Sunday, 26 July 2015

Beetroot Hummus - Recipe

beetroot hummus recipe
When you are a child you swear there are things you will never like. Adults tell you that certain things you hate are an acquired taste, or that they did not like these things when they were little. You sit and think ha I will never like them, I am different. Before you know it you are lapping up spinach, washing it down with fizzy water and loving, yes loving beetroot, loving it to the point of working it into every recipe you possibly can do, a wonderful example of that is shown in the beetroot brownies I created for the wonderful Katie of London Plinth.

you will need;

1 400g of chickpeas
2 cooked beetroot, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves 
50ml olive oil
salt and pepper 
  1. Place all but the oil into a food processor.
  2. On a slow speed blend the ingredients whilst slowly pouring the oil into it when it is running.
beetroot hummus recipe
Beetroot Hummus recipe

Monday, 20 July 2015

Cooking With Toddlers

As soon as your little ones can stand they can cook. I am using the word cook in the loosest sense of the word here. Let me begin with the utmost honesty Sebastian is not a great eater. Well that is half true, let me tell you his tale of weaning to give you a full picture. 

I breastfed my son and I was more than happy to do so. Joe really wanted to give Sebastian a bottle so he could bond or take him out for an afternoon. So I sat with the breast pump, I won't bore you with the details but let's just say nursing is a dream and using a pump is hell. Time after time I would fill a bottle and Seb would refuse it in the most dramatic way possible, we tried every trick that the internet, friends and family had to offer in the end I was close to a breakdown and just said no more. When he was 6 months old we started the Baby Led Weaning Process. Everyone who had seen my tears over the bottle attempts had assured me that food weaning was fun. Again food was offered and apart from sucking on bread or a rice cake everything was rejected. So I tried the old school mush method that was even more unsuccessful. The worst thing was I was so excited to cook for him, I wanted him to have fun exploring food, he just was not interested. I tried to remain calm knowing that babies do not starve themselves but secretly becoming bitter when I saw another baby eating. Really giving other people's babies stabby eyes is not my proudest moment but there you have it the truth is out bloggers are not perfect. 
Time marched on, I would search his nappies for any semblance of solid matter, again not my proudest moment. Then at about 13 months he just decided now is the time. Now Sebastian eats everything. He eats a much smaller amount than other babies but he will try anything and likes all manner of odd flavours for a baby. I fully believe that the turning point came when he started to 'get involved' in the cooking process.
There are so many ways to involve your little ones in the kitchen and they are all messy so step one is embrace the mess, they are learning and you can clean up. Let's face it they make mess all the time so let the mess be productive mess.
Invent tasks that don't really need doing. For example putting ingredients into a bowl. If it is something that was in a tin like sweetcorn you will need to put it into a smaller bowl or plate so there is no chance of your child cutting themselves. Think of yourself as the runner who prepares everything for the TV chef. 
Stirring and rolling are other great activities. Using pastry cutters, whisks anything that will not result in baby death or burning. When you are cooking with your toddler/child you need to accept that food will not be as perfect as you like it. I ate a chilli that was very very heavy on cumin and that was okay. Pastry will not be rolled to perfection, cakes may be a little flat it is all okay. When I used to cook with my little sister I was far more controlling and she had better results but less ownership and did not care about eating the results. I have learned my lesson and Sebastian has ownership and he ate the cumin heavy chilli with gusto.
Food is a wonderful sensory experience allowing them to touch and smell and see food at the different stages enhances the part where they eat it. Cooking also teaches little ones about time and patience. They will learn the process of creating a finished product. Children really benefit from tasks where they have a visual result to show for the fruits of their labour. This is especially important at the toddler stage when so much of their learning takes the form of things they cannot see and touch. 
Remember they will pick up and taste as they go along so handling raw meat is not advisable. I love food. I love talking about it, reading about it, creating new recipes and most of all putting large quantities of food into my mouth whenever possible. I want Sebastian to have a healthy attitude towards food and to be adventurous and I think this is the route to take. I would love to hear about your adventures with children in the kitchen.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Brighten Your Home With Accessories

I am not used to having my hands tied when it comes to decorating so whilst renting in Paris I have had to re-learn how to make a space my own without loosing a large deposit. Adding colourful and personal accessories is the best way to go. No wall damage and you get to take them all with you when you go. Throws, cushions, ornaments, but you need not stop with the decorative even practical items can add some personal flare to your home. I was delighted to team up with Red Candy whose tag line is 'shut up beige' to sample their accessories. 
I have been wanting a vintage phone for a long time. I grew up with turn dial phones, that were normally stuck to the wall in the hallway so there was no chance of privacy from your family. I had been looking on EBAY wanting to find an original one but most were beige. In addition to this the original turn dial becomes a bit of an issue in today's society when you have to have at least a five minute chat with a robot that requires you to type in endless strings of numbers before you speak with a real person. I was convinced my love of original vintage over new retro pieces has its place but not here in phone land. Red Candy have a great collection of bright additions for your home with a real range of prices. Here is a selection to whet your appetite.

Although I almost went for the yellow phone in the image above I fell in love with the shade of blue on the trim phone. It has the original ringer sound that the model had in the 1970s with all the modern conveniences of last number redial and push buttons. It sits so well here in Paris and when I finish renovating my home it will sit in my office. The office will be full of colour pops so the phone is perfect. My little toddler Sebastian is also very impressed with the phone as you can see.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

What I Wore - Art Teacher Outfit

rodin gardens paris fashion
Sometimes I do crazy things. For instance I thought this day would be a perfect day to play with my toddler wearing heels. I also get a little lost in my imagination and I had been mostly dreaming of being an art teacher. Possibly in some lovely Italian retreat or a farm in the Yorkshire Dales. This is not completely out of left field over the past 18 months I have been teaching more workshops and giving talks and it reminded me that i love teaching. I was never a teacher but I did deliver training to young people and being able to marry my new life on Archie and The Rug with my past skills is really very nice. Anyway, I digress, if I do become an art teacher I need to have my outfit planned, so here it is, what do you think.
marks and spencer shoes
rodin gardens paris
zara skirt
mommy style
Chunky unbreakable jewellery is a must with a baby/toddler and Sebastian was very pleased with my wooden beads. We also spent a lot of time watching a line of ants. I am pretty much terrified of ants, bugs in general, any insect, and above all spiders so I am trying to be brave and not pass on that fear to Sebastian so that was a big step for me. Also this skirt has pockets and I have said it before and will say it again when your dress or skirt has pockets it truly is a red letter day.
white frames sunglasses
chunky wooden beads
zara skirt marks and spencer shoes
zara skirt
Outfit Details

Blouse - Promod
Shoes - Marks & Spencer
Skirt - Zara
Cardigan - Thrifted
Fox Ring  -Promod
Sunglasses - Thrifted

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Miso & Matcha Roasted Aubergine - Recipe

aubergine and miso recipe
I think it is so easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to preparing vegetables. We find a route that we like and due to time restraints or habit we stick with it. This year I have been making a concerted effort to break out of my comfort zone when it comes to vegetables, (yes I am fully aware aubergines are a fruit). Just because something is a side dish it does not mean it has to blend into the background. I hate when you get served up a plate of vegetables that have just been boiled to within an inch of their life, not cool guys, not cool.
side dish recipe aubergine green matcha
you will need;

1 large aubergine 
1tbsp red miso paste
1tsp green matcha powder
1tbsp mirin
1tbsp coconut oil
1tsp sesame seeds

  1. In a large bowl mix the miso, matcha, mirin and oil into a cohesive paste and set aside.
  2. Cut the top off your aubergine and then slice it in half lengthways. Then cut your aubergine into long wedges. I managed to get 6 from each half.
  3. Place the cut 'wedges' into the miso mixture and make sure they are covered. 
  4. Leave them to marinade for about an hour or two, see how precise I am. Then roast them in a preheated oven at 200C for approximately 30-40 minutes depending on how effective your oven is. They should be soft but chard on the outside. They are delicious served hot, cold or warm.
  5. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds before serving. Enjoy!
side dish recipe aubergine green matcha

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

How To Clean Jewellery

natural cleaning method
Here is my confession I am not very good at taking care of my jewellery. So here is my resolution, that will change as of now. I do not have a huge collection but the pieces I have are special to me even if it is not worth a fortune the sentimental value is off the scale so I really should be better. In addition to taking better care of my jewellery I have decided to use less icky chemicals. Notice how I said icky chemicals, you see I read all over the internet "chemical free" well most things have a chemical number but yes there are ones that are more damaging than others. Here are some images to show you just how dirty my jewellery was.
chemical free cleaning
chemical free cleaning
chemical free cleaning
When I was a child/teenager I had very bad asthma, asthma that sent me to hospital many times during an attack. It did, as it often does lessen with age, but then two things happened I had a baby and my body changed and I moved to a city. These two factors resulted in my asthma returning with a vengeance and it has made me more conscious of noxious chemicals and how to avoid them whilst still being clean. For this reason I have been researching and finding cleaning solutions that work for me and my asthma. 
what you need to clean jewellery
I read sooooo many jewellery cleaning posts online and what I have ended up with is a mish mash of a few different tips that actually works. I found that the other recipes simply did not clean. I looked at the science of why your jewellery turns black, namely oxidization in order to come up with an effective recipe, and here it is.

1tbsp salt
1tbsp bicarbonate of soda
6tbsp white (clear vinegar)
1 cup hot water 
tin foil 

Line a dish with tin foil so that it goes up the sides of the dish also. Put the salt and bicarbonate of soda into the dish. Pour in the hot water and the vinegar. The trick is to place your dirty jewellery in so that it has space and not all on top of each other to allow the cleaning process to work properly.
how to clean silver with foil
Leave it in for around 10 minutes, rinse off with cold water and wipe with a lint free cloth. It is very important that you allow all of the jewellery to dry fully on tissue, leave overnight  if necessary before packing it away. When it comes to storing your jewellery it is best to keep it in its own space so a sectional box is best. I now use an acrylic box from Muji.
how to clean silver with salt and vinegar
how to clean silver with salt and vinegar
Muji perspex box

So why does it work? Well here is some pop science for you. The foil is a catalyst, salt is highly ionized. The vinegar is an acid which helps eat through the black stuff (caused by oxidization), when you mix the vinegar with bicarbonate of soda the reaction creates sodium acetate this means the carbon dioxide is free of its other chemical bonds and escapes as a gas, that is the blubbing.  This helps to agitate the dirt and aide the cleaning process. If you have very dirty jewellery you can make a second fresh solution and double dip alternatively make a paste of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda and rub onto the problem area.
how to clean silver with salt
how to clean silver with salt
I have tried this on silver, rose gold and green semi precious stones (I am unsure as to what they are). I would not recommend this on pearls as they may tarnish or on any settings that you think may become loose.