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Dairy Diary 2015 brain training article

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Why classical music is good for the brain

Did you know that listening to Mozart can help to boost your brain power, but watching too much television can have the opposite effect?

This is music to my ears (sorry!!) as I have just discovered that my eldest child has a real passion for piano. Our piano has sat forlorn for years as I no longer ever seem to find the time (or talent) to play but now it is regularly favoured over children’s TV, which is wonderful (let’s hope it lasts!)

It’s not just classical music that can improve our
brain power though, in the Brain Training feature
in the 2015 Dairy Diary we reveal lots of tips on
how to keep your brain active.

Anything that engages different parts of the brain at the same time is especially effective. The left side is concerned with logic, sequential thinking and decision making; the right side with creativity, imagination and random ideas.

Here are seven tips for boosting brain power taken from the 2015 Dairy Diary:

  1. Tackle crosswords, sudokus, quizzes and puzzles, or take up bridge. Solving cryptic puzzles involves several parts of your brain – logic, recall, creative thought, analysis, deciding on likely options, dealing with frustration – and the benefits increase if you do it with someone else.
  2. Learn something new and challenging e.g. chess, crochet, a musical instrument. Learning another language may seem ambitious but is especially good because it forces your brain to switch tracks continuously, which is one of the most mentally demanding things you can do. It helps hone the frontal lobes, the brain’s mind managers, which tend to shrink as part of the ageing process.
  3. Study a subject that you find interesting e.g. botany, nutrition, a specific era of history.
  4. Read, and maybe join or start a book club. Discussing books with others hones your critical/analytical skills.
  5. Make up brain games to play with friends e.g. think of an animal or food for every letter of the alphabet. Focusing on simple tasks helps to improve concentration as well as boosting brain power. Include memory games, so that each person has to repeat what has already been said.
  6. Listen to music. Listening to Mozart has been shown to improve spatial and mathematical reasoning.
  7. An exercise to help improve your concentration is to spend a few minutes every day emptying your mind and thinking of nothing but your breathing. Practising focusing on one thing will help you to de-clutter and calm your thoughts, so you can concentrate better the rest of the time.

I think I had better turn our Friday Film Night into a board games and Beethoven evening!

We can tuck in to these absolutely gorgeous Bruchetta instead of the obligatory popcorn.

Gorgonzola Bruschetta with Balsamic Figs recipe

Gorgonzola Bruschetta with Balsamic Figs

Time 20 mins plus standing
Makes 4
Calories 193
Fat 10g of which 2.9g is saturated

Brown sugar 1 tbsp
Balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp, plus extra to serve
Figs 2, cut into eight
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Ciabatta 4 slices
Garlic ½ clove, peeled
Watercress 2 small handfuls
Mint leaves 2 tbsp
Gorgonzola piccante 50g (2oz), crumbled

1 Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Combine sugar and vinegar and coat figs in this mixture. Leave for 15 minutes and then transfer to a baking tray and roast for 10-12 minutes until soft.

2 Meanwhile, brush oil over ciabatta slices and toast for 1-2 minutes each side. Rub lightly with garlic.

3 Top ciabatta with watercress, mint, figs, a little black pepper and Gorgonzola. Drizzle with a little oil and vinegar before serving.

A Dairy Diary 2015 recipe.

 

 

 

 

Read the blogs on our website.

Iced Lavender Loaf

Afternoon Tea Iced Lavender Loaf

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Iced Lavender Loaf

Time: 35 mins
Makes 2 loaves
Per loaf:
Calories 176/slice
Fat 10g of which 6g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Milk 75ml (3fl oz)
Fresh lavender flower heads 6, plus extra for decoration, or 1 tsp dried lavender
Unsalted butter 175g (6oz) softened
Caster sugar 175g (6oz)
Lemon 1, finely grated zest
Eggs 3, beaten
Self-raising flour 175g (6oz)
Icing sugar 225g (8oz)
Violet food colouring

1 Put milk and flower heads, or dried lavender, in a small pan and bring slowly to simmering point over a low heat. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

2 Strain milk into a bowl and discard lavender.

3 Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

4 Beat butter, caster sugar and lemon zest together until soft and creamy. Beat in eggs a little at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each egg. Fold in remaining flour and 2 tablespoons of lavender milk.

5 Spoon the mixture into two loaf tins and level the top of each one. Stand the tins on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

6 Leave to cool in tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

7 Sieve icing sugar into a bowl and stir in enough lavender milk to make a smooth paste that just holds its shape. Tint icing by mixing in a little violet food colouring and then spread it over tops of cakes with a palette knife. Decorate each cake with small sprigs of lavender flowers. Leave to set before serving.

A Dairy Diary recipe.

 

 Read the blogs on the Dairy Diary website.

 

 

 

Win a three-teir china cake standWin a gorgeous
china cake stand

I would also LOVE this fabulous
cake stand (though sadly I am
not allowed to enter).

Enter our prize draw to be in a
chance to win it and a 2015 Dairy Diary.

ENTER NOW

 

 

The Perfect Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea with Dairy Diary 2015

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THE Perfect Afternoon Tea

“Under certain circumstances there
are few hours more agreeable than
the hour dedicated to the ceremony
known as afternoon tea.” 
Henry James – The Portrait of a Lady

Beautiful china, tranquil surroundings, fabulous friends and delicious cakes – what more could anyone want on a Saturday afternoon in October?

There was a time when my best friend and I (who was born just two weeks before me) celebrated our birthdays by dancing until the early hours. These days we might not get past ten o’clock and a more sedate celebration is called for! Inspired by the feature on afternoon tea in the 2015 Dairy Diary, I booked us into the Great John Street Hotel in Manchester for a truly decadent afternoon tea.

The Ladies Afternoon tea began with delicate finger sandwiches filled with smoked salmon, egg, beef, cream cheese and cucumber, served with the pièce de resistance three tier stand with light, crusty scones and rich clotted cream accompanied by a variety of homemade cakes and pastries. This was served with tea and a glass of Perrier Jouet champagne. After all it is a ladies prerogative to enjoy only the finer things in life!

The best afternoon teaThe concept of afternoon tea began with Anna Maria Russell, the 7th duchess and one of Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting, who, at 4 o’clock would send for a pot of tea and ‘a little something’ to tide her over until dinner. Once she started inviting friends to join her in the privacy of her rooms, society hostesses soon cottoned on to the idea and tea parties progressed from boudoir to drawing room.

Tea consisted of dainty sandwiches with not a crust in sight, pastries and cakes plus bread and butter and biscuits. It was an informal occasion, although informal then is not the same as informal now. Tea gowns were worn and hats – gloves were optional. Tea was poured by the hostess and cups handed round by any menfolk present or the daughters of the house.

I am truly inspired by Duchess Russell (and the Great John Street Hotel) and plan to host my own afternoon tea – tea gowns optional – on a regular basis. All I need is my trusty Dairy Diary for delicious recipes, pretty china and peace and quiet. I think we can manage without any menfolk to pass around the cups!

Win a three-teir china cake standWin a gorgeous
china cake stand

I would also LOVE this fabulous
cake stand (though sadly I am
not allowed to enter).

Enter our prize draw to be in a
chance to win it and a 2015 Dairy Diary.

ENTER NOW

 

 

 

Tempted by afternoon tea?

Add this classic to your repertoire.

 

Afternoon Tea Iced Lavender Loaf

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Iced Lavender Loaf

Time: 35 mins
Makes 2 loaves
Per loaf:
Calories 176/slice
Fat 10g of which 6g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Milk 75ml (3fl oz)
Fresh lavender flower heads 6, plus extra for decoration, or 1 tsp dried lavender
Unsalted butter 175g (6oz) softened
Caster sugar 175g (6oz)
Lemon 1, finely grated zest
Eggs 3, beaten
Self-raising flour 175g (6oz)
Icing sugar 225g (8oz)
Violet food colouring

1 Put milk and flower heads, or dried lavender, in a small pan and bring slowly to simmering point over a low heat. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

2 Strain milk into a bowl and discard lavender.

3 Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

4 Beat butter, caster sugar and lemon zest together until soft and creamy. Beat in eggs a little at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each egg. Fold in remaining flour and 2 tablespoons of lavender milk.

5 Spoon the mixture into two loaf tins and level the top of each one. Stand the tins on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

6 Leave to cool in tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

7 Sieve icing sugar into a bowl and stir in enough lavender milk to make a smooth paste that just holds its shape. Tint icing by mixing in a little violet food colouring and then spread it over tops of cakes with a palette knife. Decorate each cake with small sprigs of lavender flowers. Leave to set before serving.

A Dairy Diary recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 Read the blogs on the Dairy Diary website.

 

Win a gorgeous three-teir cake stand

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Competition 

Win a gorgeous three-tier china cake stand

Dairy Diary 2015 diaryTo celebrate the launch of Dairy Diary 2015 – Britain’s best-selling A5, home and kitchen diary – we are offering you the chance to win this gorgeous three-tier china cake stand.

Show off your fabulous cakes and pastries in style.
A must for every domestic goddess.

The lucky winner will also receive a 2015 Dairy Diary, which provides plenty of inspiration for the quintessential afternoon tea.

For your chance to win simply answer the question:
Dairy Diary has been Britain’s favourite A5 home diary since when?

Hint: you can find the answer on the Dairy Diary 2015 page.

Win a gorgeous cake stand

Britain's best-selling 2015 diary

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The Dairy Diary

5 good reasons why it’s still Britain’s favourite

I am delighted to announce that this week sees the much-anticipated official launch of the gorgeous 2015 Dairy Diary.

The Dairy Diary has sold millions of copies since it was first launched in the eighties and is still a firm favourite with its readers today.

But why is it that people love the Dairy Diary so much? Some say it’s about nostalgia or about their loyalty to the milkman, and that may be partly true but I think there are several other very good reasons that make it Britain’s best-loved home diary:

  1. It’s so practical. Each week has plenty of space to write and with its clever spiral binding it lies flat on the table.
  2. Reliable recipes. Everyone who uses the Dairy Diary knows that each and every recipe is triple-tested and works every time.
  3. It moves with the times. Although the Dairy Diary has been around since the early eighties it doesn’t just remain the same every year. Since then it has had new binding, a handy notes pocket, useful dates stickers, design revamps and of course new information every year.
  4. It provides customers with what they want. We really do listen to our customers – every letter and email is read and any suggestions are noted. We also do regular research with our purchasers to find out how we can improve the diary.
  5. It’s still a book! In a digital obsessed world, many see paper products as a thing of the past. We know that our customers love the Dairy Diary as a paper book and find it much more convenient than turning on a tablet or laptop.

To see the Dairy Diary in all its glory click below:

Look inside the Dairy Diary 2015

Play the Dairy Diary 2015 video

 

And here’s a taster of what it has to offer:

Cranberry & Raisin Spotted DickCranberry & Raisin Spotted Dick

Time 1¾ hrs
Serves 6
Calories 442
Fat 19 of which 8.9g is saturated
Suitable for freezing

Self-raising flour 250g (9oz)
Ground cinnamon ¼ tsp
Shredded suet 125g (4½oz)
Orange 1, grated rind only
Milk 175ml-200ml (6-7fl oz)
Dried cranberries 75g (3oz)
Raisins 75g (3oz)
Caster sugar 75g (3oz)
Custard or cream to serve

1 Stir together flour, cinnamon, suet and orange rind in a bowl. Pour in milk, starting with 175ml (6fl oz), and adding a little more at a time until you have a moist but firm dough.

2 On a lightly floured surface roll dough out to a rectangle 20x28cm (8x11in). Mix together remaining ingredients and scatter over dough. Roll up as if making a Swiss roll from narrow end. Push any fruit that falls out back into the ends. Wrap in greaseproof paper and foil, making a pleat in each, twisting the ends to form a seal (like a cracker) and tie with string.

3 Cook in a large steamer set over a pan of boiling water for 1½ hours. Check water level.

4 Allow to cool slightly before unwrapping. Serve in thick slices with custard or cream.

A Dairy Diary recipe.

Baked Apples recipe

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Baked Apples

Serves 4
Time 45 mins
Per portion
223 Kcals/serving
Fat 8g (5.2g sat)
Suitable for vegetarians
Butter 40g (1½oz), softened
Light muscovado sugar 40g (1½oz)
Chopped glacé ginger 1 tbsp
Glacé cherries 25g (1oz), chopped
Ready-to-eat prunes 75g (3oz), chopped
Dessert apples 4
Custard to serve (optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until soft and smooth. Stir in the glacé ginger and then add the cherries and prunes.

2 Cut a thin slice off the top of each apple and reserve. Core the apples and cut a very thin slice off the bottom if needed, to stop them rolling around.

3 Stand the cored apples in a small 20cm (8in) circular dish, then press the fruit mixture into the cavities, spooning the remainder over the cut top edge. Press the apple lids back in place.

4 Add 2 tbsp of water to the base of the dish, then bake for 30 minutes until the apples are tender. 5 Serve hot with custard, if you like.

Recipe taken from Fantastic Food For Less

 

Don’t miss the seasonal recipes available on the Dairy Diary website.

 

Seasonal recipes from the Dairy Diary

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The Perfect Autumn Menu

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The Perfect Autumn Menu

Celebrate the harvest season by enjoying some wonderful seasonal British Food.

Recipes taken from the new Fantastic Food For Less cookbook.

Take a look at our Pinterest page for lots more inspirational recipes.


Parsnip Soup

Piquant Parsnip Soup

Time 1 hr. 
Per portion: 264 Kcal,
15g fat (7.7g saturated).
Serves 4
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Butter 25g (1oz)
Parsnips 675g (1½lb), peeled and sliced
Bramley cooking apple 1, peeled and sliced
Vegetable stock 1.25 litres (2 pints)
Dried sage ½ tsp
Single cream 150ml (¼ pint)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the parsnips and apple. Cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 Pour the stock into the saucepan and add the sage. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the parsnip is softened.

3 Purée the soup with a hand-held blender, and then reheat gently with the cream and season to taste before serving.


Mackerel Fishcakes

Mackerel Fish Cakes

Time 20 minutes. 
Per portion: 681 Kcal, 52g fat (12.4g saturated)
Serves 4
Suitable for freezing

Peppered smoked mackerel fillets 345g pack
Mashed potato 350g (12oz)
Chopped parsley 1 tbsp
Creamed horseradish 2–3 tbsp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Egg 1, lightly beaten
Milk 2 tbsp
Fresh white breadcrumbs 75g (3oz)
Butter 25g (1oz)
Sunflower oil 1 tbsp
Mayonnaise 4 tbsp

1 Baked potato wedges and salad to serve (optional)

2 Flake the mackerel fillets and stir into the mashed potato, along with the parsley, 1 tablespoon of horseradish sauce and seasoning.

3 Divide the mixture into 8 and mould each portion into shape. Beat the egg with the milk, dip the fish cakes in the egg mixture and then coat in breadcrumbs.

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat until foaming and cook the fish cakes for 4–5 minutes on each side (in batches, if necessary) until they are golden brown and warmed through.

4 Stir the remaining horseradish into the mayonnaise and season to taste with salt and pepper.

5 Serve the fish cakes with the flavoured mayonnaise, and with potato wedges and salad, if you like.


Baked Apples

Baked Apples

Time 45 minutes. 
Per portion: 223 Kcal, 8g fat (5.2g saturated)
Serves 4
Suitable for vegetarians

Butter 40g (1½oz), softened
Light muscovado sugar 40g (1½oz)
Chopped glacé ginger 1 tbsp
Glacé cherries 25g (1oz), chopped
Ready-to-eat prunes 75g (3oz), chopped
Dessert apples 4
Custard to serve (optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until soft and smooth. Stir in the glacé ginger and then add the cherries and prunes.

2 Cut a thin slice off the top of each apple and reserve. Core the apples and cut a very thin slice off the bottom if needed, to stop them rolling around.

3 Stand the cored apples in a small 20cm (8in) circular dish, then press the fruit mixture into the cavities, spooning the remainder over the cut top edge. Press the apple lids back in place.

4 Add 2 tbsp of water to the base of the dish, then bake for 30 minutes until the apples are tender. 5 Serve hot with custard, if you like.


Fantastic Food For Less cookbookFantastic Food for Less

Enjoy fantastic food and save money at the same time with the new Fantastic Food For Less cookbook.

It’s about cooking delicious meals more economically – each recipe is simple to cook, tastes fabulous and won’t cost the earth.

Fantastic Food For Less features 100recipes that have been triple-tested to ensure perfect results first time!

  • Soups & Snacks
  • Main Courses
  • Desserts & Bakes

Available now for just £7.99

 

 

Read the blogs on our website. 

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