Monday, 28 April 2014

This week: Beer bread

A couple of years ago my husband went through a phase of making regular loaves of beer bread. He found a recipe and we adapted it over time to our tastes (mostly by vastly reducing the sugar and butter). When my parents were visiting recently, he decided to dig out the recipe and make some for us all. It was delicious!

The bread can be made in about five minutes! It requires no kneading, no rising and as you will see below, the ingredients are minimal. It is so quick and easy that it is perfect to make with children. They love watching the bubbles appear when the beer is added! This week I decided to make some with my daughter as a little thank you for one of the mums who has been kind enough to help me out recently. I thought some of you might enjoy giving it a go too so here is the recipe:

  • 3 cups / 400g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 can / bottle beer (approx 355 ml)
  • Butter
Preheat oven to 190C / 375F
Combine flour and sugar, then stir in the beer.
Pour into a greased loaf tin.
Dot the top with butter.
Bake for 50 min.

It's delicious warm from the oven, with nothing on it. Otherwise, a simple spread of butter or any topping of your choice will taste great. It keeps well for a few days in an airtight container.

Do let me know if you make it and what you think. Perhaps some of you have made beer bread before?

I'm linking up with this week's #recipeoftheweek
and Kids in the Kitchen

Link up your recipe of the week
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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Saying yes to some help

Our little baby girl is approaching four weeks old now. My husband's paternity leave came and went. My parents' visit  also came to an end after Easter. This week I have had my first taste of dealing with the three children on my own, without family around to help out.

My eldest has returned to school after the Easter holidays and on day one of doing the school run, I had a few of my mummy friends kindly offering to help out, whether it was having my two year old over for a few hours so I could rest at home when baby slept or offers to collect my son from school.

It feels like it goes against my natural instinct but I decided to say yes to some of these offers of help. So my daughter went to a friend's house to play with two of her little friends while the big ones were at school one morning this week and I took my friend's advice and lay down when baby slept. It was good for my daughter, as she had not played with any of her peers for a while. She got to do some painting, playing and had lunch there. I felt better for getting to lie down and just generally having a break from keeping my adorable but energetic two year old amused.

I have also had a couple of friends pick up my son from school, again very helpful as my youngest tends to be sleeping around that time and so I don't have to wake her and get both girls ready to rush out for the school run.

On the one hand, I feel a bit selfish accepting these favours. I have a new baby not a life-threatening disease! Surely I can get on with it and manage as best I can with my 5-year old, 2-year old and newborn. Then I try to put myself in the position of the person offering the help and if it was me, I would not make the offer if I did not mean it and was not happy to help. That makes me feel better about accepting it :-). I still feel in debt to the person and like I need to do something to make it up to them but hopefully one day I can return the favour in some way.

It affirms what lovely friends I am lucky enough to have and reminds me that being there for our friends is the greatest gift we can give. I'm not much use to anyone right now, but hopefully I have (and will have) my moments of being a good friend and helping out someone who could use a little break in whatever form that is.

Do you find it difficult saying yes to kind offers from people? Have you had similar experiences of friends helping you out when you needed it?
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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Eat your greens soup!

I found myself with some odds and ends of green vegetables left in my fridge this week and not much else. With my husband at home on paternity leave and son on holiday from school, we've got through our weekly veg box faster than usual and this was all I had remaining. As it was a bit of a rainy, gloomy day, I decided to make a soup with what I had. The result was quite tasty and both children enjoyed it too, even though they usually are not so keen on the vegetables it contained!

I'm going to give rough quantities below but obviously the beauty of the recipe is that you can adapt it to whatever green veg you might happen to have lurking in your refrigerator. It is not a heavy, hearty soup so it works well as a meal for a cool spring day. If you wanted to make it richer, you could stir in a spoonful of creme fraiche, some double cream or some grated cheese.

Eat your greens soup!

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled & diced
  • Green veg (I used 2/3 cauliflower and 1/4 cabbage but broccoli, kale or any green veg would do), cut into smallish pieces
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • Oil of your choice
Pour a splash of oil into a large pan and gently fry the onion and celery until soft.
Add the potato, stir and cover for a couple mins. Then cover generously with water and crumble in your stock cube. Bring to the boil on a high heat, then turn down to low.
Add the green veg and cook gently for 10-15 mins until soft.
Using a hand (immersion) blender or a food processor, blend the soup until smooth, adding more water if necessary to achieve a good consistency.
Stir in the pesto over a gentle heat and season to taste.
Serve warm in bowls with crusty bread.

I'm linking up with this week's #recipe of the week
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Link up your recipe of the week

Friday, 4 April 2014

Pregnancy, pillows & sleeping

In this post, I am going to share what helped me get a fair amount of good nights' sleep whilst I was pregnant this third time round. The point comes sooner than you would think in a pregnancy when getting a good night's sleep becomes a challenge. You're supposed to lie on your side, you're getting bigger and heavier, hips start aching, you might be up for several bathroom trips during the night.... There are those that say, it's nature's way of starting to prepare you for the disturbed nights to come but if there is a way to sleep better, I am all for it! Especially moving on to baby number three, I really have no need for preparation for the nights of broken sleep I have got coming. Au contraire!!

I had been complaining about rough nights of sleep to a friend and she kindly dug out her old pregnancy sleeping pillow to lend me. She told me what a miracle it was to her during her pregnancies, how she would take it with her any time they were spending a night elsewhere because it was the only thing that helped her sleep well. I was excited to try it out and experience the blissful night's sleep she had prepared me for.

I'll be honest, the first night I wasn't quite sure which parts of the pillow should go where and just guessed. It didn't seem right though and although I had a decent night's sleep, I felt sure it could be better.  The next day, I searched online for this pillow and how to use it and that night, I tried again, with it in the correct position. I had a terrible night's sleep! I think I gave it one last shot another night but again, it didn't make for a good night's sleep so I returned it to my friend and went back to my own system of a pillow between my knees.

Shortly after that episode, I had started doing some ante-natal pilates. When doing some exercises lying on my side, my instructor would put a cushion in place to support my belly. It really made a difference to the way my weight was positioned on my side so I decided to try the same when sleeping at night.

In addition to my pillow between my knees, I added a small pillow under my bump. It really improved my comfort during the night and I began to sleep better and was waking up with less aches in my hips. So there's my simple tip for better sleeping whilst pregnant - two pillows!

What was your experience of sleeping whilst pregnant? Did you struggle to get comfortable? Did you use any special pregnancy pillow or find any other way to deal with any discomfort?
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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

My big secret!

I'll cut straight to the chase and tell you there's been a new addition to our family! As of a couple of days ago we became a family of five and have a new baby daughter!

You may be wondering why I kept it a big secret all this time. We had some scares and concerns earlier in the pregnancy, which made me a little reluctant to share the news initially and then I decided I prefered to wait for the safe arrival of the baby. She did arrive safely thankfully and is in good health. We are all very much enjoying the new member of our family!

I also did not want my blog to turn into a pregnancy/new baby focused blog. After all, most of those posts have been written already with my existing two children. Having said that, I have written a couple of such posts to appear in the immediate future when I may be otherwise engaged! If things go quiet on the blog in April, you'll know why!