Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Anzac Day.

Just thought I would share some photos I took of Smidge and I preparing for Anzac Day. A wonderful friend of mine provided lots of yummy Anzac biscuits and drinks for the diggers after the march so I was very pleased to help out with making some of them. As you can see, so was Smidge.

Well, first we need a cute outfit...

We tip the 'stuff' in

You can tip it low, or tip it high. High is more fun!

Mum will do some fiddly stuff on the 'ooo hot!' but then you can mix it

And use your hands to mix it a bit more...

Roll it into balls...

Try not to worry about spills- that's what Mum is there for...

And cook until they are golden brown. Yum!

QLD Branch Conference!

Wow, how lucky am I?

I have had the pleasure of spending the last two days surrounded by passionate, intelligent and gorgeous women. 

I have been attending the Queensland Branch Conference for the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

When I signed up to attend conference I knew a couple of the girls from my local group and a few friends that I had met from the ABA online forum (yep, I’m a geek, I know!) Now, within 48 hours I feel like I have met a team of amazing Mums who I will have the pleasure of working with over the next 10, 20 or 30+ years. They have come from far and wide with all just one thing in common- breasts that have been used for their true purpose.  🙂

Other than that, there is no one thing that defines us. We do not all share the same age, height, colour, age, religion or taste in chocolate (but hey, chocolate is a very sacred private thing, no one choice is wrong. Actually except dark chocolate, that’s just gross)

So I’m wondering, how can a group of strangers with only this in common make me feel so comfortable, so relaxed, so at home? I feel so at home actually that I would like to propose bringing in the men and the older siblings and perhaps converting the conference centre into one, big commune. Maybe I should put that on the feedback sheet?

I am feeling so excited and so inspired by these women and wish every Mum could feel this way when they enter the wonderful world that is Motherhood. The ABA does an amazing job of supporting Mums, from the early day (daze) of that first time your eyes meet your childs and your world becomes so much smaller (and huge-er) at the same time, to the Mum who is up on stage, proudly announcing her sons engagement. For all the parenting stages- rough and smooth, the ABA is there for Mum to Mum support.

A couple of Did You Knows….

  • ABA runs a Counselling Hotline that is available 24 hours a day and is a free call. They can even provide information and advice by email. Some months they even receive more than 7000 phone calls!
  • The conference is so friendly and relaxed that I could even wear my fisherman pants, my out of the house version of pyjamas- score!
  • In 2014 the ABA will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary!
  • For only $85 an expectant Mum and her partner/support person can attend a Breastfeeding Education Class. Not only will they get some invalueble insight and information about breastfeeding but included is a year long subscription to the ABA.
  • The first weekend in October is Baby’s Day Out, a great chance to get out in public with your bubs and show that babies should be seen and heard.
  • The 3-9th of May is National Mothering Week and this years theme is Mothering- Together we do better! What a great chance to get along to an ABA meeting and show your support to other Mums, or get some support from them  😉

For more info on the Australian Breastfeeding Association see www.breastfeeding.asn.au

Cooking with Kids: Salads

Salads are very popular here, they’re a great healthy meal and something kids can very easily be involved in.  There are lots of advantages in having the kids involved in cooking dinner, the most obvious of which is that then you don’t have to entertain them!  Plus we’ve found with our 4 year old that she’s more likely to eat something if she’s helped make it.

The 4 year old is now known as ‘Queen Salad Maker’ and she is very proud to teach her little apprentice.  Just about every evening she asks if she can make a salad.  Some of the things they can do with minimal supervision:

  • Use scissors to open packets.
  • Tear lettuce leaves
  • Use a spoon to scoop out avocado.
  • Use a small, fairly blunt knife to slice peeled cucumber.
  • Use a fork to get olives or corn out of the jar or tin.
  • Wash and add cherry tomatoes.
  • Pull off florets of cauliflower.
  • Chop up sliced ham – even a butter knife will chop up most cold meats.
  • Chop cheese slices or tear it into chunks.
  • Mix the salad in a big bowl.
  • Add dressing, so long as someone else has measured it out!  Don’t let them loose with the bottle on their own 😀

Then they usually stand there and self serve while the rest of dinner is done, which is a pretty good way for them to eat vegetables!

Cooking With Kids: Savoury Crepes

I had no idea this was so simple, I had to check several recipes because I had this image crepes were really hard.  No, they’re 18 month old easy!

Ingredients:

  • 150g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 435ml (1 3/4 cups) milk
  • 2 eggs at room temperature

Method:

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl.  Use a really wide bowl so it doesn’t get flicked everywhere.
  2. In another bowl put the eggs and milk and whisk them with a fork.  A deep bowl for this bit, even baby girl at 18 months can do it.  She gets really excited when she manages to pop the yolks.
  3. Pour a little bit into the flour and mix, gradually add a little at a time and keep mixing until you have a thin batter.  I do the pouring and let the girls mix, it’s easier for little ones when the mix is thinner.
  4. Whisk until smooth, but not too much or the gluten will make the crepes rubbery.  But whisking is so much fun we often end up with tough crepes!
  5. Cover and let it rest for half an hour at room temperature to relax the gluten.

We generally do this in the morning then go out, but it’s also a good time to get your fillings ready.  We use all sorts of things, corn, olives, mushrooms, spring onion, ricotta cheese, tomato, capsicum, ham, pretty much anything you like.

Use a little bit of oil in a pan on medium heat, pour in some of the crepe mixture and swirl it around to cover the pan.  Cook it until golden on that side.  Turn the crepe and put your fillings on one side, not too much.  When it is almost cooked, fold the other side over on top.  When the base is cooked you can flip it over again to heat the top.  I generally cook them from youngest to oldest, that way their’s has time to cool while the others are cooking.  I also slice them up. Enjoy!

Cooking with Kids: Homemade Muesli Bars

This is such a popular one in our house, it evaporates very quickly! And it’s a great recipe for simple skills even little ones can do.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of things to put in.  I try to go for 3 cups of dry and 2 cups of fruit but you can do any ratio.
    • muesli, rolled oats, oatbran, wheat germ, cereals, …
    • sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (yum!), coconut, hazelnuts, almonds, …
    • All sorts of dried fruit, glace cherries are a hit here, so are prunes and dates.
  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar.

Method:

I get the kids to help measure out the ingredients.  Depending on how chunky you like it you can use it as is, or whizz the nuts in a food processor.  I like to toast the dry ingredients while the girls use butter knives to chop up the dried fruit or pull it apart and put it into a measuring cup.  I put a little bit in a dry frypan on medium heat until it is golden, do it in batches and put it into a large mixing bowl.

While the dry ingredients are cooling, start the syrup.  Add the butter, honey and brown sugar to a saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Turn the heat low and simmer without stirring for about 7 minutes, until it forms a little ball when dropped in icy cold water.  (Actually I’ve never done that, I just leave it to simmer until everything else is ready and it looks like a nice thick syrup.)

Mix all the dry ingredients and fruit together in a large bowl, the kids can do this.  Then stir in the syrup and make sure everything is mixed.  Press it into a foil lined tray with the back of a spoon then put it in the fridge for about an hour.  This is why you use the foil – when it is set you can pull it straight out and chop it up, then put it into another foil lined air-tight container and keep it in the fridge.  It will keep about a week if it lasts that long!


Wordless Wednesday – Dinner Last Night

Play Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom and Wordless Wednesday

Cooking with Kids: Frozen Banana

This is so simple it really doesn’t deserve to be called cooking.  On the other hand, I’ve done it with both my girls since they were about 15 months, and they love the fact they can do it themselves.  And it’s perfect for summer – healthy, quick, fun and cold.

 

Ingredients:

  • Banana
  • Toothpicks
  • Knife
  • Airtight container
  • Freezer

Either cut the end so your child can peel the banana or peel it for them if they are very little.  Give them the toothpicks and let them go!  At 4 big girl does a straight line of beautifully spaced toothpicks, at 18 months baby girl sticks them in all over the place.  It doesn’t matter.  Gvie them a blunt knife, even a butter knife will work on ripe bananas, and let them cut between the toothpicks.  Big girl can do this all by herself, I guide baby girl.  Put them in an airtight container and freeze!  Time depends on how thick the slices are.  When you get them out, you have little banana iceblocks with their own handle.  Kids love them.

I tend to do this at morning or afternoon tea time and use several bananas, the girls eat as much as they want unfrozen then we put the rest into the freezer.

13 Things I Have Learnt This Week

  1. It’s not actually possible for your head to explode.  You may want it to, but that’s another story.
  2. I’m ridiculously in love with my big girl.  She has been so worried about me being sick and she’s been adorable, cleaning, playing with her little sister and a pleasure to be around.
  3. The little one can sleep for 5 hours straight.  Several other nights there’s been a lot of crying, but that one gives us hope.
  4. I’ve never had sinusitis before.  I thought I had, but a dull ache above and below the eyes is nothing to the drill/knife/jackhammer that’s been active this week.  My entire eye socket and even my teeth hurt.
  5. There are actually about 15 trains a day from Rome to Venice, but for some reason I can’t get tickets after the 12th of December.  Later ones had better become available in the next couple of weeks.
  6. There is a Charlie and Lola live show in London on the 23rd of December.  My girls are going to LOVE it.
  7. I’ve worked out how to put together a yoked jacket with a lined hood and bodice with minimal instructions.  Now I just need time to finish the hems and buttons and for baby girl to actually try it on.
  8. It’s ok to let something go.  I always over-commit myself ridiculously and stepping back from something has changed my stress levels enormously.
  9. There is a local woman who does clothing alterations/repairs who put a new zip in my favourite jeans.  Now I just need to lose the weight so they’re comfortable again.
  10. It’s much less painful if you don’t look at everything as you sort it.  Two big boxes of baby clothes ready to go to playgroup and be passed on.
  11. I should have left the corn on the cob for both girls.  They ended up hijacking ours and we ate the kernels I’d cut off for them.
  12. I love my husband.  He’s helping deal with baby girl at night, doing his normal job and painting our new investment property after work.  And he’s been looking after me while I was sick.
  13. Between 1 and 2 is such a happy, loving, exciting, adventurous age.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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“All Natural!” … So what?

Firstly let me say I’m an evolutionary biologist by training.  So I love nature.  I think nature is amazing, awe-inspiring, incredible, and just about every other superlative.  I do not think nature is good.  In fact, I find the idea incredibly offensive.

Let me explain.  ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are human constructs based on morals.  It is a way of judging things and seeing if they measure up to our personal sense of right and wrong.  In fact I’ll go further and say the whole idea of ‘good’ nature is religious thinking, because it is based on the idea that nature was created for us, to look after us.  This is incredibly limiting.  Nature is bigger than us, and to me it takes a special kind of arrogance to think you can judge nature by human standards or in human terms.

Yes, nature has given us some amazing systems such as skeletal development, bee colonies and coral reefs.  It has also given us diptheria, tetanus and earthquakes.

Some of the most dangerous things to eat include eggs, fish and nuts – all natural.  And in the long term, fat and sugar are more likely to kill you than BPA.  Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the industrialised world, and the obesity epidemic wasn’t caused by artificial additives.  If you make homemade goodies with the most natural of butters and sugars it doesn’t matter if they are free from artificial preservatives – they are still firmly in the ‘sometimes food’ category, not ‘everyday foods’.  It is perfectly possible to be incredibly unhealthy on an ‘all-natural’ diet.

Some of the most important drugs are anti-biotics and pain killers like aspirin and morphine – all natural.  Whole classes of pharmaceuticals are based on natural chemicals from plants and moulds, because nature has been in the business of creating bio-active chemicals for a very, very long time.  But those important drugs also have side effects and can be dangerous, exactly because they work so well.  A side effect is just a biological effect of a drug other than the one we want – and nature created those drugs without worrying about what humans might want.

If you are ever told that something is ‘has no side-effects’ because it is natural then a) they’re lying or b) it doesn’t work.  How can I be so black and white?  Easily.  Natural things are messy and complicated.  They contain many different drugs in different doses, meaning there are more things there to affect your system.  And then there are interactions between drugs, where we have trouble even guessing what might happen.  Even eating fruit changes the way your gut absorbs things and can give you a dangerous overdose of some drugs!  So being natural is actually a guarantee that there will be effects other than the one you are after, which is the definition of a side-effect.  Unless of course it doesn’t have an effect at all.  Because that’s the only way you can guarantee no side-effects – if there is no effect.  Which means it doesn’t work.

As far as nature is concerned, we are one moderately successful species out of the billions that have ever lived.  It doesn’t create anything especially for us.  And the past 10,000 years of human history are largely the story of trying to get away from nature.  Fire, planting our own food, living in one place, sanitation, electric lights, comfortable beds, these are all ways of avoiding nature.  And I like it.  I like being able to stay up past sunset because I have light.  I like being able to have a hot shower and a flush toilet.  I like being able to keep my food fresh in a refrigerator, and get fruit and vegetables that are out of season and don’t grow in this area.  I especially like that my children are not likely to die.  Living to see my grandkids grow up will be another bonus.  All of these things are ‘against nature.’

Like I said, I love nature.  I am fascinated and awed by it.  It has created some amazing things, including planets and ecosystems and even the human brain.  But it is not human so I don’t judge it in human terms.  And I don’t use it to judge other things.  It’s not a way to tell if a food is healthy – it might be, it might not.  It’s not a way to tell if a drug will work and be safe.  It’s not even a way to tell if a parenting practice will be good for my children.  These are complicated questions and lots of factors need to be considered, not just how natural they are.

So if you try to sell me something by telling me it’s “all natural!”  my considered response will be “So what?”

13 Things We Did Today (well, yesterday, I’m writing this Wednesday night)

”thursday-13″

1. Played in the paddling pool – with warm water!

2. Pretended they were puppy dogs – fetching balls and bringing them back in their mouths.

3. Did the grocery shopping, sans underwear for baby girl because it took so long to get ready I forgot she’d taken them off.

4. Attempted to get baby girl to sleep while big girl was strapped in the highchair (her choice) with extra food and the remote control.

5. Got up to deal with big girl being stuck, gave up on bed and ended up getting baby girl to nap in my arms.

6. Big girl whispered ‘Fox in Socks’ to me and I did the long pages.

7. Collected and filled a million water bottles while both girls ferried them to the fridge and poked them in any gaps they could find.

8. Cooked chocolate cupcakes and decorated them with bright pink icing and sprinkles.

9. Sang nursery rhymes on my bed.

10. Daddy came home!

11. Chopped up chicken while big girl put it in the egg and flour and told me how much she loved having chicken for tea.

12. Counted each mouthful of salad for big girl and coaxed her to eat one tiny piece of chicken because she doesn’t like it.

13. Got out 50 pieces of ice because big girl ran into a pole while trying to sneak up on Daddy and split her lip and baby girl decided that sucking on ice sounded pretty good.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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