Saturday, 29 October 2016

2 Dudes - Burgers on a budget!

So most kids love burgers especially from that well known burger joint that is quite similar sounding to five blokes, but lets be honest the prices aren't anywhere close to being family friendly (sorry Guys) but with cheese burgers at £7.95, fries at £4 and milkshakes at £4.85 this is rather steep but times this by four and that's a pricey jaunt into town by most peoples standards! and we all know the direction a day out can go when you say NO to kids! So we decided to make our own at a massively reduced rate. and you've guessed it, it tasted absolutely fantastic too! We wrapped in tinfoil to create a proper burger joint kinda vibe! If only I could get everything to come out at the same time we'd have a complete meal, but this isn't so important is it?

Ingredients you'll need

For the Burgers
Minced Beef
Breadcrumbs (you can easily make you own with stale bread and a blender)
Bread Buns
Gherkins (Some people think these are proper rank!, but they make the burger taste good)
Mustard & Ketchup
Salt & pepper
Potatoes (with the skin on)

For the Milkshake
Ice Cream

It's REALLY easy to make burgers, you don't really need to cut anything up either except the cheese and buns...
So to start cut the potatoes and place then in a oven proof dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add some oil, toss them about and whack them in the oven at 200 degrees and cook 'til soft and browned) Then it's onto the burgers which are a piece of cake, just grab a mixing bowl, add a handful of breadcrumbs, salt & pepper, and mould using something round (we used a giant muffin mould pressed with a jar)

Press your burger mix into something round (this is a muffin mould)

 then add the burger into hot oil in a frying pan (get an adult to help or supervise and stay safe kids!) add fry 'til browned on both sides, this is the bit where you need a pan lid, lay the cheese onto the burgers and carefully add a spoonful of water (this is mum & dads job) into the oil and quickly put the lid back on. You could grill but this tastes so much better (cheers Lizzie Homen for this super tip), when the burgers are ready put them into the burger buns (toast then if you like) add gherkin slices, burger mustard and ketchup) and serve with the chips.

It took Frankie ages to get his hands into the mince!

The Milkshake
This is sooooo easy, take lots of ice cream and equally parts milk and blend together, pour into a glass and take a seat as this will most likely blow you off your feet! We use ice cream from Lidl called Gelatelli, simply because it's nice and soft and it taste phenomenally good, plus it's very cheap too! I'm not sure what they put into the restaurant one but you'll get a lot more change from this recipe. and pour into a glass and enjoy while still freezing cold with a straw. I'd recommend a flake in the top just 'cause I like Flakes!

Keep an eye out for our Battenburg Milkshake Spectacular next week, this is the best thing you'll ever taste if you like Battenburg!, if you don't i'm sorry but you'll just have to watch!

Just add milk to ice cream and whisk (if you have Horlicks, this tastes great added into the mix!)

Lidl's Bourbon Vanilla is seriously tasty
Homemade potato chips with the skins on!

Not the best photo but this was 11/10 for taste!

Alf's gone really quite!

Paper plates and tin foil for effect
Get the burgers nice and brown!
As ever with food prep, teach you kids the right way and they'll learn some serious skills for life!
Let us know if you give this a try, or leave us a comment in the section below, and most importantly please share!


Saturday, 22 October 2016

A Bensham Broth

As a dad I thinks it's really important to teach your kids to cook, and understand the basics of cooking on a budget, so no impractical ingredients like Mongolian mountain cabbage or some rare and expensive truffles.

Alf's demonstrating his safe knife skills
As many families are probably aware of waste especially bags of vegetables that go unused or slightly mouldy (i'm not talking seriously mouldy), So we make it into soup, and anyone who lives in Newcastle & Gateshead will be aware the rapid decline from summer to winter is an almost overnight switch, which requires an immediate wardrobe change from flip flips and shorts to two coats, gloves and long johns and some rather delicious soup.

We decided to put these aforementioned veg to good use, you'll need a decent sized pan and some freezer bags/tupperware (if you want to freeze what you make).

Our recipe for today is a Winter Warmer fit for shifting those Baltic blues, and to top it of it's really healthy too... You can use pretty much anything for soup so don't go out buying wallet busting ingredients!

Odds and sods from the vegetable drawer
Softening up the ingredients in thyme oil
Our ingredients
Thyme from the garden (you can use Sage which is much better)
1/2 a butternut squash
4 sweet potatoes
4 potatoes
some carrots
Olive or vegetable oil
Salt & black pepper
Chilli flakes (If you want it to be a bit of a zinger)
Bread to serve

Frankie's stirring up the veg before adding water & stock
So here goes...
Chop and peel most of the items not carrots as they don't need to be peeled for this, heat some oil (I used standard olive oil as it's all we had) and add some fresh herbs into the hot oil (if you don't have them, don't worry) fish out the herbs before it turns brown, and get ready to add the chopped vegetables in any order (hardest first would be a good rule), try and get them to brown a little as this adds a nice flavour to your soup (Note: i did say brown and not black) add a couple of cloves of garlic and once the veg looks soft enough (test it with a fork, if you need to) then cover them in water and add some stock (your choice, chicken, beef or vegetable if your vegetarian) and simmer until all the ingredients are nicely softened and cooked through add salt and pepper to boost the flavour a little, and chilli flakes if you want it a little spicy. blitz it with an hand blender or in a liquidizer (if you want it chunky just break it down a little bit) and serve with some big chunky bread, like the stuff they make fresh daily at the Urban Bakery in Low Fell which would be bang on!

Hand Blender
Kids and knifes!
At our house we believe it's good for kids to learn to use a sharp knife correctly, they learn fast so if they do cut themselves, they rarely do it twice!, teach them the correct way of using things like hobs, knifes, blenders etc and it's a skill for life, we always do stuff under a relaxed supervision, which gives the kids confidence a boost, and they get a chance to grow their skills.

The finish soup, super tasty, easy to make and souper healthy (Geddit!)


Monday, 17 October 2016

Give us each day our daily bread

After we paid a visit to Pop-Up Studio (see post HERE) on Saturday we had a stroll down the hill into Low Fell to grab some coffee and delicious cake at Urban Bakery (get liking their Facebook page HERE) with my boys as my wife was studying and we decided to stay out a bit longer as we were getting the impression we may be hindering her concentration or as they say around these parts dee'in her 'eed in.

Fresh Bread
My boys refusing to take a normal photo outside the Urban Bakery (Never work with kids or animals!!!)
We first found Urban Bakery as I wandered round, lost in Low Fell looking for an estate agents when we were planning on moving to Bensham from Middlesbrough, it's situated just opposite the Beaconsfield pub (which I've been meaning to pop into for ages) at 10B Beaconsfield Road just up the hill from the High Street away from all the road noise, so it's nice and quiet in case you wanting to chill out or just relax.

Urban Bakery is a small craft bakery in Low Fell ran by husband and wife bakers Jonathan and Lindsay and all the goods are baked fresh each day... in their words Breads first, then scones with savouries emerging triumphantly late morning while cakes are made at a more leisurely pace in the afternoon ready for the following day. From 11am they begin to make sandwiches. Huge, hand made buns, full of salad and a selection of fillings chosen from anything available in the bakery.

I like sitting in the window with my usual flat white and a brownie as I usually come along from Bensham into Low Fell on my bike, so it's a good energy hit after all those hills. All the food is lovely and the smells from the bakery out back makes your mouth water, it's a great set up which has clearly been made with lots of love and attention to detail, from the counters full of cakes and buns, to the hand scrawled blackboards and shelves of locally sourced produce, books and decor. It's really nice watching people come in to get their daily bread, and Jonathan has a great rapport them all.

Unlike many coffee shops around and about the prices in Urban Bakery are seriously pocket friendly which makes it a definite return visit on your rounds. Bear in mind it's a strictly old school cash only for purchases so bring some money with you.

Urban Bakery, 10b Beaconsfield Road, Low Fell, Gateshead, NE9 5EU
Tel: 0191 4871771 • Opening hours: Tues - Fri: 9am - 4pm Sat: 8.30am - 3pm
Twitter: urban_bakery • Facebook: urban bakery low fell

This won't last long...

Peruse at your leisure

Frankie polishes off a gourmet sausage roll in record time 

One of those belongs to me, best Rocky Road EVER!!!! 


Saturday, 15 October 2016

A new Sheriff in town...

Recently I stumbled upon a blog post on the world-wide webulator that you can read HERE informing the good folk of Gateshead that a new shop was opening in Sheriff's Hill, Gateshead, The post described a pop-up shop made out of the old Post Office and lovingly transformed into a pop-up store selling all manner of fantastic creative produce, it quite frankly looked awesome.

You can't miss this place as you drive through Sheriff's Hill
Fully loaded 'til next time!

Today it opened so me and and my two boys paid them a visit, the shop looks great, it really stands out in Sheriff's Hill, a viridian green store front filled with some excellent produce, and it REALLY lifts up the area and raises the bar for new businesses.

Alfie entered the shop with a visible excitement on his face eager to spend some of his savings which have been burning an hole in his pocket since he first laid hands on them.

The shop is run by Laura and Jon in an old post office (not that you'd ever guess!) it's been painstakingly transformed into an absolute gem for Gateshead and it even has a cool custom made mosaic on the floor as you enter. The products in the shop have a real sense of humour and is totally unique from bespoke home-wares, to clothes, jazzy jewellry and epic school stuff too. To top it off all the things are really affordable.

We bought some ace presents and the boys could get stuff out of their money box savings, Alfie is over the moon with his new pencil case with was hot off the press made specially by Laura as we waited, we bought a cheeky biscuit tin as anyone who comes to our house realises we fly through biscuits at a ridiculous rate (Cookie Monster ain't got nothing on the Page Posse when it comes to biscuits).

Alf's custom made pencil case
I need these lights!

At present the shop is open on Saturdays but they have a website which is and is well worth a visit.

Frankie and Alfie definitely gave this the big thumbs up and reckon it's unique and they love the fact you can create your own things and it's near our house too! 


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Volunteering is good for the soul!

I'd read a book, a kind of self-help manual on happiness bought as a gift (I do love a good self help book!) and one of the subjects was volunteering. Ask me about volunteering two years ago and I'd have looked at you like you we're crazy or drunk, but as I get older I wanted to start giving back and adding to the community which I live in... So by some uncanny bit of synchronicity I received the opportunity to volunteer and get my hands dirty with the good folk from Bensham's Comfrey Project, a refugee gardening project situated at the junction of Bensham Bank and Coatsworth Road which is a registered charity working with refugees and asylum seekers on allotment sites across Newcastle and Gateshead with the aim of improving their conditions of life and general wellbeing.

Soltan trims back the hedge
From the minute I arrived I could feel an atmosphere of happiness and friendship, I met everyone, attempted to remember as many names as possible and got tucked into clearing the weeds from an hawthorn hedgerow with some of the guys.

We soon broke off for lunch (which I wasn't expecting) and sat outside in the sun and enjoyed a meal made by some of the cooks using ingredients harvested straight from the polytunnel which was in full bloom (if only I had the space for one at our house!) the food was delicious, a squash curry, flat breads and a salad made from greens which I have to say was very nice indeed.

The Comfrey Project is a great addition to Tyne & Wear and makes a visible difference to the people who attend. I'm kinda getting addicted to the volunteering bug and my next stint will be getting all dusty at the renovation of an old carpet warehouse for the new Star & Shadow Cinema base, if you want to join me message me, I guarantee you'll walk away with a smile on your face and an handful of great new friends.

Squashs and Marrows from the Comfrey polytunnel
The polytunnel
The best form of transport for Newcastle & Gateshead
In bloom
Recycled bottle greenhouse
John the beekeeper tends to the hive in full suit, i'm keeping my distance
Hand picked Elderberries to be made into a winter tonic full of vitamin C
Craig shows round another guest 
John's dog
Hiley watering the sprouts
a seriously good looking Artichoke flower
Chamomile flowers used for making a relaxing tea after some intensive gardening

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