Thursday, 13 February 2014

A Blueberry winner (EGG FREE)

When it comes to baking (or any recipe for that matter) I have to admit I cannot help but make my own amendments / adjustments and substitutions - it's just my way. I will usually look up a basic recipe for what  I have in mind and then set to work. With many allergies to contend with and little time on my hands I will first decide what needs to come out / go in and then I like to simplify. By simplify I mean - throw it all in the mixer, turn it on and done. I have no wish to spend time creaming, adding ingredients bit-by-bit and such like - or least not right now. Any extra time I have I would rather focus on main meals. Sometimes my re-creations work wonderfully and inevitably some fail. Today was a good day. Today I had soft blueberries that not even the baby would touch. I couldn't bring myself to throw them out and so my Egg Free Blueberry Muffins were born! I didn't manage to take pictures of the process and so wish that I did! However, I did manage to record my ingredients, measurements and method and am so pleased with how they turned out that I absolutely have to share them here!
Top right muffin missing! I'm guilty - it was the taste test! :)
Iris and Elsie are both allergic to eggs - although Elsie can now tolerate baked egg (Iris cannot at all). The original recipe called for 2 eggs, it was also a step-by-step method. My new recipe now barely resembles my template but it was still a great starting point. I was genuinely surprised at the texture of these - light, fluffy and well kept together. These muffins were not just "good for being egg free" they were honestly the best blueberry muffins I have EVER HAD!

Ingredients:
12oz Self-raising flour
1tsp Baking powder
2oz Softened butter
2Tbls Coconut oil (any state)
2Tbl Apple sauce
3oz Caster sugar
2Tbl Honey
Grated rind of 1 lemon
9oz Milk
6oz Blueberries

Method:
Line muffin pan with cases and pre-heat oven to 190. Put all ingredients (except for the blueberries) in to your stand mixer and turn on minimum for about 2 mins (I'm sure that you can probably do these by hand, just mix for slightly longer). Batter will be quite thick - this is how we want it. If you have more of a "dough" add a dash more milk but not too much.. Stir in the blueberries by hand and share the mixture between the 12 muffin cases. Bake for 25 minutes. Muffins should be nicely golden. Leave in muffin tray for 2 mins, then transfer to wire rack for cooling. Muffins are best served warm.
Apart from on her birthday Iris hasn't eaten "cakes" (because of her egg allergy). She really enjoyed these - 2 of them to be precise! She was saying "mmmm" the whole time and loved dipping her finger into the blueberry jammy bits. I will definitely be making these again and my to advice anyone reading this is to give them a try too!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

What my baby eats

Iris is now 14 months old and we are still doing well with BLW (baby led weaning). Most mornings she is so hungry that she actually wants me to feed her. She has either blueberries or strawberries (usually while her porridge is cooling) and a cup of water.


This is what happens when she is let loose on her porridge alone. One thing I must say about BLW is that it is extremely messy - a lot messier than regular spoon feeding. Obviously with 5 children I don't expect meal times to be mess free, however the clean up process is huge and no less than 3 times a day!!! BLW is still definitely the right choice for us and our family - it allows us to all eat together and no one has to wait.
Iris will usually have 2 snacks a day - one mid-morning and one afternoon. Her snacks usually consist of: Fruits - apples, grapes and clementines (she doesn't like bananas no matter how I try to disguise them). Vegetables - sugar snap peas, carrots, cucumber and cherry tomatoes.
Organic natural full fat yoghurt
Iris will not allow me to feed her any of her meals (apart from her porridge). I often give her double the portion size to account for the loss of food which inevitably ends up on the floor. 
I am still nursing Iris 1-2 times per day but have tried to get her drinking cows milk but am not currently having much success. Iris only drinks water. I did give her some pure orange juice diluted slightly but she didn't like it. I will probably be done breastfeeding within the next month (or two)! I don't usually make or buy any special "baby" foods or snacks. For lunch and dinner Iris eats everything that the rest of the family has. Initially I worried whether Iris was getting enough food but she is now a chunky, happy, cuddly baby and I am really glad that BLW has worked for her and our family.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

100wc

5th September, 2013
I just wanted to share a great writing challenge that we have joined. It is called the 100 word challenge and is aimed to get children writing more, (be it online). The required 100 word count is not too daunting for reluctant writers (like I have) and therefore is a great once per week lesson. The way it works is: over on the 100wc website a caption of words is posted once per week. Your child then needs to create 100 words including the caption. For example, this week the caption was "suddenly I heard a crack". The caption can be included  either at the beginning, end or middle of the 100 words. You post your completed piece, to your own blog (I set up a new blog specifically for this) and then linky it up to the 100wc website. The child's writing can then be viewed by other writers/children, teachers, volunteers and comments can be left providing thoughts and feedback etc...

Jean is a reader but not so much of a writer. Actually to say that she 'isn't' a writer is slightly misinforming. She has ideas, many ideas but she would prefer me to write them for her. Last year she managed a whole 700 words of writing (over several weeks) and found herself in the local paper after being shortlisted for a short story contest at our local library. Aside from the odd letter here and there, writing isn't something that Jean would necessarily choose to do. I am all for going with your strengths but I feel this is something I need to help her with as once she gets started it is beautiful.
 
Check out the 100wc website and take a look and my little ones blog/piece if you are so inclined! :)

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Sourdough

29th August, 2013
After reading about the benefits of soaking, sprouting and fermenting, I decided to try my hand with a little sourdough. There are some great instructional guidelines all over the internet, but I used this one. With my first batch I only managed 1 loaf of bread and a single batch of pancakes before I noticed mould growing on the inside of my mason jar. Damn! I had to toss the lot and start again. Sometimes the tiniest of things can contaminate your sourdough starter and begin to grow! I took a lot of care over my second batch, lovingly naming it Steve. Or was that the first batch? Yes, the first batch was Steve, the second Dillan. I fed, and cared for Dillan daily and have reaped the bountiful rewards. Spice cake (don't make this if you don't want to eat the whole thing in one go, like I did. It was also supposed to be covered with cream cheese frosting but the fork got the better of me), crackers and bread. I'm loving this batch and I'm loving knowing how it is aiding our gut! I tried 2 different bread recipes, one with spelt and one with unbleached white (I know, I know). Although personally I enjoyed the Spelt loaf (pictured above) which was an adaption from this book, it was very dense and the children had a few objections. Once it was toasted they accepted it, but I found and tried this recipe which had much more rise and was a lot lighter. Mine came out very much like the photo on the recipe. I would definitely recommend trying sourdough and perhaps baking with it once per week. 1 loaf, some crackers, a pancake batch and dare I say it spice cake! (I'm going to add grated carrot to mine next time, oh yes...)
Completely unrelated photograph but I loved the way they made the little pulley for their toys. True teamwork!
Below I have a chubby baby. I love the chunk! I love her soooo much and her brother and them all! p.s. She now has chicken pox, a whole 7 weeks after our first spot appeared on little Elsie. This has been one long road that I will be glad to see the back of!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Wishful thinking - to say the least!

17th August, 2013
When we picked up Ebie from my cousin. we knew that her living with us may be short lived. However, morale was high and we were hoping for the best. Let me explain. Jude was diagnosed with a cat allergy some few years back and at the time my mum (his nana) had a cat which Jude seemed/was fine with. The allergy Dr explained that Jude may only have trouble with un-neutered male cats. We thought we would try our luck with a female kitten but unfortunately it was more than he could handle. "Why when I love cats soooo much must I be allergic to them" he asked me. Poor boy. He really is an animal lover. Ebie has gone to live with another cousin of ours which means we can get updates, pictures and visit for the odd 5 minutes here and there!

Now, remember when I was boasting about Jean having only 6 chicken pox spots? Yeah, well I am sure eating my words right now. Never, truly EVER, have I seen more spots on a person. She is covered; especially her face. (The above picture is the quiet before the storm!) I am heartbroken to watch her suffer like this. Her spots are still in the blistering stage and I am dreading (for her sake) when they burst. Bicarb baths, lemonade and chicken soup, are what have been on the menu. Yet getting through this requires a lot more than any of them. My sweet little girl. I can't wait for this to all be OVER. Elsie got her first spots back on July 18th - one full month ago! Comes with having a large family I suppose - we are sick for months, not weeks! Iris still has nothing and now I'm wandering whether I'm just playing a waiting game. Hopefully if she does get it, her case will be milder some than Jean's. Wishful thinking...

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Ebie

13th August, 2013

As in 'Evie' but with a 'b'. I caved and we now have a kitten. She is beautiful and already well loved. Snuggled beside me as I type. My children requesting cat books before bed. A childhood pet.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Making more, buying less

12th August, 2013
Chicken pox update: Jean started with 6 spots and it didn't go any further than that. Max and Jude are still recovering with the scabs, Elsie is all clear now and Iris has seemed to avoid it all together.

I try to avoid store bought products that I can otherwise make myself. Granted there is a lot more time and effort involved, but if I can avoid ingredients like vegetable oil and soy, then I am certainly willing to put in the time! I am trying to figure out how much of the home staples we use/need weekly.
Logistically Sunday is the best day for me to bake and batch cook. This week I made 2 loaves of soaked whole wheat bread, a tray of granola bars, 2ltrs of kefir and some chicken stock. The stock will last the whole week and it's a pretty quick process to knock up some extra kefir if needed; I'm just not sure how long the bread and bars will last. It's kind of bittersweet making such a batch of goodies (the bars), as I now have the problem of eating far too many at any one time. Granola bar and yoghurt for breakfast, with coffee at snack time, after lunch sweet treat...you get the picture. I must gain more self control!

I think a well structured meal plan would aid in exactly what I need to bake for the week ahead And stop us from overindulging on a weeks loads of snacks in one day! I usually menu plan every Friday with my week running from Sat to following Fri. This week I have only completed this half heartedly, mainly because I am totally exhausted! Iris sleeps neither night or day - when she does manage a 10 minute nap, it's only whilst nursing. I know that all this "no sleep" is just a phase (hopefully) but when you are in the thick of it, you have to try really hard not to fall apart! I love
being a mummy, but baby no. 5 being a non sleeper is kinda tricky!
Look at that face? Like butter wouldn't melt! :)
Elsie's own knitting bag.
Elsie decided that it was high time I taught her to knit and what do you know, she picked it up extremely quickly! In. around, through, off. In, around, through, off. I see her mouthing whilst knitting perfectly - honestly perfectly! 3 of my 5 children are knitters - hooray! Elsie was also extremely excited that she could now join our once a week, stay up late, knitting club - if I can manage it that is!

The children want a kitten - am I mad enough?