Saturday, February 12, 2011

Grape Jam

I am fortunate enough to have a grape vine growing well in my garden and love eating the fresh grapes each summer, this summer however has delivered a bounty of grapes...too many to eat and I hate seeing the wasps eating them. So I have discovered how to make Grape Jam from an old 1970's Woman's Weekly Cookbook. I have tweaked this recipe all summer and have found a happy medium between the Seventies and the Modern Day.

Grape Jam
1 kg of Grapes, either Red or Green.
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
1/2 a lemon or orange sliced thickly.

I have seeded grapes growing in my garden, so I have found it best to de-seed before cooking, this takes a little bit of time, but the alternative is fishing them out whilst cooking. No...not fun. So de-seed your grapes into a large pot, the larger the better as the jam froths up quite high. Add your sugar and citrus and stand for 20 minutes to macerate the fruit. This extracts all the liquid so you bypass the need to add water to the cooking process (as the 1970's version suggested) When the mix is nice a moist put is on the stove top to boil. Boil and stir for 20 minutes or until it has reduced somewhat. It will get thicker and more gelatinous as it cooks. Remove the Lemon or Orange. You need a little bit of citrus to help the jam set, the grapes are quite high in Pectin which helps the jam to set also. No need for special Jam Sugar or adding Pectin to this one.

The fine line with making jam is not that fine really. You see it thicken and put a teaspoonful on a plate, if it is not too runny then it is ready to bottle.

This recipe makes one jar and it is usually eaten rather quickly so I don't sterilise properly. I just have a clean jar and pour boiling water into it while I cook the jam. If you where planning on storing the jam then Google one of the billion sterilisation methods.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Give The Kids a Chance

I am a pretty relaxed parent. Preferring the kids to make their own small mistakes and learning from them. I do not hover around them watching their every move and dictating what they should and shouldn't do constantly. By no means do my kids run amok, but they have proper rules and boundaries for their lives. We teach them respect for other people and property, and we do not always get it right and our kids are not always following these rules and boundaries but that is what learning is about.

So with giving them this freedomt to play and learn I also give them freedom to explore things which are not usual kid domain. Like film and photography. Both kids have used a digital film camera and SLR camera. Both have used sharp knives to cut food and by eldest can plunge a coffee and make it just how I like it. Both know how to operate the washing machine and load and empty it. Having these skills I can see their confidence grow and their constant curiosity being fulfilled.

I allow my bigger kids to use my camera. I teach them how to be safe with it and give them an appropriate boundary for my 4 year old I have to remind her to stay near me in the front yard. Teaching them how to use the SLR camera gives them confidence and skills. They learn about light and focus. The learn composition and balance when they are taking a photo. They learn respect for anthers property and above all they take some pretty cool photographs. Below are some taken by my daughter who is 4.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Summertime Scrumping

A nice evening out at the park turned into an even better one, when we discovered this plum tree growing wild and heavy with perfect ripe red fruit. The kids were overjoyed at the sweet little plums hiding all over and under the trees.

Funny thing is there was a fast food drive through right next door. I think our food was faster and better hands down.

We filled our hats and bags and went home a little bit happy and a little bit chuffed at what we had found. I am still stoked that here in the middle of the 'burbs we find plums.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Adventures in Baby Led Solids (Weaning)

So Mini girl is growing fast and exploring this amazing world. The time has come to introduce some new flavours and textures into her diet. There is this new 'thing' called Baby Led Solids (or Weaning) depending on which part of the world you are from. Abbreviated to BLS or BLW by savvy mothers.

This idea is not a new one, I am sure you would hear many a storing about this from your aunties or nana or maybe even your mother. The idea has gather motion with the publication of Gil Rapely's Book "Baby Led Weaning" .

So basically, no puree or prepared 'special' foods for baby. Introducing them to your diet with appropriate guidelines...the usual no nuts/egg/choke-able things. After 6 months, not around or before. Research has shown that babies under 6 months generally dont have the skills to sit up, bring food to their mouth and swallow it. They are just not physically developed enough to do this. Sure there may be some exceptions, but try to give a chunk of apple to a 4 month old...they drop it. If they do get it to their mouth it soon falls out.

It follows 'food before one is just for fun' a great saying that helps parent to feel at ease with their kids not eating three meals a day at six months of age. A breakfast or bircher muesli and juice, lunch of cucumber finger sanwiches and a roast leg o lamb for dinner. Or is that Iron fortified rice cereal, pureed pumpkin and rice for luncheon and pureed spinach and chicken for dinner topped of with some chocolate mousse.

So here are some photo's of Mini girl with her first piece of food, a chunk of apple.

And a few weeks later with some pumpkin soup. She was a bit confused about what to do with the soup, until she finally squished it in her palm and then brought it to her mouth.
This photo needs a bubble..."where is the food gone mumma?"

We followed BLW with our Midi girl and she has a varied palate and tries most everything put before her. The Maxi boy had rice cereal from from 4 months and the assorted puree of pear/apple/pumpkin etc...only now at almost 6 is he starting to try and love various things.

So BLW means babies don't 'choke' on food, as they self feed and regulate how much they put in their mouths and can spit large chunks out if need be. They may 'gag' but this is their natural self protection against choking, it is a skill that needs to be learned. Purees don't add anything but calories to the babies diet. Solid food isn't about calories and breast milk is their main source of nutrition form 6 months to 12 months and then onto 2 years, as recommended by the WHO (World Health Organisation)

It is never to late to start BLW , even if you are using puree or mashed foods you can start BLW

Happy eating.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Op Shop Day 2010

I recently hosted an Op-Shop Day. So basically the idea is this, we swap our crap for more crap. Simple hey? Grab a group of your nearest and dearest and get them to bring a bag or 10 of their clothing, books, shoes and toys that they would otherwise take to the op shop. Let the rummage begin! After everyone has grabbed what they like, bag up the leftovers and send it to the op shop. Your mates win, the op shop wins and the environment wins. We all got new threads for ourselves, our partners and our kids.

We got to see friends from all over Perth and chat and sip chilled tea from Wildflower Botanicals. It was a great day had by all.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Inspired? Host your own...and show me your pictures.

Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta

Last weekend we were at the Hulbert Stret Sustainability Fiesta. A great community event held in Fremantle, WA. The whole street shuts down for the weekend to support and display all things eco, green and good for the earth.

Residents of the street sell their pre-loved goods and a few outside marketeers display too. Karri Tree Lane were there with their funky cloth nappies, baby carriers and sling, stainless steel drink bottles and ELK clothing.

There was Scarlet Eve with washable cloth pads and lunette cups. This is a great little business. Also a great way to decrease landfill but using cloth menstrual products.

As well as raw food (personally I like my food cooked, but hey whatever floats your boat) green smoothies. great organic coffee, curry, pizza and dead animal in bun.

There were drummers and singers and buskers galore! It made for a great vibe to the event.

Here are some happy snaps, taken with my phone, not my usual quality.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Sweet Treat

My children have asked me for lots of things, a pet snake, a swimming pool, a puppy. Today I granted them one wish. A just kidding. The number one thing on my list of things not to feed my children. Doughnuts. I can hear you tsk tsk-ing on your computer chairs. But wait hear me out. I cooked them in a small amount of oil and the recipe has a small amount of sugar and butter. Anyways here is the recipe

4 tsp dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk

3 Tbsp caster sugar

100g melted butter

4 1/4 cups plain flour

3 eggs

oil for cooking

caster sugar and cinnamon for dusting

Yeast, water, milk and 1 Tbsp sugar in a bowl, mix and set aside until frothy. (10 minutes or so)

Add butter, flour, eggs and remaining sugar to the mix and gently mix with a butter knife. Mix until a sticky dough forms. Add a little more flour if it is a bit too sticky. You want it coming away from the bowl and but still soft. Cover bowl and leave to rise for 1 hour (or doubled in size)

Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Roll out dough to 1cm thick. Use some sort of round cutter, I used a cup. If you have the correct tools for this go for it. I do not. The original recipe says to let them rise again, I didnt. This was not for any reason other than I misread the recipe and had three children hanging off me. So the point is, you don't need to let them rest again. After cutting out I poked a hole through the middle with my finger and stretched it out

In a high sided pot heat about 5mm of oil, this can be vegetable oil, sunflower out, peanut oil whatever you have that has a high smoking point. Not Olive Oil. Wait until oil is very hot and gently place the doughnuts in the oil.

Have some tongs handy and when dark brown turn. Place on paper towl when both sides are done. Then toss in cinnamon sugar.

Let me know how yours go...