GONE BANANAS

baby, it's extremely cold outside...

baby, it's extremely cold outside...

I actually have gone bananas, because *still* rarely a night passes without Indy padding down the hall and squirrelling in next to me, using me as a pillow and wrapping herself around me like a little butterscotchy octopus. Then I can't get back to sleep. And she wriggles the covers off. And in the morning I feel like lying on the floor with a funnel in my mouth whilst someone fills me to the brim with coffee. Or waves a one way ticket to a Mexico in front of my face. It's January, so even the brightest days are mostly dark and frosty and I'm not a fan of long spells of hibernation, I need some sun and air and adventure. So we have been baking a lot to make the house smell of cinnamon and warmth, and keep away from watching too much tv or feeling too blue. 

This banana bread is our latest invented recipe and we are all now total addicts. It's delicious straight from the oven or cold or toasted with butter or slathered in almond butter and raspberries for breakfast. We're on a loaf a week at the moment and show no signs of slowing down. But it's totally sugar/gluten/dairy free so we can smugly devour as much as we fancy & get ourselves strong for treeclimbing season at the same time... 

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Wintertime Banana Bread

75g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour (I imagine you could substitute buckwheat or rice flour)
50g coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g melted butter or coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tbsp almond or rice milk (make sure it's unsweetened)
80g egg white (approx 3 large egg whites, but I buy it by the carton)
3 mega ripe bananas
1 tbsp coconut nectar, raw honey, maple syrup or agave
more agave or maple syrup (for serving)

This one is lovely and easy for kids to help with. Pablo's just getting into maths so loves to measure the ingredients, and Indy is always keen to sneak licks of spoons when my back is turned. Line a loaf tin with parchment in the bottom, and butter/coconut oil the sides (indy does this by painting with a pastry brush). Mash the bananas in a bowl, then add all other wet ingredients *except the egg whites*.  Mix all dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine the two. Whip the egg whites into soft peaks and very carefully fold into the mixture. 

indy mixing

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30 minutes. It should come out lovely and golden. Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Warm your additional agave or maple syrup (about 1-2 tbsp) until super runny. Poke the bread with a toothpick all over - not all the way through. Brush with the runny syrup. It makes the bread super glossy and extra delicious. 

The bread is really light and I imagine you could easily jazz it up with some nuts, raisins, coconut, maca....maybe we will try and make a carrot version if any carrots survive in our house long enough not to be juiced. Or a beetroot and chocolate! Ok I'm getting carried away...but make this and eat it and feel better and know that spring is around the corner. I hope. 

Home sweet sweet sweet home

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Pablo has been on a mission to get a candy cane unwrapped, under any circumstances, and he finally hit on a successful angle when he begged to build another gingerbread house ("mum! The candy canes need to be the gateway!") Last year we bought this awesome mould from Lakeland and had so much fun decorating it, so I couldn't refuse! Plus the candy canes do make a perfect gateway... This year Indy joined in too and they both took the whole thing VERY seriously, with only the occasional pretend cough to sneak a sweetie or murmur of "mmmmmMMMM!" as Indy licked yet more royal icing from her fingertips... If you can get your hands on one of these moulds from Lakeland they really are fantastic and make the whole process very easy and painless, with beautiful results. If you're feeling brave you could also just make your own templates! I added some cute little clay figures and deer from my grandmother's Christmas cake tin, and the kids decorated with sprinkles and sweeties galore, plus some glittery pumpkin seeds. 

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crush of the week

Indiana is getting a new bed for Christmas. We will need a lot of luck and patience once she is released from behind the cot bars, but she is convinced she is a grown up and therefore both confused and furious about plonked in her own little prison night after night…so it's time. The bed is bought, and I've invested in *hours* of very important (& not at all indulgent) bedding research. It turns out there's a bit of a gap in the market for beautiful, affordable girl's sheets that aren't very gingham or covered in ballerinas, but a handful of really lovely designs at the exquisite-but-a-bit-of-a-treat end of the spectrum. There's Lulu & Nat with their magical rainbows and neon butterflies,  and these perfect pink clouds from The Little Baby Company…but then I stumbled upon the ultimate...

Little Cabari specialise in stunning, handmade linens and other children's decor - including the most snuggly looking sleeping animal rugs, and entrancing wallpapers. The designs manage to be both timeless and playful, with hidden little characters and really beautiful colour combinations. They aren't cheap but they are high quality and the stylish, un-faddy design is worth the investment, if you can. Definitely one to watch, and really really want….

indygrows

fiercely independent but very affectionate, always bestowing unrequested kisses and cuddles...loves to play with dolls and coo over babies...loves to play "the screamy game" which involves a post-bath nude rampage around the flat with Pablo...still not many words but she is impeccable at making her will known regardless!

fiercely independent but very affectionate, always bestowing unrequested kisses and cuddles...loves to play with dolls and coo over babies...loves to play "the screamy game" which involves a post-bath nude rampage around the flat with Pablo...still not many words but she is impeccable at making her will known regardless!

The nuggets make nuggets

We have settled into the school holidays now, but for a while there I was going a tiny bit bananas trying to come up with *things to do*. Possibly because there was a rainy week or so, which is always a killer, but beyond plodding from park to picnic to garden London isn't heaving with FUN! for me + two smallies and a wallet on the thinner side. So to the kitchen... we made gnocchi! It was extremely messy but simple, fun, and great for kids to get involved in. Even Indiana got stuck in. Literally.

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Sweet Potato Spelt Gnocchi

600g sweet potatoes
200g white spelt flour + more for dusting
1 egg
 

Chop the potatoes in half and then boil in their skins for 20 mins. Drain and leave to cool, then peel the skins off and mash. This was Pablo's mashing outfit...  

he insisted on slippers, in the middle of summer... but god forbid he wear trousers

he insisted on slippers, in the middle of summer... but god forbid he wear trousers

Mix the mashed potato with the egg and flour. Ours was incredibly sticky, and we just kept adding a little more flour until it became doughy. Make sure your work surface is very floury, split the dough into three and roll out into sausage shapes.  Cut into pieces approximately 3cm long and roll them in your hand to make a little gnocchi nugget. Pablo was in charge of all this so ours were....varied in shape and size a bit. He especially enjoyed squishing them with a fork, which is supposed to make them look even more gnocchi-esque, but in our case made them look completely bonkers.

Drop the gnocchi into boiling, salted water in batches and boil until they float to the surface - a few minutes. Drain and then dust flour (we went for a flour/semolina mix for that bit). We then pan fried the gnocchi in a little oil until it was golden, and served it with some pan fried cabbage, cream, lemon and a bit of white wine. It was scrumdiddliumptious. Worth having to clean up gnocchi-dough monster hands for an afternoon....

sunday sunday

Ok it was actually Saturday Saturday but after a late night and lots of margaritas vs little sleep it felt like a Sunday... We zoomed over to my brother & sister-in-law's in Stokie for the most delicious totally sugarless (!!) spelt cake** (I promise, it was actually nice - check out my epic portion, which I consumed in its entirety) and chats. I gossiped with Z, Uncle X took Pablo to Clissold Park to  jump in some puddles, and Konch and Indy zonked on the sofa in a heap of teething and hangover. Dreamy (literally, for some of us)... I spent my actual Sunday cancelling exciting tea party plans to snuggle with our still feverish Indy. Those teeth need to HURRY.

*Pablo managed to plant himself in a large muddy puddle so he got to go home dressed like a tiny wizard in Konch's cardigan, which he thought was fantastic.

**Anyone wishing to try the dreamy Lemony Hazelnut & Blueberry Cake, it's recipe is from The Telegraph

oranges and lemons

After being very dramatic  for the past year about my absolute need for some extreme exposure to the sun, we finally got a mega-hit when we made a long overdue visit to my mama's idyllic little farm in Spain at the end of April. We must have picked the perfect time of year because wildflowers were everywhere (even in our salads) and the air was warm, full of bees and the scent of orange blossoms. The kiddos were in heaven, pottering about semi (or totally) nude, picking and eating oranges from the trees and catching frogs by day, stargazing and sleeping SO soundly by night. There was no TV to turn to and it wasn't missed, and with my mum and her partner Quinto about I got some very luxurious rooftop sunbathing spells and finished an entire book! 

The hippies who live down on the riverbed through a Children's festival that perfectly coincided with our visit - think Shamanic drumming lessons, Geodesic domes, Kids trapezing at dusk and lots of daal. On other days we made home made strawberry granita with berries so naturally sweet they made me dizzy, or paddled with the tadpoles in my mum's pool, filled with river water. Pablo fell in love with his first ever pet, a snail, and got his first kiss from the neighbour's two year old daughter, Umi, by the festival campfire. Dreamy days...