The F Word

My friend has a 5-year-old daughter.  A beautifully charming little girl, who tries so hard to please everybody.  She is loving being at school and is determined to learn everything and know everything.

Yesterday when her mum met her at the school gates, Chloe seemed a bit subdued, not her usual, bouncing enthusiasm for the day she’d just had.  So my friend asked her if she’d had a good day.  Chloe’s normal response is to burst into a full-blown babbling account of everything that she’d said, done and learned.  However, this time she just shrugged and said it was ok.

When they got back to the car, my friend was feeling a little concerned about Chloes quietness and naturally began to worry that maybe her little girl was finding school tough and the bursting excitement of previous days had all been a front.  So she began to probe a little further, in an  attempt to get to the bottom of this sudden change in character.

She asked her if everything was ok, had someone been nasty to her, was she frightened etc etc.  Finally after getting nothing more than yes and no answers, Chloe cracked.  She told her mum that she had done something wrong and that her mummy would be angry.  Mummy of course asked her what she had done and assured her she wouldn’t be angry with her.

So Chloe said that today her teacher had asked the class to write down a word beginning with F and that her teacher told her the word she had written was wrong!  By this stage my friend has a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, thinking what the word beginning with F could be that was wrong.  Of course she came to the conclusion that her beloved daughter had written the “F” word.  With her heart in her mouth, she asked Chloe what she had written.

The child instantly burst into tears, cue mother feeling even sicker and convincing herself that she would be called to the school to explain her daughters language.  After stopping the car and turning around to face her daughter, she asked her to stop crying and tell her the word that was so wrong.

To which Chloe through howling tears shouted “It’s not my fault mummy, I didn’t know that Fumb (thumb) didn’t start with an F!

So there you have it sometimes it is perfectly alright for your children to use the “F” word. :)

Soda Farls

As promised here is a Soda Farl recipe.  This is the one I use, although I haven’t made my own for quite some time.  As they are a griddle bread, I always used to do them on the flat cooking plate of my range.  Sadly though it died for the final time a few months ago, so I no longer have my marvellous Soda cooker!

Soda bread is one of Northern Ireland’s unique griddle breads, made fresh every morning to be eaten straightaway, or cooked until golden in an Ulster Fry. You should visit Northern Ireland or make your own to experience the yumminess. They are delicious with butter and homemade jam, or with savoury food such as smoked salmon, or thick dry-cured bacon.

Ingredients:

450 g Soft (Plain) flour
7 g Bicarbonate of soda (1½ level teaspoon)
14 g Cream of tartar 20 g
Good vegetable or nut oil
300 ml Buttermilk

A hot plate/griddle or a heavy based pan. Makes 8 farls

Method:

1. Sieve all the dry ingredients 3-4 times into a bowl.

2. Make a well in the middle, add the buttermilk gradually, and bring the dough together. This recipe makes a soft dough, but the more buttermilk you incorporate, the better the bread tastes.

3. Turn out the dough onto a well floured wooden surface and give it a short, gentle kneading until you have a nice round shape.

4. Divide into two and knead both to form round balls again.

5. Roll these out until you have a fairly thick dough about 10” (25cm) in diameter and cut into quarters.

6. Preheat the griddle. To check the temperature, dust with flour. Once it starts to colour, brush off and turn the heat down. Your griddle is now ready.

7. Place the farls onto the griddle and once you have a good colour on one side (2-3 mins), flip over and cook for 5-10 minutes. The farls will rise into triangular pillows.

8. Test by pressing the middle, if they are still squidgy, you must flip over and bake out the ‘bone’ of raw dough.

9. Cool on racks covered with a damp tea towel to keep soft, or uncovered if you prefer a dryer crust

This is what they end up looking like, simply slice them through the middle, pop them in the toaster and then smother them in butter and strawberry jam, sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy.

 

Northern Ireland Soda Farls. They really are delicious

 

Nutty Season

We’ve had the Autumn Equinox and the new season really is in full force now.  The weather has been lovely, dry, bright and pleasantly mild.  Although there is a distinct chill in the early morning air.

The colours are changing rapidly, my Virginia creeper is now almost completely red and the leaves are beginning to drop.  The other trees in our garden are all yellowing and they too will begin to scatter leaves everywhere.  Although I hate having to clean them up, I can’t wait to get the girls diving into huge piles of them.

The shops are now full of orange and black, as they start selling us Halloween.There are shelves bursting with bags of nuts and sweets for the trick or treaters.  My biggest weakness at this time of year has got to be the assortment of fabulous nuts.  I love filling bowls with walnuts, hazel nuts, brazil and pecans and of course the loveliest little nut of all, peanuts or monkey nuts as we Brits like to call them.

I have finally managed to get my jars ready for my chutney.  However, my apple harvest is even poorer than I thought.  We got out our ladders and picked them and I was disappointed.  Lots of them were spoiled still on the trees, two of my trees hadn’t produced any, so by the time we had collected usable apples, I only had one basket not completely filled.  Most years we end up with 4 to 5 baskets filled to the brim.

I spent the rest of the day peeling, coring and slicing apples until my hands hurt.  Then I baked my first apple pie of the season using my own apples.  The last of our Raspberries have now been frozen, I’m keeping those for some Raspberry Martinis and to have with Champagne and Chambord at Christmas!

My next task is to get our baby girls birthday sorted out, she will be 1 in just 2 weeks time and I have delusions of making a fabulous ice cream birthday cake.  Well in my mind it’s fabulous, in reality it will probably end in disaster and I’ll be dashing out for a shop bought cake at the last-minute.  Then we have our annual Halloween party with bonfire, fireworks, bbq and hot punch. Oh I do so love this time of year.

After that it then becomes the furious, excited planning for the C word – ho ho ho!

Tiny crop

first seasons pie

 

 

 

 

 

Just Absurdly Wrong

Warning – This post has images you may find disturbing

Catching up on this weeks news stories, I stumbled across a story that I must say I did find rather disturbing.

No, not the over exposure of Kate Middleton’s breasts, or the debate about the invasion of her privacy.  Because quite frankly, I don’t understand the amount of media attention this has created.  So she has breasts, great, is she the first”Royal” women  to have breasts? (it was actually Harry who took the pictures, to try to deflect attention from his naked rear end!)

Anyway moving swiftly along.  The story that has actually to a degree repulsed me is the story of a school in South West Poland who have an initiation ceremony for first year pupils, 13 to 14 year olds, of both genders.  They make them crawl on all fours and pretend to be cats, this includes crawling around outside, crawling on all fours upstairs and then they must crawl on all fours and lick whipped cream off the naked knees of the priest!

The pictures are being called disturbing and to me, yes they are disturbing.  Setting aside for a moment the fact that the priesthood isn’t exactly a beacon of Christian values when it comes to child abuse.  These pictures and this story would have disturbed me if it had been any adult, any teacher male or female.

The pictures appeared on the schools website and the media got informed about them.  The government department for child welfare contacted the school and are having a full investigation, they have also made them remove the images from the website.  Apparently this schools behaviour has caused outrage across Poland – and rightly so.

The schools stance though, it’s only a game, it’s all a storm in a teacup!  The priest and his superior cannot fathom for a second that they may have behaved completely inappropriately towards these children.

Seriously “Father” are you for real?  If my daughter came home from school and told me that she’d been made crawl on her hands and knees and lick cream off your knees, you’d be strung up by your own Rosary beads and I’d probably be in jail!

George Galloway and Rula Lenska this is not!  These are children, children beginning to blossom into young men and women, children becoming more sexually aware, children rife with hormones and teenage confusion and you think the public reaction is a storm in a teacup.

Maybe I am over reacting to it, maybe I am reading too much into it, but if so why would we not see pictures of things like this happening in schools in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia etc?  Why would it not seem all jolly and normal school “fun”, instead of seedy and sickening and down right degrading?

I’ve attached some of the pictures for you to have a look at and judge for yourselves.  Would you be happy with your child doing this at school?

 

Local Loving

Following on from my post about the Taste NI food festival.  I wanted to do a post to acknowledge a little local company that I had never heard of before Heavenly Tasty OrganicsThey produce 100% organic baby purees in brilliant little heart-shaped portions inside a resealable pouch.  You just remove what you need and put the rest back in the freezer.

The beauty for me about them being frozen is that they are totally pure, just 100% fruit or veg.  Because they are not sitting on the supermarket shelf, they don’t have to be full of preservatives.  I loved the whole concept of this product and definitely think they are filling a gap in the market.

Yes for me personally, making and freezing my purees, was all part of the fun of finally managing to become a mother.  However, there are people out there who either cannot or do not have the time to make batches of baby food.  I know that steaming and mashing fruit or vegetables may seem like a simple task for most of us, but there are some people who just can’t manage this.  One of my best friends – and I know she won’t mind me saying this, cannot cook at all and when I say at all, I do mean at all.  She could burn water!  Unfortunately her mum died when she was very young, so there wasn’t anyone to teach her how to cook.  Her grandmother did most of their cooking and in my friends words “You didn’t dare set foot in the dragons lair”!  So she relied heavily upon jars and the on shelf pouches when her baby got to weaning stage.  So Heavenly Tasty Organics would have been a brilliant product for her.

Heavenly Tasty Organics are free from pesticides, preservatives, additives/bulking agents, added salt or sugar, dairy/eggs, wheat/gluten or soy.  Shauna the company director is a mum herself, who had a dream of starting her own business.  She has put in a tremendous amount of hard work and effort to create what in my opinion is a fantastic product that should be more widely available.  If you are interested in reading more about Heavenly Tasty Organics you can visit their website here, there is also an online shop and information about new and up and coming products, or follow them on Twitter or FacebookI would love to see this little company really storm the baby food market and I wish them all the luck in the world, in becoming a household name.

I must point out that I am not affiliated to Heavenly Tasty Organics in any way, they are simply a company I stumbled upon at Taste NI.  I loved that they were local to me and I loved the product that they produce.

I’d like to do a further post in the future of all our local champions.  So if you know of a small business, supplier or producer that you love what they do, then drop me an email Admin@fabfortymum.co.ukI’ll then create a post that collates all our business likes together, remember to include any social media or websites that they may have.

The business doesn’t have to be food related, it can be anything that you love.  A garden shed maker, a toy maker, someone who makes ceramics etc.  It could be something that like me, you stumbled upon at a county fair.

I know that I have a few American readers and some from other parts of Europe too, this includes you too, in fact any reader from anywhere in the world can contribute.  The business doesn’t have to be in the UK and Ireland for the list post.  By local for the list, it will mean local to you.  Who knows we could make use of lots of them, if we were travelling.

So show your support for a local business, drop them into me and if we get a good response, I’ll create us a list.

My only stipulations would be that:    The business is appropriate for family use (nothing pornographic/racial/abusive please!)

I would prefer to keep it to small business, not the larger global brands.  The aim is to give a shout out to the little guy :)

 

Eat Your Country!

Well not literally……  On Friday we decided to visit the Taste Northern Ireland food festival, it was hosted by Tesco, but hats off to them, they didn’t turn it into a huge Tesco PR machine. It was a showcase of brands, suppliers, producers and artisans, yes, they are all on sale or in the future will be on sale in Tesco stores, but that was were their involvement ended.  The event was totally focused on the local businesses and their products.

The array of wonderful food and drink on display was terrific.  Our girls ate from the front doors to the back doors, their two little mouths never stopped munching.  Everything from delicious Soda Farls to Coleraine Cheddar Cheese and Armagh apple juice – I sampled the Armagh Cider!  Soda Farls for those who don’t know are a bread product, not the same as soda bread recipes that you see.  They are a triangular bread about 5-6 cms deep, made with buttermilk and absolutely gorgeous, cut in half through the middle (like a scone) toasted and smothered in butter and jam.  I will do a post with a Soda Farl recipe and some pictures for you.  It is bread that is almost exclusive to the Island of Ireland.  I actually have friends in England who get me to post it to them!  Our fabulous Tayto brand crisps are in such demand by expats and holiday makers alike, that Tayto now ship them internationally from their website.  Now there’s some well-heeled potato crisps!

There were cheeses, yoghurt, preserves, chocolate and fudge, beautiful fresh vegetables and some of the most amazing sausages I’ve ever tasted, from The Good Little Company, who have a “buy one, give one free” motto.  What this means, is that for every pack you buy, they will give a staple meal to someone in the developing world for a week.  On top of that they will also donate another meal to anyone who follows them on Twitter or becomes a fan on FacebookThese are probably the most ethical sausages I’ve ever eaten, they have thought of all the little details, from their packaging, to what actually goes into their sausages and their desire to truly make a difference in the developing world.  I for one am very glad to have discovered this gem of a company.

I am a little ashamed to say that there were a few big brands there, that I hadn’t even realised were Northern Ireland producers.  I generally do read packaging labels in supermarkets as I am interested where my food comes from.  I try were possible to always buy British, Irish or in particular a Northern Ireland product.  I am a very firm believer in supporting local producers.  I want my meat to come from a few miles down the road, not Argentina – no offence to Argentina, I’m sure they produce very good meat.  However, it is unnecessary for a supermarket in the UK to import meat from thousands of miles away, when there is superb quality meat on their doorstep.  Northern Ireland pork, for example is award-winning and some of the best in the world.

My label reading however, does tend to centre mainly on meat, fruit, vegetables, fish and dairy and I am guilty of forgetting about all the other foodstuffs on sale.  If Friday taught me anything, it is to look at the packaging for everything.  A quick glance at the back will tell me where in the world the product came from and I can hopefully increase the amount of local produce that I purchase and thereby support a farmer, artisan or manufacturer in my own country.

If you get the opportunity to visit a food festival in your area, I highly recommend that you do.  Not only is it a great day out, with loads of gorgeous food and drink to sample and buy at great offer prices.  You may, like me, come away surprised an enlightened about the wonderful food that you didn’t realise was produced on your doorstep.