Soup By Request

Chilly? Tired? Feeling like you need something to fill you tummy with veggie goodness? I can heartily recommend this soup. We devoured this soup all week and even Playful Baby, who is currently teething, could be persuaded to partake is some bread dipping and soup devouring. 

When I popped a picture onto Instagram, I started a small soup related frenzy. It seems we're all currently feeling the cold. So, as promised, here is the recipe. 

'Request a Soup', Soup:

Ingredients

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 sticks of celery, chopped

5-6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

500 ml low salt stock (low salt for baby friendly, go wild for adult friendly)

75g red lentils

Handful of coriander, chopped

Method

1.Chop onions and celery, smash cloves of garlic, and peel and chop carrots.

2. Sauté for about 10 mins in good oil (we use cold pressed rapeseed)

3. Add 500 ml stock and 75g lentils and leave to bubble gently for about 15 mins

4. Add fresh coriander and buzz with food processor or hand blender till its consistency you like (I like the Coriander to be broken up into the soup, you can sprinkle it on top)

Notes:

~ Season as you wish for adults

~ Chilli, cumin and dried coriander are good additions

~ Serving this with cheese straws might be a new baby favourite round here. 

Bottle a Day

Lately I've written a lot about the tough times we've been having and it's dull quite frankly. Last Thursday we had the kind of day that, if I could, I would bottle and store as a reserve. I would lovingly mark the date on the label and tuck it away for those 'oh God I am so bad at being a mum' days. 

Yesterday was a good day. 

It started with little promise: rain, crossing London in rush hour, a failed nap. I suspected doom before I opted for my go to solution on such days and decided to walk it out. I grabbed our trusty sling and popped the Playful One in and took off in the hope that movement would divert us from an irritable tangle that I could see coming. 

I realised as we started moving that we were about to cross part of my favourite London walk. In my pre baby, pre London living days I would commute daily to East London and on Friday I'd pop in my headphones and jump off the train at the Tower of London. From here I'd cross the river via Tower Bridge, move down to the riverside, past City Hall, along past Southwark Cathedral, The Globe, Tate Modern, The Oxo Tower and finally into Southbank where I'd get home via Waterloo. I'd vary this journey by popping to Borough Market or watching some free music at the Royal Festival Hall for example but I loved this ritual. I never wanted to get home, just keep discovering, because every time I did it, I'd find something new. 

So I took the Playful Baby along a variation of it, opting for as many experiences for her as I could think of off the cuff. Here's how it went:

There's currently a herd of painted giraffe sculptures to celebrate Colchester Zoo's 50th anniversary in More London, right by City Hall. Between this and the water features, we were off to a great start with Playful Baby whooping and giggling in delight. Giraffes are very funny apparently. 

We then walked along the river, past HMS Belfast and ducked under a few bridges that I remembered had light installations. Much whooping and leg kicking from the mini one at this too. 

We waved at the knight who guards Southwark Cathedral....

.... Then we were in the midst of the noise, sounds and smells if Borough market. 

Delicious.

I finally tired her out with a train journey home (she loves trains) and we shared lunch and chatted about our morning. She was so tired that she napped like a champion that afternoon and I got in some baking! 

(More to come about these flapjacks- they're baby friendly and I have ideas for how to make them even yummier. Standby for epic deliciousness).

We had lots of fun that afternoon, bombing around the house, getting chores done....

.... And then redone....

We finished the day happily, singing to the radio and sharing flapjack for pudding. While little one dreamt of painted giraffes, I even got some knitting in. 

Sometimes, days like this happen. 

Pink for a Non Pink Girl

Being a foodie family has its advantages when you have dietary requirements. Its tough to discover dairy is strictly off the menu for 2/3rds of the family but luckily I like a cooking challenge so I've been learning to cheat my way through mealtimes. 

The main issue has been getting enough good fat and calcium into our diets. Supplements help but that fat issue? Not to mention the sheer boredom of tomato based sauces. I yearn for white sauce or a creamy cheese topping.

So I was just feeling burnt out when I invited a friend over with her little lovely for lunch. I would scream if I saw another jacket potato and or non dairy pancake. I pondered. I hit an idea. 

First I rinsed some butter beans as they're creamier than chickpeas which are often used for dip. It was a start. 

Then came some garlic and a little red onion. I want to be clear here that 3 gluttonously fat cloves was a little hit too powerful to say the least. None of us sharing food that day were very 'sociable' after so perhaps just go for 2?

I added beetroot, white wine vinegar, a little tahini (check for allergies first as it's sesame based), rape seed and olive oil and then threw everything in the blender. 

The result was..... Pink?


Luckily it was also delicious served with salad in sandwiches and grated carrot and avocado for the babes. It was a definite hit with little miss and thanks to the low ratio of beet, she didn't dye her face an alarming shade of purple like she usually does when she eats them.

One more for the repertoire then!



Pink Dip:
2 smashed garlic cloves
1/3rd red onion, roughly chopped,
1 tin butter beans (no salt added or a cup of fired beans soaked overnight)
2 tbsp tahini
2 tablespoons oil (olive or rapeseed)
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 precooked beetroot

Throw all ingredients in food processor and blend to preferred texture. Try adding different beans or some fresh herbs to mix it up a bit. 

Enjoy!

Our Current Favourite

It's been a while since I talked food and recipes and my gluttony for good food. 6 months of a certain little lady will do that to you. Finding time to eat let alone cook has been near impossible and with so much off the menu while my little girl's tummy was so sensitive, food just became an exhausting exercise.

Just as I felt it would never end however, this happened:



Shortly followed by this:



Where has my baby gone?? Now we share meals with her excitedly whacking her high chair, supported by cushions and covered in a smock bib. Wow this weaning thing is one glorious mess isn't it?

I knew I would be baby led. I breast fed exclusively on demand and it just made sense to leave her in control of what she was eating. With so much negative association with food so young thanks to chronic reflux, I also felt the exploration would be fun. It turns out she loves it and letting her set the pace has shown me just what she's capable of. She's amazing quite frankly. Pears, bananas, crusts of bread, carrots and cucumber are destroyed, gummed and delighted in. I can't wait to start cooking for her. We just have to take things a little slow as she's not quite 6 months and her reflux needs careful monitoring. Still, she's setting the pace so I'm learning from her this way.

In anticipation of this event, my mum bought me a copy of River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook. It's my new favourite cookbook. We have a weekly veg box delivery and a great local green grocers, fishmonger and butcher so we eat seasonally and as locally as possible. I have long been a fan of Hugh's team and publications so I knew I'd love this. It's a whole food philosophy that we totally believe in too.

The book starts with helpful advice about how to wean, how to feed your growing baby healthily and is encouraging and non judgemental. I have found the early section of very early weaning extremely handy already as I check how best to prep some fruit etc.

It does contain purée recipes if you are so inclined which I think I'll use for exploration and with dippers such as pitta or lollipops of broccoli. The nice touch is each recipe explains how to make it safe for tiny babies but also appropriate for adults. The idea of meal sharing is very much a part if the giant and I's philosophy.

This book is a great compliment to the Baby Led Weaning books. I'd actually say that I preferred it in terms of explaining the practicalities and making me feel excited about this new world.

And with that its time I went and pressure washed the ceiling. More soon!

An-tici-PAY-SHUN

I can't use the word anticipation without hearing it exaggerated by a rather gorgeous Tim Curry in drag. I tried to type it in the header normally but somehow just couldn't so I felt a nod to a great dress up/ Halloween favourite of mine was probably quite festive anyway. For the record, I'm always Magenta because after the drag queens, she got the best makeup. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, go get a copy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a friend who knows the parts to shout at and a vat of gin then come back. 

Anyway.....

Anticipation is becoming a major theme around here and there's more than one thing I'm excited about. I thought I'd share a few. 

Stormount (c) CelticCastOn
Firstly, I'm going to be writing a blog post about this rather magic pattern soon that's just been released by one of my favourite bloggers. Isn't it gorgeous? I love cables and need more in my life and this clearly needs to happen. 


Then there's a flurry of books that are being blogged about in anticipation of their arrival. The first that left me all a twitter was Jane Richmond's Island, now available for pre-order. It looks absolutely stellar and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. 


No less exciting is the anticipation of the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. I am always banging on about the genius that is this blog but really, I don't think I can stress this enough: the woman is a genius

I also got very excited when I realised how close election day is for the US: 6th November 2012! Watching this video about the power of the female vote to say 'no' to a regime that will attempt to reclaim them as property made me want to stand up and cheer. 60% of the voters last time were women and that means you can literally say 'my body, my decision'. How exciting! Here in the UK I'm hoping we realise the same next election as the abortion and welfare debates roll on with little female voice, research or forward thinking in any shape or form so I'm waiting the outcome of the US election with baited breath and hoping it signals a change for us here too.


So whether it's knitted bliss, food or just being so damn powerful, I hope you're anticipating something special over this coming week too!

Split Pea and Carrot Soup

Well it's another soup recipe. I know, it's like I don't have teeth or something. It's all soups and compotes (I need to write up the compote I just made- it's amazing). But come on, who doesn't like soup?!?!?! Especially as we enter autumn and winter coldness, soup wins everytime.

Here's a winter warmer I knocked up the other day and have since devoured. 


Split Pea and Carrot Soup.

Ingredients:
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup cooked Split Peas 
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large chopped onion
3 chopped celery stalks
1 chilli, diced (deseeded if you don't like things too spicy)
1 tsp of fresh diced Ginger
1/2 tbsp Ground Coriander
1 litre stock, veg or chicken (I used veg) 
Seasoning

To Make:
1. Take a good size pan, slosh some olive oil (about 2 tbsp) in and heat.
2. Saute the onions, celery and carrot for about 5 mins, until starting to soften. 

3. Add chilli, ginger, coriander and garlic, stir and cook for another 2 minutes or so.  
4. Season, pour in veg stock and reduce heat once it starts to simmer. Pop a lid on and leave for about 25 mins or until everything is nice and soft. 
5. Add cooked split peas (You don't have to do this seperately but I find it makes it less dominant if I do so). Warm through.
6. Blend to preferred consistency and pop back on the heat to warm through again a little, adjusting seasoning if necessary. 

Serving suggestion: amazing sour dough bread from Brick House Artisan Sourdough Bakery that I just discovered. It's amazing.

Experiments in Sugar

I was pootling round the supermarket the other day which is a very rare activity for me and because of this I got distracted. I tend to shop local, buy local and use markets and farms etc wherever possible so a trip to the supermarket usual ends in me returning with something weird and completely non essential. 

I found a non essential that looked fun. 

As a child I loved Angel Delight. It's kind of like mousse for those of you who have never had it and comes in Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and Butterscotch flavours. There are others but those are the ones that stick in my mind. I haven't had any in years so the packaging caught my eye as I pootled along humming to myself in that way that packaging is designed to do when I'm not willfully ignoring it. 


This time, there was something different: ice cream versions? I remember making Freezy Pops from Angel Delight as a child which were something like Mini Milks. If you've never had a Mini Milk I am sad for you and offer you this virtual hug (((((hug)))))

So I brought it home with plans to add almonds and bananas for a grown up version. I had neither so I added more sugary goodness. So to recap, that's powdered dessert into milk, whipped, with biscuits and Nutella. 

Results? Well I went nuts on sugar then had the most horrific of sugar crashes. I was so excitable I clean forgot to take a picture of how the Angel Delight looked after 4 hours of freezing. 

Verdict? If you like your kids or adults twitchy and on the ceiling, give in to this guilty pleasure. If not, probably best to leave it in the realm of nostalgia and possibly get the low sugar version if you want to just see what I'm talking about.

In the interests of full disclosure I may have still been slightly buzzing when I wrote this post.

For the love of.... baking.

I know I boasted about my recent efforts on Twitter and the podcast but I couldn't leave it at that now could I? I HAD to share some photographs of my yummy baking session. 

First there was the wonderful Rye Soda Bread from the Super Natural Every Day Cookbook by Heidi Swanson. This recipe was perfectly written and I had great results as you can see:

Pre oven

Ready for buttering!
Then I made the most delicious snack bars I've made in ages. They are called 'Honey and Peanut Booster Bars' and can be found in 'River Cottage Every Day' by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This is one of my absolute all time favs and I go to this book time and time again for failproof wholesome recipes. 


You may notice this picture shows the uncooked version.... I forgot to take the end result as I was too busy cutting myself some and stuffing it in my mouth but it was good- trust me.