Cooking for my ¬†family’s ‘special needs’

As I write this Easter Monday storm Katy is raging outside bringing wind rain & even snow!

We have a large extended family & at all major holidays & birthdays we always have a big family dinner with myself & my sister in law sharing the cooking duties. We have always had to consider food intolerances as my brother in law suffers from cheese & chocolate induced migraines,  recently my husband has been diagnosed with gluten & dairy intolerance & one of our boys has become vegan!

 For Easter Sunday I was on dessert duty & As you can imagine thinking of desserts that cover all needs has been tricky, gluten free flour is ok but I find it too dry so often use flourless cake recipes – a favourite being the whole orange & almond cake see Here – there are lots of variations, it’s very simple to make & is gluten & dairy free. Another favourite is Nigella’s Lemon polenta cake also gluten & dairy free.

Finding vegan desserts is a little more difficult – fruit salad being the obvious choice but a little boring. Yesterday I tried something amazing, vegan meringues made from the waste liquid in a can of chick peas!

OMG it actually works – whisked, it has enough protein & starch to become a direct replacement for egg whites. It is a total revelation & I can’t wait to try making mousses & cakes without eggs!

My first attempt – a little flat – I probably should have added the sugar more slowly but I will be experimenting with this a bit more to make the perfect vegan pavlova. I also made a lovely vegan lemon cream/curd using coconut cream to go with these meringues – both recipes from Vegan Lass – hers look much better than mine! No one could believe they were made without eggs.

We make homemade hummus all the time so chickpea water is in abundance here- lots of experimentation to come:)

I need to continue to add more vegan dessert recipes into my repertoire so that I don’t make ‘special’ desserts just yummy ones that everyone wants to eat!


Garden Revamp #5 (potager)

The garden is starting to spring to life & I need to get on with the last corner in the new revamped garden – the veg plot. I have decided to try to make a little potager garden- a mix of fruit veg & flowers, all grown together to look pretty & act as companions to reduce pests by confusion /distraction. In France this is a common style of productive but pretty gardening,  my plot is quite tiny, approx 2m square, I will try not to get too carried away……


At the end of the summer I covered the area in cardboard & then emptied emptied the compost bin on top & then covered with well rotted manure. We found an old carpet & more cardboard to cover over winter & to encourage the worms to do their work, so now it should be ready for some planting. 

My plan is to have a permanent structure of columnar fruit trees / standard bushes & then grow some beans, sweet peas, squash etc up obelisks & edible salad & flowersin the space around.

The trees are ordered & should arrive soon but I need to purchase or make some type of obelisk & decide on some veg varieties. 

This is the picture in my head – watch this space……………


This is the tiny potager in a beautiful Berkshire garden – see here for more stunning images from this garden.

Alternative Baby Blanket

imageIn my last post I showed you my Gaudi inspired project that was going to be a blanket for a friend’s new  baby girl due next month.

I liked the wavy ripple pattern & colours so much that I have decided to keep it & make it into a wrap for myself & so I needed to find another newborn gift.

It took a while but finally decided on a soft chunky blanket that will double as a play mat (I needed something  quick to make too)!

I chose Bernat Baby Blanket yarn which is super chunky, lovely & squishyly soft & lightweight. It’s machine washable & dries quickly too, so very practical.  

 I decided on a modern colour palette & simple stripe pattern using dc throughout. I used a size 10 crochet hook & a foundation chain of 60 stitches. The 2 main Colours were cream & sand with a pink multi yarn for the stripe. I did 3 rows each in the 2 main colours separated by 1 row of the multi yarn. I used 2 big balls of the main colours & carried on with the pattern  til they ran out & then made an edging with the pink – one row dc then another (dc,ch1) all around – gives a sort of gentle frilly edge. It’s big enough to be used as a pram blanket or a comfy floor mat.


I had enough leftover yarn to make a little cocoon/ bowl

 Hope they like it:)