Saturday, 30 April 2011


how to make a May whistle...

Today we have been preparing for May Day tomorrow by making May whistles. This tradition comes from west Cornwall, where May was welcomed by local children with music. 

Friday, 29 April 2011

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


the retro viewmaster birthday pressies went down very well and I relived my youth! 

Monday, 25 April 2011

we've gone wild garlic mad!

after our foraging day yesterday, we set to work today on some new wild garlic recipes. Firstly we made a wild garlic pesto using this River Cottage recipe, replacing the walnuts with pine nuts, realising half way through that I had forgotten to buy olive oil (don't you find every holiday you forget one ingredient?). Not wanting to use sunflower oil, my husband did a little foraging of his own and took himself off to the local pub and over his pint, casually asked if he could 'borrow' (are we meant to take it back?) a little olive oil? They happily obliged him with such a bizarre request and he quickly returned with a squeezy ketchup bottle full of oil! The recipe was quick and easy and made up a potent little jar of the most intense green coloured pesto, that I am going to spread on some lovely crusty fresh bread.

We then made some wild garlic parcels, using a recipe from the fab River Cottage Hedgerow Handbook.

serves 4
32 young wild garlic leaves
100g risotto rice (cooked)
250g sausagemeat
200 ml chicken or veg stock
salt and pepper

preheat oven to 190°C/gas mark 5
Clean leaves, take off and chop stalks
In a bowl mix the chopped stalks, rice and sausagemeat, with salt and pepper
Lay the wild garlic leaves shiny side down in pairs to form a cross
place a teaspoon of the mixture and place in the middle of the cross, then starting with the bottom leaf wrap them around to form little parcels
Turn the parcels over and place in a baking dish, pouring the stock over the top
Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 45 minutes

I think this recipe would also work a treat stuffed with mushrooms instead of sausagemeat. It felt very Mediterranean to be eating stuffed leaves on such a hot day! 

Sunday, 24 April 2011

foraging fun...

We went out to look for some wild garlic leaves and dandelions, so I could to try out some new recipes. 

We were blessed with finding lush green woodland carpets of wild garlic. I really want to learn more about foraging and cooking more 'wild' food recipes, as my identification skills are quite dodgy!  

If you want to go foraging for wild food, it's very important that you do so responsibly. I would recommend reading this code of conduct from or this code of conduct from before you start.  

the Easter egg tree...

A new family tradition that has grown over the years is our annual Easter egg tree. It's just a few branches from a contorted hazel tree in the garden, in a jar of water, from which we hang naturally dyed eggs! In 2009 our tree looked like this and last year, we tried to imprint leaves on the eggs. This years branches are very leafy as Easter is so much later!

This year we were able to use eggs from our very own chickens. Beautifully timed as we used the blown eggs to make the rainbow cake

Last year we tried coffee, onion skins and red cabbage to dye the eggs, this year we opted just for red cabbage as we all love the gorgeous blue colour that results. We just wipe the egg shells with vinegar, then boil them up with some chopped red cabbage and leaving them overnight. 

Here's the result, red cabbage dyed eggs hung (using half a match stick with thread wound around) on contorted hazel, a slightly different centre piece for our Easter table. 

Saturday, 23 April 2011

spiderman and the rainbow birthday cake...

The little man wanted to dress as spiderman for his 5th birthday party and didn't take the outfit off all day. Although he did take off the mask when he needed to eat or drink! 

Of course when you're spiderman, there's only one cake that'll do! Oh yes, it was the return of the rainbow cake! Having tried making it for my birthday last year, it was a lot easier the second time. The boys absolutely love mixing the colours, and I remembered to turn out the cakes upside down, so that they cooled flat, making it easier to stack and icing it was a little less like grouting! 

It really gets gasps as you cut and serve it, although one little boy did ask if it was poisonous! I guess the amount of food colouring inside is quite worrying, but it is just one day of the year after all.

I first found the cake over on the lovely Hula Seventy's blog and that girl does colour like no-one else I know! 

We went to town decorating the village hall with bunting and balloons and handed out the sunflower seedlings instead of party bags. 

Friday, 22 April 2011

the mads 2011

MAD Blog Awards 2011

one of the things I like best about the MADs, is discovering a wealth of new bloggers! Nominations close on Monday, I believe votes are counted by how many nominations a blog gets, find out more and nominate your favourite blogs

alternative party bag idea...

growing sunflower seedlings to give to guests instead of party bags at the little mans birthday party.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Sunday lunch, Bradshaw style!

Woodlands and lanes are packed with carpets of wild garlic at the moment, so today we thought we would cook a seasonal Sunday lunch. 

We picked a few wild garlic leaves and bought some of the new seasons asparagus from the farmers market. 

We cooked a risotto loosely based on Riverford's wet and wild garlic risotto recipe, with some barbecued asparagus and sausages! 

The enamelware came out for the first time this year too. 

It was delicious, the wild garlic gave the risotto a really lovely delicate flavour. 

Food tastes so much better when eaten outside, doesn't it?

Oh dear, what do we look like? I didn't realise we were so coordinated in stripes! 

Friday, 15 April 2011

An interview with Anna Herbert

I discovered the lovely Anna Herbert, of blog 'She Shops Local', last November, when she started a challenge to buy all of her Christmas shopping from local suppliers. As a mother of four children, I found her quest inspirational and asked whether she would be interviewed for my blog, and I'm delighted that she agreed!  So make a cup of tea, grab a biscuit, I hope you enjoy our chat…

What inspired you to take on the shop local challenge, and was it successful? 

Back in early November I had a dream, that I would do all my Christmas shopping in Nailsworth. Of course I do a lot anyway, but I felt that just wasn’t enough. It’s a tiny gesture really, given the challenges faced by our local town, but if I share my experiences virally it might encourage more people to shop locally and help us keep our High Street alive.  I bought everything in Nailsworth and the Horsley Community shop, with the occasional foray into the independent shops and markets of Tetbury and Stroud.  I have not been using any chains or supermarkets.  

I was already shopping this way, but there are some things I always bought from the supermarket:  butter, loo roll, cooking chocolate and tooth paste. There are also things I never bought, meat, fish, vegetables and bread. What I needed to offer our fantastic local towns was and is my exclusivity, anything less is not enough.  

You have quickly moved from one challenge to another. Tell us why you chose your new challenge/cookbook? 

The film Julie and Julia inspired me to start writing my shop local blog but after Christmas I was looking for a fresh challenge.  In Julie and Julia she cooks all of Julia Child’s French cookbook.  I have always coveted French provincial cooking and known how much current day celebrity chefs aspire to it.  Of course I already own a lot of cookbooks but my tendency was to repeat the successful recipes and ignore the scary ones.  So this was about cooking everything even the pigs trotters!

How many recipes are in the cookbook? How are you progressing? 

417, I think I’m nearly half way.

What has been the most difficult/ most successful recipe so far?

Elizabeth loves to make me sieve and it’s taken me a few attempts to sieve a celeriac.  I eventually achieved this for a potato and celeriac soup but the effort far outweighed the flavour.  My most successful was her bouillabaisse, which I made for my Mother’s 60th birthday.  Elizabeth advises not attempting to make this outside the Mediterranean but our selection of fish from a Newlyn fishmonger made a delectable fish soup. 

Are you still sourcing your ingredients locally? 

Yes, I still haven’t been to a supermarket either.

You have four children, are they joining in with the challenge?  What do they think? I can't imagine my boys eating some of the recipes! 

My kids are counting down the days left, they immediately respond with urghhs but I think they are secretly enjoying it.  We got off to a bad start as I was trying to cook my way through the game section during the game season and we all tired of this a little.

Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share on childrens cooking/ family eating?

We try to eat together as much as possible so the children see that eating is a time to celebrate and share.  As an antidote to Elizabeth the children have Little Chef Friday, where they choose, shop for and cook whatever they like. 

and what about any guilty food secrets?  

My guiltiest secret is probably my sheer love and obsession of food and the amount of butter we get through.  My favourite food and recipes is something that can be shared and just served with fine bread.

Being a hopeless bread maker myself, I was intrigued to discover you are married to Tom Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery and BBC TV series 'in search of the perfect loaf' – so who bakes the bread at home? 

Tom bakes and experiments more and more at home.  Our nine year old son now bakes at home, he has made his own sourdough starter which he feeds daily and has knocked out a couple of outstanding loaves.  I can just about manage a pizza dough.

are there any other cookbooks you covet? 

I always enjoy using Hugh Fearnley Whitingstall’s Meat book, but I now see that a lot of his inspiration comes from Elizabeth.  I don’t own any Madhur Jaffrey cookbooks and would love to expand my Indian cookery skills.

What does your favourite day involve?

My favourite day involves my kitchen, walking or cycling to Nailsworth to buy ingredients with my children, then returning to cook up a feast, perfect.

What will the next challenge be?

There is an idea to take a year out starting in October and travel exploring breads of the world.  My task will be foods of the world, educating the kids and blogging.

and finally, is there a recipe you would like to share? 

My blog contains an increasing amount of recipes from ones I have made up to some Elizabeth triumphs.

Thank you Anna,

Read more of Anna’s food and family adventures on her blog

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

my seven year old self...

Last night I unleashed my seven year old self and went on an ice cream making course at Winstones Ice Cream Factory in the Cotswolds. Anyone who has lived or visited the Stroud Valleys, will have sampled this iconic ice cream from the shop perched at the top of the Cotswold scarp. On a summer's day thousands of ice creams are sold, as Cotswold folk, make their pilgrimage to buy a cone of their favourite flavour, from the vanilla recipe, unchanged for years to something a little more seasonal such as the delicious rhubarb crumble!

The course was two hours in duration and split into two parts, a practical ice cream making session, with Ben Vear, the great grandson of founder, Albert Winstone. Followed by a history and tour of the factory with his dad Colin. Ben, showed us how to make vanilla, chocolate and then an amazing spiced plum flavoured ice cream, using an ice cream maker. 

I am completely inspired to make more ice cream at home and now know that I don't stir mine enough as I make it by hand, which is why it's not always successful! I am not sure I will ever eat or make enough to justify buying an ice cream maker, and if I did, it might mean I never get to drive to Winstones and enjoy an ice cream on a summers eve! 

I would completely recommend this course, great for people who have never made ice cream before or like me asked 'Jim'll Fix It' if they could visit an ice cream factory! The only downside is that they didn't let me drive an ice cream van!

Ice cream making courses are £35 per person and can be booked online
See photo's of the evening, taken by Tammy Lynn photography here

Sunday, 10 April 2011

dandelion petal sorbet...

Today we had the perfect sunny weather for enjoying dandelion petal and honey sorbet!

How to make dandelion petal sorbet...

Pick a small basket of dandelions, around three pints in quantity (roughly), from a pesticide free area and away from a roadside.

Snip off the petals as soon as they have been picked, not too close to the bottom as the white at the base of the petal is very bitter in taste, so leave that attached to the green calyxes and put in your compost bin!

Put to one side, you should have about two cupfull’s.

Heat in a saucepan five cups of water, half a cup of local honey and one cup of natural sugar.

Once the syrup comes to the boil, stir in the petals, cover and simmer for an hour.

Sieve through a muslin into a container and stir in three tablespoons of lemon juice.

Pop in the freezer, stirring every couple of hours until frozen or use an ice cream maker, following manufacturers guidelines.

Serve in small glass dishes with a dandelion flower on top!

adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook: A Guide to the Vivid Flavors of Fresh Herbs by Jerry Traunfeld (Scribner, 2000).

Saturday, 9 April 2011

campfire cooking...

a friend of ours does a little blacksmithing, and he very kindly welded three horseshoes together to create a stand for us, for our campfire. It works a treat over a modest sized fire pit, and we tested it today with a trout from the Farmer's Market. I think he could make more to sell. 

We cooked the trout in a little oil and lemon juice and ate with new potatoes and salad, perfect for such a warm day! Then just before bed the boys toasted some marshmallows. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

birthday invitations...

I'm busy making my sons birthday party invitations, he wants a fancy dress party, so I have styled his invites on the old Twinkle comics that I used to read as a child. On the back of the comics, there used to be a cut out and dress 'Twinkle' with lots of different outfits, to cut out and attach by using little paper tabs! I made the same invites for his older brother, who also wanted a fancy dress party a few years back

I'm relived to have been successful in tracking down some old viewmaster's with reels (there are loads on ebay really cheap) and an old suitcase, to put a spiderman outfit in with some silly string, so he can make some cool spidey webs! Just wish we could find an affordable radio flyer cart, they are so expensive aren't the? 

We've never used a children's entertainer for parties, but he really wants a 'balloon man' that he saw in town, and despite trying to learn the art of making balloon animals, we can safely say, we're not naturals! I can remember going to a children's party when I was his age, and being absolutely captivated too, and I remember him to this day! I love how when we started this parenting lark, everything was so black and white, "we are never going to do...." we would say smugly, but how we crumble when faced with a dear four year olds face, saying "you don't have to buy me presents, I'll just have one present, if we have a party!" 

* POP *

there goes another practice balloon, now where did I put his number? 

Monday, 4 April 2011

discovering nature...

"Natural England did a survey recently in which they examined changing relationships with nature across generations and they found that fewer then 10% of children now play in natural places (such as woodlands and heathlands) compared with 40% of today’s adults who did so when they were young.  The BBC Wildlife Magazine carried out another survey which found that many children now cannot identify common species such as bluebells and frogs."
extract from

Shocking statistics aren't they? I wish I could buy every young child in the country an all-in-one suit, and get them out into the countryside to splash in puddles, make mud pies and climb trees! 

The picture above was taken during an outdoor session with a reception class (4 & 5 year olds) where they were told they could explore the nature area by themselves. They found a toad, a ladybird, cones, leaves and sticks and a little girl who doesn't like getting dirty, picked up a snail, showing me on her outstretched hand! After only ten sessions she had forgotten all about getting dirty and was as wide eyed as her friends! 

*This is part of a series of blog posts documenting my involvement in outdoor education activities with the reception class of my local school. The aim is to encourage children to discover the natural world through simple activities and play. I hope by sharing these activities here on my blog, others may be inspired to try some of the activities at home or even, like me, approach their local school to help out.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

there were three in the bed...

Just when you think you have cracked the little man's bad sleeping habits, back into our bed he creeps! He's always been the worst sleeper and we just thought he would get better once he started school, but no.  

I have spent most of today, mothering sunday in bed, with a migraine and earache. I hate being poorly and even more so at the weekend when we had lots of fun planned. And now it's almost midnight and I can't sleep as I have been asleep most of the day ~ urgh. There's only one course of action to take and that's to tidy the kitchen after the boys have been left to their own devices! 
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