Maisie’s Ragu with Pici


For four starter sized portions.

400 Grams of lean mince (mixed pork and beef is best) 

One packet of pancetta (smoked is best) 

Handful of chopped mushrooms 

A jar of tomato passata or a tin of finely chopped plum tomatoes or make your own passata by blending a large tin of plum tomatoes

A couple of bay leaves and two teaspoons of oregano  

One stock cube ….if needed 

A stick of celery (only if you like the taste of celery!) and a large red onion

One large or two smaller cloves of garlic

Half a teaspoon of nutmeg and a teaspoon of oregano. Pinch of Chilli . 

A small glass of red wine

Half a cup or small carton of single cream or milk. 


Put chopped onion and garlic with the pancetta in a medium saucepan 

No oil needed. Cook on high heat till cooked and good deep pink colour. ..about five minutes

Add meat and cook for a further five minutes on high heat. 

Add everything else except the cream or milk.

Add the wine and then boil for two minutes to evaporate the alcohol.

Add milk or cream and turn down heat.

Put on lid and simmer gently for forty minutes. Keep checking. If it is going dry add more passata

After forty minutes it should be nice and creamy and rich. Taste and season with black pepper. 

If not thick enough add tomato purée. 

Bring a large pan to the boil. Add a teaspoon of salt.

You will need about 2/3 ozs  of Pici per person as a starter.

Drop Pici in bubbling water for about fifteen minutes. Keep testing.

When al dente transfer directly from water into the pan of sauce. Stir gently and heat for two minutes until the pasta is well coated.

Serve with grated Parmeasan cheese. 


You can watch this being made here:  ( please subscribe to our channel!) 

Maisie’s Ragu and Pici

Do visit our channel for more delicious recipes and art and craft and science and travel and …………… ! 

The Jumbles Channel

The Spiders Web Clock

For this clock you will need a circular piece of thin wood and  the correct size of clock mechanism.

The web is made from long cocktail sticks and lolly sticks and the spiders are plastic ones I painted emerald green with nail varnish. 

Acrylic paints and varnish. 

To make: 

First paint the board off white or pale cream using acrylics. While the paint is still wet brush on some olive greens and oranges from the centre out. Paint the numbers in olive green too. 

Leave to dry and then varnish with a satin varnish. 

Use the same olive green paint for the lolly sticks and the cocktail sticks. 

Stick the lolly sticks on first then us the cocktail sticks to form a web kind of pattern between them. 

I inserted the clock mechanism before sticking the lolly sticks and cocktail sticks in place to ensure the hands weren’t blocked . 

Bewitched Halloween Party Bags 

Make  these fun (and tasty) witches and ghouls in the blink of an eye ! 

Ideal as decorations and perfect for Halloween party bags. 

All you need are a few CHUPA CHUPS lollies, some circles of fabric,  small elastic bands or hair elastics. 


 Place the lolly in the centre of the fabric. 

Secure with an elaśtic.  

Stick on a couple of eyes and the ghoul is finished.

For the Witch make a little hat from black card or felt. 

If you want your witch to have a broomstick you can make this from a simple stick of liquorice or a cola stick wrapped in black wool or pipe cleaners. 

We pushed two liquorice  spirals onto the lolly sticks for balance so they stayed the right way up when hung from the beam. This is also a nice touch for those  children  who want to keep their lolly ghoul intact as they can  still enjoy a sweet treat! 


Jumble House Mulled Wine

It’s SO easy and SO delicious!

I’ve collected the first lot of chestnuts and made the first lot of mulled wine and now I’m going to put my feet up and enjoy a glass while the chestnuts are roasting. It may be four  weeks off Christmas but who cares!  

I’ve  been making this mulled wine for many, many years and , despite sampling the varieties at different Christmas  Markets all over Europe I haven’t found one that comes anywhere near to it!  Of course that’s my opinion and tastes do vary!  I don’t like the sickly sweet varieties and I think you should be able to taste the brandy !

So,  if you like me find most varieties too sweet and if like your  mulled wine to have a bit of a kick then I think you will like this one!


Half a litre of red wine.

A quarter of a litre of good unsweetened orange juice.

Two decent measures of Brandy.

A stick of cinnamon

Half a lemon studded with about ten cloves 

A pinch of Pepperonchini or crushed chilliest….this adds a great kick but don’t overdo it!

( Optional ..I like to add a Star Anise )


I use the microwave but you can do this in a pan on top of the stove if preferred.

Just put everything in a big jug and then put that into the microwave.  Bring to nearly boiling and then turn down setting and keep hot for about thirty minutes.   Microwaves  do vary so you need to keep checking . Don’t let it bubble!  That will destroy the taste and the alcohol.

Then leave for a couple of hours. During this time the flavours will still be percolating through the liquid and through the room which is just divine!

I then strain it into a bottle which has been sterilised in the microwave. To do this rinse a clean bottle and shake out excess water. But in microwave for about one minute until the liquid has evaporated. (Time will vary according to microwave) 

The bottle will be very hot! Be careful getting it out. You will need a cloth or oven gloves. 

Cool a little then pur in the strained liquid. 

I’m not sure how long this will keep as we usually drink it pretty quickly!  

Just delicious with chestnuts roasted on an open fire or mince pies!

Why wait for Christmas!

Perugia and the Mini Metro with Georgie and Alfie. 

Perugia is famous for its amazing panoramic views, colourful history, its international universities, the many beautiful buildings and monuments and, of course, chocolate!  

But for visiting children the initial big attraction will probably be the mini metro! 

A ride on this mono rail is an experience not to be missed by anyone but especially if you are traveling with kids. 

The mini metro runs between the parking areas and the Fontivegge train station to the Centro Storico or the centre of the old town. Tickets are just a couple of euros. Keep your entrance ticket as you need it to exit at the other end on the station. The trams run every few minutes. The most popular and largest parking spot is at the stadium and the mini metro is well sign posted. But you can choose to take an ordinary train from your nearest station and then hop onto the mini metro at Fontivegge. 

I never take the car into Perugia. I can’t see the point. Parking is difficult and the streets are congested and you really do need to know exactly where you are going! Why get stressed out when it’s so easy to hop on to a train. 

In under thirty minutes from the stations around the lake (Passignano, Castiglione, Magione ) you arrive at the outskirts of the city from where you can take a thrilling short journey on the mini metro followed by a series of escalators through the foundations of the old  medieval fortress (La Rocca Paolis) up into the centre.  

My advice would also be to take the kids down the escalators as well as up,because it is something that they will probably not experience anywhere else and great fun! 

“La Rocca Paolis is the underground remains of an old fortress built by papal decree in the mid 1500s.

It offers an alternative route into Perugia is via escalators that takes you from parking at the city’s base, up through the foundations of this medieval fortress. During the Christmas season, this underground area is transformed into an arts-and-crafts market with music and entertainers. The kids will love it! 

Click on this link to watch the video: 

      An afternoon with Georgie and Alfie in Perugia

The video below gives a snapshot of the journey and a quick look at Perugia through the eyes of a child. It is only a snapshot! There is so much to see and do in Perugia! The museums, the art galleries, the shops, the Saturday market and last but certainly not least the amazing walk around the city walls. The views will astound you! 

If you happen to be here now then you should also visit the Chocolate Festival! 

Eurochocolate Festival 2016, at its 23rd edition, is from 14 until 23 October 2016.

Eurochocolate is the International Chocolate Exhibition. The largest of all the chocolate festivals in Europe. The event allows individuals to discover the different flavors of chocolate from cultures around the world.

For ten days every October about one million visitors will visit this event. The festival offers experimental tasting, cooking classes, performances, sculpting and art displays. 

The main attractions are: the Chocolate Show, Eurochocolate World and the incredible life size Chocolate Sculptures. 
A Chococard can be bought at the festival offering guests discounts, contests, prizes and free tastings. 

Apologies. ..if there are any mistakes on this post!  For some reason the WordPress app went crazy and it’s taken me absolutely ages to write and rewrite. Too exhausted to check any more ! Just want to publish before I lose the whole lot again! 

Make a cute Jumble Spider for Halloween

Halloween is only a month away and it’s never too early to start preparing AND it’s fun! 

Make this cute spider for virtually nothing ….  it’s made from a small section of a pair of black tights so you could make enough  for a class of  kids from one pair of tights.  You do need to use the thick 80% denier tights because the stuffing will show through the finer variety.   It took me twenty minutes to make and it can be easily made by a child with supervision. 

1. Cut a section off a leg off the tights and lay on the table.  

2. Put an elastic band around the centre of the four pipe cleaners and then pass through the piece  of tights.

3. Take a small elastic band or hair elastic and wrap it round one end tightly leaving about 1 inch of the fabric free. 

4. Take a big handful of stuffing and push into the centre of the tights.,

5. Secure the loose end with another elastic band or hair elastic.

6. Trim off any excess fabric.

7. Glue on the eyes,  Nose and mouth. Add hair if desired or stick a bit of fluffy stuffing on top. 

8. That’s it! 

Make a cloud in a jar

What IS a cloud?  Where do they come from?  What do they feel like?  Can you sit on one? Can you catch one ?  

Children ask lots of difficult questions!  

Often they require more than just a verbal answer and that’s when Lizzie Witch comes to the rescue!  The Lizzie Witch Science Programmes explain the most complicated of scientific concepts with easy-to-understand and fun presentations.  They motivate children to ask even more questions, to investigate the world around them and, I hope, to develop a love of science! 

In this programme Lizzie explores the subject of ‘clouds’

                ​​Click here for the science lesson on clouds

Too much, too many, too often! 

This week I have:

  • Eaten far too much Ricotta Cheese !
  • Drunk far too much red wine.
  • Recycled far too many magazines.
  • Used far too much glue
  • Got drenched with rain far too often.
  • Spent too much money at Marino fa Mercato
  • Become weepy far too often!

So, to explain!

The Ricotta Cheese. For some reason Ricotta is a new taste discovery for me. I know this is very strange since I’ve been visiting here for yonks and have owned a house here for fourteen years. But it IS a new discovery and it has turned into a kind of love affair! I can’t leave the stuff alone! I have all these amazing recipes for cannelloni and ice-cream and cheesecake but never get round to making anything. I buy it. Put it in the fridge. Then the next day it’s gone!


Recycling magazines? A while ago I produced a Sunday Challenge programme for children demonstrating how to make pencil pots and picture frames from rolled magazine pages. (If you would like to catch up with this just click on the link below)

                  Making a Picture Frame from Recycled Magazines 

Its a very relaxing craft and fun for adults too. I enjoy using the technique to make clocks and yesterday I produced the biggest, craziest one yet! Designed to drive people who love order and symmetry mad and made entirely from the pages of small shiny magazines plus lots and lots of glue which brings me on to the next excess.  Making clocks this way is easier than it looks.  I will post some instructions over the next week. 


I use ordinary white glue to make the tubes but stronger stuff is needed to stick them onto the board. Where do they make the tubes these days? I know what my husband would say. Somewhere beginning with Ch!! Once upon a time a tube could be carefully rolled up from the bottom to extract the last, tiniest droplet cleanly and precisely. Now? The tube itself gives up the ghost before I’ve even used two thirds splurting glue from a zillion tiny holes all over me and the floor.

Marino fa Mercato! Fellow Trasimenians (is there such a word??) will now have that irritating little jingle going through their heads!   ‘Merino …. Fa ….Mer ..Car …tow! 

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Marino fa Mercato is our local big store, tin-shed, ‘magazine’ that sells everything and anything. Cheaply!

I love it and so must thousands of others since the car park is always full. Once nicknamed ‘the fridge’ because it used to resemble one during the winter months, it is like an Aladdins cave. I depend on it for art and craft materials and plants and stationery and cat food and cleaning materials and pots and pans and bedding and gardening things and, and, and …..!


Unfortunately last Monday they were just unpacking all their Christmas stock and there in font of me stood the cuddliest, jolliest, cutest Father Christmas! He is the reason I spent far too much money at Marino Fa Mercato!

Become weepy far too often? This is probably the fault of Marino fa Mercato too! Seeing all though Christmassey things brought this song into my head.


               Watch video track of song here.

Its my favourite Christmas song and it always makes me weepy. Why? It’s the nostalgia. I love Christmas. But Christmas is about families and, as the the years go by we lose the people who made those days so special and there’s nothing like a song to bring back the memories. When I listen to Nat King Cole I feel my cheeks hot from sitting too close to the fire. I smell roasted chestnuts and see my dad raking glowing red coals.


Getting wet far too often?  Well this is partly because of Lizzie Witch . I’m always having to mop up spills and water is the easiest! But this week its the rain, whatever has happened to the weather? These grey, wet, cold days are more reminiscent the North West of England.



                          The red wine probably doesn’t need any explanation!