I came across the Hungry Hungry Hippies blog whilst searching for ideas of digger themed birthday cakes. I loved the cake that she made, enough to go and buy the book it was based on and make my own version! I started reading and found this recipe for a gluten free and nut free chocolate cake. I made this on the morning of Monsieur’s birthday, just before we headed down the coast. It is a good recipe indeed that can be made for the first time in the middle of packing for a weekend away.
Even R, who is not normally a cake-lover, enjoyed it, so it received a whole-hearted tick of approval. The first few times I made it, it was a light chocolate cake, but the muffins I’ve recently been making are denser and have a rich chocolate flavour. I usually make it into little muffins or cupcakes – I have small muffin trays that I use for almost every recipe. I find muffin size snacks perfect for freezing and easy to pack when I’m in a hurry. The last batch that I made, I added in a good handful each of frozen blueberries and raw cacao nibs. It added just a little extra to an already decadent snack. As a cake, it goes really well with thick, dollop-y cream, but the little cupcake/muffins are fine as they are.
There are different versions of this floating around; some are specifically for Thermomix and some use a standard food processor. In the Thermomix (TMX), this is very quick and easy to make. For anyone wanting to try this in a normal food processor, I would suggest using the method given in this version, which was sent to me by a friend who it for her son on his birthday! Great minds, or perhaps that should be great mamas think alike 😉MAGIC BEAN CHOCOLATE CAKE GLUTEN FREE, NUT FREE, CAN BE DAIRY FREE INGREDIENTS 420g can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed OR 110g dried red kidney beans soaked and cooked 1 tablespoon water 1 tablespoon vanilla essence 5 eggs 70g raw cacao powder or cocoa powder 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda 1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder 1/4 teaspoon pink salt 125g butter or 65g (⅓ cup) oil* 180g coconut sugar** Optional: frozen blueberries, raw cacao nibs, anything else that might take your fancy in chocolate cake! Ensure if you are going dairy-free that you use oil instead of butter and don’t use butter to grease your baking tin METHOD Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grease ring cake tin or muffin tray. Place red kidney beans, water, eggs and vanilla essence in TMX and blitz 2 minutes at speed 7. Add all other ingredients, except the optional ingredients, and mix for 20 seconds, at speed 4. Add optional ingredients, if using them, and mix on reverse for 10 seconds at speed 4. Pour into ring tin or muffin trays. Bake 30 minutes (ring tin) or 20-25minutes (muffin tray), or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. SOURCE: http://hungryhungryhippies.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/feeding-the-funky-bunch-magic-bean-cake/ * Original recipe suggests rice bran or vegetable oil. I haven’t made this with oil yet as I quite like butter! ** Original recipe uses sugar or rapadura sugar. I find that coconut sugar is just as good as rapadura sugar. These are quite decadent without being overly sweet.
“So, when are you going to have another one?”
“Where are you going for your next holiday?”
My heart sinks when I hear either of these questions, and their various iterations. I muster up a smile, and answer either vaguely or bluntly, depending on how tactful I feel that day. I am hearing these questions more and more, and liking them less and less.
The first is fairly easy to understand, and plenty of women get it and dislike it. I do want to ask it myself sometimes, because I’m curious about how many children people want to have, what goes into the decision process and whether their thoughts have changed since having the first child. The problem is that what people may plan or want, and what actually happens can be quite different things. If there is any conflict, or heartache, or difficulties occurring in making the “want” become reality, this question can be upsetting, depressing or just plain awkward. On a good day, I will answer vaguely “Oh, well, we’d like another but just have to wait and see”. On other days I will answer more bluntly, “Well, we just have to get one that sticks” which always results in silence and awkward shuffling of feet. But sometimes, I just don’t want to answer at all. Because we do want a second child. Really, really want one. Everything has been planned for having two children. We just finished extending our house so that Sibling can have a bedroom. I grew up an only child and never wanted that for my child. I want to go through it all again and when I think of the possibility that we may just have the one, a great big hole opens up inside me and wails “Noooooooooooo.” Some days, I don’t want to go through that mental trip of “How do I answer this. Yes we really want another but what if we can’t have one. I’m really wondering now – two years, two miscarriages, maybe it’s just not going to happen and so what then, what do we do with the whole extra room built just for the wanted-bub, and everything we’ve saved and at what point do we admit our family is just 3, no no no no no, I can’t do that, can’t accept that….wait… just smile and give them a fluffy answer” Some days, I want people to find a different question.
The second question is not as emotionally charged, but it’s also not a question that I was really aware of until now. Growing up with a single mum working full-time, there weren’t any family holidays. It wasn’t something that I was aware of, and I am only now realising that regular holidays and family holidays seems to be thing. A thing which we just don’t factor in our lives, except that one day we want to do the trek to Everest base camp and one day we want to take our children to Japan. Our holiday planning is for two main trips, in the distant future. Apart from missing out on two fun-looking trips with extended family this year, I generally feel okay about this because we prioritise other things: we choose to live in the city rather than moving out somewhere cheaper, we choose to live on one income so that I can stay at home, I choose to have a regular house cleaner so I can focus on doing things with Monsieur and cooking and organising. We are also incredibly fortunate to have our parents living in locations which are holiday destinations for others. We can just go down by the beach for a weekend here and there, or up north to my folks place where we can see so many stars at night, and there are all sorts of fun things for Monsieur to do that he never gets in the city. These are our little get-aways; beautiful places with the comfort of family.
Yet when I get asked this question, I feel like we should be going on family holidays regularly. We should be out camping, or travelling or doing something. As if we’re not quite doing it right if we’re not going places during school holidays. We do envision getting out and doing bike trails and going camping in a few years time; we’re just not there yet. It can be so easy with a simple question to compare our lives with others’ and feel inadequate, or that we’re missing out. What we never know is the things that they do without in order to have their holidays. When I look at our lifestyle, I wouldn’t go back to work so that we could go on holidays, I wouldn’t move out of the city and I wouldn’t give up having a cleaner come regularly. These are all things which impact our lives positively, every day and are worth more to me than a one week get-away once or twice a year.
My, my, my. Some days have positively crawled by, but the weeks, months and now years are galloping onwards. Already it is a month since his third birthday. I can hardly believe that it’s been and gone. I haven’t even looked at the photos from his birthday party – I just seem to exist in the space of “now” so much; now I am cooking, now I am talking to this person, now I am painting with Monsieur. Between the moments of “now”, the activities/thoughts/conversations just slide right out of my head, as though there is only room in my brain for the current moment. Things like looking through photos, emailing friends, organising council hard rubbish pick-up, basically anything that doesn’t launch itself at me is not getting a look-in these days. But I have a plan to change this and it has started this week with regular meditation and writing. R has also suggested doing some raw, unpolished posts with thoughts straight out of my head and photos straight out of my camera. I think that he’s on to something, but it is a difficult leap for me!
I’ve wanted to write about Monsiuer before another 6 months passes and everything has changed again. So here goes with some raw thoughts and contemplations about where he’s at. Apologies for poor grammar, lengthiness and spelling mistakes. Hopefully this “raw” concept won’t be too bad!
Sleep: He loves his sleep still. I’m starting to think that I may get my dream of him continuing naps until he starts kinder next year. All fingers are crossed. He sleeps solidly from 7/8pm to 6am, although when we’re not getting up at 6, he’ll go back to sleep for another hour and half. He’ll have an afternoon nap which is on average two hours but can be three. I can’t believe that we once thought he was just one of those people who didn’t need much sleep. I am not kidding! We really did think that, once upon a sleepless time. The other amazing thing is that he won’t get out of bed until we go into the room and tell him that it’s time to get up. I know, right! We’re enjoying it for every day it happens, having heard so many tales of the bedtimes that drag on and on and on. Some nights he will chortle and sing and chat away at full volume for a full hour after we say goodnight, but he stays in his bed. Last night was the first night with him calling out for me regularly in a completely non-urgent way, but when I stopped going to him, he just started singing another song. This aspect of life with him has us pinching ourselves to check that we’re not dreaming!
Food: He loves food, still. Hooray. When he’s about to go through a developmental spurt, he’ll want a full cup of milk with every meal. Every morning, he asks for milk on his scrambled eggs, to “cool them down”. He is also cooking with me more and more. He loves to taste all the ingredients, *all* of them, including bicarbonate soda and cornflour, to name a couple of odd ones. The only ingredient that he’s tasted individually and not liked was coconut oil. He asks me to tell him all the ingredients of something, and the other day he asked his grandma if the smoothie she had made had kale or spinach in it! I am really enjoying his love of food – it is so much fun trying new dishes with him, and so satisfying to cook for such an enthusiastic eater. When all three of us are eating together, he will check “Who made this?”, and then thank the appropriate person for making the meal. Awww….
He did have his first experience of having too much of a good thing, over Easter, unsurprisingly. He spent a morning making his way through the small solid eggs, and then later complained about his tummy feeling sore. We explained that that can happen when you eat too much chocolate and he didn’t ask for any more after that. A week later we reminded him about his chocolate bunny, which he ate very slowly!
Language: He’s picking up idioms now. It is cute and hilarious when asks “Mummy, did you sleep like a log?” He is playing with words, changing them and making up nonsensical ones. He loves to say “Pleek” instead of “Please”, and he invents a new version of “itadakimasu” for each mealtime. When seeing R off in the morning, Monsieur will call out “Bye bye Daddy-Paws!”, his special nickname for his daddy. This does get some alterations, depending on what Monsieur is looking at at the time, and what he finds amusing. Some variants have been Daddy-Paws-Light, Daddy-Cold-Paws, Daddy-Paws-Scrambled Eggs-Coffee, Daddy-Paws-Reflector-Bike Seat. It’s usually pretty obvious where he is getting his inspiration from each day!
He is coming out with some funny sentences and assumptions too. The other day he requested “And you will share? Because it’s Mummy’s?”, and as we were heading home he told me “When Z’s at home, Z will chase the cats away and hide!” Today at lunch he asked “Can you tell me about wee?”
He sings and hums all the time and has just started making up songs. Mostly they’re in his own language, so far. Common nursery rhymes such as Baa Baa Black sheep are also being translated into his own language, but the tune is completely recognisable.
He still calls the washing machine a washing shamine, and plays it up sometimes by saying “washing shashashashamine” and giggling like crazy.
The “why” questioning has started, sort of. Instead of asking “Why?”, he will ask “Because?” or “For?” or “What sort?”. He can keep up a constant stream of “Becauses?”s, so it feels very much like the ‘Why?” stage.
Favourites: Trains, trains, trains! A couple of months ago I took him to a model train expo and he could have stayed there all day. He still has the magazine and occasionally asks R or I to read it to him. There is one article that I refuse to read out loud because it is so poorly and painfully written. This afternoon he was looking through the magazine again and said to me “And next time we will go again!” He loves all his Thomas the Tank Engine books, and trains, and Thomas pillow pet, which in his words, is “Soooo soft and snuggly!”.
Penguins, seals, cats and bunny rabbits are his current favourite animals. We can spend up to an hour watching seals and penguins at the zoo, and any time he sees a picture of a penguin, he’ll sigh and declare, “Awwwwww, I LOVE penguins!” All due to the penguin in Lost and Found – a favourite book of ours. He loves Scarface Claw, from the Hairy McClary book series; we think that is the closest he has to a hero, given that he doesn’t watch TV so isn’t familiar with any of the standard super heroes, or much at all of mainstream characters.
He does know about characters from Cars though, thanks to the Cars bandaids. He wants to know all the names of the cars, but I’m holding off showing him the film. He has plenty of time to be indoctrinated with all this stuff. It’s not part of our lives (yet) and there is no need to make it so. He was very delighted with a pack of Cars themed flashcards that arrived today, and so was I as they include all the character names. Phew. Finally I can answer those questions!
He loves music. He can request his favourite track numbers from particular CDs, and always at home he wants to listen to the Buffy soundtrack. When I put other music on, he wants to know the artist and title of each song. He loves the CD from his Mini Maestro class, and surprisingly, so do I. There is a rotation of music CDs and story-telling CDs in our car, and he always wants a CD playing. He has just learnt how to use his player so now I will go into his room and hear music playing.
He loves stamping as well. I have a set of stamps from Japan which he adores – they’re of pussy cats, so of course he loves them.
Playing hide-and -seek – he properly discovered this game at a neighbour’s house a couple of weeks ago and just loves it. Today we played hide-and-seek in the garden; he crouched down in the weeds, hiding, and I kept up a running commentary of where I was looking in the garden while I actually continued weeding. It was a win-win game for us! And yes, the weeds were long enough for him to crouch in and almost be hidden. Ahem.
How am I feeling: This year is flying by so fast and I just want to slow down, put the brakes on with a screech and savour every moment with him. Next year he starts kinder, and he will be attending five days a week, 8:30-2:30. Basically it is the start of his schooling. I love spending time with him, and I love the days where we have nothing scheduled and we can just flow. There have not been enough of those days since summer holidays. There are a couple of his good friends who we’ve barely seen this year. He has even started saying “We haven’t seen Lucy yet?”, and “It’s been a while that we haven’t seen Ilka”. I love that he has friends that he cares about and thinks about and I hate that I haven’t been better organised to arrange play dates with his friends. I feel like I’ve gotten caught up in all these activities that he loves to do, but which take up almost all our time together – really with his sleep patterns, mornings are all that’s open for us to do things; afternoon play dates only happen if people come to us, because he often sleeps until 4 or 4:30. I suddenly realised yesterday that we don’t actually have to go to playgroup every week, or anything else for that matter. Not really. So today we skipped playgroup and played in the garden instead. It was just lovely, you know except for the bits where he pushed boundaries and didn’t listen to me, but that’s every day, to a smaller or larger extent. Two days of no scheduling has firmed my resolve that I want to spend time with my son; it is such a short time left until kinder. I’ve decided to drop playgroup next term, and will stay at home on beautiful sunny days like today. I am also switching his Shichida class to Saturdays so that R and I can take turns. This will free up three mornings a week for us – time to dream, time to explore, time to play, time to read, time to sing, time to dance, time to laugh, time to cook, time to ride, time to jump in puddles. This is what I want most right now, just oodles of time with my beautiful, mischievous, sparkly, sensitive, active son.
One of my go-to blogs for interesting, yummy gluten free recipes is Elana’s Pantry. I have tried a couple of different recipes from her blog and they have received a resounding thumbs-up from R, Monsieur and friends. The first time that I tried this recipe, I also made the Coconut Cream Frosting that Elana suggests for it. My frosting did not look as gorgeous as hers, and I found that I preferred the carrot cake without frosting. This is a very easy recipe to make, and I suspect it would be quick for anyone not cooking with a 3 year old helping!
I do recommend checking halfway through the cooking time. Our oven seems to be quite slow and I am always cooking things for longer than suggested. I have included both the cooking time given in Elana’s recipe and the cooking times that I have used.