Monthly Archives: April 2012

Beetroot brownies

As I mentioned earlier, we received beetroot in our vegetable box this week with which I made brownies courtesy of a recipe from River Cottage Everyday.

I slightly over baked them as I used two smaller tins rather than the size specified in the original recipe (as below), but with a decent vanilla ice cream they were still very tasty.

You do notice a subtle beetroot flavour, but the following day my beetroot-hating brother still enjoyed a couple of slices!

Beetroot brownies

Approximately 20

250g beetroot – grated
250g 70% chocolate – broken into small pieces
250g unsalted butter – cubed
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
150g self raising flour
Pinch of salt


Turn oven on to 180 degrees Celsius/ gas mark 4.

Grease a baking tin, approximately 20 x 25cm in size and line the base with baking paper (if you’re being good – I usually skip this and pay for it later).

Boil the beetroot until tender. Once cooled, peel, grate and set aside. ( I actually prepared the beetroot the day before, when baby was napping, and kept it in the fridge until I started the recipe).

Over a pan of boiling water, melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl until you have a delicious looking chocolate soup. Leave to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until combined. Stir in the slightly cooled chocolate/butter mixture.

Add the flour and salt and mix in until combined, making sure you don’t overwork the mixture.

Lastly, fold in the grated beetroot. Pour into prepared baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is crumbly and an inserted knife comes out with some mix (you don’t want it to come out completely clean – it will be overdone).



Right now (Soulemama style)

Rain © by alexik

:: watching my baby boy sleep (I should sleep too…)
:: reading The Hunger Games. I only started last night but am hooked already! Just what I need to fill the void after finishing the Milennium trilogy.
:: mastering the “skill” of reading whilst feeding baby. Kindle helps!
:: eating all the time, or so it seems, as this feeding job is exhausting! I can’t get enough of pears, prunes, the odd biscuit or two too…
:: thinking about my brother and future sister-in-law who are moving to beautiful Dartmouth next week. Oh how I shall miss them being so near, but it isn’t long until we move either…
:: wishing it would stop raining long enough for baby and I to walk to the doctors this afternoon.
:: planning our weekends to see as many dear friends and family before we leave.
:: choosing  recipes for this weekend for some very special friends. Currently thinking of chocolate and beetroot brownies to use the gorgeous beetroot which came in our vegetable box this morning.

A goal: Learn French well

Livres anciens © by zigazou76

This one is a little more obvious maybe, but I hope to learn French; not just well, but really well (eventually).

Right now I’m practising the basics every day as I drive to and from work and in the next couple of months I hope a little more will settle in my mind.

A quick tip: I ripped my French with Michel Thomas CD’s to iTunes and interspersed a selection of French language music between each track to break up the spoken word and spend some time tuning my ear into listening. This made it much easier to listen to the CDs day after day – especially when I’m tired and driving home from the office.

The good news is I have time. I have as long as it takes our little one to learn to speak, and then as long as it takes him to delve into the depths of literature on offer, to get up to the same level. I think that should be OK with a sustained effort and I’d hate to not be able to talk about great books and the beauty of language with him.

Reading and writing is hugely important to me in English, and in the long run I hope to find the same pleasure in the French language. It’s exciting to think about how many new books there will be to explore!

À bientôt


This week

I almost didn’t meet my first goal!

Next week I will have to focus a little harder in those spare moments when baby is sleeping, maybe leave the folding of nappies or that much needed shower for a later time, when Shake is home ;)

20120422-124759.jpg – as of this week we are smiling!

There are a few items that have caught my bleary eyes during the week that I thought I would share:

Our friends made us a variation of this cake - delicious! I’m dying to make my own and will share with you when I do.

With our impending move, I love reading about facts and figures on France. I especially like point 36!

In the past 3 weeks we have been to two weddings here, with baby(!), both of which were beautiful and ridiculously happy days :) The food was extremely impressive, seasonal with high quality ingredients. I especially enjoyed the desert for the ladies – elderflower jelly with seasonal berries, lemon posset, meringue and vanilla ice cream, served in a Le Parfait preserving jar (the men had deconstructed millionaire’s shortbread, in case you were wondering).

As a new mother, lists such as this catch my eye, although they don’t always make me feel better!

Wishing you a lovely week


Making time

Just over 5 weeks ago we had a baby :)

He is an absolute dream come true, but I now wonder what on earth we did before he was here?

It has been far too long since my first/last post but I’m not sure why. I love the thought of this blog and what it represents and it will be a lovely space to share our new adventures.

So, in line with Shake’s goals I am going to make more time to blog and try not to use our little man as an excuse. My goal will be to blog at least twice a week, initially.

Wish me luck!



Baby Bake n Shake

A goal: baking the perfect sourdough boule

Poilane loaf © by grongar

While we’re counting down to moving day, I thought it would be a good exercise to post about some goals; just a few of things I’d like to achieve in our newly configured way of life.

Once we know what we’d like to achieve, we can organise our life around those goals to give us the best chance of success. It sounds obvious, but I believe it requires a conscious effort to make something like this happen.

Goal 1 (though they’re not in order of priority): Baking the perfect sourdough boule

Early efforts - much to learn

These days I can knock up an average loaf of bread without looking at a recipe so I’m happy I’ve developed the basic bread-making skills. But with bit more time, I’d like  to make something really good. Sourdough, however, is a special kind of baking I’ve never managed to fit into the 9-5 office job way of life.

So I’m aiming high… Poilâne high.

I’m not kidding myself that I can equal their 80 years of expertise, but their sourdough is the best I’ve ever tested, so I’ll point my efforts in their direction. And if it takes a lifetime of trial and error to get 80% of the way there, I’d say that’s time well spent.

So far, I have this to go on:

Poilâne is most famous for a round, two-kilogram sourdough country bread referred to as a miche or pain Poilâne. This bread is often referred to as wholewheat but in fact is not: the flour used is mostly so-called grey flour of 85% extraction (meaning that some but not all of the wheat bran is retained). According to Poilâne’s own website, the dough also contains 30% spelt, an ancestor of wheat.

And I have a source of grey flour and spelt.

More goals coming soon.

Shake out.

Getting ready for the move to France

Eurotunnel © by Mike Knell

After years of talking about this, and reading countless books on the things we want to do with our time, our EuroTunnel tickets are now booked.

So I’ve started work on the blog and the adventure will be documented.

80 days to go. Not that I’m counting :)

Shake out.