Opening My Eyes To Organic Living With Arla Foods

How long does it take you to get your weekly shop?

If you are anything like me my list varies very little from week to week and it’s just a grab and go, to get in and out as quickly as possible with items such as bread, eggs and milk being staples that I probably haven’t changed in years.

I’m sure that many of you are with me on this, and it wasn’t until I visited Cockhaise Farm in Sussex last week, really shifted my thoughts on the way I shop and opened my eyes up to organic, free range products.

Arriving to this beautiful farm and sitting sipping coffee on the patio could have transported you into a scene from the ‘Darling Buds Of May’ which always seemed like such an idyllic way to bring up a family although in reality I know that a farmers life is a tough one and I was here to learn exactly what goes into our everyday milk that most of us doesn’t give a second thought when buying.

Dan talked us thorough how he came to become an organic dairy farmer and his passion for his product and his herd was clear to see from the very first moment.
Dan’s dairy farm is very much a family business and the love for their animals really made it feel as if they were part of the family too.

This farm follows the ruling of organic farming by making the welfare of the animals and the environment a top priority, not using any artificial additives, preservatives or GM ingredients and fewer pesticides.

Instead the cows are allowed to graze freely as much as possible in fields full of chemical free, clover rich fields.

We got the chance to see how happy they were by going to visit the fields that honed the most adorable calves…I’m not sure what they made of a group of bloggers armed with cameras and phones galore!

From the young and happy calves we made our way to see a field full of pregnant cows and got to experience first-hand the first few fumbling steps of a calf that has literally just been born.

I was chatting to Dan’s father at the time who is also a retired organic dairy farmer who said that the birth of a calf is always special no matter how many time you experience it.

From here we made our way into the milking sheds that weren’t operational at the time but it was still amazing to see.

We had now been shown the milking process from the very beginning and it was now time to see how the beautiful product could be used and we were treated to a cookery demonstration from Ben a local chef who’s passion for organic products was just as great as Dan’s.

The demonstration was all set up in a barn with a fabulous hay barrel backdrop where Matt worked his magic on showing us how to create a Sussex smokey scotch egg that had an alternative filling of mashed potato and smoked haddock rather than the usual sausage meat, and a delectable vanilla creme brûlée that I could have sampled more than one of!

If you like the sound of these delicious recipes I have left them below for you to try yourself at home.

From the vibrancy of the colours of the egg yolks to the rich creaminess of the milk it is without a doubt there are not only benefits to the way organic food is produced but it also comes through in the product itself tenfold.

Vanilla Creme Brûlée

• 200ml Double Cream
• 100ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 50g sugar
• 1 vanilla pod

  1. Preheat the water bath to 80C or if using the oven 140C/120 Fan.
  2. Warm the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar together in a small saucepan to 60C.
  3. In a large bowl wish together the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined.
  4. Slowly whisk the warm cream and milk into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour into individual shallow jars and screw on the lids very tightly.
  6. Place the jars in the water bath to cook for 60 mins then remove from the water with tongs and cool on ice.
  7. Alternatively place in oven for 20-22 mins until just set.
  8. Once set sprinkle the surface with sugar and brûlée with a blowtorch.Allow the sugar to set for 5 mins before serving.

Sussex Smokey Scotch Eggs

• 4 medium organic eggs
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus oil for deep frying
• Salt and pepper for seasoning
• 1 pint Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
• 250g natural smoked haddock
• 1 bay leaf
• 200g potatoes for mashing
• 1 bunch of finely chopped dill
• 119g High Weald smoked cheddar chopped or grated
• 1 banana shallot
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1/2 leek
• 1 stick of celery
• 1/2 carrot
• 3oz butter
• 3oz plain flour
• 330g flour
• 1 organic medium egg
• 200ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 300g or packet of breadcrumbs

1.Boil seasoned water and then add the eggs, turn down to a simmer for 5 mins for a soft boiled egg, chill in cold water and put aside.

2.Add the smoked haddock, nutmeg and bay leaf to the milk and place in a water bath for 25 mins at 45C – if not using a water bath place the ingredients in a saucepan and dinner for 5 mins.

3.Remove haddock and save both for later

4. Peel and chop 200g of potato and boil for 15-20 mins, once cooked gently mash.

5.Meanwhile finely dice shallots, garlic, leek, celery and carrot. Sauté in oil for 10-15 mins, season to taste.

6.Boil seasoned water and then add the eggs, turn down to a simmer for 5 mins for a soft boiled egg, chill in cold water and put aside.

7.Add the smoked haddock, nutmeg and bay leaf to the milk and place in a water bath for 25 mins at 45C – if not using a water bath place the ingredients in a saucepan and dinner for 5 mins.

8. Remove haddock and save both later.

9.Peel and chop 200g of potato and boil for 15-20 mins, once cooked gently mash.

10.Meanwhile finely dice shallots, garlic, leek, celery and carrot. Sauté in oil for 10-15 mins, season to taste.

11.Peel the boiled eggs and dust in seasoned flour.

12.When the casing mixture is cool delete the into 4 portions and wrap around wash egg enclosing it completely. Chill for at least one hour to ensure it keeps its shape.

13.In the meantime prepare your station to breadcrumb the eggs.

14.You will need three shallow trays, one for the seasoned flour, one for the beaten egg and one for the breadcrumbs.

15.Firstly take the encased eggs one. Y one and put into the seasoned flour, making sure it is well coated.

16.Shake off any access flour and pass the food into the beaten egg, again making sure it is well coated.

17.Shake off any access and finally pass the food into the breadcrumbs again making sure it’s well coated.

18.Tap the food firmly to ensure the breadcrumbs are well attached and remove the crumbs into a clean plate or tray.

19.Now deep fry the completed eggs at 160C until golden brown.

*collaborated post

Father’s Day At Flower Farm

I have to say that when it comes to Father’s Day I am a little selfish with the plans I make!

My husband doesn’t really share the love for the great outdoors as much as me, so when I announced we were heading off to pick strawberries his face didn’t exactly light up at the prospect.

The children however were hugely excited as it is certainly a highlight of the summer for them.

Sadly it seems that PYO farms are few and far between these days but we are lucky enough to have one right on our doorstep.

Flower Farm in Godstone is a small farm that has very reasonably priced PYO strawberries  and raspberries come July, with the great addition of a well stocked farm shop and lovely tea room where you can grab light bites and of course a delicious afternoon tea.

The sun was beating down on us whilst picking but this didn’t put us off, even my husband got stuck in and said he was throughly enjoying it.

I love activities like this that cost very little money and bring us all together as a family.

It actually gave me time to reflect on the fact I am incredibly lucky to have my husband who always goes out of his way to make us all happy, and maybe this should be reflected in my choice of activity next year! 

Country Kids

When The Kids Just Aren’t Feeling It

for the past couple of years my love for photography has grown massively.

I love looking at other people’s styles of photography, I love seeking out places that I think would look good to take photographs of and I always have the best props to hand…my children.

I have had no formal training when it comes to photography so I’m still very much a point and shoot kind of lady and just hope that I am going to capture the image I have in my head.

The kids apart from my 14 year old don’t have a problem with my continual photo taking and to be honest don’t notice to much as I prefer to try and get pics as the play rather than staged shots.

However from time to time I do try and get some images I have to get them to work with me for.

Today however was probably not the best day to try this as they clearly were not in the mood for it and this was captured magnificently in my photos!

I got home after standing in a field of rape flowers disappointed with them not looking how I wanted, when actually they tell a really good story.

I hadn’t asked permission to be there so I was half freaking out I was going to get attacked by the farmer whilst my children gave me their best ‘natural’ poses!

All I will say is their personalities shine through immensely in these images and now I love them more than the perfect ones I had in my head…well almost!

Halloween Has Started:Priory Farm Pumpkin Picking

The days are getting colder, evenings are drawing in and one of my favourite times of year is nearly upon us…Halloween!

I’m a huge kid at this time of year and love all of the preparation for it, the most exciting part being picking our own pumpkins.

This is only a tradition we have started over the past few years but it is always such a lovely thing to do as a family and far more fun than just picking one up from the supermarket.

Last year we missed the picking at one of our favourite places – Priory farm in Nutfield and just took park in the spooky discovery walk which is also a great activity for Halloween.

Priory offer more than just a field to pick from, you climb aboard the spooky tractor and take a short ride to the field which allows for a smaller number of people than most places to pick.  This made it feel much more relaxed. 


Once we got to the field the kids made a beeline to find the perfect or actually biggest pumpkin!

I got so excited about a good photo opportunity but the kids really weren’t feeling it today.  They were way to excited to be posing for me unfortunatly.


Pumpkins sized and paid for we all piled back on the tractor and stopped off in the coffee shop for big hot chocolates and a run around in the playground.

Priory Farm is a fabulous day out with so much to do aside from the pumpkin picking which will be running again next weekend if you fancy a trip.

Country Kids

Our First Country Fair Of The Year

The beautiful sunshine came out for us yesterday to make a trip to our first country fair of the year yesterday.

Years ago we used to visit Merton Abbey Mills and decided to take a trip there in with the Country Fair at Morden Hall.



Sadly the buzzy atmosphere that there used to be at Abby Mills is no more with a real lack of stalls.  It’s such a shame and would be great if some kind of regeneration project could be started there as its such a great area.

That said the boys had fun picking themselves a toy from one of the stalls, there are plenty of good restaurants to chose from and popping into see the water mill working is always great fun.


From here we walked to Morden Hall to see what was going on at their Counrty Fair.  It is a fair walk but all flat and takes you past Dean City Farm which is always worth a visit.

We made our way into the grounds where people were picnicking and playing pooh sticks from the many bridges the grounds home.

The fair itself is a real mixture of the traditional attractions that I love such as coconut shys, willow weaving, bee keeping, magicians and many more with the big rides that the older ones love.


The steam engines were wonderful to see and everyone loved the huge display of KNex that had been set up as a miniature fairground.


There were plenty of food stalls to choose from and a couple of great Pimms and traditional cider stalls.

The highlight for the youngest two was the medieval area where they got to watch the Knights complete in full armour.  Number four said it was the best thing he had ever seen!


This was the perfect start to the spring for us with so much to see and do inside and out of the fair.  It is running again today if you fancy popping down to take a look!

Top Easter Activities In And Around Surrey

Easter for us is time with the family, days out and of course lots of chocolate!!

Why not combine them all and plan a few day trips over the Easter holidays.  I have compiled a few of my top activities that are either in Surrey or only a short drive away.

Priory Farm

  

Priory Farm in Nutfield is our go to place whenever we fancy good food and letting off some steam in the fresh air.

They have a wonderful coffee shop serving hot and cold food with an adjoining play area so you can relax while the little ones play.  A huge pirate ship to climb aboard, garden centre and farm shop selling great products and the highlight for us which is the discovery walk.

From the 19th March until 11th April the discovery walk will have a spring themed quiz for the little ones to follow and on the 25th March you will be able to take part in their Little Bunnies Easter Hunt.

Tulleys Farm 

Tulleys Farm in West Sussex is only a short drive and any event they put on is well worth the trip.

The farm itself has play areas, a huge farm shop and lots of small animals to take a look at.

Their events are slightly more expensive than most but you certainly get a lot for your money.

This year from 25th March to 1st April you can spot eggs whist on a wagon ride, take a look at some beautiful newborn lambs, take part in the egg and bunny hunt, have a go at the duck races and much more.

Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt, National Trust

  

If you are a follower of my blog you will know my love of National Trust homes and gardens.  They offer the perfect environment to switch off from the fast paced world we live in and just enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.

Each year they put on fantastic Easter egg hunts that usually involve exploring the grounds looking for clues to fill in on your quiz sheet that can then be taken back to claim your prize.  

Over the years we have been to Morden Hall and Chartwell, both of which are great.  We tried Box Hill last year but unfortunately so did a lot of other people and we couldn’t get parked!  Saying this the car park has recently been extended so might be worth a go.

Penshurst Place

  
I visited Penshurst Place in Kent for the first time last year and was taken back by its beauty.

The immaculately kept grounds are wonderful to walk round and make the perfect setting for Easter activities.

This year from 25th March to 10th April they have story telling sessions and crafts to take part in and an Easter hunt all about the animals that live in the grounds.

On Easter Sunday and Monday Ardvark Productions will be there telling a humorous story of the Easter bunny.

Bocketts Farm

  

Bocketts is top of my list for farms in Surrey.  They have fantastic indoor and outdoor play areas, animal handling sessions, tractor rides and their famous pig races that the children love!

For their Easter Eggstravaganza they have  a trail to follow which leads to to a chocolaty treat at the end, chick and duck handeling, and the chance to get up close to the newborn lambs.

They are also opening a brand new outdoor play area at the end of March that we can’t wait to try out.

Painshill 

   

 
This year we had a trip to Painshill to visit Father Christmas and were astounded by how beautiful the whole place is.

There are exquisite follies scattered throughout the grounds to explore, with our favourite being the crystal grotto.

On Easter Sunday and Monday you can go along to take part in their egg hunt to find the eggs scattered through the the grounds to claim your prize at the end.

I hope that you have found somewhere that takes your fancy and I would love to know how you get on with all your hunting!

  

Toddler Christmas Lunch At Hobbledown

For the first time last year we took a visit to Hobbledown in Epsom, Surrey for their wonderful Toddler Lunch With Santa.

After a terrible journey due to horrendous traffic I arrived with two very miserable toddlers!  I booked in through the screaming and made our way to the play barn, found a table and thankfully peace was restored.


  
After a good run around in the brilliant soft play area that also has a cafe to serve a much needed coffee a friendly elf came to lead us into the cosy hut where we would be meeting Santa.

The children all sat at the table while cute gingerbread men were handed out for the children to decorate.



Following this a yummy packed lunch was served whist Santa made his grand appearance to sit with us whist we ate.


  
The children were then called up one at a time to have a chat and collect a present from Santa.


  
Nice and full we waved goodbye and went to have a look at Santa’s reindeer and a couple of very cute donkeys, and then finally had a run about in the huge sandpit before heading home.



This is such a wonderful day out for toddlers with a real mix of things to do.  You also have the option of paying for entry to the rest of Hobbledown which is a really good day out with plenty to explore.

The only issue I had is that it is listed as simply a craft activity on the internet so number five couldn’t actually take part due to his allergies.  If I had known in advance this is something I could have provided my self so that he didn’t feel left out.

Christmas Days Out In Surrey

For me it’s not actually Christmas Day that is the best part of the season, it’s the whole lead up to it and the wonderful days out that can be had before the day itself.

Here are a few of my favourite places in Surrey that we love to visit:

Bocketts Farm

We have just had a wonderful Halloween trip to Bocketts Farm last month and Christmas time is just as great.

   
 

Here you can find all the fun that the farm usually has to offer such as feeding the animals, the wonderful soft play and ride on tractors and vast outdoor play area.

   
     

Our favourite pig race still runs aswell as the tractor rides around the farm, and you also get the added bonus of a wonderfully decorated farm and coffee shop and the option of adding in a trip to see Father Christmas.

   
 

Morden Hall National Trust

My favourites list would not be complete without a National Trust mention.

We love to visit Morden Hall that offers a variety of different activities over the Christmas period.  We went last year to visit their wonderful food market that served wonderful hot food and gifts a plenty.

  
We took a walk around the beautiful grounds and warmed up inside where they had plenty of crafts to keep everyone busy.

   
       

If you fancy a longer walk from here you can visit Deen City Farm which is small, but has enough for the children to have a look at and all they ask for is for a donation.

 

Christmas At Kew

For the first time last year we visited Christmas At Kew. This shouldn’t really be in with Surrey trips but I couldn’t leave it out!!  All I can say is the whole evening is truly spectacular.  The whole gardens are alight with beautifully different areas that give you a suprise around every corner.

   
       

At the end of the trail was a splendid old fashioned fair with small rides for the children and lots of yummy food.

   
   

The walk changes each year so book up and see what this year has in store.

Lunch With Santa At Hobbledown

I was going to keep this one a secret as after over eighteen years of trips to visit Santa this has been my favourite!

Hobbledown has lots on offer over Christmas but if you have toddlers then this is a must.

  
You start the session wearing them out for a while in the huge softplay area and from there you are lead into a magical room for some lunch and craft making.

  
Father Christmas then makes his entrance and calls the children up one by one to receive there gift.

   
 

For me the old fashioned take on Christmas makes this so special and we are already booked up for this year!!

Christmas Trail At Priory Farm

If you fancy walking off some of those extra pounds you put over over the Christmas period then Priory Farm is perfect.

  
The discovery walk takes on a Christmas theme and is great for getting in some fresh air and getting the kids some exercise.

   
   

There is the chance to see Father Christmas or simply take a short ride past his grotto on the Christmas train.

  
As I’ve mentioned many times the cafe here offers wonderful food for you to fill up on after a long walk and of course a trip to the farm shop for some yummy treats is a must .

  
Christmas At Chessington World Of Adventure

If you want a full day out then Chessington World Of Adventure is a great place to go. 

  
They have a small selection of rides open, you can walk around and see all the animals that they have to offer including the fab petting zoo and you can then warm up whilst having a look around the Sealife Centre.

   
     

You can add on a trip to Father Christmas whist you are there but it’s not something we have had the pleasure of doing yet.

  

After our wonderful overnight stay there over Halloween I can highly recommend making a weekend of it and staying over as the hotel and its facilities are fantastic and one the children will absolutely love.

Keep an eye out over the next few weeks as we have a few different trips planned that I would love to share with you all.