Claire meets Ella

Claire meets Ella

I’m not a jealous person. I am happy for my friends when they get pay rises, their kids do better than mine, they look brown and well rested after their holiday, while I just look sun burnt and frazzled. So, when I got the chance to interview Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella fame, through the wonderful Britmums Live conference last month, it felt like a fun opportunity.  She is the Queen of Clean Eating, has a column in the Telegraph, has written the fastest selling debut cookbook ever, and is beautiful. What’s not to like?  Anyway, whenever I told friends I was meeting her, they said things like “Urgh” and “She’s 23 and so successful!” and “Isn’t life too short to milk an almond?” (In fact if you watch the video you will see even Ella agrees with that, when she doesn’t have time to milk almonds she milks oats instead). So although I wanted to be happy for this 23 year old’s success (btw she’s also a Sainsbury heiress), her fresh faced gorgeousness, and general glossy demeanour, I thought there was a small chance that I might not be.  Happily that was not the case. Mainly because she was lovely; easy going, chatty, down to earth, it was really lovely speaking to her. Take a look at the video and see what you  think....
Summer holiday craft ideas

Summer holiday craft ideas

It’s the eve of a new era. Are you ready? One where routine is out the window, where screams to put shoes on are a dim memory, and one sunlit day floods timelessly into the next, enveloping us all in a warm blur. Well, that’s the plan. Summer holidays used to scare me. Day after day with no childcare and one hyperactive child, the other slothful, seemed endless, but not in a good way. However, now they are that much older (5 and 7) suddenly six weeks looking after them doesn’t feel quite as daunting. That plus the fact that I work three days a week in an office, so Uncle Brendan has to entertain them (ha! ha! ha!). Both me and Mr McD will be working for much of the holidays, so there are no month-long jaunts around Europe, which would be the dream. Instead we’ve got two weeks in the New Forest planned, at the end of August, where Lucy and her kids will join us for a bit. Until then it’s just kicking about at home, going to the park and hanging out with granny. But as an alternative I think staying at home and turning on the sprinkler is pretty cool. It’s what we did as kids and we loved it. It’s a time to unwind, reconnect and relax, where less is more.  Having said that, it’s good to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Just in case. There’s only so much time the kids will spend in the paddling pool. To that end we have collaborated with the BRILLIANT Maggy from Red Ted Art to come up...
Freezer friends

Freezer friends

What’s in your freezer? Ice cubes? Frozen peas? Oven chips? Lots of Tupperware pots full of unidentifiable foods? That’s me, or was until earlier this year when I decided to learn how to use my freezer properly. It was my culinary epiphany of 2015. Strong words I know, but I speak the truth. Whenever I used to freeze leftovers or raw ingredients, more often than not it was a case of out of sight, out of mind. Once in the freezer I forgot about them and that brief, euphoric feeling of being on top of everything (“Look at me! Freezing food! So organized!) was followed three months later by panic as I tried to decipher what everything was as nothing had been dated or labelled (Chilli or chocolate pudding? Hmmm, tough call.) and then a feeling of guilt as I binned the food. Had I just thrown the food away fresh, I would have been cross at myself with the waste, but freezing it first seemed to make its eventual journey to the compost bin, more acceptable. Nuts, or what? But last year – spurred on by Claire – I started using my freezer properly and it has been a true Eureka moment, transforming how I eat, shop and cook. Meal planning was my New Year resolution and the key to its success is to plan around what is in your cupboard, fridge and freezer first. Obvious maybe, but my previous approach to cooking was based on what I fancied rather than what I had. I greeted my freezer drawers like a long lost friend and among the rogue...
Lizi’s Granola – an announcement

Lizi’s Granola – an announcement

I don’t know when I will write my opus, my Pulitzer-prize winning book, or esteemed and peer reviewed dissertation, but one thing I do know is that it will be all about oats. An unusual main character, you say? I disagree. Since having children, oats in all their form have become the nutritional epicentre of our day. We know oats are a great way to start the day, they keep you slim and healthy, they give a slow release of energy which keeps you going for longer. And for these reasons I feel duty bound to feed them to myself and the kids in the morning. But it’s not always easy. Like any passionate relationship, there have been highs and lows. The realisation that I hate porridge was tough, but the discovery  that my kids would do anything (for a brief time only, sadly) for chocolate porridge was a real high. Our relationship with oats is fast moving and ever changing. I think about oats more than I should. So imagine my surprise/joy when the people who make my favourite granola – Lizi’s – asked if we wanted to work with them. A new way to get involved with oats? Um, yes please. Up until that point granola was a rare treat. Then they sent us two huge boxes of the stuff. We have had passion fruit and pistachio for breakfast, mango and macadamia for lunch, the Belgian chocolate for pudding. And we can report back – it is very, very good.  So, it’s with real excitement that we announce a Crumbs/Lizi’s collaboration, where we create delicious recipes using their granola, and blog...
FarmDrop

FarmDrop

  The other day I was invited to an event at a pub in Peckham. Not only did I discover the amazing Grub Club, an online diary of pop up events around the country, I also discovered FarmDrop. The evening was an introduction to FarmDrop via their food. We were ushered in and given a cocktail of locally roasted cold brewed coffee (from Old Spike roastery) with sherry and grapefruit. It was a good start. And then the food began. There was a menu containing Vale of Evesham asparagus, Gloucestershire charcuterie, Kentish lamb, London pea shoots, lemon posset with rosemary shortbread biscuits and Chegworth Valley strawberries. Every element of the meal had a story, and the producers were there to tell us it. It was a moving evening (ok, that could have something to do with the cocktail) of passion and sacrifice. You really felt that producing this food was a vocation, and the people creating it were custodians, of a way of life and the environment. It made me realise that although I really try to be aware of the food I eat and where it comes from, sometimes I turn a blind eye because it’s easier (and cheaper!). But really, everything you eat is a political decision, and what you eat says a lot about who you are and how you live. By buying well, you are supporting the welfare of the countryside, you are enabling people to live ethical lives and the world is a better place. Yes, it is more expensive, but what’s the cost of the alternative? In this spirit, I have just done a shop on Farmdrop,...
A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones

A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones

It may seem disingenuous to recommend someone else’s recipe book, instead of our own (although if you haven’t already … you can buy it here) but this collection of 200 vegetarian recipes has changed the way I eat.  Although sadly the children have not been tempted by the coconut and kale salad or the lentil dahl with sweet potatoes, my husband has and these and many others (roast feta and tomato salad and her genre-defying veggie burger for example) have become firm weeknight favourites. Anna is a food stylist and as you’d expect, the book is beautifully shot and blows out of the water, the idea that vegetarian food is second best. A future...