New Year Calm and Clarity

When it comes to getting a feel for the emotional state I'm in, you need look no further than the kitchen most days. If the sides are brimming with tins of baked goods, the fridge is bursting with fresh seasonal ingredients, then I'm feeling peachy. If I've slammed oven chips on the table and realised the fish fingers are not even defrosted? Things are bleak and it's best to give me a moment to put things right again. 

baking clutter
lemon zesting

New Year brought the realisation that I need more time for me in 2015. I am tired and I just need to indulge in some good food making and eating before strapping my walking boots back on and journeying into new adventures. As a result my kitchen is a den of activity right now- lemons are being used everywhere (always a good sign) and there's been some pretty special lunches and dinners. 

dressing in a bottle
roasted jerusalem artichokes

I've bee playing around with new to me recipes like this one for roasted Jerusalem artichokes but I've also been on something of a mission....

seeds and nuts

It's got me twice in a week...

dried fruit an nuts

and I'm not there yet.....

breakfast bars

The PERFECT breakfast bar! I've been using up dried fruits, seeds, nuts and oatmeal from the cupboard but I've still not found just the right mixture that I'm craving. I want seedy and nutty, not heavily sugary and not crumbly. What's your favourites? 

In Praise of Scones

Yesterday was another miserable wet day. I sighed, pulled out the waterproofs and we headed to the park muttering the words 'hopefully it won't get too wet'. When the rain started coming down horizontally, we retreated to cover and munched rice cakes while we gloomily surveyed swings we weren't going to go on again that morning. 

This is having a toddler. Wet days become about the less horizontal parts you manage to grab before retreating to whatever fun you can find indoors. Rain, unless it's 'soak you through to your knickers' wet is not necessarily a deterrent. However, I draw the line at horizontal and soggy knickers. 

Instead, we tried baking......

For our toddler sized baking session I chose scones for 2 reasons: no raw egg, and you can hide goodness in them such as sweet potato, courgette or in this case, Marmite and cheese. I also learned that anything you mix with your hands then 'cut out' is a hit too. 

I use a basic scone recipe but sub in a little wholemeal flour (about 50g) and if I have it in I also use buttermilk too. It makes for delicious fluffy scones. 

Having had a complete success with this activity, here's some top tips for cooking with toddlers:

- Food safety- think dry goods rather than raw eggs or cross contamination. Hands go everywhere and often in mouths!

- Simple tasks that we found easy: greasing the tray, squashing butter, sieving flour, stacking bowls and measuring spoons. 

- Have everything you need ready before you even start- even the washing up bowl of soapy water!

- Make a game of washing up. Washing up is great water play and helps you deal with the tidy up. I use sensitive washing up liquid anyway and she loves the bubbles. 

- Don't wear anything you care about getting dirty (see picture above for further explanation)

- Allow enough time. Flour is great sensory play so let it fly safe in the knowledge you don't have to be anywhere soon

- Secure seating: balancing acts and hot stoves/ flour are not a good combo. We used the tray of the high chair which made clean up easier too. 

Most importantly though is enjoy the scones together afterwards. That's surely the best bit about baking??

You can find a sugar and salt free recipe, suitable for toddlers and babies here