#ThriftyOrganic three-course family meal

Organic September Collage

If you are a bit of a foodie and/or follow any social media here in the UK, you’re probably more than aware that this month has been dubbed #OrganicSeptember. Everyone’s being encouraged to celebrate all things organic. The message is that by making a small change to your everyday shopping, we can make a big difference: swapping to organic food has huge benefits for people, animal welfare and the environment.


While most of us will agree that organic produce is better for our environment, better for animal welfare and, well, just a more natural approach, isn’t it hideously expensive to shop organic? I try to buy organic wherever I can, particularly fruit and vegetables. For instance I have a weekly organic veg box delivered by Riverford – although I tend to do this less during late summer and early autumn when we tend to have a glut of veggies in our own garden. But I doubt I could afford to go totally organic.

Or could I? Continue reading

Chocolate cheesecake with blackberry cream

Chocolate Cheesecake Collage

I feel obliged to issue a public health warning before I go any further with this post. This dessert is not for the faint-hearted and certainly not for anyone on a calorie-controlled diet. It’s extremely rich and something of a colossal beast, easily serving 12 to 14 people, so only make this if you’ve got the man, woman and child-power to tackle it, and be sure not to feed them too much beforehand. Continue reading

Out and about in the North East: Beamish Open Air Museum

Durham and Northumberland Collage

The children are back at school. My oldest finds herself in her final year of primary school – where on earth did that time go? And life is quickly settling back into the old routine again. But before the school holidays become too much of a distant memory, I thought I’d bring you a few highlights  of our summer break up in the North East.

I’ve been chomping at the bit to take my family up there for several years now, keen to revisit lots of the places I so loved growing up there. But, to date, sunny, beach holidays have always won out – until this year, when I finally managed to get my way.

It’s a long drive from the South West to the North East but well worth the effort. I’d forgotten quite how beautiful the region is and how varied the countryside. From the craggy, purple-heather cloaked hillsides and lush green pine forests to the vast, serene, sandy beaches. Just breathtaking.


Our week in the North East started with a couple of  days in County Durham, where I lived from the ages of about five to seven. I have extremely fond memories of visiting Beamish Open Air Museum when I was little. I was even on the local TV news there. I can’t remember what the occasion was but my class got to dress up in old fashioned clothes (I loved all those petticoats) and play with the toys of the era, like spinning tops and hoops. My first taste of fame and I loved it. Continue reading

Italian baked chicken with grapes followed by semifreddo with honey, figs and walnuts

Italian feast

Boasting honey, figs, grapes, nuts and sweet wine, this Italian feast would surely have won the approval of Bacchus himself. When I think about good food, when I dream about delicious dishes bringing together the simplest ingredients to create something truly magical, when I picture myself being served an incredible meal in an idyllic setting, I tend to find myself transported to Italy.

It’s been a few years since I’ve travelled in Italy and I long to return. My parents are in Tuscany right now and as you can imagine I am extremely jealous. My step-mum Sue has been sending me droolsome updates on Whatsapp, replete with photos, documenting their food adventures. There have been accounts of wonderful salads with chicken, ravioli in a walnut cream sauce,  the thinnest pizzas with just one or two toppings, grilled sea bass with roast courgettes, fritto misto in the lightest of batters, fagiolini with fine green beans and bacon in tomatoes and garlic. Oh and lots of gelati with figs and cherries… The list goes on. It’s been pure torture.

So when Expedia challenged me to come up with an Italian meal for their #expediaworldonaplate challenge, I knew I would be taking my inspiration from Tuscany. Continue reading