Wednesday, 22 June 2011

National Breastfeeding Awareness Week 2011: how I'm celebrating

The deparment of Health has stopped funding National Breastfeeding Awareness Week (read Guardian's article here).... so it's again down to breastfeeding charities or the goodwill of health professionals to support this initiative that could save the NHS a lot of money. Breastfeeding comes with proven health benefits for mum and baby, and financial benefits for the whole family as it's free. It has also a low carbon footprint (you don't need products to breastfeed and you can hand express if you want to feed your baby from a cup).

With no stalls or other local initiatives, I'm celebrating by doing what I usually do most weeks, provide help and information at breastfeeding dropins. I find volunteering there very satisfying, especially when tearful mums smile at the end of the session.

If I have one tip to share with breastfeeding mums is this... learn to breastfeed lying down, it helps with latching (you don't have to worry about how to hold the baby), is kind to a C-section scar and gives you and your baby a well-deserved rest (you might well fall asleep and have a snooze).

Here are my favourite bf sites, with lots of information on breastfeeding and breastfeeding problems: (La Leche League International)

Happy NBAW!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Outsourcing... Italian TV gets in on the act

Click here for more info

In the past decade there has been a lot of talk about outsourcing editorial tasks in printed media (books, newspapers and magazines), but it's the first time I have heard of an Italian TV programme being made in Britain. I have heard of advertising campaigns being made in the UK, but not of a TV programme.

Italy is a big buyer of foreign TV programmes, which are dubbed to a high standard to suit Italian audiences. In Italy, there isn't such a thing as subtitled movies - except those old American films they used to show late at night for viewers who wanted to improve their language skills. Perhaps they still show them, but as far as I know, mainstream TV is strictly in Italian.

So I was quite amused to find out that a TV company is paying Italian speakers £20 each in travel expenses to attend the recordings of The Cube, a gameshow filmed in London but fully produced in Italian (presenter is Italian comedian and actor Teo Mammucari). I was quite tempted to get a ticket but then realised my train journey from Cambridge is over £20, especially since the location is not in zone one, meaning a long, expensive tube journey on top.

I'm sure they will find plenty of takers - being "rewarded" to watch a TV show is not to be sniffed at!

Testing, testing... Philadelphia soft cheese

Philadelphia's new flavour: Sun-dried tomatoes and basil
A few weeks ago a goodie bag arrived to announce the launch of Philadelphia's new Mediterranean flavour: Sun-dried tomato and basil. I grew up with Philadelphia as it's a popular brand in Italy and since I moved to the UK I have been using this soft cheese (the original, full-fat flavour) to make cheesecake or spread on toast.

Browsing Philly's website, I now see that this is not the only flavour available, some herby flavours are on sale too (click here to view the full range).  The goodie bag also included some yummy savoury recipes, but there are lots on the website too (click here to view them all). Among the online recipes, my favourite is the Tuscan stuffed pepper, as it's a perfect spring-to-summer dish. A few months ago I did develop a stuffed pepper recipe for a parenting website (click here), but the Philly recipe (below, just click link in the caption) promises to be lighter in calories... It's easy and delicious, and it was just the ticket when a friend who doesn't eat meat visited me a few days ago.

Stuffed pepper with Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Philadelphia, click here for the recipe

However I couldn't resist making a cheesecake with the Philadelphia Original sample - and I'm sharing my recipe below. I used three kiwi fruits and fresh berries to decorate it...

Non-bake fruit of the forest cheesecake
·      200g digestive biscuits, crushed
·      45g butter, melted
·      400g Philadelphia Original
·      100g sugar
·      1 tablespoon lemon juice
·      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·      280ml whipping cream
·      2 tablespoons sugar
·      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·      2 punnets mixed berries (you can use frozen berries)
·      2 tablespoons sugar
·      little water
 ·     kiwi fruits and a few fresh berries to garnish (optional)

1.  Crush the biscuits and place crumbs in a bowl. Pour melted butter and combine. Press the mixture into the tin to make the base of the cake. Refrigerate.

2.  Mix the cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat the cream till it resembles thick custard. Combine whipped cream in the cheese mixture. Pour over the biscuit base and refrigerate.

3.  Boil the berries in a non-stick saucepan with sugar and a little water to make the coulis. Let it cool and refrigerate it. For best results, spoon the coulis on the top just before serving. Decorate with kiwi slices (optional).

I have another great recipe that was sent to me by Phildadelphia's PR company


Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Scoops: 10
Prep time: 20 minutes
Freeze time: 24 hours
200g Philadelphia Original
300ml condensed milk
150ml crème fraiche
Grated rind of 1 lemon
125g fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
3 tbsp strawberry conserve
50g digestive biscuits, roughly chopped 
1. Mix together the Philly, condensed milk, crème fraiche and lemon rind. Spoon into a freezer proof container and freeze for about 4 hours or until semi frozen.
2. Meanwhile, put the strawberries and conserve into a blender or food process and puree together.
3. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and whisk to break up the ice crystals. Stir in the strawberry puree and the crumbled biscuits. Spoon back into the freezer proof container. Freeze until completely frozen, preferably overnight. Remove from the freezer about 20-30 minutes before serving to soften slightly. Serve in scoops decorated if likes with some fresh strawberries.

TIP: If liked, use raspberries and raspberry conserve in place of strawberries.