Weeknight vegetarian crockpot or freezer meals

Hi everyone, I just finished my last day of work today and am preparing for my new job which starts March 1. What better way to start a new job than to have easy dinners on the table all week?

Quorn light korma

For my crew that means using meat analogue veg dishes to entice them to eat. Most of the recipes on the Quorn UK site are freezer-to-slow-cooker friendly, such as this light Indian korma recipe. I’ve seen people advise preparing the entire recipe into a Ziploc freezer bag, shaking to mix, then freezing it flat. However my freezer is still a bit overloaded so instead I will keep the tomato passata UHT boxes on the cupboard shelf *but* will label them so they will not be pinched for another recipe before I cook the korma. Same thing for keeping the lowfat yogurt (I’ll use fromage frais which we have on hand) in the fridge. It’s still a “throw and go” slow cooker recipe, donc ça marche 🙂

March also has St Patrick’s Day on the 17th, so we will have a green dinner that night. Do you have special St Paddy’s day plans? Check out the for breakfast. I made this several times with tofu instead of soy milk: higher protein and less sugar-y taste. It’s a perfect way to start the day.

Ideas for March work nights so far:
Friday 1 March (first day!): , brown rice and salad

Monday 4 March: 10 Minute TVP Tacos plus taco fixin’s for a taco bar dinner this is not a slow cooker night. Perfect for Monday since I will prepare all of the veg on Sunday.

Tuesday 5 March: here it advises precooking the asparagus etc. but I will just put the raw ingredients in the slow cooker–and BTW plan to use trimmed broccoli stalks in place of €€€ asparagus + brown rice

Wednesday 6 March: = chick peas in a tomato-based curry sauce–nice easy recipe! For sure I am not going to freeze a bunch of dried beans though, that’s another ingredient to add in the morning. Call me crazy but I like soaking beans and will soak these Tuesday night to drain, rinse, and put the soaked beans in the slow cooker Wednesday morning. More of that brown rice unless the natives rebel 😉
Thursday 7 March: not a slow cooker night again, two minutes in the microwave and it’s done!

Friday 8 March: although I might Americanize it and use mozzerella cheese which is also cheaper here than cheddar. This is not a slow cooker recipe, it’s for my little freezer tins that can be placed in the oven. I love Friday night lasagne! It says “weekend”.

What are your meal plans?


Homemade kimchi

You might not know this, but I’m a ‘kitchen Korean’: I just eat Korean food, minus some Scottish oats in the morning. I just made up that expression but it’s succinct, isn’t it?

Korean cuisine is all the more delicious because thanks to it, and in no small part the breastfeeding efforts of my little 6 month-old, I’m back to wearing my size 38 RTW trousers 🙂 I thought it would take months longer (9 months up, 9 months down) . Phew!

My first batch of napa cabbage kimchi turned out okay, but it needs work. Maangchi’s pictorial and YouTube recipe I took liberties with the recipe: cutting the cabbage to actually make Mak Kimchi (cut kimchi), stirring in the radish cubes since I made a half recipe for this first foray, and using 2 grated carrots instead of julienned radish because that’s what I had in the kitchen. The big problem though, in my opinion, is substituting soy sauce for fish saice to make it vegetarian. The sauce looks like ketchup colour instead of a proper bright red kimchi. Back to the cutting board when this batch is finished (2 litres or so from now!)

and I made Maangchi’s kimchi jeon for lunch, and it was respectable! My flipping skills need work though. It’s probably the consistency of the batter since I eyeballed the measurements–Madeline was interrupting constantly and I had to improvise. The jeon pancake was the shade of raw steak blood from the soy sauce experiment.

Any ideas on vegetarian substitutions for fish sauce in kimchi?

Flannel prefolds review

Ta-da!!!! Finally my little tester is out and about, and she has been dilligently providing plenty of nappy practice for her parents. Good girl! I have it down to less than 5 minutes, in and out of the bathroom changing area.

Cloth diapers are working out fantastically. Naysayers warned ‘they’re too hard’ but on the contrary, neither D nor I can fathom how parents slog around big packs of nappies, and run out to the store, and then there’s taking out the trash a lot more often too… it’s far, far easier to run a wash cycle and hang out the laundry than to deal with disposables.

The newborn-6 mos. size is good on her. She’s 48,5cm as of Monday at the pediatrician’s. However, I fold down the front a bit to keep it from chafing her belly button. Otherwise, she gets a little bit of dried blood in her navel and complains slightly when I rinse it off at nappy changes.

Flannel is soft, but the centre soaker pad is a bit stiff from all of those layers. That’s not necessarily bad, as the stiffness provides plenty of air to her little tush. Madeline had a fungal diaper rash by the time she was 4 days old, in hospital Pampers. It cleared up here at home with the cloth nappies, knitted wool diaper covers from Disana, and a bit of zinc oxide-based nappy cream. Zinc oxide isn’t recommended for CD, and it has made a few cream-coloured stains, but her health and comfort are more important than some CD! Our pediatrician said he was in flannel nappies when he was a baby, and they are soft enough. However. DH made a ‘useful’ comment the very first day that the nappies weren’t soft enough for her, he has memories of the softness of his own cloth nappies, these are sub-standard… Gotta love that man. Well, flannel was all I could find, and buy. I can’t find birdseye twill cotton, bamboo or hemp at local fabric stores, and I darn well wasn’t going to shell out €€€ for those fabrics online if the CD experiment didn’t work. It’s working now, so if I locate the fabric, and the time!–I would make some more. Seems to me, though, it’s a good idea to make a wardrobe of nappies and try a few other styles to round out the selection. We bought two fitted nappies to test-drive the style, but haven’t used them yet.

Those knit wool covers take FOREVER to dry–at least 3 days when they’re lanolized. I fixed that by running them through the spin cycle before air drying, so they now dry overnight like everything else.

DH is okay with the prefold and pins setup, but he would prefer a Snappi-able fabric if not built-in Aplix or snaps. I think he’d also like a fitted nappy, with elasticated back waist and legs. I am not going to use Aplix (heavy-duty velcro) because it makes diaper chains in the washing machine.

The removable soaker pad was a great idea, because they do dry faster that way. Madeline is only two weeks but from the dampness overnight, I can foresee the need to add some terry towelling doublers/inserts to increase the absorbancy. DH will have to identify old towels for me to cut up.

Cleaning: every other night, first a rinse cycle of 16 minutes, followed by a 60C cycle with 1/3 the usual detergent called for. The best detergent I could find was Ecover, and Madeline has no reaction to it, so we’re carrying on. Phew! Then they’re line-dried.

Nesting instinct: test positive

My due date of the 25th is approaching.  I’ve just finished cleaning the house, after washing laundry, sewing and knitting this morning.  The latter two were, naturally, baby projects.  Frankly, I welcome the rush of energy, and it is cute to relate to cats frantically tearing up newspaper, or birds feathering their nests.

Twenty minutes–why didn’t I do this earlier?–and I now have three sets of DIY nursing pads tutorial with a dart pinned in from my stash of light blue flannel.  I affectionately think of them as doll-sized coolie hats.  Coincidentally with the Asian connection, I cut out the circular shape using my favourite rice bowl to get the recommended 5″ diameter 🙂   I eyeballed how much to dart out, then sewed two layers’ darts at the same time, trimmed to the stitching, and sewed the circles with the trimmed darts on the inside to prevent ravelling.

My local maternity/baby store, Prémaman, sells washable pads with a waterproof outer layer.  Mwah… plastic trapping moisture next to skin.  Hello Candida albicans!  Here is your plastic residence permit, may you set up a happy home here on this red scaly skin.  But perhaps not coincidentally, this morning I just felted wool coating at 60C in the washer, to return to my previously stalled project of sewn diaper covers.

Funny: baby has the hiccups again, and her back is flinching (tiny rhythmic flutters) for the last ten minutes.  She gets hiccups at least once a day.  Once I tried rubbing and patting over her hiccups but it didn’t seem to affect anything.  I should really make more burp clothes, this seems to be her MO!  She takes after her daddy, but my husband says it’s me who has the hiccups (yes, certainly during pregnancy).

Coming up: a drawstring pail liner to make washing diapers and wipes a little easier.

DIY natural baby care

Here are some links to make your own natural baby care products.  Know of any more?

And does anyone know what is this apparent trend from sites Stateside to call everything ‘organic’ when I don’t see any requirement that at least one ingredient be organically grown?  Looks more like ‘natural’, ‘DIY’ or ‘homemade’ to me, but the organic label was slapped on to make it sexier.  What is up with that?

My favourite–all the natural baby product recipes from one site! MomFuse blog: Make your own natural baby products including wipe solution, baby shampoo, baby powder, baby bath milk & baby oil.  Great place to start, the other sites offer more variations.

Big ol’ list of baby wipes solutions for cloth wipes: Zany Zebra Cloth Wipes Solution Recipes

Make Baby Stuff: Baby Wipe Solution for Cloth Wipes or Disposable 2 recipes for cloth or disposable wipes (think cut-up paper towels)

A lot of those recipes call for baby shampoo or baby cleanser, which is one of the two baby care things in the research article identified as a possible source of potentially harmful chemicals for babies.  Two birds with one stone!

eHow: Baby shampoo recipe

Soapmakers might start with the real basics (if you will), like oil and lye, but I’m not so crafty.  I’m gonna buy.  A pity that liquid Castille soap like Dr Bronner’s isn’t sold here in Belgium, but it is easy to find French Marseille soap, which is a solid, handcrafted soap from natural, traditional ingredients.