Posts filed under ‘in the kitchen’

an OXO stocking fillers gift guide

I’m feeling quite relieved that I’m on top of my Christmas preparations this year. I wanted to spread the cost by starting early and make sure I had time and energy for the 12 days of December when the kindness elves come to stay. So most presents have been purchased and stashed including the bits and pieces for the boys stockings from Santa. I’ve yet to make Luca a Christmas stocking (I’m not that organised!) and thankfully I wrote a blog post about how I made Euan’s Christmas stocking a few years ago so it should be simple enough to fashion a second one. With the extra time on my hands I’ve been able to have a rummage around the OXO elves Christmas sack to bring you a new stocking fillers gift guide for 2017. Some of the OXO items recommended in previous years are still available and some of those items continue to be our favourite kitchen gadgets (see links at the end of this post for a little reminder of further OXO gadgets). The gifts we’ve trialled for you this year are all under £15 and our absolute favourite is less than a tenner. Gift 1 – 9” tongs with heat reisistent silicone heads, £13.00
I’ve been meaning to add a pair of tongs to my utensils pot since attending a ”low carb, high veg” cookery class at the Foodworks Cookery School while pregnant with Luca. We made a vegetarian lasagne with cooked cabbage leaves instead of pasta sheets and the tongs saved scolded finger tips. I recreated the recipe to try out our new tongs and found them easy to use and they lock for convenient storage. Luca enjoyed playing with them too of course so what’s not to love about a kitchen utensil that doubles up as a toy! Gift 2 – Steel angled jigger, £8
This is my number 1 kitchen favourite this year. It’s been designed to measure small pourable amounts accurately and you can see the measurement markings, in ml and tbsp, while looking straight down into it. On the OXO website it’s advertised as a cocktail measure but we’ve found all sorts of other uses for it like making salad dressings or simply to help monitor the nutrient value of the fluids we use. I use an app called MyFitnessPal, a free diet and exercise tracker, to become more aware of the nutrient value of the food I eat. I’ve been reducing carbs and increasing fats and combined with walking more I’ve seen a gradual shedding of the last of my baby weight (google ‘Grain Brain’ or ‘Keto diet’ if interested in the science behind that). It’s great using the steel jigger to measure small amounts of fluids instead of guessing or counting in teaspoons. For example, I’d been estimating a 30ml measure of milk in my tea when in fact I take double that, a difference of 100+ calories across my 3-4 cups a day (that’s equivalent to a couple of biscuits added on or a 30 minute walk to take it off). It’s a really handy tool to have in the cutlery drawer and it even doubles up as the perfect toddler size clutchable snack pot. Gift 3 – Beak ice cream scoop, £13
My boys love ice cream, especially G who’s been instructed to eat it in secret so the little ones don’t develop his insatiable sweet tooth! Thankfully E and L love the novelty of anything yummy frozen and served nicely and happily tuck into whizzed up frozen fruit. Zero added sugar, zero fuss. The only effort comes in the having to remember to put the bananas in the freezer the night before. Our home made fruit ice cream provides the perfect challenge for this tough aluminium beak shaped scoop as being dairy free it’s harder and more icy. The curved side edges and pointed end made it easy and it has a non stick coating for easy release. By the time the kettle had boiled to dip the scoop into E had already served up his own helping, evidence enough that this scoop can handle anything. He liked the novelty of the lever that helps to flick the contents out but to be honest it wasn’t necessary as it slipped off into the bowl easily enough without using it. Gift 4 – 3 in 1 avocado slider, £8.75
”The avocado slider splits, pits, slices and scoops for safe and mess free preparation”
. I’ve seen these before and wondered what all the fuss was about! I do get quite messy cutting and peeling my avocados but I figured a gadget wasn’t worth the bother. Turns out I was wrong and it brilliantly removes the stone without any damage or loss of avocado. OXO tried 700 different shaped avocados to perfect their design afterall. All of the avocados I’ve used it on have been a bit too brown and mushy for a nice picture so here’s a video clip of the avocado slicer in action. It really is as simple as it looks.

Gift 5 – Bakers dusting wand, £10. We reviewed the tea ball a few years ago and I find it’s always disappearing from the drawer only to be found in the boys room with jewels or lego treasures in it. OXO have come up with another use for it – as a dusting wand to neatly sprinkle flour, powdered sugar and spices onto drinks and food. The quick open and close twist of the half solid half perforated globe design, prevents clumps, dumps and powdery messes. It’s been sized to fit most flour containers for storage, a tactic I would have had to resort to if we only had one! Our favourite use of it is for sprinkling cinnamon on hot drinks and cocoa powder or cinnamon sugar on our pancakes. I’ve been using gluten free flour lately for baking and these pancakes made with chick pea flour and mashed bananas were topped off beautifully with a little dusting of cocoa. So there you have it, a few ideas to get you started on your Christmas shopping if you’ve not made it to the shops yet. Previous years OXO stocking filler suggestions are shown below and reviewed here and here.
All items are available from the OXO website. Enjoy x
Disclosure: I selected the OXO items in this guide to try. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

December 8, 2017 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

five ways with … a ton of rhubarb

So it may well be the wrong time of year to post this since your rhubarb harvest will be far from your thoughts and probably on the woody side now. But hey, let’s pretend I’m being really organised for next Spring when your rhubarb crown will be re-birthing after winter and at it’s finest! If you find yourself wondering what to do with the ton of rhubarb I hope you’ll end up with here are a few suggestions from the archives (sigh, from the good old days of having an abundant harvest from the allotment!)

rhubarb and green tomato chutney
Green tomato and rhubarb chutney - jar and rice cake 4B

rhubarb wine
nipitinthebud - 9-9-11_rhubarb and raspberry wine 4B

rhubarb relish
14-8-10 - rhubarb relish 4B

Choclette’s Rustic Rhubarb Galette

 
Choclette’s rhubarb, rose and white chocolate ice cream

 
This post has spent 5 years in drafts waiting to be finished!  The first three suggestions are my own nipitinthebud makes but growing small boys stalled any efforts to complete the post with some delicious rhubarb bakes.  So having been inspired by my husbands musical collaborations this month I decided to ask my friend Choclette at Tin and Thyme if I could feature some of her terrific rhubarb recipes.  I knew she’d come up trumps and if these ideas have whet your appetite be sure to check out her archives – she has enough suggestions for a ”10 ways with a ton of rhubarb” post!  Enjoy x

November 20, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

a first birthday (in pictures)

Having passed the 6 month anniversary of Luca’s first birthday last month (woops!) before sorting through the photos from his special day, here’s how we celebrated him.  Euan was off school with chicken pox and it was so lovely to have him home with us – it really wouldn’t have been the same without E there to “help” unwrap and play with L’s presents!  And it was lovely to have a birthday cake making helper.

November 17, 2017 at 9:53 pm 1 comment

melting wax crayons

With a craft loving 5 year old and a curious 1 year old it’s inevitable that things like sharp pencils and chewable crayons will find their way into the baby’s hand. Euan wouldn’t have known such things existed when he was this small yet Luca is growing up surrounded by interesting craft materials and big kid toys that make his baby things seem, frankly, rather dull. I had the bright idea to melt down E’s collection of crayons so that L would stop trying to put them in his mouth. The result was just different shape wax crayons he put in his mouth but hey, they’re no longer thin and stick like and E and I had a lot of fun making them.





To make wax crayon shapes

  • soak the crayons in water for easy removal of the paper wrapper
  • break up the crayons and place in a muffin tin or silicon shape mould
  • Bake in the oven at 150 degrees for 30 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Enjoy hours of fun decorating a large cardboard box with your new wax crayon shapes (L just loved putting them in and out of our zippy wallet).
  • .
    please note:  this will ruin your silicone tray we discovered so please don’t use one you love making chocolate shapes or cakes in!  Some other blog posts recommend heating at 200 degrees for 10 minutes but I didn’t fancy taking something that hot and liquidy out of my oven with kids in the kitchen.  I think a slower cooler melt time enables the different colours to remain slightly separate.

    November 7, 2017 at 11:38 am Leave a comment

    playing with the OXO mash maker food mill

    When E was a baby the first foods he tried were strawberries, avocado and chickpeas. We hand fed them to him or mashed them lightly with a fork and gradually expanded his palatte with food from our plate (although he didn’t have meat or bread until he was well over one). We didn’t consider pureeing having read about the benefits of baby led weaning where baby learns to chomp and then swallow rather than getting used to spoon fed purees and then having to learn to chew more solid food. We started using Nom-Nom Kids pouches as he reached pre-school age as smoothies were a convenient way of getting fruit and veg into him (and keeping his packed lunch chilled) but that was the extent of my food blending.

    Baby L has had a slightly different introduction to food, determined by the busy-ness of life as a second child, rather than any planning on my part. He started sucking frozen banana at 5 months of age to ease teething pain and quickly took to grabbing things straight from our plates. He’s quite the fruit monster and will happily try anything as long he gets to hold it himself. Apart from making smoothies to drink we’ve not really mashed his food too much for him.

    It might seem odd therefore to accept the challenge of reviewing a product specifically aimed at pureeing food for babies. I thought it would be fun to see if the OXO mash maker baby food millwas a gadget with a longer shelf life than the first 6 months of baby’s food journey. Baby L is 18 months old and I immediately had thoughts of easy fruit sauce dressed yoghurt puddings, fruit pureed pancake fillings, and making all sorts of dips to encourage L to snack more on veg. We started simply, mashing single fruits and big brother E was thrilled to be able to help. The blade in the mill is neither sharp nor easily accessible for little fingers so we even let Luca have a go. To compare mashing results we took two avocado’s and hand mashed the first (top photos) with a fork for the same amount of time it took to mill mash the second avocado (bottom photos – that’s a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce in the second picture not a past-its-best avocado!).

    The thing I love about the mash maker is its compact size. I’ve learned the hard way over the years that bulk making recipes is false economy when you grow tired of the same thing after 2 days or the flavour changes from being chilled in the fridge for too long. The Oxo mash maker is a small one cup amount and it takes little effort to use it as a feeding bowl that you just happen to turn the handle on to transform your own meal into mash. You can spoon feed baby straight from the food mill too so there’s no extra washing up created and it’s really portable for taking out to restaurants if eating out. We’ve always opted to give the kids food from our plate rather than buying a something-with-chips kids dinner. We played restaurants with last night’s dinner and a small portion of everything on E’s plate and this is how it turned out:

    Amazingly having mashed this mini meal for the purposes of the review L just picked up a spoon and started eating it! (he’d already eaten some of his veg and had climbed down from the table). I was really surprised as he generally refuses when I attempt to give him food on a spoon – perhaps that’s more to do with wanting to do everything for himself rather than what I’m actually offering. And in a week where he’s hardly eaten anything chewy due to sore gums he happily finished off this mashed version of dinner. I wonder if he’ll feel the same way tomorrow when he trials the pureed peas we turned into dip with a sprinkling of mint and drizzle of cream (E found these tricky to work into a mash as we just defrost our peas to preserve the nutrients rather than boiling them). We used the OXO baby food freezer tray to save some portions safe in the knowledge that the silicone lid would prevent any freezer burn or altering of the flavour.

    This is such a versatile item to have in the kitchen and not just for baby food. Whizzing up a few raspberries made a lovely, naturally sweet coulis for some Greek yoghurt which E then instantly turned into home made sugar-free raspberry yoghurt.

    E’s verdict? “I loved my yoghurt and look I’ve licked the cup completely clean”. And he had because the OXO measuring cup I’d served it in was not only a perfect baby portion amount but a 125ml measuring cup shallow enough for a small tongue to reach the bottom of. He’s requested it for all future pudding eating!

    As the OXO mash maker food mill was developed as a product for babies starting their adventures with food I thought I’d also ask a friend with a 6 month old baby what she thought of it. “I smooth pureed all of my daughters food when she was a baby and it seemed to create an aversion in her to try anything more lumpy and she seemed to gag a lot when she did eat chewy food well into toddlerhood. So with my son I read up on baby led weaning and liked the idea of that approach. The mash maker is a good middle ground for us as we can use it for first flavours and chewier foods and gradually adjust the smoothness to a slightly lumpier version by just not milling it so much”.

    The possibilities are endless with this lovely little gadget.  We’ve also now made a chunky hummus with chickpeas and yoghurt and baby L’s current favourite is a beetroot dip.  It’s great to know I can just pop it in my bag when we go out and be pleasantly surprised by what he’s interested in trying out with the simple turn of a handle. It would make a terrific gift for first time parents, afterall babies grow out of baby clothes gifts so quickly and this would continue to be useful long after the weaning stage is finished.

    Disclosure:  these products were sent to me by OXO UK to review.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own. 

    November 3, 2017 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

    baking with chickpea flour

    I’ve dabbled lightly with using gluten free flour in baking before but steered toward savoury recipes or pancakes to avoid being duped by the palatability of gluten free puddings laden with sugar.   I do have a gluten free lemon drizzle cake recipe on my blog but that is a case in point – it’s so totally delicious and moreish because it contains a ton of butter and sugar!  To be honest I’m not too keen on gluten-free flours, the results have always tended to be brick like and unattractive.  But today I happened across the gold medalist of gluten free flours judging by the totally spongy cake produced.  I found this recipe for chickpea flour banana cake on Camilla’s Power Hungry website and the result exceeded all expectations – I never imagined I’d be using the words “light and fluffy” to describe a gluten free cake! As Camilla describes in the comments section of her blog this recipe is intentionally sweetened for a more cake like texture.  I always look at the comments from other readers for insights into successful adjustments to a recipe, particularly sugar quanitities, the changing of which can have more than just an impact on the flavour.   I thought two bananas would have enough sweetness for a not-quite-savoury gluten-free carb alternative so I only used 2 teaspoons of honey melted with the coconut oil and 2 teaspoons of cashew nut butter (just using up almost empty jars). The result was a terrific texture and not very bananary at all as I only had newly bought firm bananas in stock (I’m guessing it would have tasted sweeter the more ripe the bananas are). Luca and I enjoyed it buttered and topped with jam and I’d happily dunk it in soup too.  I shall definitely be using this as my go to base recipe and re-work it with other favourite additions like lemon curd, spicy ginger and grated carrot and walnuts.    The other variation I made to the recipe was the addition of Pulsin pea protein powder. Camilla had suggested reducing the amount of yoghurt if using honey instead of cane sugar but as I’d already whizzed mine up I decided adding another dry ingredient would work just as well. I’m not generally very experimental with protein powders other than blending them into smoothies but as the Pulsin pea protein is flavourless I thought it would be a good opportunity to try it out. You would never know it was there and with no added sugar or sweeteners and 80% protein there’s really no limit to what you could sprinkle the pea protein powder into. It was lovely to do some baking with L. It doesn’t have to be complex cooking with children, a bowl and a wooden spoon suffice more often than not. L even had a go with my Oxo good grips hand held mixer which E tried for the first time around the same age. 4 years later stainless steel bowl and mixer still look like new and continue to survive being used in the bath for whizzing up bubbles and as a hat and accessory, as well as for so many different cooking tasks!

    Making Camilla’s chickpea flour banana cake (with variations)

    • 1.5 cups chickpea flour
    • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
    • 0.75 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 0.5 teaspoon salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons honey (Camilla uses 0.5 cups sugar)
    • 2 teaspoons nut butter (your own choice preference)
    • 0.5 cup plain yogurt
    • 2 large mashed bananas
    • 0.25 cup melted coconut oil
    • 20g Pulsin Pea Protein powder
    1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.  Lightly grease a 9 inch square baking tray.
    2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon).
    3. Whisk the eggs, sugar, yogurt, banana and oil in another bowl until well blended.
    4. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture stirring just until moist.
    5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan
    6. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes.
    7. Cool cake in the pan for 10 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.

    October 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm 3 comments

    easy peasy pink coleslaw

    13-3-17 - Beetroot slaw_Rachel's yoghurt 4BI’m still trying to get more veggies into my life!  Some days are more successful than others and I’m learning to over estimate the amount of fresh produce I need to eat to feel satisfied and double up quantities.  I made this coleslaw by magimixing a red onion, a hunk of white cabbage, 3 carrots and a beetroot.  I’d forgotten that I had run out of mayonaise so reached for some yoghurt instead.  It was actually rather delicious with this Rachel’s Greek Style Ginger Yoghurt.

    Luca rather liked it too (and getting so messy of course).


    Second babies eh, not afraid to try anything!

    April 3, 2017 at 9:03 am Leave a comment

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    Someone was excited to find friends have come to stay. "Help Mummy and Daddy decorate the Christmas tree" is the #kindnesselves first suggestion.
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#nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife E found his playgroup Angel Gabriel costume and photo from 2 years ago and found it amusing how much his arms had grown! 
#angelgabriel #christmasnativity 
#gloucesterlife It snowed all day and we were indoors with poorly boys (they had a 15 minute  play in the yard at least). This is what the allotment is probably looking like (#onefromthearchives January 2013). #nipitinthebudblog #snowyallotment #allotmentgardening #newblogpost - an @oxouk stocking fillers gift guide .  The steel jigger is our absolute favourite this year :0)
#nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife #oxogoodgrips #cookingwithkidsisfun #avocadoslicer #steeljiggers #stainlesssteeltongs #icecreamscoop #bakersdustingwand  #oxouk E's birthday is about 3 weeks after Christmas so I always start thinking about his celebrations around this time.  We've decided to book the community hall at our local cafe like we did a few years ago.  His 3rd birthday cake and jungle themed food will be a hard act to follow and he's chosen Dr Seuss for his theme so goodness knows what sort of cake we'll pull out the bag for this one! #birthdaycake #birthdaypartyfood #nipitinthebudblog #willywonkacake Rather intrigued by these!!!! @Regranned from @marksandspencer -  Introducing the avocado you never knew you needed. Our new cocktail avocados don’t have a stone and are completely edible (yes including the skin) In stores now in limited supply. 🥑🥑🥑 - #regrann
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