Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Cakeless, Sweetless kids party...

Cakeless, sweetless kids party...

Look I'm all for feeding your kids healthy foods... I'm the first to tut at a mom feeding her 3 year old child diet coke with a piece of chocolate cake for lunch... but I recently went to an end of term party where I took a vanilla sponge cake with lemon icing - very bland on my standards... and was promptly told that this was a NO NO !!!! (how embarrassing) ( It was a good thing I didn't wip out one of my bright yellow duck biscuits or bright pink and blue easter bunny biscuits )

Yes I know we are not meant to eat junk or high sugar foods let alone feed our children delicious sweet things ... but is it not the extreme that at a party you omit all wonderful sweet things hence omitting the joys children experience tasting awesome amazing treats, robbing them of simple little pleasures??

One of my mommy friends made a wonderful comment - How would you feel if you never got to taste a wonderful red Lindt ball chocolate ball or a wonderful Cadbury's chocolate or an ice cream - as an adult you probably would feel think - "AW - I wish i could have some" - Well I know I would... (Being on diet permanently I know the feeling and I constantly feel like that)

In South Africa there really is no limit to E-numbers and brightly coloured shocking pink or burnt orange drinks and deep blue ice creams. Every where you go when I'm in South Africa lovely people give (not offer - give ) my kids bright red sweets and blue ice cream that stains their lips for a good day afterwards it makes them have mini tantrums and run around like made creatures... ( there is very little regulation when it comes to food ingredients in SA (South Africa)) Now here is the trick - I really HATE ( I cringe internally every time ) these side affects of these wonder foods but if I dont let them try sweets and have a little fun within a controlled environment how will they be when my back is turned... They would sneak off , hide sweets and possibly hord them - becoming obsessive and manic with these forbid contrabands - they would never speak with me about them - at least I'm creating dialog about  about sore tummies from to much and going crazy from these substances of "joy". 

Am I a bad mom for having sweets at my children's parties or am I preparing them for life when there will be loads of contraban around and they will have to make their own decisions - or is childhood not meant to be filled with wonderful memories of eating cakes and lollies at special occations ( not every day - special occasions only and the odd treat ).

I dont think our children will sprial into obesety if given the odd sponge cake at a party or am I just completely wrong ??? Am I setting my children up for obesity or worse yet sugar addiction - turning them into little sugar crack junkies... 
Which looks more like a party ?? What looks more fun ???
Is it not all about moderation and education rather than elimination? Eliminations only makes children become manic, frantic and ill equipped to control themselves around these carefully crafted addictive treats. We need to show them - while sweets and treats are deliciously wonderful they can hurt you and not be good for you - but how else will they know if we dont show them and teach them control and moderation. 

Helpful links - You choose - ARE YOU FOR OR AGAINST SWEETS ?

The guys for sweets

The guys against sweets

So in the words of Marie Antoinette -
LET THEM EAT CAKE...
What are your thoughts on sweets and cakes at parties ??? 

Past Easter extravaganza's


Past Easter extravaganza's

Before I had children I had alot of time on my hands - some of my work prior to having kiddies... these took a hole Sunday to make and bake...

Past easter extravaganza before I had my children
These took me all day to make - allot of work and energy which is short lived since I've had children...
But they are good fun to make for older kids - lots of yummy easter treats to share...




Very decadent - chocolate chip bunny biscuits coved in - well - more chocolate...
2012 easter





Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The cupcake master chef - Eric Lanlard

For the Love of CAKE

Eric Lanlard Master Cupcake chef...


I am a cupcake Queen - I love to make all different sorts.
I believe cakes make friends... When ever going somewhere new like a job or meet new people, i always make cupcakes . Chocolate is the preferred medium but hardly anyone can resist FREE CAKE! Always gets people talking ... I used to bake these when ever I used to visit a new sight in my previous job (Prior mommy career) - I was a great ice breaker and people always associate something sweet with you ! Happy days... 

LET THEM EAT CAKE - marie antoinette 
Life's to short not too....

Devine Lemon Meringue cupcakes


Lemon meringue muffins
Eric Lanlard's cupcake recipe with all the taste of homemade lemon meringue pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out using a sharp knife
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp candied lemon zest (optional – available from specialist delicatessens and cake decorating shops)

For the lemon curd
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

For the Italian meringue
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50ml water
  • 100g caster sugar

To decorate
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Icing sugar, to dust

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line a cupcake tray with paper cases.
  2. For the lemon curd, place the sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl, add the eggs and butter and immediately start to whisk. Set the bowl over a pan of just simmering water, being careful the bowl does not touch the water. Continue to whisk until the mixture has thickened then remove from the heat and allow to cool and thicken. Measure out 75g for the cupakes and spoon the rest into a sterilised jar to store.
  3. For the cupcakes, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds together in a large mixing bowl until pale, fluffy and well combined. Crack in the eggs, one at a time, and beat until both are fully incorporated into the mixture. Fold in the flour, fresh lemon zest and candied lemon zest gently.
  4. Place a couple of teaspoons of batter in the bottom of each case, add a teaspoonful of lemon curd then cover with a little more mixture.
  5. Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown and spring back when pressed lightly in the centre.
  6. Meanwhile for the meringue topping, make a sugar syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water over a gentle heat. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until soft peaks form and the mixture has doubled in volume. Gradually add the sugar syrup while you continue to whisk, being careful the syrup doesn’t touch the whisk directly. Keep whisking continuously, until the meringue mixture is thick and glossy and has cooled down – check by feeling the side of mixing bowl.
  7. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and pipe some meringue on the top of each cake. Using a blowtorch, lightly brown the top of each cake to toast the meringue. Decorate with strips of lemon zest and a dusting of icing sugar.
© Eric Lanlard

Better Roast chicken...

Handsome Heston give us some yummy Michelin star secrets.

No more shoe leather dry chicken

Love his saying - I like to serve a smell with my food...

I'm a firm believer in juicy chicken - can think of nothing worse than dry chicken.  I simply cover my chicken in foil till its ready but Heston has some other tricks to keep your chicken moist which I might try next time I cook a bird.


Heston's top 10 tips for chicken

FEATURES

heston-chicken
WEDNESDAY 25 JANUARY 2012
Feel like chicken every night with Heston's top tips for a juicy, succulent bird
1. Before you roast your chicken, undo and remove the trussing that squashes the legs and breast together. This will help give a more even temperature throughout the bird.
2. Brine your bird! Boost the moisture in the meat by putting the chicken in a washing up bowl of salt solution overnight (60g salt per litre of water). Brining changes the proteins in the meat, enabling the chicken to hold onto more moisture when it's cooking.
3. In a really hot oven, meat contracts and squeezes out its juices. Instead, Heston cooks his chicken at 90 degrees, then checks its temperature with a thermometer in the thickest part of the breast - to stick with safety guidelines, it needs to be 75°C, but Heston finds 60° gives him the perfect result.
4. Smells are just lost flavour! Don't be disappointed if your kitchen doesn't smell deliciously chickeny when you roast your bird low and slow - it'll taste all the better for it.
5. And... rest. Once cooked, leave your chicken uncovered out of the oven for 45 minutes to let it relax and keep hold of all of its juices.
6. The best way to achieve an intense meaty flavoured chicken stock is to add extra protein to the stock, which will bring about the Maillard reaction - a chemical reaction similar to caramelization. Heston's technique involves adding chicken wings and skimmed milk powder to the carcass and using a pressure cooker.
7. Freeze your stock in ice cube trays for easy future use.
8. Breast isn't always best - chicken thighs give far more flavour, and make great additions to pies.
9. When making a pie filling, fry the chicken skin, then fry off your leeks or other vegetables in the fat left behind. This way you use the lovely flavour of the skin without putting any in your pie.
10. Heston's magic ingredient is agar-agar, which is made from seaweed. Buy it from your supermarket and use it to make sauces thick and creamy.
Image: Angela Moore, Art Direction: Graphic Thought Facility




Monday, 19 March 2012

Two under two

TWO UNDER TWO
The image we as mothers are meant to
 portray and are expected to live up to ...
Bet you this women wasn't even a mother, silly cow
looks way to happy and rested...




Now having two children under two with very little help or family around I feel is almost suicidal. Everyone paints this ideallic wonder mom picture of how life is meant to be, when you are a stay at home mom with 2 very small children. How its meant to be all bliss and serene, with butterflies fluttering around and baby power in the air. You are meant to be glowing and wonderfully beautiful while you make biscuits in your spotless kitchen - well it's not like that at all ! It is MANIC!!! I dont want to scare anyone - but I wish people has just prepared me - rather than blown sugar up my baby pile butt.

I absolutely wouldn't give up being with my babies for the world! I know I moan A LOT about how hard it is. But you do need some space to vent and clear your thoughts and find appreciations again. What gets me through the day is believing my views, ideals and beliefs are being imprinted on my children and not someone elses. I also want to enjoy this wonderful time with my kids and teach them as much as possible before life takes them on their own journey and we as parents become taxi's, fairying them from school to extra mural activity and life snaps them up and they leave the house.

I wouldn't ever want to miss out cuddles from my son, especially when he has just woken up and he hanges on really tight - like there is no better place than in my arms. Or my daughter cuddling up to me and telling me I'm her best friend - those are amazing moments and they really help me through the mayhem and make me appreciate the time with children.

This is what mother hood really is like - thrown up
 on you when you are still in bed and in the face too 
When you have 2 under 2 - everything is done in stereo. Seriously I had about 6 months when I thought "oh my God - I need a job out of the house so I can getaway from my kids" it was making that crazy!! Dont for one minute think I don't love or enjoy my kids but when its all day everyday Monday - Sunday, screaming, mess, noise and constant lifting carrying wiping bums etc... with lack of sleep (lack of sleep being KEY here) it is enough to make you loose your marbles... I actually didn't realize I was exhausted until I got the flue and slept for 3 days (what a luxury but I had actually made myself so over tired my body just switched off).

So now fully aware of getting enough continuous sleep (not interrupted sleep ) I am allot calmer and feel I can cope again... I now feel I have the conscious mind and energy to deal with my very needy overly clever little girl, and my super active little boy... When you are so tired you cant think or do - its time for serious time out and sleep for Mommy...

 Having 2 children under 2 is crazy... You are basically raising 2 babies but not 2 babies at the same developmental stage (like everyone seems to think). They are not twins especially when its a girl and a boy - they have vastly different needs - one has physical and the other has cognitive and making time for both is a challenge. Yes I'm sure its true when they older they will be best friends but first they have to survive childhood and so do you ...

Having twins envolves 2 of everything and doing the same routines together interchangeably (I have not ever raised twins so I dont want to take anything away from the difficulty of having twins - I take my hat off to parents of twins - it looks painfully difficult) . But 2 under 2 requires you dealing with 2 babies essentially - at 2 different stages both being very demanding. Like sleeping in the afternoon - My poor baby would often not make it to Michaela's nap time and would fall asleep before hand and hence not nap at lunch when my daughter napped - so I would have one awake and one asleep and not break in between. This did eventually resolve itself but those few months of absolutely no break was tuff.

My baby is 18months now and my little girl is 3 now - I only now feel that we have finally come out the other side about a month ago... it was 17 months of really hard work - early mornings, interrupted sleep, day time physical exertion - lifting into and out of buggies, cars,  jungle gyms, kitchen counters, top of cupboards and every where they not meant to be...

Tips on Two under Two

GET HELP - as much as you can - I had a cleaner once a week and a nanny 2 afternoons a week. You cannot do everything (well some super mom's can - i'm no super mom) Nanny gave me time to myself and gave me time to sleep when I was sleep deprived, my cleaner gave me a clean slate to work from every week when I felt the world was collapsing on me (or the washing pile was mounting over my head).

Michaela snacking out and about even in the snow
GO OUT - play groups or friends are great - your kids playing with other kids and you having a chat with other moms is so wonderful for the soul... Helps time go by and makes your kids tired... In the UK we have a great organisation called NCT - NCT link. NCT is a great way to meet mom's going through the same thing in your area - they also have great support lines... Contact your local council for a print of playgroups and organisations ( they all have to register with the local council) - this was a great resource when I moved to a new area when my son was born and I needed to meet new mom's. I met some wonderful mom's going to play groups and our kids still play together... Its so important for yourself and your kids to socialise in your own area... Sure start centres are wonderful places with lots of free activities...Sure start centres , such as messy play, dance classes and advice groups or forums... Follow the link to find one in your area.

Good book to read - A really good book I read when my son was born was -  The second baby survival guide


Organisations to contact if you need help Home start Link - this is a wonderful charitable / volunteer based organisation that helps out families that need help and feel overwhelmed or are going through a difficult time... I had a wonderful lady come in once a week for 2 hours so I could spend time with daughter alone (this helped with her attention seeking behaviour - because she need my undivided attention which i couldn't give her because I had another monkey to deal with). 
Others Sure Start Centres, call your local council and ask about a list of play groups. 


Get 2 of everything - they will always want each others stuff - especially bottles, sip cups, bowls, cutlery etc... you don't want unnecessary stress over silly things. 


Tristans snuggled up in the buggy - fast asleep
Make them tired - walks in the park or even to the  shops are great - fresh air for both makes them really tired - make your toddler walk or scoot or bush a doll buggy ( doll buggy's are great it makes them want to walk )... I used to walk them in the mornings and late afternoons... it takes the edge off the toddler and makes the baby sleep.






Tristan at 3 months - His favourite spot 
Wear your baby - I used a moby wrap and literally wore my son for 6 months after he was born as he used to sleep in the wrap and not when he was laid down. Wearing him would free up my hands so I could attend to my daughter and do house hold stuff... There is nothing worse than a tired baby that wont sleep and an attention seeking toddler and you not having any hands free to do anything other than hold the baby... Baby wearing also has many other advantages - it is a practise as hold as the hills in some cultures and is highly revered and beneficial on so many levels especially on a comforting and adjustment to life out side of the womb... Good baby wearing link


The second child sleeps less than the first - I have heard this from a lot of mothers and experienced this with Tristan - It is clearly due to the fact that they have this other little monkey and you about the house making noise - way to much excitement going on to sleep - and the second just has to slot in with the first child's routines and activities... Tristan did most of his sleeping in the buggy or strapped on me, otherwise he couldn't chill out... this all subsided as he got older and could fit in with Michaelas nap time - he is now happy to go for a nap with out much fuss - I just pop a bottle in his cot with him and he is lights out in minutes - so dont worry about sleep problems from carrying your baby or letting them sleep in the buggy - babies grow when they sleep - so as much sleep as possible is good for them - it really doesn't matter where they sleep as long as they get sleep.


Share your Views, tips and tricks, on raising 2 under 2
Post your comments below...

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Nails... explorations of time to myself...

Nails... Exploring time to myself again

So I had 2 hours to myself - No house work, No kids, No dinner to cook - just me time ... Only if you are a mother can you understand how daunting it is to have time to yourself... Something I've not had in 3 years - now slowly I'm clawing my life back bit by bit... I've decided I need me time to do me things... I love being a mother to my babies but I think to much of anything is bad for you ... So here was my first step to spend time in me land - nothing related to my kids - however short lived - I pulled it off the next day and Michaela insisted I paint hers too ( I did hers in pink and she had no cracking - just the polish was fantastic enough and it got her to stop picking her nose. I told her if she picks her nose she will rub her nail polish off and it will get stuck in her nose - hey presto she hasn't picked her nose all week !!!)... But I thought it was rather cool at the time - sort of like cracking decoupage for nails - one day when I'm big and get to go out on the town again I'll be kitting my nails out in my cracking... Very cool...

The tools ... A cool colour, the middle is the black cracking stuff (just from boots) (you also get it in white) - the 3rd is a top coat to seal...



So not professional but for a mom of 2 small kids and play group it will do ...
Needless to say I havent done my nails since this 

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