Monthly Archives: August 2010

Family Fun during the Summer Holidays

Time is so precious when you are a parent or grandparent as children grow and develop so fast.

You want to enjoy every minute with them but thinking of ways to keep them occupied can be daunting.

You don’t have to spend lots of money on expensive toys, with just a few materials and some imagination you can all have an incredibly rewarding time together both at home and in the great outdoors. Try some of these ideas during the summer holidays – all taken from the 2011 Dairy Diary, available online now!

All ages

Visit your council office or library, read the paper for details on local events and places to go. Pick up leaflets at places you visit – they sometimes have discount vouchers. Many local amenities are free or really inexpensive: Art galleries and/or museums often have scheduled events and workshops for children; Your local library may offer reading groups or music time; National Trust and English Heritage properties are free if you are members. They offer quiz trails, dressing-up, craft activities and special events; The park is perfect for ball games, the playground and picnics; Local leisure centres will offer swimming and lots of others sporting activities for all ages.

Under 5

  • Create a very simple treasure hunt at home with one word cards to follow, such as table, chair, toybox etc.
  • Food packets and tubes can be used for lots of activities: your child can sort them into different shapes and sizes; they can stick them together to build objects; they can paint them in different colours.
  • Make a themed collage (by colour or season or transport, for example) with pictures cut from magazines. If they are very young, cut the pictures out yourself.

5-12 year-olds

  • Make a calendar or clock. Decorate a paper plate then paint on numbers and secure cardboard hands with a paper fastener. To create a calendar, choose month-appropriate pictures from a magazine and stick onto 12 sheets of card or paper. Print out dates from the computer or write them down. Hole-punch each sheet and secure together with string. Both these craft projects will encourage your child to learn about time, days and months.
  • Use food packets and boxes for lots of activities: Your child can create their own shop (using scales to weigh things, stickers to price things and change to learn about money and counting); they can make a money box and learn how to save; they can paint windows, doors, flowers etc. on boxes to create a model village.
  • To make an impressive mosaic picture, draw a large, simple design (such as flowers) on a piece of paper, cut small squares from coloured paper or magazines and use one colour to fill each section of the design.

For all these activities, stay with your child to ensure they are safe. Pay particular attention to choking hazards with very young children. If you are doing any craft activities it’s a good idea to wear aprons and cover surfaces with newspaper.


Teenagers are much more independent and less likely to want to take part in structured activities. They may still enjoy crafts (card making, drawing, painting, sculpture), cooking, or reading but it is important to treat them as young adults when suggesting these ideas. Out-of-home activities may be more successful, such as ball games, swimming, skating and visiting local attractions.

Win a set of fun cookie cutters

You are still in with a chance of winning a fabulous children’s baking set. Visit to win.

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Cooking with children

For parents and grandparents alike, the summer holidays offer endless opportunities for family fun.

Not only is it important to keep children amused and ward-off boredom related grumpiness, it can be incredibly rewarding too.

Just So FestivalI am lucky enough to be attending a children’s festival at the weekend – my first festival for a long time and no doubt a lot different from the ones I attended pre-children! Just So Festival is a wonderful event with many activities, ranging from art projects, to musical entertainment and story-telling

For those of you not able to visit the festival, look out for lots of family fun tips in next week’s blog. Or buy the 2011 Dairy Diary – on sale now – which has a full feature on keeping kids amused.

Win a set of fun cookie cutters
In my experience, children love cooking. Try out these Gingerbread Clown biscuits and have a go at winning a set of fun cookie cutters by clicking on the following link.

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Gingerbread clowns

Makes 16
Time 55 mins
181 calories per clown
4G fat of which
1.8G is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians

Plain flour 250g (9oz)
Ground ginger 1 tsp
Mixed spice 1 tsp
Bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
Unsalted butter 50g (2oz)
Dark soft brown sugar 50g (2oz)
Black treacle 50g (2oz)
Golden syrup 25g (1oz)
Egg 1, beaten
Ready-made royal icing 225g (8oz)
Smarties 2 tubes

1 Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Line 2–3 baking trays with non-stick baking foil. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in centre.

2 Put butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup into a saucepan, stir over a moderate heat until melted, then pour into flour. Add egg and mix to a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface and roll out to 3mm (1⁄8in) thick.

3 Using a gingerbread man cutter, stamp out as many men as you can and place on baking trays. Re-knead trimmings and repeat until you have 16.

4 Re-roll trimmings as necessary, cut out 4 rounds with a plain 9cm (33⁄4in) round cutter. To make clown hats, cut each one into 4 triangles. Brush undersides lightly with water and place across heads.

5 Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm. Cool for 2–3 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. Decorate the clowns with royal icing and Smarties, as shown in photograph.

A Dairy Diary recipe.

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Summer barbeques

This year I planned to have lots of barbeques – informal gatherings for family and friends.

As I don’t have a huge house, but a bigger than average garden, summer is the perfect time to socialise and enjoy spending stress-free time with loved ones. Or so I thought, so far, we have managed one!

Trying to tie our various groups of friends and relations down to a date that suits everyone is akin to getting the Queen and Prince Phillip over for lunch! And now of course, the weather is very unpredictable (putting it politely!) I am, however, still determined to succeed before the leaves turn golden and we need to barbeque in woolly hats and mittens. For those of you who manage to squeeze some al fresco dining in between showers you may find the tips below useful (taken from

Clean up
Clean your barbecue after each use – this will save any nasty surprises the next time you come to the grill.

Handy tools
Keep all your barbecue tools handy to avoid traipsing back and forth to the kitchen too many times. Place everything on a side table next to the barbecue. This means you won’t have to leave the grill unattended, and you can spend more time with your guests. Always make sure tools are thoroughly cleaned and dried before putting them away.

Meat temperature
To avoid burning and drying your food, remove meat and poultry from the fridge an hour before cooking to bring it back to an ambient temperature. This will result in a more succulent cooked result. Be sure to keep the meat covered, and out of direct sunlight.

Use long handled tools
Protect your hands from the heat – always use long handled tools, such as tongs, for handling the food.

Add flavour to your meat and keep it tender by marinating for at least 20 minutes. Some meats are better left overnight, while fish only needs 20-30 minutes – the acid in the marinade will ‘cook’ it if left overnight.

Cook in foil
Save the stress of foods falling apart as you cook them – wrap them in foil. Those foods that easily stick or burn, such as fish, can be wrapped up in foil. Brush the foil with oil before adding the fish, add salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of white wine. Fold the corners together to seal the foil and keep the juices in.

And to eat…
Chicken satay with Indonesian-style salad taken from Good Food, Fast Dairy Cookbook: available online at or order by telephone 08450 948128.

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Chicken Satay with Indonesian-style salad

Succulent, nutty chicken served with a bowl of crunchy finely chopped vegetables.

Chicken Satay from Good Food, FastTime 25 minutes
Calories per portion 325 Kcal
Fat per portion 13.6g
of which saturated 7.5g
Serves 4

Skinless chicken breasts 4 large, cut into strips about 1cm (½in) thick
Peanut or satay cooking sauce 150-200g (5-7oz)
Coconut milk 175ml (6fl oz)
Lime 1, grated zest and juice of ½ and the rest cut into wedges
Mixed vegetable stir-fry 350g pack

1 Toss the chicken strips in half of the peanut cooking sauce in a bowl and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.

2 Meanwhile, soak 12 medium-length wooden skewers in hot water. Preheat the grill to hot and line a baking tray with foil.

3 Thread the chicken onto the drained skewers (2–3 strips on each) and lay on the tray. Grill for 8–10 minutes, turning halfway, until lightly charred and cooked through.

4 Meanwhile, put the remaining peanut cooking sauce in a saucepan with the coconut milk and lime zest. Place over a medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Then stir in the lime juice and set aside to cool and thicken slightly.

5 Divide the uncooked mixed vegetable stir-fry between four bowls and serve alongside the chicken satay skewers and lime wedges. Drizzle some warm peanut sauce over each salad and serve the rest in bowls for dipping the satay in.

Cook’s tip
Some supermarkets sell a 165ml mini can of coconut milk, which is ideal for this recipe. Otherwise, use part of a can and use the rest with Thai curry paste for another meal.

Recipe take from Good Food, Fast: Dairy Cookbook.

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NEW! Good Food, Fast: Dairy Cookbook

When you have rushed in from work or have hungry people patrolling the kitchen, thinking of meals let alone cooking them can be difficult.

Giving you the inspiration to rustle up tasty meals that everyone will find irresistible, Good Food, Fast, our brand new cookbook, is packed with delicious, stress-free recipes that can be whipped up in just 30 minutes or less!

Good Food, FastWith 116 recipes that cleverly use store-cupboard staples as well as combinations of fresh and frozen ingredients, Good Food, Fast ensures you can create something tempting even under pressure. Great if unexpected guests have dropped in or your day has not quite gone to plan!

Nick Rowe, Executive Editor of the Good Food, Fast Dairy Cookbook said:
“At the end of a busy day there just isn’t time to spend hours following over-complicated recipes, and the added pressure of a hungry family can make it seem like a thankless task.  With Good Food, Fast we wanted to bring together a range of inspirational recipes that were full of flavour, healthy and overall really quick to make, to take the ‘everyday chore ’ element out of cooking and bring the taste and enjoyment back. By including soups through to desserts, Good Food, Fast shows that rustling up a speedy meal for family or friends doesn’t need to be run of the mill, and that you can create delicious, impressive results even if you only have half an hour or less to do so!”

The new Good Food, Fast Dairy Cookbook is priced at £9.99 (plus £2 P&P). To order a copy call 0845 0948 128, speak to your local milkman (he should have stocks available in September) or visit

Try this fabulous recipe, Lamb Burgers with Figs,  from the book for free!

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