Happy Happy Holidays!

Happy Happy Holidays!

We love school holidays in our house.Happy Holidays

It’s even better when the weather is good, because after a wet winter with 4 bundles of energy bombing around in the house & climbing the walls, we were getting a wee bit fractious temperament wise.

For the first winter in a long time we couldn’t go sledging with our Kids or have snowball fights due to zero snowflakes falling. I have to say board games have been our saviour (although the 3hours of trying to teach our Kids how to play Monopoly was maybe not too good on the old blood pressure!).

So the Easter holidays. A time to kick back, relax & catch up on the little jobs around the house.

The toilet seat that broke in January has finally been fixed by ‘Ome….& then broke again on Easter Sunday due to the amount of traffic using it.

Windows have been cleaned so they’re like, erm, glass.

Courgette & borage plants have been planted out….& then promptly scoffed by slugs! Grrrrr…

The lawn has FINALLY had its first cut of the year. The grass was that long it had lost the will to be in a vertical position.

Cycle rides & walks have been enjoyed by all.

A new (well, second-hand) garden set has been purchased & painted after the last set ended up more leg-less than Oliver Reed (Bless him).

School books have been read.

A project on India is underway.MissT sliding

CurlyE On a Bike... Upright!

The schools’ pet snails seemed to have settled into our mad house & are being fed & watered everyday (thanks Dj for asking your Lil'MrM slidingteacher if we could have them over the hols!).

The ‘How Much Chocolate Can Small Children Eat In One Day’ experiment was carried out on Easter Sunday. I think CurlyE won that one. Dj was the first to fall & announce ‘I feel a bit sick….do I have to eat all this egg?’. MissT & Lil’MrM drew a very well battled second place.

It won’t be long until we’re back into the same old routine of school & homework & packed lunches & work & stress.CurlyE Eating... again!

But then if we didn’t have that I don’t think we’d ever fully appreciate the times when our Kids are wired, bringing home P.E kits to be washed & emptying their school bags of all the crap they’ve accumulated over the school terms because

‘IT’S THE HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!’

Kit x

Sweet Potato & Red Chili Soup

 

Sweet Potato and Chilli Banner

Soup… We absolutely love it in our house. Not the tinned variety of course. It has to be ‘Ome-made! And it’s so easy to make. You take your favourite ingredients sweat them off in some butter add some stock, cook for a bit and then blitz. Not leek and potato soup though, that can’t be blitzed. That’s completely breaking the rules, that has to be… ‘lumpy’.

 

If you make your own stock it’s even better. Even if it’s chucking the bones from the leftover roast chicken in a pot and boiling for an hour, you will be left with a nicechicken stock blog base for a soup. Of course if your one of those non-meat eating types you can make a stock from those manky left over carrots at the back of the fridge any veg trimmings and some onion. If you roast the veg for 20 minutes or so you’ll get more flavour and a deeper colour to your stock too.

 

So heres a recipe for a soup I made the other day along with a recipe for some cumin, ginger and garlic croutons. If you don’t have the croutons with this soup I suggest putting the spices used to flavour them in the soup. Although this recipe has chillies and spices in it it is no way spicy. If you prefer it spicier just up the amount of red chili in the recipe.

  croutons blogcoriander and chilli blog

Sesoning Blog

 

 

 

Sweet Potato & Red Chili Soup

 

Ingredients 

 

50g butter                                                       Diced Potatoes Blog

1 medium onion roughly sliced

2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

200g (a large baker) potato cubed

700g sweet potatoes (4 small or 3 medium)cubed

1 large carrot diced

1 teaspoon ground white pepper (or extra black if you haven’t)

1 teaspoon salt

1 heaped teaspoon mild curry massala (or curry powder)Diced Carrots Blog

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 litre of stock

2 medium sized red chillies deseeded and finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped coriander

Ground black pepper and salt to taste

 

Method

 

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Gently fry the onion and garlic for about 10 minutes.

Sweet Potato Sweating Blog

Add both types of potato and carrot to the pan along with the white pepper, salt, curry massala, allspice and thyme. Gently sweat all the veg off for a further 10 minutes stirring so the spices don’t stick and burn.

Add your stock which should just cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately forty minutes or until all the veg is cooked through and soft. Take off the heat and carefully blitz with a hand blender, blender or food processor.

Put back on the heat and add the remaining ingredients. The soup will be ready after 20 minutes.

 Sweet Potato Soup Blog

 

Cumin Ginger & Garlic Croutons

 

8 slices white bread

Olive oil

2 teaspoon crushed garlic

2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Salt and black pepper

 

Method

 

Cut the bread into cubes and put in a shallow roasting/baking tin.

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with the garlic, cumin and ginger. Give the croutons a good toss and then sprinkle a little more olive oil on them and toss them again.

croutons cooking blog

Put in an oven preheated to 165°C on fan setting (185°C for conventional)the croutons will take 30 – 40 minutes but you need to regularly check on them and give them a shake or turn every 10 minutes or so.

Once the croutons are cooked they can be used straight away. Once the croutons are completely cool they can be put in a sealed container where they should be good for up to five days.

Sweet Potato Soup Banner

Happy soup making!

 

 

Crackers!


Well, the weather has turned chilly, there seems to be a pot of ‘Ome Made mulled wine permanently on the stove top & our Kids behaviour has gone mental which can only mean one thing. We’re on the last leg of the countdown to the second biggest celebration of the year. Yes the big day where we hear ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus sang at full belt by our Kids at 6.30am….

Christmas Cake Blog

We finally came up with ideas on what to make for presents, so we’ve made……..now that would be telling! The Christmas cakes are done & mulling in lashings of brandy. The Christmas pudding (YEY! we don’t have to buy one this year!) is improving, snug in layers of greaseproof paper & tin foil. The mince-meat is jarred & ready to be used for umptious mince pies & because the Kids have been good, the Christmas faeries came & sprinkled their seasonal faerie dust & decorated our home.

MissT Antlers Blog

We even came to an agreement on what to have for our festive dinner. Ok, so we were stood in the farm shop for around 1 hour umming & aahing whilst Mick the butcher fed us freshly cooked sausages, shouted ideas at us & served quite a few other customers. I bet Mick can’t wait for the day that we walk into his shop & know exactly what we want!

Christmas Dinner Blog

So rib of beef (I think….) is what we came to an agreement on. Piglets in blankets, Carpaccio, Christmas sausage & cranberry roll & Christmas glazed ham will all be gracing the table as well over the festive season. I’ve left the decision on vegetables to ‘Ome. No doubt there’ll be parsnips at some point…..I HATE PARSNIPS! & that is why ‘Ome will have got them & unfortunately our Kids love them so i’m outnumbered on this vegetable.

CurlyE Christmas Blog

The fridge will be full of a variety of cheeses too. MissT loves Wenslydale & cranberry. Dj adores Camembert. CurlyE goes mad for any blue cheese (FREAK!) & Lil’mrM will try a bit of everything & decide which he likes best & then probably demand that we use it for ‘Macerwoni cheese!’.

I just hope we don’t end up with the yearly ‘Crackers-Cock-Up’. When ‘Ome is checking if there’s anything else I can think of we need I always say ‘don’t forget crackers’. Unfortunately, neither of us clarifies what we mean by crackers. So for the last few years we have nearly ended up pulling a Jacobs at the table or eating our cheeses with a BANG!

Wishing you all a

Merry Christmas & a Peaceful New Year

Kit x

Boo-Hoo!

Ok, I have to admit it, I absolutely LOVE Halloween & so do our Kids.

It’s just the spookiness of it all & imaginations running riot at the thought of witches, ghosties, bogeymen (or in todays PC world should it now be ‘bogeypersons’?) & other ghouls & ghastlies scaring the pants off you for fun. I’d have the spooky stuff up all year round if I could.

Pumpkins Blog

I remember watching Scooby-Doo (the original ones not the new fangled ones) & being on the edge of my seat as Scooby & Co bungled through to discover the truth behind a mysterious apparition that was scaring everyone half to death. I was always disappointed when the mask was removed & it inevitably turned out to be the local Sheriff or some-other ‘real’ person.  Just once I wanted it to be a real restless soul who needed to be laid to rest.

Bat Mask Blog

So, Halloween…. A time for the un-dead (no, not me at 5.30am). Our Kids all get to choose what mask they want making. The decisions made (I always hope & pray none of them choose anything too taxing that will scramble my brain) I then get out the cereal boxes I’ve been saving all year, the glue, the pens & crayons, the scissors & get to work. MissT wants to be a Devil. Dj wants to be a Wizard. CurlyE wants to be Darth Vader (that’ll be the taxing one then!) & Lil’mrM wants to be ‘A sunshine!’…..

‘But it’s Halloween Lil’mrM! It has to be scary!’

‘Ok, a little bit scary sunshine then’ he replies.

Being a mother I do have a crystal ball that quite often goes on the blink where our Kids are concerned, but I’m peering into the sparkly fog right now & it’s showing me a not so far-away October 31st & it’s looking a little like this…..

Ghost Mask Blog

After an hour & a half of wrapping cardboard around heads, judging eyeholes, drawing, rubbing out, drawing again, rubbing out again, cutting & sticking the kids are now bored & starting to play up because they want to colour in their masks. I constantly point out to them that I can only work so fast & I only have one pair of hands. I do make a rod for my own back though as I want the masks to be perfect so I won’t let the Kids do the initial construction. Control Freak? Moi?

Finally my bit is finished! Now the Kids have to do their bit…..the colouring in!

‘Do I have to colour it all in?’ ‘This pen has run out!’ ‘I want to be something else now!’…..by now I am counting to 10 slowly whilst telling Dj that pumpkins aren’t pink…well that was the argument last year.

Jack Halloween Masks Blog

Now ‘Ome gets his evil head on. We don’t go Trick-or-Treating but we will answer the door to Trick-or-Treaters. So we’ll have a couple of bags of treats to hand out. Put it this way, if you’re 10yrs old or under & Trick-or-Treating with your parents you’ll get a treat from the ‘Nice’ goody bag.

If you’re just messing about or not even dressed up (yup, last year we had two 14yr old girls knocking on our door who were just dressed normally!!) you’ll get a treat from the ‘Bleeeuggh’ goody bag. To be warned it was chilli-chocolate coated sprouts last year. Nice one ‘Ome!

Pumpkin Mask Blog

So the goodies are ready, the baddies are ready, the potatoes are in the oven, the ‘Ome-Made chilli & baked-beenz are on the hob, the first mask is torn & taped back together & ‘Ome has his scary mask on…..well I’m presuming it’s a mask.

Jack Pumpkin Blog

By now the kids have spent the entire day scaring each other with stories & antics that they won’t even go to the toilet by themselves. They’re so worn out with the excitement & anticipation of the arrival of Trick-or-Treaters that the cracks begin to appear & I can guarantee it won’t be long before we have our first ‘Boo-Hoo!’

And it will probably be me!

Happy Halloween Everyone.

Kit x

halloween sparklers blog

Awww! Do I Have To??!!!!

Come wind, rain, hail, snow or shine, Flossie, Buttercup, Donkey, Matilda, Monsey & our 2 new additions (it’s amazing what you come home with when you’ve just been for a walk in the park!) Stuffin’ & Strudel all need feeding, watering & their eggs collecting.

chickens & ducks

We discussed all this with our Kids before we decided on getting chickens & ducks. We pointed out the up-sides & down-sides of having different animals.

 

 

 

We decided:

1.       No to a dog as they need walking at least 3 times a day whatever the weather, they need lots of human company & food & vet fees are very expensive. Plus the thought of pooper-scooping with a little thin plastic bag & nowhere to wash your hands just really does not float my boat (although my mind may be changed when doggie-nappies are invented).

2.       No to a rabbit because as well as feeding & watering it every day it would also have to be cleaned out most days. Plus we know people who get their kids a rabbit & after a few weeks the ‘novelty’ wears off because to be honest, a rabbit doesn’t really do much…..apart from settle down in your veg patch & eat the fruits of your labours.

3.       No to a hamster/other small rodents because of the ‘novelty’ factor again & largely being nocturnal it’s not a good match for kids who go to sleep at night. Also when we’re up with the first sparrow-pump everyday I don’t want to be laid in bed listening to a hamster going for a 40k run on its wheel at 3am.

 

So the decision was made for chickens & ducks because:

1.       They don’t need human company all the time.Chicken

2.       Feed is relatively cheap.

3.       They will help keep the slug & snail population down in the garden.

4.       They will be interesting to watch when they’re let out of their run to roam & peck around the garden.

5.       No vet fees! (If one gets poorly we’ll ‘Do the Deed’ of dispatching in a calm & relaxed manner).

6.       Eggs galore!

7.       When they’ve gone past their laying best we will ‘Do the Deed’ & use the chicken or duck to its full potential with no waste.

 

Yes! to those of you who are shocked.  We would kill & eat our chickens & ducks. They will have had a fantastic life, lots of space, a wide varied diet & top quality care from our Kids. We even sat MissT down & showed her a video on YouTube of a lady dispatching of one of her chickens in a calm & humane way to give MissT an idea of what would happen & she was totally fine with it. I think she even asked ‘Could it be used in a curry?’.

 

So every morning the care of our chickens & ducks is carried out by our Kids. Our Kids aren’t perfect. Every now & then one of them will come out with the protest ‘Do I Have To!?!’. We tell them firmly ‘Yes you do, otherwise when we next have eggs for tea you will not get anything’. This soon gets them in gear, getting their wellies on & trotting off down the garden.

    eggs

 

I have to admit it is easier with 4 kids. One does the food, one does the water, one releases the animals & they all check for eggs. Yup we’ve had a couple of dropped eggs but over-all it goes smoothly.

 

The chucks & ducks love seeing the Kids & will happily follow them around or be handled or stroked by them. In return our Kids have great respect for them & have learnt so much, such as, they love warm porridge when the weather is freezing, they’re a bit partial to left-over pasta, how to introduce new additions & ducks eat frogs (yup that was a bit traumatic)!

 

After over a year of keeping chucks & ducks the excitement of discovering a newly laid egg or actually seeing one laid has never lost its novelty…& I don’t think it ever will.

 

They all have their own personalities too. Matilda, Monsey & Strudel keep themselves to themselves & love it when it rains. Donkey & Buttercup are easy going & friendly. Stuffin’ is very loyal & will follow the kids all over & loves being fussed. Flossie….mmm…yes Flossie. She is a law unto herself.  I’ve never known an animal kick up such a fuss just because a sparrow has landed on a branch near the coop. Or because one of the others is perched where she now wants to perch.

 

Put it this way, if chickens had PMT then Flossie would really need to stock up on the evening primrose oil!

 

Kit x

feeding chickens

Pack Up!

The Kids are back at school which means we’re back to the dilemma of “what shall we give the kids for their lunches?”.

school pack-up blog Except it’s not really that much of a dilemma. As a family that cooks a lot of food, we just cook… more!

Neither Kit nor myself have the patience to be making sandwiches for four hungry children every morning & to be honest I don’t think that eating bread every day in that quantity is a particularly good idea.

So, we are setting our Kids up in readiness for the life of a student! We find it so much easier to pack them off to school with a container of cold curry, rice and a dollop of yoghurt or a wedge of cold pizza. We’ve even sent them with leftover Beef Pie, mushy peas & gravy!

Beef Pie Packup Blog

All you have to remember is that when you do cook, cook that little bit extra.

Our Children have never complained about having leftovers & always look forward to the delights that lie within their lunch-bags. The Teachers (and Caretaker who sometimes gets roped into the lunchtime supervisor role) always comment on how lovely the food our Kids take looks. At times it seems they are quite jealous & complain that they’ve only got manky sarnies for their lunch!

Dj Packup blogWe recommend getting a load of plastic take-away containers in for pack-ups as they are ideal for portioning leftovers into and refrigerating or freezing until needed. We get ours from the Chinese supermarket – a pack of 250 usually sees us through a few years!

So if ever you are looking at a recipe and think crikey! That seems like a lot! Just think of the hassle it will save you of having to make up the kids lunches… or even your own!