Stir up homemade memories in 2018….

A very belated happy New Year and apologies for the radio silence. The blog has been enjoying a much needed sabbatical but I’m back with my two mini side kicks and the Chief Taster has been doing an expert job putting our recipes to the test. We’ve found our groove and I’m excited to share with you what we’ve been working on. Since moving back to Scotland from London six months ago we’ve spent a lot of time stirring up homemade memories partly because it rains a lot in Glasgow. In fact I’m seriously thinking about penning a recipe book titled “Rainy day cooking ideas for parents in Glasgow”! I think it could be a best seller.

I’ve taken the blog in various directions over the last few years but this year I’m really going to be focusing on recipes aimed at encouraging adults along side their children into the kitchen. This is not a blog about first tastes or weaning recipes or even recipes that children will necessarily eat. Although that would be a bonus. My eldest who is nearly three is such a fussy eater but loves helping me in the kitchen whether we’re making frittata or apple crumble. The point is to get children cooking from as early as possible. Let them feel, touch and explore and generally make a mess. Teach them about where their food comes from and what’s in season and when. I promise the fun will outweigh the chaos.

The recipes however won’t be focusing on cupcakes and brownies, although there will definitely be a few sweet treats along the way. I won’t them to learn how make soups, stews, salads and smoothies, understand when which foods are in season and become more aware of where food comes from and how it is produced.

In Scotland we’re lucky enough to have a bountiful natural Larder bursting with world class produce and spectacular flavours. Yet for so many the door never gets open to experience the taste sensation on offer. I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm on the West of Scotland and Otto and Reuben can experience first hand when visiting, what I did growing up and gain an appreciation with time about the hard work and dedication that takes place to produce and grow our food.

As the UK battles with rising obesity levels amongst children and adults on one hand and an increase in dietary fads, making millions of pounds for a few and playing into the hands of the vulnerable and naive, there is a need to go back to basics and learn how to cook good, honest homemade food with a focus on seasonal ingredients, which are both cheaper and more delicious.

I have battled my own demons with food in the past. However if there is one thing I want my children to learn is that food is not only fuel, but is something to be enjoyed. Something, which can create long lasting memories, in the preparation and in the sharing. I’ve written about my top tips to get children cooking and I’ll be revisiting this again as well as other top kitchen hacks, along with monthly themed recipes, kicking off with breakfast at the heart of February.

Until then as it’s been a while I have a few seasonal recipes to help banish the January blues The days may be short and dark but January is bursting with flavours. Seville oranges are at their best if you fancy making marmalade. Kale is king and pomegranates are the jewels in January’s crown, while roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes can prove to be super versatile in either sweet or savoury recipes. January is just the start of a colourful year ahead of food, and hopefully we’ll be able to capture the imagination of a child by introducing them to the heart of the home this year.

Kale Pesto…

One of our favourite vegetables, kale, is enjoying something of a Renaissance, going head to head in the popularity stakes with the avocado. What I love about kale is that it is versatile. Even if you find a bag of it languishing at the bottom of your fridge you can breathe new life in to it. Scatter on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, soya sauce and a few sprinkles of chilli flakes, bake for 25 minutes and you’ve got crispy kale chips.

Or blitz in a blender with a frozen banana, frozen mango, some mint leaves and apple juice and you’ve got an oh so good for you fruit smoothie.

Or you and your mini chef could try making your own kale pesto. What child doesn’t like pasta and pesto. Right?!

1. Add one garlic clove, 30g of whole almonds, 100g of kale, a handful of fresh basil leaves, 35g of grated Parmesan, 35g of grated mangengo cheese and 4 large tbsp. of olive oil into a food blender.

2. Blitz until a paste forms and serve through pasta, on toast or on a cheese and tomato pizza! Store in an airtight container or jar in the fridge.

Pomegranate and apple cinnamon bircher…

Pomegranates are fiddly and messy but kids love to see the surprise inside when you slice it open. And the fun you can have scooping out the crunchy little gems is worth the stains and splatters. They make for a very colourful and eye catching topping to you favourite breakfast.

1. Add two cups of porridge oats to a bowl along with a 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon, half a cup raisins, one grated apple and two cups of apple juice. Mix everything together, cover with cling film and allow to soak over night in the fridge.

2. The next morning divide the mixture between four small bowls. On a dry heat lightly toast a handful of flaked almonds until golden brown. Top the bircher with a spoonful of full fat Greek yogurt, a scattering of pomegranate seeds and some flaked almonds to serve.

Roasted butternut squash and sweet potato soup with a hint of cinnamon…

Sweet potato chips are a go to in our kitchen repertoire. Super easy to make and super tasty to boot. As is our recipe for sweet potato and chocolate ginger brownies which we’ll share in the fullness of time. But Otto’s favourite soup to make and of course blitz using the hand blender is roasted butternut squash and sweet potato soup.

1. Pre heat the oven to 180c. Begin by peeling one butternut squash, removing the seeds and chopping it into cubes. Place on a baking tray. Then peel and chop 500g of sweet potatoes into cubes and place on the baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 40 minutes.

2. Dice two small while onions and gentle fry in a good knob of butter in a soup pan until soft. Add 1litre of chicken stock and two tsp. of ground cinnamon. Bring to the boil and then simmer for five minutes.

3. Remove from the heat and add in the squash and sweet potatoes. Blend using a stick blender and stir in 100g of full fat creme fresh. Season with ground pepper and add chilli flakes additionally if you wish.

The recipe for the brownies is worth the wait…..

*Always make sure children are supervised in the kitchen and never left unattended, especially when dealing with hot ovens and hobs as well as sharp objects.

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