Tuesday, July 30, 2013

toddler noms: mini pear and strawberry crumbles

these little crumbles are perfect for breakfast, dessert, or a snack. they're easily transported in a lunchbox for picnics, and can be enjoyed on their own, or with a side of yoghurt or custard to make them a little more filling (and creamy!).
the crumble itself is not particularly sweet - the ample sweetness comes from the fruit.

mini pear and strawberry crumbles

400g strawberries, hulled and finely chopped
3 large pears, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1/4 tsp vanilla
90g plain flour
70g shredded coconut
50g oats
50g walnuts, finely chopped
100g butter
3 tbsp honey

you will also need
12 waxed cupcake liners (the paper ones don't maintain structural integrity after being baked with the wet fruit mix inside


  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  • place fruit and vanilla in small saucepan with 2 tbsp water, and simmer over low heat until fruit softens.
  • meanwhile, place flour, coconut, and oats in a medium mixing bowl, add butter, and rub in with tips of fingers until combined. 
  • add walnuts and honey to crumble mixture and mix
  • place a cupcake liner in each depression in a 12 hole muffin tin.
  • using a slotted spoon, distribute fruit evenly between cupcake liners. as you spoon, allow the majority of the liquid to drain back into the saucepan - too much liquid in the cupcake liners makes them go soggy, and makes for very messy little crumbles.*
  • distribute crumble mixture evenly over fruit.
  • bake until the crumble turns golden brown. this took 12 minutes in our oven.

suggested variations

  • you could do these in ramekins instead of cupcake liners. they might be slightly less convenient to take out and about, and a bit larger in size, but they'd work just as well.
  • substitute pecans for walnuts if they're what you prefer or have to hand. to make them nut-free just omit the nuts and replace with more oats or coconut.
  • you could of course use any kind of berry instead of strawberries, but i's suggest sweetening the mixture slightly if you use raspberries, as they can be quite tart.

* do not discard remaining liquid - it's delicious on top of yoghurt, porridge, custard, weet bix, or similar. 

arty made "om nom nom!" sounds while eating one of these for dessert this evening, and polished it off very quickly. i think they're going to be a favourite.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

dear arthur: 18 months

my dear, clever, funny, affectionate, determined, curious, strong little boy,

you are 18 months old. one-and-a-half. when you turned one i told myself that i would write you another letter at this time, and the task seems huge to me now, because you have grown and learned so much in the last six months. i will do my best to give you a picture of what you are like, and how your life looks right now...

your grasp of language is developing with astonishing speed. you parrot words back to us constantly now, and seem to pick up several new words a day. you can ask for the things you want (apple! cake! bunbun!), and you have good manners, almost always thanking people when you are given something. you're starting to put groups of two or three words together such as "thank you", "love you", "shut the door", "all gone" and a few others. hearing you tell us that you love us is pretty much the best thing in the entire world.

physically, you're developing brilliantly. you're healthy, big (14.8kg, and 88.2cm!), strong, and quite coordinated for your age. you can feed yourself with a spoon, run, jump, stomp, dance, and climb up and down stairs. you're still a toddler, so you're often sporting a bruise on your forehead from one tumble or another, but you're very resilient, and don't let it stop you from getting back up.


you are an affectionate little person, but you don't just give your love to everyone. your most favourite and trusted people (your mamas, oma, josie, josh, katie, uncle jesse, etc.) get "cuggles" and kisses, but they're not freely available to anyone who asks, and you definitely only distribute them on your own terms. your mum and i are really glad that you are judicious in this way - it makes us confident that we're instilling a sense of bodily autonomy in you, and it also makes it extra special when these acts of love are freely given.

you're a tidy chap, and you love to be helpful. you like to help us hang the washing, put the dishes away, and water the garden. you also like to make sure cupboard doors are shut, and will wander around after us saying "shut, shut, shut!" and closing doors if we leave them open. i hope this tidy streak is a permanent one, because we could use at least one neat and organised person in this family!

bunbun is your favourite cuddly toy, and you take her almost everywhere with you. she sleeps with you every naptime, and every night, and when you are feeling fragile you ask for her so that you can cuddle her. you give her lots of kisses, and you often offer her to us to kiss too. this is usually nice, but from time to time she gets a bit grubby and smelly, an then it's a wee bit gross.

though you tend to be a little shy at first, you're really interested in other kids, and often like to share snacks with them, and watch how they play (you're not quite up to cooperative play yet). you have some friends who you see regularly and really like to play with including maisie (2), teddy (3), poldy (6), and harley (17mo).

just recently, you've started spending one afternoon a week with a nanny. she's not just any nanny, but actually our friend sarah, whose company you really enjoy, and whose presence seems to calm and relax you. you guys go to the park together, read stories together, and play other fun games. she thinks you're great, and while you hang out, i take the opportunity to do things like write for the blog, sew, read, or take a nap. it's a good system, and we're planning on keeping it up at least until next year.

for the record, here are a few of your favourite things...

  • bunbun
  • any tractors or trains
  • blocks

  • custard
  • babyccinos
  • apple juice
  • bolognaise
  • cheese
  • apples
  • sultanas
  • porridge

  • mumford and sons
  • paul simon

  • peek a boo (especially behind the tree in the park)
  • pretending to be a bird or a plane and zooming around the yard
  • kicking the ball
  • stacking blocks
  • hiding behind the door and knocking til someone answers
  • "happy mrs chicken" on the ipad.

  • slinky malinki by linley dodd
  • i am a bunny by richard scarry
  • just like my mummy by sharon harmer
  • the very hungry caterpillar by eric carle
  • ...and several non-fiction books with pictures with tractors and trains in them.

  • peppa pig
  • in the night garden
  • abney and teal
  • sean the sheep

i'm going to wrap up now, because trying to sum up all the funny and interesting things you do, and all the many ways we love you is a futile project - there aren't enough words in the world. 

i do love you, my precious boy. thank you for being such a delightful person, and for loving me and your mummy the way you do. 

biggest cuggles and kisses,
mama xxx

family noms: toddler lunch tarts

these are a slightly unorthodox quiche/pasta/tart hybrid that sort of defy categorisation. they're a great meal or snack for a toddler because they're easy finger food, they contain a good combination of carbs, protein, and veg, and they're yummy.

toddler lunch tarts

1.5 cups dried macaroni (or similar medium sized pasta)
1/2 large onion, finely diced
50g bacon, finely diced
1 cup grated zucchini
200g corn kernels (canned or frozen is fine)
6 eggs
1 cup grated tasty cheese
drizzle of olive oil

  • preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  • cook pasta according to packet instructions, drain, and set aside.
  • place olive oil in a frying pan, and then add onion and bacon. fry until they just begin to brown, then remove from heat and set aside with pasta.
  • crack eggs into a large mixing bowl, and whisk lightly.
  • add half of your grated cheese to the eggs, then add all other ingredients (including cooked pasta, onion and bacon), and stir until thoroughly combined.
  • cut twelve* roughly 15cm squares of baking paper, and press them into the cups of a muffin tin. they'll fold and crinkle a bit around the edges, but don't worry, they're meant to. as you press each one in, add a spoon of the mixture in to hold it in place.
  • top up each tart with remaining mixture. 
  • sprinkle a bit of your remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese on top of each tart.
  • bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese has browned and you're confident the egg has cooked through.
* this recipe makes about 12 tarts, but this will vary depending on the depth of your muffin tin. ours are comparatively shallow, so we got more like 16.

arty and i can both vouch for the deliciousness of these tarts. we've had two each so far today. they're nice warm or cold, so would make great lunchbox or picnic snacks for older kids and grown ups too.