Monday, 28 February 2011

Computer Problems and Self Growth

I have been having so many computer problems that I haven't been able to blog in weeks and I have missed it a lot.  I have been spending my time making cloth nappies, chopping my hair to donate to charity, trying out my new soap nuts and coconut oil, sorting through my belongings to donate and hopefully sell on Ebay...and catching up with some reading.

It is often hard to find the time to read during busy family life, but I have been rereading one of my favourites, A Return to Love.  I have started Affluenza which has been on my shelf for a while.  I have also returned to the Path of Practice which is about using Ayurvedic principles in every day life.  Yes, I like to read several things at once!  I have also been listening to my HayHouseRadio on my iphone a bunch lately.

As a result I have been meditating more and worrying less.  I am still experiencing my pregnancy nausea and seem to be catching every cold going, but I am having a lot more positive moments.  And as the weeks go on I am getting closer to meeting my little girl.

Now that my computer is up and running again I look forward to creating posts about my ventures and my reflections on my reading. 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Latest Obsession

So I have been holed up at home with a cold, a toothache, and of course the usual pregnancy nausea.  At times like these it is hard to go out, to read, to cook, to blog.....but I keep finding myself playing around on the LL Bean website.  Their bags, especially their backpacks have such a reputation for lasting forever and I have been thinking about getting some monogrammed backpacks for the kids. 

Since I have my mother coming to visit me when this baby is born I thought this would be a great time to order some things and have her bring them to me.  I have been playing around with colours and trying to decide if the items should have their last names, two initials, three initials, four initials (since the kids have four names each ).  I had ruled out first names straight away since I am not sure if this is safe in this day and age. 

So after asking for advice from family and chopping and changing my mind all week I have finally placed the order.  I am excited.  I am hoping they live up to their reputation of lasting for many years.  I hope the kids like them---my 4 year old picked out the colours!  We will have to see how we get on.

Baby-led Weaning

Gill Rapley draws on her twenty years of experience and research into infant feeding and her work as a health visitor. 

This book briefly explains why we have moved from a breastfed diet, to purees, and how we can return to a milk and solid foods diet starting from 6 months of age. The method is suitable for breastfed, formula fed, or mixed feed babies. 

I am fascinated by the approach, which skips spoonfeeding and hands solid foods to babies who are old enough to sit up unaided, and able to bring food to their mouths.  I found the research and examples quite helpful.  Babies who are fed from age four months need purees because they cannot chew yet.  Babies develop the ability to chew, and manage food in their mouths from 6 months and above.  Babies who are allowed to develop naturally are able to suck on foods and then eventually manage to chew and swallow without choking. This natural progression is actually hampered by feeding babies purees.  It is a bit of a messy process, but not much more so than when babies usually start on solids. 

Giving babies solid foods to gnaw on is not new and actually practiced in much of the world.  In Tanzania, where my Other Half is from, the whole family eats off of a communal plate.  Babies are breastfed longer as a rule, but they can join in the family meal when they like.  The World Health Organisation actually suggests that babies are breastfed for two years.  I did this with my son and never really worried if he had enough solid food because breastmilk is so nutritious and provides most of what babies need.

My son did not have much trouble with spoonfeeding, but I did feel that something wasn't quite right with it.  As he got older, I especially was concerned about his getting enough of each nutrient and not too many sweets.  This book explains how to work through these dilemmas.  This approach advocates a healthy eating plan for the whole family to adopt.  And it supports mealtime routines.

This particularly appeals to me right now because our meals have definitely become haphazard over the last few years due to our work schedules.  I feel that my son, especially has suffered for this and has become more of a fussy eater of late.  I would like to follow some of the nutrition and family routine advice now.  Hopefully we will be all ready to adopt the baby led weaning techniques when this baby is 6 months old.

It will be quite a while before I can update on this, since she is currently about 3 months away from being born!

Friday, 4 February 2011


Moosewood restaurant became famous for its vegetarian fare and its selection of cookbooks.  My mother had a few of their books when I was a teenager and I especially liked a few recipes from this one.  On Sundays the menu would change to include ethnic fare.  Although there were recipes from all over the world, my favourites were some from the British Isles!

This potato and vegetable casserole recipe is from memory, because I don't have the book and I have made it many times over the years.  I hope it is mostly accurate.  It is very similar to "colcannon."  I have not written this out step by step.  I hope you get the idea.


  1. Make some mashed potatoes and season as you normally would.  (I mash with butter, milk, salt and pepper).
  2. Steam or boil a leek, some chopped broccoli, and chopped cabbage.  When tender, mix with butter, salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
  3. Mix the mash and veg together.
  4. You can eat it like this.
  5. Or you can place it in a casserole dish, top with shredded cheddar cheese, and pop in the oven until golden brown.
You can make large quantities and freeze this is casseroles as part of the Cook once for the month.  You can serve this on its own as a vegetarian meal or as a side dish for meat.  We have it with good quality sausages---Irish ones work especially well if you can find nice ones.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Cook for a Month Trial Cooking

So here we have hit a bit of a snag.  I had already taken into account that I would not be able to cook all at once.  And I had taken into account that my son had a birthday party to go to, disrupting our cooking the next day.  But I did not fully consider the disruptions caused by a really bad cold running through the household.   I usually think it is best to stay out of the kitchen when you are sick, so this is a real dilemma.

A quick look at the expiry dates helps to organise the cooking over four days rather than two.  Or maybe more days...

Day One: 
Beef Brisket:  Cost a hefty £15.  Cooked in the bottom of the AGA all day.  Made one roast dinner, and FIVE cottage pies in various sizes with this one.  Portions:  17-20 depending on size.
Day Two:
Chicken:  One free range chicken cost £7.  I cooked this in veg broth, apple juice, leeks, apples, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, carrots, celery, and parsnips.  This made quite a few portions of soup.  We ate this and froze the rest in various size containers.  Then, we took the bones, added spices and more veg and put it in the bottom of the AGA overnight to make more stock.  This was made into soup and frozen/eaten.  Then the rest of the chicken was eaten during two lunches AND the rest made into a Thai peanut curry and tucked in the freezer.  Portions:  15-19
Eggs and Croissants
Day Three:
2.5 kg Chicken pieces:  These cost £6 for 16 pieces on the bone.  Four went into Honey Dump Chicken sauce, another four the same.  Then I divided the other eight into two more freezer bags.  I had originally wanted to make the Indian chicken and lentil casserole, but did not feel well enough.
Eggs and chapatis from the freezer.
Chicken Soup
Day Four:
Tilapia:  2 whole tilapia for £7.  Delicious.  Served with ugali and sukumawiki.
Chicken---made this into Thai Peanut curry to freeze (see above)

This is the story so far.  We still have cheddar, Parmesan, eggs, onions, apples, and more to use up.  And I haven't made any muffins yet.  I am hoping my wonderful partner will make bolognese tonight or at least divide the mince and put it in the freezer.  I know I am asking a lot of him.  But I am hoping that we will appreciate it in the end!  We will likely skip the meatballs this time around.  We have some great looking sausages that we divided up and put in the freezer as well.

Cook for a Month Trial Food Shop

I think we did really well! I spent more than I would have liked I guess, but we did not come home with food we won't eat.  I also managed to find plastic boxes on sale and glass baking dishes with lids!  This is great because I prefer to use reusable things instead of plastic bags. 

So I spent an extra £30 on those items.  And I found some great pillows on sale.  This was on my wish list because I am entering that stage of pregnancy when you want good pillows.  And mine are currently flat as a pancake. 

But all of the food was within my original budget.  And I was able to get cat food, cat litter, and everything else on my list.  By dividing the list we were able to get through more quickly than usual even though it was a Saturday afternoon.  We were all tired by the end though!  And best of all we were able to fit everything in the fridge until it is all cooked and put away. 

Cook for a Month Trial Pre-shop Prep

If your weekly shop takes major effort, then a monthly shop and cook is a military operation.  Here is what I did to prepare:
  • Choose a shop:  I chose Costco.  This is 40 minutes away from my home and I haven't been in a while, so this is a bit risky because I don't know their stock well.  They might not have exactly what I want and I may then need to go to a grocery store as well.  But there is no better way to find out than trying it.
  • Choose days to shop and cook.  I need a day when my Other Half can drive, and he needs to be home the next day as well to do lots of cooking.
  • Make sure there is room in the freezer and on the shelves for the goods.
  • Choose recipes:  I chose a number of dishes we like, ones I know to be inexpensive, a few which are new (but easy), and a few standby.  Since I don't know what they will have I need to be flexible.  For instance, I have no idea of they sell free range chicken.  Here is my preliminary list:  chicken goujons, cottage pie, meatballs and bolognese sauce, broccoli soup, fruity muffins, banana peanut butter muffins, mac & cheese, chicken & lentils with spices, Dump Honey chicken, and One Pot Feast.  I also plan to purchase croissants to freeze, ketchup, spices, a few canned goods, pasta and fish....if the prices are right.  Fortunately I have quite a few things, especially for the baking, already.
  • Make shopping list from recipes:  This is the scary part!  It is a huge list.  I divided it into two, so we will split up in the shop.
  • Check out my containers:  Do I have enough glass baking dishes, plastic storage boxes, and freezer bags for all of these things??  If not then do they have any at Costco?  My plan is to budget for more containers this time, and if they don't have them try to buy freezer bags until I can get some. 

Cook for a Month Trial Part One

To continue my new year's resolutions of paying off my debts and being more organised with family meals I thought I would give this a go.  I have been reluctant to cook-for-a-month for a while, but the only way to really know if it would work for us is to try it.

I am nervous that I won't want to cook all in one day, or two.  Especially since it is hard for me to find two whole days to devote to it.  Right now I am not cooking much at all because I feel so ill during this pregnancy.  But I have recruited the help of my Other Half who is willing and able. 

I am also worried about trying to come up with recipes we can make easily, and will enjoy for the whole month.  I know it will work better for our first venture to limit the number of dishes and just multiply them by 3-4.  We love cottage pie so I know we will eat that four times or more easily.

I think this will work in the winter when we like soups and casseroles.  I don't think this will work well for the summer when we barbecue and have more salads.