Ah, I’ve completed Week 3 of the My Birthday Month Challenge, and if you include last Friday, it was the best week of the challenge so far. Here are the highlights:
Last Friday I had a ‘colourful’ themed birthday party at the wonderful Simmons Bar in Kings Cross, London. I was joined by some of my favourite friends, old and new, and we celebrated into the wee hours. We had rainbow LED balloons, rainbow cake, and everyone dressed in amazing brights. Our friends, experimental food and events aficionados The Robin Collective, provided multi-coloured marshmallows flavoured with rose and absinthe. I was spoiled with presents and cocktails and it was such a fun party! Our very talented photographer friend Holly McGlynn was there and took some incredible photos, such as the one below:
DJ Helix and I. Best party ever.
AUTUMN = BAKING (of a new kind)
I made my first attempt at gluten- and dairy-free baking with my autumnal favourite, pumpkin bread. Gluten free baking comes out so differently from regular baking, the rise is less and moisture is a challenge. Nevertheless I believe my pumpkin breads came out very nicely, and as I write I am tucking into a warmed slice smothered with vegan butter.
Here’s the recipe (if you’re that way inclined):
Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Mix these dry ingredients in a large bowl (I used a wire whisk to smooth out the brown sugar):
2.5 cups gluten free flour (This time I used Dove’s Plain GF flour)
1.5 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup demerara sugar (I would have used white but I’d run out)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Get out your mixer (or a strong arm and mixing bowl) and add these wet ingredients to the dry mixture above:
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey, or agave)
1 can of Libby’s pumpkin puree
Mix until a smooth dough forms, it’ll be more dough-y than batter-y as it’s GF. Pour into two tins and bake for 35-40 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).
This will make 2 loaf tins of pumpkin bread, or 1 loaf tin and 6 pumpkin muffins. Keep in mind the dough won’t ‘rise’ much; what you see when you put them in the oven is what you get when you take them out, so if you want the top to be smooth, make it so!
The next time I make this recipe I think I’ll try making a cinnamon, Vitalite (our DF fave), and brown sugar crumble for the top to make it more decadent.
Here’s one of my gluten and dairy free pumpkin breads all wrapped up and ready to be given to a friend. I find these sorts of breads are always better on day 2 after the spices have come alive.
We’ve been investing a lot of time and effort into training our new puppy Marlowe to be as happy and relaxed as possible in his new home. This includes lots of cuddling, walks, and teaching him tricks, but the most effective thing we’ve done is to take him to dog training classes with Alpha Dog Training here in London. It’s so fun to see him interact with other dogs and new people, he’s doing really well and we’re so proud of him. He’s often the most energetic pup in the class but also the friendliest! We’ve met some pretty badly-behaved dogs at the class who weren’t socialised when they were puppies and they’re really frustrated and unhappy. I’m so glad we’re headed in the right direction for Marlowe to have the best possible lifetime with us. He’s getting more fun and more cute every day.
Marlowe, the dreamboat.
NOTES ON THE CHALLENGE
I must say that this Birthday Month Challenge malarkey is certainly making me feel more conscious and ‘present’ in my everyday life. I’ve been enjoying my work more than usual, actually I’m really having fun with it and I’m getting a lot more done.
In my last post I mentioned I was letting go of some self-conscious fears in the performance side of my job, and it’s incredible how much more I get out of it when I just let go. This could be just a growing-up epiphany or it could be directly related to the challenge, either way it’s awesome.
THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND
I’ve been making more time for my friends this month and it’s been wonderful to connect and re-connect with them. I recently read a great article about The Habits of Supremely Happy People (thanks Huff Post) and one of the habits is that they surround themselves with other happy people. I believe I do this (in fact when my friends aren’t happy I make it my personal goal to fix them, cheer them up, or help them and I’m sure it gets annoying) and right now my friend landscape is filled with happy, ambitious, thoughtful and creative people.
Us with one of our dearest friends, Dom.
What I’m not mentioning here is my homesickness for Connecticut and New York here, autumn is the best time of year to be where I’m from because of the changing leaves, amazing local produce (apples, pumpkins, pears), and the crisp air paired with sunlight. Historically for me, ’tis the season to buy new boots and get excited about fall fashion, but here in London with its greyscale smoky palette, I find myself skipping ahead to my winter wardrobe. Most of all I am really missing my family, and sad that they’re missing the experience of the ultra-version of me this month because we would have so much fun together. (Note to self, buy some plane tickets STAT.) Skype video chat will surely be getting a workout this weekend!
This photo is for rizzle. IKR?
FROM ME TO YOU
I will leave you with this recording of ‘Autumn Leaves’ sung by one of my heroes, Barbra Streisand on her LP ‘Je m’appelle Barbra’. Have a click:
Stay tuned for the My Birthday Month recap next week! Thanks for reading.
Jess Indeedy xoxo