Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween

Little Legs first Halloween costume? Tomato and Tuna Pasta

Who needs pumpkin costumes? Give Little Legs a hefty portion of tomato and tuna pasta and she'll dress herself. She did quite a good job of making the kitchen look like a house of horrors too.

I made the tomato sauce myself. Just a basic one, garlic and onion fried together till soft, add a pinch of mixed herbs, a tin of tomatoes and some tomato puree and you're away. Again, a good one for the freezer.

Add the sauce to some tuna and the pasta, mix well and pass to baby. Wait for the fun to begin. This isn't for the faint hearted.

Any pasta will do by the way.I used penne but fusili is probably a bit easier for baby to hold on to. I had no choice in using penne. M decided to do his first shop of the year and reminded me of the true reason I don't let him do it. He's an advertisers dream. "Pasta was on special offer" he told me, unloading ten huge bags of the stuff from the car. With a best before date of May 2010 Little Legs better get munching.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Sounds to fall asleep to.

Back in my single days I used to set the stereo to snooze and drift off to a background noise of calm, soothing music. When I met M the sound of his breathing as he slept used to comfort me. Now I listen to Little Legs breathing deeply. I hold the monitor up close to my ear and smile as she lets out the little contented sigh which lets me know she's in a deep happy sleep.

Don't get me wrong I still like to hear M sleeping but its more of a snore now as he collapses into bed, exhausted, and, its funny but the little monitor which produces the most beautiful sounds at night has become my least favourite alarm at stupid o clock in the morning.

When Captain Birds Eye came to tea - Home made fishcakes

Captain Birdseye didn't come to tea but I wish he had because he could have helped me skin and bone a healthy portion of fish. These were a great finger food and a good way to introduce little legs to fish. Any white fish will do and the recipe made enough for me, hubby, and baby plus some to freeze.

Approx 3-4 medium size potatoes
5ish spring onions
350g fish
2 eggs
Plain flour (enough to coat cakes before frying)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper and lime juice to season for the adults portion

1) Chop the potatoes into even pieces and boil for 15 minutes or until soft. Leave to cool and then mash.
2) Add chopped fish and spring onions to the mash once cool and mix well
3) Beat the eggs before adding to the mash mix and combine all ingredients well.
4) Take a handful of the mixture and flatten into a pattie and coat each side with flour. Once I had removed enough for little legs, I also added a dash of lime juice, salt and pepper and a cheeky slug of tabasco for the adults. (Sorry M)
5) Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the cakes for approximately 10 minutes turning frequently. These are lovely served with some salad and sweet chilli sauce.

Little legs liked these but the cakes were a little bit crumbly once cooked so next time I'm going to add a little bit of milk, just to bind them together a bit more.

There's still a strong whiff of fish coming from the highchair. I daren't investigate. Might just leave the dog to sniff that one out.

On the baby led weaning front generally, things are going okay. Its daft really, the whole point of doing weaning this way is so that you can introduce baby to a whole array of different foods. Why then am I struggling for inspiration?

Lunch times are the hardest. There's only so many times you can offer cucumber, banana and rice cakes. We ventured out for lunch today. I lovingly chopped all the above and made up a little packed lunch for Muncher. Typically she preferred the toasted teacake I was eating. Mum 0 Little Legs 1.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A moment..

Little legs and I just had a moment.

She's been hard work the last couple of days. Everything has come along at once to give us a big fat slap in the face. Like it does. Mick's away on a course, Little legs decides now is as good a time as any to cut another tooth and to top it all we're still recovering from the clocks "falling back". When you're in you're pyjamas by 4pm because you can't be bothered to change your clothes for the third time, its been a bad day. Lil legs has launched vomit, broccoli, porridge and pear at me today,not necessarily in that order, but sometimes technically all 4 at the same time if you know what I mean. As I said, its been a bad day. Not a good time for Mick to ring and declare "I've just had my dinner and a pint and I'm just lying on the bed watching Britain's Best Dish" put it that way.

But a moment just changed all that. (Well, it didn't change it as my clothes are still all covered in debris), but it did soften the memory.

So, the moment went like this. I was in her room feeding her when she started to push the teat of the bottle in and out making it squeak. I'll be honest, I wasn't paying much attention. My mind had wandered downstairs, already planning the military clean up operation. When I looked at her though she was watching me out of the corner of her eye, smirking. I laughed, she laughed, then I laughed some more. She then belly laughed, laughing at me laughing at her. It was just one of those moments. You'll know the ones I mean.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Make Tuesdays a "Do a job you hate" day

I'm going to make Tuesday an offical "Do a job you hate day". The fact that I've made it Tuesday has nothing to do with the fact that its a whole 6 days till it comes round again. Tuesday just seems a good non descript day to do it, a day which is usually devoid of invites to drink coffee and eat cake with the girls. Not sure why that is. Maybe because everyone is already doing the jobs they hate. Who knows? Will make a note to ask them.

There's so many of these jobs but I seem to have an excuse every time the perfect opportunity arises for me to do them.

Me: I'll do them when I finish work before I have the baby
Excuse when time arrives: Way too fat

Me: I'll do them when Little legs is with her grandparents
Excuse when time arrives: But I never get to enjoy a Starbucks in peace!

Me: I'll do them during the week sometime
Excuse when time arrives: Sunday's the best day for jobs like these

Me: I'll do them on Sunday
Excuse when time arrives: Work on the Sabbath? Moi?

And so it goes on. So what are these jobs? It would be painful to mention them all but here's a select few:

1) Clean all the nooks and crannies of Little leg's highchair carefully, not a cursory wipe with a Flash cloth
2) Clean the ensuite properly. That room's way too small to manoeuvre but not really a good enough excuse to avoid it completely
3)Clean windows inside. The fact that the window cleaner cleans the outside 4 times a year is just not good enough.
4) Clear out the airing cupboard. I don't have a clue what's stashed in there anymore. Enough said
5) Clean the oven. The fact that oven cleaner stinks and may upset Little Legs is again not a good enough excuse. Doors and windows to kitchen do open.
6) Clear wardrobe of all items that I honestly don't wear anymore. The good the bad and the ugly.
7) Wash curtains. Does anyone actually do this?
8) Clear freezer of all food that's so freezer scorched its almost burning
9) Oh god, that reminds me of another one. Clean fridge. My friend gets something in her fridge which she calls 'fridge wee'. Now I know what she means.
10) Rid ironing basket of all items that I hate ironing hence they have sat there since circa 2001.

I am way too depressed to write anymore. I'm starting Tuesday. Will update you as to success. Alternatively, will post excuses.

If you fancy joining me post your jobs and successes/failures here. If by some stroke of genius you manage to get someone else to do the job for you then let me know that as well.

Beef and Broccoli stir fry.. and some for baby

This recipe takes minutes to cook so its a great quick fix. Its a great example of a dish which is delicious for adults but the ingredients can work so baby can play along too.

300g of sirloin or rump steak. Beef frying steak works just as well
A thumb sized piece of ginger
2 cloves of garlic
Half a red chilli
3-4 spring onions
Coriander - fresh or dried
2 tablespoons of Black Bean Sauce
2 table spoons of Soy sauce

Peel and finely slice the garlic, ginger, chilli and spring onions add to a bowl with the beef which is best sliced in finger sized strips.
Sprinkle with coriander. If using fresh, use the stalks and save the leaves for dressing before serving. If this was just for me and M I would marinade all of the above in 2 tablespoons of sesame oil but last night I just used a tiny bit of olive oil instead due to my allergy paranoia. Leave to marinade for a couple of hours.

Preheat wok till its very hot and then add oil. If you're happy to, ground nut oil is delicious but again I just used olive oil. Add all the ingredients to the wok and stir fry for a couple of minutes. At this point I took out a few pieces of beef for Little legs, and added the black bean and soy sauce to the remainder. Way too salty for her.

I served up with broccoli and noodles and she had a field day. She didn't get beyond sucking the beef but the noodles and broccoli made it down the old food tube.

They're Gr-r-reat! Maybe not.. Do you know whats in cereal?

Disappointed to say the least. Dispatches on Channel 4 was a missed opportunity in my view.

Put your hands up if you didn't already know that Coco Pops, Frosties and the like are crammed full of sugar? One look at the sugary and chocolatey images on the front of the box will tell you that. I wanted something more and I'm afraid for me, it was a case of I want never gets.

In the past 10 years cereal manufacturers have reduced the levels of salt and sugar in their cereals by 44 per cent but,according to the programme, a bowl of Kellogg's cornflakes still contains more salt than a packet of Walkers ready salted crisps. Cereal manufacturers are still getting away with marketing products as good for us. A box of Sugar Puffs for example can use the words "Honey Goodness" and "Wholesome goodness". I mean come on! But the programme completely failed to challenge anyone about this.

During the programme we saw a family part with their sugary cereals for a week and eat "healthy". All they did was eat porridge. Is there anything else? Are any cereals okay? Should we just boycott the lot? The only thing I did take away is that supermarket brands own cereals in the main are cheaper (never?) and on average contain less salt and sugar. Genius.

What I must confess to finding interesting however is how the cereal manufacturers get round the ban which prevents them from advertising during children's television by taking their campaigns into schools. By using ploys such as 'Box Top Books' and the like, manufacturers can ensure that children are still bombarded with their logos. I couldn't believe that Tony Tiger the sugar demon even appears on school swimming certificates due to Kellogg's hefty sponsorship of the Amateur Swimming Association. The result, "they're Gr-r-reat!" and they make you fit as well!

Many cereals contain the Healthy Heart Logo. Does this mean they're healthy. Does it heckers like. Should we be suspicious of the fact that the Senior Advisor and Nutritionist on the Healthy Heart Product Approval Panel used to be advisor to the Association of Cereal Manufacturers. Too right we should.

Rant over.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Spanish Omelette Recipe - finger food heaven

Tried and tested and proven to work. When I say tried and tested I mean in the loosest sense. Probably more accurate is crushed up, examined closely then stuffed in mouth in true Little legs style. She loved it though. The recipe below cooks up a big enough omelette for one greedy husband, one trying to lose weight Mum and a 6 month old with a growing appetite. I served it with baby potatoes baked in the oven but salad or other veg will do the trick just as nicely.


Olive oil
2 onions (optional I left these out for fear of wind repercussions)
1 clove of garlic
1 red pepper - chopped
4-5 eggs
2 large potatoes chopped into cubes
Parsley to season - Dried or fresh work well

Par boil potatoes for 5 - 10 minutes.
In a seperate pan heat oil and fry onions, garlic and red pepper until soft. Whisk eggs and stir in potatoes, onion, peppers and garlic and add parsley to taste.

Pour the mixture into a hot pan evenly and cook for about 5 mins until its begun to set. After, place under a medium grill for 3-5 minutes to cook the remainder. If you're feeling a bit naughty, add cheese and a dash of Lea and Perrins before you pop under the grill. Also feel free to mix and match your veg a bit. We've tried this with all sorts of ingredients eg chorizo, spring onions etc, but this is our basic version.

Et voila or y voila I should say. Not sure that's right but it'll do.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Allergic reaction or overreaction?

Little legs is a formula fed baby which doesn't really fit with the ethos behind baby led weaning but I think she's proving it can work.

I started her yesterday on 3 solid meals a day. Prior to this she was having just lunch and tea so time to introduce breakfast. It was nothing more than pieces of apple dunked in yoghurt but it seemed to go down well.

For lunch I decided to offer an array of finger foods - pitta bread, cucumber, and cheese (mild English Cheddar was just the ticket). She tucked in with gusto and the finger of cheese disappeared literally within seconds. There's something quite clever about Legs. She's clearly worked out that if she uses two hands she can shove loads more in but at the same time it hasn't occurred to her that her mouth offers only limited capacity and she needs to swallow to free up a bit more space. Anyway, lunch went down well too but then something happened.

During the afternoon I noticed a couple of tiny red marks on her face. I wasn't sure if they were just where she'd scratched herself with those lethal fingernails of hers, or whether they were a more sinister allergic reaction. But to what? Not very bright at all to offer dairy and wheat not just in one day but in one sitting. Doh. Anyway, thankfully the little red bits disappeared from her face and alls well that ends well. Well it ended in me feeding her pureed pear and baby rice for tea. Cowardly I know but there's probably some sense in there somewhere. Tomorrow I will revert to sensible baby led weaning. Promise

Do you really know whats in your childs cereal?

Watch Dispatches on Monday 26th October 2009 8pm on Channel 4 and share your views and comments here.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Mum's new haircut

Slightly off topic I know but did you know that in a survey conducted by a well known Baby & Toddler Club, 56 per cent of the respondents said that a trip to the hairdresser was the most popular beauty treat after becoming a mum – even beating a long, luxurious soak in the bath.

Count me in that 56 per cent. Yep I went and did it and had my hair all chopped off. Its official title is a "long bob" but if I call it that I have to contend with the fact that all the celebrities were getting that done last year. So I'm a year behind the times. Who cares? I'll call mine a Mum bob instead. In theory its going to be easier to manage but am beginning to doubt that after I've used the GHDs three times already this morning to curl those rebellious bits under. Headache.

I got my hair cut hoping that would be the inspiration I needed to lose the rest of the baby weight. It hasn't worked. To celebrate new hair do I used up some more of the babysitting credits I've been storing up with M and went out for a bottle of wine or two with my friend. I couldn't stay in with a brand new haircut and Little looked suitably unimpressed so thought I would unleash it on the general public. To celebrate use of babysitting credits and the fact that I still had my wine drinking skills I then had a pizza. Whilst eating it I justified my troughing with the thought that it was all in the name of Little legs and baby led weaning as she could have any leftovers the next day. But there wasn't any leftovers, the salt content was way too high for legs so I did her another favour and ate the lot. Lush.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Baby led weaning. It works!

If ever I needed to see that baby led weaning really does work, the proof was quite literally in the Yorkshire pudding last night.

Anyway, starting at the beginning, Little legs has a tooth! Time to update the baby record book, or books I should say. I've got three. Probably verging on OCD but if you're going to record something monumental about babys development, why not do it 3 times? Oh dear. Have just realised that the books are going to require 3 seperate halloween costumes for the "My first halloween pictures". )Note to self - do not dress baby up in fancy dress costumes for own amusement)

Whilst we were out at the baby sensory room M decided he was going to cook a roast chicken dinner. Baby sensory room?? - Although I can claim this is wonderful for Little leg's development, really its an excuse for me to sit her in front of a big tube full of running water with coloured things bobbing about in it, whilst I lounge around on a bean bag chillaxing. Anyway, we made a sharp exit from there after she decided to try out her newly sharpened gums on some light cables and we went home to the delights of a roast dinner. After my little bit of serenity and feelings of earth motherness due to the stimulation I had provided for her it was all guns blazing with the baby led weaning. Lets give her a roast too! M looked at me sceptically, "but I've shoved a lemon and some garlic up the chickens bum" he said. Nice.

Well bum stuffing or no bum stuffing we decided to proceed and promptly sat legs in her highchair with roast chicken, roast potato, roast parsnip, roast carrot and Yorkshire pud. She quite literally ate the lot as the photo will testify. This was her first experience of meat, and I must admit I was terrified of her choking, but she handled it like a seasoned pro. Lush. M swears it was down to the fact he cooked it. Maybe he's got a point......

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Asparagus wee

Mango was on the lunch menu again yesterday. This time pureed. Yep, I bottled it and got the hand blender out sending mango splats flying all over M's pride and joy, his coffee machine (not Little legs, although technically she is. What I mean is she's not a coffee machine, she's M's pride and joy too). Little legs seemed to appreciate my hard work and wolfed it down.

So riding high on the back of this success I then started to do what all new Mums do and started worrying. Is she developing a sweet tooth? Am I giving her too much fruit meaning she'll never eat veg ever again? Now I've pureed it will she be able to cope with finger foods again? OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE? Rang M at work with all above questions, and met with a resounding "eh???" so decided to get a grip of myself.

In order to test all of above fears I made Little legs green beans and roast sweet potato fingers for tea. Now potatoes have always been a big hit, sweet or otherwise. "Move over Mr Potato head, and welcome.... "Baby potato head" aka the Little legs. So what about the green beans? She loved them. She sucked all of the insides out leaving the skin. At one point we caught her with one in each hand stuffing them in. M then got braver, passing her some asparagus off his plate. She snatched that away and shovelled it the same way the beans had gone. The lady loves her greens! Now what was that I read about asparagus wee??

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Baby led weaning - Mango mania

Have been thinking about my tantrum on Friday and think I've discovered why it happened. I'm sleep deprived! Okay, so thats just an excuse, but its a good one. Here's the reason why: Little legs has been rolling over onto her belly for some time now but unfortunately hasn't quite grasped the idea of rolling back. This has meant weeks of interrupted sleep for me and hub (well me mainly) as we've made the endless trips backwards and forwards to her room to turn her over. I rang M yesterday, excited as hell to tell him the good news "She can roll back! Yay!" We settled into bed last night excited about our long night of sleep ahead only to discover that yes she can roll back, but she's damn well going to spend half an hour talking to herself as she does it. Does it mean I'm a bad parent if I turn the monitor down? (I said down, not off) Hell no!. I'm sure it was just a private conversation Little legs was having with herself anyway not really for Mum and Dads ears.

So, back to the food. Lunch time yesterday was mango. I love mango and couldn't wait to see little legs enjoy it too. Trouble is I hadn't thought about the practicalities of it. How slippery is that stuff? Anyway after slivers of mango flying about like autumn leaves I moved to Plan B. Mush it and give it on a spoon. Does that still count as baby led weaning? Can't see why not if I give her the spoon. Not mushed enough so time to move to Plan C. Mush it a bit more and add yoghurt which is always a bit of a hit. Still doesn't work so move to Plan D. Empty entire contents of bowl onto highchair tray, take a deep breath and factor time in to give Little legs a major hose down pre nap if reqired. Again, amount ingested - limited.I tell you what, if there was nutritional content in her Upsy daisy doll, the remote control and all of her books then we'd be onto a winner.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A mums meltdown

To puree or not to puree that is the question.....

Little legs is now hurtling towards the grand old age of six months (25 weeks to be exact).

Weaning officially started a couple of weeks ago but this is turning out to be such a hilarious time that I felt the need to share our experiences via this blog. Take from it what you will. There are very few pearls of wisdom (Little Legs being our first and all that) but if you take away a few food ideas and a lot of laughs then I'll be happy.

So, this is the tale so far.
To sum it all up:
1. Foods tried - potato, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, swede, cauliflower, apple, pear, peach, baby rice, rice cakes, yoghurt, cucumber, pasta, toast, courgette, tomato,broccoli,
2.Foods thrown on floor and up walls - loads
3.Foods actually eaten - limited
4. The favourites - potato, sweet potato, courgette, cucumber,rice cakes, apple, pear, peach
5. The hated - carrot, parsnip, swede, broccoli
6. The maybe I shouldn't have given because you're not old enough but did anyway - pasta, scrambled egg, yoghurt, toast
7.The downright dull - baby rice

Having read Annabel Karmel, Gina Ford guide to weaning, and Rapley baby led weaning book, not to mention enough weaning leaflets to fill a wheelie bin (I know because I tried) we were none the wiser. So, in true us style, we decided to try a bit of everything. And do you know what? Its working. Well, sort of...for details of a major kitchen catastrophe, read on.

Imagine the scene. Its Friday night, the weekly shop is done and I think to myself lets try a new recipe. Root veg patties for Little legs and there would be no waste as I'd cook a load of them up for me and hubby to have with our fish.
So, husbands playing in the lounge with Little legs and big dumb boxer dog is laid at my feet getting maximum heat from the oven, where said root veg are roasting along with our fish. Cosy eh?
Think again. On closer inspection, fish cooked, root veg raw. Solution, remove fish from oven and whack oven on full pelt to cremate veg. Half an hour later, fish cold, root veg still raw. Never fear I thought, it'll be okay mashed and fried. Half an hour later hand held blender has refused to mush the roast parsnips (the only thing which did cook, or overcook more precisely), and sent most of the veg up the walls. What to do? The only thing a stressed out Mum new to the weaning process can do..throw huge tantrum and throw everything including saucepans, remaining veg and fish up the wall. Dog leaves kitchen, husband shuts door to kitchen so our innocent little daughter can't see Mum in full melt down.

For tea that night? Rice cakes for Little legs, cereal for Mum and pizza for Dad. Champion!