Thursday 28 February 2013

Two smoked paprika recipes.

One of the ingredients that I have selected in the past from Healthy Supplies is smoked paprika.  I just love the flavour it gives to food, and makes for a much healthier alternative than flavouring you food with salt.

Paprika is made from a mild chilli pepper known as a pimento, and is generally milder than chilli powder. It is designed to impart flavour rather than just heat. This is a naturally smoked Spanish paprika, made from smoked pimentos. It has a lovely deep smoked flavour and aroma almost reminiscent of smoky bacon. This would work very well with barbeques and grilled food.

Smoked Paprika Gammon with doughballs 

This is a great recipe, made in the slow cooker to give the flavours time to mingle and mature and really    add value to the dish.

Place a piece of gammon into the slow cooker, add large chunks of carrots and some whole peeled onions. Sprinkle over 2 heaped teaspoons of paprika. Pour over 5 fl oz of orange juice and 5 fl oz of water.

Put the lid on the slow cooker and leave until cooked. his will depend on the setting on your slow cooker.

Mix 2 oz vegetable suet with 4 oz self raising flour and enough water to bring the ingredients together.
Place the doughballs in the slow cooker, and then remove the meat ready for slicing.

Once the doughballs are cooked serve with mashed potatoes.

Smoked paprika turkey and noodles.

Dice 250g turkey breast, 2 peeled onions and a small red pepper. Heat 1fl oz oil into a large frying pan and add the diced ingredients and fry for 5 mins on a medium heat. Add 2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder and stir through the ingredients.

Cover pan with a lid for 5 minutes, add some cherry tomatoes and continue cooking covered on a low heat for another 10 mins.

Meanwhile cook noodles, peas and sweetcorn together in a large pan of boiling water. Once cooked drain and add to turkey pan and stir together adding some soy sauce.

Serve immediately.

The Paprika was supplied by Healthy Supplies but the recipe ideas are my own.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

The governments new bedroom tax

I speak to a friend regularly on Facebook and we were talking about the new bedroom tax being imposed from April 1st this year. No sadly its not an April Fool joke. She as a professional is very concerned about this.

What is the bedroom tax? You can read more here.

This is how her organisation are dealing with it.

I've been asked to write this article as a Housing Professional dealing with the forthcoming 'bedroom tax'.  Of course, we're meant to give it it's proper name - 'underoccupancy charge'.  For me, and all the of the Housing Professionals I know, it is nothing more than an attack on our sector, with a client group already suffering some of the worst financial hardship (and other) in the country.
I work for a relatively small Housing Association and we've taken a very hands-on approach to preparing for bedroom tax - we firmly believe that newsletters and random standard letters just aren't enough to prepare the people who will be affected by this.  Of course, we have printed articles and sent out letters, but we've also analysed ALL of our tenants and personally visited those who are going to be affected on 1 April.
All of our tenants have been given options - the majority, like any like-minded folk, wish to remain in their home.  They DON'T want to do as the far right in the government suggest - take in a lodger or 'downsize'.
The majority of people affected within our client group are people who are in their 50s and have lived in their family home for a number of years - many are extremely scared and frightened.  Then others are single dads (or mums) who have their children over regularly but don't receive the child benefit - because of a ridiculous and outdated rule that only one parent can be classed as a main carer.
Oh - and those who are disabled and require rooms for carers.  Well, thankfully, the local authority covering the area I work in have taken quite a sensible approach to dealing with our disabled clients and those who require extra bedrooms for overnight care.
Have you heard of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)?  These are extra payments that can be claimed if you have an entitlement to housing benefit, don't receive full housing benefit and are suffering financial hardship.
Our local authority has asked all social landlords just to confirm who lives in homes that have been adapted for disabilities (wet floor showers, specially adapted kitchens etc) - they will automatically award DHP to those clients.  For those who require overnight care, they have asked the clients to provide them with a letter to confirm this - my organisation is helping our clients complete these personally to ensure they receive their entitlement.
What about the others? The single dads and the older parents whose kids have left home?  We will try claiming DHP for them, but the budget will be tight and the local authority can't confirm there will be money left.  So what happens to them?  They have their options - at the moment, my organisation will be treating bedroom tax arrears as rent arrears - we can't see any other option just now, although there are obviously moves by Shelter and other agencies to have legislative changes to how they are dealt with in Scotland.  We, as most social landlords, are a charitable organisation and rely on rental income to provide our service.
Are you a tenant affected by this?  Has your landlord been in touch - personally?  If not, you MUST contact them NOW.  I'd be extremely worried about how my landlord is preparing if I hadn't heard from them, given there are now only 5 weeks until the introduction.
Are you a carer?  Are you a family member?  Make sure you know the rules for bedroom tax.
Do you think this won't affect you?  Think again - many social landlords  are changing their allocation policies to fall in line with underoccupancy rules.  This means that people who were previously deemed to be overcrowded (for example, living in a 2 bedroom home with a daughter of 1 and a son of 8) are not - until that eldest child hits the age for bedroom tax criteria - whether you are receiving housing benefit or not.
There are a number of protests coming up - I would urge you to take part.

Red Nose Day 25th anniversary cookie challenge

I am pleased to say that my biscuit was chosen by Sainsbury's as one of their favourite five and was voted as the best of the five by Sainsbury's followers. No prize as such involved, just the pleasure of having won.

You can see the other worthy entries here.
 a) Gomez & Mrs A's Corpulentcapers
c) Mumofalltrades
d) Karen's Lavender & lovage
e) Abi Day's Angel Eden

I got this in a challenge from Sainsbury's

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Red Nose Day, we’re challenging you to design a Red Nose Day cookie. You can either use a cookie recipe from the Live Well For Lesswebsite, your own recipe or just buy one – the main focus for this challenge is on creating an amazing design.

Well my plan had been for Bob and I to make biscuits yesterday when he was here and to have fun decorating them today, Sadly Bob is not well, he was at a 50th birthday party on Saturay night when they set off a smoke machine, no problem for normal people but quite nasty for people like Bob, so he was too wheezy and unwell to want to leave his mum.

So as we had to have this blog post up by the 27th of this month I had no option but to do them myself. I decide as the main challenge was in the decoration rather than in the actual baking I would just decorate some rich teas that we had. I had already bought some coloured ready to roll icing to use.
red body and feet

First off all I looked for inspiration. The designs that are in this year for comic relief red noses are dinosaurs, so I decided to try and replicate dinomite, you can see the image here.

First of all I rolled our red icing and cut out a circle with bumpy bits for the hair and a place for its feet. Next off I made the feet.

I cut a black circle and chopped the top of for the mouth, and then cut out white triangles for the teeth.

I heated jam and used a pastry brush to brush the jam onto the back to allow the pieces to stick together. I had to strain mine with a tea strainer as I only had a seeded jam.

His eyes are made from white piping icing and a chocolate drop.

Here he is in all his glory. The biggest problem I found was using icing sugar to roll out the icing meant it had white blemishes on. I brushed it with water to remove it.

Next up I placed rainbow drops for eyes held on with piping icing, made his eyeballs from a red icing pen and a green sugar ball, held on a raspberry for a nose with piping icing and rolled up a piece of red ready to roll icing for the mouth.
Cut a semi circle in black rolled icing and cut it into six strands, and parted three to each side to create a fringe.

Lastly I piped icing round the top of a biscuit and stuck some pieces of coloured liquorice shoe lace as hair.
Piped white icing and a chocolate drop for the eyes. Red rolled icing for the nose, stuck on with jam. A  lace stuck on with icing for the mouth, and rolled black icing to make the teeth.

I made these simpler ones as they were fun and these are more manageable by children if other people are looking for ideas, and by using odds and ends from the cupboards these are probably manageable for most people.

Sainsbury's added to their e-mail

As a bit of further incentive, we’ve got 10 x £10 vouchers for members of the blogger network to cover the costs of the challenge. We will pick the 10 bloggers at random, and not base it on first come first served. Please email me saying you’re interested in the cookie challenge and please provide your address.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the ten chosen, but I had already agreed to do this post regardless. The creative ideas are all my own. 

Saturday 23 February 2013

Project 365 17th - 23rd Feb

Sunday 17th

I picked up a colleague on the way to work, to save her getting a taxi. She gave me these lovely bath bombs as a thank you, not that I wanted or needed anything, but was very nice, thanks Melissa.

Monday 18th

We spent ninety minutes on the beach today, beautiful weather. You can read more about it here

Tuesday 19th

On the way to taking Bob home we decide we would go via Auchencruive Estate and see what flowers were out, see if we could see ducks etc but there was not a lot out and could not see one single duck. We did see some hornets collecting pollen from the flowers.
These two purple crocus's (croci?) were very vibrant in amongst the dead grass.

Wednesday 20th

Took these of the bunch of flowers that I bought for my OH earlier on in the week, Just cos, no real reason for them.

Thursday 21st

We went off to Kilmarnock to do a few bits and pieces and saw the police helicopter flying around over head, no idea why.

Friday 22nd

 I got this, well I say this I actually got two of them in two separate envelopes, it was a prize from a competition.

Sat 23rd

A friend of ours is moving house, so with me being off this weekend we volunteered to shampoo the carpets to freshen them up before they moved in.

This is the view down the hill from their front door. I am quite jealous as I would love to go back to a country property, and this place is less than 2 miles from where I work.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Bob has Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis

Last spring Bob started having problems with his eyes. We thought it was hay fever  sore inflamed itchy eyes, I think a lot of us can relate to that. The Dr treated it as hay fever but his eyes got worse and worse.

He got to the stage where he could not go out in the sun as his eyes were just too sore, he had bad headaches, and even the lights in the house were causing him pain.

He was seen by the Ophthalmology department at the hospital who tested him and gave him four different sets of eye drops that between them were going into his eyes a dozen time a day, both day and night. The worse case scenario they came up with at this point was his eyes were badly damaged and the chances are he would be blind by the time he was ten.

He was on the eye drops for four months in reducing doses. It was also advised that he should wear dark goggles to reduce the sunlight/daylight/electric light getting onto his eyes and causing him pain. 

After more tests they have come to the conclusion that he has  Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis (AKS).

Atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) is a severe form of eye allergy that can involve the cornea of the eye as well as the inner lining of lower eyelids

What are the symptoms of AKC?

The symptoms of AKC are initially very similar to those of allergic conjunctivitis, although much more severe and include more sensitivity to light, blurred vision and a thick, stringy discharge. 

What are the complications of AKC?

Because AKC can affect other structures of the eye, such as the cornea, cataracts and scarring can form, and blindness can occur. People with AKC are also at increased risk for infections of the eye, including certain bacterial and herpes infections. 

Bob is improving and now is down too one set of eye drops ever second day. This will need to be juggled up or down as circumstances change. There is some improvement in the damage to his eyes, and here is hoping the damage does not get worse.

Whenever he goes out the house he needs his goggles on to keep out irritants, and is quite happy to wear them as he knows it helps him.

All the pictures that we take outside of him will now have his goggles on so I thought I would write this post in case you were wondering why he has them on.
 He manages not bad with them out in the day time but does struggle to see edges of pavements and such like when out in the dark. 

Quick and easy Soba noodles recipe.

We spent quite a long time on the beach on Monday when Bob was here, and were not back here till he was hungry, so I had to think of something quick, easy and nutritional.

Quick, gluten free, dairy free, egg free as it needs to be.

I am not specifying quantaties here as it is flexible enough to make enough for your size of family.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add some frozen peas and sweetcorn ( or use tinned and add at end) , bring back to the boil and add enough  Soba noodles to feed you all. Boil for 5 mins and drain.

Meanwhile chop an onion and cut up slices of bacon and add to a heated frying pan, saute gently without browning for two minute, add chopped tomatoes and some sliced smoke pork sausage. Season to suit.

Heat through for 2 minutes and then add to drained noodles and veg.

Serve immediately.

The noodles were supplied by Healthy Supplies, but the recipe idea is my own.

I have decided to add this recipe to

Take part in the Recipes for Life food bloggers challenge for your chance to see your recipe featured in a new charity cookbook!

I am thrilled to be launching a new challenge for food bloggers called Recipes for Life.
Each month I’ll be calling for your tasty, wholesome and easy-to-cook recipes that revolve around just three main ingredients. The best of these recipes will be included in a new charity cookbook to be published by SWALLOW later this year.
Kicking off the challenge in February, our first three ingredients are: sausages, onions and tomatoes. What tasty dish could you rustle up with those?

 Any other accompanying ingredients need to be the kind of basic items you’d find in any fridge or store cupboard, such as flour, pasta, rice, milk, eggs and so on. Nothing too fancy like artichoke hearts, preserved lemons or balsamic vinegar please!

My recipe uses the three main ingredients, and other ingredients from the cupboard/freezer. For people who eat gluten then normal spaghetti can be substituted.

Why not pop over and see if you wish to join in.

Crazy with Twins

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Almond Breeze brekkie smoothie recipe.

I was sent two boxes of Almond Breeze Almond Milk to join in with a challenge set over on Foodies 100.

The Challenge?

Almond Breeze® is teaming up with the Foodies100 to challenge you to come up with an easy to make, yet incredibly scrumptious, breakfast smoothie for a chance to win a fantastic gourmet hotel stay for two people, where you’ll definitely find the time to enjoy a hearty breakfast.

So taking on board that the almonds in  almond breeze are 

A top plant source for protein and vitamin E, each little almond also comes packed with fibre, calcium, iron, and other important nutrients.

So being aware of the goodness that comes from the almonds I decided to add foods that will supplement this goodness. 

the fruit

the milk

  • Bananas are a terrific, heart-healthy food when included in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. While many factors affect heart disease, diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of this disease.
  • Naturally fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free
  • good source of potassium, dietary fiber, manganese and vitamins B6 & C

in the liquidiser
  •  low in calories (32 kcal/100g) and fats but rich source of health promoting phyto-nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
  • Scientific studies show that consumption of straw berries may have potential health benefits against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases.
  • The fruit is rich in B-complex group of vitamins.
  • Fresh berries are an excellent source of vitamin-C
  • They contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, fluorine, copper, iron and iodine.


all together
  •  possess notable health benefiting plant-nutrients such as soluble dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and pigment anti-oxidants that contribute immensely towards optimum health and wellness.
  • the phyto-chemical compounds in the blueberry help rid off harmful oxygen-derived free radicals from the body, and thereby, protect the human body against cancers, aging, degenerative diseases, and infections

Flax seed

the flax seed 
  • carries one of the biggest nutrient payloads on the planet
  •  is very low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for people who limit their intake of starches and sugars. And its combination of healthy fat and high fiber content make it a great food for weight loss and maintenance -- many dieters have found that flax seed has been a key to keeping them feeling satisfied
  •  is Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  •  is High in Fiber: You’d be hard-pressed to find a food higher in fiber -- both soluble and insoluble -- than flax.
  •  is high in phytochemicals, including many antioxidants. It is perhaps our best source of lignans, which convert in our intestines to substances that tend to balance female hormones



8 fl oz almond breeze
1 banana
3 large strawberries, halved
1 tablespoon flax seed

Place the fruit in a liquidiser, pour the milk on top, add the flax seed and liquidise until smooth.


Serve immediately. If left to sit the flax seed will swell in the smoothie and thicken, it is better if it does this in your stomach to help you feel full for longer. 

I received 2 ltrs of Almond Breeze in return for making a recipe

This is my entry  to 

be in with a chance of winning the voucher to redeem on the gourmetHandPicked Hotels break for two


Tuesday 19 February 2013

Bob made banana jelly tot cakes

As Fifi did not stay last night there was no rush to get Bob back home. So we decided to make cakes as part of his lunch. We are still working on soya free and did not have any oat milk so that ruled pancakes out so we made cakes.

Bob got a banana and I asked him to peel it, and funnily enough as he ( like me and his mum) can not actually eat them raw he has never peeled one before, so today I showed him how to peel a banana. The simplest of tasks for some.


Soak 1 heaped teaspoon of egg replacer in 6 teaspoons water.

Add to 2 oz flora cuisine and 2 oz coconut sugar

add 1/2 mashed banana

and four ounces gluten free self raising flour

Bob then added a spoonful of mixture into the mini cake maker, added 3 or 4 jelly tots to each and then topped up. Cook for 5 or 6 mins in mini cake maker 

These turned out very light and delicious, and never even got chance to go cold. Even granddad ate two of them, an that is praise indeed for a cake with everything misses as he calls them.

The highlighted item were supplied by Healthy Supplies but the recipe ideas are my own.

Crazy with Twins

Monday 18 February 2013

An afternoon on the beach

The weather here to day was a balmy 9oC, warm, sunny and wind free, and so as Bob was dropped off early enough for his mum to get back home for Fifi at 3oclock, we decided to make the most of it. We went to the beach, yes you read me right the beach, it was lovely, and we had a great time.

First of all we watched a big shipping loading with coal

We looked for seals in the harbour, we couldnt see any but Bob learnt that they come into the harbour to eat the fish.

We went up to the lighthouse, which Bob knew shines a light in the dark, but he learnt about the light helping to guide the ships into and out of the dock safely so they did not hit the rocks.

we climbed, jumped and played at being Usain Bolt.

We chained him up

he interacted with the other chains

he helped hold up The Watchful (bit of history on it here)

 We were artistic

Bob played for over an hour on the beach with a stick

and on the way back to the car we looked for the troll

but he must have been away for his teas as he did not eat granddad. 

Lizi's Granola - a review

I accepted an offer to try out Lizi's Granola.

Lizi tells how her granola began.

Soon after Mick and I married, we went on holiday to Cornwall and stayed in a B&B which served a delicious toasted muesli for breakfast. I went home thinking that I would like to make something like that and so I set about experimenting with toasting my own oats, nuts and seeds. With help from Mick, who is the ultimate taste panel, I finally perfected a toasted muesli which we both loved.
Having made the perfect breakfast cereal, the next obvious step was to open my own B&B in our Oxfordshire cottage. Everyone loved the cereal, I seemed to be making it every day. But it wasn’t until some American guests said “your granola is just so delicious” that we heard the name “granola”, and, of course, after that I always called it Granola.
Lots of guests said I should “bag it and sell it”, and whilst that has taken many years to happen, I finally did just that. Over the years I have modified the recipe here and there to take account of nutritional developments, in particular to reduce its glycaemic impact, but always with the view that my Granola should taste “just so delicious”. 

Lizi’s granola comes in seven delicious flavours to ensure everybody’s  taste buds are catered for, these 
flavours include; Original, Treacle Pecan, Passionfruit Pistachio, Mango Macadamia, Pink Apple Cinnamon 
and  Belgian Chocolate and  Organic.  

I was sent a bag of Treacle and Pecan to try out.

Gently toasted pecans were chosen for this Granola for their lovely warm, golden taste, and are balanced with black treacle for an added rich, dark flavour. This Granola was category winner at the Great Taste Awards in 2009, so you know it’s good!!


Jumbo rolled oats, rapeseed oil, desiccated coconut, pecans (7%), fructose, black treacle (4%), oligofructose*, golden linseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, natural flavouring
*Oligofructose is a natural soluble fibre derived from chicory. As a prebiotic it helps maintain a healthy digestive system.

This cereal recommends a very generous 50g portion, the granola is very pleasant to eat, just the right sweetness and crunchiness. I ate mine with home made soya yoghurt. The cereal does not go soggy in the yoghurt and the last spoonful was as pleasant as the first.

RRP for a 400g bag is £3.65.

You can buy yours online here

I received a bag of granola in return for this honest review.

    Sunday 17 February 2013

    Home Education - an update

    I have had a few people asking me how Bob is doing, how is education is going, and how he personally is developing with it, so as my daughter is the expert she kindly wrote me a post.

    It’s been 8 months since Bob left school to enter the world of home-education, and is apparently time for an update.

    Bob is slowly turning back into the bubbly, cheeky, funny little boy that he always was, his confidence is building, and the stress levels in the house are a lot lower than they were!  Daily, I can see my little boy reappearing, which just confirms that the right decision was made.

    A lot of people ask me what we do every day, especially if they come round and see him playing with his Playmobil, or on the CBeebies website, or something else that is not considered to be educational.  Most people seem to think that we have to do “ school work” every day from 9-3, with a break for lunch, but we have developed our own system.  Don’t get me wrong, there is traditional school work  but we do lots of other things too.

    We sit down and do “work” – maths, comprehension, reading, writing, etc, a few times a week, but we incorporate learning into every day activities much more.  If you’d visited our local Asda last week, you may well have seen a little boy with an inflatable globe, examining various fruits and vegetables.  He was looking for labels telling him the country of origin, and finding them on his globe.  We had various discussions, and Bob can now tell you why bananas tend to come from the Dominican Republic (it’s near the equator, so is nice and hot for them to grow), and how they get to our fruit bowl from there.  The inflatable globe has been used for lots of things, from catching games (catch the globe and name a country beginning with A, then pass it on), to general discussion – we found Madagascar one day, so tracked the animals journey from New York to see how far they’d gone.

    We’ve taken trips to the tractor shop at the other end of the village, where we look at the tractors, and discuss what each attachment would be used for, which tractor is best for each job, the different makes and models of tractors, and even some maths – we can see 6 tractors, and they each have 4 wheels, so that’s 24 wheels altogether, half are big and half are small, so there’s 12 of each, etc.
    Lego is wonderful, and we use it for lots of things.  Maths – each brick has a set amount of ‘dots’, which can be added, multiplied, used in fractions (the easiest way to teach fractions is using lego, we’ve discovered), subtracted, divided, sorted, compared, weighed, balanced, and much more.  Building lego teaches us planning, decision making, how to follow instructions, patience, and is great for hand-eye co-ordination.  You can make some amazing stop-motion animation films with lego as well.

    Learning can be incorporated into almost everything, from shopping to gardening, and washing the car to baking.  Most of the time, it’s fun, and he doesn’t even realise that he’s learning (and sometimes, even I don’t notice!).  The 45 minute trip to the local garage last week started as a trip to get the tyres inflated, and ended up with Bob learning about the rolling road, and watching a brake test, and part of an MOT, with the mechanics explaining what they were doing and why.  He’s now desperate for the car to breakdown so he can watch it being fixed!

    Bob’s reading has come on in leaps and bounds, mainly as he wants to be able to read instructions for his games etc.  He’s now reading chapter books, and Santa very kindly brought him a Kindle for Christmas, which has been a permanent attachment to his right hand since.  He’s started to read Harry Potter, and Fifi is now officially fed up with Bob raiding her bookcase for more books – he’s a voracious reader, and will read anything and everything, from cereal boxes, to text messages over my shoulder, and has taken over from Fifis job of reading the highway code in the car, and telling me what I’m doing wrong when I’m driving.

    Bob has also learnt to socialise with a vast array of people over the last few months.  He attends various clubs and groups, with age ranges from newborn up to teenagers, and will happily play with anyone, at any age, and is capable of holding his own in a conversation with anyone.  He is capable of walking into a cafe and asking for a table, explaining his dietary requirements, and ordering his food (unfortunately, Mummy still has to pay).

    So far, home-education has been much easier than I ever expected, and we are both having lots of fun on our journey.    So much so, that I can’t see an end at the moment, as we will be carrying on for the foreseeable future.