Always a place in my heart for cheese on toast

A few days off with a stomach bug where even watching a bird pull a worm out of the ground made me feel sick, but now back on track. Scarily, I seem to have developed some kind of gastro Stockholm syndrome, as beans were the food of choice when I could face it again.

Today’s lunch was just going to be cheese on toast, but I pushed myself a tiny bit because, obviously, THE INTERNET is watching. Looking in the fridge, I spotted some elderly basil. Suspecting that basil wouldn’t freeze well given that it’s more sensitive than Trump, I made some pesto. Dropped on with the cheese before it went under the grill and served with the inevitable grapes.

Into the hand blender beaker – basil, olive oil, tiny garlic clove (I’ve made that mistake before), flaked almonds (would have used ground but run out and no-one has the money for pine nuts) and grated mature cheddar (I’m assuming more baby friendly than aged Modenese Parmigiano-Reggiano, it does the job for a toddler lunch anyway).  Whizzed up (completely due to pesky spiky almonds) and added to toast. Ideally more evenly, but was against the clock, and it was winning.

I do like cheese though

Today involved going to the park, in the rain, to try out children’s new waterproofs. Visions of Instagram-worthy puddle splashes, maybe holding the cruising baby’s hands as she splashed in puddles for the first time, faded into the distance along with the waterproofs which were doing a sterling job hanging on the banister at home. So, for tea, a baked potato. Let’s just lower our expectations of today.

My future self does not need reminding how to bake a potato (however, husband, 190 for c 75 mins for ours, c45 mins for theirs). I like it when I scoop out the inside 10 mins from the end, mix with chopped spring onion, grated cheese, little bit of butter and dollop of Greek yoghurt and put back in for 10 mins, even though this was totally unappreciated by the recipients. I would strongly advise my future self, however, against cutting up some of the expensive vittoria tomatoes and baking in a little Le Cruset dish with some extra virgin olive oil for the last 20 mins to find the exact degree of cooking at which a tomato becomes palatable to a toddler. This is a frustrating and ironically fruitless task. I am looking forward to finding out when babies begin to set this challenge.

Lunch was in a cafe, so I’m not writing about making cheese toasties. Last night though, quesadillas. Friday night win as, in theory, veg goes in. I got the idea from Jo Pratt, whose books I love. She doesn’t specify whether to sell them as ‘like pizza’, but this works. Until visible veg is spotted.

Tortilla, scattered grated cheese over half, along with a bit of tomato puree, v finely diced onion and red pepper, could do basically anything else except raw meat or things that shouldn’t be cooked. Folded in half, cooked with a tiny bit of oil in frying pan on one side for c3 mins, then turn over, couple more mins, cut into appropriately sized bits, served. Greek yoghurt and avocado on side. Verdict – baby ate all (obviously), toddler said ‘I would eat it again, but no vegetables thank you, I do like the cheese though’. Don’t we all.

Soup: a revelation

Soup is my latest revelation. I know. But it’s only obvious when you know the answer! For some reason, I’ve stopped making soup, but I love it – warming, different textures etc for baby, can last a few days and most importantly for toddler – stealth vegetables. Necessary as toddler says stuff like ‘mushrooms make me poorly’.

This did admittedly take longer than 10 mins, about 40 start to finish. But, there wasn’t too much to do, which was good as I had to keep stopping for group hugs. Plus, the toast is good on its own for v quick lunch.

Chopped onion, in pot with oil, ideally I would have put in a small amount of shredded ham but it went out of date a week ago, so, no. Parsnip, carrot and a couple of potatoes (only a couple so it didn’t turn to glue) roughly the same size in pot. Cooked for a few mins until sweated down a bit, big handful of dried red lentils on top and then poured stock on top until very decently covered. Used Kallo v low salt. Ten mins from end – grate cheddar and half an apple together, pile on lightly toasted bread, grill, cut into little squares and call it ‘croutons’. Blended soup with hand stick blender. I would prefer it unblended but I never get to do anything I want anymore. Serve. Lion plate optional.

A day to start again

So today can do one. Toddler coughed so much on the panettone treat that she was sick all over the carpet, battle to keep baby away from hand mezze of 1001 carpet cleaner, shattered a glass jar all over the kitchen floor, cleaned floor to the standards of a lab with new hoover (best.present.ever.) only to drop and break a glass bottle an hour later. I am no longer allowing myself to touch anything breakable, nor operate heavy machinery should the opportunity arise. Toast for the third meal of the day was tempting but fish was already defrosted. With significantly less time to make tea, I opted for a kind of adapted kedgeree.

Egg on to hard boil for 10 mins into boiling water. Fish chopped into inch pieces and mild curry powder in frying pan with Olivio, added handful frozen peas and block of frozen spinach. Cous cous in bowl, cover with boiling water, cover with a plate and leave for 5 mins. Fluff cous cous with drizzle of olive oil, add egg (peeled in bowl of cold water and then chopped) and fish mixture. Serve to baby who cried when it was finished and toddler who cried when it was presented to her.

My house: full of beans

It’s 5th January and so I’m obviously a bit late to the resolution party – crashing in, laden down with bags, children and ideas I’m holding in my head, as is now my signature style. But I’ve set myself a challenge. In the last 14 months, I’ve spent my time grappling with a toddler, fitting in a new baby and starting a business – so let’s add another challenge. I love cooking, but over recent months the variety has certainly slipped.  One look at the children’s plates for lunch and there wouldn’t be too much to complain about – usually some kind of random bits covering all food groups and optimistically/nostalgically referred to as ‘ploughmans’, but then deja vu sets in upon subsequent viewings. And beans, lots of beans, especially if my husband is preparing it. There’s nothing wrong with beans, but by now our children are figuratively and literally full of them. My challenge to myself is to provide my children with more variety and a blog seems as good a place as any to provide a record for future inspiration and prod me into action through its public face. I owe my children more flavours; I want them to love being in the kitchen like I do; and if my husband occasionally takes a look at this and breaks the mould – all to the good.

This is mostly lunch, it can’t really take me any longer than ten minutes to prepare and has to be done with a toddler engaged in a three legged race with you, whilst the cruising baby is on the other side of the room about to put something in her mouth that shouldn’t be.

Are you ready? Let’s go: