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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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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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A very easy banana bread recipe for the busy Mum…

Baking and babies.

It’s hard to do both when your little ones aren’t quite old enough to help yet, but when you love cooking up a tasty treat for weekend, you just have to  find a way around it.

You know me, I’m all for simple, home-cooked wonders that when executed well, knock your socks off.

After last week’s lemon cake success, I thought what better kind of recipe to share than one all busy Mum’s, like myself, can have a go at.

Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s not worth it – it’s kind of like slipping in to your favourite trusty pair of flats, or your old jeans (which I probably won’t get in after I’ve consumed this banana loaf!).

It just feels nice. 

My Grandmother used to whip up the most wonderful cakes and muffins, the smell of fresh baking hitting me as I walked in from school.

Last night, the fruity sweet aroma of warm banana cake filtered through each room in the house and it’s just a comfort.

And sometimes, when your a busy Mum, or just busy in general, after a hard day at work and a long drive home, you just need a bit of comfort.

So with this banana bread, whack it all in and leave it to cook while you get yourself a bath.

An hour later, you’ll be sat in your pyjama’s with a slice of warm cake, wondering what on earth there is to be stressed about in life….

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You will need:

4 medium sized mashed up banana’s

2 eggs, beaten

3oz unsalted butter

8oz SR flour

6oz sugar

pinch of salt

pinch of baking powder

1 extra banana for topping

How:

Lightly grease a loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180 degrees, electric fan.

Beat the sugar and the butter.

Add in the flour, eggs and banana and mix well, along with the baking powder and salt.

Pour in to the tin and slice the banana and lay on top. Bake for an hour to an hour and fifteen depending on your oven.

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Then you have an hour to do absolutely anything you damn well want and if that’s to crack open a bottle of wine, then that’s what you shall do!

Happy weekend everyone! x

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Grandma’s easy lemon 8pm slice…

It’s 8pm.

I’ve just put Maggie May to bed (I’ll probably be seeing her again in a couple of hours. And then I’m guessing every hour after that).

I should probably do something productive around the house like…tackle the monstrous pile of washing in the bedroom.

Or hoover.

But yet, here I am, prancing around in my new apron baking a lemon cake.

And I’ve never felt better!

There has been so much going on these past few weeks, what with me going back to work, house issues and oh, did I mention…I’m back at work? Plus, I’m also starting to write a book based on my late, beautiful Grandmother who was in the Women’s Land Army.

So, yes, it’s been hectic.

Tonight I sat down at my computer ready to do some work on said book when I just couldn’t stop myself. Before I knew it I was aproned up and squeezing lemons to within an inch of their zesty lives.

My Grandma’s favourite was lemon cake. I used to make her lemon curd and bits of cake when I could, so right now, at this hectic moment in time I just needed to do what I do best:

Bake. And blog.

This is the easiest “citrus slice” to make ever.

This is for those who just need a moment to remember that in the busy midst of life, take those lemons and make the best cake of all time out of them.

And then, as my Gran would say, just get on with it.

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Citrus slice

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4oz unsalted butter

4oz sugar

6oz SR flour

2 eggs

The juice of half a lemon

The zest of half a lemon

Method:

OVEN: 190 degress electric fan.

Beat the sugar and butter together. Add in the eggs, flour, zest and juice and beat until smooth.

Very lightly grease a rectangular baking dish (or a swiss roll tin shape) and pour in the mix.

Bake for around 30 minutes.

Topping

This is one of my ultimate musts.

Mix the rest of the juice from the other half of the lemon with about 5-7 heaped teaspoons of icing sugar. While the cake is hot, pierce and pour over the lemon mix.

The heat crystallises the icing sugar. Delicious!

1 week in Devon, 3 babies and multiple ice-creams…

It’s pretty magical when you think about this:

Three siblings. Three babies. In 8 months.

Mr. GTMHTC along with his brother and sister have all had their first child, Maggie’s cousins, in a very short space of time and because we’re crazy, we shacked up together down in Devon for a whole week of mayhem.

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But mayhem doesn’t arise when you have sunshine, fresh seafood and copious amounts of Devonshire ice-cream.

The only thing that manifests is the prospect of life-long memories of the cousins first holiday together.

Of the cooking that we all took turns to do each night – turns out we’re all not too shabby – and sitting around laughing (sometimes too loudly, ‘omg if you wake that baby up we’re no longer related’) playing cards and just doing what families should do.

Be together.

I love it. I love a house full of people. I love it when family gather in the kitchen, the heart of the home and I adore the photo’s and the stories that we will talk about in years to come.

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Remembering the beauty on our doorstep

I constantly feel like I have itchy feet.

Day one: “I’ve been thinking and I want to take Maggie to India…”

Day two: “Oh my god we should take Mags to New Zealand or something and do like, bungee jumps and stuff…”

Mr. GTMHTC: *Silence*

We could do those things but all in good time. I’ve just finished my maternity leave and that last week spent in the English Riviera (around Totnes) was utterly delightful.

I forget that here in England we have some of the most glorious beach side spots going.

We took a shining to Salcombe where the beaches were white and the sea clear (cold).

It was postcard perfect, literally.

So if you’re looking for the perfect family get away I couldn’t recommend Totnes and the surrounding areas more. Even with three tired Mummy’s, three excitable Dad’s, two jolly Grandparents and a brood of uncontrollable babies, it was the best holiday ever.

Some things to do:

Salcombe:

Get to Salcombe, hit the beach and then grab something to eat at The Winking Prawn. 

Fresh seafood, salads, old school rock n’ roll music playing, summer vibes! Ah take me back, please!

It’s such a lovely little beach shack style cafe, with it’s walls covered in pictures and sayings and all the refurbished wood type tables.

Salcombe itself is also very quaint with it’s winding streets.

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Becky Falls:

We love a good walk and Maggie absolutely finds her backpack adventures so exciting.

Becky Falls was voted the most beautiful place in Devon and you can understand why, with its fairy tale-esque forrest and the waterfall.

There are numerous walks to choose from depending on ability and with three kids in tow, we headed for the moderate one. Stretching on for about 40 minutes, the scenery was incredible.

You could take a picnic like we did or eat in the cafe, either way it’s just a great day.

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Ben’s Farm Shop:

I’ve wanted to go here for a while so was excited at the prospect of actually doing so.

I’m a huge advocate for farming and find it really interesting how people view food and where it comes from,

For me, Ben’s Farm Shop married the idea of health and organic, farm produce together perfectly displaying an interesting mix of meats, cheeses and veg alongside vegan products and homemade foods.

Even if you don’t want to sit and eat, just go and have a stroll.

And buy the muesli. Oh and the butter. In fact, buy me some while you’re at it, I’ve now run out!

In and around Totnes:

Totnes itself was so up mine and Mr. GTMHTC’s street.

There was such a colourful vibe – people just sang in the street!

But why not?

Happiness and contentment is a wonderful thing and it just felt like everybody was getting on with it, strolling around the market, just enjoying their smooth way of life.

There are loads of cafes to choose from in Totnes, all as inviting as each other.

We sat outside Seeds 2, Totnes, and watched the world go by. Great coffee, great views, great morning.

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Later in the week we drove in to Paignton which apparently was my beloved Grandma’s favourite place. She was always saying “there are as nice places in England as there are abroad Emily”, and after such a wonderful time away, I can look to the sky and say you know what Gran, you were right. Like usual!

So if you’re not going to take my word for, at least take Grandma’s.

We live in a glorious country and I have a glorious family. What more could one ask for?

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Travelling to Devon with a baby and biscuits…

Surely that’s the only way to do it right?

You get through five hours of driving to Devon with a baby with biscuits and not just one, like a whole pack and then when they’ve ran out, you pray to god you’ve timed that moment with a nap.

We’re off on our summer hols to beautiful Devon.

It’s pretty exciting because both Mr. GTMHTC’s siblings have also just had babies, so it’s the first of many joint adventures for us all.

Isn’t that just lovely though?

A huge family holiday complete with Grandma and Grandad, all the cousins together in their little sun hats and hopefully some decent weather and a truck load of scones.

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Now, they are the kind of memories that’s worth driving five hours for.

Even if I’m already sick of hearing row, row, row your boat music from Maggie’s book, covered in coffee from his driving and she’s refusing to sleep.

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Yep.

All for the memories! 

Catch up on the latest Devon adventure this week – and any cream tea recommendations are always welcome! X