Saturday, 9 October 2010

Christmas Puddings!!

As per my October mission I have made Christmas puddings today.  I have vivid childhood memories of making puddings with my mother, with all the ingredients spread out across the dining room table, my mother measuring and us tipping and stirring!! I re-created that today for my own children and had friends come round too to share in the fun.  We did two rounds of pudding making and everyone went home happily clutching their pudding basin!! I was especially touched by one friend who had never made puddings as a child and never made them for herself as an adult.  She was so delighted to be making them, possibly more excited than the children!!

The recipe that we used is as follows:
  •  225g/8oz golden caster sugar
  • 225g/8oz vegetarian suet
  • 340g/12oz sultanas
  • 340g/12oz raisins
  • 225g/8oz currants
  • 110g/4oz candied peel
  • 110g/4oz plain flour
  • 110g/4oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 55g/20z flaked almonds
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz brandy or rum.
  • I also put in a bag of pecans as I love them in my pudding!
Mix together all the dry ingredients then stir in the beaten eggs and brandy well. Grease your pudding basins and spoon in the mix. Cover with baking parchment and foil (creased in the middle to allow for steam) and tie round with string/wool firmly. Steam for 5-6 hours.  I don't have a steamer so I put an up-turned bowl in the bottom of my soup pan and sit the pudding basin on top before filling to halfway up the pudding bowl and simmering for 5-6 hours as above. Cool the puddings then cover with fresh parchment and store in a cool cupboard until Christmas day! (recipe from BBC good food site originally but I can no longer find this particular one to link to)

Each of the children took a turn at stirring the pudding mix as we all said the 'pudding poem'......

Into the basin put the plums
Stir about, stir about, stir about!
Next the good white flour comes
Stir about, stir about, stir about!
Sugar and peel and eggs and spice
Stir about, stir about, stir about!
Mix them and fix them and cook them twice
Stir about, stir about, stir about!
(traditional poem)

Then each child (and adult!!) closed their eyes and made a wish as they stirred. it was so sweet to see the little ones squeeeeezing their eyes tight shut!!

I am pleased to have this done and we enjoyed doing it together. I had to set my alarm for 2am to turn the second pudding off which wasn't so fun but he house smelled divine!!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Apple Playdough

I make fresh play dough around every six weeks and this week made some apple scented dough.  I bought apple essential oil from the Internet and added it with the liquid and colouring before mixing and cooking it. The girls had a wonderful time creating various cakes with the dough.

The recipe that I use is:
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 cups of water
  • splash of oil
  • Food colouring/ scent/ spices/ glitter/ sand etc.

Marrow Boats!

We picked the last of the marrows and the early pumpkins from the veg plot, then washed them in the builder's tray with paintbrushes and sponges.  Once squeaky clean Dewi cut them in half and scored them then let the children loose with a spoon each to scoop out the flesh. The little one whose hands are featured above had  lovely time emptying and refilling her marrow over and over again, relishing in the feel of the flesh and the seeds in her hands!

Once scooped out they could only be used as boats of course!

Monday, 4 October 2010

October's Mission of the Month - Christmas!

Mission of the Month
Every Year I find that come December, life takes on a frenetic pace, I become very stressed and all the things that I should find joyful, become a chore that I dread. So this year I am going to do all of the things that might become a chore well ahead of time in order that I can enjoy them and take the pleasure in them that I should be able to. I'm giggling a little because I always scoff at all the shops that start stocking Christmas items in September and here I am joining in but...... October is going to be 'Christmas Month'!!!!

I plan to:
  • Buy, wrap, parcel up and address gifts ready to give and send.
  • Make Pudding and Cake in good time (capital letters as they are so important to our Christmas traditions here!).
  • Make, write, put photos of the children in, seal, address and stamp Christmas cards.
It is the cards that I particularly want to take time over, to write individual letters to cherished people that I don't make enough time for through the busy months of the year!  I love doing the gift shopping, I find it fun and I take a lot of pleasure in giving gifts that people will really like.  I don't buy for the sake of it, or spend a certain amount on certain people.  I buy what I think that they will like!

Then roll on December when I will have time to spend with my family without feeling stressed out and can help my daughter make all the presents that she is planning to give to people!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished

I am considering that I have achieved September's mission, which was to have all of my daughter's curriculum planned out in writing and posted on the blog.  Now here come the slight twists..... I realised that doing a formally planned cultural curriculum just isn't workable at the moment given my time commitments so I have shelved all my lovely ideas for reconsideration in February when I will magically have two days just for Eve!...... I also realised that although I would love to post my plans and resources for others to use, that isn't possible at present either due to time, knowledge and software limitations so I am shelving that plan until next year also..... perhaps I could make it a 'Mama's mission' to get it up and running!!!!

I already posted all my work on the blue series of Montessori (see August archives) and the list of maths abilities that i would like to have worked through by the end of the year.  I have done myself a 'skeleton plan' from which to work and that is 'good enough'.  I also consider this a triumph over my perfectionist self that often ends up doing nothing just because it isn't perfect!

Homemade produce

I have always wanted to be the kind of woman/wife/mummy that makes homemade goodies from seasonal produce.  For years I have put by jars and bottles for 'when I make jam' or for 'when we make wine'.  Well this was the year that we made them!! The picture is of my husband siphoning off his first attempt at wine-making into a clean demi-john before decanting into a motley selection of bottles!!  It is made from red grapes that were grown by the Grandfather of one of the children that I care for during the week.  To our surprise it is rose rather than red and tastes very light and refreshing with just enough of a kick to know that it fermented a little first!  It has been very exciting to take a step into the dark and enjoy the process together, made especially sweet by using my late Granddad's demi-johns (that he always called 'winchesters' by the way). Granddad was a very keen wine-maker but production had halted before I was old enough to enjoy it!

I have also been busy in the kitchen making:
  • Green tomato and apple chutney (needs more spice next time, it's a bit sweet!)
  • Rhubarb and ginger jam (yummy)
  • Ice cream sauce from the damsons left over from making.......
  • Damson gin (Sloe gin is my favourite winter warmer but I couldn't find sloes!)
  • Cake mixes to freeze ready for when we 'need' warm 'just-baked' cake one day!
I am happy with my first season's attempts..... we just need room to store them all now!! I'm looking forwards to sharing the goods with friends and family.  I love to give gifts.  My friend Nat calls me 'the Earth mother' because I bake and make, but I know from reading other blogs that I have a ways to go yet before I can own that title!!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Busy Hands

This came about as we were snuggled up reading a book about going to school (slightly bizarre as we home-educate but never mind!!).  One of the activities that the teacher does with the children is make mini clothes lines.  The girls asked if we could do that so we did!! It filled a busy half an hour of sketching, cutting and pegging and used up some of the tiny craft pegs that I bought in a jumbo pack years ago!!  The girls were so thrilled that we had done it together and it reminded me how special it is sitting and 'doing' with them and that I probably haven't been 'doing' enough lately. As they get older and more competent I am far too inclined to set something up and leave them to get on with it instead of sit down and enjoy the chatter and the fun! A timely reminder I think!