Thursday, 12 February 2015

Quick, Late Yarn Along

Just a quick join-in with Ginny and the yarn-alongers, a day late but still hanging on!

I'm still reading Breast Intentions very slowly. Non-fiction takes me a lot longer, because it actually requires me to pay attention. I don't seem to have much of an attention span at the moment, it's all taken up by the boys. Which is as it should be.

I picked up a copy of this magazine (produced by Molly Makes) this week. £5 goes towards Comic Relief for every copy sold, and it's full of ideas for raising money by having a craft sale. I had a juicy half-hour in a forest car park to read this, both boys asleep in the back between activities. Those moments are getting few and far between! Sausages has had a look and would like me to knit him a pirate beard. 'Tis my privilege!

Knitting is clue 2 of Follow Your Arrow 2. Slow progress because I keep miscounting and having to tink half a row. I am seriously considering finding myself something a bit more mindless to work on at the moment, what do you think?

I hope you're having a good week, do let me know what you've been making


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Favourite Family Foods

It's been a while since I shared any cooking here, so I thought I would! Sorry about the photos, somehow food photos always turn out awful for me. 

These are a firm favourite in this house, courgette fritters adapted from a recipe in the Hairy Bikers Mums Know Best. I first made these when Sausages was small, and they make a great baby-led-weaning food. I make a big batch, freeze them, and defrost a couple in the microwave when needed. They are so tasty! Grate a few courgettes and an onion, and drain in a colander over the sink. I put a saucer on top, and then the weights from my balance, to squeeze out the liquid. I try to reserve the liquid for stock. Fry the vegetables down with a clove of garlic until they are just cooked. Make a batter with 2 eggs, 100g plain flour, and a drop of milk for batter consistency. Add whatever flavourings you like from garam masala, chilli flakes, parsley, coriander and mint, and stir in 160g grated or crumbled cheese, and the courgettes. I cook mine on a flat pan that needs no oil, in spoonful dollops and on both sides, then cool and store in batches in the freezer, so I know I can pull out a good snack at a moment's notice. I hope you enjoy them! In the summer I always find people have extra courgettes hanging around, so these can be made very cheaply.

A note on cooking with flavours for small children: I find that my children love strong flavours, and will eat ANYTHING with garlic in. I do not subscribe to the idea of bland weaning foods. Breastmilk changes flavour all the time according to maternal diet, and lays a good foundation for a varied diet. Go easy on the chilli though!

This cake is a return to the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, the nutty apple loaf, baked in the slow cooker. I didn't have any strawberry jam in, so I used home made plum jam. This was an absolutely wonderful cake, with a great texture for slicing. It would be perfect for picnics. I have found so many of the Hummingbird recipes too sweet, but this is more in the style of a German spiced apple cake, and it's just delicious! Highly recommended.

This parsnip and thyme bread from River Cottage (and inspired by Delia Smith's oatmeal and potato bread) was made in the slow cooker and was a brilliant weekend lunch. It's more like a soda bread, baked with self raising flour rather than yeast, and packed with yummy flavours. There is cheese inside the bread, so we ate it in rough slices, still hot from the cooker, and spread with a little butter. It'd be great for picnics, wrapped up to keep it warm, and with soup. Mix together a sweated onion, 175g self raising flour, thyme leaves, 50g grated cheese, 175g grated parsnip, one egg, 2-3 tbsp milk, and a good grating of pepper. Shape into a round and bake or slow cook until there is a golden crust, and tapping elicits a hollow sound. Don't forget that when baking in the slow cooker the crust will be on the bottom of the loaf. My boys loved this, and ate the whole loaf in one sitting.

Finally, I have recently discovered an entire online community dedicated to making fudge in slow cookers. I don't normally make "sweets," but I thought I'd give it a go, since they promised it was so easy. The basic recipe is one tin of condensed milk and 400g chocolate, pop in the slow cooker on high for an hour, stirring frequently, then pour into a tray and fridge overnight. The results are surprisingly professional! Although I won't be making it often: it's too sweet for us to have around, not really what I want us to be eating. It will be nice to give for gifts and special occasions. A word on condensed milk: please consider boycotting Nestle, for the reasons discussed in this post, and on this website. You have the power to effect change for those less fortunate than yourself. And you can do it while making fudge! Have you made any exciting flavours of fudge? I'd love to hear some suggestions!

I hope you like these recipes and have a go. I'd love to hear from any of you with other good, easy recipes for feeding the family on a budget!


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Unconditional Parenting: review and yarn along

Well, I finally finished Unconditional Parenting, and I'd love to discuss it with you. The first few chapters of the book are devoted to exploring what it is that Kohn is arguing against. He sums this up as "conditional parenting," and this includes punishing and rewarding, love witholding, and controlling our children. I feel strongly that parenting does not consist of controlling our children, but I know that when we're struggling as parents we really wish we had that control, and our way of treating our children slips into those conditional methods. I know it happens to me. I also recognise in myself the results of conditional parenting in my own upbringing. I want my children to be motivated by empathy, compassion, love, and curiosity, rather than fear or self interest. I want Sausages to choose not to hit Bob because it would hurt Bob and he wouldn't want that, rather than for fear of punishment or losing out on a treat. I don't believe that "time out" is a helpful thing to do to a child who is in need of your guidance and reassurance.

I was really hoping for practical suggestions on how to parent my boys without using conditional methods from this book. What I found was a reinforcement of what I already practice: treat my children with respect; try to understand things from their perspective; consider what is developmentally appropriate; don't seek to control them; offer them autonomy over their lives where possible. Kohn exhorts parents to move from "doing to" parenting to "working with" our children, but also to change they way we see things, not just the way we act. It's good to be prompted on these things!

The writing style of this book is intelligent but easy to read. There is a wealth of academic research referenced in the book which proves very interesting, and Kohn makes good use of supporting arguments. While I agreed with most of this book, I would have appreciated a few more case studies to give me more practical ideas for day-to-day situations with my boys. I would certainly recommend this book for anyone looking for guidance in parenting their children with respect.

Up next is the Alpha Parent's Breast Intentions. If you aren't familiar with this author through her blog, she is known for her forthright and unapologetic style, so I'm sure this will be an interesting read. It's not really sticking to the "26 books in 2015" list, but I want to read it so there. Given that it took me all of January to read Unconditional Parenting I don't hold out much hope for the 26 books project, but I will look to use it as a prompt if I ever need one for choosing my next book.

Knitting this week is Follow Your Arrow 2. I was interested to see that a few people commented on a previous post that they don't like the idea of not knowing what they're knitting. I really love it! Plus this pattern has a few techniques that I'm not familiar with, which always entices me. I guess I must be a process knitter sometimes? Anyway, the set-up took me quite a lot of time, so I'm still only half way through clue 1, despite clue 3 being out this week. I'm hoping to wear it to a special wedding in March, so I'd better get cracking! The yarn is Patons extra fine merino 4ply in a lovely tonal grey, which Sausages picked out for me. He has great taste in yarn.

Bob is full of a cold this week and is either attempting to suckle or in the sling at all times. Hooray for babywearing! That is our Keppeke Reindeer wrap, in case you're interested. It's our only 100% cotton wrap, and it's the floppiest thing on earth, perfect for wrapping a poorly little thing.

I've been admiring all the pictures of snow around the internet, but living on the south coast we're not going to get much to play in. Instead here's a nice picture Husband took this morning of our palm tree in the dusting we have got! Don't forget to pop over to Ginny's and Nicole's to see what everyone else is reading and crafting, and have a good week

E x

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Quick Quick Slow

I've been unable to get to this space. Time has been so busy, and we have all been unwell. I feel like I'm fighting to keep on top of providing food, clean clothes, a tidy clean house. I have been in a tizzy, but my boys bring me back to earth.

Stop, mama.

Slow down.

Sit with me.

Read me a story, then read it again.

Nurse me, hold my hand.

These things are worth finding time for too. Thank you boys x