Friday, 31 August 2012

A pretty Quakeress cake

Why a Pretty Quakeress? This cake is baked with Quaker Oats, hence the name.

150g Quaker oats, finely ground
160g granulated sugar
120g self-raising flour
2 eggs
1 medium Granny Smith apple
1 medium carrot
150g yogurt
2 bags of flavoured redbush tea (I used Charbrew Tropical rooibos flavour)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp melted butter

For the sauce:
200g blackcurrants
80g sugar
1 tsp strawberry jam

Start with adding the Quaker Oats to the coffee grinder and grind them until they are finely ground.
Make a cup of tea with 2 teabags of the redbush tea, leave it to cool.
In a big mixing bowl grate 1 apple and 1 carrot, add flour, ground oats, eggs, cinnamon, sugar, melted butter, about 1/3 cup of tea and yogurt.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Pour the cake mix in a buttered cake spring form. Place in the oven for about 50 minutes +. Check with a wooden skewer if it's ready. Once the cake is done, take it out of the oven, and out of the spring form. Dust with the icing sugar.
You can eat it hot ot cold.

For the sauce: pour 2/3 mug of tea in a small pan, add the sugar, let it boil and slightly reduce before adding fresh black currants and a spoonful of the strawberry jam. Cook for about 5 minutes.

To serve the cake, pour a few spoons of the sauce over a slice of cake.

And here it is, a Pretty Quakeress.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A taste of India from Warburtons (Baked Naan Chips review)

When I think of India, I picture myself as a little girl, sitting on my Mum's lap in the cinema, watching a Bollywood weepie like Seeta Aur Geeta (anyone else knows what I am talking about?).
My Mum loved the Indian cinema, and in the days of my childhood it was very popular in Russia. Later I've been reading memoirs of travellers to India and dreaming of visiting it one day. Alas, my dreams have stayed dreams.
What first springs to your mind when you think of India? Colourful clothes, delicious cuisine, cultural traditions?
If you enjoy Indian food, you might like to know that Britain's famous baker Warburtons has launched a new range of products that are inspired by India - Baked Naan Chips.

Warburtons explains: "Made from a unique naan bread recipe, the snacks are inspired by iconic British-Indian dishes and come in three great flavours - Creamy Korma (mild), Classic Tikka (medium) and Fiery Madras (hot), to suit the tastes of all your friends and family. Available in big sharing bags (150g), not only do these Indian treats taste delicious, but they’re also guilt-free, as the whole range is baked not fried, with 33% less fat compared to standard potato crisps, and containing no artificial ingredients."

Creamy Korma (mild) was the first bag of naan chips that I opened for tasting.
What you notice immediately is an aroma of the coconut milk and Korma spices. Among the ingredients you will find wheat flour, sunflower oil, korma seasoning, coconut milk, yoghurt powder, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cayenne, pepper, garlic and more. The chips are very crunchy and mildly spicy.

Very pleasant Korma flavour, mild enough for younger children. Eddie had a few and asked for more, he really enjoyed them. You can munch them as they are, or use a nice dip to go with them.
As they contain no artificial ingredients, I am happy to give them to my children. Another bonus: they are a nice new food to tempt and develop your child's palate.

Classic Tikka (medium)
If you look at the list of ingredients, you find wheat flour, sunflower oil, Tikka Masala seasoning, yoghurt powder, garlic, onion, cayenne pepper, coriander, ginger, cardamom, cumin.
Tikka chips are definitely more spicy than Korma, but not too hot.

I decided to go full Monty and serve them with a Tikka and side-dishes. I think they are a good competition to poppadoms. Eat them with different toppings, dips and condiments. And again, these chips were very crunchy.
My personal favourite. They go well with a glass of cold beer.

Fiery Madras (hot)
I am not very keen on hot curries, so tried to postpone tasting the last bag of chips. In comparison to the other two flavours, Fiery Madras has a real kick, as it is made with the Madras curry seasoning (the one that I usually avoid if I eat in an Indian restaurant).
They are very aromatic. I placed a bowl of chips in the kitchen, and every time I enter the kitchen, I can smell the spices. Nice but too hot for me. It would suit those who love their curries hot.
A friend of mine came earlier today and I mentioned to her that I am writing a review and asked if she'd like to taste the chips. She tried all three flavours and her verdict was that the Madras chips were not as hot as she presumed from my description, so I suppose it depends on a personal taste. they were too hot for me. She also commented that all three flavours were really nice.

If you'd like to try the new Warburtons Baked Naan Chips, they are available at Morrisons (RSP £1.79).
For further information and also recipes created by TV chef Monisha Bharadwaj visit
I have also noticed that they are running a competition to win a curry recipe kit.


Monday, 27 August 2012

Back to school healthier swaps with Popchips (giveaway c/d 20 September 2012)

Are you dreading the start of the school? Or perhaps you can't wait and are counting the days until the academic year starts in September? With such a rainy summer in the UK it hasn't been an easy task to keep the kids happy and entertained at home, if you haven't had a chance to travel.

Do your children take lunch boxes to school? Do you find it difficult to come with the healthy options?

With the start of the school year looming in the very near future, nutritionist Azmina Govindji put together some ideas for the lunchbox swaps.

1. Trade a regular bag of crisps for Popchips, they are literally popped with heat and pressure, so there's no fat used in frying and kids will love them (ahem, not just kids. After I reviewed Popchips a couple of months ago, I have been regularly buying them for myself, I am particularly addicted to the BBQ flavour).

2. Go for squeezy yoghurts over ice cream for a good fix of calcium and protein.

3. Leave the chocolate on the shelf and opt for jaffa cakes as a lighter sweet treat.

4. Stir up a calcium-rich milkshake and forget those sugary soft drinks! (that's better for the after school treat).

For two big glasses of milkshake you will need a glass and one third of semi-skimmed milk, a small tub of fromage frais or yogurt, a handful of blueberries, one small banana, a small scoop of vanilla ice cream (Haagen Dazs is the best, but we also love the Cornish style ice cream). Put all the ingredients in the blender and whizz well. Serve at once. If you use fromage frais, the milkshake will be creamier in consistency and slightly sweeter. If you prefer to use the yogurt, the taste will have a sharp note. Experiment with different yogurts and ice cream, add strawberries or raspberries instead of blueberries.

5. Choose low fat cheese spread as a source of calcium and protein over processed meat, which can be higher in salt.


Popchips has kindly offered a selection of 24 single-serve bags as a prize to one of my lucky blog readers. For a chance to win the prize, please fill in the rafflecopter form.
Leaving a comment is a required step, all the other steps are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Good luck!

Ave, Londinium (sea bream baked with herbs and white wine)

Unlike many food bloggers, I often have no idea what I am going to cook for dinner, until I am in the supermarket to see what takes my fancy. On Saturday as I was rushing through Sainsbury's, I stopped by the fish counter and decided that the sea bream looked very appealing. That's my dinner sorted.

I decided to bake it with the herbs from the garden and white wine.

This recipe is a homage to London, to its Roman past and multi-cultural present.

This month's Best of British Challenge  is hosted by London Unattached. If you want to find out more about the challenge and peruse the last month's write-up have a look at The Face of New World Appliances (link removed as expired).

Sea bream baked with herbs and white wine

For the recipe you will need (for 2 people)

1 sea bream
1/3 bottle of white wine
herbs (basil, sage, fennel, chives)
1 sweet pepper
a handful of small tomatoes
4 tbsp cooked farro
green olives
cheese for peppers (that would melt well)
salt with coriander and rose petals (optional, just use sea salt if you don't have any fancy salt)
a good dollop of butter
a splash of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the cleaned fish in the deep ceramic dish, drizzle with olive oil, salt well, add sliced tomatoes and add chopped herbs in the splits on the side of the fish and inside. Pour the white wine over the fish, add more herbs and olives.

Place in the oven for about half an hour. The wine will be reduced and will make a lovely dipping sauce.
 At the same time bake the halved pepper drizzled with the olive oil. After 15 mins of baking, take them out, add some cooked farro. Add some chopped cheese. Put back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

I have already written about farro, the grain of the legions, if you want to find out more, please have a look here. The Roman legionnaires carried farro with them, and I would imagine they had their meals with farro and whatever local produce they could get their hands on: fish or any game, with the local herbs.

I picked the herbs from our garden earlier that day. And tomatoes are also from our greenhouse, chemicals- and pesticide-free (and for that pleasure I have been struggling with the caterpillars who found my tomato plants much to their taste).
Of course, historically, the Romans in Londinium would not have had any tomatoes and sweet peppers which were introduced in the Old World many centuries later. But in the modern multi-cultural and diverse London you can find anything.
My husband who doesn't like fish very much, said it was delicious. I enjoyed the fish, and the sauce was very tasty and fragrant.

So here it is, my Best of British/London recipe.
Oh yes, if anyone guesses what the cheese is, I'll crown you with laurels.

Make me smile: Sudocrem Funny Faces contest

Are you taking zillions of photos of your baby? Does your baby's funny face make you smile?
Share your giggles with Sudocrem, the nappy rash cream and be a winner!

Sudocrem has just launched its latest Facebook contest.

UK parents are encouraged to share a photo of their baby's funniest face. Baby must be under 2 years old.
The winning entry will receive £500 of Babies R Us vouchers and a professional photo shoot, and will also become the star of Sudocrem's facebook Timeline banner for 12 months.

About the Funny Faces competitionOpen to all UK parents, the competition is simple to enter and designed to bring a smile to Sudocrem’s rapidly growing Facebook community of mums and dads. Judged by Sudocrem’s own midwife, Nikki Khan, and the Sudocrem brand team the competition promises to be lots for fun for all involved, with a fantastic prize awaiting the winning entry.
Entry into the competition couldn’t be simpler; go to and select the ‘Funny Faces’ contest applicaton. Have your chosen image ready to hand, submit your contact details and then upload the image when prompted. Then just sit back, enjoy viewing all the entries and keep your fingers crossed that Sudocrem will announce you as their winner on 19th October 2012.


The competition dates are as follows:
Entry submission commence date - 22nd August 2012
Entry submission complete date - 15th October 2012
Judging commences - 17th October 2012
Competition winner announced - 19th October 2012

Instructions to enter the Facebook contest:

  1. Have your chosen image ready to hand
  2. You will be required to ‘Like’ the Sudocrem Facebook page and submit your contact details when prompted
  3. Upload your image when prompted
  4. Share the contest with your Facebook friends and cross your fingers that you bag this unforgettable prize.
Alas, we won't be entering, as Eddie celebrated his 2nd birthday, and he would be aghast at being called a baby. He's a big boy now. Two going on fifteen, to be precise, and very strong-willed too. Everything has to be his way. Are there any contests for Terrible Twos, I wonder?

Friday, 24 August 2012

Piadina with goat's cheese

"Nothing speaks more of Romagna than this bread of ours - it is a symbol that speaks of devotion to our land" (Giovanni Pascoli)

Piada or piadina is a traditional soft flatbread from Emilia Romagna. It is sold in specialised kiosks called Piadinerie and is filled with cured meats, cheese and vegetables.

You can make your own Piada (Two Greedy Italians book have a lovely recipe for a Parma ham and stracchino cheese filled piadina).
However, if you don't fancy baking your own flatbread, you can buy Crosta & Mollica's piada in Waitrose now.
These thick soft flatbreads have a pronounced olive oil aroma and taste.

"Traditionally they would have been made with lard but these ones are made with extra virgin olive oil which are becoming more popular as they are lighter and healthier."
I love Crosta & Mollica range of breads and biscuits, and as soon as I found the pack of the flatbreads in Waitrose, I wanted to try it. I also wanted to surprise my husband who comes from Emilia Romagna.

For the recipe you will need

1 pack of Crosta & Mollica Piada (there are 3 flatbreads in a pack)
1 Capricorn goat's cheese
1 Galbani mozzarella cucina (a vacuum packed mozzarella in a smaller size of 125g)
a handful of rocket
3 slices of prosciutto
olive oil

It's very simple. Just add a slice of prosciutto on top of the piadina, sliced goat's cheese and mozzarella, drizzle with the olive oil and add a few sprigs of rocket. Fold in two, place in the oven preheated to 180C and leave in the oven for about 5-8 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
You could also put it under the grill if you prefer (our grill is ancient and I prefer to use the oven).

Eat hot. For a vegetarian version, skip the prosciutto, use the vegetraian mozzarella and add some grilled vegetables and chopped herbs.

I am glad that Waitrose is expanding its range of Crosta & Mollica products, have a look in the international breads section. Temptation, temptation!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

A palette of memories (Capture the Colour competition)

When it comes to photography, I am very much in the ranks of the amateurs. I take zillions of photos, as if trying to say "Stop, moment! You're so beautiful". I don't have a sophisticated camera, so don't expect any professional results.
Travel is running a photo competition, asking you to submit 5 photos that in your opinion represent the colours White, Blue, Red, Green and Yellow. You can find all about it here.

All the images I have chosen are about our trips to Cornwall, my favourite destination, and about my family, my Universe.

This photo was taken last July. I saw this fleck of white on the vast blue, and it reminded me of the famous poem by the Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov.

A sail gleams in foggy morning
A lonely stranger in the sea
What does it seek in country foreign,
What kind of trouble does it flee?

The waves are swelling, wind is whistling
The mast is bending with a creak
It isn't happiness it's seeking
And not the happiness it flees

The stream beneath as bright as azure
Above the Sun sends golden rays...
Rebellious it's seeking tempest
As if the storm will bring it rest.

(translation from Russian by M.Mostov)


These gorgeous blue hydrangeas caught my eye in one of the private gardens in Cornwall. There are so many hues and tints of blue, very Impressionist in spirit.


This is my son Sasha, admiring a statue in the same garden, where I took the photo of the hydrangeas. Sasha has autism, and is in the world of his own most of the time. The sun was so bright on that day that the lawn looked yellow. I call this image "Art appreciation", and it makes me smile every time I look at it.


This is Eddie in green, looking very determined, set on finding the new adventures on the beach in Perranuthnoe. Drops of sea water on his face from splashing. That's my boy.


This is one of my favourite photos of 2011, when Eddie was 1 year old. My Mum and Eddie are very much alike, they have the same personality and share the same stubborness. The red colour of Eddie's jumper is a bright spot among the calmer hues of green and blue.

I have seen some spectacular entries to the competition, and I do realise that indeed my photos are not in the same league, but they are meaningful to me, I cherish them as memories of the times we enjoyed together and for me they truly say "Stop, moment! You're so beautiful".

I would like to invite my blogging friends to take part in the competition.

Life, Ninja Cat Killer
Dragons and Fairy Dust
Tarnished Silver
Attachment Mummy
The ramblings of a formerly Rock-n-Roll Mum

Perchance to dream: Dormeasan Sleep Valerian-Hops oral drops review

You know the feeling: you keep tossing your head, trying to find the elusive sleep, but it doesn't come. You check the time, swear, try to count the sheep, anything really, get up, have a sip of water, maybe read, be too tired to do anything and unable to find the much desired oblivion.
I often have bouts of insomnia, and hate it. My kids often keep me awake, but even on the night when they are sleeping peacefully, I might have a problem with falling asleep. My mind is racing, I am quite angry at myself for not catching the opportunity to have a rest, but the sleep doesn't come. Of course, when the time comes to get up, you feel like a zombie.

I have tried several sleeping pills in the past, but they didn't seem to do much of a difference.

When I read on BritMums that a long established company A Vogel Herbal Remedies is looking for bloggers to test the herbal drops Dormeasan Sleep Valerian-Hops, I wanted to try it and find out if it works for me.

What is Dormeasan Sleep?
Dormeasan® is a herbal sleep remedy made from extracts of freshly harvested, organically grown Valerian root and Hops.

Image credit: A,Vogel

Its benefits and features include the following:

  • Herbal sleep remedy
  • Helps restore natural sleep
  • Tinctures of Valerian and Hops
  • Fresh herb extract

  • "Dormeasan® is not a 'sleeping pill’. It is a herbal sleeping aid and won't normally leave you feeling groggy in the morning. Unlike many sleep remedies, Dormeasan® is available in the form of a liquid herbal tincture. Taken just half an hour before bedtime, it can help if you worry that you can't sleep - encouraging a more natural sleep, helping you sleep better and wake feeling refreshed."

    What were my first impressions? When I opened the little bottle, the smell of Valerian immediately reminded me of my great grandmother who kept a bottle of Valerian drops by her bedside, "for the heart", as she used to say. As you know, the Valerian root drops have a very distinct smell that you cannot mistake for anything else. It also brought back memories of our cat Kuzya who would go crazy at the sight of the bottle of the Valerian drops. As a kid, I found it extremely amusing.

    My Mum is a great believer in herbal remedies, and she also takes the Valerian drops, though she doesn't take it for the sleeping disorder, more for the calming effect when she is feeling stressed.

    As for Hops, in a way, it is very similar to the Valerian as it is also used as a treatment for anxiety, restlessness and insomnia.

    The first couple of nights after taking Dormeasan Sleep I wasn't able to properly test the effect as our older son was very restless and hardly slept at all, so we were all kept awake.
    Then on the 3rd night, once my guys were finally asleep, I decided to read but realised that the bed was a much more alluring prospect. The drops didn't have an immediate effect but they definitely made me more sleepy and relaxed.
    I have been taking it for over a week, and have to report that Dormeasan Sleep does work for me. I think the main effect is lowering down my anxiety levels, thus making the transition to sleep smoother. It does what is promises: encourages a more natural sleep.

    It tastes quite bitter, even diluted in water or juice, and the smell is quite distinct too, but if you gulp it quickly, it helps.
    Anyway, a bit of a bitter taste is a small price to pay for a more restful night.

    Wednesday, 22 August 2012

    Thrifty ways with Next PJs

    Vanity is a sin, perhaps pardonable when you are 2 years old. Eddie loves nice clothes, and I often smile at him, when he chooses an oufit to wear.

    We have been buying sleepsuits from Next since Eddie's early days, they are very practical and cute. In the last two years we went through several sets of sleepsuits, as Eddie is growing fast.

    Eddie went through a stage when he couldn't part with his wellies and tried to wear them everywhere including his bed.

    The last set of 3 sleepsuits was bought over a year ago, and it is suitable for 18mos-2yrs. Alas, they were becoming too short. My Mum who stayed with us in July, came to the rescue.
    As the sleepsuits themselves were still in a very good condition (and that is after numerous washes), it seemed a waste to get rid of them. I could have taken them to a charity shop, but the feet area on all sleepsuits was quite worn and patched up on many occasions.

    Actually this is my only concern about them: I wish the feet area of the sleepsuits was reinforced. Children of this age are very active, and the feet area gets worn much faster than the rest of the sleepsuit. Ideally it should have some sort of the sock patch over the feet area, or a double layer (something to think about, Next?).
    My super-thrifty Mum cut off the feet area, turned the bottom edge, and hemmed it. She was stitching by hand, as I don't have a sewing machine. And Eddie was ecstatic to have his fave PJs back.

    Now we have a sleepsuit that will last longer. I wish I thought about it, when Eddie's older sleepsuits were getting too short for his legs.

    Monday, 20 August 2012

    Two-year-old's busy life

    And you thought your life is busy? When you are two, you are constantly on the move.
    Eddie is a very active boy, he hardly ever sits still. So many things to do, so many toys to play with.

    There are lots of cars to play racing games with. We have quite a collection, which we built over the years, starting with the times when Sasha was a little boy. Now that Eddie inherited his older brothers' toys, they keep him entertained for long chunks of time.

    He loves his crayons and pencils as well. Colouring is such a fun creative activity. I am amazed at his dexterity and patience. A perfect time for me to do a bit of blogging, when Eddie is sitting quietly next to me, absorbed in his creative process.

    Puzzles are another of our favourites. You think he might be just putting the pieces together. But in fact he is developing his critical thinking skills, motor skills and problem solving abilities.

    And what about playing outdoors? Jumping on the trampoline is so much fun. You feel like flying in the air. Simple pleasures of life.


    Books. Who doesn't love them? Peppa pig, Elmer the patchwork elephant, Kipper the dog are our family, we keep discovering new stories and following new adventures.

    And of course, there is an ipad (when the big brother is not watching that Eddie has taken his ipad yet again). With so many ipad apps for preschoolers it's not easy to keep up. Right now we're enjoying Peppa Pig's Sports day.

    Teddies, the last time I counted, we had 27 of them, of different sizes and ages, including one that belonged to Eddie's Dad when he was a child. We love teddies. The most huggable material in the world.

    But if you ask Eddie what his favourite toy is he will tell you - Pandanka.

    Pandanka is Eddie's name for a little panda from Trudi/John Crane Toys. It truly is softest of soft touches. Totally adorable and small enough to carry around.

    First thing in the morning, when Eddie wakes up, he is looking around and asks "Pandanka sleeping?" We have to take it with us when we are out and about.

    And just before going to bed, Eddie wraps his beloved Pandanka in a small blanket and wishes it Night-Night. As Pandanka moves around the house, there is often a frantic search before bedtime to try and find her, and being cheeky, she likes to hide.

    Trudi's animals are realistic and lifelike children's cuddly toys.
    "High density fur fabric is used for each piece of the toy ensuring that the fabric backing never shows through, and special fabrics are sought to match the real-life animal as much as possible. Also each toy is double stitched to ensure durability and longevity. Every toy is hand finished to create a unique expression on each and every animal face."

    Trudi is a well known Italian toy company, much loved by both children and adults. It has been spreading cuddles, love and happiness for over 50 years. Trudi toys are perfect for make-believe games, which are so important in a child's development. Role playing games with soft toys allow young children to explore adult roles and relationships.
    If you observe children during role playing games, you will find out a lot about a child's psychological state, her idea (or a lack of) of gender roles, the interpretation of the world around us and children's perceptions of the family life. So much is revealed during the make-believe playing.

    Our Pandanka has a wistful smile on her little face and kind eyes. She is a mini-Eddie, a cheeky little thing.
    When you are 2, your life is one long role-playing game, full of joy and discoveries. And that's not even half of the activities we do on any given day. There is garden and all its joys of jumping in the puddles, watering the courtyard, picking the berries. Cooking together with Mum. Eating cakes and cookies. Learning all the time, making new discoveries every day.

    When you are 2, you are not only a toyologist by nature, you are a micro- and macro-cosmologist, sociologist, neologist and also chaologist, to name but a few activities.

    Saturday, 18 August 2012

    Scentastic Smencils

    You should have seen the smile on my son's face, when I opened a pack of Smencils and waved them under my nose to smell the pencils. He found it incredibly funny, and was copying my, sniffing at the pencils like a little overexcited puppy and laughing with me. 
    Yes, you read it right, we were smelling the pencils. They are a special kind of pencils and they come in a whole orchard of lovely smells.

    These aromatic pencils brought back memories of the sweet smelling erasers I had as a child. I think they came in two flavours - banana and tutti frutti, and they were also imported (which for a child growing up in the Soviet Union was bordering on an illegal pleasure). I remember vividly how wonderful they seemed to me, I carried one in my pocket and felt they were way too good to be used for erasing. Now that was a trip down the memory lane. It is amazing how some smells bring long-forgotten memories, but for me smells always work that way. I could be walking in the street and passing by some bloke with a cigarette, and some particular smell would remind me of my late Dad who was a smoker. The perfume of the lime blossom takes me back into my childhood again, in the school courtyard, and me climbing on the lime tree. And don't even start me on the kitchen smells and aromas, I could write a longer novel than Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.

    Back to our Smencils. What are they exactly?

    Smencils are gourmet scented pencils. We received a pack of 5 in five Fruit Shoot™ flavours: apple, orange, tropical, summer fruits and blackcurrant & apple.
    I don't know how close they are to the original Fruit Shoot flavours, as I don't buy Fruit Shoots (my older son drinks only Volvic touch of lemon, and my little man is happy with milk or blueberry and apple juice).

    Eddie and I sat for a drawing and colouring session, I did a couple of quick drawings for Eddie to colour in, as this is one of his favourite activities. The Smencils we received are the graphite variety, but there are also Smencils which come in coloured varieties.

    Smencils can rightfully boast that they are the world's only scented pencils made from 100% recycled newspapers and are environmentally friendly.
    Each Smencil stores in its own biodegradable tube, guaranteeing freshness for two years.
    I would also like to "draw" your attention to a competition run by Learning Resources on Facebook, you could win one of ten sets of Fruit Shoot Smencils for your children. Competition closes on 14 September, and you are invited to come up with a new Smencil flavour.

    Learning Resources suggests that Smencils are perfect for

    • birthday presents
    • party bags
    • stocking fillers
  • Reward good behaviour
  • Encourage children to write
  • Fundraising

  • With so many flavours to choose, you will surely find the one that you like.

    Thursday, 16 August 2012

    Sausage rolls with apricots and herbs

    Am I allowed to do a bit of name-dropping on my blog? When we were staying in Cornwall in July, we were invited by Jane and David Cornwall for tea. If you're not familiar with this name, how about his nom de plume: John Le Carre? Both Jane and David are wonderful hosts, very attentive and genuinely interested in what you say.

    Last time we visited them, we were offered a whole feast with our tea, including some scrummy sausage rolls. My Mum liked them so much, that after we came back home from holidays, I decided to treat her to a freshly-baked batch.

    For 20  mini-sausage rolls:
    1 roll of Jus-Rol puff pastry    
    6 good quality pork sausages with herbs
    2 tbsp chopped apricots
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    1/2 tsp dried mint
    1/2 red onion, finely chopped
    2 tbsp chopped spring onions
    1 egg, beaten with milk
    Preheat the oven to 180C
    Unroll the puff pastry on a clean work surface, cut into two long rectangles.
    Remove the skins from the sausages and place them in a big mixing bowl. Chop the red onion and sping onions finely and fry in the frying pan with the olive oil until translucent. Allow to cool before adding to the sausage meat. Add dried herbs and chopped apricots. Mash them well together with your hands.
    Divide the sausage meat in two and form two long sausages. Place each of them onto the pastry just off centre of the pastry rectangles, making sure to leave a 2cm border on each side. Using a pastry brush, brush down one edge of the pastry.
     Pull one side of the pastry over the sausage & pinch the edge to create a sausage "roll".  Cut into 4cm chunky mini-rolls.
    Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and bake until golden brown for about 20 minutes.

    Eat either hot or allow to cool, they keep well, wrapped in foil in the fridge for a day.

    Wednesday, 15 August 2012

    Sporty Peppa (Peppa Pig's Sports Day app review)

    Any parent of young children knows who Peppa Pig is. She is probably more part of the family than a distant aunt Zelda.
    It has been impossible to avoid the Olympic Games, whether you are a fan or not.
    Cheeky little Peppa and her gang have their own Sports Day.

    Peppa Pig’s Sports Day app was released on July 20th 2012, and is available in the App Store for £2.99 and is compatible with the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone.

    Usually I don't pay so much for the kids' apps (special needs & communication apps are a different matter), and at £2.99 it is a more pricey app. I was given a code for a free app for the purposes of the review, but being a luddite by nature, I got it wrong and ended up paying for the app.

    What did we think of it?
    Eddie was delighted to see his favourite Peppa on the ipad. Alas, he was disappointed as for the first couple of days we had problems with the sound, i.e. there was no sound at all, and the app without a sound is quite pointless.
    Then the sound appeared without me doing any changes in installation, and I showed the game to Eddie.
    I should also mention that I contacted the support team at P2Games and they responded quickly (but I should also confess, I could hardly understand what they suggested doing, the instructions were mind-boggling to someone as technically challenged as me).

    One of the advantages of this app is that several people can play it at the same time, as it has a multi-player option. Or if you prefer, you can play on your own.
    As you can see from the image above, you can choose 4 players for each game.

    You choose one of the six games which include:
    LONG JUMP     
    TUG OF WAR      

    After playing several games with Eddie as I was teaching him how the app works, my impression was that everyone wins, as it was a draw every time. I thought because the game is intended for very young children, it was meant to be like this, so as not to upset the little ones, but later one of the players was selected as a winner, so my theory didn't hold water.

    It is amazing how quickly the new generation is grasping the concept of the apps. My son is 2 years old, yet he knows how to play games on ipad.

    This app is not what you would call an educational app, and I don't know how quickly my son will get bored with it and move onto a different, new app. So far he seems to be enjoying it a lot.

    Little Peppa is a true pre-school phenomenon, she is a mini-Superwoman, and even jumped with Her Majesty in the puddle.