Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Roast Vegetable Pilaf - Freezer Meals

They necessity is the mother of invention and lately I have been having to make time. One of those ways is by creating freeze ahead recipes, that way I have healthy food in the freezer ready to go so I do not have to compromise on what is on my plate. Sometimes people can feel a little intimidated about what they can and cannot freeze. They are also worried that commercial freezing processes freeze things rapidly and they will not do the food justice at home. Whist this should be taken into consideration there is still a huge amount you can successfully freeze at home.

With this roast vegetable pilaf let me tell you that you have to be very careful with rice. First of all you must let the rice cool completely, then chill overnight in the fridge before freezing. When you come to reheat the rice defrost it overnight in the fridge. This dish is best heated in a wok or frying pan, but however you choose to reheat the rice make sure it is piping hot all the way through we don't want anyone to get ill.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

you will need;

1 celeriac 
1 head of broccoli 
5 carrots 
4tbsp vegetable oil 
300g rice
150g red lentils
2 onions, sliced
4 green cardamom pods, split
3tsp turmeric
1 vegetable stock cube
3tsp coriander seeds
1tbsp black onion seeds
4tsp cumin seeds
3tsp yellow mustard seeds
1tbsp dried coriander leaves

  1. Soak your rice for 3 hours and then rinse until the water runs clear. Boil the rice with the lentils and a stock cube until just about cooked. Leave it slightly to the bite.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Peel and cube the celeriac and the carrots. Season with salt and pepper and coat with1tbsp vegetable oil. In a second baking dish add the broccoli, season and coat with 1tbsp vegetable oil. The broccoli will finish roasting much quicker than the other veg so that is why it needs to be in a separate dish.
  3. In a deep sided frying pan/large saucepan heat the remaining oil and add the onions, cook on a low heat until soft.
  4. Once soft drain remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Place the seeds into the pan and fry on a medium heat until they begin to make a popping sound. When this happens return the onions to the pan along with the turmeric and coriander.
  5. Add to this the drained rice and lentil mixture and the roasted vegetables. Stir until everything is fully coated in the spice mixture.
  6. When the rice is fully cooled transfer to containers. I used 3 tubs, 2 portions in each but you divide it how you are going to use it. Leave these containers in the fridge overnight. Then in the morning you can transfer them to the freezer. Freeze for up to 3 months. I find that heating this in a wok with a little oil is best and remember to make sure the rice is piping hot all the way through before serving.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Baby Water Play

Before I worked as a writer and presenter I worked as a project manager in the third sector, in the area of development. Development is such an all encompassing subject matter but when dealing with the complexities of human beings and human behaviour you need to adopt an all encompassing, holistic approach. My main areas were working on projects with young offenders, homelessness and community cohesion. Many of the projects looked into developing creativity in people. That could be any type of creativity. 

The importance of developing CQ, (creative intelligence) is vastly underrated, seen in some cases as hippy thinking or a slacker type. In fact there are huge links to show a correlation between a low CQ and anti social behaviour. You see creativity is not about creating a generation of artists but of people who think creatively. People who can approach science, business, the economy, in an innovative creative way. That is why my heart weeps when art is continually pushed out of existence in school curriculum's. This next bit is very important and my mantra so I am going to put the whole thing in capitals and bold, yes it is that important. THE PROCESS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE END RESULT. What that means in real terms is it does not matter if the creation in clay that your little one comes home with looks awful the importance of the lesson was the exploration of the material. Allowing them to fully explore and experiment with the world when their fresh and open minds as opposed to our older routined and conditioned approaches is how they train themselves to always maintain that freedom. It was very important to me to get Sebastian to explore and play beyond toys, that in their very creation are didactic to a certain extent. I am not alone in this thinking there are a number of education practitioners that you can read the teachings of that offer some great insight into this subject matter.

Water play can be done from an early age, and even a bath is an early form of them exploring and discovering. How much more fun it is when they are not being held in water but free to discover it safely.  From the moment your little one can hold their head up you can place them in a bumbo and hold a tray of water for them. They have even more freedom when they can sit themselves.
When I was working with families years ago too much emphasis was put on neatness and having no mess in the home. You can never be free of mess so I say let the mess count. Talk them through the clean up and as they grow they can assist you with this. A word on safety. I place a small amount of water in a shallow tray but you should still NEVER leave a child unattended with water they only have to cover their nose and mouth to drown. I am in no way a chilled out mum when it comes to safety but he is still free to discover and learn. As you can see he felt so free that he climbed into the tray.
I will be sharing more ways you can develop creative discovery and sensory play on here with Archie and The Rug's newest member of staff Sebastian.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Archie & The Rug @ The Festval of Thrift

This year I have not made any public appearances as I have been busy with baby. I am however thrilled to be at The Festival Of Thrift this year. This will be the second year for the festival. It was the brain child of designers Wayne & Geraldine Hemingway and their friend and the co founder John Orchard. 

The festival is free to attend and there is something there for everyone, old and young, crafty or foodie. I will be spending the weekend finishing projects and putting a lounge together from entirely upcycled materials. Everything will have been repaired, reused or repurposed in some way. I will also be giving a talk on Saturday entitled Beer Budget, Champagne Lifestyle.

Do come along it is a truly unique event with a great ethos behind it; follow this link to find the details of how to get there.

Friday, 12 September 2014

You're The Best

You guys are the best readers in the world! I bet you hear that from all the bloggers but I love the support you have given me over the years from the readership numbers to the sweet emails I get. I want to tank you for the nomination for Best DIY Blog for the AMARA Interior Blog Awards. This has come at such a great time when I am creating an upcycled room for The Festival Of Thrift at the end of the month. So many projects that I have kept secret until the festival - soon to be revealed and shared.

I want to ask you to continue your support by voting for me there is a pretty button on the top left there that will take you through to vote. I would love to make the shortlist but can't do it without your continued support.

Thank you again!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Mocha Buckwheat Cake

One of my favourite ways to spend a Sunday when I am here in Paris is to visit the flea market at Porte de Vanves even if I don't find anything to buy I love the spectacle of other people's stuff. It is so interesting to see what people have saved and collected over the years and it makes me wonder about the story behind the items and what I will leave behind. On one trip I found the best cake pan set and I was pleased to try it out with a brand new cake recipe.

I love rich cakes but when a cake is not too rich I can eat more of it. So a win win situation , plus you can always add a rich toffee or chocolate sauce....and there is the obvious addition of cream and ice cream to take into account.
you will need;
you will need;

for the coffee sponge;

200g buckwheat flour
100g plain flour
160g brown sugar
1 cup coffee
100g butter
22g baking powder
100g ground almonds

for the chocolate sponge;

150g plain flour
10g baking powder
3tbsp cocoa powder
75g butter
100g caster sugar

  1. Prepare the coffee cake first. Sift the flours into a cowl, stir in the ground almonds and baking powder. 
  2. Melt the butter and sugar together in a pan. Pour into a well in the centre of the flour mix. Add the coffee and mix the batter together. Pour into a prepared cake tin.
  3. Prepare the chocolate sponge in the same way. Pour on top of the coffee cake mixture. Take a skewer and run it through the mix to create a slight marble effect at the join.
  4. Bake at 180C for 45min or until the skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely, level the top as this will become the bottom. Turn onto a plate and remove the cake tin.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Won't Somebody Think Of The Children

Please forgive the somewhat cheesy Helen Lovejoy quote from The Simpsons I am just in that kind of mood today. The truth is somebody did think of the children, and they designed the most amazing furniture as a result. I don't often post lists of wonderful things on the blog as I like to keep the majority of photos on here my own original work but as I have been surfing the net on the hunt for furniture I felt compelled to share some of the wonderful things I have found. I also feel compelled to have a bunch of children just so I can kit out dozens of kids rooms. I feel the later compulsion will not come to pass

I love my home and want it to look good, no correction, I want it to look amazing, but I have a huge chip on my shoulder when more emphasis is put on design and aesthetics than substance. Don't get me wrong I have a couple a pairs of shoes that certainly put style over substance but smiling through foot pain on a dance floor for a couple of hours is one thing your home is there to be lived in and enjoyed. With that in mind it is perfectly possible to tick the boxes of great design and functionality, this is never more apparent that with the growing number of innovative children's products available. Here are a few of my favourite finds.
The top image and the bunny stools above are both taken from Hiromatsu an online store. It is safe to say I love everything on their site. Granted to navigate the site you will have to brush up on your Japanese or use google translate but it is worth it. Fortunately I am blessed with half a dozen friends who speak Japanese.

Not an exclusive children's site but a great source of well designed products is Design Public and here in lies a lesson, when looking for things for a kid's room you may well find it in a world meant for grown ups such as the mushroom tables below.
Sometimes the tag line a company uses really does hit the nail on the head P'kolino uses the tag line 'playfully smart', never a truer word spoken. The furniture is fun, creative and smart and furthermore encourages all of those thing in your children. Their site made me want to be a kid again, here are some of my top picks from their site.

Storage is always needed but rooms are not always large enough to accommodate huge pieces of furniture that is why it is great news when designers create small pieces with storage such as the side table from Olli Ella. They also understand the importance of textures in the development of little ones. I myself would enjoy the feeling of their rugs under my feet.
The next site that I found sells the work of designer Roberto Gil and he really understands how you can have simple design, functionality and still have innovation and fun quirks. There are things to be found on his site that can really grow with your children. There are great mezzanine and hideaway furniture that will help every family make the most of every last inch of space. I mean what if your cute baby grows up and forms a band, a foldaway bed would be great so you can house the drum kit, some parents may not be as into that as I am.
The next website I found I could basically use to furnish my entire home, it is very rare that I love so much in one place but this site is the exception to the rule. They have great furniture but what I have been drawn to is the small storage and display furniture. There is also a lovely storage bench as I am a believer in duel purpose furniture for children.
There is something to be said for enjoying simple furniture in a children's room as they will have so many toys, cushions and wall decor that it will become so busy and never able to fulfil the tranquil roll of the bedroom - sleep! There is also a school of thought, such as those of Montessori that if you bombard a child they do not have the space to take anything in and develop. The furniture at Oeuf fits the bill perfectly. Clean lines, well designed and functional. Two of my personal favourites are the mini library and toy store pictured below.
Now last but certainly not least this little gem I admit is a little more style than substance but it is no less amazing. The interactive 'wall' can be in a birch or a range of bright colours. The sensory experience would benefit children of all abilities and I think the odd parent may find themselves playing with the wall too.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at the wonderful things on the market for children today.