Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A tour around Mamacook

For those of you new to my site, I thought I would give you a brief tour and point out some of the things I'm proud of on my website and why I do what I do.

Wholemeal Apple Pancakes

My blog is completely for the love of it, for the passion for food.  I work in the food industry as a food safety / technical interim manager and consultant but this blog does not make a penny for me.  I'm not saying that some day I wouldn't like to take up food writing as part of my career but as I write I have not made a bean.

Why do something that makes you no money?  I did consider this earlier this year.  My business has taken off and I'm very busy nowadays but as I said, this is my passion in life, it's what brings me happiness so if you only measure life in £s, I suppose that might seem strange but if you value living what drives you and what makes you happy then the £s don't matter.

I started my blog back in January 2011 as I was on maternity leave with my son and wanted something for me but also something I could involve my son in.  He had recently started weaning and I had always been determined he should eat good food.  I never wanted him to be the fussy child at a party, I didn't want others to feel like they had to cook special meals for him.  When he's older and takes a girlfriend out, I wanted him to have cosmopolitain tastes.  This is all because food was important to me as a child and still is.

When I was 5 (yep, that picture is me) I went abroad for the first time to France and saw my parents eating langoustines and ate delicious French sausages.  When I was 7 I was eating prawns, shelling them myself in Spain.  When I was 8 and older, I was choosing fish off the menu in Greek Tavernas and happily deboning them myself.  Holidays were the times when I could experiment and try different things I'd not tried at home.  They were really special times for me and I can credit my parents with getting us to try different foods at a young age that I was prepared to try new things abroad.

There is an immense joy in food, or there can be.  Food isn't just nutrients, it's a way of caring for the people you love.  It can be communication, subtlety, excitement.  I guess I didn't want a child who said "I don't like fish" or "urgh that looks disgusting" without trying it.  (Well an occasional failure on the second count.  He is two years old and one of his favourite words is "disgusting" but 99% of the time he will give things a go.)

There have been surprises on my journey.  I almost gave up after someone threw a wobbly at me for suggesting she could make her son no added sugar pancakes instead of chocolate and biscuits.  I expected my blog to grow quicker than it did (I was pretty naive in those days).  When I posted my first blog post (which has still only had 113 pageviews) I wasn't prepared for that feeling of posting into the void.  I expected a reaction, something anyway.  But by having a blog it has forced me out of a recipe rut and encouraged me to try new things.  Who would have thought a toddler's favourite food would be mussels?

My ethos about food is first of all, kids food should be interesting.  There is no way my son is ever getting his food arranged in a smiley face or to look like a train (unless it's a birthday cake.)  I don't mean food should be joyless or look unappetising, far from it, but I mean that as a culture, British people do all this messing and fussing with the appearance of food for kids and forget about flavour.  A case in point is this:
So there are the first two rules; tastes good and I'm not making it into a clown face.  The next two things I try and adhere to, at least for kids food is low salt and low added sugar.  I do sometimes break this but we all need treats.  I have devised loads of no added sugar muffin recipes over the years so even no added sugar doesn't have to mean no fun. 

I worry that too many treats often given to kids for snacks are high fat, high sugar and low nutrition.  The next thing I try to do with every recipe is use store cupboard ingredients.  I'm not immune to the odd bit of processed foods (I do buy felafels sometimes for my son and I to share and I make custard from powder) but in general I do like to cook from decent ingredients and decent quantities of them.  I remember looking at a jar of baby food when my son was a baby out of curiosity.  It was fortified with iron yet was a beef stew.  I looked on the back, confused why fortification was needed when it contained beef to realise it was only 8% beef.  Really?  

I sometimes break away from the above and meals for adults sometimes are slightly higher in salt than I would give to my son.  I include these though because I realise many parents eat most meals with their children but it's not always possible for both parents or partners to be home at the same time so often the evening meal is after the children have gone to bed.  I know that parents like something quick, simple and tasty like this Vietnamese Chicken Salad.

So the last thing I have come to hope my blog is about is food photography.  These are still early days for me and I am self taught but I thought I'd share with you three of the photographs I'm most proud of.

Braised Red Cabbage

This was a fairly new departure for me, using cutlery (yeah, I know, crazy thought!)  I love the colours though.

This wasn't my first coleslaw shot and I would normally never photograph from above but somehow it just works, the texture, the colours.  I love it.

My first foray into some proper food styling, I'm normally far too lazy or busy.  The idea for this recipe came from a good friend so I'm incredibly pleased the photograph came out so well.

I hope you enjoyed my introduction to "Mamacook". 


  1. I love your blog, I've pinched a fair few recipes to make for my son, tomorrow we shall have the baby friendly curry recipe mmm :)

  2. Loved this introduction! I don't know how my kids turned into picky eaters, but hubs and I both try to show them to a variety of foods. I have one that despises veggies though, and one that won't eat meat.
    I have fond memories of my childhood and eating lobster - cracking it open ourselves.

    1. Thanks, I was aware I'm getting more hits from new people recently and wanted to let them know what it was all about.

  3. Really special about how you developed your love of food. I am thankful for growing up next door to my grandmother from Italy. Mediterranean cultures really know how to make one fall in love with food. Glad to see you at the foodie friday... always a pleasure.

    1. Thank you. I almost live at our local Italian caffe with my son, we eat out there at least twice a month and the owners are Italian (the chef) and lived in Italy for 12 years (the front of house lady, Alison). I'm hoping this will help encourage my son as well as a nice meal now and again at home. We're hoping to go to Paris soon with him. He's going to love it, I hope!


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