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Christmas ordering

Order your Dairy Diary and Dairy Book of Home Cookery in time for Christmas

There’s still time to order the Dairy Diary and Dairy Book of Home Cookery for delivery before Christmas

Order by Friday 16 December and you can have your Dairy Diary and Dairy Book of Home Cookery delivered in time for Christmas!

  • The Dairy Diary is 30 years young and still the best-selling home diary. The 2012 edition is the best ever!
  • We have a new edition of the much loved Dairy Book of Home Cookery totally updated for 2012.

Take a closer look at both books at where you can also sample a selection of yummy recipes.

The Dairy Diary makes the perfect
Christmas gifts for family and friends. 

The Dairy Diary Set has already sold out, so order today to ensure you don’t miss out on the Dairy Diary!

Managing Editor


P.S. Don’t miss our blog on Monday. 

It will feature a selection of essential Christmas Day recipes to ensure a truly scrumptious, yet stress-free day.


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Creating a Festive Table

How to decorate your Christmas table

I can hardly believe that next week’s blog will be the last before Christmas Day! These past few weeks have simply flown by.

Next week, I will be revealing our best Christmas recipes for the big day, but this week I thought I would concentrate on the lunch table.

It’s fantastic to serve up good Christmas grub, but you want your surroundings to look decadent and festive too.

Decadent doesn’t have to cost a lot! With a few tips and tricks your Christmas table can look fabulous.

Of course, it’s a great idea if everything can co-ordinate. You don’t have to stick to the classic scheme of red, green and gold. Choose the colour you like best and stick to it. You could mix whites with natural colours, using things such as twigs and pine cones as decoration. Or you could be really glamorous with a showy silver theme.

First, give your table a good polish and then lay a strip of beautiful good-quality Christmas wrapping paper as a table runner. Lay out your best crockery and cutlery. If you want to be extra-glam set it on plate-chargers. You can pick these up in gorgeous festive colours quite cheaply in many supermarkets. Set out the wines glasses (hopefully a matching set) and use fabric or paper napkins laid on top of the plates.

If you have time, have a go at making these gorgeous beaded napkin rings.

Napkin Rings

  • Fine craft wire
  • Empty kitchen roll tube
  • Wire cutters
  • Assorted beads

Christmas Napkin RingsWrap wire twice around kitchen roll tube and cut so there is about 2cm (1in) spare at each end. Make a loop at one end of wire to prevent beads from escaping and then straighten wire out so it is easy to thread beads onto it. In a random order, thread a variety of beads – in colours to match your scheme – along length of wire. When almost full, carefully wrap wire around tube again and twist ends together to seal. Roll beaded ring off the tube and place around a napkin.

Striped Candy Canes

For an extra special treat, pop a favour such as a striped candy cane inside each napkin ring.Candy Stripes

Chair Ties

You could also thread ribbons around the back of each chair to ‘tie them in’ (excuse the pun!) with your colour scheme.

Table Centrepiece

An elegant centrepiece could be a round vase or lantern with a large white pillar candle inside surrounded by holly or pine cones.

Christmas Centre PieceMy favourite is really simple though. I place a doily on a large glass plate and add baubles – it’s really Christmassy and also low-level so it doesn’t get in the way when having a chat across the table.

Enjoy your preparations for the big day everyone and don’t forget the turkey like I did one year! Unless you are vegetarian of course.

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Children’s birthday baking

Birthday pirate ship

Today is my son’s 4th birthday and I have had a very busy weekend baking and partying.

I have such fond memories of my own homemade birthday cakes as child; I was determined to make my own.

Despite loathing cooking, my mum made me a magical cake creation every single year, with themes ranging from hedgehogs, to trains and castles. As we were having a pirate party, I attempted a pirate ship to grace the centre of the party table. It really was very simple: a chocolate sponge (from the new Dairy Book of Home cookery) covered with chocolate buttercream; with Polo mints and Rolos for portholes; and paper on skewers for sails.

It only cost a couple of pounds to make, which was much much cheaper than a shop-bought cake, but the main thing was Isaac loved it.

Baking is now so trendy, and such big business, with many individuals starting their own businesses selling celebration cakes and cupcakes. I am definitely not at that level to say the least, but it was such a joy to see the look on my little one’s face when he saw his very own pirate ship cake.

I would love to see pictures birthday cakes you have made for your children or grandchildren. Next on the list, Christmas cake, I had better get my skates on! You may not want to make this into a pirate ship! So here’s the conventional recipe for Chocolate Layer Cake.

Chocolate Layer CakeChocolate Layer Cake
Recipe taken from
The Dairy Book of Home Cookery

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Chocolate Layer Cake

Perfect for birthday cakes or afternoon tea

Chocolate Layer CakeServes 8
Preparation 30 mins
Cooking 40 mins Per portion 430 kcals, 34g fat (19.1g saturated)
Suitable for freezing
Suitable for vegetarians

110g (4oz) self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
110g (4oz) butter
110g (4oz) caster sugar
25g (1oz) golden syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 tsp milk
200ml (7fl oz) double cream, whipped
Grated chocolate to decorate

1 Grease and line a two 18cm (7in) round sandwich tins. Sift flour twice with cocoa.

2 Cream butter, sugar, syrup and vanilla together until very pale, light and fluffy.

3 Beat in eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tbsp of sifted dry ingredients with each one. Fold in milk and remaining dry ingredients.

4 Transfer to prepared tins and smooth top. Bake at 180°C (350°F) Mark 4 for 20 minutes, or until springy to touch.

5 Turn out on to a wire rack, strip off paper and leave until cool.

6 Cut cake into 2 layers. Fill and cover top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with chocolate.

Recipe taken from The Dairy Book of Home Cookery

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2012 Olympic Games

As London is hosting the Olympic Games next year, we have a feature on the history of the Games in 2012 Dairy Diary.

It is full of interesting facts, such as:

  • Britain is the only country to have won a gold medal in every one of the modern summer Olympics
  • in 1908 Britain won 56 golds
  • art competitions used to be part of the games in the early part of the 20th century!

In ancient Greece, a flame, ignited by the sun, was kept burning until the Games closed, and in 1928 the practice of keeping a flame alight for the duration of the Games was adopted by the modern Olympics.

A relay of runners bringing it to the host city was first introduced for the 1936 Games, held in Berlin.

As hosts we are all lucky enough to have the chance to see the flame pass.

There are 1,018 cities, towns and villages on the route of the Olympic Torch Relay next year. Between 18 May and 27 July, the Olympic Flame will come to within just 10 miles of 95% of the population of the UK. The Torch Relay will include some breathtaking spectacles and unusual modes of transport.

The world-famous telescope at Jodrell Bank, a steamer across Lake Windermere and the Manx Electric Railway all feature in the plans. Well worth watching!

For more information visit


St Andrew’s Day

We have so much to celebrate! It’s St Andrew’s Day on Wednesday. Take the opportunity to make this delicious soup, which comes from the fishing village of Cullen, in Morayshire, Scotland.


Cullen SkinkCullen Skink
The name of this rich, tasty soup comes
from the fishing village of Cullen, in Morayshire.

Recipe taken from Around Britain Dairy Cookbook.


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Cullen Skink

Cullen Skink

The name of this rich, tasty soup comes from the fishing village of Cullen, in Morayshire.

Preparation time – 30 minutes
Cooking time – 40 minutes
Calories per portion – 411 Kcal
Fat per portion – 12g of which saturated – 6.9g
Serves – 4

Finnan haddock 1 (about 900g/2lb) or 500g (1lb 2oz) un-dyed smoked haddock fillet
Onion 1 large, skinned and thinly sliced
Milk 600ml (1 pint)
Potatoes suitable for mashing (such as King Edwards) 680g (11⁄2lb), peeled and thickly sliced
Leeks 2, trimmed, thinly sliced and washed
Butter 40g (11⁄2oz), cut into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mace to garnish
Parsley sprigs, to garnish

1 Place the haddock in a large saucepan, add the onion, milk and 600ml (1 pint) of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, or until the flesh flakes easily.

2 While the fish is cooking, place the potatoes in another large saucepan, cover with water, add 1⁄2 tsp of salt and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat, partially cover the pan and cook until tender. Drain the cooked potatoes, and then mash them well with a potato masher.

3 Place a large colander over a bowl. Pour the haddock into the colander and leave it to drain well, and until cool enough to handle. Reserve the cooking liquid.

4 Remove and discard skin and bones from the fish, then flake the flesh. Reserve the onion.

5 Pour the fish liquid back into a clean pan, then using a balloon or hand whisk, gradually whisk in the mashed potatoes. Add the leeks and bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for 10–15 minutes until the leeks are tender.

6 Gradually stir the butter into the soup, season to taste with salt and pepper, and then add the flaked fish and reserved onion. Cook gently for 5 minutes, or until the haddock is thoroughly reheated, taking care not to overheat as the fish will become tough.

7 Serve the soup in warm bowls, sprinkled with mace, black pepper and parsley leaves, and accompanied with warm crusty bread.

Cook’s tip
For a richer flavoured soup, use fresh fish stock instead of water

Recipe taken from Around Britain Dairy Cookbook.

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