Friday 12 January 2018

New year! New... not so much...

I'm going to go against the grain, and say I hate this New year new me gubbins. It just doesn't ring true for me. I'm the same person, if I want to make a change I've got 365 days in a year, and some of those days aren't grey and dismal and I don't have a houseful of chocolates and biscuits from my lovely Brownie parents, a wrist in plaster, and a general grump on because there's not enough daylight. So yes, no resolutions, no new me. 

And I do try to live a good life, to think of others to be kind and thoughtful - and like everyone, there's plenty of times I fail. That I need to say sorry, to try harder. Because like all of us I'm human, and innately flawed. But the 1st January isn't going to make me change and be better. A date can't do that. 

But look! A new blogpost... The first in months. Really as much as anything to say I'm still here, and still have things to say, recipes and pictures to share.

I think one of the things that stopped me in my tracks last year was attempting - and very consciously failing - at keeping up with other, bigger bloggers. I'd research photography backdrops, obsess over my inability to use Lightroom or Photoshop, worry about styling my photos. And you know what? To me, to my internet home, none of that matters. If you want to make one of my dairy free bakes, I hope you'll do so without needing a picture of it with a chalkboard or distressed floorboard as a backdrop. That you'll appreciate that sometimes a casserole is just, brown - and that if yours comes out brown, that's because mine wasn't filtered or edited. That if there's an orange dinosaur, chubby toddler fingers, or half a Brio set in the picture, that's because that's how we live our life as a family. That sometimes I just can't face running upstairs to get the DSLR which may or may not be charged, and on those days I'm going to snap a picture on the phone and post it on Instagram. Because, life with a toddler, as part of a family, doesn't lend itself to those things - and you know what? That's OK for me. And that's not to say anything at all against those lovely bloggers who manage to do those things, who are more organised than me, who's aesthetic is altogether more pulled together, who have a theme. That's right for them. For me, I think my blog, my space, is much like the world - largely chaotic, with moments of peace, organisation and control. But those moments - that whilst huge blessings, are fleeting. 

So please - read on, enjoy the joyful blessings of a life full of love and chaos. Of crochet and cake. Of coffee and something else that alliterates. Of me. Of recipes I love, that are (usually) safe for Harry to eat. Of tales of family life, nursery life. And join in. Say Hi! Here, or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Monday 30 October 2017

Apple & carrot scones: a vegan, soya free recipe

Vegan apple scones are a firm favourite here. A super quick bake, that requires no special equipment, it's boosted with some chopped apple and sneakily grated carrot. Harry loves them as a post-nursery snack, and I love them deveganised - slathered with butter and topped with some extra-mature cheese.

Our apple tree is just about finished for this year - a hefty bout of insomnia meant I dispatched most of my apples off to the inlaws as despite my love for Apple Butter, the thought of making it or much else felt entirely overwhelming. Somewhat randomly this left me with two cookers, and these scones were the perfect way to use one of them up.

Vegan apple and carrot scones

Dairy free, egg free, vegan
Serves 8


1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
8oz self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2oz dairy free butter - I used Vitalite
2oz caster sugar
1/4 pint dairy free milk - I used blue Oatly
1oz demerera sugar


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
Rub in the dairy-free butter
Stir in the caster sugar, chopped apple and grated carrot
Add the milk slowly (you might not need it all) to make a soft dough
Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper and put the dough on it
Shape into a large round that's about half an inch thick. You don't need a rolling pin, just press the dough out gently.
Use a knife to gently score the circle of dough into eight sections. Don't cut completely through
Sprinkle the demerera sugar on top
Bake in the preheated oven for 22-25 minutes

Leave to cool a little, but these are just lovely served warm.

Saturday 13 May 2017

Veggie packed masala chickpea pilaff: Dairy free & vegan

This veggie packed chickpea pilaff feels a little like the answer to the unachievable - a quick, healthy, easy, and non sandwich based lunch that will keep me going until supper without raiding the biscuit tin!

One thing I have learned though, is that the key to said lunch, be it a pilaff, soup, noodles or pasta is to make it the night before - much like I do with M's packed lunch. That way, as soon as Harry's settled to his nap I can get on with sustaining myself for the afternoon's activities - be it a play date at the choo choo park, swimming lesson, nursery visit or just our errands.

This recipe mainly came about because of a really horrid cough, cold and sinusy virus (that's a medical term) that we've been stuck with for the last few weeks. It's hit Harry hardest and the poor love has been sofa bound with a rocketing temperature - thank heavens for Calpol. I really felt the need to put a stop to it via a nourishing bowl of something with a good kick of chilli and garlic.

There is so little faff with this recipe - the cooking can happen in one pan, and even the chopping is minimal, although I don't apologise for double podding the broad beans. Nearly all the veggies are from my freezer (sweetcorn, peas and broad beans being entirely out of season right now!) and I always have tinned chickpeas in.

Veggie packed masala chickpea pilaff
Serves 3 - 4 depending on portion size

Good spray fry light, or 2 tablespoons flavourless oil
60g bulghur wheat
300ml freshly boiled water
60g mushrooms, roughly chopped
60g peas
60g sweetcorn
60g broad beans
60g brocolli - broken into florets
1 tin chickpeas  2 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 red onion, diced

2 tablespoons curry paste - I used a tikka masala one that we had open in the fridge, but you could use any you like.
1/4 pint of water

Pop the bulghur wheat in a bowl and cover in freshly boiled water - I use 60g of bulghur wheat and 300ml of  water - leave to stand for about 10 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed then drain in a seive (not a colander)

Put the peas, sweetcorn and broad beans into a microwaveable bowl, cover with boiling water and ping for a minute at a time until the broad beans are cooked (2 and half minutes in ours) then drain- I always take these out of their wrinkled white pods so that you just have the vibrant, soft green beans

Add the drained chickpeas, and veggies to the pan and stir the mushrooms and brocolli through. Put all of this into a large bowl and add the drained bulghur wheat

Put the pan back on the heat again (add more oil or fry light if necessary)and add the chilli, garlic and diced red onion. Cook these over a low heat for a good 10 minutes. Sorry, but this time you do want to keep stirring as the garlic and onion go horribly bitter if they catch and you want them to be sweetly softened.

To this add your curry paste and 1/4 pint of water. Bring this up to a simmer and let it cook for somewhere between 3 and five minutes(ish)

Pour this into the chickpea and veg bowl and stir so that everything is coated in the curry mix

If you're doing this the night before then split into 3 medium tupperware tubs and once cool put in the fridge. It keeps easily for the next three days and you can either warm it through or have it cold.

Thursday 11 May 2017

Life, love and little things - April 2017

Yes, yes, I know. Nothing for weeks. I feel like I should apologise, and provide a fulsome and thorough explanation for my absence, but what does one say? Potty training? Toddlers? Decorating? Gardening? Coughs? Colds? Scratched eye? Does that cover it? Hopefully.

Anyway - the toddler is sleeping (for now, at least), a veg packed chilli is in the oven, a Vegan Peanut butter chocolate chip banana bread is cooling, my smoked mackerel salad is coming to room temperature and I have a litre of water. All of this points to sitting down and getting on with a blog post.

I've not done a 'Life, love and little things..' post for months, which is silly as they are far and away one of my favourite things to write. So here we are - April in photos:

The weather has meant we're far from BBQs and salads so I've been dong a fair bit of batch cooking, Chilli con carne (sometimes without the carne), Sweet potato and chickpea curry, Cottage or Shepherd's pie, Shepherdess pie have all featured. My veg packed chilli is one of Harry's favourites - he loves it in quesadillas, sprinkled with Violife.

I helped out at our Division's campsite (does anyone not know I'm a Brownie and Guide leader?) making tea and serving cake on our Bluebell days. I have to say they are the most beautiful I've ever seen them, carpeting the woods in a glorious wash of colour, their fragrance was amazing. Bluebells completely signify Spring to me and Bluebell woods are simply magical.

Harry and I have been doing a fair bit of baking lately - it's good for his counting and it's a great activity when my outdoorsy, full of energy toddler can't go outside for whatever reason. Like his mother he's a huge fan of glace cherries and marzipan so we've made our favourite dairy free Simnel cake twice since Easter.

I've got a new blanket on my crochet hook - it's going far slower than it should be so I need to really get on with it as it needs to be finished by July! The colour palette is a change for me, ice cream pastels from Attic 24's Cupcake blanket. Although I'm making a Granny stripe. I really want to make Lucy's Hydrangea blanket, but M has banned me from any more yarn buying until such time as I've finished all my ongoing works in progress!

As always, you can find these and many other snapshots of my days and weeks over on Instagram - why not hop on over and see what we're up to today?

Sunday 16 April 2017

Happy Easter

Easter is a lovely celebration, for many, a family time that, like so many festivals centres around food: Hot cross buns, fish on Good Friday, roast lamb on Easter Sunday. For our family the centrepiece is always the Simnel cake - fruit soaked in a generous splosh of Amaretto, a low temperature and relatively brief bake making for a light, and beautifully almondy bake. I'm sure others would challenge this but I really don't miss the butter, and as the egg is baked it's perfect for us. As always we use Vitalite, Pure or Flora Freedom for baking.

I've not changed my recipe up at all from last year, I'm not reblogging the recipe, but here are some pictures of this year's effort.

Happy Easter everyone

Monday 13 March 2017

Meal Planning Monday: 13th March

It's FRIDAY and I'm Meal Planning. I know! Who knew I could ever be this organised? Blog wise anyway - if you know me in real life, you'll be familiar with my Planners, calendars, and lists: colour-coded, monochrome, stickered... all the lists.

This week's meal plan is another fairly standard week - M has been poorly this week (I confess, to my shame I'm not the world's most sympathetic nurse), so I'm hoping he feels better but aside from that it's business as usual.

Breakfasts have been a mixture of crumpets and shreddies (well Aldi's own brand which are lovely) with a banana. As an aside, is anyone actually managing 10 portions of fruit and veg a day? I am struggling.

Lunches - I'm feel a bit tired of sandwiches, so am planning on making a batch of carrot, chilli and lentil soup.

Suppers -

Saturday: Gammon, egg, Slimming World chips and peas

Sunday: Chicken & winter veg casserole, possibly with herby dumplings

Monday: Leftover casserole with baked potatoes

Tuesday: Vegan Shepherd's pie

Wednesday: Leftover Shepherd's pie

Thursday: Parsnip pasta

Friday: Emergency pizza night

No baking planned, although I'm thinking of a Dairy free hot cross bun pudding as that'd be lovely in packed lunch boxes next week - based on this recipe, but using Flora freedom spread and Oatly. So that's planned now, isn't it!

What're you up to this week? Anything exciting? Inspiring? Why not let me know in the comments below

Thursday 9 March 2017

Rosacea and me: Skincare

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes (amongst other symptoms) it's characteristic redness or flushing. For me, it appeared following pregnancy and rapidly spread from a patch the size of a two pound coin, until it covered most of both cheeks. Initially I just looked episodically rosy but as it's progressed I now look permanently flushed with very sensitised skin.

Today's post, whilst seemingly utterly out of place on a blog that primarily concerns itself with food, has come about in response to a couple of emails I received this week. I mentioned on my Self-care on Sunday post that I'm trying to remember to put on sunscreen before I go out each day as it's supposed to help prevent the rosacea get any worse.

I've actually bitten the bullet and gone to see the GP today about it as I've got to the stage when (to the shame of my vain self) I now feel like I need to wear makeup to face the day. The doctor was great, and after my grovelling apologies at being so vain, supportively helped me to find something to try. We're going to try Azelaic acid to start with as my other meds prevent me from taking oral antibiotics.

 However, on to the theme of this post and skin care - over recent months I've pared back my skincare to a really soothing, calming routine. Previously a Caroline Hirons devotee, I've actually nixed most of her recommendations, recognising that they were, in fact agitating my redness. Here follows my favourite products that seem to be keeping my skin soft whilst treating it incredibly gently.

La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo cleanser - this is so lovely to use, I very gently smooth it over my skin, taking care not to rub or agitate it and then with a soft, warm flannel, rinse it off. Having said I've moved away from much of Caroline's advice I do still double cleanse to remove the sunscreen I'm trying to remember to use each day.

La Roche Posay Seroznic - I have a slightly doubtful relationship with this zinc and thermal water spray, I find it soothing and like the feeling of it on my skin - and from what I've read, hylauronic acid serums and creams work better on damp skin so it should help my next step work better - but I'm never sure it's doing anything - could it be a case of the Emperor's New Clothes?

Superdrug Simply Pure hydrating serum - this thin lotion soaks immediately into my skin and feels really plumping. It was discontinued for a while, but has since reappeared, is a complete bargain and is regularly on offer which is when I take advantage and stock up.

Face Theory Relaxing night cream - I actually use this during the day. I have the unscented version (as much as I love products packed with soothingly scented essential oils, I just can't tolerate them) and it's a great occlusive sealing in that hylauronic acid and softening my skin.

La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 - this is my emergency cream - at the moment I'm using it nightly as it's thick, comforting texture is helping my angry red face no end. I'm hoping that when I get over this latest flare up, or when the prescription starts working, I'll be able to just use the Face Theory, but in the interim this is great.

Elta MD Broad Spectrum SPF 46 - My current self care challenge being to remember to apply this daily as sun damage does seem to make the red and soreness worse.

 It's no accident that there are three La Roche Posay products as my much loved Boots frequently has them on 3 for 2 offers. The Face Theory and the Elta are probably my most expensive products.

If you have Rosacea or similarly sensitised skin what are your go-to products?


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