Bits & pieces 9: Coconut yoghurt & baked oats

I've written here before about my love of breakfast. I don't understand those people who rush out the door with nothing in their bellies. Lately, I've gotten into preparing my breakfast the night before so I just need to assemble in the morning. While I love a berry or green smoothie as much as the rest of the smoothie-drinking world, at the moment I just want oats. Be it porridge made with soaked steel cut oats, raw with nut milk or yoghurt, or baked the night before into a delicious cakey goodness. Baked carrot cake oats

Above is my adaptation of Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal from the wonderful Green Kitchen Stories. I omitted the nuts, added desiccated coconut and poppy seeds to the topping, and made it with chia seeds instead of eggs. Delicious. It's definitely good enough for both dessert and breakfast.

This week I'm going try out this recipe for homemade coconut milk yoghurt for the second time. My first attempt at making it a couple of weeks ago, failed miserably for some unknown reason. It kinda curdled. Ew. I'm determined to make it work though as I love yoghurt but, like most dairy products, I don't really eat it much as it brings me out in eczema. Secondly, we actually have an Easiyo yoghurt maker that I bought the boyfriend a couple of years back. He got bored with it though and would rather spend his kitchen time perfecting a loaf of sourdough than faffing around with yoghurt. Said yoghurt maker is sitting unloved on top of our kitchen cupboards so I'm determined to use it by making my coconut milk version.

Have you ever tried making your own coconut milk yoghurt? How do you like oats? Baked, raw or cooked stove top?

X c

An ode to ginger & molasses cake — The Violet Bakery Cookbook

Violet cakes cookbook It's fair to say that I'm giddy with excitement to have a copy of The Violet Bakery Cookbook in my hot little hands. Only released a couple of days ago, I have been waiting/hoping for this book since I first tasted Ptak's ginger and molasses cake back in about 2007 after buying some from her then-new Broadway Market stall. For nearly four years now, I've lived a mere hop, skip and a jump from the Violet cafe on Hackney's well-hip Wilton Way. I don't frequent the bijou bakery as much as I could (waistline woes) but sometimes, when the sweet tooth takes hold, we pop in for cakes as an afternoon tea treat. Salted caramel icing, deeply dark chocolate cake, lemon drizzle cake, sticky buns and more fill the old glass shop case. I can never decide. Served up on utility vintage crockery, accompanied with lashings of tea or a strong coffee, it's a lovely spot to while away an hour.

Violet cakes

Wilton Way blossom

The ginger and molasses cake for me, that is the stuff dreams are made of. I love baking and whipping up cakes, so over the last few years I have tried to recreate the ginger and molasses cake several times. While they've always turned out damn tasty, I've never quite nailed it. So it is now I can say thank you, thank you Claire, from the bottom of my heart for this beautiful book that will allow me to recreate your incredible cakes in my own tiny kitchen. I know exactly what I'm doing this Sunday.

Violet cakes cookbook 3

This beautiful book has dozens of yummy recipes I'm looking forward to trying out, all beautifully photographed by Kristin Perers, an East London photographer, whose gorgeous Instagram feed I've been double-tapping for while.

The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak is out now.

x

p.s. You can see the another piece I wrote about Violet Cakes over on This is Your Kingdom.

p.p.s More cake musing here.

N.B. This post isn't sponsored, I bought this book myself. I just really, really like baking cakes.

A frosty London Fields

We haven't had any proper snow, i.e. more than a light dusting, in London for a couple of years now. I miss it. Instagram is killing me at the moment. Between the glorious days of sunshine my friends are enjoying in New Zealand and Australia, to the heavy blizzards and snow in New York, it's envy-making.. I can't really complain though. We've had plenty of beautiful frosty mornings lately, where Jack Frost has danced his way through town making everything glisten magically.

A frosty winter London fields morning

And finally, a light sprinkling of icing sugary snow.

Snowy London Fields

"I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” 

Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

I wish I could go to sleep like the seeds some days and wake again in the warmer days of spring.

Feeling lighter

IMG_2948 After four weddings, a funeral, a 40th in Wales, a hen do, a trip to Paris and Amsterdam, a visit from my sister, multiple trips to Edinburgh for work, too many nights out and general too-much-to-do-ness, I've been feeling somewhat knackered and weighed down. Now things have calmed down and before the silly season kicks in, I've decided to get back to basics, get organised and get my routine sorted.

After chatting about it with my sister, I've started reading Dr Libby's book Accidentally Overweight. And my god, it just makes so much sense. Since starting it, I haven't eaten one ounce of dairy or had a single drop of alcohol. And  it's been easy. Dairy hasn't been any great sacrifice as it's always bought me out in a rash so I tend to not have much anyway. But booze, well, there really is nothing nicer than a glass of red on a chilly evening or an Aperol spritz on a hot day. Even so, I've found this no great loss either.

I've also started meal planning for the week ahead, which I always thought sounded like a total chore and something only bored American housewives would do, but actually it's been brilliant. I downloaded a free online planner and just planning what eat for the week ahead. No scrambling for ideas, trips to Pret or last minute trolley dashes to the supermarket. A visit to the farmer's market on Sunday, a scoot around the vegetable patch and a few bits from the local shop on the walk home from work. It's been somewhat of a revelation and I'm loving it. It's certainly saved us money too. I just print it out, stick it on the fridge and meal an ingredients list in Trello. That way I don't get distracted by anything else and buy/make what's on the plan.

I'm not going teetotal but I have decided I'll save the booze for special occasions - birthdays, catching up with friends, parties and weddings, Christmas etc. Just no more I'm-bored/ had-a-bad-day/ it's-6pm-drinks anymore. I'm off to another wedding (5th this year!) soon so I'll definitely be indulging but hopefully not too much!

As for the dairy, well, I'm not going to say never-again but for now it's off the menu. I'll still eat eggs but the cheese, cream and anything else moo-related can stay away from me. After only two weeks, I'm less bloated, my skin is clearer, the dark circles under my eyes are going. I generally feel lighter and brighter, and my clothes fit better.

I don't feel like I'm on a diet, like I'm depriving myself or that I'm missing out. I'm eating yummy food that makes me feel good. Getting out of bed in the morning isn't a breeze (it never will be) but it's certainly easier. Let's see how long I can stick with it.  I'm also still walking to and from the office where I'm working at the moment, and back at yoga once a week.

Dinner tonight? Leek, greens and cannelini bean soup with rye bread, and nasturtium, apple and almond pesto.

Reading: Anything by Dr Libby

Eating: Green smoothies, oats and nut milk, rye bread, loads of vegetables and soups.

Photo: Nasturtiums growing in Monet's Garden last month.

The perfect birthday treats

Birthday bounty 1 I fully endorse the tradition of buying yourself a birthday present. That way you know you'll actually get something that you want. It was my birthday last Monday and after no-spend May, it was definitely time to treat myself. After a lovely breakfast at our favourite nearby cafe, I took myself off to the wedding dress exhibition at the V&A. (Gorgeous! Make sure you get there.) Then I hit the shops. After a couple of hours of not finding ANYTHING I actually wanted to spend my pennies on, I found everything at once.

From left to right, Zara embroidered fringed waistcoat& Other Stories leather sandals with tortoiseshell heels, H&M tin, Aesop resurrection hand cream, Aesop camellia nut facial cream, Charlotte Tilbury colour morphing eye shadow pencil for hazel eyes, & Other Stories dress (print version here).

Birthday bounty

I love the shoes so much that I'm going to go back and get them in the pale hue too. I think the annual birthday shop is a tradition that I'm going to have to keep up.

And here are some of the gorgeous gifts that the lovely folks in my life treated me to.

Birthday bounty

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds vinyl, Bill Callahan vinyl, vintage hat box, vintage ceramic rolling pin, My Petite Kitchen by Eleanor Ozich, Sacred Hill gin.  Lovely.

xx C

Going/Coming back home

Like many others who choose to move to London, I now have two homes. One here in the heart of housing price-boom Hackney. I love everything about it despite the annoyingly 'cool' factor it has. Strolling to the markets, the cheery chaps in Costcutter, the little new gourmet food store on my street (Pinch), the London Field's Lido, my neighbours and more. Well, everything apart from the rent, the too-cool-for-school kids who have overcrowded my local, and the lack of property-owning. Then there's home-home. More than 11,000 miles away from London, back in the sunshine with my friends and family, green and lush, where I grew up, more than 24 hours on a plane, listening to Bob Dylan in the kitchen, hello the-worst-kind-of-jetlag home. New Zealand. Home where the other half of my heart is. We went home home in February/March... Pine Ridge Sewing lessons Mirror mirror Family portrait Green lake Nz Road Trip Rangitoto Photos by Luke

Living in a snow globe

This snowglobe print by Clare Owen pretty much sums up the last few days in London. It really is a bit like being shaken up in a snow globe when you're trekking around trying not end up on your bum in a pile of ice or sludge. But I can't complain. London all white is the stuff of dreams and film sets. Just lovely. The print is 50% off in the Papermash sale at the moment along with lots of other lovely stuff.

snowglobe_1024x1024

Image: Papermash.

x C