Wednesday 28 November 2012

turkey mince curry

I'm not a big fan of turkey. I cooked with the meat a lot at uni as it was cheap and possibly overdid it on the flavour. Breast meat is not quite chicken, and can be offputting but the dark meat is like a lean red meat in flavour and if treated well, can make a good alternative.  It's cheaper than meat or chicken, and it is much leaner too.  My recipe is similar to how my family has always made keema curry, and is adapted from a recipe in Cooking Like Mummyji by Vicky Bhogal.

So, heat 2 tbs oil in a pan, and add 1 finely chopped onion and 2-3 finely chopped cloves of garlic.  Fry on a medium heat until deep golden brown.

Lower the heat and add half a can of tinned tomatoes, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, 2 green chillies if desired, chopped or not to taste, 1tsp salt and 1 tsp garam masala.

When the mixture becomes shiny and the oil separates, add a pound of mince.

Stir throughly to coat, and then add 2 cups of frozen peas and stir well again.  Stir fry for a few minutes, breaking up the clumps of mince.

Add a cup of boiling water and bring to the boil.  Reduce to a low heat, cover and simmer for 20 mins.  Take the lid off and stir fry for a few more minutes.  The meat should be moist, but not swimming in water.  Add a tbs of dark soy and a tbs of light soy sauces, and serve with rice or naan or chapatti.

chop up and curry Sebastian!

So I finally seem to have found a way for Papa to eat (and ask for seconds of) aubergine! I wasn't especially trying to, I had resigned myself to the fact he would have a taste, and say no thanks, so I decided to make what I felt like with the one received in our organic veg box.  I was out shopping and visiting my aunty, so I texted Godpapa to "please chop up Sebastian for me" so I could get on with cooking as soon as I got in.  (This will only make sense to parents and carers of small children who watch Cbeebies; it is a reference to Mr Bloom's nursery.)

So I got home and got a good slosh of olive oil + veg oil heating and tipped the aubergine cubes in and set them squeaking.  As the character Sebastian is always singing, and in Bengali we refer to the aubergine as singing when it is cooking at the correct heat, I was quite amused to call Littl'Un in for a listen. She was delighted.

After a few minutes, I added finely chopped onion, about half a large one, and a teaspoon of cumin seeds.  I put the lid on  and let it cook down. I have a real abhorrence of any bite left to the aubergine, so I like the pieces small and mushed down.  I got on with the other dishes while this magic happened, in this case my turkey mince curry which I've been requested to post up too, and will do in my next post.
When I felt it was cooked enough I poured in half a tin of tomatoes, and a teaspoon of my garam masala.  I wanted a sourness to it too, so I added an extra half teaspoon of ground cumin and also at the very end, a teaspoon of green mango powder.
I may have added water and obviously salt to taste, some tomatoes in tins are thicker so would probably need a little water added to make this gravyish enough to mix with rice.

I'm sure it was the green mango powder, also known as amchoor, that made all the difference, so don't leave it out if at all possible.

Both girls loved it too, and there wasn't any left!

Friday 12 October 2012

Upcoming meal plan

I'm currently feeding an extra person,  a dear friend who has a badly injured hand and so cannot easily cook for herself,  so I'm trying to make as many one-handed-eating meals as possible. Here's what I've come up with for this week:

Saturday: jacket potatoes with chilli com carne and salad.

Sunday: jerk chicken,  coconut rice,  fried plantain.

Monday: khichdi,  fried eggs and veg.

Tuesday: my parents wedding anniversary,  we will have take out together.

Wednesday: crumbled sausage meat with orzotto and veg.

Thursday: oven baked bacon and tomato risotto and salad.

Friday: pasta with tinned salmon and creme fraiche and beans.

Let's see how that goes.

Friday 29 June 2012

By Special Request: Daal Parathas

I don't usually write up recipes I haven't recently made but my friend Monica is hosting the FussFreeFlavours Breakfast Club over at her amazing website and she dropped a hint really heavily that she would like me to submit a recipe I have mentioned in the past, but not made recently or blogged ever.  To be honest, I haven't blogged it because it is embarrassingly vague, and erm, basic, but it is true that many people wouldn't think to do it, so here goes...

Daal Parathas.

This is another food idea brought to me by my dear Sis In Law, Sonia, and I guess it would be best on a weekend, or perhaps if eating them cold then anyday.  They make a nice packed snack/breakfast/lunch too.

Imagine you made your preferred daal on Monday evening for supper, and you served it with rice.  But perhaps you ate all the rice, or you there is more daal left than would go with the leftover rice, so you put the left over rice in a tupperware (or "dubba" - a catchl-all word for box, tub, tupperware, container) with the portion of daal to go with it, and you have some daal left.
Or perhaps you want something different or more long-burning than rice and daal (rice always messes with my blood sugar these days), then this would be perfect for you too.

So, either as you clear up on Monday evening, or on Tuesday morning, or whatever morning you want this, or the evening before whatever morning you want this, you empty the left over daal into a large flattish bowl, and then you slowly add your chappatti flour (atta) to this.  Now, I really truly can't tell you how much atta you need, as daal varies in liquidity obviously, and I don't know what amount you have to start with!!!  With a medium thickness daal, like porridge, you'd probably need about double the volume of atta, but basically add small amounts and mix, until you get a soft, not stiff or dry, not sticky dough.  If you have made chappatti before, then that is basically the dough texture you want, allowing for the bits from the daal!

Now refrigerate for 10mins-half an hour if  you can.

When it has rested awhile, heat up your tawa or a good heavy frying pan, and break the dough into pieces about the size made when you make the OK sign with your index finger and thumb. Roll the pieces into flattish balls, and roll out one by one til about 2 mm thick, about a saucer size.  You can make them bigger if you prefer, but my kids get daunted by big looking food.  I find it easier to get a round shape if I flatten the ball on the rolling surface with my palm before rolling with a slight clockwise twisting motion.  I also use a this Indian "belan" rolling pin stick which kinda does the shaping as you roll.

I have a tiny kitchen, so I roll one while the previous one is cooking, but if you have space, roll them all out if you want.  I test the tawa is hot enough by dripping a drop of water onto it, if it fizzes and vanishes, the tawa is hot enough.  As this is a paratha, you will use some oil or ghee to fry these, but remember there will have been one or other in the daal in the first place.

I slap the rolled out paratha onto the tawa and then using a teaspoon of the oil or ghee, I "draw" a circle around the edge of the paratha and spread a little onto the centre of the upper side too.  After about a minute (longer if the paratha is thicker or larger) I lift an edge up and if I see black or brown spots, I flip it over, and repeat the oil/ghee circle ritual.  When the 2nd side is spotted too, I remove the paratha and put it in a chapatti "dubba" to keep warm.  Feel free to store the cooked ones between 2 plates if you don't have such a thing! Repeat until dough used up, or you have enough for your needs, and store dough for the next day.

There, it is honestly is that simple, serve with a dollop of yoghurt and some pickle or chutney, marmite, some salad, veggies, hot cup of tea or whatever takes your fancy!

Here are the links I'm supposed to link to, which inspired this post...

I shall try and add a pic of this next time I make it, but if you try it, do post a pic on Twitter or FB or elsewhere and comment a link to it!

Tuesday 5 June 2012

khichdi kadhi with veg

So some of my foodie Twitter friends have recently been tweeting back and forth about kadhi (a traditional Indian thin soupy sauce served with rice and usually thickened with chickpea flour, but with many regional variations) and khichdi (a mix of lentils and rice, again with MANY variations!) and I have to confess I had never before heard that many people associate the 2 dishes together, and once I thought about it, it made sense.  I know how to make 2 different khichdis, a Bengali one and a Sindhi one (which is unsurprising given my Mother is Bengali and my Father is Sindhi) and I know of the traditional accompaniments for those - for the Bengali yellow khichdi I always have a fried egg - usually on a rainy day. For the Sindhi one we have papadums and lime pickle.  Anyway, the more I looked around and asked around, the more I saw that many Indians serve theirs with some kind of kadhi, and suddenly it made sense as both dishes are quite light and might be not filling enough on their own, but paired together they would complement each other perfectly!

So after a fun afternoon at a slightly damp Jubilee Street Party, where the kids ate their fill but we didn't quite feel we'd had enough, we put the kids to bed, and I whipped up this combo in about 20 mins, basically the kadhi was cooked while the khichdi cooked in the rice cooker.  Here's how I did it.  (Oh I have to add that the recipe was handed to me by my dear Sindhi sister-in-law, who was brought up in Gujerat, but the addition of the veg was mentioned online lots, and I was inspired by Monica Shaw.  My dear SIL posted on Facebook to mention that she also makes a fishhead version which is slightly thicker, omits the sugar and has the addition of pan fried fishheads which give great flavour and goodness.)  In another post I shall post a recipe for some chickpea flour dumplings that can be added to the kadhi is desired too.

So I put 2 cups of rice and half a cup of washed (yellow) moong dal in the rice cooker with 3 slices of ginger and added 3 and a half cups of water and switched it on and let it get on with it.

In small pan, I mixed together a cup of yoghurt with 4 cups of water, a tea strainerful of chickpea flour (about 3 tbs, I used the teastrainer to sieve it so it didn't clump too much) and then I whisked like mad while heating it gently.
Once it was thoroughly mixed, I added a teaspoon of turmeric and a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. 
I then brought the whole mixture to the boil very gently - it is REALLY prone to boiling over - and let it softly boil for a few minutes until it seems to have a sort of "soft" texture and there is no longer a raw taste of chickpea flour in it.

At this point the recipe says to heat some oil or ghee and fry slices of garlic (3-4 cloves for this amount of kadhi) and a teaspoon of mustard seeds, about 7 curry leaves, a sliced green chilli and a couple of little dried red chillies.  These are normally then added to the kadhi.

However for this variation, I now fried a big stir-fry pack of veg containing edamame, cabbage, shredded carrot, pak choi, slices of red onion and stuff in a big pan, added the garlic, mustard seeds and curry leaves as stated above and then we poured the kadhi onto this.

The khichdi was also done by this point, so we served it up, and I shall admit that it was totally yummy, and I followed Monica's lead and had some left-overs for breakfast in the morning too!  One last important note about this, is not to use fresh mild yogurt.  Use yogurt that has been open a few days and has started to sour, or that unopened tub at the back of the fridge that is a few days out of date, obviously, use your judgement and don't get ill, but this dish should taste sour, and mild sweet fresh yogurt just won't do this.

Saturday 19 May 2012

cheat's pickled prawn curry

I love to take advantage of special offers on items that are usually more expensive than budget can allow too often, and I saw a half price on Sainsbury's frozen raw king prawns that I couldn't resist a month ago.  Littl'Un adores prawns, and tho Big' Un is terrified of them, she was away in Singapore, so I had to grab the opportunity and buy them!

There is a lovely recipe in a book by Anjum Anand for a pink pickled prawn curry, and I really fancied cooking it, but when I got round to cooking it, I was tired, and fed up, and wanted something quick and simple and I just couldn't handle following each step slowly to build up the layers of flavour. I glanced over the ingredients and realised that the spices she uses are basically those in the Bengali "panch phoron" or 5 spice, and I have a home mixed pot of that ready in the cupboard*, so I fried a teaspoon of my panch phoron in the karahi for a few seconds, then added a tablespoon of Patak's tandoori spice curry paste from a jar in the fridge.
The (thawed) raw prawns then were added and fried until cooked (pink and curled up) and I added a couple of tablespoons of water and tinned chopped tomatoes to gravy it up a bit.  A twist of lemon juice at the last minute zinged this up so that it was fresh and light and exactly what I wanted. 

Simple steamed basmati was the perfect foil and some crunch crispy salad leaves.

Littl'Un had 3 helpings.

* panch phoron=
1 tbsp nigella seeds
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds

Mix together in a spice jar and store until needed.

menu plan

It's been a while, and my friends have been enquiring, so here is this week's menu plan.  I wonder how much I will be able to stick to...

Sat: saayi daal, tandoori (?) salmon cubes, rice, maybe a few chapatti

Sun: oxtail stew & rice

Mon: jacket potatoes, Littl'Un's egg mayo, cheese, baked beans, roast spiced squtternut bosh.

Tues: sausage & chips with brocolli (giggly pig sausages and some organic chipolatas I have in the freezer)

Weds: steak & rocket in pitta bread (inspired by an amazing steak sandwich I had last weekend at Boyden's Kitchen.)

Thurs: chicken, mushroom, sweetcorn in cream sauce with pasta - maybe conchigle

Fri: pickled prawn curry, spinach sweetcorn curry, rice

Monday 7 May 2012

Parathas & kale for lunch

Not at all a quick lunch, but something I really enjoy on a cold weekend lunch time, crispy flaky buttery flatbread with tangy sweet chutneys, sour hot pickles and cool creamy yoghurt.  Bengalis traditionally enjoy a bitter green vegetable dish to accompany a meal like this to cleanse the liver.

This was a REALLY frugal meal, and if one has time and inclination, can really boost your budget a lot, as it's cheaper even than a few sandwiches for lunch for the family.

The paratha dough is easy, similar to chapati, but with a tablespoon of oil added - 2 cups of atta, half a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of garam masala, aforementioned oil, bound together with a quarter cup (ish) of water.  Firmly kneaded until smooth, and then left to rest for half an hour.

I then rolled small balls

 and rolled them out

then I spread a thin layer of melted ghee onto the rolled out circle, folded it up like an envelope into a square, and then rolled that out again. Then I slapped it onto the preheated tawa, and circled around it with a dab more ghee.

Once it bubbles up, there will be nice brown spots underneath, so it's time to turn it over:

Repeat for all the balls of dough, keep them all hot and serve together, or serve one at a time.

As for the bitter greens, in this instance, I had some kale I had attempted to dry in the oven as crisp kale snacks, with a touch of oil and soya sauce, but it wasn't as tasty as the Inspiral raw kale chips, and a lovely fairy Godmother bought me 2 big tubs of those, so I thought it worth a try to curry it in some way rather than just throw it out.

I fried some chopped shallots and garlic puree with some oil or ghee in a karahi and then added half a teaspoon of cumin seeds.  I dumped the kale in, and once it had cooked into the flavoured oil, I added a tablespoon or 2 of natural yoghurt, and finished it all off with a drizzle of mustard oil for the authentic Bengali scent.  It was heavenly and I will be trying this dish with fresh kale sometime, for sure!

My thali:

A kid thali!  She had mango chutney with her yoghurt later, and a boiled egg for protein. Even the Baby loved smushing his paratha into some yoghurt on his tray.  He even ate some!

Saturday 21 April 2012

Pork and Fennel

I often am unsure of what to do with Fennel, but I had a couple of fennel bulbs in the fridge from my Abel and Cole box and I thought I could do something with pork with them, and it went down a treat, so I thought I ought to blog it because I will otherwise forget it, and it was a good way to make a relatively small amount of meat go a long way.

I sliced up the 2 fennel bulbs in the v-slicer and then fried them with a finely chopped onion until they were all going soft.  I sprinkled in a teaspoon of fennel seeds and then a teaspoon of ground cumin to aid digestion.  I then crumbled in the pack of pork mince (on a BOGOF in Ocado) and browned it, then added a teaspoon of Marigold powder, and a slosh of white wine.  At this point I added a small pack of baby new potatoes.

I left this to simmer for around 20 minutes, and at the very last minute I stirred in a splash of cream.
This was served with some greens and some lovely sourdough bread from Boyden's Kitchen of course.

Monday 16 April 2012

Meatless Monday on the fly - courgette curry

A friend on Twitter has been championing the protein rich savoury breakfast lately. Hers usually consist of daal, kale, avocados, poached eggs and recently chapattis too. What can I say, her photos have been building a craving in my soul, and today I tried to do something about it.
(If you want to see what inspired me, have a look on Twitter & Flickr at Monica Shaw's tweets & pics.)
I planned a daal and rice, I wanted to practice my chapatti making and thanks to Monica, I wanted some veg curried in some way too.  I looked in the fridge and saw the pack of baby courgette I had bought for dips and baby led weaning food, and decided to try something with that, thinking if I can't get my family to eat courgette curried in some way, then I'm giving up trying to get them to eat it again!
I sliced a couple of garlic cloves and fried them in a couple of teaspoons of ghee and then added a teaspoon of cumin seeds. I then added the sliced up courgettes and fried for about 5 mins til the slices were softened and starting to crisp at the edges.
I had used half a can of chopped tomatoes in the daal, and reserved the other half for dinner tomorrow, but I poured about an inch of water into the tomatoey tin and swished all the juice out into the pan. Waste not want not. I then halved a handful of organic cherry tomatoes (cos that's what I had, otherwise I would have used some of the tinned actual tomato or chopped up a couple of normal tomatoes.)
Then I sprinkled on half a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of my garam masala. I left this to cook on a fairly high heat, to smush the tomatoes down, and then just before serving I stirred in a dollop of natural yoghurt. 
I have to say, I did myself proud, the flavour was exactly what I'd been going for, and it perfectly complemented the creamy smooth masoor daal. Littl'Un had 4 helpings, including the last 2 slices from Papa's plate. Papa had 3 helpings. Yes, Papa who won't eat courgette!
I have to add a note that I also served a really yummy salad of sprouted beans and lentils with half a mixed leaf bag, dressed with olive oil and blackcurrant & rosemary vinegar by Womersley Foods. The sweetness was the perfect dimension needed to complete the experience for this meal.

Sunday 15 April 2012


I'd heard much about Dishoom over the past few months, and followed them on Twitter, and drooled over the online menu, and read reviews, and seen people tweet about how lovely it is there, and so when my older kids were both away over the school Easter holidays for a couple of days at one point, I seized on the opportunity and took my good friend GodPapa to lunch there, to thank him for all the help and support he has been providing particularly the last few months since the Littlest was born.  GodPapa and I are both similar in our foodie tastes, and as Dishoom is all about sharing, it seemed the perfect place to go to together. 

The decor is charming and fun, evoking the Bombay Cafe feel, with the retro Indian posters and sepia family photos on the walls, lazy ceiling fans and the cabinets of medicines and tonics in the loo cubicles.  The joss stick smell made me smile as we walked in, and the music widened my grin further.  I had spent time in cafes in Bombay and Calcutta and Delhi in my childhood, the effect was there undoubtedly, with a safe, hip, western feel, so I didn't feel it was so authentic I couldn't drink the water, but not so copied that I felt I was in a theme park.

The welcome was warm and friendly, and we didn't at all feel unwelcome with a baby, even though it was lunchtime and all the other customers seemed to be office workers and locals.  Our waiter wasn't exactly smiling and friendly, but he was solicitous and not unfriendly. He explained how the menu works and recommended 2 to 3 small dishes per person, but our budget was unlikely to stretch to that, and to be honest, the 1-2 dishes were ordered per person were WAY too much!  To be fair, he did suggest that we might not need the plain rice, but we pointed out that the biryani rice might be too spicy to give Littlest with the daal.

I ordered a fantastic Bombay Virgin Colada to drink - pineapple, coconut milk with a twist of various herbs and spices and decorated with paan masala which gave a heady scent to the drink too.  GodPapa had a refreshing nimbu pani, which he loved as it wasn't sweet, and was really palate cleansing.

Our pau bhaji arrived first, and tasted just as it does when my sister-in-law makes it. The buttery crunchy toasted bun - the pau - with the spicy unctuous veg mash to spread on top, with a crunch of raw sweet onion to bring out the zing. The portion was perfect.

The other dishes all arrived together, house black daal, lamb biryani, rumali roti (literally handkerchief bread,) perfect plain rice and the special of the day - phaldari kofta, as well as a bowl of raita as suggested by the waiter.  A trio of chutneys were brought and described, and the waiter even offered an extra bowl instead of a plate for Littlest, without my having to ask. I just wish the waiter had smiled a bit!

The biryani had obviously been baked with the traditional dough lid, you can see the remains on the edge of the  bowl above, it was fragrant and deeply satisfying, the meat was so tender I was able to pop shreds into Littlest's mouth, and the rice was spiced, but not spicy.  The black daal was stunning.  Creamy, buttery, rich, comforting - my mouth is watering as I think about it. It was the real star of the show, and even GodPapa admitted that it was better than his (I'd have to say it was even better than the Gurdwara daal, and that's saying something too!)  The roti lived up to its name, it was thin as a handkerchief, and soft and lovely.  The only let-down was the special, which was quite expensive, and though tasty with a well flavoured gravy and bursts of sharp pomegranate, it got boring quickly and just didn't feel worth the £3 more it cost than the next most expensive thing we ordered.  I must admit I'd never heard of phaldari kofta, and I was actually alarmed upon googling to read that it is meant to contain raw banana as this wasn't mentioned anywhere, and as I know of people with severe banana allergy, I felt concerned. I can't imagine I would ever check for bananas in a curry!  Having looked at a mention online of Dishoom's phaldari, it seems they may not use banana or plantain, but as this seems to be the defining factor of a phaldari, I'm not sure what this dish was actually going for. I'm surprised, because the other dishes were unfailingly authentic tasting, but as a hit-rate, this was still definitely a fantastic meal.

I would certainly go again with more of the family, there were certainly things the littler people would enjoy, and Big'Un would love all the food, spicy included.  I'd certainly try the puddings next time, and I'd be more likely to stick to small plates for sharing, and try more things, rather than getting bigger dishes to share. 

I'd just like to add that the Twitter presence of Dishoom seems lovely too, to the point of even asking me to elucidate on a veiled reference to my only staff-gripe! Lovely people, lovely food, prices that were totally in line with a Covent Garden restaurant, not extreme, and a fabulously fun atmosphere.

Monday 9 April 2012

Boyden's Kitchen - some visual blogging today

 sausage roll

 chorizo frittata

 sinful looking stack of pastries

 teapots and cups all ready to go

the focaccia I wrote about on Saturday

 focaccia with peppers

chelsea buns and eccles cakes

my sausage roll and salad platter, served on a board

Little Sparrow tea, served with a little timer so you can let it brew fully

 fritatta and salad on a board

 artisan bread and gorgeous fruits for sale

and Little Sparrow Teas

Saturday 7 April 2012

Boyden's Kitchen

A few weeks ago, my dear MamaClaire posted on her facebook wall about a new craft cafe opening soon in our area, just minutes walk from our homes, school and my parents' home. I was intrigued by the idea, and then went onto the website and my intrigue ramped up to full-blown excitement. Knitting, food, tea, book clubs, family-friendly... what more could I ask??!

Opening day was today, and although I'd been asked to provide a cake for the Bishop's visit on Sunday, so needed time to bake (and boy what a recipe I chose, more on that another time...) I was not going to miss the first day excitement, and what a lot of excitement it was!

We trundled down on foot after a good giggle at GodPapa who asked if we'd be driving (he hadn't figured out how close it is!) and after an initial worry about whether it would be too crowded, we were happy to note that even very full and busy, there was plenty of space, to park the pushchair and spread out around their big table and relax. 

Ben seemed to remember us from our stop-by a couple of weeks back, and was helpful in seating us to our satisfaction. And that seemed to be the theme of the place - nothing seems to be too much trouble, and everyone seems happy to help.

There were only drinks "menus" up on the blackboard above the till and counters, and that was choice enough.  I plumped for a rooibos and cherry tea, Papa went for the Masala Chai, both supplied by Little Sparrow Tea and brewed in lovely cheery red teapots with removable strainers "because we hate over-stewed tea" (though I never know what one should DO with a removed infuser, even though I have 2 teapots with them at home too!)  Tea was served in lovely eclectic china cups, and the food plates were random but lovely too.  They also serve Monmouth coffee, which the coffee drinkers appreciated, and also Fentimans fizzies and Chegworth Valley juices. Littl'Un had the pear, and it was really smooth and creamy.

There wasn't a lot of savoury food on view, but there were some very tempting looking basket baked focaccia style breads (this really needs a photo to show you, so I will just HAVE to go back soon) so I plumped for one topped with leek and goat cheese, and it was GORGEOUS, and Papa had a beetroot leafy goatcheesey salad so we shared both, and they worked well.  We recommended Womersley foods dressings to them to complete the salad, and Anna noted down the name, which was typical of how you feel the staff care and are listening.  Littl'Un needed lunch too, and Ben was more than happy to make her a lovely simple (good quality) ham and cheese sandwich on lovely white bloomer bread, which she loved, and we also had a couple of bacon and avo baguettes which were perfect in their flavour and ripeness, which is rare when eating out.

We did have a few sweet things, and Littl'Un had a her face painted really spectacularly by Miss Lala, and was so happy there the whole time, that we never even had to break out the colouring books and activities we had brought with us!
I had a lovely chat with Anna about babies, knitting and more (her son is just a month older than mine) and I really felt included and a sense of belonging.

At the back of the shop, I finally found the knitting yarn and craft sales corner, having already spent a few minutes wandering and mentally building a shopping list of jams and breads and other groceries on sale from shelves tucked away in corners, but adding to the display effect in the shop.

Prices were very very reasonable, well within Credit Crunch budget, so not just an aspirational place to go to, it's very real and accessible.

We were all thoroughly impressed all round and look forward to becoming regulars, getting involved in events & I could even see myself looking for a job there when the Littlest is bigger... (and that's saying something from a die-hard stay at home mum!)

Saturday 11 February 2012

half term menu plan

We are away one night, and the kids may be away a couple of nights, and it's Valentine's Day on Tuesday and Papa has said he wants to cook as my gift! So we shall have:

Saturday: bacon and sausage pasta with caulibroc salad
Sunday: we are away, GodPapa will fend for himself
Monday: we may be back, we'll have roasted veg & cheese or beans & cheese wraps if we are.
Tuesday: Papa is going to make spag bol.
Wednesday: garlic and chilli buttered prawns with a mushroom risotto and some steamed veg.
Thursday: chicken, leek and mushroom pie
Friday: cheats mac & cheese and salad

On Thursday I will also bake some little cakes to take to playgroup on Friday, as it's BigUn's birfday on the Sunday thereafter... Hopefully will throw together some free-from ones too...

Tuesday 24 January 2012

This week's Meal Plan

I've been inspired by the exciting Mrs M's blog to link up my menu plans on a Monday (or as soon after as I can manage) so even though I write my plan on a Friday or Saturday to shop over the weekend (in person or online) I am going to try to get the plan on the blog every week, even if I don't manage to get any recipes up inbetween, though I will try and use Blogger on my SmartPhone for recipe posts in the week if I can.  Any requests gratefully received...

So here is this week, and it's been going to plan so far too:

Saturday:  Roast gammon (was half price in Morrisons) with halogen oven roast potatoes and roast beetroot with creme fraiche, parsley sauce and a bag of steamed mixed veg.

Sunday: oxtail stew & rice

Monday: jacket potatoes (microwave then halogen crisped) with egg mayo, cheese and baked beans

Tuesday: ethically sourced British veal, with mushrooms, spring onions and paprika in a cream sauce with Spaetzle & brocolli.

Wednesday: left over gammon, toast, carrots batons, olives, fruits.

Thursday:  decent quality chipolata sausages with Smash (we didn't actually end up having this last week)

Friday: cubes of salmon marinated in orange juice, sherry, soya sauce and sesame oil and grilled on skewers.  With rice and stir fried green.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Menu plan madness

I'd forgotten how hard it can be to get to a computer with an in-arms baby around; 2 older kids with homework, and cuddling, and playing, and it gets even trickier.
My meal plans have really changed as I have only a small window of time to cook in the day with a nursling in my arms, and it's important to me to savour every moment of every stage, and to respond to his needs as much and as quickly as possible. We won't die from a few months of speedy meals. I'm also using lots of pre-prepped veg once or twice a month as I get Healthy Start vouchers for fruit and veg, which I can't use with my organic box or with online shopping, so I use the vouchers to reduce my prep time in the kitchen, but still give the kids a variety or fruit and veg every day. My weekly plans reflect the shifts of Papa, and whether GodPapa is around to hold the baby or chat to him in his chair or similar.
For example, Wednesdays are often toast and toppings, because I'm relying on the girls to keep Baby entertained while I put things out, and they usually clear the table while I feed him during and after they eat. On weekends I try to indulge my cooking creativity a bit more when there are more people around to keep him entertained for longer, tho if it's a feed he wants, obviously, no one else can substitute!

On Tuesdays I should also have time to cook, but Papa and I like to spend the day together and often have errands to run and shopping to do, or even cleaning and organising of the house to do together, so we actually often end up with a fast meal, or even taking the kids to eat out! I'm talking Ikea, or the chip shop, not McD's, or KFC, nor posh restaurants either!

This week, we had a lovely impromptu visit from a lovely friend on Sunday, and I stretched the meal to make sure there was enough, but otherwise, here is the meal plan as I wrote it on Saturday:

Saturday: Pizzas from the supermarket, with salad and garlic bread.
With multi buy deals and varying toppings, this was a nice, inexspensive compromise between take away and home made.
Sunday: jeera chicken in a hurry (not marinaded, but cooked in the spices and with yoghurt added at the end), pulao rice (with peas), creamy spinach and sweetcorn, and Littl'Un's fave raw cauli/broc salad.
Monday: cheat's mac & cheese, using creme fraiche instead of making a white sauce, and this was using up ends of cheeses from Christmas cheese platters too.
Tuesday: Swedish meatballs, spaghetti and cream sauce and veg. (Tho we may sneak to Ikea for similar instead!)
Wednesday: toast!
Thursday: sausages and Smash and mixed veg (from the freezer). I'm not ashamed!
Friday: Jamie Oliver fish cakes (which were on offer) for me and GodPapa, tuna mayo rolls for the kids.
Saturday: roast gammon which was half price in Morrisons, which will give us plenty for left overs too. :D