A few photos from this month. February is always a month I look forward to waving adieu to. It hints at spring around the corner but keeps you firmly in the midst of winter. We started the month recovering from another virus. We’re ending the month with a broken down car but in between there has been this cake, fun at the playground, visits to our favourite local cafe, a trip to the farmers market, messing with crayons but also teaching the smallest member of the household about his favourite vegetable, streams of sunlight across my cup of tea, daffodils because spring soon please and Rachel Roddy’s Tomato Pasta with roasted aubergine chucked in because see above.
Monday, 22 February 2016
Tuesday, 19 January 2016
We’re a household suffering from a heavy cold at the moment, originating from the smallest member of the family who caught it from his nursery pal. I used to be fairly OCD about getting ill, if you rummage through my bag you are likely to find at least one pack of anti bacterial wipes and if you go through my desk drawers at work it’s likely you’ll find more so perhaps the OCD hasn’t quite left me but I am now resigned to the fact that I am going to spend the next few years catching every germ that comes my way courtesy of little people and trying to relax about it.
In a bid to eat a healthier lunch at work in 2016 I’ve been making this salad in various forms. Salad in January always sounds very wrong to me but salad in January made with roasted winter vegetables seems just about right. I tend to use whatever vegetables we have that are in season so carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, you get the idea. I chop them up, roast them in olive oil and then once cooled mix with salad leaves such as little gem, cos, romaine and sometimes chard. I also throw in some tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds. Really you can use whatever you like or have to use up. To this mix I add a large dollop of houmous. It is quite literally the glue that holds the salad together and makes it extra delicious. I think houmous and cold roasted vegetables are a match made in heaven. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten everything up. So far I’ve been really enjoying my work lunches but I can’t say that all the extra vitamins are doing much for my ability to ward off errant toddler germs but then who can stay well when a little snot covered hand wants to explore your face.
Tuesday, 5 January 2016
Happy New Year to you if it’s not too late to say it. I can feel a tad ambivalent about New Year. Having already broken one of my New Year’s resolutions I feel I am not off to the best start but perhaps things can only get better. I do acknowledge that for some reason the change in year on the calendar does give me a little kick to change things I have been procrastinating about even if I don’t always follow through with said changes. I’m thinking about them. Surely that’s a good start?Way back in the dim and distant past or a couple of weeks before Christmas I made this carrot cake found on Lottie + Doof. I only had time to snap one picture and I’m going to link to the recipe because I followed it pretty much exactly. It was delicious and hearty and the warming spices are just the thing at this time of year.
Predictably for New Year we are on a bit of a health kick around here and I have many recipes I am eager to share here in the (I hope) not too distant future. I’m currently dealing with a toddler who is existing on a self imposed diet of peas, grapes and yoghurt.
In other news we’ve discovered an amazing gluten free and vegetarian cafe, Cafe Meon, which is absolute heaven as far as I am concerned. The food is amazing and my carnivore hubby even loves it. I cannot express how exciting it is to eat out somewhere and not have to think about checking everything with the chef. The entire menu caters for people like me. Added to this is the fact the cafe is housed in the beautiful Chesapeake Mill selling antiques and vintage wares so I get to combine two of my favourite things, food and antique browsing. Website here. Pictured above, their beetroot burger which so far is my favourite thing on the menu. They also do fantastic cakes and hot chocolate.
Tuesday, 8 December 2015
I’ve just munched down two of these before 9.30am and I had breakfast as well so I can’t say I was starving hungry. I didn’t even eat them properly with a nice cup of tea and a book in hand. I picked at them. I took half a cookie from the tin, just to fuel me through the washing up. The other half as a reward for doing the washing up. I then decided that if I was eating cookies I would require a cup of tea but before the kettle was even boiled, oh look at that, another half eaten. Finally I made it with my tea and the other half cookie to my laptop. So there you have it, so delicious I can’t even wait for the kettle to boil. That’s recommendation enough I think.
I found this recipe on My Darling Lemon Thyme, a brilliant blog full of delicious gluten free creations. I’m going to be lazy and link to the recipe because I followed it almost exactly. The only changes I made were to use cacao powder instead of cocoa and to use pistachios chopped up in the cookie instead of almonds because...have you seen the price of almonds lately? The end result is a densely chocolate cookie with a nice kick from the cayenne pepper which apparently I can’t stop eating.Recipe here.
Monday, 19 October 2015
The recipe for this banana bread is scrawled down on a scrap of paper and kept in a drawer in the kitchen along with another couple of favourite recipes and various packets of tea. I’ve made this often over the past couple of years but never quite got round to writing it up here. The recipe has evolved quite a bit over time. With a demanding one year old to look after I’ve now commandeered my husband to help whenever we feel a need for cake, which is quite often. Of course I give him all the rubbish jobs like beating the eggs and mashing the bananas. Does anyone else share my aversion to over ripe bananas? The smell is overwhelmingly repugnant but thankfully the magic of baking transforms the bananas once in cake form. I always find banana bread comforting but this version with its bursts of melted chocolate mixed with the bright notes of lemon has become my favourite. Yesterday we headed out to the park with warm banana cake stashed in my pocket and I snapped a couple of photos of the beautiful colourful autumnal leaves before they disappear.
Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks.
Notes: The original recipe uses a glaze made with icing sugar. This looks so delicious but since we rarely have icing sugar on hand I tend not to go to the effort.
200g rice flour
65g ground almonds
125g Demerara sugar
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
115g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) cut into chunks
80ml extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs lightly beaten
3 ripe bananas mashed
60ml plain natural yoghurt, full fat
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar
Directions for the cake:
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F
Line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
In a large bowl combine the flour, almonds, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt and chocolate.
In another bowl combine beaten eggs, olive oil, mashed bananas, yoghurt, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine until no flour is present. Pour into your prepared loaf tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the pan for ten minutes before turning out on a rack to cool completely.
For the glaze:Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on low until the sugar has dissolved. Once cooled prick holes in the top of the cake and trickle the glaze over.
Tuesday, 28 April 2015
I’m not going to pretend to be any sort of expert on feeding little people. They can be stubborn little critters. I say whatever works for you. We try to feed him what we are eating and we do our best to eat meals as a family. This has turned us into early bird diners. Like so many other areas of parenthood, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up worrying what your child is or isn’t supposed to be eating. I had high hopes of trying baby-led weaning (in a nutshell, letting him feed himself) but this boy wasn’t into it. He likes to be spoon fed like a little lord. His favourite food in the world is plain yoghurt. His favourite beverage next to milk is water, he goes nuts for the stuff. I’m happy to say he will eat this pasta dish without complaint and sometimes with something close to enthusiasm. Little mouth open for the next mouthful is always a heartening sign.
Recipe makes one serving plus a little extra for those who have a mini mouth to feed.
1 large courgette sliced in to discs
½ an aubergine sliced in to discs and quartered
5 small tomatoes such as cherry or pomodoro, halved
Teaspoon lemon zest
Hard goats cheese for grating or other strong flavoured cheese such as parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil
2 handfuls about 75g of gluten free pasta
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7
Toss the vegetables and tomatoes in olive oil and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are beginning to brown. Meanwhile cook your pasta according to the pack instructions. When the vegetables are ready and the pasta has been drained return everything to the pasta pan and add the lemon zest, some grated cheese and a glug of olive oil. Mix everything together. A splash of water from the kettle can loosen everything up. Serve with extra cheese on top. For the baby version just mash everything with a fork and slice up any stubborn bits until you have made the most unappealing consistency you can manage.
Tuesday, 3 February 2015
I feel I should have some sort of soup or stew to share today as we woke up to a blanket of snow this morning. Not enough to be useful, eg. give my husband a day off work, but enough to be inconvenient. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for snow under the right circumstances when it’s pretty and fluffy and we have no commitments other than going out to enjoy it. But being realistic, mostly I find it a pain. There were many times on my commute to work in London when I dreaded snow. It always seems to me that if this country had a transport system that coped with snow then issues such as how to get in to work would “melt” away. Instead everything grinds to a halt quite literally and you are forced to embark on a journey which will result in freezing toes and hours of wasted time, trudging through snow in your wellington boots or whatever snow worthy attire you have chosen at 6am, getting to the train station packed full of other weary commuters, looking at display boards that make no sense and tell blatant lies about trains that aren’t running. I once spent two hours crouched on the floor of a train which travelled four miles before spewing its tired and cold bewildered commuters out and then spent another two hours trying to get a train that would get me back to where I’d started.
Anyway to this orange bread! If you are lucky enough to have a snow day then you should make this. It’s a good reason to light the oven for a little extra warmth while being rewarded for your endeavours by creating something that tastes like sunshine. I’ve posted about this cake before. It was a lemon version. I’m being a total cheat by using oranges this time instead. Both are incredible. Follow the recipe and use whatever citrus you have. You can find the recipe here.