Monthly Archives: May 2021

Ideas for National Children’s Garden Week

National Children's Garden Week

With everything now in full leaf, the sun finally shining AND a bank holiday, it’s the perfect time to get out in the garden

And as it’s National Children’s Gardening Week this week why not encourage little ones to join in too? This annual event celebrates the fun that gardens hold for children. Take a look at their website for all sorts of simple garden projects.

Seeing something they have planted flourish gives children a sense of wonder and accomplishment.

You could plant fruit, herbs or veg (now’s a perfect time for tomatoes, courgettes and peppers), or maybe a simple planter. There’s an abundance of bedding plants available at the moment and you could encourage them to choose your own. Or look for specific varieties.

Planting a summer container

These work really well together in a pot, should be simple to maintain (regular watering and a weekly feed) and give colour for months to come: Petunias, Lobelia and Salvia. Use a pot, planter, or even an old bowl or sink.

The more creative the better!

Emily Davenport

Emily Davenport

I post a blog every week featuring food, family and fun. There are lots of useful household tips, crafty ideas, giveaways and delicious recipes that I think you will find irresistible.

Regional British Food Part 2 (and quirky customs!)

Regional British Food – Western England

Regional British Food part 2: Western England

Rarely celebrated today, 29 May is also known as Oak Apple Day, the former public holiday held to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy.

In some regions, and in particular the midlands, celebrations of Oak Apple Day continue to this day where it is common for people to decorate their houses with oak branches or wear a sprig of oak as their ancestors once did.

In Northampton, a garland of oak apples is laid at the statue of King Charles II, whilst in Castleton, Derbyshire, the Garland King rides through the streets of the town at the head of a procession. The medieval Great Hall at the Commandery in Worcester, where a portrait of Charles II portrait hangs, is festooned with garlands of oak leaves and its gardens filled with Morris dancing, garden games and living history.

As with every region of Britain, Western England is also famed for its culinary heritage. From the Staffordshire oatcake to Birmingham Bacon Cakes, Malvern Cherry cake and Shrewsbury biscuits, Worcestershire sauce and, of course, Cadbury chocolate.

Our Around Britain cookbook showcases some classic recipes from this region of central England and introduces us to more of its culinary history.


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Around Britain Cookbook Western England Guide

The shire counties are sometimes known as the Heart of England and certainly, the rolling Malvern Hills, the honey-stone Cotswold cottages and the orchards seen in these western regions are quintessentially English sights.

The region is a foodie’s delight for every year the Ludlow Food Fair highlights the huge variety of excellent fare on offer. The warm, moist climate and rich, heavy soil create fertile conditions for fruit and vegetables, while the grassy hills have long been populated by sheep, which provide meat and wool for the weaving industries. 

But it is dairy farming in this region that provides ingredients for its well-known chocolate bars and yogurt desserts. Also renowned are its cheeses, such as the golden Double Gloucester, excellent in a variation of Welsh rarebit called Gloucester cheese and ale (page 34), where cheese and mustard are baked in brown ale. Land where cows graze happily will also fatten beef cattle and this region hosts the famous white-faced Hereford breed, which produces meat of great flavour and tenderness.

The sheep that graze the Cotswold Hills have inspired many lamb dishes, including the curiously named Gloucestershire squab pie, which blends the meat with spices and apple, and the equally misleading Oxford John steak (page 124), which is actually leg of lamb with capers. Other popular meat dishes in this region are faggots (originally made from offal with herbs and spices) and the beef-based Warwickshire stew. However, pork is the meat mainstay, perhaps because pigs once did the job of removing the windfalls in the apple, pear and plum orchards of this region. There is even a ‘Midlands cut’ of bacon, and a dish popular on the borders of the Welsh Marches is loin of pork with cabbage cake.

Recipes from Western England
Gloucester cheese and ale (page 34); centre: Painswick bacon chops (page 119) and, above, brandy snaps (page 71).

While we’re on the subject of cake, there are several notable recipes from Western England. Brandy snaps (see page 71) and gingerbread are both local favourites. Staffordshire fruit cake is a well-known recipe made extra rich with the addition of black treacle and brandy; there is also a spiced Oxford cake and, best known of all, the Banbury cakes originating from that north Oxfordshire town. These are made from puff pastry filled with raisins and dried fruits.

Other eponymous recipes include Shrewsbury biscuits (page 77), which are rather like shortbread, Coventry God cakes (a traditional christening gift from godparents) and the great favourite of Staffordshire, oatcakes, which are closer to pancakes than oat biscuits and can be eaten with sweet or savoury accompaniments. 

No review of the food from this area can omit to mention the famous Worcestershire Sauce, a liquid that adds flavour to almost any savoury recipe and which originated when the Governor of Bengal returned to his native Worcester and tried to re-create an Indian recipe. The sauce was a complete disaster until tasted after several months when it had matured into the fine ingredient still used today. Similarly bizarre is the heritage of Cooper’s Oxford marmalade, which is famous for its chunks of bitter peel from a variety of Seville oranges grown in Andalusia. Apparently, hardly anybody else can use the fruit because it’s so bitter! 

Castles, Cotswolds and Crockery

Western England provides a miniature history of Britain. It starts with the infighting between different regions and the quest for the English crown, which led to the building of huge fortresses to protect land and power. The best-preserved example of a medieval castle in Britain is at Warwick, where the immense proportions of this 1000-year-old fortress are still a formidable sight. 

Ludlow Castle

Less intact but full of history is Ludlow Castle, home to Princes Edward and Richard, the sons of Edward IV who were taken to the Tower of London and most probably murdered there. Another fine ruin is Kenilworth, immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in his nineteenth-century novel of the same name.

In medieval Britain, the unlikely power base of the economy was the Cotswolds because this sheep-rearing region produced the wool vital for clothing and trade. Numerous homes and churches were built in the local honey-coloured limestone and today these form the ‘chocolate box’ landscape of middle England. 

The decline of the wool trade (which, ironically, helped to preserve this landscape) reflected a change to an industrial economy epitomised by the Potteries in Staffordshire. Abundant local supplies of the raw materials clay, salt and lead for glazing and coal for firing kilns, led firms such as Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and Spode to manufacture their earthenware and stoneware here. It wasn’t pretty, but it created the English ceramic industry. 

Emily Davenport

Emily Davenport

I post a blog every week featuring food, family and fun. There are lots of useful household tips, crafty ideas, giveaways and delicious recipes that I think you will find irresistible.

Ice cream – it’s easier than you think!

How to make ice cream

Prior to my time at Dairy Diary (a very long time ago!) I thought of ice cream making as some sort of magical alchemy; something unattainable in an ordinary kitchen.

But actually, it’s not that tricky at all, in fact, it’s pretty simple, rewarding, and also delicious!

Let me show you just how simple it really is…

And if you fancy having a go at this recipe – believe me it’s worth a try as it tastes soooo good – here’s the recipe.

Lime & Ginger Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce

Or you can find it on page 99 of your Dairy Diary.

Lime & Ginger Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce
Emma Snow

Emma Snow

I am the Brand Executive for Dairy Diary. A passionate foodie (with a very sweet-tooth). Who likes to blog about all things DIY & scrumptious recipes.

5 fab suppers under 500 calories

After what has felt like a never-ending winter with arctic temperatures, we are beginning to see some gorgeous weather!

When the sun comes out my attention soon turns to whipping up delicious light and healthy meals; to provide a little inspiration we have put together a compilation of 5 fab suppers under 500 calories.

Perfect for warmer evenings where you could dine out on the patio – you may need a blanket as the sun goes down though!

One of my favourite cookbooks is Quick After-Work, we reach for this collection of tasty recipes quite often when meal planning, as all recipes can be on the table in under 30 minutes!

Of course, I had to include some of my family’s best-loved dishes from this book.

Mediterranean Pitta with Houmous

Mediterranean Pitta with Houmous 

(298 kcal)

I much prefer making dips and sauces from scratch, especially houmous as I can prepare it exactly to my taste.

Feel free to tweak this recipe slightly; however, I know you will love it as much as we do, just how it is.

Fish Finger Tacos

Fish Finger Tacos

(361 kcal)

We’re throwing it back to our childhood slightly with fish fingers, however, these tacos are just scrumptious!

And if you’re feeding children, why bother making two different meals? Enjoy!

Oaty Cheese & Chive-Crusted Smoked Haddock with Asparagus

Oaty Cheese & Chive-Crusted Smoked Haddock with Asparagus

(441 kcal)

‘If it swims it slims’ is a statement that inspires my meals when I’m trying to lose a few pounds.

This doesn’t mean going hungry, haddock is a great source of protein that keeps you fuller for longer and is bursting with essential vitamins – not to mention it tastes amazing!

If you need a little spring in your stride then you must take a look at our newest cookbook, A Zest For Life!

It was almost impossible to narrow the whole book down to just two recipes to fit into this recipe collection…

Chicken Stuffed with Tarragon & Cheese

Chicken Stuffed with Tarragon & Cheese

(363 kcal)

I absolute adore chicken and tarragon, I think the flavours pair perfectly. This recipe is only 363 calories too which means there is room for dessert!

A Zest for Life has some great low in calorie puds, such as the Strawberry Tarts on page 166 which are only 106 kcals each.

Asian Steak & Cashew Stir-Fry

Asian Steak & Cashew Stir-Fry

(303 kcal)

The last meal in our collection of suppers under 500 calories, and it had to be packed with Asian flavours!

This could be made with strips of chicken instead of steak and you could also swap out the cashews for roasted peanuts for a slightly different crunch.

25% off A Zest For Life cookbook

Right now, you can save 25% off the cost of our fabulous ‘A Zest For Life’ cookbook by entering the code ZF25 at checkout.

It contains a plethora of dishes that bring a bit of energy to your week!

Save 25% on A Zest For Life
Emma Snow

Emma Snow

I am the Brand Executive for Dairy Diary. A passionate foodie (with a very sweet-tooth). Who likes to blog about all things DIY & scrumptious recipes.

World Baking Day & Out-Of-Print Precious Books Bundle Giveaway

Queen of Puddings

World Baking Day is here and an occasion we love to celebrate!

Families have used our cookbooks for over 40 years to create fantastic birthday cakesChristmas bakes and much, much more.

We all have those recipes that take us straight back to our childhood and we often get requests for dishes included in out-of-print books that have long since been lost.

Dairy Diary has produced many cookbooks over the years, full of delicious triple-tested bakes and cakes, some of which you have loved so much that they have sold out completely! However, we always save a few and store them in our archive to look back on.

Win a bundle of out-of-print precious books wrapped in a Dairy Diary shopping bag

Recently, after moving to a new warehouse, we discovered some precious unopened, out-of-print books that we would love to give away to one lucky winner.

To be in with a chance of winning this fab bundle of four books (three cookbooks and a lovely surprise!) wrapped in a Dairy Diary shopping bag, please tell us your favourite bake that you remember making as a child (or as an adult!).

ENTER NOW

Emma Snow

Emma Snow

I am the Brand Executive for Dairy Diary. A passionate foodie (with a very sweet-tooth). Who likes to blog about all things DIY & scrumptious recipes.

Our Favourite Seasonal Food: Asparagus

Asparagus

British asparagus season has now begun, and we can delight in these delicate, flavourful green shoots for the next month or so.

Super-versatile, asparagus can be boiled or steamed, griddled or barbecued or roasted in the oven. They work well in risotto, pasta, omelettes, the list goes on….. or simply dipped in soft-boiled egg. Mmmmm.

Each spear of asparagus is harvested by hand
when it reaches just the right height.

Look out for locally grown bunches in your farm shop or farmer’s market.

This is my favourite asparagus recipe as it’s really simple and easy to prepare too – perfect for a speedy dinner.

Hot Roast Asparagus & Potato Salad

Save 25% on A Zest For Life

You’ll find this in A Zest for Life cookbook together with two more recipes with asparagus: Roast Cod Loin Wrapped in Pancetta and Sea Bass with Asparagus & Roasted Potatoes.

For a limited time only, we’re offering 25% off this gorgeous book. 

Just use the code ZN25 at checkout.

Emily Davenport

Emily Davenport

I post a blog every week featuring food, family and fun. There are lots of useful household tips, crafty ideas, giveaways and delicious recipes that I think you will find irresistible.

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