"No love sincerer than the love of food"

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Hello Summer we all cried just a week or so ago as we lolled around in sandals and packed our trusty jumpers away.  And then it seemed I had blinked and seven months had passed for we had snow ……. yes snow and hailstones.  Surely it must be December?

In the narrow chink of loveliness mini GT and I spent some lovely time in our garden.  We have a smallish paved noisy garden next to a big road but the nipper and I love it anyway.  First we had the “melty cheese” experiment which involved putting a piece of cheese on a plate and sitting it in the sun whilst looking at it intently to see what it would do (it didn’t really melt much to the disappointment of mini GT) Then there was playing with the hose – it makes me a bit ashamed as I know there are people with no water to drink  – but honestly 10 minutes of giving her free reign with a water hose is ten minutes of blissful peace!


Then I decided to make home made ice lollies.  We had been told earlier in the week by the wee one’s  dieticians that we were not to worry a jot about a healthy diet but rather just get little miss to eat whatever she wants to get her weight up BUT I reckoned I could kill two birds with one stone in some home made lollies.

I picked up these cute lolly moulds from ASDA for the princely sum of £2.  Into the blender I added a handful each of strawberries and raspberries, a spoonful of honey, a little bit of gold top super creamy milk and lots of full fat Greek yogurt.  There are no real quantities, I just experimented till I had a smooth tasty mixture.  In the moulds it went and into the freezer for about 4 hours.  Now here is the trick – to get the lolly tray to actually give you your lolly you have to stick it in hot water for about a minute to loosen things off.


The result was fantastic – I loved them as did my husband.  But what did little Miss think?

Well despite initial excitement (possibly because they were pink)  she handed a half eaten lolly back to me and gave this critique ;

“Its ok mummy I suppose but it would be better without all that fruit”

What are you gonna do?

My next trick with the lolly mould will be nutella and banana lollies (that will trick her) and also coconut milk lollies with mango.  You should give it a go as the possibilities are endless and lets face it they can keep in the freezer till the snow passes.

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Ardross Farm Shop

Fear not – I have not given up on the Grumbling Tummy.  It has just been a very busy time what with getting a new job with a fab charity and all. Into my second week at Kidney Kids Scotland so feel I can breathe now and get writing again. To get me back into the swing I am posting about my trip to Ardross Farm Shop today which some of you may have already seen on the Crail Food Festival website as it was an assignment for them.
So here you go …… get ready for your mouth to water.  Once you have read this you will be beating a hasty path to Ardross or at least your own local farm shop if you live further afield.
I was delighted to be asked to be part of the Crail Food Festival blogging team again this year and even more delighted to learn that my assignment would take me to Ardross Farm Shop in Elie. I had heard Ardross mentioned for quite some time in rather hallowed tones and had always wanted to pay it a visit – well you know how much I love a good farm shop!
The rain stayed away on the morning the Cameron family headed up to Elie and we were all in fine fettle.  N was fixated on the possibility of seeing a cow and having a go on a tractor.  I was just – well – hungry and B saw the farm outing as an excuse to don his hunter wellies.
The Pollock family have been in the farming business for generations, having moved east from Ayrshire to this stunning part of Fife.  They have a herd of very happy and healthy Stabiliser cows,  which may little bit smaller than some other breeds but they virtually calf themselves and are great at suckling due to a pretty stress free birth.  The calves get all the good nutrients from their mother right away which bears future rewards in terms of a robust immune system.  The cows at Ardross live their lives in the great outdoors,  grazing on nutrient rich meadow pastures or crops which are being produced on the farm itself.
This is the second farm I have visited in the last year and what has struck me with both has been the emphasis put on the welfare and happiness of the animals.  It really is of paramount importance to the Pollock family that the herd are raised in a traditional manner in as stress free an environment as possible. I was interested to learn that when cows are reared in this way there is little need for the use of antibiotics – this just makes good sense to me.  The meat from the cows I met is made into a mouth watering range of roasts, sausages, burgers, beef olives and more. I will get onto the taste test soon but I can let you know now that it is damn fine.
Of course it is not just about the beef here at Ardross – they also grow more than 50 varieties of vegetables,  and apart from one of two compromises their shop is faithful to the seasons and the veg is picked fresh every morning.  I learned a little about how unique this is and how old some of my super market produce might be by the time it makes its way onto my plate.  You don’t want to know but what you probably want to do is get ye to your local farm shop.
The shop is award winning for a reason.  As soon as you walk in you are greeted with a riot of colour from the freshest and most inviting vegetable display I have ever seen.  The last time I saw fresh produce that looked this good was in the outdoor market of France or Italy when I have been on holiday.  It is a million miles away from the display of plastic wrapped ‘same size’ offerings in the local supermarket.
Ardross sell both meat in the chiller and a large range of frozen meat.  This is so that they can keep things as fresh as possible for their customers. As it was a while before we were heading home we bought a fair abundance of meat from the chiller.  Beef Olives were first in the basket – a favourite from childhood when I called them Biffalows. Junior suggested sausages (of course).  Burgers for the boy and some  beef to create a hearty stew.  To accompany our array of meat we were gifted an amazing veggie box which included a carrot which was taller than a bottle of wine!  Other goodies included a swede, beetroot, kale, cabbage and onion.  As well as their own produce there is also an array of goodies from  artisan suppliers – in went fudge, cheesy straws and some gourmet crisps.
For those of  you who are thinking that this farm shop malarkey is ok if you have the money can I just tell you that the meat and veg at Ardross is  keenly priced making it affordable for all of us to eat good food.
They have come along way from a painted shed with a bell which sounded in the farm-house signalling to the family that they had a customer. Ten years on and the family (for it is indeed a true family affair) have not only a successful farm but a thriving farm shop on their hands.  Nikki who is at the helm of the farm shop has grand plans for expansion but her dreams are kept in check by her sister who is an accountant turned farmer,  and indeed one of the most exciting and interesting young farmers I have ever come across.  Anyway watch this space with regards to what happens next.
So how did the food actually taste?  Fantastic.  I have here a picture of the stew I made, which would have been nice with any meat ( I am a very good stew maker) but was absolutely stunning with the beef from Ardross.  It was melt in the mouth and tasted like stew my granny used to make before we all went to supermarkets.  I included the carrot, onion and kale in the stew and on the side I made a celeriac and carrot mash with lots of crème fraiche and pepper.  It was beautiful.
This blog could last forever but I must attempt to wrap things up a little with some final observations.  It never feels to leave me in awe when I meet people who have so much passion for what they do, and that passion never fails to shine through in what they produce.  Rob, Fiona, Nikki and Claire are the most passionate family I have met  – they live and breathe their business and you can’t help but be infected by their enthusiasm.
So this summer I suggest we all reconnect with our food and good first  step is paying a visit to Ardross Farm Shop.  I may live 45 minutes drive away but I know I will be back.

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How I made friends with food again

Goats cheese salad

Goats cheese salad

The title sounds a little odd for a food blogger, but to be honest I had fallen a little out of love with food of late. I just couldn’t seem to eat what I loved without suffering consequences and so food was lacking its usual lustre.

I have as you know been on every diet under the sun. Compared to your average bear  I am quite greedy, I am (was) completely addicted to sugar and I was gaining more poundage every month than I could lose.  Most importantly however I was unhappy with it all and dreading heading to Italy – home of the slim, the healthy and the glamorous – feeling less than splendid.

Salmon terrine

Salmon terrine

I stumbled across the Harcombe diet in Waterstones and I won’t bore you with all the details but essentially I decided Zoe Harcombe’s regimen may suit me as it promised to banish my dreadful cravings for sugar.  There are three phases to grapple with.

Phase one is the most harsh and lasts for only 5 days.  This involves eating meat, fish, eggs and veg along with one portion of brown rice a day and a portion of live yogurt each day.  The results were for me dramatic – I lost half a stone in that time and after 5 days without any sugar I felt a little more in control. I also felt a brand new sensation – hunger.  At first I thought I must be starving myself but as it turns out this is what balanced eaters feel coming up to meal times. Being a constant grazer real hunger has become rather alien to me and so it took a while to realize that this was normal.

Lamb filled peppers

Lamb filled peppers


Phase two is where you introduce the rest of the dairy family back into your life as well as wheat and fruit – whoop whoop.  I welcomed dairy with verve and loved the fact that full fat is king on this way of eating.  Lovely creamy full fat butter,  creamy cheeses and sinful full fat greek yogurt and indeed double cream made me very happy.  For some reason I did not reintroduce wheat – not quite sure why to be honest but I have still not eaten pasta or bread.  The main rule in this phase is not to mix fat with carbs.  This led to me eating a pretty low carb diet which I was surprised to be happy with.  It also made me triple my vegetable intake which can only be a good thing.  The other golden rule is to NEVER eat processed food which again is not really a bad thing although vaguely impractical at times.

Rice cereal with fruit

Rice cereal with fruit

Phase three is about maintaining your weight and this is where I am at the moment .  Phase three rules are simply –  don’t cheat too much and don’t cheat too often. So you basically stick to not mixing and not eating processed food most of the time but hey ho if there is a party or you are at a mates house then chill a little and go with the flow. The not mixing rule is easy at home but boy oh boy it is a royal pain in the ass when you are eating out so glad to be able to relax on that a bit –  I guess this is the old 80/20 rule.  I have genuinely loved eating this way as an average day can look like this, Porridge with banana, cinnamon and oat milk  (this is a carb breakfast) then a lovely goats cheese salad for lunch (a fat meal)  and in the evening I might eat something like lamb kofta with a huge salad and halloumi followed by berries and double cream (fat meal heaven).  And I lose weight on this!!!!

More berries and full fat yogurt

More berries and full fat yogurt

So anyway I am happy and eating well and feel hugely more energetic and healthy. It is the first diet that is sustainable for me yet like an alcoholic I still find sweet treats an issue and there is always an element of willpower going on.  Every diet says that it is not a diet but a lifestyle change but to be honest I think that is a pile of poop.  This is a diet of sorts, though not one that counts calories, points or any other odd measurement BUT it does take a certain amount of will power.  There has been the odd slip up but at last have found a diet that is enjoyable with good results so clambering back on the wagon has not been so onerous.  I have lost a stone in a month and am delighted with that and shocked at how little effort it took.

Low carb moussaka

Low carb moussaka

The pictures throughout the blog are a selection of the food I have been eating on this diet – not too shabby don’t you think.

I envy friends who just manage to eat healthily without a second though but that didn’t work out for me in the end and so this is my new way of eating and I hope that I can keep it up.

Italian delight

Italian delight


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Farm Shop Bliss in Dumfries and Galloway


Loch Arthur website


To the passer by Loch Arthur Camphill Community is a beautifully designed farm shop and restaurant, full to bursting with delicious local produce and home baking,  but you need to look closer to get the essence of what this wonderful venture is all about.

Camphill is an international movement of communities designed to meet the needs of children or adults with developmental disabilities,  through a combination of communal living, the arts and work on the land. There are over 100 Camphill communities worldwide including this one in beautiful Dumfries & Galloway.

Chinese whispers were afoot when we visited Loch Arthur- turns out they were expecting some loggers rather than bloggers!  Still makes me smile.  We were not required to cut down any trees thankfully.  Instead we took the weight off our feet in the bakery and listened to the beautifully told story of this very worthy venture.


The guys at Loch Arthur started making cheese in 1985 to feed their community from just four cows.  As it turned out they were rather good at it and as word spread they realised that there was a market for their produce.  Fast forward and here they are producing 6 award winning cheeses plus delicious creamy yogurt from their purpose built creamery.  It is fair to say that they have come a long way.  I (of course) bought some cheese.  I plumped for the tangy yet creamy CRIFFEL cheese which has a list of awards as long as your arm.  It is produced from unpasteurised, organic cow’s milk and it reminded me of a lovely feta.  When I got home I had it with a warm lentil and beetroot salad and it was absolutely delicious.  The rest of the cheese was inadvertently nibbled into obscurity – lush!

The clever people at Loch Arthur didn’t stop at cheese.  They also have a bakery producing everything from a basic wholemeal to rye bread with caraway, a butchery which prepares meat from their own an neighbouring Biodynamic farms and they also sell their home grown fruit and vegetables. Not forgetting their own chutneys and home baking for the shop and cafe.

What started as a very small and rather inaccessible shop has morphed into a large, beautiful and well thought out space which enables you to see the community at work.  They sell a huge range of products and I was like a kid in a sweet shop.  I bought some Roc juice which is so lovely and makes the effort of drinking water much more pleasant, some beautiful organic set honey (banned for the moment due to the diet – grrr), two bars of Montezuma dark chocolate with lime and sea-salt (OMG!) and some chutney made by the folk at Loch Arthur.  Some fudge may also have sneaked into my shopping (no self control).

Next stop  …….


Kilnford Barns website



This is possibly the foodie highlight of the bloggers weekend for my grumbling tummy.  There is something very special about this place which has been run by the Rome family for 200 years. The naturally raised Galloway cattle, pigs and sheep have the freedom to explore the open fields and like the coos at Cream O’ Galloway, their welfare is paramount.

I am just going to cut to the chase here and focus on  a truly memorable meal.  On our fabulous  itinerary it stated that we would enjoy soup and sarnies at this venue which I was looking forward to BUT having looked at the menu I did have pangs of longing for some of the other offerings on the menu.  So I was grinning from ear to ear when the waitress told us we had free reign on the menu. The world was my oxter!


The spacious wooden restaurant has a specialist grill menu which showcases their own meat. To me “Outdoor Reared Pork with Apple Slaw and a Bundle of Neep Scratching” sounded simply irresistible.  What the hell was a neep scratching?  I had to find out.

This is one of these elegant yet rustically simple meals that I just adore.  A homemade creamy slaw topped with the most exquisite piece of marinaded char-grilled pork with crispy shavings of turnip nestled on top.  The meat was amazing.  Smokey with another ‘secret’ flavour coming through. The slaw added lots of texture and the sweetness of the apple complimented the pork delightfully.  I was in heaven! When meat is this good there is no need for it to be hiding in a sauce it needs to just be.

I was told that due to recent laws the guys at Kilnford would have to tell me what was in their  secret marinade (although not how it was put together).  Some things are better off remaining secret … don’t you think!

After lunch, a quick tour and a wee shop I found myself enquiring just how long it would take to drive from Dunfermline to Kilnford Barns, and have decided that for a meal like that it is well worth a bit of travelling.  Just need to persuade the Chauffeur.

Taste Our Best is a new quality assurance scheme from Visit Scotland which ensures that you will eat quality ingredients of Scottish provenance and the freshest seasonal produce.  Taste Our Best establishments strive for sustainability, sourcing food locally to insure they keep food miles to a minimum.  From field to fork – you will know where your food came from.  To find out more


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Coos and Ice Cream in Dumfries and Galloway



Last weekend I was privileged to take part in a bloggers trip to celebrate all that is good about food and drink in Dumfries & Galloway.  As well as being able to spend some child free time with my best friend, I got the chance to meet some truly lovely fellow bloggers and a whole bunch of inspiring businesses across the region.  There are great things happening in Dumfries & Galloway people.  It is impossible to cram all of my discoveries into one blog,  therefore I am going to feed you in bite sized chunks over the coming days and weeks.

First of all let me tell you about one of my favourite parts of the grand trip – the Cream O’ Galloway farm tour and tasting.  The visitor centre is not open until Valentines Day but they opened up especially for us (felt like a VIP) to tell us all about their business.  Wilma Finlay and her marketing guru Helen led the tour with an awe-inspiring passion for their business.

The Finlay family have been farming in this beautiful spot since the 1920’s.  In the 40s they produced  farmhouse cheeses to help feed a hungry population.  However the mass production of cheddar in the 70s put a stop to that and they moved their focus onto milk.  Fast forward a decade or so when the Finlay family became passionate about organic farming and since the early 90s have been producing food in a more ethical and sustainable way.  Using their milk they have become one of the leading artisan ice cream makers in the UK.


One thing that strikes you when you hear Wilma and Helen speak is their passion for the welfare of the herd and how that affects the quality of their produce.  I will admit that the vasectomised bull wandering around ‘having his wicked way’ with the cows on our visit was somewhat distracting but I still managed to learn a hell of a lot. I know you are keen to hear about the tasting but bear with ……  I need to share just how amazing Cream O’ Galloway is and it is incredibly important to find out a bit about where your food comes from.

They have a small herd and boy do they care about the welfare of these wee coos.  They are staging a quiet revolution in dairy-farming by trying their damnedest to keep the calves with their mums so that they can wean naturally whilst still milking the cows.  Cows normally are removed from their mothers after just one day and most conventional dairy farms think they are down right bonkers.  I think they are brave and fabulous!  They went all out with this theory on a 6 month trial and although it cost them dearly due to the massive amounts of milk the hungry wee buggers drank, it did convince them that a modified version of the model had to come to fruition.   The herd were happy, confident and less aggressive.  Their determination to make this happen in the future is brilliant and I can’t wait to find out how it goes.



OK on to the tasting.  I was as happy as the proverbial pig in …. to be able to taste a whole range of Cream O’ Galloway ice creams.  The selection we were tasting all had a Scottish theme, celebrating the best of our food heritage. On offer in more than generous tasting pots were Raspberry, Cranachan, Sticky Toffee pudding, Salted caramel, whisky honey & oatmeal and of course vanilla.  I was in heaven, it is just the creamiest most gorgeous ice cream and is wholly responsible for putting my plans to ditch sugar on the back burner.  As one of my fellow bloggers commented “this is how ice cream should taste”. Every new flavour seemed to beat the last and in the end I was confused in the most pleasurable way.  I think however looking back that I may like to take a large pot of the whisky honey and oatmeal into a room armed with only a spoon and polish off the lot – sugar be damned!

There are absolutely no nasties lurking in this ice cream, only high quality natural ingredients – no artificial flavourings or colourings.  Their pasturised organic milk simply creates the creamiest ice cream I have ever tasted.


Ice cream was expected, cheese was a wee bit of a bonus.  Cream O’ Galloway have gone back to their roots and have started to produce cheese again.  There were three of their 6 delicious cheeses on offer for tasting –  Rainton Round, Laganory and Carrick.  Laganory won the day for me and there is a big block of it in my fridge at the moment.  It is medium strength but with a lovely clean tang to it.  Rainton Round was a beautiful creamy cheese but perhaps a little bit too delicate for my palate – lovely all the same.  The Carrick was also a winner – bursting with sweet flavour.  It is lovely to see Cream O’ Galloway go back to their roots.

I think the reason that this business impressed me the most was the amount I have learned.  I have never really thought about the welfare of dairy cows before and just take my milk and indeed ice cream at face value. But most of all I was inspired by the sheer passion of Wilma Finlay and her team – and of course it tasted bloody marvellous too.


Next up on the Dumfries and Galloway food extravaganza is the trip to Loch Arthur Camphill Community and the wonderful Kilnford Barns Farm Shop.

By the way you will find more on Dumfries and Galloway from the other bloggers on the trip.  Read their blogs on . and

Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015 is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland and Scotland Food & Drink.

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Have you got the January blues?  Over here at Grumbling Tummy HQ I am feeling pretty chipper.  Despite being ‘under consultation’  (a cute new word for redundancy)  and being a few pounds heavier than I am comfortable with, all is pretty good.  As my granny said – the world is your oxter (its not a spelling mistake clever clogs – my granny was just a bit quirky)

So today I have decided to ramble on a bit about what is exciting me this January on the food front.



I am beyond excited to be heading off this weekend on my first ever ever bloggers trip,  visiting Dumfries for a weekend of food and tourism.  It is eagerly anticipated by both myself and my trusty assistant for the weekend (Miss P T who is along for the ride).  I actually can’t think of anything I would rather do than be away with my bestie tasting lovely food, seeing beautiful sights and meeting other bloggers .  The only thing jeopordising my happiness  is the snottery coughing husband and daughter at home.  I am trying to outrun the cold by dosing myself up on echinacia and vitamin C as well as generally trying to avoid my family where I can.  So far so good!

You may be aware that In 2015, Scotland will be celebrating the ‘The Year of Food and Drink’, showcasing the wonderful local produce and gastronomy we have to offer, from the land to the larder.  This trip celebrates all that is wonderful about Scottish food as well as well as marking the birth of the Bard at the Dumfries Big Burns Supper Festival. There is lots going on in Dumfries on Rabbie’s birthday weekend.  For more information on both the Big Burns Supper and Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink click here.  Big Burns Supper 2015 and here  Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015.  There will of course be lots of blogging and tweeting galore around this trip – so more to follow.



January also marks the grand ‘curry night in’ at the De Vries household.  V who is a truly wonderful cook has been travelling back and forth to Dubai for a while and has accumulated an array of wonderful spices.  Whilst teasing me with talk of these powdery delights I announced a curry night round at their gaff.  Nothing like inviting ourselves.  I expect great things, especially as Santa gifted V the wonderful Persiana cook book for Christmas.




The best bit about my cakes is licking the spoon before anything hits the oven.  They always taste OK but a light and fluffy texture eludes me, besides I just don’t have the patience to get it spot on.  With that in mind I depend on the wonderful work of to create special occasion cakes for me. They are based in Fife and made this wonderful cake for my Dad’s 80th birthday lunch.  I have commissioned a Tinkerbell cake for my gals 5th birthday and can’t wait to see it.  B tuts a lot and would just as happily buy a cake from Asda,  but I can’t quite explain the pleasure I get from these works of wonder – and besides they taste so much better.



Despite claiming that all diets suck and that I am never every going on another diet ever ever again.  I am going on a diet.  I know, I know.  This time it is the turn of the GI diet.  A bit retro these days but it is pretty much sensible eating (which I have a bit of an issue with).  Clearly beginning this in earnest will be after the weekend detailed above.  I did this diet before and did quite well but that was back in the day when willpower seemed to be part of my mental make up.

For those of you who live under a stone and have not heard about the low GI diet, this is what expert Patrick Holford has to say about it.

“The secret to successful weight loss isn’t starving yourself; nor is it limiting your food choices or following a rigid pattern of eating. It is simply keeping your blood sugar balanced and your food choices healthy. This will not only help you to lose weight, but will also give you more energy and plenty of welcome side effects, such as better skin, improved digestion and enhanced mood.”

Here are the 5 commandments I need to try to follow

1. Eat plenty of fiber-rich vegetables , beans  and fruit
2. Limit potatoes to small side dishes.
3. Choose grains in their least processed states. For example, replace refined and white breads with stone-ground whole wheat, sourdough, or pumpernickel. Swap jasmine and arborio rice for basmati, brown, or long grain. Instead of processed cereals like cornflakes and instant oatmeal, stick with old-fashioned oats .
4. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, and drink no more than one cup of 100 percent fruit juice daily.
5. Consume protein and fat at most meals and snacks.



Dumfries marks a haitus in my attempts to eat clean, however after I have had my fill on that trip I will be back on the wagon and will aim to bring you some cleanish recipes.  This will kick off with a warming butter bean stew brought to us by the wonderful chef at Energise Body & Soul.  These guys run a luxury retreat in beautiful Northumberland and spend their time getting lucky residents into shape through healthy and nutritious meals,  bespoke fitness plans,  heaps of fresh air and hot tub relaxation. I hope to try a retreat myself in the coming months  …………  but for now I will cook!


In the mean time if you know of anybody who wants to hire an enthusiastic part time marketeer then you know where to find me!!  Happy rest of January guys.








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Boo to Winter and other Smoothies

20150108_101356 (1)

I  am slowly emerging from the food fest that was December and have spent a week eating cleaner and leaner.  I have been trying to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in my diet and limit the sweets, biscuits and chocolates.  I was doing rather well until I was forced to exterminate a packet of Thornton’s chocolates one afternoon after attempting to consume ‘just the one’.  It took another four chocolates and creeping guilt to realise that drastic action was needed – chocolates meet bin.

Smoothies are a good way of boosting your fruit and veg in a rather pleasant fashion and this week I came up with a couple of concoctions which hit the spot. ‘Boo to Winter’ has tropical notes and if I wear a t-shirt and close my eyes in a centrally heated room whilst drinking it I can go someway to banishing the winter blues.  The ‘Avo-Berry’ Smoothie is ridiculously creamy due to the inclusion of avocado and a great way of getting something green into the wee grumbling tummy.


Chopped up flesh of one mango (I actually used a packet of  fresh mango from the supermarket chiller)

One banana

Cup of coconut milk

Half a cup of natural yogurt

Blitz and pour

(this is not too thick so good with a straw.  If you like your smoothies thicker then add some extra banana)



One banana

Cup of blueberries

Cup of yogurt

Half an avocado

Blitz and pour

(this is a thick one – rather like a really creamy yummy yogurt.  If you want it a bit thinner and straw friendly add a splash of water or milk to the mix though not too much)





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Christmas really was a festival of gluttony round at the Grumbling Tummy HQ.  It started off well but ended with both myself and B rolling around the lounge in a fug of chocolate lethargy, lifted only by the occasional cherry brandy.

I have actually been far too busy actively eating to blog but here is a quick catch up on how I managed to gain half a stone in 2 weeks.  Eat your heart out Katie Hopkins.


photo (35)

It all began with a rollicking gals lunch at the wonderful Café Marlayne in Thistle Street.  It’s a tiny bistro style restaurant and on that particular Sunday afternoon it was occupied (in the main)  by our party of girls in Christmas cracker crowns.  The food was rather overshadowed by lots of chat, general over excitement and wine.  You can read my review of Café Marlayne from a previous and more sedate occasion here:

On the Menu: I dined on Boudin Noir with sautéed potatoes, bacon and mustard dressing.  I know that the boudin noir is actually from France and it is really lovely.  This was followed by a gorgeous beef dish which was melt in the mouth (the wine has impaired my recall of the name of said beef dish but it was delish) served up with seasonal vegetables.



The traditional Christmas date day with B came a mere two days later.  Bravely fighting sinusitis I agreed to earn my lunch by walking across the Forth Road Bridge to our lunch venue – Orroco Pier in South Queensferry. The star of the show at this stylish restaurant is without a doubt the view.  It is nothing short of breath-taking.  We had the best seat in the house and watched the sun set and the rail bridge light up as we enjoyed our feast.  buoyed up by Nurofen with codeine (genius).

On the Menu: we kicked off the date with a mulled cider for me and a mulled beer for B.  The Mulled beer won the day both for being unique and for its spiced honey notes.  After an acceptable starter of prawns I moved onto a traditional turkey lunch.  This is the only time I ate turkey over the whole season and it was lovely.  It was all finished off with an enormous cheese plate which included a delectable runny brie.  All washed down with prosecco and wine.





Feeling a little rotund at this point, our next big day out was the 25th– Merry Christmas.  Following my tradition of eating scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and oodles of lemon juice, we made our way via the folks to the Russell Hotel in St Andrews. The Russell is the sort of hotel that inspires loyalty.  On booking we requested the same table as 2013 and lo and behold so did the threesome next to us.  It was deja vu but in the best possible way. My only complaint about this stonking 4 course meal is that ALL of the portions were way too big.

On the Menu:  It went something like this: duck liver and plum pate served with home-made oatcakes which were curiously sweet but rather nice.  I suspect this oatcake would have been just as happy dipped in a cup of tea.  This was followed by a spiced sweet potato soup which was pretty good but a wee meal in itself.  I then moved on to Roast Ribeye of Prime Scottish Beef with a Wild Mushroom, Shallot & Madeira Jus & Yorkshire Pudding.  This was divine and melt in the mouth.  Feeling it a bit I considered skipping dessert but in for a penny in for a pound as they say – bring on the Christmas pudding complete with sparkler!  All washed down with copious amounts of red wine.  Why was my waist band digging in I pondered?  Why indeed.


sweet chestnut

Oh but we were nowhere near finished yet.  A trip to our local carvery was the main event on boxing day along with our friends and assorted children.  I had quite a lot of wine at this lunch  …… because I could! The relatively new Sweet Chestnut which is part of the Marstons pub chain, serves perfectly good fayre in a child friendly environment which was just what we needed.

On the Menu: I wanted to have breaded mushrooms with a garlic dip however most of the little shrooms were naked by the time I ate them.  My darling daughter having stolen their crispy coating by the time they got to my mouth. They were followed by a rather pleasant vegetarian fandango with all the trimmings including an oversized Yorkshire pudding.


On the 27th I was beginning to experience that toxic feeling where everything is just a little bit pudgy and out of kilter.  Remember that in-between these meals out there was the chocolate mountain at home. However I did not feel bad enough to argue with “shall we have a spot of lunch at Kushis darling”.  I like Kushis as a lunchtime venue – they do a cracking deal and thankfully the portion sizes are relatively small.

On the Menu: vegetable pakora and popadoms of course followed by chicken korma.  Washed down with a bottle of beer.



A visit to my parents on the 29th marked my favourite meal out over the whole holiday season.  The Adamson in St Andrews is just a bloody good restaurant with amazing food which is absolutely consistently fabulous every time you go.  It looks the business, the staff are fantastic, the presentation of the food is sublime and it always tastes like heaven.  I cannot recommend the Adamson enough.


On the menu: I felt smug starting with their superfood salad  – this is a veritable health explosion of beetroot, walnuts, squash, quinoa, lentils, pomegranates and yoghurt dressing. I then ordered the blade of beef with confit potato,  pear tart, spinach and red wine sauce.  This rendered me speechless.  Not an easy thing to achieve.



Food and entertainment on this auspicious occasion was provided by the Pettinger Thomsons.  We started off by popping in to the free family celidh at the Chambers Street Museum – huge amounts of fun.

There was good food, party poppers, happy children, plenty of fizz, giggles, fireworks and slight hangovers the next day.  All good!

On the menu: We started with two of my favourite foods – scallops and chorizo – yum! Mr Pettinger had been busy in the kitchen the day before preparing the main event and  his now famous beef bourguignon which was served with Miss Thomsons equally famous potato dauphinoise.  This was accompanied by green beans and a delicate swedge of puffed pastry.  After a fair smattering of prosecco (we brought along a magnum) I was the only one with space for homemade sticky toffee pudding with oodles of sauce and cream.


So that was it for eating out and being entertained – wafer thin mint anybody?

I didn’t even include the Christmas drinks on the 20th where I gorged on little spiced Thai chicken sticks and camembert or the day when I invited the same friends around to feast on mince pies, chocolate marzipan, cinnamon stars and wine.

Now as wonderful as it has been a line has finally been drawn.  Enough is enough.  My waist line is bulging (and that is putting it politely), my hair has lost its shine and despite a very posh new moisturiser my skin is flagging.  As much of 75% of your body is made up of water I believe, however I fear that most of my water has been replaced with baileys, prosecco, red wine, cherry brandy and amaretto.  I am done!

Christmas was a whole heap of tasty fun but like any ride it must come to an end.  In January I am ditching the nonsense and trying to eat clean rather than down right dirty.  Expect the blog to fill up with clean eating, nutritious soups and stews, refreshing smoothies and salads with pizzaz.

Keep tuned in!

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20141205_133450Dear Santa

I have mostly been a good girl this year.  I say mostly as have been a bit grumpy at times.  Eaten far too many cakes and moaned lots about the consequences.  I perhaps have been guilty of sloth on more than one occasion but I have really tried to keep up some semblance of an exercise regimen as best I could, so enthusiastically that I punched my own nose in combat last week. I have generally been nice to most people though poor B deserves a medal for putting up with me sometimes.  Och I know it’s a bit late in the day Santa and I know I am far from perfect but surely you have some helpers on the ground who can dash around and do the do with these fantastic foodie treats.

BLANQUET DE LIMOUX – around £10 per bottle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALet me tell you a funny story. A few years ago we were holidaying in France and had the good fortune to visit a restaurant in the gorgeous town of Limoux. It was called Maison de la Blanquet and was awash with the famous sparkling wine of the region Blanquet de Limoux. It was pink, it was fizzy and it was lovely. We purchased a couple of bottles from the shop below the restaurant and headed back to our Carcassonne base. I was surprised to find that this was not on sale in the local large supermarket Mono Prix and convinced myself that this was some rare brand of fizz that could only be found in one tiny corner of France. What a find! So I cradled one of our bottles all the way back to Scotland to gift to my best mate – what a rare and wonderful present. Whilst doing the weekly shop a few days later and still feeling rather pleased with myself I spotted the lesser spotted Maison de la Blanquet – IN TESCO. I did feel a little bit silly BUT the silver living to that cloud is that is simples to get my hands of his lovely fizzy wonder. It may be easily available but I would still love Santa to bring me a whole case for my pleasure.


le creuset casserole

When I was younger Le Creuset was the watch word in quality cook wear and crockery. It was a status symbol and as such was aspirational to a novice cook whose entire cooking collection hailed from Ikea.

Le Creuset has been making their premium quality cast iron cook wear since 1925 in northern France. Each piece is hand crafted and made from an individual sand mould which makes each piece unique – it is basically art! The big bonus is that you can put it in the hob AND the oven. Despite my enthusiasm as a cook such fandangled products seem to have eluded me.

I have no idea where the reassuringly heavy and long-lasting Le Creuset brand sits today but for me it still feels more than a little special. For some reason however I still do not own a single item. C’mon Santa I think I have been good enough now to deserve this.

Firstly I would like the casserole dish (22cm) in teal which you can get your helpers to dash to John Lewis for  – £108. Secondly I would love the adorable soup bowls also in teal and also from John Lewis (£33 for two). Given my enthusiasm for soup I think I am worth it.

RICE COOKER – £28.99

rice cooker

I am monumentally bad at making rice. I have been known to claim that we are having special sticky rice with our chilli. Nobody is fooled though they are very good at smiling politely. I have resorted to putting my cooked rice in the microwave to try to dry it out (limited success) and also to making rice using Uncle Ben’s boil in the bag and hiding the packets. I think it is time Santa that this cook was gifted a rice cooker.

I recently had a stonking gjrls lunch at my mate Kate’s house. The lovely Miss Kate made kedgeree and the rice was restaurant perfect. And how did she achieve this feat? A rice cooker of course. I want one – no actually I need one Santa. This is a must. I don’t need anything fancy either. This fabulous little TEFAL CoolTouch rice cooker in black is from Currys and is only £28.99. Pretty please.


Both available from all good book stores

Okay Okay so I have enough cookbooks to open my own shop but its food porn and I am an addict. I may even make something from these books.


First on my list this year is an oldie – Jamie’s Ministry of Food. As you know I love a bit of Jamie – ooo err Mrs. My mate Cat is a brilliant cook as she tells me and I quote “we just can’t get past Jamie’s Ministry of Food – its brilliant” Having eaten her wonderful food many times I am willing to trust her on this one. I also had a wee flick through whilst at her house and I did agree that my cookbook collection is incomplete without one.





Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour is the second cook book on my list. The Observer Food Monthly Cook Book of the year winner 2014 is way up there on my foodie wish list. I adore food from this region but I am not sure if I can explain how good this book is better than Mr Raymond Blanc. Over to you Raymond:

“A lovingly-written homage to the enchanting dishes of the Middle East. Sabrina Ghayour takes the reader on her magic carpet to the ancient and beautiful lands of rose-scented sherbets…and to a table of abundant feasts, and of honeyed and spiced delights. What a fantastic treasure trove of good food! Within these pages, the cook will find recipes for tagines, soups, stews, salads and plenty of sweet treats. Through the pages of Persiana, Sabrina delivers the Eastern promise in its delicious, gastronomic form. If you want to eat like an Arabian Knight, then start here…but be sure to stock up on cinnamon, cumin and coriander… “(Raymond Blanc)

If Santa doesn’t bring me this then perhaps bring me a book voucher and I will buy it myself in the New Year.



I am currently taking things out of my oven using a tea towel and I have the burns to prove it. I know these fancy expensive oven gloves that look like chunky cream mittens are fab for protecting you but lets face it, they aren’t half as pretty as this. The warm pinks, reds and teals this double glove will brighten up my kitchen no end.

This is made by a company called Ulster Weavers and having looked through their range I would also like Santa to pop the matching tea towels in his sack (£6.50 each)


I am in a constant battle with myself over chocolate and other sugary treats.  The problem boils down to a basic lack of self-control when it comes to sugar. I am either trying to give up, or cut down and generally feeling guilty for failing 100% of the time.  I actually challenged myself last week to have one day without anything sweet.  I couldn’t do it.  I found it easier to give up smoking!  But Santa, despite my extreme love/hate relationship with sugar I would love some extra special chocolate in my stocking this year as it is Christmas which is an official amnesty  on sugar consumption.  I would like:

Artisan du Chocolat’s salted caramels – £14.99


OK they may be £14.99 but as far as salted caramels go these are the business.  The original and the best. “The balance of flavours – sweet, saline and mineral – and of textures – crunchy, liquid and velvety is what makes this famous creation so special”.  Am salivating!




Neideregger Chocolate Marzipan –  around £4

chocolate marzipanB recently returned from a lads trip to Hamburg and brought back a box of this.  The marzipan comes from Lubeck which is rather famous for it and boy is it special.  The chocolate is perfect and the marzipan is not too sweet and light as light can be. This feathery almond delight bears no resemblance to the stuff we roll out for our battenburg cake.  Only problem is that it is so light that you can eat a whole box in one sitting without much problem.  I refer you to paragraph one in this section.


daisy sarnie oaster

OK this is not exactly pushing the boundaries in terms of aspirational desires but there you go, I am a simple girl at heart.  I have had about five toastie machines in my time.  I go through phases of really needing to have regular toasties in my life, pick up a cheap one and then when the fad fades I ditch it.   Maybe its just the winter weather but I have a yearning for toasties again and I love the cow design on this model.  Its fun and frivolous much like the toastie itself.


All my fingers and toes crossed Santa

Love from Hazel xxx


PS  Will leave you a generous nip of single malt Santa




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Happy Birthday to ME – a Food Odyssey


The first week of November is  always special.  Our wedding anniversary is on the 3rd and my birthday is on the 6th.  To mark 7 years of marriage and my being dragged further into middle age, we headed South to Cleveland where we were booked to stay for a two night break in the Kings Head Inn in the idyllic sounding Newton Under Roseberry.  One of the things that attracted us to this Inn was its proximity to North Yorkshire and in particular Whitby. Ah yes!  Whitby is where it all began.  It was the venue for B and I’s first proper date, it was where he proposed and where we celebrated our first wedding anniversary.  I have only ever been there in winter and I adore it.  Bet you are all thinking how romantic that sounds. It does doesn’t it?  Now factor in a four-year old and reconsider.


After a long ……… very long drive we arrived in Whitby to eat at one of our top haunts, Humble Pie & Mash. Small but perfect, Humble Pie & Mash is located in a 16th century building and is brimming with vintage knick-knacks and an overall feeling of nostalgia. Music from old blue eyes made me instantly relax.  This restaurant sells a variety of wonderful short crust pies, served with the creamiest mash and peas on white and blue ceramic plates.  B opted for a traditional mince and onion pie whilst I went for a lamb and rosemary pie.  N meanwhile tried hard to do anything but eat her bangers & mash.  This meal was comfort with a big fat capital C.  It is not licensed but you can get a drink from the pub over the road and bring it across – how cool is that!  Humble Pie & Mash is simply one of my favourite places to eat in one of my favourite destinations.


After our pilgrimage to the spot of the marriage proposal to the back drop of “I am tired, where is the toy shop” we headed to the cake shop to end all cake shops (almost). When you enter Sherlocks you are transported to the time of Mr Holmes and his sidekick.  The decor is simply superb.  It was the perfect place to finish our day in Whitby.

The weary travelers headed back to the Kings Head and checked in.  We discovered that the family room we thought we had booked was actually a family suite of two bedrooms and one bathroom.  I could not have been happier.  Anybody who has shared a room with their pre-schooler will appreciate my joy.


The Kings Head Inn was originally two 17th century cottages before the Inn collection Group got their hands on it.  As with their other fabulous Inns,  they have managed to create the character of a traditional warm and cosy Inn whilst embracing contemporary design.

Outside there is a rather big hill called Roseberry Topping,  which I think sounds like something to add to your ice cream.  Anyway,  this big hill does lend a rather dramatic back drop to the whole affair.  Would you like some Roseberry Topping with your banana split?


The menu is pretty extensive at the Kings Head and I was tempted by many things, however as I was still struggling to digest cake and pie I went light and smug with an asparagus and roast cherry tomato salad.  It was indeed lovely, crisp and light but I couldn’t help but look enviously at B’s potato skins with garlic mayo.  I  hate when you order potato skins and you are given half a tattie.  At the Kings Head what you get are actual crispy  potato skins which are crunchy and delicious.  I did obviously pilfer some from Bs plate, though not as many as I might have liked.


The star of the show for me was the main event. Salmon topped with baby prawns in a caper and lemon butter, served up simply with new potatoes and salad.  With something as simple as this it is imperative that the fish is cooked well and this fish was cooked to perfection.  The piquant flavour of the capers married wonderfully with the butter and the little prawns were just the icing on this savoury cake.  As with my starter I felt smug but I didn’t have eyes for any dish but my own.  This is something I am going to try to replicate at home.

Tired  we trooped to bed armed with wine and gigantic meringues with cream and strawberries.  I valiantly managed half before slumbering off to the land of nod.


Our second day was spent in York.  We whizzed round some tourist attractions, fitted in a bit of shopping and ate at Lucky Days.  I have talked about Lucky Days in York before.  Click here to read about it in more detail. .  B was not totally convinced by the six salads deal at this popular lunch time stop but the sheer loveliness of the food won him over completely.  You choose one item from their deli menu and  you get six portions of their inventive salads to accompany your choice.  I selected a delectable filo pastry parcel filled with roast squash and goats cheese.  the salads included a wonderfully aromatic curried cauliflower.  B nailed it when he commented that all of the salads were completely unique yet none of them overpowered the others.  It is a completely balanced mix of flavours on one plate.  Very clever.


Back at base it was time for another three course meal.  By this time  I could feel my waistline expanding and was thanking my lucky stars for packing my skinny jeans which have an elasticated waist.  I was a bit dubious about this purchase but sod it – it was a saving grace by the end of this weekend.


There was no smugness involved in the choices for the final meal.  Fried chicken with a mayo dip followed by a great big massive hunk of pork belly complete with black pudding and then the darkest naughtiest hot chocolate fudge cake floating in a moat of cream.  I would note that it is pretty easy to eat healthily at the Kings Head and they are one of the very few restaurants I have come across who offer sorbet and fresh fruit as a dessert option.  Sadly I did not go down that healthful route and ended up rolling around in a state somewhere between insane happiness and abject guilt.

A fantastic weekend was had by all and the food was simply splendiferous.  I have returned a few pounds heavier but delighted with our fantastic weekend.

PS.  I am itching to get back to where it all began sometime soon.

Kings Head Inn:, The Green, Newton under Roseberry, Great Ayton, Cleveland. TS9 6QR, 01642 722318

Lucky Days:  1 Church St, York YO1 8BA, 01904 733992

Humble Pie and Mash: 163 Church St, Whitby YO22 4AS

 Sherlocks Coffee Shop: 10 Flowergate, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 3BA