Food and Family – Part 3

Following the growing up of Baby G has really taught me to appreciate the here and now. There is so much development and change in each month of a baby’s first year that miss a bit and it’s like missing a whole decade! Thinking about her relationship with food and how that has developed is just one thing that makes me realise how quickly time passes.

In the few weeks since I last posted about Food and Family, so much has changed. During early December I completely gave up breastfeeding as her demand got less, my supply reduced and it became a pointless exercise, leading to frustration for both of us. Whilst I do miss that special bond we have had for 10 months I love the freedom it gives me, and the opportunity to drink a glass or two of wine might have been slightly abused over the festive period!

She still refuses formula (apart from one evening where she drank a cupful) but after several further attempts I have now given up completely on the milk front. I hope that her diet gives her all the calcium and nutrients she needs and will try again at the age of 1 with cows milk. Whilst this did cause me much stress and worry during her early months as my fellow mummy tweeters will know, I have now come to accept the fact that some babies do just fine without milk. Now it’s nice to be able to pass on advice and support to other mum’s who go through the same thing.

The worry of dehydration faded as slowly but surely she has come to love her cup and now will happily drink water from it all day, not only when offered to her, but crawling over to it and helping herself.

Here she is having a well earned drink after wolfing down her ratatouille for tea. Apologies for the quality of the photo but whilst I continue with my Project 366, many photographs will be taken on the quick with my IPhone. I won’t be posting all my photo’s here for fear of boring you to death with my project, but you can pop over to see my complete project here.

Salud! / Cheers!

Project 366 – Day 2/366

With her insatiable efforts of crawling and exploring, Baby G needs her naptime. Here she is having her only nap of the day. Usual pose of index finger in the mouth – no dummy required!

I love naptime, not only the perfect chance to gaze upon my sleeping beauty but a bit of “me” time to. Only wish it didn’t have to be filled with chores like ironing!

Project 366 – Day 1/366

I’ve been aware of 365 Project for a wee while now. For those who don’t know it’s a picture a day for a year of your life. This year with a leap involved I’m going to try and do a 366 Project. I kept thinking do I have time to photograph and blog each day – but with 3 blogs to look after I though what’s one more, right?!

I think the idea of taking a picture everyday is a fabulous way of recording your life in a snapshot, and with a desire to improve my photography skills it seems like a good way.

Not only that,  but when Baby G was first born I was very snap happy and have lots of photos of her early months, but with the return to work and trying to cram as much into the limited family time we have each day, the moments to photo become less and less.

This project is a way for me to ensure I don’t miss a moment of my beautiful baby’s girl life as she becomes more and more independent with each passing day.

It will also give me a chance to share some of my cooking and crafting creations, travels and anything else that might take my fancy!

Day One

Baby G out at lunch posing in Aunty Lisa’s hat!

Hello 2012!

So how was your Christmas and New Year celebrations? Here at Comida y Vida it has all been about some family time – both spending time with the parents and close family members and some quality “just us” chilling out time for me, Baby G and Mr CYV.

We have enjoyed some lovely food and New Years eve was spent feasting on a tapas selection of homemade delights including smoked salmon, duck prosciutto,(blog posts to follow as soon as we have perfected the curing and smoking), whisky onion marmalade and bread together with a great cheeseboard and some chorizo in red wine!

New Years inevitably evokes a desire to review the past year and plan for the next. At the beginning of 2011 I set a list of things I wanted to achieve and well to be honest …. it’s been a bit hit and miss.

I started out well with a few Spanish inspired posts and even did a week long tapas feast. Of late my spanish cooking has focused on these same dishes and so no new ones to blog – something to remedy for 2012!

The visit to Purnells is still on the list to do and as soon as finances allow I’ll be there!

I did attend the bread course at Loaf Online and you can see how I got on here.

I have done some new dishes from my cookbooks and have some waiting in the wings ready to blog when I get chance.

The garden has been sadly neglected but as soon as the weather shows a sign of spring I’ll be in the garden and getting it sorted. I want Baby G to learn how food is grown and that’s the best way.

So whilst my failings in 2011 leave me with a ready-made list of plans for this coming year I thought I’d add a couple more (not one not to challenge myself!) :

  • Do more seasonal cooking
  • Reduce my food bill by using up leftovers, reducing my food waste and cooking more frugally with cheaper cuts of meat etc.

I may have been less active than I’d like blogging here at CYV but I have been busy in the blogosphere! You can see what I’ve been up to in the crafty world at Stampin’ Delight and of course I’ve been busy single-handedly looking after Midlands Food Bloggers community blog whilst Jo has been on maternity leave.

So that’s me and just left to say thank you to all my readers, especially those who take time to comment – I love to hear your thoughts.

What do you have planned for the coming days, weeks, months and year?

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Broccoli has never featured very highly in our cooking at CYV as hubs has a strong dislike to the “green trees”. Occasionally they might make a small guest appearance in a stir fry disguised by lots of spices, or I would add them to my Sunday roast, whilst hubs would scowl at them from afar.That has been the way of the broccoli here since we moved into together.

However, times change and when discussing weaning Baby G we both agreed to try more of the foods we dislike so that she would not miss out on trying any important flavours. We had bought some broccoli to steam for Baby G (which incidentally, didn’t go down well – like father, like daughter it would seem!)  and after the success of hubs eating some of it in our Indian feast, I thought I’d make a soup with the leftovers. We also had some stilton to use up so I went for the classic combination of Broccoli and stilton.

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

300g broccoli florets, roughly chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 ltr vegetable stock
80g stilton
knob of butter
olive oil

Gently saute the onion off in the butter and a drop of oil until soft and translucent. Add the potato and stock and simmer for 10 minutes, until the potato is tender.

Add the broccoli and cook for a further 4-5 minutes until tender but it has still retained it’s colour. Add half the cheese and then process in a blender till smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkling of the remainder of the cheese on top.

 

I loved the iron rich broccoli with the creamy blue cheese and was quite happy to eat the lot. Turns out hubs doesn’t mind broccoli in this form either and was quite happy to devour a bowl.

The soup was made to make the most out of leftovers so it is perfect for Fuss Free Flavours new event.

Click on the image for further details of this fabulous challenge and do join in.

 

Me in a Magazine!!

Whilst becoming a published food writer may be but a pipe dream, I am so pleased to have been featured in the BBC Good Food magazine as a recipe tester.

BBC Good Food Magazine

A couple of months ago I got a call asking if I wanted to be part of the reader taste panel for an upcoming issue. Er …. yes, yes, yes I replied! It was only when they said I had just a few days to test several recipes as part of an Indian feast for 10 people that made me have second thoughts.

Never one to turn down a challenge though I accepted and was sent a pack with all my recipes and ingredients. Heres what was involved and my initial thoughts:

  • Tamarind chicken curry – sounded lovely and recipe looked straightforward.
  • Pumpkin biryani – would take time but sounded great.
  • Spicy paneer skewers – where can I buy paneer in Staffordshire?
  • Stir-fried broccoli with coconut – getting hubby to eat broccoli would be a challenge.
  • Roasted chilli-garlic sauce – might help hubby eat the broccoli?
  • Cardamom meringue nests – never done meringue so looking forward to it.

So after heading out to get all the ingredients (Waitrose is the only place in my area where I can get paneer by the way!) we made a start on the recipes. We cooked the dishes over 2 weekday nights, but I could definitely see how easy it would be to prepare all dishes for a dinner party at the weekend.

BBC Good Food Magazine

I thoroughly enjoyed cooking these recipes and the majority of the dishes will be cooked again. I loved the flavour of the curry, but then I am a fan of Indian sweet and sour dishes like pathias, and was amazed at the depth of flavour from just a few spices. The verdict from the other tasters was good too – using chicken thighs and cooking them in this way, leaves the meat full of flavour and moisture. The Pumpkin Biryani, would definitely wow guests with it’s presentation, but for me it was a little too sweet in flavour. I was also a little put off by the texture of the pumpkin once it had been cooked. If I cooked it again I would add a touch of cumin and chilli to give some earthy undertones.

The paneer skewers were a bit of a revelation in the CYV household as we had never eaten it before, but it was a surefire hit. We loved the texture of the cheese against the crunchy vegetables and how the paneer absorbs the flavours. What was especially appreciated is that is light and not greasy due to being grilled, which makes a difference from many Indian starters we cook.

The broccoli was a great side dish, even hubby enjoyed it and we liked how the addition of the chilli sauce meant for those who like their spice, could increase the chilli kick of any of the dishes by adding this sauce. It’s definitely not one for the faint hearted though ….hot, hot, hot!

To finish off the Indian feast with these meringues is a genius idea. Light and sweet, chewy with a lovely hint of cardamom. We made the chestnut and chocolate filling which was lovely.

If you fancy having a go at any of these recipes or seeing me in my published glory, then pop along to the newsagents for your copy of the January issue of BBC Good Food.

Thanks to BBC Good Food magazine for selecting me as a recipe tester.

BBC Good Food Show 2011

It’s a day of enjoying lots of tastings, a day of wishing I had more money to spend on kitchen gadgets and appliances and a day of spotting a few celebrity chefs … it’s one of my favourite days of the year.

For the last 4 years I have made a visit to the BBC Winter Good Food Show and this year was no exception. I had booked my ticket at last years show so after 365 days of waiting my mum, Baby G and I all headed off to the NEC.

I went to enjoy it as a family day out and not as a “food blogger”. But then when Belling invited me along to their stand to get a front row seat to watch a few cookery demonstrations well I couldn’t resist. As the official appliance sponsor of the show they had a fab stand full of lots of their fab ovens including this one which I am hankering after.

On the day we visited (Friday) Brian Turner, renowned for his appearances on Ready Steady Cook, was the celebrity chef cooking on the stand. Other days saw top inidian chef Cyrus Todiwala and Ruth Clemens of Great British Bake off fame demonstrating and sharing some top tips.

Brian Turner at Belling Stand BBC Good Food

In the first cookery demonstration Brian demonstrated a gourmet BLT which looked fab and set off our taste buds, so afterwards we wondered off to grab a few tastings from the wealth of producers at the show.

BLT from Brian Turner

After lunch we popped back to the stand to watch Brian attempt a Get, Set, Cook challenge with a bag of mystery ingredients sourced from the show’s exhibitors. In 20 minutes Brian produced no less than 4 dishes.

He also did a demonstration (which we sadly missed) using recipes from a cookery book that Belling produced containing recipes sourced from the public on twitter with just 140 characters. All proceeds of this book are being donated to FoodCycle, a social enterprise which is tackling food waste and poverty in communities across the UK and you can get your hands on a copy here for £4.99.

Sorry for the lack of pictures and information about everything else at the show, as I say it was a non-blogger day. I did enjoy the day and couldn’t miss picking up some of my favourite brownies from Gower Cottage, or some eggs from the Handmade Scotch Egg co (though I wasn’t convinced that adding chocolate to a scotch egg was a good choice – I’ll stick to the favourites of beer and black pudding in future!) . New favourite find for the day was the pate at Findlaters – sublime!

I also bumped into a few other Midlands foodies including Jo of Jo’s Kitchen, Louise and J of Good Food, Great Fun and Gluten Free, Jules from Butcher, Baker  and James from Eat the Midlands who was with the lovely Suree from the King and Thai, which made the day even better.

There was also a bit of celeb chef spotting – Paul Hollywood, Galton Blackstock, and the Masterchef duo to name a few. The best bit was getting an autograph from my favourite yummy brummie after watching him in the Supertheatre.

Glynn Purnell

It was a great day out and I can’t wait till next years.

Thanks to Belling for the invite to their stand and a copy of Tweet Pie.

Bite ‘N’ Write

An event for food bloggers right on my doorstop, a chance to learn to some information and get tips to improve my blog, and an opportunity to meet some of my fellow bloggers with whom I have tweeted with for a long time … well I couldn’t resist. Bite 'N' Write badge

I booked the ticket for Bite ‘n’ Write so long ago, that by the time November 19th arrived I was too excited for words, if a little nervous at leaving Baby G with Daddy for the longest time yet …. 14 hours!!

So bright and breezy I jumped on a train to Birmingham and once in the lobby of New Street searched out a few of my fellow attendee’s. How to spot a blogger in a busy public place is perhaps a discussion for another day but I wouldn’t recommend walking up to a stranger and asking them if they are a blogger …. you will most certainly get a strange look!

Once the troops had gathered, including the my fellow MFB members Jules of Butcher, Baker, Julia of Wannabefoodie and Kath the Ordinary Cook, together with the very lovely Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Charlotte of Go Free foods, we set off for the venue. The event was held in the Old Library room at the Custard Factory.

I won’t go into detail regarding all the workshops that were held during the day as many other blogs have put it far better than I could including Louise at the Vegetarian Experience. I haven’t any decent photo’s to share with you either as was too busy taking in all the information, but here’s my highlights:

* The photography workshop by Craig Fraser of Frasershot was the best start to the day. An interesting look into how professional food photography is carried out and some simple tips to create stunning pictures at home. Who knew silver card and a tampon could be such useful tools?

* Judith Lewis of Mostly about Chocolate and SEO specialist gave an insight into optimising your blog which I found interesting but which was a tad too technical or not of interest for some of my fellow attendee’s.

* The tasting by Artisan du Chocolat was a particular high, a chocolate high that is! We got to learn all about chocolate and taste a wide range of their products. I particularly liked the mint one and the Masala Chai. I loved the look of the O’s too.

* Jeanne of Cook Sister gave a really interesting talk about writing and how to make your blog attractive to readers with tips on the design and content of the blog.

So those were my highlights, but for a fair review I must mention my disappointment with some aspects of the day. The main issue for me was the the lack of time and setting to mingle with the other food bloggers. Whilst I got to know the people on my table it was difficult to find time to meet everyone else. Also the venue was not the greatest with a serious heating problem leaving me drinking cups of coffee just to stop from turning blue, and the meaty non-indian lunch was a bit of a let-down.

I applaud Annie Ko for having the intrepidity to get up and organise something like this event, especially after such a short time blogging, and considering it was her first event it was good. However, there are many things to be improved upon and I would hope that these are put into place to make sure this can become an annual event.

I finished off the day with a get together with some of my tweeties for some delicious food and wine at Jamie’s Italian.

Food and Family – Part 2

From those initial yoghurt disguising days we have made great progress in Baby G’s foodie journey. I was surprised how soon a baby’s appetite develops, as lunch was quickly joined by tea and it wasn’t long before she was on 3 meals a day. Within 3-4 weeks we had reduced breastfeeding to just morning and bedtime and her diet was more or less totally based on food.

Baby Weaning

My main concern was to keep her hydrated during the day as she still wasn’t a big fan of the cup and drinking so we had lots of food with disguised liquids like weetabix, ready brek, yoghurt, chunks of melon and steamed pear and apple.

As we introduced Baby G to a range of vegetables we soon found that any starchy ones like potato, carrot and swede caused her a few digestive issues! So we tried to balance out starchy days with ones filled with fruit and fibre.

It wasn’t long before we looked to increase the variety in her diet and added pasta, something she clearly enjoyed having the ability to feed herself with.

Baby eating pasta

Then came the challenge of adding meat to her diet. This actually proved less of a challenge than I feared as Baby G wolfed down the beef stew she was given and the chicken and vegetable dinner was soon devoured too. However fish has become a different story – we tried both salmon and white fish and both have not been accepted by her ladyship. Any ideas for fishy dishes for my little one?

We do have days where food can be an issue and she refuses dishes she has previously eaten, but I am not sure whether this is to do with teething, the cold and cough she has picked up or indeed the food. We just keep trying lots of different foods at various times but now find she is most happy when eating the same food as we eat and at the same time. So as we embark on a journey of creating dishes suitable for all of us as a family I hope to share with you some of our favourites.

Hasta la proxima / until next time

Food and Family – Part 1

Oh my goodness …. where does the time go? I can’t believe it has been a month since I last posted; I have been so busy I don’t know where the weeks have gone. Last night though I managed some quality me time and reflected on the recent hectic times. (Apologies now for the rambling nature and length of this post!! ;-) )

Since having Baby G my focus on food has changed completely. Gone are the days of spending hours in the kitchen preparing feasts for family and friends, or a romantic meal for two. The feeding of Baby G became the main priority.

For the first six months I was the main source of Baby G’s nourishment, I had wanted to breastfeed from the start and initially set myself the goal of her first 3 months. I loved the special bond this gave us but it sure does mean life revolves around feeding, leaving little time for anything else to begin with. The 3 month milestone came and went and we continued on with breastfeeding, though as we approached 5 months I began to try and get Baby G to feed from a bottle, something she had done when she was just a few weeks old when times had required it. Then we struck a problem, it would seem that as she was now “older and wiser” she just flat out refused it – breast was most certainly best in her eyes!

So followed a stressful, tense and emotional few weeks trying all manner of times, cups, bottles and techniques to get Baby G to drink from anything other than me, all resulting in crying fits from my little girl. With a night out looming I got so stressed out at the thought of her going without nourishment when she wasn’t with me to the point where I was in floods of tears ……. in the end I went out and she was fine. It seemed she learned how to do without and just stock up before and after my time away from her. So for a few weeks we muddled through and then it became time to wean onto solid foods.

As a foodie I was so looking forward to introducing food to Baby G. I read up on how best to introduce solids to her diet. The River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook, kindly given to me by Jo of Jo’s Kitchen as a present, gives you the information on all aspects of feeding including breast and bottle feeding, purees and Baby-led Weaning (BLW) in a clear and engaging way.

I was really interested in the Baby-led weaning method, where food is offered at “non-hungry” times and the baby literally feeds themselves. The benefits of this include allowing baby to experience a range of textures from day one, giving them control of how much they eat and aiding their development as they learn how to grip and pick up things. It sounded like the best way to develop Baby G’s relationship with food.

The first solid food Baby G tried was a piece of cucumber ….. mmmmm tasty!  Not so much a planned meal time for her, but she was sat on my knee whilst I was eating a salad and she just leant forward mouth open as I was eating …. a sure sign she was interested in food!

We tried a few other finger foods as per the BLW way, but at just 6 months old picking up food and hand to mouth co-ordination is certainly a challenge. The downside to this method is you never know exactly how much they eat, but because the fruit and veg have not been puréed their nutritional value is far greater. So we tried BLW but with the clock ticking for me to go back to work, it seemed impossible as it relies on milk as a back up and so with our current problem in getting Baby G to take milk from other sources I decided (and was advised by health visitors) to start introducing purées and spoon fed food so that Baby G would become less dependent on me, and dad, the childminder and grandparents could feed her whilst I was away from her.

We began with baby porridge and yoghurts and then introduced a variety of fruit and vegetable purées. The acceptance of these varied on a daily basis, one day pear might be devoured with glee, next time Baby G pulled a face like you were trying to feed her tripe! For a couple of weeks the only way we got her to eat fruit was by hiding it in her yoghurt – something she never refused. First a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt, then a 70/30 mix with fruit purée, slowly reducing the amount of yoghurt on the spoon until we even sneaked a couple of spoonfuls of 100% fruit. Shhhhh … don’t tell Baby G!!

Spoon Feeding

It took a couple of weeks but soon we were in full flow with a range of fruit and veg purees without the need for a yoghurty disguise. And so began her foodie journey!

How did you find weaning? Any tips or tricks you’d like to pass on?

I’ll be back soon to tell you how we’ve progressed.

Hasta la proxima / until next time