Crisp meringue layered with fruit and softly whipped cream is what British summers are made for. Nino has recently discovered ‘I spy’, or a two year old interpretation thereof. The game more than often involves him naming a noun (most likely an animal, food stuff or vehicle) then demanding that I ‘do a [insert cat, ice cream, tractor] mummy’. I’ll name the letter with which it begins, provide a couple of clues then wait for his excited answer. Repeat ad infinitum. This weekend we were baking and I kicked off the round with an ‘M’. Clue: ‘it’s crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle and made from eggs. Nino helped mummy whisk it up and we’re going to fill it with whipped cream and blackberries.’ To which he replied, after serious consideration . . . ‘it’s a yummy pavlova’. Well, you can’t win them all. Continue reading
I have a close friend whose key life events have aligned rather nicely with mine. We got married within a month of each other and our little boy and girl arrived around six weeks apart. We’ve been able to share tips and maternity leaves and the kind of conversations that might leave friends at different stages of life gasping with boredom (table planning, nappy contents, lack of sleep . . . the usual). We’re both now pregnant with baby number two (we’ve swapped, this time round she’s having a boy, we’ve got the girl) and I wanted to bake a little something special for her baby shower. This is a lady who loves Nutella, so when I spotted these Nutella stuffed beauties on Jess’s blog, I knew they needed to be made.
When I was pregnant with Nino, brownies and ice cream were my Sunday evening indulgence. It wasn’t a pregnancy craving per se: brownies and ice cream are the treat that never fails to cheer me up, my dessert island dessert. But I’m pretty sure I ramped up consumption during those nine months. Ice cream, vinegar, beef mince 😉 This time round, however, baby girl – or the body containing said baby girl, to be precise – has different ideas. Ice cream still appeals but eating it any later than lunchtime simply isn’t on the cards. If you suffer with heartburn outside of pregnancy, my heart goes out to you (quite literally, it burns). So last weekend, after dinner, I sadly ignored the good stuff calling to me from the freezer and – feeling disproportionately sorry for myself – looked to the cupboards instead to rustle up something sweet.
Brown butter and blondies go hand in hand. Thrown in chopped dark chocolate and walnuts and you’re close to my idea of baked bar perfection. But miso? Turns out the staple so many of us use in soups can add a nutty, buttery quality to all sorts of baked goods.
Of course miso in dessert isn’t a new idea. But I found myself desperate to try it after watching the latest episode of Chef’s Table. This series is all about pastry and Momofuku’s legendary Christina Tosi is first to the pass. Of course I knew about cereal milk ice cream and crack pie, but I wasn’t familiar with her story, her ethos, her attitude to life. An aside, Christina Tosi is awesome, go watch the programme if you need to know why. Continue reading
With just four ingredients, no kneading and twenty minutes cooking time, this wholesome little loaf could not be easier to make. Unless, of course, your two year old pulls the glass bowl you’ve been mixing ingredients in off the side and smashes it onto the floor. After two years of next to no television, Nino has recently discovered the delights of Peppa Pig and, more specifically, Mr Bull. A large, loveable rogue, Mr Bull’s primary tasks in life seem to be making noise, digging up roads and breaking things (usually by accident). The perfect role model for a toddler. Needless to say, Nino’s suggestions that ‘Mummy mend it with superglue’ as we stood surrounded – barefoot – by shattered glass were met with a weary raised eyebrow. Continue reading
Last week we celebrated Nino’s heart day. Two years since he underwent over ten hours of open heart surgery. Two years in which we’ve all changed and grown in so many ways. Two years full of life and love which somehow also, cliché as it sounds, zipped by in the blink of an eye. Nino’s wasn’t the only heart we celebrated last week. An hour long scan of a tiny, second, fingernail-sized heart came back looking more than positive too. Although we’ll need to monitor that little muscle over the coming weeks, a healthy little life appears to be blossoming and we’re more than over the moon.
A week ago we celebrated your second birthday. Two years since you stormed into the world and changed our lives forever. Two years since I clutched your slippery newborn body to my chest and covered you in kisses before the doctors could whisk you away to the neonatal unit. Two years since I sat, shaking but so completely complete, eating pizza from a cardboard box in a blood-stained nightgown as we waited to hear when you would transfer to the Brompton Hospital. Tears and fear and love and all these overwhelming emotions I can’t begin to put into words: birthdays really do make you feel all the feelings.
Every year on my birthday, your Nonna would tell the story of a hot, sticky summer’s day. How she smuggled Mars Bars into the hospital for emergency fuel and how after I emerged, fierce and dark as predicted, your Grandpa stripped off his shirt in the blazing heat to hold me to his chest, skin on skin. She’d always get a little teary and I’d always roll my eyes, but now I’m right there on the same page. It could be genetics, but I’d wager it’s just being a mummy. Every birthday you celebrate, for the rest of my days, I’m pretty sure that misty-eyed lady is going to be me. Continue reading
Flour. Yeast. Water. Salt. These are the ingredients that real bread is made from. A drizzle of olive oil if you’re making pizza, perhaps, a handful of oats or wheatgerm for flavour, nuts and seeds or dried fruit for texture. Real bread goes from oven to table in minutes. It starts life on the kitchen counter, serves several meals then is either eaten or repurposed to thicken soup, as crumbs to coat fish, or crusts saved in the freezer. Real bread doesn’t sit on a shelf for a week, stuffed with synthetic fats, stabilisers and mould inhibitors to allow it to do so. It doesn’t live as long again in your kitchen, sliced and stodgy and sweating slightly in its plastic wrapper . Continue reading
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a rut and a routine. Weekday toast or oats plus topping on repeat. Saturday pancakes. Sunday brunch. Meals which comfortably turn from favourites to familiar but run the risk of crossing that extra line towards boring.
In the interest of mixing things up, I made a big batch of granola for the first time in forever. It’s great for breakfast but also serves for snacking purposes. Luke swears by it as an after dinner mid-week treat. It’s as good on oats as ice cream and can adapt to infinite variations depending on what you have to hand.
Before I had Nino, it used to annoy me when people told me that I wouldn’t understand a particular something or story until I was a parent. It sounds so patronising, so exclusive, that this club you’re not yet a member of has this deeper understanding of a situation that your single self can’t yet comprehend. My mum would say the same thing with books of hers I’d borrow – you’ll appreciate it more when you’re older, as a mother – which I’d resolutely ignore, assuming my teenage self to have all the emotional capacity (surely more?) of a grown up adult. But the thing about those parents, my mum? They’re right. Continue reading