Thursday, 30 April 2009

'Aurora' by Jane Kirkpatrick

My review for 'Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community, and Craft' by Jane Kirkpatrick has been posted at Relz Reviewz this morning. Click here to have a look.

It is a beautiful book which details the beginnings of the Aurora settlement, and life for those who chose to be a part of Dr Keil's community. Jane Kirkpatrick's talent seamlessly flows from fiction to non-fiction, with a perfect blend of interesting facts and the stories of those who lived this piece of history.

I'm in the midst of reading 'A Flickering Light' by Jane Kirkpatrick. In fact, I'm off to do that now. Rel will have a review for that in the coming week...and a give away :)

Again, Blogger is getting stuck with posting pictures today, so you'll just have to go over to Relz Reviewz to have a look.

Book Reviews

I suspect I have neglected to keep up with letting you know when I've had book reviews posted at Relz Reviewz. How on earth that happened I don't know!

In mid April I read 'The Secret' by Beverley Lewis. You will find my review here.

Last week Rel posted my review for 'A Gift of Grace' by Amy Clipston. Amy is a new author to Amish fiction and I was impressed with her debut effort. You'll find my review for her book here.

I was trying to post pictures of the covers, but Blogger is being difficult and I need to head out.

By the way, if you're interested in the reviews I've done for Rel, you'll find them all here.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

School Days

The school week is back into full swing now, including cooking! We made lemon butter this morning to sell at our school fete day in a few weeks. Mmmmmm....I'm going to have to get there early that day to buy a jar of all the preserves I want to have in my hot little hand. I took a G/F pancake to eat my lemon butter on. The kids, of course, thought that was too special and why did I have a pancake when they had to have toast. If only I could have the toast, LOL.

In a few short weeks the Year 3 & 4's will be going on camp. Today I had a moment for a quick chat with the boy I work with about that. When I mentioned that Mrs R had asked me to come along for the whole time he looked a lot happier about the whole idea. I'll spend some time each day I'm in the classroom talking with him about what we'll be doing and what he can expect. It would be sad if he decided not to come because he scared and uncertain. The kids experience so many things together and bond so differently on camp and I'd hate for him to miss that if there was some way to get him over some of those hurdles.

Meanwhile, I've had a report from Miss Sunshine's camp this morning and it seems all is well with them. Everyone is enjoying it and they're dog-tired and sleeping well. Poor Miss Sunshine doesn't cope well with too-little sleep. They'll soon figure this out when she starts behaving irrationally LOL. Then again, she might bottle it all up and save it for us!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Gluten Free Scones

I finally got around to trying out the idea of making scones with gluten free flour. My assessment of the final product? Ho-hum. I have eaten them fresh out of the oven and then reheated the next day in the microwave and I'm really not that impressed. They're not completely inedible, but they're not something you'd rave over and repeat as soon as practical either.

The flour package does say the final result will be better when egg is used....which has me pondering how the idea of a cake-like bread type of product would go ~ including eggs. A quick google search has found something like what I have in mind. More experimenting, no doubt, looms ahead!

* * * * * * * * * *

It seems all my reviewing of books has been a worthwhile skill-building exercise, for more than just the purpose of writing reviews. I offered to take a task off the hands of the Year 3 teacher this morning, in the form of preparing a letter to go home to her students. I twiddled about with know, trying to make something sound fun and interesting. So much fun that of course you'll be wanting to fill out the form and put your name down for a time slot! She was thrilled with the outcome, as was the Head of Primary. And all without access to a must-have thesaurus, LOL.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Monday's Tummy Plans

We're one kid down this week. Miss Sunshine is off on school camp for the week, to a beautiful area of the state. Hopefully she'll remain dry and warm enough despite the weather forecast! Life will certainly be quiet beyond our picket fence without her. She's 50% of the noise!

The quiet will be good though. After an absolutely refreshingly wonderful weekend at our Women's Retreat the quiet will be the perfect transition back into normality. We did our Retreat very differently this year and according to the girls who came, it was by far the best. We spent a lot of time talking and laughing and talking some more. We ate...and ate...and ate! Truly it is a joy to put in all the hard work to make it happen.

It was a little difficult to come home to face menu planning after a weekend simply being presented with beautiful meals that required no effort from me, so it's looking a little lack lustre this week!

Monday: Chicken curry, brown rice
Tuesday: Baked herb fish, vegies
Wednesday: Potato and corn chowder (a hold over from the weekend)
Thursday: Pasta with vegie sauce
Friday: Honey mustard chicken, vegies
Saturday: Nachos (Miss Sunshine's 13th birthday)
Sunday: Homemade Pizza (I'll use gluten free flat bread for mine)

I'm off now to have lunch with two friends from school....avoiding my study and other things, I think LOL.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Friday Catch Up

Lisa from The Tin House asked me some questions so I thought I'd post all the answers and goings on....if she's asked, surely others are wondering LOL.

Firstly about the Apricot Frittata. I used tinned apricots because that's what I had. Any tinned fruit you like would be fine as long as it's drained. You could also use fresh fruit, just cooked first. I would saute it gently in the pan I intended to use to make the frittata. Once the fruit is cooked continue with the recipe. If you don't want to use sugar, try honey, maple syrup, stevia...whatever your diet needs would have you use :)

Secondly Lisa asked about the diet change. My Naturopath suggested a wheat free diet. Not as strict as someone who has Coeliac would have to be, so I can still use soy sauce and flour my bench when kneading or rolling something out. But if I can possibly avoid it, I should. Surprisingly, I feel so much better. I don't have the indigestion, burping or the awful feeling that I am dragging myself around, rather than having enough energy to do what I need to.

I have yet to try the scones. Such a week this one has been, preparing for a Women's Retreat!!!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Apricot Frittata

One can only follow a post about music, which is food for the soul of a musician, with a post about food for the belly. It stands to reason, I think.

This morning, with all my honey yoghurt gone (Dh really enjoyed it apparently!) and a container still quite full of tinned apricots (we had opened a 3kg tin!) I had a momentary flash of brilliant inspiration. Apricot Frittata! I struggle with eggs first thing in the morning...they're a bit strong flavoured for my deliciate morning tastebuds, but this went down beautifully. Not only was it yummy and satisfying, it also suits a range of dietary restrictions. It is grain-free, gluten-free and dairy-free (if you use dairy free margarine). But don't let those labels put you off. It was perfectly delicious and I will be making it again.

Apricot Frittata

a knob of butter (or whatever you use)
tinned pie apricots
2 eggs
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
serves 1
  1. In a small frying pan (mine is 14cm diameter), melt the butter.
  2. Add the drained apricots in a single layer in the pan. When they are warmed through, stir them around gently so the other side has also had some heat and then rearrange into a single layer.
  3. In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together.
  4. Turn down the heat and pour the eggs over the top. Gently pull egg away from the edges and tilt the pan so raw egg will fill the gaps.
  5. When the eggs are nearly set (it will remain runny on the top), sprinkle some nutmeg or cinnamon over the top and pop it under a griller for a minute or two, just to set the eggs that is yet uncooked.
  6. Serve.
I used a non-stick little pan with a non-metal handle. I made sure only the pan was under the griller ~ not the handle and I only had the pan under there for as long as absolutely necessary, so the pan was not damaged at all.

You could, of course, do this in a larger pan with more apricots and eggs and it would be just fine. In fact, your family would probably think all their Christmas's had come at once if you don't usually do such fine things for breakfast!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

On Another Note

My piano looks nothing like this very shiny looking one above. But I love my piano. It has history...a story all of its own. I'm sure it could tell a few stories, if the keys could really talk. Once upon a time it belonged to my Grandmother. It ended up being in the Sunday School hall in the church I grew up in, and when the church decided to do some renovating the piano became obsolete. It came to me. A blessing for being the only pianist in the family.

It is battered and bruised. It is missing a panel in the top and there is a chipboard panel in the bottom. The hammers are all quite indented. It is dusty and we found all manner of puzzling items inside it when we had it tuned the first time. Of course, my own children have added to the items of interest over the years. Less so now than when they were toddlers. It isn't pretty to look at. But it has a great deal of character! And it is mine.

My birthday present this year from Dh was to have my piano tuned. Fifteen years and four moves have left it sounding a little 'blue'. This afternoon the brother of a family at school came and fiddled about with it for a good hour and a half. Ahh...the moment he was finished and he sounded the first chord. It was true and clear, just like it should've been all along.

I'm sure there's many a parallel between the tweaking and careful ear it takes to get a piano to be perfectly in tune and the tweaking and careful ear it requires to keep in step with the One who keeps my life in tune.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Today's Adventures

Today is the last bright sunny day of school holidays. I feel like I've been desperately longing for this day and yet wishing to hold it off with just as much effort. There is so much I wanted to do and yet didn't. I have, however, read 5 books in the space of a week. That's a whole other story.

My BIL and his wife popped in last night....and left way past my bedtime! The kids and I will head out there this morning so I can check out some details for our Women's Retreat. A perfect day for morning tea I think. I've sent Miss Sunshine off to make some muffins to take with us. She has enthusiastically complied. She gets to bake...and then she gets to eat. What more could a girl with her surname wish for?!

Later today I'm hoping to find some time to be in the kitchen myself. I'm going to try making scones with gluten free flour. I have no idea what to expect. At worst, I can make a bread and butter pudding with the results if there are terribly unsatisfactory. I'm hoping they'll be perfectly cloud-like and then maybe I can have something to eat with soup.

A very dear friend of mine popped in yesterday with a quite belated birthday present. This one was worth waiting for. She'd made me brownies with gluten free flour. They are wickedly rich and deliciously gooey. Dh wanted to share them with his brother last night....I guarded them jealously.

My final adventure for the day is an exercise my dear friend gave me to work through. I'd gotten to a brick wall with something and she's given me a map to get over it. I'm excited about the prospect of moving beyond the road block.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Havah: The Story of Eve

I've just finished 'Havah: The Story of Eve' this morning so I could email off some questions for Rel to pass on to Tosca Lee. 'Havah' almost leaves me speechless, and yet I have so much I want to say. It's an odd juxtaposition. I sat staring at my screen trying to make my brain move beyond all I had read.

Tosca's writing is beautifully poetic. The book is thought provoking, challenging, evocative, tastefully subtle when necessary without losing any intended meaning. It is one of those books that will challenge almost everything you ever thought, about the story of Adam and Eve, and make you take a deeper, closer look.

I'm really looking forward to our book club discussion...I'm sure it will be an interesting night!!!

Menu Planning for Back to School

We have two days yet to go, but school returns this week. Miss Mischief and Mr Busy are off on a play date today. I'm sure Miss Sunshine will have her head full of fanciful ideas. Mine are more inclined towards planting my seedlings and getting some study done! Perhaps we can blend enough for us to both have some satisfaction.

I have a myriad of other things to do...letters for this weekend's Women's Retreat to post, my regular floor cleaning, some cutting of fabric for next week's class. Life is never still. Perhaps Miss Sunshine would be satisfied with baking together. School lunch boxes will need filling!

Hopefully this week my menu plan will actually see the week through without changes?!

Monday: Pasta with roasted tomatoes, basil, pinenuts, parmesan, ham
Tuesday: Bacon Wrapped Chicken, vegies
Wednesday: Lasagna, salad or vegies
Thursday: Pasta with veg. sauce
Friday: Family: L/O lasagna from Wednesday **
Saturday: Fish & Chips
Sunday: Potato and Corn Chowder

I'm bringing dinner for our Women's ministry team on Friday night. The plan is for Chicken braised with figs, honey and vinegar (if I can get the figs!), served with baby herbed potatoes and steamed mixed vegetables. I'm mulling over a dessert. Bascially...they'll get to eat food I wish my family would eat. Sorry gals!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Saturday Catch Up

Frances, you wanted to live vicariously through me for a moment? We did indeed end up going out for dinner on my birthday. Dh was down in the suburbs when I phoned him at 5pm so we hopped in the car and headed down there to meet him. I needed to go that way for a meeting anyway so it worked out perfectly. We went to a popular eatery that always has good food. I had pork with mustard and maple sauce, served with vegies. Dh and I then shared a not-so-wonderful slice of tiramisu cake. It had cream cheese instead of marscapone and you could tell the difference.

My dear friend Rel managed to get her hands on "Aurora" by Jane Kirkpatrick for well as "A Flickering Light" to review. "Aurora" is a stunning, beautiful book and the minute I have finished my current book I am delving into that one properly. I've flicked through it and ohhhhhh, talk about food for a quilters soul! It is beautiful and I just know the story of Aurora as told by Jane will be worth it.

* * * * * * * * *

My trip to the Naturopath went well. Miss Mischief has come home with some liquid herb stuff to sort out her problem. She says it tastes awful but she is a dutiful young lady and knows that it will be worth the effort if it works for her.

I almost did a happy dance in the lady's office when she said "hmmm, it sounds like something isn't quite working properly" and has requested some investigations be done, both at home and via a lab. I have my own little set of pills and powders to get things on their way to working properly.

We go back in three weeks to see how things are going.

* * * * * * * * * *

I've been fiddling with a new sauce for lamb. Necessity, as we know, is the mother of invention and that is what drove me one day. I didn't have any oranges to make my usual orange and cranberry sauce and stood there pondering for a bit. What I came up with is absolutely luscious and does not require another saucepan. YAY!

In the pan in which the lamb was cooked (chops or roast, doesn't matter), deglaze the empty pan with some red wine and allow to boil for a moment. Add some cranberry sauce and mash so that it is smoother and distributes evenly through the sauce. Bring to the boil. Add a teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary and allow to boil. Add in a knob of butter (about a tablespoon) and stir while the butter melts.

I haven't put down quantities because it really depends on how much you need. We had visitors for a roast lamb the other night and I used about 1/2 cup of wine and 3/4 of the small jar of cranberry sauce and then mounted that with enough butter (2 tablespoons?) to make the sauce. Of course, you could use just a slurp of wine and less cranberry sauce and that would mean you use less butter.

Experiment and figure out how you like it.

* * * * * * * * *

Yesterday I participated in the Primary section meeting at school. They were talking about intergrating Biblical Perspectives into our General Studies units this term. I feel very blessed to have been able to be involved. It was good to hear curriculum brain storming in action.

I was sitting next to the Prep teacher, who is a young, enthusiastic second-year-out teacher. I love her to bits ~ she's just wonderful. She had her laptop open and was searching for resources on 'Water'. I noticed the site name and noted it....she noticed. After the meeting she showed me some other sites that are really helpful for teacher resources. When I told her I was preparing a lesson plan for maths she led me to the resource shelf in Mr Busy's classroom and said "oh here, this book is just what you need". I love her to death!!!! That book has all the ideas I need for an introduction, resources and aids. Perfect.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...

  • Doing a book review for a non-fiction book on waves and surfing aimed at 8-11 year olds. Now there's a new experience! What ever does one write about a factual book?! Thankfully it was just a short book so I came home and did it straight away. Hopefully the librarian who dobbed me in will find it sufficient. More importantly, hopefully the publisher will be satisfied!

  • A rash that has broken out across one side of my face. My eczema has been going absolutely haywire over the last two weeks, which is partly attributed to stress. But things are way out of control now! I woke up the other morning and had to take a ring off my right hand because of how swollen that finger had become and now this. I'm off to the Naturopath this afternoon so hopefully she'll have some wise insights and answers for me.

  • Children who dress for summer, even though it is clearly cold outside with grey clouds and rain forecast. What is wrong with them???!!!!!
I suspect that's enough wondering for my poor old brain to cope with today. I have too many things swirling around up there to add much more. I'm going to be filling the empty spots with curriculum planning today. I hope it won't be too far over my head.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Breath of Fresh Air

Today began our staff Work Break time. While students are off enjoying carefree days, the staff go back a little early to participate in professional development, prepare, attend meetings and other such vitally important 'stuff'. Being in a Christian school, means that part of what we do involves setting aside some time to lay ourselves and what we do before God. This morning was wholly devoted to a time of personal retreat. It turned out to be just what I needed. Some time to bring my struggles and failures before a loving God and have Him speak truth into my life...and funnily enough when you make time to listen He has something to say. Something I really needed to hear. It never ceases to amaze me that God would even bother, but He does. Thankfully.

I arrived home, having been sent off with the admonition to return as soon as I could because Dh has lots to do too. He's off with the kids in Anaconda. I've had a chance to catch up on some reading that I'd been 'coming back to' on some blogs in blissful peace and quiet. I should have gotten to that stuff before now. I've finally watched the You Tube snippet of author Tracy Higley, standing in front of the pyramids while doing research for her new book. I have but one word. WOW! I can't imagine how it would feel to experience such an ancient landscape and relics in such modern days so far removed from when men worked on those great wonders.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Half Way...

....through the week!

This morning was cold and rainy and oh-so-windy. I lay in bed wondering if my little seedlings would get blown off the deck where I had placed them on Monday. They were fine. It's sunny now, but cold so we're enjoying the brilliant sunshine the comes through the vastness of west facing windows in our family/meals area.

I never thought I'd say this....but I am so looking forward to spending half a day at work tomorrow. Dh will have the children ~ whether he stays home with them or they do some work related errands with him only time will tell. I've struggled, this holidays, to deal with the kids terribly well. My own stresses and concerns have rendered me impatient and unable to contend with normal childhood nonsense. Add to that a boy who seems to have had a serge of boy-ness and we've just not done well together.

On a better note ~ we have booked someone to come and tune the piano next week (10 years and 4 moves too late....). I have also managed to secure an appointment with the naturopath in town, for myself and Miss Mischief. I can't wait to see her about all our going's on. Heaven knows the doctor was less than helpful.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Local Knowledge

It pays to have local knowledge.

Yesterday between Dh and I we dug over the herb and vegetable garden beds in readiness for an Autumn planting. Given the lack of rain this summer and the dreadful heat I've decided to go for crops that will actually get watered by the rain. There's no guarantee of that in summer anymore.

Then we headed off to find some vegie plants. There is a little place locally, that sells all kinds of plants and seedlings. Trees, shrubs, flowers, creepers. And of course, vegetables. We will return next weekend. The lady said she has seedlings on the go now which will be ready for sale by then. However, we bought what we could yesterday. For a whole bank-breaking $3 we got 4 cabbage plants, 4 cauliflower plants and a pot of mixed lettuce. That's a pretty cheap eat in anyone's book...if they all survive. LOL.

This little nursery is off out of the way. There is no way anyone other than locals and personal friends of the owners would know about it. It's not on a main road. The drive is beautiful ~ past all the nurseries and other commercial growers that dot the area with their neatly plowed and plant rows and hot houses. And at the end of the drive are plants that don't cost a fortune!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Easter Monday Menus

Today has dawned bright and sunshiny, dew on the grass, a last flush of roses beneath my family room window.

I'm thinking that some digging over of vegie garden beds wouldn't go astray. And perhaps if nurseries are open, we could find some vegie seedlings. Yes...I know all the wonderful things about growing from seed....but I'm not such a proficient gardner as to think that would work as wonderfully as it does for green thumbed people. My ever-faithful cumquat tree is flowering and bearing little green knobs that will become fruit.

My menu plan is all set for complete rearranging again. I keep track of things that get swapped around and when we scrap something altogether....if we've been out for dinner unexpectedly, that kind of thing. I use a green highlighter. The first two weeks of April are all green bar about two days. I had this week planned, but due to last week's shuffling I'm going to aim for some meals that never got made, since I have the ingredients and all.

Monday: Beef stroganoff (with mini meatballs)
Tuesday: Dinner at FIL's
Wednesday: ? I don't want to cook on my birthday.....we'll see
Thursday: Pork chops with apple & celery, potato, vegies
Friday: Roast chicken, roast potatoes, vegies
Saturday: Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie
Sunday: Dinner at a friend's Place

In between good, solid, healthy meals there is sure to be a diet of chocolate in between!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

He's Alive

'He is not here: for He is risen"

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Little Miss Flexible

I had a question in my subject on 'Working Effectively in an Educational Environment' the other day that asked me to describe a time when I had to be flexible. My inner self said "when am I not flexible?!". I am married to Mr Spontaneity, and then we became parents. All parents know that all of a sudden you have to be super flexible or you'd go slightly insane!

This weekend has been turned upside down, partly by Mr Spontaneity and partly in order to catch up with some friends who moved to the country last year. My resurrection feast is no longer that. It is merely a meal to share with friends Dh invited over for dinner. A nice meal. Spiffy even. But not on the intended day for its intended purpose.

My bacon rolled chicken will morph and end up being sweet and sour chicken to take to share with these out-of-town friends when we get together with a few families who wanted to catch up with them. I've had an order for apple crumble too. I think I must be in a less than chipper mood. I'm feeling a little be rebellious about the idea of being 'ordered'. Besides, I have no tinned pie apples. Perhaps they'll settle for peach. I have a 3kg tin of that!

* * * * * * * * * * *

I'm trying out a different pastry recipe with gluten free flour for my lemon meringue pie. I think it's not the recipe that's the problem. Gluten free pastry is just plain ol' difficult to work with. I think I might just have to accept that pastry needs to be a wheat flour product. Oh well, we've come this far now so we'll just have to enjoy the pie, crumbly base and all.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Good Friday

We're having a quiet day at home...not going to church, this morning. Rather, we will be making Hot Cross Buns. Mr Busy has brought home his recipes from school and I know that one works, so that's what we'll use. We'll have a chat about the crosses on the tops and what that means to us, specifically.

Perhaps we'll find someone to share them with!

Hot Cross Buns

5 cups bread flour (white)
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup currants or sultanas
1 cup warm milk
1 cup warm water
  1. Put flour, yeast, sugar, salt, currants and cinnamon into a bowl and mix together.
  2. Add eggs and warmed milk and water and mix to a dough.
  3. Turn out onto a floured bench and knead until smooth and elastic.
  4. Return to the bowl, cover, and allow to rest and rise in a warm place (about 45 minutes).
  5. Punch down and divide into 20 portions.
  6. Form into ball shapes and place on greased tray.
  7. Allow to rise in a warm place (about 30-45 minutes).
  8. Pipe crosses made from a sugar, flour and water paste. Be careful not to touch the buns when you're doing this!
  9. Bake in a hot oven (200C/400F) for 20 minutes.
  10. Glaze with a sugar syrup.
Strangely, the paste and the sugar syrup ingredients were missing! I've found what I needed online! You've got to love the internet!

1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons castor sugar

Combine glaze ingredients in a saucepan. Over low heat, simmer until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.

Cross Paste
1/2 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons castor sugar
4-5 tablespoons water

Mix ingredients into a paste until smooth. Place into a snack lock bag and seal. Snip off a corner and pipe the paste over the buns in the shape of crosses.

Personally, I would add a little more sugar to the dough mixture. Maybe another 1-2 tablespoons. They just weren't quite sweet enough for my taste. We made about 32 smaller sized buns at school. To make this recipe into 20 portions would make very large hot cross buns! I prefer the smaller sized ones.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

No Vacancy

I'm thinking I could hang out a 'no vacancy' sign now. Our holiday plans are as full as I think I want them to be. I have organised a play date with a friend, for Miss Mischief. We've found a mutually available time to get together with some old and dear friends from Miss Sunshine's Preschool & Prep years. I've sorted out when I need to be at school for work break.

Yes, we're officially full to overflowing! I think I still have time to sew, study and read...and bake and cook meals and shop. Funny how the responsibilities of life overtake the fun things you want to do. I also would very much like to plant some herbs and vegies over the Easter weekend. All while Dh is home...he has so much more stamina than I do!

Today we're off on a dual purpose. The kids can play with their friends to their heart's content. I'm going to attempt to put my organisational skills to good use.

That...and I'm determined to find Sakata Occasions crackers. They are, without a doubt, the best plain rice cracker I've come across yet.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Necessity and Invention

I've been awake for a few hours now with two things turning over in my crazed mind. First, my major assignment requiring me to plan a small group activity and what on earth I will use as a 'motivational aid' to teach Year 3 students about division. A language activity would've been so much easier, of course. However, my Year 3 son is quite proficient with language. It's division he's having a bit of trouble coming to terms with. They say necessity is the mother of invention! So...I've planned the activity with the four learning styles in mind. I've put together one worksheet and sourced another off the net. I've drilled the children about the maths 'toys' they have available in their classroom and decided dinosaur counters would be perfect. I just need to add detail and explain what I'm thinking.

The other thing that has been turning over in my head is that whole wheat-free lunch quandary. Surprisingly, I have actually had a useful thought or two on the subject. So here are some ideas I've come up with (of course, made with gluten free flour):
  • homemade crepes ~ use like a wrap with your favourite sandwich fillings;
  • rice paper rolls, also filled with favourite sandwich fillings;
  • pasta salad;
  • homemade savoury muffins;
  • savoury pancakes;
  • cold quiche (my recipe is lovely when cold);
  • salads ~ make sure you include protein or you won't be satisfied for long;
Of course, if you have access to a microwave leftovers and soups work well. When I'm home I tend to do things like oven roasted tomatoes, soft polenta, mushrooms topped with ricotta and chopped pinenuts, a baked potato...those kinds of things. Of course, this is all when I'm feeling enthusiastic!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Dilemma of Special Diets

I meant to be posting this about an hour ago. Alas I was completely distracted by the wonderful world of Moda fabrics. Oh, the Patisserie range just has me enraptured! With names like Frangelico, Butterscotch, Butter Cream and Frosting to name a few, how could a girl resist? I've seen Jelly Rolls and Charm Packs available in this range, but have not yet seen bolts of fabric. More investigating to do. But I am still digressing!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I've been pondering the question of including special diets into family life. Particularly when only one or two members of a larger household have need of it. We travelled this journey for a short time with Miss Sunshine and more recently with me. It is easier too, for me, in that I do not have to be super strict so I can eat small amounts of wheat without much trouble. A day with toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner is a thing of the past though! The husband of a wonderful friend asked me the other day if I cook wheat free for everyone in the family, or just myself.

The answer is, it depends!

Wheat free life is more expensive and has less variety. I'm not in a hurry to have my entire family eating wheat free pasta and cakes or biscuits when the cost is often half to two-thirds more than a wheat based product. And let's not even talk about the cost of wheat-free bread!!!

So how does this work for us? I do a bit of eating separate items and a bit of making everyone else eat what suits my needs. I have some gluten free muffins etc set aside in the freezer that no one is allowed to touch. When we have pasta I cook a small amount of pasta separate from everyone elses, but use the the same sauce. If I want to make a crustless quiche or gnocchi or something else that has a small amount of flour I will use the gluten free flour. When I'm out an am served a meal I just don't worry too much about it. I eat smaller portions than I might have otherwise and I will choose to leave things like bread. I would choose a wheat free option if there was one available.

When Miss Sunshine was on a wheat & dairy free diet for a bit things were far more strict. I bought a bottle of tamari sauce (a wheat free soy sauce) and we found a wheat free tomato sauce etc, so that I could make the same meal as the rest of us, and I would just take out a small portion and use ingredients suitable for her. On the plate it looked the same and it only took me about 1 minute more in preparation to cater for her needs.

Because of Miss Sunshine's needs about two years ago, our eating habits at the dinner table morphed quite a bit. I had already determined which meals worked for her and which ones didn't, so when I finally figured out I needed to be more careful myself, I had already done the brain bending required!

Of all the meals, I find lunches the most challenging. I get tired of salads very quickly ~ even the beautiful gourmet ones I love so much. A quick lunch to prepare on days when I need to take it with me often escapes my imagination. It really would be so much easier to make a sandwich! Now that winter is approaching and the days are cooler I will rely more heavily on soups, but again I am easily bored. I love variety and adventurous tastes!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Almost There...

Quilt Top

I was going to post this tomorrow, but I just couldn't wait. This is Step 2 of completing my quilt top.

I have a Saw Tooth border yet to go around the edge so I will be cutting those pieces in the next few weeks. I also need to decide what I will do with the very centre of the quilt to cover up the ends of those flower stems.

Holiday Menu Planning

In theory, I have more time for planning meals and more time for cooking enticing, delicious feasts while we're on holidays. I say in theory because I'm lacking a little enthusiasm. Regardless, the locusts continue to devour everything in their path so meal generation must continue. What a shame their enthusiasm for eating isn't in direct proportion to my desire for cooking! I've managed to come up with a plan, this week, that looks more enthralling than I feel. What do they say? Fake it till you make it? That'd be me!

Monday: Lamb Moussaka, vegies
Tuesday: Quiche, potatoes, vegies
Wednesday: Ricotta Fritters (a hold over from the weekend)
Thursday: Chicken & Corn Soup, Chicken Won Tons
Good Friday: Pasta ~ 1/2 with mushroom sauce, 1/2 with roasted tomato, basil, pine nuts and parmigana cheese
Saturday: Beef Stroganoff
Sunday: Roast Lamb, vegies, lemon meringue pie for dessert.

We'll also be making hot cross buns on Friday. At this point I'm debating Friday's pasta. I'd love to make homemade pasta...and perhaps for the rest of the family I will. But I need to keep a lid on how much wheat I'm eating. Something to juggle.

Since Sunday is Resurrection Day I thought I'd get fancy and make a dessert. A rarity here but sometimes you just have to celebrate with something special. It's a tradition I'd really love for my family to enjoy.


On the subject of food, Sixty Minutes had a fabulous story last night about food and growing your own. I was cheering Liz Hayes on from the distance that is my home a way out here. If you want to read the story about the 'Backyard Revolution', click here. Finally, someone in the media is saying what I've been thinking for a long time ~ our food is making us sick. I loved the lady who said "if your great great grandmother wouldn't recognise it, then it's not food". She said this in relation to much of what we find in our supermarkets. All those 'foods' that are full of all kinds of nasty little things that have me cooking and baking at home from scratch.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

A Sink Full

I had a sinkful yesterday, in more ways than one. It started off with a sink filled with dirty dishes. Four draining rack loads worth, to be precise. I'd like to think I could be philosophical about the help I asked for and did not receive. But to be honest, I think I must really be missing something huge in the philosophy of housework and responsibility.

Many years ago when I was able to use successfully, she advocated getting the housework done without the martyr syndrome that goes along with it. "Do it just because you love yourself and you are worth having a clean home" was her probably still is. At that stage of my life it was something I needed to learn. That housework is never finished and that I needed to want to do it, for my own benefit and not because I was doing it for anyone else.

Fast forward a few years and we have a household of people who are capable of doing their share. They're all capable of making a mess and they all know what to do to clean it up. I just don't understand the mindset that says "Mum has to drop whatever she's doing to assist everyone else, but noone needs to bother when she asks for help". I must've been wrong, I must not have needed help after all. How silly of me.

I need to run away for a couple of days....anyone want to join me?

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Lamb & Cranberry Meatloaf

Pursuant to Rel's remark the other day about the lack of recipes lately, I have finally done some experimenting on my family and have a new one to share. It was actually really tasty. Not that I was surprised, mind you, but it's nice to know for sure that some wacky idea was worth it.

Lamb & Cranberry Meatloaf

500g lamb mince
1 egg
2 slices bread, crumbed
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
2 spoons of cranberry sauce
1/3-1/2 cup cranberry sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F (160C fan forced oven).
  2. Combine mince, egg, breadcrumbs, rosemary and cranberry sauce and mix well.
  3. Place in a well greased and lined loaf pan. Turn upside down onto an oven tray that has also been lined (I use baking paper to line my pans)
  4. Bake with the loaf pan in place over the meatloaf for 30 minutes.
  5. Combine glaze ingredients and mix well.
  6. Take the meatloaf out of the oven and remove the loaf pan and baking paper. Spread the glaze over the meatloaf and return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes.

Friday, 3 April 2009

All's Well that Ends Well

Parent/Teacher interviews went very well. I've got kids that teachers love. Praise the Lord. That was my biggest fear after having worked in a school office...being the parent no one wanted to see, or whose kids no one wanted to teach. Besides all that they are all trying their best and are approximately where they are supposed to be, academically. I've had two suggestions of having friends over for a play in the of whom is the Principal's daughter. That's just a whole new thing, isn't it. Phoning the Principal to organise a play date. Surreal. I hope I get his wife on the phone.

Miss Mischief's ear is just full of fluid. We'll be keeping Dimetapp in business with two doses a day, and then bring her back. Oh yes, this is the part of parenting that has me rolling my eyes and thinking that doctors have no idea anymore.

Final Friday

The final Friday of Term 1, that is. I can't believe the term is over. I'm not ready for holidays, but boy am I tired. I am looking forward to two weeks of sewing, reading, studying...oh that's right I have children. Ummmm...must add in baking, spending time with friends, allowing computer time etc. Actually, Miss Mischief said she wanted to do lots of baking so I'm thinking we should pack the freezer chock-a-block full of goodies for when we fall apart in about week 7 next term!

Today I have about an hour an a half worth of parent/teacher interviews to go to. Oh for the days when they were all in Primary school and it was a total of 45 minutes LOL. I've asked the kids if there's anything I need to discuss with their teachers and they tell me things like "If you could ask for less homework and easier homework....". Somehow I don't think that will go down too well.

Miss Mischief is also off to see the doctor about a blocked ear and a stuffed up nose that is not a cold. She's been going on like this for ages and the idea of being told to shove Rhinocort up her nose until the symptoms go away (which they don't) isn't my idea of a doctor-worthy visit. A blocked ear is a whole other story.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The Beginning of the End

Quilt Centre

I think I mentioned earlier that I had a Block of the Month class last night. We have one class left for putting it together, which will involve 'saw tooth' piecing. Last night though, this is what I did. Well, I finished off two sides this morning. The point is, this is the centre of the quilt and it's all put together. I am VERY happy with it.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

After Much Anticipation....

Tonight is my final (I think) Block of the Month quilt class. It was cancelled last month due to weather so tonight we're finally getting to put it all together.

I've just phoned Dh to make sure he'll be home in time. I've waited so long I just can't bear to miss a moment! That, and parking at the Quilt Shop on Wednesday night's is pretty tricky.


Today I supervised the Year 3's making Hot Cross Buns. Half the class anyway. It turned out to be quite fortuitous really. The whole class has now worked with yeast dough. When we did pizza the other half of the class was cooking and had to make the dough.

The bread turned out beautifully and the kids really enjoyed tucking into their special Easter treats.

Next term we're doing 'Going Bush' for General Studies, so I think the food will be more Australian native inspired. We still need to make Sushi though. The kids were so looking forward to that last week, but it just didn't happen.