Friday, 21 March 2014

Recipes and why they are important to us

This post links up with #WASO on The Adoption Social where the theme is 'Recipes and why the are important to us'.

I love cooking.  I always have done since I was little.  Whilst friends were reading Secret Seven, I'd be poring through cookery books, making up menus for when I was older and had dinner parties.  The Readers Digest Cookery Year was my bible.  Those cookery books are part of me and I've recently found a few on ebay.  I've still got my recipe book from when I did Cookery O'level.  Reading all the old books brings back great memories.

I find cooking very relaxing, whether it's doing it or watching it. I'm in the moment, concentrating on something I love to do, I find it quite mindful.  I'd love to go on Bake Off!  Meanwhile, I reckon Daddy should apply for Masterchef.  He's great at savoury, particularly Indian or South-East Asian, whilst I major in cakes! Although, I have to say his Vanilla Baked Cheesecake is to die for.

So, it's no surprise that cooking features quite a lot in our household.  Missy loves joining in.  In fact, during introductions, when Missy spent a day at ours, we made Apple Muffins that went down a treat.  She joins in with Daddy when he's making bread or cheesecake and loves helping me to bake.  I let her do as much as she can, helping occasionally where the mixture needs a better mixing or putting things in the oven. Now her reading has improved significantly, she can start to read the recipe too. If she's in a negative mood then cooking will cheer up.  I also see cooking as a positive way to help her with her food anxiety and she now has a better sense of what is healthy and what's not so healthy.

I asked her on the way to school what are her favourite things to cook.  She said Brownies and Pizza!.  We do homemade pizzas using pitta bread for the base, a mix of tomato puree and red pesto to spread over and then a choice of chopped red onion, peppers, tomatoes, bacon, goats cheese and cheddar to sprinkle over the top.  Five or so minutes in the oven and they're ready to eat.  I introduced this activity quite early on as it's a good family activity to do together.

The Brownies are a Polly Noble recipe that are dairy free and use raw cacao powder which you can find in health food shops or buy online.  Warning, they are VERY chocolatey!

Every now and then I like to cook by myself so will make something whilst Missy is at school, although I do usually leave the decoration for when Missy comes home.  Yesterday I made Parsnip & Pumpkin Seed Cake as I had a glut of parsnips to use up.  I've used beetroot and carrots before so figured parsnips would have a similar result.  The recipe actually uses walnuts but I didn't have any so used pumpkin seeds instead and I think they make a lovely addition.  Of course, without Missy around, it means I get to indulge in licking the bowl (and I have to admit to leaving a little extra mixture in the bowl!).

Here's the recipe:-
2 eggs
2 large parsnips, peeled and grated (once grated you need to end up with about 250g of grated parsnip)
125ml vegetable oil
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one unwaxed lemon
375g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (pref sea salt)
50g pumpkin seeds
50-75ml milk (any kind, cows, rice, almond etc)

1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4, 180C
2. Grease and line an 8"/20cm cake tin.
3. Whisk eggs in a large bowl.
4. Add in oil, sugar, grated parsnips, vanilla extract and lemon zest and stir well together.
5. Sieve together flour, cinnamon and salt and stir into the parsnip mixture along with the pumpkin seeds.
The mixture should be a soft dropping consistency but if its too thick, add 50-75ml of milk.
6. Pour into prepared tin and cook for 60-75 minutes until well risen, golden and a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Leave to cool slightly in tin before turning out onto a wire rack.

For the topping, I used 200g of mascarpone cheese mixed with a tablespoon of icing sugar but you could also use cream cheese mixed with some lemon zest, or icing sugar mixed with water or milk to a smooth consistency, or just dust it with icing sugar.  I think it might also be nice made in two sandwich tins and then sandwiched together using the mascarpone or perhaps lemon curd.

I could waffle on for ages about cooking, in fact maybe I should have written a cooking blog!

Cooking will definitely feature during the forthcoming Easter Holidays, perhaps some Easter Biscuits or a Simnel Cake.  I've also read about some local cookery classes for young children which I'm quite sure Missy would love to do.

Right, I'm off to buy the ingredients for tonight's pizzas.


  1. Looks lush! And even better, seems like it would count as one of my 5-a-day!


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