My little sister Amelia is the volleyball champion of the South Downs. It was her birthday a few weeks ago.
I was eleven when she was born. We had the day off school to be there when she arrived, in my mum's wood panelled bedroom. Tash and I covered our ears hard, as our mum bellowed like a lonely cow and the midwife fussed and scolded her for not spending a penny. It was with some concern that I wondered why the midwife would think of money at a time like this - we were not fans of euphemism.
Hours later, a warmly swaddled baby was put into my arms. Her tiny fists and eyes were clenched tight against the world and her face was red with the effort of being in it. I held her like a Ming vase and touched her newness as gently as I knew how.
She didn't have a name for a couple of weeks, so we called her Bonzo. If you could see her now, all willowy blonde, with the grace and attributes of an Austen heroine - you would laugh the same wheezy helpless giggle that I do when I think about it.
Because I love Amelia very much and am always grateful that she came into the world, I wanted to send her some power bars to munch after a session of jumping about looking good in a bikini. I made a mental note to get all the ingredients ready and then suddenly it was weeks later and I felt like a very bad sister indeed.
There are no excuses that can excuse bad sistering.
Anyway, I made them and sent them immediately, and they should arrive on Monday all being well. I hope they're all in one piece...
If you would like to try them for yourselves, here they are.
Chocolate, Cardamom and Coconut Power Bars
These are a very treaty bar - something to pop in your pocket for a long walk, nibble before your morning run or enjoy as an alternative to a chocolate bar.
They are sweetened with mineral rich dates, full of fibre from the almonds, rich in calcium from the carob and bound with antimicrobal coconut oil - a great fat to eat before or after exercise as it is very easily used by the body as a fuel source.
60g 90% Cocoa Content Chocolate - or pure cacao
60g Dried Dates
90g Flaked Blanched Almonds (or soaked and dehydrated almonds)
1 Heaped Dessertspoon (american tablespoon) Raw Carob Powder
35g Virgin Coconut Oil
10 Green Cardamom Pods
Pinch Sea Salt
Break chocolate into chunks and put into a food processor with, almonds, dates and carob powder. Process until very fine crumbs.
Split cardamom pods and grind the black seeds inside with a very small pinch of sea salt in a pestle and mortar. Add to the food processor.
Add Coconut oil and pulse until the mixture just starts to clump into a ball. Stop!
Press into a 1lb loaf tin lined with baking parchment - or a similar sized tupperware box. Chill for 2 hours and then slice into bars and wrap in parchment.
Store in the fridge (up to three weeks) to keep them firm, or in a cool larder for up to 10 days.