Baby in one hand, wooden spoon in the other

Monthly Archives: November 2012

A couple of Fridays ago I tweeted an *extra Friday night tip*, on top of my usual daily tip for mums and dads, which said when you choose wine, make sure you go for ones with a screwcap because they’re easy to open one-handed – just grip the bottle between your knees. Which quite a few parents seem to have identified with (thanks for the comments!)…

Award-winning blogger Helen McGinn is an ex-supermarket wine buyer and all-round wine guru (check out her brilliant blog www.knackeredmotherswineclub.com where she recommends one great red and one very slurpable white every week plus shares insights on her life as a knackered mother) and she’s kindly offered to share her favourite screwcap wines with me to share with you every Friday. Hurrah!

So, without further ado, this Friday’s screwcap wine is:

Cowrie Bay Chardonnay 2012, £6.99 (or 2 for £10 – it’d be rude not to really…) from Waitrose. Helen says, ‘This is proper pineapple in a glass, with a sort of fatness to it that is just what you want now that it’s bloomin’ freezing outside. Made in the Gisborne region in New Zealand. Purty label too, bright yellow. You can’t miss it.’ 

And I won’t!

Cheers, all.

TOHC x


Builder Lego man having a tea break

“Must be time for a tea break; I spent hours building that”

On Monday night I was invited to an event by foodie campaigners Slow Food UK. They are on a mission to preserve our food heritage, and one of their aims is to encourage people to cook so-called ‘forgotten foods’. They invited chef Anna Hansen from London restaurant The Modern Pantry to come and cook with some of these foods, including quince and einkorn flour, to show us how it’s done.

I have eaten at Anna’s restaurant and have her rather wonderful cookbook, too. But seeing her cook in real life, and talk about how she approaches flavours and ingredients was inspirational. Her trademark style is to combine flavours from the ‘global larder’, so – rather than saying that wasabi is Japanese, and can therefore only go with Japanese food, for example, she thinks carefully about how individual flavours combine, and might add wasabi to a dish that we think of as being typically French, with surprising and delicious results – and trust me, I have tasted her food, it’s amazing.

At the demo she cooked a wonderful-smelling and delicious lamb dish, and used the most incredible array of herbs and spices, and I came home to my kitchen keen to try using spices with a renewed vigour. So, I was going to make lemon shortbread for you this week, but inspired by Anna Hansen, I bring you Orange Cardamom Shortbread, which is completely lovely (and actually quite addictive!), and the children and I have already devoured much of the shortbread Jenga you see before you. Good food is not a game!

Cheerio.

TOHC x

Orange Cardamom Shortbread

Makes about 12 pieces (each one slightly bigger than a Jenga piece)

I’d like to start by saying that shortbread is Very Easy To Make, so perfect for the one-handed cook, who may be trying to do several other things at the same time while also trying to make shortbread (ring any bells?). Or if you have a window of time while the little one is happily watching Peppa Pig, say, this is very quick to whip up. Perfect for a bake sale, a coffee morning, for you, for your granny, hell, you could even wrap some in greaseproof paper then wrap in some pretty fabric with a bit of ribbon and give it as a Christmas present.

You need a hand mixer and a baking tin measuring approx. 8” x 8” x 1½” – assuming you have these, you can get this made and in the oven in about 10 minutes – I kid you not.

Ingredients

150g soft butter

60g caster sugar

250g plain flour

Seeds from 6 cardamom pods (split open, remove seeds and pound in pestle & mortar)

Zest of an orange, finely chopped

What to do

  1. Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C Fan/325°F. Grease and line your baking tin (or use Cake Release by Lakeland if you can’t be bothered with the faff).
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually stir in the flour and the ground cardamom seeds until your mixture is light and crumbly. Tip mixture into baking tin.
  4. Use your fingers to press the mixture into the tin and then the palms of your hands to smooth the top. Mark out fingers with a sharp knife, but don’t cut right through. Prick each finger a couple of times with a fork.
  5. If you have the time and the inclination, you can brush each finger with a little beaten egg and sprinkle more caster sugar on top before baking in the oven for 25–30 mins. Cool in the tin on a rack.

Leave Peppa Pig DVD playing, sit down and enjoy with a nice cup of tea.

 


Soup: dive in!

A steaming hot bowl of soup is, for me, the culinary equivalent of a big hug from someone wearing a Nordic Sarah-Lund-style jumper. Cosy. I love the ritual of making it – sautéing the onion, adding the vegetables, the stock, seasoning, simmering, stirring, ladling it into pre-warmed bowls (if I’m organised), and finally dipping my spoon in and devouring it, preferably with toast slathered in butter on the side.

Luckily for me my family shares my love of soup, so Saturday lunch is more often than not soup for all; even when I was weaning the little ones, I’d just omit the salt and liquidize the soup in batches, leaving some as thicker purée, perfect for babies and toddlers.

This soup is really easy, and a brilliant one to make in stages as there is a bit of prep involved (although you could always cheat and buy ready-prepared butternut squash – who’ll know?). Roasting the vegetables first is a bit different, but gives them a sweet, almost caramelized flavour, and the sweet potato gives the soup a silky smooth texture.

Perfect for a chilly November or December day, and the sweetish flavour usually goes down very well with babies, toddlers and older children. It also freezes beautifully – hurrah. Why not make double?

Dive in!

TOHC

x

Roast Butternut Squash, Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

1 butternut squash peeled, seeded and cut into chunks

2 sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped and cut into chunks

3 or 4 carrots, peeled, chopped and cut into smaller chunks (they take longer to roast)

Olive oil

Sprig of rosemary

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

Knob of butter

1 litre vegetable or chicken stock (I like Kallo chicken stock or Marigold veg stock)

What to do

Stage 1

Peel and chop the squash, sweet potato and carrots when you have a 10-minute window of time, such as when baby is happily sitting in her bouncy chair, or having a nap. You can then put your pre-prepared veg in a container in the fridge, or on the side until you are ready to make your soup.  If children happily occupied, carry on to the next stage.

 Stage 2 (another self-contained step)  

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/400°F
  2. Line a decent-sized baking tray with foil (to save scrubbing it later – yay!) and add your pre-cut vegetables, then drizzle with olive oil and season. Add the rosemary, and toss the vegetables with your fingers.
  3. Roast the vegetables in the hot oven for around 30 mins, turning halfway. You want them to be soft. Remove from the oven, remove the rosemary sprig and set aside.

Again, if at this stage you need to pause, you can. It doesn’t matter if the roasted veg go cold as you just reheat the soup at the end.

Stage 3 (to be done while the veg are roasting, or as a separate stage)

  1. Heat a dash of oil and a knob of butter in a heavy-based pan (I use a Le Creuset), and add the onion. Sauté over a medium to low heat for a good 10 minutes; you want the onion to be nice and soft. Stir occasionally.
  2. Blend your roasted vegetables, softened onion and stock together in a liquidizer. Reheat in the saucepan and serve.

#yum


A couple of Fridays ago I tweeted an *extra Friday night tip*, on top of my usual daily tip for mums and dads, which said when you choose wine, make sure you go for ones with a screwcap because they’re easy to open one-handed – just grip the bottle between your knees. Which quite a few parents seem to have identified with (thanks for the comments!)…

Co-blogger Helen McGinn is an ex-supermarket wine buyer and wine guru (check out her brilliant blog www.knackeredmotherswineclub.com where she recommends one great red and one very slurpable white every week plus shares insights on her life as a knackered mother) and she’s kindly offered to share her favourite screwcap wines with me to share with you every Friday. Hurrah!

So, without further ado, this Friday’s screwcap wine is:

Waitrose New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, £6.99 on offer (normally £9.49) and available here. This one is made for Waitrose by renowned winery Villa Maria, so it’s a great wine but with an own label on it. Gorgeous, fresh lime-filled fruit flavours, perfect pre-prandial drinking, so buy some posh crisps to go with it. (Failing that a mini breadstick would just about do it.) 

Cheers!

TOHC x


Gorgeous snack cup – perfect for little hands!

So, this is my first ever giveaway, and I wanted to give away something that I really love and that I actually use myself with my kids. This Flip-Top Snack Cup is made by Oxo Tot, the makers of Oxo Good Grips. They make innovative tools and gadgets for the home, and as someone who’s a fan of tools and gadgets for the kitchen, and helping to make life easier for busy mums and dads, this is a brand that’s right up my street. Whoop!

I am giving away 5 Flip-Top Snack Cups – see photo. I love the bright and funky colours, and my daughter loves the cup’s wide opening, which ensures she can reach her snacks easily. She likes her Snack Cup filled with blueberries and grapes, mini rice cakes and satsuma segments and she loves being able to open and close the lid herself. With its non-slip grips and a lid that stays attached, this is the perfect little container for toddler snacks!

Please comment on this post, telling me what your little one’s favourite on-the-go snacks are. To be in with a chance of winning a Snack Cup, you have to a) follow @onehandedcook on Twitter AND b) RT my tweet about the giveaway!

27.11.12 THE ENTRY DEADLINE HAS PASSED – THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES AND THE WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED SHORTLY!

With thanks to Oxo Tot UK for the prizes. You can follow them on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

 

Good luck!

TOHC x

The small print:

1. Entry in to the prize draw will be deemed as acceptance of these rules.

2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident, aged 18 or over, who follows the @onehandedcook Twitter account AND retweets the tweet about the prize draw referencing the prize of an Oxo Tots Flip-Top Snack Cup.

3. The competition starts at 10pm UK time on Wednesday 21st November 2012 and ends at 09:00am on the 27th November 2012.

4. One winner will be drawn at random from all valid entries.

5. One entry per person.

6. The prize is one Oxo Tots Flip-Top Snack Cup.

7. The prize is non-negotiable, non-transferable, and there is no cash alternative. 

8. The draw will be made by random selection within seven days of the competition ending and the prize posted to the winner’s home address within 30 days.

9. The winner will be notified by direct message on Twitter if they have won.

10. If a response is not received by the winner within 30 days they will forfeit their right to the prize.

11. No purchase necessary.

12. This prize draw is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter and Twitter shall not be liable in any way whatsoever to the Users.


Pretty in pink

Is this the most useful gadget for the one-handed cook? Just think, with baby in one hand and tongs in the other so many tasks are possible. For example, with the aid of your trusty tongs you can remove hot toast/pitta breads/crumpets from the toaster without scalding your fingers, turn bacon on the grill, remove hot vegetables from their roasting tin, move hot scones/muffins/cupcakes onto the cooling rack, flip burgers on the barbecue, rescue lost Lego men from behind the microwave, and last, and perhaps most importantly of all, pretend they are pecking off your nose, which is guaranteed to make even the grumpiest baby smile.

If you have a whinging toddler who’s driving you a bit bonkers while you are trying to cook, sit him in his high chair with a pair of tongs and some pieces of cooked pasta and see if he can pick up a piece. This frustrating challenge is tougher than Mastermind for an 18-month-old and should hopefully keep him occupied for at least five minutes. (During which time you will, of course, be without tongs, but your sanity will remain intact as you will actually be able to think straight – hurrah!) I LOVE my tongs.

Tell me what you use your tongs for in the kitchen!

You can buy the gorgeous Colours pink silicone tongs (I do love a colourful gadget) pictured here from Waitrose for £8 at selected stores or online here or here. These ones are particularly good because you can close them neatly when not in use.

Happy cooking.

TOHC

x


Last Friday I tweeted an *extra Friday night tip*, on top of my usual daily tip for mum and dads, which said when you choose wine, make sure you go for ones with a screwcap because they’re easy to open one-handed – just grip the bottle between your knees. Which quite a few parents seem to have identified with (thanks for the comments!)…

Co-blogger Helen McGinn is an ex-supermarket wine buyer and wine guru (check out her brilliant blog www.knackeredmotherswineclub.com where she recommends one great red and one very slurpable white every week plus shares insights on her life as a knackered mother) and she’s kindly offered to share her favourite screwcap wines with me to share with you every Friday. Hurrah!

So, without further ado, this Friday’s screwcap wine is:

Tesco Finest Vermentino, £6.99, which you can buy online here. Vermentino is the grape, Sicily is the place. A wine with a sunny disposition, it’s fantastically lemon fresh.

Sounds like it’d be a great aperitif – perfect with that leftover packet of Pom Bear crisps…

Cheers!

TOHC x



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