It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Our flat has been overtaken by a giant tree, the office is filled with chocolate, Michael Bublé’s Christmas album is on Spotify repeat and the kitchen smells like cookies. Baking season is upon us and it’s time to hunker down with friends, family and delicious things to eat. I’ve spoken before about being a summer person through-and-through, but there’s something about this time of year – especially with a curious almost-two- year old – that really does feel so magical. Continue reading
There’s a time and a place for boiling pans, sugar thermometers and endless beating with a wooden spoon. Forty eight hours before Christmas Day when you’re frantically trying to finish making and wrapping edible gifts for all your family and friends probably isn’t it. Throw a (not so) tiny ten month old explorer on the brink of walking into the equation and this 3-ingredient fudge was the elf to my slightly frantic Santa. Some might call it ‘cheat’s’ fudge – you simply mix together melted chocolate, condensed milk and cookies – but when something tastes this delicious, who’s going to begrudge the odd shortcut? Continue reading
When Nino was just seven weeks old, two weeks before his open heart surgery, we hired a professional photographer to capture a morning in the life of our little family of three. Those newborn days disappear so quickly that it felt like a precious and important milestone to mark, and, with the operation (hopefully) far behind us, I can now admit I was also scared that those happy moments could be some of our last. This world we live in works in weird and wonderful ways, and two thirds of a year later here we are, happy as can be. A little sleepless, perhaps, but I’d rather be kept awake at night by a bouncing ten month old with a lust for life than intangible fears for its future.
When the same photographer got in touch to say she was keen to capture the preparations of a few families in the run up to Christmas, we jumped at the chance. She describes her photos as ‘imperfect, real, crazy, messy, funny, impossible, bonkers’ and ‘one of the best future gifts you could give to your children’ and I couldn’t agree more. A baby’s first Christmas is an incredibly magical time, and although it will stay etched in my memory forever, I’m so happy Nino will now have something special to look back on too. Continue reading
Last weekend I was chatting to someone and mentioned that Nino isn’t going to be allowed refined sugar until he turns one. The topic came up because we were eating flapjacks which Nino was desperate to try – you know, that full body baby intention with propeller arms and slightly wild eyes – and this mean mama diverted his attention with a crust of bread instead. Lots of people I discuss this no-sugar rule with think it’s a perfectly sensible idea in an era where we’ve come to see the sweet stuff as the root of all evil, but this particular someone looked at me with the weary eyes of a parent of more than one child. ‘Wait til you’re onto littlest loaf number three, you’ll be feeding them birthday cake for breakfast without batting an eyelid’.
True as this may be, I’m sticking with the courage of my first time mum convictions for now and allowing Nino sugar only in the form of fruit, milk etc for the next two months. There’s a whole rainbow of incredible natural sweets he’s been working his way through before anything more processed. And although straight up juice is a no-no for those teeth (six so far with an adorable middle gap), when an irresistible urge to bake takes hold of me, there’s the possibility of naturally sweetened wholesome treats like these spelt and apple stars.
Now that Halloween and Bonfire Night are out the way, I feel like I’m legitimately allowed to mention the C-word. I’m not normally one to plan the festivities too far in advance, but since a certain little person arrived in our lives I’ve been looking forward to his first Christmas and the magic it will bring. There’s a stocking embroidered with Nino’s name that I’m hoping will last a lifetime, his very first decoration for the tree (we have a tradition of getting a new bauble or item to hang every year), matching jumpers to wear, stories to read and a long list of presents to buy, even if he’s (inevitably) more interested in the the boxes they arrive in. And then of course – although I’m not allowing Nino refined sugar til he’s one (mean mummy) – there’s dessert to plan for the grown ups in attendance. Continue reading
How many glasses of elderflower cordial can one woman drink during the course of her pregnancy? I’ve loved elderflower since I was a little and used to help my granny make big batches of the stuff. We’d spend a morning picking the delicate white buds from the bushes around the apple farm, snaring any high up branches with her walking stick, before heading home for lunch. The picked stalks would steep in water, citrus peel, a slightly scary amount of sugar and citric acid, the odd stray bug bobbing on the surface until it all got strained into bottles of sweet, floral cordial. It’s safe to say I’m a big elderflower fan, and I love that it’s offered everywhere as the non-alcoholic option of choice, but eight months into this pregnancy and it feels like time for a change. Plus, it’s Christmas. Continue reading
Christmas is just around the corner and there’s nothing I love more than ripping open wrapping paper to discover a shiny new cookbook. There are lots of round ups out there this year, so for what it’s worth, here are the books I’ve been loving – and will more than likely be gifting – in 2015. Continue reading
Aside from a family sized tub of Celebrations (which disappeared with alarming speed), this fudge is the first sweet treat to pass through our brand new kitchen. We moved in last Thursday and while I’m eager to share some photos with you all, there hasn’t been a moment to take them in between long dark evenings and party-packed weekends. Suffice to say I’m thrilled with the vast new expanses of work surface and storage, our beautiful ceramic sink and a fridge big enough to fit all sorts of little loaf delights. Now, let’s talk fudge.
In a previous post about blondies I brought up the age old debate about blonde vs. brunette. Blondes, they say, have more fun but in the edible stakes, brownies definitely have the upper hand. There are far more recipes for brownies than blondies on this blog, and if you cast your net wider to google, a ‘brownie’ search returns 45 million results; blondies fewer than 2. But what about that elusive third category, the much-maligned, often forgotten but every bit as delicious ginger? Continue reading
The first time I saw a frangipane mince pie, I fell a little bit in love.
To put this in context, I’m not much of a mince pie eater. If you read this blog regularly you’ll know that I’d take chocolate, caramel or creamy desserts over boozy dried fruit any day of the week: an indifference to festive desserts that extends to both Christmas pudding and cake. If a mince pie is all that’s on offer, I’ll probably end up eating it (top removed, filled with copious amounts of brandy butter then replaced) and I do enjoy the ritual of baking them at this time of year, but getting excited about a recipe? It doesn’t tend to happen. Continue reading