Monthly Archives: February 2018

5 ways to attract birds to your garden

Garden Bird Feeders

We’re currently trying – and failing – to attract birds to our garden.

One of my children is an avid wildlife fan and was very excited to receive a bird feeder for Christmas.

However, being in a new-build with a garden devoid of plants, we’ve only managed to attract a couple of robins and not much else. Time to consult our trusty Favourite Garden Birds book.

This lovely book is packed full of charming photographs and
illustrations, avian quotes from literature, and fascinating facts
about the birds that could visit your garden.

Its chapter on helping birds should be just what we need to attract feathered friends to our plot.



And here’s the advice it imparts:


1 Provide water

Birds need fresh water more than ever in winter. They must keep their feathers clean if they are to stay warm because dirty feathers do not provide good insulation. If you do not have a pond, provide a bird-bath or wide shallow dish for them to wash in and drink from. Prevent ice from forming by floating a ball on the top, or use hot water to melt the ice each morning.


2 Put out food

Some birds are seed-eaters, others insect-eaters and some eat both. Put out a variety of foodstuffs to suit a range of species: bird seed, suet, bacon rind and other cooked meat, live mealworms, grated cheese, apples, pears and bananas.


Greenfinch eating peanuts3 In the right place

Some birds prefer to eat from a bird-table, others like pecking at crumbs on the ground, while others like hanging feeders. Make sure that the birds can feed away from prevailing winds and from predators. The best site is out in the open but near to a bush or tree so that they can hide, if needs be. Make sure you clean where they feed on a regular basis.


4 Plant for wild winter fare

There are several plants and trees that will give birds food from autumn to spring; just be sure to leave seed-heads on and any windfalls lying beneath the trees. Include some of these in your planting scheme: apple, beech, cotoneaster, hawthorn, holly, ivy, nigella, pear and viburnum.


5 Give them a place to nest

If you do not have suitable trees and shrubs in your garden consider a nest box. Fix it facing north so that it won’t become too hot in the summer. You could also put out nesting material, such as wool to give busy parents a head start. Clean thoroughly at the end of each nesting season.



Favourite Garden BirdsFor MUCH more information on birds, you can purchase Favourite Garden Birds from our online shop for just £7.99.

Click here for more information.




Recipe of the Week: Frangipane & Apricot Croissants

Frangipane & Apricot Croissants

Warm pastry filled with soft almond and apricot filling. Delicious!

Frangipane & Apricot Croissants

  • Servings: 25
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 663 per portion
Fat 41g (14g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians


  • Butter 25g (1oz), softened
  • Caster sugar 25g (1oz)
  • Ground almonds 50g (2oz)
  • Plain flour 1 tbsp
  • Egg 1
  • Ready-made croissants 2
  • Apricot halves in natural juice 6
  • Flaked almonds 1 tbsp
  • Icing sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°fan/Gas 6. Beat butter, caster sugar, almonds, flour and egg to a paste.
  2. Split croissants almost through. Spread with a generous amount of frangipane paste, top with apricots then spoon over remaining frangipane (reserving a little to use to ‘glue’ almonds to the croissants). Push tops back down. Brush pastry and apricots all over with a little juice from can. Spread remaining frangipane on top then scatter with flaked almonds.
  3. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until crisp. Dust with icing sugar and serve.


This #tripletested recipe is taken from the 2018 Dairy Diary – Britain’s best loved diary!

Recipe of the Week: Fish with Oregano Butter and Cauliflower Purée

Delicately flavoured pan-fried hake on a bed of creamy crushed cauliflower.

Fish with Oregano Butter and Cauliflower Purée

Fish with Oregano Butter & Cauliflower Purée

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 688 per portion
Fat 51g (28g sat) per portion


  • Green beans 175g (6oz), trimmed
  • Cauliflower half a head, broken into florets
  • Double cream 4 tbsp
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Hake (or cod) fillet, skin on
  • 4 x 110g (4oz)
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Butter 25g (1oz)
  • Oregano leaves 2 tbsp plus extra for garnish
  • White wine vinegar 1-2 tsp


  1. Half fill a steamer base with water and bring to the boil. Add beans to the water and cauliflower to steamer basket. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and keep beans warm
  2. Add cream to steamer base with cauliflower, nutmeg and seasoning. Bring to the boil and roughly crush with a fork.
  3. Put a non-stick frying pan on a high heat. Brush fish with oil and cook, skin-side down for 4 minutes. Turn and cook for about 2 minutes more until cooked through. Keep warm.
  4. Add butter and oregano to pan and let it brown. Remove from heat and add vinegar.
  5. Pour butter over fish and serve on cauliflower with beans. Garnish with oregano leaves.


Recipe taken from Dairy Diary 2018





Recipe of the Week: Fragrant Turkey with Chickpeas


It’s super-healthy and absolutely delicious!

This turkey recipe is so packed with flavour that you won’t even notice that it’s only 353 calories per portion.

I’ve made it three times already this year. And it really is worth the wait!


Fragrant Turkey with Chickpeas


Fragrant Turkey with Chickpeas

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Calories 353 per portion
Fat 12g (3g sat) per portion
Suitable for freezing


  • Turkey drumstick approx. 700g (1lb 9oz)
  • Sunflower oil 1 tbsp
  • Onion 1, peeled and chopped
  • Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • Root ginger 4cm (1½in) piece, peeled and finely chopped
  • Ground cumin 1 tsp
  • Ground turmeric 1 tsp
  • Mixed spice 1 tsp
  • Dried crushed chillies ½–1 tsp
  • Chopped tomatoes 400g can
  • Chickpeas 400g can, drained
  • Chicken stock 600ml (1 pint)
  • Raisins or sultanas 50g (2oz)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Carrots 350g (12oz), diced
  • Curly kale 110g (4oz), sliced
  • Rice or couscous to serve (optional)


  1. Partially sever the knuckle end of the turkey drumstick by using a large knife and hitting it with a rolling pin or hammer so that the knuckle can be bent round and will fit in a large saucepan. Heat the oil in the pan and brown the turkey for about 5 minutes, turning once or twice. When the drumstick has begun to colour, add the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes.

  2. Add the garlic, ginger, ground spices and chillies and cook for 1 minute more, then mix in the tomatoes, chickpeas, stock and dried fruit. Season with pepper and bring to the boil, stirring the sauce to mix.

  3. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the turkey is almost falling off the bone. Lift the drumstick out of the pan and put onto a plate. Add the carrots to the pan and cook uncovered for 15 minutes until just tender.

  4. Meanwhile, remove the skin, tendons and bone from the turkey, then cut the meat into pieces and return to the pan.

  5. Add the kale and cook for a few minutes until just wilted. Spoon the stew into warmed shallow bowls lined with couscous or rice, if using.

    Slow cooker method

    Follow the method to step 3 and then transfer to the slow cooker. Add the carrots, cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours. Add the kale for the last 15 minutes.

    Cook’s tips

    The ingredients list may look long but the jars of spices keep for ages and root ginger can be chopped and frozen or kept in the salad compartment of the fridge for several weeks.

    If you have runner beans, slice and add with the carrots and cook for about 10 minutes until just tender.

Recipe taken from Cook it Slowly!


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