Wednesday, 30 April 2014

And pigs might fly! - Country Kids

Over the holidays the princess and I took little man back to visit our local farm, he'd been asking for ages so with the sun shining and nothing else on we granted his wish.

The thing is, toddlers are funny creatures.  They are small and for the most part cute and innocent looking but boy can they be a handful!

All was going well we walked around the farm visiting all our favourite animals then we stopped in at the small pets area paid our £2 per child to stroke the pets and the stroking began.  

I wasn't sure at first if little man would one to hold one of the pets to himself, he's always been a bit afraid of animals but after seeing him with the rabbit we decided to give him a go with a guinea pig.  He was a little disinterested in her at first as he was still admiring the rabbit, however he soon decided that he liked both the guinea pig and the rabbit.





Judging from these photos you might think well what's the problem?  He looks totally well behaved and engaged with the animals and that's because the problem occurred after Princess swapped her rabbit for a duckling and mummy put her phone away to admire said duckling.

To the horror on the faces of both Princess and I when the guinea pig was launched into the air and thrown off little mans lap in protest of not having a duckling for himself, that was a moment which would have made hilarious viewing.  

Thankfully the guinea pig was unharmed and the staff seemed totally unfazed by my toddlers actions, we will of course return to the farm but I may just keep him away from the small pets area for a while!


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Monday, 28 April 2014

Monday Melodies

Monday melodies has started back up on my sisters blog and though I'm not feeling very melodious I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to drag my mind out of the shallow pit it's created take my gloves of and free the power within.  Excuse my poor use of metaphor I didn't get much sleep last night!

Sometimes we give people or situations too much power in our lives, so much so that we miss out on what is really important.  I've taken my song choice from the Disney film Frozen as that film has such a strong emphasis on what is most important, love.  




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Living with Mr M & Les Enfants




Mumma's Vegetable Soup

A few weeks ago I made a lovely vegetarian soup, it was so lovely that even my fussy toddler who refuses to touch fruit or vegetables finished his bowl full and went in for seconds.

Now when it comes to baking I'm very particular about the recipes because you do one one thing wrong and you could have a complete disaster on your hands (or a masterpiece depending on how you view things.)  However when cooking family meals I experiment, I taste as I go along and I work out what flavours work for me and my little family.

The ingredients for the soup (six servings) were as follows:
  • 250g of mixed veg 
  • 100g mushrooms
  • 3/4 squash peeled and chopped into large cubes
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1 red pepper sliced
  • 1 chili pepper chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 3 spring onions chopped
  • 2 English potatoes cut in half
  • 100g spinach
  • 1tbs mixed herbs
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • A little oil

Method:

  • Ensure all vegetables are washed.
  • Heat the oil in a deep soup pan and gently fry the onions, garlic, chili pepper and red pepper until soft.
  • Add 100ml of water and bring to the boil.
  • Add the potatoes, squash zucchini and stock boil for 10 minutes
  • Add the remaining ingredients, leaving only the spinach, leave to simmer checking to ensure the vegetables are cooked properly.
  • 2 minutes before you take it off the heat add the spinach.
  • blend half the soup to create a mixed textured soup.
  • serve with Ryvita, bread or whatever tickles your fancy!





Saturday, 19 April 2014

Morden Hall Park - Country Kids

During the week the boy had been asking me to go to the farm but for one reason or another we didn't get round to it so on Monday we got our bottle of water and change of clothes and set off to the farm.

Unfortunately when we arrived the farm was closed, silly mummy had forgotten that the only day we couldn't go to the farm was a Monday, it's ALWAYS closed on a Monday.  With a very disappointed little man on my hands I thought it the perfect time to go and visit Morden Hall Park.  I had been meaning to take the children there for ages so it was as good a time as any. 

We started the 20 minute walk from the farm to the park but with little man being a little on the lazy side it took us a bit longer, especially when he decided that I had to carry him.  Once there it was brilliant.  
















I took so many photos on the walk around that it was hard to choose which ones to post.  







After walking around the park for a little while I took little man to play in the natural play area.  He had such an amazing time and it was awesome to watch him playing freely in the open space.  














We loved the park so much that we returned on good Friday for the Easter trail and this time the teen princess was with us making it even more special.





Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Super Easy No Bake Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of my favourite desserts so I thought I'd have a go at making some myself.  The results were delightful and it hardly takes any time to put together.




You will need:
approx. 200g unsalted butter, melted
250g digestive biscuits
1 vanilla pod
100g icing sugar
600g philadelphia light
284ml double cream

For the topping:
25g icing sugar
500g strawberries

1. Put the biscuits into a food bag and crush with a rolling pin (I gave min a good bashing, great for taking out any frustration!) once suitably crushed add to a bowl with the melted butter and mix to ensure the butter coats the biscuits.  Place this mixture into your glasses (I also made one in a loose bottom tin as the mixture does make enough to do about 6 glasses but I only wanted 2)  leave in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

2. Remove the vanilla seeds from one pod using the back of a knife (alternatively you can use a teaspoon of vanilla essence.)

3. Place your philadelphia, icing sugar and vanilla into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add the cream and mix again.  Add this mixture to the glass. (leave to set in the fridge over night)

4. Using a food processor or blender puree 3/4 of your strawberries with 25g icing sugar and 2 tsp of water (saving the rest of the strawberries for decoration)  add this to your glass then decorate with the remaining strawberries.  Just for an extra touch I added caramel curls and there you have it!

I'm looking forward to trying some different variations as cheesecake is an awesome summer dessert.


This is the one made in a tin.  If you do make it in a tin be sure to grease the tin and add lining paper so you can take it out easily.




A Favourite Place

I don't have a favourite place as such, anywhere I can be with my family and feel happy is a nice place to be.  

I especially love being around nature.  I like to hear the birds sing, watch the squirrels play, see the ducks legs move frantically in the water as they glide seemingly effortlessly across it.  I love to watch the dogs being walked and I love to smell nature all year round.

I love to visit somewhere new, to have the adrenaline rush of exploring somewhere I've never been before.  I love to find hidden treasures in the heart of busy towns and to pick up stones that hold memories for years to come.

Most of all I love the feeling of peace I get from walking among the trees  and the rivers, the miracles given to us to have that little bit of heaven in our lives.

I'm linking up with Tara at 'The Gallery', head over and check out some more favourite places.


Monday, 14 April 2014

Pocket Full of Poetry

"Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." William Wordsworth

Poetry has always had me in it's nest like a hatchling, left me calling out for more of it's bitter nourishment, sometimes leaving me fulfilled and other times leaving me confused and wanting more.  



My mother taught me to recite nursery rhymes at the age of 2 and by the age of 8 she had me reciting Wordsworth word for word with animation.  Studying creative writing at university encouraged me to further explore style and form.  As such my love of poetry both reading it and writing it turned into a passion.  I have been planning to launch a page on my blog dedicated to poets new and old who want a different audience and a platform to share their poetry.

For me it is a way of discovering talent  I may not have come across. 

Poems can be submitted in either written or spoken form (through video) and can be anonymous or submitted with a short profile. Poets wishing to submit poetry should email me at gailannhouston1@gmail.com

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Country Kids

Being in London there is of course always lots to do but being in London also means that doing things often costs a lot more.  This week I decided to treat the children to a movie.  We hadn't seen Frozen, even though it's been in the cinema for ages, so we got up early and got kids AM tickets.  The film was brilliant but after being sat in a dark cinema on such a beautiful day the children were begging for a run around and some fresh air.

We went to a local park that has been regenerated in the last couple of years.  I remembered enjoying this park as a child, watching the ducks on the river and and playing on the swing but it was nothing like it is today.  The park was buzzing with people.  There were the dog walkers, the skateboarders, the families, the ladies who lunch, the footballers and the small groups of teens but still enough space to be alone if you wanted to be.  It was lovely.

The best thing about it for me was the giant sand pit filled with children playing, who needs the beach when you have one of those?  Unfortunately both my phone and camera batteries were dead and having to rely on the teen to send me the photos has not worked out to my advantage as she's away from home and has drip fed me the photos bit by bit meaning I don't have the ones I want the most.  But here are the few she did send...






It's great when you can make your children feel like champions


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Silent Sunday




Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Aubergine and broccoli bake with spinach and ricotta

There are a lot of things I'm passionate about, teaching, personal development, justice and equality, even baking if I'm in the right mood.  However everyday cooking has never been more than a chore to me until recently when I decided to change my diet and increase the amount of vegetables I was consuming.  

Changing my diet meant that I had to get a little more creative with my meals and as such I've really enjoyed trying out new recipes.  I'd never cooked with aubergine before and thought it might be a good place to start with my something new, I looked up a few recipes and came across one that sounded interesting.  The thing with me is I hardly every stick to the recipe and had to put my own spin on it, which I encourage you to do to.  

So onto the good stuff, my recipe.

Ingredients

1 Aubergine cut into thin slices
500g spinach
200g tender stem broccoli
250g tub ricotta
350g jar tomato sauce
2tbs bread crumbs
mozarella for topping
Olive oil
salt, pepper and mixed herbs.

Method

1. Heat the oven to gas mark 7.  Brush aubergine slices with olive oil and place on a baking tray for 10 minutes each side or until tender.

2. Put spinach into a colander and pour over hot water.  When the spinach is wilted squeeze out excess water, mix dried spinach with ricotta, salt, pepper and mixed herbs to taste.

3. Wrap spinach and ricotta mixture into aubergine slices and place sealed side down into an oven proof dish.  Place the broccoli between each parcel and add any remaining mixture to the tin.

















4. Poor over tomato sauce, sprinkle with fresh bread crumbs and add slices of mozzarella to top.


















5.  Bake for 20-25 minutes and there you have it!



The family enjoyed the meal but if you aren't one for aubergine then I would skip that step and just add more vegetables.

Have you made anything similar?  Send me a link to your favourite veggie meals :)

This recipe is a variation of a BBC Good Food recipe.





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