Meeting of the Waters

WP_20140515_003About ten days ago we went out to Meeting of the Waters for a bush walk with friends. We’ve had some beautiful Autumn weather lately and I’m enjoying making the most of the chilly mornings and the sunny days. It’s perfect – Autumn is probably my favourite season.

In preparation for the walk, my youngest dragged out our native plant book and set about memorising as many names of plants as she could. I was really impressed with her Maori pronunciation seeing as it’s not something we’ve focused on that much so far. She loved looking at the pictures and we ended up taking the book with us and showing it to our friends.

WP_20140515_004And then we made some peanut-butter, chocolate chip cookies because they are delicious and it’s always nice to have something freshly made to share with friends. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, for us!) none of them really liked the biscuits lol but that’s okay because there was more for us.

WP_20140515_009The walk was really nice. We went around the Araheke Loop first, which is a flat, easy track with many small bridges (most with swamp under them, not rivers). The bigger kids ran off ahead and the smaller two hung back with me and another Mum. It’s a great walk for this kind of thing because the kids can get the sense that they are alone, and ahead of the pack, while the parents are never truly that far behind. They waited for us at the beginning of the loop as we were walking a bit slower and stopping to see all the interesting fungi along the way (pics of that to come in another post).

By the time we finished the Araheke Loop some other friends had rejoined us, and so we did the shorter walk on the other side (more of a slow run, really, the kids where in fine form after a quick snack break between walks!

I’ll quit talking and just post some more pictures – the kids checking out the signs, holding hands and helping each other across the stones (I was most impressed by the girls, looking out for each other), and then making a train to head into the second walk.

 

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Can we make…?

WP_000426Lately when the kids have asked if we could buy some treat food I’ve been suggesting that maybe we could have a go at trying to make it ourselves. I want to get them away from junk food as much as possible, and a good way to do this is to make your own. I mean, I know it’s not perfect – home made marshmallow is still full of sugar and not something you’d want to eat in large quantities, but at least you know exactly what’s going into it and you can adapt to your taste, or try different recipes out. In fact, I’m all for trying different techniques and working out which ones are the most cost effective, healthful, tastiest etc, and I’m really keen to get the kids into this kind of thinking as well.

So this week we did make marshmallow – delicious, thick, firm marshmallow (the best home made stuff I’ve ever seen!). They coloured it purple, and ate it from ice-cream cones. And then Lauren decided that she REALLY wanted potato chips. So we had a try of making them too. They didn’t turn out exactly like the ones from a packet, but the kids really liked them – so much so that they don’t want the ones from a packet anymore. And I feel good knowing it’s just potato, a little oil and salt.

I love that they want to be involved in the process of making the foods they want to eat, it helps them know what they are putting in their bodies, as well as giving them an awareness of the processes by which things are made, and the other stuff like maths, reading recipes, and further down the track I’m looking forward to comparing different recipes so that the kids can get a feel for the basics of what goes in different dishes and can then start creating their own. I can’t wait to find out what they want to try making next!

Fun times ahead. This will tie in nicely with the module we’re going to be starting about keeping our bodies healthy.

Ivy Bakes

WP_20140114_002Not to be outdone by her little sister, Ivy decided that it was her turn to do some baking. With her being a little older and able to read, this meant she could make a more complex recipe.

WP_20140114_003Ivy has never really taken an interest in baking before, so this was pretty cool. I found a suitable recipe (she wanted chocolate biscuits, but we didn’t have enough butter, we used this recipe and just added some cocoa). I set up the laptop on the bench so she could read the instructions, got out the ingredients for her and some measuring implements, and then stood back so she could do it on her own (once I’ve tidied up the cupboard, she can do this herself, but it’s very unorganized right now!).

After a little guidance in how to read the recipe, she got to work. I gave her verbal directions on how to crack an egg without getting the shell into the mix, but aside from that, she didn’t really need help with anything and we had some fun talking about fractions as she measured the ingredients, and about what the purpose of baking powder is in the process. I love that baking is such a fun thing, and yet you can add maths and science into the mix so easily.

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Ivy really enjoyed making the biscuits, and they turned out great – I know she’s looking forward to her next attempt, and thinking ahead to what she might want to make next. I’m looking forward to encouraging her to search out recipes on her own, and then to make lists of the items I need to purchase in order for her to bake.

Given the girls interest in baking (Natalie is demanding a turn now, but I really need some more supplies first!) I’m going to make up a plan for giving them some individual lessons at their levels of skill. I read a really interesting post with some cool suggestions here and think that my girls would LOVE their own recipe folders. I also think the progression tracker from ‘making with mums help’ to ‘making on my own’ is really motivational, so will be using that as well.

Loosening the reins a little more

WP_20140110_006Her independence amazes me.

Just two days after her experiments with bread toppings, I came into the kitchen to find Lauren lining up spreads on the bench. I asked her what she was doing, expecting that she was going to be reaching for the bread next. She simply informed me that she was going to make peanut butter cookies. By herself.

Umm… lol I could see she was ready – right that minute – to do it, so I asked her for just one minute to find a recipe that she could do solo. Thankfully, I found this really simple, 3 ingredient recipe, and she was thrilled that she could do everything aside from the oven stuff on her own. And they turned our beautifully.

WP_20140110_008Enthused, and on a high from the cookie success, she decided that she needed more. I came back into the kitchen at lunch time to find her preparing to slice tomatoes and cheese! Gave me a bit of a fright, but I managed not to freak out at her incorrect technique, and took the opportunity to teach her some knife safety skills before stepping back and letting her get on with it. She did an awesome job, and made some tomato and cheese filled rolls for lunch, as well as some with just peanut butter for her sister.

I tell you what, in no time at all, I bet she’ll be shooing me out of the kitchen and pitching in with dinner. Very exciting.