Saturday, 25 May 2013

My Toddler Made "Moosaka"....So Can Yours!

Would you drive, with rough directions scribbled on a piece of A4 without a mobile phone or sat nav, into the crazy urban jungle of London with two small children?  Me either. But I did.

I even managed to reach my destination fifteen minutes early (I allowed for thirty) and only had to pull in once for directions at a petrol station.  Because you know, as a woman I can do that.  Proud doesn't even cover it.

It's no secret that I am not fond of the city with its manic pace of life and terrifying amounts of traffic (especially those scooters. I hate those scooters.) ~ so why would I drive there alone you ask?

For this.


Ella's Dad, Paul, was launching his first book of recipes, "the Cook Book" in Kensington and we were invited to the event. Knowing both my boys penchant for Ella's fruity pouches in particular (and mine if we're being brutally honest) there was no way I could turn down the opportunity for my boys to meet the Dad behind it all.

When we arrived (and instantly found a parking space, yahoo!) and after gripping Our Little Adventurer's hand with an iron-claw as we crossed the road, we were taken downstairs to the room which was set up for the launch. Inside was a colouring table, and a grocers' shop, set up for play.  With helpers.  Jensen was in heaven; two grown up people to talk to AND a shop to play in.

Father Christmas bought us a shop this year (and a kitchen the year before) and so role play is our favourite game.  Even Baby Dragon got involved with the cashing up....when he wasn't trying to eat packets of Ella's biscuits, wrapper and all.  Instead of cringing, I thought to myself that his actions were a pretty amazing endorsement of Ella's Kitchen products. He loves them so much, he'll eat plastic to get to them (not that I let him, you understand).



When everyone had arrived, the launch started and Jensen found himself a seat, next to Ella's Dad of course, and he listened carefully.

There are over 100 scrumptious recipes in the Cook Book. The book is bright and beautiful and there is no mistaking which company it's written by.  Each recipe is yummy looking and features little ones enjoying the fruits (quite literally...and vegetables too) of their labour ~ because that's what this book is about.

It's not about Mum or Dad in the kitchen each evening, rushing to create meals that they hope their children will enjoy when they serve up; it's not a book recommending that you need to buy every Ella's Kitchen product on the shelves to date; the Cook Book is different.

"The Red One" (first in the series...there will be more!) is a resource to help parents engage children with their food, to connect them with recipes which are designed to encourage them to use their senses and set them free to explore the tastes and textures of the culinary world around them. To dip their chubby little fingers into sauces, squish ripe red berries in their tiny fists, smell powerful garlics...to really enjoy their food.  Using the recommendations in the Cook Book, children know what's on their plate ~ because they put it there themselves.

We wholeheartedly agree with Ella's Kitchen (and Ella's Dad) that the enjoyment of food shouldn't need to begin at the dinner table; a love of food can be cultivated and encouraged very early in our little ones' lives.  In our own household we now grow our own fruit and vegetables and have noticed that (after asking if it's okay) Our Little Adventurer will sample every fruit or vegetable that we grow in our garden.  Food that he has grown from seed.  

He will eat tomatoes from our own plants; yet not from a punnet bought at the supermarket.  It's simple really when you look at it through their eyes ~ our homegrown tomatoes smell like tomatoes should (and I love that smell), the ones we buy do not. They are perfect, unfragranced, blemish-free red spheres.  Our garden ones have been hotly defended by Jensen from the nightly attacks of the sneaky snails that lurk under the rims of the plantpot, eyes alert, ready to strike. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.  Snail bowling is a new sport in our home.

Jensen, who sat throughout the speech listening #proudmomma

Anyhow, after the launch of the book, we heard from a nutritionist ~ a rather lovely nutritionist who we later discovered created the same rainbow birthday cake for her teenage son that we did for ours!

When the discussions had finished, Ella's Dad asked if there was a boy called Jensen in the room, at which our Little Adventurer's arm raised in the air.  "Me and Jensen are going to make some cookies!" he declared....and they did.  Even Baby Dragon (despite refusing to wear the cute red apron provided) joined in, beating the cookie dough flat and cutting out his little biscuits.

  

When the cookies were cut and sent to be baked, the next workshop began; Moosaka (mousaka)!  Baby Dragon discovered at this point that not only was there a set of floor length curtains begging to be hidden behind forcopious games of peek a boo at the end of the room, but the little area it sectioned off contained a sink big enough to swim in.  Momma had to continually retrieve him from behind the curtain, which meant that Our Little Adventurer worked independently throughout the whole two workshops.  Never have I been so proud of my boy.


When the last Moosaka had been sealed and packed ready for home, it was time for everyone to head next door for lunch, and then back home, laiden with Ella's Kitchen goodies (and a copy of the book, the inscription of ours reading, "Thanks for helping!").  Driving back through London at 6.30pm was not fun; but the boys didn't notice...because it's hard to care about anything when you have scrummy cookies. Especially when you baked them yourself.

Ella's Kitchen "The Cook Book" is available for £14.99 on Amazon (currently £8.69 if you hurry!) and worth every. single. penny. Look out for future posts about the recipes we try!
      

Thank you, Ella's Kitchen, Ella's Dad and everyone at Mischief PR for inviting us ~ we're sure the book will be a huge success and we can't wait to share our favourite recipes!


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