BEAR & Puffin’s Big Book Club

There’s nothing nicer than curling up with a book, especially at home on a rainy weekend. Mia and Joe have definitely inherited my love of books and I really enjoy sharing all of my favourites with them. There is something very comforting about reading the same stories to them that my mum read to me as a child.

Mia and Joe were delighted when a parcel arrived from BEAR with some lovely new story books and everything they needed to make their very own book club. Including book club badges, essential for every good club! BEAR are collaborting with Puffin for BEAR & Puffin’s Big Book Club – a magical adventure into the world of reading with free extracts from books every month, as well as lots of fun activities to try at home.

Mia and Joe both had lots of ideas about where their book club could be, which included the cupboard under the stairs, a wardrobe and the garage! They both agreed that their reading cave should be somewhere hidden away like a proper cave, where they wouldn’t be disturbed by grown-ups! Under the bed seemed perfect and they happily gathered up blankets and cushions to make a wonderful book club cave.

I was allowed a safe distance away, but absolutely not allowed to join in, although they did let me have a book club badge as an honorary member. It was really lovely to see them happily immersed in their books, and busy creating lists of people in their club, a register and lists of their favourite books.

Joe is only just beginning his journey of learning to read, but has already managed to memorise the words to some books. His bedtime favourites are committed to all of our memories, I suspect forever! Feel free to test me on Hairy MacLary from Donaldson’s Dairy, The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Superworm any time, pretty confident I’m word perfect, as is Joe!

Of course every good club has a snack break, and yummy BEAR Alphabites cereal were the obvious choice. Alphabites are really tasty for breakfast with milk, but we also love them as a snack too – very useful as car snacks or when we’re out and about. It’s also a little easier to spell out names with them when they’re not milky!

I love the fact that BEAR Alphabites are 100% natural, only contain 6 ingredients and have absolutely no added refined sugar. It can be so difficult to find healthy breakfasts and snacks that Mia and Joe enjoy, but they both agree that Alphabites are delicious, especially the cocoa flavour, their favourite. Both, the cocoa and multigrain flavours contain coconut blossom nectar, which is full of minerals that help bones and muscles grow, help absorb vitamins and give little immune systems a boost. Surely what everyone needs at this time of year as we head into autumn!

Join BEAR & Puffin on a walk through the magical woods, and why not create your own book club. To discover more BEAR fun:

http://www.bearnibbles.co.uk/

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As part of the BEAR Happy by Nature team we are happy to work with them on this collaborative post.

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Whipped & Charred: The Launch Of A Cook Book

If a new cook book could be released at the perfect time of year, it would be Whipped & Charred. A collection of cosy homely recipes, from the Thomas Curtis, Head Chef of ‘The Best Traditional Pub in Oxfordshire’, the White Heart, Witney. Thomas’ recipes reflect his family roots and celebrate really good food, but in an accessible way, that home cooks can enjoy too. He describes the book in his own words:

“I have lovingly put this book together as a tribute to my late father, Ian Curtis, who sadly passed away at Christmas in 2014. It is full of rich, homely content and a few memories and insights into my personal life and time working as a chef,” he says.

A wonderful idea of sharing homely and comforting recipes, whilst supporting and raising awareness of two charities; the British Heart Foundation; a charity which deals with one of the UKs biggest killers, heart disease; and secondly MIND, a charity for better mental health.

Choosing a favourite recipe from the book which includes so many favourite pub classics such as steak and onion pot pie, herby sausage rolls and an indulgent cauliflower cheese would be an almost impossible task. At this time of year, I could happily cook and enjoy one of the book’s recipes every evening! One recipe that really caught my eye though was the Earl Grey panna cotta with lavender shortbread, which sounds like a lovely twist on a traditional classic. Thomas has very kindly shared the recipe:


Earl Grey panna cotta with lavender shortbread and fresh raspberries

Preparation time: 4 hours 10 minutes (including cooling time) | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serves 6

A very quirky twist on tea and biscuits. We have substituted a small amount of the full fat milk for evaporated milk to really bring out a lovely malty flavour that goes so well with tea.

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
160g plain flour
1 tbsp lavender flowers
500ml full fat milk
100ml evaporated milk
60g caster sugar
6 Earl Grey teabags
3 sheets leaf gelatine
36 fresh raspberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°c/170°c fan.

Beat the butter and 50g sugar together in a mixing bowl, until smooth.

Fold in the flour and lavender flowers to get a smooth and soft dough. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the dough is 1cm thick.

Cut into 12 fingers and place onto a baking tray. Prick with a fork and sprinkle with caster sugar, chill and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until a pale golden brown colour. Set aside to cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
  • In a heavy based saucepan heat up the full fat milk, evaporated milk and 60g caster sugar over a medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar until it just comes to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the tea bags. Allow to infuse for 20 minutes then remove the teabags, giving them a little squeeze to get the maximum flavour.
    Place the gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes until they are soft and pliable.
  • Take them from the bowl and squeeze away any excess water, then gently stir into the warm milk and tea mixture until the gelatine fully dissolves.
  • Pour the mixture into six 100ml pudding moulds and place in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
    To serve, fill a shallow dish with very hot water and submerge each panna cotta in for a few seconds to loosen up. Turn each one out onto the centre of a serving dish and garnish each with six fresh raspberries and two lavender biscuits.

I think this recipe would be so much fun to make for a family gathering, and it looks pretty impressive…plus anything involving tea and biscuits has to be a winner as far as I’m concerned!

Whipped and Charred retails at £20 and to ensure your money goes towards a good cause, buy a copy from the man himself at [email protected] or pop into the restaurant. It will be also be available to purchase from Amazon, book shops including Waterstones and online from www.mezepublishing.co.uk.

 

 
This post is not sponsored, but I am always delighted to support exciting local businesses and good causes

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