Eating horse meat? Why the long face? If you really want to know what's in your food, you need to cook it yourself

The headlines here in the UK are dominated by stories of horse meat ‘contaminating’ British meat products. I have no real problem with eating horse, in fact, now I know it is cheaper and apparently indistinguishable from beef, if anything, I want to eat MORE of it.
I think the real problem here is how little we know about what is in our processed foods. I may not have a problem eating horse, but do I want to eat a horse that was killed six months ago in a country far, far away? No I do not.
It is for that reason that, in general, I eat little or no processed foods. My family eats home cooked dinners most nights (and as my wife and I are both out working, this is mainly thanks to a bumper cooking session on a Sunday) and yet I spend less than almost any one I know for food. How? I think mainly because I try and eat what is in season where I can, buy (and cook) in bulk, eat cheaper ingredients where I can and where I can’t, make the most of the food I do buy. I never, ever, cut corners on meat and buy all of it from my local butchers.
When I make burgers (which I do often, as the kids love them) I make extra and freeze what’s left. Then it is just as quick for me to cook as it would be if I’d bought frozen burgers. But I know every single ingredient that has gone into it. Have you ever stopped to see how many ingredients are in some processed foods (which is worrying enough, but when you can’t pronounce them, you know you’re really in trouble)?
Any way, I am aware that I am now running the risk of preaching. I’m not. But if I can cook home cooked food, any one can. And home cooked food tastes better, is better for you and your kids and in my experience is also cheaper.
Here’s a tried and tested burger recipe if you don’t have one already:
Burger Recipe – makes about 10

  • Minced beef (2lbs)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp Worcester sauce
  • a chopped onion if you like it (but chop it finely as it does make your burger fall apart when you’re cooking it)
  • any herbs you particularly like (start with teaspoons of dried herbs if you’re not sure how they will effect the end result, and a tablespoon of chopped fresh)
  • a tablespoon of mustard (if you like it)
  • beaten egg or some ripe avocado (as the purpose is to bind it together)
  • salt and pepper
  1. mix all the non meat ingredients together
  2. Add to the meat and mix it all together. The best way to do this is with your hands, and kids love this bit as it’s so squishy. Do make sure hands are clean before and after.
  3. Make into the size burgers that you would like (avoid making them too thick as it can make them difficult to cook through)
  4. Cling film the plate with the burgers on, put it in the fridge for at least half an hour
  5. If freezing, I just wrap them individually with cling film. If not,
  6. Cook (I prefer grilling or baking)

Dial 111 for fast medical help


Mission Mumsnet Blogfest – Mission Complete.

Commando Dad Mission Brief:
Mission Details: Mumsnet Blogfest – Millbank Towers, London
Mission Date: Saturday, 10th November, 2012
Mission Status: Mission Successfully Completed.
Mission Debrief –
I had an amazing time at the very first Mumsnet Blogfest Event in London last Saturday. Having never been to an event like this before, I was quite apprehensive, but I needn’t have been. Everyone I met, from the Mumsnet Team, to the members of the panel I was part of, to the people I spoke to during the one-to-one sessions, were all fantastic.
I also picked up an ammo box full of ideas from the event. In his Social Media Session, Paul Armstrong from Mindshare provided me with some great tips on how to make Social Media work harder for me, rather than the other way around. I will, however, not be taking one piece of advice from Paul.

I don’t think that my Bombadearest (my lovely wife Tara) would quite approve of this!
I then went straight into my one-to-one sessions, where I had the opportunity to meet some really great mummy bloggers and hopefully offer them some useful advice on their blogs. At the beginning of the session my blackboard (worryingly) didn’t have a lot of names on it but things soon picked up. Many thanks to Katherine, a wonderful member of the Mumsnet team, for playing such a convincing bad cop to my good cop.
Then I dashed down to the Lecture theatre, was man-handled by a sound technician trying to mike me up, and then went straight into the Getting Published Session. One word – BRILLIANT. I really enjoyed listening to the other panellists, having the opportunity to share some of my own experiences, and answering questions from the audience.
Then it was time for more one-to-one chats in the Blog Clinic, again a great experience. At this point I was starting to get a little hoarse!
Finally, I got the chance to get a few pictures of the stunning view from the top of Millbank Towers.

Thank you to all of the Mumsnet team for giving me the opportunity to be a part of Blogfest 2012. You all did an amazing job. And many thanks to all the mummy bloggers who attended the event and made it so special, some of whom have already been in touch on Twitter. Already looking forward to next year!

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Why won't my daughter smile in photos?

My daughter Liberty has a beautiful smile. She smiles and laughs a lot. And yet something strange happens when you point a camera at her and actually ask her to smile.
You get either Exhibit A: The Aardman Character (or “More tea Gromit?”)
Exhibit B: The Hitman (or “I could smile but I may have to kill you”)

Or Exhibit C: The Bouncer (or “Your Name’s Not Down and You’re Not Coming In”)

Oh, I could go on.
Just to prove that she is actually a bobby dazzler, here’s the picture of her before I said ‘smile’. To see what happened when I did utter that word, see Exhibit A above.

Are there any keen photographers out there that can offer me some advice about how to get my little girl to smile at the camera?