Friday, 29 November 2013

The Joy of Being Last

When we announced we were expecting our fourth child we got some very mixed reactions, ranging from 'are you insane?' (from my sister!) to 'are you going for a boy?' and a lot more in between. And strangely,while I wasn't too bothered about my sanity being questioned, I'm pretty sure I'm tethering on the brink most days anyway, but being asked if I was 'trying for a boy' produced an unbelievable amount of rage in me. Maybe it was in defence of my 3 gorgeous girls, my rage against the subtle implication that my husband would somehow love a boy more than his much adored little girls, but one thing is for sure it was a comment that rankled and was never well received.
I'm Tauren and although I don't buy much into the meanings behind this I am true to my star sign with regard to change...I don't like change. I was living in a house full of girls and I couldn't imagine where a boy could fit it, also I love things to be symmetrical so having a boy would upset this ideal symmetry and anyway I had a lovely girls name picked out, so that was it, it had to be a girl.
Of course the (slight) control freak in me had to find out, so when the scan revealed we were having a boy I have to admit that it took me a little while to get my head around the idea if it. I was not  in anyway disappointed, all I really wanted was a healthy child, but I did struggle visualise what having a boy would be like.
When he arrived I was, as I had been with all my children, instantly smitten. He was healthy and happy and that was all I had wished for, and in no time at all it was as though he had always been here. The differences of having a boy were huge though......he was a MONSTER to feed, feeding every hour during the day and every two at night!! I was so skinny from feeding him my sister referred to him as 'the home gym'!!
He was, and still is, incredibly snugly. 
And from when he could move he has been like a tornado through our house, nothing is safe in his path.
The suggles!
The cuteness 
The moodiness 
The adoration!

The biggest differences I've noticed though are nothing to do with him being a boy but are there because there is no 'bump' slowing Mummy down or making her cranky ( or crankier!!), there is no newborn on the scene stealing the limelight and as a result of being last this little man is getting away with murder!!
He has a temper that would frighten you, but his smile would break your heart and so that temper is quickly forgiven.
He throws tantrums that would shame you but his spontaneous affection is so adorable that he somehow gets away with it!!
He frequently tells me out of the blue 'Mummy I like your dress' irrespective of whether I'm wearing a dress or not and so the 'mural' on the sitting room wall is instantly forgotten.
He has 3 amazing sister who will bend over backwards just to get a laugh or a cuddle or a kiss from him and so this little boy could not ask for more.
Is he more loved than his sisters......most definitely not.
Is he more indulged because he is a boy, most definitely not.
Is he being spoiled rotten because he is the youngest....without a shadow of a doubt.....YES.

My Children Love Lettuce

The holy grail for many parents is raising children who, amongst other things, will eat a wide variety of healthy foods and  who relish the thought of trying something new. The reality for most though is that mealtime are often fraught, tense and accompanied by the omnipresent chorus of.....YUK!
As parent we try our best, we offer great variety during weaning and happily most foods are gleefully accepted by our open mouthed little fledglings, however once these little fledgling reach a certain age, usually after their 1st birthday, the first utterance of yuk can be detected, and so begins the downward spiral to all out food wars.
But does it have end this way, maybe not.
I have learned a number of things over the last few years which have managed to avert all out war.
This post comes with some Big Disclaimers: 
I do not claim that my children are amazing eaters BUT they will try almost all foods offered to them.
Secondly, I have on a number of occasions cried when the dinner I've spent all day preparing ends up in the dogs bowl.
Thirdly, when I hear another parent telling how their child loves olives a little small part of me dies inside!!

The following is a guide to how to encourage your child to try, and hopefully like, new foods.

•Always remember that the aim is for them to try new food, they are not obliged to like it. If they try it and reject it then discuss what they don't like, is it the texture, the taste or just even the look. Kids judge food a lot my appearance so figuring this out can help.

•Give the children, where age appropriate , some control over what they eat. My kids adore what they call a 'snacking tea'. This involves lots of different things being put out on the table and them getting to pick what they want to eat, try putting out food you know they like along with one new thing. Children are curious and once they realise that they don't 'have to' try something the quite often will.

•Don't assume that because you don't like something that they won't, let them try it and you'll be surprised, mine like broccoli which as a veg I'm not that fussed about.

•Have a 'bribe' food on the plate. As I said earlier, children judge food quite often by appearance, and will often reject it before even tasting it but if they see something there that they love they will be far more receptive to it. Things that work for us are for example: Pineapple added to Sweet and Sour Pork and Curries, Potato Croquettes added to any dinner, bizzarly  my children love Balsamic Vinegar and will only eat Salmon when it is drizzled on top! 
And of course stewed apple makes any pork dish a winner. If it works and makes the food a positive experience then it's fine by me.

•The last tip I have for encouraging them to try food is to not offer it to them. Eating something in front of your children, and making positive noises about it ( wow, this is yummy), which they have not been offered is probably the most effective way of getting them to ask if they can try it.

•If none of these work try not to worry, they won't go through life only eating plain pasta with butter!!!...they all go through phases and they will grow out of them, they too are allowed to like and dislike foods.

And finally, yes my children do love lettuce BUT they will only eat either baby gem or cos, and only if it covered with balsamic have to celebrate the small victories.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Stuffed Pork Steak

I know a lot of people don't like pork steak because they say it can be dry but cooked properly it is a delicious lean meat. As always I use free range pork from Pigs on The Green, it is so worth the effort of sourcing free range pork, the taste difference is immense and knowing how the animals were reared only adds to the pleasure of eating.
My kids adore apples in any form but really love stewed apples, which I serve with this dish, it's a little bit of a bribe to encourage them to eat this because initially they were reluctant due to the presence of the stuffing, I would eat a plate of the stuffing on its own yet for them it's all about the meat!
I just LOVE this stuffing, it's so tasty and really keeps the meat moist.

For the stuffing:
30g of Butter
1 onion finely chopped
Large sprig of thyme, leaves picked 
100g of breadcrumbs
1 large cooking apple, peeled and chopped into small cubes.

You will need

2x Free Range Pork Steaks split down the middle 
Some butchers string


Preheat oven to 180.
In a frying pan melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry gently until they are soft but not coloured.
Add the thyme leaves and apple and take off the heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs and mix well. Season the stuffing.
Place one pork steak, split side up, on a roasting tray,place the stuffing on top, squeezing it together to stop it falling off the side. Place the second steak on top, split side down. There is a wide end and narrow end to steak so have the narrow end of the top steak over the wide end of the bottom steak.
Tie up the meat tightly with butchers string.
Add 100 ml of water to the bottom of the tray, cover tightly with tin foil, and roast for 40 mins, remove the foil and cook for another 20 mins.
Allow the meat to rest for 10 mins in a warm place before carving. 
Serve with creamy mashed potatoes, stewed apple and roast veg for a delicious dinner.

A GNO with a Difference

Last night after work I took my girls out for dinner, this was a BIG deal for us as the children rarely get to go to restaurants, because up till now there has always been a smallie who is likely to break/spill/cry/scream/ruin the evening. There still is, so this was a covert mission because the terrible two year old was being left at home with Daddy, and in order not to upset him by arriving home from work only to leave two minutes later with his sisters, the girls ran down to the gate, in the dark, to meet me. This all added to the excitement and my 5 year old informed me that, due to the absence of the male family members, we were on a GNO, girls night out!! I really don't want to know where she picked up this piece of information!
It was lovely to be able to sit in a restaurant with them and not be in a state of high alert that at any moment the wheels would come off the wagon. When the waitress asked if they would like dessert they couldn't believe that they were being allowed the luxury of lingering over a bowl of ice cream instead of being hurried out with mutterings of 'phew, we didn't do too much damage'.
It was a lovely evening, even with the 4 trips to the toilet, and them singing 2 Christmas songs, very loudly, while waiting for their food. 
The highlight was them thanking me, unprompted, for 'the best evening EVER' when we were leaving. We'll definitely be repeating our GNO, and maybe when the terrible twos pass, we'll let the boys join in.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Scrummy but Unauthentic Kedgeree

I am convinced that the best way to get children to try something new is not to offer it to them, sounds mad I know but I discovered it by accident and it works every time. Take today for instance, I had seen Salmon Darnes on special offer and bought two with the idea of making Kedgeree to bring to work for lunch. I made it just before collecting the children from school and when they returned and were milling about the kitchen I was tasting it to check final seasoning etc and decided to Blog it so needed to photograph it......immediate interest from the little people, all requesting a taste, it was at room temperature and this is actually my favourite way to eat this as I am not a fan of hot salmon.
The children absolutely loved it, all asking for their own bowl ( mean Mummy said no as their actual dinner was cooking!!) They now want it for tomorrow's school lunch.....result!!

I think the reason they are so willing to taste food in these situations is because there is no pressure to eat, it's not their meal so they know there will be no cajoling them into eating more and this removes the risk of having to continue eating something they dislike. I always give great praise for trying something new and try to get them to discuss what they like or dislike, it makes them think more about the taste and past judging by texture alone.
Anyway, sorry for the long ramble, here is the recipe, adapted somewhat from Delia Smiths version, I dislike smoked fish but if you are a fan definitely use it as it's much more authentic.


2 Salmon Darnes
1 onion
25g butter
1 tablespoon of Curry Paste
Basmati Rice, fill to 300ml mark on measuring jug
1 lemon
2 Free Range Eggs hard boiled ( not for too long though)


Poach the salmon in about 800ml of water until just cooked (about 8 minutes)
Remove from the cooking water and set aside and remove the skin and flake the fish, reserve and strain the cooking water.
In a frying pan with a tight fitting lid ( or saucepan) melt the butter over a medium heat and gently soften the onions.
Add the rice and stir till rice is evenly coated.
Add a generous tablespoon of curry paste and stir again.
Now add 600 ml of the strained reserved cooking water and cover with a tight fitting lid and cook on a low heat for 12 mins and then turn off the heat but leave covered for a further 5 mins.
Now fork through the salmon and eggs and season with salt, pepper and some lemon juice. 
This is a great lunch dish and works just as well the next day, my preference is to eat it warm/room temperature as opposed to hot but that's just me, whichever way you have it, enjoy.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Silver Linings

I woke last night at three o clock feeling sicker than I can ever remember. The bathroom became my best friend for the next few hours and at 6 I realised there was no way I could go to work. I hate having to phone in sick as usually that means an entire clinic has to be cancelled so the guilt is always there that my illness impacts on so many people!
Once I had made contact with work I crawled back to bed and my husband organised the kids for school and waited for our nanny to arrive to mind the youngest.
He however had a different idea, there was no hope of him staying downstairs with the nanny when he knew Mummy was up in bed, so after hearing him wailing I relented and let him into bed with me and although I felt miserable it was such a treat to have time to cuddle and snuggle with him and once we got warm and settled we went for a long sleep together. 
I can't remember the last time I did this and to wake up with his little hand holding mine made me feel immensely thank you darling boy, you showed me yet again that every cloud has a silver lining xxx

Friday, 1 November 2013

Supermom Gone Wrong!

This evening was not a good evening.
On my way home from work I mentally donned my Supermom outfit, you know the one that has a ready and happy smile for the children regardless of how busy your day has been, the one that allows you to sit and listen to how your children's day was without ever giving away the fact that you have a million jobs to do before you can actually finish for the evening, well today it didn't seem to be working.
I arrived in to hear a series of petty complaints from the childminder, she's new and not used to having all four of them for the whole day.
While I'm feigning concern ( while actually thinking that I don't actually care as these were issue that needed to be dealt with on the spot not 5 hours later!) the two youngest are bouncing up and down, like Duracell bunnies, looking for attention and asking for treats, they think that yesterdays indulgence is going to be an everyday occurrence!
It just went downhill from here.
The five year old couldn't find her favourite nightdress and was crying and the only compromise she would make was to wear the nightdress that the 3 year old was wearing, the three year old was having none of it....cue mass crying and whinging from both parties.
The 2 year old meanwhile had found a stash of last nights sweets which I had to wrestle off him which led to him headbutting me in the face during the struggle so now I joined the whinging posse.
I'd had enough.
I shouted...they cried.
They shouted...I cried
I cried some more which made them cry some more.
I looked at my Supermom outfit and there were holes everywhere in it, through the hole came the shouting, every time I tried to fix one hole something else happened to cause another.
Everyone went to bed miserable.
I'm sitting here trying to mend my Supermom outfit, I know I can, and tomorrow will be better but I guess my Supermom outfit isn't as strong as I thought!