I’m participating in the Best Of 2009 Blog Challenge. Every day this month, I write something different about what’s happened this year.
See this little boy here? He doesn’t sit still, like, ever.
This is often a problem. We still live in a small flat; it’s winter, so we can’t use the garden; David’s bedroom is David-safe, but everywhere else he has to be either strapped down or closely supervised. The weather is horrible at this time of year, and he’s only just walking, so trips to the park happen once in a blue moon. This is why we spend most afternoons in the best place in the world, ever: a soft-play centre a half-hour drive down the road.
I know I come across as slightly obsessed, but most of the pictures of David at the Daily Photo are taken there. They have the biggest baby and toddler area in the country, with lots of lovely sensory things for babies. It’s incredibly well thought-out, and David adores it. His absolute favourite are the fish in the bubble tube.
I love it too, of course. It’s very reasonable to get in. The food is good: standard soft play centre fare, but just really, really nice. (There’s a nice balance of healthy and unhealthy: David has started asking for chocolate buttons when we go there.). The most wonderful thing is that he can run, well, high-speed crawl around in complete safety, and tire himself out nicely.
I’m going to let the pictures do the talking.
Just a quick recipe for tonight. I made a loaf of this at lunchtime to go with soup, and it was gorgeous. David loved it: I think he ate more than I did!
Damper is an Australian bread, traditionally cooked over an open fire. The quantities I use make a small loaf, just right for the three of us. I reduced salt because David was eating it, and we very rarely add salt to anything now. It’s edible cold, but it’s best almost straight from the oven, in buttery chunks.
2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp room-temperature butter
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
chopped chives/ dried mixed herbs to taste (I used about a tablespoon)
Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl.
Add the butter and rub between fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Mix in chives and herbs.
Make a well in the flour mixture, and add the milk and the water. Mix together until a dough is formed.
Turn the dough out onto a floury surface, and knead until silky.
Form into a round loaf and cut a deep cross in the top.
Bake for 20 minutes at 200C, then reduce oven temperature to 180C and bake for another 10-15 minutes until done.
How do you tell it’s done? Pick it up (with oven gloves on!) and tap the bottom. If it’s cooked it’ll make a hollow sound.
Serve warm with butter.
This is quick-ish, easy, and really great for kids to do with some help. The sauce recipe makes 2-3 portions, so have some containers ready to freeze the rest!
To make the sauce, you’ll need:
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- tablespoon oil (for frying)
- 1tsp paprika (optional)
- 1tsp chilli powder (optional)
- tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- 1 tsp oregano
- few drops hot sauce (optional)
For the dough, you’ll need:
- 1 cup (8floz) self-raising flour
- 1/2- 3/4 cup milk
- 3 dessertspoons oil
For the finished pizzas, you’ll need
- cheese for grating: tonight I’m using grated half-fat cheddar and cubes of Swedish holey cheese.
- whichever pizza toppings you fancy: I use whatever’s in the fridge, but tonight I’m using chorizo, sausage, and IKEA’s reindeer salami. One combination (nicknamed the Scandinavian Meat Feast) involves Danish smoked bacon, Swedish reindeer salami, and Swedish holey cheese.
It doesn’t really matter which order you do this in, but I find it helps to make the sauce first: it means it can cool before it’s spread on the pizza bases.
- Chop the onion and the garlic and fry in a little oil until soft. It doesn’t matter how finely it’s chopped: the sauce is getting pureed at the end.
- Add the paprika and chilli powder, if used, to the frying onion. Coat the onion in the spices.
- Add an undrained tin of chopped tomatoes and the mixed herbs and oregano. Add the hot sauce at this point, if you’re using it, and leave to simmer for about ten minutes.
- Leave mixture to cool, then puree to pizza sauce texture.
- Sift flour into a bowl and add the oil.
- Slowly mix the milk in, a drop at a time, until the mixture takes a doughey texture. It’s far easier to add more milk if the dough is too dry than to add extra flour if the dough is too wet!
- Once the dough has formed, knead it lightly on a floury surface.
- Roll the dough out until it’s thin, and cut with pastry cutters. I’ve used novelty cutters and normal ones: hearts seem to work well.
- Put it on a baking tray, ready for adding the toppings.
Making the pizzas:
- Spread the sauce on the pizza bases.
- Add a layer of cheese, then the meat toppings, then top off with more cheese.
- Bake in a hot oven for ten minutes, until the cheese has melted and the dough is crispy.
1/2 large onion
2 cloves garlic
few drops tabasco sauce (optional)
1tsp coriander leaves
1tsp dried mixed herbs
1/2 red pepper
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Finely chop the onion and garlic, and fry in a little oil.
Add coriander and mixed herbs, and tabasco sauce if used.
Coarsely chop the red pepper, add to mixture. Cook until softened and slightly orange.
Drain the tinned tomatoes well, and add to mixture.
Simmer until reduced and relish-texture.
Not only is this good on burgers for the barbeque season, but it’ll go with pretty much anything else and makes a decent base for a pasta bake. I barbequed some chicken breast, sliced it in half, added the relish and some Edam, sandwiched it, and put it back on the barbeque ’til the cheese melted. It went down really rather well.