Category Archives: Shopping

In search of decent kids’ books

I’m new to the world of children’s books – or rather, returning after a rather long absence – and I have been impressed by what is out there at the moment… and keen to find more.

I started off in true PFB (Perfect First Born) fashion by reading my son books that were a bit too old for him. But they seemed to ‘overstimulate’ him (squawking and jerking around; it’s easy to spot after a while but at first you think, oh dear, he’ll be on the Ritalin in a few years) so now we’ve gone back to baby books, ie. anything with flaps to look under, and I’m saving the other ones for when he’s a bit older.

He also loves a bit of poetry, I think because babies respond to rhythm, and that is what poetry is all about. Plus it’s meant to be read aloud, so is a good way to appreciate it properly and entertain your baby at the same time.

Here are some of the children’s books I’ve either discovered or rediscovered lately. I would love to hear any recommendations of good authors & books… Continue reading

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Ghormeh Sabzi from the Turkish Food Centre

If you happen to visit the Turkish Food Centre at Ridley Road market, and feel like Iran’s national dish for dinner, then pick up a couple of tins of Gormeh Sabzi. It costs £1.49, and is a mixture of herbs, oil, dried lime and kidney beans. This is the basis for a typical Persian dish that provides comfort and nourishment in the way of a bowl of really good spaghetti or a roast chicken. According to one article, it’s traditionally served when family members return home from a journey (proper Journeys, I would imagine, not just a package holiday in Lanzarote).

I was introduced to this dish by an Iranian family friend who now drives a taxi in Berlin and loves to cook. He assured me that although you can cook it from scratch, using fresh herbs, it’s also OK to use the tinned stuff. Here’s how you do it:

Once you’ve got your 2 tins from TFC (in the tinned tomato aisle up the back, near the baklava stall), cook an onion in some oil, then sprinkle over about a teaspoon of turmeric. Add about 500g of diced lamb (TFC also sells good-quality lamb, so you can buy it here, along with some yogurt (full fat, push the boat out and go for the 10% stuff), and a bag of basmati rice. Add water to cover the lamb and simmer for an hour or so, then open the tins of ghormeh sabzi and stir in. Season to taste (although it’s already pretty salty) and simmer for 20 mins or so while your rice cooks. Serve with rice and a dollop of yogurt.

It’s an odd sort of a flavour – sour limes, earthy herbs, sweet lamb, fragrant rice and tangy yogurt, but really, really good.

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Spring at the Columbia Road Flower Market

http://columbiaroad.info

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Pages of Hackney

There’s something so exciting about opening the front door to an Amazon delivery (except when it’s not for you. One of the problems of being home full-time is that delivery people tend to ring every doorbell in a flat just to get that parcel out of their life. Back when I was pregnant and the size of a house I would open the window and yell down to them to find out who it was for. If it was for me or my middle neighbours, who I like (Hi, E!), I’d waddle down. If not, I’d tell them I had a bad leg. Right at the end I’d tell them I was in labour).

But there’s something even better about buying a book from a bookshop. I tend to do this more when it’s a gift for someone (and books are a great gift – small, enjoyable and easy to donate to Oxfam if you don’t like them). Plus, you can buy one on the way to seeing the person it’s for. Buying a book on Amazon for a gift is just that little bit too organised. Bugger, baby awake. To be continued.

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Market revival in Chatsworth Road this Sunday

For those who are finding Broadway Market a victim of its own success just lately – and I suspect the outraged blogger behind Hackney Hipster Hate would count himself a founding member of this group, you may like to check out the new market on Chatsworth Road in Clapton that is launching this Sunday (November 7).

Here’s the website: chatsworthroade5.co.uk

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