Monthly Archives: May 2011

National Family Week

Another bank holiday, and half-term already. So a good time for National Family Week.

National Family Week websiteI’d never come across this before until a friend put me wise. Apparently, it started in Canada but is held in the autumn there, around Thanksgiving time.

There’s a website, address below, and you can have fun with the online magazine, Family Time – it’s set out like an actual magazine and you use the mouse to turn the pages. Plenty of ideas there about what to do with the kids and grandkids, as there are in this year’s Dairy Diary, pages 44-47, with some more websites to look at for inspiration.

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Barbecues usually go down well for a family get together

They can involve everyone, ‘cos the fellas usually take charge of the grilling, but at the moment the weather doesn’t seem to be very obliging.

All that wonderful sun in April and now we have the wind and the rain – not enough rain to avoid having to water the garden, at least in the southeast, though!

BBQ SauceAgain in this year’s Dairy Diary, there’s an interesting BBQ Sauce recipe to try on p.119, including rhubarb, which I love, and a more-ish (and quickish!) sounding trifle with pear and ginger on p.105.

The thing with barbecues is that you can usually put them on at short notice, and anyway you can always wrap up warm if it’s chilly, or be stalwart Brits and carry on in the rain, unless it’s torrential.

If push comes to shove, we can always move inside. I think I’ve just talked myself into it!

Have a great week and let me know how you get on with the BBQ Sauce 

Dairy Diary Team

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BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce

Don’t buy BBQ sauce, make this fabulous fruity version in no time at all!

Serves 6
Time 25 mins
Calories 85 per portion
Fat 4g of which 2.2g is saturated

Butter 25g (1oz)
Onion 1, peeled and finely chopped
Rhubarb 225g (8oz), washed and sliced
Light muscovado sugar 1 tbsp
Worcester sauce 2 tbsp
Soy sauce 2 tbsp
Ground ginger ½ tsp
Lemon juice 2 tbsp
Sultanas 50g (2oz)
Cornflour 2 tsp 1

1 Melt butter in a pan, fry onion until softened.

2 Add 150ml (¼ pint) water and remaining ingredients except cornflour. Bring up to boil, stirring. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

3 Blend cornflour with a little cold water. Add to sauce and bring back up to boil, stirring. Simmer until sauce has thickened.

Serve with grilled meat.

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Food waste and compost!

Several months ago, the council gave us all a brown plastic container for food waste, to be collected at the same time as the rubbish and the recycling.

Actually, they collected it the first week and then seemed to forget about it, but they’ve got into the swing of it now!

Some brown bins seem to be overflowing; for families with children that’s not too surprising, I suppose.

There’s just two of us, both non meat eaters – no bones or fat to get rid of – so we haven’t used ours much yet. Near enough everything bar cooked food (not much of that gets left) and fish goes in the compost. And this being national vegetarian week, there’ll be no fish to worry about either!

National Vegetarian WeekNational Vegetarian Week

This gives us a good excuse to get creative with veggies and maybe try a few new ones. Dishes with aubergine and mushrooms as a base are quite substantial; spinach and chickpeas go well together; squashes and sweet potatoes are lovely just roasted, and any tomatoey sauces can be livened up with grated ginger or finely chopped mild chilli or garlic – or all three!

There are some lovely recipes in this year’s diary to try. Cheshire pasties make a meal. Broccoli soup is delicious, and cauliflower crisp. They may even persuade the kids that these somewhat unloved vegetables are not really that bad after all.

Sweet Potato and Pepper OmeletteFor a really versatile dish try Sweet Potato and Pepper Omelette from Good Food, Fast. It’s good hot or cold and takes just 30 minutes to prepare and cook.

Dairy Diary Team

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Sweet Potato and Pepper Omelette

Sweet Potato and Pepper OmeletteA colourful vegetarian dish that is just as good served hot as it is cold. It’s good for a picnic, too.

Time 30 minutes
Calories per portion 321 Kcal
Fat per portion 18g of which saturated 4.2g
Serves 3
Suitable for vegetarians

Sweet potato 1 large, peeled, cut in half lengthways and then into 5mm (¼in) slices
Vegetable oil 1 tbsp
Red pepper 1, deseeded and cut into thin slices
Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and crushed
Eggs 6, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped parsley 2 tbsp
Finely chopped coriander 2 tbsp

1 Place the sweet potato in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes until just tender. Drain well.

2 Heat the oil in a medium frying pan and gently fry the pepper and garlic for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the potato slices, and cook, stirring, for a further minute.

3 Pack the vegetables evenly over the base of the frying pan and pour in the eggs and plenty of seasoning. Cook the omelette over a gentle heat, pushing the cooked egg from the edge of the pan into the centre, until the egg is set all over – it will take about 10 minutes to set completely.

4 Preheat the grill to hot, and place the omelette under the grill, protecting the frying pan handle if necessary, to cook for 2–3 minutes to lightly brown the top.

5 Serve hot or cold, straight from the pan, cut into wedges and sprinkled with the chopped herbs. A green salad makes a tasty crisp accompaniment.

Cook’s Tip
The secret behind making a good omelette is to keep the heat quite low and allow the egg to cook gently so it doesn’t toughen and become rubbery.

Good Food, Fast Dairy CookbookRecipe taken from Good Food, Fast

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Competition | Win a copy of Favourite Countryside Birds

Win a copy of Favourite Countryside Birds

Favourite Countryside Birds is a beautifully illustrated book featuring 28 of our most awe-inspiring feathered friends.

Win Favourite Country BirdsPacked with colour photographs and wonderful drawings from wildlife experts, Favourite Countryside Birds is a book you’ll refer to time and time again.

The layout is clear and presents the facts and folklore behind Britain’s best-loved countryside birds in an attractive and easy to read style.

We’ve searched the fields, hedgerows, woods, heaths, streams and ponds throughout Britain to discover our favourite countryside birds. For brilliant plumage, head straight to the kingfisher; for divine singing, turn to the nightingale; for daring acrobatics, flip to the nuthatch; for sheer speed, a peregrine is unbeatable – and you’ll find more awe-inspiring birds as you turn the pages.

For easy reference we have arranged the birds according to their preferred habitats: farmland and grassland, woodland and coppice, heathland and moorland, waterways and wetlands.

Six pages are devoted to each bird plus a fully comprehensive factfile for each provides fascinating and essential information at your fingertips – everything at a glance to help you identify and understand your favourite countryside birds.

Click here to enter

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The Great Caper

Someone’s given me a huge jar of capers, those little green ‘berries’, which are not an ingredient I reach for very often.

CapersAs far as I know, they’re usually sprinkled on pizzas and in sauces for fish, although I do remember using them once in a veggie dish with aubergine, onions, celery, green olives and tomatoes – caponata, a bit like a Sicilian version of the French ratatouille but without courgettes and peppers.

Try this Skate with Capers recipe taken from Just One Pot. It’s easy to prepare, very quick, tastes wonderful and is pretty healthy!

Actually, you don’t see either caponata or ratatouille very much any more, do you? I wonder why. They’re both delicious on their own, and go with meat or pasta. Perhaps they’re just known by another name.

I was also wondering what capers actually are so I looked online and it turns out they’re the unopened flower buds of Capparis spinosa, which is a prickly Mediterranean plant, and they’ve been used in cooking for thousands of years.

So I’ll have to start getting inventive. One thing I read is that if you soak them in water for a few minutes, that gets rid of the very salty, vinegary taste. So I tried that, and it does, and then you can include them with anything – they’re quite nice mixed with baked beans and can liven up a salad.

Don’t try this at home!
After getting through this lot, we’ll either be heartily sick of them or hooked. Don’t think I’ll be trying to grow my own, though. Apparently, it’s easy to confuse them with another plant, caper spurge, which has similar flower buds, except they’re poisonous.

All the best.

Dairy Diary Team

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