Monthly Archives: August 2012

Family fun for the school holidays

Family fun for the school holidays

It’s National Family Week this week, which is very apt given that it’s the summer holidays and many of us will spend lots of time with our children.

As a mum of three under-fives, I now know what a rollercoaster ride it is being a parent! BC (before children), I imagined life to be a whirlwind of harmonious activities; from playing games to spotting wildlife to making crafts.

Yes, of course, you can do these things, but in reality you may have one child who just wants to play with his cars and another who wants to eat the paint!

So, here I have suggested some ideas for the summer holidays that you and your children MAY want to try. But if they don’t want to, stay chilled (if possible!) and enjoy watching them do their chosen activity instead (even if they have been pushing trains around a track for the past 4 weeks!)

Under 5s

  • Create a very simple treasure hunt at home with one word cards to follow, such as table, chair and toybox.
  • Food packets and tubes can be used for plenty of activities: your child can sort them into different shapes and sizes; the tubes and packaging can be used as building bricks, and painted in different colours.
  • Make a themed collage (by colour, season or transport, for example) with pictures cut from magazines. If the children are very young, cut the pictures out yourself and allow them to stick.
  • Make pasta necklaces by painting individual pasta shapes, such as penne. Allow to dry, thread on to string and tie.
  • Imprint rubbing can be intriguing for little ones. Place a piece of paper over a patterned object, such as a coin, leaf or shell, and then rub over the top with a crayon. Cut a potato in half and carve a simple pattern into the flesh. Make several of these for your child to cover in paint and print the shapes on a piece of paper.
  • Paint can be used in all sorts of ways. Cut a butterfly shape from a piece of paper. Ask your child to paint a pattern on one side then fold in half while still wet to see the pattern mirrored.
  • With paint, you can also create butterflies from two children’s hand prints with a blob of paint in the middle. Sponge painting is also great fun, or try drawing patterns with wax crayon and painting over the top.
  • Use the playdough recipe (below) to create models, make patterns and cut into shapes. Baking equipment is ideal for use with playdough.
  • Encourage an interest in food at an early age by making chocolate and rice crispy cakes together, or simple flapjacks with butter, oats and syrup.
  • Play some lively music and dance with your child. Get him/ her to mirror your movements, count or clap to the beat, or waltz with your child standing on your feet.
  • Let’s pretend – choose an animal and make the relevant noises and movements. Choose contrasting animals, such as a tiny mouse and huge elephant.
  • Ask your child to clap out the rhythm of his/her name and clap along, or clap to the beat of a song. Make a simple shaker by sealing dried rice or pasta in a tub to shake along to the music.
  • At the start of the day choose one letter from the alphabet and see how many things beginning with that letter your child can spot throughout the day. Paint a picture or create a picture collage of some of those things at the end of the day.
  • Go for a short walk and collect natural objects, such as pinecones, pebbles and feathers. With glue, paint and paper, make little creatures from your finds. You could also try a ‘colour walk’ and ask your child to point out all the yellow items he or she sees, for example.

5-12 year olds

  • Family fun for the school holidaysMake a calendar or clock. For a 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 them on to 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 to play shop. Your child can use scales to weigh items, stickers for pricing and change to learn about money and counting. Or your child could make a money box, and learn how to save. Create a model village by painting windows, doors and flowers onto packets.
  • 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.
  • Fingerprint characters are fun. Simply make lots of fingerprint marks with paint on a sheet of paper and allow to dry. Then make faces, monsters, animals and bugs by adding features/hair/legs/arms/tails with a black pen.
  • Create finger puppets – ask your child to draw animal or people characters on a piece of paper. Cut them out and glue a loop of paper to the back.
  • For paper weaving, cut long thin strips from coloured paper or magazines. Then take a larger piece of paper and cut strips almost but not quite to the top so it’s fringed. Weave each complete paper strip horizontally under and over the fringed strips. Trim the sides and secure at the back with tape.
  • Encourage your child to get involved in all (safe) food preparation to foster his/her interest in food. Choose a simple recipe (try Hot chocella on p155 or Yogurt cake on p141) and follow it together.
  • Throw a dice and draw a funny animal. Each number represents a body part (write these down first), take it in turns to throw and draw part of the beast. See what bizarre creatures you can create together.
  • Using either your clothes or jumble-sale finds, play dressing up and role play. You could pretend to be pop stars, play their music and sing with a hairbrush ‘microphone’ while dressed up. Face paints or make-up are good for this activity, too.
  • Hold a treasure hunt throughout the house and garden. Make around ten simple clues, such as ‘Your next clue is very cold’ (the clue’s hidden in the fridge) and hide them in appropriate places. The treasure can be a small toy or a home-made cake. The fun is in the hunt, not the prize. You could also encourage your child to write clues for you to hunt.
  • Make a family photo album. When you go out, take photos of teddy, or a favourite soft toy, in various places. Then put the photos in an album with other family members for your child to keep. You could also create a family tree together.
  • Children often get bored while out walking. Make a countryside stroll more fun with a ‘spotter’s list’. Write a list of plants, birds and creatures with tick boxes and a small reward. For example, blackbird 2p, kingfisher 50p. Your child will then have something for his/her moneybox at the end of the walk.
  • Poetic artwork – go for a walk and jot down things you do, see, smell, touch and hear. For example, bees buzzing, the scent of lavender, warm sunshine, green grass, a thrush singing, steep hill. When you get home, encourage your child to write them all down in different coloured pens/crayons on a piece of paper.


How to make play doughHow to make Playdough

Plain flour 1 cup
Water 1 cup
Vegetable oil 1tbsp
Cream of tartar 2tsp
Salt ½ cup
Food colouring a few drops

1 Place all ingredients in a pan on a low heat.

2 Stir continuously until mixture thickens to a firm dough texture.

3 Store in an airtight container and keep away from pets.



Banana and Cinnamon muffins recipeBanana & Cinnamon Muffins

Any why not bake these delicious
muffins with your little cooks too?

This recipe can be found in our
fabulous new cookbook
Take a Box of Eggs.


Banana and Cinnamon Muffins

Banana and Cinnamon Muffins recipe

Try these lovely moist muffins. Ready in just 30 minutes!

Makes 12 muffins
Time required
30 mins Per muffin: 274 Kcal
11g fat (6.4g saturated)
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Self-raising flour 300g (11oz)
Baking powder 1 tsp
Bicarbonate of soda ½ tsp
Ground cinnamon ½ tsp
Demerara sugar 200g (7oz)
Full fat milk 300ml (½ pint)
Butter 125g (4½oz), melted
Eggs 2
Peeled bananas 200g (7oz) (about 2), finely chopped

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Sift together all the dry ingredients, except the sugar, into a bowl and lightly mix together. Then add the sugar and mix into the flour.

2 Whisk together the milk, melted butter and eggs in a jug. Stir in the chopped banana. Gently fold the liquid into the dry ingredients, taking care not to overmix.

3 Divide the batter between the muffin cases and bake for 15–20 minutes or until well risen and golden. Serve warm or cold.

Cook’s tip. If you don’t have a banana to hand, try this recipe with the same weight of frozen raspberries or blueberries or even a mixture – don’t let them thaw.

Recipe taken from Take a Box of Eggs, Dairy Cookbook.

Coffee Culture

Coffee shops are springing up on high streets all over the country, which may seem to indicate that we are drinking a lot more coffee – truth is we are actually drinking a lot more milk.

Coffee Culture 2013The latte, as its names suggests, is mainly hot flavoured milk, and the choice of flavouring can be comfortingly familiar or enticingly revolutionary!

Coffee houses have made a spectacular comeback in the 21st century. Gone are the days of steamy hot-water machines, formica-topped tables and juke boxes in the corner. Instead, you find comfortable chairs, a choice of cup sizes and a whole new range of flavours, such as gingerbread and banoffee.

The latest incarnation of coffee-house culture made its way to these shores from Italy and America, and the Brits have embraced it wholeheartedly, enthusiastically adapting it to suit.

According to research carried out for Taylerson’s Coffee Syrups, amaretto is particularly popular with the over 40s whereas ginger is taking over from the ever-popular vanilla and hazelnut.

Caramel is another favourite, and during the festive season everyone gets carried away with novelty flavours, such as Christmas cake. Seasonal changes make drinks more fun, and some coffees work hot or cold. Spiced Chai flavourcoffee, for example, is a lovely warming drink in the depths of winter, and yet is popular iced in the hottest summer.

Making a frappe

Mocha, mint choc, strawberry and banana all make a great iced coffee drink, or frappe (pronounced ‘frapay’), which is a kind of milkshake for grownups. Baristas – the people who prepare the coffee (from the Italian for ‘bartender’) – often use frappes as their ‘signature’ drink, and occasionally include alcohol to make it even more interesting. Making a frappe couldn’t be simpler. All you need is some crushed ice and about 10ml of flavoured syrup to 200ml of cold milk. Whizz them all together in a blender and seconds later it’s ready. Pour into a tall, frosted glass and you’ve got a long, cool, refreshing drink. Top it off with chocolate flakes, cream or even mini marshmallows.

For coffee suggestions see the 2013 Dairy Diary.

Cappuccino CakesAnd for coffee lovers, here
are some scrummy little
Cappuccino Cakes.
A taster of the gorgeous
recipes to be found in the
2013 Dairy Diary.


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Cappuccino Cakes recipe

Adorable coffee-flavoured cupcakes.

Cappuccino CakesMakes 12 cakes
Time 35 mins
Calories 261 per cake
Fat 17.2g of which 9.7g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing without cream

Self-raising flour 175g (6oz)
Butter 110g (4oz), at room temperature
Caster sugar 110g (4oz)
Eggs 2 large, beaten
Milk 2 tbsp
Instant coffee 2 tsp, dissolved in 1 tsp boiling water
Cocoa powder 25g (1oz)
Double cream 150ml (¼ pint)
Icing sugar 1 tbsp
Milk chocolate curls made with a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler run along underside of chocolate bar

1 Preheat oven to 180°C/350°C/Gas 4.

2 In a large bowl, add flour, butter, caster sugar, eggs, milk, coffee and cocoa powder with a pinch of salt. Beat together until mixture is smooth and has a dropping consistency.

3 Separate mixture among 12 paper cases sitting in a patty tin. Bake in oven for 15 minutes until well risen, then leave to cool on a wire tray.

4 Whisk together cream and icing sugar. Pipe or spoon the cream on top of cooled cakes and sprinkle with chocolate curls.

A Dairy Diary recipe

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Dairy Diary 2013 now available!

Dairy Diary 2013

Every year I am astonished at how early people start to ask for the following year’s Dairy Diary.

This year, I think we might have the record for the earliest, with a request in May!

We know that it’s Britain’s best-loved diary, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. Since its first edition back in 1982, it has sold well over 20 million copies!

Described as a ‘compendium of practical information’, the 2013 Dairy Diary is packed with useful hints and tips, making it the essential book for running any busy home. Split into seven easy-to-use sections, it’s full of sage advice on a vast array of subjects, from stain removal to homemade hand treatments, and childhood illnesses to looking after precious metals. It also contains a beginner’s guide to pilates, and helpful tips on how to create a bird friendly garden.

Mouth-watering recipes

The 2013 diary also features a wide selection of mouth-watering recipes to suit all occasions, from quick and simple soups and snacks, to classic staples such as beef casserole and fish pie, and delectable desserts like Hogmanay Tart and Irish Whiskey Cake.

Executive Editor, Nick Rowe, says:

“The Dairy Diary has become an essential companion over the years and this latest version, our 31st edition, is the most comprehensive one we have produced so far.
“It’s packed with recipes and practical hints and tips, which makes it an excellent point of reference.
“This edition contains some inspiring articles on a host of different topics, from bread making to homemade hand treatments, and how to transform your garden into a haven for birds.”

It’s simple to order:

  • to order online.
  • Ring 0845 0948 128 to order over the phone (Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm).
  • Or put a note out with your empties to order from your milkman.

Cherry Biscuits recipeEnjoy this Cherry Biscuits recipe
from the 2013 Dairy Diary .

Just a taster of the fantastic
recipes inside.


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Cherry Biscuits recipe

A sophisticated little nibble that’s perfect for impressing friends at tea time!

Cherry Biscuits recipeMakes 12 biscuits
Time 40 mins
Calories 183 per biscuit
Fat 8.4g of which 5g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Butter 110g (4oz), softened
Caster sugar 75g (3oz), plus 1–2 tbsp for sprinkling
Egg 1, separated
Plain flour 200g (7oz)
Ground ginger ½ tsp
Ground cinnamon ½ tsp
Dried cherries 75g (3oz)

1 Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Grease a baking sheet.

2 Cream butter and sugar together in a bowl and beat in egg yolk. Sift flour, ginger and cinnamon into another bowl and gently stir into creamed mixture. Add cherries and shape the mixture into a ball of dough.

3 Knead dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 5mm (¼in) thickness. Use an 8cm (3¼in) cutter to cut out about 12 biscuits. Place on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, lightly beat egg white. Remove biscuits from oven and brush with egg white. Sprinkle with caster sugar and bake for a further 5 minutes until golden.

A Dairy Diary recipe.

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