Best Ever* Edible Fake Blood

* Safe for babies… unsafe for upholstery. Delicious for adults. Vegan!

I love dressing up, festivals and frippery, and most years I manage to attend a costume party or dance macabre to celebrate all that is gruesome, exciting and escapist at Halloween.

This year… not so much! I was home alone with two 7-month old babies, who are now in a fairly set routine of dinner, bath, PJs, feed to sleep (albeit with mighty protests at every transition). It’s a lot to do on one’s own and recently the monotony has been starting to get me down.

Social media was filling up with other people’s party pics, everyone and their gorgeous offspring seemed to be out Trick Or Treat-ing, and I was looking blankly into the fridge trying to plan a nutritious yet mutually-palatable meal for one adult and 2 babies… when a vacuum pack of beetroot caught my eye.

New plan!

ZOMBIE ATTACK!!! ๐ŸงŸโ€โ™€๏ธ

Featuring Sleep-Deprivation-Zombie Mummy & the Two Tiny Terrors

Zombie Mummy

No make up needed when you havenโ€™t slept in 7 months ๐Ÿ˜‰

Actually the tastiest fake blood Iโ€™ve ever made!

Ingredients:

    2 beetroots (not pickled ones!)
    Large handful frozen dark cherries
    100ml freshly boiled water
    A banana (you might only use half)
    1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Method

  1. Put the cherries in a blender (I have a Nutribullet Ninja which I love) and pour on the boiling water. Leave 5 minutes
  1. Add the beetroot and whizz to a smooth, sanguineous consistency
  • You now have a brilliant, vivid, semi sweet, vitamin-rich fake blood. Remember that actual blood is not bright red once out of the vein. Now think about the consistency you desire, and add the banana accordingly.
  • Consistency Options:

    1. If you want smooth, sweet liquid “blood“: whizz in the banana until smooth
    2. If you want semi-sweet blood that is starting to clot: fork-mash the banana then mix in well.
    3. If essentially what you want is a bowl of blood clots, whizz in half the banana and a tablespoon of chia seeds, then fork mash the rest on the banana and mix in. Wait 10 minutes. Stir & marvel at its disgusting gloriousness.

    Then dish it out and stand well back!

    ๐ŸงŸโ€โ™€๏ธ โค๏ธ Yum yum! โค๏ธ ๐ŸงŸโ€

    Youโ€™re welcome ๐Ÿ˜˜

    ๐ŸŽฒ BABY DICE ๐ŸŽฒ

    I have a theory that when you have a baby in attendance, you can put in as much effort as you like into making an event lovely and enjoyable and fun, and then… you roll the Baby Dice.

    • Roll a 1, and whatever preparation you made was utterly in vain because the baby? Has gone feral! Angry beetroot mode: bright red, inconsolable, embarrassingly loud. There is no continuing with the plan: Priority One is diffuse the baby, and nothing else matters til that’s done. Expensive food? Delicate negotiation? Audience with the Queen? Doesn’t matter! You have to break off and get out of there, or else.
    • Roll a 2, and you have an angry crying baby on your hands who will only be settled with constant, devoted parental attention and who will dissolve back into crying the moment that attention lapses onto something else, eg any hint of a conversation. If this baby deigns to breastfeed, it will do so with maximum back arching, whining and writhing so as to expose as much boob to passersby as humanly possible. And then it will vomit.
    • Roll a 3, and you have a grumpy baby. Liable to kick off but easily mollified with lots of smiling and shushing and rocking; comparatively a breeze!
    • Roll a 4, and you have a lovely sociable baby with big smiles and minimal grouchiness. She may cry in your friend’s arms but will instantly settle with you. She is basically cute AF. People will smile indulgently in your general direction. However, she may also re-roll into a 3 or below with precious little warning, so relax and stop paying attention at your peril.
    • Roll a 5, and your baby is asleep. So damn beautiful. So quiet. “Is she always like this?” people ask in hushed wonderment, and you will laugh wryly and demure that no, no, often she’s quite a handful (or other adorable euphemism). She will not wake up and demonstrate how non-cute the reality can be.
    • Roll a 6, and your baby is awesome. Awake! Smiley! Chatty, even! Charming strangers and turning your own heart to putty. She will prefer to babble and coo, and show no interest in crying or shrieking. She will pull adorable instagrammable faces, or play entertainingly intensely with her toys. If this baby feeds, she will do so with efficient gusto and then fall soundly asleep wearing a beatific smile.

    Of course, when you have twins, at every occasion you roll two dice. Good luck! ๐Ÿคž

    Chilled and content… for now!

    Anyway, today during a random afternoon in Stoke Newington we rolled two 6s and it was great. We went for a walk in Clissold Park, pottered along Church Street, then got hungry and debated for a while: curbside eating? Picnic in the park? Risk taking our whole ensemble of cockerpoo and bulky double buggy somewhere indoors?!

    We bit the bullet and stopped in the Red Lion. It smelled really good (fresh hot pizza!) and was fairly empty, but to begin with I was laughably tense. Even though the babies were asleep, it felt like a lot could go wrong. And then… the babies kept sleeping! I relaxed a bit. The soothing combo of fairy lights and decent music worked its magic. We had a pizza and a tasting flight of ales, each. Then the babies woke up – and were really rather lovely! They sat quietly, fed peacefully, squeaked and burbled in ways that I found endlessly entertaining, and beamed at all and sundry.

    This could go very wrong… ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
    All smiles!

    Eventually, instead of a sudden meltdown, they gave us loads of warning that the grace period was nearing its end. We made a brisk but not too awkward exit, and escaped into the evening with almost zero hostile stares. Win!

    I did not come away from this thinking we can go to the pub like we used to. I felt like we got bloody lucky. But I did come away feeling like it’s not impossible either, and that’s just what I needed this week.

    Do you have any experiences of rolling the baby dice? I’m convinced it’s not just me who feels the success or total failure of an occasion is essentially left to chance these days! ๐Ÿ˜‚

    1-pot 10-minute SOS Veggie Breakfast

    Save Our Stomachs! We are living on coffee and catnaps at the moment… it’s been 3 weeks now of the babies sleeping like newborns i.e. NOT A LOT AT NIGHT. When they do sleep, they take it in turns, so there’s pretty much always one baby on the go.

    Time and energy for food prep is in short supply, so I’m falling back on some old favourites. This breakfast/lunch/saviour meal takes 10 minutes, all in. It is protein packed, healthy, hearty vegetarian fare. And it tastes so good.

    One pot breakfast: maximum flavour, minimal washing up

    Ingredients:

    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1 fresh chilli / generous teaspoon chilli flakes
    • 2 Cauldron sausages
    • 4 eggs
    • 8 Mushrooms
    • 1 avocado
    • 2 tortilla wraps
    • Cream cheese
    • Large handful grated Cheddar cheese – I just buy it pre grated at the moment. If you don’t, you will need to grate it on your own time.
    • Large handful fresh coriander
    • Sriracha sauce / whatever chilli sauce you are partial to

    A note on Cauldron sausages: these are the best vege sausages on the U.K. market in my opinion. Whenever I try other brands I am generally a bit disappointed. If you prefer something else, by all means substitute it, but you are going off piste and I can’t promise it will work!

    A note on proportions: you know how hungry you are; increase portion sizes accordingly. Twice the sausages is good if you have a large enough pan, or you could make fewer eggs if you’re that way inclined.

    Method:

    • 12:00 Get out in ingredients and a big non-stick frying pan
    • 12:01 Slosh of olive oil in the pan, medium heat, add sausages, shake to coat them in oil. Note: these cook in 8 minutes, turning regularly.
    • 12:02 Mince the garlic, slice the chilli, add to the pan. Stir & shake.
    • 12:03 Chop the mushrooms. Chop the coriander.
    • 12:04 Sweep the sausages to one side of the pan. Add mushrooms to other side of pan and stir to coat in oil. Stir half the coriander into the mushrooms.
    • 12:05 Get out 2 plates and put a tortilla on each. Spread with cream cheese.
    • 12:06 Turn sausages, stir mushrooms, make room in the pan. Carefully crack in the eggs.
    • 12:07 Chop the avocado and scoop out half onto each tortilla
    • 12:08 Turn the sausages, gently stir mushrooms if you think they need it. Everything should be almost cooked; if not, consider turning up the heat for a minute
    • 12:09 Divide the contents of the pan between the two tortillas. Put the pan in the sink and make sure the stove is off
    • 12:10 Scatter on the grated cheese, the remaining coriander leaves, and a generous dash sriracha. Eat!

    Do you have any trusty SOS meals you fall back on in times of crisis? Let me know in the comments – we can virtual comfort-eat together ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Double-G Granola

    There comes a time when a person stops feeling comfortable eating a tray of flapjack every week (or does there?).

    And now that time has come for me, this is what I’ve started making instead: similarly tasty, but lower fat and altogether more wholesome, homemade granola.

    Ingredients :

      2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
      2 tbsp maple syrup
      1 tbsp raw honey
      1 tbsp cocoa
      300g oats
      100g chopped almonds
      100g chopped dried apricots
      50g sultanas
      50g chopped hazelnuts (optional, but cocoa + toasted hazelnuts = Nutella vibes, so why wouldn’t you?)
      50g pumpkin seeds
      50g golden linseed

    Note: if pushed for time, you can substitute all the dry ingredients for 500g your favourite muesli, plus a handful of any extra nuts or dried fruit you fancy.

    Note on ingredients: oats, almonds, apricots and golden linseed have a reputation for stimulating milk supply, however there is no convincing scientific evidence for this. But the tasty, slow-release energy they provide does not go amiss when one is up all hours of the day and night sustaining two small humans!

    One of my small humans. Obviously use whatever cocoa you like, but I’m partial to this one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Method

    In a big bowl or pan, mix the oats, oil, syrup, honey and cocoa until all the oats are coated. Then stir in everything else. This should smell really good.

    Scoop loosely onto 2 lined baking trays; donโ€™t press down, as you want to toast all the individual pieces evenly.

    Bake for 10 mins at 150โ€™C. By now it should smell insanely good!

    Allow to cool, then stir to break up any large clumps.

    Somehow get it into a mason jar (other jars are available). I do this by using the baking parchment as a funnel and pouring it into the jar, which is quick but some inevitably spills…

    Consume by the bowlful with milk of your choice, with yoghurt & fruit, scattered over ice cream, or – my fave – dry, by the desert spoonful, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil.

    Snacktastic: avocado toast

    One of the joyous things about breastfeeding is the ravenous hunger that must be sated with tasty things, which taste all the better because your body is crying out for sugars and fats like it’s running a marathon (which, metabolically, it is!).

    The only hunger I’ve felt like it before is post-scuba-dive hunger, where you’ve spent an hour underwater metabolising like crazy to keep warm but too distracted by all the fish and coral and beautiful dangerous things (hello shark! Hello anemones!) to notice, and then you heave yourself and your tank back onto the boat or beach, and peel off the heavy wetsuit, and dry off in the sun, and suddenly: starving. And everything tastes so good!

    Anyway, multiply that by 50 and it’s comparable with breastfeeding hunger, in my experience.

    And while often I just want to eat, like, several handfuls of chocolate biscuits, or half a tub of ice cream, or cereal bars spread thickly with Nutella–sometimes I have the wherewithal to make a healthy plate like this, which is so good in a different way, and actually sates the cravings for longer.

    Note: this is only good if you can get ripe avocados.

    Avocado, basil & chilli sourdough

    This is the simplest thing in the world to assemble, but as I’m just getting started with recipe blogging I’m going to write the whole thing out. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Ingredients:

    • 1 avocado per person (half if barely hungry)
    • 2 slices of sourdough per avocado
    • 1 large handful cherry tomatoes, halved
    • Few fresh basil leaves (coriander if preferred), rolled then thinly sliced, to form ribbons
    • 1 dried chilli, finely chopped
    • Wedge of fresh lime
    • The nicest olive oil in your kitchen

    Method

    • Toast the toast
    • Halve the avocados ๐Ÿฅ‘, slice within their halves then scoop out with a spoon. Use any remaining avocado as a spread first, then fan the slices on top.
    • Arrange tomatoes as desired
    • Scatter with chilli and basil
    • Drizzle with oil and lime juice
    • Season with flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

    Double-F Flapjack

    In the early weeks of learning to feed my twins, I was breastfeeding them both every 2 hours, including overnight, as well as giving top-up bottles, and expressing, every 3-4 hours.

    Each night felt like a surreal marathon running parallel with the time when I should have been being rejuvenated. By 6am each day I would already be a wreck. These flapjacks helped. A lot.

    Ingredients:

    • 450g oats
    • 300g margarine (or butter if richer & greasier is appealing)
    • 80g demarera sugar
    • 120g golden syrup
    • 60g treacle
    • 100g chopped almonds
    • 100g sultanas
    • 50g golden linseed (“flaxseed”)

    A note on ingredients: oats, almonds and linseed are all supposedly good for stimulating milk supply. Anecdotally I would agree but there is no published evidence for their efficacy. However they were definitely good for sustaining my blood sugar and sanity during otherwise dark and hangry times.

    If you know someone who is in the early stages of learning to cope with a new baby, these would make an EXCELLENT gift.

    Method:

    • Melt the margarine, sugar & syrups in a big pan.
    • Turn off the heat.
    • Stir in the nuts, raisins & seeds.
    • Stir in the oats (slowly but surely the mixture will come together)

    Get a standard-sized baking tray. Line it with baking paper. Scoop the mixture into the tray and press down.

    Bake at 180โ€™C for 20 minutes; longer if you want it crispier, however the longer you cook it the more the sultanas will be scorched.

    The kitchen should smell great by the time itโ€™s cooked.

    I scour it into columns and rows with a knife whilst itโ€™s still hot and soft, then leave in the tin for at least half an hour (realistically: until I next get 2 minutes off from baby-wrangling).

    Once cool, I lift out the whole slab on its baking paper and break it into squares. Bits that fall off get eaten first. The rest goes in a tin that goes on the kitchen counter by the kettle… or on the bedside table.