What a day! Going to the zoo requires military preparation when taking a toddler. Here is a list of everything we took:
Buggy, rain cover, coat for Charlie, coat for Mummy, spare trousers, spare shorts, spare T shirt, sun cream, sat nav, nappies, wet wipes, changing mat, ice pack, milk, water, blueberries, cheese sandwiches, cold sausages, yoghurt, an apple, sweetcorn fritters, grapes, caramel rice cakes, water biscuits, camera, pretend steering wheel and my handbag full of all the paraphernalia that makes me walk like a hunchback.
And this was travelling light. Of course the only things Charlie wanted to eat out of his packed lunch were the sausages and grapes. He’s a salt and sugar fiend. My theory is that the salt ban for the first year of every baby’s life results in obsession. A bit like every time I diet I end up reading cookbooks in bed like some kind of chick lit page turner. (Is there such a thing?) The boy loves anything salty – strong cheese, sausages, olives, crisps, savoury biscuits, adult chips that have been covered in salt and vinegar etc. Bad, bad, bad.
I don’t think he’s tried feta yet but am fairly sure he’d love it. This recipe is sufficiently salty to please the average toddler but full of garlicky veggies too, making it feel oddly quite meaty. The kind of veggie food that even Mr B admits to liking.
- 4 beef tomatoes
- half a pack of feta cheese, crumbled by hand into little bits
- half an aubergine cut into 1cm cubes
- 2 onions, peeled and chopped into 1cm pieces
- a pack of mushrooms, chopped into 1cm pieces
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 3 tbsp of oil for frying with – anything other than olive
- a little olive oil for coating the tomato skins
- ground black pepper
Get the onions frying in the oil on a medium heat, you want them all brown and caramelly so go slowly. They need about 20 minutes slowly frying to get that sticky marmaladey look. Then add the garlic, black pepper, aubergine and mushrooms and fry for another 10ish mins until all the oil is absorbed and the veggies are cooked through. Take off the heat and mix the feta into the mixture.
Take each beef tomato, cut a lid off the top and carefully scoop out the tomato flesh until you have an empty shell. Cut the tomatoey flesh into small pieces and mix into the veggie mix you’ve just cooked, then scoop back into the beef tomato and replace the lids.
Take a square of foil and drizzle with a little olive oil, then place a tomato on top and scrunch the foil up until sealed. Repeat for the remaining 3 tomatoes and then place on the barbecue or in an oven (Gas 5) for about 15 mins. If you chill first remember to let the tomatoes get back down to room temperature before cooking.
NB: The tomatoes ooze an unattractive juice when stripped of their foil jackets – it tastes nice but can look a bit off putting. If trying to impress perhaps drain away first, otherwise just provide crusty bread for mopping.