I’ve never considered myself a very good baker – there was a brief period in London when I managed to make some nice cakes and muffins, but most of the time baking is just too precise and not spontaneous enough for me. In other words, I don’t like not being able to improvise. And as a result, usually something goes wrong. When I make sweet things, I tend to stay clear of batter-based recipes. Anything like rocky road or puff pastry bites, fine. But no cakes.
But cooking is something I’ve long felt an affinity with. I love cooking, and more than that, I love eating good food. Nothing makes me as happy as a good meal, especially if I know it’s full of goodness too. Maybe that’s just increased since having Ava, because nothing makes me quite so happy as seeing Ava tuck into a big bowl of lentil massala, or stuff asparagus and olives into her face. She has expensive tastes. In fact the only cheeses she loves are sliced mozzerella or grilled halloumi.
Every so often I feel the need to evaluate our diet and see if we have slipped into any bad habits, or notice any gaping holes in our nutrition. We recently made the decision to be stricter with where our meat came from, choosing organic or not at all. I’m always thinking of ways to get more goodness into Ava, even though I think she has a very healthy diet. I’d noticed a while back she much prefers raw veg to cooked so I make an effort to give her some raw veg every day now. She certainly has a sweet tooth, but I don’t mind at all her having sweet things sometimes if the rest of her diet is so healthy. Plus, the type of sweet thing makes a difference. She’s never had sweets, but she does enjoy a bit of Mama’s special G+B’s chocolate. I can’t blame her for this. And she loves most fruit, which she has a lot of every day.
It never ceases to amaze me how much our diet and nutrition affects us – it literally forms the cells our bodies are made up of, and yet it also has an incredible influence on our mental and emotional health too. I never feel guilty for spending money on food because I think it is so so important, for children more than anyone, and I want Ava to have a full and varied diet that is full of joy, a source of love and happiness for her, as well as giving her the health she deserves. Nothing can be more important, surely.
I love good food blogs and am often so inspired to try something new. Today I came across a site called Naturally Ella, which is full of the most delicious looking vegetarian dishes. I cannot wait to try some of them. It reminded me that I should make an effort every week to try something new. It’s not difficult, and a great way of keeping things fresh. Right now we’re eating a lot of roasted veg, of dishes made with organic mince (I am still desperately craving protein) and during the day Ms Ava and I are having a lot of deli-style foods – oatcakes, hummous, hams, cheeses, olives etc.
Last week, finally, I learnt how to make my own pizza dough, which is something I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. Ever since Coral made an amazing homemade pizza for Ivy’s 1st birthday party. And now I see how simple it is, I really wish I’d done it sooner. It was one of the only things we still bought, occasionally, pre-prepared (We used to get the fresh deli ones from Morrisons until I was put off one day by something or other)
Since making it for the first time we’ve had it a further three. It’s just so good, so doughy, but so tasty and delicious. Ava loves it too, making it a great lunch option for us. I thought I’d share our favourite pizza yet on here, made from the pizza dough recipe that has worked best for us (most of the ones I found through Google are pretty similar anyway), just because. Good food should always be shared, in some form or another.
500g of strong white bread floud
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp Olive Oil
325ml of warm water
Mix all the ingredients together, and then knead for a few minutes. You’ll need to flour your hands a little. Let your Little join in too. Leave in a ball form in the bowl, cover in cling film, and leave for half an hour somewhere warm-ish.
Meanwhile, make your tomato sauce. For this I used our standard tomato sauce recipe which works very well:
1 tin chopped tomatos
healthy sprinkle of oregano
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Sprinkle of salt
Healthy sprinkle of black pepper
2-3 cloves of garlic
Let it simmer for around 10 to 15 minutes until it has reduced, and then it can cool a little.
After half an hour, split the dough into two and knead a little, getting rid of air bubbles. Roll out into any shape you want. Flour a couple of baking trays and place your bases on there. Smother in delicious tomato sauce, and then cover in whatever toppings you like. We used torn up organic ham, then grated mature cheese, and finally slices of mozerella. And done!
It takes about half an hour in the oven. And it is delicious.