Raising money for The Christie – Lock Up Your Boss!!!

Rob the convictWhen my husband Rob (aka @robmoores1969http://robmoores1.wordpress.com) said he was raising money for The Christie Charity, I was happy to hear this – when he told me he was participating in ‘Lock Up Your Boss‘ and that he’d be locked in a prison cell until he’s raised £1,500 as part of a campaign to raise £150,000 for a HEPA-filtered bedroom in the new Young Oncology Unit, with Barry Thompson, President of The Insurance Institute of Manchester, also with the help of the Greater Manchester Police Museum – I was dumbfounded and yes, so very, very proud! #ProudWifeMoment

Today (5th March 2014), Rob and 18 leading North West Directors and Executives have agreed to be locked up in one of the museum cells, and only released once they’ve managed to raise £1,500 for The Christie!

The Christie is the largest cancer centre in Europe, treating more than 40,000 patients a year. They are also the first UK centre to be officially accredited as a comprehensive cancer centre.

Charity Registration No. 1049751

The Christie Charity raises funds to help provide additional services and undertake vital research for our cancer patients. As one of Europe’s leading cancer centres, treating more than 40,000 patients a year every penny really does count.

Rob in cuffsHe was tried in a mock court this morning for crimes of karaoke and poor facial hair and then donned a convicts overall, was handcuffed and escorted to a cell (of 5 sharing). He was allowed to take him mobile phone so that he could email, text, tweet, post on Facebook and call friends, family, colleagues and anyone he could think of to raise the £1,500 needed. It has so far been a productive and worthwhile success. But more money is needed and so more efforts have been made…. I have shared and posted, begged and convinced more people to donate and friends have shared as have @TheChristie to help raise as much as possible.

Donations have so far included work colleagues (who nominated him for the challenge), brokers and other insurance colleagues, family, friends and our 7 yo Daughter, who has given the £20 she had saved from selling her toys on Facebook to buy a Furby. This puts it into perspective – a child donating to a Young Persons Cancer Unit #ProudMummyMoment.

Please, please consider donating to the charity and for this much needed Young Persons Unit.

You can donate at www.justgiving.com/jr-moores

Rob’s Story

 rob photographer imageOver the year the IIM will aim to raise £150,000 in aid of The Christie building a new high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) room, as part of the Young Oncology Unit, where teenagers and young adults under cancer treatment can stay in a safe environment and an extra bed is provided for a family member to stay with them.

I am contributing to this by being locked up at Manchester Police Museum and will not be released until I have reached my fundraising target!

Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page www.justgiving.com/jr-moores

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

Thank you for reading – please favourite, comment and share!

**Post update – Kate has now raised an additional £27 selling her toys/books and unexpectedly won the heart of Mr Thompson (she is now the proud and grateful owner of one such Furby) and is still dedicated to raising as much as she can selling her toys.

Happy girl with her new Furby

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Fruit Loaf (made in the bread maker)

The smell of bread baking in the kitchen is so memorable, you want to repeat this every day. The smell of fruit loaf baking in your kitchen is like Easter, Christmas and visits to Grannie’s house all rolled into one. Using your bread maker, makes it all the more easy.

So, following on from my last post about baking your own bread and the benefits (not to mention the scary ingredients in shop-bought bread). Here’s a recipe for an easy peasy, tasty fruit loaf.

Fruit LoafFruit Loaf

Ingredients

Loaf

  • 270 ml water
  • 6 teaspoons butter or 6 teaspoons oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 450 g white bread flour (3 cups)
  • 6 teaspoons powdered milk
  • 3 teaspoons ground mixed spice
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit (or currants, sultanas if you choose)

Gelatine Glaze

  • 3 tablespoons water (optional)
  • 6 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 3 teaspoons gelatin (optional)

Directions:

  1. Put water (and oil if using) into the pan first.
  2. Put the flour in gently, making sure it covers the liquid and no liquid is exposed.
  3. Put sugar, salt, spice into 3 corners of the pan (put butter in 4th corner if using).
  4. Put the bread maker on either a medium loaf or 2lb+ size setting, medium crust and press start.
  5. If you have a nuts dispenser place the fruit in there (otherwise add the fruit when the 2nd knead has 8 minutes to go). My bread maker beeps to tell me this.
  6. If using the glaze, combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over a heat until the sugar and gelatine has dissolved.
  7. Use the pause function if you have one, at fifteen minutes into the baking cycle, brush glaze over loaf.
  8. Set the machine to settings for a medium loaf (2lb+) and press start.
  9. When finished remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly, before slicing.
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Making your own Bread …. includes recipe (and the benefits of ‘not buying’ shop bought bread)

What are the benefits of making your own bread?

What are the benefits of making your own bread?

Why make your own bread? Why would I not want to buy bread from the supermarket?

There is a recipe for Crusty White Bread and links for other bread recipes at the end of this post, but to answer the question …..

I love baking, but ‘used to think’ that bread was easy to buy and that given I usually want the bread (right now), which is typical of busy family life and hungry childrenWhy would I want to bake it? … However, I’ve recently been inspired to make and bake my own bread on account of the natural ingredients (and not the preservatives, raising agents and additives that shop-bought bread contains – see below) and the fact it has now become ‘much’ cheaper to make your own bread.

As for the time, I’ve opted to make it in one of two bread makers that have lay dormant in my kitchen cupboards for too long and if I make it in the evening, I can take it out before bedtime (giving it time to firm up a little for cutting to make fresh sandwiches for the children’s lunch boxes) or set the timer for it to finish as we are getting up in the morning. Bread usually takes just 3 hours and 40 minutes (from pressing start to taking it out of the pan) so whichever suits you best.

Waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread

Waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread

I have to say that waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread is inspirational enough for me to continue to bake my bread in this way. But, the difference in the texture, the taste and the knowledge that I know all of the simple ingredients that go into my loaf, well that’s a step further to a healthier lifestyle and good parenting.

Take a look at the ingredients label of your handy loaf, that is increasingly costing more to buy and wonder why you are paying them to mass produce this bag of food additives ….

Flour Treatment:

L-ascorbic acid (E300). Can be added to flour by the miller or at the baking stage. Acts as an oxidant, which helps retain gas in the dough, making the loaf rise more.
No nutritional benefits to the consumer (because degraded by the heat of baking.) Increased loaf volume may give the false impression of value.

Reducing Agent:

L-cysteine hydrochloride (E920). Cysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid. Use in backing to create more stretchy dough, especially hamburger buns and baguettes.
No intended nutritional benefit, though also sold as a supplement. May be derived from animal hair and feathersSo vegans and vegetarians – watch out

High Fructose Corn Syrup:

HFCS is an artificial sweetener derived from corn that has undergone an enzymatic process to convert glucose into fructose. Bakery items use HFCS 42 – meaning 42% fructose and 58% glucose.
All HFCS is derived from genetically modified (GM) corn. It is labeled “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA, yet has health and environmental concerns and some HFCS contains mercury, a neurotoxin

Bleaching Agent:

Chlorine dioxide gas to make flour white, used by millers for decades until banned in the UK in 1999. In other countries, eg theUS, flour may still be bleached.
No nutritional benefits to the consumer. Chlorine is a potent biocide and greenhouse gas.

Enzymes:

Came to the rescue of industrial breadmakers when additives like azodicarbonamide and potassium bromate were banned. Bread enzymes fall into various categories and have varied functions in breadmaking;
Amylase
Maltogenic amylase
Oxidase
Protease
Peptidase
Lipase
Phospholipase
Hemicellulase
Xylanase
Transglutaminase
Note: In general, these are use to increase elasticity, delay staling, increase loaf volume, give better crust color, and keep bread soft.
 
 
 
 
No nutritional benefit to consumer.
No requirements to be included on ingredient declarations, because they are currently treated as “processing aids.” Even if the EU law in amended, the single word “enzymes” will be all that is require on label, leaving consumers in the dark about the origin the particular enzymes used.
Often produced by genetic engineering, though this is unlikely to be stated on consumer product labels.
Use of phospholipase derived from pig pancreas would be unacceptable to vegetarians and some religious groups, but there is no requirement to declare enzymes, let alone their source.
Some enzymes are potential allergens, notably Alpha-amylase. Bakery workers can become sensitized to enzymes from bread improvers.
Amylase can retain some of its potency as an allergen in the crust of loaves after baking.
Transglutaminase may act upon gliadin proteins in the dough to generate the epitope associated with celiac disease.

Emulsifiers:

Widely used in bread “improvers” to control the size of gas bubbles, to enable to dough to hold more gas, and there grow bigger, to make the crumb softer, and to reduce the rate of staling. They include:
E471: Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
E472e: Mono- and diacetyltartaric acid of esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
E481: Sodium strearoyl-2-lactylate (SSL)
E422: Glycerol mono-stearate (GMS)
E322” Lecithins – naturally occurring, mainly derived from soy
No nutritional benefit to consumer.
Soy lecithin may be derived from GM soy.
Increased loaf volumes gives misleading impression of value and post-baking softness may be confused with “freshness.”

Preservatives:

Calcium propionate (E282) is widely used. Vinegar (E260 acetic acid) is also used, though less effective. Preservatives are only necessary for prolonged shelf life. Home freezing is a chemical-free alternative.
No nutritional benefit to consumer. Calcium propionate can cause “off” flavors if over-used and may be a carcinogen.

Some ingredients are necessary to make bread …. but they are still not the same ingredients that are are added if you were to make the bread yourself.  For instance …

Flour:

Main ingredient: source of carbohydrates, protein, fat, minerals, vitamins and other micronutrients.
Many nutrients are depleted in refined (white) flours. Use unrefined white flour or wholewheat flours.

Water:

Necessary to make flour into dough.

Salt:

Adds flavour; strengthens the gluten network in the dough; aids in keeping the quality of the bread (as a water attractant and a partial mold inhibitor.)
Under pressure from food agencies, the bread industry is gradually reducing levels of salt in bread. You do need some salt to make bread – it’s only a teaspoon and is better than using the additives they are adding commercially instead.

Yeast:

Aerates bread, makes it light in texture, and may contribute to flavor.
Excessive use may lead to digestive problems (such as irritable bowl syndrome)

Fat:

Hard fats improve load volume, crumb softness, and keeping quality. Hydrogenated fats have been commonly used, though plant bakers are phasing them out.
Not essential in traditional breadmaking, though often used. Hard to do without some fat in industrial bread. Hydrogenated fats soften in baking, but re-harden in the arteries.
Using softened butter is not the same as using hydrogenated fats. It’s a natural product.

So lets look at the ingredients used when you bake your own bread ………

White Crusty Loaf

White Crusty Loaf

White Crusty Loaf

This is a recipe for a white, crusty loaf (the easiest and most simple loaf to make) … I also have a recipe for a milk loaf that does not require eggs, a wholemeal loaf and fruit loaf. I will be adding to the list of freshly baked breads as and when I get the hang of making them and can share them with you.

Ingredients:

  • Hand hot water (enough to make up to 300ml)
  • 1 egg
  • 500g white bread flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25g softened (or chopped) butter
  • 1 tsp dried yeast

Method:

  1. Add one egg to a measuring jug and lightly whisk
  2. Top up to 300ml with hand hot water
  3. Put the liquid into your bread pan
  4. Gently add flour over the liquid in the bread pan (taking care not to let the liquid rise above the flour).
  5. Put the salt, sugar and butter into 3 corners of the bread pan.
  6. Make a small indentation in the flour (taking care not to expose any liquid) and add the yeast to this.
  7. Set the bread maker to medium loaf (or 2lb+ setting), medium crust … often setting 1 on your bread maker. Press start!

Remove from the bread pan from the bread maker soon after it has finished and after a few minutes, transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool (take care to use a dry tea towel or oven mitts, as the bread pan may still be hot).

*Note: The bread is usually best left to stand to cool before cutting as it may not be firm enough if too hot.

Enjoy!

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The Humble Chick Pea – Recipes and Why its Good for You

Tinned chick peasDried chick peasThe humble chick pea. High in protein, low in fat, low in salt, good at reducing cholesterol, high in fibre, full of vitamins (A, C, D, B12, B6), minerals (magnesium, calcium, iron), extremely versatile, vegetarian and tasty!

You’d think we’d find a way to add it to our meals every day – in some countries they do. Because on top of all these wonderful qualities, the humble chick pea is not expensive to buy and so pound for pound, it’s better for your pocket (as well as your diet) than most other foods.

If you shop carefully, you can reduce this cost further still: it is usually less to buy in tins on the World Food isles of supermarkets or you can soak them in a bowl of water for 12 hrs (overnight) to double their weight (they cost even less in dry weight).

If you are wanting to eat less meat but not loose out on protein, if you are thinking of low fat, high fibre, lower cholesterol or a more balanced diet, then adding chick peas to your daily diet is a very good start.

The chick pea is very versatile. You can cook it or use it in many different ways. Here there are recipes that use dried and tinned chick peas. You can use either, as long as you soak and rinse/rinse as required.

Use them as a base to a salad:

Chick pea, goats cheese and rocket salad Chick Pea, Goats Cheese and Rocket Salad

Ingredients

  • 200g dried chickpeas
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 2 ripe plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Small handful fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped
  • 50g bag wild rocket
  • 150g mild, creamy goat’s cheese, crumbled

Method

  1. Put the chickpeas in a bowl of cold water and leave to soak overnight.
  2. Drain the chickpeas, place in a pan and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil and simmer rapidly, partially covered, for 1 hour or until very tender. Drain well and place in a large bowl. While warm, pour over the oil and lemon juice and season. Cool.
  3. Toss the tomatoes, parsley and rocket with the chickpeas. Divide among plates and crumble over the goat’s cheese to serve

As a meat replacement:

falafelFalafel

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3-5 cloves garlic (I prefer roasted)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • Vegetable oil for frying (grapeseed, canola, and peanut oil work well)

You will also need

  • Food processor
  • Skillet

Method

  1. Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them by about 3 inches of cold water. Let them soak overnight. They will double in size as they soak – you will have between 4 and 5 cups of beans after soaking.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas well. Pour them into your food processor along with the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cardamom.
  3. Pulse all ingredients together until a rough, coarse meal forms. Scrape the sides of the processor periodically and push the mixture down the sides. Process till the mixture is somewhere between the texture of couscous and a paste. You want the mixture to hold together, and a more paste-like consistency will help with that… but don’t overprocess, you don’t want it turning into hummus!
  4. Once the mixture reaches the desired consistency, pour it out into a bowl and use a fork to stir; this will make the texture more even throughout. Remove any large chickpea chunks that the processor missed.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  6. Fill a skillet with vegetable oil to a depth of 1 ½ inches. I prefer to use cooking oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat. Meanwhile, form falafel mixture into round balls or slider-shaped patties using wet hands or a falafel scoop. I usually use about 2 tbsp of mixture per falafel. You can make them smaller or larger depending on your personal preference. The balls will stick together loosely at first, but will bind nicely once they begin to fry. *Problems falling apart!  If you can get them into the hot oil, they will bind together and stick. If they still won’t hold together, you can try adding 2-3 tbsp of flour to the mixture. If they still won’t hold, add 1-2 eggs to the mix.
  7. Before frying the first batch of falafel, test-fry one in the center of the pan. If the oil is at the right temperature, it will take 2-3 minutes per side to brown (5-6 minutes total). If it browns faster than that, your oil is too hot and your falafels will not be fully cooked in the center. Cool the oil down slightly and try again. When the oil is at the right temperature, fry the falafels in batches of 5-6 at a time till golden brown on both sides.
  8. Once the falafels are fried, remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon. Let them drain on paper towels. Serve the falafels fresh and hot; they go best with a plate of hummus and topped with creamy tahini sauce. You can also stuff them into a pita.

On the Hob:

Chick pea curryChick Pea Curry

Ingredients

Serves: 4

  • 2 (400g) tins chickpeas
  • oil for frying
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger paste (or 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger)
  • 1 clove of garlic (peeled and chopped finely)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 blocks frozen chopped spinach

Method

  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas then soak in water for 10 minutes, then drain and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Fry the onion in a bit of oil until golden. Then add the garlic and the ginger paste along with chilli powder, salt, turmeric and garam masala. Stir until all spices are absorbed.
  3. Add the tomatoes and frozen spinach and stir. Add the chickpeas and stir lightly. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes. If the sauce looks a little too thick add water.
  4. Serve with either rice, bread and bhaji or samosa.

As a side dish, dip or a spread:

houmousHoumous

Ingredients

  • 150g (dried) chickpeas
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 120-140ml olive oil

Method

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in a bowl of water. Drain, then boil in a pan of fresh water for 45 minutes-1 hour until very tender. Drain and cool.
  2. Place in a food processor with the lemon zest and juice, 3 tbsp tahini and 2 large garlic cloves. Whizz while gradually adding 120-140ml olive oil.
  3. Season well with sea salt and serve with toast.

You can add flavourings such as coriander (1tsp); spring onions (4 chopped) or red pepper (half a roasted pepper, sieved) to houmous. Experiment with your own.

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Make it, Gift it, Bake it! – Home Made Shortbread Cookie Recipe in Reusable Jars

Make it, Gift it, Bake it! – Home Made Shortbread Cookie Recipe in Reusable Jars  - with either White Chocolate & Madagascan Vanilla or Milk Chocolate & Valencia Orange

Gift it, Make it, Bake it! - Home Made Shortbread Cookie Jar Gifts (with either white chocolate and Madagascan vanilla or milk chocolate and Valencia orange extract)

Everyone likes to dip into the cookie jar every now and then (cup or tea or not). As someone who likes to make gifts for friends and family (they’re so much more personal), this easy to make idea is something I will give a huge HonieLikes to …. Home Made Cookie Recipes in re-useable jars as Gifts (what’s not to like).

I remember thinking up this idea and then a long time later seeing that it was obviously such a good idea, someone else had done the same, lol. They had listed themselves as an ‘Artisan Baker’ for the idea – I just think of myself as savvy, crafty and love to make and bake.

The idea was rejuvenated when a friend asked me to help her raise some money for MacMillan Nurses and I immediately thought of these as a good way to raise money, give out a good idea and share a great recipe of mine (genius, applause can be heard for miles).  I made just 10, sold them within the hour and given that I had freshly baked cookies for tasters, – 10 happy faces and lots of enquiries. I knew that this was something I’d be very happy to do again.

I used 2 recipes: Madagascan vanilla & white chocolate cookies and Valencia orange & milk chocolate cookies. Both recipes are firm favourites in our house and they are so easy to bake – my kids can make them!

They look great, they taste heavenly (you can use your own recipe if you really want to), they make fantastic gifts, they are gratefully received (trust me), they are easy to make, easy to bake, cost very little, a bit fiddly (I have to be honest) but when you have made a few, it’s a knack you don’t forget.

Here’s the math – the jars are reusable and cost approx. £1.20 in discount stores; the ingredients cost approx. £1.00 (if you use low cost flour, sugar, chocolate). But I do use Valencia orange extract and Madagascan vanilla extract (which are store cupboard ingredients for me). I have seen these on sale for as much as £7.99, but we sold them for £4.99 to ensure that costs were covered, supporters were happy and the charity raised money. It’s entirely up to you, but you must cover costs.

I have the recipe for these and cookies with other toppings on my blog, but for the jars, I had to modify the ingredients to bake well and look good as gifts or even to sell. Personally, I think that small broken pieces of chocolate look a lot better than perfect looking chocolate chips and show that you have made an effort to make this recipe yourself. The picture above is with ready bought chips – I’ve since made and given them out with roughly chopped chips and the difference is worth the effort.

You will need (for each Cookie Jar):

  • 1 sealable jar (like Kilner) approx. 500g in size
  • 225g / 9oz plain flour
  • 75g / 3oz soft brown Muscovado sugar
  • 100g / 4oz chocolate broken into pieces (white for the Madagascan vanilla recipe / milk for the Valencia orange recipe
  • 1 greaseproof paper disc (hand cut or available in shops)

Method of Preparing the Cookie Jars:

  1. Clean the jars with hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly.
  2. Carefully spoon in half of the flour mix with a spoon and tamp down with the back of the spoon to compress.
  3. Turning the jar, hold the spoon outwardly in the jar and press down to form a clean line on top of the flour where it meets the jar.
  4. Carefully spoon half of the Muscovado sugar into the jar, but allow the sugar to come up the side of the jar, forming a bowl shape with a rim (this will contain the bulk of the next batch of flour and allow for the layers to look even). Repeat the tamping and forming a clean line process. The rim will be pressed down also.
  5. Carefully spoon the remainder of the flour on top of the sugar, repeat the tamping and clean line process. The flour should be as level as possible on top.
  6. Put one teaspoon of the chosen extract into the centre of the mixture (it ail absorb into the flour).
  7. Carefully spoon the remainder of the Muscovado sugar, level, tamp down and form a clean line to the inside of the jar.
  8. Place the greaseproof paper ring on top of the layered mixture.
  9. Spoon the chocolate pieces into the jar.
  10. Seal and decorate the jar with the ingredients and method displayed.

Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies - Ingredients in JarIt is important to list the ingredients (in case of allergies) if selling the jars and it is important to list the baking method (especially as there is one more Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe - Methodingredient to add) and so that the recipient can actually make the cookies.  Remember to list which flavouring and chocolate you are using. The tags either side were printed on one card (details back to back) and a further folded card had the name of the cookies on the front and my details and the name of the charity supporting on the back – or just a message from you. Place the card with the ingredients/method in the centre of the folded card and using a hole punch, make a hole. Thread ribbon through to tie together and attach to the jar.

Method of Baking (to be included as instructions to the recipient):

Makes approximately 36 cookies

Set aside the chocolate chips. Put all other ingredients in bowl, adding 150g/6oz softened butter. Rub mixture between thumbs to form breadcrumbs. Add the chocolate chips & mix well. Squeeze mixture together to make a ball of dough. Roll into 36 ping pong balls. Place on a lined baking sheet leaving room to spread. Press with a fork. Bake at 170C/ Gas 3 for 15-20 mins. Leave to cool – Enjoy!

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For my Teenage Daughter and her Friends

FOR MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER AND HER FRIENDS:

I haven’t blogged in a while …. I’ve found it hard, have had priorities and personal stuff to deal with….. as a parent, my personal stuff often takes a back seat…. as a parent it’s hard to prioritise! I have 3 children: they are all very different, each with different needs.  My eldest Daughter is having ‘issues’ of her own and whilst I’m being a parent (and OMG as these are the teen years – yes, they ‘are’ challenging), I wanted her to know that I am aware, I am listening, I might sound off a lot, but yes – I do understand and more importantly – as corny as it sounds I still want to say to her  “You Are my World”.

teenage pressures Teenagers of today do have the same issues and problems we had. But you might have noticed that they stop indoors more (yes, well the technology is better – unbelievably better. We would have stopped in if it was this good!). You might have noticed they write less – text more, talk less – snap chat more. Facebook is at times your worst enemy (try holding a conversation with your teen while it’s switched on). But, then is it not ‘their’ worst enemy (try doing your homework when the DM’s keep flashing up when you’re are online researching or on the school website for homework)? Because social pressure has increased, it stands to reason that social acceptability is also increasing – I’m not sure I’d be coping with it either. But not to have access to social media comes with problems of it’s own – like not being socially acceptable in an ever growing world of technology.

Like for looks – Like for a paragraph – NGL – You look gorge’ babe (No, that’s you, but thanks), What? DM me now – You’re invited to…..

caution peer pressureMy advice – get with it, get on it and set ‘your’ terms sooner rather than later. If you say no, they’ll find a way. If you don’t look, there are things you will need to know. Keep your own account separate, resist tagging them and keep an eye on the game. Know their password, give them some freedom, ignore the bits you don’t want to see, accept there will be bits you really don’t want to see …. but be glad that when you are comparing the “What’s the worst that could happen Mum” of your day to that of today …. you ‘DO’ know what could happen! They will, as you did, keep things from you. But, their friends will, as your friends did, talk to you (or make the odd comment or ‘like’ to what you say). The undesirables though are much easier to see and recognise – to your Daughter, they are comments of approval or complements – to your husband, they are entrapment from walking hard ons! (his words, not mine).

pressures for teensMy Daughter, like many other teenagers, is having a hard time in this ever changing, quickly developing world (where even in school they change the goalposts to utterly confuse them and yet expect results and commitment). I’ve forgotten when my Daughter last came home from school on time as opposed to doing catch up or additional ‘needed’ work for the options she has chosen ….. assessment after assessment and yet supposedly very little of this will count toward their final marks (as they are yet again changing the way these budding, young adults are accepted into the world of higher education). Most subject are now graded by final exams (despite 10 previous years of pre-GCSE systems and preparing for how to write assignments and coursework).  My youngest (almost 7 yrs) has needed to learn joined up writing (whilst still larding the phonics, meaning and spelling of these words) since being 4 years old – to keep up!. What the? I was jaw droppingly shocked to hear “But she is not mastering the need to do ‘all’ of the letters the right height” in her Y1 (that’s 5 going on 6 year old) parents evening. My response “She’s very creative. Can you see how beautiful the letters are? Just like her pictures!”

school pressureThe school are, even if they don’t mean it to be the case – totally useless at the barrier breaking between parents and their teens. They are also totally useless at making any effort to build bridges of communication between parents, teachers and their students (your children). They have much to learn in that whilst they are having to keep up with changes and try and keep to old traditions – they are changing them too fast for the children to know what it is they really do want – or what it is they are supposed to do. Then they want you to insist the targets are met, support your children – but refuse to tell you when they are not. “Your child is a very good and capable student” will be the scripted response … but when your child has done 2 lunch time detentions this week (that you only found out when you prised their school planner from them), you start to thinking – why aren’t you telling me this?

My Teen has learned a new freedom … it came with having a few pounds in her pocket from doing a paper round (I talked her into this around the Summer time). She learned it was OK to occasionally get the bus and promise to be home on time. She has met new people, enjoyed new space. She desperately wants to be accepted – but this comes with a price of learning new responsibility … there has to be some rules. They are not always met! I’ve found that as well as having your Teens friends numbers in your phone, it pays to have their parents numbers too. I have a few rules, that no matter how many times the pleading kicks in, I draw her back to them …

1) I need to know where you are

2) I need to know who you are with

3) Is there any alcohol? (she’s 14)

4) Are there adults/parents present

5) Do your friends parents know about this

She knows if she is on the bus I say she can come home on (9.30 at weekends) I’m happy to trust she will make good judgements – all of the above must apply!

If it is something running later or further away. I insist I pick up from where I dropped her off – all of the above still apply!

On occasion, social media has ratted her out …. I remind her of the rules and sometimes she doesn’t get to go.

So as I complain about lack of communication, I am not surprised my Daughter cries herself to sleep.

I’m backing off – but keeping tabs and

My response on my Facebook timeline was this (I did not tag her, mention her by name and it was not on her timeline) ……

You ARE beautiful – you don’t need a ‘like for looks’ to hear this
You ARE bright – even if some of your decisions are a bit misguided
You DO have my back – even when you do your best to cover up
You WILL make mistakes – just be sure to be with those you trust when you do

Yes, I have made mistakes, I have felt the way you do, I have lied to my parents and thought I knew best, I did think enough of myself to do the things I thought best for me……

I had some pretty bad friends and some that weren’t looking out for me.

But, I was very lucky to have good friends who were there to share these experiences with me and yes, they did watch my back…..

More importantly, there came a time when I realised that my parents, no matter how annoying, were right to nag me, right to keep on at me, to tell me the answers to my flippant “What the worst that could happen” and only now do I realise how unbelievably terrifying it is to ‘allow’ your Daughter to make mistakes and pray that she will have the same insight I did and the good friends I had to get me through my teenage years of thinking ‘I knew best’.

YOUR MUM IS NOT PERFECT – She has had years to experience, years to make mistakes, years to get over them, years to put things behind her, years to make the best of what she has, years to make things the best she can.

She also had her parents there to watch her do all of this and I’m grateful they were there.

YOU ARE YOUR OWN PERSON – BUT YOU ARE ALSO MY DAUGHTER – I’LL ALWAYS BE YOUR MUM – AND I’LL ALWAYS LOVE AND SUPPORT YOU xXx

P.S. You also have two other parents that watch your back and fight your corner more than you realise…… Do your best. Have fun. Make good friends. Try new things……. but do what feels right, not what you think others will like you for. You are beautiful, amazing, intelligent, creative and much more capable than you give yourself credit for. We are here for you – ALWAYS!

*Amongst the responses (quite a few from my Mum’s of Teens friends), the one that had the most impact – ‘I literally burst into tears’ was the response of my 14 year old Daughter – “Love you mum :’) xxx”

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White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Cups

White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Cups

20131030-081243.jpgOne of the best things about Halloween, is the food you can create. Pumpkins make great decorations and are great festive fun, but you can use the flesh scooped out before carving to make some really tasty treats. White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Cups are an easy recipe that you can prepare in stages and they can keep in an airtight container for a few days.

See here for lots of other pumpkin treats, festive ideas  and how to make your own ready to use Pumpkin Pie filling.

  • 12 oz good quality white chocolate (or chocolate chips)
  • 1 oz butter
  • 1/4 cup low fat cream cheese (like Philadelphia)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (or make your own here)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch cloves
  • pinch allspice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup finely crushed graham/cream cracker crumbs
  • Seasonal sprinkles or edible decorations

Place 10 mini (2 inch) aluminium/foil cup cases on a tray.

Melt white chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler (or a glass bowl over a pan) over medium heat (simmering) on the stove, stirring constantly until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Using a small spoon place about 3/4 of a teaspoon of the melted chocolate into the cup cases, tilt the cups to swirl the chocolate to cover as much as possible. If necessary, use a paint brush to paint up the sides of the cases/tin with extra chocolate. The chocolate should be thick enough that you can not see through it. You should have left over chocolate when all the cups are done.

Place the cup cake tray in the freezer for about 15 minutes, or until completely hardened.

In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, spices and the vanilla, whisk or beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until combined. Stir in the graham/cream cracker crumbs.

Remove the chocolate cups from freezer and peel the papers/foil off of the hardened shells (or if using the Brownie Tin allow to warm slightly and tease out) – This step may be completed days before filling!

Using a small spoon, gently divide the pumpkin mixture among the chocolate cups filling to just below the ridge. Smooth the tops to create an even surface.

You can decorate with seasonal sprinkles

You can decorate with seasonal sprinkles

Re-heat the remaining melted white chocolate if necessary. Spoon a small amount of melted chocolate over the smoothed filling surfaces, making sure the chocolate reaches all the way to the edges to seal the cups. Sprinkle with decorative seasonal sprinkles or edible decorations.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Chill, to harden the tops. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.

Discovered  & adapted from:  Healthy Food for a Living
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Apple and Coconut Muffins (with coconut iced topping)

Adding fruit to muffins and cakes like these Apple Cup Cakes / Muffins with Coconut Icing / FrostingApple and Coconut Muffins is not only a healthy option (making up for 1 of your five a day) but it also makes them lovely and moist. In addition, coconut is a great way to make cakes sweeter, without having to add more sugar. Coconut as a topping has lovely texture (crisp and sweet). So, they’re healthy, tasty and have lots of appeal. I can’t think of a reason not to bake some – off we go!

This is another easy recipe and you can be assured that this is one for ‘Kids in the Kitchen’. They can help with measuring, egg cracking, mixing, scooping and decorating the tops of the cakes. When they’ve cooled you are sure to get a few taste testers too.

Ingredients:

Cakes

  • 2 apples
  • 100g / 4oz butter (softened)
  • 100g / 4oz caster sugar
  • 100g / 4oz self raising flour (sifted)
  • 50g / 2oz dessicated / shredded coconut
  • 2 eggs

Topping

  • 50g desicated / shredded coconut
  • 20ml apple juice
  • 100g icing sugar (sifted)

Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. I use Pampered Chef Individual Brownie Pan lined with muffin cases to make square cakes (you can still use round cases as they settle into the square holes).

Grate the apples (with skin still on) and discard the core (you might want to help your child with this or supervise).

Put the softened butter into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Cream together with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing each one in well.

Fold in the flour and the dessicated coconut.

Stir in the apples, then using a scoop, spoon the mixture evenly into the paper cases.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minues until the tops of the muffins are springy.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the muffin pan, before putting on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, for the topping – put the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add the apple juice until the mixtue resembles a thin paste.

Add the shredded coconut so that the mixture is thick but still soft. You can add more apple juice a drop at a time if needed.

When the cakes are cool. Add a teaspoon of the coconut icing mixture to each cake and spread to the outside of the paper case.

Allow to set and when ready to eat – enjoy!

For more tasty recipes, head over to HoniesKitchen (in the catgegory cloud or in the header). You can also search for cooking with kids for some easy and sometimes healthy recipies.

Posted in baking, cooking with kids, Foodies100, Honie's Kitchen, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greedy Gorilla from Orchard Toys (Review and Competition)

18-383-greedy-gorilla (Orchard Toys own image)How do you teach kids about healthy eating in a fun way? Orchard Toys  those masters of educational games for children, came up with Greedy Gorilla which is both an educational and fun game for children of 4 to 8 years (although I can verify that teenagers will find it a scream too).

 

 

This game (for up to 4 players) is designed to allow children to make choices about Greedy Gorilla Contents (Orchard Toys)what they like to eat and to help them recognise what makes up a balanced, healthy meal in different variations, broken down to 6 food and drink servings. There’s even a vegetarian option of a completely balanced meal. Whenever a ‘junk’ food option is selected, children will enjoy posting the card into the Greedy Gorilla’s mouth and a real burping noise is activated …. there follows the giggles and of course the children are prompted to say “excuse me.” So table manners are also an important part of this games teaching.

As always, your children will have fun assembling this game and all of the parts as setting up is all part of the learning process.

Contents:

  • 4 playing boards (place settings)
  • 24 healthy food cards
  • 8 junk food cards
  • 1 gorilla posting box (requires 3 x AAA batteries, included)
  • 1 instruction leaflet

It’s no secret that I love Orchard Toys because whilst having fun, your children are also learning valuable skills. It’s those skills that can develop further when your child goes to school and allows them to be better prepared. Each and every game has an educational guide to show you what essential early learning skills your child can learn. This is what Orchard Toys say about this game ……

Educational Guide:

Orchard Toys Fun Learning Games encourage children to communicate, share and play together. This product has been designed to:

  • Link with Early Learning Goals
  • Link to National Curriculum Science Key Stage 1

Greedy Gorilla Place Setting (Orchard Toys)I would add to this guide that this game teaches children personal, health and social education skills (PHSE) which is an essential part of early learning that is a requirement in pre-school/school establishments. What better way to reinforce this teaching than to make it fun at home as well as in school.

You can bet that my Daughter couldn’t wait to get this one out of the box.

Whenever we have family days, rainy days, even snow days (when my house usually has a few teenagers to add to the entertainment factor) she gets a game out to play and she is keen to show everyone how to play. Greedy Gorilla comes with such good instructions and once you’ve played it once, you have a sound understanding of what’s required.

All of Orchard Toys games are very colourful, made of tough, wipe-clean cardboard, have educational value, come with very easy to follow instructions, are themed to be interesting and familiar for children to recognise and enjoy and they are always so much fun to play with.

In addition, Orchard Toys have a fabulous website to help you choose the right toy and age range for your child and have excellent Customer Service to help you make the right choice, assist you in your order and if you should loose any parts, they offer a replacement service.

If you want to be in with a chance of winning this fabulous game then please leave a comment answering the question “What is your child’s  favourite food that you consider healthy”. Please leave a way for me to contact you (Twitter name/ Facebook name).

You can increase your chances of winning by completing other tasks (via Twitter,  Facebook or both) but this is your choice and there is no stipulation to do so.

This competition is open to all UK residents and will be randomly drawn on Sunday, 31st March.

If the rafflecopter is not visible, please click on the link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Greedy Gorilla Contents
Disclaimer:
I am not an employee of Orchard Toys but received this product to review as I have independantly reviewed for them before. Whilst some of the pictures and links are that of Orchard Toys, the opinions are that of my own. I only ever review products that are relevant to me and my family.
Posted in Activities for kids, competition, HonieLikes | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments

Double Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies (nut free alternative inc.)

The Pampered Chef name and hat logoDouble Choc Chip & Pecan CookiesThese Double Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies are perfect for Children’s Play Dates and for Catch Up’s with friends over a cup of coffee.

They are so easy and quick to make that your children can make them and when allowed to cool are crispy on the outside but nice and soft on the inside. If you prefer not to use nuts in the recipe, there is a fruit based alternative. Simply use all white chocolate (100g and replace the nuts with 100g of raisins or cranberries).

I have highlighted all of the products that are available from Pampered Chef UK, which are quality gadgets and bakeware that make cooking so much easier. Baking on Stoneware makes much nicer cookies (and pizza) allowing them to stay moist in the middle and no moisture building up underneath. You can of course use your own products and may choose to add these items as you wish – if you hold a Cooking Show or Party Hour with Pampered Chef, you could get these items Free of charge or choose some as Half-Priced items. I have all of these items to show you if you would like me to bake these cookies for you at your show :o)

Ingredients:

  • Measure your ingredients

    Measure your ingredients

    Sunflower oil, for greasing

  • 85 g butter, softened
  • 40 g light soft brown sugar
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 70 g white chocolate chips or chunks
  • 30 g white chocolate chips or chunks
  • 30 g pecan nuts (or hazelnuts) *Alternative for nut allergy below

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4.

Spray two Rectangle Stones / Medium Round Stones or baking trays with sunflower oil using Kitchen Spritzer or lightly oil using a Pastry Brush; set aside.

Beat the butter and the sugar

Beat the butter and the sugar

In Classic Batter Bowl, beat softened butter, brown sugar and caster sugar together until light and creamy using Bamboo Spoon or Spatula.

Add the egg (crack)

Add the egg (crack)

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.

Gently fold in the flour until well combined.

Fold in the white and dark chocolate chips and pecans (or hazelnuts).

*If there is a risk of nut allergy, the nuts can be replaced for fruit such as raisins or cranberries. I would use all white chocolate and increase the fruit to 100g if doing this.

Add scoops of cookie dough to your stones / trays

Add scoops of cookie dough to your stones / trays

Press the cookie dough with heel of hand

Press the cookie dough with heel of hand

Using Large Scoop (45ml / approx. 3 tbls), drop scant scoops of mixture slightly apart (cookies will spread a little during baking) onto prepared baking stones / trays (to make about 7 cookies on each baking stone). Flatten scoops slightly with the heel of your hand.

Bake 15–20 minutes or until light golden brown (swap position of baking stones / trays in oven after 12–15 minutes to ensure even baking, if desired). Do not overbake cookies (cold baked cookies will be crunchy on outside and chewy underneath).

Take the cookies out of the oven and cool

Take the cookies out of the oven and cool

Ready to eat with a cup of cocoa

Ready to eat with a cup of cocoa

Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes on baking stones / trays.

Using Mini-Serving Spatula, remove cookies to Stackable Cooling Rack and allow to cool.

Enjoy!

They taste a treat! Yum yum

They taste a treat! Yum yum

Posted in baking, cooking with kids, Foodies100, Honie's Kitchen | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments