Thursday, 10 April 2014

Walled garden walks

I read somewhere that babies who get at least an hour of fresh air and daylight during the afternoon sleep better at night that those that don't.  So in an effort to improve our night times, Jen and I have an enforced hour of outside time each afternoon.  Providing the weather is not hideous, we go for a walk (well I walk and she generally sleeps!) otherwise we sit outside on our covered patio, but she doesn't seem to enjoy that as much, and really neither do I.

One of the places we have been walking most often is Attingham Park a National Trust property.  We are National Trust members, so going is free which is a big attraction, but it is also a really lovely place to walk.  The grounds are huge so plenty of different routes to explore, the paths are well kept and easy to use a pushchair on and there is lots to look at, woodlands, the deer park, the mansion, tea rooms, a book shop and my current favourite the walled garden.

Attingham Park - view of the mansion 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Time flies...

So you may have noticed it's been a little quiet here on the blog of late, an I'm sure you can understand why, I've been busy being a mama.

Our tiny bundle (weighing in at a not so tiny 8lb 15) made her appearance in early February and life as we knew it ceased!

Eight weeks on we are beginning to adjust to our new life as a family rather than a couple.  It has been an amazing, awe inspiring, and incredibly difficult couple of months.  No matter how prepared you may think you are, how many books you've read or advice and experience others have shared, nothing can prepare you for the relentless nature of having a new life totally dependent on you for their survival.

It has taken quite some time but we now have a routine allowing us to eel confident enough to leave the house and which includes more than 3 hours of sleep at a time overnight, making a huge difference to our days.  There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as a torture.

Jen changes and impresses everyday, learning new things and developing new responses, I still find it incredible that we had a part in making this amazing person and am so excited to help her to continue to learn and grow :)

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Pork and Apple Sausage Rolls

I had intended to make these sausage rolls for Arthur's Nan's 90th birthday party last week, it was going to be my first try at puff pastry and I was very excited about it.  However, sometimes things just don't go to plan and two baking disasters last week (saffron buns that didn't rise at all, and brown sugar shortbread that ran off the tray in the oven) combined with tiredness that I suppose is to be expected at this point in pregnancy, meant I just didn't feel up to making them (or the honey rose cupcakes I had planned).

I ended up buying both cakes and sausage rolls to take along, very disappointing to me, but thanks to a little time taken in arrangement and the addition of a pot of amazing chutney (Pear and Ginger made by Heather's Harvest) they seemed to go down pretty well.

With my pork not getting any younger and my inclination to try puff pastry not yet recovered I bought a pack of ready made just to get these made up.  I am very pleased with the filling, so I will have a go at making these again with my own pastry, will see how that goes!

In the meantime, here is the recipe for my pork and apple sausage roll filling, use it with whatever pastry you like!

* 2 medium cooking apples
* 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1/4 tsp ground ginger
* 1tbsp dark brown soft sugar
* 500g minced pork
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1tsp fresh ground black pepper

Core, peel and chop apples and stew with a little water, nutmeg, ginger and sugar until soft and mushy.

Allow to cool then mix into pork along with salt and pepper.

Use in whatever pastry required.

I used a 500g pack of ready to roll puff pastry, cut the square in half and rolled each half out to a rectangle around 15cm by 60cm.  Placed mix along the middle (longways) then wrapped edges over.  I cut each roll into 6 pieces, slashed the tops and brushed with milk before baking at Gas mark 6 for 25 mins.

Pork and Apple Sausage Rolls

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Wool nappy covers

I have finally completed the last stage of our homemade real nappy system - wool nappy covers.

Two woollen nappy covers one blue one yellow

I decided to try wool for several reasons:

  1. It is more breathable than synthetic alternatives
  2. I could make them myself, without buying expensive PUL fabric
  3. Who wants to wear plastic pants?!
The biggest incentive for me to try wool covers is my own hatred of waterproof clothing.  I mean I really hate it, I would rather be wet.  I have tried any number of waterproof coats over the years, including incredibly expensive 'soft' and 'breathable' fabrics and all of them have been sweaty and uncomfortable.  I do not like them, and the thought of my baby experiencing that discomfort on such a sensitive area was not a pleasant one.

It may be an unnecessary concern, I know that huge numbers of people are using synthetic waterproof covers, both as outer wraps and as part of all in one nappies.  In fact I have recently been given a number of Tots Bots all in one nappies by a friend whose son has outgrown them and they do feel soft and comfortable, and I certainly will be giving them a try, but I wanted to have an alternative.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Honey Chocolate Madeleines

My first bake off my list from my recipe book post.

I recently treated myself to a mini madeleine mould from Lakeland, so when looking for a recipe to make for this months we should cocoa, honey chocolate madeleines won hands down.

Lakeland mini madeleine mould
My new silicone mould
We should cocoa is a monthly chocolate challenge from Chocolate Log Blog and a guest host, this month Lancashire food.  Each month has a theme and January's is 'New Ingredient', the idea being to use an ingredient you have not previously combined with chocolate.

As much as I love honey and chocolate, I've never put the two together before, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity!

The recipe is taken from a fair trade chocolate recipe book: Divine - Heavenly Chocolate Recipes with a heart, by Linda Collister.

I've never made madeleine's before, so I wasn't quite sure how it would go, or to be honest entirely sure what they should be like!

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