Monthly Archives: April 2016

National Stationery Week

National Stationery Week

National Stationery Week & the London Stationery Show

What was your favourite stationery product as a child?

I had many bits and pieces over the years but my most treasured items were a tiny scented eraser (remember those?) in a little plastic box with a lid and a shiny turquoise pencil with a sparkly gem on the end (I still use this though it’s quite short now after many years of sharpening).

As a child I adored stationery and still do,
so I am immensely excited to be travelling
down to the London Stationery Show today.

London Stationery ShowIt’s going to be a hectic three days building the exhibition stand and sharing our diaries with the trade but I can’t wait to show off our new products. Maybe I will even be able to pilfer a new sparkly gem pencil!

Many pontificate about the death of the paper diary with the widespread use of the smartphone but I think there’s no comparison. You can’t flick easily from week to week to view your plans on a phone – and there’s certainly no weekly recipe sat on the page to inspire you. Amongst many other useful things, our diaries also have a handy pocket to store bits of paper, vouchers and cards – phones don’t have pockets.

Bias aside, I think paper diaries have a valuable place in our stationery repertoire in 2016 and for many years to come. Hurrah for stationery!

 

#nationalstationeryweek

#londonstationeryshow

 


 

Win a Vonshef Waffle Maker

Do you like waffles? Brownies? Doughnuts?

Of course you do – so you need to enter now!

Dairy Diary is giving you the chance to win a VonShef 3 in 1 Waffle, Brownie & Mini Doughnut Snack Maker.

It makes 7 delicious mini doughnuts, 4 scrumptious brownies or 4 fluffy waffles in as little as 5 minutes!

Share and enter now!

ENTER

 

http://www.dairydiary.co.uk/competitions/win-waffle-maker.html

 

Recipe of the Week: Spiced Cottage Pie

Spiced Cottage Pie

A delicious twist on the ubiquitous cottage pie. This fabulous recipe is cheap to make and perfect to freeze.

 

Spiced Cottage Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Calories 737 per portion
Fat 25g (10.8g sat) per portion
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Sunflower oil 1 tbsp
  • Minced beef 500g (1lb 2oz)
  • Onion 1, peeled and chopped
  • Medium hot curry powder 2 tbsp
  • Carrot 150g (5oz), diced
  • Red lentils 150g (5oz)
  • Beef stock 600ml (1 pint)
  • Tomato purée 1 tbsp
  • Sultanas 50g (2oz)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Potatoes 680g (1½lb), peeled and cut into chunks
  • Butter 50g (2oz) Milk 4 tbsp
  • Ground turmeric ¼ tsp
  • Cooked frozen peas to serve (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the mince and onion, stirring and breaking up the mince, for about 5 minutes until it is evenly browned.
  2. Stir in the curry powder and carrot, cook 1 minute and then mix in the lentils. Pour in the stock, tomato purée, sultanas and seasoning and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lentils are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, put the potatoes into a saucepan with just enough lightly salted water to cover them. Cover with the lid and bring the water to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Drain the potatoes, return them to the pan with half the butter and the milk and turmeric and season with salt and pepper. Mash well, adding the milk as needed to make a soft spoonable mash.
  5. Preheat the grill to hot. Spoon the mince mixture into an ovenproof dish, cover with the potato and fork the mash into an even layer. Dot the remaining butter over the top and grill for 5–10 minutes until browned. Serve with peas, if you like.

Cook’s tip
Leftover lentils can be used to make a delicious, filling soup. Cook 110g (4oz) lentils with 1 chopped potato, carrot, onion and parsnip (or any other leftover veg you fancy) and 900ml (1½ pints) stock very gently for 1 hour. Purée with a stick blender before you serve.

 


Fantastic Food For Less cookbook

 

This recipe comes from Fantastic Food for Less.

The clever recipes in this cookbook show you how to cook fantastic food using good quality, affordable ingredients with minimum waste.

Order your copy of Fantastic Food for Less.

Order now

 

 

 

#recipeoftheweek
#cottagepie
#tripletested

World Book Night and My Top Ten Adult Books

Top 10 Adult Books

World Book Night and My Top Ten Adult Books

I love reading book lists and I have just discovered 15 new recommendations on the World Book Night website. I’ll certainly be purchasing one or two of these to begin on Saturday, which is World Book Night.

World Book Night 2016When there’s so much choice (but also so much terrible writing) out there it’s always good to have recommendations.

Here is my top ten. It’s a challenge to select just ten but I have managed to whittle it down to these:

The Olive Farm series by Carol Drinkwater
Easy feel-good reading with plenty of sunshine and quirky characters – lovely!

Eric Ravilious, Imagined Realities by Alan Powers
When I was a student I chose Eric Ravilious, as the subject for my dissertation. After so much research into this artist, who was a designer, watercolourist and finally a war artist (he went missing in action) I feel a close affection for him. I was even privileged enough to read letters between him and his wife from the Imperial War Museum archives. This book gives a fantastic resume of his work.

Desert Flower by Waris Dirie
This story is so incredible it’s hard to believe it’s not fiction. This inspirational lady shows how it’s possible to achieve amazing things against all the odds.

Dairy Diary
Of course! Juggling three children, running a home and working full-time, I couldn’t live without my trusty planning tool.

Dairy Book of Home Cookery
If I need to make a white sauce, bake a few scones or whisk up a dressing, I know that the recipe will be in here. It’s the kitchen bible that every household needs.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
So full of complexities, characters and sub-plots it’s difficult to describe this book in just a couple of sentences. Just READ IT – it’s incredible.

The Other Side of the Dale (The Dale Series) by Gervais Phinn
Describing his life as a school inspector, the books in this series with their stories of school children in rural Yorkshire are wonderful. Every page makes you smile.

Michael Palin Diaries
If I could choose one dinner party guest it would be Michael Palin. His life has been crammed full of laughter and adventure and despite his fame he seems really grounded and ‘a thoroughly nice chap’! I’ve been fascinated by each one of his diaries (though they do make your arms ache in bed!)

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
How such as harrowing plot can be so beautifully written is astonishing. Despite the macabre subject, this book doesn’t feel dark, but full of light. I loved it.

Fantastic Food for Less
This is my favourite of all the cookbooks we have produced. The recipes are simple but a bit different, use low-cost but good quality ingredients and most importantly – taste amazing. We make the Spiced Cottage Pie (see below) almost every week.

 

How to organise books

The most satisfying method for organising your books ever!

Not so long ago I spent a whole evening reorganising my books. Yes I know, I DO need to get out more. But wow, how satisfying! By sorting all my books into colours and displaying them in colour blocks rather than by author, they look so pretty! As we don’t own a library, I think this unorthodox classification method is okay (I just need to buy a few more purple ones!)


 

Spiced Cottage Pie

Spiced Cottage Pie

  • Servings: 50
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Calories 737 per portion
Fat 25g (10.8g sat) per portion
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Sunflower oil 1 tbsp
  • Minced beef 500g (1lb 2oz)
  • Onion 1, peeled and chopped
  • Medium hot curry powder 2 tbsp
  • Carrot 150g (5oz), diced
  • Red lentils 150g (5oz)
  • Beef stock 600ml (1 pint)
  • Tomato purée 1 tbsp
  • Sultanas 50g (2oz)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Potatoes 680g (1½lb), peeled and cut into chunks
  • Butter 50g (2oz) Milk 4 tbsp
  • Ground turmeric ¼ tsp
  • Cooked frozen peas to serve (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the mince and onion, stirring and breaking up the mince, for about 5 minutes until it is evenly browned.
  2. Stir in the curry powder and carrot, cook 1 minute and then mix in the lentils. Pour in the stock, tomato purée, sultanas and seasoning and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lentils are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, put the potatoes into a saucepan with just enough lightly salted water to cover them. Cover with the lid and bring the water to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Drain the potatoes, return them to the pan with half the butter and the milk and turmeric and season with salt and pepper. Mash well, adding the milk as needed to make a soft spoonable mash.
  5. Preheat the grill to hot. Spoon the mince mixture into an ovenproof dish, cover with the potato and fork the mash into an even layer. Dot the remaining butter over the top and grill for 5–10 minutes until browned. Serve with peas, if you like.

Cook’s tip
Leftover lentils can be used to make a delicious, filling soup. Cook 110g (4oz) lentils with 1 chopped potato, carrot, onion and parsnip (or any other leftover veg you fancy) and 900ml (1½ pints) stock very gently for 1 hour. Purée with a stick blender before you serve.

 


 

Dairy Book of Home Cookery

 

Order your copy of Fantastic Food for Less
or the Dairy Book of Home Cookery.

Order now

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your top ten books?
I would love some new suggestions!

 

#dairybookofhomecookery

#fantasticfoodforless

#toptenadultbooks

#worldbooknight

Recipe of the Week: Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus Risotto

Full-flavoured, deliciously sweet and tender, British asparagus is regularly described as the ‘best in the world’.

Serves 4
Time 40 mins
Calories 518 per portion
Fat 20g of which 11.9g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians

Butter 25g (1oz)
Shallots 4, peeled and finely chopped
Garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed
Risotto rice 300g (11oz)
White wine 150ml (¼ pint)
Hot vegetable stock 900ml (1½ pints)
Small asparagus spears 125g pack, trimmed
Frozen peas 110g (4oz)
Chopped flat-leaf parsley 2 tbsp
Stilton cheese 150g (5oz), cubed

1 Melt butter in a sauté pan and fry shallots and garlic for 3–4 minutes until softened. Stir in rice and fry for a further minute. Pour in wine and simmer to evaporate off.

2 Gradually stir in hot stock, cooking for 18–20 minutes, until rice is tender, and all stock has been absorbed.

3 About 5 minutes towards end of cooking time, add asparagus and peas.

4 Before serving, stir in parsley and half cheese, then season to taste. Spoon into bowls, scatter over remaining cheese and serve immediately.

Dairy Diary recipe.

National Gardening Week

Succulents and Seashells project

Year-Round Interest in 5 Simple Steps 

National Gardening WeekAs it’s National Gardening Week I thought I would do something a little different in the garden.

Instead of the usual flowering basket I’m going to tackle this easy project from our Seasonal Garden Ideas book.

It only takes a few minutes but should give interest throughout the year.

Cute!

 

Succulents & Seashells

Succulents are often grown as indoor house plants, but many varieties are perfectly hardy and do well outdoors – if given full sun and really sharp drainage. Striped and whorled seashells make perfect partners for these shapely rosettes.

Plant in spring. Succulents like these usually flower in June and July but their thick, fleshy leaves provide year-long interest. Creating a display like this will take one to two hours.

 

What you need

Plants

Selection of houseleeks (Sempervivum) and echeverias – read the plant labels carefully to check that the ones you choose are fully hardy. Sempervivum arachnoideum, S. tectorum and Echeveria elegans – and their numerous varieties and colour forms – are some to look for.

Equipment

  • Large stone terracotta or ceramic container with drainage holes at the bottom.
  • Gritty compost, such as that sold for cacti.
  • Broken crocks for drainage.
  • Selection of seashells.
  • Fine gravel or grit for a topping.
  • Trowel.

Instructions

1 Line the container with broken crocks for drainage, then fill it nearly full with gritty compost.

2 Carefully tip the rosettes out of their pots – the leaves can break off easily, so handle very gently – and plant them in the compost, leaving room for the shells.

3 Top up the compost with the fine gravel or grit – allow for at least a 2.5cm (1in) layer. Then pile up the shells around and between the succulents.

4 Water moderately, then follow the plant label instructions for subsequent watering. Position the container in full sun and bring into a sheltered area during winter.

Tips

As an alternative to seashells, try pebbles or cobbles of various shapes, sizes and colours. These plants also do really well in rockeries or on the top of drystone walls.

Notes

It can take quite some time for a houseleek or echeveria to flower – and when it does, that rosette dies, but it is quickly replaced by new ones. The leaves of some varieties change colour in summer, turning from green or silvery grey to red or bronzed.

Aftercare

Deadhead flowers as they wither (they usually appear in summer). Remove any withered or damaged leaves.

 

 

Seasonal Garden IdeasSeasonal Garden Ideas is a beautiful
book featuring simple projects, with
easy-to-follow instructions, to add
beauty to any garden.

You can order a copy for just £3.99.

Buy Seasonal Garden Ideas

 

 

 

 

 

 

#seasonalgardenideas

#nationalgardeningweek

Recipe of the Week: Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies

Take A Box Of Eggs cookbook

Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies

  • Servings: 20
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 225 per portion
Fat 12.2g (7.3g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Butter 200g (7oz), softened
  • Soft light brown sugar 150g (5oz)
  • Eggs 2, beaten
  • Self-raising flour 300g (11oz)
  • White chocolate 200g (7oz), chopped
  • Dried cranberries 75g packet

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas 5 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Beat the butter with the sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and flour and mix well. Work the chopped chocolate and cranberries into the mixture.
  2. Drop generous dessertspoonfuls of the mix onto the prepared baking sheet and cook in batches for 10–15 minutes until the cookies are golden, but still soft. Leave to cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cook’s tip
This is one of those wonderful recipes that is great to get children interested in baking as it doesn’t involve the use of an electric mixer – just keep an eye on where the white chocolate ends up!

Take a Box of EggsTake A Box Of Eggs

Discover the delight of cooking with eggs; nature’s own convenience food. This recipe is taken from Take a Box of Eggs, which features 100 easy, irresistible recipes in an attractive yet straightforward style.

Buy now for just £7.49.

#childrensbookday

#cookingwithkids

#toptenchildrensbooks

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