I’m back… or will be soon…

I’ve been off the radar for several months as we settle in to life as parents of our lovely little girl. There has been no sewing and very little knitting during this time. We have started cooking more often as things have settled down, but blogging has just been more than I can tackle.

However, I think I’ve almost got the hang of this parenting thing and have a few things to actually blog about. Photos have been taken – now I just need to actually upload them and blog about them.

While I’ve been thinking about a return to blogging, I’ve been pondering whether to include photos of my daughter wearing the things I made for her. On the one hand, it’s nice to see clothing modelled by the person it was made for. And clothes make more sense when on a body.

On the other hand, I am a little cautious about creating an internet footprint for my daughter. Nothing on the internet every truly dies and she has no say over what I’m posting.  If this were a private blog, where I controlled who saw things, it would be different. But as this is public, I’ve decided not to post pictures of her here. I know this might make posts a little less interesting but it’s what I’m most comfortable with.

So, having said that, stay tuned for blog posts on salsa verde, knitted tank tops and ham hock salad in the coming weeks…

Mom’s peanut butter swirl bars

This is one of those treats I remember from childhood. It was the sort of thing my mom would make when a baked treat was needed for school or work. If  you like peanut butter and chocolate, you can’t help but like these cakey, chewy treats. (And for a pregnant lady with cravings for both chocolate and peanut butter, they’re just about the best thing ever)

Recipe:

1/3 cup / 75g butter

1/2 cup / 110g peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, doesn’t matter)

3/4 / 169g cup sugar

3/4 cup / 135g brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup / 115g flour

12-24 oz / 300-600g chocolate chips (depending n how chocolatey you want them)

2 eggs

2 tsp / 10ml vanilla

1 tsp / 5g baking powder

Steps:

1. Mix the butter, peanut button, sugar and brown sugar in a bowl.

2. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended

3. Add the baking powder and flour gradually until well mixed

4. Pour or spread into a lightly greased 9 x 12 inch pan (you can use a different sized pan, but may need to adjust cooking times accordingly)

5. Sprinkle chocolate chips on the top

6. Bake in a 350 F / 180 C degree oven for 5 mins

7. Take the pan out of the oven and run a knife back and forth through the mixture to create the swirl of chocolate and peanut butter

8. Bake for another 25-35 minutes. The bars are done when a skewer inserted into the cakey bit comes out clean (the chocolate may still be runny)

Note: I’ve always made this using American measures/measuring implements, so the metric equivilents above are untested. If anyone tries it out and it doesn’t work, let me know!

A slightly healthier, vaguely more grown-up version of a childhood favourite: Super Nachos

When we were growing up, my sister and I used to make ourselves “Super Nachos” for lunch. This consisted of putting a bunch of tortilla chips in a dish, covering this with the contents of a tin of refried beans, grating on some cheddar cheese and sticking the whole thing in the microwave for 2 minutes. We ate this a lot – it might have been our favourite lunch.

This past weekend, I made a slightly healthier/more grown up version of this childhood favourite. We still started with tortilla chips, beans, and cheese going in the microwave, but at least the beans were homemade. I used Darina Allen’s recipe for refried beans, which seems pretty authentic and straightforward. We soaked the black beans over night, then cooked in plenty of water until very soft. The drained beans were then added to chopped onion and garlic that had been softened in lard, along with a bit of their cooking liquid, mashing the beans as we went.

Once the tortilla chips, beans, and cheese had been microwaved (to melt the cheese), we added chopped tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream and homemade guacamole and topped the whole thing off with a dash of hot sauce.

They were messy, but they were delicious – definitely worthy of the name “Super Nachos”

 

Brownies. Mmmm.

Last week, Ken made brownies. I’ve only ever made brownies out of a packet before – the kind where the mix comes in a box and you add an egg and some water and then, viola, you have brownies.

But Ken made the real thing. And they were awesome. This isn’t the exact recipe, but it’s close.

This was the second successful recipe* we’ve made from the Darina Allen Cookery Course cookbook we got for Christmas (thanks Ben and Sarah). So far I’m impressed.

These brownies were more cake-like and less dense than some I’ve had but the texture was fantastic and they were super delicious. And Ken reckons they weren’t even that hard to make. A definite recommendation.

* We did have one failure when I tried to make ice cream. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong, but it went horribly wrong and made a huge mess. I suspect it was my fault, not the recipe.

Parmesan rice with chicken and buttered almonds

This Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for Parmesan rice with chicken and buttered almonds was amazing. Comforting, interesting, delicious. The recipe is meant for 4-6 people, but it was so delicious, we ate it all. Granted, we felt like stuffed chickens ourselves afterwards, so I would recommend restraint if you do try it.

It’s a great way to use up leftover chicken and is pretty simple to make. The buttered almonds give it a nice texture and the sumac adds a citrusy kick (so definitely don’t skip it).

 

Moosewood Macedonian Salad

Over Christmas, we received a copy of The New Moosewood Cookbook (thanks Mom!) We aren’t vegetarian, but do like to try and eat healthy and figured we’d eat less meat if we knew how to make more tasty veggie meals. The book is fab – full of really interesting recipes, in a handwritten style with hand drawn images – this is quirky and nice, rather than twee (US translation: cutesy/cheesy).

We’ve made two recipes from the book so far – refried beans (which I didn’t blog, because a photo of refried beans rarely looks like anything nice) and this Macedonian Salad. It’s basically a roasted eggplant and veggie salad that you can have on its own or with other mezze type dishes. We had it with hummus, pita, olives and some yogurt on the side. Ken also tried it in a pita as a snack and said it was really good. Luckily, Food Network has put the recipe online if you’d like to try it out.