It’s Slow Cooker Season, Yay!

To be fair, it’s slow cooker season in our house all year round, but when it turns to Autumn, it feels like my slow cookers come into their own. Right now I have a small joint of pork cooking on a bed of onions and apples. Sounds fancy, but anyone who knows me, knows I’m a pretty crap cook. That’s possibly another reason why I think my slow cookers are great! lol.

I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I love my slow cooker and that we couldn’t live our lives as we do, without it. When we went on holiday recently and stayed in a Yurt, I bought a two person slow cooker which is  perfect for the three of us and it saved me oodles of time and worry about what to eat each evening on our holiday.

There is nothing quite like throwing everything into a slow cooker and then coming back 6 to 8 hours later to a meal that can be immediately served up.

Over the past couple of years I’ve picked up lots of slow cooker recipe’s. Unfortunately I didn’t take a note of where I found them, so I can’t post up the recipe’s as I’m not able to give the credit back to the original “owner”.

I have a friend who recently bought a slow cooker but had no idea where to start. I have over 80 slow cooker recipe’s in my Mealboard App, so I had a look and realised that I can email them to my email account.

So I’m going to try something new. If you have a slow cooker but need some inspiration for tried and tested recipe’s, drop me an email at with the heading “Slow Cooker Recipe’s” and I will bombard send you twenty of our favourite slow cooker recipe’s.

However, please keep in mind that NHM is my hobby, so it may take me a little bit of time to reply to you!

Fingers crossed this works and helps you on your slow cooker journey 😀

Review 2013: NorthDown Orchard Deliveries

Northdown Orchard

I found out about Northdown Orchard when I was doing my research on the Pick Your Own post which was published in April (gosh, I thought it was published in June! How time flies, lol)

I’ve mentioned before on NHM that I have had an organic delivery box (Weaning Ideas) since my little one started weaning. The box deliveries take the pressure off me to provide nutritional, organic produce as I knew we would be getting a box each week, which had a variety of organic fruit and veg in, for a very reasonable price.

However, when I found out that the local NorthDown Orchard delivered boxes to most areas in Basingstoke, I thought I would try it out. It helped that Fumbilina (a long time NHM reader and supporter) got her box organised before me and had good things to say about it!

So, I started my deliveries in June and I’ve been really impressed. As there are only three of us, we have the bag which is:

  • Bag – £7.70 (usually 6-7 items, typically 1kg potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage or broccoli or cauliflower, salad leaves or lettuce, other items e.g. tomatoes and cucumber in summer; leeks, swede or parsnips in winter)

This is more than enough for the week for us. With anything that is left over, it goes straight into a vegetable soup which I make in the slow cooker. Just throw it all in with some water and herbs and hey presto!

I’ve requested not to have potatoes because I’m trying to stick to a mainly paleo diet and Mike was very happy to accommodate this.

The deliveries are on Tuesday afternoon and evening, so Tuesday evening is now my “vegetable preparing” evening. I’ve asked Mike, the delivery man (who is also the main man! lol) to knock when he drops the delivery off, so I can get the vegetables straight into the fridge to preserve their life.

I also like that Mike will pick up the plastic bags and paper bags that the vegetables are delivered in, so they can be recycled.

It’s really nice to get some proper local food and I love the variety of what we get. Some weeks we have herbs in our parcel and this week we had some hot peppers! Yes, it can be a challenge to cook seasonally, but I find, once you get into it, it becomes second nature. Plus, I like knowing where my vegetables come from!

NorthDown Orchard also organise many events at the orchard which are suitable for little people. We haven’t gone along to any yet, but they are on my list of things to do for October.

For more details check the Facebook page HERE or click on the website at the top of this post.

One of the key concepts behind NHM is supporting local small businesses, so I’m delighted to recommend Northdown Orchard!

Let me know if you decide to get a box from the Orchard.

Food: Healthy Snacks

This is a bit later than planned, but below is a list of possible “healthy” snacks for your little one’s. I picked up a lot of ideas from a previous post:  New food and drink guidelines for 1 to 5 year olds.

Check out my previous posts on Feeding our children, Breakfast variety and Pudding/desert variety.

I’ve had a lot of great feedback about these posts, so I’m glad you’ve found them useful!

I’m always stuck for ideas for healthy snacks, so if you have any others, please let me know!

  • Baby bel
  • Baked potato chips
  • Blueberries
  • Blueberry muffins (taken from the Early Years food plan)
  • Boiled egg
  • Carrot cake
  • Cheddar and pineapple
  • Cheese spread
  • Cheese straws
  • Cinnamon rolls (made from left over pastry)
  • Cream cheese with mini bread sticks
  • Crudités
  • Cubes of cheese
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Dates and figs
  • Dried fruit
  • Fig rolls
  • Filled cheese sticks (celery sticks, cream cheese, sultanas)
  • Flapjack
  • Fruit bread toast
  • Fruit salad
  • Frozen orange slices
  • Fromage Frais
  • Grapes
  • Hummus dip
  • Malt loaf or Banana loaf (Soreen)
  • Melons slices
  • Mini bread sticks
  • Mini cheddars
  • Oat cakes and cheese
  • Olives and sun dried tomatoes
  • Organic gingerbread men
  • Pitta pocket
  • Plain yoghurt or yoghurt mixed with unsweetened fruit puree or chopped fruitRaisins or Currants – My Little One loves Raisins (I always take a pot of raisins with me when I have my little one in tow. One of her first words was “raisin” lol)
  • Popcorn – popped from popping corn, not the stuff that’s toffee or salted! lol
  • Rice cakes
  • Smoothies – (Ella or Sainsburys sell smoothies, with the Sainsburys ones much cheaper than Ella’s)
  • Toasted crumpets
  • Toasted tea cakes
  • Tomato and mozzarella cheese (Bruschetta)
  • Watermelon slices

Pick Your Own Farms in North Hampshire and Berkshire

Mr NHM's 2015 Pumpkin!!
Mr NHM’s 2015 Pumpkin!!

Carly sent me a very sweet email, prompting me to get my butt in gear and post up this Pick Your Own Farm post! This was a really hard post to research, so if you know of any other local pick your own farms, please let me know at Thanks for the reminder Carly and I hope you find it useful!


Bourne Valley Pick Your Own, Near Whitchurch/Andover: strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, black, red and white currants and broad beans

West Green Fruits, Hartley Wintney, Hook: West Green Fruits was established in 1997, and is a family run business of 15 acres set in farmland near Hartley Wintney. We offer an extensive range of fruit including; Strawberries, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Gooseberries, Tayberries, Tummelberries, Black & Redcurrants, Blackberries and Summer vegetables.

Durleighmarsh Farm, nr Petersfield: Set in beautiful countryside on the Hampshire/Sussex border, a stone’s throw from Petersfield, Durleighmarsh Farm with its family-run Farm Shop and Pick-Your-Own offers a huge range of top quality fruit and vegetables throughout the season.

Portland Farm, North Waltham (no website that I could see for this farm)


Grays Farm, Wokingham: The Farm is now closed for the winter. We will open as usual in mid April for Rhubarb & hope to open fully on May 18th 2013 with Strawberries, New Potatoes etc.

Copas Farms, Cookham: Copas Farms is a modern, diverse, family-run business with a landholding of just under 3,000 acres in and around the Chilterns and Thames Valley.  From this approximately 2,400 acres is under arable rotation and 81 acres is allocated to two Pick Your Own Farms providing seasonal fruit and vegetables – one at Cookham in Berkshire and the other at Iver in Buckinghamshire.  The centre of operations is based at Hedsor Park Farm, Hedsor in Buckinghamshire.

I also stumbled across this Local Organic Box Delivery in Basingstoke: Northdown Orchard. I currently use Able and Cole but am considering switching to this local supplier. I will let you know if I do manage to get this sorted!

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitter,Google+,Facebook PageFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

Food: Breakfast variety

Following on from last Friday’s post, this is a list of most of the things that we have for breakfast. My little one is two now, so it’s a lot easier to give her food that we can eat as a family, so I no longer have to do two different breakfasts. When she was about 8 months old she ate mostly weetabix with banana or porridge with frozen or fresh fruit for breakfast. I used to get fed up with waiting for the porridge to cool down, so putting in the frozen fruit meant that she could eat her breakfast quicker and we had less time for breakfast melt down’s!

At the moment, I need some inspiration for breakfast as I find we often fall into a rut and have the same things each week. I want to keep as much variety in our diets, as I mentioned on Friday, but as I work, our breakfasts need to be healthy and quick to make. I would really appreciate any suggestions that you might have as to what breakfasts you have with your little one’s or if you could recommend any resources that could inspire me. Thank you in advance!

  • Asparagus and poached egg
  • Bacon and eggs
  • Banana Bread (you can freeze this, but recommend slicing in advance)
  • Banana smoothie
  • Vegetarian sausages and beans (we buy the tins from Sainsburys)
  • Cooked breakfast (including tinned tomatoes and baked beans)
  • Croissants and grapes
  • English Muffins with squished banana
  • Frozen fruit smoothies
  • Fruity toast (am currently addicted to this stuff!)
  • Pancakes with fruit and ice cream (special breakfast!)
  • Proper porridge
  • Ready Brek
  • Scotch pancakes
  • Brioche
  • French Toast or Melba Toast
  • Pitta bread with ham and honey (under one’s shouldn’t have honey as it can cause infant botulism)
  • Scrambled Eggs on toast
  • Spaghetti hoops or beans on toast (I remember a Mum telling me that Spaghetti hoops were great for your little one’s fine motor skills)
  • Spinach and scrambled eggs
  • Crepes
  • Toasted Tea cakes
  • Weetabix with banana or blueberries
  • Rice Krispies with blackberries
  • Yoghurt with fruit
  • Greek yoghurt with crushed digestive biscuits
  • Frozen mini Croissants (Anita posted up about these on FB. You can get them from Ocado. We love them!)

A day of freezer cooking

I’ve read a lot recently about Batch Cooking. We are very lucky that we have a large upright freezer and it has really been an amazing help over the past two years. When I was pregnant, before I was unable to walk, I spent a few weekends making extra meals ready for when my little one arrived. Having these meals on stand by were absolutely essential to those first few frantic months. Now that I’m working and a lot more experienced in my parenting, I try to spend one afternoon every couple of months making extra meals to freeze.

I’ve mentioned before that I mealplan because it’s cheaper and less wasteful. Having a large freezer really helps us to do this. I try to ensure that, as much as possible, my family eat homecooked meals. Most of my extended family and my friends will tell you that I’m a crap cook, but I’ve managed to pull together a few staple meals which keep us going.

Some of my easiest favourite meals to batch cook are:

  • Vietnamese Beef Soup
  • Cottage Pie
  • Casserole
  • Basic spag bol which can also be converted into Chilli
  • Goulash (so easy in the slow cooker)
  • Sausage rolls (may sound a bit strange, but my husband is from up north and it keeps him happy :-D)

Another way that I also batch cook is when we have a slow cooker meal. I try to ensure that at least one evening meal a week is a slow cooker meal, as I’ve mentioned HERE before. I’ve got the biggest slow cooker I could get, I think it’s about 6 pints, maybe even bigger! This means that when I’m cooking a meal, I nearly always cater so that there is enough for two meals. I either stick what’s left in a box or a plastic bag and it goes straight into the freezer. I do write on it the date of when it was cooker, so I know when to use it by.

I’m also a total addict of Lock and Lock Boxes. They are the best “tuperware” boxes that I’ve found. We also use Ziplock bags (Costco – beg for membership! It’s next to Madjeski Stadium, Reading) to freeze things like dried herbs and soups, but I am a little paranoid of storing everything in plastic. If only they made BPA free ziplock bags!!!

Do you Batch Cook? Which recipes are the easiest and quickest that you like to cook? I’m intrigued to know as it would be great to get some more meals to add to my repertoire.

Blackberry Picking in North Hampshire

Today’s post was supposed to be about good blackberry picking spots in the area. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to research this or to get out and about to find some new spots.

The blackberries are quiet late this year which is probably because of the wet summer that we had. Blackberry picking is a great family activity and can save quite a bit of money if you have the ability to freeze your berries after you have picked them. I like to stick them in a bowl covered in water with some salt, then rinse them off, bag them up and put them in the freezer for the winter months. It can save a fortune when you compare the cost of buying frozen or fresh berries. We use ours in porridge for breakfast (great for weaning as the frozen berries makes the porridge cold and is another dose of fruit for the day) or I use them to make smoothies or a crumble.

These are the places that I do know which have good Blackberry picking spots. I am going to put out a request on the NorthHants Mum friend and the FB Page to see if anyone else can recommend any good spots and will update this post as I receive them. If you do know of any good blackberry spots please add a comment to this post. Thank you!

Carpenters Down/Basing Wood

There are lots of Blackberry Bushes at Carpenters Down and the further you go into the Woods, the more likely you are to find some good bushes. If you follow the path out to Bramley, there are some bushes there too.

Chineham Business Park

A new path has been put into Chineham Business Park and there are a lot of bushes around this area, towards the back of the Business Park.

Related Posts

Review: Basing Wood