Parenting the poorly - learning to feed yourself Low-FODMAP and fairy cake recipe

Cocoa Lumps

Cocoa Lumps

Little Miss Low-FODMAP has been poorly with some sort of viral rash that was suspected to be shingles but having spoken to other parents I suspect wasn't as severe as all that. She had a couple of 'peaky' days but the rash has scabbed over and she's back, oh yes she's back! It was the bouncing off the window seat onto the sofa whilst singing 'Let it Go' that convinced me.

 Poorliness may not demand a lot of medical attention but it does demand a lot of attention. There is no point trying to fight that as a parent you are expected not only to be the constant carer but also the entertainer. As you'd expect, in our house my entertainment tends to involve a lot of cookery. Luckily, the poorliness co-incided with the arrival of some Masa Harina from Sous Chef ( She really got into the hang of making tortilla and there have been 5 different tortilla-based meals. It was worth every penny of the tortilla press! We've also had the ubiquitous green cheese sauce drowning anything that stopped moving long enough.

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     Tortilla faces in the sunshine.

Tortilla faces in the sunshine.

However, my favourite cooking activity was making Cocoa Lumps. Cocoa Lumps happen when you unclench for long enough (Let it Go) to let your children to invent something. It is highly unlikely it will be haute cuisine but it's only experience that divides those who can cook without a book from those who can't. What better time to get this experience in than now?

 Use a little gentle guidance to make sure the invention isn't an unmitigated disaster - the idea is for children to learn what does and doesn't work, not to scare them off from ever trying again!

 If you are cooking meat, be sure you cook it for the right amount of time and at the right temperature, Google if you need to.

 When using sugar, as a general rule if you bake it below 175C your baked goods will be soft. Above that will make for a harder biscuit/ cookie/ splodge.

  I'm of the school that often it is best to smell if something's cooked, particularly baked goods. If the kitchen smells of biscuits they're probably cooked. If it smells of burning use a time machine and get them out 5 minutes earlier.

Very painted nails.

Very painted nails.

Chocolate and orange goes together, lemon and sultanas go together but don't let yourself get too hung up on these details. Be curious - someone came up with the idea of salted caramel once and now there's no getting away from it. Worst-case scenario, it won't taste very nice and you won't make it again.

 Take notes. If you happen upon a brilliant idea or recipe you can replicate it. If it's awful you won't make the same mistake twice. If the experiment is 'almost' there, it's easy to fiddle with next time. Note-making is lots of writing and weighing practise that children may not even notice they're doing.

 When baking you need some sort of raising agent - self-raising flour, whisked egg whites, bicarbonate of soda, yeast, baking powder - see what happens when you don't use any and see what happens when you use too much!

 Experiment with substitution - if you have a recipe that you're missing ingredients for what happens when you use white sugar instead of brown, raisins instead of chocolate chips, maple syrup instead of golden syrup? We are constantly trying to make meals Low-FODMAP so this is particularly significant if you have a child with a restricted diet - they need to learn how to feed themselves!

Chalk Drawings

Chalk Drawings

If failure is not an option, make a basic sponge. You can ice fairy cakes if you feel so inclined or if you've run out of any other activities. The following guidelines makes enough for 12 fairy cakes but you can easily double or halve the ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 12 hole bun tin with paper cases.

 Weigh 2 eggs, then weigh out the same amount of (gluten-free) self-raising flour, soft butter or (dairy-free) margarine and caster sugar.

 Cream the butter and sugar together using a wooden spoon, electric hand beaters or mixer until pale and fluffy. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs and add to the butter and sugar with a tablespoon of flour. You can add a teaspoon of vanilla extract if you fancy. Mix together thoroughly, it will curdle but that will not effect the final result. Fold in the remaining flour until it's thoroughly combined. Add a tablespoon of milk until it makes a 'dropping' consistency.  This is nothing more than it dropping off the spoon in a splodge but I suggest you use the term for added credibility. Gluten-free flour sometimes needs a 1/2 tbsp more and we would use coconut milk.

 Spoon the mixture as evenly as possible into the cases (remembering to let the child have some input) and bake for 20 minutes. Clear up during this time, it's as an important a lesson as the cooking. The cakes will be cooked when the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from the tin and allow to cool on a rack.

 Decide whether you can bear the thought of decorating the cakes or whether it's now time for the millionth viewing of Frozen.