The best way to wake up

Dough-balls

I was woken by Tristan this morning wildly excited about his homemade warm, dough balls and a selection of accompaniments: strawberry jam, salt and pepper butter and Gracie's addition, plain butter with grated chocolate and almond, all yummy!

We use Dove's Farm organic spelt flour and for pizza, their white bread flour. Their Quick Yeast makes bread making quick and easy without the use of a bread maker (only an hour of rising.) And making bread the traditional way means we still get to knead the dough which is of course the children's favourite part of the process.

Tristan is really into bread making at the moment and it makes me glad I never succumbed to the ease of a bread maker, we have a live, happy and proud little bread maker instead.

These and a cup of tea, for me a perfect Saturday wake-up call.


The best oatmeal cookies ever!

Tristan's-oatmeal-biccies

Here's a little recipe adapted from our favourite The Little Red Barn Baking Book. They're nice and chewy and perfect warm from the oven on a cold autumn day. A treat with coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Or put a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two for a scrummy dessert.

We use spelt flour which has a nuttier flavour and more protein than plain flour and it gives these cookies an extra nice texture but plain flour can be substituted. We've also added chocolate, quality chocolate chips are hard to come by in the UK so we break up a bar of chocolate.

Tristan has perfected the process and wants to share it with you.

Hi, I'm Tristan. I'm 10 years old. Here is my favourite recipe, Oatmeal Cookies:

Ingredients

165g oats
90g spelt flour (plain flour can be used instead)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
half tsp baking soda
half tsp salt
110g unsalted butter
65g light brown sugar
65g unrefined sugar
1 egg
1 bar (approx 100g) plain/dark good quality chocolate chopped into chunks

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Lightly grease two baking trays.

Combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl and stir. In another bowl, cream the butter with the light brown and unrefined sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well mixed. Then fold in the oats and flour mixture. Add the chocolate chunks [optional].

Spoon tablespoonfuls of the dough onto greased baking trays, leaving space for spreading. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges. Leave to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Although we like them warm and gooey and they hardly make it to the wire rack.

It'll make 20-25 cookies.

Thanks for reading.
From Tristan.

P. S. Check back soon for my new website that will have links to my own music.


A cozy little meal

Favouritesoup

One of my favourite, tasty and easy (what else would you expect from me) soups. And the colour that peaks up at you from the pot while you stir it is an added little treat.

The ingredients: a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, 1 onion, 150g of pancetta or bacon diced (roughly 1 cup), 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped celery sticks, 1 tin of plum tomatoes, 2 tins of rinsed beans of your choice (I use 1 tin kidney, and 1 tin of cannellini), 1 litre of vegetable stock, 1 small savoy cabbage finely chopped, chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and pancetta for 3 or 4 minutes until soft and golden. Add the carrots and celery and fry another 4 - 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, beans and the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover, simmer for about 10 minutes. See that was quick, quick, quick!

To serve, sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top and add a nice chunk of crusty bread on the side.

I wish I could let you smell the comforting aroma :)


Christmas really begins... then gets packed!

1gracie

School is finished, the tree is up and most of the craft activities are sorted and put away but there is still barely a clear surface to be found round the house - we're having too much fun making these to care. The photos are close up for a reason.

We made Rolo pretzel treats and truffles today, there are various recipes for the pretzels round the web but we made a few alterations. We toasted the pecans first and we made some with peanuts instead of pecans. Also, for our nut allergic friends we made some by sandwiching the Rolo with pretzels and had no nuts.

2threevarieties

The basic how to: Lay small pretzels out on baking sheets (lining with parchment makes it easy to slide off hot pans later), place a Rolo on top of each pretzel and pop them in a 200c (400f I think) oven for 3 - 4 mins.

Take them out of the oven and top with nuts or another pretzel - the peanut version tasted like Snickers!

3melted

For younger children sliding the baking parchment off the pan will help eliminate burn danger while topping the melted treats.

Cool in the fridge for 15 - 20 mins, then pop them in a bag and tie it with a ribbon.

4finished

They are quick, yummy and easy for the children to make - my favourite kind of recipe.

These truffles are simple too, but the mixture needs to cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours before shaping them - ours came out almost round. Tip, If making truffles use only good quality chocolate.

1turfflesscooping

Notice Gracie's not wearing one of these aprons, Grandma sent her this pink gingham apron which she loves!

We got this truffle recipe from this fantastic book. It's well written for children and easy to follow. Tristan managed the whole process with no help (I do let him use the stove already - he's 9.)

2bigbowls

We are having a nice quiet Christmas this year - not visiting my family in California (never very quiet) because we are moving house just after Christmas. Our tree even has to be taken down a bit early so we can pack up. Won't be the most relaxing New Year - wish us luck.

Sorry family, we'll miss you.


Royal biscuit fun

Crownbiccies

These must be the simplest way to entertain a child bored at home because her big brother is ill. Our weather here is unseasonably - no freakishly warm. I doubt anybody here remembers ever attending a Guy Fawkes bonfire night without a warm coat! We wanted to have a long cycle ride, but poor brother is not well. So we made these instead.

UsbornebookWe got the idea from this Usborne book, but used our own recipe. Gracie loved it because she was able to use a knife to carve her own crowns and then decorate them with all the nasty icing that she of course loves. But this will be the last of the nasty icing, I have just found India Tree, a lovely company that stock natural decorating products - I'll definitely be ordering from them (hope they ship to the UK.)

To make these biccies, use any sugar cookie recipe, we didn't use the one from the book due to lack of ingredients. Basic sugar cookies are so quick to make (even allowing the 1/2 hour in the fridge.) After refrigerating, roll them out into rectangles, carve three points at one end, bake and decorate.

Fun for little princes as well as princesses.


Apple of my pie

Blackberryapple_2

There's very little I like about summer ending (especially when July was a wash-out.) A few things I do like:

1. Hearing Gracie make plans for her birthday and change plans for her birthday. Hearing what her cake will be like - she's making and cutting it herself apparently, good. Fairy party,  Halloween Party,  Karate Party???, Art Party...

2. Picking apples and blackberries for this pie, my favourite pie. I adapted Tessa Kiros' Wholemeal Apricot Pie with the fold over crust from this beautiful book. I used apples and blackberries instead of apples and apricots, spelt flour instead of wholemeal because spelt has a lovely nutty taste and I made the crust a bit bigger to make it easier to get into the pan.

3. Children back in school, the serenity, and drinking a whole cup of tea before it gets cold.

4. Looking forward to the smell of votive candles cooking the lids of jack-o-lanterns. We must carve pumpkins every year so that I can smell that smell - even though in the UK Halloween isn't the colossal holiday it is in America. Lucky us, Gracie's birthday is on Halloween - the best reason to celebrate : )