Our homegrown veg are rubbish – but they’ve been an invaluable learning tool

We moved into a larger home earlier this year, one which has made it possible for us to finally have a go at producing our own veg.

I have tried to instil a sense of the natural world and how it relates to food in our older daughter in little ways here and there. She’s autistic and a very fussy eater, so I figure that we’ll try anything to get her to open up that reluctant mouth to give something new a chance.

As we’re clueless when it comes to gardening, we’ve made quite a number of mistakes this first year. We didn’t give our seedlings enough room, so none of them had a chance to grow properly. Our radishes were a total disaster, and we had to act to save the carrots, too. In addition, I don’t think our soil has been of the best quality, so we’ll know to feed our plants and nourish them a bit better in future.

Luckily my dad visited in time to save some of our lettuce seeds by repotting them, so we’ve had a nice mini crop growing at the back door.

However, as my main aim was not to feed the family but to educate our fussy miss, I think we can say it’s been a bit of a success. Earlier today, we collected some (tiny!) carrots and I set our daughter to task washing and prepping them for lunch.

She got stuck in – anything to occupy a wee person is invaluable in the school holidays – and we decided to prep a few of our salad leaves as well to make up a bowl to accompany her lunch of cheese sandwiches.


I introduced her to salad cream (I am unapologetic about how much I love it) and tried to busy myself around the kitchen while she was eating so I could carry on pretending it was no big deal.

She ate the lot. Time will tell if it was a one-off novelty, but I am hoping not. On this evidence, the rubbish gardeners are going to carry on.




Easter ‘baking’ with a four year-old – Nigella comes to the rescue

The daughter is at the age where she’s obsessed with cooking, but it’s a four year-old’s obsession, where she wants to cook, cook, cook, or bake, bake, bake until her attention is caught by something else. Usually after you’ve got to the stage of getting out all the ingredients and are at the point where eggs have been cracked and it’s too late to turn back.

She is more interested – and it’s not hard to see why – in the end result of icing / eating.

When she wanted to do some ‘baking’ recently, I remembered a recipe which has turned out to be absolutely perfect for this time of year – Nigella’s Easter nests from the kids’ section in How to Be a Domestic Goddess. All you need is some Shredded Wheat, chocolate to melt and some chocolate eggs – Cadbury Mini Eggs, of course – to sit in the hollow when you’re done.


Melting chocolate – in short bursts in the microwave, nice and carefully – takes no time at all, so we were able to crack on with smashing up the cereal. Then we were able to get stuck into the moulding and by the time that was finished, the first nests were dry enough for my daughter to eat.

They’re a bit naughty, but then it is the season of egg hunts and enjoying a little bit of a chocolate treat!