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Mum’s “sort me out” crumble…

I might be a Mum, but I still need MY Mum.

Partly because she turns up at my door with homemade cottage pie, freshly pulled cabbage from her garden and rhubarb crumble.

Why did I move out again?! 

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But it’s on days like these when the world is in turmoil and my days are currently spent bent over trying to help Maggie walk and dodging (actually loving underneath it all) puréed broccoli kisses, where I really just bloody appreciate my wonderful family and the simplicity of it all.

You don’t need a lot to be ok with life.

You just need a bit of tenderness, love and the odd crumble.

Mum’s crumble (kind of…)

I say ‘kind of’ because Mum has only gone and done a Grandma on me!

It goes like this:

“Mum (or Grandma when it’s one of her recipes) how do you make this?”

“Oh this? Just a bit of flour, pour in some milk, a bit of sugar and rub in some butter.”

Me: “Yeah but I need…measurements?”

“Oh I don’t use measurements…”

Me: “ERM I WRITE A FOOD BLOG. I NEED NUMBERS!”

Blank expressions meet my requests.

But I guess that’s the beauty of how people used to do it. The knowledge of how to cook basic yet delicious dishes was just instilled in you because you grew up with it.

So at a push, here is what Mother responded with:

8oz flour

3oz sugar

3oz butter

The butter needs to be in cubes as you rub the ingredients together until a crumble consistency is formed.

The rhubarb from Mum’s garden was cooked down until soft in brown sugar (sprinkle to cover) and cooked for 20 minutes at 180 degrees (electric fan).

You could use sliced apples or pears or any fruit really.

And that’s it.

One day I’ll do that for Maggie when she’s having a moment because food makes you feel better.

And so does knowing the measurements!

But then again, you can’t measure love…

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The Lancashire Tourism Awards: Why I’m proud to call Lancashire home…

You can take the girl out of Lancashire but can you take the Lancashire out of the girl?

I have a confession: I remember landing back in Manchester after leaving a very sunny and bright Australia, I saw the rain and the January “grey” and thought, what have I done?

But as time went on and the English summer began to blossom, I suddenly felt this overwhelming adoration for my home, with its rolling and green landscape, its history and more so, its people.

Lancashire. 

I truly love you. 

My beloved late Grandmother Vera came here to Clitheroe in WW2, met the love of her life and stayed. She would tell me tale after tale about my family history and the way life was.

My heart, is simply, here.

But let’s get to the good part: The food.

We all know that’s what I’m about right?

I was excruciatingly lucky last week to attend The Lancashire Tourism Awards at…wait for it…Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

The glorious, extravagant and infamous ballroom where all my old-fashioned romantic daydreams came true!

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Me and Mr. GTMHTC at the Tourism Awards

It was one of my greatest achievements so far, but what struck me most about the awards was the amount of interesting places, restaurants, activities, cafes and attractions there are in Lancashire – and so many I’d never heard of.

It obviously highlighted how much more exploring I’ve got to do, but it also made me take a little look back over all the marvellous things I’ve done recently, right here, in Lancs.

Browsholme Hall, The Aspinall Arms, Clitheroe cafes, Remembrance Day gathered with hundreds of others at the Castle.

Top left to right: The view from The Aspinall Arms, coffee and lunch of mushrooms on sourdough from the Aspinall, both views from Clitheroe Castle, me and Mr. GTMHTC at a wedding at Browsholme Hall

There is so much life here.

But do you know what I love most?

I love the people. 

Us Northerners are known as grafters, salt of the Earth types.

We’re friendly, we’re open, we’re humble.

But my favourite thing?

We’re proud. 

We’re proud of our own, of our families, of our friends, of our towns and of where we come from.

I love it when you’re on holiday and you bump in to a fellow Northerner and it’s like you’ve been best friends your whole life.

The question is why wouldn’t you want to visit us here in the heart of the country?

We’ve got the food, the people, the scenery, the enthusiasm.

Yes, we may not always have the weather but my god, I’m telling you straight: It’s definitely anything but grim up North.

 

 

Bonfire night sweet apple swirl…

Ah Bonfire night!

Although we don’t do anything remotely extravagant or even religiously go to a bonfire, I love that families go out together and everybody gathers over hot mugs, hot food and sweet treats.

What is not to love about that?

Maggie May has been under the weather this week so I decided I’d keep the cold air to a minimum.

However, what kind of food blogging Mother would I be if I didn’t whip up a tasty treat of some sort, on a night like tonight?

Oh my, I could never live it down! (*cough cough* any excuse for cake right?)

So what says Bonfire night more than toffee apples…in a cake?! 

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You need:

3 medium eggs – weigh these and measure out the same in butter, sugar and flour

3 apples

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 teaspoons of butter

Sugar and butter to line the tin

How: 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (electric fan).

Cream the butter and sugar until smooth.

Add in the eggs, mix and finally add in the flour.

I used the following tin:

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Grease your tin with butter lightly, and sprinkle in a little sugar which means it shouldn’t stick.

Take one of your apples, peel and cut in to slices. Place equally in the ridges and pour the cake mix over.

Bake for 20-30 minutes.

For the sweet apples, peel the remaining apples and slice. Place in a pan with the sugar, cook on a medium heat, stirring until the sugar starts to melt. Add in the butter and keep stirring until the apples are soft but still have a bite and the sugar has completely dissolved.

When your cake is done and out of the tin, pierce with small holes and pour over the apples and sauce.

Then, like us, take your little family to your cosiest room, park your pyjama’d bottoms in front of the fire and enjoy the warm, sweet taste of Bonfire night while listening to the crackle of fireworks in the distance.

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A beautifully simple ginger and syrup sponge…

How busy is life?

We’ve been in the house since April but we’ve only just been mananging to make time to actually do anything to it.

I’ve gone back to work after what I consider to be the happiest time of my entire life. Becoming a Mother far exceeded any preconception I had of babyhood, so that transition has been hard.

And finally, getting the time to sit and write to you guys has seemed near enough impossible – which makes me sad.

So, as I’m getting in to the swing of things (slowly but surely), I have made a vow that once a week is my time: My time to cook, my time to write, my time to try and to do a little of what I love.

Bake. Eat. And write!

This weekend has given me the opportunity to do just that because we’re off to our friends for dinner.

It is only right that as a recent complainer of “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO COOK/BLOG/BAKE/EAT” I took some time this morning to cook/blog/bake and whip up something delicious for dessert tonight.

The leaves have fallen, the earth has turned a shade or orange and it’s actually fairly bloody miserable up North.

And that, my friends, spells:

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Ginger and syrup sponge.

A beautiful and simple recipe from my Mother and one to warm your heart this weekend.

Because sometimes the best things in life are beautifully simple aren’t they?

So, take a slice and get comfy and remember, no matter who you are, you must always make time for yourself.

To refresh, relax and do a little of what you love.

You need:

4oz butter

4oz soft brown sugar

8oz self-raising flour

1 egg, beaten

3-4 teaspoons ground ginger

7oz golden syrup, plus extra for drizzling

How:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan).

Cream the butter and the sugar until light and smooth.

Add in the egg, flour, ginger and syrup and mix until combined.

Lightly grease an ovenproof dish (see my picture – it’s quite shallow as this recipe doesn’t require a deep cake tin).

Pour in and make sure it is evenly spread out and bake for 40 minutes, or until you can pull a clean fork out when testing.

This works best when serve do hot with syrup drizzled on top.

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Happy 1st birthday Maggie May! Celebrating by…eating!

Birthdays don’t get more special than your little one’s first do they?

I was a mess if I’m honest.

Emotional, hyper, nervous, sad, excited, proud – you name it, I felt it.

Being a Mother is the best thing I have ever done and to think what we have crammed in over the past twelve months is just so overwhelming.

Looking back at her pictures fills me with sadness that I will never get to hold her they way I did when she was so fresh and new, and looking at her laughing, walking and being cheeky in this present moment fills me with pride at what a gorgeous soul she really is.

So, there was only one thing to do really.

Eat.

Eat my way through the emotional roller coaster that is the first year of being a Mum!

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Loving the North West

Billy Bob’s Ice-cream parlour, Skipton

We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place – almost at the centre of England actually! – that is not only surrounded by the ultimate scenery, but a place that is also rich with glorious eating spots.

So the first port of call was Billy Bobs Parlour, anice-cream parlour and diner in Skipton. On her actual birthday (September 22) I thought it would be nice to just take the day and spend it with the Grandparents, as it isn’t often we can get all of us around one table very often due to various location issues.

But having briefly visited the restaurant before for ice-cream, I really fancied going back for a big old juicy, American style feast – nothing says “it’s my birthday” than a mountain of deep fried onion crisps, slaw’ and multiple kinds of meat does it? Even if you are only one years old!

Decked out with all my favourite things AKA walls full of vintage, old-school signs and a bit of Elvis to get you going, we sat in a booth (or squished in maybe) and ordered.

Maggie devoured a mini pile of pulled pork, I had set my eyes on a New York style hot dog which was made with a perfectly cooked, proper pork sausage – you know, the kind that almost ‘snap’ – and the rest of the table sampled various burgers.

You get what it says on the tin: Really well cooked American themed food.

It’s a great place for families and friends, the prices, in my opinion, are unbeatable and it is nice to do something a little different without having to travel in to a city.

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Coach and Horses, Ribble Valley

As we all know, birthday’s roll on don’t they? A week later you’re sat eating yet more cake, telling yourelf it’s your “birthday week”.

Maggie’s was no different.

Saturday came and off we headed to a pretty local village, Bolton-by-Bowland, to the Coach and Horses.

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Recently renovated, the pub boasts such a warm and welcoming vibe – some lovely modern twists on traditional interiors which I adore.

Mum and Dad had eaten here before and loved it.

Now it was my turn!

And seen as we are also celebrating a fantastic year of Motherhood for me, I’ll have the vension please, priced at £20.

I worried slightly after I’d ordered it.

Had I chosen the right thing? I hardly ever go for venison, what if my preconceived foodie dreams are about to be shattered?

I took one bite and was in absolute flavour heaven.

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Candied walnuts, the sweetness and crunch just literally melting perfectly in to the taste of the salted beets. The gratin potatoes, perfectly creamy and not too heavy. Slices of pink venison, with the slightest hint of treacle around the edges but just enough to hit your taste buds.

I could eat it now.

I need it now.

Everyone around the table was simply delighted.

Me and Dad were exchanging knowing looks from across the table however, joined in happiness at choosing the same dish and enjoying the fact that everyone else probably should have done the same.

I really, really enjoyed myself and can’t wait to take Mr. GTMHTC there to experience it too.

Maggie shared a child’s fish and chips with my beautiful niece – another notch on the pub’s belt.

I love it when the child’s menu consists of whatever is on the main menu but smaller. I think it promotes good eating habits and allows the little ones to get a glimpse of delicious, lovingly made local food.

A great place situated in the heart of my home.

So as you can tell, I was stuffed.

Until Sunday came of course and we had friends round. Roast dinner and lemon cake anyone?

When you get a new cooker, you cook bubble and squeak…

They say the cooker is the heart of the home.

Oh no wait, it’s the kitchen, right?

Well I’m going with the cooker because when you see my new one, you will understand. 

Fresh from AO.com, my dreams have literally come true!

It is so. Damn. Beautiful. 

It’s been four years since I started my blogging journey, one that has seen many things happen to me, my blog style and my perception of food, but the one thing I have desperately always wanted is a really good cooker.

A workman is only as good as his tools, as they say!

The Belling Sandringham duel fuel range cooker…You’re all mine!

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So, seen as I’ve only just managed to get it installed I cooked on it for the first time tonight.

After pondering over the most fancy and intricate list of possible creations, I spoke to Mum who told me her plans for tea:

Bubble and squeak with last night’s leftovers. 

I told to bring the leftovers to my house because yes, good old bubble and squeak was perfectly fitting to make on my new glorious range.

Me all over really, isn’t it?

Bubble and squeak with sausage

The vegetables we had to work with were green beans, cauliflower, potatoes and broccoli – you don’t have to use cabbage. Any sort of vegetables will do.

We’ve used:

8 sausages, traditional pork from Keelham Farm shop

2 finely chopped shallots

2 finely chopped garlic cloves

100g smoked British pancetta

Grated creamy Lancashire cheese

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

In one pan, fry the sausages in a little olive oil on a medium heat until golden brown.

In another pan, preferably a deeper one, lightly fry the shallots, garlic and pancetta until lightly crisp.

Add in your vegetables.

Once everything is cooked, place the veg mix in to a oven proof dish and chop the sausages in half, placing them on top.

Cover with a good amount of cheese and grill until golden.

Eat, enjoy and as for me, I relished a little bit in how far I’ve come so far.

Even if it is only as far as getting a new cooker!

A weekend in Wensleydale…

They say sometimes what you’re looking for is right under your nose, and in my case, it seems a bit of Yorkshire was what I needed!

In a little air bnb cottage, all cosy and snug in beautiful Carperby,  four of us plus Maggie May shacked up for the bank holiday weekend.

I simply love the English countryside when the sun is shining and everywhere is bustling with people on holiday.

I love the cobbled streets and the dinky little shops.

I love a good cuppa in a cute English cafe along with a perfect piece of cake!

And of course when in Wensleydale, I love cheese…

You have to be pretty lucky to live in or near such beautiful places and what’s more, all these wonderful places champion delicious local produce and traditions.

Hmm, sounds like me right?!

You can’t really ask for much more in life than spending bank holiday weekend with people you love, glorious scenery and as you’ll see below, a reet’ good pie!

Must visit: 

The Noted Pie Shop, Richmond, North Yorkshire

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Cottage pie, proper mushy peas and gravy. You can take the girl out of the North but you can’t take the North out of the girl!

Wensleydale Creamery

There is a literally a conveyor belt of cheese. Creamy cheese, smoked cheese – heck, there was even cheese with blueberries in it!

Sometimes I think it’s just nice to go and visit these places because Wensleydale cheese is synonymous with our country and I, for one, am proud of that.

Oh, and Maggie May is our very own Wallace!

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Aysgarth Falls

A lovely, easy walk but also in the middle of other places to pop off to once completed. I think our experience would have better if the sun was shining, but hey ho, we finished it off with a toasted teacake in the little cafe nearby!

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When you’ve raised a baby foodie…

As soon as she appeared, I knew she was going to be a foodie.

1-I am her Mother. She had no choice. 

2-I was planning a whole baby range in my head…

3-The girl was 9lb 6oz for goodness sake. She was born ready for food!

But what I didn’t anticipate was how quickly the weaning process moved. All of a sudden, she doesn’t want me to feed her anymore, oh no.

She wants to feed herself and even put her whole face on her high-tray so she can rub her nose in to the fish pie I’ve just given her.

I know, standard baby behavior. 

But what I mean is, she’s genuinely interested. She’s not being fussy (OK sometimes she is), she just wants to eat what we are eating, and when we are eating.

To me, that’s not a bad thing, is it?

For her to want to be involved at the table enjoying what the family are.

Last weekend she came out for lunch with me and my parents which I shan’t lie, we all go out for food…a lot.

But she just sat in the high chair, waved at everyone passing by, eating whatever I popped on her tray. Balsamic and olive oil with bread, pesto, salmon from Mum’s plate.

You name it, Maggie May eats it.

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I remember when we went to France earlier this year and we were sat on the side street, outside this restaurant. The couple on the table behind us turned to us and said, “We just have to say, what a well behaved baby she is at the table. We can’t believe it!”

And I. Was. So. PROUD!

Yes, she’s only 11 months so this could all change, but I’ve actively always tried from a very early age to let her be at the table with us, watch us eat, see how we interact with one another.

And so far so good.

Let’s try and encourage the next generation of little ones to be interested in food and how good it is for you.

So here’s to my little Maggie May. You are a treat! 

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