Falling at the first hurdle, or a helping hand?

You’d think there wouldn’t be so many surprises the second time round. The learning curve with weaning of any kind is steep, as much for parents as for junior.

hey! this was a good plan mama
hey! this was a good plan mama

I can’t remember how Dom took to pre-loaded spoons.  But I know that he did master them, by a couple of weeks later than this stage with Theo.  In fact there’s a very cute video here. I’ve racked my brains and can’t think how it started, so I just went ahead and handed Theo a spoon  with an assortment of items (not at the same time) – porridge, bananacado, thick soup, and more often than not he flips the spoon and sticks the handle in his mouth.  So this evening, with a lack of anything else for dinner to give him, and parent no.2 not home I decided he could  have some of my massamam curry, with tofu, butternut squash and of course potato.  I use the Thai Gold brand of paste, which I’ve blogged about before here.

The pieces were in small cubes, and we’re not in pincer grip territory yet, so I thought I’d try the pre loaded spoon again. I gave it a wee mash up, to a good soft but lumpy texture, and added some natural yogurt to cool down the spice. FLIP off went the curry across the table and the spoon went in upside down.  I had a little lightbulb moment, he doesn’t know what he’s missing! I put some on the spoon, coaxed open that little mouth and SPOON FED him.  I did this 3 times with small amounts, then he shrieked when I took the spoon away.  You want it that bad baby?  Help yourself!  And he did, roaring indignantly each time I took the empty spoon back from him.

The spoon: it contains yummy stuff.  He just didn’t realise it.


Noodle slurp

Is it ramen or just noodle soup?

I write this in the midst of a horrible headcold.  So really I need to make this again as it’s a healthy, tasty feel good broth.  After our slightly disappointing trip to Wagamama (where I freely admit we made too conservative a choice for Dominic) I decided to make my own noodle soup.

(Can you sense a theme at the minute? – we’re really digging our noodles and currys on the blog right now)
As I’m on maternity leave right now, I’m always on the look out for quick lunch options that aren’t bagel-cheese-tomato-lettuce.  I’m so sick of that!  So I picked up some Clearspring Organic Instant Miso Soup Paste – figured a sachet of this and some noodles would be a lovely lunch in 5 minutes.   Instead I was distracted by the thoughts of a more substantial meal for all of us.  Having used 2 sachets in this soup (box of 4 was €3.99 in Dunnes) I’m going to go buy a full pouch or jar of the paste as the sachets don’t seem particularly economical at all.

I fried up some tofu in some sesame oil in one pan.  Then I sauteed some ginger, garlic and leek and added the miso dissolved with 400ml of water and another 750ml of Marigold stock in a large saucepan.

I simmered this with a head of broccoli and a chopped courgette and added some Udon noodles.   I have a rather large noodle selection in the cupboard – Chunsi brand Udon from the Asia supermarkets on Drury St and at the Jervis Luas stop, and the Clearspring Soba are two of my favourites.  I’ve run the gamut of gammy flavoured noodles but I find stick with the plain ones and add the flavour yourself is the best advice I can offer.


This fed 2 adults and a toddler for dinner and lunch for the 2 adults the next day.  Maybe I’ll actually look up a recipe next time, so I can officially call it ramen and not just noodle soup!

(Thai) curry in a hurry

I love a good curry, and although I do most cooking from scratch I usually rely on shop bought pastes to start off a curry.  Another thing I’m pretty fond of is Thai food, but it’s very hard to be sure it’s vegetarian, due to the prolific usage of Nam Pla (fish sauce).  Most Thai curry pastes I’ve picked up in the supermarket have it – green curry seems to be the least likely to contain it from my unscientific survey.  Until now – there’s a brand called Thai Gold which surprisingly and delightfully is based in my home town of Wexford.

I’ve used their massamam, green & red curry pastes, all of which are clearly marked Gluten Free & Vegetarian.  The pastes themselves are the basic set up for your curry – they’re not swimming in oil, and require you to add the sugar/oyster sauce/fish sauce yourself in the cooking process. So they’re easily adaptable.  It may not be totally authentic, but I just substitute the oyster sauce & nam pla with some soy sauce and bobs your uncle.

I make them with tofu and veggies (spuds for the massamam) and some brown rice.  They’re a great dinner to make a big batch of for 2 days – the flavour seems to develop even more overnight.  And best of all – Dominic has declared them ‘is deliciousss mammy’.


I was not bribed in any way to write this post.  No-one ever sends me anything frankly.

What’s the difference between a tangerine and a mandarin?

Tangerines have a medium fibre content, mandarin low… Who knew?

WARNING: this post contains poo!

One of the biggest changes in my life when I had a baby, was the amount of time spent thinking about, discussing and generally dealing with poo.  Months go by when it’s not a big deal,  and it’s just another part of your day when you and your partner ask each other or the minder in creche “poo today?”

Then once in a while, it becomes a focus – there’s too much, or not enough.  Right now there’s not enough.  I nearly had words with the pharmacist yesterday so vexed was I by her quizzing – no, he doesn’t even eat bananas, he has weetabix & porridge for brekkie, his diet hasn’t changed, he gets enough fibre I think given his general diet… I think it was caused by teething initially a couple of weeks ago – that catch all ailment that explains away so many things.

She seemed happy that that could be the main trigger and recommended 2.5 mls of Duphalac twice a day and keep going past the point of it improving.

But I’m on a mission now to solve the problem at source, as I can only listen to my little guy shouting ‘sore bum bum, no poooooo’ as he grips onto my shoulders for so long.  Lunch of brown bread and baked beans and dinner of brown rice, babycorn & green beans with marinated tofu.  And, the biggest treat of all, we’ve been giving him watered down prune juice.  It’s gross, but he thinks its christmas as it’s usually water or milk all the way in this house.

I found this link to the Dietary Fibre Content of Common Foods  really helpful in sussing out my meal plans.  Obviously common sense played a part, but when I was marinading tofu I had no clue how high or low fibre that is (low).  It’s also made me rethink his snacks for the week – for example – convenient Organix fruit pots (apple & peach) and grapes are out, the pear & kiwi puree I have in the freezer is in.  I always puree any fruits I don’t think we’re going to get through, and they come in handy for a snack.  In fact, the same puree even went into the pancake mix this morning instead of banana!

If you have managed to read this far, then you must be a parent, and you’ll be pleased to know: there was a big result before bedtime without half as much discomfort as last time. Anyone any other tips on how to help this along naturally?


2 strikes and we’re out

Oh dear!  A streak of bad luck has befallen our cooking!

First up, yesterday for dinner I made Vegan Yum Yum’s Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu.  This a great site, full of imaginative vegan grub, and lots of beautiful food photography.  I had a bit of an urge on me for good old fashioned radioactive coloured sweet and sour sauce, like the very first Chinese take out I had age 12 in my cousin Carmel’s house.  I thought it was so exotic.  It was, compared to our standard fare.

So in this recipe, the tofu method was spot on.  I didn’t have any egg replacer, being not of the vegan variety, but the tofu went lovely and crispy using the cornflour alone.  But, it was thrown across the table by his nibs, who clearly prefers my other tofu dish.  As for the sauce, hmm, I think I’ll keep looking.  It was a great consistency, but I think it was the ketchup I didn’t like in it.  Pineapple might not be authentically Chinese (or is it?  is ketchup?) but I think this might be what this dish was lacking for me.  Hungry Dom does not tolerate new foods for long if he doesn’t like the first bite, so it was forkfuls of plain white rice for the rest of his dinner.   Actually, the rice was perfectly cooked, using this method – Rinse basmati really well in a sieve, cover with water – 1.5cms approx above the rice (I start with boiling water).  12 mins covered on a low simmer. Voilà.


Today, it was husbag’s turn.  He turned a blind eye to the whole supermarket shop I did yesterday after his head was turned by The Good Cook on BBC.   Off we went to Fallon & Byrne for some gorgeous overpriced veg, and a trip to the offie for Vermouth.  He likes an aul cheffy dish (read: using every saucepan and utensil going) and made this Braised Fennel with Butter & Parmesan for a light dinner this evening.  Fennel cooked like this is so good for baby led weaning – perfect fingers of sliced fennel to hold, soft enough to chew easily.  To our adult taste buds, this was divine.  The vermouth is not a strong taste and the alcohol is clearly gone.  I know fennel is divisive, but one quick chew and it was spat out by our cantankerous toddler.  Talk about barely giving it a chance!

Honestly though, this is the kind of dish I’d serve as part of my meal if I were on Come Dine With Me.  Child doesn’t know what he’s missing.  He had a yogurt and 2 kiwi’s for his dinner instead.

To make up for such rejection, I decided I’d make a sure fire winner, with none for baby!  Step up the fabulous Babaduck, whose baked goods are becoming legendary via their pale imitations round here.  Husbag asked in a urgent worried tone if any of these were going into work with me as I took them out of the oven. Take that baby boy… we’re eating all of these now you’re gone to bed…


Eating out


high chair not so high

Today we went to Wagamama.  We’ve been lots of times over the years but not since baby boy came along.  Today, we also acknowledged that we (currently!) have what is commonly known as ‘a good eater’.  This will change I’m sure, I’m not so smug as to believe that there won’t be days and perhaps months, and maybe years where he might only want to eat food in the beige-orange spectrum, but for now, he’s a bit of a joy when it comes to food, and many other things.

He’s too little to need a full kids menu meal.  But when he is, we’ll definitely come back.  We saw several happy families tucking in all around, with no one looking for a more chip-shaped alternative to their meals.  Dominic happily shared bits and pieces of Mark’s Seafood Ramen and my Saien Soba – salmon, asparagus, mange tout, beansprouts and tofu mostly.  They have great kids chopsticks, we just may have popped a couple of pairs in my bag – relax! they’re disposable bamboo, it’s not like I was taking the good china…  I’ve also found a way he’s happy to eat noodles, but its not the baby led weaning way:


more of this

When he tries to eat them by hand himself he finds it frustrating as they slip & slide right out out of his grasp/mouth.  So I pick some up, eat the excess dangly bit (steady!) and he noms the rest off my chopsticks.

My only quibble relating to the child-friendliness is the highchairs.  They’re a nice standard wooden number, but they’re just too low for the tables in the restaurant, given they’ve no trays and the baby does need to be pulled up to the table.  It’ll probably be fine by the time he’s about 2, but my guess is whoever ordered the highchairs doesn’t have a baby.

This was also the weekend that Dominic finally properly admitted to himself that he’s a bi-ped.  Each little lap of the room/rug today also ended in a big hug for mama.  I couldn’t have had a lovelier mothers day.  Am more in love with my almost 15 month old than I ever thought possible.  Happy Mother’s Day all the mama’s!


He knows what he wants.


mwahahahaha! I am the boss

It’s time to hide the chocolate.  We have officially hit the stage of wheedling, screeching, begging, reaching.  And no, not just from me.  He’ll ignore his own plate for whatever he wants off yours.

Case 1: Treats. Oh, cake is it mama?  A biscuit you’re having dada?  And what have I? rice cake yeah? And you think that’s acceptable?

So I’m now ordering dessert in Dom’s presence based on what he can have some of. Which is currently limited to carrot cake. Because, y’know, it’s got carrot in it, so it can’t be so bad.  Luckily we had the nicest carrot cake ever in Melvins in Malmo.  So good we had it twice, given we won’t get to have it too often.

Case 2: Tofu Broccoli & baby sweetcorn – both things he loves, ignored. Fun slippy noodles – ignored. Terijaki tofu – he swallowed his (adult portion) in seconds, then stood up as much as he could in his chair to lean across to Mark’s bowl where there was several pieces visible to him.  So we ended up eating his veg and giving him at least half of our tofu, in Mark’s case, probably more.

Anyone any tips for food related toddler tantrums?  Cook more tofu I guess.


My body is a temple.

Foodie cleansing was needed after our lunch in McDonalds (okay, so Dominic was just on the premises), so the bags were unpacked and the veg & tofu pulled out for dinner.  Quick marinade on some tofu slices, stirfried some yellow pepper, leek & beansprouts and our bodies were our temples again.  I only cooked half the tofu, because it was just me & Dom for dinner.  Um, I was left a bit short, he ate all his then went whinging towards my bowl.  What I didn’t capture on video was his go of chopsticks – there was some decent airdrumming, followed by a very good 2-handed food stabbing effort.  Am off to buy some baby chopsticks.


tofu nyom nyom

Mama and dada used to cook the same things as each other for years but now mama says that dada’s never cooked so much meat before.  That’s when me and dada eat one dinner and mama eats a different dinner.  I offer her bits of mine I always am nice like that but she says no.  Now we have special mama dinners all of us together a lot too so she cooks us tofu sometimes then which is a funny word.

She said this was the marinade she used. It was super yum, we all liked it. I like veggies too and then there was another thing in my dinner which must have been a toy because it was so much fun to play with.


noodley fun