How nice is it when your child can suddenly read? One day they are in diapers finding it hard to concentrate on Spot the Dog. Next thing you know, they are curling up on their bed with a book; it’s a big milestone!
Years ago we were given, as a present, a copy of “La Pâtisserie est un jeu d’enfants“. I frankly forgot that it was flying around somewhere in the kids room, until Coco came up to me recently and announced that it was time for us to make some gateau à la banane (banana cake). Not quite the thing I had planned that day… but she had read the recipe, had checked in the cupboard if we had the ingredients and there was no stopping her.
This book is a classic over here in France. It was first published in 1964 and is full of traditional French children’s gouter cakes, for example choquets, crèpes, marble cake and, my personal favourite, Madeleines. The illustrations are charming and super simple to follow. There is also a cut-out pattern for the measuring cup, which is a fun extra activity.
It only exists in French, but it is very simple so you will be able to decipher it, even if your French is very basic.
If you enjoy this book you might also enjoy it’s precursor called “La cuisine est un jeu d’enfants” (Cooking is a child’s game).
We have had so many great contributors tell us about their cities, and each of them has made me want to pack my bag and go explore the city, so I wanted to do a post about Paris. I still sometimes step out of my flat and get a little bit excited. Why? Because I do live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Sometimes I forget and then I look up and think: “Seriously… I am one lucky girl!”
So here is my list of what to do in Paris with your family for a weekend (or more!) in Paris:
The Pompidou Centre – great for the whole family. The permanent collection is world-class and well laid out, not too big and not too small. The ground floor has a little exhibition center just for kids that normally runs parallel to the temporary exhibitions and helps kids understand the exhibition. If nothing else, taking the rolling staircases, which are on the outside of the building in the plastic tubes, is an activity in itself.
The Galerie de l’Evolution – Paris’s natural history museum, which has recently been renovated and is worth a visit, especially if it is rainy outside. It is a beautiful space and is set in the Jardin des Plantes, the Botantical Gardens. It is a lovely to have a walk around in.
The Menagerie in the Jardin des Plantes – Also in the Jardin des Plantes is the Menagerie, a little zoo that has been around since the mid-19th century and has not changed a lot since then. It is a great size for smaller children and very charming.
The Sacrée Coeur and Montmartre – Montmartre and the Sacrée Coeur is a fun place to explore – unfortunately a lot of tourists agree with this, so the main streets are often packed with tourists. It is quite easy to avoid them though, as the groups normally stick to a few road and squares.
I recommend taking the funicular (easily my favourite public transportation vehicle) up to the top of the hill (you pay with a metro ticket). The view of Paris from the Sacrée Coeur is one of the best. If you walk back down the steps you will find a beautiful old merry-go-round – you might recognize it from the movie Amelie Poulain.
Musée D’Orsay – The Musée d’Orsay is a really accessible museum for kids from about 5 years and up. It houses a lot of the famous impressionists, so it is a great introduction to art and famous artwork that your kids might already know. It is right in the heart of Paris on the right bank of the Seine, beside the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, the perfect place to go and have a run about in after a museum visit. Do note that one of the crazy things about parks in France is one is often not allowed on the grass and there are fierce looking officers with whistles paroling the parks to make sure it stays that way!
Cité des Enfants - The cité des Enfants is based in the Science Museum a little bit outside the centre of Paris at La Villette. It is definitely worth the treck out if you are staying for a few days. All the exhibitions are interactive, educational and fun. I have been there with my kids and it is quite interesting how different kids gravitate towards different part of the exhibition. The exhibitions are divided between a section for 2-7 year olds and a section for 5-12 year olds. I would advise booking tickets in advance from the museum’s website.
Luxembourg Gardens – The Luxembourg Gardens is possibly my favourite park in Paris – it is beautiful and very, very Parisian. Again you will stumble over the problem that it is hard to find a piece of grass to sit on, but you can sit on the famous chairs, go on the merry-go-round, rent little boats to push around the little pond with a stick, visit the play area (you will notice all the French parents sitting on the benches outside the area while the foreign parents are running around the area trying to keep an eye on their children). (more…)
Ah yes, dinner at the RDM family can be the greatest time of the day or the most stressful one! Either we are all sitting at the dining room table and finding out how everyone’s day went or it’s that time of day where I use my bargaining powers, false promises and even blackmail desperately trying to get my kids to stay seated and eat!!! Honestly, the stress starts even before then, I like to think I’m a creative person, but when it comes to cooking I lack all imagination, I don’t even like to do the groceries. To top it off, my kids have opposite tastes and they both don’t like potatoes, so I can’t stuff them with all that starch! Lastly, my husband doesn’t cook at all, so it’s all up to me; at least he does all the cleaning up…
On the weekdays, I usually pick the kids up from daycare around 5PM and by the time we walk home it’s usually 5:30PM, so while the kids play I try to cook some dinner, it has to be something relatively easy and quick. My kids have a snack at school around 3:30 and they get pretty hungry around 6PM. My husband doesn’t get home until 6:45, so usually by the time we start eating, the kids are having their desert. Thursdays, it’s just the kids and me, so I try to make something they really enjoy, like pasta or grilled cheese. Fridays we alternate and eat at my mom’s or my in-laws and finally, the weekends are pretty chill, we sometimes eat out, order in, eat leftovers or frozen pizzas and sometimes I’ll make crepes.
My daughter is a “snacker”, she would rather eat a little all day while standing up (don’t ask!), and she could live on bread and butter, cheese and ice cream! She doesn’t like pizza, she doesn’t love pasta and I need to cut her grilled cheese in cute shapes, like a bunny for her to eat it, she has just started to eat meat and some chicken, but at least she likes fish. One meal both my kids enjoy is toasted bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, and I usually serve that with some fresh veggies and avocado.
My son on the other hand could eat pasta every night… He enjoys beef fajitas, pizza, grilled cheese and any type of raw vegetable; fish on the other hand he has a hard time with. If the kids want dessert, which usually consists of yogurt, applesauce or some type of berries, then they must eat a little and try at least one bite of whatever is on their plate. Dessert is always a great motivation or bargaining tool in my home!
The one meal the whole family can agree on is Spinach Quiche. This is pretty easy to make and you can substitute the spinach for so many different ingrdients such as mushrooms, asparagus, ham, olives… The kids will have some veggies with their quiche and us grown-ups will have a tomato and mozarella salad or a green salad of some sort.
Here’s my QUICHE recipe…
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Happy UK Mother’s Day!
For us dinner can be the best of times and it can be the worst of times…. For my daughters and I, it is such an important moment to catch up after a long day. It can also be a moment of frustration,when 3 tired females have different opinions on how the meal is supposed to go down and what is edible and what isn’t…
As I work full time, I only pick the kids up from school at 6pm, so it is a mad rush getting home, getting a meal ready, doing homework, squeezing in a bath and a bedtime story. I try to pre-cook at least 3 meals during the weekend, so I don’t have to think when I get home during the week. Big favorites are lasagne (a simplified variation on this one) and shepherd’s pie (with as many vegetables squeezed in as possible) and all sorts of soups (from vegetable to chicken noodle) — basically dishes which can be easily re-heated. I also often pre-make some pasta sauces in big batches and freeze them.
A BIG treat is crepes: the girls get the toppings ready while I make the batter and everyone is allowed to put together their own concoctions. Last time we did it, Violette insisted on a houmous and tomato crepe…. who can argue with that? I think I it is even possible to pre-make to batter the night before but I have never tried this! I do usually serve up a grated carrot salad first, as there is very little interest in vegetables once the crepes are ready. I do think that kids will survive if they don’t always get a freshly cooked meal made from scratch. Scrabbled eggs with toast and a salad is totally ok, too. The girls are given a fairly healthy 3 course meal for school lunch here in France, so I feel that dinner can be simpler. (more…)
As my eldest goes to a German kindergarten, he and his friends will be celebrating Karnival today — going to kindergarten dressed up in their favourite fancy-dress (I think we can expect a fair few pirates, policeman and princesses!).
I love how our family combines the traditions from both our cultures — I think it is providing us with a very rich life and so I cannot let the day slip without what Shrove Tuesday always meant for me growing up …. pancakes!
Quite a few of my German friends, who will join us for pancakes, had never heard of our tradition before so I thought I better check out why it is we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Although our traditions seem quite different they stem from the same idea. During Lent you would abstain from parties and celebrations and certain foods. From what I can work out, in continental Europe the week before lent starts is all about extravagant celebration (hence the dressing up) knowing that there will be no more celebrations for 40 days. Whilst here in the UK we focus on eating up all the foods in the house that will not be allowed during lent, typically fats, dairy and eggs — hence pancakes were made as they used up these ingredients. (more…)
Pancake Day must be one of my favourite holidays. Who doesn’t love pancakes? I mean every single culture has them, be they sweet or savoury. So to celebrate pancakes all over the world we wanted to introduce you to our favourite recipes.
In the Netherlands, pancakes are traditionally eaten for dinner — in the evening! It’s a feast meal for children, and very often it’s the dad’s job to bake them. We have different ways to eat the pancakes: plain with powdered sugar, jam or sugar syrup, with slices of fried apple, or we eat the savory variety with thin slices or bacon (still eaten with syrup!) or melted cheese. Yum!
Here is the recipe for the Dutch variety.
Pancakes are the quintessential (and somewhat mandatory) staple of the American breakfast, along with bacon and eggs, and while they are traditionally eaten only during the morning hours we tend to make them a lot for dinner in my house. Here in NYC we generally like them either large (the size of our plate) or as “silver dollars” (the size of an Oreo) with plenty of dark, rich syrup. My husband dug up this recipe when looking for the “fluffiest” pancakes and they are truly amazing. My top three kid-friendly pancake spots in the city are Clinton Street Bacon Co (East Village), Bubby’s (Tribeca/Brooklyn) and Sarabeth’s (Upper West Side). All are insanely popular with Disney-like snaking lines to get in, so go early!
Here is the recipe for Fluffy Pancakes. So good you don’t even need to add syrup!
Weekends are celebrated with pancakes in our house. On Saturdays we eat ’skinny pancakes’ (which are essentially crêpes) and on Sundays we eat ‘fat pancakes’ — either made with whole wheat flour or oats (soaked in buttermilk overnight). My favourite are definitely the oatmeal pancakes — so good my mouth is watering at the thought of them!
In France, crêpes are as much a part of the culinary culture as baguettes and croissants. Crêpes can be found in every type of french cuisine. They can be the equivalent of the English Kebab, available at any time of the night and sold out of little stands on street corners. Or they can appear on the menu of the finest restaurants, served flambéed with Grand Marnier! In real crêperies the savoury crêpe is made out of buckwheat flour, while the sweet one is made out of wheat. I mostly ignore that rule at home and make one batter to cover all variations. Here is my favourite recipe for crêpes.
The Jardin de l’Acclimatation in the Bois de Bologne is Paris’ own kiddie fun park, and it is great. My eldest daughter is finally old enough to enjoy it, so this past weekend we headed off for a day of fun-filled activities. I really recommend a visit if you ever happen to be in Paris with kids.
I will say it has the most random mix of attractions I have ever seen, but who I am to complain? The kids loved it.
These are my top tips to visiting the park: (more…)
FINALLY we have been having a few days of sunny weather here in Paris. And as we live in a typical Parisian apartment with no outdoor space, the main thing I have been yearning for is a spot of grass I can plop myself and my 2 girls on to enjoy some rays of sunshine.
Finding that is easier said than done, as most Parisian parks are made out of gravel, and grass is generally off-limits to walk or sit on.
So I decided to get off the beaten track of the centre of Paris and head over to the Butte de Chaumont, a park in the 19th arrondissement. It is lovely! It was built about 150 years ago on what used to be the city’s gallows and wasteland. Today it looks like a Gothic dreamscape – complete with waterfalls, a temple and a grotto. (more…)
What exactly are pancakes? In America they are thick and small and eaten for breakfast in stacks – the higher the stack the cooler the cowboy! In France they are called crêpes and are very large, thin and delicate and eaten for lunch or a snack from one of the little street stands. (This makes me wonder… Michela, is there such a thing as an Italian pancake)??
In Holland, ‘pannekoeken’ are the size of an average frying pan, and are a bit thicker than a crêpe but thinner than American pancakes. Traditionally they are eaten for dinner, usually after the traditional Dutch pea soup called ’snert’, with a variety of savoury (bacon&syrup, cheese&paprika) or sweet (apple, banana, icing sugar, sugar syrup, confiture) toppings. It’s a children’s favourite.
We just discovered a restaurant called Pancakes!, which serves, well, pancakes (in all different varieties) and is conveniently located in the center of the ‘nine streets’ in Amsterdam (a little shopping delight for the ones who don’t know it yet)! They have highchairs (I counted at least three) and a children’s menu that comes with a little surprise. Might your little one get bored after all, a toy-box filled with books, toys and games is present, or the staff can provide crayons and paper. There’s a microwave for warming up milk. And they also cater children’s (birthday) parties – age 4 years and up!