How Does Your Garden Grow? 

At the beginning of 2017 I set myself some goals. Amongst other things expanding my vegetable plot/ gardening skills were one of those goals. So how am I getting on I can hear you asking? 

I’ve fended off comments from friends and family that I won’t do it. For the record I’m now called Percy ( Thrower) my comeback is I’m  too young to remember him- ha so there. I’m still shoe and fashion obsessed but I’ve added pretty wellies into the mix, and instead of heat magazine ( cause I no longer care about what Posh Spice is up to) I’ve been known to but Grow Your Own or Kitchen Garden magazines.  Anyway I’ve digressed a tiny bit. 

Well the chickens arrived in 2013 and the numbers have grown ever since ( we are up to 13 and due to get some more soon). They are free range which means I don’t have a slug or snail problem but I’m often faced with this. Nutella ( named by my daughter) has a bare patch, she is the lowest in the pecking order, we built her a new home next to the others, she’s much happier, and her feathers are really growing back, which is more than can be said for my lettuce which they got into and ate……

  
This actually shows phase 2 of our vegetable growing. It’s taken 2 yrs to get to this point as this area was so so over grown when we moved in. The soil is clay ( get me ) and we are working hard to improve the quality and texture of the ground. My compost bin is starting to work well, and I believe that mushroom compost over the autumn/ winter months may help. I’m still facing an ongoing weed problem, which I know I could use weed killer for, but we are trying to do without. 

So my growing aspirations this year are

  • Potatoes
  • Broad beans and Runner Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Garlics ( growing very well if I do say so myself) 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Chard
  • Cabbage
  • Radish 
  • Peas
  • Squash
  • Courgettes

It looks like nothing, but im proud of this cabbage

Fruit wise we have: 

  • Apple trees
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Blackcurrants 
  • Blackberries ( brambles) 
  • Raspberries 

 

My Favourite Apple Tree

 
I cannot wait for the efforts of my labour to start paying off, I have so many recipies that I want to create with the home grown produce. You see what I’ve done there? In true free from foodie style, the home grown things are free from pesticides etc, and the recipes will be gluten, nut, dairy free as per usual. I thought you guys might like to see other aspects of my life ( possibly?) .

So I’m hoping to incororate regular posts of how I’m getting on, with my mini side kick obviously. Gardening with a three yr old does add another great dimension to the mix, but hey that’s all part of the fun of it. 

Any grow your own tips? Or pictures? Let me know in the comments below. 

  

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Allergy Awareness Week 

This week is Allergy Awareness week, which focuses on eczema. Munchkin does have eczema but thankfully fairly mildly. Her triggers are her allergens ( so contact or consuming nut products) and certain cosmetics and washing powders can make her symptoms worse. 

Whilst I’m not going to focus too much on eczema in this post, I thought it would be a benefit to offer my top tips and advice in regards to allergies. 

Eating Out/ Days out

  • Be prepared, I always call a restaurant ahead and ask / inform the establishment about our coeliac and nut allergy requirements. 
  • Ask to see the allergy information and policies
  • Don’t assume that because you’ve eaten the same meal more than once it’s still ok, restaurants change ingredients and suppliers all the time. 
  • You are not being fussy and do not let that thought stop you from asking the relavent questions. 
  • I always have safe back ups for days out etc so no one goes without.
  • Safe swaps in your bag work well for party bags etc as well. 
  • Carry all relevant medication with you. If you have epi pens carry 2 the first one doesn’t always work. 
  • Arm yourself with wipes to clean table surfaces before sitting down, also I find kids just attract dirt so baby wipes are a must anyway. 

General Advice

  • If you are struggling with anything talk to someone, you are not alone ( Twitter allergy community is great) there is always someone who can help. 
  • Your allergies are part of you- but don’t let them define you. 
  • Kick the crappy guilt fairy out of your head- she will consume you if you let her. My advice is swat her away hard, cuddle your child/ partner/ pet and tell yourself you are doing a great job, because you know what? You really are. 
  • Allergy UK is a very useful site 
  • Always #carryyourkit be it medicines, medical cards, epi pens etc. 

So some of my top tips for you. Do keep looking back, as I will be adding more as I remember them. 

Do you have any top tips? Let me know in the comments below. 

Review – Nush Dairy Free Yogurt 

You may, or may not have noticed a new brand of the free from market? Nush Foods are the company behind dairy free, gluten free and vegan yogurts that are made from either almond or cashew milks. I believe they are the first in the UK to offer such a product. 

Anyway I’m rambling, I saw these in Tesco (£2) and thought I’d try one. I should add that they are nut based so all testing was done well out the way of mini me.

 

  I was really impressed, I’m not sure what I was expecting really- possibly a more gloopy texture that you can get with other plant based yogurts, but this has a consistency of, well yoghurt.  Considering this was almond based, you are not over powered with the taste, there was a subtle, but pleasing blueberry flavour, not overladen with sugar or sweetness- all positives for me. I should also add that this is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. 

  
So will I buy it again? Well yes, although not every day as it is a bit pricey.  That said I’m also interested in trying the cashew milk yoghurt when I track it down. Well done Nush keep up the good work. 
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All views are my own, and honest. 

Easter Brownie Cheesecake- Guest Post

With Easter fast approaching what better excuse for chocolate? I hasten to add that is my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. I admit before children Easter wasn’t a grand affair in our household, we rejoiced about a 4 day weekend, had a family roast and chocolate eggs ( obviously). However now mini me is a bit older we tend to make a bit more of a day of it ( wish me luck this year is our first Easter bonnet parade). 

So I’ve digressed but my point is that Easter Sunday will come, I’ve got a houseful and for those that has given up their favourites for lent, then a special dessert is in order, and a make ahead, easy chocolate cheesecake is one of my favourite. 

The base is a rich, gooey brownie, the top a baked cheesecake. The result is amazing- the best of both worlds in one satisfying dessert.  The added bonus is you can adapt this to suit your requirements. Mine is nut and gluten free, but you can make it cleaner and vegan ( use sweet potato brownie and raw cheesecake topping)  or easier ( use packet mix brownie) it is up to you, there really is no right or wrong. 

 

Gluten Free Brownie Cheesecake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

A perfect dessert for an Easter gathering.

 

Ingredients

-packet of brownie mix or
-110g unsalted butter
-110g chocolate
-1/2 tsp salt
-180g caster sugar
-60g  gluten free plain flour
-40 g teff flour
-2 eggs 
-50 ml milk

For the cheesecake 

-700g  full fat cream cheese

-3 eggs

-250g caster sugar

-1tsp vanilla extract 

-120ml  Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche 

Directions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a 9 inch spring form case. 
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, when almost melted give a good stir and set aside for about 5 minutes
  3. With an electric whisk beat the eggs, sugar and milk into the chocolate.
  4. Stir in the flour until just combined
  5. Pour into your tin and cook for 20-25 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s not completely cooked as your cake will have phase to in the oven
  6. Turn the oven down to 160 and mix together all the cheesecake ingredients. 
  7. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie and return to the oven. 
  8. Cook for a further 35-40 minutes. The top will give a firm wobble 
  9. Leave to cool for 2 hours in the oven
  10. Leave in the tin and then cool put in the fridge for 4 hrs or over night before you decorate. 

 

    Et voila there you have it. Thank you for reading my post, and have an egg-cellent ( sorry) Easter. 

    This is my guest post for Natreco a really great site that sells a host of free from, vegan and natural products. Pop over and have a look if you have time. 

    Strawberry and Vanilla Cheesecake Gluten Free

    I admit I’ve had strawberries on the brain this last week.  In my efforts on embracing the good life the vegetable plot is growing, and strawberries are one of this years projects.  My new plants are in, and we are waiting for them to grow.  However in the mean time, what better excuse for a free from cheesecake? Oh and we had a houseful for Mother’s Day and cheesecake is always a winner. Plus this is a no bake cheesecake so it’s easy to make as well. 

    My error with this was that I personally think it would be better in an 8 inch tin, but I misplaced mine so the 9 inch had to be the tin of choice ( I don’t  think my guests noticed anyway). 

      

    Ingredients 

    Base

    • 250g biscuit I used gullon as they are nut free. You can click Here to buy them. 
    • 80g melted butter

    Filling

    • 600g  full fat cream cheese
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 100 g icing sugar
    • 200ml double cream 
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence. 

    Method

    • Crush the biscuits either in a bag with a rolling pin, or in a food processor
    • Add the melted butter and pulse until you have a damp rubble.
    • Press into the base of a spring closing cake tin and leave to set in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

      

    • For the filling whisk the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla together. 
    • I whisk the double cream separately until it forms stiff peaks. Then gently combine this with the cream cheese mixture. 
    • Put this on top of your biscuit base and leave to set in the fridge ideally overnight. 
    • I decorated with fresh strawberries and mini meringue kisses.