Earlier this week I ventured down to Brighton with seven week old Joy, leaving Nino in the hands of his ever-adoring grandparents for day of swimming and Gruffalo hunting. Not wanting to negotiate London rush hour with the buggy, I bundled her into a snowsuit then stuck her in the sling, quietly congratulating myself as we met with a wall of commuters twenty deep on attempting descent to the tube. Maternity leave has removed me so completely from central city life, I’d forgotten the silent grey sea that is the London rush hour, office workers hiding behind papers and iPhones, unspeaking, their clothing muted and gaze cast low. Navigating the crush with a child swathed in bright pink unicorns attached to my chest, I felt like an imposter, unable to imagine having done this twice a day, every day, for almost all of my adult life.
Making raw and/or vegan desserts is a little like going on maternity leave. Your point of reference changes. Crisp-edged cookies become soft and dense with dates, cream tastes of coconut and jam is held together with chia seeds. As a seasoned lover of butter and flour and sugar, I’m perfectly aware that the recipe posted here is not a cookie as we know it, but these treats are no less delicious for it. Just as hanging out in the playground in leggings is no better or worse than going suited and booted into work, it’s just different, each to be enjoyed and appreciated on their own merits. Continue reading
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
Despite a coupe of un-seasonally warm days, it’s starting to feel like autumn round here. My evening walk with Nino is bathed in hazy light, it’s dark by the time that supper swings round and those 6am wake up calls? Like the middle of the night. Comfort food feels like the order of the day and dark mornings call for warm breakfast bowls. Nino and I tend to share blueberry porridge made with flaked oats and quinoa, dolloped with thick greek yoghurt and a spoonful of nut butter, but this week I’ve branched out and made a batch of creamy barley to last us several days. Cooked until tender with homemade hazelnut milk and topped with honey roast figs, this nutty grain makes for a delightful porridge substitute and one I’ll be making time and again in the months to come. Continue reading