this is lemonade

A mindful, grateful, creative life: Life constantly hurls lemons at us. I’m on a mission to make lemonade as best I can, by God’s grace.


18 Comments

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny day

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny day

Greetings all! This weekend I told you I would be baking. But it almost didn’t happen. Firstly, I decided a lie-in on Saturday would be good. It was indeed. Secondly, the weather was not the same beast as depicted in the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, shared on Friday. In fact, it was quite different with not a cloud in the sky:

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny dayAs a direct consequence of the aforementioned lie-in, fewer hours in the day remained for me to take advantage of the weather. There was a risk that baking would not get a look in. But it did.

The ingredients and method were really quick, simple and gluten-free to boot. I followed a recipe I pinned here, but reduced the amount of sugar included because I prefer things to be less sweet.

While preheating the oven to 180°C, I mixed together one egg, half a cup of sugar (I used granulated brown cane sugar), one cup of peanut butter and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. I initially disliked the mixture a lot. It was gooey, sugary and didn’t look like it would amount to much. But as I mixed it, my biceps ached and the goo became a delicious smelling crumby golden ball:

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny dayThe mixture was then easily rolled into small walnut -sized balls as suggested in the original recipe. I got 23 out of these quantities. To create the cute pattern on top, I simple pressed down gently with a fork to form a criss-cross pattern. I found the peanut butter oils were sufficient to prevent the fork from sticking to the batter if done carefully.

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny dayThe cookies only need 12 minutes in the oven to achieve a lovely crumbly texture with a very slightly chewy middle. They are very soft when they first come out of the oven, so I transferred them immediately onto a cooling rack  by pulling the non-stick baking sheet with cookies on top and sliding it over. I then sprinkled a teaspoon’s worth of extra sugar on top for a little extra crunch.

These cookies are great if you want something easy and quick. I can imagine they’d be great on a hot summer’s day, when you don’t want to spend long in a hot kitchen. I can’t say I actually know what that feels like though. Spring sunshine with a chilly breeze blowing will have to do me for now ;) I hope you give the cookies a try and enjoy them too!

Peanut Butter Cookies for a sunny day

Another great thing about these is, that they are at once salty and sweet. A great combination. Their peanutty richness also means that you don’t need to eat many with your cup of tea. I’ve still got over half left. That’s win-win-win in my book! If you made some now, we could meet for a virtual tea and cookies meet-up ;)


12 Comments

Food Culture and Crispy Goodness

Hasselback Potatoes

I’ve always enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen, but lacked confidence to share it with others. My style is not sophisticated, neither is it unique. I just love feeding people and having them gather around my table. The culture of eating together, was something I was brought up with. Whenever I have lived with at least one other person, I have rarely eaten alone of an evening. And when I lived alone, I was always gathering friends round to share one pot wonders with. My food tends to be low-key and as low-fuss as possible. I have always cooked creatively but frugally. People will compliment me on my cooking from time to time, but more often than not they simply emit polite murmurs of appreciation as they tuck in. My food does not become the specific subject of conversation at the table, although we are a greedy lot – future meals or interesting ingredients are often discussed whilst we eat! For me, a shared meal is about providing nourishment for the body but more importantly, it is about togetherness and conversation – food for the soul.

I have a confession. I rarely follow recipes. I get that from my mum. She is the ultimate in hosting random people who show up on the doorstep and accidentally stay on for dinner. Whatever is in the fridge, freezer or cupboard will be thrown together to create a hearty meal. So, I’ve also had some fun writing my own recipes in 2012, working out what quantities I used on a particular occasion, knowing that it will probably never happen in the same way again! (That is with the exception of baking, almost. I still can’t help throwing in some randoms just because I feel like it – a bit risky, seeing as baking can be a little like Chemistry lessons sometimes. Although I must admit, happy accidents do often occur.)

I often eat late now, I cook and then wait for my munching partner. And by the time we eat, the food has been kept warm to death. I am ravenous and food is food. A dinner is polished off in much less time than it took to prepare and cook it. However, as I blogged over the past year, I came to realise how much I enjoy cooking and eating my own food. I have my trusted favourites, my store cupboard staples, my preferences and routines, but discovering and exchanging lots of ideas with other bloggers has given me the impetus to explore further.

What a wonderful invention is the oven. And what a wonderful climate we have in the UK to use it. In recent years, I have not even broken sweat when using the oven in summer. One of my favourite things to do is to roast a chicken, together with potatoes and root veg. I marinade the chicken, or simply rub it in olive oil, salt and pepper. I then cube potatoes and root veg in similar sizes and toss those in the same. I’ll time it so that the veg gets about 45-60 minutes in the oven, so if the chicken needs longer, I will add the veg into the roasting tin later.

Even though I generally consider myself a healthy eater, I do have an addiction a soft spot for crisps. I’ll eat my potatoes made any way, but I love them fried or even double and triple fried (by a restaurant – I hate deep fat frying at home). So imagine my excitement when Pinterest kept throwing up these little beauties… a concertina of crispiness called  Hasselback Potatoes. I just had to experiment with them myself. They are baked, and the only difference I could tell between making these and my roasted easies was that you sliced them through (almost) whole first, before baking. Oh, and it’s best not to put them in with the chicken I imagine. The yummy chicken juices soaking into the potatoes will not be conducive to crispiness-making.

Well.. unusually, there are no photos with this post even though I took some. I just felt like having another go at drawing again. But I did stumble across a cute little article complete with videos, if you want to amuse yourself taking photos of food in a restaurant.

What are your cultural habits when it comes to food? Do you enjoy cooking and eating your own food? And, most quite importantly, do you like crisps/potato chips? :)

Lovely and moist


1 Comment

Yummy and moist carrot cake

Yummy and moist carrot cake

Yummy and moist carrot cake

There are not just a few people among my friends and family who love carrot cake. I’ve been meaning to try my hand at baking my own since having tasted such a variety of shop-bought and café versions. My first port of call was my favourite recipe site, where I found Lennie’s offering rated by over 400 cooks at pretty much 5 stars. Yesterday, almost three months after I saved it to my cookbook, I baked my own with some modifications.

I prefer a nice chunky wedge rather than slender slices. However, I imagine the quantities below would fit just as well into a wider, shallower tin which would probably require less baking time.

You will need…
2 cups wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons sodium bicarbonate
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups muscovado sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 can crushed pineapple, well-drained (225-250g/8 oz.)

Directions…
1. Place a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Line a 7 inch/18cm diameter deep cake tin with baking parchment.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sodium bicarbonate, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon.
3. Make a well in the centre and add sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well with a wooden spoon into smooth thick batter. Add carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple, incorporating evenly.
4. Spoon mixture into cake tin and bake for about 60-80 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

To finish the cake, you can cover with some cream cheese icing (which I usually love). Because I was hoping to share it with the men in my family who don’t really like sugary things, I did not ice the cake this time. Instead I put aside 3 walnut halves unchopped for pressing into the centre of the batter, before putting it in the oven to bake.

My mum texted me today to say that she’d had a slice for breakfast and it was “delicious” (now that’s very high praise coming from my mum)! I hope you have some fun with it too. Thank you to Lennie for sharing a delicious recipe!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 456 other followers