Happy new year

Hi all, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a prosperous and healthy 2016.thanx for all your support for the past year

Early Christmas Dinner

Pre Christmas family dinner
 I cooked an early Christmas dinner for the whole family using all locally produced food stuffs. 

The mains consisted of Baked Ham and stuffing, sprouts, carrots and parsnips. The vegetables tasted better when freshly cooked as they don’t freeze well. We had mash potatoes and Dauphinoise potatoes cooking using the potatoes, cream and cheese. We had the tomato and basil soup for lunch. I used the turnips and soup mix to make a vegetable broth. The sponge was used for trifle. 
The cost of all the ingredients was very competitive and the vegetables were quite sweet,the kids loved them!!! Overall the range of local seasonal produce at TESCO is exceptional and great value. 

TESCO slashing sugar

This is a step in the right direction, well done…. Keep it up
Tesco to slash sugar content in more children’s food
By Rick Pendrous+Rick Pendrous, 11-Dec-2015
Tesco is to roll out sugar reduction targets to its own-label suppliers in new categories of food and drink in the New Year, following the success it has achieved in healthier reformulation of children’s soft drinks, its group quality director Tim Smith has revealed.

Santas grotto at Hillmount

Santas Grotto at Hillmount
I was invited along to visit Santas Grotto and trail at Hillmount Nursery with my wee girls. This was my first time at the garden centre and I can’t believe I’ve never been here before. It’s celebrating 75 years and We were well looked after by Robin and son Alan Mercer (3rd and 4th generation owners respectively).
The Santa statues are pink in colour but the real one was in red!! The actual trail features a bit of interaction. There are ten very well laid out and decorated Christmas themed scenes/displays before pictures and pressies from the main man Santa himself. There are a series of questions to answer and the winner gets a prize. After exiting Santas grotto there is an area where there are goats, donkeys and reindeer. There’s a straw play area for the kids. My two certainly enjoyed the whole experience. 
We then had some wonderful food consisting of chicken, ham and cheese panini, baked potato with Bbq chicken (both served with salad), a side of bacon and potato salad and a choccy rice crispie tray bake.

The kids had a goodie bag of juice and Haribo. Food was delicious and well priced (all for under £20). 
If you get the opportunity do pay a visit!!

Latest from FSA-hot off the press!!


Wednesday 9th December 2015: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Northern Ireland last night welcomed the passing of the Food Hygiene Rating Bill in the Assembly. The Bill will mean that food businesses who sell food directly to the public, and who receive a rating under the statutory Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, will be required by law to display their food hygiene rating sticker at their premises. This includes restaurants, takeaways, mobile caterers, schools, hospitals, residential care homes, delicatessens and supermarkets.


Speaking after last night’s debate, Head of Local Authority Policy and Delivery at the FSA, Michael Jackson said, “The FSA is delighted that the Food Hygiene Rating Bill has passed the final consideration stage and is due to receive Royal Assent and become an Act here in Northern Ireland.


“We have been working closely with colleagues in the 11 district councils in NI who will be responsible for operating the statutory scheme, with a view to introducing mandatory display in October 2016. District councils will be writing to all food businesses within the scope of the scheme to explain the requirements and how it will work.


“Since the scheme was introduced in NI in 2011, the number of businesses voluntarily displaying their rating sticker has remained relatively low. From October 2016, it will become a legal requirement to display rating stickers and it will be an offence not to display a valid rating.


“In the months leading up to the introduction of the statutory scheme, district councils will be working with businesses to help those with a rating of less than 5 improve their level of compliance and to provide new ratings where appropriate, as well as to encourage those with a 5 rating to maintain their very good standards.”


The widespread display of the rating sticker will benefit consumers, giving them an instant indication of a food business’ hygiene standards and it will also be good for businesses as it shows customers just how seriously they take food hygiene.


Most importantly, the mandatory display of ratings will encourage those businesses with poorer ratings to improve their food hygiene standards and strive for a better rating. This, in turn, will reduce the likelihood of food poisoning occurring.


Food businesses should not find it difficult to reach the top food hygiene rating of 5, as all that they need to do is to comply with existing food hygiene law. It is the responsibility of food businesses to provide safe food and if they have put the necessary procedures in place to help them achieve this, then the rating scheme itself will not present a significant burden. The only requirement will be that they display the sticker at the front of house following inspection.


One difference with the statutory scheme is that when a business receives a rating of less than 5 and, having taken action to address the problems, requests a further inspection to get an improved rating they will have to pay for this (the fee has not yet been finalised but will reflect the associated costs incurred by the council in carrying out a re-rating inspection).


For more information on the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme visit, http://ratings.food.gov.uk/ or for further updates from the FSA in NI join their conversations at facebook.com/FSAInNI or Twitter @FSAinNI.

Vote for St Georges market

Shoppers are being urged to vote for St George’s Market as the best in Britain. 

NABMA – the National Association of British Market Authorities – currently is running an online poll to find ‘Britain’s Favourite Market’. To vote, all shoppers have to do is visit the NABMA website, http://www.nabma.com/, and enter St George’s Market, Belfast, when prompted to do so.


Voting closes on Thursday 31 December.


St George’s previously won the title of Best Large Indoor Market in NABMA’s annual awards in 2013.

Dinner,drinks at the Giants

Dinner Drinks and Ice Hockey

Myself and my wife were at the SSE Belfast last night to watch The Giants play Nottingham Panthers. We were with seven others in a suite overlooking the arena. The atmosphere was great and our hostess was amazing. The food looked and smelt great. There was herb infused rice which was lovely and perfectly cooked. The Beef dish, I’m told, was great and the Chicken in fennel and tarragon was nice but sauce was a bit thin and needed a bit more seasoning. The roasties were a treat and the sweet wheaten and soft butter really complimented it well. For afters we had a divine chocolate cake and a beautiful lemon tart and fresh cream. Great night which made up for the Giants losing 3-2!!!!


Food safety at Christmas 

Hi all I’ve been asked to pass this on, please read and heed:


It’s that time of the year again, the beginning of the silly season – people are full of non-stop Christmas cheer and of course, the endless office dinner parties that will consume every one of your weekends right up until Christmas Day.

So in the midst of all the festive fun, it’s important that you remain savvy when it comes to eating out. As you and I both know – right through from now until the New Year, you’ll be dining out with friends, family and work colleagues, in places you’ve never eaten in before. But the question has to be asked, do you or your friends know the hygiene rating of the restaurant, café or bar? 

It may seem trivial and some might call me scrooge but you won’t regret checking – after all, the Food Hygiene Rating shows how seriously a business takes their food hygiene. If it’s low or not displayed, then you should really question eating there. 

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme gives us the peace of mind, that if we choose businesses with a good hygiene rating, we should avoid food poisoning, vomiting, diarrhoea…and the list goes on. Why leave it to chance? 

So if you don’t know what the food hygiene ratings mean; it’s worth educating yourself. This video will explain just how food businesses get rated:

It’s worth noting that around 4 in 10 food businesses in Northern Ireland don’t display their Food Hygiene Rating so you’ll have to do some of the legwork yourself. It only takes a couple of clicks to find all the ratings on the FSA’s website: food.gov.uk/ratings 

So this Christmas make sure you look before you book and remember to have fun but be wise when it comes to food!

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

For further information on the FSA visit: food.gov.uk/northernireland or join their conversations on facebook.com/FSAinNI and Twitter @FSAinNI.