25 February, 2016

COURGHINI BREAD


We have been spending a lot, a lot of time in the kitchen lately. I've had unwell children scattered over the past several weeks, so we tend to curl up with piles of books, play too much Memory, and watch probably too many Little House on the Prairie DVDs, but in the moments that they don't need me quite so much, I steal away to the kitchen. I'm not a chef, or even a baker, but the kitchen is my safe place. The rest of my home can be falling apart and I just find complete bliss in that little space. 
This week we've whipped up an antibiotic tonic, peanut butter cookies, the best meatballs you'll ever try, chicken & dumplings, banana bread, cough syrup, and vanilla extract. I have perpetual chicken stock simmering, and now this: courghini bread.

I have plans to share the recipes for nearly all of the things above, but for now, let's talk about the courghini. 

~

Courgette bread doesn't have the same ring as zucchini bread, so I contemplated for far too long whether to teach the children we were making zucchini bread, or courgette bread. Philippa solved this for me when the oven's timer went off and she announced, "I think the courghini bread is done."

(We pronounce this with the ˈʒet sound in courgette, but add ini to the end. Cour-ʒini bread!).



Thank you, my little sous chef. I'll keep you around.



Courghini Bread

ingredients:

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon 
3 free-range eggs
1/2 cup organic whole milk
1/2 cup oil (if you're like us and make a habit of not buying vegetable oils, both melted butter or coconut oil will work)
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated courgette, not peeled
1 cup soaked, chopped walnuts (soak them for maximum nutrition)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

method:

Preheat oven to 165ºC/325ºF. Butter two loaf pans.

Toss together flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.

Beat eggs, milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients and mix to combine. Fold in courgette, walnuts, and chocolate chips. 

Transfer to prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven until golden and set (about 40 minutes).


22 February, 2016

EASY PEASY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

One day last week it was just Sebastian and me while the girls were napping. I love when afternoons work out like this every once in a while because it's such a sweet way to get one-on-one time with my littles. And it always ends up being sweeter if its spontaneous (read: I'm not feeling very tired. Can we bake together instead? Why yes, yes son we certainly can).

So in the quiet of the house, with the afternoon sun warming our arms, we whipped together these grain-free, dairy-free (but don't-be-fooled, not-sugar-free) peanut butter cookies.

They're fun because they require little to no measuring, and tiny hands and mix them together themselves. They also produce a warm peanut butter cookie in less than ten minutes which, we found, was the perfect addition to our quiet time together. You can see from the photos below, Sebastian approves of them.

I've given them this name because easy peasy lemon squeezy is something Sebastian has been saying a lot recently, and since they are easy and we made these together, it seemed fitting. You can just call them peanut butter cookies, if you like (ha).



Easy Peasy Peanut Butter Cookies

ingredients:
1 cup organic peanut butter (we have used both crunchy, smooth, and a combination of the two)
1 egg 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar (this can be any variety or combination of sugars, and can be reduced slightly)

method:

Using a wooden spoon combine peanut butter and sugar until well mixed. Fold in egg and vanilla. Roll into tablespoon-sized balls, press with forks, and bake at 180ºC/350ºF for about ten minutes.

17 February, 2016

[HEALTHIER] STRAWBERRY POP-TARTS


These were such a fun treat-- and one we could all make together. They were meant to be part of our Valentine's party that got cancelled due to Katharina's hospital trip, but we figured we should make them anyway, and we are glad we did!

I wasn't sure what to call these because Pop-Tarts are just so dang unhealthy that I can't bear to call them that, but simply pastry is such a broad term. But they do most resemble a pop-tart, so I suppose I'll leave it there.


Strawberry Pop-Tarts

ingredients:

pastry dough 
(you can either make your own with spelt or other ancient grains, or buy it if you're in a pinch. You'll need enough to make about one pie)
1 package creamed cheese
strawberry or raspberry jam
3 strawberries, plus more for side
fine sugar
egg white, for wash

directions:

roll out pie dough until less than 1/4" thick. Cut rectangles of same size. Spread 1 teaspoon of creamed cheese over half of the pastry pieces. Repeat with jam.

Remove strawberry tops and slice from top to bottom, preserving the heart shape as much as possible.
Lay strawberry slices over pastry tops and cut a heart around each strawberry. Transfer strawberry to top of creamed cheese & jam pastry pieces. 
Gently lift the rectangle (which should now have a heart cut out) and place over creamed cheese and jam topped pastry pieces. The strawberry should fill the heart cut-out. 
Press edges with fork to prevent jam from leaking. Brush gently with egg white bath, and sprinkle with very fine sugar.



Bake at 180ºC/350ºF for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are very golden brown.

16 February, 2016

TWO FOR TODAY



1. 13.5 hours of sleep last night and going on over 2 hours of nap today. I am so thankful she listens to her body at three-years-old.

2. the time I found him painting with his bear tucked under his arm. . .

BLACK BEAN BROWNIES

I've been wanting to try black bean brownies for a while after hearing such great things about them. These contain pretty basic ingredients-- all kitchen staples or things you can easily get. They're a great guiltless way to satisfy a chocolate sweet tooth-- and you'd never guess they're made with beans! 

Enjoy!



Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (250g after draining) black beans (drained & rinsed very well)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 (40g) cup oats1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup or real honey
1/4 cup coconut oil or melted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
optional: hazelnuts, extra chocolate chips

Directions:

 Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC. Grease an 8x8 pan (or whatever you like. We used a tart pan! Just be sure to adjust baking time).

 Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in food processor. Blend until completely smooth. This really should be done in a food processor; not even a blender will do. Add hazelnuts if using. Pulse a few seconds, until nuts are coarse.

 Stir in chocolate chips using spatula. Pour into greased pan, and sprinkle top with extra chocolate chips or hazelnuts, if desired.

 Bake 10-12 minutes then allow to cool 10 minutes before cutting.



Recipe adapted from here.

14 February, 2016

WHIRLWIND




Hello!

The past few days have been a whirlwind for us and we're quite happy to be welcoming in a fresh week tomorrow.

On Thursday we were leaving the house for an appointment to deal with a strong cough that has been keeping me (and Peter!) up through the night for several weeks straight (hello, chest infection) and Katharina pulled our front door closed on her thumb. I cupped my hands beneath hers and in a matter of seconds my hands were filled with blood, dripping onto her clothes, the floor, everywhere. I've birthed three children and have seen a fair share of bodily fluids, but I have never seen pools of blood like I did when this happened.

I was fairly certain she required a trip to A&E but called Peter at work, who agreed we should continue making our way to my GP appointment and get the doctor's opinion.

I took her to the emergency room for an x-ray at the advice of the doctor, where they determined there was no fracture, however when they undressed what my doctor had bandaged it with, the  blood began pouring again and the nurse's attitude completely changed. She brought a doctor in to look at it and with one glance he said, "She needs plastic surgery."




She was booked for surgery at St Thomas' Hospital the following day. All in all the surgery went well, and she was able to come home the night of, which we were so thankful for. The care we received at St Thomas' (with view's of Big Ben and the London Eye to boot!) was phenomenal, and far surpassed all other care we have received here. Katharina was, we were told, the ideal patient, with few tears and a whole lot of trust. Her recovery should be smooth, and she's happy to be home and allowed to eat again, though she's been given instructions to play gently.

It is expected to take up to a year for things to be back to normal, and even then her finger will not be the same. She'll have extra scar tissue, and likely a rigid nail. She has an appointment Friday with the plastic surgeon to redress the wound and assess the healing process, and I of course am eager to get it uncovered so I can douse it in herbs and oils.

Our Valentine's party plans have been reworked because I couldn't manage to squeeze in baking time, but now Peter is making us a special dinner which we plan to eat picnic style. Maybe we'll toss a few berries in and call it festive. We're just happy to be in our home all together.

Despite all we had going on, Peter and I kept plans for a night out with our dearest friends last night and we're both so glad we did. It was good to relax away from home and forget it all for a bit. I'm looking forward to a gentle week catching up on projects and baking some belated love day treats.

Happiest Valentine's Day, everyone! xx


05 February, 2016

TWO FOR TODAY



The house is totally quiet with sleep sleeping littles, and I'm tucked in my bed too, having quiet time of my own.

Fridays are for ballet in our house, and most of Thursday is in anticipation too, now that I think of it! The girls d a n c e out of bed Friday mornings and stroke my face and say things like, "Mama, where is my precious sister? She wasn't in her bed when I checked", "Can you make my hair match my sister's hair? Because it's just so lovely!", and "Whatever you choose to make us for breakfast, we will eat that with glad hearts!"

Seriously, can every day be ballet day?

Before ballet we ran into the healthfood store to buy slippery elm bark for a project (recipe coming!) and then peeked our heads into the Vintage Market that was just getting set up (in the rain!).

After ballet we went out for tea & cake at one of our favourite cafes (because they always have space for us and our scooters and buggy!) in Greenwich, Peyton & Byrne. This morning I met a man that travelled all the way down from North of London to buy his sausage roll, then waited over 30 minutes for it to be made. "They're the best in all of London," he commented.

We extended our walk home by playing Hide & Seek around the park We've enjoyed a finally mild day after tons of grey and rain!

Tonight we're having lasagne and a fresh green salad. We'll have black bean brownies (recipe coming for these as well!) for dessert.

Happy Friday! xx

01 February, 2016

MY NIGHTLY ROUTINE

"Do you think maybe you drink a bit too much coffee?"

"Babe, think of one thing that you just love, that you look forward to every single day. That fills you up and makes you go 'ah'. That's my coffee."



My husband and I had this conversation a while ago, because no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to appreciate the unique flavour of roasted Ecuadorian beans steeped in perfectly heated filtered water, poured into the perfect mug and consumed at leisure.

The last time I really tried was when I ordered 3 shots of espresso at 2am at a wedding that was meant to last four more hours. That espresso neither sashayed my booty to the dance floor nor kept me awake until sunrise, but I have since discovered what my coffee is.

That is, my nightly routine! I look forward to this every day, it makes me feel good, it makes me go ah. So, coffee, yeah?

Here you are:

After a good facial cleansing (I'm currently using this Alba Botanica Pineapple Enzyme Cleanser, but I change cleanser every few bottles), I lather my face and neck in organic coconut oil, with several drops of whatever essential oil my skin may be needing. My favourites are Cedarwood, Frankincense, and Progessence Phyto Plus.

Nighttime is my favourite time to apply oils to my face because the results after a good night's rest are so dramatic. I like to go all out. Plus, it makes the bed smell pretty darn awesome.

I also apply 3 drops of PPP to my wrists and rub them together. This stuff is magic. I feel noticeably, one hundred times better when using this. I always have it on hand and use it regularly.

On my stomach I spray 8 pumps of this magnesium oil, which also aids in a deeper rest, can relieve morning sickness in pregnancy, relieves sore muscles, aids digestion, and may prevent over 20 types of illness (like high blood pressure, heart disease, tooth decay, and others).

Did you know over 80% of us are deficient in this underrated, vital mineral? I never ever go without magnesium. If there's ever a night where I can't do all of the above, I will, half-asleep, crawl out of bed for my magnesium. It's that changing.

The last thing I do is back at my oils station. I like to massage my feet in either Cedarwood or Peace & Calming  to promote a good night's sleep. When I say good, I mean deep, drooling good. I also love to put these two in diffusers in our room and the kids' room at bedtime.

Oh, and Morning & Evening, of course, because everyone needs Jesus as first and last thing of their day [and every moment in-between]. This one is revised by Alistair Begg and we love it

There you have it! My caffeine fix.