Coconut and cherry loaf

Some weeks are just made for cake.  Heck, most weeks are made for cake – but this week has really called out for it.  Family tag team of poorliness – check, tantrums a-plenty from littlest – check, numerous night-time wakings – check, miserable freezing cold weather – check check and triple bloody check.  I keep seeing inspirational photos on Instagram of the ‘summer bodies are made in the winter’ variety.  Or, ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ – accompanied by bronzed six pack shots.  Well, if this week is anything to go by my summer body will be deliciously carb-loaded and wobbly.  Who writes these stupid inspirational things?  Surely the little facebook/instgram/twitter ‘sayings’ are the modern day equivalent of those ridiculous motivational posters that appear in David Brent style offices? I have to say that nothing makes me reach for the ‘unfollow’ button quicker than a feed full of hilarrrrrrrrious or inspirational quotes.  They are inevitably neither.  No, I don’t want to know that there are no rainbows without any rain.  That isn’t going to have me skipping off on the piss-wet school run singing in the rain.  No,  there will be no rainbow at 3pm in the grey skies of Manchester.  What there will be is lots of cold and wet pissed off parents at the school gates and what you’ll have is one less follower. Stop. Now.

So to improve my mood – have you noticed that I’m in a bit of a bad mood?  I hide it so well – I am baking a coconut and cherry loaf.  I made this last month to my own invented recipe because I couldn’t find one that I liked the look at.  It turned out so well – really really moist even after a couple of days.  BUT, I didn’t write down the recipe very precisely – when I looked back at what I had scrawled I had used a rather jumbled mish mash of 0z/gram/ml which wasn’t really helpful to anyone.  So I’ve made it again today and actually put pen to paper in a meaningful fashion.

The first time I made this I had a large bag of white chocolate buttons lurking around in the cupboard and I popped these on top of the cake about 5 mins before the end of cooking time.  I haven’t done that today but you could do that with choc chips, buttons or wait for it to cool down and add some icing.  Today I have melted some dark chocolate and drizzled that on top then sprinkled it with some left over coconut.

Recipe 

170g butter or marg

170g caster sugar

60g dessicated coconut

115g SR flour

2 eggs

50g chunk of solid coconut cream dissolved in 100ml of hot water  (This is the secret moistening ingredient – it also tastes really yummy)

Glace cherries (I used about half a container of them)

1tsp vanilla extract

Method

I used the Kitchen Aid to make this but you could use food processor or by hand.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the coconut cream, vanilla extract and eggs and mix.  Mix in flour and coconut.  Pour into a lined loaf tin.  The batter will be pretty runny, it’s supposed to be.

Scatter the cherries on top and put in the oven 180c for 40 minutes.

Cool on rack, ice if desired and then slice and munch.

Enjoy!

 

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Poorly poppets and pancakes

Useful information that you should have been told before you had children but weren’t number 2034…… your children will get poorly repeatedly and you can bet your bottom dollar that you will get sick at the same time and that there is not much more miserable in life than poorly parents trying desperately to look after poorly children.

Just to clarify, I am not talking about life threatening illnesses here or indeed anything of a serious nature.  God forbid that anything like that happens to my family or indeed yours and it’s the stuff of my actual nightmares.  I’m talking about illnesses that involve high temperatures, snot, coughing, puke, the squits, red eyes, itchy spotty skin and above all NO SLEEP FOR ANYONE AT ALL FOR THE DURATION.

Today my big boy has had his first ever day sick off school.  He’s had a high temperature on and off all weekend, a cough, lethargy and is just generally off colour, droopy and not himself.  Written like that, in black and white, it seems like just one of those things.  No big deal.  And in the grand scheme of things it certainly isn’t.  BUT it feels like a big deal as a) my husband has trodden a path in the carpet between the bedroom and the bathroom and we have used about a whole bottle of bleach this weekend (enough said) and is moping round the house looking like Casper the unfriendly ghost with an aura of smelliness b) Corey can’t sleep at night because he’s not well and keeps appearing in my room with a plaintive ‘mummyyyyyyy, I don’t feel welllllllllll’ at 2 am – cue a fumble round in the semi-dark for the ear thermometer.  An ‘Oh shit it’s well over 38’, a search for the calpol and syringe/spoon thing and then a lovely peaceful restful night of sleep.  Oh wait, by lovely and peaceful I mean being kicked repeatedly by a small boy and then creating a little bed nest on the floor by their bed.  This results in the kind of tiredness the next day that makes you feel like you’re hungover and you can’t actually tell if you’re ill or not because you’re so tired your head hurts like a bastard which may or may not be the start of the illness all the others have got.  It’s bound to be.  It always is.

When my kids are ill they become uber-clingy to mummy.  By uber-clingy I mean ‘cough repeatedly in my face, vomit in my general direction and sneeze in my eyes’.  No amount of anti-bac hand sanitiser can stop you from getting ill when a small child snots their germs in your face.

I am under no illusions about my prowess as a nurse. I am totally crap at it.  I completely freak out at the sight of sick, even my own kids.  Baby sick I could just about cope with.  Good job as my youngest was a projectile vomiter of epic proportions – baby sick is mainly sour milk and whilst completely minging it is copeable.  Any other sick is not.  It’s a job for daddy.  Or involves me throwing armfuls of towels in the general direction of the puking progeny whilst shouting mummy *retch* loves you *retch*.

To list all of the times we have all been poorly together would be a long and sorry tale indeed.  The thing that alarms me most is the frequency with which it happens.  It really seems that no sooner than one cold/cough/random illness is gone then the next one starts up.  The illnesses themselves are often things that you’ve never bloody heard of until you have kids as well.  Hand, foot and mouth?  I was under the impression that you had to be a cow to get that – but no, it turns out that humans do and that a particularly great time to get it would be the weekend you move house with a 1 year old and are 5 months pregnant.  Oh that was a fun weekend.  Nothing makes you feel better than a house in need of complete renovation without even beds to rest your poorly pregnant self on.  This January Mitch and I have had slapped cheek syndrome. That was a joy.  I wouldn’t have minded the bright red cheeks so much as they did detract from the January pallour of my skin – but it was only one cheek that was BRIGHT RED and I looked like a pissed clown.

Looking after poorly children is stressful and horrible and just made even more so by you being tired and poorly yourself.  It sucks big time.

As I said, currently we are in the midst of yet another random virus.  No-one is seriously poorly but enough that we are all a bit miserable and cooped up and in need of something easy to munch which is comforting.  Step forward American Pancakes.

 

This recipe is easily and quickly put together and makes loads of pancakes.  Way too many for a little family of 4. No matter though, pop the rest in the freezer and then next time you fancy a yummy brekkie or a quick pudding just get one out and pop it in the toaster to defrost/warm through.

 

Corey likes these cut into strips and dipped into honey or syrup, Mitch likes them spread with nutella, I like them with banana, blueberries and honey and Dan loves them with syrup and bacon.  But being a typical man he loves most things with bacon.  He’s been to America like twice and also seems to think that eating that for breakfast makes him like a New Yorker with an exciting Manhattan lifestyle or something.

Recipe

2 eggs

250 g plain flour

1 tsp caster sugar

4 tsp baking powder

300 ml milk

40g melted butter (I melt mine in a mug in the microwave)

To make the mixture just plonk all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk it together for a couple of minutes.  There will probably be a few lumps but not to worry, it doesn’t seem to affect the end result.

Heat a frying pan with a splash of sunflower oil and when quite warm add the pancake mixture – I find the perfect size is to use about half a soup ladle full of batter and to make two at a time.  After a couple of minutes flip them over – they should be golden brown on each side.

You can pop them in the oven to keep warm while you’re still frying or, if your kids are anything like mine, they will tuck into them as you make them and then you can enjoy yours last once they have eaten.

Freeze any leftover in sealed bags and take out when needed and pop in toaster to warm through.

The pancakes obviously don’t have any special healing powers but they did make us all feel slightly better this morning.  They also fit in with my test of illness.  If a child refuses a pancake and/or chocolate button then they really are poorly and you should be a bit concerned.  If they scoff them then they’ll be better soon.  You, on the other hand, will soon be feeling rotten but by that time they will all be right as rain and as demanding as ever and – as we all know – you can’t call in sick from the job of being mummy.  *coughs, sneezes and clutches painful head*

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Sunday roast

Sitting down together as a whole family to eat a main meal is something we try to do on a Sunday.    I’m sure that as the kids get older it will become a little easier to sync our routines.  At present during the week they get in from school ravenous and eat their tea at around 5.  Sometimes a bit earlier.  Now I’m just not ready for a main meal at that time and husband is not finished work so that rules out mid-week eating all together.  I say that I’m not ready for a main meal at that time but I defy anyone out there not to hoover up all the leftovers from a kiddy dinner.   Cold half chewed fishfinger? Yep, I’ll have that.  Slightly congealed pasta that’s gone cold and may or may not have had a little wander round the kitchen floor?  Come to mama.  Best eaten standing up over the dishwasher with a furtive look on your face.  Every day I think ‘I will NOT eat their leftovers today’ and every day at least a couple of spoonfulls end up in my gob.  On a particularly peckish day I will confess to actually some of it ending up in my gob before it’s actually made it onto their plates.  Last night they had sausage, mash and veg and I did an extra sausage just for my munching pleasure.  My plan backfired a little because husband sniffed out the smell of cooked pork and came a wandering into the kitchen asking if there was a ‘spare’ sausage for him.  Clearly at this point I did what any self-respecting wife and mother would do and lied through my sausage grease smeared teeth and quite indignantly accused him of being greedy and wanting to steal the food from the mouths of his darling children.  Cooks prerogative.  Don’t be feeling sorry for him though as he sat with the kids ‘helping’ them with their tea and I think employed the ‘one for you, one for me’ method of getting them to eat.  I employed that technique with my christmas shopping this year.  This would explain why church mice are now booking their week in Tenerife for the summer and we are going chez parentals to Dorset.  Again.  Good job they live somewhere nice because a fortnight in Slough just wouldn’t have the same appeal.  No offence to Slough folk.

Anyway, at a weekend we try and eat together where possible.  By ‘possible’ I mean when we have the necessary forethought and fortitude.  Eating with children isn’t exactly a relaxing and joyful experience.  A family roast dinner in my head is a bit like a Bisto advert with smiling children saying ‘thanks mum for this roast dinner it’s fantastic and you’re the best mum ever’.

In reality there’s a couple of stressful hours where I’m in the kitchen, which the boys have decided is actually a scooter rink/car race track, shouting like a banshee ‘don’t touch that it’s HOT’ ‘get off the carrots there won’t be enough for dinner’ ‘no you bloody can’t have a bag of crisps dinner will be ready in half an hour’.  At this point I get stuck into the wine.

Then you dish up and they pile up to the table.  Cue wails of ‘it’s toooooooo HOT’  *sob sob sob* *frantic blow blow blow*.  ‘Can I have some juice in a wine glass to be like you and daddy?’ ‘no, you spill it every time’ ‘pleeeeeeease?’ ‘No’ ‘pleeeeeease?’ ‘Oh go on then’…………. ‘OH FFS THERE’S JUICE IN THE SODDING ROASTIES’.  Add to that the chorus of ‘I don’t like carrots’ ‘Well you did yesterday’ ‘I don’t today’ and ‘can I have another yorkshire pudding’ ‘No you’ve eaten six – there isn’t any more’ ‘well there’s one on your plate can I have that’ ‘no’ ‘pleeeeeeease?’ ‘Oh just have it’. Then the crowning glory of ‘what’s for pudding?’ when you haven’t even actually had a mouthful of your yorkshire pud-less, juice soaked, luke warm roast dinner yourself.

Family memories are made of this people.

So – despite all this I am still a fan of the family dinner as otherwise I am concerned that as adults they will be incapable of eating in polite company.  I have visions of them in power suits at a corporate dinner lying on the floor having a tantrum because their chicken wrapped in bacon is TOO HOT!!

BUT I am increasingly less willing to slave away for hours in the kitchen to get to the end result of a roast dinner. It’s hours that I’m not spending doing something else (like guilt tripping the husband into looking after them ‘well you work away so much you hardly see them, they love spending Sunday afternoon on a little daddy outing’ whilst I slope of for a snooze) and the work:enjoyment ratio seems stacked unfavourably in the work camp.

Step forward slow cooker roast chicken.  I blogged the recipe here on tamsinsworld  and, if I do say so myself, it’s a good ‘un.  In case you need more inducement to click on the link and read the original post it’s a whole chicken cooked in the slow cooker.  Easy peasy – whack it all in in the morning and then it’s done for tea time.  It even makes its own gravy with only minimal faffing.

I serve this with steamed veg and then just put the oven on to do some roast potatoes and yorkshires (which I confess I always buy frozen – not quite as nice as homemade but I don’t think that faffing with trays of very hot fat in a kitchen with small children wandering about is particularly safe).

None of this actually makes the eating process smoother but hopefully you’ll be less stressed by the time you get there and at least the work:enjoyment ratio is a bit more stacked to the enjoyment side.

Enjoy and Happy Sunday.

Pregnant? What are you eating?

When I was pregnant I had horrendous morning sickness in the first trimesters  both times.  All I could stomach was haribo sweets, fried eggs with chips and cheese and bread.  We all know that there’s no reasoning with a pregnant woman in terms of food.  You want what you want and you want it NOW.  Whilst pregnant I threw the mother of all strops at my husband because he hadn’t cooked me a shepherd’s pie (a pie I hadn’t mentioned to him, that we didn’t have the ingredients for in the house, that he actually didn’t even know I liked) which I then cried for over an hour about.

Can you help me with one of the chapters of my book?  I am going to be writing about the joys of being pregnant and the part that food plays.

What did you like to eat?  What couldn’t you stand?  Any weird cravings?

If you could let me know – either by commenting below or emailing me at mrsbrowbeeton@gmail.com that would be very much appreciated!

Thanks!

Welcome!

Well hello there and thank you for stopping by to read my blog.

By way of explanation this is a new blog linked to the book I’m writing (eeeeek).   My existing blog is tamsinsworld.wordpress.com and has a random mixture of musings on family life and recipes on.  In fact this blog isn’t actually going to be any different from that and, at least for a while, most of the  posts will be duplicated on both.

So – the book.

I’ve been so pleased and touched with the great feedback on my blog and over on Instagram about my recipes that I’ve decided to write a book with them all in.  And you all have to buy it.  Eventually. Once it’s finished, which may well be a long while away given the miliseconds each day I have free to actually do some writing! (In fact just by reading this you are actually committing yourself to buying it once it is published – so there)

Why Mrs Brow-Beeton?  As everyone knows – Mrs Beeton wrote, way back in ye olden days, the first quintessential cook-book ‘Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management’ providing advice for the middle class lady of the day.

She said ‘What moved me, in the first instance, to attempt a work like this, was the discomfort and suffering which I had seen brought upon men and women by household mismanagement’ (Isabella Beeton 1836-65)

Well my book is going to be all about MY household mismanagement and will hopefully bring a smile to your face, food to your belly and a sense of friendship.

This blog will follow my writing attempts – for which I will need help and support  from you lot.  I’ll also blog some scrummy recipes which I would love for you to try to cook and give me some feedback on how they went.

There’s a contact form on the about page so if you’d like to contact me then please do!