Tomatoes, fried rice, noodle soup and banana bread

Not all in the same dish but all scoffed today. I’ve been stuck at home waiting for a delivery. Apart for moaning rather loudly, I used the time to do home food. We picked two very red tomatoes off my daughter’s tomato plant. She was given the plant as a tiny thing from Greenslade nursery and over summer we have watched it grow. It survived the move to Scotland and has in fact flourished with many new tomatoes appearing on the plant even though I’ve not been feeding it. The tomatoes at the bottom appeared rather early but took forever to turn red – mainly as I had them indoors and didn’t know they need to be out in the fresh air and sun to redden.

Anyway, here we are – a tomato salad according to my daughter consists of errr, ummmm, tomatoes!

She nibbled one before reminding us that she in fact, did not eat tomatoes (unbeknownst to her she does as mummy hides tomatoes in sauces). So hubby and I ate the “salad” with a sprinkling of sea salt. Not the tastiest tomatoes we have ever had but easily the best if you know what I mean.

Next step was egg fried mushroom rice and tofu for daughter’s dinner – so yum that I had to have a small bowl too. A good way to use day old rice. Easily made by frying spring onion and ginger in a large frying pan, adding mushrooms and cooking until they reduce, add the rice and stir carefully to prevent it all sticking together but to make sure all the rice is covered with the mushroom mixture . Push mixture to the side and add in the beaten egg mixed with a little toasted sesame oil, scramble it then combine with rice mixture and cook for a few minutes more. I added a little dash of dark soy to improve the taste and colour. She scoffed a lot with a side dish of fried tofu.

Dinner for hubby and I was a noodle soup. It’s an impromptu dish I’ve made a couple of times with what was available in the fridge. Today we had spring onions and ginger fried, added a thinly sliced orange pepper, some pak choy, sweetcorn (kernels not baby sweetcorn as i find that tasteless) and mange tout. The soup was made with a big glug of Gourmet Garden Thai Fresh Blends mix and about a cup of water. I cooked this for about 5 minutes on medium heat then added in fried tofu, and some thick straight to wok udon noodles and dark soy sauce. Cooked until the pak choy had wilted. At first I didn’t really like the Gourmet Garden taste – it was too bland especially compared to the  Schwartz Lemon Grass, Ginger and Coconut tube I’ve used before. However, as it cooled, and with a dash of light soy sauce, it improved.

We would have had a lot more tofu for the soup but my little one loves the stuff straight out of the packet and just as much fried. She thought it was hilarious to sneak past me all afternoon nicking bits and stuffing them in her mouth.

The Gourmet Garden sent me hurtling back to my youth – while I was trying to google whether it is vegetarian, a restaurant came up called the Gourmet Garden in Hendon. I grew up in a flat that was directly opposite the restaurant and could see it and a lot more of the high street from my window. Silly things like this always bring a soppy tear to the eye.

This is turning out to be a long post and it’s not over yet. I’ve been promising to make banana bread for a few days. A lot of stay at home mums I know make banana bread and as long as you don’t have it every week, it’s bloody tasty. I’ve already scoffed a fifth of it – so a huge thankyou to my friend J.R. as she sent me her version of a Delia recipe. It’s fantastic. I’m going to have to work extra hard in the Zumba class tomorrow night!!

Kecap manis – vegie fried rice

I like new ingredients especially vegetarian. Recently when looking for new recipes for toddlers, I came across Aussie website Fresh for kids which has lots of tasty recipes (not all vegie either!)

The very vegie stir fried rice caught my eye, firstly because it is not in fact vegie since it includes ham, but secondly because it included something new to me: Kecap manis. This is indonesian soy sauce. This gave me an excuse to go to the local Thai supermarket for the first time. A whole new world. The soy sauce was available in small bottles and very cheap.

I decided to ignore the recipe and do my own.

All vegetable ingredients chopped very finely

2 cups basmati rice. Ideally works with cold rice. But I cooked mine about half an hour beforehand and let them all cool out on a large plate.

2tbs groundnut oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 medium red onion

1tsp grated ginger

1/2 red pepper

1/2 green pepper

10 frozen green beans

1 cup sweetcorn

1tsp turmeric

1tsp kecap manis (more added later to taste)

1/4 tsp salt

2tsp sugar

1/2 tbs lemon juice

  • Heat oil in heavy based large frying pan
  • Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle
  • Add the onion and let cook until browning at edges and beginning to carmelise
  • Add all the veg, turmeric and salt. Let mix cook for 5 minutes stirring often to prevent sticking
  • Add the kecap manis. As this is a new ingredient for me, I erred on side of caution with the amount.
  • When the veg are cooked, slowly fold in the rice (no need to be gentle if rice is cooked and cold)
  • Stir in sugar and mix very well.
  • To finish off, stir in lemon juice.

I ended up adding more kecap manis once I had combined the rice as I didn’t think there was enough there.

This is a very mild recipe suitable for tot (ignore that it has salt and sugar!). My husband and I ate it with a healthy dash of salt on top. We had it with chopped up sausages (mine vegie, his pork ones).

Tot’s spinach and potato

Once of the easiest things to cook for tot and she seems to enjoy it a lot.


1 tbs oil

1/4tsp cumin seeds

3 spring onions  – wash thoroughly and then chopped finely. I tend to discard much of the green part

1 small garlic clove – crushed

1 medium potato – peeled and cut into 1cm dice

1 frozen spinach bit (not sure what you call it, it’s the chunks that frozen spinach comes in) – defrost

1/5 tsp turmeric

30ml water

  • Over a low heat, heat oil and add the cumin seeds
  • When they sizzle add the spring onions and garlic and let cook until they soften. Keep an eye on it as I find that the  onions can burn really quickly
  • Add potatoes and turmeric
  • Add the spinach and stir it all so thoroughly combined
  • Add water and allow to cook until the potatoes are cooked

Serve either on its own or with some rice. If you are ok with you can add a small amount of salt at the same time as the turmeric but so far our tot has eaten it without any.

Tot’s Simple Lentil Soup

My mother in law makes a lovely lentil vegetable soup that my hubby adores. Being the competitive kind, I decided that I should learn and then best the recipe. I have managed to create my own version which just doesn’t compare to hers but my tot loves it so from now own it’s called Tot’s Simple Lentil Soup.

Hubby and I eat the soup but add quite a lot of salt as this is not included in tot’s version.

I use red lentils which I wash thoroughly, then soak overnight in cold water. If you have a pressure cooker you can miss this step though I find that the soup ends up a bit grainy so still do the soaking.

Also for the swede/carrot – many supermarkets already do chopped up veg which is very handy for putting into soups.

200g red lentils – soaked

250g swede chopped into small dice

250g carrots chopped into small dice

1 kallo low salt vegetable stock cube

1.5 litres boiling water.

  • Drain soak lentils. Discard the water
  • Put lentils in the pan
  • Add the vegetables
  • Dissolve the stock cube in the water.  I only use one cube as I don’t want to overpower the taste of the veg with stock.
  • Pour stock into the pan.
  • If you have a pressure cooker, then cook for about 30 minutes. If you don’t, then bring mixture to the boil and then simmer until the lentils dissolve and the vegetable are tender. Stir often to ensure soup does not stick to pan bottom
  • Blend soup to create a smooth consistency. If your tot is happy to eat veg chunks, you can miss this step
  • I also add 10ml of milk to the soup before serving to make the consistency smoother. And for treats (and calcium), I top it off with grated cheese which melts and makes fun stringy shapes for tot as she feeds herself.

This soup freezes very well. I freeze it in small portions so I can take out as much as a tot’s meal. To serve, I defrost thoroughly, warm and add milk before serving.