Top Tips

Travel Tips

Travel tips
I have just finished writing a travel tips page for the 2011 Dairy Diary. Before researching it I never realised how unprepared I have been when travelling abroad! How many of us take the emergency number for our credit card company in case the card is stolen? Not me, that’s for sure! I seldom give anyone at home my holiday contact details either. In fact, I get so wrapped up in what I will wear/eat/drink/do when I am there that I completely forget about all the important stuff.
Thankfully, there has rarely been an emergency while I have been away – except when I was in New York the day before September 11th and no one at home knew my exact itinerary – it pays to be prepared. I would love to hear any useful travel tips or advice on what to take. Also, when booking a flight do you opt for on-board catering or take something of your own? I deliberated this last week when booking flights for a family holiday. I plumped for the in-flight meal as I find all those little parcels quite exciting. The taste is never up to much though!
But what is the best thing to take to eat on a flight? Probably not a particularly ripe French cheese! Try these Cheese Flapjacks – easily portable with oats for slow-releasing energy.

I have just finished writing a travel tips page for the 2011 Dairy Diary.

Before researching it I never realised how unprepared I have been when travelling abroad!

How many of us take the emergency number for our credit card company in case the card is stolen? Not me, that’s for sure! I seldom give anyone at home my holiday contact details either. In fact, I get so wrapped up in what I will wear/eat/drink/do when I am there that I completely forget about all the important stuff.

Thankfully, there has rarely been an emergency while I have been away – except when I was in New York the day before September 11th and no one at home knew my exact itinerary – it pays to be prepared.

When booking a flight do you opt for on-board catering or take something of your own? I deliberated this last week when booking flights for a family holiday. I plumped for the in-flight meal as I find all those little parcels quite exciting. The taste is never up to much though!

But what is the best thing to take to eat on a flight? I would love to hear any useful travel tips or advice on what to take.

Probably not a particularly ripe French cheese! Try these Cheese Flapjacks – easily portable with oats for slow-releasing energy.

Ice Cream Sunday

I  enjoyed a gorgeous Sunday lunch at a local pub with some friends (and fidgety children) yesterday. The scrubbed old oak tables and wooden floors looked fabulous, but the highlight was most definitely the home-made ice creams. My personal favourite was apple pie – delicious. A friend of mine sampled the blackcurrant and liquorice ice cream, which none of us were convinced by! Heston Blumenthal is famous for his bacon and egg ice cream of course but I have not come across too many weird and wonderful flavours.
I would love to find out what bizarre flavours there are out there! Perhaps it might be good to stick to the flavours we know we love, such as Rhubarb and Custard Ice Cream from Year Round Dairy Cookbook.

I  enjoyed a gorgeous Sunday lunch at a local pub with some friends (and fidgety children) yesterday.

The scrubbed old oak tables and wooden floors looked fabulous, but the highlight was most definitely the home-made ice creams.

My personal favourite was apple pie – delicious. A friend of mine sampled the blackcurrant and liquorice ice cream, which none of us were convinced by! Heston Blumenthal is famous for his bacon and egg ice cream of course but I have not come across too many weird and wonderful flavours.

I would love to find out what bizarre flavours there are out there! Do you have a favourite? Or a flavour that you loath?

Perhaps it might be good to stick to the flavours we know we love, such as Rhubarb and Custard Ice Cream from Year Round Dairy Cookbook.

Strawberry Feast

We had a lovely relaxing barbeque in the garden with family this weekend.

It was great to bask in the sunshine and simply relax and enjoy being at home.

After the compulsory burger and sausage we enjoyed bowlfuls of fantastic British strawberries. Mmmmm. They have to be one of my all time favourite fruit. I love them served simply with just a tiny sprinkle of brown sugar.

There are many recipes which make the most of this precious seasonal favourite but I particularly like the Courting Cake (see recipe below) from Around Britain Dairy Cookbook. It looks so impressive and well as tasting amazing. I might have to make this again before the strawberry season finishes. It would originally have been baked by young ladies for their betrothed so I had better be careful who I bake it for!

Try this fabulous Courting Cake recipe.

Any suggestions for wonderful strawberry recipes are gratefully received!

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Marvellous Mash

I think I am obsessed with mashed potato! As mum to a young son (who is 18 months old) I try to cook food that will appeal to both of us.

My staple at the moment seems to be potato mashed with Laughing Cow cheese and butter, served with baked beans. Not a culinary masterpiece but Isaac loves it!

It is now my mission to make some new variations on mash and to serve it with other things for a change. I have looked back at some of our previous books and found some unusual suggestions. In fact one of our recipe writers has suggested a lovely twist on mash for our next cookbook – you will have to wait and see what that is!

The quality of potato makes a huge difference to taste. I had a delicious variety a while back called Anya. Anya was specially bred on the banks of the river Tay just outside Dundee and is a result of a cross between Pink Fur Apple and Desiree potatoes. Lord Sainsbury’s gardener grew the new variety for the first time in 1995, and liked it so much that he suggested it be called Anya after Lady Sainsbury!

How delightful and how many of us can say we have had a potato named after us?!

Have you tasted Champ mashed potatoes? Try it, I think you’ll love it.

Can you suggest your favourite potato variety for mash, and what do you add to yours?

Hand-made Birthday Cards

Hand-made birthday card

Hand-made birthday card

One of this week’s tasks for the Dairy Diary was great. I escaped copy-writing and management for a day and got my teeth into some card-making.

It was hard to believe I got paid for having so much fun!

For the 2011 Dairy Diary I am putting together a feature on how to make inexpensive cards. I managed to make use of old ribbons, buttons and even wool that I have leftover at home. They looked pretty good when I had finished them (if I do say so myself!)

In the future I am going to try and be really thrifty and save lots of odds and ends in a craft box to use on hand-made cards. Whether I will actually find to time to make another card who knows!

As I was working from home I took to opportunity to test one of the recipes for the 2011 Dairy Diary too – Tasty Tomato Potatoes – easy, healthy and yummy. Try it and tell me what you think.

Do we have any budding card-makers out there and what inexpensive (or free) materials do you use for your craft projects?

Easy Peasy Pasta

I had a call from a Dairy Cookbook regular last week, who enquired where to buy the bruschetta topping used in the pizza recipe on page 60 of Clever Cooking for One or Two.

This is available from Waitrose (Bruschetta topping in olive oil) and Tesco (Tomato and basil bruschetta topping).

We then got chatting about sauces in jars, specifically sauces for pasta. I must admit, I have never found one that I am totally satisfied with (except pesto) and I much prefer to make my own.

My favourite for a really speedy meal is to stir some low fat cream cheese into cooked pasta and to heat it gently with one or two tablespoons of pesto sauce.  I then season well with black pepper and add some steamed or stir-fried vegetables (great for using up leftover veg). Not only is this quick but it’s healthy too.

We would love to hear your easy pasta sauce suggestions. Which ready-made sauces do you enjoy and what tips do you have for simple home-made sauces?

While you are thinking about your pasta suggestions try our easy One-Pan Pasta recipe.

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