The excellent Anna Jones (who created the recipes for our new family recipe book, Hungry?) came along with me to Jamie Oliver’s Feastival on Clapham Common last weekend to talk about the book, make some recipes with kids and dust off the old Blendavenda smoothie bike.
Here we are before the carnage ensued
Fruit prepped, ingredients laid out and head mikes donned, we got kids making the old bread and squashed tomato salad and fruit mess recipes from the book and then followed it with a bun fight to see who got to pedal the smoothie bike first
Though the fighting was mainly amongst all the mums and dads trying to have a go.
Thanks to everyone who came along, squashed, pedalled and ate the results.
Hopefully we'll be going along to more things like this over the summer and we'll be sure to give you plenty of warning the next time we do
On Saturday, I went along to Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire to meet our bee competition winner Julian, Tim the beekeeper and Neil the Head Gardener for an afternoon of bees, bees and more bees.
Julian, Neil and Tim
We had a tour of the beautiful gardens and grounds from Neil (including the mushroom house) and then Tim gave us an introduction to bee keeping.
Tim has 8 hives at Hanbury Hall which this year yielded 250 jars of honey. He taught us how to hold a frame, how a hive works and how to mark a queen bee when you spot her.
Then it was on with the bee suits
Julian got to wear the suit as paid for by the proceeds of Buy One Get One Bee whilst I had to wear a suit for a 10 year old as there were no adult bee suits left.
Once suited, we then got to inspect the innocent hive and meet some bees.
The innocent hive
After meeting the bees and asking more home beekeeping questions, we all got given a jar of Tim's honey
And then Julian and his wife, Nicky went off for a proper afternoon tea (though sadly the chocolate potato cake had sold out).
We've made a little film of the day (including Tim answering lots of your questions) so watch this space for the official premiere.
For now though, massive thanks to Tim, Neil and the catering staff at Hanbury Hall for such a brilliant afternoon, to Julian and Nicky for being such enthusiastic winners and to my mum for being an excellent camera assistant.
And those woods happen to be in Poland, you might find a forest floor filled with blueberries
Rozanne and Dan have just returned from a berry sourcing adventure across Eastern Europe, where they tasted an array of berry shaped fruit.
Howver, before they got to actually taste any berries, they first had several mini adventures along the way.
After being greeted by a dog on the runway, hiring a car that sounded like a hairdryer and picking up a speeding ticket in the first twenty minutes of driving, they then got hideously lost (thanks to a self-programming sat nav system) and had to wait by some woods in the middle of the night for our suppliers to pick them up.
When our suppliers finally arrived, Rozanne and Dan were then driven through pitch black forests at 180kph in a blacked out Audi, plied with vodka, potatoes and breadcrumbed meat and made to sing along to Russian pop. And that's not even taking into account the 7 hour border crossing, rigourous strip search (of the blowdrying car) and more money changing hands they had to endure, all in the name of finding the best berries for our smoothies.
It was all worth it when they got there though as they got to taste loads of berries and meet this excellent chap
He is in charge of about twenty or so berry collection points, which is where all the farmers turn up each day, in Fiat Pandas laden with fruit to be sent further afield.
Here are Dan and Rozanne sampling some berries
And here they are post berry-buying-vodka-toasting-high-speed-driving-traffic-police-bribing antics, playing catch up kip.
Lots of you wrote in to ask why our veg pots weren't vegan and if we could possibly make some that were. Well, you talk, we listen (or more to the point, you ask us nicely and we try our best to help you out).
Anyways, we're pleased to announce that two of our veg pot recipes are now vegan. We've taken the honey out of our moroccan recipe and created a new seasonal recipe, sweet potato chilli, which is also suitable for vegans.
So hopefully now even more people can enjoy our pots.
And when it comes to making our smoothies, we like to make sure you're getting the best value for your hard earned money. So we conducted a little experiment the other week to check we're doing just that.
Sustainability Jess and Rozanne went to Serbia in July to check out our raspberries and blackberries. Naturally, we're striving to only buy the very best berries for our smoothies, and they were there to make sure that we're buying them from farms that look after their workers and the environment.
The farms we buy our berries from are typically very small family farms – only 0.1-0.2 hectares. They grow a mixture of different crops: maize for feeding animals, plums for local markets and making schnapps, vegetables for the family and berries for some income.
These farms have been with the same families for generations, and they know exactly which crops to plant where to make the most of the natural environment (sun access, types of soils, water etc). The picking of the berries is mostly done by family and friends.
Serbia is a pretty interesting place. Not only do they have amazing berries, but they also hosted the Eurovision song contest earlier this year, have the tallest hay bales in Europe, and make some pretty spooky pottery.
You may have already had a go on our new break time thickie. It's called 'break time' because it fills you up nicely, so is perfect for supping after a tough game of scarecrow tig. Anyway, some of you may have read that this drink contains something called spelt, which is a type of wholegrain.
Well, we just wanted to say that it doesn't contain spelt, yet. It was going to, but the spelt we were going to use was playing up a bit. So we took it out of the recipe, went back to the kitchen and kept on fiddling. In the mean time, the recipe has hit the shelves and contains a whole heap of wholegrains, in the shape of good old reliable oats.
We're working really hard with the spelt people to get the issue resolved. And as soon as we have figured out these pesky grains, they'll be in that recipe, or our name's not Monkey Juice Inc.
Those of you in the innocent family will know we like to have competitions to win drinks and stuff in our weekly newsletters every now and then. Last week's family competition was to guess our secret ingredient with the choices being broccoli, a chicken, a wizard and nature.
Of course nature was the right answer, but it made us smile to see that 111 of you believe our secret ingredient is the wizard. We salute the believers.
And congratulations to Charlotte K, Laura H, Adrian H, Johanna P, Becca M, Sophie F, Annie S, Richard P, Ruth D and Sara D who all win a box of smoothies each for guessing nature.
If you'd like to join in the fun get with the wizard and receive our weekly email, you can join our family here.