We love a bit of soup in this house.  I may have mentioned it a time or 7 It’s ridiculously easy to make and yet it only crossed my mind to attempt making it in the last 3 or 4 years.  I can’t even buy homemade type soups in the supermarket anymore I’ve ruined it for myself with such lovely soupiness.  Now, there’s a bit of boasting for you.

This broccoli one is super easy.  Or should that be souper easy.  Groan.  Usually soup is a bit of an empty out the fridge affair for me, but I kept this one simple.

  • Fry up an onion & some garlic.
  • Add 2 heads of broccoli chopped up small. Include stems except the really thick one & 1.5 litres of stock.  As ever, I used Marigold – mostly low salt, sometimes not.
  • Season.
  • Simmer for 20 mins.
  • Serve with a blob of creme fraiche & some crushed chilli flakes.  (I think I would add a red chilli into this recipe at the start if it wasn’t for a toddler too).

Enjoy while listening to the shoutiest boy I know screech blooooooopppp before every spoonful.

Then be smug because you have enough for lunch in work the next day too.


Brrr. Tis the season…

…For soup!

I left the supermarket most indignant a couple of weeks ago.  Pumpkin filled every spot where the butternut squash should be.  Stupid bandwagon jumping  supermarket.  People barely even eat them here, they just carve them! I wanted my squash, as a foodstuff like.  Tsk.  (I will carve a pumpkin next year though, I promise).

A week later though, I found them for 65c each, and got 2.  Mark made a spicy curry which we didn’t give to Dom as it turned out quite salty, and I made a Honey Roast Butternut squash soup with Ginger Creme Fraiche – based on this recipe, but true to form, did it a bit differently.

I like to make soup at the same time as another dinner, or after Dom is gone to bed.  Then we have it for lunch or next days dinner and I find it really helps break the rushing in from work/making dinner cycle and allows me time to sit and play and see if I can find out anything about Dominic’s day.  Though recently he told me he played with a boy who isn’t even in his room anymore in creche, so I’m not sure I can trust his word.   He also confidently counted 9 (1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9) butterflies on a tshirt where there were clearly 3 .  Sure he’s fooling no one.

I roasted the squash in small cubes rather than wedges to get even more honey balsamicy coverage.  I also realised too late that husband had used the carrots I thought we had in another dinner, so I chucked in 2 chopped up red peppers into the pot.  Honestly if I’d noticed the lack of carrot (and celery) earlier, I’d have had the peppers in the oven too, to sweeten them up, but they still worked.  The pièce de résistance of this dish was the ginger creme fraiche though – what a lovely addition.  I love ginger but it’s flavour can get a little lost in a hearty soup.  This came in little cool hits against the sweetness of the squash.

This was a thinner soup than I usually make.  I got used to making them thick a lot because Dom was less likely to slop it everywhere.  I’ve never seen him eat soup like he did this.  Head down, scoop, slurp, scoop, slurp, scoop, slurp – barely a drop spilled.   This served 6 – one dinner & one lunch each.  For me, it was a welcome break in the lunch monotony.  Budget decrees that I bring my lunch to work at least 4 out of 5 days – boy do I get sick of cheese and salad bagels and pittas.  Just make sure you’ve got some good airtight storage for transportation!


Mulligatawny and rye bread, why that’s a mouthful!

can't say its name but i like it

From a quick perusal of the BBC food site, Mulligatawny is a fine veggie prospect and there’s lots of recipes out there for it.  However, we’re rather fond of our weekend morning cookery shows round these parts, and it was from Saturday Kitchen that Mark took this particular recipe.  Please ignore the 4 whole quail (!), and the garnishing onion rings.  Does anyone ever do garnishes if they’re cooking for people that live in the same house as them?  I mean, I’d stretch to a bit of chopped parsley or coriander, but life’s too short to deep fry a decorative onion ring.

The path to lunch almost got diverted, as I lifted the lids on the various pans to explore/commandeer activities and spotted some distinctly un-red lentils.   Hardened veggie that I am, and being in possession of a pair of eyes, I know my lentils/colours apart, and despite husbands cries to the contrary, there is certainly NOT a reddish tinge off the green lentils, and if you move the jar of green lentils slightly to the left in the cupboard, you’ll see a bag of bright orangey red lentils not really at all hidden behind it.  Perhaps they cast a hue across the green ones.

Anyway, unintentional ingredient substitutions and omissions aside, this was as dinner of a soup so it was. Atin’ & drinkin’ in it.  The curry powder gave it a lovely kick, softened slightly by a big spoon of natural yogurt stirred into Doms.  It was a good thick texture and excellent grub for spooning by oneself.

We ate it with a Lidl Artisan Rye loaf.  The words ‘Lidl’ & ‘Artisan’ should be an oxymoron, but their newish bakery sections (in some stores) are full of gorgeous treats, from pumpkin seed loafs to gouda rolls, to chocolate croissants.  I could see no loaves over €2, and no pastries over 69c.  They’re baked on the premises and everything we’ve tried so far has been really really good, and far less dependent on white breads compared to other higher end supermarkets (Superquinn I’m looking at you) bakeries.

69c pastries mean 2 each per adult unfortunately.


An establishment of ill repute…

Go on, guess where I am?

Today we drove to Belfast to procure our best little buddy’s new car seat.  As is by now tradition, every trip to the North involves a supermarket shop.  Usually, it’s straight to Sainsburys but without the currency and petrol price advantages of a couple of years ago we needed to try make some actual savings rather than buy every fancy snack goingm so we popped into an Asda instead.    A rather large 24 hour version, perfect for our needs, and in a small shopping centre.  Ah there’ll be a Costa, or some class of cafe in the supermarket just like Sainsbury’s there I thought confidently.

There was no cafe.  There was a grim eatery with old looking hot dogs in the run down shopping centre.  And there was a (sshhhhh) McDonalds.  Bless me Krishna for I have sinned, we plumped for the latter.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been inside one (though I do have an annual bean burger in Burger King).

Thanks be to JAYSUS I popped some soup & crackers into a bag ‘just in case’ for Dom this morning.   So he sat up resplendent in what must be said was a very nice highchair and ate every drop of his soup.  Phew!  I had the ‘spicy veggie deli sandwich’ which on any other menu might be appetising but this was a manky fried thing.

Me & husbag had big grumpy heads on us most of the way home, and I really reckon it was a combo of tiredness and bleugh food.  The boy slept soundly and soup filled in his new car seat.

give me strength to carry on!

I’ve just pre-ordered The Baby Led Weaning Cookbook.  BLW’s been getting a little more difficult.  I’ve just started back to work – a week and half now.  Although I haven’t taken the most-trodden path type decisions in several areas of my life including parenting – cloth nappies, breastfeeding, BLW, being a vegetarian – I don’t tell anyone else what choices to make.  (That’s not to say I don’t offer advice & opinion!)  You have to pick your battles.  Dom isn’t vegetarian, he gets formula during the day in creche and has done for a while leading up to that, and other caregivers spoon feed him.

Well he’s taken to the spoon with gusto.  He’s settled in well in creche.  So far there’s been the expected crying on arrival, but he’s obviously not traumatised – he’s napping really well, playing with the other babies & minders, taking his bottles and eating okay.  I say okay, because he’s only eaten all his dinner once.  Dinner!  At lunchtime!  Like a farmer or someone on Coronation Street.  But from the point of view of a baby led weaning baby, when they say he ate half the food I’m actually pretty impressed.  On his first day I also had to point out that he’d barely eaten any meat at all ever, so nearly every meal is a new taste to him.

The only thing he ate none of was cod.  That’s my boy – note to self I must tell him about overfishing, and recommend he holds out for  Hoki as an alternative for his teeny palate.

And the only thing he ate all of?  Coddle! So he’s certainly broadening his foodie experiences in there – I can hand-on-heart say I don’t think he ever ever ever would have got that at home.

So, what’s my issue? Well, sit tight, I’ve a few:

  • It seems to me right now that Baby Led Weaning suit a stay at home mum more than a 40hour a week working mum.  Or at least a working mum that doesn’t go back to work til her baby is a year or so before the reigns of feeding are handed over to someone else.  Dominic’s an okay eater, but he still ignores/chucks away quite a lot of food and his portions are pretty tiny.  If we’d had til the end of the year there’s a good chance he would have been better established at eatin’.
  • Part of me goes phew, I don’t have to worry about his protein & iron intake.  Someone else will take care of that.  Then I give myself a mental smack on the wrist and think ‘he gets most of his nutrients from milk up to age one, I don’t need to worry about lashing the grub into him.’  But I do.  I guess it’s natural.  Creche feeding him perpetuates those feelings.  Either way he’s getting the nutrients, so I can let this one go…
  • I’ve told the creche what we’re doing, but not in a shove down their throats way so I think they think that he just likes to hold a spoon. And he’s opened his mouth wide for breakfast there, and as I said hasn’t shied away at lunchtime either.  So now at home in the evening, he opens his mouth like a little baby bird, and has to be coaxed to put out his ‘handie’ for the spoon.  If it’s a sure-fire favourite – yogurt – he’ll grab it, but if he’s not really hell bent on eating it, he’ll wait for you to come to him now
  • We’ve not settled into a routine yet.  BLW encourages the family to eat together.  It’s hard to cook in time for us to all eat together in the evening, so far at least half the evenings after creche Dom eats on his own & we eat later.  The earliest he gets home with parent A (Mark, every flippin day so far) is 17:45, parent B’s earliest arrival is 18:15 and he goes to bed by 19:00.  *sadface*
  • Because he’s had his main meal in the creche, we give him something smaller.  I have a few different soups in the freezer and they’ve been a real fall back option.  Although he can eat it with his hands on chunks of bread it’s not the ideal finger food.  Something more challenging might be better to keep up his development feeding himself and I don’t want him getting more used to such smooth food.   Even if he’s going to eat without us, I need to start giving more solid finger food.

On the bright side, one of my sisters reckons her kids creche pretty much let them feed themselves from age one, so they had to learn fairly fast then.  If that’s the case, then at least Dom will have a headstart!

So, although a specific Baby Led Weaning cookbook goes against the very strictest interpretation of what the method stands for , I have high hopes for it.  Anyway, I don’t think baby led weaning families go in for strict interpretations that much – sounds a bit to close to a Ms G. Ford…  I’m hoping for  food you know is suitable for all the family, recipes you don’t need to adjust the salty content of, and hopefully, some stuff you can prepare in advance.

In the meantime, if anyone has any tips on how to progress with BLW while I’m only feeding him about a third of his meals, please feel free to share in the comments.

Because this post has been a bit heavy, here’s a picture of Dom preparing for Halloween to brighten it up.

practising being a roary lion.


consumption management 101 – making improvements

I was away most of last week, and have found myself getting a bit irritated when I don’t manage Dominic’s food intake well.  Let me rephrase – baby led weaning isn’t really about management, but presenting of opportunities and I feel that I haven’t been offering him the opportunity to eat at the right time always.  We’re in the middle of weaning from breast to bottle, and have settled into a rough routine of 2 breastfeeds & 2 bottlefeeds most days (sometimes more).  Seeing as we don’t have much of a fixed routine for anything feeding can be a bit haphazard – milk feeds run late, then he’s not hungry for solids, then I offer lunch late. While we were away, we might have been out and about in the car, and while me and my mum ate lunch, he was only due a bottle. Or we’re not organised enough in the evening and I end up making do for his dinner and we don’t all eat together. Making do is usually natural yogurt and or a fruit pot.  I think this would be fine if we were doing a good structured ‘protein lunch’, but I’ll be conscious he might only have had a couple of nibbles on a bit of cheese or toast at lunchtime. There’s the added pressure then, when you’re trying to prove something to someone (that blw is a good idea) and you can’t seem to get him to eat at all.  Repeat to self – he’s not eating up for me, he’s eating for him.

So this weekend, I resolved to do better. The freezer is our best friend. I made my very first lasagne, ever. People often find it odd that a vegetarian doesn’t make veggie lasagna’s often, but for years it was about the only thing on offer in restaurants. (Now its wild mushroom risottos & goats cheese tartlets…don’t get me started) A few weeks ago I made lentil bolognaise and had frozen enough to make up the lasagna. This is the recipe I used, but I added a layer of passata into the mix also. I’m not sure how authentic that is, but I love the sweet tang of tomato, and it was a nice contrast to the bechamel. I didn’t realise how easy bechamel is to make, now I can’t believe you can even buy a jar of the white stuff. In the interests of full disclosure, Mark did spoonfeed some of it to him for lunch as I’d been a bit worried about Dom’s weight gain. (This happens sporadically and after a good days eating, sense has kicked in) After a few spoon swooshes and aeroplane noises, the mouth started to clamp shut.  He won’t put up with that for long – he’ll watch your act for a bit, but as the spoon comes close he bats it away or wants to grab it himself.  But we weren’t in any hurry, so I just sighed and dumped the rest of the food out onto the tablecloth, kinda expecting it to hit the floor momentarily. But in it went – mushy strips of pasta coated in sticky sauces and lentils.

On a roll, and after planting snowdrops & crocuses (croci?) and baking banana bread (yes! really!), I decided to try soup for the first time today.  I make soup relatively often, but having had a reasonably good summer, this was the first batch in a while.  While I can’t automatically turn to the Annabel Karmel recipes,  I have a few reliable sites I look at for ideas (links on left) and My Daddy Cooks is always good for a laugh and for inspiration.  I’d thought of soup for him before, but just wasn’t sure how to get it into him – I like to avoid doing too many pre-loaded spoons.  This soup video had me foraging in the fridge, and I ended up with carrot & parsnip soup with potatoes for bulk.  I needed it to be thick to have any chance of it going into Dom’s mouth.   I used big hunks of brown bread, so they’d hold together nicely when soup-sodden.

The wee fella was having a bit of a meltdown by the time the whole lot was ready and cool enough for him.  He was only up a while from a nap, and he’s quite predictable compared to a couple of months ago in terms of his milk feeds.  Not even the sight of the 2 cats playing with a feather in the back yard could quiet him.  I can only come to the conclusion that he may have finally made the link between hunger & solids – if this is the case then great (but I won’t get away with skipping meals anymore!)   I wish I could capture the face he makes when he tries something new.  His whole face screws up like he’s eating lemons, and he’s really unsure and then just when you think you’re going to get a spit out, it’s like: hang on, this is the weirdest taste/texture ever, but wait!  I LIKE it. And in he tucks.

Given the gusto with which he tackled his soupy dippers, I’m guessing he’s into the whole soup thing.  Good thing too, there’a about 5 cups of it going in that blessed freezer tonight.

So I’ll leave you with this thought – every joyful moment, every new meal Dominic gobbles up,  is marred only by the thought of the clean up afterward. Curses… I wonder can you train cats like house-elves?

– Jill