Chocolate, Courgette & Olive Oil Muffins

Chocolate Courgette Muffins - 4

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

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate

grapefruit-olive-oil-chocolate-loaf-1

Long enough ago to make me feel extremely old, I met my husband-to-be at university. We were young, in love and, being students, didn’t really go on dates. There were late nights clubbing, bacon sandwiches eaten on scruffy sofas and a few ‘fancy’ suppers when housemates were out, but mostly we just spent time together without needing to label it a ‘date’. As we got older there were meals out and tasting menus, holidays, birthdays, trips to the cinema and all the usual things that couples do. It was easy; spending time together didn’t need a second thought.

I’ve owned a copy of Ashley Rodriguez’s Date Night In since it published a couple of years ago (check out this ice cream cake), but it wasn’t until our little man blazed his way into the world and made us a family of three that I truly understood the sentiment behind her words. Since he started a new job and I went on maternity leave, Luke and I have arguably spent much more time together during the week, yet somehow there are days when I find myself missing him. Or missing the ease of existing alongside him before we had this extra human to care for and entertain. Life as a parent is brilliant and bettering and blissful, but it can also be all-consuming and pretty tough at times. Suddenly you’re sharing not just your heart but your time with this new little life, and making space to appreciate, talk to and love my favourite grown up boy alongside our baby sometimes takes a conscious effort. Continue reading

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Salted Panko Crunch

Dark Chocolate Panko Brownies - 5

We’ve just got back from a whirlwind weekend in Lithuania celebrating the marriage of two very lovely friends. I’m tired, but the lugging a pram down a hill to the picturesque lakeside dinner setting and getting up at 4am to feed a baby confused by the time change tired, rather than the slow lazy sleepiness that comes with daytime drinking and dancing into the night. Weddings with a mini man in tow are an altogether different kettle of fish, and the night before the big day I was in bed by 9pm, snuggling down into the duvet and ordering up chocolate cake on room service. Continue reading