Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Magic of mushrooms

The other day I looked out into the garden to find it had been transformed into a fairy grotto over night. Rings of mushrooms had grown covering the lawn and there was a trail in the woods near the house.

It still amazes me that they just appear and then disappear so mysteriously. When I first saw them last year I got very excited hoping they would be edible and that I could make risotto and omelettes with them, however after some research I didn’t feel so confident. The conclusions weren’t clear, there were warnings of possible stomach upsets, and worse so I just admired them from afar and bought some safe ones.

Mushrooms in the wood

Historically mushrooms have always been seen as having healing powers, being credited with boosting the immune system.

More recent research by Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, DC.


has proved that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, which is great when you have an infection. Something that is close to my heart at the moment as Teen V is still suffering from Glandular Fever and totally lacking in energy.

On a recent trip to Paris I couldn’t help noticing the wide range of different mushrooms on display in the market. While we have a few varieties of the same thing they have a real diverse range of mushrooms readily available.

Mushrooms in a French Market.

Cepe's in French market

Not only do the shops have a broader range of varieties available but the local pharmacies have charts with all the varieties in the region and can tell you if they are edible or not. Something we could learn from.

This summer I heard a terrible story of a family gathering and eating mushrooms that they weren’t sure about, each person assuming that one of the others in the group was the expert and they were all critically ill as a result.

 It’s fine if you know that they’re safe but if there is a glimmer of doubt, leave them alone.


The best immune boosters seem to be shiitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms.

With that in mind I have been adding them discreetly to everything; the pasta sauce, the pizzas and the nut roast at the weekend.

Mushrooms in English market

So whatever you are cooking, if you want to beat the winter bugs, add a ¼ of an ounce of mushrooms and keep healthy.

Large Field mushrooms

 Let’s hope they work their magic.

Monday, 12 November 2012


Mumsnet BlogFest 2012

My multi tasking skills and ability to juggle my ‘portfolio career’ have been pushed to the limits in the last few days. So much so, that at 11pm on Friday night I was actually questioning whether I should attend Blogfest after all.

 The guilt of not having been around all week for Teen V, still in bed with Glandular Fever, due to a crazy mix of filming and teaching was troubling me. 

Surely I shouldn’t leave her alone again?

This week has been bad enough with 15 hour days but that was work, blogfest, is just fun... me time....

Why are motherhood and guilt are so intertwined?

Luckily I followed my instincts and made it in time for Miriam Gonzalez Durante’s fantastic opening key note speech.

Thank you Mumsnet she was brilliant. Just what we all needed to kick start the exciting, interesting and useful day.

I haven’t been to any Mumsnet or blogging events and I have to admit I was slightly dubious. I didn’t know anyone else going and didn’t know what to expect. But it was great. Most people were in the same boat and I had lots of interesting chats with a range of people.

Over coffee the woman I was chatting to confessed she felt close to tears as Miriam talked. She was so articulate and spoke to all of us. With anecdotes from her family life and about what it is to be a woman around the world.

The same can’t be said for Liz Jones, who appalled most of the audience and then wrote a bitchy and inaccurate article in the Daily Mail about Blogfest. She came across as arrogant, bitter and lonely. Her sneery comments and rant did serve a purpose though, I went to lunch appreciating my life choices, which didn’t feel so bad after all, and thankful that at least I wasn’t her.

The whole day was superbly organized- what else would you expect from the great Mumsnet team! The speakers entertaining and interesting, the sessions and clinics useful, and the chance to meet other bloggers face to face- a real treat!

I came home full of cheese and bubbles, thank you British Cheese Board. For the record my favourite was the vintage cheddar...  I tried them all several times!

I have enjoyed flicking through The Seasonal Cookbook from Bonne Maman  and will be testing some of their recipes and the British Cheese Boards recipe ideas when I have finished Caitlin Moran’s book moranthology, which reads just as she speaks, and I’m finding unputdownable!!

So thank you again to Mumsnet for a great day and hello to all of the lovely bloggers I met there.

This isn’t a recipe linked blog for once as I haven’t been around enough to cook...However, I did have delicious turkey mince spag bol whilst on set filming for


check out the website and IMDb page


And am about to tuck into a slice of chocolate and hazelnut cake taken from the Great British Bake Off  - How to Bake cookbook with Teen V. 

Not sure this is particularly immune boosting for her but I’m sure the dark chocolate and hazelnuts are good for something!!