Watching and Eating

You realize the cold weather has started kicking in when you don’t get the overwhelming urge to get out of the house the minute you get in. The duvets come out, the carpets are put in place, the odious task of wardrobe shuffling starts and long sleeves make a much-welcomed appearance.

And in my case, the oven is put into good use and the television is on again.

This weekend we saw The Great Gatsby. Leonardo di Caprio is not my favourite actor. I fail to disassociate him from the baby-faced actor who played Jack in the Titanic, and I find his portrayal of older characters lacking. He here plays the lead character, and along with Tobey Maguire who narrates the tale of Jay Gatsby and Carey Mulligan who plays the love interest, the film was surprisingly very good to watch. I use the term ‘surprisingly’ because it took us some minutes to get into the film. The director is Baz Luhrmann, and if you of any of his films, you may know why his films are not the usual ones. You have Jay-Z playing at a 1920s party and brightly used colours on a black and white background which make it unusual, but pleasant to the eye and ear. The soundtrack is great I have to say. My personal favourites are nearly all there (Florence and the Machine, Lana del Ray and Alicia Keys amongst others). Unlike my usual experiences, I did not read the book prior to watching the movie, and I only ordered it now. I always regret watching a film after reading the book – the book is always that bit better. So this time I worked it out the opposite…we’ll see how it plays out.

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And I baked 🙂

This week I did a yummy and slightly strange Almond and Cinnamon Cake. ‘Strange’ because unbeknownst to me when choosing to make it, it is a gluten-free and dairy-free cake. It is shallow in appearance, but the taste of ground almonds gives it a rich taste, with the cinnamon topping just pulling it off ever so well. It is very easy to make and the reviews were very good as well! I’m definitely doing this one again!

So if you’re interested…

– 8 egg whites (I used 6 and that was enough).

– 150g caster sugar

– Few drops of almond essence

– Zest of 1 clementine or 1/2 an orange (I used one of each)

– 125ml mild and light olive oil

– 150 ground pure almonds

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

– 100g flaked almonds

– 1 teaspoon cinnamon

– Approximately 2 teaspoons icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 Celcius and grease a springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

Whisk the egg whites until they are opaque and start to hold their shape. Then slowly add the sugar and whisk until it’s all incorporated and the mixture is thick and shiny.

Add the almond essence and the clementine/orange zest. Then, in about 3 goes each, alternately whisk in teh oil and the ground almonds (mixed with the baking powder) until they are both smoothly incorporated into the meringue.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, then mix together the flaked almonds and cinnamon and sprinkle them over the top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes (start checking at 30 minutes) until the top has risen and set, and the almonds are golden. A tester should come out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool.

You can then sprinkle some icing sugar on the top to create a snowy effect. I did without just to use that bit less sugar.

(Healthy eating and all that…)

Christmas is coming up and I would definitely recommend this one for the festive period. It’s easy to make and it’ll definitely make a hit!

Have a great week 😉

Autumn – Check, Oven – On!

Thankfully the weather here on The Rock has cooled down a bit. Mind you, it’s nothing compared to what our European counterparts are experiencing because our temperatures are still reaching mid-20s, but at least it is now sometimes bearable to wear a pair of jeans and a semi-sleeved top.

However don’t let the date kid you. November may be round the corner but don’t think you can put on any jackets, coats and scarves for now!

With cooler weather, I can start using my oven again. For humane reasons I do not switch on the oven during the summer months – that would amount to suicide. But now I have started unearthing my oven recipes from their summer hibernation and my oven is on again!

A fellow blogger has asked me for a casserole recipe – it seems I’m not the only one eyeing wintery recipes. I have a recipe for a Pork and Sweet Potato Casserole dish I haven’t tried yet for some reason. The ingredients are simple and easy to find, and here’s the recipe!

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 500g diced pork

– 1 onion/leek

– chopped garlic

– 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

– 1 tsp ground cumin

– 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

– 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

– 150ml dry white wine

– 400g can of chopped tomatoes

– 170ml soured cream

– 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

– Heat the oil in a large casserole. Add the pork and brown on all sides. Then add the onion/leek and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the sweet potatoes to the an, then scatter over the cumin, paprika, oregano and seasoning. Stir for 1-2 minutes.

– Pour in the wine then add the tomatoes to the pan with 100ml of cold water. Bring to the boil then cover the pan and simmer gently for an hour and a half, until the pork is tender and the sauce has thickened. Stir n the soured cream and scatter with the chopped parsley. Serve with steamed rice, a large green salad or some steamed cabbage.

Should you wish you can also add some red kidney beans for the last 15 minutes of cooking time, just to make the meal go that bit further 😉

The nice thing about a casserole is that you have a couple of minutes of preparing the dish and then you can let it cook slowly and nicely in the oven, or in this case over the hob. By the time the food is ready, the food’s aroma will have probably driven your appetite over the wall and all the more better for you!

I’d appreciate any feedback on this dish just because I haven’t tried it out myself yet. If the ingredients are anything to go by, I’m sure it’ll be a winter favourite in our household!

Oh, and this was us this time last year! Wearing coats and scarves and drinking hot chocolates!! Ah, to have a fraction of that cold weather…

Have a great day x

Jos

Our Jimmy last Halloween :)

Our Jimmy last Halloween 🙂

Off-Days

I always start the day with the best of intentions. I go to bed at night planning the day ahead – clean out my wardrobe, iron A’s shirts, tidy up the medicine cabinet, put all of C’s books in one place…the usual drill really. What normally happens is that I either get to do everything or nothing at all.I either wake up with a full bout of energy and manage to strike off every item from my To-Do list, or else 6pm arrives and I realize that I haven’t yet done the bed.

I call it lethargy. The awful feeling of not being bothered to do anything but the bare essential. If that.

Sometimes it happens too often for comfort. On such days I can barely bring myself to shower and instead find refuge in my comfy house-coat for the whole day. On such days, C seems more demanding than ever, and I admit to losing my temper much more easier than usual. Cooking-wise I do so without enthusiasm and unfortunately for my husband, the food does taste and look lacking. As for C’s food, I use the easy-way-out and resort to jars or pasta. I find it more time-consuming to prepare Cesca’s food than our own. I try and keep everything in balance for her – some carbs, veg, protein, something sweet and dairy. But on my couldn’t-care-less days, I sometimes go to bed feeling as guilty as ever because no thought at all would have gone into her food. Just something quick, add some Crackerbread, some fruit and chocolate balls to keep her quiet (and still while changing her nappy!) and her food for the day is ready.

And since on such days I don’t bother showering till right before The Husband returns from work, we stay in all day, probably in front of this laptop, trying to keep C busy playing on her own, not bothering to read a single book to her or play with her. Fortunately for me, her favourite time involves emptying her toys and scattering them around the place before settling on something in particular.

I guess we can’t be Super-Mummy and Super-Wife all of the time. Or at anytime at all.

Today will not be such a day, I promise.

Bits of Randomness

For some reason I can’t seem to manage and write a decent (or half-decent at that) post on one particular topic. My mind is a mish-mash of things, and as a result I’m giving you a random post. Whatever comes to mind, I’ll write down.

 ♥

First of all, this week I baked. I did some tasty cupcakes, thanks to a recipe I stole from Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa). It was an appropriate recipe since I could add whatever I wanted, and add I did. I put in some goji berries, white chocolate and almonds and they came out good without being too sweet. For Halloween dinner I made an apple, raspberry and blueberry crumble. I love crumbles, they’re so easy to make, the house smells fantastic while baking it (cinnamon, apples, berries, nutmeg!) and add to it some hot custard and you really won’t want for anything else, especially when it’s raining outside and you’re in a warm home! However cooking has become a bit of a patience-test for me. Why?

I blink and Miss Busybody is there. She’s everywhere!

The cupcakes about to go in!

A case of over-baking. I guess American measurements are a bit different from ours…

Crumble Delight!

Goodness.

Halloween came, and while we did not make it for the trick-or-treating part (rain outside, tired baby, hot home – you get the picture?), we did welcome some young fairies, pirates, pumpkins and vampires. Baby Pumkin who is two months younger than C and a nearly 4-year old Vampire (that’s 4 years in his actual life) were C’s favourite visitors. She could not stop gawping at them, whispering ‘baby, baby’ over and over again. Yes, 16-month old Cesca is all grown-up now and anyone under the age of ten is a ‘baby’ in her world. I’m afraid I didn’t make the cut…

Canterbury’s Wicked Witch. Bed-hair, unwashed face, pj’s and all 🙂

The Husband and I watched Drive. Now I don’t know about you (ladies) out there, but I have a soft spot for Ryan Gosling. Ever since he turned my insides to putty in The Notebook, I can not resist anything he features in. Now this film was a bit gory, a bit too crude at times, and for the first half an hour of the film, Mr. Gosling nearly said nothing at all. That of course made it better for me to study him better without any interruptions. He does not possess that obvious good look about him, but something about him just makes you stop and stare. At least it does for me.

We have also finally decided on Santa’s and our presents to C for Christmas. The problematic part will be taking everything with us to Malta. What I saw last week in our Fenwick, and totally loved was a wooden horse on a stick.  Not only would it look great standing upright in a corner of C’s future room (practically mummy thinking here), but in an episode of Charlie and the Numbers, Number One has an exact same horse. She loves the episode and loves the horses that appear, so I’m thinking it’ll be a nice addition to her toys. Yes I know, I could buy it from The Rock and save myself the hassle, but I have a large selection to choose from here in England, much more than in Malta I”m thinking. So although I will probably be limited by height, I must start  measuring the luggage…

I’d love a horse on a stick like this, though not this design.

Have a happy weekend!

Meet Herman

This is Herman. We will take care of him for the next ten days. We shall feed him, give him water, stir him, cook him and eventually eat him.

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For Herman is a sourdough cake.

Our friend gave us Herman on his second day. I’ve just stirred him pretty well and have laid him to rest for now.

He has a busy day tomorrow – he has some eating to do!

Herman is a fun way to bake. Consider him a pet you only have to take care of for ten days. Then you get to eat him.

Here’s the instruction list:

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Go on, give it a try! Especially if you have young children – I bet they would love doing this project! Tell me how it came out and share some pictures!

You might have to figure out how to start him from anew, but if you follow a basic sourdough recipe, you should be fine.

Now whether our Herman will be alive in a week’s time is another matter…

The Kitchen vs. Me…

The kitchen and I are still going through the love-hate relationship. Day 1 was not bad cooking-wise, considering I had never done any of that before. Yesterday a simple stir-fry proved to be a bit more dificult than I originally thought. Today it’s meat and I’ve been scouring the Jamie Oliver book I purchased, trying to take a bit of this and that recipe, and somewhat making it work. I definitely won’t give up, even if it kills me. If it’s war the Kitchen wants, it’s a crusade it’s getting instead!