Fig and Banana Cake

Posted on August 19th, 2013 - Fiona

What’s a girl to do? 

When Asda is selling off succulent fresh figs at 5p each, what else can you do but empty the shelf? I adore figs, but let’s be honest there are only so many you can eat as they are and they are not a fruit the kids are going to touch without a little creative food inspiration. Cue my favourite yoghurt cake recipe for a makeover! Looking at the rest of my fruit bowl the options to accompany my figs were pears and bananas. I opted for the banana in the cake and the pear to go in the accompanying ice cream.  

Figs, bananas and pears

Ingredients for the cake

2 Ripe figs skinned.

1 ripe banana skinned

1 cup ( I use a 200ml cup from my bread maker but any cup will do, just use the same one to measure throughout.)

1 cup sunflower oilIngredients for Fig and Banana Cake

1 cup wholemeal Self raising flour

2 cups white self raising flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla essence



Beat all ingredients together well and pour into cake tins. It will make 2 x 7 or 8 inch tins, or I used 1 loaf tin and one cake tin.


Mixing ingredients for Fig and Banana cake


Cover loosely with foil and bake at 180 degrees for approximately 1.25 hours or until a skewer is inserted and comes out clean.

Leave to cool and dust with icing. If you have kids with a sweet tooth like mine you can also add butter icing.


Baked Fig and Banana Cake


Ice CreamFig and Pear Ice cream ingredients

1 pear skinned, peeled and chopped

2 figs skinned

200 ml good natural yogurt

200ml double cream,

370g can sweetened condensed milk

2 teaspoons vanilla flavour / essence



Beat all ingredients till smooth and place in a plastic Tuppaware container.

Freeze for 3 hours, stir or beat again and freeze till set firm (about 4 hours). 

 Fig & Pear Ice Cream Making

To Serve

Simply enjoy the spongy light cake with a good helping of ice cream. Do be careful, “Fig and Pear” is a bit of a tongue twister.  We had friends round for supper and by the time we reached my lovely desert, following a couple of glasses of wine, I was announcing ” Pig and Fair” ice cream, I think I have Pigs on the brain waiting for Sally to give birth!


Fig & Banana Cake served with Fig & Pear Ice Cream


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‘Blow a raspberry at winter’ with our tasty summer treats

Posted on July 16th, 2013 - Fiona

Learning about food for children raspberries growing

I am always keen to have the children understand the basics of food and where it comes from. Living on a farm this is not too hard. All our meat is home grown and we are tending a green house together for our summer salad and vegetables. However soft fruit is something we don’t have here until the blackberry season so we took the chance to go to Pencarrow House to pick our own raspberries. More on our adventures over on Country Kids this coming Saturday but here’s what we made with the raspberries that missed our mouth and made it home!

Raspberry Muffins

Cakes and muffins were the first choice of the children so I flicked through a new step by step cookery book I had received as part of a series of three beginners step by step cook books from Parragon Books following a chat at Brit Mums Live and found the perfect recipe.

Parragon Books with Raspberry Muffin recipe


I am not usually one to follow a recipe but this one looked so easy and so well illustrated I thought it would be perfect to make with the children. It requires no fancy equipment, just a pair of scales to weigh the ingredients, mixing bowls and cup cake cases. 


280g plain flourraspberry muffin ingredients

1 tablespoon baking powder

125g caster sugar

2 eggs

150ml milk

100ml sunflower oil

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Rind and juice of a small lemon

140g fresh raspberries

Icing sugar to dust




Whisk together eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and lemon in a bowl.

Stir in sugar

Sift in flour and baking powder and combine to make a soft batter.

Gently add the raspberries and mix trying not to break them too much. 

Spoon into cup cases

Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for approximately 15 to 20 minutes till risen and golden.


making raspberry muffins.jpg

The result

They were quick and easy to make and all 12 muffins in a house of eight were gone in no time at all! I will be making double the quantity next time!


Raspberry muffins


Frozen Raspberry Yogurt

Actually the kids asked for ice cream but since I didn’t have cream in the house we made frozen yoghurt instead, every bit as tasty and a little healthier!

Ingredientsraspberry yoghurt ingredients

1 400g ish punnet of raspberries

310g tin of carnation condensed milk

1 400g tub of Greek yoghurt

100g icing sugar

Desert spoon of vanilla flavour or good essence



Place all ingredients in a blender and whiz till smooth, decant into containers and freeze overnight.


Making frozen raspberry yoghurt

To serve

Take out of the freezer a few minutes before serving. Delicious served with the raspberry muffins, I had to hide one just to keep it long enough to try them together. Alternatively an ice cream cone is every child’s favourite.


 Serving suggestions  for frozen raspberry yoghurt

Healthy Raspberry Lollies

Here at Coombe Mill my children will endlessly clutter up the freezer with DIY ice lollies from juice in a mug with a spoon in it! We found some purpose made ice lolly holders hiding in the cupboard and agreed to use our last punnet to make raspberry ice lollies.


400g of raspberries, 

Approximately 150ml water

Juice of half a lemon

5 good tablespoons of icing sugar  


Blend all ingredients, if it is too thick add a little more water then pour into the lolly moulds and leave to set in the freezer overnight.


Raspberry lollies being made


Loosen from the mould with a little warm water and enjoy. Any leftover juice makes the perfect summer breakfast smoothie too!

Raspberry Lollies and smoothie


Don’t forget to pop over to Country Kids on Saturday and see all the fun and added adventures of our day out picking the raspberries. 

About Parragon Step by Step Cook Books

The Muffin recipe came from the beginners step by step book from Parragon Books. I also received the Vegetarian and Tapas editions which are equally well illustrated and as the name suggests step by step yet packed with great recipe ideas. They will all be available in our reception for our holiday guests to borrow when I have finished flicking through for new inspiration myself! These books are perfect for those a little afraid of scratch cooking, new to cooking, cooking with children or on holiday when a tasty meal that is quick and easy to prepare is just what you want. There is also a fourth book in the series for cocktails which I haven’t seen but sounds perfect for parties. The books retail for £16 each and I feel are well worth it.

Parragon Cook Books

Win a Step By Step Cook Book with Parragon Books and Coombe Mill 

If you would like to win a copy of one of the step by step cook books please leave a message on the post below saying which book you would like along with a way for me to contact you.

To increase your chance of winning: 

Follow Parragon Books and Coombemill on Twitter and leave ONE separate comment here to say you have done so with your twitter name.

For another entry like Coombemill and Parragon Books on Facebook and leave ONE extra comment here with your Facebook name.

For one final entry, please tweet the following sentence and leave another comment to say you have done so

I’ve entered to WIN a step by step @ParragonBooks cook book of my choice with @coombemill  Why don’t you? Pls RT:


The competition is open to UK residents and will close on Tuesday 30th July. The winner will be selected by and announced the following morning. Good luck to all taking part.

The Winner is Attachment Mummy . Many congratulations and I hope you make some great meals from your Vetetarian book.


I was sent the Parragon books to review and offer to our holiday guests. The muffin recipe is from the beginners book. The frozen yoghurt and lolly recipes are my own. All views expressed here are my own.


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Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Posted on June 7th, 2013 - Fiona

Down on the Beach

As British Summer time goes this week is about as good as it gets. Throughout half term and into this past week after school we have enjoyed as much time as we can down at the beach. The children have spent literally hours in the water thanks to their wet suits, surfing, body boarding and splashing around together. I love the water too and am only too keen to encourage them.


Surfing the waves

Then as the tide creeps up the beach the castle building begins. The very best of summer days.

Beach fun making sandcastles


Bringing home Supper


The children took it up on themselves on the weekend to collect muscles from the rocks. They asked tentatively if they were edible. Having given them a quick once over I decided it was worth taking them home and showing them how to cook them and eat them. They were thrilled and Guy sat with them wrapped in a towel on his lap for the journey home.


 collecting muscles from the rocks


Once back we washed them in fresh water and removed the beards. Any open shells were given a tap to see if they closed. If they did they were in the pot of clean muscles, if not they were discarded. 

Preparing muscles from the beach

We boiled the muscles for just a few minutes with chopped fresh wild garlic from the farm and served them up on a bed of spinach leaves. I explained to the children that only the open ones could be eaten and that any that failed to open had to be left. I don’t think the younger ones had tried muscles before, but having picked and cooked them they all tried and declared them delicious after a first tentative taste!


Tasting the muscles we cooked


It made a tasty light supper which the children were so proud of and all from ingredients sourced from nature. 


 Muscles fresh from the beach cooked with farm picked wild garlic

Joining In with Country Kids

It would be a crime not to be leaving the screens indoors and enjoying the wonderful sunshine this week. Please do come and share your adventures, from garden fun to sand and sea, I bet there is plenty to tell. Last week was a delight seeing paddling pools, smiles and toes in the sand on beautiful sunny days on many posts. A few that stood out for me were A day at Cotton Manor from Ruby + Lottie which has added Flamingos to my Coombe Mill wish list; Liz at Me and My Shadow for a weekend of embracing nature and freedom of play and Ethan’s Escapades on his first Pony ride. Please do grab the badge and link away with your fun this week.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Posted on May 31st, 2013 - Fiona

Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Seasonal Chicken & Ham with Wild Garlic

Posted on May 28th, 2013 - Fiona

Cooking in large quantities

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.

 Seasonal chicken and ham with wild Garlic

About this recipe

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.


Wild Garlic on Coombe Mill Farm


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 jointsIngredients for Seasonal Chicken & Ham

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

Black pepper

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!


Cooked chicken, stock and Ham

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.

Saute Onion, Mushroom & Wild Garlic

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.


Making Casserole Sauce


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.


Cooking chicken and ham casserole

Chef’s Tips:

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.

Serving and Freezing

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.


Served as a family MealServed for a party


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.

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