Friday, 30 September 2011

BLW Sept: Days 23, 24 & 25

Ooh, plodding on towards the end of the month - the menu planning is getting easier, but the baby has completely thrown me by dropping another milk feed so that we're now only on two a day (first thing and last thing), so now I'm a bit paranoid about her having a more filling lunch and also getting enough water down her to counter the loss of the milk, particularly in this Indian summer we're having!

Day 23
Breakfast: Porridge with homemade apple butter.
She eats so much of this now - it's amazing!

Snack: Sweetcorn rings (Organix).

Lunch: Cucumber and bread sticks. 
An easy, light lunch for Sunday as we were having a roast dinner later on. The breadsticks are Waitrose own-brand mini breadsticks.

Snack: Dates.
Not enjoyed as much as the first time we had dates, but still ate a few.

Dinner: Roast chicken, roast potatoes, carrots and braised cabbage.
Although the baby is still 'off' meat, she did eventually succumb to a bit of chicken at this meal - seems to depend on her mood!

Day 24
Breakfast: Scrambled egg in pitta bread.
The last time we had scrambled egg on toast, she wouldn't eat the egg. This morning, she let the egg drop out of the pitta bread and then ate it separately...

Snack: Sultana scones.
I made these at the weekend, to a recipe from the BLW cookbook. Spread with Lurpak unsalted they were very well received and make a good snack. Particularly good for if we're out and about, as they don't tend to fall apart too much!

Lunch: Apple slices and yoghurt.
Does what it says on the tin.

Snack: Grapes.
We had an actual mini tantrum when we got to the end of the bowl today - grapes are LOVED!

Dinner: Chicken sandwich with chips and roasted tomatoes.
Using the leftover chicken from the night before, cold, served in homemade bread buns. Although we had roasted tomatoes, the baby ate hers raw (she prefers them that way and they're easier to pick up). Chips were on the menu, but I completely forgot about them so the adults had some potato waffles from the freezer...!

Day 25
Breakfast: Porridge with homemade apple butter.
[See Day 23]

Snack: Wrigglies.
Bit of an odd name - I found them in the supermarket last week when I was looking for snacks that weren't biscuits! They're basically just very thin pieces of dried fruit - today's variety were apple-flavoured.

Lunch: Tuna paste on oat cakes.
The menu plan was for hummous, but I got the wrong pot out of the freezer to defrost...

Snack: Grapes and apple.
The apple was there to minimise the trauma at the grapes being finished - it didn't work!

Dinner: North African squash and chickpea stew with couscous.
First full recipe from my Hugh Every Day Veg book - it was yummy, but I did tinker a bit with the recipe to match what we had in the house. Still a very healthy vegetarian meal, featuring lentils, chickpeas and in this case, butternut squash. The baby loved it and we had so much that she was able to have it for lunch on a couple of days too!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

BLW Sept: Days 20, 21 & 22

Day 20
Breakfast: Fruit bread.
[See Day 16]

Lunch: Oat cakes with mushroom pate.
[See Day 17]

Dinner: Beetroot and courgette risotto.
This was just to use up some of the last of the beetroot from our garden, and is a fairly basic risotto recipe using garlic, onions, beetroot, courgette and some carrot. To make it less salty, I used a 'baby vegetable stock cube and creme fraiche instead of cheese. Baby ate hers with a spoon, but we did keep finding little pieces of rice around the place for days afterwards ...

Day 21
Breakfast: Muffin with homemade marmalade.
A very tasty breakfast: what it says on the tin, really.

Lunch: Apple and yoghurt.
One of the baby's favourites and eaten with relish, as usual.

Dinner: Pizza with tomatoes, tuna, cheese and mushrooms.
I'd normally make pizza dough in the breadmaker, but I recently treated myself to the new River Cottage Every Day: Veg cookbook, and thought I'd try out Hugh's recipe for handmade dough instead. It was very, very tasty - particularly if you like a thin-crust pizza. Now all I need is a pizza stone...

Day 22
Breakfast: Muffins with homemade strawberry jam.

Snack: Breadsticks and organix biscuits.
We've just changed to three milk feeds a day, so we're filling the morning and afternoon gaps with a small snack. This was a carb-heavy snack after we'd had a swimming lesson.

Lunch: Cheese and basil pancakes.
Easy to make, with some of the fresh basil from the kitchen and grated cheddar. Baby loves these!

Snack: Grapes.
Halved and deseeded - these were a massive hit!

Dinner: Roasted vegetables.
Roasted carrots, courgette and potatoes, tossed in olive oil with some fresh rosemary.

Friday, 23 September 2011

BLW Sept: Days 18 & 19

It's a funny old week, this one, as the grandparents are here and the baby has been out for two mornings at the childminders for some settling in. That means breakfast the last two days has been a bit rushed to get her out the door with all her stuff for 8am, and we've not been having lunch either. I've therefore been trying to pack food that she enjoys to make it as easy as possible for the childminder to get her to eat it (and I'm also a bit paranoid about the mess she makes, so I've started off with some 'neater' food too!)

Day 18
Breakfast: Fruit bread with spreadable unsalted Lurpak.
[See Day 16]

Lunch: Apple and cheese slices (plus a mid-morning Organix biscuit).
The childminder was amazed that she picked the apple slices up and nibbled them, but also confessed she'd cut them smaller than I had as she was afraid the pieces were too big and also that she'd worried she'd not eaten enough (she still won't eat cheese sticks at the minute) so had snuck in three spoonfuls of an Ella's Kitchen fruit puree before Isobel had a tizz about being spoonfed. Oh well - we're all learning together...

Dinner: Salmon and broccoli bake.
A very well-received recipe from the BLW cookbook. I added some more of the purple carrots to this, made my own cheese sauce and left out the breadcrumbs. She hoovered it up!

Day 19
Breakfast: Dates with yoghurt.
This was her first time with dates and they went down quite well. Unfortunately she was a bit slow to start today, so she only managed two spoonfuls of yoghurt before we had to stop to get ready to go to the childminder's.

Lunch: Crumpets with mushroom pate.
[See Day 17 re the mushroom pate]

Dinner: Spinach gnocchi with spicy tomato salsa.
The gnocchi recipe was from an old cookbook of mine, and the salsa was from the BLW cookbook. It was quite a fiddly recipe and, although it was nice, I don't know if I'd bother making it again! It was, however, very much enjoyed by the baby who ate her whole portion!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

BLW Sept: Days 15, 16 & 17

The baby is really getting into food now - there's definite bite-chew-swallow action going on, which is very exciting to watch. She's currently working on getting her top teeth and it will be interesting to see what effect this will have on her eating.

Day 15
Breakfast: Apple slices.
Apple slices are always a big favourite and tend to be quite quick to eat, which was important today as we had a baby swimming lesson and needed to leave the house on time....

Lunch: Crumpets with cheese.
A nice filling lunch after a busy morning.

Dinner: Roasted vegetables: courgette, potatoes and purple carrots.
The strange colour of the carrots didn't slow her down at all, in fact, if anything she ate them with even more enthusiasm. When she'd munched through all the finger shapes, she started picking up handfuls of the bits of end and skin and eating them too!

Day 16
Breakfast: Fruit bread with Lurpak spreadable butter.
This is a homemade loaf, using the breadmaker and includes mixed fruit and also some spices. It's lovely toasted and baby always enjoys it.

Lunch: Pear slices.
Another firm favourite, trotted out because I was meant to have made a mushroom pate for lunch today but hadn't quite gotten around to it....

Dinner: Meatballs in a tomato sauce with couscous.
This is from the BLW cookbook and is another nice recipe (although again, one where I'd quibble about the quantities). Baby was even persuaded to try some of the meat once it was dipped in the tomato sauce, although she did just prefer spoonfuls of couscous and sauce!

Day 17
Breakfast: Toast with Lurpak spreadable butter and scrambled eggs.
We tried this a few weeks ago and she wasn't too interested in the egg, and the same thing happened today. Still, she munched through the toast so she didn't go hungry!

Lunch: Mushroom pate on oat cakes.
This was meant to have been made for yesterday, but I hadn't had time to make the pate so I switched it to today.

Mushroom pate
Handful of mushrooms - I used 6 small organic white caps
Handful of herbs - I used chives and tarragon
Knob of butter
1 tbsp creme fraiche
3 or 4 spring onions
Lemon juice (optional)

Chop the onions and mushrooms roughly, then fry gently until tender. Chop and add the herbs for a minute, then take off the heat and allow to cool. Put into a foodmixer with the creme fraiche and whizz to a paste - you can leave some chunks or make it smooth to taste. Add a splash of lemon juice at the end if you want!

Dinner: Jacket potatoes with a red bean filling and salad.
I cooked the jackets in the oven for an hour and a half, then cut them in half, scooped out the insides and mashed them, before mixing with my filling (red kidney beans, cream cheese, mild chilli powder and ground cumin). The fillings were put back into the skins and served with a green salad. The baby ate all of her portion, including a little bit of the potato skin - result!

Friday, 16 September 2011

BLW Sept: Days 11 - 14

Day 11
Breakfast: Porridge with apple butter.
I make my porridge using jumbo oats (50g) and semi-skimmed milk (300ml) - it's just as easy as doing 'instant' porridge from a box, but doesn't contain any extras. Today we added some of the apple butter I made last weekend - this is basically a low-sugar fruit preserve, and the apple version I made included cinnamon and cloves - it is delicious in porridge and was gobbled up by both of us.

Lunch: Homity pie and cucumber.
We had a friend round for lunch, so we had some of the chard and tomato pie that will be Dinner on Day 12, whilst Baby finished the last of the Homity pie from Day 7. The cucumber was a big hit today as she's teething.

Dinner: Macaroni cheese with spinach and chard.
This was mainly planned in to use up the last of the spinach and chard that came with this week's organic box. It's a tasty way to use up any extra veg you have lying around - any veg works when it's covered in cheese sauce!

Day 12
Breakfast: Drop scones.
[See Day 10]

Lunch: Tuna spread on toast.
[See Day 10]

Dinner: Chard and tomato pie, potato wedges and salad.
I made this from a recipe on the Abel and Cole website and it was very, very tasty. The potato wedges I made to my own recipe:

Spicy potato wedges
Potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges - we find red-skinned varieties of potato are particularly good for this.
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder/2 cloves, crushed
2 tsp rosemary
2tbsp olive oil

Parboil the potatoes for 4 minutes, drain and rest. Mix all of the other ingredients in a roasting tin, add the potatoes and bake in a pre-heated oven at 220C for 30-40 minutes.

Day 13
Breakfast: Porridge with apple butter.
[See Day 11]

Lunch: Pear and cucumber.
Pear is always a favourite and cucumber has been popular recently too - lunch today was the first one with the childminder (we're currently 'settling in'). Sadly, even with 'safe' foods, it didn't go to well, so we ended up trying again at home where she ate it all ...

Dinner: Dahl with pitta bread.
Another recipe from the BLW cookbook. Tasty, and with a pleasant bite from the fresh ginger (I might have got carried away). Baby loved it! I would definitely add some vegetables to it, if making it again - runner beans would have been good (and we've got plenty in the garden), but probably also kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and even carrot would be good too, added at the end so they've still got some bite.

Day 14
Breakfast: Crumpets with homemade plum and raspberry jelly.
A firm Friday favourite.

Lunch: Apple and cheese.
We were having lunch out today with some friends, so I took some pre-cut apple and cheese in case I wasn't able to make a menu choice that she could share. We ended up in a pretty ropey pub in Tilehurst, where the only food on offer was toasted sandwiches and chips, so I was pretty glad I'd prepared something else for her!

Dinner: Beef burgers and tomatoes.
Burgers made to the BLW cookbook recipe, although with significantly less mince than the recipe stated (I have found some of the quantities used in the recipes a bit odd, and am often changing them based on my own experience of cooking for 2). The recipe stated 500g lean beef mince, which I amended to 300g - this made 4 adult and 2 baby burgers. It also called for Dijon mustard, but I added some of the homemade mustard I made earlier in the summer (lemon and dill flavoured) and they were really very tasty. Buns were homemade too and the tomatoes were from the garden: we had ours roasted (with salt - yum yum).

Monday, 12 September 2011

BLW Sept: Days 6 - 10

Oops! Sorry - the days got away from me a bit there! Here is day 6 through 10 of the menu planner and I promise to post more regularly this week!

Day 6
Breakfast: Yoghurt and plum puree.
[See Day 2]

Lunch: Pear and cheese.
The lunch planned for today was the last of the savoury flapjacks, but we were scheduled to go out on Friday morning [Day 7] and I thought the flapjacks would be better for eating in transit, so we had the planned Friday lunch instead. The pear just vanished, but the cheese (emmental) wasn't such a hit.

Dinner: Beef and broccoli stir fry.
This was from the BLW cookbook and I added Chinese 5 spice and soy sauce to the adult portions to give it a bit more flavour (both are no-go for the baby, as they're too salty). She's going through a bit of a phase at the minute where she doesn't really like meat (apart from sausages), but she did at least try the beef before getting stuck in to the broccoli. She was a bit puzzled by the noodles, and most of them ended up on the floor...

Day 7
Breakfast: Crumpet with marmalade. 
Shop-bought crumpet with a smidgen of home-made orange marmalade. Delicious!

Lunch: Rice cakes and apple.
If you've been paying attention you'll wonder why we didn't have the flapjacks - this is because they'd gone a bit mouldy in the container! I won't try to keep them so long next time - they were made on Day 1 - and I might also use a more air-tight container.

Dinner: Homity pie with carrots and peas.
Another BLW cookbook find - delicious, although the baby was mainly interested in the carrots....

Day 8
Breakfast: Crumpet with jam.
Using up the crumpets with a thin smear of homemade strawberry jam.

Lunch: Pear and rice cakes.
Once again the pear was the favourite. The rice cakes were Organix apple flavoured ones, and although she's enjoyed them in the past, she preferred the real fruit today.

Dinner: Jacket potato with cheese and spring onions.
Cooked in the oven to give it a lovely crispy skin (I can't be doing with microwaved jacket potatoes!), we then scooped out the innards and mashed them all up with the cheese and spring onions. Thoroughly enjoyed by all!

Day 9
Breakfast: Porridge with plum puree.
I made up another batch of plum puree for this week and this time didn't add sugar. She's getting so good with the spoon now so quite a lot of the porridge made it into her mouth and stayed there.

Lunch: Homity pie and cucumber slices.
Cold left-overs from Day 7 - she actually ate far more of the pie this time. I think it was because cold, it stuck together better and was therefore easier for her to eat.

Dinner: Lemon and tarragon chicken, runner beans and sweetcorn.
A very tasty, simple recipe from the BLW cookbook, although I do have a version of my own that we might use next time as it doesn't have any added salt. This was her first go with sweetcorn - fresh from the garden, we just chopped her cob up into rings and she absolutely loved it!

Day 10 
Breakfast: Drop scones.
I made these the evening before with the blueberries left over from last week's organic box and they were very tasty. There were enough to keep (in an air-tight container) for breakfast on Day 12 too. NB, if your baby is still prone to being sick after milk-feeds, do watch out for the colour after eating blueberries....

Lunch: Toast with fishpaste.
Again, I made the fishpaste the night before to a recipe from the BLW cookbook, using tinned tuna. Very easy to make and pretty tasty too. We had this on some (home-made) granary bread.

Dinner: Saag paneer with rice.
BLW cookbook again, although I don't think I'd bother with this recipe very often as it was fairly bland.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

BLW Sept: Days 3, 4 and 5

Here's your second installment of our baby-led weaning meals!

Day 3
Breakfast: Fruit scones with unsalted, spreadable butter (Lurpak) and homemade plum and raspberry jam.
You'll start to notice a bit of a pattern now with the breakfast's and lunches, but it's good to have the same foods for a few days to check for any reactions, as well as reducing the number of things you have to prepare each week!

Lunch: Bean spread on oat cakes (Nairns).
I made the bean spread from the BLW cookbook, using a tin of organic mixed beans from Waitrose. The recipe makes enough spread for 2 meals this week with some to freeze for a couple of weeks until we have it again. It was meant to be on the last of the pitta breads from the end of last week, but they'd gone mouldy, so we just had it on oat cakes. Very tasty and quite filling.

Dinner: Ratatouille with rice. 
Just a basic ratatouille, but without the aubergine as I don't like it! Very easy to prepare, using lots of fresh veggies and it was yummy!

Day 4
Breakfast: Yoghurt with plum puree.
[See Day 2]
Lunch: Savoury flapjacks.
[See Day 2]. Still very much enjoyed!
Dinner: Grilled fish with grapefruit and salad.
This was from the Abel and Cole website as I'm always at a bit of a loss what to do with grapefruit, beyond just eating it plain for breakfast. I bought two pollack fillets from Waitrose, marinated them as per the recipe (with oil, juice from the grapefruit, pepper and ground coriander) and then grilled them - it was one of the most disappointing meals I've ever had. This is my second 'fail' with pollack and given the price of this fish, I don't think I'll be bothering again.

Day 5
Breakfast: Fruit scone with jam.
[See Day 3]
Lunch: Bean spread on oat cakes.
[See Day 3]
Dinner: Spinach bake with bread and butter.
This is one of my own recipes that I've developed over the years, which is made up of layers of spinach and cottage cheese, held together with an egg mix, into which I throw whatever takes my fancy at the time (tonight it was tomato puree and fresh basil). I do them in individual dishes (2 medium and 1 in a ramekin for the baby). They're delicious, easy to prepare and take about 25 mins to cook at 200 C. Also very nice as an accompaniment to sausages.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

BLW September: Days 1 and 2

So here is the first installment in a month of posts detailing our baby-led weaning menus.

Day 1
Breakfast: Fruit scones, with unsalted spreadable butter (Lurpak). 
The fruit scones were made on Friday evening to a basic recipe from the BLW cookbook which doesn't use eggs or sugar (just flour, butter, milk and baking powder). I added some of the blueberries we'd had in this week's organic box to make a sweet, breakfast scone. It made enough for 1 adult and 1 baby for 3 breakfasts (plus a couple of sample ones for Daddy!) They were scoffed!

Lunch: Houmous on pitta bread. 
The houmous was made for last week's lunches, but the recipe in the BLW cookbook makes a fair amount so there was some left over for Saturday. However, the baby wasn't remotely interested, so after about 10 minutes and most of the pitta on the floor we gave up and just had some apple from Daddy's sandwich instead.

Dinner: Pancakes.
Made to a standard recipe, with some more apple slices rolled inside.

Day 2
Breakfast: Yoghurt with pureed plum.
The yoghurt was Yeo Valley organic natural yoghurt and the plum puree was left over from the mincemeat I was making last night (plums with a little bit of orange juice). The puree was warmed slightly with some caster sugar added (our garden plums are quite tart). This provided great spoon practice and at least some of it went in her mouth and was swallowed, although an awful lot went down her chin too!

Lunch: Savoury flapjack. 
Made the day before, based on a BLW cookbook recipe, there are enough for 1 baby and 1 adult for 3 generous lunches. I did tinker with the recipe quantities and the cooking time and if making again, I'd make an effort to remove some of the excess water from the grated courgette by squeezing it in a tea towel before adding it to the mixture. The flapjacks were particularly yummy, so here's the recipe:

Cheese, carrot and courgette flapjack
300g porridge oats (not instant or jumbo oats)
100g carrot, grated
100g courgette, grated
250g mature cheddar
100g butter
2 eggs, beaten

Melt the butter in a large pan over a low heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spread out in a baking tin - a Swiss roll tin would be ideal, but I just used a standard baking tray - so that the mixture is about 1 or 2cm thick. Press down with the back of a spoon. Put in an oven, preheated to 180 C. The recipe said to allow 20 minutes for the flapjack to become golden brown, but because of the excess water from my vegetables, mine took more like 40 minutes to be cooked.

Dinner: Toad-in-the-hole, braised cabbage and runner beans. 
The cabbage is from the organic box and the runner beans are from the garden. The sausages for the Toad-in-the-hole come from our village butcher and are a Cumberland variety. We had our adult portions with some Bisto gravy. All of it was sampled, but the sausage and batter went down particularly well. Baby also had fun trying to pick up the tiny beans from inside the runner bean pod - she finally got one to her mouth, but then it stuck to her finger and she couldn't get it in, so she went back to the sausages!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Food for thought

home-grown beetroot, carrots, tomatoes and rosemary
I don't know when I first became aware of food as something more than fuel. My mother has always been relatively uninterested in food, and despite some pretty impressive culinary talents (like the ability to make absolutely fantastic shortcrust pastry) most of the food I remember growing up came from a tin or from the depths of the freezer (apologies, Mum, if this is mainly apocryphal). It wasn't until my second year of University, living out in a scummy student house with a basement kitchen that smelled of damp, that I actually had to cook for myself and began to discover a world without tins. However, I think the cooking bug really took hold when I left home (for an equally scummy rented house in Oxford, but with a kitchen that actually had natural light) and started to really 'cook', by which I mean using fresh ingredients to create meals from scratch, rather than resorting to those slightly spurious 'cook' ranges offered by the high-end supermarkets where they prepare all the elements of a meal for you and then you simply assemble them on a tray to put in the oven and pat yourself on the back for 'cooking from scratch'.

I quickly discovered the Oxford Covered Market and over weeks and months gradually began to buy more and more of my fresh produce there, starting with fruit and veg but gradually moving up to meat and fish. For someone who had never set foot in a butcher's shop until they were in their twenties, and didn't know their shin from their topside, it was a daunting self-education. But with advice from the various experts on the stalls, and a couple of good books, I gradually came to acquire a basic understanding of fresh produce. Then, when we started our grow-your-own adventure, I became even more aware of seasonality along with the related excitement of eating meals with practically zero food miles, getting to stretch my creativity in the kitchen (hmm, another courgette) and being introduced to the joys of preserving.

Although this blog is mainly about how we try to live in a greener, more environmentally-aware fashion, food is one area where I didn't really need any encouragement to be more sustainable - food does just taste better if you cook it yourself. And once you get used to cooking from scratch, you find that food that is fresh (i.e. has been produced locally) tastes much, much, better than food that has been harvested unripe, packed, frozen, defrosted, sprayed, manipulated, refridgerated and shipped up and down the country at the mercy of the supermarket supply chains. Now, if I can't get it from my own garden, I get it from an organic box scheme (most of whom make every effort to give you local, seasonal produce wherever possible - we use Abel and Cole). If I can't get it from them, I go to the supermarket, where I try to buy locally-produced first, followed by British, followed by organic, wherever possible.

Of course, the downside to all this new-found culinary expertise is that I also came to acquire a bit of extra padding, which came as a shock to someone who'd always considered themselves 'thin' (I'm not talking 'thin' by the current standards of the emaciated size zero, just what we used to call 'slim', in that there weren't really any wobbly bits where there shouldn't be or extra rolls when I sat down, ahem).

This, of course, led to a bit of a quandary. My new-found love of cooking and food, and a concern for living sustainably, versus my vanity. I went on my very first 'diet' (nothing fancy, just basic calorie-counting) in order to lose weight for my wedding, and now, post-baby, I'm trying to shift the pounds again (although at least I've got a slightly better excuse this time!) In some ways I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to get all the way to my twenties without ever really having to think about what or how much I was eating, but as my daughter begins her food journey, I realise how important it is to make sure that she grows up with a balanced approach to food and to eating.

I think this is why I was drawn to the idea of baby-led weaning, as it introduces babies to 'real' food much earlier on and does away with the usual conventions about having to give young children bland tastes and textures. I've never felt more proud than those times when I get to sit and eat with my baby, particularly when the food we're enjoying has been grown, harvested and cooked by me. Yes, it requires more effort, yes it requires planning (all 21 meals for the week are planned in advance) and yes, my goodness, it means I think about food ALL THE TIME (what are we eating next, what do I need to prepare now, argh, there's food all over the floor!!) but the fun of family mealtimes, of watching her skills grow every day (look, she can pick up that half a cherry tomato!) and of being totally confident that what we're all eating as a family is nutritious as well as delicious, far outweighs any negatives for me.

And plus, when every meal you eat has some removed for the baby, you get free portion control too!

Of course, every month is a baby-led weaning month in our house, but this month I'll be relating our daily menus on this very blog. I'll probably post every couple of days rather than daily, with a basic menu plan for each day, along with some of the recipes I'm following. At the end of the month, I'll also post the full 4-week menu planner.

I know September officially started on Thursday, but our shopping week from Saturday to Saturday, so I'm starting tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

New-look blog and a give-away!

My Green Wellies has been under development for a few weeks and here it is with a brand new look, some new features and some reorganisation! Do you like it? Many thanks to A Thrifty Mrs and her very useful how-to on doing blog headers using picnik.

To celebrate this, and because I've got too many jars in the cupboard, I'm giving away a fantastic hedgerow prize of a jar of my bramble jelly and a bottle of elderberry liqueur - oo er! To win, just leave a comment below and if there's more than one I'll pick someone at random.

This month it is also the Soil Association's Organic September (Twitter users see #organicseptember). I have always tried to garden organically, I prefer to buy organic food wherever possible and I'm increasingly only buying organic cotton clothing. Much as I'd love to go to the Organic Food Festival in Bristol this weekend (3rd and 4th September), our current baby-related circumstances make this a little difficult. Instead I'll have to settle for cooking up some lovely food at home - made from organic produce, of course!

If you don't already garden/eat/shop organically, why not think about trying it this month?