Building a tribe with feta and spinach bread

They say that it takes a village to raise a child and as this year ticks on, I am beginning to believe them. I guess that it wasn’t that long ago that families lived closer together, that you knew your neighbour, that you had childhood friends down the road. As most of you know we moved to Munich when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy. I ended up two weeks overdue, was induced and after 30hours (with zero progress at all) had an emergency section (the umbilical cord was wrapped multiple times round Mays neck). From the minute May arrived, we needed a tribe and we haven’t stopped needing one since. We needed our freezer filling, our dog walking, our baby to be cooed over. We needed to be taken care of. The few friends that we had here made us feel loved and special but we had only met them weeks before and we weren’t at the stage of being able to let them into a crazy house, in three day old clothes stained with milk leakage. We needed people that knew us. People that knew our normal and could read between the lines. We needed friends that knew our history, that knew how to ask the difficult questions and who would ship us off to bed when we needed it. This year has been the very very best of years. We have watched in wonder as our little daughter grows and learns. But it has also been the hardest of years. Doing something so life changing as becoming parents meant that we needed the support of loved ones around us and on top of that, the husband has struggled this year with depression. He has found moving here harder than me in many ways. He has struggled with the culture shock of the land and of becoming a dad. I have spent the last 13months trying to keep his head above water whilst being the best mum I can be and when there is just the two of you, everything is felt more intensely. I think that why this year more than ever, cooking has mattered. It has been my respite, my solace. It is the little bit of me that I can cling on to. On days where words haven’t hit the spot the action of putting down a bowlful of something delicious has been my way of showing love. Serving homemade cakes to friends has bought us closer. Taking freshly made goodies to playgroup allowed me to open up and chat round the language barrier.

Today I dropped May off at nursery and then met a old friend for coffee. We greeted the owner by name, we sipped espresso and we laughed. It felt homely. I realised that somewhere along the way, we have been building a tribe here. That despite the hard days, the days where I was sure I was failing everyone, it turns out we were doing something right. I came home wanting to cook. I was wet and cold from the weather and I needed the oven to on and to break bread. So as Cold Feet played in the background I measured out this loaf. It is silky rich when baked and souffle light. It is salty from the feta and earthy from the spinach and it needs that tiny hint of chilli warmth. It would be delicious toasted along side a bowl of ratatouille, dipped in roasted tomato soup or topped with a crunchy carrot and seed salad.

Happy Tuesday x

Large handful of fresh spinach chopped
2 eggs
200g – 250g flour
1 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp dried chilli flakes
1.5 tbsp ricotta
40g feta crumbled
1.5 tbsp rapeseed oil

Preheat your oven to 170C
Grease a loaf tin
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl
Stir in the ricotta, crumbled feta, chilli, oil and spinach
Fold in the flour and baking powder – use as much flour as you need to reach a thick batter
Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 50-60mins or until a skewer comes out clean and it is golden brown



Peanut butter dog biscuits

Happy birthday Nanuk! Its the dogs 6th birthday today and obviously we are celebrating. We serenaded him this morning whilst the baby jumped on his head then headed out on the ‘surfer loop’. The loop starts at ours and takes us over the bridge and then into the park where there is a surf spot. Its the best moment, to watch these skilled athletes navigating the swell in turns whilst the rest of us vie for the best viewing spot. We then carry on through the park and then head home via the only bakery open around here on Sundays. Nanuk chased sticks, carried half a tree and then had a paddle in the Isar. He is now curled up in his bed, which is where I will imagine he will stay for most of the day.

I know bull terriers get a bad rap, and maybe I am biased, but Nanuk is the softest dog ever. The baby climbs all over him, pushes him over in his bed, steals his toys and demands our attention. Nanuk just lets it happen. He snuggles in for cuddles, guards me during every feed and runs to greet us every time we return. He is terrified of the bin men, of oven trays, loud noises, recycling lorries, thunder and loud rain. He loves sunbathing, hates baths and is the fussiest eater I have ever known.

I made these biscuits for him last night. They are full of ingredients to help keep him healthy, like coconut oil (for his skin) and cinnamon (for his breath). Peanut butter is chock full of vitamins and fats and also has a strong smell which means these work well as treats to play hide and seek with too.

These treats are designed for pooches but are safe for humans too…

1 cup flour

2 tbsp instant oats

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup peanut butter (unsalted)

1/4 cup mashed banana

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/4 cup beef/chicken stock (low sodium)

Preheat the oven to 180C

Mix all the ingredients together well until you have a thick dough

Place the dough onto a sheet of baking paper either roll out to about a 2cm thickness and cut out with a cookie


Roll pieces of the dough into balls then press flat with a fork

Bake until golden brown

Store in an airtight container

Vegan soda bread

The kitchen table, as it often the case, becomes the centre point of our entire lives. It is, at various times of the day, littered with snippets of our lives. Its is scattered with bowls and dishes, laid for dinner, or strewn with an array of cycling bits and bobs. The chairs are placed at odd angles to allow the baby space to crawl underneath it and play den. It is at the table that we prepare food, write recipes, share large mugs of brewed espresso, eat and talk.
Lately when lunch time is on the horizon and we haven’t made it to the bakery, I turn to this soda bread recipe. It is hearty and sustaining, spread with hummus and topped with rocket, dipped in fresh beetroot soup or spread with lemony avocado and sprinkled with salt. It is a quick and simple answer. The joy in making soda bread is that you simply measure, stir, knead and bake. Warm, freshly baked bread on the table in an hour. It is the easiest bread to add to your weekly repertoire and you will not regret it.

Soda bread has a tangy fresh taste to it and that comes from the natural yogurt and the homemade butter milk that I use. You can buy buttermilk, but it takes five minutes to make – you simply add the juice of half a lemon (1.5 tbsp) to 200ml of milk (dairy or almond) and wait five minutes.

I made this bread using wholegrain flour but you can also make it with wholegrain spelt flour too. It is also delicious if you add a few tablespoons of seeds to the mix. This is my tried and tested recipe but feel free to tweak away.

500g wholemeal/spelt flour
1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
150ml of live natural yogurt (you can replace this with an equal quantity of milk)
200ml of milk (dairy or almond)
1.5tbsp lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 190degrees
Pour 200ml of milk (dairy or soya) into a jug and add 1.5tbsp of lemon juice
Leave for 5 minutes until buttermilk is formed
Sift the flour and the bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl
Make a well in the centre and add in the buttermilk and the yoghurt (if using)
Stir well with a wooden spoon and bring the mixture together, forming a soft dough
Tip onto a floured surface knead for a minute or two
Place onto a floured baking tray and dust the top of the bread liberally with flour
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes
You know the bread is ready if the base of the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it