.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Warning!! This recipe contains calories...

If you are on a diet, please leave this post immediately!


Will and I made the most awesome cake today. It's a recipe we've wanted to try for a long time, and with it being Matt's mums birthday tomorrow, we decided it was about time to give it a go. Will was very excited and is actually getting quite good at measuring things. If only he was a little less enthusiastic about stirring, he'd actually be a big help in the kitchen!


The basic recipe is here:

REE_2336

and the bit that's hard to read at the bottom is 1 cup chopped pecans.


It's good, if licking the batter out of the bowl is anything to go by. We can't tuck into the cake until Granny's birthday 'party' tomorrow morning, but initial testing tells us it's going to be amazing.


The chocolate looks pretty gnarly whilst melting, and you'd be forgiven for thinking you've curdled it and it will never recover, but have patience and it will go smooth and glossy.


We jazzed it up by adding some fresh cream whipped with cocoa powder in the middle (like a victoria sandwich). We also didn't have any pecans, so a mixture of almonds and cashews went it. They were unsalted, so I think it's fine.

Besides, salt and chocolate go great together.


I'll update with photos of us enjoying it tomorrow.


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UPDATE: Well I was actually very ill the next day, and before I had a chance to come down and take photos the entire cake had been demolished. Still, I suppose that is testament to how good it was!


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Substitutions

I've been meaning to make this post for a while, but just haven't gotten around to it.


As a homemaker, I try to cook fresh food for my family and enjoy trying out new recipes, but I also want to be faithful in managing our families budget. Sometimes it's not economically viable to buy a whole carton of condensed milk when you only need 60ml, or a whole carton of eggs when you just need one.


Over the years I've been collecting 'substitutions' from people, things that you regularly have in your store cupboard and can produce the same (or at least similar) results when you are strapped for cash but still want to try a recipe.

I thought I'd share it on here so you can have it too. I recommend taping it to the inside of a cupboard door in your kitchen, so you can refer to it easily without junking up the front of your fridge

:)


Egg Substitutes

1/4 cup applesauce or 1 whole banana= 1 egg (for sweet baking)

2 TBsp water+1 TBsp oil+2 tsp baking powder= 1 egg

1 TBsp ground/milled flax seed simmered in 3 TBsp water= 1 egg

2 TBsp water+ 2 tsp baking powder= 1 egg

1/4 cup tofu= 1 egg

2 TBsp cornstarch= 1 egg

2tbsp mayonnaise = 1 egg


Other Dairy Substitutes

1 cup milk+1 TBsp vinegar or lemon juice = 1 Cup buttermilk (or use plain yoghurt)

3/4 cup milk+ 3 TBsp butter = 1 Cup light cream (in baking)

2/3 cup dry milk + 1 cup water = Homemade evaporated milk

1 cup milk+1 TBsp melted butter = Half & Half

1 cup dry milk + 2/3 cup sugar + 1/2 cup boiling water + 3 tbsp butter = Condensed milk


Other stuff

Honey = 1 1/4 cups sugar + 1/4 cup apple juice

Lemon juice = white wine vinegar

Pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice = 4:2:1 ratio of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg

Self raising flour = 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to each cup of regular flour

1 cup tomato juice = 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Bread Machine

I've got a bread machine - and I got it for free!!


I've wanted one for ages, but we just didn't have the budget for it, so Matt said if I could get one for free, I could have it (that makes him sound really bossy. He isn't, but we don't have a lot of counter space inour new house, so even this was a big concession). Well, I prayed and put a wanted out on freecycle.


For those who haven't used it before, freecycle is awesome. You can list stuff you want rid of, or advertise for stuff you want; the only rule is no gain for giving something away. This isn't a swap shop. It is a gifting site, pure and simple.


Anyhow, within a few hours someone had gifted me a bread machine. How cool is that? I made us a lovely spelt loaf.

and it's super easy.


500g organic spelt flour

1 sachet yeast

1.5 tsp salt

1.5 tbsp olive oil

335ml water


chuck it all in the bread machine and wait. It even has a timer so that we woke up to the smell of lovely warm bread this morning.


Which has done absolute wonders for helping me drag my butt out of bed in the Hello Mornings challenge.


It has also got my son to eat something other than plain white bread :) So last night we made fondue to go with our lovely new bread.

I was going to take a picture of the fondue, which we made with red wine instead of white (I just didn't have any white) butI forgot. Suffice to say it looks like play doh. It's not very appetizing to look at, but tastes amazing, so it's totally worth it.


Will tucked into everything. I think the novelty of using a long spear to eat his food helped.

And finally we enjoyed some delicious strawberry and blueberry homemade kefir. I'm so please that we are improving our eating habits, and getting up that little bit earlier is making all the difference to how much time I have to plan meals effectively.



Monday, 16 May 2011

Hello Mornings

As some of you know I've been slack at organisation in the past. It's wierd, because I love order. Something about me gets released and I feel so much more peace in a neatly organised home. I sleep better knowing that the stationary and pens are all organised in the desk drawers, even when the draw is closed.


I'm getting better, but it's an uphill struggle. These aren't habits that come naturally to me and I often need a tool, gimmick or friend to give me a little kick up the bottom and get me motivated to get things done.


So, in the spirit of this, I have joined the maximise your morning challenge on inspired to action.


Hello Mornings Button


and finding them short on accountability captains, I signed up to be one of two in the UK! There's no backing out now...


So if you want to join us for some accountibility with regards to your daily morning routine and maximise your mornings, you should hop over to their website and sign up.


We are twitter group 6b, so you can search #MYM6 if you want to spy on us without getting directly involved just yet ;)


I'm told this is going to revolutionise the way I get things done. I hope so. A change would do me good.


Friday, 13 May 2011

Graham Stuart on Local Councils

Graham Stuart recently attaked local councils over their extra-legal interference with home educators. You can read a summary of it on the Conservative Home's website.


I read it through and thought 'So?'


To be honest, I don't really care if someone comes and inspects what we are doing. I know we aren't doing anything wrong, and that my children are recieving a suitable age appropriate education. But then I started reading the comments below the article (and you should, they are better than the article itself!) and I started to have my opinion changed.


Who has the right to decide what is 'age appropriate' for my children? The LA? The LA who's state sponsored schools regularly deliver us children with less than 5 GCSE's? I'm not convinced they know.


Our schools are constantly under delivering and failing our children. The LA don't seem to know how to change that, so why do they think that children who are being homeschooled would be better off there?


Then there is the issue of child abuse. People say that if home educators don't regularly show samples of their child's work, they could be abusing their children. How does a piece of paper with an essay on it prove that I am/am not abusing my child? Are there not more children in school abused every day? Are there not suicidal children being bullied by their peers? If that's not true, then why all the anti bullying campaigns on radio 1?

Are there not children who are physically and sexually abused by older children and even in some cases teachers? I've heard it referred to as 'fagging' and have been assured by several people from various schools that it's 'normal' and just a 'part of life'. Boys will be boys and all that.

Children under my care will never experience that, but the LA isn't able to promise me the same, and yet they want to inspect me?


Graham Stuart also points out the fact that parents of schooled children are not inspected during the school holidays. They have months of free reign to attack their children, but no one is suggesting they would be.


In the comment section of the article someone states that the case of Victoria Climbie should be reason enough to inspect home educators, and yet the facts of the case (according to Lord Lamming) are:

"On the second day she and Kouao were in this country Kouao and Victoria visited the homeless persons' unit in the London Borough of Ealing.

"In the months which followed Victoria was known to no fewer than four social services departments, three housing departments, two specialist child protection teams of the metropolitan Police.

"Furthermore, she was admitted to two different hospitals because of concerns that she was being deliberately harmed and was referred to a specialist Children and families centre managed by the NSPCC. All of this between 26th April 1999 and 25th February 2000."


She was known, to many, many people. It's true that she wasn't in school, but it's clear that not being in school didn't mean she was hidden away.


As a home educator, my children regularly see doctors, nurses, health visitors, librarians, sports coaches and in the last month even an educational psychologist. Are they not better placed to make a report to Social services than someone who has looked at a picture they painted or a notebook they've been working in and decided whether or not they were in danger?


So cut the excuses. Why do the LA really feel the need to inspect my child's work?


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A nice day for gardening

My fitness is terrible at the moment.


As is my diet.


I massively need to work on both. Today I decided to walk the chidren over to the new house to do some gardening. I can barely move!


It took an hour to walk each way, and mapmyrun says I burnt 186 calories on the way there and 165 on the way back (uphill/downhill). This is a pretty conservative estimate though because I was pushing a double buggy with two (rather heavy kids) laden with groceries too. And I was wearing my fit flops.


Ordinarily I would have treated myself to something nice after such a workout, but I'm trying to stick to a healthier eating program, which I only started yesterday, so I didn't.


I was pretty pleased with the amout of gardening I managed to get done, even with both kids present. In fact, Will was actually quite helpful, especially for moving things covered in cobwebs and spiders that I didn't want to touch!!


Initially I will admit to thinking to myself 'how will i find time to do things like DIY and gardening if we homeschool?' but after to day I have set my own mind to rest (again!).


Not only did Will love helping me out, we learnt plenty as well. He was fascinated with how 'furry' the ivy trunks were and how they used them to climb the fence. He was excited to see a birds nest up close (see below) and we found loads of tiny spiders to count.

I also managed to repaint the downstairs bathroom that was not going to plan.


Overall a very productive day.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Grazing

Kids need snacks.


Well mine do anyway. It's so easy just to reach for the cookie jar or buy another pack of raisins* (anyone else's children completely bored with them yet?). Thinking about creative, healthy snacks can be draining.


I'm trying to get better at this, partiicularly as Will is developing a crisp habit, so I thought I'd share some of my ideas with you. We have the added excitement that Elisha is incredibly allergic to both apples and grapes (quite limiting on more snacks than you' think, including most baby biscuits!) so I'm trying to think outside the box.


i) Popcorn - popcorn's a great idea for a healthy snack, so long asyou don't smother it in toffee or butter! Freshly popped warm corn is lovely own it's own, and if you do want to eat it later a little salt is usually all it needs. It's easy to pack in ziploc bags and stick in the change bag so that you have treats ready to go.


It's also really cheap, meaning your kids can snack on it a lot.

popcorn


ii) Dried fruits and nuts - watch out here though, as dried fruit has a very high calorie content and not much water so you don't feel full up. It's easy to eat far too many calories, so if you are trying to lose baby weight, make sure you aren't grabbing a handful when you pass them on to your kids.

Julian Graves have a magazine in store which is 99p but has around £5 worth of vouchers inside it each month. If your kids like fruits and nuts (or if you like to experiment with spices) this is worth purchasing. They also do things like blueberries covered in yoghurt or chocolate coated brazil nuts, so it's a great way to ease children into healthier snacking.


iii) Prepared veg - having vegetables like carrots, celery and peppers already pre-cut and stored in a glass of water in the firdge means that little hands can help themselves, and surprisingly they really do. Try setting aside 20 minutes once a week to prepare plenty of fresh vegetable snacks for the week.


iv) small fruits and berries - grapes and berries that can be eaten in little mouthfuls and don't require peeling and chopping are also always a hit in our house. One of Will's favourite summer activities is going for walks in the park and eating blackberries along the way.


I cannot wait until we have our own garden and can plant in lots of fruits that the children can pick and eat themselves.


v) Fresh Herbs - yes, I am aware that it's kind of odd, but my son likes to eat 'plants' straight from the ground. By plants, he means fresh corriander, chives, parsely and basil. I've found that keeping bunches of these in the fridge also seem to be considered a treat. I'm not sure it would work for many people, but Will loves it, so I'm just gonna thow it out there.


I'm currently trialling a service by Graze too. They pack a variety of healthy snack and deliver them to your door, so it save you the hassle of thinking too much and you always have something fresh to hand. Honestly, I'm only doing it because it's free this week, and half price next week (use code KHBVM7LA) but if it's good, we might continue.


*with Elle being allergic to grapes we can't have raisins, but have discovered 'Craisins' which are raisins made with cranberries, not grapes. Delicious!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Living Below the Line

This week Matt & I will be taking on the 'Live below the Line' challenge in aid of The Salvation Army's Generation programme .

Live Below The Line

You can follow our progress here.


Today was our final day living 'above the line' and I went to tesco this morning to see what I could get to help us through the week. I was pretty shocked to be honest.


Not because we couldn't eat for less than a pound a day - we had plenty of practise during our first year of marriage and I was a student for 5 years - but because I suddenly realised that we could easily eat, but we couldn't feed the children.


Sounds like an oxymoron? It should be. Children eat less than us, right? Well, they do, but because of that their diet needs to be rich in nutrition. Whilst I will happily fill up on rice and beans, we can barely afford fresh fruit and vegetables. One red medium sized pepper would account for two and a half meals!


It also turns out you can't buy baby food or formula (except in bulk) for the price of a meal. If I were to buy ready made formula, Elisha would be able to have two bottles a day and nothing else. One ready made baby meal (organic) would cost her entire allowance for the day and 12p from tomorrow.


It's nothing new that baby food is cheaper to make, but I hadn't really noticed that people living 'below the line' don't have the option to choose. It's not just cheaper, it's essential. No wonder extended breastfeeding is encouraged by the WHO, when many children would simply starve without it.

I think it's going to be an eye opening week.

 
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