A Sunday in the Country – and Easy Peasy Pear Clafoutis (sugar free, dairy free, gluten free)

Today we headed out to the countryside around Castres for Sunday lunch with the Great Aunties Maïté and Claire. Maïté moved into her new house around the time the Marsupial was born, so I’d never been before. It’s a great country house in the perfect location – surrounded by rolling hills and old farms (and the odd Mc Mansion) but only a few minutes from town. And only 45 minutes from us. We DO have family nearby after all 🙂

Family

Family

Sheets drying in the sun, and a cutie pie

Sheets drying in the sun, and a cutie pie

Marsousou going for a walk

Marsousou going for a walk with Mommy

Yay!

Yay!

Sunshine, violets, primavera, birdsong – might spring finally be here? It seems ungrateful to be so eager to see the backside of this winter, considering how relatively short and sweet it was (remember the Indian summer of 2014? it was warm til November here). But my mood has been unusually affected by the short days and cold weather this year (well, that and post partum crap). So, GOODBYE WINTER!! See You Next Time.

Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free - Easy Peasy Pear Clafoutis

Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free – Easy Peasy Pear Clafoutis

Dessert and coffee in the sun

Dessert and coffee in the sun

"More?"

“More?”

Maïté is also on a sugar free, dairy free, gluten free diet, so that was a perfect excuse to try out this recipe I dreamed up in the night. Vaguely (very vaguely) based on the clafoutis recipe Mom and we kids have used for years (3 eggs, 3 Ts flour, 3 Ts icing sugar, 3 Ts crème fraîche combined and poured over sliced fruit), this one is just as delicious. Theoretically you could make it with almost any cookable fruit, but because it is sugar free it’s probably best to use something a bit sweet. Pears worked perfectly.

Easy Peasy Pear Clafoutis

Peel, slice and arrange in an oiled pie dish:

  • 4 pears

Combine and pour over the fruit:

  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of powdered almonds
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of coconut cream
  • a few drops of vanilla extract

Bake for 25 minutes at 200°C.

Sweet Potato Bread – sugar free, dairy free

I made this as a cake last week-end to take to H’s cousins’ home. It turned out a bit dense, and even the lemon zest cream cheese icing didn’t quite turn it into what I was hoping for. It was too bread-y, and not cake-y enough. I thought it would work better as a loaf, eaten for breakfast or goûter with some yoghurt, butter or cream cheese spread on it. And voilà, it does.

I used sweet potato, but I’m guessing butternut or pumpkin would work equally well. Last week I made it with butter as I was straying from my diet, but this week I went back to dairy-free and used rapeseed oil instead.

Originally inspired by a recipe on Happy Sugar Habits, I tweaked this a bit to fit with my diet and what I had in the cupboards.

Ze loaf

Ze loaf

Sliced

Sliced

With plain yoghurt from the farm

With plain yoghurt from the farm

Sweet Potato Bread

Combine dry ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups flour (I used a mix of spelt and wheat)
  • ¾ cups desiccated coconut
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • spices (I used allspice, ginger and cinnamon)
  • pinch salt
  • raisins (or walnuts, pecans, etc.)

Whisk wet ingredients:

  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 3 Tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 4 Tbsp coconut cream

Add wet to dry ingredients and beat together. Mash in:

  • 1 cup sweet potato (baked and mashed)

Press into an oiled and floured loaf tin and bake at 180°C for 45-55 minutes.

This is just for me and I think it will stretch for about 3 breakfasts – I awake ravenous from a night of nursing the Miniature Night Master.

This little girl likes eating  peanut butter off rice crackers for breakfast.

This little girl likes eating peanut butter off rice crackers for breakfast.

Make Christmas Cake: check

This is my second time making The Christmas Cake. The last time was when my whole family went to Australia for Christmas, and I stayed in France, working at Hidden Cabin. It was SO MUCH FUN calling up Mom and Dad with business-related questions and for it to already be cocktail o’clock Down Under. I just LOVED being all alone in the freezing cold office while they were having barbecued lobster on the beach in Santa hats. So anyway, I made the cakes, and undercooked them, and brought them to my then-boyfriend’s parents’ home for Christmas. They didn’t really get the awesome concept of whiskey-soaked (underbaked) fruit cake so I ended up eating most of it myself. I did not get salmonella.

This time round I took my time (3 days) and did it right. Hopefully. We’ll find out on Christmas Day.

First step: make applesauce.

First step: make applesauce.

Second step: eat applesauce (and by the way, she totally said "applesauce"!)

Step 2: eat applesauce (and by the way, she totally said “applesauce”!)

Soaking dried fruit in wine.

Soaking dried fruit in wine. Try eating a wine-drenched glacé cherry with a square of dark chocolate. Heaven.

Flour mix.

Flour mix.

How many raisins-in-wine should a toddler be allowed to eat?

How many raisins-in-wine should a toddler be allowed to eat?

Et voilà ! Now the whiskey.

Et voilà ! Now the whiskey.

Now I just have to remember to “feed the cake” every night 🙂

Limbo – and crazy French birth hand-outs

I used to think that I thrived on living in the unknown. That uncertainty was exciting. Life is an adventure! Close your eyes and jump!

I’m about ready to review that line of thought.

We still don’t know where we’ll be living in the near future. I don’t know for sure where I’ll be giving birth in August – Morocco or France. We’re in France now, but H is heading back to work in Morocco tomorrow and I might follow shortly if things don’t work out here, admin-wise. My aim over the next few weeks is to ensure that I get health cover here, so I can safely have my baby. My “case” is a tricky one, in that I don’t fit into any of the slots. I work for a British company, I live in Morocco, I want to give birth in France. C’est compliqué.

Why do I want to give birth in France? I actually don’t mind where I give birth; it has more to do with H being fed up of working in Morocco, and me shuddering at spending a 9-month-pregnant, boiling-hot, cockroach-infested*, month of August in Morocco – alone,  all my friends there having temporarily emigrated “back home” for the summer.

So here we are in limbo land, unsure of anything and everything, incapable of making plans beyond next week, trying not to think too hard about anything (not very difficult when you have a case of double baby brain).

The thing is, France wants you to have babies here. France loves babies so much, they will pay you to have them. Not only do they make sure you don’t have to dish out one centime in medical care (ALL HEALTH CARE 100% FREE AFTER THE 6TH MONTH! GUARANTEED!), they then GIVE you money, on top of all the reimbursing, to make sure you can buy burp cloths and a cot. That’s something like 923€, handed over when you hit the 7-month mark of pregnancy. Then, once baby arrives (for free), they give you 150-180€ per month, for 3 years, towards nappies and formula (so, if you’re a breastfeeding, cloth-diapering mama comme moi, it’s pretty much pocket money). And THEN, on top of all that, from bub #2 onwards, you get child benefit. This, if I’ve understood correctly, is regardless of whether you work or not**. I definitely wasn’t expecting all that. I wasn’t sure about giving birth in France, but if they’re going to pay me to do it, I’ll definitely take that into consideration***.

This turned into a long post, so here are 2 photos of cake to reward you for all the reading:

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

Carrot Cake Deliciousness

Carrot Cake Deliciousness Eaten on the Terrace

 

* I’m not squeamish, specially not about bugs, but cockroaches have a way of squicking me out. Definitely not keen on the idea of my toddler crawling around where they crawl around.

** I’m approximately 80% sure of this information. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m suffering from a bit of the baby brain so some of this might be slightly off, or completely erroneous. Check all info for yourself and do not believe everything I say.

*** As a point of comparison, in Morocco I got 3000dh reimbursed, of the total cost of 8000dh for a delivery + 2 nights in the clinic. I was really happy with that! Cheap birthing! Until I found out that France pays you to have babies. Vive la France.