Tuesday 22 April 2014

Loaf Cake

This is a quick & easy cake you can whip up if you have guests coming - I made one yesterday, and as ever, it goes down very well.  I got this recipe from my step-mum and it's one of the kids favourite cakes.

Pain d'Epice (Spice Bread) or Loaf Cake as I like to call it...

125g plain flour
150g icing sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
2 tsp baking powder
175g unsalted butter (room temp)
4 eggs

This couldn't be easier - put everything into a food processor and mix together until well blended.  

Pour into a loaf tin and bake for 45mins at 170C fan / 190C / 375F / Gas 5.  

Serve warm with optional fruit conserve, although I personally don't think it needs it.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Painting at Grayshott Pottery

Yesterday, we visited Grayshott Pottery to have a go at their Half Term painting.  

It was very reasonably priced at £2.50 per child and after payment, the kids got to choose the shape they wanted to paint from a choice of star, butterfly, rabbit, egg, heart or flower.   The shapes are pre-cut and glazed with a hole for hanging so all we needed to do was don our aprons and get painting!

We happened to arrive at the same time as two other families (something to do with the sudden downpour I suspect!) so had to wait 5 minutes for a place but that was no problem.

There were a choice of paint colours set out in trays on the table, which seated around 8 children, for the children to use as well as little bottles of a slightly more "puffy" paint which they could add detail with.  When their shapes were decorated, we handed them over for drying and were advised to return the next day for collection.

We probably weren't there for more than half an hour so whilst it's not an extensive time filler, it was a fun activity to break up our morning for very little cost.  Its on for the rest of this week between 10-1 and 2-4 daily, and operates on a drop-in system so no need to pre-book.  

Just watch your little one's arms swinging by their sides as you make your way out through the shop in case they knock something off the shelf and break it...ahem...

Monday 17 February 2014

Easy Chocolate Brownies

I've always been put off making brownies as I thought they were a bit fiddly but this easy recipe only took me 10 minutes.  OK, so there is a long baking time (the kids were patrolling the kitchen so they could hear when the timer went off!) but they are worth the wait.

50g dark chocolate
25g butter
3 eggs
1 tbsp clear honey
225g soft light brown sugar
75g self-raising flour
100g walnut pieces
25g white chocolate

Turn the oven on to 160 / 225 / Gas Mark 3.  Grease a square tin - it needs to be quite deep.  I use the type that has a removable bottom you can slide out, as it makes it so much easier.

Put the dark chocolate and butter into a small heatproof bowl and place it over a saucepan of shallow simmering water to melt, stirring occasionally.  (Don't let the bowl actually touch the water or it will burn the chocolate mixture and taste awful.)  Remove the bowl from the pan and set aside to cool briefly.

In a bowl (or I used a deep measuring jug) beat the eggs, honey and brown sugar together, then gradually add in the melted chocolate mixture.  Stir in the flour a little at a time then add the walnut & white chocolate pieces and stir well.  Pour the mixture into your greased tin.

Bake for around 30 minutes then cover with foil and bake for a further 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a while.

Cut into squares and devour with a cup of tea.  

I was having people to lunch the day after making these and served them warm with vanilla ice-cream too!  

Doodles wasn't keen on the walnut pieces but you could easily leave these out or, as they tend to sink to the bottom, just cut the bottom part off to serve to a child who doesn't like nuts.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Sparkle Christmas Biscuits

I made these for the children's teachers last week, and they looked really pretty when all wrapped up - the sparkles made them feel very Christmassy!

90g butter (soft)
100g caster sugar
1 egg
200g plain flour
1/2tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
Edible rainbow dust (or any kind of sparkles)

Cream the butter & sugar until fluffy, then beat in the egg.  Mix the flour with the ginger, cinnamon, baking powder & salt then sift through a sieve to remove any lumps.  Add the flour mix and the egg to the butter & sugar mix and combine thoroughly.

Mould into a ball and place it in a bowl, covered with clingfilm, and pop it into the fridge for half an hour.

When you are ready to cut the biscuits, take a piece of the dough and roll onto a floured surface - don't roll it too thin or the biscuits will be crunchy.  Cut your desired shapes (I did trees and reindeers) and place them on a lined baking tray.  Bake at 180 for around 10 mins.

Allow them to cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with the edible glitter when they are cool and firm (it sticks regardless).  I stored mine in a tupperware overnight to keep the fresh and bagged them up the following morning to take into school.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Children are people...

On Friday night, Motorbike Man and I were rushing to pick up Spiderboy from school so we could watch his final ballet class of the term.  As I was getting him changed, he smiled a toothy grin at me in answer to a question about his day and I noticed a gap in his front teeth - one that definitely wasn't there when I dropped him off that morning!  I was aghast - how and when did this happen?!  He calmly told me that his tooth had come out that day at school...I was beside myself, holding him by the shoulders so he looked me right in the eye, to ask him what happened.  Again he repeated that he his tooth had come out.  I could tell by the twinkle in his eye, the one he usually gets when telling me a non-truth, that there was more to this.  

"It's in my bag mummy, wrapped up in tissue paper".  I made a grab for his bag and rifled through like a woman on a mission.  What was going through my head?  The simple question of "How on earth could I have missed a huge milestone like this one"?  Losing his first tooth...I still had the pattern I was going to sew for the Toothfairy Cushion I was going to make.  Of course I hadn't gottten around to it - it was far too early...he has 5 years old for goodness sake!  Arghhh...!!!

I dug inside his bag and found a piece of toilet paper which I carefully unwrapped.  Inside, I found the tiniest little tooth, root and all, nestled inside.  I wanted to burst into tears right there and then.  MM couldn't quite understand why I was acting so strange.  It was no doubt exacerbated by me going away on my first girly weekend away from my babies in just 45 minutes time - I was so unprepared for this!  Whilst MM finished getting Spiderboy changed, I rushed to find his teacher.   She told me that she had seen him fiddling with it and he had pulled it out...and there was a *lot* of blood!  She had rinsed his mouth (was there anything else she should have done?...bloody hell, these newly qualified teachers!)...and calmed him down, as he was apparently screaming in agony, with promises of the tooth fairy visiting that night.

All through his ballet performance, he poked and wriggled his tongue through the hole as I watched him, sometimes mouthing at me "it hurts mummy!"  With a swift chat about why he shouldn't pull teeth out if they weren't ready, I was dropped at the train station feeling like a failure while MM and the kiddos headed home for Movie Night.

To make up for my apparent abandonment, I called up on Monday morning for an appointment with the dentist.  I was concerned that his pulling out of the tooth (I was pretty sure it wasn't wobbly) had caused damage, and wanted to make sure everything was as it should be.  I got an appointment the next day.

Which leads us to today.  We headed to the dentist this afternoon, with Spiderboy fully aware that we were going to ensure his mouth was OK after he had lost a tooth and not in the slightest bit concerned.

After a brief wait, we were called in.  I quickly told both children to wait there while I spoke to the dentist.  A pleasant lady, I have dealt with before for both mine and the children's teeth, I expressed concern that he had pulled the tooth out before it was ready and that I not only wanted her to check everything was OK, but suggested she could perhaps talk to him about not pulling teeth out before they were ready.  I specifically asked if she had experienced this before (i.e. a child pulling their teeth out when not wobbly) and was met with a "well, lets take a look, shall we?"

I called the children into the room and Spiderboy hopped up into the chair.  He wasn't nervous in any way, and was quite happy to open his mouth wide while she looked into it.  The dentist recited information to her assistant, which let me know that the tooth next to the one that had come out was "also" wobbly.  She then asked her assistant to prepare a fluid and a sealant, not once talking to me and letting me know anything.  The dentist then briefly told me she was going to fill a tooth (one that she had been watching since last time we visited) and at that point, I came over to the chair and knelt down beside Spiderboy.  I held his hands and told him what was happening, as I try to do in every walk of life - especially when something is happening directly to him.

"You see the stick the lady has in your mouth?  That has a mirror on so she can see your teeth at the back.  There is a little hole in your tooth, and the dentist is going to put some cream in there to make it better for you" I said.  

Before I had even finished the sentence, she had already squeezed in the filling and Spiderboy clearly felt some discomfort, as he gripped my hands and cried out.  

"OK, mummy needs to stop talking now" she said.  Why?  Why did I need to stop telling my child what was happening to him?  

"Next time, I'm going to have to ask you to wait in the chair" (on the otherside of the room).  

"Sorry?"  I was confused.  Why was comforting my child viewed as a bad thing?  "If my child is in distress or discomfort, I will comfort him" I replied.  

"Trust me" I was told, "I've been doing this for many years.  Its better if you wait over there".

She then muttered something under her breath and Spiderboy was dismissed from the chair. 

I asked her what had happened and why, and she explained everything fully...at that point.  But I walked out there with a very uncomfortable feeling - not anger but a rather bewilderment.  Why was I not able to sit with and comfort my child?  Why was this viewed as a negative?  But also, why was a procedure carried out on my child without even a cursory glance in my direction?  What, because you are the professional you know best?

He is MY child, and I will make the decisions as to what is best for him.  Of course I would have agreed to the filling but the utter disregard for my feelings or even presence, astounded me.  

Have you ever experienced anything like this?