Thursday, 30 June 2011

Tomato, Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Last night I made some soup for the toddlers to have for lunch today. It went down well so I thought I would share. I adapted the recipe from something I had read elsewehere so there are no exact quantities.

4 carrots
1 courgette
Small onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
Clove of garlic
Half a teaspoon of paprika
Half a teaspoon of stock powder (use as little as possible as the salt content is high)
Small carton of passata
Black pepper
Handful of red lentils
Splash of olive oil
Fresh or dried basil

Chop the vegetables and crush the garlic. Fry these in the olive oil for a few minutes. Add all the other ingrediants along with some boiled water and bring the soup to the boil. Gently simmer until the vegetables are soft to taste. I left the soup lumpy but for some children you might want to blend it to hide the vegetables.

I've been searching the internet for some new recipes. If any of them are a success then I will report back, watch this space!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Recipe: Fresh Tomato Sauce for Pasta (Mascarpone and Basil Options)

Put a good glug of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat. The actual recipe I use states 8-10tbsps but that seems ever such a lot. Peel a small onion and fry gently in the oil for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be translucent and golden in colour. Cooking them for this long gives the sauce its sweetness.

Roughly chop a punnet of ripe fresh tomatoes (approx 750g) and add to the pan. I tend to chop them on a plate rather than a board to stop the juices escaping. Peel three cloves of garlic and add them whole to the pan. Season well with freshly ground pepper. You could add salt too but I don't think it is needed. Break the tomatoes down a little with a wooden spoon.

Add either a 400g tin of tomatoes or a small carton of passata. Add 100ml of vegetable stock and turn the heat up until it begins to simmer. Cook for approx 30-45 minutes. I often transfer it to the slow cooker as it means I don't need to keep an eye on it.

At this point you could blitz the sauce with a hand blender, check the seasoning and serve as it is. I prefer to add a handful of fresh basil and a small tub of mascarpone cheese, warm through and then blitz it.

I feed two adults and four children most evenings. I find this recipe makes enough for two meals so I freeze half for another day. Another variation is to add a few teaspoons of dried red chilli flakes rather than the mascarpone for a spicy version more suited to adults.

Vegetarian Meals

I am happy to provide snacks and meals for the children that I look after.  I do not charge extra for food.  However, if parents prefer they are welcome to provide packed lunches for their child.

My family are all vegetarian therefore I do not serve meat to the children (unless provided by parents).  Meal times are a social occasion with us all sitting down to eat together at the dining table.

In future posts I will share recipes of food/meals which the children have enjoyed whilst in my care.

Childminding Vacancies, Oakley Vale, Corby

From the end of June 2011 I will have both full and part time spaces available. You'll find my contact details here. Parents are welcome to visit to discuss their childcare needs. You are under no obligation to use me. Choosing a childminder is a very individual thing, you need to find someone that you are 100% happy with.

As a parent myself I know how difficult it can be leaving your child. My own daughter has recently started at preschool, settling in hasn't been easy for her (or me!). Before parents leave their baby/toddler for the first time there will be a settling in period. This will differ from one family to another depending on the needs of the parents/child.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Day trip to Twycross Zoo

During the May half term term holiday we had a day trip to Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. Here are a few photos from our visit.



We arrived at the Meerkats just as they were being fed. It was rather gruesome to watch but the children didn't bother at all.


Just after lunch the weather started to warm up so the children had an ice cream to cool them down.


These were huge!



The elephants have a new enclosure, well it is new since I last visited.



The children all really enjoyed their day. We're now looking forward to the Summer break from school and planning where we can go.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sywell Country Park

In an earlier post I mentioned that we had purchased a yearly parking permit for Northamptonshire Country Parks. As we had plenty of time today we decided to visit one of the parks a little further away.

I'd not been to Sywell since I worked for Mencap over ten years ago. Then, it was just a reservoir and open space. They've now developed it to include a play area, butterfly garden, gift shop and small cafe.

It was nice to visit a different park but it isn't one I would rush back to. Don't get me wrong, we had a lovely time but Barnwell/East Carlton/Fermyn country parks all have a lot more going for them. My son didn't agree with me, he said he loved the play area, reservoir and being able to collect pine cones.

To get to the play area you have to walk down either steps or a slope. It is kind of sunken and surrounded by high walls. The whole area is covered in sand. It felt too closed in, we couldn't appreciate the open space of the park from the play area.


At lunch time we headed to Kettering and enjoyed a Pizza Hut buffet lunch. It always makes me chuckle when I have five or six children with me as you can see people looking and wondering if they are all mine. I have to say that the children were the best behaved in the restaurant. There was only one table with high stools available but the two toddlers sat perfectly. The older children love the buffet style lunch and feel very grown up going to help themselves to food.

We headed home after lunch as one of the children was going home at 2.30pm. We decided to go to East Carlton to finish the day off. It isn't often the weather is so nice so we thought we better make the most of it.