Sunday, 1 May 2016

Sunday Moment - 1st May

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1. We found this book in a local charity shop for 50p, it is such a hoot to read and Zoe laughed her little head off when the dinosaur started pooping! There's this one page which just has the word POO! on it, which she found hilarious and kept going back to. She still doesn't quite have the attention span for a whole story, but she's understanding more and more, which is great.

2. I have been practising my back wrapping this week in preparation for helping out at a back wrapping workshop, while I do carry Zoe most days I tend to stick to the same 1-2 carries, so I branched out and tried a double hammock - so very comfy. I'm feeling inspired to try a few more carries, so if this is your sort of thing - follow me on instagram!

3. I started running again. I retired breifly for winter but with the light nights I decided to get back out there. I still need to sort my eating out (she says eating pizza while typing) but I do feel better getting out and working up a sweat. My sister is my running buddy which is great, we motivate each other.

4. Me and Paul managed to get an overnight babysitter last Saturday and headed out on the town to celebrate a friends birthday. It was great to know we could stay out late and drink freely without worrying about Zoe, or getting up super early etc... Although, we may have taken it a bit far and the two day hangover was HARD!

5. I helped at the aforementioned back wrapping class yesterday and had SO MUCH FUN! I am still learning and I'm a bit awkward showing others how to do things, something you do a lot is tough to breakdown and explain. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and felt more confident when they left, which felt good. Oh and if you are local to the North East and you're interesting in babywearing, check out Parenting North East. They are a great company who do lots of fantastic things.

6. I left Zoe with Paul yesterday, so managed to sneak in a little mama lunch date with myself. Pre-baby I hated being alone and would have never gone to lunch alone. Now, in all honesty, the chance to eat a meal and drink coffee alone, while reading a book or even just catching up on twitter uninterrupted is pure bliss. So I decided to head to Lola Jeans in Newcastle and it really was the perfect place, great music, brilliant menu. I can't wait to head back to sample the cocktails.

Hope everyone else had a great week and are enjoying the long Bank Holiday weekend.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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As a child of the 90s I love a good Friends quote, and I always remember Monica saying she wanted to be the Mom that made the best chocolate chip cookies, and spends the episode trying to perfect Phoebe's Grandmother's recipe.

I do love a good bit of recipe development, but I also love the idea that when Zoe is older she'll remember certain foods and associate them with me. The way I do about my Mum's Banana Bread, or my Auntie Hilary's caramel shortbread and hedgehog. Food is such a memory trigger and I love the whole idea of having a family recipe book and memories tied up in food.

So with that in mind, I decided to try my hand at cookies. I have made cookies before, lots of times in fact, but I can say with some certainty that these are one of my best efforts. The perfect combination of crisp with a slight chewiness. The browned butter adds a hint of nuttiness and depth, while the rich dark chocolate cuts through the sweetness. This recipe made 14 cookies, but obviously you can make them bigger/smaller and make more/less - although bear that in mind when cooking as smaller cookies won't take as long to cook.

Ingredients
130g Unsalted Butter
60g Caster Sugar
100g soft brown sugar
1 medium egg
180g Plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
80g chocolate chips (or chopped chunks)

1. Start by browning the butter in a saucepan, it is best to use a pan with a light coloured interior, rather than a non stick dark one; so you can see when the colour change occurs. For a full and frankly awesome guide to browning butter check out Joy the Baker's awesome post, I couldn't possibly write a better guide.

2. Allow the butter to cool (you don't want it to be hot and cook the egg)

3. Preheat the oven to 160C

4. Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and cream together until pale and combined. (I use a Kitchenaid mixer with a paddle attachment, but by hand is fine)

4. Add the egg and once again mix until combined.

5. Combine the flour, bicarb and salt together and then add to the wet butter/sugar egg mixture in 3 stages, mixing in-between to ensure its fully combined.

6. Lastly add the chocolate chips. I had a bag of dark chocolate chips laying about, but you could also roughly chop a bar into chunks. Combine thoroughly so the chocolate is studded through the cookie dough. You don't want someone getting a chocolate chip-less cookie!

7. Roll the dough into equal sized balls and pop on a greased oven tray (be sure to space them apart as they do spread a little) and bake for 10-15 minutes. You want them to be golden and crisp, but they will still be a little soft when straight from the oven. Transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool.

8. You can also freeze the raw cookie dough in balls to bake when the mood strikes, freeze them on a tray, then transfer them into a zip lock bag to prevent them sticking together, then you can just grab a couple of cookie-dough balls and bake them whenever you fancy!

If you don't fancy faffing about browning the butter you don't have to, you can just use regular butter, but the extra effort does pay off in flavour. This recipe is a great base recipe, you can play with flavour combination and added extra from nuts, raisins, marshmallows, cocoa powder... The possibilities are endless!

Zoe was a fan, although she's yet to meet a biscuit she doesn't like. Saying that if I was to make them again for her I might try slightly smaller ones as she made a bit of a mess and struggled to finish a whole one. Me and Paul were also big fans and polished off the majority embarrassingly quickly. The plan had been to take some to work the next day, but with only 3 left it felt a bit mean to not take enough for everyone. Whoops.

Do you have a classic family recipe that reminds you of someone? I'd love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Ordinary Moments - Sunshine and Weeds

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This is my first foray into the Ordinary Moments linky, I just love the idea that the simple things in life are the sweetest; it's such a lovely concept. Often you have these big expectations of days out or holidays, which cost a fortune but never quite live up to it. Then, you can have a totally unexpected ordinary moment that turns into the best day ever. We had one of these last Thursday so I thought I would share it with you...

I had been out to Cabana the night before and had a few caipirinhas, and while it wasn't a full blown hangover, I was feeling a little tired and lacking in drive to go anywhere. We did take an early morning stroll to Greggs for sausage sandwiches and coffee, it was already looking to be a lovely day even at 8am and we sat outside the cafe and watched the world go by for a while.

By the time we got home the sun well and truly had his hat on and we decided to stay outside in the garden. Now, in reality my garden is a little paved yard with some border beds, all full of weeds and wild flowers (for the bees). We don't spent much time in it and short of keeping it all trimmed back, I am in no way green fingered. That being said, I dragged out a big patchwork quilt to lay over the paving, Zoe's play tent, her tricycle and some newly acquired pavement chalk from Tiger, and set about having a fun day in our little oasis of weeds.

We spent the morning drawing colourful pictures on the path, cycling back and forth and just basking in the rare moment of warmth and sunshine. It was surprisingly lovely and teamed with background music provided by Lauren Laverne on 6Music and culminating in a picnic of all of our favourite things; pitta, hummus, cucumber and fig rolls. Just the perfect day.

As I type this it is actually snowing outside, in April, but I am hoping for many more lovely sunny days in the not to distant future. If anyone has any tips on jazzing up our little garden I'd gladly hear them; it is small and we don't want to spend a fortune, but I'd love it to be somewhere we can spend time in the summer.

Linked up to Ordinary Moments over at MummdyDaddyMe. Katie welcomed the most beautiful baby boy into the world this week, so hop on over to check out everyone else's Ordinary Moments, and some lovely new baby snaps.

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