Things my kids happily ate this month 8

Where has this year gone? Mine has absolutely flown by, and I seem to be getting nothing much done. We took a holiday in July, and have another at the end of September, and the house renovations haven’t started yet, so August has been a bit of a dead month. But being home a bit more has given more time to play with weekend meal ideas. Enjoy!

Veggie-packed toad in the hole

There are enough vegetables in this to allow you to ignore the fact you’re serving up sausages in batter. 

Make a batter of three eggs, 300ml milk, 150g plain flour and a pinch of salt.

Heat some oil in a roasting tin then throw in chipolatas and diced sweet potato and roast for 10 minutes. Add some sliced red onions or halved baby leeks and some small fingers of courgette and roast for another 5 minutes. Then add half a cup of frozen peas and some asparagus tips, pour over the batter and stir together.

Roast for another 30-odd minutes until the batter is puffy and crispy.

Serve with gravy, if you like. I gave the Gs a spoonful of baked beans on the side, too, to further assuage my starchy guilt.

Honey and lemon chicken 

Full disclosure: Neither of them bloody ate this at all, but they should have done, as it’s quite sweet and non-threatening and full of vegetables they do normally eat. Plus noodles, yay!

Coat diced chicken in lemon juice, honey and minced ginger and marinade for at least an hour.

Bake in a moderate oven for half an hour, or you could stir fry.

I served this with noodles and steamed courgettes, baby corn, carrots and peas.



White bolognese

Obviously this is not a bolognese, but it’s tasty anyway.

Fry off some pancetta or bacon then add turkey mince, garlic and onions to the pan and cook until the meat is browned and the onions are soft.

Add a splash of white wine and cook off, then add a big blob of creme fraiche and a teaspoon of grainy mustard. Cook for another couple of minutes and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped tarragon.

Serve over whichever pasta your kids like/can manage.

Turkey meatballs 

I usually make beef meatballs for the Gs, as they need the iron and fat, but I had some turkey mince leftover from the bolognese so did these instead.

Mix turkey mince with a beaten egg and breadcrumbs to get a firm consistency. Add any veg you fancy – I had leftover avocado for lunch so that went in, plus some finely grated onion, courgette and carrot. Mushroom would also be good, or you could add some mashed white beans for extra protein.

Roll into balls and brown gently, then pour in a can of chopped tomatoes and a splash of water and simmer for 10 mins.

I served these with baked beans and peas but I would have done sweet potato chips if I had any in.




No stars or angels here

“Mummy, why is Poppy still on the iPad?”

Oof, that’s a fun one for a Monday morning. G Major asked me this on the way to preschool this week, apropos of nothing.

She was asking why Dad’s picture is still visible when I log into my Skype account. And while I was organising my thoughts to explain about internet history and contact lists, she reminded me, “Because he’s dead.”

Erm, yes. Thank you, poppet.

Talking to kids about death is hard. The accepted advice is to be honest, to answer all their questions, to not use euphemisms that might confuse them. Saying the deceased has ‘gone to sleep’ pretty much guarantees your child will never go to bed nicely again.

So when Dad died, we explained that Poppy had a poorly heart and it stopped working. And that’s what happens when you get old. And that he had died, and that meant he wasn’t here anymore, and we couldn’t see him again. But we could remember him, and that was nice too.

So far so good.

But because I’m an atheist, I couldn’t share a message of going to be with God in heaven, or becoming an angel. And I certainly wasn’t going to say he became a star, because I ❤ science and that’s not how stars work.

But I also failed to account for the steely practicality of a small child. I’m glad I didn’t use metaphors, but I recognise there is something sweet about a small child sending a goodnight to her grandfather amongst the stars. Nothing quite prepares you for the cheerily matter-of-fact way a preschooler will tell you over breakfast,  “Poppy died. And he’s never coming back”. It’s actually quite funny, if it didn’t leave me completely floored.

G Minor never met my father – I was 8 weeks pregnant when he died. And G Major doesn’t really remember him, although she recognises him in photos. Because I’m in the UK and my family are in Australia, there are limited opportunities for grandparents to see the Gs. Familiarity is all – G Major remembers the fire alarm going off in our old flat, but not Dad’s holiday in that same flat when she was 18 months.

Memories laid down before about 3 and a half tend not to stick around into adulthood, unless there is major trauma, so all I can do now is show the Gs pictures and videos of him, and talk about him, and about what Poppy and G Major did together. I want to give them a sense of their grandfather even if they can’t remember him. Ideally, they’ll have something more to say than a perky, “He’s dead.”

Which is much more useful than pretending he’s a star. And it’s why Poppy can stay on the iPad for a bit longer yet.

Yoghurt pot cake

Saturday fridge stocktake. A few bits of veg going mouldy, other veg I can probably stretch this week if I hide it in a sauce, butter that is sure to annoyingly run out in six days, before I do the next big shop, half a tin of coconut milk which means I have to do a curry again this week, and the wrong number of yoghurts.

We always have the wrong number of yoghurts. The Gs eat a small pot each in the morning, before nursery (yes, yes, I know it’s cheaper to buy a big pot and decant but I can’t face the washing up) but they’re sold in packs of six. That’s only three day’s worth. So I buy two packs, and then we have some hanging about, usually apricot because G Major doesn’t like that flavour. Then there’s the big pot of Greek yoghurt that I use up in some recipe or other and so have no breakfast. I need a yoghurt consumption algorithm.

But a glut of yoghurt does give me the chance to make one-pot yoghurt cake.

I first came across yoghurt pot cake in the book French Children Don’t Throw Food. Then I discovered Nigella does an Italian version. In all cases, yoghurt pot cake is a quick cake that children can help whip up in the morning then eat for an afternoon snack. The premise is that you start with a small pot of yoghurt then use that same pot to measure the other ingredients, instead of a measuring cup.

So it’s a cake, it’s quick, it minimises washing up and the kids can help? Yoghurt pot cake is clearly going to be something I make a lot.

For this particular cake, I used lemon yoghurt and added raspberries and chopped strawberries, because that’s what needed using up. But you’re limited only by what’s in your fridge – I’ve previously used strawberry yoghurt with strawberries, toffee yoghurt with chocolate chips, vanilla yoghurt with blueberries and apricot yoghurt with chopped nuts and dried apricots.

What you need

A pot of yoghurt (about 80-120g, the size of one from a six pack)
2 pots SR flour
1 pot sugar
Half a pot of oil (I used coconut but veg or olive is fine)
3 eggs
Splash of vanilla essence
Pinch of salt
Handful of whatever add-ins you’re using

What you do

Scoop out the yoghurt into a mixing bowl

Use the same pot to measure out the flour, sugar and oil. Add the eggs, salt, and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Coat your add-ins in a little flour to stop them sinking, then stir in and pour the mixture into a prepared loaf tin. I kept some pieces back and plopped them just into the top of the mix.

Bake at 180C. Check at 45 minutes – it should be crunchy and golden, with a skewer inserted and coming out clean. If not, give it another 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

The Gs had this for pudding with a drizzle of custard and then we ate it again for morning tea the next day.