Monday, 30 April 2012

anzac day

Last Wednesday was one of the most important days in the Australian calender - ANZAC day. It remembers all of the servicemen and women who served in conflict... and marks the first time Australian troups joined with New Zealanders in the Gallipoli theatre.

Mum was good enough to organise for me and my brother to attend the service at Westminster Abbey. It was beautiful and moving. And a real time of reflection. I was so glad I battled the rain and awful weather to go along.

While we have chatted to the boys about the importance of the occasion, I think they will forever have 'the biscuit link in their head!' They had a tin each to take along to school on Friday.

This recipe from the Nursing mothers' Cookbook is a favourite - but there are lots available if you do a search online.
ANZAC biscuits (Makes around 40)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup SR flour
1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 cup coconut
3/4 cup sugar (raw, brown or white)
1/2 tspn bicarb
2 tblsp boiling water
125 g butter, melted
2 tblsp golden syrup

Mix all dry ingredients together, dissolve soda in water and add to melted butter and golden syrup.Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Place in tablespoons on greased tray. Bake in a moderately slow oven 160C for 15 minutes.
If you leave them in the oven a bit longer, they go quite crunchy - a lovely alternative to the slightly chewy finish they have. Experiment!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

easy pizza dough

I thought I had posted about this... but came across some photos. We had friends visiting and we made our favourite pizza dough.

As you can see, the boys overloaded on the toppings. And not all was eaten. But I thought they were delicious.

Here is the Stephanie Alexander recipe we use, and I have my mother-in-laws old Kenwood so the dough is kneaded in that. (Rather noisily, it must be said)!

1 tablespoon instant dried yeast

1 teaspoon salt

400g plain flour

olive oil

1 cup lukewarm water

Mix the yeast and salt together. Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil with the water and beat into dry ingredients with a dough hook. Knead until mixture is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. (this can be done by hand but will need 8-10 mins) Grease bowl with 1 tablespoon oil. Transfer dough to bowl and then cover with plastic film or a tea towel and allow to rise in a draught free place until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hrs). Knock back dough , then fold gently into 4 and allow to rise again, covered for 35 -40mins.

Press out two pizzas from the dough with your fingers. Add toppings, bake for 15 mins in pre-heated 220 oven.

I'm afraid the boys beat the living daylights out of their pizza dough and it went a bit tough! But they had fun...

back at school

I am sitting with a slightly scarey statue on a bench at Knebworth - we had a brilliant day there last Friday.

Thanks goodness, I say. The boys are back at school. I do love having them around - and not racing out the door every morning - but it is definitely time for them to be back in the classroom.

Talking of which, I may soon be back in the classroom myself. An interview this week and I may be teaching in September. Fingers are crossed - I am very excited. And am certanily ready for the challenge of school life again.

Gus has had a lovely few days with his Grandma and Grandad. He is chatting away (his own language, that is!) and certainly understands what we are saying. We have spent the last few days doing stuff around the house. The new place meant we needed a mower, outdoor garden furniture, seeds to plant...

And for me, exciting news that Mum is visiting from Australia. She arrives on Friday. I can't wait. To see her, to go shopping together, for her to get to know Gus and for the boys to enjoy their time together. It is countdown time.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

fred's sewing

Freddie is missing one of his little mate's birthday parties this weekend. He is so we have the lovely Isaiah and his brother Reuben over today.

It will be busy but as the boys are the same age as our two, they do have fun. I have pizza dough rising on the side ready to make up for their lunch. That should take up a few minutes. Plus most of the time out in the garden and all will be good.

And Fred sewed this drawstring bag to go with the 'Crazee beans' (!) for Isaiah's birthday present. I love this wood grain fabric from Ikea.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

fairy cakes

This is the sort of 'cooking' the boys love - sweets, icing and shop bought cakes.

And we have a lovely trayful ready to take to visit Mead Open Farm with our friends. Now the boys are outside in the sunshine and I get to finish a few jobs. Got to love Asda fairy cakes.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


Gus is having a great time poking pasta into play-doh...

And here comes that annoying sneeze...


more baking!

These biscuits were made with some kind of equipment for torture... the cookie press. I mean, is it really worth the effort to load and push the dough through the elaborate nozzle-thingy??

The boys were bored after five minutes so I had to finish off. They taste nice, though. I think I might get the hang of it after a bit of trial and error (mostly error) ... on the other hand it may be off to the charity shop. I still have have the batch of dough waiting in the fridge. Mmmm.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

sticky sausages

Super super easy tea for the boys tonight. Mini pork sausages (the ones that come in tubs with questionable contents) in the frying pan with a splash of soy sauce and a spoon of honey. They went down very well with beans and bread and butter. Couldn't be simpler!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

flamstead pool

Thanks to some very hardworking volunteers, we are lucky enough to have a heated outdoor pool here in our village. It sits just at the back of the village school, behind a lovely newly erected fence. The grounds of the school have a field for impromptu football games and also climbing equipment.

It has just been re-painted ready for a summer of fun. And as an extra treat (for the mums as well as the children!) the Markyate Firemen came along to fill it up for us. Instead of garden hoses taking three days, it was done in two and a half hours. Fantastic! And thank you to the chaps.

We have made use of the pool in the past, but expect a lot of visits this summer. By all accounts the heating system is all good - and I will be down on the sweet shop/ entrance rota to help out. If Gus allows it, that is.

If you are local, get in touch with me and I'm sure I can pass on any details. There will be the chance to have structured swimming lessons in the pool, but alos lots of free-swim time in the afternoon. Having a 'season pass' works out the best value.

our easter cake

Just put this in the oven... I know it is not traditional but I can't go past this lovely recipe from Nigella for a fruit cake. We have used it for Christmas, for an anniversary cake and as a gift in the past. When it is cooked, I'm going to roll out some marzipan for the top and it will be an Easter cake!

As everything goes straight into a saucepan it is quick and there is little washing up to do. Plus the fruit simmers in butter and sugar - so it is super moist.

(I have come back to add a picture... and this is the only piece we have left! I used a little silver glitter, egg shaped marzipan plus the last few sugar decorations I been saving - really lovely buttons, butterflies, flowers - made from crystallized sugar)

Monday, 2 April 2012

our easter twig

There is a lovely flowering shrub in the garden. I have no idea what it is but the little spikes are joined by a rose coloured flower. I battled through the spikes to pick a couple of twigs (I think I had totally inappropriate snippers - paper scissors!)

We decorated it with the wooden hangy things I bought last year- reduced at Paperchase -and a few of our own eggs. The boys have painted a couple in the past and we have some modge-podged ones too - where we took polystyrene eggs and covered them in fabric scraps and the magic modge. (We bought ours from Artscape in Harpenden).

We had lots to do today - Harry at 'Learn to Ride' at Vauxhall, we played tennis at the Rec in the village and then watched the firemen fill the school swimming pool ready for Summer. Phew. I am exhausted. Only 9 days to go...


My favourite, easy recipe which I'm sure I have blogged about before... (thanks to jamie) It gives us a slightly thick batter and we make small pancakes.

1cup self raising flour

1 cup milk

1 egg

Mix this up and rest it for a bit if you have time - I use a whisk to quickly get any lumps out. And then add your choice of fruit. A cup of frozen raspberries today, but bananas go lovely and sweet or chopped pear is nice. Blueberries sort of pop in the pan which the boys like.

Use a big tablespoon to measure small pancakes out into the pan - we have a giant frying pan which makes four at a time.

The boys usually have a mix of - lemon and sugar, golden syrup or honey... not all at once I promise. Or at least not this morning anyway. I usually try and stick to one or two. (Again, not this morning!)