Mackerel & 'full English breakfast' pie (page 304)

Practical Playtime / Jobs For The Kids

  • Squash up the beans with a fork.
  • Make their own pies.
  • Help you separate the egg, away from the heat. Keep the yolks in a half shell. Make sure you’ve got a few spares so if you break them you’re all ready for an omelette the next day.

My cooking with kids recipe diary

Jake 4 years 11 months, James 2 years 4 months



First Try


Today, James ate a little of the egg, sauce and mackerel, then fell asleep at the table. Jake loves the crispy pastry and he loves the soft yolks, he made his own and demolished it. We baked the bits of broken pastry on the side and he ate those as well. Filo is wonderful for a practical playtime, as you can make your little pies with leftovers and it really doesn’t matter what shape they are. I have a fridge here in my office where I keep my testing ingredients. I had put two carrots next to me on my desk and Jake came in and grabbed one and bit it, and then so did James. He had one crunch. I held my breath. He had two more. Then he made a funny face. It's the texture. He's getting used to the texture but he’s still not sure.


3 days later


It was Jake’s first day at school. James was asleep. Jess and I ate our mackerel pies together and it felt very strange. I did very little work because I wanted to drop Jake off and pick him up. Jake had asked for spaghetti bolognaise for his special first day at school meal. I made the sauce and decided that we could make the pasta together when he got home. I had a kilo of dough that I’d brought back from a class at the Kids Cookery School. It was a nice day so we set up the machine in the garden and made tagliatelle with Casey to celebrate. It was the first time I’d made pasta with James. 'My turn now,' he kept saying.


We had corn on the cob that I’d bought at the Oxford market to start. James thought it was great, chewed away at both kernels and cob; I was flabbergasted as he won’t touch 'easy to eat' tinned corn. Corn on the cob, chicken and duck on the bone, spare ribs. It’s astonishing, but he wants the harder things. It may be the element of control; he is fiercely independent at the moment. It may be the challenge. It’s not just finger food, a carrot stick or bean is no good.


After the corn he ate his pasta and sauce down to the last two spoonfuls then started shaking his head with his cheeky face. I kept calm but he absolutely refused until I brought out raspberries and ice cream for Jake and Casey. He then polished off the two spoonfuls and laughed. James finishing his food has become a game between us now, but he does finish, or at the very least he tries things with a lot less fuss and fewer tears. I’m not boasting and I’m not getting carried away, except of course that I am already imaging a lifetime of enthusiasm at mealtimes. Stop, quiet. Stay calm. See what happens. Next it’s the stuffed cabbage…..