Sunday, 19 August 2012

Baby Cuisine - Custard From Scratch

You heard me! You can actually make real custard by yourself - WITHOUT BUYING A TUB OF POWDER. That was my pre-conception of home-made custard - surely the non home-made version comes out of an Ambrosia tin, right? WRONG.

Anyway, one day The Bairn was perusing one of the many second hand weaning type recipe books that my lovely friend VM passed down to me. She is a Domestic Goddess. Nigella can flip off, my mate VM is an old school, proper family cooking genius. 3 kids - the youngest is 2 1/2 - and WITHOUT THE AID OF FOOTMEN, BUTLERS, MAIDS OR HELPFUL ELVES, her home is a pristine, but fun and friendly place to be. I may move in someday.

As his chubby little chipolata handles carefully searched through the pages of

(well, it's now more a collection of individual pages right enough) he articulated to me that he wished to purchase some vanilla essence from the local supermarket in order to concoct some Creamy Egg Custard.

"Oh, The Bairn!" says I. "There's really no need to add vanilla essence. As a baby, you wouldn't understand, but it'll likely be delicious with this expensive item omitted."

"Ah Mummy. You are so clever, beautiful and simply divine. I trust in your every uttering" says The Bairn.

Creamy Egg Custard

1/4 pint of full fat milk
2 tsp castor sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat milk - I used the microwave, full power 40 seconds.
  3. Beat together sugar and eggs til sugar dissolves.
  4. Whisk in hot milk and vanilla.
  5. Pour into ovenproof dish and bake for 30-40 minutes until set.

I may add that it looks brilliant - BUT DO NOT OMIT VANILLA! If you leave it out, it tastes of sweet scrambled egg. Now, The Bairn loved it anyway with a bit of banana, but it proved to be inedible to adults! And smelled boak-tastic after a day in the fridge.

So there you go. In the book, it's in the 6-7 months section.

BoJo and PE

Well maybe old Tim O'Tei (aka BoJo (BawJaws? (aka Boris Johnson))) himself enjoyed partaking in 2 HOURS OF PE A DAY - but then he was probably skiing, fencing and 3 day eventing. Us normal ex-school kids were desperately trying to avoid the following:

1. Being picked last for rounders.

2. Having bras pinged, or general attention drawn to the chesticle area.

3. Getting knee-capped by fellow unskilled hockey stick wielders.

Cross country running was a different game entirely. It provided ample opporchancity to slyly share a sneaky cigarette with my fellow athletes under the bridge. And I always wondered why I was so puffed after that route that I felt like vomiting over my dour-faced PE teacher's Nikes.... Why, though, was cross country always scheduled for February? It was so cold I remember shivering in my oversized East 17 hoody, Man Utd beanie (I was a very early Beckham appreciator) and Air Max boots. We had to traverse an enormous expanse of cowpats interspersed with molehills. Would a school even obtain insurance for allowing pupils to face such dangers these days?

Seriously though, I want my son to have a much "healthier" attitude to sport. I'd like him to be first picked for rounders, please. Because he's good at it, and, more importantly, loves all the running about (is it called fielding? I think so). I hope he's confident enough not to be quaking in his little sand shoes every time it's his turn to bat the ball, as I was. And perhaps his teacher's enthusiasm for physical activity will be infectious - all the kids will have an awesome time, regardless of their ability.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

They 'Lympics an' That.

The above, my old legumes, is Glaswegian for "The Olympic Games".

I really feel the need to write about something other than feeding a) my own fat face, b) The Other Half's chiselled jaw-hole, or c) the chubby chops of my son and heir, aka The Bairn. Feel a bit Brian Blessed chaps, as you are about to relive the very splendour of the past couple of weeks in Laaaandaaaaan. Or Darn Sarf, as it's also known.

The Opening Ceremony (The Red Arrows fly past at 20:12, disappointingly NOT in the shape of a Union Jack, but pretty cool nonetheless)


As far as we can see (in a big stadium in London), the English countryside unfurls before our very eyes. Merry peasants frolic among the rolling hillocks. Edinburgh's finest munchkin choristers sing "Flower of Scotland", chronicling the savage Battle of Bannockburn. Appropriate? Who cares. It sounded magnificent.

Speaking of magnificent, we were treated to good old Kenny B (to the Branagh) starring as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, prompting some serious speed Googling and Wikipediaing. I'm ashamed to admit that my recollection of Standard Grade History (I got a 2, I could tell you wanted to know that) is pretty poor. Though I do remember that the Industrial Revolution was a while ago, and resulted in lots of smog and the need for many, many children to be manufactured in order to man the mills and new factories. To illustrate the Industrial Revolution, we were treated to chimney conjuring, performed by The Backstreet Boys - who had clearly been in a fight on the way Darn Sarf - although they DID WEAR TOP HATS and thus extra points may be awarded.

Then there were lots of Dancing Nurses and some evil Harry Potter baddies chasing very very ill children. Thankfully, the Olympic volunteers (Gamesmakers) gained control of the situation before there were any casualties. Huzzah!

Shortly after this my Dad called.

"Watching the ceremony, Dad?" says I.

"Well I was, but now there's just a load of girls dancing about and noise, so I think I'll put my Dad's Army video on instead" says Dad.

And that really is all that's to be said about that. I'd have really enjoyed his commentary on Danny Boyle's celebration of the cool kids using social networking to organise out a gallus night out culminating in a fair bit of winching, but alas, Captain Mainwaring beckoned - who'd refuse?

Several months passed, as we watched a seemingly endless stream of (possibly) made-up countries' athletes, all planting their Olympic torches at the top of Glastonbury Tor. May I say though, it was worth the wait, as when the "future hope of British athletics" kids lit the torches - it was simply beautiful. A tear may have been formed by the BusyAliBee Lacrimal apparatus.

The Olympics

Was amazing.

I hate sport in general. Never ever ever enjoyed it at school - not since Primary 7, when as tallest in my class, I was naturally tremendous at basketball. Having never grown since then, I did not retain that particular "skill".

For the past fortnight I've been watching all sorts of stuff. Diving, running, jumping, boating, punching... And The Modern Pentathlon. Which should be a futuristic film. Like Logan's Run. Awesome. My favourite moment? Jessica's Ennis - every one of her moments! She is incredible. Like a gorgeous little Amazonian warrior lady from Sheffiield. And CLARE BALDING. She is just brilliant. Nice, funny, natural... Great on Twitter too. Too many new heroes to count. My head might explode with all this inspiration. Mostly it's inspired me to do a bit of blogging - but who knows? Maybe I'll take up the hammer throw?

We were AT the Olympics. Well, at the Egypt vs Belarus football match in Hampden Park, Glasgow.

A very excited Bee with The Bairn dressed as a waterproof dinosaur. Because that's what Scottish Summer is all about.

Closing Ceremony

The Other Half, carrying a supersize bag of Asda crinkle cut ready salted crisps: "It's just starting!"

Me, failing to print captioned family photos for The Bairn's nursery bag: "I'll be through in a minute!"

33 minutes later, mostly because PHOTOSHOP IS AN ARSE, The Other Half awaits, BBC1 paused and poised for action. Unfortunately, there was no pause button for snackage, of which 4 crisps remain. And thus it begins. The trinity of TV, Twitter and Facebook. All out of sync and doing my tired little antennae in.

In summary:

Rubbish bits
George Michael's AWFUL new song. Just do the old stuff, Geo!!!
The Spice Girls tottering on top of Hackney cabs in giant Zimmer frames.
Jessie J dressed as a vajazzle.
Bowie montage without a real Bowie :(
A few old clothes horses wiggling about - led by Baroness Katherine of Moss.

Good bits
ANNIE LENNOX - make her a saint, for goodness sake!
The late Sir Frederick of Mercury - generally being absent but beautiful and SWEARING!
The Spice Girls tottering on top of Hackney cabs in giant Zimmer frames. (On mute)
Timothy Spall doing Churchill, just because he's TIMOTHY SPALL and he is a treasure.
Stomp being outstanding as always.
Russell Brand dressed as the Childcatcher from ChittyChitty BangBang and singing I Am The Walrus! Did I momentarily slip into a fruit-cider fuelled hallucination? No! It ACTUALLY HAPPENED!
Madness, The Pet Shop Boys, Take That...

Are you reading this, Her Maj the Queen? I recommend you actually, definitely, without-doubt knight Gary Barlow ASAP. He is a true British hero.

Taking into account real life, and the tragedies normal people have to overcome everyday, it makes you realise there is more to life than a 2 week sport extravaganza. But it's certainly provided all us Brits with a common denominator, and reminds us that we're all here on this collection of little islands together - and we know how to put on a spectacular show.

We conjured chimneys for Gawd's Sake!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Family Food - Jellicious Fruit

I know. Genius title, eh? It took me quite some time scratching my sunburnt scalp to come up trumps with that one. But then, that's the kind of wonderful human being I am.

At last, summer has returned! And what's better than a bowl of chilled, wibbly-wobbly, jelly and fresh fruit to cool you down after running about after a maniac in a baby walker? A class of ice cold white Zinfandel, you say? A mojito with a sprig of dewy fresh garden mint tickling your pink, peeling nose? Lounging in a private outdoor hot-tub with Tom Hiddleston.... I mean, your nearest and dearest?

You read my mind! Here's a recipe to concoct your own backyard paradise complete with fricking lovely man.

No, it's a recipe for jelly.

But a magnificently beautiful summer jelly you can share with your whole family - baby included!


Sachet of Dr Oetker gelatine (as pictured)
120ml hot (not boiling) water in a jug
450ml fresh apple and raspberry juice, younger - babies dilute very well with cold water
Summer fruits (chopped strawberry, raspberry, currants, etc)
Full fat Greek yoghurt

  1. Sprinkle gelatine into hot water while stirring constantly, until completely dissolved.
  2. Add juice or juice/water combo.
  3. Pop some fruit into the bottom of several ramekins or small dishes (and some in a bowl for the adult servings).
  4. Fill with jelly mixture.
  5. Set overnight or for a few hours in the fridge.
  6. Top with yoghurt and garnish with a raspberry.
I made the stupid mistake of allowing The Bairn to "self-feed" (ie paint the dining room with) the jelly. The terrifying outcome has been documented below.Well hello there jelly perfection!

Ahaaaaa.... My infant nemesis.....

No shit Sherlock!

Hurray for kitchen roll!

Happy summer, folks xxx

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Family Food - Banana Bread

Firstly, I want to reassure you that this is the first baking I've done in about a year. I'm not some sort of Baroness Nigella of Lawson type lady with bags of time on my hands and a butler (perhaps a few footmen too) to tidy up all the bloody mess that is left in the inevitable aftermath of bakery. Sieves. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again! Oh, that's right, sieves are good for making floury carnage of your kitchen worktop.

The recipe I'm adding here is from a magnificent website.

I've used this website for loads of things before. Mostly for inspiration, but also for advice on what's safe for babies to eat when. I think it's a US site, so guidelines are a little different to those in the UK - but I think it's really useful.

Banana Bread

2 1/2 ripe mashed medium bananas
4oz currants or raisins
4oz Stork cooking margarine
8oz sifted self-raising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 beaten eggs

  • Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C, line or grease a loaf tin.
  • Rub marg into flour, cinnamon and ginger - until like breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in eggs, currants/raisins and bananas.
  • Bake for 45 mins to an hour (mine took 55 minutes) until top is golden and it's well risen.
  • Wrestle those Marigold rubber gloves on. Spend ages trying to remove gloopy cooking mixture from bowl and wooden spoon. Just throw away the sponge. It's disgusting now. Yuck. Why is there always icky stuff to deal with after the creation of something so perfect?
  • Sigh to self, and get on with it. Stop moaning. And make sure you get a slice before it cools! Mmmmmmmmmmmm.......