Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Valentine's Day Party and an announcement...

All good things come to an end...

The squeak of a swing in use, the pitter patter of tiny feet and the tinkling of children's laughter surrounded me. Red, pink and white balloons hung from the room like garlands and paper hearts adorned the walls.
It was my daughter's first birthday party.

The theme was Valentine's Day and cheesy love songs wafted through the speakers whilst children played pin the heart on the cupid and hunted for hidden hearts amongst the playground. We were blessed with an abundance of sunshine, so the hall we had hired and decorated held only a few guests with the majority of them enjoying the surrounding park lands. I spent months planning and preparing, but on the day the little one decided to sleep during my decoration time, so I gave instructions to my husband and hoped for the best as I stayed at home with my sleeping beauty. I have to say, although it didn't turn out exactly as I had envisioned, he did a spectacular job bringing her birthday to life.

We had a whopping 70 guests (the husband assured me that most people wouldn't come, only two were unable to make it), so needless to say I was rather busy attending to everyone, organising games and ensuring there was enough food, all with a 10kg toddler on my hip (as I expected, Miss V was a little overwhelmed by all the people and only wanted to be held by mummy). Whilst it was wonderful seeing everyone, next year will definitely be a more intimate affair. I didn't take any photos of the day myself, but luckily I have a few snap-happy friends who did, so I'll share a few with you.

The children's dessert table included:
  • red apples
  • fresh strawberries
  • home made strawberry and apple juice
  • coconut and mixed berry yoghurt
  • gingerbread men
  • mini vanilla cupcakes
  • and the birthday cake which was a strawberry and white chocolate mud swirl

Valentine's favourite part of the day was when daddy pushed her on the swing. And of course later at home when she got to rip open all of those gifts :). 

This year has brought a lot of change and new experiences for me. And I must admit, that before my daughter came along, I ignorantly assumed that I could just 'fit her in' to my life without having to change much. Boy, was my head up in the clouds. As it turns out, young kids aren't very fond of fine dining or long days at the beach or large events etc. What they do want is PLENTY of time with mummy and daddy to play and explore. Watching mummy typing on her laptop is not something Miss V endorses and with only 1-2 hours a day of alone time, after the housework is done and lunch is eaten, I am lucky to have enough time crumbs left to do one yoga pose or read a few pages of a book. 
And thus it is with a feeling of sadness that I have decided to say goodbye for now to my Greedy Gourmand. There are so many items on my 'to-do' list that I just can't justify spending the rather long time it takes to blog one entry, even if it's only once per month. Especially as I have decided to try to home school Miss V myself for the first 6 years of her life, and as with anything I do, I want to give it my everything and make it as enriching and fun for her as possible. Needless to say, my plate will certainly be full.

I don't want to say 'Goodbye for good' as who knows what the future holds as I do very much hope to return one day.

But for now, I wish all my treasured readers days filled with fine weather, fantastic company and most of all, fabulous food.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chocolate, pear & vanilla tart

One year has passed since I held my daughter for the very first time.
One year since I became a mother and learned the real meaning of true love.
One year filled with more happiness, fatigue, love and amazement than the twenty five before it.
For me, this year has passed much too fast.

Each day I try my best to lock every moment I spend with her safely in the vault of my heart. For I know that soon, the particular squeal she makes when I 'find her' will disappear. And the way she smiles so proudly as she hands me whatever crumb, coin, paper remnant she has found on the floor will soon fade away. For she will never be as young as she is today, and with each day that she changes, some things are lost to make way for the new.

But today, which never held any significance to me,  is now so utterly precious since it became the day my daughter was born.

Although you will not read this dearest daughter, I want to wish you a wonderful birthday. I wish that life will give you more happy birthdays than you can dream of, each one more magical than the last. I wish that I will be there to share them with you and to help you blow out your candles until you can do it yourself. And most of all, I wish that one day, you will love someone as much as I love you.

Happy Birthday Valentine

Friday, August 10, 2012

Orange date bread

I type these words as my little one slumbers.
Having a small child makes me feel like a teenager sometimes; sneaking around whilst she is sleeping to indulge in the activities that I like to do, whilst being as quiet as a mouse to keep her in dreamland.
These pictures, for instance, were taken during the beginning of her snooze, edited during the middle, and published just before she started stirring. It is amazing how quickly one hour seems to pass whilst babies sleep!

Whilst my hobbies have been relegated to baby nap times, the rest of my days are filled with hide and seek, whimsical picture books (that are read over and over again), playing with an array of wooden toys and various items she has found and claimed as her own (the remote controller and an old belly dancing arm bangle of mine being her current favourites), Bob Marley songs (played over and over and over...), hugging trees and smushing flowers, tickling toes and kissing boo boos - and whilst my days are marvelously tiring (the little one still wakes 7 times a night, so perhaps that is also a fatigue-factor), I wouldn't trade them for anything. My home might be a little shabbier, the meals slightly burnt and my adult conversational skills quite underused  but I am so incredibly thankful that I get to spend every single day being a mummy to such an amazing person. Being a part of someone's life from the moment they come into existence is such an honor; I get to witness her entire childhood and watch her metamorphosis first hand, to share her entire 'beginning'.

Now that I have gotten my daughter-gushing out of the way, let us eat cake!

ease: 4.5/5.
prep time: 20mins.
cooking time: 25mins.
total: 45mins.

taste: 3.5/5.

Whilst this bread/cake was incredibly soft and gently sweet, it lacked a strong flavour profile. The dates, which lent the sweetness, were prominent, but the orange only gave the faintest hint of bitterness. The cinnamon was also barely noticeable. It is lovely with a cup of tea, but a touch too delicate in flavour to be served on its own.

would I make it again: No, but I thoroughly enjoyed this loaf.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Violet chocolate fudge

“Every day has been so short, every hour so fleeting, every minute so filled with the life I love that time for me has fled on too swift a wing.” 
― Aga Khan

"They grow up so quickly".

Words I have heard countless times since the birth of my daughter, from knowing smiles of parents with children grown. And today, I thought those same words myself as I watched my little girl walking wherever she pleased, opening every cupboard, box or container as she babbled excitedly to me about whatever it is that babies ponder. I still remember as though it were yesterday, when she would fall asleep at my breast, her tiny hand wrapped around one of my fingers, her face basking in the sweet sleep of babes; such a tiny, sweet soul. I once worried that the world was too rough for such a delicate being, but now it's the world I am worried for. That little rosebud has blossomed into such a robust, rambunctious human who never tires of exploring and bustling her way around. She is a 'take charge and get outta my way' kinda gal and I adore being able to watch her 'become'.

My days have been so filled with her continual evolution that activities of my pre-child days, such as blogging, going out, personal maintenance etc seem to have fallen to the wayside. Whilst I might look a little bedraggled and quite sleep deprived I can say, that although quite challenging, I am enjoying this moment in my life, because like everything that's precious, it's finite.

On some days though, a little extra time to myself to catch up on things long abandoned is welcomed. And today, thanks to my mother-in-law who lovingly occupied my tenacious daughter, I used that glorious sixty minutes to return some sparkle to my house, eat a relaxed meal, blog and I even had some time spare to tidy my eyebrows.

And now, when she sleeps for the second time today, I can spend that respite completely on myself, needless to say there are more than a few books that need a good dusting and page turning.

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 15mins (I skipped the sieve part).
chilling time: 2hours.
total: 2hours and 15mins.

taste: 3.5/5.

Violet and chocolate is a stellar combination. I have a feeling this killer duo will be making more appearances in my cooking future, just not in this particular recipe.

Whilst I loved the texture, the flavour of the marshmallows completely dominated, if you like marshmallows that may be a good thing, but I personally wanted to savour the chocolate and violets only.

would I make it again: No. Would use the violets with a fudge recipe that didn't contain marshmallows.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Healthy Apple Cake

“I can resist anything except temptation.”
― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan

It's no secret that I have a gigantic, collosal sweet tooth. I don't think a single day has gone by in which I have not consumed refined sugar in addition to fruits and the like. 

This year it began to escalate to a point where I was verbally lamenting my addiction and hoping to at least 'cut back'. Fast forward to the evening, after avoiding sugar during the daylight hours, you would find me with an empty box of chocolates and a rather defeated, yet also satisfied, look on my face. It seemed sugar was a foe I couldn't shake; between the baby, husband and home I just didn't have enough energy left in me to draw up the willpower needed to kick this habit to the curb.
And then lo and behold, the universe manifested the only way I would do it; my little one got oral thrush. I may not have been able to change my diet for myself, but there is NOTHING I wouldn't do for my bubba. So to help her heal faster and to make sure she didn't pass it onto me, I went cold-turkey. And I don't just mean refined sugar. I did the whole shebang - no fruit or natural sweeteners. After some googling I stumbled upon the Anti-Candida diet and figured that whatever would help my girl I was willing to do, and heck, if I could cut the sugar than surely quitting dairy and gluten wouldn't be so bad.

Well, let's just say it took some getting used to. Besides being a vegetarian, eating organic and mostly unprocessed foods, my diet has never really been super healthy (apart from when I was pregnant). A large percentage consisted of baked sweets, chocolate bars, cheese, pasta, bread etc with fruit, veg and legumes getting the occasional guest appearance. Thanks to the fast metabolism I inherited from my mumma this poor quality, high calorie diet didn't result in weight gain so I was pretty content to keep to it (my brother's diet is even worse, yet he is in awesome shape, but eventually, if we don't change, we will both be paying the piper I am sure). In all fairness though we were never really shown how to eat healthy as kids. Apart from dinner, our other meals were horrid - sugary kids cereal for breakfast, and school lunches of nutella sandwiches, chips, fruit roll ups, dunkaroos and a piece of fruit (which was rarely eaten).

I am determined to help my daughter have good eating habits from the start, and this event has helped me turn a corner in my own nutrition. I really doubt that I will go back to my sugar-laden ways of the past, I just don't feel the need for that much refined sugar anymore, and when you know better, you do better. Ten days in and I have already lost those intense cravings. Now that I  can eat some fruits (apples and berries), I find that is all I need to satisfy my sweet-needs. I did try stevia in the first week but that just wasn't my cup of tea. I have yet another 6 weeks to go before I will allow refined sugar back in, but in the meantime I have amassed a rather wonderful looking set of refined-sugar free recipes to try.

Although it has been 10days I haven't really felt any different (apart from two days of withdrawal headaches and grumpiness) or noticed any physical differences (well, some slight weight gain, possibly due to all of the nuts and seeds I am devouring), but then again it has only been a short amount of time and I am sure this new healthier diet will benefit me greatly in the long run.

What diets have you tried recently?

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 6mins.
cooking time: 30mins.
total: 36mins.

taste: 4/5. Stealthily delicious.

I won't lie, I kept my expectations low, more so in terms of texture than taste, but I am glad to say, I was more than happy with this healthy cake.

Let's start with the texture; this was perhaps one of the softest, most luscious loaves I have ever had. It was incredibly moist but still held together well with a yummy sticky crust.

Taste wise it was mm mm good. I didn't include the walnuts as one of my friends is allergic so I added a few more dates. The honey and dates made this plenty sweet enough. The coconut was just a mere glimmer of a suggestion whilst the apple was noticeable but not dominant - all of the flavours melded together without any of them taking the spotlight. I can imagine that the nuts would add a lovely crunch to an already tasty treat.

Why wouldn't you go grain and refined sugar free if it tastes so yum!

would I make it again: Yes.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Persimmon and sultana slice

 “Time is a game played beautifully by children.”
― Heraclitus, Fragments

I am not one to keep a New Year's Resolution, somehow, the habit of life seems to get in the way. This year, my littlest has helped me to keep at least one; being present.

When looking after a 9month old who doesn't know how to be still you cannot lend yourself to languid daydreams or mindless internet browsing. Avert your eyes for a moment and more than likely your attention will be brought back by the sound of tears or your mobile phone being used as a drumstick against the skirting board. You can never truly 'baby proof' a room, the curiosity and sheer determination of a child to learn and explore will overcome any obstacle you can place.

As exhausting as it can be to be completely engaged in her every waking hour, I am thankful for it as I might have missed the moments that I will keep forever. Like the moment, on shaky legs, she used her activity box to stand unassisted on her two stocky legs, arms raised in the air, smiling triumphantly with gusto. Or the moment soon after where without warning, she suddenly decided to take her first step which was followed by the sharp intake of both her parent's breath and then immediately by their ear-piercing shrieks of joy and laughter. The kind of love that fills your heart to the point where you think it will burst is unique to that of a parent for their child. These nine months with Valentine have stirred feelings within me that I didn't think existed. There are so many feelings of love felt in a lifetime, but the love I feel for my daughter is the sweetest and deepest of them all. I fell in love with my husband moment by moment, but my love for my child was already within my bones.

Although I have had nary a minute to devote to my own leisure, like delving into a good book or stirring a bowl of cake batter, I do not mind, as babies truly do grow up in the blink of an eye. Now that Valentine is on the precipice of walking independently I am  madly gathering as many precious baby-only moments as possible. Each incoherent babble. Every tranquil feed at my breast. And all of the new discoveries and accomplishments she makes on a daily basis. I am storing these treasures in the chambers of my heart so that one day, when I only see her face on occasion or hear her voice through the odd phonecall, I can visit those rooms of memories and remember when she was once my baby.

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 10mins.
cooking time: 30mins.
total: 40mins.

taste: 3/5. Suitable when peckish.

I have to admit, persimmons are not a fruit I love, which is why I try to 'bake' them into being yummier. I think the main reason I didn't enjoy these slices were due to the chunks of persimmon; they are just a little too 'sweet' for me.

The blend of spices were heady and warming, I could definitely picture picking giant morsels of these before a fireplace with a hot toddy in the other hand. The texture was a touch dry for me but otherwise they were a decent snack, but not something I would daydream about.

would I make it again: No, even though they are healthier and vegan, they were less stellar than the Persimmon and sultana muffins I made a while back. I'd rather keep searching for tastier vegan sweets.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Banana and chocolate chip muffins

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
― John Muir

I like to think of the beginning of Winter as a time to shed any worries or cares; to strip myself bare and rekindle the flame of my inner being.

It is during this season that I feel the need to simplify and declutter my life. It seems even more important to me now that I have a child, to show them what life truly is; the love of yourself and others, the Earth that nourishes and sustains us and buckets of laughter and fun. If you have shelter from the storm, food in your belly and the company of loved ones there is nothing else to need. It is so easy in our world to get caught up in the trivial and to bury ourselves in the material that we lose touch with nature and who we are at heart. I would like to teach my daughter to be present, to love genuinely, and to remember what truly matters...

So I spend these last Autumn moments frolicking in every ounce of sunshine I can, catching as many falling leaves as I can and relishing as much of its last bounty as I can.

These muffins came about due to some languishing bananas, and as I never wish to have any food go to waste (any produce we don't eat, my father's chickens do and boy do they leave nary a morsel behind). Funnily enough, it is often the unplanned recipes that turn out best :)

What things do you like to do before Winter begins?

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 8mins.
cooking time: 25mins.
total: 33mins.

taste: 4/5. Childishly grand.

These muffins remind me of childhood lunches with sticky fingers, crumb dotted mouths and high pitched squeals of joy.

The muffins are wonderfully moist with pockets of sweet banana and patches of dark, melted chocolate. They are quite sweet despite the fact that I did reduce the amount of sugar by 1/3cup although I did add a little more banana, the sweeter your bananas the less sugar you need.

They might seem rather ordinary, but I add three of these straight from the pan.

would I make them again: Yes.