Friday 15 July 2011

Paula's Carob Bikkies

I almost got this post up on Wednesday.  I didn't have any energy left last night.  Today I am determined not to let life get in the way of blogging!  This week has been full of getting a work project up and running, Sylvia crying in the night, planning for a holiday in a little over a week, cursing my computer for falling on my card reader (that downloads photos onto my computer) and schlepping a table and chairs through Ikea carpark while Sylvia sat in the road and cried.

The trouble with delaying posting a recipe is that every time I sit down to it I have different thoughts to to share.  Today I want to tell you that a stroller has the power to stop escalators.  Yesterday I wanted to tell you that Sylvia loves her new table and chairs so much that she has told me she will no longer be eating at the table with us.  But earlier in the week I started writing about sacrifice and kids.  This is my best thought out train of thought so I will follow it.

I heard someone recently say that it is no sacrifice to have children.  I understand.  "Sacrifice" makes children sound like they are a burden.  Yet having children does mean giving up.  I have childless friends who do a lot more travel and eating out than me.  They seem to have more freedom to uproot and change jobs or town.  Saying that having children is no sacrifice suggests we can have it all.  We can't.  Life is about choices, about decisions, about the road not taken. 

Having children means filling the house with their paraphernalia, taking 25 minutes to walk a couple of blocks, standing in the supermarket with a crying child.  This week when I got the car serviced, Sylvia crawled across the garage floor where the mechanics work.  You wouldn't want to see her knees after that!  I had to laugh.  It is all about perspective.  Our house is crowded with Dolly's pram, highchair, cot, supermarket trolley, pens, playdough, lego, dollies etc.  It might horrify some who value a spotless house but it fills the place with color and life.  Walking so slowing along the road is frustrating but it also makes me take time to chat to Sylvia, notice my surroundings and smile at old ladies who think Sylvia is a doll.  Even having a crying child reminds me that I am the one she turns to when she is upset.  Having children is a sacrifice.  Yet is it a sacrifice worth making.

Maybe it would be better to say having children means change.  Huge change.  Evenings disappear in a haze of eat-your-dinner, baths, stories and songs.  I spend more time at the park and less on my bike.  Even the food I prepare has changed.

It is very odd to be responsible for the food of someone who has different tastes.  I've never cooked eggs in my life because I don't like them.  Recently Sylvia has developed a love of boiled eggs.  Preparing boiling eggs has never been a basic skill for me.  Now I am learning how to get the yolk hard for Sylvia.  I am no fan of carob but Sylvia seems to like it.  She took a shine to my neighbour's gluten free carob cookies so I asked for the recipe.  So you can thank Paula for the post but don't blame her for all my waffle!
We took the cookies on a trip to Scienceworks a few weeks back.  I was ignorant of a huge new dinosaurs exhibition that had recently opened.  We stood in the long line for about 5 minutes.  It hardly moved so we left.  (If only we had bought online tickets we could have walked straight in.)  When we had set out, all Sylvia had wanted was to go to the park.  We were travelling by train so we stopped at North Melbourne station, watched some trains, went to the park and then had lunch at a cafe.  Sylvia was delighted. 

At the cafe I was reminded about our similarities and differences.  I can understand that she doesn't think ice cream is the bees knees.  I don't get her enjoyment of eating a plain pancakes and ignoring the icecream and berries that were specially served on the side for her.  The cafe was Tramezzini but it sometimes feels unfair to write up a visit separately when it is so coloured by my experience with Sylvia.  I can say that the staff were friendly and my Croque Mademoiselle of leek, mushrooms and gruyere on toast was quite good.

When eating out, Sylvia turns into a carbitarian.  I often try to balance these stodgy foods with food that broaden her intake of nutrients.  So I was quite pleased that she had one or two of these carob bikkies as well as her pancake.  Not only do the biscuits have carob but also a lot of quinoa flour, which is a complete protein. 

The biscuits are easy to make and if they are only made for one (as in Sylvia's case), they are easy to pop some in the freezer and slice up a few to bake every now and again.  Neither E nor myself gets very excited about them but Sylvia loves them.  They are not overly sweet and have some  health benefits so I don't get too concerned about her eating them.  In fact I am sending them to Amy from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free who holds a weekly event called Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Lastly I wanted to return to the ideas of choice that I touched on with discussing children and sacrifice.  Sylvia has become a lot fussier about eating her vegetables (and often her dinner altogether).  Sometimes she will want a biscuit so I tell her that she can have a bikkie if she eats her broccoli (or tomato or carrot or sausage etc).  I don't insist she cleans her plate completely but I do say she has to have some of her vegies.  Occasionally I worry I am falling into the bad habit of bribing that I have read about.  However on my better days I think this is a way to teach her that life is about making choices.  After all if she can insist we listen to the Moody Blues, surely I can ask something of her too!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Nutella Blondies
This time two years ago: SHF Apricot sponge – by any other name
This time three years ago: Pumpkin soup and history
This time four years ago: Isa's Pizza - from disaster to delicious

Paula's Carob Biscuits
makes about 3 dozen

3 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 - 1 cup sugar (I used 1 cup coconut sugar)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla essence)
1/2 cup carob powder (or a bit less)
2 cups quinoa flour (Paula used 3-4 cups)
1/2 cup rice flour (Paula didn't use this)

Put ingredients into a mixing bowl, mixing after each addition.  I took Paula's advice and added the flour gradually and stopped when I had a stiff dough.  She says hers is so stiff she can hardly stir it but I stopped when it came into a firm ball.

Roll dough into a log about 1 foot long and 8cm in diameter.  Cut slices of about 0.5cm - or a bit thinner if you like them crispy.  (Thicker are more moist.)  Paula says it is easier to cut them once they have been in the freezer but I didn't find them too difficult when room temperature., though it is useful to cook only a few at a time.  To freeze the dough, wrap log in baking paper and secure each end using a rubber band.  Biscuits can be cut and cooked with frozen dough (ie you do not need to bring it to room temperature).

Bake at 200g for about 10 minutes.  They will look dry when cooked but there isn't too much to give away if they are cooked because the dough is so dark but I don't think it matters too much as long as you don't leave them in too long.  Cool on the tray or on a wire rack.

On the Stereo:
The Bestiality of - The bonzo dog doo-dah band


  1. Life sometimes does get in the way - and it sounds like you have had a seriously hectic week - but I very much enjoyed your take on children and parenting. I imagine it would certainly be a change, and I like your views on the balance and adjustments one has to make.

    Also, I think I may be like Sylvia in liking the look of those cookies! Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Definitely agree that being a parent is a sacrifice but one well worth making. Time passes so quickly that kids grow up in a flash and become easier in so many ways.

    I can relate to having a hectic week at work and am also busy planning a trip in 2 weeks time! Where are you off to?

  3. I think Blogger just ate my comment--argh and boo hoo! In a nutshell, thanks for the realistic description of parenthood. And so glad Sylvia liked the cookies!

  4. I love your waffle :) When I think of how I enjoyed the raw carob biscotti I made, I know I"d love these baked cookies of yours, and in fact I ave bucketloads of carob yet!

    I can't help feeling a pang as I hear you talk of sacrifice. I wonder if I'll ever get the chance to make such sacrifices?

  5. I bought a carob biscuit thing tonight, I haven't tried it yet though I will have it tomorrow cause I had too much soy milk so it won't agree with me tonight.

  6. I loved your thoughts about children and sacrifice. You're right, you have to give up things, but you also get back so much. Isn't it like this with all decisions we make? You always decide *for* something and *against* something at the same time. Having children is one of the biggest and most life-changing one can make, though. :)

  7. Hi Johanna,
    as per the comments above I really enjoyed reading these balanced and thoughtful insights into parenthood that you have shared. Theresa and I decided a wile back not to have kids. It took a while. Sometimes we wonder whether it was the right choice, but as you said, you can't have it all, and it doesn't fit very well with our lifestyle of going to India a few months of the year, or the lack of stability that the life of a yoga teacher seems to entail!

  8. These sound positively healthy especially if you aren't using sugar (although I haven't come across coconut sugar before) and might be getting Sylvia into good habits :-S

  9. Your discussion about children and sacrifice is very interesting to me. I don't plan to have children, and it is precisely because I know that I do not want to make the sacrifices (or changes) in my life that are required to be a good parent. Of course I would if I did have children, but I've thought ahead enough to know that I'd rather not. When people ask me about why I don't want to have children, they usually scoff at me. When I explain the ways in which my life would have to change if I had them, they usually tell me I'm over-thinking it. But honestly? I think a lot of people don't think about it enough. I have friends that are nonchalant about having children and those that have accidentally fallen pregnant, and I am always amazed at how surprised they are when the children arrive that their lives are barely recognisable. Anyway, my point is that I am very grateful to people who choose to have children because, though I don't want them myself, I do recognise the work that is required in raising them!

    And those carob biscuits are going on my favourites list right now. I love quinoa and I love carob, and I have tons of both in my cupboard right now waiting to be used. I also have some rice flour that I haven't figured out how to use yet!

  10. You hit the nail right on the head with this one Johanna! Pre-kids I would have never thought just how much energy, time, space, money is needed each and every day. I have my days when I would just love a little time and space to myself, but just like you said, it is a sacrifice worth making.

    There is a dinosaur exhibition on at the Perth museum too, a few other kindy mums and I are taking our kids there on Monday, on the train too! I may look into buying tickets online ;-)

    These cookies look perfect for our family! The kids and I adore carob and quinoa... and in cookie form, even better :-)

  11. Thanks Kari - indeed it has been a hectic week - roll on my holidays!

    Thanks Mel - we are off to canberra and orange - into the cold apparently - but am looking forward to it - I love winter holidays - where are you off to?

    Thanks Ricki - and brickbats to blogger - it was your sos challenge that got me thinking about these recipes but I didn't enter it because they were full of eggs

    Thanks Hannah - am sure you would like them - after all you and sylvia share so many foodie loves - hard to predict what will happen - though I hope you get to make the sacrifice of your choice :-) but I think sometimes you have to just enjoy the present which you seem to be doing with a vengeance

    Thanks Juliet - hope you enjoy the carob - it seems a good thing to like if your tastebuds are so inclined - I guess I could try and get used to it but I love cocoa too much

    Thanks Kath - yes there are always consequences for any decision and you do need to weigh the pros and cons - though I think the hardest thing about having kids is that you can make the decision but you might find that nature makes a different decision - however at least you can be informed

    Thanks Adam - sounds like you thought through the decision and had really sound reasons - am sure you enjoy your lifestyle - travel and yoga sounds a great way to spend your days

    Thanks Choclette - I love the use of coconut sugar - it seems far more nutritious than regular sugar - I hoped it would make these more healthy as well as add more flavour

    Thanks Sarah - it amazes me how much other people feel that one's decision about child bearing is their business - I also think it is quite valid to have meaningful relationships with children of others in our family or our good friends. Children are born into a community not just a nuclear family unit. Hope you enjoy the biscuits - rice flour is great at lightening gf cooking but can be a bit grainy as the only flour in baking - for non-gf baking it is great for shortbread

  12. P.S I really wouldn't worry about the possibility of getting into "bad habits" giving Sylvia a cookie if she eats her dinner... why else was dessert invented? ;-)

  13. Thanks Emma - kids really give you a different perspective on life! Hope you enjoy the dinosaur exhibition - hope we might get to it soon once the school holidays are over. Glad you think that is reasonable to give sylvia a cookie if she eats dinner - tonight she asked for more broccoli which always makes me feel hopeful and then tomorrow night she probably wont even see it - so at least we don't need cookies every night

  14. Women are so lucky now to have the choice of how many children to have, even if that number is equal to zero, unlike older generations. Life is to be enjoyed with our own, or sometimes other people's, children.
    Your carob cookies look delicious!

  15. Hello. Thanks for popping my recipe up :)

    I love your idea of adding rice flour too. Rice flour is very dry (absorbent). You seem to achieve the stiffness with half a cup rice flour, that would take me an extra cup of two of quinoa. And quinoa flour being quite expensive, this is an excellent tip!

  16. I don't have kids but I think you're so right that having kids means change, not sacrifice. I can understand people who don't want kids would see it as a sacrifice though. These carob cookies look so perfectly round and sliced!


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