Feeding · Food · Toddlerhood

Seriously, Annabel…… ?!

I’m sitting here trying to finish the draft I started 10 days ago about my daughter turning two but instead I feel more compelled to write about Annabel Karmel, the self-styled goddess of baby food preparation. I own three of her books. The one about purees, the complete baby and toddler meal planner, and my most recent acquisition – Annabel’s Family Cookbook.

My thought process is this. If I at least own the books, there’s a chance I might, at some point, open them. Which then gives way to me actually trying a recipe. And if I feed my kid something Annabel conjured up, I’m giving her some really good shit, right?

Well, that’s all well and good but Annabel, why does each recipe have SO MANY INGREDIENTS? And SO MANY steps? The nursery fish pie… freaking love it, it’s delicious! However I had to use all of my pans and even wash and reuse a couple all in the process of making one dish. So I’ve only made it once… I know what you’re thinking Annabel…. get more pans…. oh, that I would…

Have any studies been conducted on the correlation between time spent on making food for babies and toddlers and their refusal to eat same said food? I have conducted some preliminary research and the data collected thus far looks like this:


We’ve now got to the stage of toddlerhood where, if I dish up an unfamiliar looking meal (by that read anything that doesn’t have sweetcorn as the main component or fusilli pasta in some tomato based sauce – and it must be fusili – not bows, not penne, not spaghetti – fusili..got it?) the plate is politely examined, picked up and placed back up onto the table with a very sweet “no more dinner.” So then the cajoling starts. Some variation of: “just try it?” or “Just have three/five bites?” And eventually she eats. My preliminary research has also found that after having however many bites I’ve asked for, the plate gets returned to the table unless it’s an Annabel Karmel recipe. If it was an AK dish, whilst initially treated with suspicion, after one bite, it would be happily gobbled up. Unless it required excessive chewing… apparently chewing is tiresome….

As we were growing out of the baby and toddler meal planner I decided to get Annabel’s Family Cookbook. A section on quick and easy meals, everyday meals, prepare ahead meals… I loved it. She even gave the instruction, when making a club sandwich, to use butter and mayonnaise. I think I really love this woman…

I decided I’d make her Tasty Chicken Burgers to begin with as I had most of the ingredients. Well, I had turkey mince in the freezer, figured that would be a good enough substitute. It was in the Everyday Meals section of the book so I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult. Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 15-20 minutes. I wasn’t actually stupid enough to think it would take 35 minutes to pull together tasty chicken-turkey burgers. But an HOUR AND A HALF? Annabel, exactly when do you start your timer for your recipes? If you have to chop leek and onion and grate courgette, apple, and carrots before you do any mixing, forming of burgers or cooking how can you rightly say that the prep time is 15 minutes? It’s just the tiniest bit misleading….


When dinner time came around, I gave the kid half a burger. No examination, no prodding – she just started eating it, thereby throwing an outlier into my preliminary research. I offered her the other half after the first had been devoured but she said:


“There’s no pasta sweetheart. Would you like a pouch?”

1.75 Ella’s spaghetti pouches later…


Two handfuls of raspberries later she returns to the burger. I guess they were worth the time after all….but for now I’m more concerned that my bottomless pit of a toddler might have a tapeworm….