Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Simple Jam Biscuits

200g self raising flour
100g caster sugar
100g of butter
1 egg, beaten
4tbsp of jam or lemon curd

Preheat your oven to 190C or gas mark 5.

Rub the flour, sugar and butter together with your hands until the mixture resembles breadcumbs. It is very quick to do by hand but you could use a food processor if you prefer. Add enough egg to bring to bring the mixture to a stiff dough. YOu only need about half an egg. I think next time I will make a double quantity to make use of the whole egg. I can always add a little milk if it isn't wet enough.

Shape the dough into a sausage shape, it needs to be about 5cm thick. Now cut this into 12 rounds and lay them down on a baking tray (they do spread). The tray doesn't need to be greased.

Make a small indentation in the middle of each biscuit either with the end of a wooden spoon or your finger. Add a drop of jam or lemon curd in the centre. Bake for roughly 12 minutes, they should be risen and golden in colour. Pop them onto a rack to cool.

The original recipe from BBC Good Food used jam as the filling. As you can see from the photograph, we tried chocolate spread. It was the Nutella brand, it didn't melt/spread across the biscuit, not very nice in my opinion. I have just made another batch for our picnic tomorrow and added lemon curd. Don't tell the children but I stole one, big thumbs up for the lemon curd, they are delicious.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Oat and Raisin Biscuits

8oz self raising flour
5oz sugar
8oz porridge oats
Handful of raisins or sultanas
8oz butter or margarine
1 tablespoon golden syrup
Half a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon of water

Mix the flour, oats, raisins and sugar in a bowl. In a saucepan, melt the butter, syrup and water. Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the wet ingrediants. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the bowl with the dry ingrediants and mix well.

Make small balls of the mixture and place them onto a greased baking tray. Squash them down slightly with a fork. The biscuits will raise/spread. I made 28 biscuits from the mixture but they were a little big for toddlers.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees. They need to be golden rather than brown, this will take roughly 15 minutes.

The original recipe used 8oz of sugar but I found it made them too sweet. I reduced the sugar and decided to add raisins. I tried adding chocolate chips once but the heat from the butter melted them!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Father's Day Gifts

If you are the Dad of one of the children that I look after then stop reading now! This post contains information about Father’s Day that you must not read.

I always think Father’s Day is a difficult occasion to plan activities and homemade gifts for. Last year the older children coloured some Best Dad certificates from the Activity Village website which we then laminated.

The younger children did a footprint on paper using paint. We laminated these as a keepsake with a poem underneath. This is the poem:

Walk a little slower Daddy,
Said a little child so small.
I'm following in your footsteps,
and I do not want to fall.

Sometimes your steps are very fast,
Sometimes they're hard to see.
So, walk a little slower, Daddy,
for you are leading me.

Someday when I am all grown up,
you're what I want to be.
Then I will have a little child,
who'll want to follow me.

And, I would want to lead just right,
And, I'd know that I was true.
So, walk a little slower Daddy.
For I must follow you.

For Father’s day 2011 I have ordered some rice paper cake toppers. We are going to make either cakes or biscuits and use icing to attach them. I just need to get some cellophane bags to send them home in.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Tesco Vouchers for Schools and Clubs

As an Ofsted registered childminder I am able to collect the Tesco vouchers for schools and clubs. So far this year we've collected about 150 vouchers. I can either use these to 'buy' something small from the catalogue or bank them until next year when the scheme starts again. Thanks to everyone who has collected them so far and please, please keep sending them my way. As they say, every little counts!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A spot of painting

Excuse the poor quality of this photo, it was just a quick snap taken from my phone while the children were painting. I wanted to recommend the mini dabbers they are using from Crafty Crocodiles. They are only 22p each and worth every penny. The girls have really enjoyed using them for the first time. I'm going to get them out again after school and see what patterns the older children can create.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Nature Tots

On the first Tuesday of each month they are holding a ‘Nature Tots’ session at Fermyn Woods near Brigstock. It is a group for preschoolers run by one of the parks rangers. We went along last week.

First the children were given a plastic beaker and a stick that was to be their stirring stick. They were shown various plants that are highly scented and told to pick a leaf from each. They scrunched up the leaves so they could smell the scent on their hands. The leaves were then popped into the cup. The ranger poured some water into the cup and the children stirred up they perfume. Afterwards, they were told to throw stand next to each other in a line and throw the perfume over their shoulder and back to nature.

Next they walked along to the pond. The ranger had taken some water full of tiny tadpoles and put in into a container so the children could get a close look without the risk of falling into the pond!

As the group walked further through the park they were shown ant nests, badgers sets, holes where rabbits had been digging, the web of a funnel spider and then a container full of little insects from the other pond. My memory is terrible, I’ve completely forgotten what the little bugs were called.

By this time the children were getting quite tired. The Ranger asked the children to sit down on the grass, close their eyes and listen to see what sounds they could hear. It was difficult to hear the sounds from nature with such a big group of toddlers!

As the children walked back to the café they were given a small bookmarker shaped card that had double sided sticky tape attached to it. They were to find little things that interest them and stick it to the bookmark. I thought this was a fab idea. In other groups the children have been given glue and paper to make a nature picture but this idea worked really well. It was also an ideal size for little hands to hold.

At the end of session the children were given a lovely homemade shortbread biscuit in the shape of a person and a glass of juice.

I thought the Nature Tots session was really good and we’ll definitely attend again. If anyone else is interested then the cost is £3 per child. You need to contact the park in advance to reserve a place.

This blog post is being entered into the Tots100 Blog Hop in the hope that the children and I can become reviewers for Worlds Apart Toys.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Our Vegetable Garden

Two years ago my husband built a raised vegetable plot in the corner of our garden. We've not got the time or space to grow all of our vegetables ourselves but it is nice to show the children where they come from.
The past two years we have grown peas. The children picked the peas, podded them then ate them before they reached the saucepan. They were very easy to grow but take up quite a lot of space and don't produce a huge amount. This year we are going to grow green beans. They are fast growing so the children get to see the results in a short time.
The three strawberry plants that were purchased last year spread and are growing well. Again, they don't produce a huge amount but several of the children adore strawberries. They'll see how strawberries grow rather than thinking they just come from Asda!
Our blueberry bush was a tiny 99p plant from Wilkinsons. At last it is starting to flourish so fingers crossed for some juicy berries from that.
We've also got a pot of chives, a rhubarb plant and today, I bought a new bay tree.
At the moment the kitchen window sill is covered with courgette plants that the children have grown from seed. Once these can be planted outside then we'll sow some cress and lettuce to keep indoors.
The children always like to plant sunflowers and watch how tall they grow.
The shed and wood round the raised vegetable plot have been painted this weekend. I'll get a new trellis in the next few days then I'll post a photograph.