A Hearty Breakfast for Valentine’s Day!

heart shaped panWith Valentine’s Day approaching soon, I couldn’t resist purchasing this amazingly cool heart shaped frying pan. I’m not yet sure whether I’ll serve the pancakes or the eggs, or maybe both… But I’m positive my family will love them (and me)!

I got mine from this shop here in the Netherlands, but it’s — among other places — also available from this UK website.

xxx Esther

Tess, a tasteful stool

Like many households with children, we are the proud owner of an Ikea Bekvam step stool, which lives in our kitchen and is used all the time. It helps the kids reach the counter, it helps our Peruvian sitter to reach the upper cabinets (mounted extra high to accommodate tall Dutch genes), and it helps me to reach the upper, upper cabinets that even tall Dutch girls can’t reach!
A handy gadget, this Bekvam. It’s not, however, the most original piece of interior (hear the architect speaking?), and to be honest, mine is so much in need of a layer of paint that I hardly dare to display it in my kitchen!

kruk tess1

Thankfully we now have the beautiful, modern, fresh, and well-designed Tess stool in the house. A lovely addition to our household! It’s being used in the bathroom to brush teeth, dragged to the kitchen when there’s a threat of a fight over the Bekvam, and used as a side table or stool where and whenever needed. (more…)

Gift ideas for the Mini Master Chef

200809224091400167-450x600My family is in the grip of ‘Masterchef’ fever! My kids are so enthused by this reality television program that I practically have my youngest deriding me for not making the terrine for his school lunch. And while the downside for me is that the bar has been raised (my rather unspectacular cooking now looks even more… unspectacular), the show has reinforced the value of good eating, team-building and the importance of accepting constructive criticism.  My daughter particularly has been caught by the cooking bug. This morning she made us a lovely, albeit slightly burnt dish of scrambled eggs, grilled tomato, and baby spinach — we devoured it… every char-grilled morsel!

A friend recently introduced me to a great children’s cooking website called Wholesome Productions which creates a fabulous range of children’s cooking kits.  They also sell party cooking kits for those brave enough to host their own kid’s cooking party. (more…)

Cookie Cutters

cookie cuttersCookie baking is big in our house, especially when the weather is grim like today, and as you can see from the picture we’ve started to collect quite a variety of cutters. My son loves picking out which ones to use (currently the bear and the lion are particular favourites). I pick cutters up from all sorts of places but I do find Cakes Cookies and Crafts Shop a corker — especially as they usually offer 4 for the price of 3. Cox & Cox also do some good ones (but more on them later as they definitely deserve their own post).
Today however we used our new kid-friendly cutters by Swiss cooking brand Kuhn Rikon. They are brilliant because they have handles for easy pressing, and the shapes are less fiddly for transferring from work-top to baking sheet. In fact the whole Kinderkitchen range is fantastic for young cooks and is a big feature in our letters to Father Christmas (I’m personally yearning after the Mouse Measuring Cups ).


Trip to Ikea

Charm apple slicerI went to Ikea today to get some frames and came back with some frames (although I nearly forgot them), two Lidan laundry baskets, cute paper napkins, a plant for in the bathroom (Pogonatherum, an old favourite), two little stuffed mice for the children, a dish-washing brush, a set of three small wooden boxes with lids for in the bathroom (it desperately needs to be re-organized – as always), a selection of cool looking Swedish juices and knackerbröt, a wicker basket to keep my herbs on the balcony, and the apple slicer ‘Charm‘ (pictured), that I’ve already tested and I can truly recommend.
I kept myself from buying another Norrebo storage bench (on sale now), 4-for-the-price-of-one Daim chocolate bars, more hooded towels and the Plocka plates that have a space for a small bowl and would be super-cute for breakfast.

I might go back tomorrow…

xxx Esther

Bambu Give-away!

Bambu give-awayAn important factor in raising children is, as we are all well aware, teaching them to eat healthy and responsibly.  Offering your kids a varied diet with fresh, organic ingredients (and trying to make them eat it too) is one of the big challenges of parenthood!  These days however, we have discovered that ‘eating healthy’ isn’t just limited to the food ingredients we use.  No, the tableware we all serve it on is absolutely of equal importance!

The bowls and utensils from Bambu are completely toxic-free, extremely beautiful AND non breakable, which makes them very suitable for use with children.  All the products are made from 100% organically-grown bamboo, and the bowls have a natural, matte lacquer in wonderful bright colours, derived from, who could have thought, the cashew nut tree.  A safe bet, and cool looking too!

The very stylish Joslyn from the hip eco-boutique Shakshuka has kindly offered a complete Bambu set to one lucky Babyccino reader.  The set will contain (as pictured): a mini-me bowl of your colour choice, a spork (we love it), one set of infant utensils and one set of kid’s utensils.

Just leave a comment below by Sunday, July 26th in which you give us your best tip for eating healthily (weather it’s a recipe, a trick or simply a product).  The best tip will win, AND will be published on Babyccino!

Good luck!

xxx Esther


Cooking by kids, no kidding!

Berghoff2Although she says she´ll be a princess, I think my 4-year-old daughter might become a chef.  She loves going to the supermarket, she loves helping me prepare the food, and she loves to eat (most of) it.  When I brought home a few items from the Berghoff children’s cooking line the other day I must have nurtured this thought;  I’ve rarely seen my daughter more excited!

The Berghoff children’s cooking line is one of the coolest kids’ products I’ve seen in a while.  The concept is simple: there is a little induction stove, super-easy to use (on/off, high/low).  There’s a selection of pans in different sizes, all with big, plastic handles that won’t get hot and with a big plastic Sheriff Duck knob.  Very sweet.  And there’s a selection of cook’s utensils, like a chef’s hat, an apron, a knife block (plastic) and more, all equally cute and decorated with the signature Sheriff Duck character.   Now, of course the principle of induction is smart because the plate heats only the pan, not the plate itself (although it will be hot for a short while because of the heat of the pan above it).  A parent should always be supervising, obviously, but I’ve been cooking with my daughter and she can do a lot herself!  Yesterday for instance she made a salad of green peas (which she cooked herself), goat’s cheese, raspberries and basil, with a dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Very yummy, I must say!  (more…)

Smoothie maker

kitchenaid blenderA while ago I was sitting in my neighbour’s kitchen and spotted some brown bananas.  Thinking of Courtney’s delicious banana bread recipe, I asked her if I could have the bananas if she was planning to throw them out (I knew she wouldn’t make banana bread herself – it’s not common at all here in the Netherlands)!  She kindly refused, explaining that they had a family addiction to smoothies, so every over-ripe banana was very much needed!
Smoothies?  It started to make me think:

  1. Smoothies are yummy
  2. Smoothies are healthy
  3. I finally found the excuse to buy one of those cool blenders!!!

So, the next weekend I convinced my husband that for the health of our family we needed a KitchenAid blender.  (I admit, I completely went for the look of it; I didn’t read one review and didn’t compare prices!)  And I love it.

Now, having just entered the world of smoothie making, I’ve discovered it’s an art by itself!  There are a million recipes to find; you can use fruit, (soy)milk, yogurt, frozen berries, nuts, tofu, cereal, even egg whites!


Robot Set

robot.jpgI always find it hard getting presents for boys, as I only have girls and I don’t really know what little boys like. This melanine dining set with a cute robot design by Chaise Longue is one of my favourite presents for little guys. I found it when Courtney’s oldest son was obsessed with robots and have gifted it several times since. The boys have always loved it.

In fact, I like a lot of the Chaise Longue melamine sets, bibs and placemats. The designs are cute and I love melamine as it is seriously indestructible. I don’t know about you but in my house, more often than not, plate and cups don’t stay on the table!

Chaise Longue deliver anywhere in Europe. In the USA the company trades under the name of Baby Cie. The collection is not quite the same but it is equally as cute!

- Emilie

Bowl from Holland

Holland Mill bowlsWhen I was working in NY city, about 5 years ago, my office was located around the corner from a lovely kitchen supply shop, the name of which I’ve long since forgotten. On one of the rare, short lunch breaks I was allowed, I picked up a wooden salad bowl made out of one single piece of wood. Beautiful. And as I am writing this, my husband is fixing us a quick salad in the very same salad bowl! We use it almost every single day, and it is still one of the most beautiful kitchen utensils we own. And there’s a very sweet detail on the bottom of the bowl: an imprint of a wooden clog and the name of the manufacturer ‘Holland Mill’, from Holland, Michigan. A bit of patriotism, after all?

xxx Esther

Jamie Oliver

Jamie at Home cookbookI’ve already admitted to not being very innovative in the kitchen.  I’m pretty good with simple recipes, and I’m even better with clear instructions, but I’m not great with throwing things into a pot and creating dinner on a whim.

This is why I love Jamie.  He makes cooking seem easy.  In both his television programs and in his cookbooks, he talks to you like he’s talking to a friend in his kitchen. He makes it look totally obvious.  He’ll say things like…’throw whatever ‘veg’ you want in the pot — it doesn’t matter, or ‘it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look perfect, it’s about the taste’, ‘throw a handful of this on that, add a good slug of olive oil, a nob of butter’, etc.

Nothing too fancy.  Good, hearty and wholesome meals.  Simple and easy.

I’ve just added to my collection of Jamie Oliver cookbooks with his latest one, Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life .  In it he also explains how to grow veggies in your garden, how to look after them, when to cook with them, etc.  Making it all look easy, of course.



Ineke Hans garlic crushYesterday I bought myself a little present that, after immediate testing, has become one of those kitchen utensils you wonder how the rest of the world manages to live without! This garlic crusher by Dutch designer Ineke Hans for Royal VKB is super simple and at the same time incredibly ingenious.
Use the flat part to crush the garlic, skin and all. Remove the skin with your hands (much easier than trying to do it un-crushed). If desired, roll the ribbed part over the garlic to mince it even further. The garlic paste will of course stick between the ribs. Just use your fingers to get it out. Smelly hands by now? Don’t worry. Clean the stainless steel crusher under running water and, using the utensil as a bar of soap, the odor will disappear like magic. Magic! It’s brilliant. Available at Bijzonder Mooi!

xxx Esther

Ikea hacking

ikeahack.jpgWe all love Ikea, don’t we? It’s pretty cool, modern and most of the things are practical and durable. But the planetary success of this furniture maker means that homes all over the world are filled with the same pieces. I don’t mind so much if everyone else has the ivar bookcase, or the benno cd storage unit or the expedit storage system. But you might, and so do other people. That is why a new branch of DIY was invented, and it’s called ‘Ikea hacking’.

I discovered Ikea Hacker a few months ago while browsing the internet and I have been following its updates regularly. The site collects the ideas and projects of people who have found new ways of using Ikea pieces. Some are simple, just different ways of using a product, while some are serious DIY projects.  But they’re all interesting to look at — it’s amazing what people can come up with for a benno cd tower, or an expedit or the ivar! (more…)

An easy life

Qubies Tray2I’m all for an easy life at the moment. It could be because I’ve just moved home and am up to my eyeballs in boxes. Or it could be because I’m rushed off my feet at work. But when I saw this product I thought, “yes, yes, yes”.

One of the reasons I stopped pureeing food was because it took so bloomin’ long to spoon the quantities into ice cubes. It took FOREVER. But this clever little invention from Qubies means you can just pour your pureed food into the tray and the little plastic device separates it for you. Finally, an invention that is really going to save me time.


Place mats for everybody

ikea-panna.jpgOn my last trip to IKEA I bought these new (at least to me) round place-mats, named Panna. They are made of a plastic with a rubbery feel and come in very nice colours.
They are different in shape (and feel) from the usual plastic place mats and with the unevenly ribbed surface look even a bit more sophisticated!
They are ideal for kids as they’re wipe-clean and that means that the table will look nice and a more grown-up than before. They were a hit in our family; my three-year old has even ditched his Thomas place mat to fit in with his parents!

I still have not tried, but I think they would look great even over a regular tablecloth, below each plate, as they would add colour and make your table setting a little more special.


Baking Soda

bakingsoda.jpgThis post is about the environment, money saving, muffins, clearing drains and a mother in sheer desperation due to 2 small children covered in chickenpox.

You may wonder what all of these things have in common…. Baking Soda, otherwise known as Sodium Bicarbonate or NaHCO3.

Whenever I am googling for random things like an alternative to household cleaners or something to calm itchy skin, Baking Soda always turns up trumps.

I guess it is due to the Baking Soda’s alkaline nature. If you add it to water it raises the PH levels of the water, making it softer and therefore soothing for itchy skin. It also breaks down fat, so can be used to unblock drains and clean kitchen surfaces. Last, but definitely not least, it raises dough and it is an essential ingredient for cookies, muffins and lots of other treats!

Anyway, even if I sound like an old-fashioned housewife, I now actually have a massive box of Baking Soda in my kitchen cupboard and it gets used regularly! Oh, how my world has changed….

- Emilie

Trainer chopsticks DIY

Courtney wrote about trainer chopsticks a while ago, and the ones she suggested are without a doubt very stylish and great for use at home!
If, however, you’re in a (Japanese) restaurant and – God forbid – forgot to bring your child’s fancy trainer chopsticks, I thought this solution might save your day…

Trainer chopsticks home-made

It’s simple! Just make it with the throw-away chopsticks you get at the restaurant and an elastic band (the paper is in fact the rolled-up sleeve in which the chopsticks come)!
As seen in our favourite around-the-corner Japanese restaurant, Issa

xxx Esther

Family Kitchen

tanaramsay.jpgMost of us have heard of Gordon Ramsay — the all swearing, all dancing super-chef who spends his life cooking impossibly complicated recipes. Now his wife, Tana Ramsay, has published a cook book, Tana Ramsay’s Family Kitchen .

Her philosophy is that it is important to cook wholesome tasty food for the family while leaving time to play and communicate with everyone. It is my favourite new cookbook! I really like the way it has been split up between categories like “trying new tastes” and “cooking for the cupboard”. I really recommend it!

Available through Amazon UK or US .

- Emilie

Summer food

salad.jpgIt is so hot now in Milan that the last thing I feel like doing is cooking hot meals! It’s always at this point that I take out my salad Bible, The Well Dressed Salad by Jennifer Joyce. The book is great– it has more than 80 recipes for salads coming from all over the world. Chapters are divided by ingredients and there are always hints on advance preparation and possible variations. At the end of the book there is a list of recipes for tasty vinaigrettes, and although not all the recipes are quick and easy, you can always get some suggestions and ideas on how to liven up your greens! plates.jpg
I know Jennifer Joyce from when, in my life before kids, I used to attend cookery workshops at Books for Cooks in Notting Hill. I really enjoyed her classes– she is a talented cook and an enthusiastic teacher. When looking her up to write this post I saw that she published a new book this spring, Plates to Share, which seems like the ideal book to have when organizing aperitivos!
Both books also available in the US, here and here.


Savon de Marseille

savon.jpgMarseille as a town is not particularly known for its cleanliness, but one of its most famous products is the soap. Le savon de Marseille is a French institution. It has been around for a least 700 years using, as its main ingredients, olive (the green variety) or palm oil (the white variety) and Mediterranean sea water. It traditionally comes as a big cube of soap and it it used to clean everything and anything. My grandmother still uses it to clean all her dishes as she does not trust modern dish-washing liquids to clean well enough! (Isn’t it funny how that generation is actually a lot more environmentally friendly than we are, without even trying?)

I personally swear it is the only way to get rid of nasty stains on baby and kids’ clothes. Just rub it on, soak it and wash normally, and most of the time the soap has gotten rid of all evidence. (more…)

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