Christmas Recap

And, January disappeared!  Where did it go?  Before the rest of the year escapes me…let me fill in a couple of gaps.  Christmas was a fab festivity.  Finally I get why it becomes all about the kiddoes – Kaz had a marvellous time.  With all of it!  He began by eagerly anticipating the arrival of the southern family members:

He woke at a wonderfully civilised hour on the day, but we whiled away half an hour in bed opening the stocking treasures – which staved off the eager anticipation of the presents under the tree until breakfast and lunch prep was dispatched with.

And finally, the presents!  He delighted us with squeals, clapping, punctuating his delighted expressions of ‘wow’ with huge beaming smiles and little shivers of glee. He was VERY grateful.

Table decor was simple this year – cobbling together some outdoorsy elements (branches from the garden, conkers we saved from yesteryear, tiny pinecones), wedding linen from Ireland, Great Grandma’s crystal, little glasses from Egypt and some cute napkins with robins and a St Louis MO postage stamp on them.  A little bit of our family story everywhere…

Kaz kept himself occupied through dinner with the cracker treats…

…and after dinner he managed to sing the ABC song 26 times with Grandpa and Dada helping him along to complete the very colourful Lion puzzle from Nana in New Zealand.  It was a charming and very relaxing day – it seems worlds away, but it was a lovely festival.  Hopefully, I will have some more contemporary news in a day or two, still catching up with myself!

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What to do with lots of lovely eggs…Bacon and Egg Pie!

Last week I found this lovely little enamel bowl in Twice, a charming little store in St Andrews.  It was just the perfect place to keep all our new-found egg bounty. It also prompted a friendly conversation with another BHWT hen rescuer…they are everywhere!  The hens seem to be laying an average of two eggs between them daily.  This is about twice as many eggs as we are accustomed to eating over the course of a week.  So by the end of the week, the egg bowl was FULL.  Kazuo asked to ‘see the eggs please Mama’ at the end of every meal…and I knew it was time to start using them up.  What better place to start than a Kiwi staple, the Bacon and Egg pie.  Of course, not being a carnivore, I did not have a recipe.  So after trawling the ever-so-helpful interweb,  I discovered a recipe from Blokes Who Bake that was perfect for the ingredients I had on hand.  Here is the (apparently) tasty bacon from Balgove Larder all chopped up on the eggs and ready for topping:

The pie got another sheet of pastry on the top, and here it is ready for 20mins in the oven:

The Blokes who Bake recipe was a little vague on quantity, so here is what I finally ended up with:

Bacon and Egg Pie

2 Sheets of pre-rolled Puff Pasty (Yes, it is nice and easy to make one’s own, but I am in practise-for-working-mother-mode right now)

100g grated cheddar cheese

10 eggs

5 rashers of bacon, lightly cooked (fried in this case) and chopped in to medium sized cubes

liberal application of salt, pepper and dried basil

Lay out the first sheet of pastry in a greased pie dish (I used a small casserole as I am yet to acquire a pie dish!) layer the cheese, then break the eggs to cover the base of the dish (add more eggs if your dish is bigger), add liberal seasonings, top with cooked bacon, lay the second sheet of pastry over the top and pinch it to seal.  Cut some breathing holes on the lid pastry.  Pop into the oven at 200degC for about 20mins (or until crispy and golden).

Hey presto – eggs used, carnivore satiated. Last night the pie was accompanied by smashed Charlotte potatoes with olive oil and lots of seasoning. 

Keeping Warm

Currently we are snowed in for the fifth day running here at Newbridge House.

The doctor drove to work on Monday in our good-for-commuting-but wholly-unsuitable-for-rural-snowfalls Civic and it got stuck in the ice and snow in the drive leaving and returning.  Tuesday he worked from home.  Wednesday he trudged over knee-deep snowy fields to wait for a bus that never came since the Forth Road Bridge was closed for the first time EVER due to snow. Today we are all here…waiting desperately for the gas tanker to come and fill our tank (hopefully in the morning – fingers crossed) and trying to keep warm without central heating or hot showers.

Although there are staples in the the pantry, it is getting a little low.  But we are still managing proper sustenance for now.  And tonight the wonderful people at Ardross Farm Shop will replenish the larder for us.

In an effort to fill our tummies and add extra heat to the house via the oven (old trick from student days, bake something and leave the door open when you are done), I made these ugly-but-tasty numbers:

They are a hybrid of an Alison Holst Pinwheel Scone recipe and my US-favourite scones from Martha Stewart.   I only had wholemeal flour, so here is the recipe:

Winter Emergency Pinwheels

2 C Wholemeal Flour

1 T Baking Powder

65g Cold Unsalted Butter, cubed

3 T Raw Sugar

3/4 C Milk

I chucked it all in the food processor until it formed a loose dough, then rolled it into a ball and then rolled out into a thinnish flat rectangle.  (Not too thin, this is a very crumbly recipe.)

THEN

1/4 C Brown Sugar

1 t Cinnamon

25g Cold Unsalted Butter

Chop up in the food processor and add about 1/4C Sultanas once processed.

Spread this mixture over the dough, roll the dough up into a tube, cut into about 6-8 sections, lay each piece on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 12-15mins at 200degC.

We are toasty and warm and full of wholemealy goodness…though the little one did think they were a bit ‘hard Mama’, so perhaps it will be back to ‘muffin-cakes’ tomorrow!

Feeding the Wee One

When we began introducing the wee guy to food and flavours, he was a little reluctant to wholeheartedly consume some of my un-favourites like peas…but he tried everything and generally ate rather heartily for a little person.

Somewhere around the 9mth mark he kinda slipped into being a mainly-eats-sweet-potatoes-and-a-few-other-things kinda guy, though he was still trying out some textures.  Suddenly, around Christmas it was all about grown up food.  Pureed baby food was 100% off the agenda and only the big people food would cut it.  This was fine by me as it meant that I could try tempting him to eat what we ate most nights.

With the carnivore and I we generally eat the same vegetarian thing with a side of meat.  But suddenly there were two carnivores…so I began cooking more meaty meals…though the wee one would eat lots of my tasty vegetarian dishes at lunch and often if the meat option was a little chewy (like beef burgers) he preferred Mama’s more palatable meatless version.

For someone of Japanese extraction, rice has been a long time coming to Kazuo.  He ate a lot of pasta in those early months.  Though I managed to keep secreting some home-made vege mixes into those pasta dishes and so I consoled myself on the days when he would not eat whatever I had lovingly prepared.  But somewhere in the trans-Atlantic transition he seems to have given up almost all vegetables.  He spies them in the smallest quantities and rejects them out of hand.

I have read all the ‘failsafe-your-kid-will-love-this’ books and recipes I can get my hands on.

I am also happy that on the whole, he eats a raft of nutritious whole fruits, loads of good calcium-laden things like yoghurt, cheese and milk (though since he gave up the bottles, it has to have some tasty residual flavour…thank goodness for being able to sneak a little organic Green and Blacks choc powder into the mix) and plenty of protein (esp fish, ham, ground beef/lamb) that is usually gobbled down if it is presented in a format he can agree with.  And lately a triumph has been his delight in my milder red Thai curries (a few veges snuck in there…don’t tell him) and nibbling on a felafel/rice wrap (again a few sneaky veges).  And he still loves cucumber (what is that all about?)

But other tasty vege treats like Courgette Pie, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, Baked Sweet Potato Chips  and Tomato soup are off the menu.

Now I know, from reading and chatting to other Mamas, that toddlers are notoriously fussy.  Also, that nursery school may go some way to helping him socialise earlier than usual into eating things with his peers that he won’t touch at home. And I also know the old adage that it takes 15 tries to decide if a food is palatable or not…so the palate is not set yet, nor are his real preferences.

But I also have the perhaps unfortunate experience of having been an extremely fussy child myself.  I know that fussiness did not stay with me for life.  Suddenly, in my 20s it was like a switch was turned on. I went from only eating terribly processed meat and potatoes and corn, to eating pretty much anything (though around that time I also decided that it was not such a good idea to eat EVERYTHING…but that is another story).  But it is a little stigmatizing to be the kid at school camp or in other social settings who will only eat one meal out of four…  And I am sure I would have been a more energetic and healthy child if I had eaten a broader range of foods.

I hope for his sake, that Kazuo has inherited some of his father’s willingness to embrace new foods,  rather than his quite comprehensive list of food allergies.  It is less worrying that Kazuo is a little picky right now…just a bit vexing when I serve up something he would normally eat/should by all accounts love and he refuses to eat it…but then he is needing to exert his will in so many ways right now.  I am a bit concerned about the lack of vegetables in his diet…but I vow to kindly keep pursuing, and as he gets more able to negotiate (and this skill is slowly emerging) we may be able to introduce some friendly enticements to try new things.  Equally, he is growing well and is largely quite a healthy little person so far, and no allergies have shown themselves, so that is much less worrying.

I guess I am just interested – as always – to see what other people manage to encourage their wee people to eat…and while comparisons in this area are terribly odious…to discover new strategies for inserting the missing links into Kazuo’s diet so that he grows as well as he can.  I am conscious to make his intake as unprocessed and healthy (and locally produced and fairly traded and organic etc etc blah blah) as possible.  But mainly we try to make food fun (homemade butterfly and teddy bear pizzas this week…) and enjoyable so that he doesn’t ever feel wrongly conflicted about gaining nutrition.

My hope is that Kazuo’s delight in playing with fake vegetables, and asking for them at most meals, and hopefully growing his own this coming summer, will eventually translate into a love for eating them…

Fishy on a little Dishy…

So being the weekend…and being time to pootle about and find new tasty treats…and being in a lovely coastal paradise, we had to eat fish.  ALL weekend in fact.

The local-ish delicacy is the Arbroath Smokie.  They look like this:

Kinda spooky, but amazingly tasty and smoky and even the little one is addicted.  mmmmm

Tasty Treats and Wild White Washing

Since we arrived in the cooler climes of North East Fife, Kazuo and I have spent rather more time indoors than usual.  This is partly climate-related, partly due to having to wait for my driving licence renewal (the tediousness of being mildly epileptic and having to rely on the doctor to say it is OK to drive, when I have been safely driving for over 20 years…)

This has probably resulted in Kazuo being a little less tiredy than he should be, and thus a little more reluctant to fall asleep for naps etc (though he still sleeps long enough when he gets there) and it has also resulted in a little more domestic goddessery on my part (though resources in that domain are still a  little limited).

Yesterday I baked some of these little darlings:

They are a slight variation on Allyson Gofton’s Fudgy Banana Muffins, I used raw sugar and added tiny white chocolate chips…and the pop and I have gobbled them all up in a couple of days, so you will probably see me searching for bigger trousers soon too!

White Choc Banana Muffins (courtesy of Allyson Gofton)

1 1/2 C Flour

1t Baking Powder

1/2t Baking Soda

1/2C Sugar

3/4C Mashed Banana

1T Golden Syrup (yes!  back in the land of golden syrup…)

1t Vanilla Essence

2 Eggs

150g Melted Butter

1/4C White Chocolate Chips (smaller the better!)

Sift dry ingredients.  Beat bananas, syrup, vanilla and eggs together.  Stir into dry ingredients and then fold in cooled melted butter and chocolate chips.

Spoon into paper cases in muffin tray, bake for 15mins (or so) at 220DegC.

Mmmmmmmmmm

Also…I have pretty much been doing a load or three of washing every day since we moved into Newbridge.  This is partly cos we are a grubby lot, and partly cos we have left our huge American washer and dryer set behind and are using a traditional British teeny front loading washer and NO dryer.  I am feeling environmentally virtuous about the dryer, but it does mean that the cloth nappies are a bit more of a challenge (enter obligatory nappy spraying activity…ugh!).

However, I have been without access to an outdoor line for over ten years now…so you may not begin to appreciate just how MUCH this image makes me happy , but it is a marvellous joy to be able to hang laundry out in the wild wind and find it nearly dry at the end of the day.  Shirley Hughes has a lovely poem in her book Out and About that ends… wild white washing waves at the sky/the birds are busy and so am I…and I am so happy to be busy with wild white washing right now!

Lunch

Lunch is usually consumed while the little guy naps.  If I am prepping lunch for him and dinner for us, then it needs to be assembled and disposed of fairly quickly.  Being a creature of habit, I can pretty much eat the same thing every day for weeks.  In winter it is usually a low-cal minestrone-style soup that I make at the start of the week and eat a little of each day.  In the summer, if I am not making zuchini pie to share with the little guy, I am a sucker for hummus.  I used to make my own, but lately I’ve not been eating enough to warrant the huge quantities I need to make in my enormous food processor (in a future life I will have a little person-sized one of these…) So for now, I am enjoying the plain organic hummus from Trader Joe’s.  I usually just put a slather of it on something like a Ryvita or a bagel or a slice of toast and then top it with sliced cucumber and tomato, sprinkle of salt and hey presto, lunch:

But this last week, I have departed a little from the standard lunch fare.  On recommendation from a few friends-in-the-know (including this great review), we finally ventured south to the recently opened  Salume Beddu.  They have been running a stall in the Tower Grove Market for some time, but have also set up a charming little shop on South Hampton.  Although we ostensibly went there for the carnivore – their speciality is high quality meats that they cure on the premises – I came away with an amazing vegetarian bounty too.  The service was very personal – rather like a good wine tasting.  So the meat-eater went away totally charmed and very satisfied.  He had some reportedly delicious fennel-spiced salami, and a freebie portion of some delectable coppa. 

I carried home some wonderful mostada – a chutney that made a delicious dessert with some goat’s cheese and little croccantini crackers.  And the dish that has revolutionised my weekly lunches was a tasty caponata that I have been layering on top of the hummus.  It was especially nice with some homemade sourdough I made at the end of last week.

What do you have for lunch?