Women Of Excellence
Samoas (caramel delites)
What frustrates me is that they aren't homemade, they are obviously factory produced, so what does that factory do for the rest of the year when it isn't cookie selling season? Why can't they sell them all year around?
I've found some pretty ropey recipe suggestions online for creating these wonders, but after much experimentation I think I have finally discovered a reasonable substitute for those little bites of deliciousness.
So here it is:
For the cookie:
3/4 of softened butter
2 cups of sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp vanilla
2 cups flour
Splash of milk
Mix it all together (sans milk and flour) then add flour bit by bit until you get a nice dough. If it gets to dry add a little milk.
Pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes, then roll it out and cut circles. You could use a smaller cutter to take out the centres, I just stabbed a wooden spoon handle through them.
Next bake until golden and leave to cool.
2 cups shredded coconut
2 bags werthers original caramel melts
2 bars dark chocolate
1 bar milk chocolate
Toast the coconut until golden and beautiful.
Melt the werthers and stir in the coconut.
Press the mixture onto your cookies, being sure to cover them completely.
Melt the chocolates together and stir really well.
Dip cookies in the chocolate and leave on a sheet to cool. Melt chocolate again and dip a second time to get a good chocolate base.
Finally drizzle chocolate over with a spoon.
Okay, so its not a masterpiece, but let's face it, only the taste is important and these are De-Licious!!
Festival of lights
Although we are committed christians, we took the kids along to show them what it was and let then see how different cultures celebrate. There were lots of stalls and they let William help with some kind of sand art, called rangoli, that they use to decorate their homes.
I did take a photo, but for some reason it didn't save, so here is a picture of someone else's much fancier handy work:
There were lots of girls with beautiful head dresses and stunningly bright silk costumes, Elisha thought they were beautiful and pointed whilst squeaking her trademark 'look!' noise at us.
And this is how I know that even a one year old is capable of covetousness:-
As I got her out of the bath, dried her off and started to dress her in her white, flannel pyjamas; she looked at them, pulled at the chest, and looked at me with what I can only describe as utter contempt.
'No gold? No silk?' was the angry glare in her eyes. It was all I could do not to laugh.
Fortunately a one year old is easily won over with milk.
I can see we're going to have our work cut out in dealing with materialism as this one grows up!!
Stuff Christians Like and Widening Our Children's Horizons
Snowmen is a coming of age movie about three small boys and their adventures over a winter.
The problem with this movie is that the acting/production/storyline had the feel of a cute kids movie, something you watch on Christmas day with the little ones, but there were definitely bits that made me wish I wasn't watching it with my four year old.
Maybe I'm over sensitive, but some bits you should be aware of before you show this movie to your kids are:
Phrases like 'p*** off' and 'oh c***' are fairly frequent. Nothing hardcore, but not pleasant to have a preschooler repeating.
There's violence from the school bully, but also from our 'heroes' several times. We're supposed to think it's okay when our hero stands up to the school bully by throwing ice at him (something we are told at the beginning is illegal in their state) and making him bleed. The bully also punches a small child in the face several times, and at one point holds an ice skate to his throat and face threatening to 'cut him up' for humiliating him in an earlier scene.
The boys also narrowly escape death when they are buried by a snow plough. It doesn't sound bad, but it's quite a tense moment for a small child.
The hero lies to us and to other children throughout the movie, and only gets pulled up on it once. In fact, most of the time he is glorified as having been able to put together some amazing events.
There is one point where the boys find a corpse, and another rather graphic and long scene where a boy drowns. Neither of these are particularly 'feel good' moments for a small child.
I know these are petty for older children, but the problem is that I think older children would be bored. The humorous moments were few and far between and aimed at younger children. The story was based on a true story, and you can tell. It's the sort of movie my mum would have on in the background whilst she was ironing. Okay, just not great.
There is a cameo appearance by Christopher Lloyd (remember 'doc' from back to the future?) but that's about the best part.
I'm afraid this movie only gets a 2/5 from us.
Look who's walking...
'We Love You' Cake
The health benefits of Kefir
Loads of people will claim all kinds of benefits to drinking Kefir, many of which have little or no scientific backing. That doesn't mean that some of them aren't true, but I want to stick to proven benefits, so that we aren't just listing every ailment under the sun and claiming that Kefir is a miracle cure for all.
Kefir contains strains of friendly bacteria and beneficial yeasts including; Lactobacillus Caucasus, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species. The beneficial yeasts dominate and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. Your body then becomes better in resisting pathogens and intestinal parasites.
Kefir is a probiotic drink, by multiplying in the intestine, the bacteria in kefir can reduce potentially pathogenic bacterial populations to. It is interesting to note that, etymologically, an antibiotic means "against life" and probiotic, "for life". In fact, antibiotics destroy intestinal flora, indiscriminately striking down the good bacteria along with the bad ones. When microorganisms that inhabit the intestines and live in symbiosis are scarce, the body sends signals, because bacterial activity and vitality are closely related. Drinking Kefir after a round of antibiotics is an excellent way to help repopulate your gut with 'good' flora.
The enzyme activity of kefir's microorganisms can include release of volatile fatty acids, which improves blood sugar levels, boosts metabolism of bile salts and cholesterol to synthesize amino acids and many vitamins and improve the bio-availability of all minerals.
Apparently in Beijing there were some studies done on the effectiveness of drinking kefir in curing arthritis and rheumatism. I haven't managed to find the actual studies done.
There is quite a lot of research regarding kefir, with Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, a biologist and Nobel Prize winner in 1908, having performed extensive studies in Russia. If you are interested in knowing more he is worth googling.
Bye for now!
My Kefir Babies
This is really an old post, from about a year ago, but I thought I'd revive it as I have recently given even more of my Kefir babies away (there are now about 7 colonies thriving from my original one)!
I also never did get around to writing that post on the health benefits of Kefir, so I'd better do that soon, and I can link back to this instead of the other really old post and at least pretend my blog doesn't have continuity issues. ;o)
My Kefir babies
My son is obsessed with 'Fizzy Juice' and 'Soda' (read 'fanta' and 'lemonade').
Initially I would only allow him to drink one or two of the more expensive brands such as fruitizer, because they are literally fruit juices watered down and carbonated, with no e-numbers. It seemed fine, but the quantity he wanted to drink was going to kill us financially. So slowly we started buying cheaper drinks and I was horrified to realise the we had deteriorated so far as allowing him to drink a supermarket brand of cherryade (8p a litre) as a special treat for his birthday.
Where did it happen? There has to be some middle ground between letting him drink rubbish and spending a fortune on buying drinks, when realistically I would prefer he was just drinking tap water (a tall order for a three year old who see's his daddy drinking pepsi)!
That's when I came across Water Kefir.
These blobby little jelly like crystals are actually a bacteria which are going to turn my ordinary tap water into something infinitely more delicious and healthful, but the most important part - it will be fizzy!
So I ordered my little bacteria colony from ebay. All they needed was a jar of tap water a few spoons of sugar and off they go! I read online that you can add fruit to help the process along and flavour the kefir, so we sliced up some easy peeler tangerines and added a few raisins. I also added a little honey. I'm told they like it, and as they are new to me I thought it might help them settle in. **I recently was told they shouldn't have honey, because it's antibacterial. It's up to you, but I give it to mine and they are thriving. Maybe just don't do it too often?**
Interestingly, after 24 hours you could see the fizzing and all the fruit had floated to the top of the jar. You strain the water off and put it in a jug in the fridge and add more water to the kefir 'grains' to start the process again.
I wasn't sure how it would taste, but was willing to give it a go. I was totally surprised to find it actually tastes a lot like shloer. It was delicious! A total non-alcoholic champagne substitute. I could definitely serve this up on a date night and Matt would not be able to tell the difference.
But the real test was to find out if Will would drink it, with no added sugars/flavourings. The result: YES! He had two glasses with breakfast this morning and was over joyed to be allowed soda with his cereal. He thanked me over and over again like I was the kindest mummy in the world!
It's not as fizzy as something like 7up, but it could easily pass for something like a fizzy grape juice from Marky Sparkys. I'm really looking forward to trying out different flavours.
Now most importantly, the Kefir grains have already doubled in size. This means they are reproducing and they are happy. If your kefir is happy it will reproduce and you will never have to buy it again. In fact you should get enough to start giving it away. If it is unhappy, it will die and you will have to buy a starter again. By keeping them alive I will only ever have to pay for sugar to make 'fizzy juice' which I can buy in bulk really cheaply. We can flavour it with fruit from our garden. A luxury drink, for virtually free!
Now that I'm trying to cultivate bacteria in my kitchen I have come to think of them as pets. I would actually be quite sad if I lost the colony. So we are now a family who keeps ants and bateria as pets. I know it's wierd, but I don't care. They are saving us loads of money and will make a great science lesson for the kids as they get older.
There are loads of health benefits to Kefir too. But I'll save that for another post.
If you're interested in how to make water kefir, here's a step by step video: