Thursday, 24 February 2011


Half of the traffic here comes from one forum I'm a member of and I've been told I can no longer mention anything about this blog.  This will be the second forum I've been told not to post about it.  (When you're talking about hits in the millions vs. hits in the hundreds, it's a shame these forums feel threatened by my simple blog.)

I've had a think about it overnight and I have to be realistic.  If half of my audience (which isn't exactly big) disappears, is it really worth carrying on?  I suspect not.  

I am sad, after all this little blog only lasted two months but I hope you've enjoyed reading my recipes and hopefully using some of them.  

I have a dream to be a food writer and maybe someday that will happen.  Thank you for taking the time to read about me, my thoughts on life and my family and my recipes.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Some more fruit purees

As I've said before, I don't buy commercial flavoured yoghurts or fromage frais because of the added sugar in many of the recipes.  Here are some more flavours I've come up with recently with an overall "basic" recipe:

Fruit puree

Dried fruit (e.g. raisins, sultanas, chopped dried apricots) - optional but good if the fresh fruit is tart
Fresh "bulk" fruit (e.g. apples or pears peeled and chopped, plums)
Fresh or Frozen "flavouring" fruit (e.g. raspberries, blueberries, strawberries) - optional
Spices (e.g. cinnamon, mixed spice, vanilla extract) - optional


Boil the dried fruit in a minimal amount of water for a few minutes.  Add any other fruit and ground spices and boil until soft.  Puree with as little water as you can to get a good puree (you want it thick and some fruits will puree with no added water).  Serve cold with full fat greek yoghurt.  Freezes well in ice cube trays (silicone ones are best as they don't crack.)  Put into a freezer bag once frozen and label up.

Recent successes include:

Apple and cinnamon
Plum and sultana
Cherry (used frozen cherries) and raisin
Pear and blueberry
Apple, blueberry and strawberry
Apple, sultana and mixed spice
Apple and apricot
Pear and vanilla

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Why don't people cook their own food?

I was middle aged before my time.  Radio 4 is a favourite of mine and I often download podcasts for when I'm taking my son for a walk.  I was listening to few earlier today about how people on lower incomes don't eat well despite all the information available and about children being educated on how to cook.

I don't know what the answer is.  It frustrates me slightly but then I also understand that it's not as simple as anyone thinks.  I don't believe that free healthy start vouchers help.  I don't believe that doing "change 4 life" tv advertisements help.  I don't know how to sort it but here is my assessment of the cause if you will excuse me using my uneducated opinion.

I believe that people are too busy.  Particularly women are too busy.  Wealthier women can afford to work part time or not at all.  It is hard sometimes to produce good food and generally the cheaper cuts of meat take longer to cook (all fine if you have a slow cooker of course).  That comes to the next problem.  I know I'm rare for my age group at knowing and being interested in how to cook and see cooking as more than tv entertainment.  The reason I know how to cook is I watched my mother cooking as a child and that gave me the confidence to go on and learn and experiment myself.  I'm not delusional, I'm no chef but I like to think I'm competent.  I don't think cooking has to be the preserve of women; in fact I'd prefer it wasn't but the fact is women can no longer afford (in general) to be stay at home mums and, in fact, neither could many of our mothers.  In that time as women were re-entering full time work in the 80's, a gradual increase in convenience foods turned into an explosion.  In the era of women "having it all" it generally meant they "did it all" ie the housework, the cooking, a full time job and looking after the kids.  Something has to give.  Now I agree with the view that there is no bad food (well maybe a few exceptions) but there are bad diets.  Something convenient once in a while is fine but every night using preprepared pizzas, ready meals, sauces...  It's not good for you in my view.

So we have a generation who, for the most part were not able to be taught how to cook by their mothers (or fathers).  We have a generation of men who, in general saw their mothers doing all of the housework and cooking despite holding down a full time job so they don't see why they should cook either.  We have a generation of women with no free time.  None.  I honestly don't know how women with more than one child cope, you're all bloody marvellous.

Better off women are struggling just as much but often have the luxury of working part time so are able to have time to prepare a little of their own food but where does that leave a woman on minimum wage?  Let's call her Leah.  Leah works full time for little money and has little time.  Rarely has any time for herself if ever.  Perhaps if she had a little knowledge it could be made easier but whenever I think about this, I start to feel I'm being patronising and that I have no idea what a hard life Leah has.  Perhaps we need to make life easier for Leah before she will have the motivation or interest to think food and nutrition are more important than making sure her life and kids are safe, solvent and ok.  Who can blame her?

Yet it's poor eating and drinking habits which causes many preventable diseases and contributes to shorter life spans in poorer households.

I have no idea how the situation is resolved but I don't think it's by focussing on food.  I think it's too simplistic.  Part of the problem is sexism, part of it is income and by putting on adverts saying "eat more fruit and veg" neither of those issues are addressed.

Sorry, got all political.  I'll get back to some recipes with the next post...

Monday, 21 February 2011

The importance of first aid

Our little family went away for the weekend to a remote cottage.  While having some apple finger food (which he's had loads of times before), my little one started to choke.  More than gag, properly choke.

As it happens, everything was ok, we did some back slaps across my knee and it came out with a bit of sick but it made me so scared (and thankful) that I'd done some baby first aid training.

We did our course with the NCT.  It was inexpensive and covered all the basics.  NCT website  Other providers also do similar courses including St John's Ambulance and the Red Cross.

I dread to think what would have happened if I'd not known what to do.  We were miles from anywhere with no mobile phone reception.

Here's a quick guide but please, if you've not had training, do so.  It stopped me from panicking.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Cold meal ideas... Potato Salad for Babies

I hate reheating food when I'm out.  Apart from service stations, I've never found anywhere which have the facilities you need, and I wouldn't chose to eat in a service station except where strictly necessary.

So it got me thinking; now my 9 month old is on mashed foods, is there something he'd eat when we're out and about that would work without reheating?  I don't mean giving him a cold beef stew.  My rules are if I wouldn't eat it, why should he?  (Ever since an ill judged foray into courgette puree anyway.)

This was the result.  I can't admit it was a total success but he certainly ate some and along with some cream cheese sandwiches I felt like he'd had enough.  This is where I envy baby led weaners; my son tends to drop 90% of what he's given.


New potatoes (2-3 small ones)
About 4 cm cucumber
1 dsp full fat mayonnaise from a jar (absolutely not home made, as if you'd have the time.  Home made is not safe for babies.)
1 dsp full fat greek yoghurt


Boil the potatoes until soft.  I did mine for 25 minutes to ensure they were very soft.  Cool in cold water. Cut up into 2-3mm cubes.  (I included the skin but found that some of it broke away into large pieces.  I removed any pieces like this in case of gagging.)  Chop the cucumber into similar size pieces.  Mix with mayonnaise and yoghurt.

Remember if you take this out to put it into a cool bag with some ice packs.  Even in a cool bag be wary on a very hot day and use your judgement.  You don't want to put your child at risk.

Now I thought this was absolutely delicious.  My little one ate some but it made me realise that I could feel confident enough to take out sandwiches, some chopped salad and a yoghurt for his lunch and he would probably manage to get enough in his mouth and I could sneak in a few spoonfuls.  In fact if anything because he found the salad a bit unusual, he probably ate the sandwiches better than he normally would.  

Lesson:  Be a little brave.

Second lesson:  Make enough potato salad for Mummy...

Chocolate and Toffee Cupcakes (for adults or very good children)

Obviously not for babies!

Cupcakes or fairy cakes as us Brits used to call them are so easy to make.  Basically I reckon I could make and ice a batch in the time it takes to walk to my local shop, pick some up, buy them and return.  Yet they're sold in huge quantities at a very large mark up.  Part of that is the decoration of course but here is a basic recipe to make some of your own including my own invention for the icing.  When it comes to baking I use ounces.  It just makes sense to me.  I can't explain why.  Ok, maybe I can; 4, 4, 4, 2 is easy to remember isn't it?

Ingredients (makes about a dozen)

4oz Butter or Margarine (I prefer to use a buttery margarine which goes against my normal principles but butter makes the cakes a little too greasy for my liking)
4oz Caster or Granulated sugar (granulated is non traditional but my mum always used it in cakes so I do)
4oz SR flour
2 eggs
2 dsp cocoa powder
The smallest amount of hot water needed to mix the cocoa powder


2 tsp molasses sugar
About 3/4 oz butter
A little hot water
Icing sugar to mix

Sprinkles etc to serve.


Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

This is easiest and quickest in a food processor.  Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the eggs, if the butter and eggs are cold this will curdle a bit but don't worry.  Add the flour followed by the cocoa mixed with the water.  Spoon into cake cases (about a rounded dsp in each) and bake for around 15 mins, maybe a minute or two longer until the cakes are done.  (Check by touching the top, if it springs back, it's done.)

Allow to cool on a rack.

Microwave the butter, molasses sugar and water until all melted together.  Mix in icing sugar to get the consistency you prefer (you could spoon on the top, pipe etc).  Remember the icing will harden a bit as it cools.

Add sprinkles if desired and devour!

This does open up the possibility of the toffee cupcake.  Hmm.  Going to have to work on that one...

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Fish Pie for Everyone!

I alluded to a fish pie adaptation to a recipe the other day in a salmon recipe and it occurred to me I'd not written down my fish pie recipe.  Proportions are approximate, see what you think you or your baby will eat.  I always think that's a better idea anyway; imagine the portion on your plate or in their bowl.  

My son has been teething or possibly it's just his cold but he has been off his food a bit.  This went down a treat though.


Fish; could use pollock, cod, haddock, coley, salmon or a mixture.  (Note that pollock and coley tend to be more sustainable but pollock tastes nicer and also contains some Omega 3)
Whole milk


Smoked salmon trimmings (many supermarkets sell packs of these in their value ranges, they're pretty cheap and you only need a bit for some decent flavour.  Any left will freeze well.)
Cooked prawns
More cheddar


Peel and boil the potatoes until cooked, or if you've been cooking something in the oven that day or the day before, add a few extra potatoes into the oven to use for this dish.  Poach the fish in the milk.  You can use frozen fish (and should be aware that much fish counter fish has been previously frozen.  Also you can be more confident about the food safety and quality; fish tends to spoil quickly.)  Boil the broccoli until cooked.  Mash the potatoes, (a potato ricer makes it easy to make good mash) and mash the broccoli with a fork.  Flake the fish with your (scrupulously clean) fingers.  Make a sauce by mixing cornflour with water and add to the hot milk.  Add grated cheese (to taste).  Mix all the ingredients for a baby portion (over 7 months) or puree for 6 month olds.


For adults and I'm guessing I'll try this with my son when he's a toddler, rather than flaking the fish, put it in a dish in around 1-2 inch chunks, (with some smoked salmon trimmings and / or prawns if liked) add the sauce, with chives if liked and put potato on top, topped with additional cheese.  Bake in the oven for about 30 mins at 200 degrees.  Serve the broccoli and some other veg on the side.  Make sure the portion is cool enough for toddlers before serving to them, somehow it's that whole hot jam thing with fish pie, it seems to be hotter than the sun when first removed from the oven.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Mummy Rage

It's frustrating being a mother sometimes.  We have a strange attitude in this country.  Pregnant women are fussed over and taken care of.  Friends of mine talked about having shopping taken to the car for them in supermarkets, doors held open etc.  Unfortunately I just looked very fat when I was pregnant so I think people didn't realise (or I don't shop in the right supermarkets.)

When you have a baby, suddenly you're no longer important.  It's all about the child, if you're noticed at all that is.  At least when I have my baby in a carrier, people talk to me (through him mainly but at least I'm not ignored.)  When he's in the pram it's like I could be invisible.  I have no experience of being disabled but I wonder if some of the problems are the same.  It's amazing how many small steps you come across going into shops.  I once tried to wheel into a bakers to get stuck on a step, negotiated that to then get entangled in chains in the doorway.  The most frustrating thing though was the cakes then looked really tired and grotty.  I'd struggled so blooming much to get into the shop, I bought one anyway and just felt cheated by the calories.

I get really fed up by people who park in parent and child places who don't have a child with them.  Just because you have a child seat in the car, if the child isn't in it, people, it doesn't count.  I was in a supermarket a week ago and saw a woman pull up, no child.  Took the last parent and child place.  Walked past me, nose in the air as I was putting my baby in my carrier.  Walked past me again on the way back, nose in the air again as if she owned the place as a father across the car park struggled getting twins out of his car in a normal parking space.  I mean, what do you do in this situation?  Do you say something?  I wanted to.  I like to think there is a parallel world somewhere where I would be confident enough to have a word.  I suspect though it's not lack of confidence which stops me but fear of the consequences.  I also have a tendency to sarcasm which I don't think is the best or most grown up way to approach it.  All I could think to say at the time was "Oh my God!  I think you left your baby in the trolley?"  Not grown up.

So I think I had some Mummy rage building over the past week.  Then I go to the shops.  My little one has been a bit fractious of late (teething / umpteenth cold of the winter / tiredness *)

(* delete as appropriate)

I made it into my local town with a reasonable sized shopping centre and picked up my bounty pack.  Meaning to do this for ages but I never remembered the voucher.  Anyway, I wasn't allowed to pick it up from the first till in the shop so had to walk to the opposite side of the large store to find they had none at the till and the slowest walking shop assistant in the world had to "go out back" to get me one.  After all that the only thing worth keeping in there was a 3.5g tube of Bepanthen.  I kid you not.

So, a bit fed up and with an increasingly fractious baby, I walk to another store.  I decide to treat us to some new sheets after having had a clear out recently.  (Despite not having much cash I have a slight obsession with crisp clean sheets so as soon as they start to look a bit old, I have to clear out.)  First shop; none in the right size.  Getting more fed up in the second shop where I find some I like, my little man decides he's had enough of the pram and wants carrying.  Make it to the tills to be told by two members of management that the tills weren't open and I could pay at the customer service desk.  The customer service desk which was currently working through a queue of 4 people with one member of staff.  I dumped the sheets and walked out.  Next store was so cluttered I couldn't push the pram round.

By then I was ready to growl I was so fed up.  I get home and realise my son has run out of some medication he's on.  Call up the GP as this was put onto repeat prescription last time I was in.  The receptionist informs me I have to come into the surgery (which is a car drive away), put my request in writing, then return two working days later to pick up the prescription and then go to the chemist to get it fulfilled.  No amount of persuasion would convince her that now we live in the 21st century I could put my request in writing electronically.

I'm embarrassed to say I lost it a bit after that and discovered the phenomenon of "Mummy Rage".  I'm surprised I haven't heard the term before.  Once you have a child, inevitably it falls to the woman to do the organising for that child as well as much of the day to day work for the family.  It's stressful trying to balance everything you need to do in a day around the child eating, sleeping, playing etc.  Forget road rage, it's not a patch on it when you've been working so hard all day at keeping your child happy and you are mentally, physically exhausted.  Then you encounter Mr or Mrs Inept or Mr or Mrs Can't be bothered, or perhaps Mr or Mrs It's just not my job.  Frankly if people lived an average week with me, I think I could escape censure for GBH.  Not that I'm a violent woman of course.  Unless you stop me from getting a cake; and if I eventually get that cake but it's a really bad cake.  Then I might get mad...

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Teething and Salmon with Green Beans

Well the last few nights have been ok.  He's been grouchy and off his food in the day though but I guess you can't have everything.

It could be teething but then it feels like anything before 3 months is colic and after is teething doesn't it?  still his top two incisors are looking like they'll pop through any day.  Humorously his "second" set of incisors on the top came through first making him look like he has fangs!

Anyway, in an effort to get something nutritious inside him and to get him to eat, I had been sticking to old favourites (hence the lack of recipes recently) but I tried knocking up something different today to get him back on track.

Salmon with green beans

100g Salmon fillet
Full fat milk
Unsalted butter
Green beans (fresh or frozen)


Make a cheese sauce as for Cauliflower Cheese.  Microwave or bake the salmon (I use frozen salmon which is always too overcooked for me but fine for the little one.  I microwave for 3 and a half minutes.) Boil the green beans until cooked then puree the sauce and beans and flake the salmon for a soft lump texture (puree it all if your baby isn't into lumps yet).

Could vary this up by using other veg, e.g. peas, broccoli, spinach or other fish, e.g. cod, pollock.  You could also mix it with potato (for a kind of fish pie) or pasta.  Note though it's a good idea to give oily fish sometimes to your baby as it has Omega 3 in it (good for brain function).  Salmon is good for this but if you (or they) prefer white fish, it's better to use pollock which is not only less overfished than cod but also often sold cheaply as frozen "white fish" (look in the small print for pollock).  Also pollock has a small amount of Omega 3 whereas cod has pretty much none.

Monday, 7 February 2011


I'm feeling contemplative today.  I recently handed in my notice and accepted a role in another workplace for reasons I won't go into.  Today I visited my current place of work to say goodbye.  I suppose when you have been with a baby from day to day and seeing the fantastic changes that go on in their lives, it feels like the rest of the world stands still, just like if you're on a plane looking down at boats on an ocean, they seem stationary; but it's an illusion.  Nothing stays the same.  Things change immeasurably and in ways you can't really articulate.  Is it a Chinese proverb which says you can't put your hand in the same river twice?

So I returned, felt emotional about leaving but to everyone else I left 9 months ago, I wasn't someone they'd particularly miss tomorrow because I wasn't there yesterday.  Not to say we didn't get on or they didn't think I'd done a good job, just they probably had those feelings 9 months ago when I was somewhat distracted by childbirth and sleepless nights.  It feels like emerging from an cave where you've been isolated for so long to find the world has changed and although people are happy you're ok, they have other priorities in their life.

I also suppose it would be monumental arrogance on my part to think that things hadn't changed for the better, at least in some small way for some of the people I worked with by my absence.

An important lesson in life.  Work is just work, it's not life and no-one is irreplaceable.  Even if a workplace is hopefully enriched by your presence for a while, it spends less time mourning for your loss than a teenager who falls out of love and instantly replaces the object of their affections the following day.  Hopefully I will remember this when life starts getting harder in the months to come.

Chorizo and Lentil Soup (for adults)

After not being permitted to use cashback in a local shop (the cashpoint was broken) and so deciding not to buy something for lunch in a fit of pique after my purchases would have “failed to make the minimum payment for cashback...ya de ya de... more than my jobsworth...” (said with a sneer by a member of staff who’d forgotten to wash) I was stuck with the contents of our cupboard and freezer.  I knocked this one up in about 25 mins.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Pie Improvisation and Jam Tarts

Why does anyone buy jam tarts?  I'm not getting on my soapbox here because I understand people are short of time (for goodness sake, people buy sandwiches after all).  The thing is a bought sandwich can actually be quite nice but I've never had a jam tart as nice as one made at home.

Which comes to the other thing.  Pies are really easy to make, you can vary the contents as you please and they're a great way to use up leftovers (very important for the thifty mum at home).  However, I do understand that even with the quickest pastry recipe in the world, it's going to be tricky to assemble unless you do so during a nap or wait for the weekend and a (hopefully) willing partner to take a bit of the strain.

That said, a pie is a wonderful thing.  You'd probably be able to bribe the most unwilling man to do a bit of babysitting for 20 mins which is pretty much all the time you need to assemble it.

I don't make pastry in a traditional way.  Traditionally you would use lard to make the pastry "short" (ie crumbly.)  Personally I hate the taste of lard in pastry and I detest the taste of margarine so I use butter and create the short texture by using some cornflour.  This might strike you as somewhat extravagant but when you can buy value salted butter for 98p a pack, that's not a ridiculous expense and the pastry you make is so much better than anything you can buy and it's also cheaper to make than bought pastry which will almost certainly not be all butter.


Leftover stew or roast meat and gravy (or thickened stock)
Mushrooms fried quickly until coloured (optional)
5oz butter
6oz plain flour
2oz cornflour
Cold water to mix
A little cream or milk


Put the stew or roast meat and gravy into an ovenproof dish.  It's best if this is cold.  You can always freeze the stew or leftovers before doing this just making sure they're defrosted before cooking.  Mix in the mushrooms.

I use a food processor to whizz the butter, flour and cornflour together, but you can rub together with your hands.  Add in a couple of dsp of water until you can bring it all together as pastry.  Less is more, it's surprising how little water will bring it all together.  Tip out onto a board or clean work surface.  Kneed very lightly for 15 secs or though to bring together (you don't want to warm up the pastry).  Flour the surface and a rolling pin and roll out till around 2-3mm thick.  Cut out a shape which will more than cover your dish, drape it over and press down the edges on the top.  Cut a vent hole or two in the top and brush with a little cream or milk.  (I often have the dregs of a tub of cream in my fridge.)  Add on any shapes you'd like to the top.

Bake at 190oC for around 50 mins until well browned.

You will probably have some pastry left over.  Cut out rounds using a large cutter and gently press into a bun tin.  (You can then either put in the fridge until later or cook these immediately.)  When you're ready to cook, put a teaspoon of jam or lemon curd in each one (don't put in more or they will boil over) and bake for approx 15 mins at around 200oC.  When cooked put on a cooling rack for a few mins before eating.  Lovely eaten warm with crisp buttery pastry and a touch of cream if you have some but don't eat straight out of the oven as there is only one temperature higher than the core of the sun and that is boiling jam!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Dahl; getting braver with lumps and spices

After talking to some mums about how they’d offered their babies more unusual foods, I thought it was about time I fed him something more challenging and this was pretty successful and both of us liked it (with the adult adaptations below.)

I had a search around on the internet and adapted some recipes to cook (probably a completely inauthentic) dahl.

Dahl (made 1 adult portion and 5-6 baby portions to be served with rice)

100g red lentils
500 mL water
1/2 tin of tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped up small
2 blocks of frozen spinach
2 spring onions
unsalted butter


Chop the spring onions finely and fry in the butter until softened.  Add the remaining ingredients apart from the spinach.  Bring to the boil, boil for 10 mins then simmer for 10 mins.

Add the spinach and cook until the blocks have melted and the dahl has returned to the boil.

Crush the potatoes on the side of the pan with a fork.

Serve with boiled basmati mixed in for babies (older babies only who are on lumps) and add chilli sauce and mango chutney for adults and serve some rice on the side.)

Note, don't freeze with the rice (but can be frozen without) because rice contains a bacterium bacillus cereus which is heat resistant and can form a nasty toxin in food which causes severe vomiting.  It's always best to cook rice when you want to eat it and not reheat or reuse.  It only takes 10 mins to cook some basmati anyway.


Tried this again and now he's 10 months old didn't crush the potatoes.  He was fine with it now he's used to lumpier textures.  After taking out some portions for him, I added some curry paste in for us and it worked well.  Served it with some homemade chicken tikka, naan bread and some salted yogurt (sounds weird but just some yoghurt with a little salt added, for adults only obviously but I had it in India with some chappatis once and I think it's really delicious.)


Now my son is a fully fledged toddler, I tend to add a tsp or so of hot curry paste to the mix at the start and add a little more for me once I've removed his portion.  Definitely still a hit at 20 months.  Mixed in with rice he will happily chomp through a bowlful unaided with no complaints!

If you like this recipe, you might like the chicken curry or prawn and mushroom curry.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The importance of saying "thank you" and vinaigrette

Ok, I'm not the most chilled out person in the world.  I have a higher than average tendency to complain when things aren't up to standard but we all need to remember that it's more often telling people and rewarding people when they do things right that is effective than beating people down when they do things wrong.

Anyway, being low on cash as is the life of a woman on maternity leave, I often shop at Asda and yesterday a lovely lady packed every piece of my shopping.  I had my son in a front carrier as he's got to big for the baby trolley seats but he's too small to go in a normal trolley (or certainly I think so) but after walking round the store I was pretty tired and fed up (although he loved looking at the shelves and the people and no doubt putting things in my trolley!)  So after I paid, I went to customer services and gave her name and asked them to thank her.  They wrote it down on a nomination form and genuinely thanked me saying "people normally only have time to complain."  It was good for me too because it made me feel good that I'd made someone else's day.

So a challenge I would like to set the world today is to say "thank you" or "good job" to someone because it makes you feel better and it certainly helps the person you say it to.  Maybe it's someone you meet when out and about, maybe it's someone close to you who does something nice for you every day.

Anyway, complete change of topic.  While shopping yesterday I was struggling to find the rice vinegar (I'm thinking of making a slow cooked Chinese pork Hugh FW dish today) and eventually I found the vinegars.  One shelf of vinegars and about 6 shelves of premade dressings.  I realised it must mean that many people don't know how to make their own.  Certainly a simple vinaigrette is very easy.

Vinaigrette (not for babies.)

I don't measure for this so bear with me.  I use a small swing top bottle I found in a kitchen shop years ago but a clean jar would work just as well.  Other people use more oil than I do but I find it makes the dressing too oily.  If you prefer a less tangy dressing, use more oil or a touch of water to tone down the vinegar.

1 tbsp vinegar (white wine, cider, red wine etc. all would be fine, just not malt!)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp mustard (dijon or grain, not English)
1/4 tsp salt
Any other flavourings you like, e.g. pepper, thyme, parsley, tarragon, more mustard etc.  Just work with what you're using it for (see suggestions below)

Put all into a bottle or jar.  Shake.  Yes, that's really it.

What you flavour it with will depend on what you're using it for.  A chicken salad for example would be lovely with tarragon or even more mustard (especially if you're using strong leaves like rocket.)  A chorizo salad might be nice with a lot of pepper or maybe go for parsley as a more background flavour.  You could even mix in grated parmesan for a cheesy dressing.

So this is almost as easy as opening a prewashed bag of lettuce and much cheaper.  Also you can vary the flavour each time rather than being stuck with the same old dressing though if I'm honest I often stick with the basic one, perhaps occasionally with a touch more mustard.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Slightly scared to post this... he slept pretty well...

After giving up on our sleep training, guess what he goes and does?  He goes to sleep at 7pm after the most rubbish feed ever and then wakes at 12:30pm, I hear him talking to himself in the cot and think "the crying will start soon" but no!  He puts himself back to sleep, wakes at 5:15am, has another natter to himself then wants a feed at 5:30am!  Blimey that's the closest he's ever gone to sleeping through the night.

So I didn't sleep much better (creeping to his room to listen to his breathing and checking he's ok at 4am!)  But these broken nights are good for cooking ideas.  My little man seems to be getting worse at accepting soft lumps not better.  He doesn't choke but he does gag and sometimes this leads to him being sick.  Now I know a bit of gagging is to be expected but when he was sick after some mashed kiwi yesterday it's made me nervous.

Still, I'm determined to continue so I'll let you know if I come up with any bright ideas...