The summer in New York City has been brutal. I’ve heard that it was the hottest July on record but August was pretty unbearable as well. Meanwhile, I have been outdoors most of the time, forgetting to re-apply sunscreen and definitely not taking care of my hair which now is the consistency of straw. So… the other day while sitting around making guacamole with a friend, she suggested I mash up an avocado, mush it around with an egg yolk and put it in my hair. So next thing I know I am massaging in the green goop and wrapping my head in saran wrap (sexy!) and after sitting with it for 45 minutes I was shocked! It really did give my hair a noticeable boost as it felt suddenly thicker and healthier. I am going to do it with the kids because I think they would love it — especially after a summer of chlorinated pools!!! I also hear that Mayo works well — I will try that next and let you know.
Just to recap: mash up avocado, mix in egg yolk, apply to hair (more at the roots), sit for a bit, rinse it, done.
(Image from For The Birds)
The French are known for their elaborate cuisine, but there is a secret hidden in many French freezers and its name is Picard. When I first moved to France I could not figure out what went on in the Picard shops — they are huge expanses, kept all white, with freezer upon freezer standing beside each other… and, as I found out, full of frozen food. Even then I wasn’t convinced — years of terrible frozen pizzas and microwave dinners had turned me off frozen food. Turns out the French are addicted to their local Picard, and with reason — Picard food is (mostly) fantastic. (more…)
For the past few years my family has had the good fortune of spending a month living in London. We are always quite sad to leave, but memories of London remain with us day to day via our much improved vocabulary, our deep appreciation for the BBC & Peppa Pig, and our proclivity for afternoon tea. You don’t often see children drinking tea in the states, however some of my friends love to serve their children chilled chamomile or herbal teas. At first I thought it was a bit strange but now I think it’s a fantastic alternative for kids and at least one of my girls is catching on. I found these German designed tea-bag cup loungers from Donkey Creative Labs and I think they are absolutely hilarious. They come in all sorts of themes — mostly for adults — but I thought they were so cute I just had to share.
I think I only discovered the beauty of beetroot in my thirties. If I am not mistaken, when I was a kid, beetroot used to come out of a tin and had the texture of a wet piece of Styrofoam. Now that I have started buying fresh beetroot and have learned to roast or steam it, I have developed a new appreciation for this vegetable. Plus, my kids love it… though that might have more to do with the fact that I told them that their pee would turn pink if they ate loads. (This is very exciting if you happen to be four years old). So here are a couple of things that I have started making with beetroot…
1. I roasted them for an hour in olive oil and a bit of lemon juice and balsamic vinegar in the oven with a garlic clove or two and I then served them as a side dish garnished just with a bit of parsley. (more…)
I remember as a kid I came home during lunch break and my mum sent me to the neighbours (who had a strawberry farm) with a very little amount of money and I came back with a wooden crate filled to the top with strawberries — the reddest, sweetest, biggest and tastiest variety you can imagine. Before I came home I had eaten about a third, for lunch we had another third (on bread, with a little sugar), and the rest was eaten with yogurt for desert. Bliss.
Last week, in my father-in-law’s Mr. McGregor-like garden I picked a generous amount of raspberries, and quickly made raspberry jam (my favourite ever jam)! And yesterday I picked the few redberries from our neighbour’s shrub that came peeping through the hedge, and made blue redberry muffins of them. I just love berry season! Can’t wait for the blackberries to be ripe (blackberry jam is my second favourite jam)…
Have you been eating berries? Any good recipes to share??
P.S. That cute cutting board is from Tas-Ka
Ah, Vegemite. Without doubt it is Australia’s favorite sandwich spread. But while it is loved by the locals, it is generally repulsed by our visitors.Visually, I will concede, it is a little unappetizing (hmm…black sticky tar?). And chances are, unless you grew up on it or follow the guidelines below (without digressing I should add) you will probably never acquire the taste for it. For first timers the taste of Vegemite is very unexpected, surprisingly sharp and in order to avoid gagging which so many of the uninitiated do on their first bite, you need to apply the Vegemite sparingly with liberal amounts of butter. But, rich in Vitamin B Aussie kids are brought up on the salty-tasting spread from babyhood (hooray for toasty Vegemite soldiers dipped into soft-boiled eggs!) and it is a school lunch box staple. I personally know many Aussies who won’t travel without a small jar or easy-squeeze tube of Vegemite for fear that they will not find it and then shock horror, what on earth would they have on their toast in the morning? (more…)
I can spot a new kids snack a mile off — it’s like I smell something new in the air as soon as I enter the supermarket. I spotted Bear yo-yos last year and immediately my fruit-loving daughter was a fan. Now we are all fans of the Bear snacks (I especially love the Cocoa Cherry Pie nibbles). They are not just for children — their selection of nibbles are delicious combinations of fruit and granola and come in bags that are all under 100cals — so perfect for my 4pm sugar-fix.
Bear was started by personal trainer, Hayley, last year in an attempt to find a tasty alternative to chocolate, biscuits and treats — clearly a lady with my needs in mind! She chose the name ‘Bear’ after she read an article which said that bears who had found their way into cities and therefore foraged for foods in bins behind fast-food joints ended up being 30% fatter and 30% less active then their wild counter-parts. They also died younger.
So Bear produce all their nibbles as nature intended — no fiddling, no air-freight fruit and fairly-traded. You can buy Bear goodies through Ocado.
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Velib’
1. So easy to make!
2. Makes delicious dessert when served with yogurt, ice-cream or whipped cream.
3. Stores in the fridge for ages (well at least a week/10 days) so is a great fall-back for unexpected visitors.
4. It’s fabulously pink (and looks great in one of those old-fashioned jars!)
5. Soooo in season (that is Rhubarb but I hear pink is too).
The recipe is based on Nigella Lawson’s Rhubarb Fool from her book ‘Forever Summer’, which I have been making for years now. But it wasn’t until I left it in the oven for too long that I came across my own version of it… (more…)
Last Easter we decided to make some Egg Heads with the mustard & cress seeds we got in our lunchbox from Kew Gardens. Now I’m not in any way saying this was an innovative idea — most of you probably grew some of these little men/women yourself as children. But for some reason my childhood missed this particular activity… something I now plan to take up with my Mum and Dad as it is a reaallllllly cool thing to do!
I am not the slightest bit green-fingered and manage to kill all plants/greenery in my care (even cacti have a hard time living in our house and my husband doesn’t understand why I still buy herbs in pots as they always die within days), but mustard and cress are stubborn little plants and grow despite a lack of due care and attention. And they grow very quickly so you see results on a daily basis — appealing to my impatient nature.
So if you never made egg-creatures as a child then I urge you to take this eggcellent (terrible – I know!) holiday as an opportunity to redeem your deprived childhood just as I did. Your kids will love it too! Here’s how to make them: (more…)
Two years ago our Christmas got canceled on Christmas Eve — well the trip we had planned to Switzerland did anyway. It was our first Christmas with a child and you know how important they are! We were devastated. I think the only thing that saved us was Melrose & Morgan, our local deli in Primrose Hill (where we lived at the time). We turned up at 12pm to a packed store of everyone collecting their orders and they thankfully managed to make us up one of their ‘Christmas’s in a box’. It honestly saved the day.
But Melrose & Morgan is not just for Christmas, their fantastic home-cooked meals are perfect to take home, heat up and make you look like a domestic goddess. Sadly my better-half isn’t easily fooled – Melrose & Morgan’s food is just that bit too delicious for him to believe it was made by me whilst I had 2 children hanging off my arms. (more…)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Dim Sum
How cute are these cupcake kits!!!! What a simple solution to make you look like a baking rock star! Meri Meri has something for just about every occasion and the quality is just beautiful. Now that the coldest months are rolling into the city I like doing cooking projects in the afternoon to deal with those often painfully long hours between the “end-of-school” and the “start-of-dinner”. There are tons of other really adorable and creative things on the website as well — invitations, thank you cards and notepads. And speaking of cupcakes… I want one.
So someone dared one of my husband’s very conservative and straight-laced co-workers to grow a shaggy 1970’s style moustashe last month. I guess everyone chipped in $10 and pretty soon the guy was going to make a small killing — so he did it. Anyway, after a month or so the moustache was in full force and he looked, as predicted, ridiculous. So after the jokes were told ad nauseum the poor guy got his loot and was free to shave it off. As a parting gift, they took a picture and printed out his face on an M&M and gave tiny tin boxes to the entire staff. I thought it was a cool idea! Who knew you could print an image on that tiny thing? While I don’t advocate the eating of junky candy per se, I do like silly ideas. We just ordered a bunch with a picture of the girls to give out at their birthday party next month.
I used to keep a picture in the front of my diary of an old-fashioned sweet shop. You know the kind: shelves stacked with glass jars brimming with brightly-coloured sweets. The Juliette Binoche in me always quite fancied being a ‘purveyor of splendid confectionery’. However these days there would be little point in me following this dream as Hope & Greenwood do it so perfectly.
They have stores in Dulwich & Covent Garden (which would be perfect if you happen to be taking a trip to Benjamin Pollocks as per my last post), but they are also sold in some pretty lovely other places: Liberty, Selfridges, Fortum & Mason (to name but a few) and of course you can buy them online from their site. I find the Miss Hope’s Jolly Mixture a very exciting treat and the Sugar free Gummy Bears a good one to ensure the children don’t bounce off the ceiling with too much sugar!
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Lili & the Funky Boys
I can’t believe my daughter has just turned one — time has flown. Now I know a one-year-old might not appreciate a proper birthday party, but I can’t resist one. And in the spirit of being ‘girly’ there was nothing for it but a fairy tea-party, to be more specific The Toadstool Tea (for those of you unfamiliar with fairy-lore, The Toadstool Tea is a secret party for all the fairies, elves and imps to celebrate the Fairy Queen’s birthday. It takes place under the thicket deep in the middle of the forest (according to Mo)).
Toadstools, it turns out, are not only a really great theme for a party but also rather fashionable. In my month or so of preparation I saw them everywhere (I couldn’t resist adding a cute Toadstool money box from Cath Kidston (stores only) and this adorable Shinzi Katoh print to her presents). Toadstools also make for a fun theme because they are easy to draw and craft. Here are some other toadstool ideas… (more…)
I will confess that I’m really not a very good cook… I do try, really I do but the reality is that it just doesn’t come naturally to me. I find it tedious and stressful, not to mention expensive due to my high turnover of pots and pans and regular culinary disasters. Despite this, I am adamant that my children eat healthy food. As I only allow them one takeaway meal a week (usually sushi, sometimes pizza) this means that I do more cooking than I would like to. Fortunately I have found that the healthiest cooking is actually often the simplest.
One of my greatest discoveries is ‘quinoa’. Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a small disk shaped seed that looks a lot like a sesame seed. Classified as a grain, quinoa is actually the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach. It was a staple of the ancient Incas who called quinoa the “mother grain” and revered it as sacred. I revere it too – for it’s nutritional qualities and the fact that it’s so easy and fast to prepare; just perfect for ‘simple’ cooks like myself.
Nutritionally quinoa is a ‘protein powerhouse’ – it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a “complete” protein. It is also high in antioxidants, fiber, and minerals and is gluten free. (more…)
I was asked to bring a treat for a birthday party at the girls’ pre-school last year, but with all the food allergies out there these days filling that request can be downright terrifying. Ok…so let’s see….that leaves me with what options?….rice cakes? …a fistful of raisins? What “treat” on earth is going to be wheat, nut, egg and dairy free?
I then remembered BabyCakes – an adorable little shop on the Lower East Side which is, incidentally, New York’s first and finest dairy, egg and gluten free bakery! They make picture perfect cupcakes, cookies, brownies and even pie – all of which can be scarfed down guilt free. But how do they taste you ask? Delicious! And what’s better, I feel like I am beating the system somehow when my kids eat them.
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Kid-proofed holiday
I have just returned from Ireland where I was visiting my family and I can promise you I don’t think I have ever had so many cups of tea.
The Irish LOVE their tea, and long may it continue as there is nothing better in life than sitting in a warm kitchen, taking a bit of time out while sipping a good cup of tea and solving the worlds problems. (I actually think that a lot of the world’s problems would be much better solved if they were being discussed over a good cup of tea in a warm Irish kitchen instead of in conference rooms of the White House and 10 Downing Street, but that is a different matter entirely…).
Now, I have always known how good tea is to drink but I had no idea that you could also use the leaves for all sorts of things. On the flight from Paris to Dublin my toddler had a gunky eye and the lovely (Irish) air hostess suggested that I wipe it out with a cold tea bag. I have no scientific understanding of the medicinal value of the common black tea bag but I thought it was worth a try. I tried it and her eye cleaned up instantly! Now it might have been getting better on its own anyway, but I reckon the tea bag trick cannot do any damage and certainly is much nicer than squirting antibiotics into her eyes…
Now… I’m not normally an expert in cakes, but carrot cake is a different story! Carrot cake has always been my favorite — my mom used to make it for me on my birthday when I was growing up, always using the same great recipe from the Alice Bay Cookbook. The cake is so good, I asked the bakery who made my wedding cake to follow the same recipe. (My wedding cake was such a hit I remember looking over at the end of the night and seeing a bunch of people scraping the last remains off the tray!)
It’s delicious and it’s so simple — I have never known it to disappoint! Just ask Emilie…
Here’s the recipe: (more…)
Since we have been living in Paris I have discovered a new addiction to baked goods. Obviously I the love croissants, the tarts and the bread, but my ultimate favourite are these little puff balls called choquettes. They are light and fluffy as they are filled with pure, sugar scented air and they are so completely moreish that it is easy to devour a whole bag of them in a couple of minutes. You find them in most bakeries but real chouquette connaisseurs will each have a favourite bakery that they will swear makes the best chouquettes. It’s interesting that these little puff balls have not reached the international recognition of their fellow baked goods, but if I had anything to do with it they would become a staple snack in every country.
As you might not be able to find chouqettes at your local bakery, here is a recipe for them. It is from one of my favourite food blogs: Chocolate and Zucchini.
There should be a warning on this recipe: Seriously Addictive.