Monthly Archives: July 2014

Field Trip! Beningbrough Hall Parkland and Home Farm Shop

 

 

 

This week’s Filed Trip! was to Beningbrough Hall Parkland and Home Farm Farmshop.  Beningbrough Hall is a gorgeous National Trust property located just to the north of York off the A19.  The walled gardens are one of my favourite places to visit in the whole world.  I’m just lucky that I live 15 minutes away!  The house is interesting and if you’re into portraiture they collaborate with the National Portrait Gallery for exhibitions.  However, they don’t allow dogs in to the gardens so I haven’t been in since I got Darcy.  Boo!

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However, the parklands surrounding the house are open to dogs and there are several walks through the woods and fields.  The longest one circumnavigating the whole property takes us about 1.5 – 2 hours at a fairly leisurely pace.  They have a great leaflet showing the short, medium and longer walks.  It can get a little muddy in the winter and if there has been a lot of rain then flooding can be an issue along  the river banks.  In good weather though the dogs love to go for a swim at the furthest point where the Nidd joins the Ouse!

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The National Trust have a lovely restaurant inside the grounds but, again, no dogs allowed.  Luckily Home Farm Shop is located just the other side of the car park (National Trust members can park for free) and has plenty of outside seating.  It’s very popular with dog walkers and cyclists and serves a delicious range of food and drink.  Just what you need after a good long walk!

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I almost always go for the Home Farm Burger.  You get to eat the cows you just walked past!!! (This pleases me greatly and I always make a point to tell them how delicious they are.  Weird, yes, but I feel they should know what a good job they’re doing eating grass and getting all delicious!)  My friend favours the Ploughmans and the portions are always generous.  The dogs usually split a sausage roll!  The selection of cakes is always good and everything I’ve tried has been great, I’ve never once been disappointed!

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Filed under Days Out, Dog Friendly, Not Food

Homemade Egg McMuffin

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People keep asking me how on earth I make an Egg McMuffin at home and seem really surprised that I do it… I thought it was a pretty obvious one but, just to put the mystery to rest, here is my super simple DIY Egg McMuffin Recipe!

1 english muffin
3 rashers streaky bacon / 1 Frozen Lorne sausage (Iceland) / 2 regular sausages skin removed and mashed into one patty (BACON IS EASIER AND QUICKER!)
1 egg
1 cheese single
ketchup (they really should put this in an Egg McMuffin!)

– Heat a dribble of oil in a small blini/egg pan on a low heat.
– Heat a small frying pan on a low heat.
– Slice your muffin in half and pop in the toaster.  Not too high!
– Crack your egg into the blini/egg pan.
– Place your bacon in the frying pan.  (Or sausage but the sausage wants to cook for longer so adjust your timings accordingly and get it going before you fetch the muffin!)
– When the white is just set, flip your egg.  The longer you leave it now the more solid your yolk will be.  Runny yolk is delicious but messy!
– POP!
– Place the first half of the muffin on a plate, add ketchup.
– Add bacon.
– Add fried egg.
– Add cheese single.
– Add more ketchup.  (What? I like ketchup!)
– Top with the remaining half of your toasted muffin.
– PLACE A BOWL OVER THE TOP AND LEAVE IT FOR 2-5 MINUTES.  This is the important part.  You know how your muffin gets all wrapped up and is nice and soft when you eat it?  This is why!

Enjoy!

 

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Filed under Breakfasts, Easy

Roasted Vegetable Couscous

A popular deli counter option but did you know how quick and easy roasted vegetable couscous could be to prepare?  Really, all it takes is a tiny bit of chopping and the rest is time!

You can roast whatever vegetables you fancy too.  If you really can’t stand roasted tomatoes, leave them out!  Love roasted cauliflower (and you should!), then pop it in!  Got some leftover parsnips looking a bit suspicious? Hey, shove them in, no one will notice!   I like to stick to Mediterranean vegetables for the most part, with the occasional bit of cauliflower or sweet potato thrown in for fun!  The quantities don’t really matter and this is a great way to use up odds and ends in the fridge.

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Serves 4

Mediterranean Vegetables, For Example:
~ 1/2 aubergine
12 cherry tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 courgette
2 red onions
1 teacup of dry couscous
1/2 a vegetable stock cube

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.
– Chop up your veggies into bite sized pieces.
– Place on a roasting tray.
– Drizzle with olive oil.
– Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
– Roast for 30 minutes.
– Take 1 teacup of dry couscous and your stock cube and put it in a serving bowl.
– Take 1 teacup of boiling water and add to the couscous.
– Give it a little swirl and then leave it for ~ 20 minutes.
– Come back and fluff it up with a fork.
– Take your veggies out of the oven and tip into the couscous.
– Mix and enjoy!  Can be served hot or cold, however you fancy it.  Makes a fabulous main or a nice little side dish.

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The roasted veggies are super versatile and the couscous super quick!  Make up a huge tray of veggies and save yourself some prep work for meals later in the week!

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Field Trip! Helmsley Walled Gardens

Darcy has settled in well and has been allowed out and about for 5 weeks now!  This means ADVENTURES!  Therefore I thought I’d start a new series about the adventures we’ve been on so far and share our findings with you all!  It’s often difficult to plan a day out that works for our four legged friends as well as it does for us and often you need some insider knowledge to plan a truly brilliant outing for everyone.

So I thought I’d tell you about our first dog friendly adventure to Helmsley Walled Garden.  Tucked round the back of Helmsley Castle (which is English Heritage so dogs can get in here too!) this walled garden is one of those little gems you simultaneously want to tell everybody about and keep to yourself!

 

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Every part of it is beautifully planned and executed and every area has something different to delight!  You start by the glass houses and work your way through beautiful borders, wildflower meadows, orchards, vegetables, chicken and bees, water features, you name it, this place has it!

 

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It’s the most wonderful place to retreat to for contemplation and inspiration.  I’ve never yet left the place without another plant that I’ve seen in situ here and just had to add to my own garden!  (And the shop is very well priced, none of the extortion you usually see in places like this!)

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The paths are well laid out, well maintained and, although I have no first hand experience, look to be easily accessible to push chairs and wheelchairs.  There are plenty of benches dotted about for you to sit and take a moment to enjoy the surroundings (or have a rest if necessary).

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They also have a gorgeous cafe in The Vine House.  There’s plenty of outside seating, very comfortable, with umbrellas for shade.  The lunch menu is served from midday to 3pm and, although I didn’t partake this time around, I will definitely be planning another trip soon because it all sounded fantastic!

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We went for a scone for myself and a slice of chocolate cake for my mum to go with our tea.  I have to say I was a bit disappointed when the scone arrived as there really didn’t seem to be enough jam but it was such beautifully sweet, tart, flavoursome jam that it worked wonderfully even with only a little bit!  (I’m also a cream rather than butter girl but sometimes sacrifices must be made!) I specifically hadn’t chosen the chocolate as it looked a little dry… How wrong I was! It was divine!  Beautifully moist and deeply chocolaty!  I can’t wait to sample the other cakey offerings (which were plentiful!) it all looked so good that there will surely be something to tempt everyone!

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(No, I don’t know how he sees out either but he doesn’t walk into walls so clearly it works!)

 

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All in all a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.  There’s plenty of parking in Helmsley on the market place and the longer stay car park (which is more convenient for the Walled Garden) and it’s not too dear either, I think you’ll want to allow yourself at least 2 hours for the garden and afternoon tea!  The rest of the town is lovely too with several coffee shops allowing dogs in or at least with outside seating.  Entrance to the garden is £6 (and you’ll want to complete a gift aid form ;o)

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Filed under Days Out, Dog Friendly, Gardening, Not Food

Falafel

 

 

 

Falafel is something I have had a troubled relationship with.  For years I wanted to like it, I just couldn’t!  Everything was ether too bland or too spicy or too mushy or just not right!  However, with this recipe I really feel like I’ve cracked it.  And I feel that the key is to really amp up the spices.  Not too much chili, but spices, the cumin and coriander, and a good dash of salt and pepper, are what are going to make your falafel sing! 
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It helps if you think of your falafel as portable hummous.  Just as a bland humous is nobody’s friend, so too for falafel so even if you look at these quantities and think I’m crazy, remember, chickpeas are delicious but only with the proper accessories!

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The wonderful thing about this falafel recipe is that it healthy and simple.  You basically put everything in a food processor and blitz it up! Simple!  And to keep the calorie count down on these falafel I oven bake them rather than frying them.  Would frying them make them tastier… well, yeah, probably! But I can’t afford those calories so oven baking it is!  That’s why we amp up the spices, what you lose in fat you can make up in flavour!

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Makes ~15 falafel balls

2 x 400g tins of chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 LARGE cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp fresh coriander
2 tbsp plain flour
~ 2 tbsp water if necessary

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.
– Put everything except the water in the food processor.
– Blitz, scrape down the bowl, blitz again.  You want to keep blitzing until you have about half coarse mix, half smooth paste in there.  You don’t want to keep going until you get hummous!
– If it’s just not coming together into a paste at all then you might just need a little extra moisture to bind it so gradually add a little water at a time until it just comes together.  You don’t want to add too much or you get a soft, sticky falafel!
– Using your hands (or if you’re weird about these things feel free to use spoons/a small ice cream scoop) grab a ping pong ball sized amount of mixture and gently shape it into a nice round ball.
– Place on a very lightly greased baking tray (a quick spray with olive oil will do) and repeat until your mixture is all gone.
– Give all of your falafel a light spritz with an olive oil spray.
– Place in the top of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  The falafel should just be turning brown in places and should be crisp to the touch.
– Serve with salad, pita and haydari… or whatever else takes your fancy!

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Filed under Dairy Free, Easy, Low Fat, Mains