Kiddie Cooking

My two love getting their hands dirty in the kitchen. To be honest, also their faces, arms and feet. When it gets to witching hour, it’s nice to have some little treats which they can cook, which ultimately leads to them eating their dinner! If they are involved, they eat.

I really try to do my very best to let them do as much as possible. It is very tempting to do the pastry cutting and lifting by yourself, but it is so beneficial for them to learn how to manipulate the world around them. Plus, the kitchen gives us so many opportunities for safe risk-taking, such as supervised knife use. And watching them break eggs for baking is downright hilarious.

These are a few new things that we’ve been making recently:


Parmesan puff pastry stars – I think this was an idea from a Coles magazine. The kids cut out the pastry stars and sprinkle them with parmesan. A quick bake in the oven just before serving, and voila! Despite this delicious soup being the infamous green colour, it still got eaten. Amazing what a delicious dipping star can do.


Dino dippers – Another soup one. I bought these dino sandwich cutters from Officeworks, but I’ve also seen them at Spotlight. Cut, a little bit of butter, a few minutes in the hot oven, and soup will be demolished.

We have also done a few sushi shapes with great molds from Daiso. Sushi rice is fun to manipulate, but be prepared for sticky rice to be everywhere!!!


Rainbow pizzas – Another Coles mag idea. These were such a hit… and it meant we finally moved off ham and pineapple pizzas! We had red tomatoes, orange carrot, yellow corn, green broccoli, and ‘purple’ beetroot. Admittedly, not the tastiest pizza I’ve made, but these are the things we do for our children.


Podding broad beans – fine motor skills, and deep concentration. Say no more.


Wrapped pies – these are a great way to use up leftover casserole or pasta sauce, as they are easier if the filling in cold. Cut a piece of puff pastry into 4, place in muffin trays, fill, then ‘wrap’ the contents to close. They would probably look a bit prettier with an egg wash, but I was out of eggs that day.


Chocolate spiders – yes, these are treats! I remember making these as a little one. Melt dark chocolate and some peanut butter together, and mix in crunchy noodles. Sprinkles make good eyes.


Chocolate Coated Ritz – (one more treat!) I found this recipe in ‘4 Ingredients kids’ (Kim McCosker). Sandwich two jatz/ritz/savoys together with peanut butter, and dip in melted dark chocolate. Set in the fridge for half an hour or so. These two loved doing the spreading in particular. I realised that they hardly ever have the opportunity to use a knife, so it was very interesting to watch them do their best!

I find my two really relate well to stories about their food. They are so much more likely to eat it if they know that something used to be their favourite food when they were babies, or food that we ate all the time in China.

What have you made recently with your children?




Baking oven-tures

I’ve had a lot of crappy ovens in my life.

In our first rental, the oven looked straight out of the 50s. And probably hadn’t been cleaned since then. It cooked a main meal ok, but baking was a challenge. Gas, but no fan.

Our first apartment in Beijing had no oven. But we had 5 kuai noodles at the doorstep… who needs to cook? Plus, in a department store, we learnt how to make a cake in a wok. Sorted.

Our second apartment also had no oven, but I was beginning to itch. We bought a little convection oven, which we kept on the indoor balcony as I was a bit alarmed at how hot the outer surface got, and thought it might melt bits of our rental kitchen. Supposedly you can roast a whole chook in these. Supposedly.

Surprisingly, our third apartment came with an oven! Again, possibly from the 50s, so maybe 80s China? Gas, no fan, also no temperature gauge. Basically, the longer you left it on, the hotter it got. This was probably the biggest baking challenge by far. It was also imperative that you decided which cutlery you needed before the meal because once you got that baby going, there was no chance in hell you could open the quickly expanding drawers up against the oven. It also had a non-functioning side-warming compartment. Useful for storing objects that didn’t melt.

I wish I had a photo… will keep looking…

Back to Australia, and I was a bit disappointed to find that our kitchen was electric, rather than gas. It took me a long time to get used to it, yet still I burnt things on the outside, and had to be so careful and attentive.

And then it died.

And got replaced.

And I realised that baking is a million times easier with an oven that works. My first meal of ‘The Petite Kitchen’s’ lavender chook was the most delicious ever… and I’ve been cooking it for ages. My eyes widened as I realised the baking opportunities, and threw myself into a baking frenzy. Especially after finishing uni and not having an oven for 10 days or so!

So, I wish to share two exciting recipes with you.

The first is a Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake from the Coles magazine. Woah. Hold onto your pants with this one. I’m looking forward to playing with this recipe and trying out some different flavour combos.

The second is a low-FODMAP, vegan-friendly banana pudding. The original recipe has been tweaked from Donna Hay Issue 81, p132.


  • 250g coconut oil, melted 
  • 2-3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp chia, 6 tbsp water, briefly mixed and soaked (as an egg replacement)
  • 1.5 cups of GF SR flour (I used the Aldi one)
  • Dark chocolate pieces, to taste

Mix the first 5 ingredients, stir through the chocolate, and bake in individual ramekins at 180 for about 15-20 mins.

Note: These are quite oily, but they don’t feel heavy, as it is coconut oil, rather than butter. But you may wish to put less oil.

Whilst the puddings are baking, make the caramel. This isn’t a true caramel, because of being vegan, but it is still delicious! I found that it was actually quite hard to dissolve the sugar in the coconut oil. I’m not entirely sure why… I’m sure science would tell me. Also, the sauce separates quickly quickly as there is less fat, so give it a good whisk before serving.

  • 150g coconut oil
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut milk

Melt the oil in a saucepan, add the sugar and dissolve as much as possible. Add the coconut milk carefully and continue to cook until it thickens slightly.




Hama time

Remember Hama beads? Bit retro, hey?

We’ve become a bit addicted. Adella has been churning out drink coasters for friends and family in epic proportions. After ironing, I glue a piece of felt onto the back to strengthen them, and they’ve been holding up really well. I think she should start a market stall!


Then, we were in Lincraft two days ago, and we found kits. You should’ve seen her jaw drop. So, it was mermaids and princesses, of course.


In terms of an activity, it reminds me of Lego. You have to follow the instructions carefully, plus it is SO good for fine motor skills. She pretty much did these on her own, and just needed help with the shape of the tail, and the placement of the eyes.

Arlo and I are working on a parasaurolophus!

I’m thinking that we could make some cool Christmas decorations too.

What have you made with Hama beads? Please share!



8 months

So… ahem… this is my first posting in 8 months. That’s embarrassing.

The general life juggle has been tough this year. Looking back, uni was easier to balance with a baby. Toddlers are WAY harder. I look back at baby time with envy. A big thankyou goes out to everyone who has helped me in any way possible. You know who you are, and you are fabulous.

Semester 1 was hard because I had a four-week prac. Throwing myself into full-time work for a month was difficult. Difficult on me, and difficult on the kids. They didn’t show it, because THEY HAD A BALL with Grandma and Grandpa, but Adella still talks about “that time that Mummy had to go to work”. It’s not an easy expectation on anyone to flip life on its head, let alone kids under 4!

Semester 2 was the worst because Arlo gave up napping. His naptime was my magic time, where I had a chance to completely focus. And then it slowly starting slipping from my grasp. I held on for as long as I could, but there’s only so much time you can waste forcing a child to nap. I took a deep breath and let it go. But this reduced my alone time to 45 mins, when the kiddies watched TV. That is not long. Evenings, you say? Yeah, my brain has pretty much shut down by 8pm. That made the 7.30-9pm weekly seminars pretty tough. Thank goodness they were audio only, and not video. I wonder how many other mums were surviving by sipping on a sav blanc?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m really enjoying my degree. I’m learning so much, and I absolutely loved my prac in Prep, and had a great time with my random teachings throughout the rest of the year.

So here I am, late at night, with my Four Pillars, bopping to my fave music, simply reflecting.

I have this overwhelming sense of having not done anything this year, which is completely untrue. I’ve taken the two kids to swimming, Chinese playgroup and kinder x2 every week, not to mention a gazillion playdates with our awesome friends. I’ve cooked meals most nights. I’ve done kids art projects. I’ve read more picture books that I could possibly ever count. It’s just my to-do list kept growing. And that to-do list is the things that are ‘me’. That’s what I’ve let go of in order to see this study year out.

I have no idea how anyone who studies, has kids and works as well can do it. My mind boggles. You are absolutely incredible.


I handed in my last assignment a few days ago, and since then, I’ve been on an almost-adrenelin-type-high… overwhelmed by the opportunity to do things. I’ve sorted clothes. Cleaned the shed (and taught the kids what red-back spiders look like). Gardened. Run. Sewed. Today alone I made a dress-up, fixed another, and made two pairs of pj pants.

Thank goodness our oven is broken or I may have made 6 cakes by now.

Though, I did make a steamed pudding.

I’ve also kept a list of things I have done with the kids that I meant to post. They will come. But I might have to sew a little bit more first. 😉


Picture book activities

There are some amazing picture books out there and we have recently done some great craft activities based on our favourite books. Both the kiddies really love making the connection between what we read and what we make.



We made the MASSIVE COOKIE from ‘Wild Boars Cook’ (Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall). The recipe is on the last page of the book.


I remember ‘Corduroy’ (Don Freeman) from when I was little, and this is a follow-up. When I was at primary school, we made knitted bears and Mum helped me sew overalls for my bear to look like Corduroy.


Both my little ones love ‘A river’ (Marc Martin). They trace the river on every page of the book and also make sure they find the boat every time. For this activity, we drew patterns with crayon like the patchwork in the book, then painted over it with watercolours.


‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (Eric Carle)


And perhaps a lesser known Eric Carle book, ‘The Bad-tempered Ladybird’. The best bit of this activity was discussing which way we were going to put the mouths to make both a happy and a grumpy ladybird.



‘The Rainbow Fish’ (Marcus Pfister)


We actually made this entire book again redrawing the illustrations because she loved it so much. It’s a great story – very cute! ‘Crayon’ (Simon Rickerty)



This one looks a little crude, but it was a LOT of entertainment. Especially when we went hunting around the house for all the elephants we could find! We also kept this box for a long time as a play thing. ‘Too many Elephants in this House’ (Ursula Dubosarsky).

What’s your favourite picture book activity? Please comment below.

I try to keep my pinterest files up-to-date with our latest fave reads if you need some library-inspiration:

Ages 0-2
Ages 2-3
Ages 3-4

My fave… of 2015

It’s nice to look back and reflect…

My fave recipe book: 250 must-have slow cooker recipes

My fave dessert: Meringues (which I finally mastered, after many failed attempts) with my homemade lemon curd.

My fave savoury dish: Lamb shanks done in the slow cooker. I’ve done them lots of ways and they are consistently amazing! Plus the leftovers go into the piemaker.

My fave read: Counting by 7s – Holly Goldberg Sloan.

My fave TV shows: Fargo and True Detective.

My fave tea: T2 released a caramel brownie tea, and I got a sampler, but never got anymore before it was off the shelves. Devastating.

My fave blog: The Measured Mom for great educational printables.

My fave garden success: Bringing my lemon tree back to life… with gusto!!

My fave DIY project: making a pallet garden.

My fave kiddie product: Actually, my slow cooker. Makes me a lot more available to the children!

My fave new shop: The Cup & Mug – Polish pottery.

My fave new cafe: Est. 1906, Seddon.

My fave entertaining-for-the-kiddies cafe: Est. 1906, Seddon.

My fave take-away: Godfather’s Pizza, Yarraville. Old-school pizza – the kids love it!

My fave place for a drink: Littlefoot Bar, Footscray.

My fave clothes shop: Pash, in Pt. Fairy. Same as the previous year.

My fave useful purchase: A family-sized tent. Never underestimate the advantages to internal doors in your tent.

My fave pretty, but unnecessary, purchase: A Gorman dress. Covered in moths. Yes.

My fave parenting moment: It’s happened more than once, and will hopefully continue for a long time… when I walk into a room and Adella is reading Arlo a book.

Happy New Year!!

A dash of Christmas

Sheesh. Where does life go?

I had all these fabulous ideas for an advent calendar. And then I was in Kmart (I love that store). They had these calendars for $7, so I bought one, pulled out all the crappy lollies and refilled it with less crappy ones. Done.


I saw a really cute post of a wall hanging made from pompoms (#mysugarandcloth) and it inspired me to make a Christmas wreath. Mine is not as classy as it is just on a ring of cardboard. It was really looking like it just wasn’t going to happen as it was taking me forever to make the pompoms… but I suddenly had a genius moment: Why wind 1 string of wool around a template, when you can wind 10? And suddenly the last 2/3 of it was done in two sittings!! Am I late to catch onto that or what?


My annual cookie swap was fabulous… look at the deliciousness:


Donna Hay introduced me to mince pie icecream sandwiches (literally chopped supermarket mince pies mixed in vanilla icecream!!!) in her latest magazine – sorry, no photos – got eaten tooooooo quickly.

And finally, another everybody-friendly dessert:


I had an image of an old-school sponge cake in my head, and that’s what inspired me. Two gingerbread cakes from this ‘Christmas in a glass’ recipe, with the centre layer filled with coconut icecream (2 tins coconut milk and 3/4 cup brown sugar churned in my icecream maker) and coconut chips, and the top is more icecream with raspberries, cherries, pomegranate and mint. This is vegan, FODMAP-friendly, dairy-free, gluten-free, etc. ‘Twas delish.

That’s all from me. Gotta go pack the car with camping gear. Merry Christmas!