Blog articles | Nick Coffer | My Daddy Cooks

Blog articles

A selection of some of my thoughts in writing...

The story behind my Sainsbury’s TV advert (it goes live on Wednesday)

I am delighted to say that my new Sainsbury’s TV advert goes live tomorrow, Wednesday 8th January. As yet, I don’t know exactly during which programmes but I hope to know some time during the day tomorrow. It’s funny to look at the advert now and think that the 40 seconds of it are a result of 3 months of work, a 16 hour shoot day and, at a conservative estimate, the work of over 150 people. On the day of the shoot alone there were over 80 people crammed into the house in Harlesden where we filmed the video! Thankfully the day was shorter for Archie and Matilda – they were there for about four hours in total, which is the maximum time by law they were allowed to be present. Part of me thinks their highlight was actually getting to eat lunch on the top deck of the double decker catering bus. They loved that! Matilda was also thrilled to be given two fairy outfits by the director but took some convincing not to wear them immediately as they weren’t *quite* the look they were hoping for in the final advert! I think what surprised me the most about the day was the attention to detail. I probably ran through my recipe five or six times in total, all from different camera angles. Continuity was a very important part of the day. Each take had to follow on coherently from the previous one. This is where the “script bitch” came into her own (it’s what she called herself, I am not being rude here). Her job was... read more

Back to basics – history repeating itself

It’s a bit of a crazy busy period at the moment. Writing the follow-up to my first book, all manner of other creative projects going on – plus I have become a part-time stay-at-home dad again! Work commitments mean I cannot do as much with Matilda as I did in the early days with Archie but I am still getting to spend loads of precious time with her at the moment since Jo has gone back to her part-time school counsellor job. And having Matilda at home, having to fill the time we spend together, has literally sent me back four years in time. Now that Archie is so confident in the kitchen, I have pretty well forgotten how and why we first got into the kitchen together. More than anything, it was a place to hang out together in, spend some quality time while I prepared lunch or supper. Somewhere he could be free and creative (code: make a mess). In the very early days, cooking was of course secondary. It was all about the fun of being together. And so history is repeating itself with Matilda. The FunPod has been dusted down and we now hang out in the kitchen together. She is a very different personality to Archie – a  little less chaotic, a little less prone to pick things up and throw them (no doubt that will come with age), but once again, she has shown what a wonderful place the kitchen can be to hang out in. I say it all the time when I talk about cooking with kids, that getting them in... read more

Is there a Doctor in the house?

It’s fair to say my dad has led an unconventional life. It started out with pretty standard fare for a young Jewish man from the East End of London. An accountancy qualification, followed by a stint in the family firm in Northampton (they made football souvenirs) before taking it over when my granddad died. The unconventional bit started in 1984 when he started to look after the affairs of a Northampton based band called Love & Rockets, whose bass guitarist was married to his secretary. Aficionados of 80s indie rock will know L&R were born out of the embers of seminal Goth band Bauhaus. And so began a career managing some of the most influential indie bands of the 80s and 90s. The Cocteau Twins, the Smashing Pumpkins and The Sundays to name but a few. Often dressed in a full-length purple velvet coat with leopard-skin lapels, he looked like Daddy Warbucks who had just wandered on to the set of Spinal Tap. But this could not mask an amazing ear for music, an unrivaled eye for talent and a unique understanding of the mind of the artist. It certainly made for an interesting and eclectic life for me. I toured America with his bands, hung out with artists who were often heroes of mine too, spent my time at gigs – and was even allowed to pretend to be a guitarist on stage at a gig in front of twenty thousand people at the UCLA amphitheatre in Los Angeles. The music industry changed in the late 90s and the focus moved away from developing artists so he hung... read more

Our home birth – from a dad’s perspective [PART 2]

Yesterday I gave you the first part of my account of Matilda’s home birth. We got up to the point where Jo’s waters had broken and we knew labour was imminent. Today’s it’s time to read about the the actual birth itself. There is such little information about dads and home births that I really hope these two posts inspire other dads (and mums of course) into possibly thinking about having a home birth too… —————————————————– At 9.30, I sensed that Jo’s labour was progressing quicker than she felt (or was admitting to!). I called the midwife and took what can best be described as an executive decision. No the contractions were not yet unbearable, yes Jo could still talk, no these were not signs of active labour – BUT I asked her to make her way to our house immediately, not least because she lives an hour away. Archie and I pumped up the pool together and, once I had managed to bribe him to jump out of it (easier said than done), managed somehow to fill it up, in spite of the hose connector leaking more from the tap than it was actually sending into the pool. Of course, one of the keys to a successful labour is a calm and relaxed environment. Hard as he tried, Archie was not conducive to this. He set himself up, in the lounge, with his “Sword and the Stone” DVD. “Mummy can watch it too”. Er no! Back-up was called and he agreed to go out to lunch with his grandparents. In the fantasy scenario, he would have been there... read more

Our home birth from a dad’s perspective [PART 1]

Over the next two days, I am going publish my account of Matilda’s recent home birth. As you will read, I was not always convinced that a home-birth was the best option. The almost complete lack of information on home-births from the dad’s perspective has lead me to write these posts for other new dads whose partners want a home-birth… —————————————————————————— From the moment we found out she was pregnant, Jo said she wanted a home-birth. Now, you know me well enough on this blog to know that deep-down I am probably a bit of a “hippy” when it comes to parenting questions but this took even me by surprise. We had seen several of our closest friends enjoy home-births so I guess it was logical the idea was on Jo’s radar. Plus I had forgotten that first time round, with Archie, Jo had had a very difficult experience at hospital. Don’t get me wrong – the warmth and kindness of all the midwives and nurses as phenomenal – but, for a number of reasons which I won’t bore you with now, the experience was a very stressful and exhausting one for Jo. The first thing which came to my mind was “What about the dangers? What if there’s a problem?”. In reality, I think it may stem from the misplaced notion (in my opinion) that pregnancy is a “condition” which needs treating. When a pregnancy is smooth and the foetus is healthy, there is nothing more natural. And when things are natural, Jo’s angle was they do not need “medicalising”. Jo still had her fears though and felt... read more

Introducing baby Matilda Lily Rachel Coffer!

[slickr-flickr tag=”matilda” align=”center”] Well, you may well have already heard via my Facebook page or on my Twitter account but I am delighted to announce here the birth of our baby Matilda Lily Rachel. She was born at home on Saturday 15th January at 12.36, weighing 8lbs13oz. The home birth experience was very special indeed. Jo was absolutely amazing. I am writing a blog post about the home birth, from a dad’s perspective, so will save the full story of the actual birth for that next post. Matilda is a very beautiful little girl indeed and is doing very well, as is Jo. We have been enjoying a very quiet week, getting used to being a family of four for the first time. Archie is a proud big brother, even if sometimes the look on his face belies a little bit of “so, er, who are you? And, er, exactly how long are you intending on hanging around here?!”. We have been blown away by the scale of warmth and love shown in everyone’s comments on twitter and Facebook. I lost count last Saturday but there were somewhere near 500 tweets about Matilda’s birth. If only I could thank everyone individually! After the early difficulties of the pregnancy, where we lost a twin, we were so thrilled to have a healthy baby. And, of course, we were so excited to have a little girl. Mind you, initially I said she was a boy. The midwife believed me. Jo believed the midwife. And for a whole hour, Matilda was, well, Finlay! Don’t ask!! I’ll be telling that story in more... read more

Archie has broken his arm :(

Yup, as the title says, my little sous-chef has broken his arm. It’s a fracture of the humeris, although there is nothing funny about it at all. We were in the park on Sunday afternoon and he was happily climbing the climbing frames. There is one tall one which he loves to go on. I always prop him up when he gets to the top (there is a slide for coming down) but somehow he slipped and I lost my grip. As with all good cliché stories, he seemed to fall to the ground in slow motion! It was a big fall, well over 5 foot, and he fell flat on his face and tummy. Rather disconcertingly, he bounced very softly thanks to the safety flooring but it was immediately clear all was not well. He was actually really brave and just kept saying “I really want to go home”. Cue carrying him home, the arrival of an ambulance, a trip to A+E, a few very painful x-rays and then the verdict of the fracture. The doctors were very concerned that he would need an operation but the bone set well enough when they re-set it without putting him under general anaeasthetic. I don’t need to describe how excruciating it was to see them setting the arm! He is a brave and fesisty little boy and is being very creative in how to survive using just one arm. He is in pain but, by all accounts, this should heal within 4 weeks. I still feel devastated that this happened on my watch. As so many people have pointed out... read more

A domestic confession…

So, according to a survey out this week, 82% of women still do all the housework. I know this because I was contacted by BBC Radio Oxford to be on Lou Hannan’s show tomorrow morning at 10.10.   “Nick, you are a stay at home dad, can you come on and talk about how you do all the housework?”   “Er, would love to come on. I may have a divorce on my hands if I come on and say I do the housework!”.   So instead, I am going on to confess that I am basically crap at housework. I do try. Honestly I do. But I am just not very good. At all.   I knew I was in difficulty when I first met Jo. I made her supper and tidied up. She thanked me for tidying up but informed me that I had not done the “surface test’. This, I was soon to learn, involved bending down, having my eyes at worktop height and seeing the crumbs which the naked eye cannot see when standing up.   At the time, I thought it was a joke. Five years later and I know she was deadly serious.   You see, the thing is, I just do not have the same perception of mess that Jo does. Is this a man thing? Or just a me thing?   I am unable to concentrate right to the end of a job. I will tidy the kitchen – but forget stuff in the sink. I will tidy the lounge – but miss the 6 foot train track clogging up the... read more

A tribute in food to Grandma Lily who died today

I learnt in the middle of last night that my Grandma had passed away. It was certainly not unexpected – she was 91 after all, and has been poorly for a long time. She was the last survivor of a generation in my family the like of which I don’t think we will ever see again. She was the daughter of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants (I am, in fact, of 100% Eastern European origin, even 3 generations later) who arrived in the country 100 years ago. Her dad, my great granddad, set up a butchers shop. She survived the war – and the enforced separation from my granddad – and went on to raise four boys. She also lost two sons. Her brand of matriarchal charisma, mixed with a inexhaustible doses of kindness, humour and generosity set her apart as a lady. Both my grandma and my mum’s mum, my Nanny, loved nothing more than cooking for their families. A Jewish kitchen is always an open one, no matter what the circumstances, and both revelled in having the whole family together on a Friday night for a Sabbath meal and on high holidays and festivals too. Even though I am a non-believing Jew, it is a source of great pleasure that my own mum has continued the tradition and Archie’s Friday night meal at my parents’ house is undoubtedly one of his highlights of the week. Coming from relative poverty, the cooking of my grandparents’ generation involved lots of cheap cuts of meat, cooked slowly, and copious amounts of fat and salt. This probably explains the high incidence of heart... read more

Some lovely and some very sad news

I was all set yesterday to announce some lovely news for our family. Happily I am still able to do that but it is tinged with great sadness. We have known for 8 weeks that Jo is pregnant and she had the 12 week scan yesterday. We learnt at this scan that she had, in fact, been carrying twins. Sadly one of them has not survived. We had prepared ourselves for many different scenarios from the scan but this was not one we had envisaged at all. Bizarrely, Jo and I had both said a while ago that we thought she was having twins. In fact, we both dreamt about it on the same night. These things work in funny ways. The twin survived to about 8 weeks. Obviously our immediate reaction was to wonder if we could have done anything any differently but everyone tells us – and we know really – that early pregnancy is something none of us can have any control over. It’s easy to say that we should just be happy for what we have got. And don’t get me wrong, we are so thrilled that Archie will be meeting his brother or sister, all things being equal, early in 2011. But we have been thrilled for 8 weeks about that already and there is plenty of time to reconnect with that feeling in the coming days and weeks. For now we are just really sad for losing one of the twins and confused as to how to feel in general. So here’s to our little fighter – and the brother or sister he... read more
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