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The French Experiment

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Have you read ‘French Children Don’t Throw Food‘ by Pamela Druckerman? I did last year and it was so interesting to read about how children are raised in France. It certainly dispelled any mother-guilt about sending my child to daycare.

I’ve recently read ‘French Kids Eat Everything‘ by Karen Le Billon which is a similar story about a Canadian woman living in France with her French husband and two young children. It explores the relationship and attitudes that the French have with food and compares the French diet to the typical American/Canadian diet. Karen’s experimentation with the French way of eating doesn’t always go to plan and she fails time and time again to understand the French philosophy but with each failure she seems to get closer and closer to the truth of French eating habits. By the end of the book she has developed an appreciation for the French diet and her once picky children have broadened their palates to include seafood, olives, spinach and beetroot.

The French seem to have a strict authoritarian approach to food from birth and their appallingly low breast-feeding rates are not something I envy. However the stories contained in this book are encouraging when it comes to broadening children’s palates. Karen emphasises the French enjoyment of their food and the powerful persuasive nature of peer pressure in getting children to try new foods and enjoy them. There’s a delightful anecdote about a family dinner and the children’s table which is set apart from the adults and carefully decorated, where the children are left to eat together and the older children successfully encourage the younger children to eat seemingly ‘adult’ foods.

Reading’ French Kids Eat Everything‘ has encouraged me to stretch my daughter’s food preferences and the array of receipes at the back of this book have been so helpful. We’ve had several four course dinners as a result. Starting with soup, then bread & cheese, then a main and dessert. And while, there has certainly been more washing up, the joy of spending time as a family, instead of rushing through dinner to get back to TV has definitely been worth it. Oh, and I’ve finally been able to get my daughter to eat her greens!

Sophie’s Spinach Surprise 

  • 1 zucchini, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 or 3 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • optional: 1 tsp butter and, if the spinach is bitter, a small spoonful of honey
  1. Bring zucchini and water to the boil in a medium saucepan, simmer for a few minutes until zucchini becomes translucent.
  2. Add spinach leaves and allow to wilt for 1 or 2 minutes
  3. Remove from heat and blend

For more recipes visit Karen’s website: http://karenlebillon.com/

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Raspberry, Banana & Coconut Bread

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Raspberry, Banana & Coconut Bread

Raspberry, Banana & Coconut Bread

I baked this lovely little morsel for tonight’s Brisbane Transition Hub get together. More to come about that later, but for now, here’s the recipe:

1 3/4 cup SR flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut cream
50g melted butter
1/4 cup plain flour
2 large bananas, mashed
2 eggs, whisked
100g frozen raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and line loaf pan with baking paper
2. Sift flours together & add sugar
3. In a separate bowl, combine bananas, eggs, milk & butter
4. Stir in thawed raspberries
5. Pour wet mixture into the flour & sugar & stir until combined
6. Pour into a loaf tin & cover with greased foil to stop overbrowning
7. Cook for 45-50mins or until firm. Turn out once cool

Notes: Instead of using raspberries, you can use any fresh or frozen berries that you have in stock. You could also substitute finely diced dried fruit for something different. I use 2 cups of plain flour with 3 teaspoons of baking powder rather than using 1 3/4 cup SR flour & 1/4 cup plain flour. I also don’t use the greased foil, as I don’t buy or use alfoil or glad wrap.

Making Bread

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There’s something warm and comforting about the aroma of freshly baked bread. It’s a familiarity with the past and the generations of women before us who woke before the break of dawn to bake the bread before the family woke up. I’m sure there was a lot of poetic love that went into those loaves. And I’m certain there would have been many tears of exhaustion as well. While I’m lucky enough to live in a time when I can simply drive to the store and purchase everything I need and practically anything I could want, I can’t help but appreciate those women and their efforts to provide for their families the only way they were allowed. Through their efforts in the kitchen and the home.

Reading Rhonda Hetzel’s blog Down to Earth has inspired me to try baking bread. Now that I make my bed most morning it seems like a logical next step to the day. I found this quick and easy recipe on the web and it turned out delicious drizzled with a little golden syrup.

Pumpkin Soup

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Today I am recovering from a mild bout of food poisioning (careful how you cook that chicken). The weather has been overcast and now the rain is falling outside. It’s days like these when I’m so thankful to have frozen leftovers in the freezer. Instead of spending half an hour or more in the kitchen cooking a meal, we can each go to the freezer when we’re ready for dinner and pick from a generous selection of leftover curries, casseroles, pastas & soups. My darling husband was generous enough to reheat some pumpkin soup for me and organise some warm toast with jam for dessert. 

Pumpkin Soup

– 1/2 or 1 whole pumpkin 

– 1-2 potoatoes

– 1 carrot 

– 1 onion 

– 1 stick celery

– 2 vegetable stock cubes

  1. Roughly chop all veggies and throw into large pot 
  2. Add the stock cubes and water so that the veggies are just about covered (about 1-1.5 litres) 
  3. Bring to boil 
  4. Lower heat & cover. Simmer for 40 mins – 1 hour. 
  5. Remove from heat and cool slightly before blending. 
  6. Serve with toast. 

The thing that I love about pumpkin soup, or any vegetable soup for that matter, is that they are so easy to put together. The amount of ingredients don’t really matter and you can add whatever you like. If you don’t have an ingredient you can leave it out or substitute it. For instance, if you don’t have any carrots on hand, you might like to try adding sweet potato instead. This is a very bland recipe but if you’d like to jazz it up try adding nutmeg & sour cream, or cumin & coriander for flavour. It suits me fine like this tonight though while my stomach is recovering. 

Sunday Roast

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I grew up having roast any day of the week so the grandeur of a roast meal was something ordinary. Something be to expected rather than admired & savoured. The Sunday Roast seems to me an archaic oddity. That being said, I would like to reinstate this tradition. And here’s why…

Sunday is traditionally a day of rest and recuperation. A day to reflect on the week gone by and plan for the week to follow. It is also the one day of the week that the family is likely to spend together and what better way to appreciate this than to sit down at the table as a family and appreciate a proper meal.

I think that part of creating a strong family involves tradition. Traditions build themes & reinforce family values. The saturday morning trip to the markets is about more than buying food for the next week. It is also about buying cheap, fresh, local produce because we care about our nutrition & saving money. Sending Christmas cards each year is a chance to keep in touch with family & friends and renewing those ties. Those cards say we value family & friendships. Australia Day BBQs aren’t just about the Triple J countdown and seeing friends, it’s also about celebrating how lucky we are to live in such a unique country. It’s saying, we’re proud to be Australian.

And so I would like to reinstate the Sunday Roast as a way to reflect on the past week. To celebrate the wins and commiserate on the losses. Together, as a family.