Monday, 30 July 2012

Baby Cuisine - Beginner's Curry

I am absolutely cream flipping crackered.

It's been one of those days when your body feels like it's been hiking through a Ben Nevis sized sand dune in the opposite direction to a hurricane. Wearing stilettos, and carrying an ironing board. Or three.

As usual, I have achieved practically nothing at all, although have barely left the kitchen sink all afternoon.

And this, alas, is what I have to show for it.

Is it just me? Or do all Mums struggle to keep on top of everything?

The Bairn was "settling in" at nursery today. My plan for this golden hour was as follows:

  1. Kettle on, cup of ACTUAL hot tea.
  2. Become one with sofa.
  3. Stick iPad on (ooooh! iPad. Check me out. )
  4. Watch remaining 45 minutes of the GLORIOUS BBC adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 2, starring the ridiculously handsome and talented and magnificent and gorgeous and handsome Tom Hiddleston, on the iPlayer
How the hour actually transpired:

  1. Switch on kettle. No, don't actually, because THE BUTTON WON'T STAY DOWN.
  2. Pour glass of water, as forgotten there's no diluting juice left.
  3. Become one with sofa.
  4. Stick iPad on.
  5. WHAT. THE. F....AAAAARGH! The evil Beeb has obviously decided that I do not wish to complete my viewing as ALL OF THE SHAKESPEARE STUFF HAS GONE.
  6. Tears merge into glass of tap water forming equilibrium state of sadnes and blandness combined.
  7. Wash some dishes.
  8. Collect The Bairn.
Better still, when I turn up at the nursery, my son - my own flesh and blood - hears my voice and immediately let's out a blood curdling scream. Clearly my name will now be placed on a list of nasty ogre mummies whose children hate them.

One thing I did do without ballsing it up was make my wee cherub a delicious, very mild curry.

Here it is...


Chicken breast diced finely
Teaspoon of curry seasoning powder
Half a green bell pepper, chopped finely
Tablespoon of finely chopped spinach
Third of a tin of chopped tomatoes
Tablespoon of full fat natural yoghurt
Tablespoon of tropical fruit juice (or fruit purée)

  1. Fry up chicken in olive oil.
  2. When cooked through add green pepper.
  3. After a few minutes (pepper getting soft) add seasoning and stir for few more minutes.
  4. Pour over tomatoes, juice and spinach.
  5. After 5 minutes stir in yoghurt then remove from heat. (I also stirred in some microwaved white rice).
  6. Serve with mini naan bread.
I used the juice from a tub of pre-chopped tropical fruit (a Del Monte thing) with pineapple, mango and papaya in it. The wee man enjoyed eating the fruit pieces with his fingers for snack age, and I puréed some to stir into yoghurt, which he loved too. The lazy option, but I can barely manage keeping the blimmin work top clear, so chopped hunners of fruit up just AIN'T HAPPENING.

The little monkey was so happy with his curry, I nearly forgot I was in a huff with him for making me look like he hated my guts at nursery.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Baby Cuisine - Weensy Steak and Chips

The Other Half and I (certain elements - you know who you are RM - may take the time to appreciate my lovely use of grammar) get a bit excited about a good, hearty steak. Ever since our very first holiday in Nice, where I believe we each consumed 6 1/2 French cows of moderate girth over the course of a long weekend. Well, it'd be moo-de (ie rude, but with a moo in? Tenuous? Doesn't really work? Fair dos) not to, in the epicentre of steakery that is La France. I believe I'm correct in saying that 99.4% of restaurants in Nice serve steak frites avec vert... pepper sauce (not sure what French for pepper sauce is. La sauuuce p'perrrrr? Probably) and its likely all crap in comparison to what our finely tuned taste buds are attuned to these days. Now we're total grown up with careers and stuff and that and dead posh and everything, eh?

Fair enough, one can't quite achieve the same effect when cooking for a baby - I can't imagine The Bairn chomping through a medium rare bit of Aberdeen Angus fillet, quashed down with a tiny glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Aw how cute! But no. With 2 teeth and an infantile weeny liver, it's a decidedly mushier and most certainly non-alcoholic version of my favourite meal ever.

Make this most palatable to your baby by slow cooking the beef - make it a day you fancy a steak pie or casserole and you can all eat together. Do you know what? It's really closer to a stew. I'm kidding myself a bit.


Pack of diced stewing steak
Tablespoon of flour
A carrot chopped
An onion chopped
Bay leaf
Black pepper
Olive oil
A medium sized waxy potato

Baby ketchup as previously blogged (I'll try and figure out how to link it in...)

  1. Parboil Sliced carrot and chipped potatoes for about 8 minutes.
  2. Put paprika, black pepper, flour into a freezer bag. Add diced steak and shake it all up.
  3. Fry beef in olive oil and a bit of butter if you fancy, til just coloured.
  4. Put in slow cooker (crockpot if you're in the states) with carrot, parsley, rest of seasoning from the bag, and a bay leaf; cover with hot water.
  5. Cook on low heat for... Aaaaages. 6 hours if possible - so really soft for you Bairns. Pre heat oven to 200 degrees C for chips.
  6. Meanwhile, give it several hours, then CHIPS (American? You might call them fries. But you're wrong. They are clearly chips). I warn you, these are BETTER than oven chips so you may want to make lots for yourself. Put parboiled CHIPS in a bowl with plenty paprika, maybe a wee touch of garlic and/or black pepper if your bambino can handle it. A glug of olive oil. Mix it all up.
  7. Spread evenly over a hot baking tray, and bake for about 20-25 minutes. If they're not nice and soft by then, stick them back in. They need to be really soft and fluffy inside!
  8. Take chips out to cool - takes a good while. We may all have experienced the heartbreak and tongue-burnt devastation from trying that chip just too soon. But better it's your tongue that gets frazzled than your lovely little smasher, so ALWAYS TEST IT ON YOURSELF FIRST!
  9. Remove a few nice soft bits of steak from the slow cooker, some onion and carrot - check you've not accidentally removed the sneaky wee bay leaf too - and whizz it all up. If your meat's reeeeally tender, you could just mash it all with a fork for older babies.
  10. Serve with defrosted baby ketchup!
And now I'm craving cattle again. Moooooo!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Homeward Bound

© Copyright Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
I love home.

I've just been there for 5 whole days, with The Bairn in tow, for a holiday. Well, not so much a holiday as it was for work in a neighbouring town. Why do I still call it "Home"? I've lived a hundred miles away since I was 18 (which was approximately 73 years ago), and am perfectly AT home here in my actual home. In fact, when I go to the Ol' Ancestral Home (true story - my 7 Greats Granda was one of the village's first occupants in the 1700s. And this time I'm not even exaggerating! Fascinating stuff if you're interested in my Bee-nealogy) I no longer recognise 90% of the people I see. It can be a bit embarrassing. For example - The Bairn, Grampa and My Good Self went for stroll with the buggy yesterday. As we're attempting to push the decidedly suburban stroller (the Baby-style-but-little-substance Oyster) down a muddy, overgrown-grassy, steeply sloping back lane, we meet a girl. Someone I should clearly know. Some reasons for this:

  • She calls my Dad's name, East Clintwood (not necessarily his real name).
  • She knows my Dad's friend - whose greenhouse he'd been watering.
  • She's my age.
  • She has a toddler not much older than The Bairn.
  • There are only about 4 girls ("ladies" I should say, i won't flatter myself) my age in the village. And they made up 50% of my primary school class.
  • New people don't move to the village. Not ever.
We had a whole conversation about the merits of monkey shaped baby rein rucksacks and the easy purchase thereof from The Mighty Amazon.The whole time I'm thinking

"Who the hell are you, woman? Take off your sunnies! Give me something to work with for Chrissakes! Or at least go the opposite way so Dad (that's East to you) can tell me who the *#%+ you actually are? You nice lady, you!"

We then overtake with the buggy - no mean feat in this terrain, but we can just about get past a wobbly-legged year old toddler in grass taller than him - and I ask Dad who this was?


Marvellous. In conclusion; my ancestral home, which after all these years remains in my heart of hearts as Home, seems to have morphed into Where I Once Belonged. Sadly I recognised only ONE LADY the whole time I was Home.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Wimbledon and Hot Gingers

I'm trying. I'm REALLY trying. I just can't (cover your ears if you're easily offended) like Wimbledon.

Sure, it looks fun with all the strawberries, cream, champagne, impromptu Cliff Richard singalong (well, maybe we can do without that component) and well-sculpted men and women in their prime smacking yellow balls about the place hoping to get "points" (How? I think it's when one guy hits a ball and another guy doesn't hit a ball but I could be wrong.) Then there's these other things I don't "get":

  1. Games, sets, matches. Eh? Why not just games? Then it won't drag on for hours thus interrupting the TV scheduling of approximately EVERY TV channel. Ok, it may just be BBC1 for this "final" malarkey, but what about The Antiques Roadshow?
  2. They all wear white. From the perspective of a non-expert, like myself for example, it's very difficult to tell one 6 foot chiselled chinned, broad-shouldered athlete from their opponent - and that's just the women. Make them wear different coloured strips for God's sake!
  3. Games (Sets? Matches?) get rained off, yet they still insist on playing outside. It's the UK for crying out loud! It rains 345 days of the year, otherwise it's drizzling, spitting or dreich. Get a roof and just keep it on.
What I don't understand, but completely appreciate is one factor.
Boris Becker appears to be becoming more ruggedly handsome every single year. He is the hottest ginger man I have ever seen. Followed by the singer from Queens of the Stone Age (a ginger Elvis) and Damien Lewis. For that, I will remain ever grateful to the Wimbledon Tennis Club.

Picture from after a cheeky google search.

Family food - Rice Pudding

Me and The Bairn are loaded with another Stinking Cold, and since it's October (it's not! It's actually July! I know! Couldn't believe it either. Can Prince Charles please come back and do the BBC weather again? I'm sure he got it right when he did it. And I'm sure he made June weather appear for June. I love the monarchy. Aren't they fab? Especially Her Jubbly the Queen. Anyway, I digress....) here's a winter warmer type affair.

Mam (My mam, not the Queen, though I hear Her Maj gets annoyed when people call her Ma'am and not Mam. My mam could be Queen. She is majestic. Am I overdoing the brackets? (I like grammar.)) has been making rice pudding since me and my sisters were wee. Probably since the dawn of time - though I can't imagine who'd be consuming it. Depends on your belief system I suppose. Therefore her customers were likely a diplodocus and a pterodactyl. The current day incarnation of her historical rice pudding is flipping awesome - I've toned down the sugar so it's baby friendly-er. You'd probably not want to serve it up at lunch and dinner, every day for a week, or your precious infant may start to take on the appearance of feather-duster wielding scouser himself - Ken Dodd, in the dental sense.

Rice Pudding


1 pint of full fat milk
1 1/2 oz of short grain rice (pudding rice or arborio rice)
3/4 oz of caster sugar
Optional cinnamon, nutmeg, dried fruit (small pieces, and for older babies)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 150 deg Celsius.
  2. Butter up a pudding tin, pie dish or something like that. Mine was about 8" by 6" roughly.
  3. Heat up milk in a pan or microwave for a minute or so.
  4. In the bottom of the dish, scatter your (washed) rice, sugar -and I like a tiny pinch of each nutmeg, cinnamon and a handful of raisins.
  5. Put on a baking tray in the middle of the oven for about an hour and a half. After an hour, check every 10 minutes.
Et voila! When the "skin" (sounds horrific, but actually delicious) is this gorgeous golden colour, get a fork in and have a taste of the rice beneath. It should be creamy and very soft. After its been left to cool for a bit, it'll congeal, turning very thick and rich. It apparently freezes well, but I've not tried that yet. I have heated it in a microwave which dries up a bit. If you give it a good stir and mix it with full fat milk, its good as new. If you've made it plain, you could try adding fruit purée to it (or jam for adults), but it's delicious in its most basic form.

Mmmmmm.... skin......

Monday, 2 July 2012

Topic 1. Babies - A Momentous Few Days

The Bairn has created a monster!

Well, in creating The Bairn I have BECOME a monster. That might be a little more accurate.

Roll back to roughly Christmas 2010. As a desperate-to-conceive-ready-to-give-up-hope type lady, this was my daily ritual with Facebook.

  • Check FB on iPhone
  • "Oh look Other Half, Blahdeblah is pregnant" (smile, genuinely pleased; guiltily think ME! ME! I should be pregnant by now! AAAAAARGH! Turning smile into scary grimace.)
  • "How cute! Suchandsuch's baby is smiling/waving/moonwalking/skydiving (delete as appropriate)
  • Think to self - "If by some miracle I have a baby one day, I will NEVER bombard everyone with photos of my baby because:
  1. Babies all look the same.
  2. No one else gives a monkeys.
  3. I HATE when a baby has become a parent's profile picture (unless that baby has become proficient at typing and social networking and has created its own profile. Clever little monkey! THAT'S the kinda baby news I wanted to hear!)
Back to present day - I have amassed exactly 2759 Facebook photo posts of my little cherub. (Of course not! I jest!..........Do I? I'm probably not that far off it actually...) But he's amazing. For example (mind if I do one more list? Thanks.) in the last few days he has learned:

  • 4 new words, nearly 5 - if I rename myself Ammy.
  • To wave.
  • To scream at the end of a particular song where he's supposed to scream. Honest.
  • To throw the cats his unwanted dinner (the ungrateful b*turds don't appreciate green beans. Rude).
  • To roll/squirm around the room, wedging himself firmly beneath the coffee table - he has learned comedy.
  • To play Peekaboo, holding the cloth himself. Not always successfully, but bless him!

Now these things seem trivial to most I'd assume, but to me and The Other Half they are monumental feats! Our hearts swell with pride, misty-eyed, we (well, I) type furiously into Facebook each time The Bairn achieves one of these marvellous milestones. Surely it would be rude not to share this with my close (200 or so) friends and family? Maybe I'll spoil them all with a little photo of the cheeky wee tyke with food all over his chubby little chops?
And strangely, ever since the pregnancy hormones kicked in I've become really fascinated with the progress of my friends' kids. And genuinely see something different in their wee faces - another dimension to their personalities. Or maybe this new maternal dimension to my personality is reflected in them?

Wow! I nearly got very deep there for a mo.

Point is, I'm sorry for becoming a baby-obsessed, sprog photo posting, Facebook bore.

Hmmmm... Let's just check how many likers I have for that photo of The Bairn "walking" in his wee white vest.....

Baby Cuisine - Pizza

Yesterday, on our way to visit one of The Bairn's superb Grannies, we happened upon a Sainsbury's supermarket. The Bairn himself was having a nap in the back of the car, so I kindly offered to remain with him while my lovely Other Half savoured half an hour of quality food shopping. He asked me to text him a list, so I did.

  • Salad
  • Chicken
  • Blue milk for wee man
  • John Freda Colour Correct purple shampoo
(Might I mention that the brassy mustard yellow of my newly, poorly home-dyed barnet was possibly a contributing factor in my decision to remain inside the vehicle. But only for the protection of the other shoppers' retinae, as I believe human eyes are not designed to withstand prolonged viewing of this particularly toxic wavelength.)
Roughly 30 traumatic minutes transpired while we were trapped inside a tiny VW polo in blistering heat, having forgotten my own car keys, The Other Half having thoughtfully locked the car on embarking for t'shop. This also caused the car alarm to wail - and just YOU try hiding with a head of hair resembling a cloud of luminous post-apolcalyptic nuclear fall-out. The Bairn slept.

Anyway point is, the shopping consisted of

  • 2 Pizza Express Sloppy Guiseppe pizzas for £2 each. WIN!
Thus follows the whole point of this post - baby pizza! I couldn't leave The Bairn out of such a feast, could I?Inspiration came from the terrific where I frequently find great ideas.

Baby Pizza - warning! Not tried this yet - it may be disgusting. Try it first yourself as always!


One sweet potato
Plain flour
Unsalted butter

Quarter of an onion chopped finely
Half a clove of garlic
Tsp tomato purée
3 tomatoes chopped

  1. BASE - Boil sweet potato for 20 minutes until soft
  2. Add some finely chopped spinach (if you like)
  3. Mash with a little butter until smooth
  4. Mix with plain flour (add until its not sticky anymore)
  5. Shape into round pizza bases, about 4 inches across and less than half an inch thick
  6. Bake on 200 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes - until golden
  7. TOPPING - fry up onion and garlic until soft
  8. Add tomato purée and tomatoes, simmer for 10 minutes
  9. Stir in a little basil and parsley
  10. Thinly spread onto pizza base, top with cheese.
  11. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes or so
  12. Serve cut into baby wedges

I've not even tried him with it yet! It's cooling as we speak (or type, or read, or something), so I can stick it in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch. Poor wee soul! It was taking longer than I expected and as The Bairn was ready to munch his own chubby little forearm off, I thought it was necessary to give him some breadstick with pizza topping mixed not some leftover cold macaroni. He loved it! Like a bottomless bin that one. Just like his Mummy. My pizza was scrumptious.

I reeeeally hope The Bairn's is too!

It was delicious! The Bairn rejected it, of course, and unsuccessfully attempted to spear the cat with a wedge of pizza - at range. Having been in the fridge it was pretty tough - so I cut it (cleverly, I may add) in cross-sections, like wee skinny strips. This went down a storm! He frickin LOVED it in this new design. So it's in the fridge for tomorrows snackage.

For his lunch, I then made a slice of toast, melted cheese into some pizza topping (as above) and spread it on. That was EASY AS PEAS as Keith Lemon might say. And, cut into fingers, was absolutely demolished by m'Boy.

In conclusion, one may suggest I had made a crap pizza - I'd rather put it to you that I invented 2 new pizza type dishes. Huzzah!