There has been an alarming increase in the height of my children recently. It always happens in the spring. They seem to shoot up, as soon as the sun hits. The Teen is near enough my height now, and her sister seems able to look me in the eye a little bit more easily, than I’d care to admit.
And as for the Boy, well he is taking on the appearance of someone who has begun to stretch. Looking just as willowy as his sisters. Watch any of them for long enough, and I swear you can see them growing.
Now, they are not managing this on meal times alone.
The most likely form of extra nourishment, are the homemade goodies I make. The theory is that if I make them, I can keep the snacks on the healthy side. Also there is a limit to how much I can bake/grate/chop.
A big favourite at the moment is raspberry and chocolate chip muffins. Each muffin is practically half raspberries, half muffin. Not overly sweet. Rather yummy, if I say so myself. Our supply of homegrown raspberries has long since run out, so I often find “frozen raspberries” written on my shopping list. Not in my handwriting. A subtle hint to make more.
The good news is that they are incredibly quick to make and bake. I have my muffin making kit piled up ready in the cupboard. I use a cup measure as it’s so much quicker to scoop the ingredients. Speed is of the essence. Especially when you have three children who take it in turns to check if the muffins are ready yet. (Seriously, do they have a rota for who goes in next to scout for muffins?)
Apart from the milk and raspberries, the rest of the ingredients are near by in another cupboard. I reckon I can have these muffins ready to eat within 20 minutes, if not less. I win “best Mama” points if they can smell them baking as they walk up the drive after school. You cannot beat a warm muffin after a hard day
chatting with your friends studying.
So here’s how we make them (when I say we, I mean me):
In first bowl, mix the:
2 cups of self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of caster sugar
1 cup of frozen raspberries
1/2 cup of semi-sweetened chocolate chips
In second bowl, mix the:
2 tsp of vanilla essence or lemon extract
Also need a muffin tin, lined with 12 paper muffin cases
What to do:
1. Pour the contents of the second bowl into the first, until it is just mixed. Do not over mix.
2. Divide the combined mixture between the 12 muffin cases.
3. For a 2 oven Aga, bake on the third shelf down in the top oven, for about 12-15 minutes, turning the muffin tray around halfway through. For other ovens, bake at 200°c/400°f/ Gas 6 for 15-20 minutes. The muffins are ready when they are golden brown and risen.
4. Take out of the oven. Move the muffins from the tray onto a wire rack to cool.
These muffins never make it beyond the day they are made. I live in hope of putting a batch in the freezer for another day. In all fairness, they are so quick to make, that it’s not a big problem.
More of a challenge is having enough raspberries available, which explains the added request for frozen raspberries to my shopping lists.
My solution is to plant more raspberry canes. I’m aiming to have a row of raspberries this summer. I miss my fruit cage and may have to make a new one. When the Teen was a toddler she used to
be pushed disappear in there, after meals, and feast on all the soft fruit. No need to serve up a pudding. Nothing beats fruit straight from the plant.
Yes. I need to work on my raspberry production.
Grow little raspberry plant. Grow. I have three children waiting for muffins.
There was a time when we had 10 hens that laid every day. That was 70 eggs, without fail, every week. Week in, week out. At that stage, we were a small family of three and there are only so many eggs that we could eat. I gave lots away, but still had lots left. I banned myself from buying anything with eggs in it and made everything from scratch. Cakes and quiche are the obvious, but I also made ice cream and pasta. In fact I still do.
Some recipes such as ice cream, just use the yolk of the eggs, which left a lot of egg whites. Rather than waste it, I like to make cinnamon macaroons or, more often, meringues. You can freeze them, but in reality, meringues disappear quickly in this house. They always go down well with visitors.
Meringues are really, really easy to make, but the number of times people have told me that they won’t even try…. let’s just say its a lot. I thought I’d share with you how easy it is. Follow the simple steps shown in black. Extra info in blue. Photos just to give you a rough reference of what each stage should look like.
- To start with use a clean dry bowl to whisk three egg whites until stiff.
No skimping on the dry part. Don’t let any yolk get in the white, otherwise, you might as well throw it away and start again. I use a Kitchen Aid, but a hand whisk and determination works well too. Whisk until the whites turn white and stand up on their own, when you pull the whisk out (see above).
- Next step, with the whisk going and one spoonful at a time, add 6oz (175g) of caster sugar. Take time between each spoonful of sugar. Sing a song or recite a rhythm. Anything to stop yourself doing it too fast. If you do it too fast, the mixture will go runny and you will have meringue pancakes (been there, done that, got the t-shirt). By the end, you should be able to pull the whisk out and the mixture follows the whisk and doesn’t break (see below). The whisk will leave an impression in the shiny mixture that won’t disappear for a long time.
- Use a spoon to dollop the mixture onto a non-grease baking sheet. I use Bake-O-Glide, which can be used over and over again. The meringues will not expand noticeably, so you can put them close. Smooth, shape them to whatever style you want. We are enjoying the odd shapes created as you gently drop them on the sheet, at the moment, but with the back of a spoon you can sculpt a more classic look.
- Sprinkle with demerara sugar, if you want. I didn’t with these ones as I was planning to serve them with ice cream, which seemed plenty enough sugar.
- Bake at a really low temperature for a couple of hours. I use the floor of the bottom oven of my 2 oven Aga. Basically, it is at warming plate temperature. I leave the meringues in there for 1 to 2 hours, most often over night. Less time, means they will be gooey inside. After an hour they will be hard enough to pick up and you can check to see if the meringue base is firm.
It really is that easy. So long as you are patient and follow the steps. Get ready for people to be impressed by your ability to make meringues. Honestly, it never fails to attract compliments. I’ve taken them along to parties and they have been polished off within minutes.
Oh, last step, serve with fruit or whipped cream. Our favourite way of serving meringue is in a bowl with homemade chocolate ice cream. Once tasted, you’ll never buy ice cream or meringues again. Any left over meringues can always go in the freezer, until you need them.
Let me know if you have any questions on the above steps. Go on, give it a go.
Joining in with #pintorials.