31 Oct 2012



We love this time of the year, especially our 11yr old son, we love the cold, dark blistery evening of Halloween, we turn off all the lights in the house and pretend we are in the 1600's where you only had light from flickering candles, it is very romantic and very eerie with all the motion set  talking ghouls, talking picture frames and floating cobwebs blowing in the drafts. 
The house smells so wonderful from all the fresh pumpkins sort of cooking a little from the candles inside them, I just love the smell of caramelising pumpkin's, our puppy makes us laugh as she runs around growling at the pumpkin faces, only the scary ones!  We spend the day making eerie slimy jelly's, spooky cupcakes and putting up all the decorations in Oscar's room.

Oscar's bedroom door covered in cobwebs and spooky black rags, Oscar's creepy butler who says ghoulish comments as you walk past, the picture frame tells a story as you pass and then sticks his eye balls and tongues out of the picture at you!!! 

Fun cupcakes for the effect.

Ginger and chocolate cake, a first try for us topped with chocolate icing and our ghoulish cupcakes.
Mr Chilli dog he insists on his photo, as soon as we get this frame out he runs and sits behind waiting for us to take his photo.

Puppy Lottie taking part in the fun, last year when we took Lotties photo she was 9 weeks old arrh...
 In all a lovely Halloween evening, we are the only house in our street who lines the driveway with pumpkins, puts the banners out and has candles flicking in all the creepy cottage windows with cobwebs hanging over the front door, when our son sees the house he loves it, such a spooky house!  This we can confirm as often if we get up in the early hours to check on our son, you will hear the sharp intake of breath and then the eeeek scream as our eyes adjust to little wrinkled slightly green faced creepy man standing in the corner of our sons room lol!!!

28 Oct 2012


So cute and such a rich light texture melt in the mouth chocolate mousse, really quick and simple to make and so underrated as a pudding, this mousse deserves better respect and not to be dismissed as a old retro pudding that kids make, why does it matter if it is that easy to make it is all about the eating.
(makes 6 ptn)
300g dark plain chocolate min 70%
30g butter
4 tbsp cognac
5 tbsp caster sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
4 egg whites whisked to soft peaks
500ml double cream whipped

Melt the chocolate gently in a double boiler, then add the butter and mix in till smooth, take off the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes and then stir in the eggs and cognac.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then gradually add the sugar while whisking, fold 1/3 into the chocolate mix and then fold the rest in with a metal spoon.  Fold in the whipped cream and fill into your moulds, chill, I like to bring these out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving just to make them a little more relaxed and not so chilled ridged.


Leg of local lamb, boned and butterflied by the farm shop butcher, this recipe is a first for me as I am bit of a traditionalist when it comes to the roast dinner, especially Christmas Dinner.  I think I get that from my dad, as he loves the honest taste of meat with a hint of salt, and is not one for funky new twists, when it comes to roast dinners.  The food I grew up with was so adventurous, One memory is that I had to explain the giant cast iron frame above our dinning room table to my friends, that dad had it made so that he could hang giant kebabs or spit roasts with whole chickens on it for each guest, it was dinner with a theatrical feel.  As a child I loved going to my friends houses for tea as a because  we were given hot dogs with ketchup, or fish fingers beans and chips, however when it was their turn to come to me they got moussaka or goulash lol !!!

Gorgeous roasted leg of lamb, boned, butterflied & marinated in balsamic vinegar, garlic and sea salt.  Super fast roast cooking, (15 minutes)!!!  Fabulous juicy roasted lamb and unbelievably so quick, 30 mins inc resting time.  Not my normal traditional style of cooking but my mum and dad are more adventurous than me and this is a dish they fancied trying.  The recipe with the lamb worked well, however I am more in favour of the traditional roast lamb or braised shoulder of lamb or leg of lamb cooked in Beaujolais red wine for a few hours, mmm maybe I am not as traditional as I think I am lol...

The wonderful roux.  I like to warm the milk to infuse it with a onion studded with a bayleaf and clove. Then I melt an equal amount of butter with flour to make the roux and cook out for a few minutes stirring all the time, start adding a slosh of the warm milk and stirring in well, repeat until u have a glorious bechamel sauce, then season with salt and white pepper and cook on for approx 20 minutes, then add all the lovely cheese and stir until melted.

 Steamed cauliflower ready for the cheese bechamel

Wonderful yummy cheesy cauliflower cheese...

Crispy goose fat roasted potatoes that have the essential crunchy outside with that fluffy centre.

Seared, steamed sweetheart cabbage.

Balsamic roasting juices.

Roast pan gravy, one the best reasons for having a roast, I have to have my gravy over half the roast potatoes and just swirling into the cauliflower cheese sauce, that is my favourite mouthful, this I know drives my dad mad, he has to eat each element of the roast individual to really enjoy their flavour, but every time we have a roast we both are in total disagreement, I just love roasting juices and gravy over all of my dinner.

(serves 6)

For the Lamb
1 leg of lamb boned and butterflied
2 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
50ml ooil
100ml balsamic aged vinegar
1 tbsp sea salt

When all the roast trimmings are only 25 minutes away from being ready I then cook the lamb.  While the lamb is resting I like to dish up all the trimmings into pre heated serving bowls and warm the dinner plates ready to serve the lamb on, the rest is on the table for everyone to help themselves.

Pre-heat your oven to 260 degrees, it is essential you have your oven super hot.  Ask your butcher to bone out the leg and butterfly, place the lamb skin side down in a shallow roasting tin, using the tip of a sharp knife pierce several shallow pockets in the lamb and push in a slice of garlic, drizzle the ooil over the lamb and rub all over, then pour over the balsamic vinegar and season with sea salt.

This will only take between 15 to 30 minutes to cook to a rare/medium pink lamb, this will depend on how thick your leg of lamb is, the leg of lamb I used was not that thick, therefore I only roasted the lamb for 15 minutes and then covered with foil and rested for another 15 minutes, this is so essential, don't feel tempted to skip the resting stage.  Once rested, drain off all the cooking juices into a jug and reserve to use as a gravy, I found this a little too strong for my tastes, and as I prefer a good old fashioned gravy I made both.

 Cauliflower cheese
1 cauliflower
1 pinch salt
80g butter
80g plain flower
600ml milk
600g cheddar cheese grated
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1 pinch white pepper
1 pinch sea salt

Warm the milk with the onion, clove and bayleaf, pass through a sieve into a jug, melt the butter in a pan, once melted stir in the flour and cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes to cook out some of the flour flavour.  Start to pour in some of the milk a little at a time and stir in well, keep repeating until all the milk has been incorporated.  On a low heat very gently simmer for approx 20 minutes, add the cheese and stir well, taste and then adjust the seasoning.

1 sweetheart cabbage
1 glug ooil

I like to caramelise the sides of the cabbage as it adds another level of flavour, I cut the sweetheart cabbage in to quarters, drizzle over the ooil, and sear each side in a hot frying pan, then I place in the steamer to cook for a few minutes.

For the gravy
1 glug red wine
2 Schwartz roast lamb gravy powder
Juices from the roasting tin

This is my fail proof gravy when I am not going to have or be able to use the roasting tin juices, in this case I would not use the gorgeous roasting juices as the balsamic vinegar would not marry well with old fashioned gravy. 

I mix the Schwartz roast lamb gravy powder with the water and the red wine, bring up to a simmer to thicken.

24 Oct 2012


Lovely beef bones fresh from the local farm shop only £1 each, what a bargain, I like to roast them a so that the marrow bone is more flavoursome for the dogs to eat.

 Such a lovely smell of roasting beef in the kitchen with no roast beef to eat!!!

Mr Chilli Dog tucking into his big roasted bone

Puppy Lottie loving her giant roasted beef bone.
Love buying bones from our local farm shop, but I have a hit and miss record as there are lots of us dog lovers that try to get the bones as they are so cheap lol!  When we do get them, which is sort of every 3rd week, we just roast them in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes and then leave to cool. 
My dogs are fabulous they wait patiently for their treat, they are so well behaved as I want roast beef after cooking them as the smell is so divine, infact I think I could almost chew on a bone!!!  We have a very quite house for the evening and very contented dogs, marvellous.


We made their bed thicker with more straw as the weather is getting colder and as the door is staying open overnight we wanted to make sure that they had a deep bed to snuggle down in, while we were in the ark they wanted to know what we were doing and were trying to come in and help.  As soon as we had finished they both had a nap.

Our Great Dane puppy is of interest to the pigs and vice versa, Lottie wants to play and they are not sure what to make of her bounding lolloping excitement in the garden

Day 3 and going really well, they are just so sweet, I am going to find this really hard at the end of the experience, but I have to keep the end goal in mind.  I love sitting in the run for ages just watching them, they wander over and say hello, today they both fell in love with my pink crocks, and kept biting them and then when I got up to leave they chased my shoes lol.  I am guessing that pigs see colour, as I would normally wear my yard boots but I just popped down to have a cup of tea with them and a chat and did not change my shoes as we don't have mud yet!!!

LemonGrass is a very clever girl, when Ginger whacks her with his shoulder to move her, she moves away and then does a running ram tackle at him which knocks him out of the way, Ginger is approx 1/3 bigger than her.  No accidents with the electric fencing today and that includes my husband!!!

Our son Oscar is in charge of feeding the pigs and they are responding to him really well, we are training them to come to the jingle of the pig nuts in the vintage lever dairy feeding scoop my husband found, we love it as it has used histroy from a dairy farm from Penzance in Cornwall, which we love and go to every year for the Falmouth Sea Shantys.

23 Oct 2012


This takes minutes to make and then 15 minutes in the oven for a speedy oozing cheesy comforting dinner, and without all the hidden fat and preservatives from a takeaway.  I first had a Stromboli in America and it was fantastic, with all the over stuffed filling I got all the usual food comfort from the  normal style of pizza  and toppings, but in the Stromboli it became awesome with the filling as it was a much bigger mouthful of toppings with a huge burst of all the flavours, super yummy.
(Makes 2 lrg)
7g dried yeast
500g plain flour
375ml warm water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp ooil
100g semolina (for dusting, optional)
1 small bunch herbs optional
6 sun dried toms optional
300g mozzarella cheese grated
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 pinch dried mixed herbs
4 slices Jammon Serrano
2 fresh tomato's quartered
1 red onion sliced
Any other filling you fancy
Here I have just used some tomato paste and dried herbs as my speedy pizza base, but I often use the basic pizza base I make with reduced tomato's, onions, garlic, chillies a pinch of sugar and some fresh oregano.  With the left over tomato base I freeze in an ice cube tray and then once frozen I pop the cubes into a freezer bag and just take out one at a time when needed.
To make the pizza dough, place the warm water in a glass jug, add the yeast, ooil and a pinch of sugar.  Place the flour in a bowl with the salt, make a well in the centre and add the water.  If you like you can add sun dried tomato's and herbs to flavour the pizza dough, in fact you can add anything you fancy.  Bring the flour and water together to form a ball.  Dust your work top with semolina or flour, cut the dough in half and roll each piece out to a rectangle, fairly thin.
Now the fun begins, spread the tomato base over the dough leaving approx 2" gap around the edge.  Layer your fillings equally on 2/3 of the dough.  Now to roll the Stromboli, from the side of the dough with the most filling, roll over and once again, then lift to place on your baking tray, as you do just turn the Stromboli a little so that the seam of the pizza dough is on the underside and becomes the base.
Bake in a pre-heated oven 200 degrees for 15-20  minutes and then enjoy your cheesy gooey centre stuffed Stromboli.

22 Oct 2012


Sooo excited we are so pleased with our gorgeous beautiful weaners, (9 wks old), we have one gilt and one soar.  We have been naughty and named them, this is really the breeders fault as she called the male soar weaner The Ginger Ninja, and as my husband and son are kung fu/Judo mad we had to take him home also because he kept coming over to say hello and oinking at us.  Our son has named the girl gilt weaner LemonGrass so our first pigs are Ginger and Lemon.

Ginger had a little car sickness on the way home, but they both settled really quickly.  We just gave them time to let themselves out of the travel cage and to investigate and walk the short barricade path with straw bales to their new run and home.  They had a few scrapes with the electric fencing which runs around the boundary line, this is just a extra belt and brace's measure as we do have neighbours and we would not want a stray pig wondering over to introduce themselves without warning... 
Oh look what is that, well do you think we can eat it ?

How gorgeous are we.

Bottoms up!

Hello the name is Ginger, Ginger Ninja.

Love them, Love them, Love them.

Oscar meeting his new piglets, they were quite at home by now and really did not mind us having a wonder around their run.  Ginger gave Oscar several grunts at first then came over to investigate.

peek a boo!

The pigs home, for now!

Ingredients...Ha ha, no not yet.  This is the next step into our dream, we always wanted to raise ours own pigs, we had had our first chicken and were keen to move on to weaners, but daily life & family somehow just became busy and the dream got put to the back of our minds and it just became a memory, then thanks to my bestfriend who reminded us of our dream, we started to look for  3+ acres near where we live, so that we could have pigs and chickens, even maybe a few lambs, realising our small holding dream of growing and producing as much of our food ourselves.  After some time searching & viewing we came to realise that we were probably not going to find our parcel of land locally, until it came on the market or when. This really upset us, we felt very despondent, we had done so much homework on keeping pigs and chickens and all year round vegetable growing with a poly tunnel, that it felt wasted. 
After a few glasses of wine one evening & re-runs of the Good Life, we decided that with really good housekeeping and lots of home work, risk assessments, a belt and brace's attitude and after lots of really helpful information from small holders fairs and people in the know like Ardingly Arks and Oaklands Pigs we could do this in our own home garden!
What helped that decision was my friend said to me what is it with people's obsession about grass?  Keeping a lawn all trim and tidy, there is no soul no passion no inspiration.  This I found very fascinating, as our front garden is the only grassed garden we have, I must admit I have kept our grassed garden as a neat and tidy straight lined mowed lawn that I never used, I just look at and smile how perfect and tidy it is !
So with this thought in mind we just looked at the front lawn and changed our way of thinking. If we kept our pigs in the front garden and yes they will completely ruin the LAWN, is that really a big issue?  It will grown back!  So with this new found enthusiasm we have taken the next step to our  mini mini small holding.  This was it, we made the phone call to Oaklands Pigs who are very reputable registered pig breeders and booked our weaners.  7 Wks wait before the weaners would be ready, this was frustrating but brilliant, we were able to order our pig ark to be made by Ardingly Arks, who not only made us a fantastic ark, delivered to our door and assembled the ark for us, but then gave us so much helpful information and contacts we feel even more prepared. 
We are really enjoying the welcoming fold of the pig community from The Accidental Smallholder, everyone has been really great with lots of information, and tips which has really made our very first experience quite easy, So Far !!! 

21 Oct 2012



Nothing quite like a Sunday apple pie, with hot vanilla custard or delicious cold double cream.

Apples from the lovely lady at the bottom of my road, who puts all her fallers out for you to help yourself to whilst you walk on past.  Lol, I keep walking my dogs past so I can inconspicuously keep helping myself, and they are the most gorgeous old fashioned, thick, squat trunked apple trees, with a glorious spread of low wide branch's that are brimming with apples, apples, apples.

Traditional pie, with large chunks of apple filling.

When ever I make these pies, I always try to make a couple of small indivudal pies, that I can drop round to my neighbours.

So little in ingredients and yet a Classic home, heart warming pie.
(makes 1 medium pie)
4 large British bramley apples peeled rough chopped
150g caster sugar
For the pastry
110g lard diced
100g stork
450g plain flour
1 pinch salt
180ml cold water
1 egg beaten for glaze

To make the pastry, place the flour and salt in a bowl, grate in the stork and mix with a knife into the flour, add the lard and mix, add the water and gently bring to a dough ball.  You want to see lumps of lard in the pastry, as when this melts in the oven it will help bring a light puff to the pastry.  Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Roll out and line your pie dish.

Take the apples and mix in the sugar, fill the pastry case with the apples and pack as much in as you can as the apples will reduce, egg wash the lip of the pastry case and place your lid on.  I like to make leaves as decoration, or sometimes a large apple with stalk and leaf for decoration.  Egg wash and place in a pre-heated oven, 190 degrees, for 20-30 minutes. 


The brownie, such a simple cake yet with such a personality.  My family apart from my nan, do not eat cake so when I married my fabulous husband, it was a shock that his family ate cake every day, and more than once a day so I have had to learn to bake cake, I still don't eat cake at all but I love to make them for my family, even though my husband says I just do not understand sweet, I do, it is I am just a savoury girl.  Some of my family love the crunchy corner with the softer layers towards the edge and some like to eat brownies from the centre of the brownie tin with no crunchy edges, such personal tastes is why I love to cook.
85g butter
1/2  tsp vanilla
225g caster sugar
2 eggs
3 tbsp cocoa
100g self raising flour

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees.  Beat the eggs and caster sugar together until light and fluffy.  Place the butter and cocoa powder in a pan and heat gently, stirring until the butter has melted and the mixture is combined.

Stir this into the egg mixture and then gently fold in the flour.  Pour the cake batter into a pre-greased and base lined shallow brownie or cake tin, smooth the top level.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, leave to cool in the tin, then turn out and cut into eight squares and enjoy, I recommend making a double batch as I have learnt it saves time as when the brownies come out of the oven they seem to go very fast.

15 Oct 2012


One of my favourite pies, my nan's slow braised steak and kidney in ale, upgraded by my nan a few years ago with a dash of curry powder, this really adds to the dish, not like the time nan decided to pour Malibu in the Sunday roasts gravy !!!

My nan's most excellent braised steak and kidney, ooooh sooo lovely, four hours of gentle braising to release all those gorgeous flavours just for me, my nan always made this for me.

Gotta have buttery mashed potato.
(makes 6 pies, or 1 large pie)
1 kg diced chuck steak
400g lamb kidneys trimmed diced
2 bottles of spitfire ale
1000 ml beef or chicken stock
2 onions finely diced
1 clove garlic fine diced
1 stick celery fine diced
1 carrot fine diced
100g plain flour in a bowl
Salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1 kg King Edward potatoes
1/4 pack of butter
2 tbsp ooil
1 tbsp butter
The pastry
110g lard diced
100g butter grated
450g plain flour
1 tsp salt
180ml cold water
Heat the ooil and butter in a non stick pan and gently fry the onions, celery, garlic and carrot for seven minutes.  Remove from the pan and place in your braising tin.  Season the beef with salt and pepper and toss in the flour to coat, brown off in batches letting the pieces catch a little and caramelise.  Add to the braising tin with the bay leaves, curry powder and mustard powder.  Pour in the spitfire ale and stock water and stir, top up with another ale or stock if the liquid is not covering all the meat.  Cover the braising tin with tin foil to keep all the steam in.  I like to use a large braising tin so that the meat has lots of space to move around in the wonderful sauce it is going to flavour.
Place in your pre-heated oven 170 degrees for 2 hours, at this point add the kidneys and re cover and cook for another 2 hours, you can cook this dish on a lower heat for even longer and it really does make a difference to the flavour, low and slow.  Once your meat is ready to fall apart and your gravy is soooo good you just want to put it in a mug and drink it, in fact this my nan (Oscar's Great Grannie) always did for me I laugh at the memory of nan's brown old 1970's mug filled with the stock gravy next to my plate, I am laughing out loud right now, as I used to savour this to the last part of my dinner, which if you ever ate with me you would know this was serious, as I cant help myself and do not exercise control when it comes to flavour, as I like to eat eat eat.
To make the pastry place the flour in the bowl with the salt, add the lard and butter and mix in very slightly, add the water and bring to a ball.  Turn out on a floured board and roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for  half an hour. 
Roll out and line your individual pie tins or one large pie tin, fill with the braised steak and kidney and then place on the lid, I like to egg wash and then place in a pre-heated oven 190 degrees, for approx 30minutes, maybe 40 minutes.  Meanwhile...
For the mashed potato, peel, cut in half and boil in seasoned water the potatoes until tender, I like to push my potato's through a ricer, but my husband likes to use a masher as he likes some lumps and texture to the mash !!!  we share lol!   Return your potato's, whole or pushed through the ricer to the pan on a low heat and add the butter and seasoning, stir and check and adjust for seasoning, serve with your gorgeous pie and lots of gravy.
For the love of extra gravy as this will come from the left over braising juices, pour over or serve any extra in a old mug!