Jul 28, 2017

This post has no pictures. (And not many words, either)

Ah, the weekend is (almost) upon us!
Again!

I love this weekly blogging thang but I have to say, I'm not feeling very inspiring at the moment, it's been one of those days weeks months YEARS.

This week I've made 2 batches of failed marshmallow in would-have-been-delicious flavours that the universe is apparently not ready for yet seeing as I can't even follow my own recipe right now.

I've been booking appointments to try to help my little guy's feeding and trying not to get my hopes up whilst remaining hopeful.

My bub turned FIVE MONTHS old which is baffling to me. I know some kids who were 5 months old recently and they seemed so old. Unlike Josh who is absolutely my little newborn. My lil newborn who has just started eating pumpkin and kumara...

We have a mid-winter Christmas dinner this weekend which I'm excited about as it's frigid in these parts and I feel like Christmas really should be right now, every year. Bring on the July Christmasses for all Southern Hemi folks, I say.

I can't even tack in an obligatory picture here because both my phone and computer are in limbo being fixed or transferred or borrowed I mean I can't even INSTAGRAM right now I'm not having withdrawals or anything GNNNNGGGGNNNNN but who even cares anymore, my 'newborn' is screaming and I have failed marshmallow to eat work to do.

See you next week for a hopefully much less boring blog post???! How fun am I? So fun, so fun.








    

Jul 21, 2017

Allsorts

Excuse this post being late. I've been too busy kissing my baby's head and reasoning with my toddler that she is actually not old enough to go to school yet, and, I'm currently on the bed in the 'side-lying' breastfeeding position in the dark with a sleeping baby attached to me where I've basically been all week, which makes typing very awkward... my neckkkk

In other news.

1. This outfit she donned this morning.
The socks because "Lellow is my best favourite. Dese are a little bit dirty tho..." 
The headband because "I'm a piwate."
The rain poncho because "I'm a hewo. And I like to get freezed." (She's always prepared to get outside, ensuing polar blast or not.)


The undies because girlfren' doesn't follow rules. The sandals (on wrong feet) because anyone's guess.

2. The light in the nursery on a sunny day makes it the happiest room in the house.




 3. Polar blasts and earthquakes aside, our city is sweet and we get outside every sunny weekend. A.k.a twice per year. Just kidding...
At least 5 times.

4. Overheard her saying to him:
"Josh, I'm always here. I'm always protect you."



5. Things I'm attempting to make so my brain doesn't die in a vortex of stress, sleep deprivation and attempts to feed my feeding-averse baby:
Bandana dribble bibs, and a cot duvet cover. Will report back if/when these are status complete. ;)


Enjoy your weekend!






    

Jul 14, 2017

Super-moist vanilla cupcakes [recipe in pictures]

Mmmmmm cupcakes.
A good vanilla cupcake that's not dry, dense, or overly crumbly is hard to find. Which is why it's about time I got this one blogged. I happen to think it's quite delicious. (Is fresh butter whipped to pale creamy perfection with sugar ever not???)

For Ella's 2nd birthday over a year ago I made them with these marshmallow flowers on top (see here) and I think it's just our new thing that we do with cupcakes now. So easy and kids (and adults) love 'em.

A pictorial recipe post, perhaps?
Cream butter and sugar...


Beat in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla...

...Until you are left with a goobery mess, to which you can add all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder - miking sure it's not gone hard -, and salt) and the milk. You can sift the dry ingredients in, or be lazy like me and decide that it's ALLLLL G and makes no difference anyway unless your baking powder was dried into hard clumps to begin with. 


If I had to choose one raw food to eat for the rest of my life..... I think this would be it. 
(Along with maybe my cousin Lizzy's brownie batter).

Did you think I meant raw food like avocado coconut oil banana quinoa bliss balls? 
Wrong blog, wrong blog.


Just look at it. I could cry.

Fill approx12 cupcake holders up to 2/3 full. These silicon ones have changed my muffin-pan-scrubbing life.


And slide into your oven, which is heated to 180C/350F.


Listen to your 3 year old bark "Don't use it all! Leave some for me!!!!"



After about 12-14 minutes they should be starting to go golden brown. Remove from oven and let them cool.

When they're fully cool, it's icing time. I just made a plain butter cream but my taste-tesing husband said he would've preferred cream cheese so, obvs, ice them how you like. But in the interests of over-blogging, here's how I make buttercream.

Soft butter:

... beaten in the mixer until it's pale and fluffy, almost white:


... icing sugar added:

 .. eat a large spoonful, unless you are dairy-free like me in which case just listen to your kid whinge and whine and beg to eat it. "Can I eat dat? Can I eat dat? Can I eat dat now? Can I eat all dat??????"



There's no milk added so none of that weird curdly texture.

Flavour with vanilla, tint with a few drops of colouring (we used some blue to create this pale minty colour:)



For flowers I use ye olde Women's Weekly Birthday Cake Book's technique that every child in Australia and New Zealand grew up with in the 80's and 90's and beyond.

You get Pascal's marshmallows, slice 'em and dip 'em, like so.


Sprinkles aren't exactly fancy but kids lurrrvvve them.


Coloured sugar or jelly crystals make a classier-looking dip but I knew my apprentice would be happy with plain old sprinkles.




Nice and rustic ;)

The end result is really cute.


Enjoy your cute cupcakes!



Recipe:

115g butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
100g sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch salt

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
2. Beat in the eggs, sourcream, and vanilla.
3. Gently sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, and milk, then mix until just combined.
4. Spoon into cupcake cases - fill each one up to two-thirds full.
5. Bake at 180 degrees celcius 12-14minutes, until just golden.


For the buttercream: whip 125g soft butter until very pale. Mix in 1.75 cups icing sugar, then add 1 tsp vanilla extract and colour as you like.

Let me know if you try these and how they turn out. They taste like nostalgia and birthday parties to me!






    

Jul 7, 2017

What we eat in a week (ish)

I love seeing what people eat and cook.
My domestic cooking journey has evolved a bit over the past year. When I was pregnant I just couldn't stand being in our kitchen. I would sometimes tie a hoody around my face so that I could get something I needed (milk or carbs - there was no inbetween) from the fridge without smelling anything 😂
At 25 weeks I could go back in the kitchen but I got no enjoyment from cooking.

Fast-forward to a few weeks post-partum and I was so hungry but Josh was reacting with acid reflux to any dairy and actually, a whole load of foods. I did an elimination diet (great way to lose all your pregnancy weight, FYI) which was no fun but made me appreciate every single food I was able to add back in.

We had a holiday in Fiji during this time and all I could safely have from the breakfast buffet was steamed rice and bacon... and even the bacon I wasn't sure about!

These days I can eat most foods again but dairy in my breastmilk still makes my little guy very unhappy. I'm also avoiding onion and garlic and a bunch of spices because they've been making him upset too... along with fatty food, sugary food, acidic food, and so on! But it still feels like I can eat so much, compared to the first few weeks of elimination diet. And that has given me a new enjoyment of cooking that I never had before. 

It's Winter here and I've embraced the one-pot meal mentality. If I can't make it in one or two easy steps (preferably in advance since I often have to do dinner prep in the morning or early arvo before witching hours) then it's not happening. Most of these meals can just do their thing in the oven so I don't have to hover over a frying pan for half an hour getting splatted and bouncing my baby with one foot.  Hearty soups and stews make the winter rain and frigid temps feel ok.


Monday!

This meal is on repeat in our house these days. It's so simple but always feels clean and healthy, but very hearty too. 

Method: brown chicken in the cast iron pot on stovetop, then add in diced pumpkin, 1-2 cans chickpeas and some kind of green veggies (we've used brussel sprouts and zucchini). Fill up almost halfway (or more for a more saucy finish) with water, season with salt, and bake for up to 2 hours in a moderate oven. The water basically turns into chicken stock which I like.  We serve it with rice.

I'm against chopping raw pumpkin (can never find the axe when I need it...😜 ) so I bake the whole thing in the oven, then when it's soft it's so easy to slice up. 




Tuesday!
On this day the hubs was working late, which was lucky because I had forgotten my grocery list at the supermarket on Monday (my grocery day) and didn't have the right ingredients to make what I wanted anyway. So Ella and I had raw carrots and I made kumara chips/wedges. There was also leftover chicken... We seem to end up with one of these nights every week or two.

Wednesday!
Essentially the same meal as the chicken, but using beef instead that was browned in flour before baking, and cooked together with parsnip and carrot. This one I served with mashed potatoes but I prefer to avoid doing that with potatoes... too many steps!!
[This food mountain belongs to my husband ;) ]

Thursday
I made these basic burritos on wheatmeal wraps as something different for everyone to eat, but I probably will save this meal for Summer in the future, and for when I can have all the spices and chilli and onion and garlic! It's pretty good tho - the minced beef was cooked with corn, kidney beans, and canned tomatoes.





Friday
On a rainy Friday or Saturday I quite like making a basic soup from any leftover pumpkin. It's essentially just thinned-out pumpkin puree, using either water or stock or milk. For flavour some pureed celery stalks and spices don't go amiss.


Extras
I've been slowly building my repertoire of dairy-free baking. If I need to take something to share with a group, I've been making these cookies below (I'll post the recipe here someday), and also these muffins were awesome.



If I get round to it during the week, I bake bread one or two times. I never did this until we got a mixer with a dough hook and that makes it seem easy. This recipe is from my sister-in-law and probably should be blogified one day too :)


So there you go. In the past I've always said that I hate cooking dinner - it seems like such a waste watching an hour of work + many more minutes doing dishes, just to be inhaled in 5 minutes. I hated choosing what to make, I hated endless trips to the supermarket and I hated realising it was 4pm and I didn't what I was going to cook. And I really, really hated all the mess it made. 

Meal planning has been a huge help to me with that stuff, and actually being forced to leave out certain ingredients makes me appreciate what I can cook that much more. I'm already preparing for the day that I can have all the spices and dairy and work my way through my cook books. I've been concocting an elaborate butter chicken recipe in my head (it has to have the tandoori-chicken-grilled-for-12-hours-over-charcoal taste, and the sauce has to be dark red with sweet caramelised tomato and a cardamomy hit. Not that I'm fussy.....) and I can't wait to test it out. 

What are your go-to meals for busy weeknights?