Friday, 3 April 2020

Miso Aubergines


These have quickly become a new addiction, I think I am making nearly once a week, they are so quick to prepare and perfect as a main on their own or as a side to protein. I love to top mine with the classic Japanese toppings of black sesame seeds, spicy schichimi togarashi and cripy onions, all of which are available from the supermarket or amazon.

Ingredients

1 Large Aubergine
2 tsp Olive Oil

Miso Sauce
4 tsp White Miso Paste
3 tsp Japanese Rice Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Honey
1 tsp Sesame Oil
Splash of water

Toppings (All Optional)
Sprinkle of Black Sesame Seeds
Sprinkle of Schichimi Togarashi
Sprinkle of Crispy Onions
Finely chopped Spring Onions
Finely chopped Corriander


Method

1.Preheat over to 190 Fan.
2. Slice aubergine into 8 quarters.
3. Place onto a baking tray and drizzle with oil, bake for 15 minutes.
4. Whisk together miso, vinegar, honey, oil along with a splash of water.
5. Remove aubergines from oven and brush on around half of the sauce and bake for a further 10/15 minutes until soft and cooked through.
6. Brush on remaining sauce and top with toppings of your choice or enjoy plain.


Potty Training In A Week

Potty Training



I’ve done this twice now, and like all the experiments I have done since having both of them, both times potty training were quite different. Shockingly, it seems that even though you may have the same approach, toddlers will behave differently. I am not sure if my results were different due to nature ( different sexes) or nurture (1st child vs 2nd child) but second time around, with a 👧 was so much easier.

All my potty training techniques come from the queen of potty training, my sister in law who had both of her kids out of nappies before 18 months. She is also the same person I went crying to when first time around, 👦 relapsed after 6 weeks. Which is fairly common but is also the reason I waited until writing up this post too. 

Generally as a parent, I like to take the easiest road and nappies after around 18 months are to be honest the easiest thing, by that age most could probably change their own, if they were ever bothered by siting in their own 💩. They tell you when to change them; sit fairly still and you can even time their poop sometimes to know when to wait for it; for number one nappies you can normally change them standing up especially the pull up types. So I was never overly eager to potty train either time around, one of the big factors for me was that once I started I didn’t want to go backwards so it was about finding a window of a few weekends we were free. I also avoided doing it around any holiday times as routine and habits are normally the first thing to change. 

The other factor that makes a big different is who else will be doing this with you, since both of mine were at nursery when they were potty trained I knew that being on the same page with them would be the most helpful, luckily they were and worked with me both times to ensure no mixed messages. The Nursery method is really similar, so no pulls up are worn, straight into real pants. To be honest, especially with my first one Nursery did most of the hard work, since that is where they spend the majority of their week.

My top tips:

  1. Don’t push it, look for signs that your little one is ready. Drier nappies, telling you before they go, showing an interest in toilet habits. Start putting them on the toilet before a bath or first thing in the morning to get them used to the idea.
  2. Choose a clear weekend with no plans, to dedicate it to this.
  3. Buy lots of cheap underwear, although 👧 got it so quickly that she now just has like 40 pairs of pants. But beforehand I choose some new fun pants and vests to get her excited, as you can’t potty train with the button romper vests on.
  4. Make a basket to have to hand in each toilet in your house. Will share what is in our basket below.
  5. Reward charts, smarties, stickers do whatever you need to, to make this fun for them too, it’s going to be a long weekend.
  6. I always went straight to the toilet, with a small seat rather than a potty, but then we have a toilet on the ground floor that I knew would take the same time. Nursery also only use toilets and not potties.
  7. Buy a stool so they can reach the sink, flush etc and continue to show how grown up and independent they are.
  8. Take them to the toilet every 10-20 minutes initially, this will be very boring for everyone involved but it’s the best way.
  9. If they have an accident, explain what happened, talk to them so they understand but don’t make a big deal over it and quickly go back to being positive for the next try.
  10. Don’t turn back, once you start be consistent, it seems so easy to just put a nappy back on after the 5 accident but just keep going and they will get their rhythm back again.

Method:

I don’t know if this method had a name but the key to it, is asking often, letting them have any accidents in real clothes so they get used to the icky feeling of being wet, encouraging independence and praising milestones.


If you are worried about your furniture or carpets, the dry wipes waterproof mats are great to place down while they are playing to save any accidents, or you could just use an old towel too.

Day 1:
We only day nappy training initially, not night at the same time. So in the morning take off their nappy, explain the fun of big pants, put some easy to take off leggings, joggers etc on and off you go. Keep everything else in their day the same, except every 10-15 minutes you have to go to the toilet, even if they don’t need to go. This is when the basket helps as you can give them a small toy or book to play with.
If you have any accidents, which you probably will, don’t make a big deal of it, just change them and explain next time you have to do that in the toilet.
Also when it does work, give praise, a sticker or sweet etc but again don’t make it a huge deal as you don’t want the reason for them going to just be the reward forever.
For naps on the first day we put a nappy back on but explained we only wear nappies for naps now.
Day 2
Exactly the same as day 1.
Day 3
The same as day 1 but you can start extending the time to every 15-25 minutes if you feel they are getting it. 👧by this point got it, and we thought it may have just been the luck of the day but looking back now she just figured it out preety quickly.
Day 4-8 
Continue the same with reminding them every half an hour of the toilet but letting them decide if they need to go or not.
After around a week, they should start to give their own ques and let you know when they need to go. A gently reminder if it has been a while and they are too busy playing always helps too.

👦 took a lot longer to potty train around 2-4 weeks and he did regress too once he had got the hang of it at around 6 weeks. However 👧 was a lot faster, she got it pretty much on the first day and was completely potty trained before the week was over, with no regressing back, she even went on holiday a few weeks later with an eight hour time difference and did great. I used the same method with both of them, but obviously was much more confident as a parent doing it second time around. 


Going out:

So after having a weekend at home, or given the current coronavirus a few weeks at home you will feel ready to go on your first outing with no nappy. It’s quite scary....but like most things it’s probably is as parents that are more worried than the kids. 
Take lots of spare clothes and a portable toilet seat. With 👦 we also had a portable potty for long car journeys but never ended up using it.
You can also buy a waterproof liner for your car seat for any short journeys too, just in case.
Do the same as you would at home, remind them often and even before this virus existed make sure they wash their hands properly as public toilets can be nasty with kids who love to touch everything in them. 
Just ask my husband who wants got his leg tickled with a toilet cleaner brush by 👦 in the hospital toilet whilst I was having my 20 weeks scan.


Holidays:

I always use pull ups on aeroplanes until they are around 3/4 and fully fully potty trained, as even though they might be more than capable of telling you they need to go in plenty of time, you can’t always get to the toilet, seat belt sign, a big queue or during a night flight and time difference they maybe asleep for a longer time than expected. 👧 did a 14.5 hour flight only a few weeks after she potty trained so I was slightly worried but she was great and told me each and every time. Her pull up was always dry and I explained that I know that she is a big girl now but sometimes on aeroplanes and airports we cannot just go toilet like we want to when at home. 

Once on holiday, I try to take two portable toilet seats when they are younger, one to keep in a rucksack for when out and about and one in the hotel room, sometimes hotels provide these too but I always like to be prepared.

One of the best things about no nappies on holiday is not having to change sandy wet nappies, which I think is the worst ever, and also so much more space in your suitcase.

I took extra outfits this time and a few swim nappies just in case, but 👧 was great on holiday and it was lovely for her to be able to not wear nappies in the heat. We just have to practise sitting more lady like in dresses now that she is not wearing a nappy cover under them lol.

My packing lists have an older and younger toddler version and the main difference between these are being potty trained or not. 

Another thing that I find handy when visiting new places, hotels and restaurants is to make a note of the closest toilet when you arrive. Sometimes for example by the pool the closest toilet maybe hidden away, this saves a panic when they ask and time is critical.


Basket:

I make up these baskets and keep them near each toilet, for both my ease and also for the kids. They contain:
  • wipes
  • stay dry mats for sofas and playmats
  • Floor wipes 
  • Clean underwear
  • Clean joggers/leggings/shorts
  • Clean socks
  • Small toys
  • Small books
  • Stickers

Making it easy to clean up any messes and also entertain your little ones while on the toilet.


Shopping list:

  1. New pants
  2. New vests
  3. Toilet seat - I find the handles help with balancing and encouraging them to get on and off independently
  4. Toilet stool 
  5. Portable toilet seat - we have used this with both and always been great
  6. Stay dry mats
  7. Reward charts, rewards and stickers - I just printed one off, stickers from sainsburys and a packet of buttons.






Friday, 20 March 2020

Home Learning during Covid 19

Whenever I am torn about what the right course of action for my children is,  I always find it helps to go back to my own childhood,  to a much simpler time where I never remember being stressed or anxious.  

I grew up in a big joint family, and being the oldest, one of my favourite roles was playing the teacher to my younger siblings and cousins. When we grew up things were just a little different. We had play dates at home with our cousins, played in our garden, didn’t really go to any sports lessons at the weekend, only went out for dinner on special occasions or sundays, no visiting coffee shops, watched tv as a whole family and mainly ate home made food made from scratch. I can see lots of similarities between my childhood and what the world has been forced to slow back down too now. Like I said in my recent instagram post, as long as you and your family are all staying healthy this does not need to be a negative thing.

So back to my role as teacher, both me and my husband are now working from home, but he is nowhere near as extra as me, so hasn’t got involved in the planning but I know he will be great at the actual teaching. I know lots of people who are having to do this alone, so having a support network is really important. We are also very lucky that we are in this position, that we get to keep them at home with us, so many of the people keeping this country going for us are having to send them to school and nursery.

I sat down with the kids when this was announced, to decide on two main objectives, what we wanted to learn and what we wanted to do for fun. So we now have a learning list for each of them, and three fun lists divided up into playing & making, indoor activities and outdoor activities. I feel so much better knowing that I have some ideas down on paper for when I’m trying to juggle working, cooking and the house on top of trying to educate, comfort and enrich my kids too. Like so many parents, this is all unknown and brings a whole new dimension to working from home.

This is also not supposed to be used to add any extra pressure on anyone, all children are different and enjoy their own past times. We are also not teachers, this will be a learning curve for us as parents and them as children. My oldest really enjoys learning so I know that he will want to do maths and sums, and science experiments at home, but some children do not want this.

We are going to try around 20 minutes a go on the more learning goals and the fun activities will be very much child led, so however long they want to. We also have a garden for them to escape to at multiple times during the day to get some fresh air and allow me to have a cup of tea. 


👦 Learning Goals ( Reception )
  • Phonics 
  • Maths 
  • Writing 
  • Science 
  • Shapes
  • History
  • Reading
  • Telling the time
  • Space
  • Countries - going to try and do a country day once a week, focus on the culture, food and language.
  • Drawing
  • School work
We are going to use books we already have at home, posters, flash cards, workbooks, worksheets, practical life examples and online portals for most of the above. 



👧 Learning Goals ( Nursery Pre schooler ) 
  • Animals
  • Shapes
  •  Countries 
  • Reading 
  • Colours
  • Life skills
  • Nursery work

Playing and Making

 
  • Board Games
  • Puzzles
  • Dolls
  • Animals
  • Action figures
  • Shopkeepers
  • Restaurant 
  • Lego
  • Blocks
  • Dens/Fort
  • Hide & Seek
  • Make Potions - use pipettes, sieves and funnels. 

Indoor Activities

  • Obstacle course
  • Write a story
  • Movie night/day
  • Family sleepover 
  • Fashion show
  • Baking
  • Puppet show
  • Treasure hunt
  • Gymnastics 
  • P.e with Joe wicks
  • Yoga - going to be using Cosmic Kids on YouTube for this 
  • Tea party
  • Dance party
  • Show & Tell - thanks Harps @babybrainmemoirs for this great idea
  • Circle Time
  • Story Time
  • Superhero movie - dress up and film 
  • Film a toy review - setup a tripod and film 

Outdoor Activities

  • Obstacle course
  • Park 
  • Adventure trail
  • Football
  • Running
  • Olympics - egg and spoon race, hopping races, hoop jumping, skipping
  • Jumping
  • Dancing
  • Easter egg hunt


Arts & Crafts
  • Paper aeroplanes
  • Bookmarks
  • Make cards
  • Write letters & post to family and friends
  • Finger painting
  • Stickers
  • Play doh
  • Painting
  • Friendship bracelets 


School supplies

Posters - Lots of questions on these, my husband actually got these a few months ago so they still have very similar ones on - Posters

Whiteboards - Great for all ages, for younger ones to do mark making and older ones for writing and maths practise - Whiteboard and Markers

Phonic flashcards - These are really easy to use and act as a great reminder even for me who finds the only phonics thing baffling - Flashcards

Learning Books - I did not buy any extra of these but we have a lot already, from random shops, the works and amazon too, there are so many available and wipe clean activity ones too.

Lots of crafts stuff


Use everyday objects - Both of the kids attend or attended a Montessori nursery and one thing I love is how they use everyday objects to learn. You do not need to go out and spend lots of money, give them your clothes pegs, plastic jugs, pots and pans etc to play with too. 


Online links




I don’t have a timetable yet, and haven’t put a schedule together because to be honest I don’t know how next week will go down, I am starting this on a day I don’t work to make it easier to adjust. But generally we will be trying to do more learning and active play earlier in the day, with more of the creative and independent play later in the day. 

As much as I love the idea of this, and have always wanted to home school, I am also all to aware that the reality may not work. These lists and ideas are all good but please follow us along on Instagram to see how this pans out in reality.









Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Hariyali Chicken

Hariyali Chicken 


I have had lots of requests recently to stop posting cakes and do some more dinner ideas, so here is a delicious Hariyali Chicken recipe. we enjoyed this with pudla's - besan pancakes. A great light springtime meal that you can marinate before hand and then cook up quickly after work. I think the key for this marinade is firstly straining the yoghurt, this made such a difference in helping it stick to the chicken and not resulting in lots of water being released when cooking in the oven, also I think as this is twice cooked you really do need to use chicken thighs, chicken breast would end up being too dry.



Ingredients


600g Chicken Thighs skinless and boneless

Marinade
10/12 stems of Fresh Mint - large handful of leaves picked off
75g Coriander - stalks and leaves
1 inch piece of Ginger
1/2 Lime juiced
2 tsp Oil (rapeseed)
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Dried Mango Powder
2 Green Chillies ( Omit for Children)
2 tbsp Plain Yoghurt

1 Yellow Pepper
1 Red Pepper
2 tbsp of Oil
2 tsp of Cumin Seeds
1 tsp of Salt
1 tsp of Ground Coriander
1 Red Onion
3 cloves of Garlic
1 Green Chilli
2 tbsp of Water
Handful of chopped Corriander

Method



1. Strain yoghurt to remove excess water.

2.In a food processor add in the Mint Leaves, 70g of Coriander, Ginger, Lime juice, Oil, salt, pepper, ground cumin, mango powder and green chillies - grind until it forms a smooth paste.
3. Add in strained yoghurt.

4. Massage the marinade into the chicken thighs and leave for 6 hours at least or overnight.
5. Preheat an oven to 200 Fan and remove chicken from the fridge to reach room temperature.
6. Chop up yellow and red pepper into cubes.

7. Place chicken and peppers onto a tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil, bake for around 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
8. Finely slice onion and finely chop garlic.
9. Once chicken has cooked and cooled slightly shred up on the tray.
10. Heat remaining 1 tbsp of oil, add in cumin seeds and cook for 2 minutes.
11. Add in onions and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes.
12. Add in salt, ground coriander and green chilli and cook out for 2 minutes.
13. Add in shredded chicken, peppers and cooking juices.

14. Add in 2 tbsp of water and cook on high for 5 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed.
15. Top with chopped corriander and serve.



Pudla/Pura/Chilla - Chickpea Pancake


Besan Chilla


I know a lot of people probably grew up eating these, but I did not, the first time I tried one was late last year for lunch in the Maldives. It was a delicious lunch and I just knew I wanted to try and recreate it once I got home. To make them more of a fuller meal, I added all the veggies I had in the fridge and shockingly the kids ate them. Considering one of mine is currently a beige only eater, the hidden veg did nothing to put her off.

With lots of staying at home and staying put over the next few weeks, these can easily be whizzed up with some store cupboard basics. Get the kids involved, I told them they were Indian pancakes so they both wanted a turn at whisking them up.


Ingredients


Vegetables

1 Grated Courgette
1 Grated Carrot
1 Spring Onions finely Chopped
1 Cup of Sweetcorn
1/2 Inch of Ginger finely Grated
1/2 Cup of Coriander finely Chopped
1/4 Cup of Mint finely Chopped
1 Green Chilli finely Chopped

Flours
1 Cup of Besan - Chickpea Flour
1/2 tsp of Tumeric
1 tsp of Salt
1 tsp of Garam Masala
1/2 tsp of Ground Coriander
1 tsp Carom seeds

2 Cups of Water
1/2 Lime Juiced
Spray Oil
3 tbsp of Rapeseed Oil


Method


Makes 6-8 Pancakes

1. Chop and mix together all vegetables
2. Mix together all flour and spices

3.Add in the water and lime juice to the flour, whisk to form a batter
4.Add in vegetables and mix
5.Leave to rest for 30-45 minutes





6. Heat a non stick pan, spray lightly with spray oil
7. Add in two ladles of mixture and cook on a medium flame for 2-3 minutes, once mixture begins to turn matt, sprinkle over some oil using a teaspoon before flipping over and cooking on the other side.
8. Once cooked through, serve with chutney, curry, yoghurt, anything that takes your fancy, these are really versatile




Monday, 9 March 2020

Holi Series - Masala Chai Tiramisu



For the final part in my Holi Series, I bring to you a Masala Chai Tiramisu. This is the perfect dinner party desert, I made 6 smaller individual puddings but you could also do one large one for bigger gatherings. I really liked the subtle flavour of the chai spices in this desert, you could also add a little bit of spiced rum to enhance this and take it up to the next level. If you do not drink, or are making this for little ones that it tastes just as good without it. I used ready made sponge fingers in this, mainly in the interest of time, and soak them for a few seconds on each side in the tea mixture before layering up. For the actual tea masala, I use my mums homemade version, but if you do not have any homemade you can buy this along with really good masala chai teabags from any Indian grocery shop.
Ingredients
200ml Water
2 tsp Masala chai mix2 Masala chai teabags

150ml Whipping Cream200ml Double Cream225g Mascarpone1/4 tsp Cinnamon ground1/4 tsp Cardamom ground1 tsp Vanilla Extract5 tbsp Icing Sugar1 packed of Sponge Fingers 3 tbsp of Spiced Rum (optional)

2 tbsp Cocoa Powder1/4 tsp Cinnamon ground

Method
1.In a saucepan heat 200ml of water, to this add in 2 tsp masala chai powder and 2 masala chai teabags and bring to the boil. Once boiling, simmer for 5 minutes, before straining through a sieve and allowing it to cool down.


2.In a separate bowl, whisk the whipping and double cream until it forms peaks, add in mascarpone, cinnamon, cardamom, icing sugar and vanilla.
3. Once the tea mixture has cooled, you can add in the rum if using.
4. Taking the sponge fingers, soak on both sides for a few seconds before creating your first layer at the bottom of the glass.
5. Add in a layer of the cream and repeat these two layers again.
6. Mix together cocoa and cinammon and sift over the top of the last layer of cream.
7. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve. 





Sunday, 8 March 2020

Hankies Haymarket Restaurant Review









Hankies Haymarket has recently opened, in addition to their other branches and pop ups in London. We had not had a chance to visit any yet, so an impromptu date night provided the perfect excuse to check it out. Hubby had been after a Roomali roti since we were in Malaysia, I think after seeing all the roti canai, so this was my main reason behind picking Hankies, otherwise our go to for Roomali roti is always Dishoom.



A Roomali roti is made by pulling and rolling out a thin dough, that is then spread out but over an upturned Karahi to cook, resulting in a thin, slightly elastic and charred bread to accompany your Indian food. Compared to more traditional tandoori breads, a Roomali roti is a lot thinner and closer to a crepe in texture.


We visited Hankies on a Saturday evening and as soon as we entered the venue, after being greeted by a friendly front of house, we were greeted with upbeat background music. The decor is simple with clean lines using wooden panels to divide the areas, rich jewel tones in the accessories add to the luxury vibe of the place.


We were seated in the main dining area, which has low level lighting above each table and comfy cushions on the bench seating. The actual restaurant is very large and great space for events, including a private dining room for 68 people.

In addition there is a well stocked bar and lounge area, that would be perfect for pop into for just a drink if you did not plan on eating. However with the food being as good as it was I would recommend taking a seat and settling in for the evening.

All of the menu is designed to be tapas style, so the portions are a lot smaller, this worked really well for a table of 2, as we got to try out a lot more options, with lots of different flavours.





And if all the food, drinks, beautiful setting was not enough for you, they have a huge flower wall in the toilet, perfect for those Instagram selfies.

Starters

  • Bhindi Bhel - £3 - this was delicious, I was expecting the traditional crispy okra fingers, but they were small crispy discs. 

  • Crispy Gold Cod - £5 - this was actually the only dish I did not enjoy, the fish was too thin and the batter too thick and not crispy enough.


  • Mantu - £5 - these were delicious, little chicken dumplings with crispy sprouted dhal on top, the textures in each mouthful were top notch. 

  • Tomato Chilli Kachumber - £3 - sweet tomatoes, avocados and lots of fresh baby herbs
     
  • Chilli Lamb Chop - £9.50 - deliciously cooked, perfect spicing and really good quality lamb. 
  • Beef Sheekh - £5 -  a nice balance of sweet and savoury with a hint of chilli 

  • Roomali Roti - £2 -  a great accompaniment to help with the spice level and mop up all the sauces left on your plate. 


Mains

  • Hankies Dal - £4.5 - This was good, more closer to a homestyle black dhal, than the heavier restaurant style. 

  • Chive and Garlic Prawns - £5 - a really generous portion, perfectly cooked and subtly flavouring. 


  • Karahi Ghost - £7 - again a really good size portion for two people, well cooked lamb and a thick gravy perfect with a naan bread.

Desert 

  • Midnight Jalebi - £4 - little crispy black sesame seed swirls, soaked in a sugar syrup and served with ice cream. Just the right size and hit of sweet after a meal. 
  • Qulfi Falooda - £4 - one of my all time favourites, and this version did not disappoint. The best end to a meal for me.