Category Archives: Autumn

Spiced Apple Muffins

 

Breakfasts are a big deal in our house.  Mostly, because we hardly ever have them.  Breakfast for me is usually a battered banana grabbed with my ‘venti  latte’ after the school drop off, and invariably on the run.  A protein shake has been breakfast of choice for the man of the house of late, and a piece of toast slathered with peanut butter scoffed in his car seat on the way to school is usually what passes for a well-rounded first meal for my four-year-old.  I should know better.  Peanut butter, toast and cars is not a good culinary combination.

Seriously… I really should know better.  I actually do know better.  I am trained to know better.   In fact, thanks to this training and experience I am paid real money occasionally to advise on the nutritional value of meals, the importance of whole grains, the way to construct balanced menus and ensure that meals include the necessary amounts of carbs, proteins and fresh produce.  But stuff all that.  I am a mother.  I really really should know better.

I am admitting all this because I am hoping that others will relate to the logistic impossibility of feeding a family a three course meal and getting out of the door before half past seven.  I also know that the reason my son is slumped against the wall at his football lesson (which he has been counting how many sleeps until all week), picking his nose, and gazing at the sky, is because he didn’t have a decent breakfast. 

Today, though, I feel as though I have cracked it.

Fresh fruit, glass of milk and a muffin.  Easy.  In fact, I have now discovered it is even easier if you measure out the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, and lay out the muffin cases the night before.   Just grate the apple into the wet ingredients while the oven heats up, mix them all together, fill the cases, and pop them into the oven while you’re in the shower.  By the time you are dressed, and your brood has made it to the table, the house is filled with an aroma that should be able to entice even the pickiest of eaters.  With fruit, fibre and a full belly, my wannabe Beckham is ready for the day, and (at least for the time it takes to drive to school), I get to feel like mother of the week.

Spiced Apple Muffins

2 cups plain flour (or 1 plain and 1 wholemeal if feeling virtuous)

1 TBSP baking powder

2/3 cup caster sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

2/3 cup canola/corn/sunflower oil

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 TBSP vanilla extract

1 grated apple (peel and all…but not the core!), 2 if they are very small.  Squeeze out excess juice.

1 TBSP oatmeal to sprinkle on top

Method

Preheat oven to 180C.

Place muffin cups (large cupcake cases) into muffin holes in tin ready to receive mixture.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  You can use a whisk to do this – just make sure everything is well combined and evenly distributed – you don’t want a clump of cinnamon or baking powder when you bite into them!  In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together, as well as the grated apple until totally combined.  Tip wet into dry and mix with a fork until they just combine.  Do not over-mix or you will end up with a tough, bouncy muffin.

Use an ice cream scoop to measure out wet muffin mix into the cases – it limits the spillage and you can measure out mix more accurately.  Fill cases to ¾ full for a lovely high topped muffin or half full for a more cupcake style version.

Sprinkle with oatmeal, bake for about 12 minutes and remove when they are puffed up, golden, and spring back when touched.  Eat hot!

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Filed under Autumn, Fun to do with little people..., Recipes, Spring Recipes, Summer, Sweet, Winter

Lemon Curd Loveliness

We fight over the fork.  The single fork that has been used to mix the dressing, toss the salad, and now it is our only implement with which to eat it. I have managed to find a lettuce, all the oils and vinegars, a large Tupperware bowl-type affair and a cucumber.  I am doing well.  This could almost pass as lunch.  We have other forks, lots in fact, but they (like the rest of our worldly goods) are in cardboard boxes.  We have officially moved.

My kitchen is currently an enormous pile of brown packing cases…34 to be precise…and that is after I have unpacked what seems like an awful lot of it.  But we are still no closer to finding the forks.  And so, we fight over the fork.  I am pretty sure none of us have eaten since yesterday, and this salad marks the first meal in our new house.  New house.  God it feels good to say it out loud.  After weeks of soul  as well as area searching, we have finally found a house that fits the bill in more ways than one! 

We have also managed to move into it, somehow orchestrate the rental of our old place to lovely friends, and not get divorced all in the space of 11 days!  Did I mention that my four year old has also been home ‘helping’ with packing all week as he has managed to achieve a 40C temperature every day for the last five … and so school is quite obviously out of the question.  My calm moving plans, were scuppered by the utterly useless ( yet most renowned) removal company who felt it appropriate to tell a six month pregnant woman that her dates for moving were no longer available even though they had been reconfirmed twice. Their company name includes that of a striped wild cat, the white version we are particularly fond of in the Singapore Zoo. I reckon ‘striped wild cat’ is probably a description that could easily have been applied to said pregnant woman at the time.  Even my son noted that perhaps mummy had a fever too?

But all is well.  All is calm and all is bright as I sit on a sofa with no cushions in my living room surrounded by boxes.  It is 6.30am and the sun is beginning to gently warm the windows, filling my new home with hazy, hot, Singapore morning light. I can hear the boys gently snoring on mattresses amongst yet more boxes.  I have a terrible urge to make tea.  English breakfast of course.  A great mug of it, served with a doorstop of white toast and lashings of lemon curd.  I never eat lemon curd.  But last week, amongst the madness I made meringues, and had a load of eggs left over.  For some reason lemon curd seemed obvious.  And it is now sitting in a jar in my fridge.  Unlike the forks…Lemon curd I can lay my hands on.

My mother would look about her and say that the place looks like a bomb has hit it.  I have to admit, it is certainly quiet chaos, and the situation has brought out a strange sense of wartime ‘make do and mend’.   All will be well with my bombsite. 

 A large cup of tea… and I shall be ready to launch my attack.

Lemon Curd

Makes ¾ litre (enough for a good sized jar at home, one for a friend or filling for a pie)

6 whole organic, free range eggs (do I even still need to write that?)

2 egg yolks

450g caster sugar

225g butter, cubed and soft

Zest of four lemons

160ml lemon juice

Method

Before you start cooking sterilise your jars (put them through the dishwasher and then into the oven at 180C for ten minutes).  Remove with tongs without touching the outside.  If using Kilner jars or similar (which are the best for this – ikea do a great one) remember to remove the rubber ring before putting in the oven.  Simply douse in boiling water for a few minutes,  then replace rubber ring with immaculately clean hands before filling and closing.

If you are going to use the curd to fill a pie, make sure the pie crust, tart case etc is baked and ready to receive.

Whisk all the ingredients together in a large metal bowl and place on top of a large saucepan of bubbling water.  Cook, stirring constantly, until very thick and glossy.  This can take about 20 minutes so set aside some time that you can give it undivided attention.  Strain the curd through a metal sieve straight into the tart or jar.  Refrigerate until cold and set solid.  Slather on toast or spoon onto baby meringues, cupcakes, yoghurt, or serve in a dollop next to some fresh berries for a quick and easy pud.  If you have made a tart and still feel it is missing something add meringue mixture to the top (see meringue recipe on right), make sure it has plenty of rustic waves and peaks and then place it in a 180C oven for about five minutes just before serving for the ultimate lemon meringue pie!

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Filed under Autumn, Everything!, Recipes, Spring Recipes, Summer, Sweet, Winter