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Food waste and compost!

Several months ago, the council gave us all a brown plastic container for food waste, to be collected at the same time as the rubbish and the recycling.

Actually, they collected it the first week and then seemed to forget about it, but they’ve got into the swing of it now!

Some brown bins seem to be overflowing; for families with children that’s not too surprising, I suppose.

There’s just two of us, both non meat eaters – no bones or fat to get rid of – so we haven’t used ours much yet. Near enough everything bar cooked food (not much of that gets left) and fish goes in the compost. And this being national vegetarian week, there’ll be no fish to worry about either!

National Vegetarian WeekNational Vegetarian Week

This gives us a good excuse to get creative with veggies and maybe try a few new ones. Dishes with aubergine and mushrooms as a base are quite substantial; spinach and chickpeas go well together; squashes and sweet potatoes are lovely just roasted, and any tomatoey sauces can be livened up with grated ginger or finely chopped mild chilli or garlic – or all three!

There are some lovely recipes in this year’s diary to try. Cheshire pasties make a meal. Broccoli soup is delicious, and cauliflower crisp. They may even persuade the kids that these somewhat unloved vegetables are not really that bad after all.

Sweet Potato and Pepper OmeletteFor a really versatile dish try Sweet Potato and Pepper Omelette from Good Food, Fast. It’s good hot or cold and takes just 30 minutes to prepare and cook.

Dairy Diary Team

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Sweet Potato and Pepper Omelette

Sweet Potato and Pepper OmeletteA colourful vegetarian dish that is just as good served hot as it is cold. It’s good for a picnic, too.

Time 30 minutes
Calories per portion 321 Kcal
Fat per portion 18g of which saturated 4.2g
Serves 3
Suitable for vegetarians

Sweet potato 1 large, peeled, cut in half lengthways and then into 5mm (¼in) slices
Vegetable oil 1 tbsp
Red pepper 1, deseeded and cut into thin slices
Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and crushed
Eggs 6, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped parsley 2 tbsp
Finely chopped coriander 2 tbsp

1 Place the sweet potato in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes until just tender. Drain well.

2 Heat the oil in a medium frying pan and gently fry the pepper and garlic for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the potato slices, and cook, stirring, for a further minute.

3 Pack the vegetables evenly over the base of the frying pan and pour in the eggs and plenty of seasoning. Cook the omelette over a gentle heat, pushing the cooked egg from the edge of the pan into the centre, until the egg is set all over – it will take about 10 minutes to set completely.

4 Preheat the grill to hot, and place the omelette under the grill, protecting the frying pan handle if necessary, to cook for 2–3 minutes to lightly brown the top.

5 Serve hot or cold, straight from the pan, cut into wedges and sprinkled with the chopped herbs. A green salad makes a tasty crisp accompaniment.

Cook’s Tip
The secret behind making a good omelette is to keep the heat quite low and allow the egg to cook gently so it doesn’t toughen and become rubbery.

Good Food, Fast Dairy CookbookRecipe taken from Good Food, Fast

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Competition | Win a copy of Favourite Countryside Birds

Win a copy of Favourite Countryside Birds

Favourite Countryside Birds is a beautifully illustrated book featuring 28 of our most awe-inspiring feathered friends.

Win Favourite Country BirdsPacked with colour photographs and wonderful drawings from wildlife experts, Favourite Countryside Birds is a book you’ll refer to time and time again.

The layout is clear and presents the facts and folklore behind Britain’s best-loved countryside birds in an attractive and easy to read style.

We’ve searched the fields, hedgerows, woods, heaths, streams and ponds throughout Britain to discover our favourite countryside birds. For brilliant plumage, head straight to the kingfisher; for divine singing, turn to the nightingale; for daring acrobatics, flip to the nuthatch; for sheer speed, a peregrine is unbeatable – and you’ll find more awe-inspiring birds as you turn the pages.

For easy reference we have arranged the birds according to their preferred habitats: farmland and grassland, woodland and coppice, heathland and moorland, waterways and wetlands.

Six pages are devoted to each bird plus a fully comprehensive factfile for each provides fascinating and essential information at your fingertips – everything at a glance to help you identify and understand your favourite countryside birds.

Click here to enter

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The Great Caper

Someone’s given me a huge jar of capers, those little green ‘berries’, which are not an ingredient I reach for very often.

CapersAs far as I know, they’re usually sprinkled on pizzas and in sauces for fish, although I do remember using them once in a veggie dish with aubergine, onions, celery, green olives and tomatoes – caponata, a bit like a Sicilian version of the French ratatouille but without courgettes and peppers.

Try this Skate with Capers recipe taken from Just One Pot. It’s easy to prepare, very quick, tastes wonderful and is pretty healthy!

Actually, you don’t see either caponata or ratatouille very much any more, do you? I wonder why. They’re both delicious on their own, and go with meat or pasta. Perhaps they’re just known by another name.

I was also wondering what capers actually are so I looked online and it turns out they’re the unopened flower buds of Capparis spinosa, which is a prickly Mediterranean plant, and they’ve been used in cooking for thousands of years.

So I’ll have to start getting inventive. One thing I read is that if you soak them in water for a few minutes, that gets rid of the very salty, vinegary taste. So I tried that, and it does, and then you can include them with anything – they’re quite nice mixed with baked beans and can liven up a salad.

Don’t try this at home!
After getting through this lot, we’ll either be heartily sick of them or hooked. Don’t think I’ll be trying to grow my own, though. Apparently, it’s easy to confuse them with another plant, caper spurge, which has similar flower buds, except they’re poisonous.

All the best.

Dairy Diary Team

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Skate with Capers

Capers and vinegar perfectly complement the taste of skate.

Skate with CapersPreparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes
Calories per portion 593 Kcal
Fat per portion 46g of which saturated 28.8g
Serves 2

Plain flour 2 tbsp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Skate wings 2 small or 1 large, halved
Butter 110g (4oz)
White wine vinegar 2 tbsp
Capers 2 tbsp, rinsed well and drained
Chopped parsley
Lemon wedges

1 Tip the flour onto a plate and season it with salt and pepper. Pat the skate dry and dust both sides with the seasoned flour.

2 Heat half the butter in a large frying pan and cook the skate for 4–5 minutes on each side.

3 Remove the wings from the pan and keep them warm while making the butter sauce. Add the remaining butter to the pan and heat until it foams and starts to turn to a rich golden brown colour, then pour the vinegar into the pan and add the capers and parsley. Season the sauce to taste.

4 Place the cooked skate on plates and spoon the sauce over the top. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with a lemon wedge and a refreshing salsa salad (see Just One Pot recipe).

Cook’s Tip
If your frying pan isn’t large enough to cook both skate wings at the same time, then cook them individually rather than having them overlapping in the pan.

Recipe taken from Just One Pot.

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National Walk to Work Week

National Walk to Work Week is upon us, making us all feel guilty if we don’t get off the bus a stop earlier than usual!

National Walk to Work WeekActually, since I work from home now, all my walking to work entails is nipping up the stairs to what was once a loft.

But I used to walk from the station to the office, rather than get the tube or bus, and I have to say it was much better than crushing in with the crowds. Drawback was arriving all hot and sweaty and having to lurk discreetly in reception, or the loo, to cool down a bit! (I didn’t work anywhere grand with showers!)

A decent breakfast is needed

But if walking all or some of the way to work (and back home again) is on the agenda, maybe a decent breakfast first is a good idea.

Remember the old slogan – ‘go to work on an egg’? Creamy and scrambled with some flaked smoked salmon is a bit of a motivator, but, failing that, soft boiled with marmite soldiers take some beating.

I always like poached fruit with natural yoghurt – prunes, apricots, plums, rhubarb, apple. They can be prepared in advance, or you could make a fruit smoothie the night before with whatever fruit you have, yoghurt and runny honey whizzed in the blender.

If all else fails, do what I did – buy a muffin to savour (or devour!) on arrival. I reckon all that walking deserves a treat.


How about baking your own breakfast Danish Pastries?

They really are easy peasy and in only 30 minutes you could be enjoying warm freshly baked pastries.  Mmmm… Try this quick and easy Danish Pastries recipe from Good Food, Fast.

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