I had a lovely nanny to look after Maryam, one I could really trust and I excitedly entered the workforce. But things didn't go as planned. On my first day back, I just couldn't concentrate. My shift was only 4 hours but I called home a total of 30 times. What time did Maryam wake? Did she finish her breakfast? What is she doing now? What snack did she have? Did she nap? How long for? Did she finish her lunch? The questions in my heart didn't stop, nor did the phone calls.
That night, as I held her tight and put her to sleep, brushing her tiny curls behind her ears that we fondly called her whiskers, I made the easiest decision I have ever made. And the hardest, if that makes sense. But the best decision as well. I could not work outside the home whilst the children were small. I just couldn't. I couldn't bare the thought of not being there everyday to see her evolve, to see her growing, be there to capture her firsts in my heart. Listening to her as her speech changed, her favourite toys changed, building her first lego tower and holding her hand through it all.
However, I also quickly realised that I wasn't the mom that loved to play. Whilst I could manage 15 minutes building a lego tower, another 10 baking a pretend pizza, I was never going to be the mother that played all day. I'd rather take Maryam to the park and push her in the swing or let her discover the slide and flowers and weeds and dewy grass beneath her feet. I'd rather be in the kitchen baking that real pizza.
And so that is exactly what we did. Every morning, I would strap her tiny pudgy body into the bouncer and place it on our kitchen table, positioning her perfectly yet safely so she had the best view. I would go about creating recipes and havoc in the kitchen, describing my every move to her. As though I was a teacher and she my student. Sometimes I'd even pretend I was hosting a cooking show on tv and she was my audience.
At times she fell asleep and I'd feel deflated but as she grew older her eyes grew more curious, her actions more animated. Sometimes I'd catch her playing with the flour that danced along with the light coming through our kitchen window. When she started to crawl, this opened up a whole new world of possibilities in the kitchen for her. Pots and pans were her favourite toys and emptying out the pantry was the best part of the day for her.
That was then. And look, this is now. Her apron sits right next to mine behind the door, her step stool has its own place in the kitchen. She would rather crack eggs and play with flour over her toys any day. She proudly knows where all the cake tins and muffin pans stay and she can probably name most spices in my pantry.
I love that we can spend quality time together, both of us doing what we love. I love that I can nurture her love of cooking and baking. I love that she helps to decide our menu for the week. I love that she is willing to try anything, at least once. I love that face of anticipation and curiosity as she watches dough rise or batter cook in the oven. I love that excitement when she wants to decorate anything and everything pink, with 'springles' of course.
As she wanted to do with these banoffee pie popsicles. She wasn't too pleased when I thwarted her plan to cover them with pink shiny sprinkles. We settled on chocolate sauce instead. With her favourite biscuit in the whole wide world. Mine too- Digestives. The inspiration for these comes from the one ingredient banana ice cream posted by The Kitchn. We put our own twist to it and had such a fun afternoon decorating popsicles and photographing them.
Banoffee Pie Popsicles
1 can condensed milk
4 large bananas
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
40 g digestives, crushed
80 g chocolate, I used half milk and half dark
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Take any paper packaging off from the condensed milk tin and place in boiling water so that it is fully submerged in water. Allow it to simmer on medium heat for 2-3 hours. The longer you boil it, the darker your dulce de leche will be. Add water as necessary, making sure the can is always covered in water. Use tongs to remove the can from the water and cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. Peel and halve the bananas. Place the bananas on a baking tray greased with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and roast for approximately 20 minutes (You can skip the roasting part if your bananas are already ripe). Allow to cool before freezing for 2 hours. Blend the frozen bananas until smooth, scraping the bowl whenever necessary.
Fill your molds with a little bit of the banana mixture followed by a bit of the dulce de leche. Keep repeating until you have filled you popsicle molds completely. I used approximately 1 tablespoon of dulce de leche per mold. You can refrigerate the rest of the dulce de leche for other uses. Cover molds with foil paper and insert a wooden popsicle stick in the centre. Freeze overnight till solid.
Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in a steel bowl placed over hot water. Spread the crushed digestives on a tray. Unmold the frozen popsicles and roll them in the crushed biscuits and drizzle the chocolate over it. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 large popsicles.