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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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#Review: Riverford Recipe Box

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Product Reviews | Posted on 13-04-2015

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Riverford are well known for their vegetable box delivery service – we’ve had a few of them ourselves in our time – but they have recently started doing “Recipe Boxes” as well. Each box contains all the ingredients – save for the salt and pepper – that you need to create three meals for two or four people. You get all the vegetables, the meat where appropriate, the herbs, and anything else, all measured out and individually wrapped. There’s a choice of three box options – Original, Quick, and Vegetarian – and all promise tasty seasonal meals. We were sent the Quick box to try – the one I thought would be most appropriate for us. Three meals all ready in around 30 to 40 minutes with virtually no preparation apart from chopping a few vegetables. Sounded ideal to me.

The box we received contained the ingredients to make Baked Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Herb Ricotta, Lamb Steaks with Saute Potatoes, and Pork & Apple Sausages with Braised Vegetables. All sounded delicious to me and the box itself looked brilliant when it came. The packaging and organisation that went in to it was first class.

RiverfordRecipeBox_SussexMummy

There was a complete list of what you’d received in case anything had gone missing or you were unsure as to what something was, and details were included as to where to store things. All the meat and anything that needed to be chilled – in this case butter and some cheese – were stored in a reusable cool bag which, along with the box, can be returned to your driver upon his next delivery. Everything which arrived was in first class condition and looked as if it had been packed mere moments ago.

Conveniently for us this box arrived a few days before our seventh wedding anniversary. We had planned a takeaway to celebrate, but instead took the opportunity to make one of the meals. We have in fact made all three meals, but the one we had for our anniversary was the one I actually remembered to photograph – I will never make a very good food blogger… – and as luck would have it, our overall favourite.

Here are all the ingredients needed to make the Sausages with Braised Vegetables.

RiverfordRecipeBox_Ingredients_SussexMummy

As you can see everything comes fully weighed out for you, including the pots of butter and caraway seeds, and you even get sent a stock cube. I’m sure you’re all thinking those carrots look far too clean to come from a vegetable box but yes, I did wash them before taking their photograph. Everything looks beautifully fresh and is indeed seasonal.

Along with the ingredients are simple to follow recipe cards. There’s notes and information on the recipe, a list of equipment and utensils you may need – nothing too fancy, serving number and preparation times, and then step by step instructions. This recipe was completed with just eight steps, and to be fair they were incredibly simple and nothing more strenuous than occasionally stirring a pan. After about half an hour we served up the meal.

RiverfordRecipeBox_Sausages_SussexMummy

Super easy to make, much healthier than the planned takeout, and, most importantly, delicious. Everything was beautifully cooked and seasoned, I used items which typically I would never have picked up in my weekly food shop, and it was, as described, quick.

Now these boxes start at £33 and that gets you three meals for two people. If you want to feed a family of four it goes up to £58. Its not a cheap way to eat, but as an occasional treat or even as a quirky gift for someone, I think its ideal. Its clearly not something that I’m going to be buying every week, but its something I would certainly consider once in a while, particularly for special occasions when we’d perhaps typically go out for a meal. The quality is incredibly high and the attention to detail is such that it makes your cooking experience easy, which is precisely what you’re looking for when buying a box like this. A definite success.

You can find more details on the Recipe Boxes as well as all the other box delivery options available via the Riverford website.

Feeding The Family Whilst Camping

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Camping, Holiday, Product Reviews | Posted on 18-11-2013

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You’ll no doubt remember that we went camping a few months ago in Cumbria, staying at the fantastic The Quiet Site near Ullswater. We were well prepared for the trip with air beds and sleeping bags and a well packed itinerary for our five day trip. The main worry I had though was eating. Little Man would happily sleep anywhere and no doubt he’d be that tired after our jam packed days there was no need to worry about him sleeping, and as long as he slept, we’d sleep. Spending five days together in one room would be fine – we’d be spending very little time there outside of bed time to be honest. But I did worry about eating. Little Man rarely stops eating, or so it seems, and Daddy gets a little “tetchy” if he doesn’t eat regularly. We had plans to eat out, but there were going to be a few evening meals on site and I did worry about how we’d cater those and what on earth we’d eat, and how. Three indispensable products meant that my worries were soon unfounded.

Coleman Family Cook Set
Individual mess tins weren’t going to cut it for our family camping trip. I wanted to make sure what I was cooking was Little Man friendly, so I wanted to be able to cook things that we’d usually have at home, albeit on a smaller and simpler scale. I needed good sized saucepans, and I needed them to be space saving. The Family Cook Set  we were sent to review from Coleman was ideal. A 5.7l saucepan, a 2.4l saucepan and a 10cm diameter frying pan was more than sufficient for our needs. They were sturdy, hard wearing, and took up very little room. They each nested into one another as there is just one handle which transferred with ease from pan to pan. The capacities were great – the large pan was perfect for cooking pasta, and the smaller one warmed sauces meaning we had a meal within about 15 minutes. One regret I do have is not getting some eggs and bacon in for a cooked breakfast – the frying pan would neatly fit enough for Daddy and I to have bacon and eggs whilst Little Man stole bits no doubt. Next time definitely.

Camping Az Camping Chef Vario
So our cooking equipment was sorted – with the addition of a few utensils from home – but what were we going to cook ON? A gas stove was essential, and more importantly we needed one with two burners. I didn’t like our chances of cooking meals in just one pot, especially if I was doing pasta with sauce for example, and juggling pots on one small burner would no doubt lead to chaos and potential accidents. Thankfully for us Camping Az came to our rescue with their Camping Chef Vario – a neat compact twin burner gas stove with added bonus of a grill. Three independent gas controls and a single ignition switch, wind protection sides and removable legs make this stove a key part of our camping kit. We set this up quickly and easily on our Pod decking, and it was in use straight away. We cooked a few meals on this, and it was used every morning to heat the kettle for Mummy’s cup of tea. It was simple to use, it was reliable and it was safe. What made it even better was that it folded up neatly into a briefcase style case which made it simple to transport and to carry around the site. An essential cooking stove for any family camping trip, and one I’ll look forward to using again and again.

Look What We Found Ready Meals
So we had our pots and pans and we had our stove. Now what were we going to eat? I wanted quick and easy meals, I didn’t want to be doing much once we got back to our Pod after a busy day in Cumbria. There is however only so much pasta and sauce you can eat. I started looking around for other options. Good quality food that was nutritious and would also be eaten by an intermittently fussy 2 year old. It was a tough ask to be fair, and I didn’t want something dull like beans on toast either, though Little Man would have gobbled it up no question. I wasn’t overly confident when I began my search on the internet, but very soon I came across what looked to be the answer. Look What We Found sell ready meals, meals you can heat up at home on your cooker, or that you can take camping as they don’t need to be stored in the fridge. We were lucky to be sent an amazing selection of meals to try out, some we ate before we went, some we gave to Nana and Pops to try, and some we took with us on our trip. Each pouch contains a meal that serves one person. On the first night we cooked these meals we had the Cumbrian Lamb Hot Pot – well we were in Cumbria after all – and the Yorkshire Pork Sausage Casserole. The meals all contain regionally sourced ingredients, so the lamb genuinely was from Cumbria. Now I’m not going to lie. When I emptied each pouch into a pan I was a little nervous. It didn’t look wholly appetising, and I started to mentally work out how we’d get to the nearest McDonalds if Little Man refused to eat it. A few minutes gentle heating on the stove however and things rapidly improved. We split the two meals between the three of us and with the addition of a nice loaf of bread and butter it was a delicious meal. So simple, so tasty, and so easy to transport. Another night we had Tees Valley Beef Meatballs served with some pasta we got in the site shop. Again, it was delicious. Nana and Pops tried out the a couple of curries for us and a soup and they thoroughly enjoyed them all. We’ll definitely look to them again next time we go camping, or just as meals to have in the house. The full range is available online, and you can also find them in Waitrose, Booths and Ocado.

I can safely say that nobody went hungry on our trip to Cumbria and the meals that we cooked far surpassed my ideas of what we’d be having when we set about organising our holiday. It is possible to eat nutritious foods as a family when camping, even with a toddler in tow. I look forward to more family camping trips – though they may be on hold for a little while yet – knowing we have some great products to use again and again.

Foodie: Thermapen Review & Giveaway

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Competition, Foodie, Product Reviews | Posted on 02-04-2013

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Keeping our family safe and healthy is our ultimate priority is everything we do. When we’re providing food for them its also a priority, whether that food is babies milk or a Sunday roast. Making sure what we’re serving is fully cooked and at the right temperatures ensures their safety, and one of the ways to do that is to invest in a Thermapen.

A Thermapen is a probe which you can use to make sure what you are cooking or warming is the ideal temperature. You can use it when you are warming your babies milk to make sure its the correct and safe temperature. It can be used in baking to make sure cakes are cooked, for making sugar syrups, in jam making and for tempering chocolate. It is an essential piece of kit for your Summer barbecue, when most food poisoning accidents occur with under cooked meat and poultry. We received a Thermapen to test out and my Mum has been using it relentlessly when she’s been cooking in the kitchen, ensuring the Sunday roast is always the right temperature throughout.

The Thermapen is so easy to use – opening it turns it on, and closing it turns it off again. The digital screen is easy to read at a glance and the bright range of colours available means there’s no danger of it getting lost. You could even get a Thermapen to match your kitchen colour scheme! For more information on Thermapen’s check out their website and follow them on Twitter @Thermapen_.

Now I have a brilliant GREEN Thermapen to give away to one of my lucky readers. In order to win you MUST be following me on Twitter and then Tweet the following:

I want to win a @Thermapen_ from @SussexMummy #FoodSafety #FamilySafety

One winner will be chosen from all the entries received by 8pm on Friday April 12th and the winner will be DM’d as soon as possible, so make sure you’re following me. Good luck!

 

Recipe: Salmon En Croute

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Information | Posted on 28-03-2013

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With Easter just around the corner, Asda’s fishmonger, Darren Wrend, has created a series of simple recipes to show you how to cook a delicious whole salmon. This is my favourite of the recipes – a delicious Salmon En Croute.

Salmon En Croute filled with Parsley, Lemon and Lemon and Pepper Butter

This recipe will serve 6 people

Ingredients needed:

2 skin-less salmon fillets (fillets taken from a whole salmon)
Bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 lemon
3 lemon and pepper butter ovals (available from the Asda fish counter)
Cracked black pepper
Sea salt
Cup of milk
2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
1 sheet of baking paper

Cooking instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 230oC/ Gas mark 8
Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper on a oven dish/tray, and on top of this lay flat one sheet of rolled out pastry
Place one salmon fillet on top of the pastry, skin down (if the fillet is too long for the pastry tuck the tail under to fit)
Along the middle of the fillet place sprigs of flat leaf parsley, then finely grate the lemon over the parsley, along with some cracked black pepper
Crumble on the lemon and pepper butter ovals for additional flavour
Place the second salmon fillet skin side down on a chopping board and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper
Once seasoned place the second fillet on top of the other fillet skinless side down
Brush the visible edge of the pastry with milk, then lay the second sheet of pastry on top of the salmon
Using the side of your hand go around the edge of the fillet and seal the pastry together, cutting off any excess pastry
Using the excess pastry decorate the top of the en croute and brush the top layer of pastry with milk
Place the salmon en croute on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry has gone a light golden brown colour

 

Review: Asda Slow Cooker

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Product Reviews | Posted on 10-01-2013

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Slow cookers are nothing new. From the looks of my Twitter feed I’d say about 75% of you have one and use it regularly. I was intrigued by the idea of owning one, mostly due to discovering that you weren’t all eating stew every night of the week. The range of foods and meals that were being created was brilliant, and I could see how useful one might be in our house. Days when we visit Grandma and are generally getting home with barely any time to cook dinner. Days when I’m at meetings or events and Daddy is looking after Little Man and there are only so many times you can eat fish fingers and chips again. Days when I just fancy trying something different.

I was reasonably confident one would get used but I must admit to being a little put off by the price. Most of the branded ones I found for £30 to £40. For a kitchen gadget which I might dislike or might get used once and then put away in a cupboard, that was a lot of money to spend. I went searching for a cheaper option but from a brand I could trust. Once again I found what I was looking for at Asda. I don’t know why I ever look anywhere else first.

Asda do a wide range of own brand electrical items, including several kitchen appliances. Their Slow Cooker has a 3 litre capacity so is perfectly sized for our little family, and is similarly sized to its higher priced competitors. It has a brushed steel exterior and a removable ceramic dish inside which makes it really easy to clean after use. Its compact size means it doesn’t take up too much room on the kitchen bench, and I’ve even managed to find a home for it on some open shelves when not in use. It has two settings – High or Low – depending on just how slow you want your food cooked, and the handles on the side and lid are cool touch so there’ll be no danger of burning yourself. My favourite thing about this Slow Cooker though is the price. It retails for just £14.96 – at least half the price of other cookers with the same capacity. The only down side was there were no recipes included, but the internet and book shops are flooded with recipes and cook books so you wont have to look far to get started. I picked myself up a book in Lakeland recently which has lots of great sounding recipes in for all the family.

We’ve used this cooker a few times and every meal has been a success. We made bolognese sauce to start with – something simple – and it was delicious. It even made enough to freeze some for two more meals. We’ve also tried out a packet mix for Slow Cookers which I found in store recently. This makes slow cooking even easier because everything is there for you, you just need to add a few fresh ingredients.

I can see this Slow Cooker being used time and time again this year and it fast becoming an important part of our kitchen. If you’re considering a Slow Cooker but have also been put off by price, or perhaps you’re just not sure how often you’re going to use one, test out the Asda one. Its a great price and a quality piece of equipment. You can find them in store or you can order them online for home delivery or free collection at your local store.

 

E-Book Review: Indian Supermeals – Baby & Toddler Cookbook

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Foodie, Information | Posted on 09-10-2012

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This week is – amongst other things – National Curry Week. Hubby and I love a nice Indian takeaway or very rarely I cook one at home, but its not something we’ve ever tried with Little Man. I vaguely recall him trying an Ella’s Kitchen pouch that was spicy but never anything other than that, so I was intrigued when I was offered a new Indian cookbook for babies and toddler to review.

Zainab Jagot Ahmed wrote “Indian Supermeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook” whilst weaning her little girl Aaliyah. Zainab was keen to introduced Asian flavours and cooking to her daughter for cultural and culinary reasons, but when she went searching for recipes she found that the baby weaning industry didn’t cater for her needs. Zainab spent a lot of time researching flavours, dietary requirements and superfoods before coming up with her own recipes which she fed to her daughter. Soon family and friends were asking for her recipes to use on their own children, and before long a cookbook was born.

The cookbook is a wealth of information and education before you even reach the recipes. There is detailed information on diet and nutrition and everything is explained clearly. There is information on recommended daily intakes based on age and clear details about how much of what your little one should be eating using the popular Eat Well Plate. I read a couple of weaning books before we started the process with Little Man – probably the same ones most parents read! – but got much more insight and relevant information from Zainab’s book. I was obviously aware of what nutrients Little Man needed but not really what his recommended intakes were. I clearly knew not to pump him full of salt or sugar, and always took an “Everything In Moderation” approach to treats, which we still do nowadays. This books was educational for me, and I think it would make a great read for anyone about to start weaning or curious about maybe giving their little ones something more interesting and less bland than the usual baby foods.

The recipes themselves begin from 7 months when you can introduce foods which are a bit more interesting and you’ve generally progressed from simple purees. They are all clearly set out with specific nutritional information, approximate preparation and cooking time, how many servings you’re going to get, and whether it is freezable. I found bulk cooking and freezing a god send when Little Man was weaning. I had a drawer full of pots in my freezer. There are no intense spicy flavours in any of Zainab’s recipes, just different flavours to ones you’ll find in the usual cookbooks or store bought baby food. You’re not about to serve your 7 month old a spicy vindaloo, you’re just looking to widen their tastes and reduce the likelihood of fussy eating later in life.

By the time you reach Stage 4: 1-3 Years you are no longer doing separate cooking for your little one, you are instead adapting your family favourites. Curries and Tagines begin to appear in the book which you can cook for your whole family. This is the chapter that I must get myself into and actually try out a few of the meals on Little Man and Hubby. They sound delicious to me and I’m sure Little Man would be willing to test a few out as he is a very good eater, though he is beginning to develop his own sense of taste and favourites.

Whether you are of Asian decent or not, and whether you’ve already started the weaning process with your little one or been through it before with older children, I highly recommend this book. As well as providing you with delicious meals and finger foods, it also provides essential knowledge and nutritional information to ensure you are raising healthy eaters, as well as varied eaters.

Indian SuperMeals: Baby &Toddler Cookbook (published by Autharium RRP £4.99) is available online at retailers including Amazon.co.uk, Tesco, WHSmith, Waterstones and ordered through all good e-bookshops.

You can find Zainab online too at her website (www.ZainabJagotAhmed.com) and on Twitter @ZainabJagAhmed

 

Product Review: My Secret Kitchen

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Product Reviews | Posted on 20-09-2012

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If you are searching for a flexible job that fits around your family life, and you are passionate about food and cooking, you might just be the kind of person that My Secret Kitchen is looking for. Working for My Secret Kitchen allows you to host Tastings in your own home. Invite family and friends round to indulge in good food and good company, and watch as the range of My Secret Kitchen foods practically sell themselves. The range is only available via My Secret Kitchen consultants and from the website, so you know the products are more exclusive than those you find in your local supermarket.

The team at My Secret Kitchen sent me a selection of their products to test out, and I am hugely impressed.

Oak Smoked Rapeseed Oil
The Rape for this oil is grown, harvested and cold pressed on the same farm in Sussex, so this is a very exciting local product. Rapeseed oil is one of the most healthy oils for your heart so is a great addition to any kitchen. Recommended by My Secret Kitchen to use in sauces, dressings and as a simple bread dipper its also really versatile. I used this oil last weekend by brushing it over the skin of a chicken I was roasting. I usually use butter or olive oil but this gave a great smoky taste to the chicken and the smell was mouthwatering.

Secret Firecracker Chilli Spices
This product is not for the fainthearted! 1/4 of a teaspoon of this will give you the same heat as one small red chilli, but at the same time it will give you the added flavour of cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic and Mexican oregano. This is going to be a great addition to homemade chilli con carne. The spice contains the “holy trinity” of Mexican chillies – ancho, pasilla and guajillo – giving it an unmistakably hot and fruity chilli flavour. Recipe suggestions for this include Chilli Lemon Chicken, Spicy Salsa, and Spicy Buffalo Sauce.

Maple Caramel Sauce
Just the name of this product should have you licking your lips. Liquid caramel mixed with a hint of warm maple syrup this sauce is divine. It tastes amazing on pancakes especially with bananas, and  makes plain vanilla ice cream heavenly just by being drizzled over it. It would also make a great topping to a sundae. In fact I think this sauce would be delicious on most desserts. Or you could just dig in and eat it by the spoonful, straight from the jar.

Secret Vanilla Pudding Spices
This spice combines vanilla with cinnamon, ground coriander seed and ginger making it a delightful sweet and spicy addition to cupboard. The secret ingredient is roasted cassia. This spice is delicious dusted on top of hot chocolates, but I think it would also be tasty on french toast or freshly made doughnuts. Mixed in to warm sponge puddings, added in to apple pies, or sprinkled over popcorn this spice will add a warming sweet flavour to a host of desserts, cakes and sweet treats. This spice should be a store cupboard staple for any keen baker.

If that’s got your taste buds twitching get over to the My Secret Kitchen website now. Not only can you buy these items – and a great range of other products – direct, you can sign up to host your own tasting session and become a consultant for them. With a range of perks and bonuses available to you and your customers, its a great opportunity for those foodies out there.