Tag Archives: Nigella Lawson

Half a Pound of Tuppenny Rice. A Beginner’s Guide To Weaning.

Anyone who says they’re an expert on everything and has nothing to learn is both a liar and a fool.  One of my favourite sayings is, “every day’s a school day.”  With this in mind I thought it would be good to feature some guest writers on here, in particular writers who were going to speak about something I know little about.

I’m the proud Auntie to five gorgeous nieces.  I’m more than happy to cook with and feed the three older ones, in fact this is something I adore doing, but I wouldn’t really know where to start with the two babies in our family.  Babies can chew on a ribeye steak can’t they?  The only experience I have of weaning babies is reading the chapter dedicated to it in How To Eat by Nigella Lawson, (Chatto & Windus, 1999).  Whilst that makes for very interesting reading, I thought it might be fun to hear some real life experiences of this from my sister Hayley who had her first baby, (niece number 5), last year.  Here my sister talks about her, her husband and her daughter’s first tentative steps into the world of ‘real food’.  What my sister doesn’t know is, I’m hoping she might do some updates on here every few months so me, and any readers who may be interested, can follow this food journey as it progresses…

When my sister asked me if I’d like to write a guest post on Blow Your Own Crumpet I’ve got to say I was somewhat shocked.  It’s well known amongst my family and friends that I’m no cook.  My idea of being a good hostess is showing you where the kettle is and handing over a take-away menu!

But something happened on the 2nd December 2012 that was to change my attitude, (although I’ll still show you the kettle!)  My beautiful daughter, Elsie, was born.  Like all new mums, you start your journey wanting the best for your child, wanting them to have what you didn’t and wanting them to eat well and healthily.  I didn’t have any hands-on experience of weaning before being a mum so it was a whole new world to me but from the very start I knew I wanted my child to have fresh, homemade, tasty food.  I’m not criticising anyone who decides to feed their children jars of pureed food but I knew it wasn’t for me.  I did a lot of research into weaning.  The Health Visitor provided an NHS leaflet and plenty of information face to face.  After embarking on this research I was ready to start when Elsie was.

The weaning  started when Elsie was 5 and a half months old.  Starting weaning before 6 months is not recommended and there are a lot of restrictions to food types babies can have, but we knew she was ready so we went ahead giving her what we could.  She started with baby rice, followed closely by pureed banana.  We started small and before we knew it Elsie was eating 3 times a day!

The day Elsie turned 6 months was the day her wonderful journey with food really started.  If there’s any advice I could give, it’s make sure you start giving the lumpy food on their ‘half birthday’.  It is so easy to continue giving your baby pureed foods as more solid food can be messy, time consuming, there’s the fear of chocking and many times babies will point blank refuse to take it!  But keep going.  You’ll reap the rewards before you know it!

I’m no Annabel Karmel and would never claim to be, but I know I want the best for my child and if that means standing in a kitchen cooking a few evenings a month to make sure she’s getting the best I can give her, then I will.  I’m a big believer in bulk cooking and freezing meals, especially as I’ll be returning to work in September.   I’m certainly not one to deprive her of sweet, sugary things.  Elsie enjoyed her first bit of chocolate at 8 months old in Cadbury World and I couldn’t have been more excited to see her face as she experienced that taste for the first time.  Of course she doesnt get things like that every day, but once in a while I don’t have a problem with.  I don’t think it’s fair to stop a child enjoying a treat now and again.

Elsie is now 9 months old and so far has loved all the different foods she’s been introduced to, from moussaka to a custard cream!  We’ve been very lucky that Elsie isn’t a fussy eater, (so far!), and took to solids very well but I also believe that persistance and variety in textures has helped.  She loves fruit and many of the recipes I make are full of vegetables so she’s healthy, happy and satisfied.


I’m proud of the fact she’s tasted things I never have.  She’s opened my eyes to foods I would never have even noticed before and I thank her for giving me the opportunity to become a better, healthier person… and learning to cook!

Below are a couple of recipes I’ve cooked from Ella’s Kitchen: The Cook Book (The Red One) by Ella’s Kitchen (Hamlyn, 2013).  I really enjoy the recipes in this book and they’re enjoyed by all the family.

Magical Moroccan-Style Chicken 

I love this recipe as it’s easy and full of flavour.  It’s a great recipe to introduce babies to spices and many different textures. This recipe makes around 12 ice-cube portions if you’re freezing.  


1 tablespoon sunflower oil

2 chicken breasts (about 300g, diced)

1 large carrot, diced

1 leek, sliced

1 red pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

400g chickpeas drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon tomato puree

600ml/1 pint vegetable stock

100g dried apricots

50g dried prunes


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the chicken pieces for 4 minutes until golden on all sides.  Add the vegetables and spices and fry for a further 2-3 minutes

2. Add the chickpeas, tomato puree, vegetable stock, apricots and prunes and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the ingredients are tender.

3. Serve on a bed of couscous.

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Squishy Salmon/Cod Fishcakes

Fish is a very important part of the weaning diet.  I have made these fishcakes with both salmon and cod; the cod was the more favoured fish.  I tend to mash the green beans into the mixture rather than chop which seems to be better for younger childen.  This recipe makes around 9 fishcakes.  Great for freezing!


400g potatoes, cut in to large pieces

1 carrot, cut in to small pieces

200g salmon/cod fillets, skin removed

3 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 small leek, thinly sliced

25g green beans, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley


1. Cook the potato and carrot in boiing water for 15 minutes until tender.  Drain and mash them together, and set the mash aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, poach the salmon/cod in simmering water for 5 minutes until cooked through, then allow to cool.  Break up the fish into flakes, taking care to ensure there are no bones.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan and fry the leek and beans for 5 minutes until tender.   Stir them into the carrot and potato mash, (mashing the beans if you prefer), then add the cooked salmon and the parsley to the mixture and stir again.

4. Using your hands mould the mixture into fishcakes.

5*. Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan and cook the fishcakes for 5 minutes, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and warm through.  Serve immediately with some peas.

*If you are freezing the fishcakes do not do step 5 until you have defrosted and are ready to eat the fishcakes.

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Recipes courtesy of Ella’s Kitchen: The Cook Book (The Red One) by Ella’s Kitchen (Hamlyn, 2013)

I hope you enjoyed Blow Your Own Crumpet’s first guest post.  If you fancy writing one please just let me know.

What I find great about these recipes is they’re not ‘baby’ food.  I regularly make fish cakes and the Moroccan chicken sounds exactly like something I’d cook.  I’m no expert, but I would imagine that feeding your baby the same food as you from the get-go would help to introduce the idea of family mealtimes, people eating the same foods at the same time, not a continuous conveyor belt of different dishes being served up by a harassed cook.  Surely that has to be a good thing?

Karen x

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And so it begins…

The Oxford English Dictionary defines food as ‘any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth’.  For me food has always been much more than mere fuel for life.  I love eating.  I love cooking.  I love watching others cook.  I love talking about food, (I frequently discuss my next meal whilst eating my current one).  I love thinking about food.  Yes, I love food.  A favourite game of mine is playing ‘what would your last meal on Earth be?’  For some time now my choice has been as follows: old-fashioned prawn cocktail with brown bread and butter and/or homemade melba toast; proper roast chicken with spuds sprinkled with semolina and roasted in beef dripping, cauliflower cheese, sausage-meat stuffing, (cooked separately from the bird), and pigs in blankets; pavlova, ideally with raspberries, with additional cream on the side for pouring, (hey, it’s my last meal, calories are not significant!); cheese with water biscuits, (known my whole life as ‘Grandad’s biscuits’ but that’s another story); and to finish, coffee and After Eight Mints, (old school!)  The wine I’ll drink throughout this meal will be Barolo and Veuve Clicquot with port for the cheese.  I have given this considerable thought.  They say the road to Heaven is paved with good intentions.  Mine appears to be paved with good food!

Food is central to a lot that goes on in my life.  Pre holiday plans tend to involve what I’ll be eating more than anything else.  Before going to Paris recently all I could think about was the bread I was going to eat, not visiting the Eiffel Tower.  A trip to Laduree had to happen on our last day even though I was flu-ridden by that point and could barely stand.  It was worth it.  Two words…hot chocolate.  Most of my childhood memories have references to food, admittedly food of the kiddie sweet variety, but still.  In my mind there is no occasion or situation that can’t be enhanced by the introduction of food.  If people are happy, I’ll feed them.  If they’re upset, I’ll feed them.  They have something to celebrate?  I’ll feed them.  My name is Karen and I’m a feeder.  There is nothing better for me than to have family and friends in the house enjoying food and drink together, making noise and enjoying themselves.  Whilst I like food and the eating of best as a team sport, there really is something to be said for a bit of self gratification.  There’s something deeply satisfying about sitting down to enjoy food that I’ve cooked or bought just for me.  My ‘single girl dinners’, as I like to call them, tend to involve seafood of some sort as Bobert, (my ‘better’ half), isn’t really a fan of food that swims.  These SGDs have also been known to take the form of crackers and butter or a bag of crisps!  This leads me on nicely to my next point.  Food snobs.  Can’t stand them and have no time for their pompous waffling.  Yes, I really love good food and I think the provenance of our food is very important.  However, I also think there is deep joy to be found in a packet of chicken SuperNoodles, and a roll stuffed with cheese and onion crisps is a thing of beauty.  I hope this blog reflects my love of food in its most humble form through to more highbrow experiences.

And so to the aforementioned blog…

After tweeting constantly about this love and posting numerous pictures of soon-to-be-consumed goodies on the Twittersphere, I finally decided it was time to free myself from the constraints of 140 characters and start blogging.  My first challenge in this world of wittering, as opposed to twittering, was to come up with a suitable blog name.  Many names were suggested and ditched and in a fit of frustration I contacted my sister to see if she had any ideas.  Almost straight away she got back to me with a name my much-loved brother-in-law had come up with…Blow Your Own Crumpet.  There is no doubt that blogging has more than a touch of narcissism about it and that, coupled with my love of a play on words, made this seem like a fitting name.  Now the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that the header photo on here is not, in fact, crumpets but roast potatoes.  Well here comes the confession.  “Bless me Father for I have sinned.  Not only have I never been to the confessional but I have also never cooked crumpets.”  Shocking.  This is something I plan to rectify to avoid my non-Catholic guilt every time I see my blog name.  Watch this space.

So if you’ve decided to read this blog, (I thank you), then you can expect the following: lots of chat about the food I’ve cooked, the food that others have cooked, the food I’ve eaten and the food I want to eat.  I also have a love of cocktails so some imbibing chat may also appear from time to time.  I’ll also try and post links to other blogs and stuff I like and I’ll be recommending products, producers, restaurants, etc. I think are worth mentioning.

As well as my love of food I also have an obsession with cookery books.  I currently own over 100 and there’s some weird and wonderful titles in there as well as the obligatory Nigella, Nigel and Delia.  I recently decided to set myself a challenge to cook something from one of these books every week so I’ll be blogging the results of that too.  The first book I cooked from in this challenge was the wonderfully titled ‘Are You Hungry Tonight? Elvis’ Favourite Recipes’. (Compiled by Brenda Arlene Butler.  Published by Gramercey Books).  In an homage to the great man himself, any posts relating to this challenge will come under the sub heading Elvis Has Left The Kitchen.  Uh-huh-huh.  Thank you very much.

Karen x

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