Thursday, 29 November 2012

so very thankful

i am thankful for family, my kids, my health, in particular my sisters health and her miraculous healing from stage 3 cancer. we spent thanksgiving together and talked of the fact that exactly a year ago we were together and she was showing us her painful and bloated tummy. the doctors kept sending her away with antibiotics or diet-tips. six months later she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. 6 months on and she today had Scan results showing everything to be looking good and healthy. she has in the meantime recovered from major surgery and trauma and married a wonderful man. i am so so thankful to God for healing and restoring my wonderful and precious little sis who i adore. my sisters are my kindred spirits - i'm feeling thankful today for them.  and all of us love a good PIE! as we are half american we gathered for thanksgiving and i was in charge of pumpkin and pecan pie. yum! i had a slightly stressful pie-making session with little Miss M (too many things on the go at once) but had to relax and embrace the kitchen getting completely covered in dirty dishes and flour!!

for the pastry 
(for 1 pie - double this recipe for 2 pies - you will have plenty left-over too)
1. crumble together with fingers - 450g flour and 250g butter - until well combined
2. stir in 150g sugar
3. crack in 3 eggs and stir until well combined
4. push the mix together in to a ball using your hands - but try to touch it as little as possible
5. wrap the ball of pastry in cling film and put in the fridge for half an hour.
6. using lots of flour on your surface and rolling pin, roll out the pastry to 1cm thick and line a buttered pie dish

these pies are basically a saucepan of gooey melted sweetness poured in to a pie crust.
i made the two pies at the same time so had both the fillings bubbling away.

pumpkin pie
1. cut a pumpkin in to quarters and scrape out the insides. baste with olive oil and roast at 180C for 40mins. remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting the skin off the flesh and blending the flesh in to a pulp.
2. keep the oven heated to 180C
3. whisk 2 eggs and set aside
4. in a saucepan, gently melt and whisk together: 50g dark brown sugar, 150ml double cream, 1/2tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg, 1/2tsp ground allspice, 1/4 tsp ground ginger
5. add the eggs and whisk
6. add the blended pumpkin and whisk until well combined
7. pour the mix in to the pastry case and bake for 40mins
8. once the pie has cooled put it in the fridge
9. serve chilled with a big dollop of whipped cream

pecan pie
1. in a strong saucepan, melt 125g unsalted butter, 125g golden syrup, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 215g brown sugar. once all melted and gooey, set aside to cool for 10 mins.
2. meanwhile beat 3 eggs and fill the pie crust with 300g pecan halves
3. stir the eggs in to the melted butter mix and pour the mix over the pecans
4. bake for 45 mins
5. serve at room temperature, do not try to reheat.

while the pies were in the oven, i put little Miss M to work cleaning up the devastation in the kitchen

and here they are. pecan pie is unbelievably sweet and delicious. how could you go wrong with butter, brown sugar and golden syrup? pumpkin pie is not so sweet and a bit slimey. i do enjoy it in small quantities and dolloped with whipped cream.
hubby carving up at our thanksgiving feast made by my talented brother. the big dish is a Nigella Lawson stuffing made with cornbread - yum!
after pigging out, we rolled out the pies for breakfast the next day and ate pumpkin pie with all the leftovers for lunch. it went very well with turkey, veg and cranberry sauce. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


so this week i'm joining in The Gallery and posting two photos with the theme of Eyes
Children's faces look so strange when all you can see is their eyes. there is something mysterious and unsettling about masks and face coverings - probably because we can't see the full expression. and yet they hold so many feelings deep in those little eyes.... if you look in hard enough. 
these masks were in some recent party bags and have given us hours of fun

Check out other Gallery entries here:

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

grumpy mum

tonight i felt like the grumpiest mum. i'm tired - a killer for me. when i'm really tired i have a short fuse and cant cope with mess or chaos or crying or whining or being ignored. i need lots of sleep to be good, relaxed, patient, gentle, fun, creative, smiley mum. and i feel terrible on the days when i'm trying but i snap. i'm tired for a good reason. Sam and i went to the cinema last night to see "Rust and Bone." it is a beautiful french film and typically french - slow, disturbing, impending tragedy through the whole film, phenomenal acting and great characters. it is raunchy and violent, tender and gentle. 

despite my bad exhausted mood and grumpy-mummy-guilt, here are three things i feel pleased about at the end of today:
  • i went out with my lovely husband last night and saw a great film which has inspired and stimulated my mind all day
  • we made 12 meters of christmas wrapping paper today - we did star potato stamps with stamping ink. the kids were like factory workers stamping away madly while i rolled the paper along the table. they really enjoyed it.                       
  • i made some delicious soup this evening. i almost bought Covent Garden Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato soup and instead bought the ingredients to make some myself. here's how:
1. cut a medium-sized Butternut Squash in to four long quarters. Scrape out most of the seedy bit. Place on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. place 2 small whole sweet potatoes on the tray and bake the lot for 40 minutes.
2. meanwhile, in a saucepan, chop and saute a large onion and 3 cloves of garlic (slightly chopped/squashed) until the onion is transparent
3. cut the cooked squash in to chunks and add to the onions. squeeze the sweet potato out of it's skins in to the onions.
4. saute for a few minutes and then add 1/2 L of stock and simmer on low heat
5. add 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp ground pepper, 1/4 tsp mild curry powder, 1/4 tsp nutmeg
6. simmer for 10 minutes
7. add approx 8 fresh basil leaves and blend in to a smooth soup 

Friday, 16 November 2012

in our family...

so the other night i got sick of the kids arguing over everything... especially over who goes FIRST! 
so i got paper and pen and we started with 'In our family... '
together we wrote a list. Little Z got so in to this.. he LOVED it!
here is the list we came up with. let me know if you have any you think we should add.

In Our Family we..
are gentle
are kind
let other people go first (Little M responded to this one with "No ME!")
share with each other
love cake (Little M's contribution)
play with toys gently
say kind things to each other
take deep breaths when we feel cross
don't grab, hit, shove, push, scratch, bite
say sorry
do cuddles
play with each other nicely and don't do things that are rough
say encouraging things, nice things
talk kindly
say please and thank you
do good things, don't do bad things
listen to each other
read books together
pray together
do things that are really good and dont make people sad
go on trips together
compliment each other (you look lovely in that. you're really good at that)
do what Mummy & Daddy say
use nice voices (no screaming)
say what we are feeling
are allowed to make mistakes
we forgive
we definitely dont microwave our soft toys

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

dorset days

we had a gorgeous half term in a beautiful little village in Dorset. it was the first holiday in four years where i have properly switched off from the kids and read. i read a whole book in four days. it was so satisfying. granted it was a parenting book so not as escapist as i'd like. but it was an incredibly inspiring and helpful book ('screamfree parenting - how to raise your kids by keeping your cool'). it made me want to read more. and made me realise the joys of holidaying with other people with children - the kids just disappeared off with their cousins for hours.
we had lovely days out to the beach - being near the ocean is so good for the soul and the kids could spend hours digging, exploring and throwing rocks in to the sea -

and the woods - climbing, walking, chasing each others shadows and trying to find the patches of sunlight between the trees to stay warm.
my sister in law sent us home with cooking apples from their orchard. they have been staring at me all week.  orchard's and home-grown fruit carry a beautiful, magical weight to them that makes them so special and wholesome and feeling the need to do something delicious with them so great. i managed to make a simple apple turnover (with store bought puff pastry) for friends but there are still lots of apples sitting there - about to rot... ahhh. 
so tonight i had a crumble and pie making party... no i was alone... a fest. the crumble we'll eat with friends this weekend and the pie i'll freeze for christmas.... how organised is that?? yes!! these are useful things to have up your sleeve - pastry and crumble - good old fashioned dessert staples. i've kept it simple but you can experiment with adding berries, squeezed oranges, dried fruit, pears, apricots, chopped nuts.

apple pie:

crumble together with fingers - 450g flour and 250g butter - until it all well combined

stir in 150g sugar
crack in 3 eggs and stir until well combined
push the mix together in to a ball using your hands - but try to touch it as little as possible
wrap the ball of pastry in cling film and put in the fridge for half an hour.

roll out the pastry - using lots of flour and line the buttered dish
peel and slice 4-5 cooking apples and mix the slices with 2 tbspn caster sugar and 1 tsp cinnimon
pour the apples in to the pastry case
roll out enough pastry to cover the top and seal the sides together
cut some lines in the top of the pastry to let steam escape
brush the top with egg white and sprinkle a little caster sugar on top.
bake 180C for 45mins.

 basic apple crumble:
crumble together with your fingers:
100g flour, 75g butter and 75g sugar and 50g rolled oats
chop 2 large cooking apples and put the slices in a round baking dish
sprinkle the apple with 2 tsp caster sugar and 1/4 of a lemon
bake at 180C for 40mins

alternative awesome crumble
i used this topping on a pear and apricot crumble. my friend said it was the best crumble she had ever tasted.
so there we go...
crumble together with your fingers:  
100g flour, 100g brown muscovado sugar, 60g ground almonds, 125g butter and 50g oats
pour the crumble topping over the fruit and bake at 180C for 40 minutes

leftover pastry? 
keep it wrapped in cling film in the fridge and whenever you or the kids fancy a few cookies:
roll out the pastry, cut out shapes, sprinkle with caster sugar 
bake at 180C for 20mins or until starting to turn golden.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

celebrating obama & almonds

so so thrilled to wake up this morning to find out that Obama had won the US election. so awesome.. for America.. for the World.. and what a huge relief. 
here's a celebratory cupcake! 
these cupcakes are flour and sugar free. i have recently discovered ground almond as a replacement for flour. i am quite addicted to almonds (my current snack of choice) and anything almond related. i prefer a mix of flour and ground almond but i wanted to try completely flour-free which is higher maintenance. they are also sugar-free and therefore guilt-free! happy days in the free world!

almond cakes

1. preheat oven to 200C
2. beat 4 large egg yolks and 1 cup of honey
3. whisk the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form and then gently fold them into the egg yolk mix
4. fold in 225g ground almonds and 1 tsp baking powder
5. spoon the mix in to cupcake cases and bake for 15mins
6. mix a tub of cream cheese with 2 tbsp honey (or to taste) and ice the cakes

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


so here are some shots to celebrate beautiful autumn. autumn makes me feel so happy inside... so warm and glowing. the colours and crisp cool air warmed by the sun, the beautiful sun rises and moon glowing in the morning. i want to roll in leaves, collect leaves, sit in front of a fire, make orange-coloured soups, bake bread and eat pumpkin pie.

pumpkins and wellies
 rolling in autumn leaves - tights ended up smeared with dog poo - yuk!
autumn trees
 autumn moon - showing itself every morning now
and the obvious one - a beautiful autumn leaf

These photos are linked in with The Gallery -
head over there to see other people's autumnal photography 

pumpkin seeds

when im tired and cold i want to eat and eat and eat. i eat my way through the day - perhaps to give me energy or warmth - perhaps for comfort - perhaps because i feel unmotivated to get on with any tasks. salted roasted pumpkin seeds are SO addictive i couldn't stop eating them. if you do nothing with leftover pumpkins from halloween, at least cook up the seeds.
separate out the pumpkin seeds and rinse them in a sieve to get rid of as much pulp as possible. 
pour a generous slosh of oil in to a roasting pan and put the clean seeds in the pan, sprinkle with plenty of salt and roast at 180C for 20 minutes or until nice and crispy. they can burn easily so keep an eye on them. 
here is my boy's pumpkin... which apparently has a cross face because he was cross with his little sister's pumpkin who kept hitting him.. processing reality through their pumpkins.
my daughter LOVED playing with the slimy pulp - squishing and swirling it and moving it in and out of the hollow pumpkin... a bit like Eyore with his burst balloon and the empty honey jar.

Monday, 5 November 2012

monday a doing day

its only been half term - just a week out of our normal routine - and i feel like i'm now drowning in admin, low energy, dirty house, laundry, sorting, filing, grocery shopping, meal planning and baking that needs doing... and here i am blogging! what am i doing? does anyone else ever feel guilty for blogging? that it's a waste of time and other things are suffering as a result. i do want to record my thoughts and memories of little stories about the kids. i also definitely need to record my recipes for myself... so i can find and replicate them. so i will continue for now and try to squeeze it in when i can.... or squeeze the other stuff in around IT?! 

here we are having an admin hour... or two... or was it only 20minutes it lasted? we all got something done.. me a meal plan and online grocery shop, Little Mr Z an entire dozen egg box painted and little Miss M 30 sheets of paper covered in paint.... very productive i'd say.