps), before progressing to Naan bread and then chicken tikka. They have yet to embrace my tarka daal or even a bhaji, but I actually caught my eldest eating cold curry from the fridge the other day, and whilst mildly annoyed she was tucking into my leftovers, I also thought she had all the hallmarks of becoming a fine McDonald. We have experimented with our local takeaways but on a recent dash around Centerparc’s supermarket I grabbed some Cook frozen curries, out of desperation really. I had low expectations, but was confounded and the frozen food chain (they deliver and have fairly good animal welfare credentials) has bumped my local takeaway Peppers off the top spot. The Chicken Korma and Beef Madras felt fresh and just spicy enough and most importantly they didn’t have that greasy film...
The Waffle Odyssey

The Waffle Odyssey

I’ve been meaning to put up this blog about our amazing Easter holiday in the campervan, which was contrived almost entirely through recommendations from our lovely Facebook Friends.  We leisurely (very leisurely, I think we averaged 45mph) crossed parts of France, Belgium and Holland. We ended up at Duinrell which my kids still sob about every night. “When can we go back there?!” they wail. Still overwhelmed by the fact that our campsite was a real live Amusement Park, and because once you’ve paid to enter (about 40 euros a night) everything was FREE. So rather than Daddy saying yes to everything, with Mummy swiftly coming in and saying, actually Daddy meant no, which is what usually happens, they could actually go on whatever they wanted. Five goes in the Dodgems on the trot? Fine. The Ferris Wheel til we all feel sick? Sure! And then there were the 11 water slides and large indoor water complex…they were in heaven. My kids thank you, Facebook Friends, from the bottom of their hearts! Then we scooted to Amsterdam, stayed in an AirBnB and enjoyed some of the pleasures it has to offer; pancakes, tandems, large parks with climable trees and Chocomel – possibly the most delicious chocolate drink the world has invented.  We also went to Hoge Veluwe, also as recommended on Facebook, and it was idyllic. 1,500 white bikes dotted around a national park, so you can pick them up and drop them off wherever you want, free of charge. They all had little kids’ seats on front and back, plus there were loads of children’s bikes too. In the...
Mini cheddars – not the snack, but a car game

Mini cheddars – not the snack, but a car game

We’ve all been there – the interminable car journey. The Friday night traffic on the M25. The whining children. The spilt drinks. The sticky seats. The barking dog. The husband who refuses to ask for directions. The endless games of I-spy. We’ve never had DVDs or TVs in the car as in our over-stimulated world, I think a good dose of boredom now and then is a good thing, but sometimes when we have exhausted our limited repertoire of games and audiobooks, I sometimes turn up the music, to zone out the bickering. My friend, Victoria, introduced me to a fabulous new car game at the weekend, which made a car journey back from Norfolk fly by. It is called Mini Cheddar and is suitable for anyone from 4 – 80. Very simply, every time you see a Mini you shout “MINI!” and every time you see a yellow car you shout “CHEDDAR”. The jackpot is obviously spotting a yellow Mini, when you shout “MINI CHEDDAR.” Very loudly. It’s brilliant fun. Trust me. Although the fact that I’m the only one in my family to spot one so far may mean I am biased. I am still riding high – albeit hoarse-throated – from the thrill. With the Easter holidays upon us, how do you pass the time on long car journeys? Have you ever played Mini Cheddar? We have a great selection of on-the-go recipes here – perfect for long journeys and away...
Forget dieting – drink green tea.

Forget dieting – drink green tea.

I love green tea and no more so than at this time of year when my body has taken a battering from eating too many Quality Streets and drinking too much Prosecco.  It’s my morning after detox to seasonal excesses and a couple of cups a day makes me feel more at peace with the world.  Some research suggests green tea is really good for you as it contains lots of antioxidants whilst other studies say it helps you lose weight as it speeds up your metabolism. Whilst the science behind the last one is mixed, personally speaking whenever I put on a few pounds and wonder why, it normally coincides with me forgetting to have my daily green tea dose. So this new year, one of my resolutions (actually I don’t have many as it is too depressing when I break them all two weeks later – but the general theme is to slow down a bit and be healthier) is to drink more green tea in the hope it will make me a happier, calmer, less pot-bellied person. I buy my green tea, loose in pretty little pots, from my friend Kiyomi who is a great advert for its benefits being both serene and beautiful. She supplies some of west London’s swankier tea shops with her own brand, imported from her native Japan, but you can buy it...
The only apple crumble recipe you will ever need

The only apple crumble recipe you will ever need

Apple crumble There is something comfortingly nostalgic about apple crumble. For me it conjures up memories of Sunday afternoons in the kitchen with the family as a child, feeling safe and warm and like all is well with the world. Crumble still has that affect on me now. It is a low-effort, high-reward kind of pudding that works with just about any fruit…. including tinned. Really! As a student, we often topped our Sunday roast off with a tinned peach and strawberry crumble, although these days mine is more likely to be made with apples from the garden and blackberries from the allotment. I like to sprinkle some Lizi’s granola on top for added texture and only need to decide whether to have it with custard or vanilla ice cream. Serves: 6 Takes: 20m to make, 40m to bake You will need: Filling 600g cooking apples (about 3-4) peeled, cored and sliced into eighths ½ lemon squeezed 2 tbsp caster sugar 1 tsp cinnamon Crumble 175 g plain flour 110g sugar 110g cold butter a handful of Lizi’s apple and cinnamon granola 1 tbsp demerara sugar Preheat the oven to 180c. Peel and cut the apples – tossing them in a bowl with some lemon juice to stop them browning, as you go. When they are all cut toss them again, this time with the sugar and cinnamon. Put them in a 20cm round baking dish making sure they are spread evenly. Of course you can go for a wider dish – or even a square one – it depends how deep you like your crumble. It is personal! In...

Surviving the summer holidays

A month ago (doesn’t time fly?) I went to the brilliant Britmums Live! event to interview Deliciously Ella and arm myself with some great ideas on how to survive the summer holidays. Because where better than the beating heart of mummy bloggers to find some clever ideas to keep the kids busy? I interviewed some brilliant mummy bloggers and got some real pearls of wisdom in this video, most of which cost very little to do. Vanessa from the brilliantly named Lady Sew and Sew gave me some great and simple ideas to do with my two boys (I think they’d be up for making the gorgeous fabric flowers which she talks about here).  The lovely My Two Mums told me about their brilliant game which means rainy days hold no fear for them. They have a great YouTube channel too. Gorgeous Helen from KiddyCharts had the lovely idea of just heading to the nearest city in the summer and making the most of the parks, fountains and amenities, all of which hold the thrill of the new for children not used to them. Karin from the brilliant Embrace Happy suggested pegging up a blanket tent in the garden to make the kids a den – I love this idea and have done it myself several times since. Becky, food blogger extraordinaire at English Mum suggests the most delicious and probably easiest banana lollies you’ll ever come across. And the lovely Kate from the brilliantly named Wit Wit Woo waxes lyrical about the joy of piers and why they are a great alternative to spending a fortune at expensive theme parks. Check out her wonderful YouTube channel here.  I hope this film is helpful...