Coombe Mill Carrot Cake

Posted on March 3rd, 2014 - Fiona

Simple & Tasty

Carrot Cake is a favourite of Farmer Nick and my eldest Alistair, yet everytime I look up a recipe I close the book again as it is just too much phaff for my liking. I like good healthy homemade food and bake a cake a day to keep my family in sweet treats, however I don’t have the time for complicated recipes. The answer of course was to create my own version. This recipe has all the taste of any carrot cake yet takes a matter of minutes to prepare. Perfect for any busy parent. Nick’s big Birthday party was my mission so the quality is large. You may want to half everything for a regular 8 inch tin size cake.

 Coombe Mill Carrot Cake


The Cake

400g Carrots

200g packet of stoned datesCarrot Cake ingredients

400g Self Raising wholemeal Flour

200g self raising white flour

200g Demerara Sugar

200g granulated sugar

200g Plain Yogurt

200g Sunflower Oil

200g natural yogurt

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

4 tablespoons of mixed spice

The Icing

2 Tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons soft cheese like Philadelphia

1 teaspoon Vanilla essence

Icing sugar


Peel and chop the carrots and place them and the stoned dates in a food processor. Whiz into fine pieces.

Finely chopped Carrot & Date

Add all other ingredients and mix well.

Carrot cake ingredients ready to combine


Turn into an oven tray lined with baking paper or two greased 8 inch cake tins.

Cover loosely in foil and Bake in a fan oven at 180 degrees for about an hour until just firm to touch.


carrot cake ready to cook

Leave to cool then make the icing

Combine the butter, soft cheese and vanilla essence and add icing sugar until you reach a spreading consistency.

Spread and decorate to your taste.


Farmer Nick's Birthday carrot cake


I used one tray bake cake and one round tin cake (one and half times the ingredients here) to make a three dimensional version of the Acropolis for Nick’s Greek Themed birthday party. This was more than enough for 20 people.



Ginger & Date Cookies

Posted on February 3rd, 2014 - Fiona

Treat Time

With six growing children to feed I really can’t afford bought treats. Seriously there is no cookie jar or treat cupboard in our house. My children would go wild for a digestive biscuit or a custard cream but there are none. If there were with two teens and four tweens the tin would be empty! My answer is home cooking and this includes the treats.  I have my basic recipes which I know by heart and rarely use a recipe book as quantity and time are my priority. However now and then when I am avoiding going out on a wet morning I like to experiment in the kitchen and surprise them with something new. My recipes are always tasty, quick and easy and involve sneaking in a few healthy ingredients so that when they tuck into their packed lunch or come in starving after school I have something nutritious and tasty on offer. These Ginger biscuits really didn’t hang around!

Ginger & Date Cookies


Ingredients for Ginger & Date Cookies

Ingredients for Ginger & Date Cookies

100g dried stoned dates

75g stem Ginger from a jar ( or 3 balls)

2 teaspoons of syrup from the ginger jar.

275g Self Raising Flour

125g demerara sugar

200g butter

1 teaspoon good quality vanilla flavour

1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger


Finely chop the dates and Stem ginger & place in a bowl ( I whiz the two up in a food mixer with the ginger syrup)


Finely chopped Ginger & Date

Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well, for me this means tip everything into the food mixer & blend until a dough forms)

Cookie Dough


Roll the dough into balls and place on a greased baking sheet, then place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees


Dough balls cooking


Bake for about 10 minutes until golden. Cool for a few minutes before removing from the baking tray. 



Ginger & Date Cookies


Enjoy with a cup of coffee before the children find them!


Farmer Nick enjoys a morning cookie


Chef’s Tip

They will keep in an airtight container for at least a week (children permitting) and are a perfect no mess solution for packed lunches. You can taste the ginger but not the dates which just add goodness, fibre and texture with no complaints from the kids.

Butternut Squash & Fig Salad

Posted on January 20th, 2014 - Fiona

For ladies who lunchA salad to share with girlfriends

January blues have hit and I’m feeling the effects of one too many Christmas chocolates around my middle. I can’t bear the thought of diets, but am very happy to indulge in some fresh and tasty alternatives to the cold weather winter stodge. Nick came home with a couple of packs of reduced to clear figs, knowing that I adore them and would put them to good use. I have made cakes and ice cream with them in the past, but I fancied a tasty healthy supper to accompany my white wine, I know, not great on the calories, but some things I am not prepared to give up! This dish is perfect for lunchtime or a late supper as it is not too heavy yet surprisingly filling, it also has a sweetness to it to take away my need for chocolate. I am going to cook this for a girl’s night as I know all my friends would love it, Farmer Nick on the other hand took one look and was glad to be off to the pub with his friends for dinner! 

Ingredients for 2 to 3 people

1 medium butternut squash

4 ripe fresh figs, skinned and quartered

Small bunch of spring onions choppedbutternut squash & fig salad ingredients

3 sticks of celery chopped

1 red pepper cut into large chunks

Lettuce leaves 

100g dried noodles cooked and drained

Feta cheese chunks

Black olives

Oregano, salt and pepper

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar 



Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Peel and chop the butternut squash, place a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil in a roasting tin and add the chunks. Scatter with sea salt, black pepper and oregano and roast for 15 minutes.

Remove the veg from the oven, shake and add chopped celery and pepper pieces, return to oven and cook for a further 10 minutes until all the veg are just soft.


Roasted butternut squash, celery & peppers


Meanwhile make the balsamic glaze by placing 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons water and a teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Simmer for about 3 – 5 minutes to reduce and reserve for serving.


Balsamic glaze

Cook the noodles on the hob in plenty of fresh boiling water for 3 minutes and drain.

Prepared ingredients ready to assemble & Serve

Place the lettuce on the base of the plate, add the warm noodles, then roasted veg. Scatter the feta, olives and chopped spring onion over the top and place the fig quarters round the edge. Finish by drizzling the balsamic glaze over the top.

Enjoy your healthy feast with friends and a cheeky glass of wine!

Finished butternut Squash Salad


I’m linking this recipe with these lovely linkys. Why not pop over and see what others have been creating?

Tasty Tuesdays on

   Made with Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior   Link up your recipe of the week  Wobbles Wednesday  ClarinasContemplations


Winter Pork & Apple Casserole

Posted on November 25th, 2013 - Fiona

I am always after inspiration for new recipes with pork since we have plenty here on the farm! Home grown, home cooked pork is quite different to that sold in the supermarket. If you have a good local butcher I promise it is worth the extra. If you can get them to do the hard bit for you and have it cubed all then do accept as this by far the most time consuming part of the whole cooking process!

The idea for this recipe came to me over a cycle ride up on Bodmin Moor. I knew I had a boned leg of pork in the fridge and having had roast the previous day I fancied something different. The tarragon bit was already in my mind but the rest was largely driven by what I had in the kitchen and the windfall apples in the orchard. The result was a fusion of flavours that worked so well I am sharing here.

Winter Pork and Apple Casserole


IngredientsPork & Apple Ingredients

1 large Leg of pork boned and cubed.

2 apples chopped

2 onions chopped

200g Evaporated milk

2 tablespoons of plain flour

50g butter

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic

I teaspoon dried tarragon, or fresh if you have it.

Chopped ingredients for Pork & Apple Casserole

2 chicken stock cubes

I large glass of fruity white wine.

Juice of a lemon

Tablespoon of Honey

I tin borlotti beans

Ground black pepper



Place the cubed pork in a large casserole dish over a medium heat on the hob.

Add the butter and a chopped clove of garlic and brown the meat. 

Sprinkle a couple of spoonfuls of plain flour onto the meat and stir well to absorb the juices and thicken.


Browning Pork for Pork & Apple Casserole

Meanwhile fry the onion in the olive oil with the other clove of garlic. 

When the onion begins to soften add the tarragon, pepper, stock cubes and apples and beans

Continue to simmer over a medium heat, when it begins to stick to the pan add the glass of wine, honey and lemon juice. Combine then remove from the heat.

Frying veg & herbs for Pork & Apple Casserole

Add the evaporated milk to the pork and stir over a low heat to make a thick sauce.

Add the apple and onion mix to the casserole and combine before covering the dish and transferring to a medium oven about 140 – 150 degrees for 2 – 3 hours still the pork is tender. 


 Cooking Pork & Apple Casserole


I like to keep the skin back from the leg to make crackling. Score the skin and rub in salt. Cook on a rack over a baking tray at the top of the oven and finish in a hot grill for perfect crispy crackling.




Serve with brown rice, salad and a sprinkling of chopped chives or roasted potatoes and green vegetables. A strip of crackling adds the finishing touch for a perfect winter alternative to a family roast dinner.

 Winter Pork & Apple Casserole

Chef’s Tip

Give the casserole an occasional stir, if it becomes too thick add a little more of the evaporated milk. Don’t be tempted to cook on too high a temperature or the milk may separate. If this happens just cool slightly and stir in a little cold milk to combine again.

I am sharing my recipe on these lovely linkys. Why not pop over to see some more cooking ideas:


 Link up your recipe of the week Made with Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior

Tasty Tuesdays on

Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Posted on September 13th, 2013 - Fiona

Blackberry Picking

As the new school term settles into a familiar pace so the children are reminded of the late summer blackberries around the farm. Last year the highlight for them was making blackberry cakes and selling them around Coombe Mill one afternoon. As soon as they saw the bushes laden with berries this is just what they wanted to do again. Funny how some things stick in their mind from one year to the next.

Blackberry Bushes at Coombe Mill Farm


I adore blackberry picking and was only too willing to accompany them. We set off round the back of the lodges and play area where we filled our container in no time at all. I love some of the less well known parts of Coombe Mill, they always feel like undiscovered areas to me. They are filled with butterflies on the lilac and all sorts of flying creatures competing with us for the blackberries.


Blackberry Picking at Coombe Mill Farm


Back at the house we soaked the fruit and watched various unsavoury creatures crawl out in the water while we assembled our cake making ingredients. I opted for my trusty all in one yogurt recipe which the children could manage themselves all on the garden bench. 

Blackberry Cakes

IngredientsBlackberry Cake Ingredients in Coombe Mill Garden

3 cups of SR Flour

2 cups Sugar

1 cup sunflower oil

1 cup natural yogurt

Teaspoon vanilla essence

1 egg

I large container of freshly picked and washed blackberries


Measure all ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine adding in the blackberries at the end taking care not to break them too much.

Spoon the mixture into cases and bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.


Coombe Mill farm blackberry cakes


The girls took over the cake making while the boys disappeared off for a blast on their quad bike, returning as if my magic as the cakes came out of the oven!


Coombe Mill Farm blackberry cakes and quad bike

As time was marching on we agreed that the afternoon train ride was the perfect opportunity to sell the cakes. Having carefully designed their advertising pages the girls nipped round the properties giving advance warning of their cake sale before joining the boys who were just putting on their driving uniforms. The cakes were still warm from the oven as they took them out and all 50 vanished in minutes while waiting for train rides. £10 up on the day the children split their money and were only disappointed that there were no cakes left for them. Needless to say we made some more in the week which they kept for themselves!

Coombe Mill Railway selling blackberry cakes

Foraging to cook is right on trend at the moment. There is a lovely video from a google plus hangout by the amazing crafty Maggie of RedTedArt with loads of ideas from some great bloggers of what can and found and how to cook with them. It is something that is perfect to do with kids.

Joining in with Country Kids

Country Kids is all about fun outdoors. It could be a family day out, a crafting activity, play time or learning, it doesn’t have to be in the countryside but it does have to be outside. No screens and sofas allowed. I am a real believer in a little freedom and fresh air for children especially now the school term has begun again. There are so many fun ideas linked up each week so please take a look at some of the posts here and be inspired for your next outdoor adventure. As we move from summer into autumn I hope you will don an extra layer and keep heading out for that outdoor fix! Remember to take the camera and come back here to tell all.

Some truly amazing posts last week, just a few from so many great entries:

3 Kids and a Glue Stick left the glue behind and enjoyed a fun filled week in Cornwall

Mummy Mishaps Packed so much into a last week of summer and show cased it all beautifully

Crazy with Twins has the prize for the most photos in her epic Gromit spotting adventure

Lakes Singles Mum has an enviable local festival over 2 days.

My Mummy’s Pennies for a great learning adventure in nature from a classic kids book. 


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