It’s time to reveal another of The One-Handed Cook’s all-time favourite bits of kitchen kit. This week my hero gadget is the cafetiere.
I love coffee. I love coffee made at home in my cafetiere, and I love coffee in cafés. When my children were babies, it was such a treat to pack up their little tubs of food and bags of rice cakes and retreat to the warmth of a cosy café with another mum for a chat and a coffee THAT SOMEONE ELSE HAD MADE FOR ME. Such a joy. It almost made the lack of sleep worth it, just for that first sip of dark bitter liquid enlaced with creamy milk. Oh yes.
At home I always use a cafetiere for my coffee. It’s an absolute must-have for any tired parent in need of a coffee to keep them going at home, and has four key benefits:
- It’s cheap to buy (take note, Nespresso fans – you’ll soon get bored of forking out for those pod things).
- It makes decent coffee. Experiment with the amount of ground coffee you put in; you can make a really good cup. Trust me.
- You can make a cafetiere of coffee one-handed; simply just boil the kettle, add scoops of coffee (how many depends on what ungodly hour your little one clambered in to your bed in for a cuddling/wriggling/head-butting session), wait for a bit, and then push down the button, and pour into favourite cup.
- You can buy little cafetiere jackets to keep the coffee in your cafetiere hotter for longer – an essential purchase for all parents – you’ve made the coffee, but who knows when you are actually going to be able to drink it? When you do get to it, you want it to actually be hot! I got mine on Amazon, and it really works.
Enjoy your coffee this fine November morning. Even better, enjoy it with a friend 🙂
‘If you have lentils in your kitchen, you have dinner. Time and time again I turn to this quick-cooking, richly flavoured legume when I’m in a quandary as to what to make…’
Wise words from food writer and author Martha Rose Shulman, a chef who excels particularly when it comes to healthy, vegetarian meals. She has a passion for Mediterranean food, and her Mediterranean Harvest cookbook is one I come back to again and again.
Like Martha, I love lentils. They are just so brilliantly versatile and easy to use – I love making dal with red lentils, and salads using French Puy lentils, for instance. I particularly love using them in soups – they are the perfect thing to sling in to add substance and bite.
A 500g packet of red lentils costs about £1 from Sainsburys, so they are a good cheap staple to have in your store cupboard. They are a good source of protein and B vitamins, are low in calories and are a good source of fibre – so they are an excellent staple in a child’s diet. My two love it, and the 7-year-old always gives it 9/10 – no word of a lie!
Personally, I find making soup very calming – it’s almost like therapy, as, having peeled and chopped my ingredients, I stand stirring, one-handed, with my wooden spoon, and the wonderful savoury smell of the soup fills the air. I think it is something to do with pausing after a busy morning, or a busy day, and making something to nourish us all. As I taste, and stir again, I look forward to sharing the soup with my husband and the children round the kitchen table. It’s the simple things in life that are sometimes the best.
Provençal Lentil and Tomato Soup
This tasty soup doesn’t require any complicated ingredients and is dead easy to make. I have adapted Martha Rose Shulman’s original recipe to make it even more straightforward, and I promise you it is completely delicious. It keeps well in the fridge, and tastes even better the next day. It is rich, flavoursome and a firm family favourite here at One-Handed HQ.
You will need:
175g red lentils, picked over and rinsed
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 litre water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced (optional)
1 jar organic passata
1 sprig fresh thyme
Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
What to do:
- Place the lentils in a saucepan with one of the garlic cloves and the bay leaf. Add 4/5 of the water (800ml) and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Drain the lentils through sieve placed over a bowl (i.e. reserve the cooking liquid), then rinse the lentils with cold water and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
- Mash the cooked garlic clove with the remaining two cloves in a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Le Creuset casserole, or similar heavy-bottomed pan, add the onion and celery (if using). Cook for 5–10 minutes, until soft.
- Add the passata, mashed garlic and lentils, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Then add the cooking water from the lentils, the remaining 200ml water, the thyme, the basil and season to taste.
- Bring to a simmer, cover, and then simmer gently for 30 minutes over a low heat. The lentils should be tender but intact, the broth fragrant. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve as is, or with some grated Parmesan on top, with crusty bread.
I am writing this while listening to The Ministry of Sound 90s Anthems CD. Oh yes. Not my usual Saturday afternoon listening choice, but it sure as hell is taking me back to student days, badly lit discos, getting ready to go out clubbing, and road trips across the country with mates in small cars. It’s funny how certain music can take you back to a certain moment in time. It’s almost as if I am still 20. Almost.
So, weirdly, no clubbing for me tonight, but I am going out for dinner here, and am muchly looking forward to it. In the meantime, I wanted to share one of my current favourite bits of kitchen kit, which helps me do things one-handed in the kitchen.
I recently discovered these one-handed pepper mills and salt grinders from David Mason Design in Waitrose. It is impossible to use a pepper mill when you have a baby in one hand – no matter how much you want to add a grinding of pepper to your pasta sauce, you can’t until you’ve put baby down. Which is sometimes not an option, as we know. But don’t worry, Things Can Only Get Better.
With one of these brilliantly designed mills, you can add pepper with one hand. With the aptly named ‘Triga’ you just pull the ‘trigger’ and you’re off. With the ‘Pepperpod’ you simply squeeze the handles together. I did find that the Triga salt mill doesn’t grind your salt fine fine, however, and is probably more suitable for adding salt while cooking than using at the table. However, they also have the ‘Triga Combi’, which is a pepper grinder at the bottom, and a salt shaker at the top. This is the Rhythm of the Night… sorry, I mean the ultimate in one-handed seasoning! Oh yeah.
I was in New York for work a couple of months ago, and in one of my few hours off, I decided to browse the baby aisle in the KMart near my hotel. (Always thinking of you, dear blog readers…) What innovative product could I find that American moms were using on their babies?
Of course there were sippy cups, spoons, melamine plates, BPA-free bottles, etc – much the same as you’d find here in the UK. But there was one product that stood out for me – this, the Munchkin Easy Squeezy Spoon. The blurb on the packaging says:
A baby food spoon for no-mess, one-handed feeding at home or on-the-go – feeding with a simple squeeze makes mealtime a breeze.
One-handed feeding? Well, of course I had to buy one to share with you. As you know, I am a huge fan of shortcuts and ways to make life easier for busy mums and dads, and Munchkin seems like a great brand. Here it is:
This is a really nifty device. You fill the squeezy rubber container part of the spoon with puréed baby food, squeeze gently and the food comes out onto the spoon, and, hopefully straight into baby’s mouth. Seems pretty ingenious to me, and the idea of being able to feed baby one-handed with no mess is very appealing!
If you are a parent who likes to make homemade purées for your little one, then would be a great product to use when travelling, in particular. I am not sure how practical it would be to clean by hand, but it’s dishwasher safe, which we like J It is made of silicone and is BPA free. Suitable for babies 4+ months.
Now, as I am well beyond the weaning stage with my two, I thought it would be nice to offer this as a giveaway on my blog! So, if you’d like the Munchkin Easy Squeezy Spoon, all you have to do is follow me on Twitter @onehandedcook and tweet that you’d love to win the spoon (or follow and RT my tweet about the giveaway).
Follow me here.
If you’d like to buy one, you can actually buy one on Amazon here in the UK.
Giveaway ends on Monday 16 September, when I will pick one name out of the hat. Usual T&Cs apply.
This is not a sponsored post. I bought the spoon myself!
Or is there life beyond raisins and rice cakes?
I was going to write you a blog post with some ideas for healthy snacks – what to give babies, toddlers and bigger children in between meals that a) aren’t just raisins and plain rice cakes, b) aren’t full of rubbish and c) don’t cost a fortune – but then I discovered that my lovely Twitter friend and co-blogger, and list-maker extraordinaire, Mums Make Lists had already done it. So I decided to nick hers.*
She has created a wonderful list of 50 (yes, 50!) healthy snack ideas, divided into categories e.g. fruit & veg, dairy, cereal nuts & crisps, savoury muffins. There are some splendid ideas on her easy-to-print list, which you can find here. I love the sound of stripey fruit lollipops for hot summer’s days, malt loaf, and cheese and ham muffins! This is a great starting point, as it is packed with inspiring ideas.
One I’d like to add, for babies aged 9+ months, is to give them a little plastic bowl with frozen peas in – yup, straight from the freezer – and watch them practising their pincer grip as they pop them in their mouth, and get a cold surprise!
For other great ideas, including how to get more organised, books for children, and a weekly round-up of parenting blogs around the world, The Friday Baby Shower, I highly recommend Mums Make Lists’ brilliant blog! http://mumsmakelists.blogspot.co.uk/
Happy snacking, peeps!
* In actual fact, I asked her nicely if I could reproduce it. She very kindly said yes.
Last year I was lucky enough to win tickets to The Baby Show and so I went along, ready to be inspired, having just started writing this blog. I saw lots of things that day, but the one thing I took a photo of, and oohed and aahed over, was really nothing much to do with babies. It was on the Oxo Tot stand that I came across this wonderful product, from parent company Oxo (nothing to do with stock cubes) – a company I knew previously for its fantastic salad spinner…
Oxo kindly sent me some of these fantastic POP storage containers – as they are called – to test out, and they are so brilliant, I had to share with you here. They are the perfect storage container for the one-handed cook – you simply pop the top to release the airtight seal, use the button as a handle to lift off the lid, and you’re away. You can make a cup of tea one-handed, you can pour granola on your yogurt one-handed, you can get the spaghetti out one-handed… perfect for the multi-tasking mum (or dad)!
They stack neatly, so you can keep them on the side or in your cupboard, they are BPA-free, and because you can see inside, you can keep tabs on supplies. So whether, you’re storing Cheerios, Lego or teabags, these are so easy to use, easy to clean and easy on the eye, they make it into The One-Handed Cook’s list of top kitchen equipment! Check out my Pinterest kitchen gadgets board, where I’ve pinned a few photos I found – they really do look lovely.
And, what’s more, Oxo have given me five 0.9 litre POP containers to give away to you my lovely blog readers. (In the photo at the top, this is the size of container with the Lego in.) Yay!
To be in with a chance of winning a 0.9L POP container, you have to a) follow @onehandedcook on Twitter AND b) RT my tweet about the giveaway!
04.02.13 THE ENTRY DEADLINE HAS PASSED – THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES AND THE WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED SHORTLY!
The small print:
All the views here on the blog are my own.
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 0.9 litre POP container
3. The competition starts at 10pm UK time on Tuesday 29 January 2013 and ends at 09:00am on 4 February 2013.
4. One winner will be drawn at random from all valid entries.
5. One entry per person.
6. The prize is one Oxo 0.9 litre POP container.
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.