I can’t claim to have grown up with much awareness of religious diversity, and I can’t claim to be one way better or worse off for it, but I do know that my children are growing up in a much different way and in a very different place to the close, conservative, and supportive community that I did, so I think it’s important for them to learn two things: 1) Tolerance for other religions, 2) an understanding of other religions in relation to what I believe, and what I hope they will believe. Religious observances are also different now, and sometimes more commercial – for example the Colour Run, based on the Holli celebration, or locally, we have Electric Woods, where Robin Hill lights up the autumn nights inspired by Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. While we could just go and enjoy the prettiness, I think there’s value in explaining what it is that we’re exposing ourselves to, so that the children can learn something about ‘other people’. As it was, the Electric Woods event saw us walking through the woods at Robin Hill enjoying the cold evening air, listening to music and looking at light displays. It was a lovely evening out, fuelled by hot chocolate. Read more: Learning About the Hindu Festival Of Diwali
I don’t know why, but as long as I can remember I’ve loved Jazzies. I really don’t know why – they are made from cheap chocolate, and full of Hundreds and Thousands (Nonpareils, to my American readers) that taste of nothing. When we decided to do Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for our home-ed Play & Learn theme, I knew we had to make our own Jazzies.
Initially I was going to pour the melted chocolate into muffin pans to make them perfectly round, but in the end I decided to just free-hand it and let the kids have fun. They don’t care so much for perfectionism!
The main thing here was to provide a selection of toppings for our DIY Jazzies, and as it happens I didn’t have any Hundreds and Thousands, so we went for chocolate sprinkles and chocolate twirls, Frozen snowflakes, shredded coconut, wafer flowers and popping candy. If I had any, we’d have added some chopped nuts and dried fruit too.
I melted the chocolate at 50C for 3 minutes in my Thermomix, but you can do it in a microwave or on the stove (put the chocolate in a glass bowl that fits inside a pot. Put water in the pot, but the bowl in the pot and boil the water till the chocolate has melted. Be careful, the glass will be hot.)
While the chocolate is melting, lay out strips of plastic wrap. (I taped these down onto the table so the kids couldn’t lift them. On trays would be better as you can then move them out of the way.)
Once melted, spoon the chocolate out and place a tablespoon full at a time on the plastic. Let the children do the toppings – you don’t have to act too fast, it does take a few minutes for the chocolate to set.
Leave for 2 – 3 hours till the chocolate is firmly set, then peel off, and enjoy.
Keep in an airtight container for up to a week, depending on the toppings you’ve used.
The better the chocolate, the better they’ll be. Doesn’t this just leave the small people feeling like chocolate inventors though? It’s a fun activity!
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Issue 4 of the Little Cooks Dora the Explorer magazines brings us the Amazing Apple Cake. Unfortunately, by the time I got to actually making the cake, the black spot on my apple had turned into a gaping big hole inside. I didn’t stick around to find that worm. Instead, I found a half a cup of frozen berries in the freezer, and topped them up to a full cup with boiling water. The result was a delicious, moist berry cake that didn’t last the day – we gobbled it up in one sitting!Read more: Little Cooks – Amazing Apple (Or Berry) Cake
I have tried to do regular food posts here since almost the start of this incarnation of the blog, but something always comes up. Initially I posted recipes based on the organic food deliveries we received, then we joined a foraging group, and I started posting about that. We then went to South Africa and all foraging stopped, but when we returned last year, we started foraging for food again.
Then I became ill, and that stopped too. I’d love to start it up again, but I know that I won’t be able to keep up a weekly foraging post, what with a baby coming and all, so I thought I might combine the two – recipes we use as we explore healthier, organic and seasonal food, and those we come up with when we find ourselves able to forage.
One of my big ‘to-dos’, which I’ve been planning for a while now is making our own yoghurt. I know – it’s about as crazy as making your own mayonnaise, right? But the thing is home-made mayo is exceptionally good and ridiculously easy. So, I thought, perhaps yoghurt would be too?Read more: Home Made Yoghurt Topping Options
Little Snowflakes is a blog I hate to love. She tidies her house. She has a plan. She works out and makes it sound like a good idea. And she proves that everything I say I can’t find the time or energy for is just an excuse. She’s bothersome and it’s totally my own fault – which is kind of why I love her blog. She makes me uncomfortable, which makes me get up and go pack the dishwasher and sort the laundry. Which, in turn, makes me feel good.
Wild garlic is simply delicious stuff. In the spring it has a much milder taste than late in the summer, and unlike it’s commercial counterpart, you eat the leaves and the flowers, not the bulb (although you could).
Read more: Foraging for Food – Ramson (Wild Garlic) And Ricotta Gnocchi
A while ago I shared my favourite flapjack/crumpet/pancake recipe with you. This one is based on the same recipe, but with an added twist I discovered while catching up on one of my favourite photography blogs. I don’t have Katie’s recipe, but thought I could figure it out for myself.
These turned out fantastic. They were so tasty, and the little bits of bursting berries throughout were superb!
Read more: Just Have to Share – Blueberry Pancakes/Flapjacks/Crumpets
Continuing on from last week’s ode to beetroot, I want to share this fantastic cake with you. I know you might think I’ve gone mad, but the truth is, beetroot and chocolate are a fantastic mix. Especially beetroot and bitter dark chocolate. And what a great way to get such a healthy vegetable into your children too!
In a way this is a ‘healthier’ chocolate cake too (or so I tell myself – hear me out!) as normally I like my chocolate cake to have a thick layer of equally chocolatey icing and a nice rich jam, cream or icing layer in theÂ middle. This recipe, however, is so rich, all it needs is a sprinkle of icing sugar for decorative purposes.
- 175 g cooked beetroots, roughly chopped
- 200 g plain flour
- 100 g cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 250 g golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 200 ml sunflower oil
- 100 g dark chocolate
- Heat the oven to 180C
- Tip the beetroot into a blender & blitz until chopped.
- Add a pinch of salt & the rest of the ingredients, expect the oil & chocolate.
- When completely mixed pour the oil in in a steady stream while mixing all the time.
- (If it is very dry, stir in a few teaspoons of milk, one at a time)
- Melt the chocolate
- Stir in the chocolate, then tip the mix into a lined 900g loaf tin or cake tin.
- Cook for 45 – 60 mins until a inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Leave on a rack to cool.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar to serve
I feel really sorry for beetroot. As far as vegetables go, it really drew the short straw. A lot of it’s unpopularity is, I’m sure, owing to some genius with a funny hairstyle (in my mind, anyway) deciding to shove it in bottles and drown it in vinegar. So today, when most people think ‘beetroot’ they think of strong vinegar stuffed pink things that make your mouth go all funny and colour everthing on your plate in pink streaks.
Read more: Cellulite Busting Beetroot Pasta
Everything salad can also be everything pasta. It is a quick and easy way of clearing out all those left over bits in the fridge and the vegetable bowl, while making a great, nutritious and filling meal.
The key to a good ‘Everything Salad’ is colour and variety. An easy guide is to use the primary and secondary colours, and the five food groups:
Red, yellow and blue white and green and the grains, fruit and vegetables, dairy/proteins, meat and sugar/fats/oils. (You can use as many or as few of these as you wish)
Read more: Everything Salad