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I’m closing out on eight days of solo-parenting, and I’m so proud of myself and of the kids for getting through it so well. It’s an odd thing when Kyle goes back to America for work and we’re here in England on our own. If you recall last fall when he went back to the States things didn’t go so well. He’s been back a few times since that first trip last September, and things have gone fine, but never great. This trip was particularly strange because Kyle spent the week back “home” in the Pacific Northwest. He stayed with our family and friends, ate at favorite restaurants, sipped familiar beer, got those far away longed for hugs. Unlike the times he’s been away before, the times where it just felt like surviving and counting down the days until he came back, this time we had a wonderful time and that is no small thing.

Kyle’s plane is set to be touching down at Heathrow any minute, and we’re buzzing and excited to see him again. We’re spending our last hour on our own tidying up, making cookies, and I’m trying to figure out what’s for dinner. Because, while we did get out of the house for some lovely little adventures to the Jane Austen’s House Museum, the lake, the church park, and the farm shop, one place I did not brave with the kids was the grocery store. Somehow all of the places we went seemed inviting and easy in ways the grocery store does not.

farm shop living in englandPINYesterday at the farm shop we picked autumn raspberries from the bushes and pulled muddy carrots from the ground, and bought broccoli, cauliflower, corn, romancesco, and zucchini. You might have thought that I was done writing about Roasted Cauliflower, and perhaps so did I, but apparently I’m not. When we got back from the farm shop I cut up a head of the cauliflower, along with a head of broccoli, and after tossing it in a mustard vinaigrette, got it roasting in the oven.

farm shop living in englandPINfarm shop living in englandPINfarm shop living in englandPINfarm shop living in englandPINfarm shop living in englandPINI’d gotten the idea from one of my favorite cookbooks, It’s All Good, in which there’s a recipe for roasted cauliflower and chickpeas. I love roasted broccoli so I added that too, and made some other additions and adaptions and I’m head over heels for my version. I whipped up the vinaigrette and tossed the vegetables with it before popping them into a hot oven to roast and caramelize. The chickpeas were added towards the end, just long enough to become crunchy and toasted, finally – and I personally think this is where things got amazing – I sautéed up some halloumi and tossed the lot together with some fresh Italian parsley, lemon zest, toasted pine nuts and a tiny bit of reserved dressing. The whole plateful is varied, salty, rich – and yet somehow light – and completely comforting and satisfying. Come to think of it I think I just figured put what we will have for dinner tonight, with Kyle.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPIN

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients.
1 medium head of cauliflower cut or broken into small pieces, about 3/4 lb.
1 medium head of broccoli cut or broken into small pieces, about 3/4lb.
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon seedy mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
flat leaf Itlalian parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
8oz (250grams) halloumi, cubed
lemon zest (optional)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustards, season with a small pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of black pepper. Whisking continuously, pour the olive oil in in a steady stream. Reserve 1/3 cup of the dressing.

Add in all of the cut up broccoli and cauliflower to a large roasting pan, drizzle with all but 1/3 cup of the dressing and tossing until the vegetables are well coated. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Add the chickpeas to the roasting pan with the vegetables, drizzle with one tablespoon of the reserved dressing, toss together and return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the chickpeas and the vegetables are crispy and caramelized.

Transfer the vegetables to a serving plate.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, sear the halloumi, browning it on (almost) all sides before adding it to the vegetables. Top with some fresh parsley, toasted pine nuts, the last of the dressing, and a bit of lemon zest if you have it! Enjoy immediately.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

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Even though this is my third time starting solid foods with one of my babes, I still felt overwhelmed going into it. It’s a big change going from having a free, convenient, works-every-time supply on your person to feeding your baby solids. We put it off until Roux was almost 7 months old because we were traveling… and because it felt a little overwhelming. The sweet folks at Nuna UK sent us a high chair for Roux and, I know it’s silly, but that made me really excited to get him eating. I don’t work with many companies reviewing or promoting products, but I really love Nuna. I’ll put it out there right away that Kyle and I both agreed the Nuna Zaaz is the best high chair we’ve ever used, and between my first two kids and all my years of nannying, I’ve tried quite a few.

starting solids nuna zaazPINstarting solids nuna zaazPINNuna sent us our stroller and our travel cot (that Roux still sleeps in every night) just before he was due. They’d reached out at a time when I was feeling so unsettled – not sure what to do with all that nesting anxiety because we didn’t have anything for Roux. Those packages arriving on our doorstep, giving me something to assemble, brightened our experience here so much. So when they offered to send a high chair, I said, “Yes, please!” It’s so odd, this living abroad while have a baby thing. There are these amazing moments where it feels like we’re on a great adventure – and then there are these other moments where I feel sad that he’s not having his baby days in our “real” home and sleeping in the same crib or eating in the same high chair his sisters did. So having his own, very nice, very special stroller, cot, or high chair means so much to a sensitive, sentimental mama like me.

starting solids nuna zaazPINstarting solids nuna zaazPINstarting solids nuna zaazPINIntroducing Roux to solid foods has been really fun. When the girls were his age they hardly showed any interest in food at all, preferring to nurse the days away. But this boy is so into his food that for a couple (rather unpleasant) weeks there he would sit in his high chair and shriek at us while we rushed to make him food… now he seems to understand that, if he’s in his chair, we are going to feed him and he can relax. That, or the fact that once he’s in his chair he has two big sisters who rush to grab him a handful of Cheerios.

starting solid foods nuna zaazPINstarting solid foods nuna zaazPINstarting solid foods nuna zaazPINWe started off trying a bit of Baby Led Weaning, but his choking and gagging freaked us out too much so we went back to our trusted French Kids Eat Everything approach. I bought an inexpensive immersion blender on Amazon and started making him some purees. We skipped the rice cereal and went straight for carrots, peas, apples, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, bananas, etc. After the first couple weeks of him devouring the fine purees, I started purposely leaving some texture in his food. Now he loves to feed himself rice cakes, small vegetables, finely diced chicken, bread crusts, smashed black beans… and usually ends the meal inhaling a bowl of oatmeal amped up with formula.

starting solid foods nuna zaazPINstarting solid foods nuna zaazPIN

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  • Katie Sordahl - I’m going through this process for the 1st time with my little bug. The transition from puree to more solids is giving me a little anxiety as well. My little bug loves and wants to eat everything, but is still waiting for his first teeth. I was wondering how many teeth Roux has, or had when you started feeding solids? Love the pictures! Such a handsome boy!ReplyCancel

    • kacieblogs@gmail.com - Hi Katie! Babies can gum quite a bit of soft things without teeth – read a bit on the baby led weaning site I linked to and then decide what you’re comfortable with. Roux has eight teeth, but mostly uses his back gums to break up food. He’s quickly moved from only purees to soft solid, and now I feel like I can give him a large variety of things because he’s figuring it out, too!ReplyCancel

We’ve just passed the one year mark of living in England. The summer is winding to a close with surprising warm summer days book-ended by chilly fall mornings, and the sounds of the birds in the morning is changing from enthusiastic to communicative.

As we settle into our second fall here in Great Britain, I am finally finding time to tell you about our summer. I was going to say that it was pretty quiet, which in a way it was, but as I started looking through all of our summer photos I realized we have had quiet an adventurous summer. We spent all of July and August in England – Kyle has been hard at work with long hours and lots of headaches, so I’ve been spending every minute with the kids. Watching Roux grow (far too fast), watching Lulu kick off the last bits of toddler-hood and become a full fledged kid, and watching Gigi learn to read, write in cursive, and ride laps around us on her bike. It’s been a couple months full of little things, which are the best things, really. But we’ve managed to spend nearly every weekend exploring this part of the country and it makes all those long hours and headaches worth it.

By far our favorite things to do here involve our new membership to the National Trust. We joined after being prompted by a few people to do so and for our whole family it cost just £114 for a whole year. It gets us into all kind of amazing gardens, homes, free parking… the benefits are endless and there are so many incredible places we can’t wait to explore. Even if you find yourself just traveling in England for a few weeks with a rental car, it would be worth joining! Next on my list is to join the English Heritage which covers more places! Anyway, as I was saying, our favorite thing to do is to pack up a little picnic and set off to explore some place close by – the pictures really give an abbreviated version of these places as I could talk and write about them forever.

We love skipping rocks on the lake and walking the paths in Tisbury. On this particular trip Kyle was about halfway through reading the first Harry Potter book to Gigi so we collected sticks and set off through the woods casting spells and getting stung by nettles…

expat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINliving in englandPINliving in englandPINMy friend, Jo, brought her wonderfully silly boys over for a couple of summery picnics at the local church where we love to go for quick, easy, but still marvelously charming outings…

expat living in englandPINWe have passed quite a few lazy hours and days at the local u-pick gather vegetables, playing in the tire swing with paper towel telescopes, and picking/eating our weight in berries…

expat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINWe spend just about every weekend exploring the incredible curated gardens of England like this one at West Green House. And, even after getting caught in a really stupendous downpour on this trip, we still never remember to pack our raincoats…

west green house gardenPINwest green house garden englandPINwest green house gardenPINwest green house garden englandPIN

The kids and I visited Basildon Park and House which was used to “play” Netherfield Park in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. The grounds were huge, with lots of places for the kids to explore, and the house was incredible…

basildon park house national trustPINbasildon park house national trustPINbasildon park house national trustPINWe made a trek out to Stourhead house and gardens and were seriously in awe. We didn’t allow ourselves nearly enough time to fully explore this spectacular place. Part of the grounds and the pantheon were also used in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. We brought a picnic and ate it in the field behind the house, walked part of the trails, and headed back for a quick tour of the house before we had to leave. We will be back very soon…stourhead park garden national trustPINstourhead park garden national trustPINstourhead park garden national trustPINstourhead park garden national trustPIN

Other than that I’ve just been spending all my time loving these people…

expat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINliving in englandPINexpat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPIN

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I never mean for so much time to pass before and between posting, but summer swoops by so fast, even when it feels like you have no plans at all. Our summer started off with big adventures to Austria, and then to Belgium and Amsterdam! Since returning from our big adventures we’ve spent the last month just puttering around England. Saving our pennies, or pence as it were, for more big adventures down the road. So here I am, finally sharing some photos, probably too many photos, from our trip to Belgium and Amsterdam.

We opted to drive to Amsterdam, where Kyle had work for a week, rather than flying or taking the train and I’m so glad we did. I’m a big fan of any road trip, and especially one that traverses three fantastic European countries. We set off from the ferry docks in Dover, waved goodbye to the White Cliffs, and watched the green sea water turn to deep blue as we headed for Calais, France. After disembarking from the ferry, we drove north into Belgium, stopping along the coast and making it to our final stop just outside of Bruges around bedtime.

traveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINKyle and I first visited Bruges several years ago when we backpacked around Europe and we couldn’t wait to return. It is an incredibly charming, if slightly over-crowded little city. Our first stop was getting the Belgian waffles for breakfast, which had the girls declaring that it was “the best day, ever” before 10am. We spent the day wandering around before ending the day with cups full of gelato which, if the waffles hadn’t done it, fixed it as the best day ever in their books. They still compare our days to that day, as in, “Well, it’s still not as good as the waffle and gelato day….”. Fair enough.

traveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINPINWe spent the following day exploring Ghent, which came highly recommended by a few friends, and I’m so glad we did because we absolutely loved it. It was similar to Bruges with it’s charming canals, waffles, and gelato, but it was much quieter and possibly even more lovely. We wandered the streets, toured the castle, ate sandwiches and sipped beer. So, if you were to ask me rather than the kids, I might call that the best day ever.

traveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINAfter a long, hot, wonderful day in Ghent we climbed into the car and drove north past Antwerp, past Amsterdam, and into the northern part of Holland. We stopped and slept at an AirBnB (well, technically we stopped at the one we had booked and it was truly awful and somehow we managed to get another one at 9:30pm close by – which was a miracle as we were in the middle of nowhere). In the morning we got up early, had breakfast with our host, and headed to explore Kolhorn – a quiet, little town on the water. It was Fathers’ Day so we stopped and had the most delicious apple pie that was really more like apple-almond cake before driving slowly down to Amsterdam.

traveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINWe spent a whole week in Amsterdam staying with a friend from childhood and her family. They graciously invited our little tribe into their gorgeous home in the middle of the city and we got busy exploring in the big heat wave that took over Europe that week. We walked and walked and walked all over Amsterdam; we ate and ate and ate all over Amsterdam. The cities sidewalks were in full bloom with hollyhocks and roses, the parks were teaming with people to observe, and the café tables were begging to be filled with cold beer, rosé, and fries. Kyle spent most of the week working, so the kids and I found our own rhythm which mostly went: breakfast, park to people watch and paint, lunch, getlato, park to people watch and paint, bed.

traveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINAfter a wonderful week in Amsterdam we decided, somewhat at the last minute, to spend another day, and a night, in Ghent before ferrying back home to England. We spent the day taking a canal tour, getting lost, having lunch, and exploring before driving to Dunkirk, where we spent a short night before catching the ferry back to England. This trip, full of picnics and sunshine and hours in the car with the windows down felt longer than it’s ten days.

traveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINWe were happy to get home, and it’s felt so much like fall ever since; so all of summer 2017 for me will be forever wrapped up in that one European road trip.

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  • Ashley Rodriguez - Now this is a road trip I would LOVE. You went to the home of my people! Where chocolate sprinkles dot butter on toast and licorice may be confused with a salt lick. Loved looking longingly into these photos. Makes me want to hop on a plane right now.ReplyCancel

I love simple, summer food. I love the lack of preparation involved, I love that whatever you make can be eaten at room temperature and still hold up as a delicious, fresh meal. I don’t know if it’s having a newborn… is it still considered having a newborn when they reach six months old? Well, either way, I feel like I still have a newborn.

Right now I’m watching the girls ride their bikes in circles on the big back porch; Lulu is still in her pajamas, and G is wearing some odd sort of mismatched outfit that she pulled on this morning. It’s nearing lunch time and, although we’ve done our school lesson for the day, I wouldn’t say that any of us are particularly awake. This is somehow all in spite of the fact that Roux slept from 9pm to 4:30am on his own in his travel cot – something he doesn’t normally do.

So, here I sit, sipping tea, thinking about the breakfast I may be too late for, and the lunch I should get up and make, and very vaguely about what I might make for dinner. In our time here in England I’ve gone through lots of “meal phases”. I find something that works and is easy and then I just make it repetitively until I get tired and move on to something else. In the fall it was White Bean Soup, in the winter it was Roasted Chicken and Potatoes, in the spring it was Roasted Cauliflower, and I have a feeling this will be the summer of the Garlicky Spinach Flatbread with Feta, Lemon Zest, and Sunflower Seeds.

This flatbread was inspired by a pizza my mom used to order from a local pizza place when we were kids that had the pleasing combination of spinach, feta, and sunflower seeds along with lots of cheese and other vegetables. I was searching for something for dinner and wanted to make a sort of easy pizza to compliment the sunshine we’d had the pleasure of spending all day playing in. We had a lot of spinach we’d gathered from the local u-pick farm, Kyle was working late, and I quickly kneaded together some dough (I use this pizza dough recipe from The Kitchn), and gently simmered my shaved garlic cloves in olive oil. With those parts prepped, the rest of dinner promised to be easy to pull together with a teething babe on my hip and a glass of cab in my hand.

The key is to roll the flatbread out really thin. I triple the pizza dough recipe, but use it to make 4-5 thin pizzas. The edges get crisp, the feta and sunflower seeds get toasted and browned, the spinach shrivels up and start to burn around the edges. Brightness from a sprinkling of lemon zest and fresh thyme bring the whole thing wonderfully together to be enjoyed with a bit (more) wine still piping hot or at room temperature – whatever your evening dictates.

GARLIC SPINACH FLATBREAD WITH FETA, LEMON ZEST, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDSPINGARLIC SPINACH FLATBREAD WITH FETA, LEMON ZEST, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDSPIN

GARLIC SPINACH FLATBREAD WITH FETA, LEMON ZEST, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDSPINGARLIC SPINACH FLATBREAD WITH FETA, LEMON ZEST, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDSPINGARLIC SPINACH FLATBREAD WITH FETA, LEMON ZEST, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDSPINGARLIC SPINACH FLATBREAD WITH FETA, LEMON ZEST, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDSPINGARLIC SPINACH FLATBREAD WITH FETA, LEMON ZEST, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDSPINGARLIC SPINACH FLATBREAD WITH FETA, LEMON ZEST, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDSPINGARLIC SPINACH FLATBREAD WITH FETA, LEMON ZEST, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS

This flatbread pizza is intensely garlicky, covered with frizzled spinach, toasted feta and sunflower seeds, and finished with a sprinkling of lemon zest and fresh thyme. I use the pizza dough recipe from The Kitchn (included below), I’ve tripled it for you. I roll the dough very thin – making 4-5 flatbreads from the tripled recipe. Adjust the recipe as needed for how many people you’re feeding! The flatbreads are pretty light so four is about the right number for our family.

Pizza Dough Ingredients.
6 cups all purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
18oz lukewarm water

Pizza Dough Directions.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast to the lukewarm water and allow it to dissolve. Once it’s dissolved add it to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy dough. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead for about 5-10 minutes, until the dough is springy and tight – adding a little more flour as needed if it’s too sticky.

Coat a large bowl with a little olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put it somewhere warm to rise. When the dough has doubled in size (about an hour) it is ready to use.

Ingredients.
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
lots of fresh spinach
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
zest from one lemon
a few springs of fresh thyme, roughly minced
flake salt
fresh black pepper or red pepper flakes

Directions.
Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add in the garlic cloves and allow the garlic to very gently simmer in the oil for a few minutes – just until fragrant and sweet – before turning off the heat and allowing the oil to cool.

Preheat the oven to as hot last it will go 400-500ºF is ideal.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil it. Roll out 1/4 of your dough as thing as you can and place it on the oiled parchment paper. Spoon about 3-4 tablespoons of the garlicky oil and about 1/4 of the garlic onto the dough, spreading it evenly. Season the pizza with a little flake salt, and either black or red pepper.

Top the oil with a single layer of spinach leaves, sprinkle with a couple ounces of feta, and about a tablespoon of sunflower seeds. Cook the flatbread for about 12-15 minutes, until the edges are browned, the spinach has wilted and begun to char, and the feta and sunflower seeds are toasted and golden.

Remove the pizza from the oven, drizzle it with a little more garlic oil, and sprinkle with a bit of lemon zest and fresh thyme. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Slice and enjoy!

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
GARLIC SPINACH FLATBREAD WITH FETA, LEMON ZEST, AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS

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