Die! Onions Die!

In a night that will go down in history, Daniel not only helped me cook dinner tonight but also banished me from the kitchen when he was confident in performing tasks himself.  We were trying out my shiny new Tupperware Smooth Chopper which I purchased with him in mind.  He is beginning to enjoy helping out in the kitchen more as he gets older but chopping things finely and not getting them everywhere is still very hard.  So we made rissoles with finely chopped carrot, zucchini and onion.  he wasn’t too sure about doing the onion because he knows it can make me teary but then he twigged the fact that with the lid on it wouldn’t be a problem.  And thus came the words, “Die! Onions die! You’ll never make me cry again!”

So the onions were a highlight followed by not only having the chance to break eggs (one of his favourite activities) and then to successfully beat them (another thing that has been tricky.)

I wouldn’t leave either of my boys unsupervised to put things and and out of the smooth chopper due to the very, very sharp blades but I did retreat when instructed that, “I can make this stuff into balls now Mum!”

(This post was not sponsored in any way by Tupperware but if they ever did want us to test anything we would be delighted to do so!)rissoles rissoles1 rissoles2 rissoles3


Now and Then

I’ve had an interesting time with some of my students at school so far this year as they need lots of small frequent incentives to get things done.  A technique suggested by one of our brilliant Image

Special Ed teachers was to have a laminated card with “Now and Then” on it.  Then set one small task followed by something a bit more favorable to come next.  So it might be –

Now: complete a page in your handwriting book

Then: choose a book for Mrs Mc to read to the class.

It works well because the student is just looking at one task and one good consequence and I’ve got myself into a pretty good routine with it.  I keep cards on “certain” desks so I can swing by and remind them of what they should be focused on and positively reinforce their choices when they have done what was required.

Interestingly I have found during the school holidays a similar technique works here.  My boys are not always the most willing helpers and are a bit too distracted by screens.  In order to get things done and get them on board I’ve been using “Now and Then” a lot.  I’m not saying “now” and “then” but when asking them to do something or telling them something that is going to happen I include what will happen next.

For example:

  • Please get dressed and brush your teeth then we’ll take Bronco downstairs for a rumble.
  • When the dishwasher has been unloaded you can ring up X to arrange that play date.
  • After we’ve done the grocery shopping we can do some cooking together.

And on the topic of cooking we’re doing a bit more of that too. Eric and his best mate made Butter Chicken and homemade naan bread last night.  It took the best mate about 20 minutes to cut up a small pile of beans but he got it done and was pleased with himself.  I’m giving them as much choice as possible so the meals are a bit different – nachos, butter chicken, sausages and mashed potato, ravioli.  It is really gratifying to see their skills improve. Eric can now do a cake from scratch and use the stand mixer and Daniel is getting better at cutting up things.  Dan’s original food prep specialty was mushrooms because I could let him loose with a dinner knife and he couldn’t do too much damage but we are moving onto other tools bit by bit.

What Works For Me 68/365 Simple Ideas

Saw this idea on Facebook today and loved it.  It means I can keep my recipe clean so I can use it again and I can see it easily.  I’ve had recipe book holders but they are hard to keep clean, take up too much room on the bench and don’t hold paper recipes very well.  I’ve been sticking recipes up in the window poked into the side of the screen but I like my coat hanger much better!

What Works For Me 25/365 Damper

And no that does not mean it is “damper” than yesterday!  Thanks goodness because I had to chance to drive down to have morning tea with some lovely friends and then the boys and I went for a walk/scooter along the water to the boat harbour and back.

Being Australia Day, and being a bit peckish I thought I’d give damper a go.  I haven’t done this since I was a girl guide cooking mini dampers on the end of the stick held in the fire and today’s (thankfully) was much better.  I used this recipe from the taste.com.au site because whenever I want a recipe for anything I search there and 99% of the time I find something good.

Damper and gold syrup.

Happy Australia Day!

What Works For Me 6/365 The Dishwasher

It’s simple one tonight but one that makes a big difference.  Now that I have lived with one in this house I would never want to live without a dishwasher.  It is especially wonderful tonight because we have entertained Eric’s best mate and his parents – a dinner party that was long overdue – but it is just as wonderful on other days and nights too.  We have a small cramped, badly planned (not by us) kitchen so while we can wash up by hand the logistics are ridiculous – nowhere to put clean dishes for example – the dishwasher just makes it all easier.  The plates, cups, glasses and utensils all “disappear” and we are left with a fairly manageable pile of pots and pans or maybe one pot if we are lucky.

The dishwasher gets better and better as the boys get older too.  I must admit there were those around here who were not too receptive to the idea of the boys loading or unloading the dishwasher.  The first issue was that they couldn’t reach up to the high cupboards to put things away.  I dealt with that by moving the things off the top pantry shelf which below my waist level and putting in one set of basic plates and bowls we would use every day.  That solved that.  Issue #2 was that *no one* could load the thing correctly.  One night when it was loaded correctly by the one who had the “issue” I checked that it was in fact loaded correctly and then took a photo which I laminated and stuck up on the neighbouring cupboard door. That was hugely successful and I must admit when I often refer to the photo myself – one less thing to think about.

So now we have the dishwasher unloaded fairly reliably every morning, we fill it up during the day and run it at night.  If we do a lot of food preparation, cooking or entertaining during the day it may get more than one run.  I haven’t researched it much but this article claims that the dishwasher compared to hand washing has a smaller carbon footprint.  And I do know it gets the dishes cleaner.

I’ve got lots of friends with much flasher kitchens than mine – including the most notable one we saw this week with two built in ovens, two built in microwaves and a butler’s pantry – but as long as I have my dishwasher I can put up with my poky little kitchen for a while longer.

What Works For Me 1/365 – Breakfast of Champions

This is my toasted maple muesli served with vanilla yoghurt and mixed berries.  It is very filling which helps with long busy days and it is cold so easy to eat even when it is really hot.  I love my oats for sticking to my ribs during winter but until I discovered this late last year I’d never found anything as filling for breakfast in summer.

It is different every day too.  Today was mixed berries, tomorrow will be kiwifruit and so on.  I celebrated the return of cheap bananas with the this stuff when I made it for the first time.

Over to you dear readers: What is your breakfast of champions?

Christmas Cooking

I had a bit of fun cooking for Christmas this year.  I didn’t stick to Weight Watchers principles because as my very wise WW leader said, “It isn’t what you eat between Christmas and New Year that matters but what you eat between New Year and Christmas.”  So I didn’t scour the Internet for recipes that were low fat but edible and rack my brains trying to make everything healthy.  I just let go and enjoyed Christmas and the cooking that could be done.

I made shortbread for the first time.  I’d never been interested in it when I was younger then when I got married my MIL’s best friend (from Scotland) made (and still makes) the best shortbread ever.  So even though we never got to have J’s shortbread on a regular basis I never thought mine would measure up.  But you know what?  Mine didn’t need to measure up.  It was what I made, it tasted and smelt great and everyone agreed that it had that nice shortbread texture helped along by the rice flour of course.  I drizzled my first batch (stars) with white chocolate and they were gone by Christmas.  So last night, in preparation for today’s gathering, I made another batch (Christmas Trees) but the “drizzling” didn’t go too well. I normally put some choc melts in a snap lock bag and put the bag in some hot water to melt the melts then snip off a corner and drizzle.  Last night I think a drop of water must have found it’s way in to the chocolate because the drizzling was more like er – plopping in unattractive lumps.  However it all still tastes good and we had a good laugh in the kitchen when dh and D were waiting to assist with the mini m&m decorations.

The other thing I was really happy with was my batch of Rudolph Chocolate Tartlets.  They consisted of a biscuit base and yummy chocolate filling (most definitely a Christmas treat!!!).  Then I decorated them at my sister-in-law’s place with the help of my 21 year old niece.  Apparently doing *anything* in the kitchen is a foreign concept to this girl so I think it was regarded as a Christmas miracle when she was standing beside me doing reindeer eyes.  These were very easy to decorate and so effective so I’m confident I will be reprising them in 2012.  Today I did the same tartlets but with a holly decoration and they were just as yummy.

The other treats on the table today were “Christmas Ice” – coconut ice in Christmas colours of red and green and little pancetta frittatas.  All was well received and most of the time I enjoyed the preparation and presentation.  Christmas is probably the only time I really have the chance to stand around and “decorate” food so I made the most of it.

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