Survival guide for foodie first time parents.

Little Baker

Little Baker arrived in our lives a month ago and oh how life has been turned on its head.

Antenatal classes spend most of the time focusing on labour when in reality that is a tiny part of parenthood and frankly if it gets too much a good selection of drugs are available to get you through those hours. It’s the weeks after the classes seem to breeze over but ask any parent about the newborn fortnight and they give you that look of knowing.

We’ve survived the first 4 weeks. In all honesty at one point I didn’t think I would but that’s what sleep deprivation does to you. I’m by no means an expert but these are the things that have helped keep us sane in the first crazy weeks.

Jelly Babies/Percy Pigs

Essential energy food. Not just for labour but the long night feeds. Royal Derby Hospital, where I had Little Baker, has a 24 hour M&S Food – Percy Pigs on tap. Contrary to popular belief this is not the reason I chose Derby. Ok, maybe it did sway it.

Cream cakes & chocolate

If you’re breastfeeding you burn 500kcal a day. Not bad for sitting on your backside watching Homes Under the Hammer/This Morning / Judge Rinder. I struggled with my appetite post birth and this was causing problems for both me and Little Baker. This is when my midwife essentially prescribed cream cakes & chocolate. Get in.

Embrace ready meals

These could be meals you’ve made in advance and frozen or meals picked up from the supermarket. You’ll be unsurprised to hear our freezer was filled with many meals cooked by me, but we have still cheated. The odd meal deal from a well-known supermarket and chilli con carne from a company called Look What We Found. You can find their products near tinned food aisle and they are sold in pouches. Look at the ingredient list and you’ll be surprised, just normal ingredients. Just reheat on the hob or microwave.

One handed meals

You soon get adept at eating one-handed, oh and eating cold meals, whether it started hot or not. We’ve soon learnt that for dinner, usually when Little Baker is having her grouchy hour, foods like pizza, risotto and sandwiches are key. Though to stop you losing the sandwich contents when eating one-handed you have to embrace your inner 3-year-old and cut your sandwiches into quarters.

Lower your expectations

For now food is fuel, pleasure is a bonus. While we haven’t given in to a Pot Noodle yet I’m not saying no especially if it may be the only thing edible (ok some could argue Pot Noodles are anything but edible) that I see in 24 hours. It does get easier as you get used to little one and they get used to you. We cooked our first roast dinner for a month at the weekend, which was cause for celebration, though we did cheat with some components.

Newborns are psychic

You sit down to eat, baby wants feeding NOW. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that they seem content just as you serve up that bowl of spaghetti bolognaise. One of the most priceless things a friend or family member can do for you is to bring you dinner then take baby off your hands for 30min or so so you and your partner can eat together in peace

Saying all this our lives have changed immeasurably; we can’t imagine life without the Little Baker. I look forward to when she’s old enough to get involved in the kitchen.

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Make Eat Get Read Go – August ’14

august 14 megrg

With Little Baker, the new member of the Butcher Baker family, settling in it’s not leaving lots of time for us, so we’re trying to fit in the odd little thing that makes us happy to try and keep us sane during these sleep-impaired days.

1. Make

Botanical drawings with Derwent Watercolour Pencils

I’ve been looking for some botanical prints for the house for a while but haven’t managed to find ones that I like or are remotely in budget. While having a big clear out in the house I came across all my art and craft stuff that as lay unused since our wedding 7 years ago. About time I dusted them down. One of my favourite medium is watercolour pencils. Let’s see if I can still draw!

2. Eat

Sticky sausages from Daisies and Pie

August is BBQ season and these sticky sausages with raspberries on Dasies and Pie blog have caught my eye. Never thought of pairing pork and raspberries before, but I suppose pork goes well with other sweet and sour fruits

3. Get

Helen Russell Creations

Now this one is a bit of cheat as I already own it but felt like I had to share it with you. I’ve seen Helen Russell’s work in local galleries before and love her quirky designs. A dear friend bought me one of her piece for my birthday and it now sits on the mantle piece.

4. Read

Pitt Cue Co – The Cookbook

Me, The Baker, could be veggie if it wasn’t for bacon and spaghetti bolognaise; Hubs, The Butcher, certainly has carnivore tendencies and since the BBQ season has started he’s had his nose permanently fixed in his copy of Pitt Cue Co. – The Cookbook. The hot water smoker has been assembled, time for the cooking to begin.

5. Go

National Trust – Calke Abbey 

With a little one now in tow it does restrict us a bit as where we can go at the weekends while we get out heads around what to do. I so wish they came with training manuals! Calke Abbey is a regular haunt of ours and the cream teas are the best in the area. They always have good events on and this summer is no exception. Little One’s first outing will probably be here for a walk and picnic.

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Introducing the new Butcher Baker member

Lily little baker

For the last 9 months I’m sure some of you have noticed the blog’s been a bit different and this is when I confess why. I was expecting a baby. Lily (or Little Baker as she’ll be known on blog) finally arrived 11 days late, 6lb 11oz and within 18.5 hours of being induced. You don’t need the gory details but the amazing staff at Derby Birth Centre allowed me to have a birth that was unlike the horrors that seem as norm on One Born Every Minute. Also, under the influence of gas & air (amazing stuff) I still talk about food, this time about a love of Chicken Tikka Biryani and M&S cheesecake.

Pregnancy isn’t always conducive to a bloggable appetite. I was conscious what I ate to make sure Little Baker had as good start as possible and foods I’d previously loved were cast aside as they either made me heave or give me raging reflux.

During pregnancy I had no interest in baking until nesting hit around 38 weeks and for the first half of the pregnancy all I was interested in eating were raspberries, melon, passion fruit, salted popcorn and cheese. Not just any cheese; it HAD to be Babybel or Dairylea. Classy food lover here.

Little Baker has had very good foodie start in life and technically has already notched up some Michelin Stars experiencing Afternoon Tea at Le Manoir and a stay and meal Hand & Flowers.

So there we have it, I’ve confessed; we are now a family of three and the blog has a new member. I still want the blog to stay with the food focus and once we’re settled I’ll get back on it.

Now where did I put that prosecco, strong coffee and brie?

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Melba Toast Bruschetta

melba toast bruschetta

Any purists need to look away now. This is not an authentic recipe in the slightest. In fact the only fresh item in the recipe is a tomato, that is assuming you don’t count pappy white bread as fresh. It’s a bit of a summery store cupboard standby for lunch that breaks the monotony of sandwiches or something on toast.

The tomato topping I often make on its own, but call it marinated tomatoes, and serve it as a salad. It goes particularly well with a BBQ or on a cheeseboard. It also perks up tomatoes (usually ones from the supermarket) that don’t taste as good as they should.

The marinated tomatoes are served on melba toast; now there is something a bit of retro for you. I remember watching a Masterchef professional episode recently where one of the contestants didn’t know how to make it. Clearly not a child of the 70s/80s. It was always my job to make the melba toast when my parents had a dinner party. Of course if you’re lucky enough to have some leftover ciabatta or sourdough by all means serve the tomatoes with this.

Cheats Bruschetta

Serves 1

  • 1 slice of white bread
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs (or fresh basil)
  • 1/4 garlic granules (or fresh garlic clove, finely chopped)
  • 1 salad tomato, diced
  • sprinkling of parmesan

How to make melba toast

  1. To make the melba toast, lightly toast a slice of bread. Cut off the crusts then cut the bread into four triangles. Carefully slice between the toasted sides of the bread leaving you with two triangles. Repeat with the other triangles. Place the triangles under the grill untoasted side up and cook until crispy.
  2. Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs, garlic and chopped tomato together.
  3. The marinated tomatoes and toast can be made in advance but it is best to top the toast with the tomatoes just before serving to stop the melba toast going soggy. When ready to eat sprinkle with parmesan.

P.S. for personal reasons the blog may go quiet over the next month but I should still be on Twitter and FB. As I don’t do guest/sponsored content on the blog you’ll have to be patient but I promise we’ll be back.

cheats bruschetta


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Make Eat Get Read Go – July ’14

megrg july14

July is the month of birthdays here, lump June in to the mix and we have a rather busy summer. The next month will be filled with celebratory champagne, cake (probably lots of it), some entertaining and guests aplenty.

1. Make

Arm knitting

I’m officially rubbish at knitting, it’s one of the crafts I really struggle to master and it annoys me that I can’t knit. I remember in primary school we had to knit a granny square for a charity blanket. The teacher gave up trying to teach me as I just couldn’t do it. Surely if I try knitting with my arms it must be easier? I’m hoping this tutorial from Flax & Twine will help me.

2. Eat

Summer Berries Tarts

Lou over at Crumbs and Corkscrews has recently restyled her blog and it’s worth having a good look at. To keep up with my current obsession with summer fruits these Summer Berry Tarts will be perfect over the next month. I think I need to fill the freezer with pastry tart shells so I can make them in a flash.

3. Get

Owl Creamer Jug – Hannah Turner Ceramics

I love ceramics, I love quirky design and I love birds. Need I say more? Before Hubs says I don’t need jugs does he not realise they are not just for pouring milk from, you can also use them as vases. This Owl Creamer Jug from Hannah Turner Ceramics ticks all the right boxes for me.

4. Read

Supper Club by Kerstin Rodgers

Kerstin Rodgers (aka MsMarmiteLover) is the queen of the Supper Club movement in the UK. As well as running supper clubs she’s also writes cookbooks. Her first book – Supper Club, is not only full of menu inspiration but also a beautiful book to look at. The cocktail recipes and menu using edible flowers look very tempting for the next month.

5. Go

Fabulous Places Summer Market

I’ve mentioned Fabulous Places before in MEGRG and it’s worth a second mention. Their Summer Market, with around 100 exhibitors, is back at Derby’s historical Roundhouse on 5th – 6th July. As well as lots of stands selling food, drinks and gifts there are also a few workshops you can book on to. I’m very tempted by the 1hr lifestyle photography workshop.

What plans do you have for July?


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The new garden – a year on

golden raspberry

We’ve lived here now for over a year so have experienced the garden in all four seasons and this spring and summer is already a stark contrast to last year’s effort. This year we’ve had enough rain to keep the garden lush (and to make our roof leak), but also lots of sunshine to encourage plant growth. We’ve also begun to work out what works and what doesn’t in the garden.

David Austin Heathcliff Rose

The flowerbed next to the garage always looking empty? Yep that’s because very little wants to grow in the shady, damp, clay soil. Even the hosta hates it. What does seem to be growing is hydrangea and roses, though the roses seem to be susceptible to black spot recently. My David Austin Winchester Cathedral rose flowered for the first time this year last month and now is the time for Heathcliff. I always find the first rose of the season can be a big scraggy, but hopefully more beautiful flowers will follow. My haphazard pruning methods seem to have paid off.

One of the aims for the garden this year was to grow more unusual plants, like cucamelons, using the James Wong Homegrown Revolution book for inspiration. So far not very successful. We’re struggling to grow from seed in this garden and Hubs is a bit of a greenhouse snob. One of the tall thin plastic growhouses that you can dismantle at the end of the season would be perfect but he hates them so instead is borrowing growing space in his dad’s traditional greenhouse.


I can already tell this is going to be a bumper year for soft fruit. Our bargain 75p raspberry (& various hybrids) plants are thriving. They are growing along the back fence and it’s so lovely coming down to the kitchen every morning and seeing another golden or red ruby shining through the leaves. They are like little, sweet beacons. The race is then on to pick them before the birds get to them. The red raspberries are ready, along with the first crop of golden raspberries that doesn’t usually start fruiting until late July/early August. While the tayberry seems a bit far behind, the loganberry is making up for it. The grapevine is looking good too.

pizza oven

The newest addition to the garden is the pizza oven. It was started at the end of August 2013 and finished 7 months later. The mild winter meant Hubs spent most weekends working on it. There is a blog coming about the build, but we have to confess we’re still trying to master the art of getting it to a decent heat and cooking in it all without annoying the neighbours with smoke. When it gets hot enough you get little smoke.


The cheap Aldi clematis plants are showing their money’s worth and doing a nice job of providing a privacy screen in the garden. Even the pear tree that Hubs rather dramatically pruned (think nothing left but the main trunk) is showing healthy growth and lots of miniature pears.

mini pears

Another joy in the garden is the bees. I think I’ve spotted at least five species buzzing around the garden. They love all the flowers in the herb garden, especially the pretty chive pom poms and we must also thank them for all the work they’ve done on the soft fruit plants.

bee on chive flowers


And on that note I’m heading down the garden with a magazine and cup of tea to soak up this sunshine because who knows how much longer it will last.

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Make Eat Get Read Go – June ’14

megrg june 14 It’s the end of May and after the perfect BBQ weekend a few weeks ago we’re back to rain. Can’t complain too much though because the combination of rain and sun means we’re probably going to have a bumper year in the garden for soft fruits. Even the grapevine seems to be ahead of schedule this year. As summer quickly approaches the type of foods I want to make and eat unsurprisingly changes. Out goes the hearty stodge and in comes fresh, vibrant flavours and meals that can be quickly thrown together in the evening with minimal prep and cooking. This is very much reflected in this month’s Make Eat Get Read Go.

1. Make

A successful fire in the pizza oven

As some of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook you will know that for the last 7 months Hubs has built a pizza oven in the back garden. It is now complete and we’re now trying to master the art of building a decent hot fire that cooks pizzas quickly and doesn’t flood the neighbours with smoke. Not as easy as it looks. Once we’ve worked that bit out we’ll blog it, but in the meantime the Forno Bravo website has become Hub’s bible.

2. Eat

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake from Monica at SmarterFitter

I have a bit of an addiction to Raspberries, they are my favourite fruit. Even from my desk on this grizzly May day I can see a few ruby jewels beginning to appear on the plants at the bottom of the garden. I’m intrigued by this Raw Raspberry Cheesecake recipe from SmarterFitter and I love the idea of a walnut, date and coconut crust. A definite spring into summer recipe.

3. Get

Mini Snips

One of my resolutions for the garden year is to make sure I take advantage of the flowers we have growing. After years of only having a veg patch it’s a bit of a novelty for me to have flowers I can cut and place in a vase. A few friends have recommended these Mini Snips to me as they are great for making delicate cuttings of herbs and flowers.

4. Read

Nigella – Forever Summer

A mixture of half term holiday, bank holiday and a general feeling of unwell, I’ve spent a great deal of the last few days watching the wonder that is Food Network. Recently they’ve been playing old series of Nigella back to back. Yes I’m the sad one that sat there with a cup of tea and a block of post-it notes bookmarking all the recipes she made on TV that I liked in my copy of Forever Summer (entitled Fresh in the US). Now I just need to make them. Oh and watching this Nigella marathon may have something to do with used copies of Bites & Express being bought for the bargain price of £2.81 each. Shopping apps make it far too easy.

5. Go

The Bulls Head, Repton

Continuing on the pizza theme, when all else fails eat at The Bulls Head in Repton. It’s one of our favourite places to eat and as we’re celebrating 7 years on marriage in June we’re bound to be found here some time. They have a wood fired oven and their pizzas are wonderful. Their burgers are pretty good too.  Whenever we eat there we always intend on finishing the meal with one of their famous gelato sundaes but you can guarantee we get carried away with the mains. If you are ever out south Derby way I highly recommend a visit.

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