Monthly Archives: July 2014

What every parent holidaying in the UK should have: The Rainy Day Box

The Rainy Day Box


What every parent holidaying in the UK should have:


The Rainy Day Box

Britain is unbeatable in terms of beauty. I feel extremely lucky to live in such a gorgeous country, full of contrasting landscapes.

Of course, I love the excitement of foreign travel but I adore Great Britain and so this year we have decided to holiday at home. We’re visiting the stunning Gower peninsula for some gloriously sandy family fun.

This particularly beautiful part of the UK is very special to me as it’s where my grandmother originated from and where I spent many a happy childhood holiday.

BUT with every British holiday,
we need to be prepared.
That includes waterproofs
and wellies and our savour
– the Rainy Day Box.

The Rainy Day Box is essential for keeping the children amused indoors (as there’s only so many times you can endure the beach in the pouring rain). I prepare it in advance of the holiday so it’s ready in case we need it.


To make a Rainy Day Box:

Sturdy cardboard or plastic box (I label mine, but this is not essential)

And some or all of the following (age-appropriate for your child or children):

The Rainy Day Box

  • Colouring or activity books (I get mine when they are on offer in The Works)
  • Crayons, colouring pencils or felt tip pens
  • A board game (charity shops are great places to pick up board games)
  • Loom bands or beads for bracelet making

The Rain Day Box

  • A new DVD (I bought this one cheap from the Supermarket, but you could hire one for a week from your local library)
  • Indoor games such as jacks, dominos or jigsaws
  • Reading books
  • Craft kits (we still have some left from Christmas that we have never got around to making but you could easily make your own. In a zip lock bag put some pieces of card and paper, lollipop sticks or pipe cleaners and stickers, buttons etc. with some glue and scissors. Help your child to cut out a shape of their choice; this could be a mask or wand, or a butterfly or dinosaur. Attach pipe cleaners or lollipop sticks for the handle/antennae or legs and then let your child go wild with decorations.)


If you are self-catering you could also take a ready-made recipe kit.

Buy one or create your own by putting all the dry ingredients in a tub and wet ingredients in a small bottle. Print out the recipe and pack into your Rainy Day Box. This recipe is perfect as it doesn’t use any ingredients that require chilling.


Honey Flapjack Cookies 

Honey Flapjack Cookies

Both wheat and dairy free, these little oaty crunchies are completely irresistible.

Time 25 minutes plus cooling
Calories per cookie 72 Kcal
Fat per cookie 4g of which saturated 0.5g
Makes 30 cookies
Suitable for vegetarians

Porridge oats 125g (4½oz)
Medium oatmeal 50g (2oz)
Light soft brown sugar 110g (4oz)
Heather honey 2 tbsp
Vanilla extract a few drops
Vegetable oil 110ml (3½fl oz)
Egg 1, beaten

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and line two large baking trays with baking parchment.

2 Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Then put heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture, well spaced apart, on the baking sheets and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon – you should be able to make 30 cookies.

3 Bake for 12–15 minutes until they are a rich golden brown. Leave them to cool for 10 minutes on the baking trays before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Cook’s Tip
For the best results, choose a stronger tasting variety of honey and add a teaspoon of cinnamon or ground mixed spice for a different flavour.

Good Food Fast recipe.


Have fun everyone. You may even hope for a rainy day so you get to do all these activities!






Top Six Barbecue Favourites

Top Five Barbecue Favourites


Top Six Barbecue Favourites

Us Brits love a good barbecue don’t we? 

As soon as the sun peeps from behind the clouds we dash off for supplies and the scent of burning charcoal drifts across the land. 

This relaxed, informal way of eating is a great way to unwind and enjoy the company of good friends, but it needn’t be boring beef burgers – jazz up your barbie with these Dairy Diary favourites.


Fish Kebabs

Fish KebabsServes 1
Preparation 25 mins
Cooking 10 mins
Per portion 268 kcals, 4g fat (1.5g saturated)

110g (4oz) white fish fillet, cubed
4 unpeeled prawns
1 pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 small courgette, cut into chunks
1 tsp lemon juice
Cayenne pepper
65g (2½oz) natural yogurt
½ tsp grated lemon rind
½ tsp chopped dill

1 Thread fish, prawns, pepper and courgette on to 2 skewers, brush with lemon juice and sprinkle with cayenne pepper.

2 Place under grill and cook for 10 minutes or until fish is cooked, turning occasionally.

3 Blend together yogurt, lemon rind and chopped dill.

4 Serve kebabs with yogurt dip.

Mixed Fish Kebabs Variation. Follow recipe for Fish Kebabs. Omit prawns and pepper. Use 75g (3oz) white fish fillet and 75g (3oz) smoked fish fillet, cubed. Thread on to 2 skewers with courgette, 4 cherry tomatoes and 4 button mushrooms.


Chicken Satay with Indonesian-style Salad

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

Chicken SatayTime 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.

6 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.


Apple Pork Burgers

Pork & Apple BurgerMakes 4 burgers
Time 20 mins
Calories 328 per burger
Fat 23g of which 10.1g is saturated
Suitable for freezing

Butter 25g (1oz)
Eating apple 1 large, peeled and chopped
Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and crushed
Minced pork 450g (1lb)
Chopped sage 2 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried
Mozzarella 75g (3oz), cubed, optional
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Cheese-topped burger buns to serve
Chunky apple sauce to serve
Mixed salad leaves to serve, optional

1 Melt butter in a frying pan and fry apple and garlic for 3–4 minutes, until softened. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

2 Stir in pork, sage and seasoning. Mix together thoroughly.

3 Divide mixture into four and shape into balls. Push mozzarella into centre, if using, then form into patties.

4 Heat olive oil in pan and fry patties for 3–4 minutes on each side over a low heat until golden.

5 Serve in cheese-topped burger buns with apple sauce and salad.


Sweet & Spicy Beef Skewers

Here is an interesting and zesty way to enliven beef kebabs by adding fruity orange and the subtle spiciness of Worcestershire sauce.

Spicy Beef Skewers20 minutes preparation time plus marinating
5 minutes cooking time
187 Kcal per portion
6g fat per portion of which 2.1g is saturated
4 servings

Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp
Orange juice 1 tbsp, freshly squeezed
Sesame oil 1 tsp
Clear honey 1 tsp
Garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed
Lean sirloin steak 450g (1lb), trimmed and very thinly sliced into ribbon-like shreds
Red pepper 1 small
Yellow pepper 1 small

1 Place eight bamboo skewers in a dish, cover with water, and set aside to soak. In a small bowl, mix together the Worcestershire sauce, orange juice, oil, honey and garlic. Place the steak in a shallow dish and gently turn it in the Worcestershire sauce mixture. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

2 Meanwhile, halve and deseed the peppers and then cut them into even-sized chunks.

3 When ready to barbecue, drain the skewers and thread the pieces of steak on lengthwise – bending each piece to form an ‘S’ shape – along with chunks of pepper. Brush with any remaining marinade and cook, turning frequently, over hot coals for about 5 minutes or until done to your liking. Serve immediately with salad and rice.

Cook’s tip. Alternatively, place under a hot grill for about 3–4 minutes on each side, until tender and cooked to your liking.


And on the side, this fruity coleslaw is just perfect!

Florida Coleslaw

Florida ColeslawServes 4
Time 15 mins
Calories 99 per portion
Fat 3g of which 0.9g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians

White cabbage 225g (8oz), finely shredded
Dessert apple 1, peeled, cored and grated
Carrot 1, peeled and grated
Raisins 25g (1oz)
Orange ¼, finely grated rind and juice
Plain yogurt 110g (4oz)
Light mayonnaise 2 tbsp
Lemon juice 1 dsp

1 Combine shredded cabbage with grated apple and carrot, raisins and orange rind and juice.

2 Add yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice and plenty of salt and pepper and toss well together.


Refreshing and delicious, this grapefruit drink just perfect for a summer’s day in the garden.

Pink Grapefruit Crush

Pink Grapefruit CrushMake 1 litre (1¾ pints)
Preparation 15 mins
Per glass 67 kcals, 0g fat (0g saturated)
Suitable for vegetarians

50g (2oz) caster sugar
Handful of mint leaves
1 litre (1¾ pints) pink grapefruit juice
Crushed ice

1 Place sugar in a saucepan with 200ml (7fl oz) water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3–4 minutes.

2 Add mint to sugar syrup. Cool.

3 Remove and discard mint leaves. Add juice and stir.

4 Divide ice between glasses and pour over juice.


Visit the Dairy Diary recipe collection for more inspiring ideas.


Recipe for Lime & Mint Sugar Scrub



Recipe for Lime & Mint Sugar Scrub

This is a bit of a girlie blog I’m afraid, but men can use it too!

As it’s summer and limbs
are on show, a good shower
scrub is essential.

I am a huge fan of Soap & Glory Products but after a spectacularly horrific garage bill we are tightening our belts quite considerably. So, when my gorgeous sugar scrub ran out, I decided to be uber-sensible and make my own. I (and secretly my other half) love it!



Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients for Lime & Mint Sugar Scrub

  • Coconut oil 110g (4oz) (available from Holland & Barratt)
  • Granulated sugar 110g (4oz)
  • Lime 1, zest and juice
  • Spearmint or peppermint oil 10 drops

In a saucepan, heat coconut oil gently until melted. Stir in sugar, lime zest and juice, and oil.

Decant into a jar and store in the fridge.

Use twice a week for invigorated and super-soft skin.

Tip: You could use olive oil in place of the coconut oil (it doesn’t need to be heated). Simply add enough to the sugar to make a thick paste.







Fabulous Patio in One Weekend

Seasonal Garden Garden


Fabulous Patio in One Weekend

We seem to have inadvertently created a bog in our garden by taking up some horrid old flagstones, so next weekend we plan to tackle this gorgeous project from our Seasonal Garden Ideas book.


I may even paint the bench too.
Doesn’t it look fabulous?


Granite Setts Paving

Make a private little patio corner for yourself – a perfect place to retreat to in the garden for a few quiet moments. A circular area gives a feeling of completeness and repose.
This project can be carried out at any time of year. Allow 1-2 days to complete the work.


What you need


  • A purple/mauve/pink colour theme has been chosen for the planting, with purple-leaved Heuchera, mauve-pink thrift (Armeria maritima), black Mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) and Aeonium ‘Schwarzkopf’.
  • A spot planting of scented pink ‘Stargazer’ lilies makes a bold summer statement.


  • 60-100 granite setts.
  • Builder’s sand to cover the patio area to a depth of at least 15cm (6in).
  • More sand to brush over the complete patio to fill in between setts.
  • Wheelbarrow, spade, rake, piece of batten, mallet, trowel and garden broom.

1 Measure the area you want to cover (total circumference), then plan out how many granite setts you will need. Order these from a garden centre or builder’s merchant.

2 Dig the entire area to a depth of 15cm (6in) PLUS the thickness of the granite setts you are using. Ensure the site is level, firm and solid. Even out any bumps with a spade, then firm the soil by treading.

3 Spread sand over the entire area to a depth of 15cm (6in), then rake it smooth and level.

4 Start laying the outermost rings of setts, butting them up to each other as closely as you can while still maintaining the circular shape. Lay the batten on top as you go and tap the setts into place with the mallet.

5 Continue with the pattern, offsetting each ring of setts slightly for stability and using the same batten and mallet technique. Again, position the setts as close together as you can but not touching.

6 When the pattern is complete, spread a layer of sand on top and brush it into the crevices between the setts with a broom.

7 To complete your secret little corner, make a narrow circular flower bed around the patio – here, garnet-coloured decking has also been installed behind the circular setts area.


Tip An alternative to granite setts would be a pattern of bricks.

Note This isn’t a patio for heavy usage – if you require a firmer base for your granite setts, then lay a footing of ready-mixed concrete.

Aftercare If any of the granite setts settle down unevenly, lever them out, adjust the level of sand underneath, then replace. Remove any weeds that spring up in the sand between the setts.


Seasonal Garden Ideas £3.99You can buy Seasonal Garden Ideas
for just £3.99 (plus P&P).

It’s packed with fabulous and practical
projects that be tackled in less than a day.

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