Thursday, 28 August 2014

Family Dinners - Slow Cooked Pork in apple, honey & mustard sauce

One of the most common questions I get asked when people hear about the boys' food allergies is, 'What do you all eat then? It must be so hard!'


I reply that we eat very well. Good old fashioned meals, cooked from scratch, and it's not very hard at all.


That got me thinking that it would be good to share some of our favourite dinners. Simple family dinners that don't need fancy ingredients or hours of preparation in the kitchen. They are dairy free, wheat free, egg free and nut free.


But certainly not taste free.


So let's get going with the first one.


The slow cooking of this makes the meat so soft and tender.


Although it takes over four hours to cook, for most of those 4 hours you aren't actually doing anything. If you don't have a slow cooker you could also make this in a casserole dish in a low oven for around the same length of time.


One thing to watch out for if you are gluten free is the mustard you use. Some types will have gluten in them so do double check the ingredients. I use Dijon mustard as it tends to be fine. You could use a whole grain mustard if you aren't concerned about food allergies but they do often have gluten in them. Like I said, and you probably always do if dealing with allergies anyway, just double check ingredients lists!


Serves 4-6


You will need:

8 pork loin steaks

1ltr carton of apple juice (cheap &cheerful is absolutely fine)

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, well chopped

2 tbsp cornflour

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3 - 4 tablespoons honey


- Put your pork loins, sliced onion & chopped garlic in the slow cooker (or your casserole dish, if you don't have one).

- Pour over all of the apple juice then cook on HIGH for around 4 hours, or on LOW for about 6-8 hours.

- Once the cooking time is almost up, ladle out about 1 pint of the cooking liquid, put it into a small pan and heat it up until nearly boiling.

- Mix the cornflour with enough cold water to dissolve it and make a loose paste.

- Add the cornflour paste to the heated up liquid and mix in. It should thicken up nicely. If you think it's too thick then take a little more of the liquid from the slow cooker.

- Add the mustard and the honey to the sauce and mix in well.

- Serve the pork covered in the sweet appley sauce and put out the extra sauce in a gravy jug on the table.


If you want you can serve it with some fresh apple sauce as well as some potatoes and veg of your choice.



Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Garden Pretties

On the way to hang out the washing I walk past our dwarf sunflowers.


Today I noticed a little visitor on one of them.



The boys and I plant sunflowers every year as they are so reliable to grow, and so cheerful when they open up.


I feel as though I have done very little in the garden this year, although I have done so much more than I did last summer when I was expecting Fraser. That pregnancy sickness didn't make me feel like doing much in the garden!
I don't mind not having done much this year either, I'd far rather look back and remember the time spent cuddling my little man!
I think that it is because I have done so little that it is so satisfying to see the things I have done growing well.
As well as my veg boxes and our sunflowers, I also planted some marigold seeds in the spring time. I hadn't tried growing them from seed before but here they are, growing thickly and flowering!


We also have lots of taller sunflowers as well as the dwarf ones.



The far corner of the garden remains neglected while we decide what to do with it. Calum (11) has built a tiny wildlife pond there using an old washing up basin and James (14) started building a road out of old bricks for Alasdair (5) to play with his cars on but it's not finished at all.
I have raspberries and red currants in that corner too.
When I hang the washing out, Fraser sits on the ground beside me and loves to play in the peg tub.
(The mess around Peter Rabbit is blood from some eczema on his chin that he scratched that day)
Sometimes, though, he decides to go off for a wee explore around the garden.



It's funny to watch him as he sits stroking the grass between his fingers. Or concentrating for ages as he tries to pick something up from the ground.
Off he goes.


He's heading for that football over by the back fence.
But he doesn't stay far away from me for long and is soon crawling back to me at high speed!


We're trying to make the most of the late summer warmth and enjoy the garden before the autumn chill puts a stop to us.


My only complaint though?




Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Makings - Meet Meep!

As promised last week, here is the completed little alien.


Alongside his snoozing buddy.




I didn't plan it, but he goes rather well with the colours in Fraser's blanket!


Since completing Meep I have nearly finished another project but that one needs to remain secret for now as it's a present for someone who might be reading this.


A Christmas present actually.


I know it's only August but I'm trying to get way ahead with my handmade gifts this year because by the time November comes round life becomes a whirlwind of festive activities.


I'm planning on giving as many handmade presents as possible this year. If not handmade by me, then handmade by other crafters.


I also hope to share some ideas that I come across on here, in case anyone else is planning a handmade Christmas too. Although, as with this weeks make, a few will just need to wait until the new year before I can share them!


Monday, 25 August 2014

Weekend fun

Our weekend kicked off with a first for all of us.
An evening at the Speedway!
Alasdair (5) was a bit scared of the mascot and so wouldn't go in this photo!
My husband recently got in touch with an old school friend who happens to be a huge speedway fan and he invited us all along to the local Speedway.
When we arrived at the track he took us along to the pits so the boys could see all the bikes.
Then we took our seats for the races.
The boys really got into the races.
Everybody fills in their own programme with the results of each race and the regulars were really friendly, helping James (14) understand how the scoring worked. He soon caught on with how to fill it in.
Calum (11) & David (8) were soon learning who the riders were and were cheering on the Edinburgh Monarchs riders.


I have to admit to not being sure what to expect but it was a really enjoyable evening. Even Fraser enjoyed it and was a little star.
On Saturday morning it was a return to shinty training.
Then on Saturday afternoon we were invited to a barbecue at friends near Stirling.
There were a few other couples and families there too. The boys started out by playing frisbee with some of the other boys.
Fraser enjoyed showing off how well he can pull himself up on anything and walk around it.
After we had all been well fed by our generous hosts there was a piñata for the children.
Fraser was quite interested in it once it had been bashed open.
David enjoyed the tree swing.




We all took part in a treasure hunt around their garden, which finished up in the walled garden where they have fruit trees.




The trees are so plenteous that before we left we were given out bags and told to help ourselves.



As a result of our pickings, on Sunday afternoon we enjoyed the autumnal taste of homemade apple & cinnamon pie.




I still have plenty apples left over so am planning a while spent in the kitchen this week turning them into some lovely chutney, as well as a few other appley bakes.


A good weekend all round!


Thursday, 21 August 2014

First school work

I shared this on the Facebook page the other day so some of you may have already seen this, but for those of you who haven't, this is the very first piece of work that Alasdair (5) did when he started school.



'Is mise' is mi-she (small I sound, like mint without the nt & small e sound, like shed without the d!) is the Gaelic for 'I am' and he has drawn a lovely picture of himself.


He always draws Fraser in his pictures of himself too and that's him at the bottom.


The other wee thing in the picture is my parents' dog. I'm not sure why he decided to add him!


And if you look at his face there is a line beside one of his eyes. That's meant to be a patch of eczema he had on his face and had scratched a little, making it look like a little red line.


He thought it all out very carefully!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Garden Helpers

On Monday night we picked the first of our courgettes to add to the lasagne I was making for dinner. 

David (8) was very keen to help me pick them. He doesn't normally eat courgettes but he ate up all of these ones, saying that they tasted much nicer than the ones we usually have from the shops!

I was planning to hold out until the end of this month before testing our potatoes, as that will be the full 12 weeks since they were planted. But last night my husband asked if he could bring someone home for dinner just as he was leaving work. I didn't think there were enough of our shop bought potatoes in to feed one more mouth but rather used it as a good excuse to try out some of our own ones.

I had another little helper with me when I was digging them up, although he was more interested in tipping them up again, and he did get himself a bit muddy in the process!

I only dug up one plant as I'm going to leave the rest like I had planned, but they were super tasty.

And of course we had another couple of courgettes with our dinner too - which was salmon, if you are wondering!

Having had such success with a few little boxes of veg, I'm now looking out at the garden wondering how much more of the boys' football playing area I can take over for a few more boxes next year! 

Although, what I really need to grow enough potatoes to feed these boys is a whole croft!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

How to make your own blog header

One of the things on my ever growing to-do list is to do a little bit of admin on my blog.

As you might have noticed, the first thing on my admin list was to make a new header, which I'm rather proud of!

I had planned to have a few images on there too but then when I tried out this simpler version just for fun I decided that it was just what I was after.

I have used PicMonkey in the past for photo editing and used it here to make the new header.

Rather than repost how I did it though, you can read how to make your own header here.

Blogging 101: DIY Blog Header

Just thought I would share in case anyone else has a little blog admin planned, and even if you aren't a blogger PicMonkey is a great site for some fun photo editing.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Make it Monday - Not one but TWO crochet makes!

That's right, two little almost completed projects from last week.

The first was using some of this stuff.

I've been wanting to try making something with t-shirt yarn for a while now. When I first saw it in Hobbycraft it looked like it would make a quick project.

I'm sure my sister in law won't mind me saying that she had something of an obsession for the stuff a few months ago, and was busy pinning tutorials for how to make your own t-shirt yarn out of old t-shirts!

It wasn't until I found a pattern using the yarn that I finally decided to try it out.

I've been following Annaboo's House on Instagram for a while and only recently discovered her Etsy store.
It was there I found this pattern and decided it was time to give the t-shirt yarn a bash.

One trip to Hobbycraft and a little bit of crochet time later, and I had a slipper!

Don't worry, I'm not walking around like Cinderella. I did actually make two but only took a photo after making the first one.

I was very impressed with how quickly this yarn works up but I also have to agree with what quite a few fellow crocheters on Instagram have said - it's quite hard going on your hands! I had to take a few breaks, just for a couple of minutes at a time, as my hands started to ache a bit. And I like to think that my fingers are quite strong after all these years of piano playing!

Still, it was fun to work with and I might even find myself trying out one of those tutorials to make t-shirt yarn that my sister in law pinned. One of them can be found here.

How to make T-shirt yarn photos and text

My second wee crochet project isn't quite finished but came about because this little man was under the weather at the weekend.

He was full of the cold, all heavy eyed, nose streaming and with a rattly chest. It's his first cold since he had a dose of bronchiolitis at two months old.

On Saturday he wasn't interested in doing anything and just wanted to sit with me or snooze in my arms.

While he was asleep I took the chance to try out a little crochet toy I had seen, this time on AnnaBoo's House Blog. Yes, I realise it sounds like I've been some sort of crochet stalker! But she has so many lovely patterns! There is a crochet along to make a little Monkey/cat/doll. The pattern can be adapted to make your chosen toy.

I was aiming to make the monkey but once his eyes were on, the boys all agreed that he looked like a very cute alien and said I shouldn't add any more features to his face.

So that's what we are going for.

He has grown some legs since this photo was taken, as well as one arm. Which is why at the start I said almost two projects completed.

The boys have decided to call him either Meep or Olaf and I will reveal their final decision when I share the finished toy next week!