Three weeks to go! Or one. Or five. There’s no way of knowing exactly when baby girl is going to arrive but suffice to say we’ve entered the drop zone. This pregnancy has been different from our first in lots of ways; lighter and less worrying without the knowledge of a serious heart condition and surgery, but heavier and hotter and harder physically. There’s the old wives tale that girls make you feel more sick and rob you of your beauty, but while there may be mileage in that, I’m fairly sure it’s largely attributable to running round after a toddler, combined with a different time of year. Nino was born on a cold day at the beginning of February whereas this little lady and I have bunked together through a scorching holiday in Italy and the hottest weather we’ve seen in England for decades. Continue reading
I’m hoping a suitably refreshing ice cream recipe in this scorching weather will make up for radio silence the last few weeks. We’ve just got back from two weeks in Italy split between three locations – a dear friend’s wedding, my parents’ house up in the Tuscan mountains and down by the sea in Senigallia, a sweet little town in Le Marche we’ve been visiting since I was seven. Nino stayed up well past his bedtime on multiple occasions, got to play properly in the sea and sand for the very first time, dined in a Michelin starred restaurant and ate mussels, clams, whole prawns (sucking the ‘prawn brains!’ from their heads with unabashed glee), wild boar and rabbit for the first time. We ate equally well, soaked up plenty of sunshine and indulged in the gift that is grandparental babysitting including an – unheard of – day of lunching and lounging by ourselves. All in all, it was bliss.
I posted a picture of these pancakes on Facebook a few weeks back and got a lot of requests for the recipe. I use this space as a journal of sorts, to tell stories and document what we’re eating rather than sticking to a strict schedule, so although I had been vaguely thinking of sharing a strawberry cake I’d baked this weekend, we ate it without a pause for photos and pancakes are the name of the game today (cake coming soon, I promise). Continue reading
Butter, sugar, oats. These are the things that flapjack perfection is made of. Could you ever create a healthier, ‘sugar free’ version to match this deliciousness? Well yes, if you use dates. Because sweet, sticky, sumptuous, natural Medjool dates are 80% pure sugar. They call them nature’s candy for a reason.
Ever since Nino uttered his first few gurgles, I’ve been noting down the things he says in his baby book, adding an explanation in brackets where necessary in the hope that our future selves will be able to decipher their meaning. It all feels so important in the here and now that it’s impossible to imagine that one day these precious milestones will be eclipsed by greater events: full sentences, proper facts, probing questions, and the rest. But the logical part of my brain knows that they will, so for the last year or so there has been this list. Which is now running at full capacity, words scribbled in the margins and over the page. Before I had Nino I didn’t realize quite how talkative a twenty month old would be, and although we have a lot of conversations about bears and cats and pee, there are already glimmers of so much more, a little joker who’s keen to communicate and eager to learn. It all feels very special. Continue reading
When we first started our weaning journey over a year ago, I chose the baby led route because I wanted meal times to be easy. The idea of handing over a pear or slice of bread, moving on to chicken drumsticks and eventually plates of the exact same food we were eating as adults appealed as a simple option and seemed like the best way to avoid fussy eating or multiple meal making. To a large extent I’d say it’s been a success – Nino’s a hearty little eater, loves his veg and asks to try almost anything in sight – but I’d be lying if I said it was plain sailing over here. There are days when foods are rejected, forced on whichever unfortunate soft toy he’s lined up as a mealtime companion or thrown on the floor. Like any normal mother, I often cook the things I know Nino will like, especially if it’s someone other than me feeding him. And although he’s pretty handy with plastic cutlery nowadays, he’ll still insist that I spoon food into his mouth or ask me to cut something that could easily be bitten in two on a pretty regular basis. Continue reading
Cooking is something I’ve always wanted to share with my children. So many of my childhood memories involve standing on a chair beside the kitchen counter, stamping out biscuits, licking utensils and pouring one too many silver balls over dollops of sticky homemade icing. When Nino was still a babe in arms we’d cook together every day, him nestled inside the sling, beady eyes peeping out as I scrambled eggs or stirred a Bolognese. When he got a little older I’d sit him on the kitchen counter, the most appreciative one man audience to my one (wo)man cooking show, letting him suck a lemon or sniff at herbs as I went about the business of making dinner for his dad and I. Then came a good few crazy months, that age where everything goes straight into the mouth and control is neither mastered or desired, directions to mind a hot oven perhaps not understood, perhaps wilfully disobeyed. Either way, most of my serious culinary creations took place while the babe was napping or after bedtime for at least six months. Continue reading
Judging by all the gingerbread, peppermint, cranberry and brandy recipes that have been landing my inbox of late, this simple ice cream isn’t exactly on trend for this time of year. With no refined sugar, no dairy and an absence of alcohol, it’s possibly more suited to the New Year, New You party which rolls around with guilt-incuding speed just as you’re polishing off that Christmas selection box you found down the back of the sofa. But I’m posting it today because, despite its short ingredient list and surprising vegan credentials, this chocolate banana ‘nice cream’ tastes luxurious enough to serve alongside any more indulgent dessert as you celebrate the season. Continue reading
It feels like a lot of the food I’ve made over the last few weeks is something of a metaphor for the life we’re currently living. I hadn’t planned to post the recipe for this no bake banoffee pie – surely anyone can throw together the basic combination of biscuits, bananas, toffee and cream – but your enthusiastic response to this photo on Instagram got me thinking about what we all appreciate on a day-to-day basis. Not fancy tiered cakes and complicated techniques but the joy of simplicity – the recipe equivalent of slow days snuggling on the sofa rather than a glamorous evening out. Continue reading
As of today, I’m officially 39 weeks pregnant. Research has shown that babies with this particular heart condition have the best rates of recovery if born between 39 and 40 weeks, so on Wednesday afternoon we’re scheduled for induction (or, to use Luke’s grandad’s spoonerism, seduction, which I much prefer the sound of). Something of a hippy at heart, I’m hoping to limit the drugs put into both our bodies so I’ve told our baby boy he has a strict eviction deadline of Tuesday night. There are plenty of punctual genes in the family, so it might just work; if not, then I’m counting on this virgin piña colada. Continue reading