Venison Sausages with a Red Wine, Raspberry and Cassis Jus

maille cassis de dijon 3

maille cassis de dijon 3I picked up some venison sausages from Sainsbury’s a couple of weeks ago, and they have been hanging out in my freezer since then.  This evening we ate them with mashed potato, petit pois, and a red wine reduction made with raspberry jam and Maille red wine vinegar au Cassis de Dijon. 

It was the first time I’d attempted a red wine reduction, and it went very well.  The finished result was fruity, a little tart and nice and glossy.  It made a nice change from onion gravy, and we all enjoyed it a lot. 


To make this, you’ll need

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Mothers Day

streetfood steph

Last Sunday was Mothering Sunday, but in a break from tradition I did not spend the weekend with my children.  Instead I had a brilliant weekend in London.  

A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to score tickets to see The Cure live at the Royal Albert Hall.  By lucky, what I really mean is, really really organised.  I knew the tickets went on sale at 9am, so the night before had set up my laptop, and my debit card ready to go.  The Seetickets website was loaded and ready to go, and I legged it home from the school run that morning, leaving just enough time to make myself a swift cup of coffee and sit down, mouse poised over the refresh button at 8:58am.

Needless to say my dedication paid off, and I was one very happy camper.  I bloody LOVE The Cure.  You have no idea. 

So, Dee and I trundled off up to London on Saturday morning, had a mooch around, got my Ray Bans fixed, popped in to see my sister at work, drunk with an old friend in the sunshine, and then ate dinner at Cave à Fromage.  And before I get on to how utterly blinding The Cure are live, I am going to talk about Cave à Fromage. 


Just behind South Kensington tube station is Cave à Fromage, the cheese shop of glory.  Inside, there are a few tables and stools and you turn up, get shown to a table, and you order either a cheese plate or a charcuterie plate, with a glass of wine.  Or if you are like me and Dee, you order both, and you have champagne instead of regular wine.  We are nothing if not decadent.  What turns up is a board with eight different types of beautiful cheese to try, a lovely pile of finely sliced meats, and a basket of delicious fresh bread.  Before you tuck in, they tell you all about the cheeses, where they come from, what they are like, etc, and then you just go to town.  The entire experience is completely delightful.  The staff are warm, friendly and really know their stuff.  The cheese is utterly delicious, and whilst it may not sound like a lot of food for two people, it really is plenty (And this is coming from someone who likes to eat.  A lot), and we left feeling satisfied and very very happy.  

A+ dinner. Would (and can’t wait to) visit again.

The next time you’re up in South Ken, do check out Cave à Fromage.  They also have branches in Hove and Notting Hill.


This cheese had truffle honey drizzled over it. It was sublime. My shoddy photo does it no justice whatsoever.

So, on to The Cure.  I didn’t take my camera so you’ll have to make do with my shockingly bad iphone photography.  No support act, 4 hours of pure Cure bliss. They were on form.  Blinding, really.  I’ve wanted to see them for years and years, and it’s not a gig I’ll forget in a hurry.  The Royal Albert Hall is a stunning venue, with great acoustics, and it’s small enough so that wherever you are, you’ll be able to see and hear everything.  We were right up in the gallery, five floors up, at the side of the stage, and had an unobstructed view.  They saved Boys Don’t Cry (one of my very favourites) til the end, by which time it was getting on for 11:30, and I had to make my way over to Wapping to crash on my sister’s floor. 

A four hour set! Three encores! What a band! 


Look at that! Robert Smith. With his mad hair and smudged makeup. EPIC.

The next day, Meg and I went for a run around her neighbourhood.  Before she moved there I’d never been to Wapping.  It’s lovely.  We jogged down towards St Katherine’s Dock, then back along the Thames.  Later on, we mooched on down to Brick Lane for street food feasts, pokes around vintage shops and general meandering.  Then it was time for me to come home. 


Streetfood Brick Lane

streetfood steph

So, thats how I spent my mother’s day.  Sometimes it’s good to have time off, and by the time I got home, I was desperate to see my little lovelies again, for sticky kisses, random and precise facts from Roo, homemade cards and lots of cuddles. 

Thank you London, you were beautiful. 

Farewell, Mostly Horrid Week.


It’s been an odd week.  I don’t often write about stuff that happens in our lives away from the internet, but this week has been so difficult and sad that I am making an exception.

Last Sunday we noticed Ruby’s ear was bleeding, and she was in pain.  She’d had a nasty ear infection the week before, which had involved rivers of pus, and a lot of pain, but the blood concerned me.  After debating whether to take her up to a&e, I decided to let her sleep and go back to the GP on Monday morning, reasoning that a good night’s sleep would be better than hours of waiting at the hospital.  And for what? Hard to know if we’d even get to see an ENT on a Sunday night, but I presumed it unlikely.  

The GP we saw was unconcerned.  

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Lumie Arabica Light Box Review

lumie arabica SAD lamp

Just after Christmas I went a bit doolally.  The dark days took their miserable toll and I found myself balled up on the sofa howling because it was too dark, and I couldn’t do anything, and the kids were winding me up and Ross wasn’t around because he was still commuting to London every day, and there was nothing to do, and I wanted to go to the park and the kids wouldn’t put their sodding shoes on, and the pile of laundry was akin to Everest, and the thought of cooking dinner made me want to cry, and everything was just frankly, utterly hideous. 

Then I figured that if I switched on every single light in my house, I might feel better.  

Well, I didn’t feel any better, and my mum was beginning to worry (as you do, about the mentals).  So, she bought me the Lumie Arabica SAD lamp.  

lumie arabica SAD lamp

At 10,000 lux the Lumie Arabica is the brightest light I have ever owned.  It sits on the side in my dining room, and I have it on when I am working, or eating (It also masquerades as a photography light, so if you’ve noticed my food photos are looking brighter and sharper, well you have my SAD to thank for that)

It’s not the most inconspicuous of lamps; it doesn’t, for instance, blend in with the rest of my stuff.  There is no denying it’s a light box, and people have asked me what it is, and when I tell them it’s a SAD lamp, without fail the next question is, “does it work?”

And, well, yes it does.  Whilst typically, it arrived just as we got a few brighter days, they soon reverted back to the dull, heavy grey skies we’ve become accustomed to, the lamp has been used almost every day, and just sitting in front of it for 45 mins a day has certainly helped a lot.  The amount of daylight we get is said to have an effect on our circadian rhythms*, and even though the curtains in my bedroom are flimsy at best, thus waking me up early, when the days are short and dark I really notice a difference in my mood and general wellbeing.   Having the lamp on makes me feel generally happier.  I don’t feel like like sleeping all the time (partial though I am to a nap), I feel more inclined to get out of the house and do things.  Everything that seemed grey and dull and impossible, now feels brighter and lighter and achievable.  I feel capable again, and when you have two small children to care for, feeling capable is very important. 

lumie arabica SAD lamp

(I had to turn the exposure right up on this photo, hence all the noise – but I think it gives you an idea of how bright it really is)

I’m not saying it’s all down to my Lumie Arabica, regular readers will know I’ve started running which eases my stress levels – I never ever come home from the gym feeling low, rather I leave feeling badass.  But then I can’t help wondering if I was feeling as rubbish as I was before I got my Lumie Arabica, would I even be motivated enough to go for a run?  Knowing myself, I think it’s more likely I’d go and curl up somewhere whilst snarfing down a packet of biscuits. 

So if you are considering light therapy for SAD, then I’d wholeheartedly recommend this lamp.  It’s certainly not the cheapest on the market, but Lumie give you the VAT off if you are a SAD sufferer.  When you feel as low as I did, you have to take the perks where you can get them, am I right?

*Surely I can’t be the only person who thinks of Daysleeper by REM when anyone starts talking about circadian rhythms?  




World Book Day

World Book Day Matilda

Today is World Book Day, and like thousands of other little girls and boys, Roo got to dress up as a character from a book today.  We thought about it and decided on Matilda, from the Roald Dahl book of the same name.  It suits little Roo well, she always has her nose in a book, she’s sensitive, inquisitive and very, very bright.  No mad telekinesis skills yet though.  

She does, however, have nicer parents than Matilda, and as far as I know, there is no chokey to be thrown into at school.

World Book Day Matilda

 That copy of Matilda is well loved; I used to read that very book when I was a child, and remember loving it.  But reading it now gives me a completely different perspective of the story.  What was a story about a little girl who had the magical ability to move things with her eyes, and used it to get one over on her horrible family and tyrannical head teacher has become a somewhat darker tale, but one that we still love, nevertheless.

It’s funny how that often happens with children’s books, certainly a lot of Roald Dahl’s novels have fairly sinister undertones, but also books like The Secret Garden (spoilt, bratty child, shipped halfway across the world after the death of her parents, to a place where no one cares about her existence, and ends up practicing voodoo on the Yorkshire moors whilst her invalid cousin slowly falls in love with her) and The Velveteen Rabbit (a full on tear jerker about a toy rabbit who spends most of his life craving the acknowledgement of his thoroughly spoilt owner, only to be saved from certain death at the very last minute by a fairy who turns him into a real bunny after scarlet fever condemns everything to the bonfire). See also, ANYTHING by Maurice Sendak, with the exception of Where the Wild Things Are, which is fabulous.  And don’t even get me started on fairytales. So dark, so brilliant. 

We love literature, and it’s ability to be different things to different people.  Books are amazing, and reading is something I just don’t do enough of, but thankfully, Roo does.  I hope she always loves reading the way she does now. 


Are you celebrating World Book Day?  Have your children dressed up?  Reviewed a book and want to share it? Link your posts up here: