Cooking with kids: A Weekday Lunch

20140127-164346.jpgG is at school in the afternoons only this year, and with school drop off at 1230 it doesn’t really leave much time for going anywhere in the mornings. C is not really in much of a routine yet, so it’s a case of grabbing time when I can to spend with G.

Last week we had one day (yep, one!) which played out perfectly. After getting both kids up, dressed and fed, C decided it was time for a long nap, so G and I made the most of it.

We had a picnic with her dolls and dogs, a pretend sleepover in her bedroom (I even had to get the camp bed out, though I was allowed to have her bed), and had about three run throughs of her new favourite book – a ‘Biff, Chip and Kipper’ one about a swimming lesson. All whilst C snored contentedly away downstairs.

G loves baking, so taking a chance that C would stay asleep, we decided to break open her ‘I Can Cook’ kids cookbook and make something for lunch which ordinarily she’d turn her nose up at – a cheese and ham omelette.

She loved following the picture instructions, whisking the eggs, ripping up the ham with her hands and mixing it all up.

And more importantly, she gobbled the lot up too. Now G’s always had a healthy appetite, but she can get quite fussy beyond her staple favourites where cheese sandwiches outrank all others (except perhaps Yorkshire puddings). So for that plus keeping her happily entertained for a good hour overall, we’ll definitely be doing this again. Next time I’ll make sure we’ve got enough ingredients for me too!

And in case you’re wondering, yes, that is a dollop of mummy’s homemade tomato ketchup on the side.

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Cooking: Homemade Tomato Ketchup

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When I posted on Facebook that I was making homemade ketchup, the response I got was ‘why? Haven’t you heard of Heinz?’. Which is fair enough, really.

I’d like to say I was making it because it was somehow healthier or better for you, something wholesome and yummy mummy like that. It might be, I really don’t know, but the truth is I was cooking a recipe that called for a mug full of tomato ketchup, and I just couldn’t bring myself to stand squeezing that much out of the ketchup bottle.

As it turns out, it’s spectacularly easy, and really quite tasty, so I reckon I’ll definitely be making it again. I kind of amalgamated a few different recipes I found online, based on what I had in the store cupboard:

1 carton passata
1/2 cup sherry vinegar (could use white wine vinegar or cider apple vinegar)
1/2 cup of honey
1/4 cup water
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp mushroom ketchup
2 tbsp tomato purée
Tabasco to taste

It really is as simple as mixing the lot together in a saucepan, bringing to the boil and then simmering for about 30 minutes. Be warned, it can splatter rather a lot so you might want to loosely cover the pan (although don’t cover it completely as you do want it to reduce in volume).

If you need to adjust how sweet or sharp it is you can add either more vinegar or honey/sugar.

According to the other recipes I looked at you can store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three month, or 6 months in a sterilised container – although between us and our 4 year old I don’t think we’ll get much chance to check out the shelf life!

Christmas at the Joneses

Christmas at the Joneses

Christmas. DONE.

At 6 days old, C was understandably nonplussed by Christmas this year, but her big sister more than made up for it, running into our room first thing shouting “Santa’s been!” and delighting in helping her baby sister open her presents, as well as her own. It was all a far cry from last year’s performance, where G managed to step over her stocking without noticing it, and stumble blurry eyed into our room oblivious to the previous night’s Christmas preparation efforts.

Christmas for me is usually a blur of crafting efforts and a day spent hovering in and out of the kitchen, with attempts at homemade Christmas presents discarded at last minute when I realise I haven’t got time to finish them, making notes of who bought what ready for writing thank you notes and channeling wrapping paper straight into the bin, and of course spending a disproportionate amount of time making Christmas dinner.

This year, somewhat blurry eyed myself from nights of cluster feeding from C, I happily handed over all these duties to the other half, who did a sterling job. 3 years of being a stay-at-home-Dad means he’s more at home than I am in the kitchen nowadays, even whipping up a batch of pannetone and serving up peach bellinis (our prize from the school Christmas fair bottle tombola) with breakfast. C did her part by sleeping through Christmas dinner meaning I got to eat it both two handed and whilst it was still hot – a revelation!

It’ll be a few years before C’s excitement about Christmas reaches her sister’s fever pitch, but this year really proved what others have told me before – it might be fun being a kid at Christmas, but it’s even more fun having kids at Christmas.