Hooray For Your First Pair of Shoes



So it turns out that Beckett doesn't just take after his dad with his crazy curly hair, he also has his big feet. Most children when they get their first pair of shoes are a size 4, so we were told by the lady in Clarks. Beckett is a size 6H. That's pretty big.

None the less, he was over the moon to get his first pair of proper shoes. Even did a little dance LOL.


Another thing that we learned is that unless your doctor tells you that your child needs arch support, they don't need arch support.

Pampers PooFace Survey



A new survey by Pampers conducted with Irish parents has revealed just how much parents’ love Baby Wipes when it comes to cleaning up all types of baby mess. 9 out of 10 Irish parents admit they don’t leave the house without a pack of Wipes. The results were released to celebrate the new award-winning #PampersPooFace video which celebrates the hilarious and adorable faces that babies pull when they're about to make a surprise! The video recently received three Cannes Lions Awards.


#PampersPooFace survey reveals:

  • Dad’s fear nappy mess more than Mum’s
  • 9 in 10 parents won’t leave the house without a pack of Baby Wipes
  • 8 out of 10 parents can’t go a day without using Baby Wipes


New award-winning #PampersPooface video celebrates that hilarious baby face
and empowers parents not to fear the mess!


Dr. Tabi Leslie, consultant dermatologist and member of Pampers’ Love, Sleep & Play Panel says, “Pampers’ research has shown that the vast majority of parents are using Baby Wipes and that they are being used most frequently to clean up baby’s skin. That’s why I would ask parents to consider how delicate and sensitive their baby’s skin is and try to choose products specifically designed for them. Pampers Wipes have been dermatologically accredited by the Skin Health Alliance meaning that that are kind to your little one’s skin. They are proven to be milder than cotton wool and water for gentle cleaning.”


Paolo Haeusermann, Brand Manager for Pampers, Northern Europe says “We are really excited to launch our fun and lighthearted video which celebrates and dramatises that adorable baby pooface which is an instantly recognisable and comical moment for all parents! We know that being a parent involves a lot of messy moments, but whatever that red face might lead too, with Pampers Wipes a clean baby is just a wipe away!”

Blog Awards Ireland 2015 Long List



I'm super delighted to announce that I got long listed for the Blog Awards Ireland 2015 in the PArenting Blog category. Now admittedly the long list does put me up against 46 other awesome Parenting Bloggers, but nonetheless I'm still happy and chuffed.

At the very least, seeing as I didn't nominate myself, it means that someone out there is loving what I'm doing. So even if it's for no one else other than them and me, I'll keep doing it.


That said, fingers crossed I get short listed :)

One Year Old!



So Saturday arrived and Beckett turned one year old. Twelve months. Three hundred and sixty-five days. And to say I genuinely couldn't believe it had been a year would be a massive understatement. I can trace out with ease all his milestones. I can tell you at length what he's done and achieved (in relation to development etc.) in that time. But to actually look back and fully realise that a year had passed since Beckett came into our lives, is just amazing.

And even now, all that time later, he still captures my heart and moves me with the slightest facial gesture or baby-spoken sound.


The day itself was wonderful. His Aunt and Godmother, Tori, had arrived in from Edinburgh the night before well after his bedtime so he saw her in the morning. He was ecstatic, to put it mildly. He really loves his Aunty Tori! To make things even more exciting, before there would be any hint of a birthday party, we were off to the Zoo first thing. It was the baby elephants' birthdays and we were lucky enough to get invited along for a special talk and tour from Gerry Creighton, Operations Manager for Animals & Grounds at Dublin Zoo. You can read about it here.


We were back home for noon and it was all stations go to get his party setup and ready for the guests arriving at 2pm. So... the BBQ was setup, the gazeebo was erected, the ball pool and bouncy castle were put out, the fruit skewers and Top Hats were made, the bunting and decorations were put up and the other food and treats were all put out. My place for the afternoon was pretty much stationed in front of the BBQ, firing out delicious hotdogs and bbq chicken.


I think it's safe to say that everyone had a really great time. The kids had loads of fun, including Beckett's cousin Baxter deciding to run around topless to everyone's amusement. All the food was eaten. Perhaps surprisingly, the Fruit Skewers were a HUGE hit and we could have probably made two or three times as much as we did. I highly recommend them for your next kid's party (though obviously parental supervision may be required for younger kids due to the skewer!).


Before it was all over there was also cake and presents too. So basically, a super fun day. I know Beckett won't remember it when he's older but for the day that it was he had an awesome time - constant smiles and laughter.


Beckett, Jules and the birthday cakes

Beckett, post birthday cake eating


So, considering all the planning and preparation and cooking and wrapping and entertaining... would I do it again? I'm already planning his next one. The most fun ever and I can't wait for all the birth parties yet to come!!


In case you missed it in my 'Nearly One Year Old' post, here's the slideshow I made of all the photos charting Beckett's first year...


Dublin Zoo Baby Elephants' Birthday


As if Saturday wasn't special enough being Beckett's Birthday, it turned out that it was also the birthday of Dublin Zoo's three baby Asian Elephants, Kavi, Ashoka and Samiya. To celebrate the day The Natural Confectionery Company and Dublin Zoo hosted a special media event. For the weekend, the Zoo was transformed into an elephantastic birthday bash with music, face-painting, fun and games and a whole host of fun-filled family activities.

So at 9am we rolled up to Dublin Zoo ready for Beckett's first visit and his first glimpse of a whole host of animals, especially the baby elephants.


To say Beckett was excited would be an understatement. He was totally captivated by the crazy little elephants. Between just rambling around and play fighting with each other, he absolutely loved it. To make it all even better, we also had the opportunity to meet Gerry Creighton, Operations Manager for Animals & Grounds at Dublin Zoo.



  
Beckett and Jules checking out the Elephants

Beckett hanging out with Gerry Creighton, Operations
Manager for Animals & Grounds at Dublin Zoo


Dublin Zoo’s elephant care team shared some of the calves’ developmental highlights as they continue to thrive:

  • Kavi now weighs almost 700kg, or the weight of a fully grown dairy cow. Little brother Ashoka weighs in at 500kg while little sister Samiya is a dainty 450kg. At birth they weighed in at 80kg, 70kg and 68kg respectively
  • All the calves are still drinking from their mothers and will do until they reach about five years of age or another calf is born. Their appetite is increasing and they have begun to enjoy solids like hay and fruit. Their favourite foods include bananas and apples. The calves all love to pile on top of one another to sleep. Their big sister Asha, now eight years old, keeps an eye on them. The keepers can see from their night cameras that the calves like to wake the whole elephant house in the morning by jumping on their mothers!
  • They sleep for an average of six hours a night and take regular naps during the day, particularly on hot days when they tire themselves out playing with the water
  • Kavi is a brave little bull who likes to follow his father Upali. Ashoka started off a little shyer but now that he’s getting bigger he’s challenging his brother more each day
  • Samiya enjoys spending time with her mother Dina and sister Asha but also loves to play with her brothers. She also likes chasing wild birds out of her habitat
  • All three love to wrestle and splash in the two large outdoor pools, climb on big boulders, tree stumps and sometimes their sleeping mother’s heads!
  • They are actively swimming more and more each day. After a dip in the pool they like to roll around in the sand to dry off before enjoying some more wrestling!
  • As their confidence increases, they are learning how to use their voices more and more to communicate

Party Treats - Top Hats



As I mentioned before it's Beckett's First Birthday this weekend and there's been a buzz of planning and prepping at our house for at least the last month. Between decorating, cooking and presents there's a lot to go into a kids party. Even a one year old's party. It's not all hard work though.

I quickly realised that planning a kids party is a fantastic trip down memory lane, filled with wonderful nostalgia. One thing in particular that came back to me were the memories of the treats that we used to get at parties when I was a child. These days it always seems to be store bought stuff whereas all I remember were home made treats. And not just Rice Krispie Buns!


One of my favourite party treats was always Top Hats. Simple but super delicious. Now to introduce a new generation to an old skool treat!


Christian's Top Hat Treats


Ingredients
Milk Chocolate (not cheap!)
Marshmallows
Smarties
Jellytots
Muffin cases


Preparation
Melt the chocolate over a gentle heat in a bowl placed in a saucepan of hot water. Pour a small amount of the chocolate into the muffin cases (5mm deep) and place a marshmallow in each one.


Now place a small dab of chocolate on top of each marshmallow and put a Smartie or Jellytot on. Alternate between toppers and colours of marshmallow. Put all the muffin cases on a tray and pop it into the fridge until the chocolate sets.


Keep them in the fridge until just before your little monsters are ready for them. Now all you have to do is peel off the muffin cases and line them up on a plate ready to be devoured!

The Ultimate Steak Accompaniment - Chimichurri Sauce



It's Beckett's Grandpa's birthday this weekend so the three of us decided to have him and Beckett's Grandma out for a BBQ. BBQ is obviously a winner all by itself (we're big fans in our house) but moreso, BBQ is a great excuse to try something new. Usually I like to experiment with a new cut of meat or a new rub or marinade, but today I decided to go with a new sauce for our steaks. I say new but it's really a case of an old favourite that I haven't made in ages.

When it comes to dressing a steak there are a lot of ways you can go: Garlic Butter, Pepper Sauce, Salsa Verde, Mushroom Sauce, Red Wine Sauce, etc. etc. the list goes on. In my opinion, however, there is one accompaniment to steak that surpasses all others... Chimichurri Sauce.


Chimichurri originally comes from the Rio de la Plata, Argentina. The theory for the name of the sauce comes from the Basque settlers that arrived in Argentina in the 19th century. According to this theory, the name of the sauce comes from the Basque term tximitxurri, loosely translated as "a mixture of several things in no particular order". As such, Chimichurri can be made from finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano and white or red wine vinegar with additional flavorings then added such as paprika, cumin, thyme, lemon, basil, coriander or bay leaf. It is also common to find a red version in which tomato and red bell pepper are added.


Personally I like my Chimichurri to have a sharp kick with a warm garlic follow through. The whole thing is then rounded out with coriander, parsley and oregano. That's just me though. Feel free to fiddle around with the proportions and add any additional flavours that you like. At the end of the day, Chimichurri is a very personal thing - make it your own!


Christian's Chimichurri Sauce


Ingredients
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh coriander
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Preparation
Combine vinegar, salt, garlic, shallot, and chile in a medium bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in coriander, parsley, and oregano. Using a fork, whisk in oil.


That's it. Ready to go. A super simple sauce that is bursting with flavour. Of course, it's not just a sauce. If you fancy using your Chimichurri as a marinade, just place your steak in a glass bowl, cover with the Chimichurri and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. When you want to cook your steak just pat it dry and place directly onto a hot skillet or BBQ grill.


Either way, whether it's a sauce, marinade or both, you won't be disappointed!

Out for a Meal With Baby @ De Lacy's Steak and Seafood Restaurant



On Sunday we decided to go out for lunch and found ourselves faced with the age old question... where are we going to eat? Instead of just going to an old favourite we wanted to try somewhere new. So we threw around a few ideas but ultimately we remembered that De Lacy's in The D Hotel do a '4 course for €20' offer. And that's just too good not to try out. So off the three of us went to De Lacy's.

Initial impressions were very good. The place was spotless and the atmosphere very inviting. The staff welcomed us straight in and let us choose a table that best suited us while they got us a high chair. Speaking of which, the high chair of choice is one of the solid hard plastic variety - very sturdy and comfortable. Our server arrived back quickly with the high chair and our menus. Rather than wait we ordered a baby bowl for Beckett immediately so as to start feeding him before our food would arrive.


Within minutes Beckett's food arrived and to say we were both wowed would be an understatement. This was, without question, the most impressive baby bowl we'd ever seen. A big bowl of mash, a separate bowl of freshly cooked mixed vegetables and a cute little gravy bowl. It wasn't just a good looking dish either - the vegetables were nicely al dente, the mash was smooth and creamy, and the gravy rich and tasty. Honestly, a super dish of food, which Beckett absolutely devoured! Oh, and at €2 you're getting a serious bargain.


De Lacy's Baby Bowl

So with a very happy baby on hand, mama and papa got to think about themselves momentarily. The Sunday Lunch menu is not what you would expect for a '4 course for €20' offer. At least not what I would expect. Generally a menu for this type of offer is limited. Limited in options and limited in offerings i.e you may only get 3 or 4 choices per course and anything 'fancy' will carry a supplement. Not in this case. There are 6 Starters, 7 Main Courses and 6 Desserts, and not a supplement in sight.


Jules went for the Caesar Salad to start and the Roast Sirloin of Beef to follow. I started with the Chicken Wings and also went for the Sirloin for my main. The Chicken Wings were very tasty. Perhaps not as crispy or well done as I would normally like but still very tasty. Jules mentioned that the Caesar Salad wasn't as crisp and the croutons not as garlicky as she'd like. The Roast Sirloin of Beef was very good. A great cut of meat and perfectly cooked. In fact eating it all I could think about was when we'd get a chance to come back some evening and I could try a steak!


  
De Lacy's Caesar Salad and Chicken Wings

When it came to desserts I went for the medley of homemade desserts and Jules picked the Chocolate and Orange Torte. Both were very good. Especially noteworthy was their sorbet - light, not too frozen and super tasty. A really good accompaniment to dessert rather than a standard fare of ice-cream.


De Lacy's Medley
of Homemade Desserts

So, the final verdict? De Lacy's is a must visit - great value, gorgeous food and a fantastic setting. We highly recommend it for either date night or a family meal out. You won't be disappointed.

Nearly One Year Old



Not a day goes by that I'm not completely blown away by some crazy little thing that Beckett does. This morning as I was feeding him breakfast, he sat there in his high chair with a hand at each ear twiddling his earlobes. It sounds like nothing but it was so bloody cute. And it's just one example of a long, long list of his cute madness. And yet when I think about Beckett's upcoming first birthday, I have no idea where the time has gone. It has seriously flown by.

So in the spirit of his rapidly approaching first birthday, I thought I'd collect together the weekly and then monthly photos we took of him and create a little slideshow. In reality it's just an excuse for me to look at super cute pictures of him and see how much he's changed. It makes me feel all squishy inside. Hopefully you too ;)



Washing Toys - Am I Mad?



I recounted an amusing story about something Beckett did last week to a friend over the weekend. Without boring you with the full details of the story, it started by me setting the scene that I was washing a few of his toys at the sink. My friend stopped me, asking why in the world I would be washing his toys - his expectation was that he had been sick on them or something similar.

I explained that as he's teething at the moment, absolutely everything goes into his mouth. This of course mostly consists of his toys as we wouldn't let him hold much else because we know that he'll just try and chew it. Whatever it is!


He was rather surprised and I got the distinct impression, though he didn't say anything, that he thought I may be just a little bit crazy. At the very least, I was certainly being a bit excessive on the whole thing.


So here I am putting it out there - am I crazy for washing toys? Beckett chews on his blocks, various V-Tech toys, stacking rings, connecting shapes etc. so from a hygiene point of view I feel that they need to be regularly cleaned. I don't sterilise them or anything but they are given a good scrub in hot soapy water and then rinsed off and hand dried.


It'd be gross not to, right?

Super Easy Flatbread



We're big fans of Pita Bread and use it all the time for sandwiches or just to dip hummus. It's also ideal for Baby Led Weaning as it can be cut into long strips that are easy for baby to hold and work themselves. Much like Naan, Flatbread is also a great vehicle for carrying additional flavour. They are also perfect to keep frozen and then just popped into the toaster when needed.

What I particularly love about these Flatbreads is that there are only four ingredients and the cooking process is super easy. Aside from burning them, there really is no way you could mess up these delicious breads!


Christian's Super Easy Flatbread


Ingredients
350g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
a pinch of sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
350g Glenisk natural yoghurt


Cooking
Put the self-raising flour, baking powder, sea salt and Glenisk natural yoghurt in a mixing bowl and mix together with a spoon. Then, using clean hands, gently work everything together.


Next, dust your work surface with flour and roll out your dough. For one to two minutes knead the dough. Don't excessively knead the dough though - this isn't a traditional bread dough. Move the dough to a floured dusted bowl and cover. Set it aside for 30min.


Re-dust your work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Take your dough and divide it in half and then further divide each half into 6 equal-sized pieces. These should work out to roughly the size of a ping pong ball. Using your hands, flatten the dough and use the rolling pin to roll each piece into 12cm rounds, roughly 2mm to 3mm thick. Cut 6 lines into the centre of each round.


Heat your griddle pan to a high heat and cook each round for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Ideally you want to achieve bar-marking as the rounds puff up.


If you want to add a little extra flavour like I mentioned above, just create your own herb butter and brush the flatbreads as soon as they come off the griddle. You can add ingredients directly into the mix but refrain from adding anything wet and don't go overboard - a little goes a long way. Feel free to throw in some herbs or spices to your mix though.

Goodbye To The Convertible



It's not something that every new parent faces, but it's certainly not uncommon - changing the car for something more family-friendly. Perhaps you had a car with no isofix fixtures or maybe it didn't have the space to fit a travel system (stroller). Or, like me, perhaps you drove a two seater, convertible, sports car - the most un-baby-friendly car a soon to be parent could have!

Despite how much I loved that car, I happily got rid of it for Beckett. Plus, it's not like the new car is in any way shabby. And, the boot space for his stroller is just massive.


SALE at The Gap



If you're looking to buy some new baby clothes there's a great sale on the Gap site at the moment. We've gotten Beckett a lot of Gap stuff since he was born and I definitely recommend it. Their clothes are well made and wear well too. Plus, they've some really, really cute gear. Check it out!

Tayto Park



Following my post 'What To Do On a Summer's Day' I had several people mention to me that I should have included Tayto Park. The thing is though, I had never actually been to Tayto Park. Beckett had, twice perhaps, but not good old dad. So I decided that there would definitely be a trip to the park in the near future.

So when Beckett's Aunt asked would he and I like to join her and two of his cousins on a trip to Tayto Park, how could I say no?


Admittedly the weather wasn't looking super this morning but nonetheless we were committed to visiting the park and sure it's Ireland and we're Irish - when did a little bit of rain bother us. We arrived at the park at 11.30 and made our way in. The first thing that struck me was that the place is super clean. As someone who has visited many, many, many amusement parks around the world, this was basically spotless. Also, in contrast to a lot of parks, I was immediately aware that there were a lot of staff. Not too many that they were standing around idle or anything but enough that you could tell, things were getting done immediately as needed.


The Rotator


Pricing at Tayto Park is very reasonable. Children under 3 are free of charge and everyone over 3 is €14 unless you're an O.A.P., a student, or have a special need, in which case it's €12. Once inside then you either buy individual ride tokens for €1 each or an unlimited wristband for €15. Please note that some rides require more than one token and as such the unlimited wristband is highly recommended if you plan to be there for the day and have people likely to want to ride a lot of rides.


Once inside the park I am happy to say that I noticed that the level of cleanliness continued. I also noticed that the park has been designed with space in mind. Nothing is on top of anything else and there's plenty of space to move around, even with two strollers and two kids in tow. Thankfully it wasn't super busy today and queues were relatively small. Of course, the park isn't just about rides and this is what makes it brilliant for families.




You see, in addition to the numerous rides, including Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster, the park also features: Dinosaurs Alive, a massive Playground, a tour of the Tayto Factory and a Zoo. Yup, a Zoo! This basically means that there is literally something for everyone in the family. Beyond the above there are also live shows, an Arts & Crafts station with free Facepainting and numerous spots to eat (both options for buying food and places to sit and enjoy a picnic).


Arts & Crafts and Free Facepainting


As you can see, Beckett particularly loved the Arts & Crafts and created an awesome, magical Potato Creature. Though given that he didn't really want to let go of the Potato to begin with, he may just like spuds!


So all in all, I would thoroughly recommend Tayto Park as a family destination. Bring a picnic. Go early. Stay late. Enjoy everything going on at the park. And don't forget your free Taytos on the way out!


Beckett and his cousin, Scott,
discuss which bit of the park was best

Babymoov Sweet Night Travel Cot



Owning a good travel cot will serve you in two ways: 1) as the name suggests you'll have a bed for your baby that is easy to bring with you if you're staying away from home, 2) you'll have a place for baby to play safely while mum or dad take care of housework etc. The former is pretty self explanatory - your baby has a comfortable temporary bed that they are familiar with and will sleep in. The latter is, for many, an absolute essential for the stay at home parent who needs to get things done.

We decided on the Babymoov Sweet Night Travel Cot. This was partly based on family members giving it a good report from their own use but also a price choice. The cot folds down quite small and features two wheels to allow you to wheel the folded cot around. It's also very sturdy and has both corner positioned feet and three central feet meaning it won't sag or drop if you have a baby who likes to bounce!

Babymoov Sweet Night Travel Cot Folded


All in all, a great cot that is very reasonably priced at €69.99. This doesn't include the additional cost of a travel mattress but you should be able to pick up a good one for around €30.

Spiced Yogurt Muffins - A Stop-Gap Breakfast Solution



More than once I've heard a friend say that they didn't have time for breakfast because they were looking after their baby. Perhaps they were feeding them and getting them ready to go out or perhaps their child was pukey or sick. Either way, missing the occasional breakfast is not an unusual thing for some parents. And let's face it, that's not a good thing - you can't expect to be at your best if you're missing meals.

So as a way to avoid missing breakfast entirely, why not keep something to hand that will tide you over and fill a gap until you can eat properly? My solution...


Christian's Spiced Yogurt Muffins


Ingredients
2 cups plain flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plain low-fat yogurt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp granulated sugar


Cooking
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Put 18 muffin cups into suitable muffin tins. Lightly brush each cup with vegetable oil.


Put the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of the nutmeg into a food processor. Pulse the mix together and place in a large mixing bowl.


In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, butter, applesauce and vanilla. Then fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended.


Divide the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg over the muffins.


Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins are springy and a toothpick inserted into a muffin removes cleanly. Let the muffins cool in the pans for 5 minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


The great thing about this mix is that it is very suitable to adapting and changing as your ingredients dictate. Obviously don't add a lot of extra moisture to the mix but a few bits of fresh fruit or some dried fruit isn't a problem. Or perhaps a bit of desiccated coconut or orange peel.


Have fun and enjoy the muffins!

New Boots Parenting Club Launches #BootsParentingClub



On Wednesday, Beckett and I took a trip down to Dublin for the day. Aside from dropping Mama Bear to work and doing a bit of very important shopping at the Disney Store, we were on our way to The Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge for the launch of Boots new Parenting Club.

So before I tell you about the launch, what's Boots Parenting Club all about anyway? Well... the Club is available to expectant mums and parents of children aged up to 3 years old all across Ireland, and is an online resource and hub of information on all things to prepare for and then look after your baby. When you sign up you not only receive 10 Boots Advantage Card points for every €1 spent on baby products but you'll also receive gifts, offers, exclusive advice, inspiring ideas and the latest news, which are tailored to your specific circumstance and details.


Gillian Hennessy, Head of Marketing, Boots Ireland says “Care underpins everything that we do in Boots, and what better way to care than to provide support for pregnant mums and new parents. The aim of Boots Parenting Club is to create a club that prepares and supports parents by offering exclusive, tailored advice throughout pregnancy and early childhood. In addition, we want to celebrate our bundle of joy together with all other parents celebrating their baby’s birth today, 8 July with a special gift.”


So basically it's a three fold system: a reward club for spend, an online advice hub and personalised gifts and offers. And let's face it, as any parent will tell you, anywhere you can get a little help and save a little money, all the while not compromising on quality, is a no brainer. Plus, if you're anything like us, you probably do shopping in Boots already so this is just a way to add further value to your existing routine.


To celebrate the launch, Boots are also gifting every baby born in Ireland on launch day, 8 July, with a special gift of a €20 voucher. Vouchers are limited to the first 300 applicants and all you have to do is send your full name & contact details as well the name of the baby born 8th July 2015 to bootsbabyroi@gmail.com by Wednesday 31st July.


So what about the launch itself? Boots put on a great launch. As simple and obvious as it sounds, the event was all about the babies. There was super talks and advice from Gillian Hennessy (Head of Marketing, Boots Ireland), Aisling O’Loughlin (Mum of two and TV3 Xpose Presenter) and Boots own Pharmacy team, but for me the best thing was the chance for Beckett to spend a bit of time playing around with other kids. There were Ball Pools, baby toys and a Face Painter. Unfortunately Beckett rubbed off the curly French-style moustache before I took photo it :(


Still, all in all, even with no moustache pic it was a lovely event.



Speaking about the Boots Parenting Club, Aisling O’Loughlin commented: “When expecting a baby or becoming a mother you realise just how much you have to learn! The tailored emails from Boots Parenting Club will be an amazing and helpful step-by-step resource straight to your phone as your baby develops! Every parent or parent-to-be soon discovers just how expensive babycare can be so it’s a real reward that Boots will be offering 10 Advantage Card points for every €1 and a nice way to treat Mum and Dad for a change”.

Baby Led Weaning - How To?


I found myself having a conversation with another parent a few days ago regarding Baby Led Weaning. I was telling her about a particular recipe that Beckett loves and I mentioned that one of the benefits is that he can feed himself. Somewhat shocked she asked what I meant. I told her that because the vegetables and meat were cooked in large chunks, Beckett would pick them up and feed himself. She tried to clarify by suggesting that I obviously meant that he'd play around with a few bits but ultimately we'd need to spoon feed him. I corrected her.

I'm not suggesting that Baby Led Weaning can be easy or that it doesn't usually create a mess, but it is what we feel is best for Beckett and it means from an early age (ie as soon as he was on solids) he is experiencing food as it should be - it's not being given to him as a puree. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be all evangelical and preachy about there being a right and wrong way to teach your child about food and eating; I'm just outlining what we believe and what is working best for us.


The 'how to?' is rather easy. Make sure that the food is manageable for the child. Before they can bite you will need to provide food that if swallowed whole will be ok - think Pea-sized or slightly bigger. However, once they have some teeth and are more comfortable with the whole eating process, the pieces can be bigger - enough for them to hold and get two or possible three bites out of.


To be honest, you just need to dive in and work out what works best for you. I can guarantee it will be a wonderful journey and there is a really special bond being with your baby as they experience new foods and not just new tastes.

Out for a Meal With Baby @ Eastern Seaboard Bar & Grill



As any of our friends will testify, Jules and I (and now Beckett, of course) are big Eastern Seaboard fans. We've been going for the last 5 years and know a lot of the staff at this point, including Jenny and Reuven, the owners. So do take this review as a considered eport on 5 years worth of visits and meals, not just a random Saturday Afternoon. Though it was a Saturday on which we made our latest culinary encounter.

We have had a number of items up for sale that Beckett has grown out of. One of which was his old Maxi Cosi Cabriofix and Isofix Base. Beckett's been in his Axiss for months now and we'd arranged to meet a girl who was buying the old car seat system. Given where she was coming from, Eastern Seaboard was a good landmark, and a great excuse to pop in for some 4th of July food.


We arrived a little after 1pm and the place was still a little quiet but by no means empty. We were seated immediately and there was already a high chair waiting at our table - I'd rung ahead just 20min before to confirm there was a table. Eastern Seaboard use the IKEA Antilop High Chairs which is brilliant. As I've said several times before, we're a big fan and think they are the best High Chair out there while still being compact and easy to clean. Sure we use one at home. Says it all really.


While we perused the menu we asked the waitress to bring us out a Baby Bowl immediately so that we could get feeding Beckett. Eastern Seaboard's Baby Bowl is €2 and comes with a generous portion of mashed potato and an accompanying selection of fresh vegetables (usually carrot, cauliflower and broccoli). You also have the option of gravy.


Eastern Seaboard's Baby Bowl is fantastic. For an exceedingly reasonable price you get very delicious spud and really good quality freshly prepared vegetables. I do recommend it!


Service was prompt and super friendly as always. Though I would find it hard to ever fault Eastern Seaboard's staff. Though I guess it probably does help when the majority of service staff are female and your son is an incorrigible and insatiable flirt. Seriously though, they are brilliant and very attentive. In the end the girl even insisted on taking Beckett's plastic feeding spoon and washing it for us. Not a word said by us. All her own initiative. And while this may seem inconsequential and ultimately a tiny gesture, it was very much appreciated. Truth be told, I've been in many, many places that haven't thought of it.


Jules started with the Crostini and then had the Burger for her main. I too had the Burger, but with Cheese and Bacon, and I started with the Baby Back Ribs. The burgers were both delicious and Jules really enjoyed her Crostini. The Baby Back Ribs, however, were the best ribs I have ever had in my life! I have had ribs are dozens and dozens of places her in Ireland and I have had ribs in even more places across the United States. None have ever come close to these. The meat melted off the bone. The sauce was sharp, sweet and awesomely rich. If you do nothing else in July, get to Eastern Seaboard and order the ribs. Amazing!


All in all... a fantastic visit. I really couldn't fault the guys at all. Let's just hope that next time we have time (and room) for dessert.

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles



First up, this recipe is the first recipe I've shared that I would consider just for mums and dads. While it's not necessarily unhealthy in any way, it does have quite a bit of chili, honey and soy sauce. So best just to keep it for the grownups, at least for a little while. Of course, if your kids are older and like spicy food - go for it!

This recipe comes from a lot of tinkering and testing of various ingredients, techniques and cooking processes. And I'm happy to say that it is at a place that I am really happy with. Not only is it relatively simple to make but it is exceedingly delicious and works brilliantly to be made in advance or had as a leftover. It's also super versatile and can be added to or changed as your wants and cupboards dictate.


Christian's Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles


Ingredients
1/2 Cup Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 tbsp finely chopped Red Chili Pepper (Lazy Chili is excellent)
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Chili Pepper
1 tsp Garlic Granules
1/2 tsp Onion Granules
2 tbsp (heaped) Tahini
3 tbsp (heaped) Crunchy Peanut Butter
5 tbsp Soy Sauce
5 tbsp Honey
200g - 400g Medium Egg Noodles
Whatever vegetables you like!
Meat or Seafood, hot or cold, if you like...


Cooking
Combine the Sesame Oil and Olive Oil and add to a saucepan with the finely chopped Red Chili Pepper. Bring to a moderate heat very gently - do not boil or overheat the oil as it will ruin the flavour. Once the oil starts to heat up, add the Chinese Five Spice, Ground Ginger, Crushed Red Chili Pepper, Garlic Granules and Onion Granules. Continue to heat the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes on a very moderate heat.


Pour the mixture through a sieve into a large mixing bowl. Use the back of a spoon and press the wet mix left in the sieve to 'squeeze' through as much liquid as possible. Once you've pressed through as much liquid as you can, run the spoon across the reverse side of the sieve and collect the fine mush that has collected their. Place this in the mixing bowl too.


Now add the Tahini, Crunchy Peanut Butter, Soy Sauce and Honey to the bowl. Whisk all the ingredients together vigorously. At this point, your Spicy Sesame Peanut Sauce is ready and can be used straight away. If you are making it ahead of time, simply allow it to cool, cover it and place it in a fridge for up to 48 hours ahead of use.


When you want to use the sauce, simply cook your noodles and throw them into the mixing bowl. Ensure the noodles are well mixed around the bowl and evenly coated in sauce. If you like your noodles quite 'wet' with a good amount of excess sauce, I would recommend using 200g of noodles. If, however, you prefer your noodles drier and with less loose sauce, use 400g of noodles. Bare in mind of course that if you are using more noodles, you may end up making a huge portion so think about proportionally reducing all ingredients.


The noodles are amazing as they are and will work either by themselves or as an accompaniment to a main dish. Either way, they also form the base to which you can basically add anything you want. I like to use carrots, baby sweetcorn, spring onion and red peppers, all finely sliced and julienned. I don't usually add meat but if you have leftover meat or seafood and want to add it then go for it.


Overall, I don't find these noodles to be especially spicy but I do enjoy my spicy food. If you find them too much, instead of using finely chopped Red Chili Pepper at the beginning, just use half a finely chopped red pepper.

Out for a Meal With Baby @ The Lime Kiln



The Lime Kiln only opened in March of this year, making it one of the newest eateries in the area. Located just outside Drogheda, to the South, the Lime Kiln sits on the main street in Julianstown just as you go up (or down) the hill. While the Lime Kiln presents itself as a Gastropub rather than a restaurant, a booking is essential and you will be unlikely to walk in and grab a table. This is something we found out the hard way when we first tried to sample the North East's newest eatery and were turned away. Thankfully we learned, and yesterday (Sunday) we had the pleasure of exploring a new food option in the area.

On entering the Lime Kiln I was pleasantly surprised not to feel like I was in a pub. The decor is a mish mash of different furniture and fittings to give the impression that a troupe of hipsters raided all the local salvage and antique stores and brought every hipster decorating idea they had together, in what is a surprisingly coherent and delightful manner. The chairs aren't all uniform and the central light fixtures hanging below the large skylight are reclaimed mason jars. The overall effect is a room that begs visual exploration. Basically be careful not to spend you meal simply staring around the room looking to discover yet another gem of detail to the whole setting.


I'm glad to say that The Lime Kiln passed its first test with flying colours when we requested a high chair. To both our surprise and approval, The Lime Kiln uses IKEA's Antilop Highchair, just like we do at home. A solid and sturdy piece of kit that you feel safe sitting your baby into. Thankfully the chair was also very clean. Unfortunately something that you do not find in most restaurants.


The second test went as good if not better for the Lime Kiln. When Jules asked about getting Beckett a Baby Bowl or something similar, the waitress told us that would be no problem and that it was complimentary. The option was Mashed Potato and Gravy or Mashed Potato and Soup. We went for the gravy. And although it was a little salty and quite rich, when toned down with the potato it was delicious and Beckett loved it.


Jules had the Burger, with Cheese, and I had the Pulled Pork Sandwich (actually it's kind of a burger too as it is served on a Brioche Bun). We shared the Flat Bread with Spicy Lamb to start. The starter was unfortunately a little bland for both Jules and I. We were expecting a little more from the 'Spicy' Lamb. The flatbread itself was, however, delicious and when we mentioned the spice issue to staff, they immediately offered to compensate us. Jules felt that the burger was missing some relish or sauce but was otherwise delicious. The Pulled Pork was thoroughly excellent and I would highly recommend it.


All in all, The Lime Kiln was a lovely visit and definitely a place we will go back to very soon. From a baby point of view it was also a lovely spot to visit. We were there at 1pm on a Sunday and while the place wasn't immediately busy, all tables were booked / reserved and the place filled up while we ate. So, kids or no kids, well worth a table when you have the chance to pop out for an evening.

The Most Delicious Apple EVER



It's not like Beckett hasn't had an apple before. In fact, he's probably had apples more than any other fruit. Well, at least the same amount as Raspberries, Pears and Clementines. There was something different about this apple though.

I have literally never seen anyone enjoy an apple so much before. Beckett discovered the 'Nectar of the Gods' and it was all his!


Hopefully everyone gets at least one of these in their life.

Baby Led Weaning - Watermelon


I've mentioned before that we're completely pro Baby Led Weaning and will give Beckett every opportunity to feed himself - it just makes sense to us. So this morning for breakfast I was pretty excited to be giving Beckett watermelon. He's had it before but his motor skills have developed significantly since the last time had some and I knew he'd now be a lot more capable of handly the exceedingly juicy and slippery fruit.

As you'll see from the video he has no problem picking up the pieces of fruit and feeding himself. I thoroughly believe that all children should be given the opportunity to feed themselves - it's such a great way to help them further develop their motor skills and to empower them to control the pace and rate at which they eat.


Obviously we can't let Beckett feed himself everything we eat - if it can't be picked up then he's still helped out with a spoon but even then, if it's a meal with chunks of veg or meat, we'll put pieces down in front of him for him to feed himself. I can't wait until tomorrow when I'll be giving him large slices of watermelon that he can pick up and munch on!

10 Months Old; Where Does The Time Go?



Today, Beckett is 10 months old. 10 months! I have no idea where the last 10 months went. I mean, don't get me wrong, they've been 10 of the most amazing months of my life, but I cannot believe how quickly they've passed.

And all that said, I can't wait for the next 10. And the 10 after that, and all the months beyond that. This is the greatest adventure ever :)

SMA Baby Club. Not For Dads.



I've been getting the SMA Baby Club emails since before Beckett was born. They're somewhat beneficial with the occasional bit of baby info that I wasn't aware of. In general, however, to be perfectly honest, I just delete them without so much as clicking a link.

For no other reason than the subject line about Father's Day, I opened the most recent email.


I'm not trying to make any big issue out of this, but I was immediately put back by the email copy. Instead of what could easily have been a piece of text written to be read by either a man or woman, a father or mother, the email left like there was a huge presumption that everyone reading it was a mum.


I was a little pissed to be perfectly honest.


It wouldn't have been difficult to write copy that delivered the exact same message but without the presumption.

Songs in the Key of 6am


All in all, Beckett is a great sleeper. In bed by 7.00pm/7.30pm every night and not awake until 7.00am/7.30am the next morning. And he's been that way from 10 weeks. In fact, he's a fantastic sleeper really and it would seem petty to complain about an odd early start. But it's not early starts that I find tough.

After his bottle, which we usually have upstairs in bed, we go downstairs for his breakfast (usually porridge and fruit). Most mornings he'll gobble down his breakfast without fuss or incident. Then there are an occasional few mornings where a distraction is needed to get those last 5 or 6 mouthfuls in. Lately, the only thing that will do it is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Hot Dog Song. Enough said.

Saturday Morning Welsh Cakes



Weekends were made for baking and there's nothing nicer than something freshly made first thing in the morning. We're big fans of pancakes and crepes in our house. Both savory and sweet. Scones and muffins too, are regular productions. But when it comes to something light and delicious that will also last beyond breakfast, Welsh Cakes are perfect.

Lighter and spicier than scones, Welsh Cakes are, unsurprisingly, a traditional Welsh fare. They have been around since at least the late 19th Century. They're a fairly simple cake and, like scones, allow for a lot of customisation and addition of flavour and ingredient.


Also, they smell incredible when you're cooking them!


Christian's Welsh Cakes & Jam Splits


Ingredients
500g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
75g caster sugar
2tsp mixed spice
250g unsalted butter
pinch of sea salt
150g raisins and sultanas
1 large egg
50ml milk


Cooking
Sieve the flour, sugar and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the bowl with a pinch of salt. Using your hands, rub all the ingredients together into a fine breadcrumb consistency. Now add the dried fruit.


Make a well in the centre of your mixture and crack in the large egg and add the milk. Then, using a fork, beat everything together. Once combined, the dough will be quite short, so don't work it too much.


Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. IF possible use a thick-bottomed pan. Dust a clean surface and roll out the dough to a 1cm thickness. Then using a 5cm pastry cutter (or any similarly sized cylindrical kitchen object), cut out as many rounds as you can. Rework and re-roll the dough as needed to ensure as many rounds as possible.


Test the temperature of the pan by cooking one Welsh cake for a few minutes. You should aim for a heat that creates a golden light brown colour at about 4min on each side. Don't crowd your pan but do cook as many as it will comfortably allow at the same time.


Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack and dust them with a small sprinkling of caster sugar. They can be served as is or cut them in half and dollop in some cream and jam (or fresh fruit if you have it - Strawberries / Raspberries / Blueberries etc.).



When you split them like that and add jam or fruit they are called Jam Splits. If you feel even more adventurous you can make Apple Dragons by adding grated apple to the mix. I like to add a little more cinnamon when doing this as the apple just deserves it.


Finally, if you don't have Mixed Spice, just sub in equal amounts of Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Allspice.

What To Do On a Summer's Day



As any Irish person will tell you, if the sun is out and there's few or no clouds in the sky, it's a Summer's Day. A very light shower might be tolerated but really it's all about the sunshine. In fact, the time of the year isn't even that important so long as the sun is out. So, given the nice weather we've been having this week I thought I'd share some of the awesome places we like to go on a Summer's Day.

While we're a big fan of activities like Dublin Zoo, Viking Splash Tours, Imaginosity and Tayto Park, I'll concentrate on local Louth destinations simply because I think there are probably enough posts and comments out there on activities like them.


While Louth may be the smallest county in the country, there are no shortage of great places to go with the family. Not all of these are outside activities but as this is all about Summer and what to do with a nice Summer's Day, I'll be ignoring the in-doors stuff. So no mention of Funtasia or the cinema etc., instead I'd like to give you a snapshot view into four excellent houses, gardens and nature locations that the Wee County has to offer.



Clogherhead Beach & Harbour

So where to start? That one's easy. The best place to start, in my opinion, is right here on our doorstep. Just outside Drogheda is the little fishing village of Clogherhead. Clogherhead is basically a single street village with housing development at each end. Aside from the three pubs, the butchers, the convenience shop, the post office and the few eateries, Clogherhead boasts a magnificent Blue Flag beach. Nothing says Summer's Day like a trip to the beach and Clogherhead offers one of the nicest beaches in Ireland. Just across the headland is Port Oriel, Clogherhead's harbour. Another lovely spot to visit to see the fishing boats coming and going, to sample the local chowder and to watch the dozen or so seals who frequent the harbour looking for generous fishermen to share their catches. If you're in Drogheda and want to get some great sea air, take in spectacular views of the North East Coast and shop for some fresh off the boat seafood, Clogherhead is the only place to go!



Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth

Newgrange is a prehistoric monument located about 1km north of the River Boyne. Newgrange consists of a large circular mound with a stone passageway and interior chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by 97 large engraved kerbstones. Newgrange was built by a farming community that prospered on the rich lands of the Boyne Valley during the Neolithic period approx. 3200 BC. That makes Newgrange older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. Knowth and Dowth are similar, smaller mounds that are located close by also in the Boyne Valley area. All three sites have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Newgrange is an absolutely must-visit for everyone who has an interest in history and Antiquity but it's also a fantastic day trip for outdoor fans of all ages. The views of the Boyne Valley are outstanding but the simple magnitude of Newgrange's construction and size will wow everyone, guaranteed.



St Peter's Roman Catholic Church

Although this one is an inside one, I think it's a cannot miss. St Peter's is located on West Street in Drogheda. It was designed by J. O'Neill and W.H. Byrne and was built in a French Gothic style with local limestone ashlar. The church is 131 years old (constructed in 1884) and most famous for it tall west gable, rose window and for containing the national shire St. Oliver Plunkett. What's that you ask? In a glittering brass-and-glass case in the north transept, the shrivelled head of St Oliver Plunkett (1629–81) is permanently on display. If you have a kid, especially a boy, who is that little bit older (say 6-12), they will be absolutely fascinated by this. An actual real human head.



Oldbridge House & Gardens

Oldbridge House was built in the 1740’s by either John Coddington or his nephew Dixie Coddington - the specifics are lost. It is believed to have been designed by George Darley, a local mason architect who also designed the renovated Dunboyne Castle, Dowth House and The Tholsel in Drogheda, Co. Louth. To the left of the house there is a cobble stone stable yard with fine cut stable block. This originally contained coach houses, stables, tack and feed rooms. To the right of the house is a small enclosed courtyard which contains the former butler’s house which is not open to the public. For me, the main attraction of Oldbridge is the grounds. To the front of the house sits a phenomenal open expanse that's perfect for running your socks off, kicking around a football or flying a kite. To the left of the house is the coffee shop and gardens. Including the secret Octagonal Garden, these gardens are a beautiful place to walk in the summer and offer numerous spots to sit in relative privacy and watch the natural world drift by.


Another important part of Oldbridge is the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre. This is located in the restored 18th century house. For those not familiar with the local hostory... The Battle of the Boyne between King William III and his father-in-law, King James II, was fought on 1 July 1690 (11 July according to our modern calendar). Both kings commanded their armies in person, 36,000 on the Williamite side and 25,000 on the Jacobite side - the largest number of troops ever deployed on an Irish battlefield. At stake were the British throne, French dominance in Europe and Religious power in Ireland. And a story sure to engage and captivate all children.



So there you have them - four brilliant places to visit with the kids. Don't worry tough, Drogheda has a ton of other attractions and places of interest. You'll just need to do some exploring and find them for yourself :)

Cornbread For Your Baby



I got an itch to do some baking and knowing that there was a bag of Coarse Maize Meal I decided to try my hand at Cornbread. IT's super easy to make and bakes in no time at all. Plus, given that it can easily be adapted to be either savory or sweet, it's really versatile.

Since his arrival we've also discovered that we have a third fan of Thai cuisine in the house. Beckett especially loves Thai Green Curry. So how could I not share with you Saba's own Thai Green Curry recipe.


What particularly makes Thai cuisine suitable for a baby is the different ingredients that are key to good Thai food. Perhaps unsurprisingly at the core of this is fresh vegetables and the best cuts of meat. When it comes to Thai food you only use the freshest vegetables and ingredients. This was something that Tao stressed was beyond important - use nothing but freshly prepared ingredients at all times.


Christian's Raspberry Cornbread


Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 to 3 tbsp sugar
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter
1 cup fresh raspberries


Cooking
Preheat the oven to 205°C. In a medium bowl stir together 1 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup cornmeal, 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Set the bowl aside. While the quantities are very low, if you are restricting your baby's salt and sugar completely, these can be left out without affecting the bread's consistency.


Use an 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Instead of greasing the pan, add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and place it in the preheated oven for about 3 minutes or until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the oven, and swirl the melted butter to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Starting with a hot buttered pan helps to develop crisp edges on the corn bread. The butter also adds flavor.


In a small bowl beat 2 large eggs with a fork just until combined. Stir in 1 cup milk and 1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture all at once. With a wooden spoon, stir just until combined. The batter will be lumpy. Overcome the urge to mix until smooth. Overmixing can cause the corn bread to peak and have tunnels, which can result in a tough texture.


Fold in your raspberries, avoiding crushing them too much - you want to leave as many intact and whole as possible.


Place the pan back in the oven to rewarm it briefly if it has cooled down. Carefully pour the batter into the hot pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.


With a serrated knife, cut the corn bread into 8 to 10 squares or wedges. Serve the corn bread warm. Or cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap or foil, place in a resealable plastic bag or storage container, and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.


And you're done. The Cornbread is best served hot so try and bake it just before you want to eat it. The overall consistency of Cornbread makes it ideal for Baby Led Weaning so do try cutting manageable 'soldiers' that baby can pick up themselves and eat.

Cooking Thai Food for Baby



Four years ago I was invited by the guys at Saba to visit Saba To Go for a personal cookery lesson with Saba Executive Chef, Tweesak Trakoolwattana (known as Tao). Needless to say I jumped at the chance to learn about my favourite food from a native and professional (Tao was born and trained in Bangkok).

Since his arrival we've also discovered that we have a third fan of Thai cuisine in the house. Beckett especially loves Thai Green Curry. So how could I not share with you Saba's own Thai Green Curry recipe.


What particularly makes Thai cuisine suitable for a baby is the different ingredients that are key to good Thai food. Perhaps unsurprisingly at the core of this is fresh vegetables and the best cuts of meat. When it comes to Thai food you only use the freshest vegetables and ingredients. This was something that Tao stressed was beyond important - use nothing but freshly prepared ingredients at all times.




The three dishes I was taught to cook were Chicken Thai Green Curry, Beef Phad Nam Prik Pao and Prawn Phad Prik Sod. Each of these dishes is fine for a baby but I would be aware of the salt content of your Dark Soy Sauce. You may want to cut this out or at least substitute it for a low salt Soy Sauce. The only other thing I would have is that you may like to try Brown Rice instead of the suggested Jasmine Rice.


Chicken Thai Green Curry

1. Add oil to the wok and turn up the heat (it needs to be hot!).
2. Put a large tablespoon of Green Curry Paste in the oil and sauté until fragrant, then reduce the heat and gradually add 1 cup of thick Coconut Milk and a 1/4 cup of water.
3. Add the chicken and Kaffir Lime Leaves, continue cooking for 3 minutes until the chicken is almost cooked through. Season with 1/2 tablespoon Palm Sugar and 2 tablespoons Fish Sauce.
4. Add the vegetables (Aubergine, Chillies, Peppers, Bamboo Shoots, Green Beans and Onions) and cook for a further 2-3 minutes (you want the vegetables to still have a crunch).
5. Finally add Sweet Basil Leaves and turn off the heat.
6. Serve with Jasmine Rice.



Beef Phad Nam Prik Pao

1. Add oil, a large tablespoon of Chopped Garlic and a large tablespoon of Chopped Chillies to the wok and turn up the heat to high.
2. Put a large tablespoon of Red Chilli Paste in the oil and sauté until fragrant, then reduce the heat slightly.
3. Add the beef and continue cooking for 3 minutes (the beef can be cooked to your liking - rare to well).
4. Season with 2 tablespoons Fish Sauce, 1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce and 1/2 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce.
5. Add the vegetables (Chillies, Mushrooms, Peppers, Baby Sweetcorn and Spring Onions) and cook for a further 2 minutes (again, you want the vegetables to still have a crunch).
6. Serve with Jasmine rice.



Prawn Phad Prik Sod

1. Add oil and a large tablespoon of Chopped Garlic to the wok and turn up the heat to high.
2. Add the prawns and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
3. Season with 2 tablespoons Fish Sauce, 1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce and 1/2 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce.
4. Add the vegetables (Chillies, Woodear Mushrooms, Peppers and Onions) and cook for a further 2 minutes.
5. Finally add Sweet Basil Leaves and turn off the heat.
6. Serve with Jasmine rice.



Each of these dishes is super easy to make and yet unbelievably tasty. They're also really quick to put together so even if you're running the gauntlet of a napping baby, you should easily get it made.


For more information on the cookery lessons that Tao does you can contact Fabulous Food Trails whom run the courses on Saba's behalf. Either call them on 01-4971245 or email info@fabfoodtrails.com. The lessons are run both for individuals and groups, and can be done onsite or in your own home.


Despite it being four years ago, I would still like to give my biggest thanks go out to Alan Cadden, Saba To Go's Owner, and Tao for the opportunity they gave me. I never stopped using these delicious recipes and I added a few more to my repertoire straight out of the Saba Cookbook!


Alan Cadden and Tweesak Trakoolwattana (Tao)