Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss is one of my favourite authors of all time.  Not just because he wrote great books for children to love and I grew up with 'The Diggest Dog' but because as an adult I can appreciate them all the more for their life lessons and the amazing building up of the children that read them.

Now I know you are wondering why this has come up now well it is nearly his birthday.  He was born on 2 March 1904.  I really want to make this a part of Jots radar as she loves the books.

Last year my google reader threw up a few activities to do to celebrate his birthday but not until the day which in Miss Unprepared land is a tad too late.

So this year a new tactic is to be run and I already have found a couple of activities that Jot can do with my parents who are visiting from the UK that week.

Firstly go check out The Seussville Website there are some great colour in activities for kids and some educational ones for bigger kids as well.

I will also be picking out a couple from here.

I am also really taken by the Cat in the Hat cookies I have been seeing around (Check out these).  I am not that skilled at icing cookies BUT we might make up our own and see what happens.

And of course what better way to honor the great man but to read his books.  I have seen loads at the library we don't have so I will be picking them up to read.  I will also be reading my favourite childrens book of all times: 'Oh the Places you'll go'

"You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose"

Friday, February 8, 2013

Valentines Day

So unless you live under a rock you will know it is coming up to Valentines day.  The holiday is the mostly widely celebrated holiday after New Years Day in the world.  I guess love is a global phenomenon.

Anyway my Google reader is overflowing with things to make and gifts to give and has been for about a month.  It is lovely to see so many options.  We rarely celebrate Valentines day in this house, mainly because R is always working but we will be doing something this year.

The reason we are doing something is completely selfish.  R is as always working this weekend and has his staff Christmas party (yes he works in hospitality) on Tuesday so I have rather a lot of entertain Jot time on  my hands.  So I have been trawling my google reader to find simple things that Jot and I can make together without her giving up and me finishing everything off on my own.

These are the things we will be up to this weekend:

Both of those are doable without too much a) mess and b) involvement from Mummy 

I might search for some messy things to make as well that involve pink paint as that will keep Jot happy for hours.  

I will let you know how we go.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jam and More Jam

This summer we finally had a reasonable crop of fruit from our fruit trees.  We didn't have enough cherries to do anything (or at least if we did I blinked and missed them) but we had loads of peaches and about a kilo of plums.  Strawberries and Rasperries a plenty.  in addition we went to a pick your own place twice once just for strawberries and a second time for strawberries and blackberries.  Now you might be wondering what I did with all this fruit.

I JAMMED!  Yes I made Jam, lots of it.  In our cupboard at the moment we have:

7 Jars Fruit of the Forest Jam
9 Jars Strawberry and Vanilla Jam
4 Jars Peach
4 Jars Plum
and 8 Jars Burnt Peach which I am trying to get R to throw out.  (BTW I didn't make this one :) )

I have plans to jam again next year and decided it would be a good idea to list the jam recipes I used in one place so I know exactly were to look when the jam season comes round again and I can therefore avoid the burnt jam issue we had this year.  We made 2 batches of the same recipe( one made by me and one by R) both got horrendously burnt so we changed to a different recipe and voila yummy jam.

Below are the recipes I used, my comments are in italics.

Source: Preserving by Carol Wilson

Peach and Walnut Jam

450g ripe peaches
450g ripe fruit (pears/apples etc)
675g sugar (I used granulated)
50g chopped walnuts (I forgot to add these and it is just as yummy without them)

1) Peel all fruit and cut into small pieces (I didn't peel the peaches and it worked well).  Put into a jam pan with the sugar.  Stir over low heat till dissolved, bring to boil.  Boil rapidly for 15 - 20 minutes until thick and setting point is reached.  Stir in walnuts and boil for 1 minute.

I had to mash the fruit at one point too as I used eating apples and they kept their shape well so there were little cubes of apple through the jam.

2) Remove pan from heat, rest for 15 minutes while warming jars.  Pour into warned jars, cover seal and label.

Strawberry and Vanilla Jam (adapted from about three recipes)

2kg Strawberries (washed and hulled)
1.6kg sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
2 Vanilla Pods  - this gave a noticeable vanilla taste which was yummy

1) Split vanilla pods.  Scrape seeds and place seeds and split pods in Jam pan with strawberries and lemon juice into jam pan over low heat and bring to boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes until soft.  Add sugar stir till dissolved then boil rapidly until setting point reached.

2) Remove pan from heat, rest for 15 minutes while warming jars.  Pour into warned jars, cover seal and label.

Plum Jam (Source: Good Housekeeping Cookery Book 1972)

3kg Plums
3kg Sugar
600ml water

1) Cut fruit in half and remove stones (you can skip this step and just remove the stones with a slotted spoon while cooking) Crack a handful of stones and remove the kernel.

2) Put fruit and water and kernels in jam pan and bring to boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes till fruit is soft.

3) Add sugar , stir until dissolved. Boil rapidly until setting point is reached.

4) Remove pan from heat, rest for 15 minutes while warming jars.  Pour into warned jars, cover seal and label.

Fruits of the Forest Jam (an adaptation of a Blackberry Jam recipe from the Good housekeeping Book as above)

3kg Soft fruits (I used a mix of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries)
Juice of 2 lemons
150ml water
3kg Sugar

1) Wash soft fruit and place in Jam Pan with lemon juice and water.  Simmer gently till fruit is cooked.  Add sugar, stir till dissolved.  Boil rapidly till setting point is reached.

2) Remove pan from heat, rest for 15 minutes while warming jars.  Pour into warned jars, cover seal and label.

I will be returning to these recipes again next year.

I do have to say that we did not use additional pectin in any of our successful jams this year.  We did use it with success last year but this year I wanted to try without.  The addition of lemon juice seems to have done the trick.

There are many more recipes I want to try but for now we have run out of jam jars.