Flapjacks for complete idiots

So the boys have decided that they want to start having packed lunches for school. Whilst Smol was getting his dinners free of charge, they had school lunches; but now he moves into P4 we are going to have to find an extra £1.60 a day; so I went along with their notions and agreed that we would try packed lunches. It might be as the weather gets colder we will go back to hot dinners, but my two seem to savour the cold food choices anyway.

I found myself in Tesco clutching two very impressive looking bento box contraptions with lots of little compartments and tubs for yogurt or hummus or whatnot; I have since spent sleepless nights wondering how I am going to fill these things with cheap and interesting lunches that, I hope, will also generate less waste packaging than crisp packets and chewie-bar wrappers.

As a Beaver leader, I am also keen to add to my repertoire of ‘easy for small children to weigh out and mix together and let the adults do the hot bits’ recipes that we can use for our Cooking badge, using ingredients (oats and dried fruit) with proven health benefits that we can discuss as part of our commitment to healthier food choices. I have reduced the sugar and syrup in these considerably in comparison to most recipes – and certainly in the shop bought ones – but as with all treats they should be eaten in moderation. My boys will take a 5cm or so square in each day that they can either have as a playground snack at 10.30am or save for their lunch dessert alongside some fruit.

Ingredients

175g butter or sunflower spread type stuff.

150g sugar (I used demerera but any is fine)

150g golden syrup (you can get it in Asda in a squeezy bottle, which is probably easier than the old fashioned tins that always manage to drip syrup over you, the floor and every conceivable surface for the next three weeks)

350g porridge oats – just the cheapiest cheap ones are fine.

1 handful (sorry to not be more specific, I just did it by eye) of dried fruit – I used dates (finely chopped), and chopped mango and apricot pieces; but feel free to use anything – sultanas, coconut, seeds, nuts*, dried berries etc.

You can also add a teaspoon of spice such as ginger or cinnamon; or a dash of lemon juice. Be creative!

*our school is a nut-free environment so we don’t use nuts in ours.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 150c / Gas mark 2

Now you have your first decision. Are you going to live on the wild side and just line the bottom of your 8 inch square baking tin with baking parchment, or are you going to throw frugality out of the window and use enough parchment that it comes all the way up at the sides (see photo below for what I mean)?

My preference is to have the parchment overlap each side of the tin, as it’s easier to lift out of the tin if you don’t have a push-up removable base; but if you prefer to just line the bottom of the tin, you go on your bad self – just remember to grease the sides of your tin, or this badboy ain’t budging for no man.

In a large saucepan on the hob, melt your butter/spread over a low heat, and once melted add your sugar and syrup and stir with a wooden spoon. Once the sugar as dissolved, add your choice of fruits, nuts, spices etc and stir well.

Then add your porridge oats and continue to mix well until all the oats are well coated and moist (urgh, I hate that word).

Tip the moist (shudder!) mixture into your tin; and press down firmly with the back of a spoon, ensuring it’s pushed into all the corners and the top is nice and flat and as smooth as you can get it – this stops it just falling apart when you cut it.

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Check out our landlord’s comedy grouting, tho.

Cook in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes; then remove and leave to cool for 15 minutes before lifting out (this is when my parchment technique comes in handy!) and cutting into cubes / lengths of your choosing and banishing nosy children from the kitchen. Store them (the flapjacks, not the children) in an airtight box where they should last a week, but won’t, because they are delicious.

Don’t forget to test your creation with a nice cup of tea (we can celebrate Afternoon Tea Week ) and remind everyone on social media what a talented, homely little creature you are.

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August Playlist

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” 

Sylvia Plath

 

Oh, the wonders of Spotify and their incredibly clever algorithms that allow them to dig up treasures of sound based on your own listening habits. I am somewhat stuck in my ways when it comes to music, and would probably listen to three albums – none of them newer than 1996 (Aphex Twin’s ‘Richard D James’ album, in case you were wondering) ad infinitum. Spotify, however, likes to gently take my hand and introduce me to things it thinks I might like. These first three are gently bewitching, late summer sun and sudden showers tunes, camp fires, surf and hugs as the seasons gently change.

Marika Hackman – Claude’s Girl

Weyes Blood – Used To Be

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions (feat. Kurt Vile) – Let Me Get There

And this is one of the most beautiful songs I think I’ve ever heard..

Villagers – Dawning On Me

And this is one of the strangest, but most beguiling covers I have heard in a long time..

M Ward – Let’s Dance

And my song of the year (thus far) which I still have not tired of..

Michael Kiwanuka – Cold Little Heart

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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Vegan sweet potato and chickpea curry stew sort of thing.

We were incredibly lucky a few weeks ago to meet, and host, the wonderful Matt of A Human Love Story. Lucky Matt got to try my cooking. He survived, so that’s a positive sign. He also said he really liked it, and I promised to send him the recipe.

Hormones, stress and summer holidays meant that I completely forgot about it; but as I do love to brag about my occasionally edible dinners, a few other people have asked about it so I thought I would post it here.

It is basically a bastardization (that’s a technical term) of a vegan recipe on the Deliciously Ella website; but it has been tweaked a bit and things left out and a few measurements changed to make it more like a creamy curry.

It’s one of those things that, once you have the base, you could add all sorts of things into – butternut squash, pumpkin, some of your courgette glut – whatever you have lurking around, I’m sure. Do play around with the spices too, find what you like.

It freezes brilliantly too.

This apparently feeds 4, but I would say probably more like 6 (and my three malefolk have hollow legs, so….)

What you will need:

2 cans of tinned tomatoes (400ml each)

1 can of coconut milk (400ml)

2 – 3 large sweet potatoes

1 can of chickpeas (400g)

4 tablespoons of tomato puree

4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

4 teaspoons of turmeric

4 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

4 cloves of garlic

fresh coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Rice or naan to serve (naan is not vegan, I don’t think)

Method

Peel and cut the sweet potato into small chunks (inch or so) without removing fingers, steam these for 15 minutes. (The sweet potato pieces, not fingers. You’ll need your fingers)

Once the sweet potatoes have cooked put the tomato puree, vinegar, garlic, spices and salt in a hob-friendly casserole dish or fairly deep wide-based pan with some olive or vegetable oil, heat for a minute or two until happily bubbling away

Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, salt and pepper to the pot and stir really well to ensure the tomatoes and coconut milk are all blended together nicely. It may look at little lumpy and curdled at first, but it will be fine, I promise you.

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Wallop in the sweet potato, taking care to ensure you splatter both your new t-shirt and every inch of your kitchen with orange forever-staining liquid. Bring to the boil, then drop to a simmer once it starts bubbling into your eyes.

Allow the pot to simmer for about forty minutes, then add the drained chickpeas and start to brag to your friends that you are now, like, a proper vegan chef and could host dinner parties and all sorts. Continue to cook for another 15 minutes or so (stop before boring your guests to sleep with all this talk about your cooking prowess)

 Finely chop the coriander. Then serve the curry with whatever you fancy, and sprinkle the coriander on the top. DO NOT FORGET TO TAKE A PHOTO AND SEND IT TO INSTAGRAM.

 

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