Summerly days behind and a long weekend ahead of us

It has been pretty quiet on the blog – for no better reason than: a whiff of summer. The last couple of days have been so blissfully summery that we just HAD to spend each and every spare minute outside. Though we didn’t manage it down to the beach again we still had a great time and the kids simply loved it. They dug straight into the sandpit or the tree swing or joined me in planting some pots and eagerly watered them. Also getting dressed in the mornings was no longer trouble and fighting – it was quick and easy and done in no time seeing that we only had to take some shorts and shirts on and off we could go.
Today is the first day for the weather to cool off slightly – but that’s ok so we finally get things done inside the house and also here on the blog.
Despite the warmth and long outside hours I managed to try a number of new gluten-free dishes which I will hopefully type in rather sooner than later. I have tried some more Quinoa, a delicious office lunch containing beetroot, red beans and gerkins and a brilliantly moist buckwheat bread, just to mention a few.

For now there lies a long weekend ahead of us, which we will spend visiting dear old friends down in the southwest of the country. This means a pretty long drive in the car – 4 or 5 hours depending on the traffic – with the 3 monkeys in the backseat. I already started preparing some entertainment (a.k.a. taking some long forgotten CDs and books) and yummy provisions. I’ll try sushi rolls for the drive and the first day, which we will most likely spend at the Zoo when we get there. I know hubby, Miss Monkey and I myself just LOVE sushi and I want to leave the rolls pretty big instead of cutting them down into bits to make it more of a to-go-snack than fancy meal. I think of using tuna, avocado, capsicum und cucumber as filling and I hope it makes a good meal for a day on the road. Also, I’m curious to see if the smallest monkey will have it – though this one is a real food machine and normally gulps almost everything. The middle monkey won’t have it as far as I know. He has been a real food-moaner lately and I think this really sucks but so far I haven’t come up with something to do about it and I really don’t want to force food into him. Basically, though, I think he’s is just a lazy eater – too lazy to try out new tastes. Hmm, we’ll see how it goes when we’re away for those days. I will definitely keep you posted.

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Mothers’ Day

All you Moms out there – have a happy day today!
Mine started at 5.16 a.m. sharp when the little monkey woke up and was no way going back to sleep again. Not exactly the kind of kickstart for the day I had in mind. It got better though. Shortly after the smallest was up also the two bigger monkeys were wide awake and without discussing agreed to keep an eye on their little brother and keep themselves company and busy so hubby and I could stay in bed for another hour of sleep.
When it was eventually time for me to get up, too, I got spoiled with loads of hand- and love-made presents from my kids:

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It kind of brought me back to those days when I myself was actually making presents for my Mom on Mothers’s Days, instead of just running down to the shops at the last minute to simply buy her something. I know my middle monkey spent a whole afternoon, say 3 to 4 hours, this last week to make my present! All by himself, behind closed doors. Miss Monkey was quicker and more self-dependent but the great card she gave me was all hand- and love-made, too.

Also, I am glad we decided to take our own Moms and also one of my Grandmas out to celebrate today. We drove out to the country with them, took them to a lovely, picturesque, refurbished castle where we had a remarkably delicious brunch all together. It was a glorious, happy morning and it also made my own Mothers’ Day really perfect.

I am especially happy and grateful today because very early this morning I had to learn of the death of a woman I know. I cannot even say we were close friends because we were not. I got to know her when living in Australia; she worked with my husband and we occasionally met. She died this morning after battling cancer. She and her family are beyond brave and positive and strong. They had to bear more than anybody can possibly bear and they never gave up. She was a Mom, too, and she died on Mothers’ Day morning leaving two small kids and a husband, a family, friends, people who knew her and who were happy to have her in their lives. I feel overly sad to know that she’s gone because she of all people would have deserved to win this battle. And I feel grateful and blessed to be here, happy and healthy, with my kids, husband, family and friends happy and healthy, too.

Katja, I know you are up there and keep an eye on your dear ones. I wish from now on, there will only be sunshine for you on every single day, because this is the least you deserve.

Post-holiday – again

 

Hi all, I’ve been absent for a while as you probably noticed. We took a week off and went to Denmark for a family vacation with the monkeys and my brother plus his family. Let me tell you this was a totally different kind of holiday from what we’ve experienced just 3 weeks ago when taking a timeout in Italy! 🙂 But it was no less fun and enjoyable and first and foremost: it was spending quality family time together all the 5 of us, something we really needed to do. We captured playgrounds in the woods or at the beach, conquered numerous castles and watched the Royal Guards and Horses on duty. We had a lot of Danish ice cream and some nice BBQ-lunches in the sun. We got drenched on a walk as short as 150 meters and discovered the fun of Viking Chess Battles with the whole family.

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Due to those vacation and the following Easter weekend which we spent with hubby’s family at the cottage, I haven’t tried new or transformed old gluten-free dishes lately but I do have a number of delicious meals queuing which I will of course write about here shortly. So be prepared for gluten-free versions of traditional food such as Lasagna or pie and culinary experiments including Quinoa and Buckwheat and yet another new bread.

Family favorite: Potato-salad, gluten-free

I know I’m one day behind promised publication of this dish, but I can assure you: it was worth the wait. 🙂

This potato salad is a classic around where we live and each and every family has a secret formula of ingredients and way of cooking – of course each claiming to be ‘THE’ real potato salad. So, here comes my ‘secret’ recipe. It is a mixure of the different kinds of potato salads eaten in hubby’s and my family, I just picked out the best parts and made my own.  It’s not exactly a quick one but it’s eventually easy in the end and both kids and adults love it.

For a feeding of 8 you’ll need:

– 2,5 kg potatoes, cooked THEN peeled and sliced or diced

– 2-3 onions, peeled and finely diced (or chopped in the food processor)

– 400 g gherkins, diced. IMPORTANT: Keep the brew!! You’ll need it for the dressing

– 400 g cooked ham (or something similar) – buy in a piece and then also dice like the gherkins

– 200 g mayonnaise – buy the ‘real’ mayo, not fat-reduced etc. take a look at the ingredients, real good mayo should contain not much more than eggs and oil, at least there is a number of labels without gluten

– some vegetable oil

– 1 tbl. spoon butter

– 1 tbl. spoon gluten-free all purpose flour

You can cook (and even peel) the potatoes a day in advance if it fits your schedule, if not start preparation with the potatoes because they need to cool down to be easily peeled and sliced.

Heat oil and diced onions in a small pot on medium heat until the onions become  glassy, then fill into a small bowl or plate. In the same pot now heat the butter until liquid, add the flour and stir well until combined. Fill roux up with the brew saved from the gherkins, stir constantly until thickened. Then turn off from the heat. This is the basis of the salad’s dressing. Now add all other ingredients: diced gherkins, diced ham, onions and mayonnaise. Season generously with salt and pepper as the potatoes will soak up a lot of salt. Stir well until it’s a consistent mass. Slice the potatoes into a big bowl or pot and add the dressing. Stir well but carefully in order not to break (or mash 😉 ) the potatoes. Cover and set aside for at least 5 hours in a cool place, best would be over night.

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Preparation will take about an hour or 1.5 hours, but it’s really worth it. You can have this salad all by itself or serve with chicken, steak or frankfurter. Voilà!

 

Going on a holiday

Yes. You’ve read correctly. I am going on a holiday. Just hubby and me. We are taking a time-out just for the 2 of us leaving our monkeys in the caring and loving hands of our parents. Hmm.

It’s the first couple-getaway for us since our anniversary in 2011 – so it’s been quite a while. Since 2011 I have basically not spent a single night without at least one of my monkeys. Every parent knows what that means: 30 months of sleeping in stand-by. Permanent alert-mode. Hmm.

I’ve had 3 sick monkeys and one sick self around here during the last month and I feel really ready for this vacation now: I’m trying to put all my doubts and worries aside by the help of an overwhelming need for recreation, alone-time with hubby – and sleep. Long, undisturbed, restoring sleep. Hmm. Still. However much I need this vacation, those silly doubts and worries just won’t stay in that corner I’ve sent them to. They keep sneaking back into my mind and leave me feeling insecure. I have never ever before left them – my 3 monkeys all at once is it. Least of all I haven’t left them for 5 consecutive nights! so, here’s when the ‘what-ifs’ start to rumble.: What if one of them gets sick? Or all of them? Even worse! What if my parents get sick? What if they won’t sleep / eat / feel  well / behave? What if something happens to us? What if the plane mystically disappears from the radar? Just happened… What if I simply won’t be able to rest, relax, recreate, sleep, talk to hubby … enjoy myself after all? Hmm. I feel kind of trapped between those silly worries and the urgent need for some time away.

What keeps my mind busy and off those doubts nowadays is organizing the next week. It is not just me and hubby going away for 5 days. It’s not just throwing some dresses and stuff into a suitcase, checking us in online and off we are. NO. It is all about list-making, scheduling, plan-writing, explaining, preparing etc at the moment. Sometimes I stop and wonder how I actually manage considering my non-existing Master-degree in Logistics. 🙂

Tomorrow I’ll start packing up the clothes and 1 million more things which need removal over to my parents’ for the time of our absence.  I even went to a big Swedish furniture today (SATURDAY) in order to buy a safety guard for my parents’s staircase. It was an absolute nightmare as the store was already crowded before it even opened but now I feel a little more relaxed seeing that my little monkey probably won’t attempt to descend the stairs.

I know the next 3 days will fly by so I won’t have too much time to think and / or worry. And before I know I’ll be sitting on my seat in row 24 off to the lovely south and my 3 sweet monkeys will be nothing but fine – enjoying their time off from their overprotective, ever-worrying mom.

I’ll definitely let you know how it went.

Gluten-free soda cake

Like I promised I gave another new cake a shot at the weekend by transforming a “normal” recipe into a gluten-free cake. The result was really great and the formulation was quite easy.

Note: You’ll need a measure cup with ‘ml’-display.

What else you’ll need to make a normal round or square (25-30cm) cake:

– 200ml sugar

– 350ml gluten-free all purpose or – preferably – cake’n’bake flour

– 1 tbsp. baking soda

– 2 tbsp. lemon juice

– 100ml lemonade or soda – basically any sparkling liquid

– 2 eggs

– 100ml vegetable oil

For the topping you need 250g whipped cream and 250g sour cream, strawberries

Mix all cake ingredients until the dough is becoming smooth. Grease the baking pan or cover with pan liner. Fill in the dough and bake about 20-25 minutes (175 degrees C).

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Let the cake cool and then cut it in half. Whisk whipped cream until stiff, add some sugar (2 tbsp.) and sour cream, mix carefully. Apply half of the cream on top of one cake half, then cover with the second half and spread the left over cream on top. Let it cool in the fridge for about 2 hours. In case you use fresh strawberries, slice them. I used frozen strawberries, so I pureed them to get some sort of sauce.

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Slice the cake and serve with strawberries or strawberry puree on top. Voilà!

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This cake was really delicious and no-one noticed it was gluten-free (actually, I was the only one on a diet when we had the cake). It is very juicy but not muddy. So, this is an absolute recommendation. To make things a little easier (especially when it comes to slicing and serving the cake), I guess it would be ok to leave the cake in one and just spread the cream on top, resulting in an one-layer cake then. The combination of cake, cream and strawberries is a winner one way or the other.

Also, I think the basic recipe makes a great substitute for our usual “kids-cake” which we have for birthdays, school parties etc. Just add some icing on top, some deco such as sprinkles, jelly beans or smarties… done is the perfect gluten-free kids cake.

The difficulty of taking it slow

The last 2 weeks were really tough around here: One after another monkey got sick, all with the same kind of throat infection – all likewise bad tempered, unbalanced and suffering. Each mother knows these spirits during a child‘s sickness usually come in waves – now imagine 3 monkeys, a new sick one every second day. I had all different moods and stages here on each single day. Yippie.

Here comes the first chance for me to just lean back, relax and: take it as it is, take it slow, take it easy. I failed. I just cannot do this, I am incapable of that. When I stay at home with sick kids it‘s not me thinking „Now let‘s have a nice and cosy time, shut the blinds, watch silly movies, eat what we‘re up to and just take our time to recover. I‘ll help you with that.“ Instead I let the kids watch silly movies an eat what they want while I try to get as many things done around the house as I possibly can – things which were way off the list yesterday but now that I‘m home anyway… Silly me! I don‘t know why it‘s so hard for me to just let go, take it slow. I ended up pretty stressed and annoyed by the situation and ached for the moment when the front door opened and hubby came home. Chance clearly missed.

BUT the second chance was waiting just around the corner. The kids were recovering and pretty much ready to return school and kindy when I myself suddenly buckled. I felt a mix of everything – sick in anyway. So I took thursday and friday off and tried to relax and recover. It started promising: hubby drove the kids to school so I could remain in my PJs and go straight back to bed for another 3-hour-sleep after the troops had left the field: Check. It was marvelous! And really relaxing indeed. Then, on thursday, I got up, showered and dressed. Quickly hang up the washing before shopping the groceries just to be back in time so I managed to walk to school to pick the boys up. Yeah. Not marvelous, not relaxing. In the afternoon I felt more sick than ever. Chance missed – again.

The final chance came the next morning, again I went straight back to bed for 3 more delightful hours. When I got up, I made myself a nice breakfast, talked to my best friends on the phone, read the paper in the sun room, had a chat with Miss Monkey who came back home from school early. I took things very slow, closed my eyes when something worth cleaning/tidying/washing/… came into focus, I walked slowly to pick the boys up and even slower back home with them. By the end of the day I indeed felt recovered, refreshed, good.

Well, that wasn‘t all too difficult, I thought. So why…? And: It was worth it seeing the effects. Still… We‘ll see how it goes the next time around.

One-pot-pasta – sensational!

Time for another gluten-free, quick and easy dinner recipe. Today I’d like you to meet ‘One-pot-pasta’. When I heard about it first (I think watching Jamie Oliver?!) I really couldn’t believe that a pasta meal can be just as simple as that. Already the first try turned out to be a full hit and I’ve tried numerous variations since. On last week’s dinner table was Spaghetti Bolognese: I put everything into a pot, brought it to boil, let it simmer on low heat and once I’ve set the table – dinner was ready:

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What I used for this one-pot-pasta:

– 500g minced beef

– 1 onion, diced

– 1 carrot, diced

– 2 tblsp. tomato paste

– 700ml tomato passata (or 2 small cans of diced tomatoes)

– 250ml water

– 300-350g gluten-free pasta

– salt, pepper, rosemary… to season

Add some olive oil to your pot, heat it up and add onion, carrot and beef. Sauté for some minutes until the beef begins to cook. Fill up with tomato paste, passata and water and bring to a boil. Add pasta, stir thoroughly. Let it cook for 3 mins and then cover it with the lid, turn the heat on low and let it simmer 5-8 mins (gluten-free pasta needs a little longer than regular pasta). Stir occasionally. Serve with grated cheese and / or basil leaves.

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It was really yummy and the kids loved it, even my hubby was wowed. Next time around I will use shorter pasta instead of spaghetti though – as long as the spaghetti are still hard it’s really difficult to stir. 🙂 Enjoy! Voilà!