This week is all about comfort, comfort, comfort. I've got some shop bought pastry to make a Chicken Pot Pie and Lyra loved her baked potato last week so that's making a return this week with some baked beans.
Saturday, 12 September 2015
We finally got around to checking out Filament Coffee on Clerk Street last week. We walk by often and I always make a mental note to go back and take a look inside...but of course it has taken us a while to actually make that happen.
It was quiet when we visited on Monday morning, which gave Lyra the run of the place. She loved her babyccino (warmed milk with chocolate shavings) and mini Pinnies and Poppyseeds shortbread. She also loved the tunes and danced away while I enjoyed my flat white and peanut butter blondie.
The staff were friendly, the coffee was exactly what I needed on a Monday morning and the sweet treats were fresh.
38 Clerk Street
Saturday, 5 September 2015
Sunday, 30 August 2015
I can't believe it is September already! We are really looking forward to more casseroles and eating loads of squash and sweet potatoes over the next few months. I'm making an awesome sausage, red pepper and butternut squash bake this week (this recipe without the onions) and a batch of bolognese sauce for our meat meals this week...both are totally comforting as the evenings get darker and chillier.
Sunday, 23 August 2015
Almost all of our activities start back this week, meaning that I don't have to plan as many snacks for Lyra. I always have a box of raisins and a package of oatcakes in my bag when we are out and about though because even after eating her weight in fruit at playgroup she will often beg for a snack on our way home.
Wednesday, 19 August 2015
We love sitting and enjoying our morning snack at The Pavilion Café on the Meadows, especially when the sun is shining and there are lots of people around to watch. Lyra and I have started a little routine where once a week we wander over to the Meadows and have a good session running up, down, and all around the play park and then walk across to The Pavilion Cafe on Jawbone Walk to refuel.
I love this place for the coffee, the date squares, and the relaxed (and very child friendly) atmosphere. Lyra loves this place for the toys. It is the perfect place to meet up with pals so the little ones have the freedom to wander around playing with bikes, scooters and toys while the bigger ones can sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee while it is still hot.
During the nice weather there are tables and chairs set up on the grass, but there is also plenty of outside shelter for those unpredictable days as well as a cosy seating area inside. The menu is great, with loads of choices of sandwiches and salad plates, as well as soups. We usually stick to the baked goods and coffees, but have also been known to indulge in a cheeky ice cream treat (yum)!
If you are hanging out or meeting people in The Meadows while the weather is still nice make The Pavillion Café your meeting place.
The Pavilion Café
follow them on facebook
Sunday, 16 August 2015
Here is a look at what we are eating this week. Next week all of our activities start again, which means that I won't have to plan snacks for Lyra. It also means that I will have to work her daily portion of yoghurt into lunch or dinner.
Wednesday, 12 August 2015
I can't believe that I lived in London for almost 3 years and didn't know that there was a huge Wetland Centre not far from Hammersmith! What's even more embarrassing is that for 6 months I was living in KEW...a hop, skip and a jump along the river!
Thankfully, our friends in London have set me straight and took Lyra and myself to visit this incredible haven just off the River Thames Path in Barnes. It was such a lovely way to spend the day away from the hustle and bustle of Central London (we braved that the following day).
The London Wetlands Centre covers a large area so we only really experienced a small part of it. It was difficult with Lyra, only because she is at that stage where she wants to walk walk walk but can't really walk THAT FAR or for THAT LONG but STILL WON'T GET INTO THE BUGGY. Because of that we took advantage of her timely nap and walked around as much of the South Route as we could and then made our way to the Explore Adventure Park when she woke up.
There are picnic spots dotted around the site so you can bring your own food, and there are quite a few picnic benches within the children's explore area (also close by are toilets, drinking water and baby change facilities), so we had a little picnic before exploring the climbing frame and the water play area. She really loved trying to race the ducks down the chute and LOVED getting soaked in the process. There were quite a few children in bathing suits playing in the same area- they must have known what to expect!
After playing we walked around some more in search of more "quackies" and eventually made our way over to the West Route to see the otters, who were very very very playful and cute.
We all had a wonderful and peaceful time. There were times when I found myself forgetting that we were still in London (only to be brought back to reality by a plane flying overhead to land at nearby Heathrow).
If you are visiting London, or even live in the city, and are looking for something a little bit different and a little bit quieter to do with children we would definitely recommend spending the day at the London Wetlands Centre.
WWT London Wetlands Centre
Queen Elizabeth's Walk
Monday, 10 August 2015
I took Lyra on an adventure to London over the weekend. It was crazy, it was fun, it was exhausting. BUT we had a ball, enjoyed the sights, discovered all the lifts at Kings Cross station, and ate really really well.
We stayed with some friends in Earlsfield in South West London where we were treated to breakfast at their favourite local spot Bean and Hop, which specialises in good coffee and good beer (and good food obviously). We went at the weekend and the BRUNCH menu was A.MAZE.ING. My friend had Instgrammed a picture of the eggs benedict a while back so I already knew that was what I was having.
Yeah, it was good. They kindly poached 1 egg for Lyra and she had that with some buttered sourdough and some of my thinly shaved ham. I'm always impressed when places will happily make a smaller portion of a menu item for Lyra.
The small cafe was busy, lots of people with dogs getting coffee to go (although it is a dog friendly cafe), and quite a few couples with a buggy and small person in tow. I can see why it is a local favourite.
And the coffee...it was exceptionally good.
Bean and Hop
424-426 Garrett Lane
Saturday, 8 August 2015
Since we bought our car I have been much more efficient at meal planning. Going to the supermarket once a week has made it so much easier for me to buy produce that will last me all week and to also be able to alter my meal plan based on what is on sale/ in season/ available in store. I still have to get fresh bread or rolls and milk and sometimes more fruit or cheese closer to the end of the week, but for the most part what I buy on Saturday morning will last us through the week.
Here is a look at what we are going to be eating this week. Lyra and I eat together at breakfast, snack and lunch time and then we eat dinner together with David when he gets in from work. Most weeks I stick to the meal plan, sometimes I change snacks or lunch on a whim based on what I feel like or more recently what Lyra asks for.
Thursday, 6 August 2015
Whenever we are over by Arthur's Seat, Holyrood, or Our Dynamic Earth we love escaping to Hemma for a sit down and a snack. They do a good range of homemade cakes/puddings, excellent coffee and are very child friendly.
Lyra and I visited recently after a busy morning exploring Our Dynamic Earth. I had originally planned to pop in for a coffee and a sweet treat before heading home, but once we made ourselves comfortable on the chaise lounge and dragged out some toys from the children's corner we decided to have an early lunch (it was almost 11:30 anyways) and take our time. Lyra had a very generous portion of scrambled eggs on toast (with cucumber and tomatoes on the side that very quickly ended up on my plate) and a cup of apple juice. I had an open face pastrami sandwich with sweet red onions and a remoulade, with a side salad and latte. We shared a portion of chips with plenty of "kekup". It was all delicious. We (I) felt really relaxed and we just took our time eating, and chatting, and playing and reading until it was time to pack up and go home.
I really like the children's menu at Hemma because there is a good variety of food to choose from and the prices are so reasonable. The whole brand, of which Hemma is 1 of 6 restaurant bars, really gets the importance of a good children's menu and catering to their needs (books and toys to play with) and that's why we love visiting.
Highchairs available and baby changing facilities.
73 Holyrood Rd.
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
The Rocket House Café in Cromer is another one of the cafés I keep vowing to try one day and never have gotten around to it, until now. It is situated above the Henry Blogg Museum and has fantastic views out over the beach. On a good day you can sit outside on the balcony and watch the crabbing boats come in. On a not so good day there is still some outside seating that is a little bit sheltered so you can still sit and see the water and the pier. We visited TWICE, on a not so good day and sat inside and on a beautiful day and managed to snag a table outside. Both times the food was great, service friendly and quick, and the coffee perfect.
On both snack time visits I had a decaf latte and a enormous cheese scone. Both times I was very very happy with my selection. The scones were HUGE and very cheesy, and the coffee was strong and hot.
Lyra is a sucker for a "cwasant" (croissant) with butter and jam and she was very happy with the ones she had at the Rocket House Cafe. They were warm, soft and oh so crumby! She is getting better at hoovering up her croissant crumbs though so there wasn't much evidence left when we got up to leave. Dad enjoyed the homemade cakes (Victoria Sponge and a Chocolate Fudge Cake) and the coffee too.
The Rocket House Café breakfast menu looks very nice (local bacon and sausages), as do the lunch and Saturday evening menus. I'm really happy to have finally visited here and am looking forward to our return visit in the Autumn.
Highchairs available and easy access to baby changing facilities. They are also happy to heat baby food (with the disclaimer that it will be hot).
Rocket House Café
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
We've been visiting Cromer in North Norfolk for years now, and yet it still amazes me that there are cafés that we haven't tried before. This visit I vowed to change that. Sure, we still visited our usuals (Huckleberries and Breakers) but we also enjoyed discovering what goods were on offer at some of the other cafés that we walk past every day.
We popped into The Jetty Cafe late one morning after a particularly intense sandcastle building session down at the beach. The café was busy with people enjoying their morning coffees and scones. Although it was a bit early we were in the mood for lunch (well I was anyway, I had been searching for a Cromer crab sandwich) and the ALMOST 2 YEAR OLD was hankering for a SNACK.
The staff were kind and service was quick. Lyra devoured half her GIGANTIC tea cake (with butter and jam) and a huge glass of apple juice all the while declaring it "LICIOUS". I really enjoyed my Cromer Crab sandwich (on white because...holiday). I love crab and I especially love Cromer Crab so I was bound to be pleased, but it was HONESTLY a good sandwich. Simple, just dressed crab and butter, but GOOD. I ended up putting the salad from the side inside the sandwich just for some crunch, but that is just what I prefer. The crab, of course, was lurrrvly.
Highchairs available, but I didn't check out the changing facilities (will do next time).
The Jetty Cafe
11 High Street
find them on Facebook
Saturday, 13 June 2015
We recently spent a week in Copenhagen with our ALMOST 2 year old. It was amazing. The city is small enough that we were able to see most of, if not all, of the tourist highlights. We utilised prime napping time to whiz around some of the attractions that might be less toddler friendly/appealing like the Marble Church, Nyhavn and some of the residential areas. But, for the most part everything we did was well received by both adults and toddler alike.
We were blessed with fantastic weather (we went during the first week of June) so we were able to spend a great deal of time outdoors, which is perfect for the short attention span of our toddler and her need to walk walk walk.
Our TOP 5 must dos
1. Copenhagen Zoo is slightly outside the city centre but it is easily accessible by public transportation. We walked from our apartment (which was close to the Central Station) and it took us about 45 mins. This zoo is fantastic. It was the most expensive touristy thing we did (170 kr. per adult, under 3s free) during our week in Copenhagen but it was worth it. It is a smallish zoo-with plenty of animal enclosures and even a separate Children's Zoo area complete with petting area and playground. You can bring a picnic or purchase food on site and there even wagons to borrow to wheel your coolers around with you. We ate at the cafeteria restaurant and the food was good, and not unreasonably priced for a tourist attraction (we paid 85 kr. each for a hot meal and a soft drink). We went on the weekend so it was busy, but not overly crowded. Our top choice, for sure.
2. The National Museum of Denmark was one of the few inside things we did in Copenhagen. It is a lovely, bright, modern museum with a fantastic hands-on Children's Museum on the ground floor where children can try on costumes, play games, ride a horse, sail in a viking ship and much much more. There are also mummies on the top floor of the museum and an amazing collection of old dolls houses on the 2nd floor. If you have a stroller or pram, be prepared to leave it (safely) at the entrance and use one of the ones the museum provides. The cafe wasn't open when we visited but we were able to sit in it to eat the snack we had brought with us.
3. The Botanic Garden is a lovely green space in the centre of Copenhagen. There are areas where you can sit on the grass, as well as designated picnic areas and cafes. It is a great place to let your toddler loose if they have been strapped into a stroller for a while. There are plenty of outdoor areas to explore, as well as the glasshouses (but you will have to leave your stroller outside of those). We walked through the gardens a number of times on our way to and from other parts of the city centre, and really enjoyed exploring the different pathways.
4. Ørsted's Park was, thankfully, a short walk from our apartment close to the Central Station. In it is a wonderful children's area. We only played in one of the 2 play areas, but they both looked fantastic. The, what I would call, younger playground has a couple of slides, a huge sand box, swings, climbing frame, and little play huts. There are communal toys to use for digging in the sand and I honestly think our munchkin could have stayed there all day every day. During the week the bigger kids play area is supervised by park staff and it looked like they had loads of fun toys to play with and activities to do.
5. The Round Tower is right in the centre of the main pedestrianised shopping area. It is free for children under 5 (25 kr. for adults). It was easy enough for our toddler to walk up (there is no elevator) and she loved looking out over the city from the observation area at the top. We visited The Round Tower on our last morning in Copenhagen and it was a nice, gentle way to end our trip. It isn't suitable for prams, we just left ours beside the ticket booth.
In addition to these TOP 5 attractions we really enjoyed taking our toddler on a Canal Tour. The cruise was 60 mins, and was maybe a little bit too long for her...but the prospect of looking for tunnels kept her in good spirits for the whole trip. Again, we had to leave the stroller at the ticket booth so be prepared for that. The canal tour was a good way to see a lot of the sites that are just a bit too far outside the city centre to drag a toddler along to, like The Little Mermaid statue and The Opera House.
Copenhagen is a great city to explore with little ones. If you stay in the city centre most of the main attractions are within easy walking distance, or accessible by public transportation. We found the train trip from the airport to the Central Station very easy. There are ticket machines where you can select your language and pay using a credit or debit card, and the train only takes 15 mins.
Be prepared to leave your stroller outside shops and restaurants. Everyone does it, so don't be worried (besides if you are travelling with a cheapo umbrella stroller like us no one will want it anyway...the prams in Denmark are like SUVs).
Embrace the outdoors and definitely visit Torvehallerne food market to stock up on picnic supplies to enjoy in one of the many public parks.
Just go and enjoy it!
Monday, 25 May 2015
When I was pregnant with Lyra I developed a huge craving/addiction to anything that had almonds in it...oh and cinnamon....together, separately, whatever...I wanted it. I still do. I could easily eat a batch of frangipane and not think anything of it...seriously...love the stuff.
Since I've had Lyra I've spent a lot of time eating bakewell tarts and cinnamon buns. A LOT OF TIME. I'm not interested in making either of those at home...I can't be bothered making my own pastry and most yeasty bakes don't fit into Lyra's schedule at the moment. So I buy, who cares.
The other week, though, I really wanted to bake something almondy and cinnamony so I slightly adapted an old family favourite and whipped up an appley-almondy-cinnamony-cake. SWEET PERFECTION.
4 eating apples
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2/3 cup oil (any flavourless oil)
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp almond essence
PRE HEAT oven to 180C (fan)
Grease and Line a 23 cm round spring form cake pan
Peel, core and thinly slice apples.
In a large bowl toss apples with 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.
In a small mixing bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl beat eggs and sugar until combined, add oil and milk and beat until smooth.
Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients, don't over mix.
Pour 1/2 the batter into the cake pan.
Arrange apples in a layer over the batter and spread the remaining batter over the apples. It is ok if the batter doesn't cover the apples completely.
Bake 1 hour or until tester comes out clean.
Let cool completely before taking out of the tin.
Monday, 18 May 2015
We bought a car last month. After years and years of relying on public transportation and grocery delivery we now own a car. It has changed our lives. Ok, maybe it hasn't changed our LIVES, but it has made it so much easier for us to go out and explore areas of Edinburgh/ areas around Edinburgh that have seemed too difficult for us to get to before.
Last weekend we pottered down the A1 to Dunbar. The weather wasn't great, we wandered around the harbour and checked out a little play park on the way to the beach and then found pretty much the only place open on a Sunday morning for a snack, Graze Coffee and Chocolate House.
Luckily, we managed to snag one of the only remaining tables (and a highchair). The place was busy, and almost totally full by just after 11 on a Sunday morning. In fact, I think the whole time we were there (which wasn't too long since service was quick and Lyra eats like a speed racer) there wasn't an empty seat to be seen.
In the back section of the cafe there is a dividing wall display of cakes and tray bakes and anything sweet you could desire...It was amazing. I was tempted by all the sweet offerings (there is also a pretty extensive food menu) but I had my heart set on a cheese scone.
The scone was great, and came with plenty of butter. The coffee was also good and I have it on good authority that the Malteser tray bake was top notch. Lyra had a toasted bagel with butter and jam and that went down very well indeed.
On an Sunday Dunbar is a little bit sleepy but still worth the trip for a beach walk and a lovely coffee and scone treat. In fact, I'd say it is worth the drive just for the treat!
Graze Coffee and Chocolate House
65 High Street
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
Ever since David and I moved in together we have had Pizza on Friday nights for dinner. For the most part we have had homemade pizza, with the odd frozen one and a good amount of Dominos. Actually, since Christmas I have been so lazy and it is fair to say that we have had more than just the ODD frozen pizza. Shame Shame double shame...I know. Anyway, while we were in France in March I started (didn't finish) Swallow This by investigative journalist Joanna Blythman. It is all about the prepared foods industry and all the stuff that goes into making our food. Sadly (or thankfully) there is a whole section on frozen/prepared pizza and pizza dough...you can imagine...so we are back to homemade pizza on Friday nights.
Now that Lyra is determined to help prepare EVERY.SINGLE.MEAL I've been letting her make her own pizzas...rolling out the dough, putting on her toppings (usually just tomato sauce and ham) and helping grate and sprinkle on the cheese (which is the BEST bit).
I don't use a recipe but I do follow these guidelines:
00 flour (about 3 cups ish, added in 1/2 cup measurement)
1 Tbsp quick yeast ( Doves Farm yeast is great)
250ml warm water with 1 Tbsp olive oil added
I start by combining 1 cup of flour, the yeast and the liquid until smooth and then just add the rest of the flour 1/2 a cup at a time until I've got a nice smooth dough.
This dough doubles in about an hour so you can make it pretty much at the last minute.
Tuesday, 12 May 2015
Although I try to frequent Edinburgh's independent coffee shops Lyra and I do enjoying sharing toasted fruit bread at Starbucks in the Quartermile.
I know not everyone is a fan of this big brand, and their business ethics, but the Quartermile location has plenty of seating, loads of room for buggies and at least 8 high chairs. Say what you will about Starbucks as a big bad brand...they really know how to cater to parents with little ones.
32 Simpson Loan
Monday, 11 May 2015
It is no secret that I am obsessed with anything Scandinavian and also no secret that given the opportunity I will happily bake for guests (or just myself) Scandinavian treats. I have yet to master the art of the cardamom bun, but I am adding more and more cakes to my Scandi repertoire.
I made this loaf cake way back in January for a gathering of the Edinburgh branch of the Clandestine Cake Club. The theme that evening was comfort cakes; Cakes to Feed the Soul, and I felt that this oatbake from The Nordic Bakery fit the bill perfectly. It is basically a warm bowl of oatmeal with berries in loaf form...perfect for any time of the day or year!
I love this loaf cake. It is dense from the oats that have been soaked in hot milk, and the fruit gets really squidgy and sweet when it is baked. I imagine it could be sliced once cooled and then frozen in individual portions making the perfect grab and go breakfast bar.
I've managed to find a link to the recipe on the Fuss Free Flavours website so you can try for yourself!
Friday, 24 April 2015
In February I attended a meeting of the Edinburgh branch of the Clandestine Cake Club at the lovely Patisserie Florentin in Stockbridge.
I can't even remember the theme of the evening...it might have been spring is in the air or something like that...the cakes were lovely and I managed to have a small taste of each one.
I decided to go a bit wacky this time and make something savoury. I don't know what possessed me to, and trying to find a savoury cake recipe was actually pretty difficult (even Pinterest struggled). It finally dawned on me that I could make a savoury roulade, since a sweet roulade is a totally acceptable cake...a savoury one must fit the "cake only" Clandestine Cake Club rule.
I settled on this recipe from the Jamie Oliver website. It is a lovely roasted squash roulade with a spinach, ricotta and goats cheese filling. The original recipe is made with gluten free flour and is actually intended as a vegetarian main corse for a Christmas Lunch. I used plain all purpose flour instead so it wasn't gluten free in the end.
I made all the components of the cake the evening before and assembled it about an hour before the event started. I left the cake, wrapped, on the counter over night and it was totally fine the next day (although it did crack slightly).
While nothing spectacular to look at (compared to the other cakes at the meeting) it tasted absolutely divine. The goats cheese added a slight tang to the filling and the cake itself actually tasted like squash and parmesan.
This was a seriously delicious SAVOURY CAKE.
Wednesday, 22 April 2015
Lyra loves to help in the kitchen, especially if it involves making HER SNACKS. At 20 months she likes to help measure out ingredients, mix everything up and be responsible for the QUALITY CONTROL. Because she likes to get her little hands into everything ans then straight into her mouth I've been trying very hard to find recipes that are egg free.
A few weeks ago we got busy in the kitchen and made a large batch of peanut butter banana cookies. Lyra helped to mash the bananas, measure in the ingredients and lick the peanut butter spoon!
These cookies are super easy to mix up, they take very little time to bake and freeze well too!
Banana Peanut Butter Oaty Bites
Adapted from www.engine2diet.com
Makes about 24
3 ripe bananas
3/4 cup smooth peanutbutter
3 TBSP honey (or maple syrup if making for a child under 1yr)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
PREHEAT oven to 180C
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl
Place large TBSPs of dough onto lined baking sheets ( about 1 inch apart)
Bake 10-15 until golden brown
Cool on wire rack
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
Instead of cooking a big Easter Lunch this year we decided to treat ourselves (and Nonna and Grandad) to lunch out at Apiary Restaurant in Newington. We had not visited before, but had heard good things from some friends who had attended a meeting of Edinburgh's Scran Salon there a few months ago. We often walk by and I kept on meaning to try to find a reason to check it out...so Nonna and Grandad's visit was just the ticket!
|children's mac and cheese|
We went along for a VERY late lunch/WAY TOO EARLY dinner (either way you look at it, it was 3pm). It wasn't busy, but there were a couple of other larger parties in...and it was Easter Sunday anyway. Regardless, the restaurant is lovely and bright and we had a nice table right in the centre with plenty of room for SOMEONE's high chair and in prime view of all the comings and goings from the kitchen (perfect for us nosey lot).
|ham hock hash and egg|
The lunch menu is nice. Not extensive, but a really nice selection of meat, fish and vegetarian...all with a little added spice. There is also a brunch menu, and a fabulous desert menu and the best part is that it is 2 COURSES for £9.50...seriously. The portions aren't HUGE. I'd say they are just right...like I was able to walk away feeling satisfied without needing to secretly unbutton my jeans.
|children's ice cream|
The children's menu is simple...2 courses for £5 with a choice of soup to start (Heinz Tomato) and then bangers and mash or mac n cheese and then 2 scoops of ice cream with sprinkles for dessert. There are some who would bang on about offering kids smaller portions of adult food and sometimes I do cringe when all I see is fried food and chips on offer...but for Lyra the mac n cheese and ice cream was JUST RIGHT.
|ice cream slider|
All in all we were very happy with the service and the food at Apiary and have already made plans to return when Grandma Cherry comes to visit next month. The food is delicious, and totally reasonably priced (there is a pre theatre dinner deal too). If you are in the area and haven't had a chance to visit Apiary yet...DO!
33 Newington Road