You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


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Plink, plink, plink, plink, plonk…. Peeeeeeppa Pig!

cake on table

I have a 3 year old *sniff*! Its so hard to believe that it has been over three years since I officially became a mother. How much has my life changed in all that time and how much has she changed and developed. My baby is now a cheeky little girl with her own personality.

My Mother was over from the UK to stay with us for the week so she was there to celebrate with us and join in the party preparation madness. As you saw with M’s party I get a little carried away sometimes and E’s celebration was no different. Ever since February and we started talking about birthdays E has been telling me, on a daily basis, that she was going to have a Peppa Pig party with a chocolate cake. Alright I told her and started looking at feasible ideas; scouting out google image search and Pinterest.

For those of you who haven’t come across her yet Peppa Pig is a stupidly popular series on Nickelodeon. I haven’t met a child yet who has seen it and not become obsessed. E does not even get to watch much television (it is generally reserved for travel) and it was only because I stumbled across it once on the TV while staying at my Dad’s house after one particularly early start that she knows about it. The show gets a lot of stick as Peppa is seen as overly bossy and because Daddy Pig is a “bad” male role model being overweight and a little hopeless at times but I quite enjoy it. Daddy Pig might be unable to hang a picture or read a map but he is persistent and everything he does is well meaning. Likewise Peppa is very confident and a little bossy but is that really a bad thing? She learns a new lesson every episode based around something practical or how to get along better with her little brother George or her friends. Also I love the fact that the show’s creators encourage the fact that children should get dirty from time to time and enjoy the outdoor: “Peppa loves to jump in muddy puddles. Everyone loves to jump in muddle puddles!” E now loves to jump in muddily puddles too but only when wearing her wellies (thank you to the writers for adding this into the script).

Anyways back to the party. As E was turning 3 I decided this year we would have some games: musical puddles, pin the tail on the Peppa and a Piñata. We would also have an outdoor event, weather permitting, so that the children had space to burn off the sugar they would undoubtably consume.

Despite my best efforts to give plenty of healthy options, like fruit and crudités, and plenty of savoury items, such as mini pig pizzas an sausages, I always find that sweets are generally the most popular (and you can’t have a party without some sweets and biscuits). I actually raided Marks and Spencers when I was in the UK last buying up copious supplies of Percy pigs and Phizzy Pig Tails which helped to give the party an extra piggy dimension. Note: you can buy a similar product in Switzerland but it is just not the same!

garden

Until the kids are in full time school (about 5 or 6) I will invite the parents and siblings with the child. I have seen some poor children cry the whole way through a party because they are alone and it also give me the opportunity as a foreigner in the community to get to meet some other adults. As a result however it turned into a fairly major affair with over 25 adults and 15 kids. So while we had a wonderful time designing muddy puddles for the garden out of cardboard, and they looked fun between the picnic rugs had laid out on the lawn, they never got used as by the time everyone had arrived we ran out of time for too many games. The kids were having a lovely time exploring the newly decorated playhouse which had been made to look like Peppa’s home and generally doing laps of the garden anyways.

house

So the time came to cut the cake to allow those that needed to depart speedily could do so. E was very happy with the results of her request (a rather rich chocolate fudge cake) and the cake despite being enormous did not leave much in the way of leftovers.

cake

After the cake we moved on to some games starting with the Piñata which had already been pawed at by a few of the overly excited children. We used a bought “non violent” one as I did not have the time or the inclination to start playing with papier maché last week and actually the string pulling was much more manageable for the young children than trying to wield a stick. I taped up the eyeholes in a Peppa pig mask though so it wasn’t too easy for them to see which string to pull.

pinata collage

Then we had a spot of pin the tail on the Peppa which was suitable for those nearly 3 and over. The younger children couldn’t fathom why they had to wear a mask they couldn’t see out of but the older ones enjoyed the game.

pin the tail on peppa

I’ve learnt a lot from this last experience as to what is to come from birthdays as the children get older. Namely always fix a date by which to RSPV and set a precise time of arrival and departure if you want to be set on timings. If you are happy to just let the children play though our party was perfect and we had fun.

Hope you had a good week too!

 

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Foraging for Dandelions

Today turned into a lovely day and we spent the afternoon in the garden admiring our beautiful weeds.

Recently the local market has been full of dandelion leaves. I really love dandelion salad. It is great with lardons and a olive oil and white wine vinegar dressing but considering the state of our garden I couldn’t actually bring myself to pay for some. So finally today I did a little research and found out what I should be looking for when I pick my dandelion leaves.

It turns out, unsurprisingly, that you should go for the younger plants which haven’t yet given a bud or flower as they are less bitter. You can also eat the flowers and the buds. Apparently the buds go well in omelettes and you can tempura the flowers. The flowers are bitter but have a sweet taste and I am definitely going to start using them in my salads for extra colour.

You can eat this?

Now when I started explaining to E that we can eat dandelions she was a little skeptical but did taste a few admitting that they were ok but needed a bit of salad sauce. I think our dandelions might be getting a bit bitter but I managed to find a decent selection of fresh leaves for a tonight.

Then E found one lone blossom that had already turned to seed and I showed a very excited little girl how you can blow them and watch the seeds fly away.

Dandelions collage

E also picked a bunch of dandelions for Teddy in-between scooting around on her tricycle.

 

picking dandelions collage

After all our salad picking we sat down for a little tea party with Teddy and tried out a batch of some homemade Jaffa cakes. I am still perfecting the recipe though so bare with me on that one.

IMG_0759

It was a lovely day in the sunshine and the only shame was that poor M has been under the weather and slept it all away. Fingers crossed he will be back on form tomorrow.

Hope you enjoyed your weekends too!


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Diet Bake #2: Bakes with Fruit

For those of you who didn’t see my previous post I am currently compiling a list of recipes that won’t completely sabotage my diet and allow me and my daughter to carry on enjoying baking. While there are many diet bakes out there I am trying to find healthier recipes rather those that simply substitute ingredients like sugar with artificial sweeteners.

Diet Bake #2 Bakes with Fruit

This week I have been trying out recipes that use fruit for the sweetness rather than huge quantities of sugar.

My first recipe is a Baby Led Weaning one I’ve adapted. This Banana Bread basically gets all of its sweetness from the bananas and sultanas and it is actually my hubby’s favourite.

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 100 g wholemeal self-raising flour (you can use plain flour but just add 2 teaspoons of baking powder)
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 50 g butter
  • 75 g sultanas (or raisins)
  • 200g mashed bananas
  • 1 egg beaten

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and lightly grease a 450g loaf tin.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl with the spices. Rub the butter into the flour or use a blender until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the sultanas and make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl mash the bananas and add the egg.
  5. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mix and fold in.
  6. Put the mixture into mould and place the oven. Turn the oven down to 160°C and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. When it is done a skewer should come out clean when it is inserted.

For this bake I actually used 3 mini loaf tins instead and baked than for 25 minutes in a same temperature oven. This meant each loaf gave 6 slices (so 18 slices in total). I sometimes think choice of tin is everything. 2 smaller slices seem more satisfying to me than one big one and sometimes a small slice of a square bake can seem like more than one of a round cake. I guess it is like that experiment where they use highball glasses and tumblers to distort perception of quantity by Wansink, B. & van Ittersum, K. (2007). We are so easily fooled by optical illusions we might as well use it to our advantage.

With 18 slices 1 slice was 2 WeightWatchers points, while 2 slices was only 3 points (yay!) and this came to only 64 calories per slice!

N.B. These banana loaves also freeze really well.

Next I had to try out an apple recipe. You can’t do a fruit bake series without one but surprisingly trying to find a good recipe to work off was pretty tricky as they all tend to be laden with sugar and butter.

I eventually found a one but lowered some of the sugar quantities as I found them unnecessary Next time I might try lowering them further – it depends so much on the fruit you use.

Apple and Pear Cake

Apple Cake

Ingredients 

  • 3 ½ medium apples or pears (you can actually use any fruit e.g. peaches or plums)
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 230 g caster sugar
  • 125 g plain white flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 120g butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a 20cm square tin (or 23cm round one)
  2. Peel, core and chop the apple and pears into slices and place in a bowl.
  3. Add the lemon juice, cinnamon and 30 g of sugar and leave the apple to sit.
  4. Sieve together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In another bowl or a mixer cream together the butter and 200g of the sugar and then add the eggs and vanilla.
  6. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
  7. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
  8. Arrange the apple and pear slices on top and place in the oven for 45 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  9. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

This cake gives 12 slices at 6 WeightWatchers points a piece or 224 calories. Ok, it isn’t the lightest cake but its really yummy and it could be so much worse.

I love Mary Berry but her recipes are generally not very WeightWatchers friendly. She generally seems to use more fat in all of her recipes than anyone else. They are darn good though. You can understand my surprise though when reading through her book I came across one that looked like it might fit the bill. Here are Mary Berry’s Blueberry muffins.

Blueberries

Ingredients 

  • 250 g white self-raising flour
  • 1 level teaspoons of baking powder
  • 50 g butter
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 175 g blueberries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 250ml semi-skimmed milk 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a muffin tin or place cases in a 12 hole muffin tin (I use silicon muffin trays so I don’t use cases)
  2. Measure the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs (you can do this in a blender).
  3. Stir in the sugar, zest and blueberries (don’t do this bit in the blender though or you will destroy your blueberries).
  4. Mix the eggs and milk and add it directly to the dry mixture the mixture and blend quickly.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases (almost to the top).
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the are well risen, firm and golden,
  7. Cool in the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and serve warm.

These muffins are suspiciously healthy at only 4 WeightWatchers points a piece or 157 calories.

I’m going to finish on a very healthy sounding one Banana Bran Muffins.

Banana Bran Muffins

Ingredients  

  • 115g butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 115ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g wholemeal flour
  • 100g wheat bran
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease a muffin tin or line with muffin cases.
    2. In a large mixing bowl or blender, cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
    3. Add the bananas, milk, vanilla and eggs and mix well.
    4. Combine the flour, bran, baking powder, baking soda and salt and blend into the banana mixture.
    5. Pour the mixture into the muffin tray or cases.
    6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean. Cool in the tray for five minutes then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

 

This mixture makes about 14 muffins. They are also only 4 WeightWatchers points a muffin or 212 calories but you could add a handful of chopped walnuts to the mix which would bring them up to 5 points or 276 calories a muffin.

With all of the banana recipes I find that if you can keep them a couple of days they just get stickier and yummier! So try to hold off a bit.

Wow, thats a lot of cake. Don’t worry we aren’t going to eat all the cakes ourselves we have the whole family including our 93 year old Granny coming to tea so hopefully they will all get eaten.

Happy baking!


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Baking and Weight Loss

I know what you are thinking: it just doesn’t work. Ok, you’re kind of right. As my catering college teacher taught me, “fat is flavour”, so the moment you cut it out you risk losing a dimension of taste.

This post has been inspired by:

  1. Hunger
  2. Reading too many good blogs on baking
  3. Missing baking with E (my little girl) since I started the diet

 

I am currently on WeightWatchers and they just don’t seem to do good desserts. Being a big baker if I want to succeed with anything long term I am going to have to find a solution. I do think there is a balance to be struck though and this might turn out be very personal to me; my tastes and where I am willing to compromise.

When I cook savoury dishes I always weigh up the points difference between real cream and fat free yoghurt or adding an extra splash of olive oil. Generally I prefer to eat a little less of something really good than lots of something that is a bit dry or flavourless. Other times its whether we go for the fattier cut of meat for a slow cook with plenty of free root veg or a more expensive leaner cut with more carbs. Its about finding work arounds or ways to make informed healthy choices, for example, I have discovered that a tablespoon of cream does the same job as half a pot of fat free yoghurt for the same points value so it’s a no brainer for me on that one now.

The thing that really gets me with the WeightWatchers’ dessert books is the amount of sweetener they use or the measly portion sizes. That just doesn’t cut it for me. What a total waste of points!

My latest mission is to find good desserts or bakes that you can have a decent portion of and feel satisfied without having to sacrifice a meal (for those of you dieting). My first thoughts lead me to believe that this could be something so decadent that you only need a small taste or it could be something lighter than air that you could get a proper mouthful of minus the calories. I might have to experiment with lighter sponges or fruity desserts. And no a fresh fruit salad doesn’t count!

Is it possible? Let’s give it a go.

Diet Bake Attempts #1: Whisking-Method Cakes

Today we experimented with fat-free or low fat sponges. The only raising agent used in Whisking-Method Cakes is the air that has been trapped in the mixture during preparation. You therefore have to be very careful when folding in flour or putting the mixture in the tin so as not to knock the air bubbles out of the mix.

Fat free sponges

Firstly we made an Angel Cake:

Angel Cake has an almost chewy meringue like consistency, is relatively sweet, and most importantly for us it is light and fat free meaning less calories.

My recipe called for a 20cm springform cake tin with a funnel base but I used a 24cm silicon one with excellent results.

Ingredients

  • 85g plain flour
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1tbsp icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line your tin with greaseproof paper (if you are using a silicon mould just grease it lightly).
  2. To incorporate the maximum amount of air possible it is important to sift the flour 3 times and sift the sugar separately. Then mix the flour and 40g of sugar and sift well together.
  3. Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until very stiff and them hold them over your head to see if they are stiff enough (see picture). It is important that the eggs are room temperature as they can incorporate more air. The cream of tartar stabilised the mix so it does not over whip. Add the vanilla and 2 tbsp of sugar and whisk again until stiff and shiny. Then gradually whack in the remaining sugar until the egg white form soft peaks.
  4. Fold in the flour and sugar mixture very carefully using a large metal spoon. You need to get rid of any large pockets of flour or bubbles but don’t over fold as the air is what makes the cake light. Then turn the mixture into the tin. Make sure the mixture is flat in the tin as this will be your base.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes or until the top springs back when pressed.
  6. Once cooked leave to cook upside-down on a wire rack for 30 minutes and then remove carefully. Due to the low fat content the cake tends to stick so carefully use a knife to pull it away from the sides.
  7. When the cake was completely cool I dusted it with some icing sugar.

Angel Cake Collage

I found that the cake served 8 people at 4 WeightWatchers points or 140 calories a piece. Angel Cake is very sweet so you really don’t need much more than one portion which is great but maybe next time I’ll add some lemon zest to cut through some of that sweetness.

Next we had good fun trying out a Swiss Roll.

I haven’t made one of these since school. They have a reputation for being difficult (not the actual baking but the preparation) but there are a few tricks to making them easier to roll.

Ingredients

  •  85g plain flour, sifted
  • a pinch of salt (optional)
  • 3 room-temperature eggs
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 1½ tbsp lukewarm water
  • 2-3 drops of vanilla essence
  • 3 tbsp Caster sugar for dusting
  • 3 tbsp seedless jam (room temperature)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease the base and sides of a Swiss roll tin. Line the base with greaseproof paper and dust it with a little of  the caster sugar for dusting.
  2. Sift the flour and salt.
  3. Place the eggs, sugar, water and vanilla essence in a large heatproof bowl and fit it over (but not in) a saucepan of steaming water. Whisk with an electric beater until the mixture is thick and fluffy.
  4. Using a large metal spoon, fold the flour into the egg mixture and pour into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until the sides have shrunk very slightly away from the tin and no impression remains when the top is pressed lightly with a finger tip.
  6. Lay a piece of greaseproof paper on the work surface and sprinkle it evenly with caster sugar. Using a knife loosen the edges of the cake and turn it out onto the sugared greaseproof paper. Remove the lining paper carefully and trim the edges of the cake neatly. (If the lining paper doesn’t come away very easily at first lay a damp clean tea towel over it for a minute or so).
  7. While the cake is still warm spread it with the jam.
  8. Make a shallow cut across the width of the cake at about a cm from the end you are going to start rolling from (to facilitate rolling) and then using the paper under the cake to help you, roll the cake up tightly from one end. (Don’t worry they really aren’t that fragile when you do it while they are still warm!)
  9. Sprinkle some more caster sugar over the finished roll and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely with the seam on the underside of the roll.

swissroll collage

Once I had trimmed the sides and rolled the cake it was about 20cm wide and I found it gave 13 finger width slices each. One slice was 2 WeightWatchers points a piece or about 85 calories – unfortunately it was 5 points for 2 slices.

By the way, I went pretty traditional with only jam, but if you are feeling decadent and want to add cream you have to wait for it to cool first. Roll up the cake, unfilled, and keep it wrapped in greaseproof paper until it is cool. Unroll it very carefully, spread with whipped cream and roll it up again,

Generally some pretty successful baking I’d say – got to eat lots of cake and stayed on track with the diet. Through making some clever choices of cake I didn’t even have to compromise the original recipes!

Hope you enjoy testing them out yourselves. I’m also very interested to hear your suggestions for “lighter” bakes too if you have any?


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P-P-P-Pizza!

Its oh so easy to just buy a pizza ready-made and pop it in the oven (or even easier to pick up the phone) but actually they are pretty simple to make from scratch. Here is my lazy guide to pizza making that even the kids can do.

Ok, so there is a little bit of work involved: You have to buy the ingredients at the shop and make the recipes at some point. This does involves some kneading by hand (if you don’t have a kneading attachment on your mixer). Kneading is a great workout though and can help release a lot of built up tension.

Here is my pizza dough recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver:pizza dough

Ingredients
  • 1 kg white bread flour or Tipo ’00’ flour, or 800g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 x 7 g dried yeast sachet
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tsbp extra virgin olive oil
  • 650 ml lukewarm water
  • semolina flour for dusting (you can use normal flour but I prefer semolina)

Method

Sieve the flour and salt on to a clean work surface (or into your mixer with kneading attachment if you have one) and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas – this amount of dough is enough to make about eight pizzas but I roll thinly.

I tend to make this and freeze 2 thirds as 1 third is enough for us as a family. If you freeze it into pizza size portions it is easier later.

When I know I want to make pizzas I just pop a couple of portions in the fridge the night before and it is perfect the next day and ready to roll. (That’s the lazy bit as I don’t actually have to make the dough when I want to make pizza).

I roll them out just before we are going to eat on to semolina flour as it gives it that nice slightly grainy base. I don’t really throw my pizza about much as I tend to lose it to the floor but feel free.

The next stage is the tomato sauce. Here is the perfect pizza sauce recipe and so easy to do. This is also a staple I have in the freezer pre-portioned and I take it out to defrost with the pizza dough the night before:

Pizza prep

Even Teddy helped

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1kg tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper

Method

Cook down onions until they are soft and then add the garlic. After one minute add the other ingredients (except the salt and pepper which you add right at the end to taste) and simmer for an hour. The sauce will be nice and thick and relatively chunky at the end but you can purée it if you are less lazy than me.

So this is why I said it was easy. For me it is a meal that doesn’t generally involve any cooking on the actual night: E loves to cook and the assembly is a task she can pretty much do alone. I supervise the rolling if we don’t want too many holes in our pizza bases but the rest is up to her. I like to promote independence in our children and even had her chopping button mushrooms from about 18 months (with her baby knife). I believe that there is no better way of learning than letting your toddler take part in everyday tasks. Of course there is a limit to how much you can bake (and actually consume) or what you can allow your child to clean without it becoming dangerous hence we do crafts too.

The great thing about pizzas is that you can put anything on them. Yesterday was fairly basic though as I had made a mushroom salad at lunch so that went on with some lardons left over from a quiche we made.  As for cheese we went classical again with Mozzarella and Parmesan.
The kids picking out which pizzas were theirs.

The kids picking out which pizzas were theirs.

They took about 20 minutes in a 220°C oven. If you can heat it from the bottom element only and preheat the baking trays this helps you to get the lift and air in the dough like in pizza-oven baked ones.
Calzone
We made two medium pizzas and one giant calzone. Please do give it a go as it really isn’t as daunting as it looks. Happy pizza making.
pizzas


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Baby-led Weaning Spanish Apple Cake

I have talked before about how I love cooking. One of my biggest fears when I had my babies was that they would grow up to be fussy eaters. I come from a family that loves their food and I want to be able to share our favourite foods and restaurants with my own children.

After a bit of research I stumbled across Baby-led Weaning (BLW): an alternate technique for weaning your child. With BLW you start directly on to solid foods at around 6 months (or when your baby shows the signs of readiness) rather than giving purées when you think your child needs more sustenance than milk alone.

Now the theory goes that general modern guidelines state that babies should be weaned at 6 months (unless there is a medical reason otherwise) and you should start to introduce finger foods from 6 months so why waste time with the purées?

“Starting solids this way is easy, enjoyable and stress-free for the whole family. It is part of your baby’s natural development, giving him the chance to learn new skills and grow in confidence. Sharing your own meals with your baby is quicker than preparing separate purées and cheaper than buying them ready-made. And it is much more fun.” – Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett, The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook

Now I am not sure how stress-free a method it is compared with spoon-feeding. I have never yet met a mother that does not worry if their children are eating well enough at some point no matter how much reassurance they have, but it is certainly nice not having to cook special kiddie meals and eating together as a family from day one. I chose the method because of a couple of key benefits it is known for: it teaches children to eat everything and prevents fussiness, and it has been linked with a healthier weight (lower cases of adult obesity).

As with everything, the benefits I have just listed are not a rule and every child is different and as the technique has only been mainstream for ten or so years the latter has not had significant research conducted as yet to be proven. Also just because you follow a certain technique doesn’t mean your child will follow the rules. E was a dream eater and followed the top percentile lines without ever being spoonfed or made to eat. M however is trickier and will scream till he can eat something in particular (a work in process). I have therefore adopted more of a traditional technique with him whereby if he is too tired to feed himself I will help him to load a spoon and guide it into his mouth but we are going to get stricter #mummyresolution!

If you are interested I suggest you check out the official website and order the book (if you intend to do BLW it is important you have all the facts) if only to be capable to answer all the questions of concerned family members. It is only normal that they worry when they see such a change from the norm.

One of the books we have is The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook. This book is fabulous (even if you don’t do BLW) for meal ideas once you introduce finger foods or for toddler meal ideas. There are lots of baking ideas which are very fruit based and low in sugar. As we had a couple of young friends round for tea we decided to make a Spanish Apple Cake.

slice

Recipe:

250g self-raising flour
½ tsp cinnamon or nutmeg
50g caster sugar
juice and zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 eggs, beaten
160ml olive oil (use normal olive oil and not extra virgin as it has too strong a flavour)
450g crisp desert apples or pears (peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes)

baking cake

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C
Grease a 17cm round cake tin.
Sift the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl and add the sugar and lemon zest.
Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, olive oil and juice.
Stir to make a smooth mixture and then add the chopped apple.
Place into the tin and bake for 45mins to 60 mins until golden brown and firm. (The actual recipe says 40-45 mins but I never find that long enough.)

oven cake

Its a lovely moist cake that you can eat warm or cold. This the second time I have made it and the kids love it: only a couple of slices are left. Sorry it got eaten too quickly to take a photo of it whole. Its a good thing that the cake is extra heathy 🙂

Have a lovely day and happy baking.

2 slices


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What A Beautiful Mess!

Today I’m quite proud of our activity. We went with messy play to cater to my kid’s needs after yesterday’s less than successful attempt at a “clean” activity.

Last night I popped to the supermarket and bought stacks of cheap pasta – we got about 4kg of dry pasta for about 2 Swiss francs.  I had plenty of liquid food colouring at home which I have been trying to use up (from before I found gel colourings here in Switzerland) so I thought let’s make our messy play as colourful as possible!

When the kids went to bed I had a play with the food colouring. I ended up using about 25ml of colouring per pan of water and cooked about a kilo of dry pasta in each. I used red, blue, green and yellow and was quite impressed at how strong the colours came out. I know yellow seems a bit superfluous but actually it definitely added something. Once it was drained I did add some oil to the pasta just so it didn’t all stick together.

This morning we went out for a walk and a hot chocolate with a friend and her baby. My two year old insisted on taking out her pushbike (that she calls her “motorbike”). I was seriously impressed as it was only her second outing on it and she was whizzing all over the place!

While the kids were napping after lunch I set all the pasta out in the bath and decided some nice sticky, slimy banana slices would definitely add something (if not make the play a bit more nutritious). So here is the pre-kid result:

The Pasta Bath

One tip: let the pasta warm to room temperature first or warm it by running some hot water through it first so you don’t freeze your little ones.

Now E (my two year old) dived straight in and I think tried to eat her body weight in pasta and bananas. Once the novelty had worn off she started to build a pasta castle and then bury herself.

Buried in pasta

Then the ten month old got in. He was not very convinced at first to be truthful. I cleared him a spot and just gave him a little pasta to play with and all was fine. He was initially more concerned with eating all the banana off the sides of the bath but then he joined his sister in the pasta “splashing” attempts.

Kids in the pasta bath

It took forever to shower the kids but on the plus side their skin did seem extremely silky from all the oil – mine too by the time I had scrubbed them clean.  M then went down for a nap (I think he was a little over stimulated with all the messy fun) and I cleaned the bathroom.

Pasta mix

M napped till dinner time so E and I baked an apple, banana and carrot cake. Excellent end to a happy and busy day!

CAKE