Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween | Pumpkin carving with kids and delicious pumpkin recipes

Halloween fun with kids and pumpkin recipes

The trick to creating the perfect Halloween treat

Most children take great delight in carving spooky features into pumpkins at Halloween.


Pumpkin carving fun with your children

Choose your pumpkin – a large, ripe pumpkin that has smooth, even surfaces and sits comfortably without danger of rolling over is best.

Sketch your pattern on paper to suit the size and shape of your pumpkin. If you’re not artistic, use a stencil or template.

Make the lid by drawing a 125mm (5″) circle on the top. Cut out the lid with the saw/blade at an angle – leaning slightly to the outside – this will stop the lid dropping inside. Remove the lid and clean its base.

The kids can remove the inside – they love this slimy job and can easily remove all the seeds and mushy stuff. Then you can takeover scraping with a spoon or ice-cream scoop. Thin walls make carving easier, but don’t make them too thin or the pumpkin will collapse. Make the base inside flat to accommodate a candle.

Apply your pattern by copying freehand onto the clean, dry pumpkin with a marker/pen/pencil or tape your paper pattern to the pumpkin and mark the design by poking holes through the pattern.

Let’s carve – adults only if you’re using a knife! Carefully begin at the centre of your pattern and work outward – small shapes first. The kids can push out the shapes as you go. Lastly ensure the pumpkin sits stably without danger of rolling.

Light up – place a tea-light in the base. Ensure the candle is level and carefully light it. Always extinguish the candle when leaving the room.

For a carving tool, we recommend a pumpkin saw. If you’re using a knife (small and sharp) carve gently and steadily, making a few gentle strokes for each cut.

But what do you do with all
the leftover pumpkin flesh?

The 2013 Dairy Diary has the answer with this scrumptious Pumpkin & Bean Soup recipe. And why not finish off with a comforting Treacle Sponge?

Pumpkin recipes for Halloween



Competition | Win a Marks and Spencer £300 Gift Token

Competition | Win an M&S £300 Gift Card

To celebrate the launch of the new Take a Box of Eggs cookbook we are giving away a £300 M&S Gift Card!

How would you spend £300 with Marks & Spencer?

Fashion? School uniforms? Food? Drink? Flowers? Something for the home? Christmas gifts? Or shoes?

The card can be used in any Marks & Spencer UK store and the online shop.

Simply answer the question, “How many chapters are there in Take a Box of Eggs?” and complete the entry form.

Enter now.

Good luck

Plant now for a gorgeous spring display

Plant now for a gorgeous spring display

I would adore to live in a chocolate-box thatched cottage, or an imposing Victorian townhouse, but the reality is actually a 1980s red brick square.

We live in a lovely village and our house is very practical for a busy family, but what it’s not is pretty.

So my mission is to try and soften its
appearance with a gorgeous garden.

As time and money are not in abundance at the moment I need to start small.

Seasonal Garden IdeasWith this project from our
Seasonal Garden Ideas book, the
patch of lifeless soil underneath
the living room window can be
transformed into a fiery riot of
colour (fingers crossed!)

Click here simple step-by-step instructions.

Seasonal Garden Ideas is available for just £3.99 – it is an ideal low-cost Christmas Gift for family and friends.


Competition | Win a LaCrosse Radio Controlled Wall Clock

Win a LaCrosse Kitchen Clock


Win a LaCrosse Radio Controlled Wall Clock for your kitchen

This contemporary finish clock is not only radio controlled, and therefore, accurate to 1 second every million years (updated from the atomic clock), but it also features, a calendar, indoor and outdoor temperature, a snooze, moon phases and minimum and maximum daily readings! It can be used free-standing or wall mounted and  includes batteries.

And it adjusts itself when the
clocks go backwards and forwards,
so no more excuses.



National Baking Week

National Baking Week recipes

This week is National Baking Week and it just so happens to be my birthday week too!

For the past few days I have been leaving cookbooks open at appropriate pages hoping that my hints for a gorgeous homemade birthday cake will come to fruition.

I just hope it’s my other half
who takes the hint rather than
my children, whose attempts
could be calamitous!

National Baking Week was set up to celebrate good old British baking and to raise vital funds for Great Ormand Street Children’s Hospital (GOSH).

Baking is all about having fun, whether baking to relax, baking with your children, baking with friends, or simply enjoying the fruits of your labour with a cuppa. Why not host a bake sale at work, school or at a local event?

Visit the website for a downloadable info pack

Here are the recipes I have been hinting at. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

National Baking Week recipes

Frosty Top Lemon Loaf  and Cranberry Bread Pudding


Take a Box of Eggs, Dairy CookbookThe delicious Cranberry Bread Pudding
recipe is just one of 100 fabulous recipes
you can find in the new Take a Box of Eggs
cookbook available now for just £7.49.

Take a closer look!





Autumn – the best season in Europe?

Autumn is my favourite season

It has been a glorious weekend. As I have three small children I am always up early – rarely by choice – but yesterday it was a pleasure.

The view from the kitchen window – sipping my coffee in an attempt to wake up – showed the valley shrouded in mist, bathed in autumnal sunshine with russet coloured trees dotted along the horizon.

Autumn is my favourite season, I love the change
in temperature, the gorgeous colours and the excuse
to unpack my favourite snuggly clothes!

It has got me thinking about the places I have visited in the autumn and some of the delicious seasonal meals I have eaten whilst on my travels.

In England, one of my favourite haunts is Chatsworth, which is breathtakingly beautiful in October. One year, I had the pleasure of bumping into Antony Gormley whilst admiring a sculpture exhibition. I enjoyed a wonderful wander around the gardens and a delicious roast beef dinner – with the most AMAZING roast potatoes in the estate restaurant.

For beauty, an autumnal Lake District is hard to beat. One climb to Catbells above Derwentwater particularly sticks in my mind – complete with a delicious flapjack on the summit courtesy of a very kind couple we bumped into on the final scramble to the top.

A little further afield, just a short budget plane journey took us to the Bienniale in Venice – a wonderfully eclectic collaboration of art from all around the globe. We had a wonderful few days in the autumn sunshine soaking up the sights, enjoying a proper Italian Bolognese and indulging the occasional ice cream.

Another gorgeous place to visit this month is Bavaria, Germany. The colours in this region are out-of-this-world, especially around the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle. A coffee and slice of strudel in a café in quaint Dinkelsbuhl will always be on my list of favourite cake moments!

So, though the beauty of my surroundings leaves its
indelible mark on me, it’s the food on my travels that
leaves a lasting impression too.

I’d love to hear about your favourite autumnal stamping ground and the meals you have enjoyed there.

Autumnal recipes from the Dairy Diary and Dairy Cookbooks


I’d like to some of my favourite autumnal recipes from Dairy cookbooks and Dairy Diaries… Sausages Baked with Apples & Squash, Red Cabbage Salad and Plum Streusal Tart.

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