I love a family day out, something we can all do together and ideally one which doesn’t break the bank for a family of eight. Nick had found out about the Launceston Steam fair from our window cleaner, since he was showing his small steam engine there.
After looking it up on the internet we decided there was enough happening to make it a family day out. I baked a loaf during the morning feed run on the farm to make the packed lunch and then we set off in high spirits with glorious sunshine.
With my gang lunch was first on the agenda; well packing for eight is heavy to carry around so I wasn’t going to complain. Sitting on straw bales watching the vintage cars in the arena the boys were in heaven.
Ambling around the exhibits the children admired, poked and questioned owners on all manner of tractors, steam engines and the like, I was surprised and delighted by their interest.
We even saw an old Triumph Stag just like the one we owned when the eldest two children were tiny, Nick had to look very carefully since it was even the same model and colour as ours. Given the lack of back seat belts it had to go soon after they were born, now they wished we still owned it and so do I, it would be lovely for a drive over the Moors on a summers day.
Seeing the kids with stunt bikes was a real highlight. Their moves were spectacular if hard to capture on camera, now I have 5 boys asking where they can learn!
The older boys stayed on to admire more vehicles with Dad while the younger ones and I headed for the craft stalls. Clio was her element in and out of the jewellery stands before joining Guy and Jed to watch a magic show while Theo and I came up close with some truly unusual pets. Theo was full of fascination until the owner took the giant lizard out and offered it to him to hold! Theo was rather worried for me too as he removed the lid from the tarantula and in the name of blogging I zoomed in close! Later that night holding the Lizard was apparently the highlight of his day, not that you would believe it to watch him!
It was candy floss all round for the children while we waited for Daddy and the bigger boys to meet up with us.
The children were taken with a challenge to win themselves twenty pounds. Climbing a ladder chained top and bottom without turning the ladder over to win £20 or cycle the reverse steering bicycle 20 yards sounds easy and looked easy watching the professional, but my boys show in the video here how impossibly hard it really was! Safe to say the clever man kept his £5 from my children and the £20 remained pinned to the top of the ladder.
All in all there was something for everyone and a fun day out which cost us only £30 including treats. Not bad for a large family!
Country Kids is all about enjoying family time outdoors, leaving the screens indoors and engaging our children in outdoor pursuits. Exploring through play, crafts, learning opportunities and days out helps to stretch imaginations and create family time. Please come and join me. Grab the badge and share your outdoor fun here on the linky. There are always some wonderful activities so please take a look around. It is always hard to single out just a few to highlight each week but I have to start with Donna from Mummy Central with wonderful write up on her family holiday here at Coombe Mill last week. It is always a huge treat to welcome a blogger I have been chatting to on line, in Donna’s case since I began blogging; it was rather like meeting someone I had actually known for years. My second shout out is to Jenny Paulin from Mummy Mishaps who joins me every week and never tires of some outdoor fun for her boys, this week was sticks and mud to paddling pool fun. Finally at Would like to be a Yummy Mummy saw more than just butterflies on their fun family day out.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill
Does party cooking scare you? Stuck for a good family recipe that is easy and nutritious? Like the idea of foraging for foodstuff in the hedgerows on a country walk but not sure what is edible? If any of the above questions strike a chord with you, please read on. I have a family of eight to feed each night and I make freezer meals for our holiday guests to buy, on top of this I love to throw parties and good food is always needed to soak up the alcohol. This doesn’t make me an expert chef, but it does give me plenty of opportunities to experiment in the kitchen and when I hit on an idea that works, this is where I share it.
We are lucky enough to have our own pork from the farm and the joint I use is cured shoulder called “collar”. The wild garlic I have found in abundance growing on the farm. It has a distinctive smell and white flowers and is prolific in the hedgerows at the moment. Everything else I have to buy, we did try using our own chickens but breading them on a small scale to eat is harder than it sounds so I’m back to the supermarket on this one! The recipe is simple enough in taste for a family meal; all my children loved it, but it also has enough about it for entertaining too. It freezes well so is ideal for my holiday guests and perfect to make in advance for a party.
Note you can scale this one down; this is the maximum I can fit in one oven and will feed around 25 – 30 people!
4 large whole chickens.
2 large ham or Gammon joints
6 large onions chopped
500g button mushrooms or larger mushrooms sliced.
A good bunch of wild garlic, from bulb to flower roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of sugar or Apricot jam
2 tablespoons of Olive oil
Tablespoon of readymade mustard or rounded teaspoon of powdered mustard
5 tablespoons plain flour
2 glasses of wine
1 tin evaporated milk
5 chicken stock cubes.
1. Remove the worst of the fat from the chicken but don’t worry about removing every last bit as a little is needed to thicken the stock later.
2. Place the chickens in a large pan of water, bring to the boil and boil steadily for about 1.5 hours.
3. Do the same with the ham in a separate pan but leaving any skin on.
4. Bone the cooled chicken and reserve the stock.
5. Chop the ham into chunks and discard the water and fat from this.
This is the boring and time consuming bit done!
6. Fry the onions in the olive oil for 5 minutes, add the mushrooms and wild garlic and a few spoonfuls of the chicken stock and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
7. Place about a pint of chicken stock in a large pan, Crumble in the stock cubes and bring to simmering point. Scatter in the flour and make into a thick sauce. Add the wine, mustard, black pepper and gradually add the evaporated milk. Continue to add the reserved stock till you reach a smooth sauce consistency. I find adding the stock from a jug easiest; it also cools it faster and allows you to skim off the surplus chicken fat which will separate out on the surface.
8. Add the onion and garlic mix and the meat pieces to the sauce, stir to combine and place in the oven for about an hour and half on a medium heat of 160 degrees or low in a slow cooker.
If you are serving immediately I would leave for another half an hour or so, but if you are making to freeze I would keep it to an hour and a half as it will get another blast on reheating.
Check and stir every half hour adding more of the reserved chicken stock if it becomes too thick.
Notice I haven’t added salt; this is because the ham can be quite salty so it really doesn’t need it.
If you have a good hot grill the ham skin makes wonderful crackling to serve with the meal.
For our reception meals and our family dinner I add lightly cooked carrot and a saute potato top which all freezes and reheats in the oven perfectly for a balanced meal in one. For a party I would freeze Just the casserole mix then warm up in the oven during drinks and serve simply with rice which can be cooked on the hob (your oven space will be full!) and fresh salad. A little chopped wild garlic and chives adds a perfect garnish.
Do take a look at some of the other recipes in my What’s Cooking Category. They are always easy and tasty. If you have any other ideas from things to find on a country walk and cook with I would love to hear from you in the comments here.
I am linking up to Recipe of the week and Slow Cook Sunday & cook it blog it. Click on the badges for more delicious ideas.
Working with my best friend and husband.
In many ways working with Nick is all I have ever known. He was at Tesco in the same department as me when I joined as a new graduate in 1989. Our career paths stayed together through out Tesco, into Unilver and then in 2002 we took the huge decision to abandon the corporate careers and take on Coombe Mill. However this was going to be more than seeing each other in meetings and saving Unilever a few pennies on overnight confrences by sharing a room! Running Coombe Mill together meant learning together, sharing the business ups and downs, only having each other to consult and having no external boss. When I look back and reflect on the pressures we had with three young children age four and under, not understanding the first thing about the holiday market or farming yet having a very clear vision for the business we were taking on, I think we have managed our business relationship very well. By adding 3 more children within 2 years giving us six under six whilst developing the new business I think we did rather well on our persnoal relationship too!
11 years on from our move to Coombe Mill and the business is still thriving and developingwith a clear paln still in place, are still best of friends and the children are all thriving and very much playing their part in the family business. I thought it worth sharing the things that I feel have really made a difference for us in working successfully together in the hope that it may inspire others contemplating a move from employee to family business.
a sucessful working partnership needs:
Belief in each other’s ability
Different areas of responsibility and accountablity
A shared vision
An abillity to switch off from work to enjoy shared family and couple time
Family days out, thurlestone
A business you both feel pasionaltely about owning and developing
A business that you can manage together around family life
I would avoid overstretching financially to begin a business, financial worries are a recipe for testion and trouble. Every business involves risk and usally borrowing but too much can bring stress which is difficult to mnage. Do the maths and make sure it is realistic!
I’m sure there are more, but these are the things that stand out for me as to why Coombe Mill has worked so well for Nick and I as a couple and as parents. If you can put answers to each of the above then I hope you will follow your dreams too.