On wine…

On wineAfter 18 dry months, I have enjoyed my first glass of red last week. Around were we live there are plenty of little independent wine shops and from my experience I always leave with a good wine for a fair price (very cheap, comparing to London’s prices for wine!).

So last week I got my first red German, and am curious to try out some more.

What are your favourite wines? I feel my taste is changing quite a lot after two pregnancies (or maybe it is age-related ;)) so am quite in the mood for a wine tasting session to update my list!

[Here are some tips for ordering a good wine in a restaurant!]

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Snacks for a short plane trip

Small snacks for short plane trip 1 - The Yellow SideI prepared this pack in under 10 minutes, while The Younger One was entertained and it is a very easy ready-made travel pack for a short plane trip.

I knew we were going to have breakfast at home and lunch already in our destination, so I didn’t bother with very filling food. Instead, just some things to calm down and reload the body in crucial stages of the trip (queues at the airport, etc).

Small snacks for short plane trip 3 - The Yellow SideI got a little ziplock bag full of small cereal-type snacks, and another one with nuts. Then got some fruit pouches and cereal bars. I don’t usually buy fruit pouches or cereal bars, so this are, for The Older One, real treats.

Small snacks for short plane trip 2 - The Yellow SideFor emergencies I got a little bag of fake-gummy bears (they don’t really have sugar but agave instead, because: who wants a sugared-up 2 year old on a flight?!!). and split them into small wraps (4 each) closed with masking tape.

Small snacks for short plane trip 4 - The Yellow Side

Add a pack of corn crackers (my favourites) and that is it, a little (that is crucial!) bag full of yummy things which don’t put anyone on a sugar rush. On the morning of the flight I ended up adding a couple of apples and pears, and they also didn’t make it to the destination 😉 The dry snacks did, though, and were eaten while on holiday.

Natural dyed Easter Eggs

Natural dyed Easter Eggs 1 - The Yellow SideEaster is almost there, and this year we have tried making our own colours for the traditional Easter Eggs.

Natural dyed Easter Eggs 2 - The Yellow SideWe used purple cabbage to make purple dye (the eggs turn blue), brown onion skins to turn the eggs a dark rusty orangey colour and carrots to turn them pale orange (total failure, the egg kept on being white).

Natural dyed Easter Eggs 3 - The Yellow SideI wanted to make prints of leaves/flowers while the eggs cooked, so I cut a pair of old tights to keep the leaves and flowers in place and we boiled the eggs inside the bits of tights (with cord on both sides).

Natural dyed Easter Eggs 4 - The Yellow SideMy favourites are the onion ones, don’t they look great? The blue ones didn’t get a very strong colour, I suspect we didn’t leave them long enough in the dye…

I was also planning on making some patterns with the tape, but gave up on the idea as it would be too complicated for the little ones.

Will you dye some Eggs for Easter? Let me know if you would like details of how we did it, didn’t manage to take photos of every step but am happy to share!

Cooking with toddlers

Cooking with toddlers 1 - The Yellow SideDo you cook with your toddler?

Last Summer we were playing “making soup” in the kid’s swimming pool of the hotel we were staying at, and an adult made a remark, saying “Oh! He even pretends to put olive oil and salt!”. I remember at the time thinking “Hummm…of course, he is making pretend-soup, so he uses pretend olive oil and pretend sea-salt!”. After thinking a bit I realised how funny it must have been for that men to see a 2 year old so aware of what goes into a soup, apart from the (most obvious) vegetables.

Babies are around when we cook, and somehow they see and take part on what is done. The Older One started to be more active on the cooking when he was maybe 10/11 months old. As it wasn’t safe for him to stand on a bench/chair, I would just take his Stokke chair (still with the tripp trapp set) to the kitchen bench and let him “help”:

  • tasting raw food (as I don’t eat/cook meat, this is almost always safe). Sometimes he would love the tasting (peppers, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, etc) and sometimes he would have nasty surprises, as when he tried raw potato.
  • helping mixing things. Even if you don’t really need pasta to be mixed with a wooden spoon in a bowl before boiling, why not do it??!

Now that he is almost 3 years old he knows how the food gets cooked, he knows which foods we usually make in the oven or in the stove. He now is allowed to stand on one of these little ladders from Ikea and helps for example:

  • Cutting vegetables, with a plastic knife or a children’s metal knife.
  • Mixing things.
  • Turning on and off the electrical appliances (mixer, kettle, etc).
  • Helping washing the things we use as we cook (cutting boards, etc).
  • Putting olive oil, salt and spices in the food.
  • Helping washing the vegetables and salad.

Some things are dangerous, so we have some rules:

  • he can’t touch the stove or anything on the stove. He can’t stand on the ladder in front of the stove. If he would like to see food cooking he needs to ask and I will pick him up and show it to him briefly. I do not encourage this at all as I am always afraid of hot things spilling out.
  • He can’t touch my knives. No matter what. If he is unhappy with the way his knife is (not) cutting, he can ask for help and we try another child-friendly knife.
  • If he wants to try the food while cooking, he must not throw the bitten food into the cooking (we had some bitten-food-being-sent-into-the-pan-and-being-served “accidents”)

With rules as simple as these, usually cooking together is great fun, and a daily ritual.

Cooking with toddlers 2 - The Yellow SideDo you cook with your child? Do you have any other tips/ideas/suggestions?

 

Lemon cookies for a rainy Sunday afternoon

I have been on a lemon baking wave recently.

Last week I baked a lemon cake, this week we did little lemon cookies.

Lemon cookies 1 - The yellow side

These are super simple and lemony-tasty 🙂

Here is my recipe (adapted and re-adapted from an old recipe book), if you’d like to try:

Ingredients:

100 g butter
100 g caster sugar
1 egg
240 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Demerara sugar

Lemon cookies 2 - The yellow side

Method:
Melt the butter and the caster sugar over a low heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat, slowly add the egg, always stirring, then stir in the flour with the baking powder, and finally the lemon zest and juice.
Cover and chill for 30 to 40 minutes.
Shape the dough into little balls (I like making mini balls with the help of spoons, as the dough is a tiny bit sticky), arrange them on a baking sheet, press flat with the palm of your hand and then with a fork. Sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for around 15 to 20 minutes on a pre-heated oven at 180°C.

Lemon cookies 3 - The yellow side

The Older One didn’t care to join me on the process this time, as he was busy in his own (play) kitchen baking his own cookies. Then he left them cooling down close to mine as you can see in this picture.

Homemade bread

I am not a Winter person. But as I have been living in Berlin for almost three years, I am getting used to it.

There are a lot of things that people here do in order to enjoy the Winter, and I am learning what works for me.

Baking is a must. And recently I have dared the one field of baking I had never tried: bread.

Bread 1 The yellow side

I tried this recipe called “No-Knead Crusty White Bread”, and it was spot on.

It is very comforting to make, and let it rise in the warmth (“Shall we check if the bread has slept enough?”), and then fridge, and then rise again. And the smell while baking is so cosy!

Bread 2 The yellow side

The best batch came when we left the dough in the fridge for 5 days, we could really taste the sour dough.

Bread 3 The yellow side

I am usually not fond of white bread, and next time I will some changes and use whole wheat flour, but this time I just wanted to follow the recipe and I don’t regret it. It is exactly like they say.

Will you try it?

Bread 4 The yellow side