Source for this image here.
Today we have been resting at home after the busy run-up to Christmas. It has been lovely to be just the 2 of us! Little Bear and Cubby both had to go to their shop jobs today, although neither of them seemed very sorry! It is so nice to be back to our normal routines.I have a pan of butter beans bubbling gently on the stovetop, ready for our evening meal, which is going to be a warm salad using the beans, some leftover bacon, and various salad veggies from the fridge which need using up! We love butter beans (I think they are called lima beans in America - I'll have to check with my sister in law!) and they are lovely for soaking up the flavours of other foods, so I'm going to make a salad with the bacon, mixed leaves including watercress and rocket, avocado, walnuts and then a yummy dressing using walnut oil and some very delicious sounding apple balsamic vinegar, which I got in my Christmas stocking! I might add a little crumbled cheese to that as well, although ideally it would be blue cheese, which we haven't got.
Yesterday in the supermarket (yay! Papa Bear was able to access the shopping list on his phone) we bought some lovely wholesome foodstuffs for the week ahead. Just now we are all feeling like we want to eat simple, healthy meals with lots of fresh, clean flavours. The Asian salad and teriyaki salmon that I made for our evening meal yesterday was a great success, even though I didn't have quite all the ingredients that the recipes called for - I compromised! Everyone enjoyed it - the only downside being that there were no leftovers! So today for our dinner (midday meal) I made egg and cress sandwiches, which we enjoyed with a simple green salad and fruit for dessert. I made a lovely soaked grain loaf in our bread maker, and added some mixed seeds to it which came out great. That loaf is nearly finished now, and the next one I want to make will be an apple loaf! I've made it before - Little Bear calls it "Appley Dappley's brown bread" after the nursery story by Beatrix Potter, which contains this sweet rhyme -
Goes to the cupboard in somebody's house.
In somebody's cupboard
There's everything nice,
Cake, cheese, jam, biscuits,-
All charming for mice!
Appley Dapply has littles harp eyes,
And Appley Dapply is so fond of pies!
In fact the basis for this recipe is a Taste of Home one - which you can see here. It's so scrummy - especially when toasted with cheese on the top! I've tweaked the recipe a little - I leave out the all but 1 tablespoon of the sugar (substituting white for brown) and the cinnamon and vanilla, as this makes it taste sweeter than we like for a savoury bread, and instead of ordinary flour I use spelt flour, which gives it a delicious nuttiness and a lovely chewy texture. I also use half the amount of vegetable oil stated (in fact I will use coconut oil instead this time around - a new ingredient we got yesterday to try, that I've wanted to use in our cooking for a while now), and replace the rest with buttermilk (or yogurt) and soak the flour in this overnight before I bake the loaf. I find that this makes the gluten in the bread break down a little, and makes it generally easier to digest and absorb all the good nutrients. Sometimes I'll substitute some of the spelt flour (which doesn't always get a great rise, certainly not as good as ordinary bread flour, but it does make a lovely texture) with rye, or ordinary wholegrain. I've also made it using pears instead of apples, and it is also very good if you sautee the apples just briefly first. A little bit of onion thrown in when you sautee the apple is no bad thing either. All in all, this is a really scrummy loaf! We've not had it for quite a while, and I'm looking forwards to serving this with lots of sandwich fillings so we can build our own "deli sandwiches" as we choose. Yum!
The Christmas decorations will come down (I am doing it gradually so as not to upset the cubs too much - they love Christmas so much, they don't want it to end!) this weekend, and I'm hoping to make our home feel nice and fresh and springlike - although just now, spring feels a very long way off - it's stormy and cold outside! How glad I am that I'm here indoors today with my sweet hubby! We've been having a lovely peaceful day - and tomorrow doesn't look too busy, either!