Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Family Food - Tuna Napolitan-ish

When I was at uni, in the Olden Days, there were 3 evening meals I was able to cook without complete shared-kitchen carnage. I prepared them on rotation.

  1. "Smash" mashed potatoes and peas and microwave cuboid cod in parsley sauce.
  2. Baked bean "casserole" ie baked beans, kidney beans, ketchup and pasta mixed up.
  3. Schwartz Tuna Napolitana packet sauce. With pasta.
Now I realise I'm not exactly selling my culinary skills here, but take a moment to recall how you may have handled living far away from home at 18, with a weekly budget off roughly £4.50 (following Banana Concorde expenses and nightly admission to whichever fine nightclub was throwing a Student Night).

And, for your information, Doubting Doris, Tuna Napolitana is a dish fit for a king. In fact, I am pretty sure it's what Queen Liz had for her supper after the Jubbly celebrations. Not entirely a fact, but a well-founded (or completely unfounded, depending on how you look at it) assumption. It was served with an aperitif of Banana Concorde and followed by Mint Angel Delight, Prince Pip's favourite pudding. His was, of course, transported to hospital post-haste by a couple of Beefeaters, as he was a bit poorly.

Anyway THE POINT IS that I have invented my own version, a scrumptious and healthy meal suitable for babies and adults alike.


Half an onion chopped finely
Clove of garlic, pressed
Dessert spoon of tomato purée
6 tomatoes (skinned if you can be bothered), chopped finely
Half a tin of tuna in spring water
Handful of grated cheddar
Optional spinach
Pinch of Italian herbs
Full fat milk
Pasta - I use macaroni or halved shells for The Bairn, he is 8 months with teeth. When he was younger I'd have blended it a bit.

  • Cook pasta until fairly soft so easily eaten by baby
  • Fry onion until soft in a little olive oil (saucepan)
  • Add garlic and tomato purée
  • After a few minutes add tomatoes
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes on a low heat, until it looks a bit saucy
  • Stir in tuna and cheese
  • Add spinach - if you like. I use prefrozen discs of spinach
  • Add herbs
  • Take out baby's pasta, cool in cold water. Mix in with a wee portion of sauce and a bit of full fat milk to cool it down further. The Bairn eats his on his high chair tray with his fingers. Leftover sauce, I give him with a spoon.
  • For the grown ups - just put it together and serve.

Look at that tubby wee face! The Bairn is clearly saying "Mam, you are AWESOME, and I love you very much."

The Other Half, who detests fish in any shape or form, enjoyed a tuna spattered hob, highchair and floor whilst tucking into leftover ham salad.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Baby Cuisine - Baby Ketchup

Yes, you read it right! Ketchup for babies. Mine seems to enjoy it, and just as well, as I've made an entire shed load of the stuff. I serve French Toast or sweet potato chips with this ketchup, so here's how I do it. It's so easy.

Baby Ketchup

Simply fry a pack of roughly chopped cherry tomatoes in a little olive oil, add a chopped ripe nectarine, and simmer with a couple of teaspoons of vinegar (i used balsamic) for 5 minutes. Blend. It's tomatoey and sweet and sour - a bit like proper ketchup! Pour into ice cube trays and freeze for little easily defrosted portions - perfect baby-sized condiments!

(Tomato/optometry factoid - cooked and processed tomatoes contain more lycopene than raw tomatoes. Therefore actual Tommy K has some nutritional value! If you ignore all the sugar, salt and preservatives...)

French Toast

I'm sure you all know how it's done, but here you go... (Serves mum and wee yin)

  • 3 slices of white bread - 2 for you - cut in half. Baby slice - cut off crusts, and cut into 8 fingers.
  • Beat 2 eggs into a flat bottomed dish with a splash of full fat milk.
  • Soak bread in it.
  • Heat olive oil in a frying pan.
  • Fry eggy bread until golden brown.
  • Do the baby bread first so it's cool enough when yours is done.
  • Demolish!
Sweet Potato Chips

  • Wash and peel a sweet potato
  • Slice into chip sized fingers
  • Toss in olive oil
  • (for adults, season with salt and cracked black pepper, or peri peri, or jerk, or anything really!)
  • Roast on a baking tray in oven at 200 degrees C for about 15-20 minutes
  • They really hold the heat, so try it yourself before giving it to your cherub!
  • Serve as a lovely soft finger food, keep some in the fridge as a cold snack for the next day.

Hope you enjoy it!

Topic 7. Optometry

Today was my very first day back at work since September 2011.


Now, I'm not adverse to a bit of whingeing about the trials and tribulations of a day spent in a tiny, dark room with a stream of complete strangers in close proximity. But today was great.

Preparation for work, hmmmm, not so great. It went a little like this...

SUNDAY 17th JUNE (Father's Day)
Internal monologue.
"Ahaaaa Mrs. Bee, I do believe you have a Day Of Work on the horizon, whatwhat?" (My internal monologue is a bit up herself; thinks she's a bit posh you see.)
"Correctamundo, my friend. I had better rescue the ole formal work gear from the back of the wardrobe, and dust off the carefully packaged and safely put-away eye-testing equipment ready for Wednesday."

What actually transpired was that I discovered that NOT ONE of my evil pre-pregnancy work dresses could have the decency to contain my enormous backside.

Depressed, I slumped off to console my fat self with a mahoosive Nandos for lunch - I mean, to celebrate Father's Day with my beloved Other Half and The Bairn (who, it turns out, has not inherited our penchant for hot peri peri sauce). Bought 2 tent-like frocks in the hope I could squeeze into them.


6.30am: The Bairn awakes, ready myself with rubber gloves and gas-mask to tackle daily assmaggeddon, make bottle, feed Bairn bottle.

7.10am: AAAAAARGH! I have approximately 35 minutes to get ready for work. Throw milk-drunk The Bairn at my Godsend of a mother who has travelled from Nearly England to babysit today.

7.25am: Realise that one new dress is TOO BIG! Have "yay! Boooooo! Yay! Sh*#e!" moment.

7.30am: Find old maternity type shirt that fits (depressing) whilst yelling
"The Other Half! Where is my Very Professional Eye Testing Stuff?"

8.00am: Admitted defeat. Mattress no longer on bed. Loft upside down. Cats cowering behind TV. It's all bliddy flippin well gone. 15 minutes late leaving for my first day back and praying under breath that there's something I can borrow in order to perform an eye test.

9.10am: Arrived at work following horrific midweek rush hour traffic. Patient patiently awaiting his red-faced, empty-handed, splutteringly apologetic optometrist.

2.45pm: Twitch slightly when the response to my question "which is better? Lens 1 or lens 2" meets the response "lens 5 dear." But remain cheerful!

5.00pm: Day done. Thank staff for a greatly enjoyable day (it actually really was!), one of whom proceeds to mention that I left ALL OF MY EYE TESTING STUFF IN THE OTHER ROOM prior to my beginning maternity leave.

6.15pm: Home! Met at the driveway by a smiling The Other Half, beaming The Bairn and the smell of Mum's mince and tatties cooking in the kitchen..... Bliss!


8.45pm: Remember to calmly explain to The Other Half that he had taken our lovely home apart searching for Optometry Stuff that was, at that time, 30 miles away, handily waiting for mygoodself to retrieve it.

THURSDAY 21st JUNE (continued)

I believe I am forgiven. Or he's forgotten all about it.
Realise what a wonderful chap I am lucky to be with.
Realise it is actually Thursday as I write this, and not Friday, therefore have an entire day to wait until we have our weekly Chinese takeaway.
Sad times.

Life is indeed a roller coaster, Mr. Keating, a roller coaster indeed.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

White Water (Baby C)rafting!

Yes, I know, I lead a RIDICULOUSLY exciting life.

For example, this week I diced with death. Or to be exact, I diced with thread. I dusted off the ole sewing machine and made some stuff. Okay, I made "a thing". And when I say I dusted off "the ole sewing machine" that slightly misrepresents the situation. I've had it since I decided I'd make all my own baby stuff (hahhahahahaha) when I was hugely pregnant. I then made the questionable decision to place my spanking new toy up the spiral staircase, a journey entirely unlikely to be undertaken by a lady in the shape of a planetoid with cankles. Who happens to be incredibly lazy.

Long story short, I have a brand new, practically unused sewing machine, which I still rely on my mum to thread for me when she visits once in a blue moon. Who can thread a sewing machine? I firmly believe that NO HUMAN born post Abba is capable of performing such a complex and dangerous feat.

Except my beautiful friend Eilidh at http://Sittingonherbumbaleerie.blogspot.co.uk

She is a genius.

I made a dribble bib, as we were going to Baby Sensory that day - and the theme was to be "Sailors". As we all know, there's not a sailor ON the 7 seas without such an accessory, likely due to excessive sea-sickness. So I hear, the Royal Navy issue them to every recruit automatically on sign up.

Here it is...

Yes, that is Velcro you see! I clearly won't be setting up a home business in dribble bibbage anytime soon, but at least The Bairn was On Theme.

Also being manufactured in the Bee Hive this week was a Sensory Bag containing such multifaceted (probably not the right word, but I surely get points for inserting it) delights as feathers, ribbons, a wicker ball... I could go on. But won't as there's not much else in it. Any ideas, intrepid (again, right word? Who knows) followers? Answers on a glittery postcard, or preferably in the comments box.

And finally, I dared to make a card for a friend's newborn Bairnette. Flipping scary, I'll tell ya! I risked life and limb through PVA glue explosion. In fact it dropped, Gunk Tank circa 1988 stylee, over my beautiful creation which (when I can be bothered to heave my humongous, lazy form up the shoogly spiral staircase) will need to be replicated.

Dangerous business, this craft malarkey. And that, my friends, is a FACT.

Baby Cuisine - Hip Hip Purée!

I don't like to go on about it (LIE! I do and will, for quite some time, as I am extremely excited) but Baroness Annabel of Karmel tweeted me to say she liked my Fishy Pie recipe! I know, check out my bad self. On the ole Twitters AND new best friend of the Queen of Purée. In HRHs honour, I am now going to share with you some of my favourite fruit purée recipes. Not Annabel's - my own creations - but inspired by her Royal Genius. (FACTOID: Adding fruit to anything appears to make it palatable to the bambinorati. )

Now, The Bairn is getting on a bit - he's getting on for 8 months old - but I still blend some fruit to keep in the freezer for flavouring yogurts, baby rice etc. It's just too easy.

Pear and blueberry
  • Wash, peel and chop up the flesh of 2 ripe pears.
  • Wash a handful of blueberries.
  • Blend!
Apple strudel
  • Wash, peel and chop up the flesh of 2 ripe apples.
  • Pop into a pan, add a small amount of water or apple juice.
  • Add a handful of raisins, a pinch of cinnamon and ginger (or mixed spice is nice too).
  • Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Blend!
Peach and raspberry
  • Open a tin of peaches in juice (not syrup), or peel a couple of ripe fresh peaches.
  • Empty half the tin into a pan (or steamer over your apple strudel).
  • Add a handful of raspberries - I use frozen ones.
  • Simmer or steam for 3-5 minutes. Tinned peaches are already really soft.
  • Blend!
Pop your various purées (or mashes if you prefer to) into freezer pots and defrost as required!
We use them stirred into full fat natural yoghurt, or make a stodgy pudding with thick baby rice made with full fat milk. Or they're great mixed into Weetabix or Ready Brek if you're out of fresh fruit. Or can't bother your lazy backside to chop up fruit and wipe down a chopping board first thing. Lazy git. You know who you are!
Aaaaah.... It's me, isn't it?
Oh, and WEAR A PINNY! Or risk becoming severely pebble-dashed. Although the tastiest pebble-dashing you've ever experienced.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Topic 6. Gardening and Felicity

I bloody LOVE gardening.

Well, that's not entirely true. I LOVE thinking about gardening, buying flowers and veggie plants, planting a few and pretending to be Felicity Kendal off The Good Life. My God, she was fantabulous! Such a wee, funny pixie-like demi-goddess for all of 1970s Britain to idolise. Attaining sex-goddess status whilst clad in threadbare dungarees and wellies was no mean feat, you'd think; ALL our Dads (they're lying if they say otherwise) wanted to trade that garden gnome in for a cheeky, pert Felicity at the bottom of their gardens.

I, on the other hand, manage to achieve a red nose, a pimply rash on my right forearm (every single time- why?) and a visible 2 inches of buttock cleavage when attempting to detangle the suburban jungle surrounding our bungalow.

Yesterday, I tidied my herb garden (thank you very much). I planted 12 parsley plants, of which I accidentally bought 36 because of B&Q and their dastardly polystyrene packaging tricks. Anyway, you can never have too much parsley, can you? What? 36 plants is too much? I beg to differ! I planted strawberries in my planter, lettuce and runner beans in a raised bed. Then the reality....


There's always a stinking crappy humongous bit of garden that you know you need to deal with, but that's real gardening. There's not a single trip to B&Q and a ponce around in the old wellies and pink gardening gloves that's going to cause that netting to be raised, weeds yanked out and fox faeces to be avoided. And the truth is that this horrific veggie-patch of doom has been photographed after my Dad removed all of the big weeds.

Huzzah for Scottish summertime!

As long as it keeps raining, we can all half-heartedly duck our head around that gloomy far corner of the garden and say

"tut tut, shame that. Really wanted to get that weeding done. Now, anyone for a parsley sandwich?"

Baby Cuisine - Turkey's Cheap!

It's seems aaaaages since I posted a recipe, and now I have a back"blog"(hohoho) of gorgeous, yummilicious meals to tell you about. I've been dying to get the ol' iPad out and tell you all about it. Now The Other Half is transfixed at the telly (Euro FitBaw), I'm no longer duty bound to sit on my rather rotund arse watching lots of TV in the evening.

Why does it seem there's a huge football tournament every couple of weeks? Even The Bairn was keeping his beady eyes on it before bed, while I was enjoying a particularly enthralling episode of the thrilling "In The Night Garden" on the iPlayer. I mean that, you know. It's not sarcasm. It was enthralling. And not only Makkapakka's BoobBum. The Pontypines had left their house!

Today's recipes. What can I say? I'm a cheapskate. I bought a pack of turkey mince because

  • It's cheap as chips
  • It's healthy (is it? I think it is...)
  • It's cheap.
So I made a batch of meals for the Urchin... I mean The Bairn.
Turkey Casserole


Handful (yuck! I hate touching meat - sad times) of turkey mince
The white end of a leek chopped finely
A carrot
Half a parsnip
A potato
Little pinch of herbes de Provence (hawheehaw)

  1. Fry leek in butter
  2. Stir in mince
  3. When cooked through, add carrot, potato and parsnip, chopped pretty small
  4. Stir in herbs
  5. Add water til just covered
  6. Bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. (Steam broccoli/cauliflower over the top for finger food)
  7. Mash up
  8. Feed to starving baby!

Chilli Turkey

Handful of (you guessed it) turkey mince
Half an onion chopped finely
Half a clove of garlic
Spices - pinch each of cumin, paprika, chilli powder
Tomato purée
Half a yellow or red pepper
Half a small courgette
A tomato
Half a tin of chopped tomatoes

  1. Fry up onion and spices in olive oil
  2. Add mince
  3. When cooked add pepper chopped small, and tomato purée
  4. After 5 mins add finely chopped courgette and tomato
  5. After another 5 mins add tinned chopped toms, I also added a wee bit of water
  6. Boil, cover, then simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Serve with pitta bread, tortillas (NOT the Doritos kind! Slight choking hazard :-O) or chapatti
Now I will say that both of these are delicious, as I always try it myself (hence afore-mentioned rotund arse), but you will never want to see turkey mince again in your life after making 10 batches of baby food from it. That's why my (for the grown ups) Spicy Thai Satay Turkey Burgers are not described here nor is the recipe given.

Too. Much. Turkey.

Hoobloodyray for CHOCOLATE!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Baby Cuisine - Comforting Cottage Pie

There's something about cottage pie on a crappy, rain-splattered, minging day like today. Retrieve those woolly cardies from the back of the wardrobe; hunt out those worn-twice-since-Christmas slankets and sink back into Winter Warming with a slop of hearty cottage pie. This recipe is designed so that adults AND babies can enjoy it, with minimum extra effort. I aim to use as few pans as possible!


Pack of mince
Onion chopped finely
Clove of garlic pressed
2 grated carrots
Tablespoon of plain flour

Serve with broccoli and cauliflower florets

1. Fry onion in oil until soft, add garlic
2. Stir in carrots, cook for a few minutes
3. Stir in mince, fry together until browned
4. Stir in flour for a few minutes
5. Add some herbs. I use herbes de provence, some black pepper and a bay leaf. And a bit of paprika really warms it up.
6. Add some water, bring to boil and simmer low for 20 minutes
7. Meanwhile, boil chopped potatoes NO SALT, for 20 mins
8. Steam cauliflower, carrots and broccoli florets (frozen ones are so easy) above potatoes for finger food

9. When cooked, remove mince and tatties for The Bambino, mash together, put some aside for the freezer if there's enough.

10. Then, I make sure me and The Other Half have a whole shed load of butter with the potatoes, Bisto in the mince and a big steaming pool of Nandos piri piri sauce on the side.


And for pudding, natural full-fat bio yoghurt with fresh fruit. Just on the off-chance summer could be tempted back.

Enjoy the stodge! X

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Baby Cuisine - Fishy Pie

I'm going to get right in there and tell you this recipe. It is brilliant, if I do say so myself.


4 quality cod fish fingers
2 medium sized potatoes
Dairylea triangle
Full fat milk

1. Cook your fish fingers, when cooled take off the batter (and scoff it, you greedy mare!), and flake fish into a bowl.
2. Boil your peeled/chopped up tattied.
Mash when soft. Add a little unsalted butter and milk if you like.
3. Steam your peas - I use frozen ones - and mash/blitz.
Dairylea triangle, splash of full-fat milk and a generous fingerful of grated cheese in a plastic tub, microwave 20 seconds, mix it up, done!
5. Stir in chopped parsley - I use frozen stuff.
6. Mix fish/parsley/cheese sauce together.
7. In ramikins do layer of fish mix, then mushy peas, then mashed potato. Empty onto a plate.

Check it out! It's frickin gorgeous! Gordon "PottyMouth" Ramsarse couldnt do it better!

My Bairn wolfed it down. Got one in the fridge for lunch tomorrow, one in the freezer to keep.

You may see below my beloved The Other Half. Nope, I have no idea either. Check out the Tubster anxiously awaiting Scran O' Clock. Bless him!

In other news, leaving aforementioned Bairn with Granny for a whole day including bed-time tomorrow. First time I've not been there at bedtime.


Friday, 1 June 2012

Baby Cuisine - Lurgy Obliterating Chicken Soup


Sooooo poorly today. Me and The Bairn are suffering total lurgification. It's clearly a cold and therefore we must both MAN UP and GROW A PAIR. The Bairn has, at least, achieved the latter. And one could argue that I grew HIS pair. But nevertheless, where I fail at MANNING UP, I absolutely succeed at making chicken soup - and everyone knows chicken soups cures all that ails ya. A sure sign of WOMANNING up, a superior evolutionary step in the grand scheme of things.

Lurgy Obliterating Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

Half an onion chopped finely
Chicken breasticle cut up really small
Half a tin of sweetcorn
Easy cook white rice (washed)
Homemade stock if you have any
Whatever herbs and stuff you like

1. Fry onion in olive oil until transparent.
2. Add chicken pieces - fry until cooked.
3. Add sweetcorn and handful of rice.
4. If you have homemade stock, use it, otherwise add water until just covers ingredients, throw in herbs/pepper.
5. Simmer covered for 20 mins, add liquid when needed.
6. Blitz with hand processor til pretty smooth - I know, lumps are good, but too much effort for a poorly little boy :(
7. Served with little pitta bread pieces, dipped in soup.

I used a defrosted chicken breast, so used it all today by adding The Bairn's milk and blitzing in a separate tub.

You can then add a stock cube (too salty for wee yins) and more water to make your own "adult" soup thinner. And extra seasoning too. In fact a sliced red chilli simmered in at this point might be awesome...

As I type, I'm merging into the sofa; The Bairn's custom crocheted Granny Blankie protecting me against further viral infiltration. Wish us luck in quarantine!