Meat-free Monday vegetable stir fry

I thought it would be a nice idea to upload a meat-free Monday meal idea every week. Not just any meat-free recipe or meal idea, but one that is quick and easy to make AND one that is approved by my children. This week I made vegetable stir-fry after my son came home from school raving about his lunch, made by a special visitor called Mr Broccoli. Mr Broccoli goes around to schools promoting a healthy life style. So after school, we stopped at Sainsbury’s and bought a pack of noodles and a stir-fry mix.

My son told me I also needed a bit of spice and some oil. How sweet he is! I knew I had some Chinese five spice and sesame oil in the cupboard at home. So when we got back from his swimming lesson I heated up the wok with some sesame oil in, chucked in the vegetable stir fry mix and stirred for around five minutes. I added a pinch of Himalayan salt and a half teaspoon of five spice. After another minute or so I added the noodles. They were the fresh kind, so they can go ‘straight to wok’. I added a table spoon of soy sauce, snipped the noodles several times with scissors (to make them easier to stir and mix up with the vegetables). After a little taste test, I decided to add another half teaspoon of five spice. I was wary not to over-do it, in case the kids disliked the flavour.

Around four minutes after I added the noodles, it was ready to serve. So dinner took me about 10 minutes in total to prepare! I sprinkled black sesame seeds on mine and my daughter’s but George didn’t want any. I enjoyed my meal very much, my six-year-old ate all of his apart from the tough bits of kale. My daughter ate half of hers, she was being a bit cheeky and climbing down from her seat and generally misbehaving.

I would say that if you are vegan and/or wheat intolerant, you could use rice noodles. Also, if you like a bit more flavour you could add a bit of chilli and garlic but I was just keeping it simple for the kids. Oh and in case you’re curious, the stir-fry mix that I bought had red, onions, red and orange peppers, cabbage, kale, carrots and bean sprouts in it.

Vegan, wheat-free DOUGHNUTS!

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So here it is, the healthy-ish doughnut. These are oven baked, not fried and they contain no refined sugars or refined carbs, plus coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils to cook with. There’s no egg or dairy, so for any hipster/earth loving vegans – these are for you too! If you are gluten intolerant you could substitute the spelt flour for rice flour, I haven’t tried that yet, so if you experiment with the recipe, let me know how you get on.

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Ingredients
(Makes 12 medium size doughnuts).

Doughnuts

2 cups of spelt flour
1 cup of coconut sugar
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
2 teaspoons baking powder
0.5 teaspoons salt (I use pink salt)
1.25 cups of oat milk 
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp coconut oil (either buy in liquid form or melt some of the set stuff)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Icing option 1

0.5 tin of coconut cream
1 tbsp Maple syrup
1 tbsp beetroot juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Icing option 2

0.5 jar of Sweet Freedom chocpot

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius and apply a light spray of oil to whatever you’re going to be cooking the doughnuts in. (More on this subject later).

Here’s the best bit. Put all the doughnut ingredients into a bowl and stir.

Use an ice-cream scoop (one with the spring loaded sliding bit that gets the ice-cream out) to dollop the mixture into a doughnut specific baking tray. I didn’t have one of these until today, I was using a muffin tray with bits of tin foil shaped into little bollards and delicately balanced in the middle of each well. That was a bit of a faff, so I got two silicone doughnut trays from Dunelm Mill. £2.99 per tray, with space for six doughnuts. This recipe will easily make 12 doughnuts and allow for ‘the licking of the bowl’ ceremony at the end.

Place in the oven and cook for approximately 16-18 minutes.

Once cooked, remove from the oven, allow to cool and turn them out. Now it’s time to get creative. You can top them with whatever tickles your taste buds. I have so many ideas for future batches. One being an icing made with apple juice, for an apple and cinnamon doughnut extraordinaire. I’ll keep you posted. In the mean time…

Mix the coconut cream, Maple syrup and beetroot juice together until it resembles Angel Delight. Then using a pallet knife or the back of a spoon, smooth some over each doughnut and sprinkle over some desiccated coconut.

Or

Spoon out the Chocpot and smooth over each doughnut and sprinkle with some cocoa powder for extra chocolate loveliness. (Sprinkle the cocoa powder just before serving or it will get soaked into the chocolate spread.

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A discombobulated blog.

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I’m sitting in my office. It’s also a spare room. And a gym. Oh and storage facility. I desperately want to write more often, I don’t understand why I make excuses not to. There are significant moments that inspire me every day and significant events that provide fodder for blogging; like birthdays, days out, parenting disasters. Sometimes I make notes, they get lost in my handbag’s abyss, scribbled on by my toddler daughter, or put in ‘the drawer of no return’.

Tonight I am going to a literary festival event near to where I live. It is a talk by Tom Connally, a writer and film maker. The promotional material for the event goes like this: “Tom talks about how he writes; from first idea through to the finished article. He also discusses writing fictional stories rather than memoirs or real events and considers the importance of place and landscape in his work.” I feel as though, hearing this talk will be enough to; a) Give me motivation to write regularly. b) Equip me with any and all skills I might need to become a ‘proper’ writer. I am aware of how high and unrealistic my expectations are, don’t worry. But it might! Katie Glastonbury, ever the optimist. Even this morning when I was locked out of the house, with my car key inside the house, standing on the driveway with two small children and armfuls of stuff ready for the school run – I was happy to find a half eaten chocolate brownie in my bag. Perhaps more pleased than if my keys themselves had actually been in there.

Some fleeting blog ideas I had, included an early evening trip to the beach we had, where in the last light of the day, everything was rose tinted. Hastings beach was in a wild and romantic mood. Murray (the golden doodle) galloped all the way from the carpark, over the pebbles and into the sea, at top speed. He got muddled up in a big, heavy, crashing wave and came running away from the sea with the expression of one who has had a few to many drinks and doesn’t quite know what is what. He did continue to run in and out of the water, but with a new sense of trepidation. We all threw stones into the water. My husband tried to skate smooth flat pebbles across the top of the water, but the breaking waves were too frequent. So he and my son wanted to see how far they could throw the stones. Each time my son looked up at his dad and asked  ‘Did you see that one dad?’. And each time my husband threw one far out, he looked at me, with that same childish craving for someone to have witnessed his effort. So cute.

In case you’re wondering why each paragraph is about something completely different, it is because each paragraph has been written on a different day. Can you imagine how long it would take me to write a book! (And how nonsensical it would be). Today’s inspiration comes from an hour and twenty minute drive home from Medway to East Sussex, listening to Spotify through the car stereo. The first track we listened to was the Circle of Life from The Lion King musical. We like to listen to our favourite songs loud. The beginning is rhythmic African chanting, it is incredibly evocative. (I would love to find more music like it to listen to). And while we were listening to it, we saw a huge rainbow out of the window, and it followed us for the duration of the song. It was magic. Fern said ’It has all my favourite colours in it, Mummy’. George said ‘When there is a rainbow, can the whole world see it?’. My heart swells. Later when we’re driving through more rural roads, with bright green, delicate baby leaf canopies high above the road, creating what my son has always called ‘tree tunnels’… we see carpets of bluebells for at least a mile. Then a field with some spring lambs, it almost couldn’t be a more beautiful drive and then George says ‘Mummy, when I run very, very fast sometimes the wind helps me to fly a tiny bit and in my dream I had, I ran so fast and lifted up into the wind and I could really fly’.

Let me know in the comments something magical, cute or funny you have heard a child say. Have a great week xo

Baby Ballet

16112570_10155643200573362_718514235686081693_oWhen I saw a flyer advertising Baby Ballet classes, I was determined to find out the details and apply for my two-year-old daughter, Fern, to join the class. That leaflet sat quite comfortably in my drawer of ‘things that require fairly immediate attention’ for weeks. I did Ballet when I was a child, for years. I loved it. I suppose it has always been a dream to take my own daughter to Ballet, so that she could experience the joy of dance the way I did. (Sort of mostly giggling, with my friend Sam. Also spending my pocket money in the tuck shop, on 10p a packet salt and vinegar Puffs and Cherry-ade). My first memories of Ballet (perhaps some of my first memories at all) include the dusty smell of the hall and being slightly scared of the teacher. She was quite old and wrinkly. At the time if I had been asked, I might have guessed she was 100 years old. She had impeccable posture and her hair scraped back into a very neat bun. She smelled like talcum powder and she spoke a little bit like the queen. I think she was tall, but then again, it could just be that I was only four years old and everyone towered over me.

When I first started ballet we had to wear a uniform, a pink leotard with a little skirt attached, a pink wrap-over cardigan and leather ballet shoes. Nowadays, the little girls taking Ballet, can wear a tutu if they want to. All of the girls in Fern’s class wear one, including Fern. It is the cutest thing ever. She has a very pale pink leotard with a tutu attached by a gold sparkly elasticated waistband, it is nothing short of fabulous. I’ve asked my sister to knit (she gets annoyed when I say that), or crochet a pair of leg warmers for Fern. We are doing this, Flashdance style.

I sort of expected the class to be quite free and involve a lot of prancing about. But it was quite structured, much to my little one’s disobedience. I was overwhelmed with emotion, so many emotions, including bursting with pride and yet at the same time, distinct embarrassment. At one point the teacher produced a bag full of gymnast style ribbons and asked the children to wait their turn while she called their names, one by one. Each girl sat on her mat and waited angelically. Fern was inches away from the teacher’s face before the first name had been called. Fern was elegantly ignored for at least two minutes, not by myself as I pathetically asked her to come and wait her turn, but by the teacher who eventually called Fern ‘up’ to get her ribbon. I wanted a ribbon. When I’ve finished writing this I’m going to Google gymnast ribbons and order one that I can twirl when nobody’s watching.

Then there was the bubble time. Some kind of magical bubble solution was used to fill the air with beautiful bubbles, they floated and occupied all of the air around and up into the vaulted ceiling. The Ballet dancers had to tippy toe and gently catch bubbles to the sound of twinkly music. It would have been quite a special moment, if it weren’t for the fact that Fern was stomping around, jumping clumsily and clapping her hands together in an effort to squash the pretty iridescent spheres. When she did catch the odd few, she ate them. Yes she ate them. Why? I don’t know. She loved her first class and I will definitely continue taking her, I’m not convinced she will be the next Darcy Bustle but I am 100% certain that she looks every inch the blossoming ballerina in her tutu.

Mother’s Day

We’ve taken a risk and started watching a film at 9.30pm. Rock and roll lifestyle this is. By the time it has finished it is almost midnight, The sky is dark, it has been for hours and the house is silent. Performing one’s ablutions seems to make much more noise than at any other time of the day. The electric toothbrush, used manually so as not to wake the children. The toilet left un-flushed. Hand and face washing with minimal pressure from the tap so as not to set the boiler off on a tangent. I creep around, stealth, like a cat. The actual cats are running and jumping around, heavy footed, making clumsy landings from great heights as if to mock my efforts. Once in bed I begin to sleep, interrupted only every two seconds by a small sounding warthog of a snore next to me. A little but effective kick to my husband’s shin and he rolls over and the snoring ceases. If the kids wake at their usual time I will only get five and a half hours sleep, that’s fine I tell myself, easy. Then little miss Fern stumbles into and across the room, sleepily finding her way in the darkness. She pulls herself up with a struggle and settles in between her parents. One of us is asleep, I am thinking what the best strategy is. She is coughing badly. Somehow managing to fall deeply asleep in between each burst. I rest my palm upon her forehead and then upon her father’s to compare their temperature. She’s hot so I go downstairs, creeping, not turning on any lights. So as not to wake George. At the top step, my foot is confronted with the unmoving, unexpected, presence of a feline menace. I save myself from falling down an entire flight of stairs with a hoppedy, skippidy dance, accompanied with an aggressive yet whispered song of colourful adjectives (swear words) directed at the cat.

Administering the medicine is akin to brushing the teeth of the same child. Her lips are sort of, sealed and any attempts at breaking that seal results in instant regret as deafening high pitch shouts are released for roughly five long seconds per assault. She is still coughing, partly her own fault for creating all the drama. So I go back down stairs, every step I take I am like a slow motion hurdle jumper, aware a cat could strike again. While the kettle is boiling I inhale a box of raisins and some chocolate too. Then I search the house, with a torch, for the Olbas Oil. A Pyrex bowl is almost smashed whilst being retrieved from the drawer. Once the vapours are lifting into the air of my bedroom, Fern’s coughing is reduced significantly. Everyone is still asleep. Except the dog, who decides that he would quite like to go outside, being as his owner is up and about, ‘she might as well open the back door for me’. I go back downstairs, stand in the doorway as the cold early spring air bites my toes. Murray wanders back into the house at his leisure and I return from what must be the last trip to the kitchen this evening. On my way, I hear my husband panicking and shouting “don’t touch the water, it will burn you”. Then a shout “she needs her drink re-filling”. Back to the kitchen. Back upstairs. Where have I left my phone/torch? Downstairs. Sigh.

In bed I do a bit of nocturnal shopping and order a humidifier, so that no child of mine gets scalded in instances like these. £50 plus post and packaging evaporates into the air. It’s okay, I still have approximately four hours of sleep. In the morning I am more asleep than usual, I have given George my phone, set up the laptop for Fern and it’s like I’ve done it all without even opening my eyes. When I do open my eyes, some time later, I am face to face with Fern. She is pulling my eyelids apart and telling me it is morning time. She has makeup all over her face. I sit bolt upright and look towards my makeup bag that sits high up on top of a chest of drawers, even standing on a stool the children cannot reach. It is there, safe as houses. But in my peripheral vision I notice my dressing table drawer is open. She did not previously know how to open it, but the devastation demonstrates that now she can indeed open it. The worst hit item is my Charlotte Tilbury flimstar contour pallette, £50 of finely milled, beautifully formulated, packaged in rose gold, mirrored, art deco perfection – destroyed. So this is it, my conclusion is that, for Mothering Sunday, we must shower our mothers with adoration and love. Mum, if I ever gave you sleepless nights, (I’m sure I did) or if I ever wrote on the wall in your favourite lipstick… I’m sorry! Thank you for caring for me and thank you for everything you still do now that I am a 32 year old mother of two.

[Raises glass] To the mum folk!

I’m back, blogging about chocolate.

So I’m sitting in complete darkness, all but the glow from my laptop and a candle glowing nearby. I’m baby sitting for a friend and there’s a power cut. It’s February, cold wet and windy. It was my new year’s resolution to write more. Write something. It’s taken a power cut to get me off line and motivate me to actually do what I want. I want to write, but I never do. So here I am writing. There is so much that has happened this year that I have wanted to record, not just with photos (I take a LOT), but with words. There’s too much, my head is swimming with moments to choose from. Oh God, I’m writing in such short sentences, someone commented on Donald Trump and how he speaks in short sentences, they said it was a sign of being unintelligent. So there you are, that’s what you’re are settling in for, if you have read this far and you decide to continue reading.

A dog just barked right outside, it must be the neighbour’s dog, it scared the crap out of me. My heart’s pounding. Another short sentence. Another.

Today was pretty average. I woke up (got woken up) at 5.50 by my husband saying, is that poo on the bed? The light got switched on, funny that, as the lights just came on here as I was typing. Have I got powers? The power is back on, do I scurry back to Youtube, Facebook, Netflix, Ebay, Instagram, Pinterest…… Where was I? The poo on the bed, who’s was it? Was it so bad that I would have to vacate my warm, Katie shaped dip in the mattress. My eyes stinging, I assessed the damage and sprung to the conclusion that my 5 year old son had not wiped his bottom properly. George, I said. You have to wipe your bottom properly. He looked at me, palms turned up, head slightly cocked to one side and said, I haven’t even done a poo! A likely story I thought to myself, slowly noticing more brown smears and a thick lumpy bit quite near to my pillow. We did some investigating and it seemed the poo had come from nowhere. Or whoever it was, had sufficiently wiped their bottom clean on the bedding. My daughter sleeps in our bed quite a lot, despite me taking her back to her own bed more than once every night. Seems like that Mamas and Papas solid oak bed frame, organic coconut coir mattress, goose down duvet and White Company high thread count sheets just don’t do it for her. I told George to go back to his bed since this one was soiled. He can’t, my husband said. He wet the bed. Like I said, average morning. By now it is, I’d say, 5.55am. I peeled off the sheets, sourced another duvet from the spare room. Put George’s tablet in his hand, got Charlie and Lola on Fern’s iPad. Told Marc to turn off the light and gave him a kiss goodbye, he went off to work and I committed to going back to sleep, knowing full well that if I did, getting ready for the school run would be, let’s just say… shouty.

I woke up again at 7.40ish. I sneaked into the shower hoping the kids wouldn’t notice me being up. As soon as the first droplet of lovely hot water had hit the first hair folecule, I was joined by my two year old who wanted to have a tea party with me. Later I tried to give my self a Cheryl Cole sexy bob blow dry and attempted a full face of flawless, ‘no makeup’ makeup, all in the space of ten minutes. I decided to take a risk, George, I said. Go and get started on breakfast and I’ll be down in a minute. When I did descend to the kitchen, there was milk being massaged into the breakfast bar with two hands by Fern, who was making windscreen wiper motions happily as the milk dripped onto the floor that was still covered in glitter from the previous afternoon’s creations. Somehow we were only one minute late for school today. I don’t really feel the need to write about the rest of the day. It’s pretty obvious. I cleaned up the mess, washed the bedding, ran errands and wasted more than an hour wandering around Tesco wondering what we could have for dinner that would be super easy, quick, affordable, delicious, healthy and appeal to my husband, myself and the children.

Oh by the way, it wasn’t poo, it was chocolate. Two late night squares of Lindtt 85% cocoa, I cut up and threw in with a bag of dried cherries. I ate them in bed, in the dark, with gusto and totally forgot about the whole event until I carried out a forensic examination of the soiled bedding. Phew.