On vacation…back soon!

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Meal Planning Monday (6th July 2015)

mpm different fonts.pngGood morning everyone!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend? Hasn’t the weather the past week been glorious, if, dare I say it, a little too hot at times? We had a cracking storm on Friday – did it reach you? It was directly overhead and hit a telegraph pole in our garden so VERY noisy. I’ve never experienced a storm quite like it, in this country anyhow.

I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut recently with meal planning. A combination of being too busy with work and not being able to motivate myself to spend time in the kitchen. This week I have started a new ‘thing’ with my children. They get to pick two books, any books, out of the 400 I own and I will pick something from each book to cook. Even better, my 9.5 year old has decided SHE wants to cook these, with a little assistance from me. Hoping it will inspire me to get off my bum and make more effort and also inspire her as she’s determined she would like a career in food when she’s older.

Here’s our plan, it’s a short one as we’re away for a few days near the end of the week.

Chilli Bean Beef with Nachos and Cheese
Farfalle Al Salmone Gratinate
Chicken Korma and Rice
Homemade fish’n’chips

The first two are the ones my daughter has helped pick and is going to cook!

Okay, now it’s your turn,

If you want a recap of where to find #mealplanningmonday all over your internet, the details are on this post.

The all-important instructions… If you’re new to my blog or #mealplanningmonday all you have to do is this – write a blog post about your meal plan for the week and submit the URL of your post using the Linkytools below. If you’ve not got a blog but want to join in, that’s fine – just leave a comment below telling us what you’re planning this week.  Any questions, just holler at me via email (in the contact page) or on Twitter @madamding.

Have a great week everyone!

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Raising Girls

Mother and daughter holding hands while walking together

Before I had children I always wanted a daughter.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I SO wanted it to be a girl. Of course, I really wanted a boy too so I wouldn’t have minded either way, but at that point a girl was what I was hoping for.  So, when, on a dark dank cold January day my daughter arrived into the world – not really kicking and screaming, more stunned and dragged reluctantly – I was over the moon  and pretty much in total awe of my new little bundle.

I thought it would be simple. I’m a girl, she’s a girl. I know girls. I know how girls work. Don’t I?

Well as it turns out, yes. And no.

My amazing beautiful child has brought me so much joy and pleasure. I love my daughter and I am thankful every day that she is in my life. She’s incredible – beautiful, talented, top of the class for everything, always gives 100%, she’s kind and considerate, polite and well-behaved. A dream child in every way.

As my darling daughter has got older I’ve started to realise how complex us girls really are. We’re pretty damn awesome but on the other hand, we’re not always the most straightforward creatures are we? I’m not just talking about the horror that is hormones kicking in but all the other issues that surround them. Eating disorders, body image, bullying, social media…I’m sure my mother didn’t worry about all of that?

Recently I’ve found myself being a bit more careful with my daughter. She’s only nine but the mood swings and attitude are starting to rear their ugly head. I’m trying to be patient, I know that she’s pushing boundaries and I also know that lots of the attitude that she gives off is learned behaviour from school. The way some of the girls talk to each other at school, well it’s pretty shocking to be honest, so I try to be gentle and not come down too hard, but I’m not going to lie, I don’t always find it easy.

I’ve recently started thinking about the things I want to teach my daughter, the important things – confidence, maintaining friendships, self-worth and belief in herself, healthy body image.

I want her to know that she is loved. I want her to know that though we may not see eye to eye as she gets older that the decisions I make for her and done out of love, not spite. She needs to know that I am her mother first and her friend second.

I want her to know that she can take on the world and that whatever path she chooses in life, I will be right there behind her.

I want her to know, every day, that I am proud of the wonderful person that she is, that I’ll be proud of her all my life.

I want her to know that I will always be there for her, that she can turn to me with her problems, that I may not have all the answers or even be able to solve her problems but I can listen and I’ll do my best.

The problem with all of the above is that I feel woefully unprepared and I am petrified of mucking this up. You only get one chance after all. Anyone else feel like this? Currently I am reading two books that I hope will help Raising Girls by Steve Biddulph and 10 Mindful Minutes: Giving our children and ourselves the skills to reduce stress and anxiety for healthier, happier lives by Goldie Hawn. Both books have come highly recommend and both have been really interesting so far.

I’d love to hear other mums views on this. Anyone else feeling completely out of their depth?

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Dorset Apple Cake

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After a recent trip to my favourite county in England, Dorset, it became my mission to find a great recipe for Dorset Apple Cake. I wanted to recreate this delicious delight that I had enjoyed, complete with oodles of clotted cream, whilst sitting by the sea on the amazing Jurassic coast.

I looked at several recipes – most are generally the same however some are slightly spiced and others aren’t. I knew I wanted it to be spiced as cinnamon and apple go together likes peas and carrots! I settled on this, a Mary Berry recipe, and the results were fabulous. Everybody loved it (apart from my son, he has lumps-in-cakes issues) and there wasn’t a crumb left. This is most definitely a keeper and will almost certainly be going into the recipe file for my daughter!

This traybake serves 12, though I am pretty sure we stretched it further.  You may want to adjust the amount of sliced apples depending on your personal tastes. I prefer less apple, more sponge and so when I followed this recipe I was left with quite a bit of apple I didn’t need. However, you might like it loaded, so fill your boots!

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Dorset Apple Cake

Ingredients

225g (8oz) butter (room temperature), plus extra for greasing
550g (1¼ lb) cooking apples, such as Bramley
juice of ½ lemon
225g (8oz) light muscovado sugar
300g (10oz) self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 tbsp full-fat or semi-skimmed milk
icing sugar, to dust

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan/350°F/gas 4). Grease a 30cm x 23cm traybake tin with butter and line with baking parchment.

Quarter, peel, core and thinly slice the apples and put them in a shallow dish. Make sure that you don’t slice the apple too thick or else they won’t soften enough when you’re backing the cake. Pour over the lemon juice to stop them turning brown and toss gently together. 

Put the butter, muscovado sugar, flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, eggs and milk in a large bowl. Beat thoroughly using an electric hand whisk for about 2 minutes or use a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes until smooth and light.  Alternatively you can use a stand mixer as I do!

Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly. Lay half the apple slices on top, pressing them in lightly, and sprinkle over the remaining ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and carefully level the surface using a palette knife, take care to ensure the apple slices beneath aren’t disturbed. Scatter the rest of the apple slices over the cake mixture and press them lightly into the surface. 

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until well risen and golden brown on top. The cake should feel spongy but firm. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides with a small palette knife and turn out the cake, peel off the parchment paper and leave to cool on a wire rack. 

This cake is delicious both warm and cold, though I prefer it warmed up with cream on the side!

A firm family favourite!

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Meal Planning Monday (29th June 2015)

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Hi everyone!

Sorry I missed last week’s Meal Planning Monday. I’d had a very busy weekend in Blackpool which included my son picking up a horrible sickness bug. He then spent Monday malingering on the sofa, and my daughter went away on a school residential trip. Coupled with working all week (which is hectic at the mo) meal planning and everything else just kind of went out of the window. It was one of those weeks.

I’ve now got myself organised, cleaned and tidied my house, caught up on some blogging and emptied all my email inboxes. I’m feeling ready to start the week!

My meal plan for this week looks like this

Sweet potato, spring onion & feta salad
Taco Tuesday (again!)
New potato, bacon & blue cheese salad
Halloumi salad with houmous dressing and pitta crisps
Spaghetti bolognese
Sweet’n’sour chicken and rice

I’m clearly feeling very salad-y this week!

Okay, now it’s your turn,

If you want a recap of where to find #mealplanningmonday all over your internet, the details are on this post.

The all-important instructions… If you’re new to my blog or #mealplanningmonday all you have to do is this – write a blog post about your meal plan for the week and submit the URL of your post using the Linkytools below. If you’ve not got a blog but want to join in, that’s fine – just leave a comment below telling us what you’re planning this week.  Any questions, just holler at me via email (in the contact page) or on Twitter @madamding.

Keep your eyes peeled for another Meet the Meal Planner arriving this week!

Have a great week everyone!

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