Thursday, 24 February 2011

Sweet potato veggie cake thingys

He wasn't so much a fan of these - but I liked them. Chop up a pepper, courgette and an onion into similar sized chunks, drizzle with olive oil and roast until soft and sweet. Chop up with a knife into a chunky paste and then mix with left over sweet potato mash and a good handful of cheese. You can add an egg if you like to bind them a bit more, but I'd run out so I didn't bother. Shape into mini burgers and fry in a little olive oil until golden.

I think the reason he isn't a fan is that they are quite soft and therefore are a bit tricky to pick up - even when sliced into fingers - maybe next time I'll make them into little croquettes and roll them in breadcrumbs - in fact you do that - ignore the pattie/cake/burger idea. Meanwhile I'll have to try and coax him into eating the 500 I have left in the freezer.

Today I feel old....

I'd say about 80. My joints ache, my fingers feel creaky and there's a twinge in my left wrist. I can't blame it on the weather - the sun is shining for the first time in a week. My hypochondriac self googled it and I am now self diagnosed with post partum arthritis - apparently it goes away on it's own. In a nod to my aged self I'm going to do some gardening while the small one sleeps - tonight you might find me in a rocking chair with a rug over my knee. (Yes Mr Jones - I know that's how you find me most evenings - shhhh!)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Share and share alike

I am feeling uninspired kitchen wise today - can you help? What should I give the small boy for his dinner? Tried and tested recipes very welcome - especially those that are good for small people with no teeth. Do leave comments on the actual blog or on facebook - whatever suits you. I await with bated breath, wearing a pinny, with a wooden spoon in my hand....

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


It took me a while to come around to the idea that Rufus might actually eat soup. I wasn't about to give him a spoon and let him loose with a bowl on his own - I am not that stupid (most of the time). But then it occurred to me that I could dunk bits of bread into it for him and he could feed himself those, while I snuck the odd spoonful into his mouth while none of the baby led weaning police were looking. It worked quite well. He ate the whole bowlful. We started with butternut squash and have moved onto chicken.

Butternut squash soup - fry up a sliced onion, a sliced leek and a crushed garlic clove in olive oil. Peel and chunk up half a butternut squash, throw in a roughly chopped sweet potato if you happen to have peeled too many for sweet potato chips the night before like I had. Allow to soften for a bit and then add some homemade chicken stock and leave to bubble. Get distracted, then sprint back into the kitchen some 40 minutes later to discover that your soup is nicely reduced and just needs to be whizzed up in a blender - perfect.

Chicken soup - roast a chicken, eat all the best bits and then bung the rest in a large stock pot. Chop an onion into quarters, don't bother peeling it, do the same with a leek and a couple of carrots - add them all to the pot with a bay leaf, some thyme and parsley and some peppercorns. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and leave to bubble for at least an hour and a half with the lid half on. Leave to cool (I left it over night). Strain off the liquid into another pan. Pick the meat off the chicken and drop into your stock along with the now very tender bits of carrot (you can slip the skins off now quite easily) and the insides of the onions. Blitz this up with a blender until smooth and creamy.

In another pan gently sweat down some sliced leeks, garlic and finely diced carrot in some butter and olive oil. When soft add a table spoon of plain flour and stir. After a minute or so add in the blitzed up chickeny stock and heat through until slightly thickened. You can toss in some peas too if you like. I tend to bag this up into portion sized batches and then put the peas in when I reheat it. I was suprised at how lovely this is - I'd say it could rival heinz and pee all over the New Covent Garden chicken soup that I ate a lot of when I was pregnant.

Eight months old

You may have noticed a lack of blogging of late. The boy has started crawling, in his own special way - commando style, on his tummy - I think he does this in an effort to draw my attention to the blatant fact that the hall floor needs mopping. I've pointed out to him on several occasions that I'm well aware that the tiles need a scrub, I just don't have time to do it. (Yes I know I could be doing it now - but then I wouldn't be able to whinge to you about the fact that I have to keep washing his t-shirts).

Anyway I now spend a lot of time wrestling him away from electricty cables, modems,oven doors, hot water pipes, cat food, the fire poker and the cat. You'd think the cat could fend for herself, but no, she keeps going back for more in the hopes that she might get a mummy cuddle if he damges her. To be fair, that is exactly what happens, so she's actually quite clever.

All of this is better than the separation anxiety which for a good two weeks, had me rooted to the spot, any spot, as long as it wasn't more than arms distance away from him. My sanity was truly challenged. I experienced a huge dose of mother-guilt when I screamed at him to "shut up" for the first time one Wednesday night when that groany, whingy noise hadn't let up for about three hours. Mr Jones looked slightly stunned and I burst into tears and apologised profusely. I still feel guilty about it.

Teeth still remain elusive and I've started to become slightly obsessed about it. What if they come through all weird and wonky, or he ends up being one of those kids with HUGE gums and funny pointy teeth? I have actually lost sleep over this - does that make me mad?

Bathtime currently equals poo time - much to the disgust of Mr Jones. He's becoming quite adept at poop-a-scooping. Funny, we've always flatly refused to have a dog to avoid the necessity of picking up its poo, it never occured to us that we might have to poop-a-scoop after our own child. Nappies are one thing, but fishing it out of the bath is quite another. Rubber duck, plastic boat, blue whale, brown turd.... lovely.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

How gorgeous?

Rufus made these for his Granny's birthday - he had some help of course - but aren't they lovely?

I have lived in fear of paint-a-pot places because my mind is more creative than my dexterity allows for. I imagine beautiful creations but somehow can't quite get my hands to make them. Probably because I'm far too impatient and struggle to take instruction.

However at Original Ceramics you can merely describe what's in your head and the lovely Justine will create it for you. Marvellous.

She doesn't even mind if your baby fills his nappy in her studio, and then doesn't judge you when he pees on himself (and her very lovely Cath Kidston changing mat) while you're changing him and you admit that you don't have a change of clothes for him so he's going to have to sit in his wee soaked jumper and vest until you get home. (Yes it did happen, and yes I was mortified!)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Things on toast

There are no pictures - we all know what toast looks like. The small boy is a fan of toast. He has wholegrain, we don't do white bread in this house, unless it's a baguette or perhaps a bit of sour dough. Anyway this week we've been creating toast toppers. We thought we'd share some favourites:

Sardines (I was surprised how quickly this was wolfed down) - simply mash a few bits of tinned sardine - in olive oil not brine or tomato sauce - with some finely chopped fresh tomatoes and a few basil leaves. Fabulous source of omega three fatty acids for creating genius children who can win scholarships to expensive local schools. And packed with calcium (although I did remove the scary looking back bone from the fishes - I couldn't face watching him eat spine)

Mashed avocado with a little chilli sauce and a spritz of lime. So gucamole then! More essential fats for brain building.

Salmon spread - a tin of salmon mixed with a tub of ricotta cheese, lemon zest and juice to taste, a grind of pepper and a spoonful of natural yogurt to cut the richness. It's gloriously pink and terribly stinky. I've frozen a load - hopefully it will be alright.

Houmous made from a tin of chickpeas whizzed up with two or three tablespoons of tahini - which incidentally you can buy in waitrose - after three shops I finally found it, it's in the pasta aisle on the bottom shelf on the left hand side underneath the curry sauces (lord knows why?!). A clove of garlic, a squeeze of lemon, a good slug of olive oil and some water - and a bit more olive oil and a bit more tahini. It's crying out for salt at this point, but of course I didn't add any.

Next week I think we'll try whizzed up roasted med veg - aubergines, peppers, red onions and courgettes drizzled with olive oil and roasted until sweet and yummy. Perhaps with a few basil leaves added in for good measure.

Oooh and we could do leek and cannelini bean mash - fry finely slices leeks in olive oil with garlic until soft and sticky. Drain and rinse a tin of cannelini beans and add to the pan. Fry to heat through then mash to combine and spread on any willing receptacle. When I was a lonely girl in London I used to make huge mounds of this and top it with a piece of cod that had been baked in the oven en papilotte (a posh way of saying in a tin foil/baking paper parcel) with some pesto - it's yum- bu Mr Jones finds it "too much". An extra drizzle of olive oil at the end never goes amiss.

Sometimes I worry that he eats too much bread, but it does seem to be a great way to get other things down him. He has become fickle about bananas - seems he's not a fan unless they are boardering on over ripe, just how I hate them.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Parenting tip #1

Far be it from me to be telling people how to bring up their children - but I'm not adverse to passing on some of what I have learned. This week I have discovered that it is not entirely possible to put on a nappy backwards.

By backwards I mean when your son has decided to turn himself over on his changing mat and stick his poo covered bottom and nether regions up in the air in an effort to crawl away from you - (please note - he cannot yet crawl). Everytime you try to turn him the right way round he laughs his ass off, evidently well aware of the fact that you are risking being covered in poo with every movement.

To help matters further he has discovered how to clench his bum cheeks making the removal of poo even more difficult. After putting the changing mat on the floor and distracting him with a hairbrush I managed to get him cleaned up. But alas the hairbrush didn't supply sufficient entertainment for re-nappying. With his bum back in my face I tried in vain to get him back into a nappy. You'd think it would be relatively simple to do it upside down, but somehow the sticky bits always end up sticking to the wrong bits and everything ends up wonky. In the end I let him crawl about until he bored of the game. He only pee'd on the carpet once before I could get the nappy back on - and what's a little wee between friends?

NB - since starting to write this post this performance has been repeated several times - I would like to make an amendment - it's is not impossible to put a nappy on backwards, it is however a skill that requires practice and an act that requires you to let go of any nappy perfectionism that you might be harbouring (I do like the tapes to line up).

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Mini omelettes

These are perfect for the supremely lazy - you can make a batch and keep them in the fridge for a few days. They're great cold too. When they first come out of the oven they are all puffy and golden. Then, rather depressingly, they sink down to a flatter more omeletty shape as they cool. But thankfully this has no effect whatsoever on their flavour.

Ideal for babies, but if you don't have one and are the sort of person who likes to "give" parties and serve canapes alongside a carefully chosen cocktail or two (I used to try and give sophisticated parties like this - but Mr Jones and his friends always managed to turn them into drunken melees in which someone invariably ended up pegged to the washing line) - anyway - if you do like to hold a classy do then these would actually make simple canapes. You could even get all fancy and top with smoked salmon and creme fraiche and snip up a few chives - that would be ever so Nigella.

Anyway - grease a bun tin and pre-heat the oven to 180 (I pretty much cook everything at 180). A two egg mix will make you five or six mini omelettes - a four egg mix will obviously do double that - and all the maths inbetween I'll leave you to work out.

So whisk up your eggs and then stir in your filling. These were made with chopped up spinach which had been lightly wilted in a pan with some fried onion and garlic and a bit of grated nutmeg. Then I added some grated cheese.

But you can do anything - lightly sauted cougette and garlic with feta. Broccoli and cheddar, or broccoli and salmon, tomato and cheese, mushroom and parmesan, leek and cheddar.......

Mix your filling with your egg and then spoon into the waiting bun tin. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or so or until puffed and golden. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before carefully removing with a palate knife. They do stick a bit - at least in my tin they do. Butter seems to work better than olive oil for greasing for these.

Rufus had them for lunch. I sang this song to aid his digestion. If you're having a swanky cocktail party I might suggest a different soundtrack. I would like it noted that I DID NOT do the actions.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

10 years ago today....

Mr Jones and I first became a couple. Well at this point actually we were still in denial that we were indeed a couple, but it didn't take us long to realise that we were more than just friends really. Ten years ago we were just starting to live the drama - now we're thankful for a more peaceful life.

I don't think back then we quite realised that there would be a house, two cats, a wedding or a baby - but then we were 21 and all we cared about was who was buying the next round (in Tim's case) and whether anyone had taken out the last copy of The Brontes by Juliette Barker from the library (in mine). [Note - I now have my own copy of this book - you'll be delighted to know that fact I'm sure.]

But here we are, after an eventful 10 years together. Through the happy times, testing times and downright sad times we've always managed to find time for a hug and a kiss goodnight. Yes I might nag and we may well drive each other up the wall sometimes, but that doesn't mean we don't love each other. So you'll forgive me for being soppy, but I love you Mr Jones, I can't imagine my life without you in it. I promise to love you forever, be with you always and never let you go.
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