Hot apple and rum cocktail recipe

Hot apple and rum cocktail recipe

Fingers crossed November is as mild and dry as October. This Autumn has been glorious and reinforced my love for Britain’s seasons. OK, I know we are obsessed with the weather here, but the magic of watching the seasons changed is one of our – unsung – national treasures. Autumn 2016 has been almost poetical in its beauty. Blue skies, crisp air and spectacularly coloured leaves. But the transition between seasons, is not just a change of weather and outfits but a change in what we eat. What I love most about this time of the year is that hunkering down with a bowl of apple and blackberry crumble and custard is not just one of life’s biggest pleasures, but a legitimate way to spend a Friday night.  So with that in mind this month over on YouTube (if you’ve not already subscribed to our channel, it only takes a second, is free and means you will find out what we’ve eating before anyone else) we have been cooking some of our favourite Autumn dishes.  All of them perfect for celebrating Bonfire Night this Saturday. There is our very easy sausage one pot, our ingenious lid potatoes (jacket potatoes with the top lopped off – made this way, they are very transportable and can be wrapped in foil and eaten easily outdoors) stuffed with bacon and cheese or even baked with an egg in the top. And a delicious apple, ginger, pear and rum cocktail (inspired by a recipe from the wonderful Anna Jones) that will warm the cockles of your heart, put some colour in your cheeks and a spring in your step. On...
It’s us!

It’s us!

You know how we hate to show off?  Well, sometimes we just have to. Sorry. So here we are, in YOU Magazine, part of The Mail on Sunday....
Skull Halloween biscuits

Skull Halloween biscuits

Halloween is a big cause for celebration in our house. We have an annual party that involves a badly carved pumpkin (although this year the girls want to carve pineapples – their stalks making surprisingly good hair) lots of spooky food like these monster teeth or this eyeball, blood and worms pasta, a boogie to Thriller and then lots of running up and down the street in a sugar-frenzy, trick or treating. After all that excitement, and even though this year Halloween falls on a Monday, there will be zombie-flesh-eating cocktails for parents before they take their dead brides and witches’ cats home and I collapse on the sofa as my children count their bootie. Happy...
Cauliflower macaroni cheese recipe

Cauliflower macaroni cheese recipe

Regular readers and viewers will know of my love with roast cauliflower. I ate it first on a food trend-spotting trip to Tel Aviv with M&S and it was the stand out dish in three days of stand out food. Now, I can’t believe I ever used to boil it. I mean, what was I thinking!? Anyhow, I once ate an entire roast cauliflower to myself and whilst I can’t claim to have been good company that night – due to some of the brassica’s well-documented side effects – it is now my go-to favourite vegetable. Luckily – unlike some fancier vegetables – you can buy it just about anywhere, so it is the ultimate solution to an empty cupboard and an uninspired mind. Of which I frequently have both. Now autumn is drawing nigh, I am less likely to put it in a salad with some walnuts and green leaves and more likely to put it in a macaroni cheese with ham, and fried leeks if I am minded.  I made this recipe using food from Costcutter’s Independent label. For many year’s Costcutter, who sponsored this post, was my local supermarket and I would scour its shelves for late night, after work inspiration. The Independent brand is also available at Kwiksave and Mace and, when I used it, seemed not only good quality but good value too. Costcutter partner with Lanchester wines who suggested drinking their Orario, Pinot Grigio Australian white, with this. It is only 11% alcohol which makes it the ideal mid-week drink at around a fiver a bottle it won’t break the bank either. Takes: 20m plus 30m...
Oaty biscuit recipe – perfect for packed lunches

Oaty biscuit recipe – perfect for packed lunches

PINCH, punch, the first of the month. It’s the 1st September and the girls go back to school next week so already I am full of good intentions about how this year is going to be different. There will be no lost shoes  – and definitely no lost tempers – in the morning and no frenzied searching for homework or last minute packed lunch making. Oh no. My new year resolutions start here. PINCH, punch, the first of the month. It’s the 1st September and the girls go back to school next week so already I am full of good intentions about how this year is going to be different. There will be no lost shoes  – and definitely no lost tempers – in the morning and no frenzied searching for homework or last minute packed lunch making. Oh no. My new year resolutions start here. So instead of watching Victoria on catch-up TV, last night was spent browsing lunch box ideas on Pinterest  and parenting blogs for tips about how to make the school run a pleasure, not a chore. I have already ordered two extra school ties and gym shirts (both items that inexplicably go walkabout at 8am) and copious, complicated Tupperware  boxes  to ensure the kids’ lunches stay fresh and vaguely food-shaped. After two terms of below average school dinners, where dishes some times ran out and was occasionally mouldy, we are back to packed lunches. Sigh. I have vlogged about taking the stress out of packed lunches before and the trick, for me, is menu planning. I am religious about it. For example, every Monday it is chicken goujons, Tuesday hummus, Wednesday a thermos full...
Raspberry ice lollies

Raspberry ice lollies

I am obsessed with frozen raspberries and always have some in the freezer for every eventuality. Seriously. They are great in smoothies, cakes and on cereal but have a myriad of other uses too:  as fruity ice cubes for lemonade or pimped up Prosecco. I am not sure what kind of magic fruit pickers and freezers do to keep them in such a perfect shape, but whilst fresh raspberries (even the ones I have attempted to grow on my allotment) are always a bit squidgy these perfect pyramids are a wonder to behold – lots of tiny spheres stacked up perfectly – perversely their helmet shapes remind me a bit of the stick-on hair on Lego toys. I used to stick them on the end of my fingers as a way of getting my children to eat fruit when they were very young. It worked with one, whose idea of a top treat is filling them – when still frozen – with maple syrup and allowing them to dissolve slowly in her mouth. This week I had some sugar syrup left in the fridge from a failed elderberry experiment – I had planned to make a cordial to drizzle over ice-cream from some berries I foraged but wasn’t 100% sure they were actually elderberries and didn’t want to kill myself or my children experimenting. So instead, with the help of my eight-year-old, we made ice lollies. First we defrosted some frozen raspberries (from Iceland) and using the back of a wooden spoon mushed them through a fine sieve over a large bowl, until we had a lovely seed-free puree. Then we...
We came, we saw, we were conquered… Camp Bestival

We came, we saw, we were conquered… Camp Bestival

I wasn’t sure if a family trip to Camp Bestival was going to work. It wasn’t that I was worried about taking the kids – they are six and nine now (yikes!) – so big enough to look after themselves (to an extent). It was more whether I could overcome my residual dislike of festivals. The smell of wee. The discarded plastic cups. Well, it turned out I could. More or less. The smell of wee was still there. But in the ten or so intervening years since I last went to a festival, my tolerance for other people’s bodily functions has obviously got much higher. Nearly a decade of handling my kids’ toilet habits means I am no longer as squeamish about wee and poo as I used to be. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it does make the third day at a festival easier, when the loos are at capacity. Discarded plastic cups were less of an issue. There were virtually none. I don’t know why I hate them so much, I think they just drain the magic out of any view. You may be looking over the hills of Dorset, at an ancient castle, but if the bushes are full of plastic pint glasses, it can be hard to ‘feel it’. Luckily the plastic glasses in question were generally of a good quality and there were too many well-behaved parents there to discard them in front of their kids. So, an overview: Camp Bestival is what a kid would dream up, had they been around in the 90s, dancing around to house music....

Festival Time

I’ve been to a fair few festivals in my time. I got stuck in the mud at Glastonbury, relaxed at the Big Chill, but it wasn’t until I went to a day long festival on Clapham Common about fifteen years ago, that I put my finger on how I felt about festivals. I remember seeing plastic pint glasses littering the bushes as the smell of pee floated towards me. I remember thinking “oh, I’m getting that festival feeling!” And then I realised that that feeling was one of dislike. What was I doing? Listening to music on terrible sound systems, squatting in the bushes to do a pee because the loos were so disgusting, and paying through the nose for the pleasure. So you may be surprised to hear that not only am I going to Camp Bestival, but I’m excited about it! I’ve heard a lot about it, and some of my best blogging mates go every year, which makes me a bit jealous. Knackered Mum always pulls a crowd and the Scummy Mummies are a riot. With the introduction of the camper van into our lives (it’s been christened Douglas Parker by the kids, not sure why) a visit to a festival is suddenly a great idea – if only to gloat at everyone in their tent. There’s a dressing up theme, and if you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that fancy dress isn’t my forte, but I’m even excited about that. It’s outer space, and I plan to put the kids in their all-in-one pyjamas with stars on them, and do a Bowie-esque flash on their faces. Inspired. And that’s just for day...
Thud

Thud

Thud. That’s the sound of me coming back down to earth. I’m now the mum of an eight year old and a six year old. I’ve dabbled in three day weeks, I’ve dabbled in blogging. But finally, I am back to work. Full time. With a thud. Obviously, I’d rather not. But needs must, and tbh, several years of part time has been pretty unsatisfactory. You don’t feel involved with where you work and you rush around at home like a mad thing, taking too much on. Now I am working full time I am very aware I can’t take anything on. I can maybe see friends on a Thursday (two came to dinner last week – I warned them there would be no food unless they bought it. They did. It was yummy).  So I’m looking for shortcuts at home. Things which will make my life easier. My husband’s pretty good at home, but he doesn’t do the washing (mainly because I don’t trust him with it). But realistically we both need to do it now, so I’m going to teach him (and he’s not going to take kindly to that). I’m going to do a regular supermarket shop online, which I’ve never done. And I may just dabble in Thud. Thud is a new food delivery service. It helps you create decent meals with the help of your store cupboard staples by posting you some of the ingredients. This means no-one has to be in to receive them (great when you work full time!), and they send you a shopping list at the start of week, so...
Sprinkle saucers – best ever birthday party biscuits

Sprinkle saucers – best ever birthday party biscuits

I wrote about these sprinkle saucers back in 2012 and love them as much six years on (looking back in our archive, was a wake-up call as to how long we’ve been blogging for) as I do now. The recipe is adapted from the wonderful Outsider Tart cookbook (just as inventive as their beautiful Chiswick cake shop, which is far too close to my home for comfort. Their brownies are irresistible) and are so easy to make we decided to make a film about them here – although apologies in advance for the horrific clash of my floral top and Claire’s patterned tiles. Sartorial mayhem aside, baking them on film was really just an excuse to make them again and one of their many fine attributes – along with the shortness of the biscuit and the genius of smothering them in sprinkles before cooking – is that you can make the dough way in advance, store it in the fridge meaning you are never more than 20 or so minutes from a biscuit. Lethal....
Home escape room.