On the menu: fun with chia seeds

Wednesday 

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I’ve been curious to try out chia seeds (although I’m currently drawing the line at those chia seed desserts in Wholefoods, they don’t exactly look appetising), so I tried out the Raw Shredded Coconut, Chia and Almond Cereal recipe from My Petite Kitchen Cookbook by Eleanor Ozich (which is full of what looks like yummy healthy whole food recipes). As well as wanting to try chia seeds, I’m keen to increase the amount of nuts I’m eating, which basically means trying to find more ways of eating almonds, cashews and peanuts, as they’re the only nuts I like (and even then I’m not terribly keen). I also tend to like the idea of muesli and granola but tend not to like shop bought stuff in practice because it’s invariably got something in it I don’t like and / or they’re way too sweet, so I was keen to try and make my own. Anyway, luckily the coconut, almond and chia cereal was a success and it’s really yummy. I’m not much of a milk drinker (ooh this blog post is making me sound fussy), so when I eat muesli I eat it either soaked in apple juice or with plain yoghurt and this cereal turns out to be really good with the yoghurt.

Sunday

(No photo, this was real rush job, in between shifts baking)

The next experiment with chia seeds was Seeded Banana Bread from A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones (which I’ve cooked from before with reasonable success). It was a really simple bung all the wet ingredients in one bowl, bung all the dry ingredients in another and then combine the two together sort of recipe. The seeds in the ‘seeded’ part of the recipe could be any small seeds you wanted, I used about 50% linseeds, 20% poppy seeds and 30% chia seeds and you add a lot, so it really is a dense seeded loaf and it turned out in the end that I had to add even more seeds because when it came to putting the last wet ingredient in the bowl, the eggs, the very eggs that I swore must be in date in my fridge, were not in date. This would normally be panic stations but luckily Jones gives instructions for using chia seeds as an egg substitutive! Hence me adding even more chia seeds than I planned but it did work impressively well, you basically soak chia seeds in water for a few minutes (google the exact proportions if you’re interested), then add the whole lot to your mixture and it acts as a binding agent and it did. The resulting cake, was, as I said, very densely seeded but it gives it an incredibly lovely texture and it is also incredibly filling. Calorie wise it’s not exactly diet food (being slightly more calories than a chocolate bar) but I know full well I could eat a chocolate bar and want something else within half an hour, whereas with the banana cake, that’s me sorted until the next meal. It’s also incredibly high in fibre and all the other goodies you find in those seeds.

So I am actually already almost out of my packet of chia seeds but I will be buying more, as a family I’ve been looking for a new good source of fibre ever since I switched the family from wholemeal bread to white bread (yes, I know) when I was shocked to discover exactly how much sugar they put in wholemeal bread! I do plan on getting my act together (at some point, maybe 2016) and making wholemeal bread more regularly than pretty much the 0% frequency I’m doing it at the moment (you don’t see sugar in Paul Hollywood’s wholemeal bread recipes!) but until then white bread it is (which the rest of the family are rather glad about, they’re probably hoping for some equally horrifying health story about veggie sausages so that I stop buying and making them eat those to and instead go back to real ones). Also it’s a handy tip knowing how to use chia seeds as an egg substitute to, for the next time I run out of eggs (not sure how well it’d go with a Victoria Sponge though!), so definitely something useful to have in the kitchen.

Anyway back to the chia seeds and the banana bread, whilst making it I had the sneaking suspicion that the kids would class this as one of my ‘healthy cakes’ and turn their noses up at it but they didn’t! I think the moistness and natural sugar of the bananas helped, so I will be making this again.

Murder

Murder (Mayhem, #2)Murder by Sarah Pinborough

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Murder is the sequel to Mayhem and it is very much a sequel, so much so, if you haven’t read Mayhem yet, I very much recommend that you plan on reading one book after the other (if you plan to at all) because with a long gap, as I had, it can take a good chunk of the beginning of Murder until you finally remember who is who. Murder very much continues the story of Mayhem more or less where it left off (with just a few years of people being miserable in between). Anyway, whereas Mayhem is about the Jack the Ripper murders and another group of murders that happen at the same time ‘The Torso Murders’, Murder is about what happens to the survivors in the aftermath. I’m desperately trying not to give away spoilers, particularly for people who haven’t read Mayhem either but there is a supernatural element to the story but I like how you’re always left wondering, as the story is told from different character viewpoints, whether the supernatural things they fear they are undergoing isn’t actually the result of drug addiction and bad mental health. In Murder we see this fight with the supernatural and/or insanity again but this time I couldn’t help feel that the character undergoing this battle should have known better, the author does try and tackle this and I guess even the most sensible men will do stupid things sometimes for pride, ego, love but it just somehow felt less ‘believable’

All in all though it’s a rather depressing book, particularly in that you can take it as an allegory on how evil always persists and how it ripples out and touches the lives around it. There was not a drop of redemption or hope in it at all.

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The Museum of Extraordinary Things

The Museum of Extraordinary ThingsThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me a long time to get through this book, it was lovely and it was very evocative of a growing New York at the beginning of the 20th century but it was quite slow paced and nothing really happens (that much anyway) until the end. Telling the tale of a side show exhibit, her domineering father and a lapsed Jewish photographer, I felt like I did learn more about New York in that period but nope, it turned out to be not really a book for me.

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Foxglove Summer

Foxglove Summer (Peter Grant, #5)Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I anticipate new Ben Aaronovitch books almost as keenly as I would a new Game of Thrones book or a new JK Rowling, I particularly anticipate the audiobook version as the narrator for the Rivers of London series Kobna Holdbrook-Smith has the characters and tone down perfectly. So I leapt on the audiobook of Foxglove Summer and was absolutely not disappointed. Aaronovitch’s series is getting stronger and stronger. In this one Peter Grant has escaped London to make what first appears to be a routine enquiry in rural Hertfordshire but things are never routine with Peter and he soon finds he has to stick around to help investigate the disappearance of two children. I really liked this one and can not wait for the next.

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On the menu: caramelised pear and buckwheat pudding cake

Sunday 

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Life is busy at the moment, so not much time to cook, well, not cook properly anyway but I’ve been aware that that is always the danger time when my diet (as in what I eat day to day and not me trying to loose weight, although I have quite a bit of that to loose to) slips. So I’m back to having vegetable boxes delivered, Mr. Lacer groaned when he saw one in the kitchen again as I have a bit of a record about not using the contents of the boxes up but no, not this time, I swear, although it is hard, I had a butternut squash in my veg box last week and as soon as I saw it I could almost literally taste the thick gorgeous butternut squash soup I was going to make from it but have I had time? No.

Anyway, one thing we tend to struggle using up in veg boxes is fruit that although we like in desserts and cakes and things, we, as a family, tend not to eat them on their own, pears being one of them, so I made caramelised pear and buckwheat cake from Love, Bake, Nourish and it was gorgeous, three out of four Lacers liked it (Girl Lacer didn’t because I think the cake bit was a bit too ‘healthy’ for her). I had to adapt the recipe a little because even though I could have sworn blind that I had ground almonds in the kitchen, I even knew which shelf, could I find them? Nope. So I added extra buckwheat flour instead and I kid you not, I found the ground almonds less than 60 seconds after I had put the extra buckwheat in, too late then but it was fine.

I am now looking at Love, Bake, Nourish with new found interest, I’ve made stuff from it before and it’s been ok but I’m realising it’s a good compromise book, I can’t do without cake in my life and with this book it’s a good way of getting in some fruit I wouldn’t normally eat that much of to. The calorie count for the cake was not bad when I worked it out (I count ‘not bad’ as being less than a chocolate bar) but still not good considering I ate three slices!

The Hunted

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With The Hunted, The Enemy series is back to form. I had found the previous book The Fallen to drag a bit in places with all the (yes I know necessary) explanation from The Twisted Kids. Whereas in The Hunted, the plot is more straightforward, they need to find Ella, who has run off into the country and whilst in the process of trying to find her they discover the biggest threat from the grown ups yet. I particularly liked finding out what was going on outside London.

**** (out of 5)