I think Misty has problems. Not only does he think biting me is hilarious, he has now turned his hand (or sticky fingers) to pinching, yes, pinching. Not quite as bad as biting with those sharp little flesh tearing spikes, but painful nonetheless. He even bit his Grandmother while we were in Sydney (not my Mum, my MIL) she was not impressed. It hurts. He thinks it’s a riot.
On the subject of babies (nice sweet, non violent babies) I have a lot of baby oil hanging around my house. What do you do with 5 bottles of the stuff? Misty is 12 months old now, and I think I’ve used baby oil 3 times. I once poured some into the bath, immediately regretting my actions as not only did I have a wet wriggly baby, but a super oiled up slippery wet wriggly baby. Not a smart idea.
I tried to use it as a massage oil, but I find liquid oils annoying. They go everywhere and don’t seem to soak into the skin very quickly.
What to do?
Make some lotion out of it, that’s what.
First up, if you could have any flavour of baby, I would have to go for a chocolate one. Viper loves chocolate covered Jelly Babies, they are a particular favourite.
I’m really not a fan of the Chico Baby though… the concept is good but the execution not so much. I was only introduced to them recently; a crazy Aussie thing I suppose. Just not my thing. Stick to the fruity flavours, and dip them in chocolate, not a chocolate flavoured jelly. Ew.
Anyway, getting off subject.
- I infused half a cup of baby oil with 1/8C cacao nibs and 2t cacao powder. Just chuck the whole lot together in a jar, and leave it for a week, shaking every few days.
- After a week or so, strain the oil through cheesecloth, squeezing out as much of the chocolatey oil as you can (you will lose a little of the oil, so you end up with about 1/3C)
- In a small saucepan combine the oil with an equal quantity of grated beeswax, and 1/8t baking soda.
- Gently heat until beeswax melts, and pour it straight into a jar.
You are limited by your imagination to what flavours you could infuse into the oil – I’ve done vanilla pods, pineapple (chunks of dried) and fresh ginger, mint and lemon.
I find a massage lotion a lot more user friendly, and the chocolate smells so good I might want to bite a chunk out of Misty instead of the other way round.
- 1/4C coconut flour
- 3/4C brown rice flour
- 1/2t baking soda
- 1/4t baking powder
- 10 drops liquid stevia
- 2T cacao powder
- 1/8t salt
- 1/4C + 2Tnon dairy milk
- 1 1/2t lime juice
- 2 bananas, mashed with a fork.
- Combine all ingredients, place in a lined loaf tin (or whatever shape you like, my loaf tin is 20cm in length- you can chop this into bars)
- Bake for 12-15 minutes at 170 degrees C, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. (If you under cook it, it’s like a gooey brownie)
I cut the cake (it’s not really a cakey texture, more dense and ‘bar’ like but let’s just call it a cake) in half, and spread with Cho-fu chocolate pudding. I stacked one half on top of the other and covered with the remaining pudding. Decorations: plastic babies optional.
If I wasn’t going to frost it, I’d make some of this, chop into chunks and fold through the mix before baking. The chunks stay kind of gooey, so it’s like ‘fresh outta the oven melty chocolate’ every time. Awesome. The plain cake (sans chunks or frosting) is Misty’s favourite breakfast, served with plain yoghurt (a fav of mine too).
We kind of went with a theme of “SnugglePot and CuddlePie” for the party – for those of you outside of Australia, these little characters are an Australiana type thing, based on a children’s story book by May Gibbs written in the 1920s.
These are gum-nut babies… there is one boy and a girl – we thought it a fitting theme as Misty and Mopsy were born on the same day.
I actually found some retro Cuddlepot and SnugglePie fabric at a thrift store, with all of the illustrations on a cotton drill type material. I made Mopsy a patchwork blankie for her birthday out of it – forgot to take a photo though, doh.
The babies live in the gum nuts from the Eucalyptus tree. The illustrations are inspired by the native bush lands in Western Australia where May Gibbs played as a young child.
Think the cake went down ok. Not sure what happened to all the plastic babies. Hmm.
Misty actually fell asleep and snoozed right the way through the ‘cake bit’ – I think he has inherited his Mama’s partying style – go too hard, too early on, and end up sleeping through all the good bits. Hmmm. Don’t peak too early.
- 1/4C barley (pearl)
- 1 coconut milk
- 3/4C pureed pineapple (canned is fine, just look for one with no added sugar)
- Pinch sea salt
- Combine ingredients in a small saucepan.
- Bring to the boil, and reduce to a simmer, stirring every now and again.
- Wait until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed (maybe 20-30 minutes) turn off heat, pop a lid on the pan, and let the barley soak up the rest.
- Puree in a food processor.
- 2 bananas, each sliced into about 6 pieces diagonally
- 2t coconut flour (dessicated coconut would work too, but coconut flour is just magic)
- 3t agave
- 2T water
- Squeeze of lime juice
- Mix agave, water, lemon and coconut in a bowl.
- Toss banana through, coating well.
- Heat a fry pan with a little coconut oil, cooked slices of banana for a couple of minutes each side until golden brown.
- Let cool a little before serving (they are actually really good if you chuck them in the fridge so they harden up even more – we did that today as it was so hot outside, I couldn’t handle the thought of eating warm food).
I’m a snuggler from way back.
This was my first snuggly – it’s a flannelette pillow case that was made for me by one of our neighbours when I was super little. Me and my sister both got one – I’m not sure how/why but I’ve hung onto it for all these years, and now Misty has inherited it (a pillowcase and a record collection, that’s about all of value we have to bestow on Misty, poor dude). I think it’s kind of a cool synchronicity that this pillow case has both pink and blue koalas, and I ended up living in Australia, meeting an Australian boy, and then giving birth to a baby Australian. The fortune-telling snuggle pillow case. Ooooky spooky.
Back to the snuggling. I’ve always been obsessed with pillows. I usually carry one around with my when I’m at home, especially in winter, and snuggle it into my belly when I’m sitting down. I have a special bedtime pillow which I sleep with in the fetal position. Viper named that one ‘Clutchy’ as I sleep clutching it so tight. Viper says, ‘I wish you’d love me as much as you love your Clutchy,’ and ‘I could be your Clutchy sometime if you like’ Nah, Clutchy rocks my world, dude.
Misty has inherited the snuggly/clutchy gene. Maybe he was infused with all the snuggly-ness while in utero – being pregnant means you NEED some sort of Clutchy at night just to get in a decent position; I needed a Clutchy between my legs, and one to Clutch. He loves pillows and cuddling into them. He especially loves the koala Snuggly. He grabs our couch pillows, throws them on the floor and launches himself onto them. An energetic snuggler. Before he goes to bed at night, he gets to watch, “In the Night Garden,” as it gets him in the zzzz-ing mood. He lies down on the floor in front of the TV, with a pillow and quietly watches. Too cute.
I wanted to get him something snuggly orientated for his birthday. I looked at a few options – little tiny fold out couches, beanbags (no way, not with a dog and son that like to eat little things ie beans) nothing was right, nothing was snuggly/groovy/special enough. Everything just seemed cheap, nasty, boring and just another thing to add to land fill in a few years.
It’s hot where we live, even in the middle of winter, a light doona (duvet, throw, quilt, cozy blanket, whatever you call them) is all you need. Misty has a nice feather one for the colder months, so the piles and piles of baby blankets we were given as presents aren’t really a necessity. I didn’t want to throw these out, or donate them, they were gifts so I needed to find another use for them. I also had a bunch of pillow inserts that were on their last legs – too ratty to donate, didn’t want to just throw them out and again add to waste.
So, I made my own Snuggly/Clutchy for Misty. Cost me about $1.50 in some groovy retro fabric from a thrift store, and some velcro.It’s just a big pillow case (2 seams) with some velcro sewn in at the top, so you can still take out the blankets etc and use them if need be. (Sneaky storage, love it).
Yip, seems to be a winning Snuggly. I think Viper is going to be jealous. Anything science fiction, and he starts to dribble. Geek.
Maybe I’ll have to make Viper his own special Snuggly. He’s the only one left without one. Yes, even Boosty has one out in her little Boosty Box (Boosty Box and Boosty Snuggly both made by Viper, he’s actually a really good sewer – his Mum’s Mum’s Mum was the seamstress for the Queen’s Mother if that makes sense? It’s in the genes).
If you think I’m bad with going off on tangents when I write – you should see me in the kitchen. I begin with a recipe to try, or an idea of a certain dish that I would like to prepare. I always end up getting distracted by some new ingredient or stroke of genius (yeah, right) half way through. The resulting dish is about as far away from the original idea as you can get without being arrested (that makes no sense whatsoever, similar to my style of cooking).
It all started with a few skinny eggplants I bought for some reason. I don’t know what I was thinking of doing with them, but they were pretty and purple so I bought them. Fast forward to lunch today, and I knew I had to use these beautiful, albeit annoying fridge dwellers. I chucked them in a hot oven, not really thinking it through, and this happened:
It seriously exploded in there. It looks kind of like a squid trying to escape. I find the insides of eggplants quite unnerving.
Due to the slightly creepy appearance of the insides, I decided to blend them up, thus banishing all thoughts of giant squid tendrils flapping around in my belly. Doing what I do best, I proceeded to scrape out the fridge and dump it into my blender along with the eggplant. I found some abandoned roast pepper strips (thanks Viper) a little plastic bag of herbs my girlfriend stole for me from another friends garden, some garlic and sad looking lemon wedges. A few dashes of seasoning, and a new delight was born. It’s kind of in between hummus, baba ganoush and pesto – really it just reminded me of a pesto because of the basil.
Vegan Eggplant Pesto
(Vegan, gluten free, nut free, soy free)
- 1C roasted eggplant
- 1/2 roasted red pepper
- 1t lemon juice
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 1/2T nutritional yeast
- 1/4t balsamic vinegar
- Big handful of fresh basil leaves
- A few sprigs of fresh sage
- Salt and black pepper to taste
First up, I made some for Misty, as I had a baked sweet potato lurking in the depths of my fridge that needed dealing to.
Dummy Sucker Dough:
- 2 1/2T mashed sweet potato
- 1t tahini
- 2T coconut flour
- 1/8t ground cinnamon
- 2t currants (or any finely chopped dried fruit)
- 2t peanut butter
- 1t honey (or a few drops of stevia if you are sugar-freeing it)
- Pinch sea salt
- 3/4-1t cacao or cocoa (however strong you like it)
- 1/4t vanilla extract
- 2-2 1/2T coconut flour (depends on the size of your banana)
- 1 small banana
- 1T “bits” – chopped nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, whatever you like (I chucked in some crushed peanuts)
- Mash together everything with a fork. Eat as is, or make into shapes.
- I like little balls. (stop it).
- If you like, freeze them – I highly recommend frozen balls (ha).
- 2/3C coconut flakes
- 2/3C buckwheat groats
- 1/2C hulled millet
- 1/3C sunflower seeds
- 3/4C whole oats
- 1/4C oatmeal
- 1/2t sea salt
- 1/3C sesame seeds
- 1/4C dark agave syrup (or honey, rice syrup etc)
- 1T coconut oil
- 1/3C orange juice
- 1 mango
- 1/2C chopped dried pineapple and mango
- Mix dry ingredients together, except dried fruit.
- Blend together mango and orange juice.
- Melt coconut oil, combine with agave and mango mix.
- Mix everything together and place on lined baking trays.
- Bake at 140 degrees C for 50 minutes, rotating trays and stirring every 10.
- Turn oven off and leave trays in there to cool down completely.
- Mix in dried fruit.
Remember this? I’d rather forget it – the supposed “healthy” fruit bar for babies, with the ingredient list that reminded me of a trashy romance novel (read: pretty long, quite unbelievable not to mention utterly ridiculous).
So here we have it, the much anticipated fruity bar that is approved by both baby (Misty) and Mum (Lou). Boosty stole one – she ate it right up, and seemed to enjoy it – but we won’t value her opinion too highly, as Boosty has been known to eat other dog’s poo. If you’re serious about what you feed your kiddies like me, than you are probably willing to go the extra distance and make these – I’ve tried to explain the steps to the recipe as clearly as possible, but don’t hesitate to contact me if you run into trouble. I’m still getting used to writing down and recording my recipes, so let me know if I typing all crazy-like.
If you don’t have kids (stop booing me and my boring baby food experiments) because I have promised a recipe for those with a slightly more advanced palette at the end of the post. Anyway, these would make a great (and useful) gift for anyone you know with little ones – especially those with food intolerances (and you would look like the bestest and most nutritionally savvy friend EVER).
Friendly Fruit Bars:
These are very allergy friendly: nut, seed, and egg free. Gluten free iF you use certified GF oats. Soy free if you use a milk other than soy to glaze with. Dairy free if you use a non dairy milk and so on.
3/4C + 1T rolled oats
3T apple puree
4-5T dried fruit – either chopped very finely or pulsed in a food processor. I used raisins this time, but a date and apricots mix were great in the first batch.
Milk to glaze (soy/dairy/almond, whatever)
Let the dough rest and chill for at least 1 hour – this give the oats time to soak up some of the moisture and morph into a more workable dough.
Once your dough has rested, give it a good squeeze together. It will seem kind of crusty, but a little knead will bring it back from the darkside. You don’t want the dough too wet, or you won’t be able to roll it; too dry and it will crack and fall apart. It’s all about balance.
Divide the dough in half, and then half again.
Get your little bar-production station set up. I find a damp tea towel underneath a chopping board works to stop the board from moving when you roll. There is a technique with being successful in this endeavour – your enemy is any kind of moisture, once your dough or rolling pin becomes even a tiny bit wet, the dough will start to stick, which will make you angry. I can see you shaking your fist at the computer screen and cursing me now – ‘stupid Lou and her stupid BARS.’ Trust me, it will work, you just have to be a bit clever about it.
Basically you need to roll the dough quickly and firmly. Roll once, putting as much pressure on the pin as possible, pick up the dough, flip it over, and roll again. Keep repeating this, and moving the dough a quarter turn in between flipping it over (in circles). This keeps the dough moving, and the possibility of it sticking and ripping is lessened. It might take a few times to get the knack, but it will happen – it’s good to get used to dealing with doughs, it’s all about the handling.
Each dough ball should get you 2 bars – you can either squish up the trimmings and make another bar, or do what I do, and make it into a little pattie. Chuck it in the oven with the bars, and you have a little oaty cake (yummy with sunflower butter on top!)
Spread 1/2t of your dried fruit mix onto the dough (I put some 3T coconut in with my raisins at the pulsing stage for a bit of texture). Fold over and pinch dough together firmly. Shape with your hands.
You may notice the dough getting a few cracks in it at this stage, don’t stress – breathe – it’s just dough. Get yourself a little bowl with 1/4C milk in it (I used soy, any kind will work). Using your finger tips, dab the bars with the milk. This will seal up the cracks and give the bar a little glaze.
Bake at 200 degrees C on a lined baking tray for 8-10 minutes, depending on your oven. Peek in a few times, and flip the bars to ensure even cooking. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container (not sure how long they last for, as Misty eats the whole batch in a few days). I keep them in the fridge as it’s pretty humid where we are.
Yes, they look a little like cigars. Yes, that is an ashtray (it has never seen a lit ciggie, so it’s all perfectly innocent). I collect groovy old ashtrays for some reason – they make great little dishes. Is that so wrong? I suppose it’s kind of like these:
I used to LOVE these lollies. I felt so cool. Loser.
Anyway, these bars are intended for babies. I mean that in the sense they contain no added salt, sugar or nasties. So, they aren’t the most flavourful bars I have ever tasted. They taste nice, but I’m not doing the mouth party dance about them. Misty, however, is a big fan – I originally made them with a touch of baking powder, but I took it out, as honestly, they don’t need it. These are soft enough for a gummy wonder to enjoy as well as old man chompers. They also hold their shape – the batch that included baking powder were a bit soft and no match for Misty’s vice-like grip. He has eaten 3 in 20 minutes. Piggy.
If you guys are interested in a recipe that uses the same basic concept (but is super dooper quick and easy, no rolling pins involved) I do have one up my sleeve.
I came up with a muesli bar idea that was pretty popular in a cafe I used to run in Melbourne. It uses the same dough concept as these baby bars, but stacks more flavour and texture (oh, and salt, amazing how much difference a little salt makes) Viper used to call them “Hobbit Food,” as apparently they were so filling and satisfying he reckoned they would be ideal on a lengthy mission into the depths of Mordor. Geek.
It’s the time of the year I’ve been waiting for.
When mangoes go viral. Cheap, plentiful, BIG and sweet. Bring it.
Yip, I am totally where all those mangoes are at. (Dark patches are mango growing regions of Australia – I’m on the right about 3/4 the way up) It’s the place to be.
This time last year, I was 3 1/2 weeks away from giving birth, very bored and all I wanted was mango smoothies. I HAD to have one every day, no ifs and no buts.
Yes, I realise that most of the people reading this are either heading into Autumn/Winter or live in a strange little place where mangoes are imported from who knows where, gassed and ridiculously expensive (Hi there Kiwis!) but I don’t care. I have mangoes, and I’m going to make things with them. (I told Viper I was going to use our entire savings account to buy all of the mangoes our local grocer has – 99c each – and then proceed to do mango angels with them on our dining room floor. He said, ‘cool.’ Either not listening or purposely ingnoring me. Wonder why?)
Misty sampled his first mango this morning. Misty approves. Mango puree stirred into coconut quinoa with almond butter on top (for me and Misty). I tried Ashley’s method of cooking the quinoa for a change. It was wicked knickers (that means good).
I needed an excuse to include mango in our dinner tonight. Nothing screams Summer to me more than mango and avacado together in a salad. One of our favourite warm weather meals is a Thai style prawn salad with avacado, mango, mung bean vermicilli and a coconut palm sugar and chilli sauce (recipe will appear at some point) Yummo. Not tonight though – this is a bit of a mixed up meal – it doesn’t quite know what it’s trying to be – Middle Eastern, Indian, Thai flavours, they are all here. This is how I cook; every meal is a touch experimentation, a little exploration. I think I may have a touch of the Bi Polar form of Vi Polar?
Sweet Potato Black Bean Balls:
- 1C cooked black beans
- 2T flax combined with 4T water to form an ‘egg’
- 1/4C chickpea flour
- 2T oatmeal
- 1t salt
- 3/4t ground coriander
- 1t ground cumin
- Chilli flakes to taste
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/2C cooked sweet potato (any root vegetable would work)
Whizz everything together in a food processor. Wet hands, and roll into golf sized balls. Chill in the fridge for half an hour or so to help them firm up.
Roll balls in wheatgerm (it just sticks by itself, score)
I cooked these in a fry pan spritzed with coconut oil, just to seal them off a bit. Once I had rolled them around the pan, I transferred to a lined baking tray and put them in the oven at 180 degreesC. Cook for 20 minutes, turning once. These would be awesome deep fried, but we do not have a deep fryer as Viper has no self control, and I’m not a huge grease monkey lover.
They crack and look like little rock cakes.
But they stay nice and soft on the inside.
Cheating Mango Salsa:
1/2 small red onion
1 small red pepper
1 1/2t lime pickle*
1t lime juice
1/4t sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4C fresh coriander (cilantro)
Finely dice avacado, onion, mango and pepper.
Mix in all remaining ingredients. Chill until ready to serve.
I use this type of lime pickle – bitter, salty, spicy, delicious. You only need a tiny bit – it’s brutal. Could make my own, but that’s why it’s “cheating” – you know it’s wrong, but it’s just so good. The pickle, I’m talking about the pickle.
Wow, she just keeps going, doesn’t she? Serve with:
Wholemeal Paratha (adapted from The Asian Vegan Kitchen* and suggestions from local and overly friendly Indian grocery store man).
1C wholemeal Atta flour
1/2t sea salt
50ml warmish water (plus a few extra tablespoons of water, add as you need)
2T oil or ghee
Mix together flour and salt. Add water and mix until smooth. Rest dough for 10 minutes. Divide up dough, roll into balls on a floured surface.
Smoosh them down as thin as you can get them. Rolling pin or wine bottle comes in handy. Heat up a fry pan with 2T oil (I use coconut) When hot, place dough in pan, cook quickly for about 45 seconds each side until golden brown. Serve immediately with balls, salsa and a fresh green salad.
Unless I mention anything different, my recipes will feed 2-3. Usually 2 in our household.
I have many many more mango recipes to share, create and tweak. One I’m particularly famous for is my “Mango La-La” which involves a lot of vodka and a lot of mango and a blender.
I’m a bit of a freak, just like wasting chocolate makes me angry, I decided to utilise the seemingly defunct mango stones (all of that sweet amazing flavour that was just going to be tossed away). I put 3 mango stones in my tea pot with some fresh mint and brewed tea with them. It was kinda awesome. I know, I know, I’m very special, Viper tells me all the time. Don’t judge.
*If you are vegan/interested in vegan cooking – this book is AWESOME. I love it because this is the kind of food I love to eat/experiment with, but without the usual meaty spot-light grabbers.
So I don’t think Misty has the Chicken Pox. Sorry to all those chickens out there I may has offended.
You know when you get a gut feeling about something, but don’t go with it? Guilty. Guilty as charged. As soon as the doctor said ‘I think it’s Chicken Pox,’ (note: I think) I thought that seemed strange. Aren’t you supposed to get the Pox when you’re older? You know, 7 or something? I know I can remember having the baking soda baths, wearing mittens and being told off for scratching. I have the scars to prove it.
Anyway, I just went with what the doctor said – I was pretty distressed, let along Misty who had a raging temperature, was screaming and blowing snot bubbles. Not to mention the rash.
Within 12 hours, his temperature was down, and there was no more need for baby Panadol (which the doctor said I would need to keep giving him for at least a few days). The rash – although gross – wasn’t getting worse, it kind of seemed like it was getting better. Hmmm.
I’m not a doctor. (No! Really? You’re kidding Lou, you mean that stethoscope is just for show?) I could have gone and got a second opinion, but I decided the most important factor in this equation was Misty – get his temperature down and make him as comfortable as possible.
We went to the doctor 3 days ago – today his rash is gone, temperature normal, all that lingers is the extremely snotty boogie bubble blowing nose, which we can all deal with. He is back eating solids with a vengeance, and up to his old tricks. I have an idea of what he may have had, but again, I’m not a doctor. I’m pretty sure it AIN’T Chicken Pox though.
Have you ever had an experience like this? I have had a few with Doctors, I mean, they are only human and these days it must be so hard to diagnose things, what with all the viruses and super bugs skulking around.
Intuition is a powerful thing. Just have to listen and believe a little more.
Misty is on the mend, and that’s a happy ending. There was another happy ending around here today – and NOT that kind.
I made chocolate. Katie’s chocolate.
I decided I wanted to freeze it solid, so i could break it up and use it as ‘chunks,’ in later cooking experiments – but what to do with the scrapings at the bottom of the pan?
After tipping the sauce into a vessel to freeze, there remained the drippings all over the pot. Considering I had just licked up probably half the entire recipe of saucey goodness as I poured it into the container, I restrained myself from unleashing my tongue and fingers on the pot (yeah, I know, impressive). I hate wasting food. Even the tiniest amount. Especially chocolate; to waste it is criminal and should be punishable by some sort of extreme horse bite (definition #2, my most hated).
I poured in 2C soy milk and brought the whole thing back to the boil (hence melting down the remaining coconut oil one more). There was probably about 2t of the original sauce left in the pot when I started (estimating here). I stirred in 1T Kudzu powder that had been mixed to a paste with a few drops of water and let the mix thicken. (Cornstarch would work too).
Poured into ramekins and chilled in the fridge.
Chocolate pudding for a spotty little boy? Chocolate pudding for Mum? Yes, I want Pudding.
It reminds me of this stuff:
Ahhh, childhood memories. We called it instant pudding (basically, you just get out the egg beaters, and whip this into milk and let it set in the fridge. It’s like Jelly (Jell-O, hey ho – there’s another language quirk) but in milky form. I tried to explain it to Viper, but it must be another kooky New Zealand-y thing. Seems to be a few of those. While I was looking for an image of this product, I discovered it now comes in BANOFFEE flavour, good golly gosh (care package from the land of the long white cloud? Mum? Hello?)
Chocolate pudding, green grass, what more could a girl want? Perhaps to wipe her camera lens. Smudgey.
This is not a recipe as such, rather just me jotting things down as I go – this is how I work. I’m going to play around with the idea though, especially the quantities of each ingredient. I reckon if I use agar agar I can get it to set into a chocolatey vegan panna cotta. Oh yeah.