You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


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Introducing New Foods

I like offal: liver, kidney, sweetbreads. I am big on seafood as well including whelks and winkles. Scottish black pudding beats English black pudding hands down and Haggis is delicious.

I was brought up on “interesting” cuts of meat none of which I considered odd until I reached secondary school at 11 and people started eeeeeeeeeewing everything. Then I turned veggie for a while but that’s another story.

Unfortunately hubby is a little less adventurous than me. I mean he’ll try everything, which I applaud, but we have had a few, albeit rare, dashes to the bin for things he considers too revolting. There aren’t many things I haven’t been able to stomach in life; I can list them all on a couple fingers:

  • Jellyfish – It was just like eating rubber and I couldn’t figure out how to take a bite or even swallow it.
  • Tripe – I reckon I’ll try it again at some point but cooked in a clear broth was just too much texture for me on a first try.

I haven’t had to try many insects yet. I’ve eaten ants (in chocolate) but I don’t know how I would react to deep fried locust for example. I’d like to think I’d give them a go. I know a lot of it is mental and perception can definitely influence how we taste things but its hard to override your brain.

Fried crickets

Fried crickets

Now, I’m not saying you should like everything. I don’t really like onion, for example, and frogs legs can hop on. But its all about being open to new flavours. Did you know that children may need to be offered a new food as many as 10-15 times before they will eat it?

Probably, like a lots of things, there are tastes best acquired at a young age. One study showed that repeated taste exposure can increase liking for certain food products in young children.

This is why I am on a mission to introduce my kids to as many flavours as I can before they learn from their peers that somethings “shouldn’t” be eaten.

This week we had tongue. Ox tongue cooked in broth with carrots, celery, onions and boiled potatoes is one of my favorite childhood dishes. It is super easy to cook: Firstly you clean the tongue thoroughly and then you pop it in a large pot. Chop up 3 to 4 carrots in to batons, 3 sticks of celery into batons, one onion into chunks. Add all the veg to the pot with the celery leaves, 6 peppercorns and a bay leaf and then just cover all with some stock. Then you cook the tongue until the skin can be peeled off easily. This can take a few hours so I tend to pop it on at low temperature when I go out for the afternoon. While I am peeling the tongue I add my potatoes to cook in the stock. Then I slice the tongue and re add it to the broth to warm it before serving.

Tongue has an acquired texture but it has a great taste plus it is really easy for the kids to eat. I was determined that the kids would like it, and not snub it like their Dad, so I pulled out the big guns: the paint palate plates that I’ve shown you before. The trick is to make it as colourful as possible to make it more appealing!

tongue

Success! The plates were spotless and no complaints. M even had second servings of tongue.

What foods do you eat that others might consider odd? How adventurous are you with new flavours?

 

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La Fête Nationale

Did you know that today is Swiss National Day?

This means it is a national holiday and everything is closed in preparation for the festivities tonight (well, not entirely true, some towns celebrated last night and are nursing their hangovers today)! Neuchâtel’s 1st of August celebrations, however, take place tonight and I’m looking forward to it. The Swiss may be pretty straight-laced and rule bound most of the time but when it comes to organised events they sure know how to let their hair down.

Swiss National Day has been celebrated as the 1st of August since 1891. The date was chosen for a couple reasons. The main one that every one quotes is the fact that the Federal Charter of 1291 was signed at the beginning of august. This was when the first 3 cantons (Uri, Schwytz, Nidwald) signed a treaty which was to become the basis of the Swiss Confederation. The second reason is because in 1889 the Federal Counsel wanted to organise a national fête and 1891 marked not only the 600th anniversary of this treaty but also the 700th anniversary of the city of Bern (Switzerland’s Capital City).

1st august rides

Everything is pimped up swiss style

1 August is celebrated each year with paper lantern parades and music (Alphorn is especially common in the German speaking regions). There are also bonfires where you can grill your Cervelas. Oh and everything is covered in Swiss and Cantonal flags and of course there are fireworks. We are lucky that we live on a lake as we can generally see all the firework displays from the other lake towns across the water meaning. It can be pretty spectacular when the skies are clear.

alphorn

Yesterday: the man playing actually mooed his thanks down the alphorn as E gave the money. She nearly jumped out of her skin (this was that moment)!

What are cervelas I hear you ask? Also know as cervelat, servelat or zervelat (depending on where you are) they are the national sausage made out of a mixture of pork (50%) beef, veal (20%), and bacon. The original sausage contained some brain hence the name from the latin cerebrum but this is no longer the case. A swiss party is not complete without your cervelas which has to be prepared in a very particular way – I had everything carefully explained to me last year after a swiss friend found me cooking my cereals completely wrong. Firstly you must cut a cross in both ends of your sausage which is about 3-4cm deep and then you have to peel off the skin. Then in order to roast it to perfection you must skewer it on a stick and turn it over the flames slowly so that it browns and doesn’t burn. Once it is cooked the cut ends of the sausage should curve out from the centre and it should resemble this picture that I have borrowed of the Swiss newspaper 24 heures:

cervelas

La Fête National, as we call it in Neuchâtel, is a great occasion for the Swiss to celebrate their country and their heritage. While is is a big party it still has its serious note and is probably the only occasion where the head of the local commune gets to address such a large audience. Every first of August the president de la commune gives a speech to outline current political issues and policies (and of course to praise Switzerland). Sometimes these speeches become famous for their content and the newspapers the next day are filled with every journalists’ analysis of what was said and what was meant. I guess it is a bit like the Queen’s speech every year at Christmas except the fact it is so local.

I was tickled to hear that apparently, in Britain, it is also Yorkshire Day thanks to Bettys and Taylors tearooms. This is because Betty’s tearooms were founded by Frederick Belmont, a Swiss confectioner. He arrived in Yorkshire speaking no English (although I probably wouldn’t have understood much as a native speaker with the accent back then either) and set up this very English sounding tearoom, Bettys, in July 1919.

We are going to watch the fireworks from a friends terrace tonight which overlooks the port where they are set off. We will try and keep E up to watch them as a special treat and grill her first cervelas but M is too young to take part yet. Next year we will do the lantern parades all together but tonight should be a blast.

Happy 1st of August!


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London Baby!

This past year we have made a real effort to visit our family based in London regularly so that they can see the children growing up. They change so quickly at this age and I feel a little guilty that maybe we didn’t visit enough when E was very small.

Our 10 day visit was, however, packed this time with plenty of self indulgent activities. We arrived Friday as that Saturday I had been given tickets for Wimbledon. I love watching live sport and tennis has always been a favourite of mine even if I play pretty badly. We popped down to the local farmer’s market that morning with the kids and picked up supplies for a picnic. The farmers markets have increasingly more popular over the past few years and I love to visit when we are in town. To take part all the producers must come from within 100 miles of the M25 (not many farms in Central London) but they also sell products that you can not find anywhere else. Everything is seasonal and sometimes they do things as a one off. For instance that Saturday we found gorgeous Scotch Eggs (with the yolk still runny) but the following week this particular producer was doing Salt Beef instead.

We left the kids for the day with Grandpa and headed off to Southfields.  It was drizzling when we arrived and we headed straight for our seats. Typical British weather… We were actually lucky to have play that day as we were under centre court’s roof – it rained all day long! There was an amazing line up: our first match was Nadal followed by Sharapova and finishing with our home team star player: Federer. Yes, we brought our flags.

I also haven’t mentioned the fact that it was People’s Saturday meaning that the Royal Box was filled with sport’s stars rather than royalty. We jokingly took pictures of ourselves with the box in the background so we could say we had had our picture taken with Victoria Pendleton, Tom Daley, Beckham, Amy Williams or Sir Bobby Charlton (to name some of the biggest household names). Despite the bad weather we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and treated ourselves to a wee bottle of champagne before we started on our picnic.

Wimbledon

Play didn’t continue till very late that evening and we headed back to discover that the children had managed to amass a lifetime supply of sweets and chocolate as they had spent the day at a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Event which included a chocolate raisin river and candy trees. They had had had a lovely day and a very proud Grandpa informed me how M had been in heaven crawling along this chocolate raisin river eating them one by one… I can only say well done Grandpa and I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that sugar high! It is amazing some of the things that go on in London. Its another world compared to Switzerland sometimes.

fountains and birds

There are some pretty great days out in London for the kids. Sometimes we stay simple and just explore like when we went to the Duke of York Square and E played in the fountains or when we went for a picnic and M chased the birds.

funfair

A funfair in Battersea Park – the view from the top of the Ferris Wheel.

One day I took them to Battersea Park. Battersea Park is just south of the river and relatively small but it is a brilliant place to take kids. It often plays host to funfairs and has an enormous playground for all ages. There is also a zoo, bike rental and a duck pond with pedalos (paddle boat to the non-Brits) and rowing boats.

It was a beautiful day (sod’s law after the weekend) and we rented a bike from London Recumbents called a Nihola. It is a Scandinavian design bike with a seating area in front of the handle bars for two children. This is fab as it means you can keep an eye on them, unlike with the trailer system I have on my bike at home, and it certainly feels safer in traffic. The kids loved being peddled around and I enjoyed watching the world go by. We spotted a statue by Barbara Hepworth on the other side of the pond and signs that a funfair had recently been there but was sadly now packing up. I certainly got my exercise for the day!

bike ride

After our bike ride we went to Battersea Park Zoo. It is only a small one but I think it is better for it as it is never very crowded and its easy to keep an eye on the children meaning they can run wild. It is London prices though and cost us £6.50 for E and £8.75 for myself (M begin under 2 was free). We had our lunch in the café which does a great pick-and-mix lunch box offer for children and E even managed to somehow charm a free ice-cream off the girl working there. The staff are lovely there!

M is animal-obsessed at the moment and was running in all directions pointing and going “ooooh” while E was busy going in the other direction following the painted caterpillars or footprints on the floor. As I said: I’m glad it wasn’t crowded. It is actually a similar size to the zoo near us up in La Chaux-de-Fonds but much more interactive.

At one stage we crawled through a tiny tunnel to find ourselves peering through a bubble in the middle of a Meerkat enclosure. Once we had seen all the animals we found ourselves in the zoo’s playground. The playground there is kiddie paradise. There is a giant sandpit with mechanical toys, playhouse, trampolines, tractor, firetruck (complete with helmets) and the usual playground paraphernalia. Needless to say that evening they slept well.

zoo playground

By the time the weekend rolled around again it was time for another parent treat as we had tickets for the Monty Python Live (mostly) show. It was great to get to see the old boys (and gal – Carol Cleveland). For the most part it was old sketches but some new bits had been added in especially to the “penis song” which had two extra verses about vaginas and bottoms added which they put up the lyrics for so we could all join in. There was also a rather glitzy dance element added to the show to give it some extra energy – it was these men and women who, for example, performed the “Ministry of Silly Walks” sketch as Cleese is, unsurprisingly, no longer able to do it. I am glad I got to see the Python (minus one) and albeit not in their heyday. It is definitely something I will be proud to tell the children when they are old enough to know what Monty Python is!

monty python

It was a lovely week for all of us and I do sometimes miss London despite being happy to live here.


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What’s going on?

Its a fairly happening weekend in Neuchâtel this week. Some of it is less exciting than others, for instance, the big Security Fair (SecuritExpo) next to the Maladière stadium. Nope, I didn’t know that sort of thing existed either. On a more exciting note there is also a music festival tonight and tomorrow evening, just 15 minutes down the road, in Cornaux called the Corn’Rock.

corn'rock

Tonight is the Fête des Voisins where those living in apartment blocks or places with shared gardens hold parties to get to know their neighbours better. The event is sponsored by the city and they even provide you with party ideas and invites to kickstart any initiative. Its a great idea as today many people find it hard to get to know their neighbours even in a small town like Neuchâtel.

fête des voisins

This weekend is also the start of the La Quinzaine neuchâteloise! During the Quinzaine participating shops give a discounts and tickets to take part in the raffle and there are numerous activities and shows organised in the streets. Officially it kicked off Thursday with an opening ceremony and late night opening of shops but the more interesting parts for those of us with children are yet to come.

quinzaine

This Saturday is the first Grande Braderie (Big Sale) which takes place from the rue de Seyon in the centre of town all the way down to the hospital by the Maladière Centre (10am to 6pm). The buses are all diverted out of town all day as generally most the shops in the centre put out stalls in the street and those selling food or wine do free tastings. There will be carousels and each quartier will be organising their own events so it will be fun to explore with the kids tomorrow.

Wednesday afternoon (2 to 5pm) on the Place des Halles there are more events for the kids as there is no school on Wednesday afternoons in Neuchâtel. They promise free carousels, a blind cordial tasting, crêpes, ice-cream and presents to be won!

Next Saturday there is another Grande Braderie (from 10am to 6 pm) and you can enter your ticket into the raffle by putting it in the big urn by the Hôtel de Ville  from 3pm. The main prizes range from an electric car to laptop and its free so what do you have to lose? After the raffle is drawn there will be a closing ceremony and music up at the top of the painted street in the free commune of Neubourg.

On the lake tomorrow and Sunday there is the 28th Bol d’Or Regatta where over 100 sail boats will race from Grandson up to Neuchâtel and back again on a 60km circuit. It should be a site to see if the weather stays clear and the thunderstorms don’t hit. They set sail at 11am from Grandson.

neuchatel boat

If you actually want to get out on the lake the boats finally start their tours again this weekend after their winter break including the old steam boat “Neuchâtel” which has recently been refurbished. Check out the timetables for “Neuchâtel” here. Otherwise you can take one of the regular boats.

fete de la nature

Finally it is also the 4th Fête de la Nature which takes part all over Romandie (French-speaking Switzerland) and there is lots going on the Neuchâtel Botanical Gardens this weekend. For the early birds who can get themselves to the Botanical gardens for 8:30am it begins with a guided walk to discover local mushrooms. The walk should last  2 1/2 hours and is suitable for anyone over 10 years of age. For those of us who won’t be up for a stroll through the forest that early there is also an indoors exposition of local mushrooms from 11am to 5pm up on the top level of the Gardens.

There is a fabulous walk tomorrow from 9am to 3pm for anyone over 5 which has been organised from Montmollin-Montezillon called Plantes utiles à croquer (Plants good to eat). It includes a culinary workshop and drawing activities. For those who want to stay in Neuchâtel town there is also the Belles à croquer exposition in orchard of the Botanical gardens with more information on edible plants.

From 11am to 12pm on Saturday there are also some rather intriguing sounding Jeux en forêt (Forest Games) up by the Roché de l’Ermitage in the woods above the Botanical gardens.

There are another couple of easy nature walks taking place tomorrow if you fancy a stroll: Balade pédestre : de la Ferme Robert à Champ-du-Moulin and Balades nature Valangin-Engollon-Cernier and an Elfen excursion Plat de Riaux, Môtiers.

Sunday brings with it yet more activities starting very bright and early at 5:30am at the zoo du Bois du Petit-Château in La Chaux-de-Fonds with a guided dawn chorus of birds (Les oiseaux de l’aube) suitable for those over 8. If you like birds but not in a 5:30am kind of way you could always go to the derniers Tariers des prés du Jura neuchâtelois excursion at 9:30 in Les Ponts-de-Martel.

actualites_parc_en_fete

There are more activities on Sunday too in the Parc du Chasseral including several based around edible plants: Cuisine sauvage (Wild Cooking) from 10:30 to 12 or 2:30 to 4pm and Miam! Une plante (Yum! A plant). You can even go an learn to build stone walls (Les secrets des murs de pierres sèches).

If you want to take part in any of the organised activities of the Fête de la Nature please sign up on the given pages as they all say to do so and I wouldn’t want you to turn up and be told to go home.

flute-enchantee-2014-724x1024

Anyways as I was saying Neuchâtel is a busy place this weekend and all of this is not even starting on the various opera and plays in the theatres. No excuses with not getting out over the next few days.

I hope I’ll have some fun pictures to share with you on Monday. Enjoy your weekends.


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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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Waste and Sustainability

dine below the line

A friend of mine is currently taking part in the Live Below the Line challenge. It is an admirable idea: you have to live on a £1 for groceries per day per person for 5 days and donate what you would usually have spent on your shopping to the cause while at the same time experiencing how those who live in poverty exist on a daily basis.

It got me thinking whether we should be taking part and what it would entail. Could we do it as a family? Would my children be able to live on that little food without becoming hungry rampaging monsters? For that matter: would my husband pack his bags for the week and ship out untIl it was over?

I sat down to chat with the Hubby and we discussed the matter. He was not totally against the idea: we decided that it was a good cause and that we should definitely sponsor this friend and continue giving to our usual charities but it would be a more effective exercise for when the children are a bit older. With older children they could actually understand why they were being deprived and we could discuss what help we could think of to give those in need as a family.

In the meanwhile I did a calculation as to what our budget would actually be for a day. It is not a simple matter of typing £1 into xe.com you have to take Purchasing power parity (PPP) into account. I found out that on the US site you were allocated $1.50 a day. As per The World Bank website $1.5 are needed to purchase $1 worth of good in Switzerland. $1.5 with the current exchange rate gives me 2CHF as my daily budget.

So I sat down to work out a weeks worth of meals on a 56CHF budget and quickly saw how much of a challenge it was going to be. I wanted to be as sustainable as possible. We can all live unhealthily for a week on junk and then go back to normal but you aren’t getting a true experience of someone in poverty’s daily struggle.

To remain healthy the kids needed a litre worth of milk to get their calcium requirements every day and we would need some too. Since we were packing in calories on our budget there would be no more skimmed milk and instead we would all go for the whole milk especially as it is higher in vitamins and minerals. We need 10.5 litres a week for the family which represented 27.5% of our budget.

Looking at breakfast the clear winner on cost was porridge. A kilo bag of oats was half the price of most packaged cereals and we could cut some of the milk with some water to cook it and make it go further. We could feast like kings on porridge in the mornings and cut back on the other meals during the day.

Next I looked at fruit and vegetables. The cheapest veg I could find were tinned tomatoes 800g were a mere 90 centimes so I got 3 tins. Carrots were the cheapest fresh vegetable I could find at 2.95CHF for a bag of 2.5kg, onions were the next cheapest at 3.50CHF for 2.5kg (unfortunately you also get a lot more waste on onions than carrots) and 3.80CHF for a bag for of 2.5kg apples. All the other fresh produce was totally out of budget and I was surprised at how expensive the frozen options were too. Finally for our greens I opted for an 800g bag of frozen spinach for 2.60CHF. There went another 27.5% of my budget.

With over half my budget gone I looked at my meal options. Was I going to go with rice, flour or potatoes as my filler for the week? I opted for flour as I could think of many more basic recipes I could adapt for my budget. With flour we could live on pizza, pasta, bread, biscuits and batter-based dishes which all fill you up on very few ingredients. The cheapest I could find flour was for 90 centimes a kilo and 3 kilos would do for my week’s meal plan.

I would need some oil or fat for cooking and I opted for Olive oil as a luxury I prefer the taste and sometimes we would be having pasta with oil and cheese so it had to be tasty.

The biggest luxury item was the sugar that I needed for baking bread. Since I had splashed out on it we would make some biscuits too as snacks for the kids but even so we used less than a quarter of the kilo bag so I guess that would be an extra for the following week giving us more to spend on meat if we were truly living on this budget every day.

As I couldn’t afford a big box of salt I bought a box of 6 vegetable stock cubes to flavour our food. A box came to 1.50CHF and maybe over a period I could save for a box of bouillon powder which could be stretched further but maybe we would prefer to spend the extra on meat.

Yes, I keep mentioning meat as protein was the toughest thing to squeeze into our budget. I opted for a large 800g block on mozzarella for 3.75CHF which would be carefully rationed, 20 eggs for 4.80CHF and a 400g bag of mixed mince for 3.80CHF. That was the best I could do and hoped that the extra protein in the milk would be enough for my growing kids. This all came to a mere 26g protein per person per day if divided equally (not including the low values you would find in the other food stuffs).

The CDC recommends the following to give you an idea on what we should be eating.

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein
Grams of protein
needed each day
Children ages 1 – 3 13
Children ages 4 – 8 19
Children ages 9 – 13 34
Girls ages 14 – 18 46
Boys ages 14 – 18 52
Women ages 19 – 70+ 46
Men ages 19 – 70+ 56

So let me give you our very basic but hopefully filling meal plan:

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast
Porridge Porridge Porridge Porridge Porridge Porridge Porridge
Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
Tomato Soup Eggy Bread Onion Soup Tomato Soup Burger sandwich Carrot soup Onion Soup
1/2 loaf 1/2 loaf 1/2 loaf 1/2 loaf 1/2 loaf 1/2 loaf 1/2 loaf
Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner
Yorshire Pudding Pasta Pizza Pasta Pizza Pasta Pizza
Spinach Tomato Sauce Spinach & Egg Tomato Sauce (Margherita) Spinach white sauce Spinach
Snacks Snacks Snacks Snacks Snacks Snacks Snacks
apples apples apples apples apples apples apples
Carottes Carottes Carottes Carottes Carottes Carottes Carottes
Biscuit Biscuit Biscuit Biscuit Biscuit Biscuit Biscuit
Milk for kids Milk for kids Milk for kids Milk for kids Milk for kids Milk for kids Milk for kids

I stretched the meat and veggies as far as I could but I had to allow 20% of my vegetables to be waste (trimmings). Here are some example of the stretched recipes.

2 days worth of Tomato Soup

  • 800g tinned tomatoes
  • 150g carrots
  • 160 onions
  • 1 stock cube
  • water

Onion Soup

  • 600g onions
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 10g sugar
  • 1 stock cube
  • water

1 loaf of Bread

  • 225g flour
  • 10g fresh yeast
  • 5g sugar
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 150ml water

Yorkshire Pudding with mini meatballs

  • 200g mince
  • 200g carrots
  • 100g onions
  • 110g flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 290ml milk
  • 30ml oil

Biscuits

  • 360g oats
  • 240g flour
  • 160g sugar
  • 450g milk
  • 40g oil

Pasta

  • 200g flour
  • 3 eggs

Pizza base

  • 250g flour
  • 15g fresh yeast
  • 5g sugar
  • water

Tomato Sauce

  • 800g tinned tomatoes
  • 150g onions
  • 200g carrots
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 cube vegetable stock
  • water

Despite the high calorie foods listed I think we would definitely start shedding the extra pounds fairly rapidly if we followed a 56CHF budget diet. The lack of wine, meat and cheese not to mention cups of tea would be very hard to adjust to. While we generally waste very little the exercise of planning for such a challenge has made me reevaluate what we consume.

I do spend a lot more than 56CHF a week but I buy locally and bypass supermarkets avoiding imported or non fair-trade products whenever possible which brings our costs up. I believe that in this way we are helping to support the social system and doing our bit. This was another stopping point for me as if I were to do the living below the line challenge I would want to do it sustainably and would have to compare with the local farmers’ direct prices.

What are your thoughts on this latest campaign? Is it creating the right sort of awareness? Does it encourage less waste or rather does it encourage people to spend on cheaper less sustainable products?

If you wish to donate to one of the charities associated with living below the line please do so here: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/uk/charity_donation


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Potato Monsters

We have been gardening again!

I normally get my vegetables from local suppliers and they come in brown paper bags meaning they last longer but for some reason I had to go to the supermarket for a change and ended up with a bag of sprouted spuds. It seemed a shame to simply compost them especially as they had rather beautiful furry purple shoots. So after some close examination we decided to do some gardening.

sprouting

E was initially a little afraid of the almost caterpillaresque sprouts but after having a feel of the little hairs she felt more at ease.

We put some potatoes into jam jars filled with water on the windowsill and some into some soil outside.

The indoor ones quickly grew fine roots and started producing leaf shoots. A couple in jars, however, just rotted and the outdoor ones have been very slow probably because it has been very dry recently. We will try and update you on our outdoor success another time.

Potato to monster

E has loved watching them grow over the past 7 weeks as you could see changes every day.

Soon we had some rather crazy green potatoes which my Hubby termed my “potato monsters”.

I decided to make them truly monsters by using permanent marker to draw mouths, fangs and noses on white electrical tape. These I then cut out ready for E to stick onto our potatoes. We also had a selection of googly eyes which I decorated with the markers to give extra variety.

E decided some monsters would be really scary while other would be more friendly. Some potatoes had eyes for noses while others had 3 eyes and no nose.

The tape was sticky enough to be able to try numerous combinations of monster features and here are a selection of some of our creations.

monsters

Have fun decorating vegetables!