About a weight and really yummy Quinoa Salad

I haven’t mentioned anything about weighing myself recently, I have been avoiding subject matter. Nothing to beat myself up about but also nothing to celebrate. I have been standing still or moving up and down about 1K past few months.

Lots going on and haven’t been focusing properly. I still eating mostly good stuff, healthy nutritional meals, but then over weekends I bake a cake and treat myself with not one piece but maybe 3 or 4. Oh dear!

So beginning of this week I reset my plan and try to make progress again. My friend introduced me fantastic APP “Happy Scale” – very simple, but can be quite motivational. Only thing you need to do is record your weight daily , enter your goal and how much you are committing to lose every week and it gives you reports and analyses your weight loss. It divides your weight loss journey to milestones so if you have lots to loose it feels bit more manageable.

It also gives your weight trends and predicts, when will you get to the next goal. You can run weekly, monthly or yearly reports.

If I take a look my monthly reports I have been loosing some weight every month. I’m pleased with this. The small loss is a win and better than a gain.  

My next goal is achieve my second milestone before end of the June. It should be achievable and get me back to the track.

I know that the weight is not everything. I don’t weigh myself everyday, (sometimes I just can’t face it), but I’m bit of a nerd and love tables, numbers, reports, comparison, so with right mind set it works for me. It’s easy to lose the focus and seeing actual numbers, help me get motivated again.

Here is one my favorite salads I have tried recently. It goes nicely as a side dish for grilled meat 

I had no time for grilling so had it as a light supper.

Quinoa Salad

You will need:

cooked Quinoa (cook according to instruction on the packet)

finely chopped red onion

chopped red pepper

coarsely grated carrot

handful of dried cranberries

generous amount of curry powder

freshly squeezed lime juice

toasted flaked  almonds

bunch of chopped coriander

You don’t really need exact quantities here, just add everything according to your taste.

The combination of those ingredients tasted just lovely!

 

 

 

 

 

My first CrossFit Open and “I love Rice Pudding”

This month I signed up for CrossFit Open and I have been really excited about it. I had first workout last Saturday and I was really pleased that I actually managed to RX it. Even I didn’t finished it on the time cap. I thought I need to scale everything as I still need to master quite a few main CF WOD movements like pull ups, double unders, tows to bar name a few. The atmosphere in our box was fantastic and really supportive and my result 161 reps was in UK top 44% in my age class, what is not bad for “old broken bird”. I expect I drop somewhere bottom of the leader board soon as already in the next WOD there are muscleups/chin ups – neither of them I can do. So there is something to aim for the next year. Hopefully keeping up with “Project 30” will help me achieve those movements one day .

Today was my weighing/measuring day and pat on the back – it has been another good month – 1.9kg gone, (5.2kg altogether) and 5cm gone from hips. It has been much tougher months, lots of stress because of work and just generally speedy life. I had few days, when I couldn’t just stick to the food I planned to eat and ended up stuff my face with sweets, which didn’t really fit to my daily allowance. Luckily I didn’t drop it all, but picked my regime up next day and it seemed that not too big damage have been done.

I need to refresh some of my tactics, so from next week:

  • I will try increase my protein intake. Quite often my calorie count is almost spot on, but my macros are all over the place and I end up eating half the amount of protein, what I actually should eat. Last couple of days I’ve done protein smoothie after my 6am CrossFit class and it has filled me up so I’m not ending up ravenous by 12am at work and can quite comfortably carry on until 1pm before having my lunch. My favorite SMOOTHIE was following:

1 carrot – cut in chunks

1 orange – peel and break to sectors

2 stalks of celery – cut to chunky pieces

1/4 of the mango flesh

200ml unsweetened almond milk

1 frozen banana – cut in chunks

unflavored protein powder – 1 or 2 scoops, depends how much you want or omit altogether if you not bothered about your protein intake

Put all in blender, mix and VOILA – you have most glorious colored smoothie, full of all goodness from veg and fruit

  • I will keep prepping my lunch and always have some food with me at work so I won’t be tempted to have unplanned snacks.
  • Get better in listening my body and stop when full!
  • Trying harder to get my 7 hours sleep!
  • Additionally to my daily exercise, try to do 10000 steps a day.
  • I haven’t done much mobility exercises recently, I really need include daily stretching into my day

Saying all that, I still plan to have my occasional treat, like this Rice Pudding. Honestly I never thought I will like rice pudding and I had such bad memories of it from my nursery days. I really hated it and never chose to eat it voluntarily. But my passion for the new recipies won and I gave a try to this Scandinavian style rice pudding and it tasted divine, I couldn’t stop, when I felt full!!

300 g pudding rice (can be replaced with Arborio rice)

2 tbsp. butter

salt

1 litre whole milk

1tsp vanilla extract

1tbsp sugar

  1. Rinse the rice under the cold water in a sieve and drain. Bring 600ml of water to the boil and then add the rice, butter and salt. Cook on a medium heat until all the water is gone, stir occasionally.
  2. Add the milk, vanilla and sugar and bring to the boil, keep stirring all the time. Boil few minutes and then turn the heat down and leave to simmer gently for about 30  minutes until it’s thickened. Stir occacionaly.
  3. It’s ready to serve, when it’s nice and thick to the point where it takes few seconds to drop from the spoon
  4. Serve from the cereal bowl with your choice of topping. I had it with plums stewed with brown sugar, cinnamon and extra sprinkle of brown sugar and some full fat crème fraiche.
  5. Other toppings to try is golden syrup, treacle, honey or fresh berries.
  6. I love it best when it’s really hot, but it’s can be eaten cold if you prefer.

 

 

1st month of “Project 30”, thoughts about diets and Spicy Carrot Soup.

January is over and very soon February will be over too and I thought I write down few things from the first month of trying to lose some weight for the journey sake.

Overall good start: I was 3.4 kg lighter on 3/02/17, which makes it average loss 0.85kg/week. My plan is to loose 0.5kg a week so I can be pleased with myself. Actually I lost it all during 2 first weeks and next 2 weeks my weight was stationary, which annoyed me bit, but to look on the bright side I didn’t put any weight back on. I’m most pleased about 7cm loss on my waste line – that what really matters. I had few PB-s at CrossFit and couple of brilliant tennis sessions. I’m happy!

I came across following article about diets and science behind them  and I’m so glad that it backs up what conclusion I have come over the years trying out different diets. 

Few years ago I tried Paleo diet and I think it has great ideas and you can find lot’s of wonderful recipes. I lost weight, felt great but after few months I got really bored, not that there is shortage of ideas, but I didn’t really have any reasons do avoid milk and grains. I don’t use lot’s of milk products every day, but I love cheese, quark, cream, even I don’t eat them daily. Mentally I didn’t want to feel guilty, when having them occasionally.

I also found that I ended up eating huge amounts of nuts. Nothing wrong with eating nuts, but if you love baking and everything is replaced with nut flours, it’s bit limiting to your options and … whatever the peanuts done to anyone?? You can’t have peanut butter in Paleo diet, have to opt to more expensive nut butters!

Saying that, my meals are still quite paleo friendly without following any meal plans. I love veg and meats and fish and eggs. Saying that, I also like some rice, seeded bread, buckwheat, quinoa, potatoes and there is no real reason not to eat them times to times.

So, now I don’t really follow any diet or clean eating plan just trying to use knowledge what suits me best and what makes me feel happy.

I love cooking, I love process of the cooking, I love cookbooks (and I have 100s of them) and I always love to try new things.

  • I’m using the MyFitnessPal at the moment to keep my portions under the control as it’s too easy to overeat with snacking and extra helpings on mealtimes. It also helps me keep my macros on track, so I get right amount protein, carbs and fat. I use it on weekdays as I’m glued to the computer anyway. I try to use my common sense 🙂 on weekends. Tracking, what you eating over some periods of time is a good way to get your habits under the control again.
  • I try to stick with 3 meal times and 2 fruit snacks between. Breakfasts are simple usually including 2 eggs, sometimes avocado, with some seeded or rye toast, some salad and coffee with cream.( I only have one big cup of coffee a day)
  • I take lunch with me to work, either I have prepared it specially but more often it’s leftover from last night.
  • I haven’t forbidden anything to myself but if I had slice of bread for breakfast I won’t have it with my lunch or dinner. If I have some pasta at lunch I won’t have any with my dinner. When I have pasta or rice with my meal it’s just a little bit. I just don’t want to cut anything out totally and I found if it’s not off the limit, I quite often choose not to have it, when rest of the family have theirs. I just have meat or fish with veg.
  • I eat until I start to feel full, trying to take slowly and really listen my body. Even if it’s my favorite food I really try  not to stuff myself. 70% of time it is successful.
  • 2 pieces of fruit a day
  • I have a slice of cake if someone makes extra effort to bake it, but say no to bought sweets and biscuits if someone brings them in the office (ok, not always, but most of the time) and I forbid myself to buy any snacks from work vending machines or deli bar. I do bring some chocolate from home if I decide have any.
  • Some weekends I bake and then I have a slice of cake (who I’m kidding – quite few slices, but it doesn’t happen every weekend)
  • I have couple of glass of wine on the weekend but not always, depends how I feel and I won’t, if I train on Saturday morning – most Saturdays I do.
  • I try to get 7 hours a sleep everyday – it makes huge difference and really should be top of the list. I used to be night person and never go to bed before midnight, since starting the CrossFit I have really changed my habits. I try to get bed by 10pm (which is not easy if your children are not ready for bed by 10pm) , it’s especially important when I train at 6am
  • I also have been part of the LJL Coaching Facebook group, which my friend runs. She helps with healthy eating plan, fitness and personal training and it has been great motivator.

This soup is easy to make, seasonal and very tasty

Spicy Carrot Soup with Quinoa and Feta

2tbsp olive oil

1 onion

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1kg carrots, grated coarsely

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 sp hot smoked paprika

1/4 tsp mild chilli powder

1 litre vegetable stock, fresh or made from cube

100 g quinoa

1-2tsp sherry vinegar

fresh mint

100 g crumbled feta cheese

  1. Heat the oil in the saucepan over the medium heat. Fry onion and garlic gently over the medium heat for few minutes. Add the grated carrots and spices and fry stirring occasionally for 5 minutes
  2.  add the stock and 500 ml boiling water, season well and simmer for 10 minutes
  3. Same time cook quinoa on the separate saucepan, drain and set aside.
  4.  Remove he soup from the heat and whizz in a blender with 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar, until smooth. Add a splash  of water if needed.
  5. Ladle into bowl, topping with the quinoa, mint and feta cheese. Drizzle with a splash more sherry vinegar before serving

 (Recipe from Waitrose calendar)

Start of the “Project 30”, pie chart and simplest veggie pizza

The first four days of getting back to track with the nutrition are over and the results weren’t too bad – I’m 600 grams lighter after 4 days. I tracked my food, ate lots of vegetables (can’t waste 6 boxed of fruit and veg I got for the Christmas), I resisted all sweets at the office and stuck to the plan to eat only my prepped meals.

We had new programming at our CrossFit box, so I have been aching all week, but it has been really enjoyable and I can’t wait to get up 5.20m Monday morning to get back to train again. I had few PB-s, which I’m pleased about, considering I had almost 2 weeks off.

The biggest change I done this week is stopping snacking rubbish between the meals. I have my breakfast at 8.15am , I take cup of coffee with cream, yes CREAM, to work in a thermos cup, I have fruit around 10.30am and my lunch at 12.30pm, which has been leftover from the night before. I might get some snack from the Waitrose, usually it’s SKYR yogurt or UPBEAT protein drink as I have been bit sort of my protein macros. Then I have dinner at home and when I feel urge to snack after that I just go to bed to avoid it. So far so good.

Today hasn’t been so good. We have had lazy Saturday and not being busy makes me want to snack all the time. I try to stick with fruit but we still have some Christmas leftover sweets at home so it hasn’t been as easy. But tomorrow is a new day and I’m not going to stress over it.

I have created pie chart for my blog’s sidebar, to visualise my progress. The red colour is the journey ahead and green is what I have already achieved.

My favourite recipe or more like an idea from this week is veggie pizza. It’s easy and quick to prepare, if you feel ravenous, when getting back from work.

cherry tomatoes (you can used canned tomatoes)

broccoli spears

1/2 courgette

3tsp olive oil

frozen peas

1 tortilla wrap

25 g grated mozzarella

basil leaves

garlic cloves

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven, while preparing the pizza, half the cherry tomatoes.

Blanch the broccoli with the courgette slices in a saucepan of the boiling unsalted water for 5 minutes, Drain and cut into bite-size pieces.

Heat half of the olive oil in a small frying pan and stir fry chopped spring onions and peas for five minutes.

Arrange all the veg to the wrap, sprinkle with the mozzarella, basil leaves, garlic, salt, pepper and remaining olive oil. Bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

You can use any veg for your liking, asparagus would be great, might try it next time 🙂

My pizza macros: 450cal/12g protein/41g carbs / 5g sugar/ 24g fat/ 5g fiber

Christmas madness and almost perfect gingerbreads

   The Christmas is probably busiest time to lots. I always end up running around trying to make everything perfect, like there is no opportunities after the 25th of December. I have grand plans how I will be super organised and start to get ready weeks before the big day. The truth is I do everything few days before Christmas Day, hoping that I will get everything done on time.

The gingerbreads were ready on time but got decorated few days after the Christmas, which means I’ve eaten most of them as guests, who they were meant to, were gone and I like them too much. I have lot’s of gingerbread recipes but I think those are the closest as they should be by Estonian standards and would pass Mary Berry test to snap properly, even after the few days they are still crispy.

Old Style Gingerbreads

2 dl sugar

3/4 dl dark syrup ( I used treacle, but you can also use Golden Syrup or make your own by melting the sugar on high heat until it ‘s desired colour)

1sp cardamom

1sp cinnamon

1tsp cloves

1sp mixed spice

150g butter

2 eggs

7dl flour

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Measure sugar, syrup and spices to the saucepan. Cut the butter in to the small pieces and add to the saucepan. Heat it up to the boiling point until the house is filled with the divine smell. Mix it well. Take it from the cooker and put the saucepan in the bowl filled with the cold water so it will cool down quickly.

Add slightly beaten eggs

Mix flour and bicarbonate of soda  and mix well. Cover the saucepan or wrap the dough to the cling film. Keep it in the fridge 3-4 hours or even better, overnight.

Next day roll it out thinly on the floured table. Cut out the gingerbreads with cutters and place them on the baking sheet, which is covered with baking paper.

Bake them on Gas mark 4 (175C) about 10  minutes.

Cool them and decorate.

 I have to say, that they have disappeared rather quickly from the plate, while enjoying all the Christmas lights – gone bit mad this year, but I really hate this December darkness and it really cheers our house up.

Year with the CrossFit and Paleo Avocado Ice Cream

Just over a year ago I booked my trial session at CrossFit Cantii and I haven’t looked back since. It’s the best thing I ever have done!  Ok, it’s the best thing I have done since I started to write my age with number 4 (like 34 🙂 )

If you want to know what is the CrossFit, just Google it, there are plenty of blogs, web pages, YouTube videos around, which can put it in the words much better than I could.

Or take a look at this video https://www.facebook.com/crossfit/videos/10153045634867676/

I’m training most of the week at 6.30am , which means getting up 5 or 5.30 am and that is the most difficult thing in CrossFit for me. Once I’m in the box (that’s what you call the gym in CrossFit 🙂 ) its all fun and laughter 🙂 Ok, I struggle through warm-up, which intensity is similar to the workout I used to do before starting CrossFit 🙂 followed by some kind of weightlifting workout or practicing gymnastic skills. I love weights, never thought, you can get hooked to doing weights, but I did and it makes me feel total ace! And we are not talking about weights what “will help you get toned” – total rubbish you read from lifestyle magazines,  it’s serious stuff and after squatting with 60kg and more or deadlifting near 100 kg (my PB is 130kg :)), nothing seems impossible rest of the day. And then  there is WOD (Workout of the Day), it can be 10 minutes long or 20 or 30, but one is sure it challenges you in the best possible way.

CrossFit is so much more personal than going to the gym. It’s like meeting up your friends and have a good chat every morning. We are encouraging each other doing better in the workouts and it really helps, when you feeling just giving up in the middle of grueling workout.

My training buddies :)

My training buddies 🙂

It pushes you out from your comfort zone and makes you want to try things you always said you can’t do or don’t like to do. Like this morning, we could choose any workout, skill or mobility to work on and my classmate managed to talk me into running-rowing workout, which is my least favorite thing. It consisted 4 rounds of: 500m row, 400m run and 30 ab-mat sit ups, followed by 4 times 20 cal row. I was struggling through this workout, but felt over the moon, once we completed it. Now just trying to stay awake at my desk for the rest of the day in the office 🙂

My Nike Metcons and personalized skipping rope

My Nike Metcons and personalized SGF skipping rope 🙂

I can say I’m totally addicted to CrossFit, but it’s kind of a good addiction. The CrossFit rules my life and I’m happy with it. What’s not to like if you live the lifestyle, which concentrates to be healthier, become stronger, consuming almost no alcohol (it really shows if I have cheeky glass of vino evening before morning class) and trying make healthier choices during the day,  not because you want to lose weight, but you want to kick some buts in the training 🙂

My next goal now is complete 1!!! pull-up. It doesn’t sound like much, but thinking about the weight I have to pull up, it’s quite a lot. I have all training equipment ready at home – pull up bar, gymnastic rings so don’t have any excuses not to practice daily. Quickest way to achieve it would be loose around 20 kg 🙂 but I’m too much of a foodie to achieve it any time soon, so I just have to become stronger. 🙂

CrossFitters are well known following Paleo diet. I have had periods in my life, when I followed it and it definitely have the benefits to your health. I like cooking ( and eating 😉 ) too much to stick with it 100 % of the time, but quite often I pick up some Paleo recipes just because they worth to make, when trying to fuel your body right way for better results in  the training. Here is a cheeky dessert, when you are desperate for something sweet.

Avocado Ice Cream

2 ripe avocados

zest and juice of the 4 limes

4sp honey

1tsp vanilla extract

200ml coconut milk

100 g Dark Chocolate Chips

13906646_10154395037399836_3929107962085626912_n

1. Mix avocado, coconut milk, lime juice and zest, honey in the blender until it’s creamy.

2. Pour mixture into freezable dish and mix in chocolate chips.

3. Place it in the freezer to set.

4. Stir few times to keep the mixture creamy and break any ice crystals.

5. Leave to set for 4 hours

6. Serve with melted dark chocolate or toasted coconut or roasted nuts of your choice (or all named above) 🙂

 

 

Nostalgia – my lovely first born and easy almond tart

My oldest gone skiing with her school, which have made me nostalgic and I’m feeling bit lost. I better get used to it as it’s not going to be long, when they flying the nest…or maybe not, they might decide to live with us forever 🙂

I think there is an age when children start to show more interest about their early years. On a way home recently, my kiddies wanted to know their first words, truth is, I can’t exactly remember. I do remember some funny words of theirs, which really have stuck in my mind – my daughter, when she was under a year old, during the breakfast suddenly pointed her finger towards me and said very clearly “I know!” – in a way her grandpa always did it to her, when he came up with the new ideas to entertain her. I still remember how it made me and my husband jump and then burst to laugh as we really could see my father in law manners in her.

My son’s one of the first word must’ve been “digger”. He watched in a loop some video, which was filmed in a real building site, showing diggers and other machinery accompanied with the song about diggers, trucks and something else.

My children are lucky to have their grandma collecting their photos together to the albums. My daughter had homework from the school, she had to select 10 photos from her early years, and it brought back so many memories and made me really think where those 13 years have disappeared.

Here she is about 2 month old. My mother in law built holder for her toys from my friends easel and hang down stretchy tiger and owl made my husband’s Japanese friends mum dressing gown, what made my daughter always very excited or scared, couldn’t really say.

12631017_202392400114102_714973249_o

Her hair didn’t start to grow until she was about 3 years old so she had perfect short hairdo with no odd baby hair. That’s why she’s probably quite pressures about her hair nowadays and only recently started to let hairdressers near them.

12669553_202201760133166_1026654999718128803_n

She look lots like her cousin and people used to think they are brother and sister. It’s lovely that they are still very close.

12647482_202201716799837_3720200989484148621_n

She had such a beautiful blonde locks and she didn’t let anyone near them for years, I think we only cut off her baby hair few years ago. She’s not really as blond anymore.

12642805_202201666799842_2425899081441240443_n

This picture is taken in a photo salon at my home town, only time we have been at the   professional photographer. They were such sweeties- nothing like this anymore 🙂

12654442_202201626799846_3443805931723778086_n

 Looking those photos, scares me, how quickly time flies.

Someone posted this great poem in FB, Its by Rose Milligan and I think it’s says it all, I have  definitely given up dusting and concentrate on more important stuff 🙂

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

—————

And here is one of the easiest and most delicious almond tart recipe. I have done it many times and it always get lots of praise, so I better save it here before my piece of paper disappears under the dust 🙂

20140411-DSC_4596

Almond Tart

For the pastry:

175g self – raising flour

25g icing sugar

25g ground almonds

75g butter

For the almond filling:

100g blanched whole almonds ( I have used ground almonds or almond flakes as well if I don’t have whole almonds handy)

100 g caster sugar

25g plain flour

2 large eggs

few drops of almond essence

2tbsp apricot preserve (or more)

25g flaked almonds

icing sugar for dusting

500g fresh raspberries to serve

  1. Heat the oven to 190 C/ Gas Mark 5.
  2. Sift the flour and icing sugar to the bowl and add the ground almonds. Mix.
  3. Add the butter in pieces and rub it all together with your fingertips.
  4. Add few tbsp. cold water and mix it all together to the soft dough
  5. Line tart tin (23cm diameter with loose base) with dough and chill until you get the filling ready
  6. For the filling buzz the almonds to fine crumbs in the food processor
  7. Add the butter, sugar, flour, eggs, almond essence and buzz again until you have smooth paste.
  8. Spread the apricot conserve over the pastry tart base.
  9. Spoon in the almond mixture and spread level.
  10. Scatter with flaked almonds
  11. Bake the tart on Gas Mark 5 and then lower heat to Gas Mark 4 and bake further 15 min until the filling is set and tart is golden.
  12. Allow to cool.
  13. Dust with plenty of icing sugar and serve with raspberries.

1512861_10153447820869836_6207928189576129818_n

And for the music choice I suggest this – love it!!!

 

Christmas 2015 and rum cakes aka “Vana Tallinn” cakes

I love the Christmas time. Once the decorations go up after continuous nagging from children, everything feels brighter and more festive.

Fatherchristmas

And tidy rooms are the bonus as all the Collins family comes for our annual Christmas meal. I cooked 10 kg turkey from the Court Farm Butchers, my favorite place to buy meat, and of course all the trimmings to go with it. There was 17 of us – 5 families of Collins’s and the dog and 2 cats, most living souls we had together for the Christmas ever. 🙂 We even managed to get us all to stay still for the family photo.

20141225-DSC_5717

I love this one best as I was trying to crab Lonni, who was chasing the cannon ball – yes, that was the present, my husband gave it to his dad. I love how relaxed everyone is and have a good laugh – this describes best our get together – laid back, laugh, food, wine, games.

I baked lot’s of gingerbreads.

Gingerbreads

I made the blood sausages  very first time with my new Kenwood.

image

and made quite a few “rum cakes” over the Christmas. The Rum cakes or “Vana Tallinn cakes have been real hit not only among Estonians and I have been asked recipe for the countless times so here it is. I must say I don’t follow the recipe for making them, so I’ll try to estimate quantities here.

Rum Cakes with White Chocolate filling

20141228-DSC_5727

First you need a sponge. Originally those cakes were made in bakeries from the sponge leftovers to avoid a waste, but at home you hardly have any spare sponge so I will give my fool proof sponge recipe, which I got from my favorite Estonian cake makers Olga blog.

4 eggs

2dl sugar

1dl boiling water

3dl plain flour

1tsp baking powder

Put the eggs in the bowl with sugar and beat it 10 minutes until it’s almost tripled in size. I have until now (before I got my fantastic Kenwood) used hand mixer, while using my  another hand for the Facebook. 🙂

Before the 10 minutes are over I switch on the kettle and boil the water. I measure it to the measuring jug and then slowly add to the egg mixture while still beating it.

Mix the flour and the baking powder together and sift it to the egg mixture.

Fold carefully it with the spatula from the bottom of the bowl to up, until there is no lumps.

Line the baking tin with the baking paper – for cakes I use 24 cm diameter tin, but as  the shape is not important on this instance you can use any tin really.

Poor the mixture to the tin and bake on gas mark 5 for 30 minutes.

The sponge is ready, when the inserted skewer comes out clean. If the cake starts to get dark too quickly, cover it with baking paper.

Take it out from the oven and leave it cool for bit and then turn it to the cooling rack, remove the lining paper and leave it cool completely.

—————————–

1 sponge

3-5 sp cacao powder

rum or “Vana Tallinn” (it’s Estonian liqueur, which everyone gives as a present but most people don’t like to drink but I use it lots in my cooking replacing brandy or rum) or any other liqueur which has more than 30% alcohol or if you prefer non alcoholic ones use the rum essence instead, quantity depends of your taste

150-200g soured cream

100g white chocolate

150g cream cheese

For making rum cakes, crumble the sponge in to the bowl and take a little out for rolling cakes in it later.

Add cacao powder, I like it darker so I’ll add 4 or more spoonful’s but you can use less of it.

Now add the soured cream, start adding about 100 grams and mix it with your hand squeezing mixture together

Add the alcohol or essence, here you need to do quite a bit of tasting to make it, how you like it, but not too much or you don’t have anything left for the balls 🙂

If you achieved desired taste you might need to add more soured cream to get the consistency suitable for the rolling the balls.

Now, I’m using scale to get all the balls same size – 30g for small bite, 40 g bit bigger and 50g for the proper sized one, but if you not fussed just take the mixture with the spoon and roll the balls with your palms.

Roll them on the saved crumbs.

Then I’m using the scissors to make the lines, cut softly on 3 angles and then press down with your dumb on the middle of the ball so it becomes like a flower shape ball.

For the white chocolate and cream cheese filling. melt the white chocolate in the sauce pan or in the microwave. If it’s too hot , let it cool a bit. Then mix it with the cream cheese.

If the mixture becomes too runny leave it to the fridge for a while.

Now pipe the filling to the middle of the cakes and decorate as desired.

Start to prepare for new sponge as those cakes don’t last long.

20141228-DSC_5728

 

Burglary, Photography by Külli Sparre, butternut squash, apple, stilton soup and hot buttered rum

I’m back writing here over a long time. I have never been a “proper” blogger, but when I tried to take off beginning of this year, we were burgled, all our tech was taken. It was unpleasant experience, a very inconvenient situation. Most of our past 5 year history was in my laptop.

Yes, I’m one of those careless people, who can’t be bothered with the back ups and saving copies of the photos and other important documents somewhere else. I’m just pure lazy- see, I just said it.

We lived quite a few month without laptops and IPads. There was no point to replace them as we didn’t have any insurance that it wouldn’t happen again. You get used to not having the computer at home and it leaves more time for the housework. I could still spend time in social media on my phone and send few important e-mails from the work.

Having our stuff stolen, wasn’t worse part of the burglary. It made me feel unsecure. Someone just walked in to our house, touched things, which belonged to us, talked to my dog, who thought that those people came to play with her and  probably greeted them very happily. I’m glad that nobody from my family came home, when they were at it, who knows, what could’ve happened. I’ll try to see the bright side  – nobody got hurt and you can always replace things. We have secured our house now. It’s all very sad as we live in a lovely village and you don’t expect this happen to you.

Since then so much have changed, but I write about it some another time.

***

I came across with Kulli Sparre photography few years ago. She was one of the winners of the Sony World Photography Awards in 2014.

D4842E60D6A9A6F1EE4AF1E935CA82917C88719B50A3C1F798681D40769D82A9

She used to be a professional ballet dancer until she discovered photography.

sparrek-7

Her photos are dream like and usually feature beautiful women in gracious poses, which is probably influenced by her past career as a dancer.

the-morning-news

See more of her work in her webpage www.sparrek.org

sparrek

This summer I got some postcards from Estonia with her work and now those have a place in my wall (Please ignore dirty windows 🙂 )

DSC_5598

***

I do love autumn, especially if it’s not raining, but I hate the fact that days get shorter. To cheer myself up, I cooked lovely warming soup for a lunch. Recipe from Waitrose magazine.

Butternut squash, apple and stilton soup.

Serves 4-6 people

1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced into chunks, seeds reserved

2 cox apples, quartered and cored

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp. olive oil

20 g unsalted butter

2 leeks, thinly sliced

1 celery stalk, sliced

500 ml vegetable or chicken stock

200 ml crème fraiche

100 g stilton, crumbled

1-2 tbsp. milk

2 red chillies

butternutsquashsoup

 1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ gas mark 5. Prepare the butternut squash and apple and put on the baking tray with 1 tbsp. oil and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven about 1/2 hour, until tender

2. Meanwhile melt the butter in the saucepan with 1 tbsp of oil and add the leeks and celery. Cook on very low heat about 10 minutes, stirring often, until soft but not browned.

3. Add squash, apple and stock to the saucepan and simmer about 2-3 minutes.  Then blend until smooth adding water to get desired consistency. Season.

4. In a small bowl mix the crème fraiche and stilton, loosen with the milk until drizzling consistency.

6. Pour boiling water over the reserved seeds and leave to stand for 2 minutes. Drain and dry on the kitchen paper. Fry the seeds on the 1 tbsp olive oil. until golden, about 1 minute. Add sliced chilli and fry another 2 minutes.

7. Serve the hot soup with a spoonful of stilton sauce and sprinkle over the chilli and seeds topping.

This soup really warms you up and makes autumn more bearable. If this not enough try

Hot buttered Rum

 1.  Poor generous amount of rum to the glass, amount depends how much you need cheering up

 2. Add some Angostura Bitter

3. Add 1 tsp melted butter

4. Put star anise, few cloves and cinnamon stick in the glass and fill with hot water

5. Add lemon and sprinkle with little caster sugar

Wrap yourself up in the blanket and enjoy!
hotbutteredum

33 days Paleo done – what next? Salad with gravlax.

So my challenge is over. I was healthy for all 33 days. And you know, I enjoyed it. I haven’t felt so great a very long time – full of energy and  happy. My knees don’t hurt most of the time, but my elbow does 🙁 seems I got the tennis player elbow now 🙁

I don’t feel bloated, I don’t crave for chocolate and sweets. I don’t feel like falling asleep middle of the day at the office. So everything is better, but I know that it’s so easy to go back to your old ways. Some reason we forget so quickly about benefits of being healthy.

Easter

On Easter Friday we had grand dinner with leg of lamb and roast potatoes and my homemade cheesecake, but I don’t have any pictures as we were busy eating and enjoying ourselves.
Easter3

Now on I will try to continue Paleo way and occasionally treat myself with homemade cake and glass of wine. I will have some grains when testing new recipes, but generally I will try to stay off the bread, pasta and rice.

Easter2

I made this salad one evening, when I didn’t’ t have to cook for the rest of the family. Unfortunately my children are not very keen of big plates of salad and fish. My husband will eat a bit as he knows it is good for him, but I love it!

You need to make gravlax 2-3 days before you plan to eat it. And yes, this version includes some sugar, but it’s lovely and it’s my treat – I could eat this with one go – no problem.

For Gravlax:

  • Chop one big punch of dill finely and mix half of it with 4 tbsp. of sea salt and 4 tbsp. of sugar.
  • Take a half of the 1 kg salmon fillet and put skinside-down on the container (lined with big piece of  cling film and leave the cling film drop over the edges), which base is covered with another half of the chopped dill.
  • Take half of the salt-sugar mixture and rub into the salmon, sprinkle with freshly grinded pepper, little mustard seeds and allspice.
  • Do same with another half of the salmon and then fold it top of the another piece of salmon (leave skin-side out)
  • Wrap the cling film tightly around it and place to the fridge for next 3 days.
  • When ready slice salmon very finely and enjoy!
  • Don’t forget to lick your fingers 🙂

Gravalax

 For Salad:

1 tomato, quartered

1/2 celery stalk, chopped

thorn iceberg leaves

big red or black grapes, halved

1 slice of lemon, finely chopped

3 walnuts, chopped

homemade mayonnaise

dill

sea salt

black pepper