Bubbling mud kitchen

This is a gloriously messy, strictly outdoors activity that I saw a version of on The Keepsake Co….Except we don’t have an outdoors and I really wanted to try it. So I threw down a plastic sheet and did it on the verandah – we have a wash-down floor out there which helps with clean-up.

You need:
Mud (I used a big plant pot full)
Baking soda (I used around 175g… I have no idea exactly what different proportions would do without experimenting, but we produced some fair bubbling)
Vinegar in squeezy/spray bottles

Optional, ideas of things to decorate the baking with:
Paint powder or crushed chalk
Flowers
Sticks
Stones
Birdseed

This was premeditated, believe it or not, so I had Zeph and Elly crush chalk for it a couple of days beforehand: we put our chalk sticks in a ziploc bag and bashed it with a rolling pin and a mallet. That went down very well.

For the mud kitchen itself we got out various kitchen utensils, pots, pans and baking tins and started out with the mud mixed with baking soda.Once they’d prepared a few cakes and pancakes and waffles I got out the crushed chalk and some flowers for decorating with.Next they took the vinegar in squeezy bottles and made their creations bubble!Finally, once we filled, refilled and ran out of vinegar, they dumpedthe mud out and played with it a bit more.And then I dumped them both in the bath, locking the verandah door behind us and closing my eyes to the mess for a day (okay, 2) so that we could use it again for this mud construction and race track activity.

 

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Little kitchen helpers: homemade ice cream

My boys love ice cream and with the warmer weather well on it’s way we will probably be eating it pretty frequently. While I have absolutely no objections to buying some every so often, I do try to avoid sugar and additive stuffed varieties being the boys staple summer food. Especially with eczema being an issue for both of them. So here’s a gorgeous, simple homemade treat that has no additives or extra sugar and on top of that is packed full of real fruit.

Ingredients:
Should fill a 6-part ice lolly mould but may vary a bit depending on the size of mould you are using.

100mls milk

1 large banana

1 handful of strawberries and/or blueberries

Or

Other fruit of your choice – seedless berries are great because they tend to be soft and sweet, but others will work too depending on your taste.

You can also use frozen fruit if you prefer.

Method:

Put all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Pour mixture into an ice lolly mould.

Freeze until solid.

Little kitchen helpers: sweet potato chips

20180315_161723123109703.jpgI love homemade snacks (when I have time/energy to make them) because I know exactly what’s in them. Sweet potato chips are currently a particular favourite for me because of being on a pretty restrictive migraine elimination diet.

All you need are: sweet potatoes.

Give them a scrub (or peel them). My kids like helping with this bit.

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Slice them thin.

Lay them individually on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Make sure they aren’t overlapping. Mine always need a bit of rearranging after my helpers have finished.

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You can add any other optional ingredients now: a spray of olive oil, a bit of salt and black pepper, herbs like thyme or rosemary are all good options.

Put them in a preheated oven at around 190 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes. Turn once during baking and keep in mind that the time might vary depending on your oven and how thin you sliced the potatoes. They should come out lightly browned.

Leave out to cool and harden.

We’ve also tried this with Irish potatoes which worked well; carrots, which came out too crisped without olive oil and not at all crispy but very yummy with oil – I think maybe I’m just missing the balance so far; and bananas which have failed miserably no matter what I do!

Little kitchen helpers: Pomegranate

My boys love to help in the kitchen and I love to make as many opportunities for them to do it as I can. While it’s not always entirely convenient, while it can double (triple, maybe even quadruple) the workload, it’s a great way for them to explore and learn about food and cooking. I also think it’s a great way for them to contribute to the wellbeing of the household in a meaningful way.

Today we looked at pomegranates because Mummy was planning pomegranate and mackerel Bulgar wheat (recipe included at the end of the post because it’s amazing, quick and very simple. Elly agrees, though Zeph and Josh do not). First we looked at the outside and talked about how to cut them. Zeph noticed how the juice started to leak out as I cut, and then they got a piece each to look at and explore the inside of.

Zeph was perfectly certain that he didn’t want to try tasting pomegranate, and quickly noticed that touching the fruit was causing a cut on his finger to sting. He decided that he’d had quite enough after about 30 seconds! But this time round Elly spent longer on the activity: he happily poked, pulled and waved it around, ate some, wiped sticky juicy fingers all over his vest and then tried to run away before being cleaned. So all in all I judge that to be a half-successful activity.

To make pomegranate and mackerel bulgar wheat

Ingredients
Bulgar wheat (approx. 75g per person, or substitute with couscous)
Pomegranate (remove the arils from the rind and membrane so you’re just left with the red bits. I use 2-3 tablespoons per person, but it’s really to taste)
Tinned mackerel (1 tin per approx 4 servings)
Olives
Mayonnaise

Salsa to serve (optional)

Method
Cook Bulgar wheat as per instructions on the packet (or just wash and boil until tender).
Add pomegranate, mackerel and olives.
Mix with mayonnaise.
Serve alone or with salsa.