Saturday, February 27, 2010

cowboy cookies

I made the cowboy cookies from 'vegan cookies invade your cookie jar'! They are so good!
The first batch I made with almonds, 60% chocolate from LIDL, and desiccated coconut, I didn't have ground flax seeds so i liquidised some golden linseeds with the soy milk, and it did turn to a gel like liquid as described in the book. The cookies turned out delicious, if a little dense.

                                                       Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Treats

The second batch was made as the 'cowgirl cookie' variation, and i replaced 1/4 cup milk and 1tblsp ground flax seeds with 1 egg. The cookies are even more delicious, a little crunchier and lighter.

I've given loads of them away, to friends, and P brought some into work, and the rest are in my cake tin. I hadn't heard of cowboy cookies before, they are my new favourites. Next time I'm going to try freeze some of the dough, so i can make them fresh really quickly, when I have guests.

Other news, Emm is standing up on her own! And teething worse than ever, the poor mite!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I spy in the night sky don't I

Phoebe Io Elara Leda Callisto Sinope
Janus Dione Portia so many moons ... (blur - far out)

I got to try out 'google sky map' on an android phone, so cool! You point it at the sky and it tells you what stars you're looking at! Magical... 

I don't know if my phone has a compass, but I hope it does, and that somebody writes this app for those of us who don't possess a geek phone (as i like to call the nexus and it's android companions)... 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

another knitting lunch break, and pancakes

As the weather was so nice Emm and I went to the seaside again, after a not so exciting trip to B&Q to get sealant for the leaking toilet (blurgh). Emm fell asleep on the way there so I got an hours knitting on her "little sister's dress", while looking out at the sea and sky and passersby. And eating mini chocolate rice cakes. after that we went for a walk, and to discover that the shoe shop that used to do the 'startrite' kids shoes, doesn't do any childrens shoes any more! And that the special offer of 1€ Johnson&Johnson wipes in the local shop excluded the unperfumed ones. Coming to terms with the fact that this just wasn't going to be a fun shopping day we went to the play ground, where Emm had lots of fun on the swings, and she walked all the way back to the car, still mostly insisting on two hands (my back is sore, I hope she'll get a little braver soon, we're practising lots so fingers crossed).

I'm so grateful to have my own car, it's such a treat!

Oh, yes, Pancake Tuesday, we had german style pancakes (big thin ones), with a creamed spinach filling (bacon, garlic, chili, spinach, cream, nutmeg, and some leftover grated mozarella). No photos unfortunately, and for dessert we had the leftover pancakes with real maple syrup! the shop assistant was trying to get me to buy the cheaper syrup, he felt guilty for the price difference, not realising that the cheaper one wasn't maple syrup at all, but golden syrup with maple flavouring! I try and stay away from artificial flavours as much as I can! I'd rather buy the real stuff, once a year, than have the cheap one all year round! Emm quite liked the spinach pancakes, we rolled them up for her, but she preferred the maple syrup ones!

So weird, Pancake Tuesday, I know a good few people here, that eat pancakes only on Pancake Tuesday! In Germany there's no such thing, everybody is either tired out from karneval, or still celebrating Fasnacht/Fasching! When I was a kid, we had pancakes about twice a week, and now my mum still makes some at least once a week, more often if her grandkids are over. She serves them with molasses or jam, as a special treat we sometimes got fried banana with them, but in the days before non stick pans it was a lot of extra cleaning up!

In the area I come from there's also buckwheat pancakes, a very savoury affair, quite bitter! They are made with coffee, water, eggs and the buckwheat flour (and salt if you're not using bacon), and fried in lard or oil, with  tiny pieces of bacon thrown in. They are very thin and crispy, and we had them regularly when my granny was still doing the cooking.

The savoury pancakes came into the picture in college, spinach soon becoming my favourite. They were such a quick and easy dinner to make, not too expensive, and getting some protein and other useful things into me, and using up lots of veg from the fridge.

And tonight, we had shredded duck and pancakes, the chinese kind! You know, the really thin little pancakes, spread with hoi sin sauce, thin slivers of cucumber and spring onion, then rolled up with the duck meat? So yummie, a bit naughty, but we had some steamed broccoli, too, to balance it all out!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

black bean burgers

Mmmh, I made these mini black bean burgers today, they were really nice! I had to use black bean sauce, that was the closest to fermented black beans I could get locally! I also couldn't get maple syrup, so used golden syrup for the sauce, I added some sweet chili sauce as well.

I soaked the black beans for a whole day and then simmered them for several hours, I really have to start cooking more beans at a time and then freezing them, or maybe start cooking them in the oven when I am making something else. I wonder is it more environmentally friendly to buy tinned beans?

We had half for our lunch (Emm had less chili in her sauce), the other half I packed up for my friend H, who's going on an early flight tomorrow. I made her a little lunch bag, with the burgers, dipping sauce, some mini carrot&pineapple muffins, an apple, a few nuts and raisins and some mini chocolate bars. She's a vegetarian, and travelling with a small child, so her airport food options are limited.

I'm looking forward to making these again, I think I'll make double the amount, they will make great snacks for Emm and me, and lunches for P.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

simple fun

I never thought babies like their play pens, but our Emm definitely does! She actually brings me over to it and points and says 'oggy', which means 'up', or 'down', depending on where she is! We then have some fun, pulling her around in the balls, and putting her upside down, while she giggles. When she's calmed down a little she starts to choose balls, one by one, and chuck them over the edge, saying 'o-oh!' (Giving me precious time to knit a few rows, or check my mail, or run up to the bathroom). After 10 or 15 minutes she usually has enough and I take her out and we throw all the balls back in.

Initially we had just 50 balls, with a little foldable ball pit (one of her many christmas presents), but they weren't even covering the floor, so I went to the toy shop and got a bag of a hundred! She's getting so much fun out of this, and there's no batteries, no recorded voices, just colourful spheres... And in summer, if we get any decent warm weather, we can put some into a paddling pool! Ok, maybe not, if the last few summers are anything to go by.
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Chai Mix

thanks to angry chicken i made this chai concentrate! I didn't have ground cardamom, so i cleaned my coffee mill by grinding some rice in it, and then ground some green cardamom pods, unfortunately not to a fine powder... but i managed to strain out the shell pieces. i used freshly grated nutmeg, and I might have overdone it a little, my chai was definitely nutmeggy! i might add more cinnamon and cloves to the mix, but i'm giving it another while, to see does the flavour change a little in the next few days.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

my knitting needle broke!

i was using these knitpro interchangeable circular needles and i was just trying to fasten one of them again as it kept coming loose (i mustn't have used the cable key properly) and it just snapped! and they are my only 3.25mm needles, so the 'little sister's dress' is on ice for the moment, and it's the weekend, i was really looking forward to making some progress...

well, i'm going to bed.

Update 06-Feb-2010: I was lying! I did have more 3.25mm needles, I found 2 sets of 4 double pointed ones, so now I'm knitting with 7 dpns!! Bit of a pain, but better than nothing!

Update 10-Mar-2010: After a visit to This is Knit, to buy new circular needles, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I hadn't been doing anything wrong (always good to know) and also, that I won't have to pay for a replacement! Should get a phone call to say the replacement arrived, any day now! This is great, Thanks girls

Friday, February 5, 2010

Great sunshiny day

We had a great sunshiny day today! I decided to drop a book back to the library and take Emm for a walk by the sea, she fell asleep on the way so I decided to have a little knitting lunch break for myself! Listening to classical music on the radio and looking out at this...

Seaside lunch break
Originally uploaded by 

When she woke up we went for a walk, it was quite windy so we went into the town for some lunch, just us two girls! We sat outside a cafe in the sun and had gorgeous fish pie, chatting to the ladies at the other table who were besotted with my little girl. Everybody was so friendly, a sunny day does that to people over here! I had a nice coffee, Emm and I shared a macaroon, yum, yum! And then we had to get some foodshopping done.

Thinking what a great day we'd had, I arrived at home, only to see my friend Cate pulling up outside, I hadn't seen her in over a week so we had tea, banana bread and a good chat in the house and Emm was over the moon, as always when she sees Cate (who's a primary teacher and brilliant with kids). Then we all went across to my Neighbour V, where we got more tea, and biscuits, and the kids had a ball.

M had no trouble going to sleep tonight and my beloved brought home some really good chips after football, and we had them with spicy chicken wings that I'd put in the oven earlier, mmmh! So good, so bad and so easy!

He's off to the pub with his football mates now, so I'm enjoying some online time and some more knitting! Life is good!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

strong bones without dairy?

I was visiting my neighbour today, so our little daughters could play together, or, as the seem to prefer at this age, play on their own while eyeing each other up suspiciously every now and then, and to take toys and treats away from each other!

We were talking about their diets, and Abby was saying her daughter used to hardly eat anything, it was a battle to get any food into her, even when the granny tried to give her ice cream and other treats, she'd just have a nibble and then walk away from it. Until she talked to a nutritionist who advised her to take her 14 months old daughter off dairy! She was really reluctant to do it, because of all the general advice out there, stressing they have to drink loads of milk. After some deliberation and with a list of other foods containing calcium, she went ahead with it, and could not believe the change it made! within a few days her daughter took to her food, enjoying all her meals and snacks! She suspects the milk and formula was making her feel full or queasy, so she never felt like eating, and now, without, she's got an appetite.

While Emm loves all her food, she does have eczema on her wrists, behind her knees and on her ankles. I'm pretty sure it has to do with teething, as it gets worse whenever she has other teething symptoms, too, but I wonder would taking her off dairy make a difference? I'm generally suspect of  messing with babys' and toddlers' diets, but she doesn't actually like to drink milk, so I wonder is that a sign? She does like her milky porridge though, and cheese and yoghurt, and whipped cream (surprise, surprise!)...

We feed her a diet of mostly unprocessed, natural foods, withing reason. Milk alternatives, like soy milk, are very processed, and I'd prefer not to introduce new artificial foods to replace (relatively) natural foods, like milk, but if it improved her eczema, it might be worth it?

I tried to google the topic but the amount of sites from animal activists, calcium supplement manufacturers and old school pediatricians is overwhelming, so I don't know where to get info on calcium content, and also quite importantly, calcium absorption rates, without spending hours researching and copying data into spreadsheets...

I'm worried about her calcium intake, and vitamin D, too, but I wonder how much of that is fueled by dairy council propaganda... Nutrition really is a mine field, once you start thinking about it, taking into account protein intake, vitamin D levels, absorption rates... But at the same time, we all seem to do reasonably well on our less than perfect diets!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

making boxty

A little treat for lunch today... unfortunately they didn't turn out the way I remembered them! I had a recipe, but I never wrote it down! I was making them quite regularly for my husband in the early days of our relationship, trying to impress him! I'm still fairly sure it was 5 potatoes, 1tsp of baking soda, a pinch of salt, and then flour and milk, but their quantities i can't remember! Today I went with 3 tblsp of flour and an unmeasured amount of milk, and they turned out a little too soft. But I'm not sure now was it the temperature (too hot, not cooking them long enough) or did I maybe put in too much milk, or maybe the amount of flour was all wrong too? I don't know!

Does anybody have an all-raw-potatoe boxty recipe? This one I got from Peter's granny, who sadly passed away last year. It was one of those 'a few of these - a bit of that' recipes grannies like to give out, because they've spent some 60 years cooking it, there's just no measuring necessary!
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my current knitting project - little sister's dress

I'm probably mad, knitting a dress or vest for a toddler, she's only going to rub food into it! but we'll see, she might magically turn into well behaved little lady! The pattern is "little sister's dress" from tora-froseth-design

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

quick spaghetti carbonara

Today Emm and I had spaghetti carbonara for our lunch. I make it this way:

whisk 2-3 eggs, a tblsp of milk or cream (optional), pepper, nutmeg and some grated parmesan together (you don't need salt because of the bacon!).

cook some spaghetti in plenty of salted water, towards the end of the cooking time add some frozen peas.

chop some bacon or rashers and fry until crispy.

drain the spaghetti and peas, and immediately add them and the bacon to the egg mix, stir around until the egg begins to set (the heat from the pasta is cooking the egg, but make sure you use fresh eggs from a trusted source!)