Make a wish with Pepparkakor

lick n drip caramel cake-2.jpgHow did I not know about Pepparkakor!

Whilst munching on ginger snaps, my friend cracked hers in her hand and said

“oh I didn’t get to make a wish”.

…puzzled… I then had to know what she meant. After a quick conversation and a Google search I was quick to learn that Pepparkakor is a traditional Swedish festive treat, baked with dark flavoursome spices and rolled nice and thin for that lovely crisp snap. Pepparkakor is an integral part of the Christmas feast in Sweden and is also used to decorate their Christmas trees, often iced with decorative patterns and images.

Swedish customs says you should place the Pepparkakor in the palm of your hand and press it with your thumb. If the biscuit breaks into 3 you get to make a wish!

So I get to eat biscuits AND make wishes!

All my dreams had come true!

I simply HAD to make some!

My children were so excited that we were making a wishing biscuit that all 3 decided they wanted to take some to school so ALL their classmates could try the custom too.

Overall we made around 90 biscuits in a very short time, so easy to make and beautiful and crisp, it’s ridiculously hard to resit eating them as soon as they come out of the oven!

The recipe for Pepparkakor is right here if you want to try it.

PEPPARKAKOR RECIPE

Pre heat oven to FAN 180

Line several large baking sheets with greaseproof paper

Ingredients

250g Butter

300g Caster Sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon golden syrup

450g plain flour

2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

2 teaspoons of ginger (more if you really like ginger!)

2 teaspoons of ground cloves  (we omitted these as no body likes them in our house!)

METHOD

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar.

Stir in the egg and syrup.

Sift together the flour, spices and bicarb and add to the mixture.

Roll into a dough.

Roll out till its approx 0.25cm thick and cut into shapes using a cutter.

Place on baking tray and bake for approx 20 minutes or until flat, dark and crisp.

Cool on cooling rack until cold and store in air tight container.

May I suggest a lovely stroll, on a long winding path, surrounded by trees whispering in their branches, a river gently ebbing and flowing, a pocket full of wishing biscuits and a loved one by your side, break the biscuits and wish for your future adventures.

x

lick n drip caramel cake-13.jpg

 

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Kid chaos in the kitchen

It’s the weekend!

It’s time to slow down the usual morning rush around and enjoy the comforts of being at home…but I soon get itchy fingers and want to get baking! It’s the weekend and weekends mean the kids get to bake too!

My 3 young children Tom, Robin and Libby see me baking ALOT, and often sit and watch, stir, throw things in the bowl, pester me until I forget what I’m doing and wait around until it’s licking time…the bowl that is! Sometimes I banish them from the kitchen altogether if what I’m doing is for a client or is very important, and that makes me feel bad because they want to learn, but because of all the questions, and pestering, and poking, and licking, sometimes its just not feesible, so out they go!…until the weekend!

Questions, pestering, poking and licking!

So this weekend we decided to make a Treacle Spiced Traybake ..(insert yummy, yummy noises here…)

It’s a really easy recipe that involves putting 8 ingredients in a bowl and mixing like crazy!

So I put my 6 year old in charge of the weighing scales, (this will obviously help with his maths I’m thinking) and my 5 and 2 year old in charge of dumping in the ingredients and mixing!

Weighing out is great for number recognition, adding and subtracting!gingerbread traybake-2.jpg

Of course there’s always one who doesn’t like their designated job and soon starts to squawk and chirp about the fact that “Libby is mixing too hard and I can’t get my spoon in”..or  “why has Libby got to break in 2 eggs and I’ve only got to break in 1?” (cos theres 3 kids and 4 eggs love and she’s the cutest, decision made) .

Remember your baking ‘memories’

In all seriousness though, baking with children is a fantastic shared experience, you’re giving them a skill for life and hopefully providing happy memories (unless I’m your Mum  and then you get some nice memories followed by a personality change into Gordon Ramsey when my OCD kicks in about how much mess 3 kids can make in half an hour! )But honestly, if you can stop worrying about how much mess it makes, and time (it takes sooooo much longer!), the experience you get when baking with children is amazing, and they amaze themselves too when they see what a few simple ingredients make.

If you are a brilliant parent you can actually get your children to clean up with you afterwards, but my kids are too busy licking the 20,000 spoons they have used and any cake batter that has happened to fall on the counter with their tongues! gingerbread traybake-3.jpg

When we finished our bake I said to my children, so ‘who’s had fun?”

 

3 little hands went up…and thats why we bake x

gingerbread traybake-4.jpg

Recipe -Treacle spiced traybake

Ingredients

225g soft margarine

175g caster sugar

225g black treacle

275g self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

4 tablespoons milk

Icing sugar to finish

Method

Pre-heat oven to Fan 160, 180, gas 4.

Grease and base line a 12 x 9 inch tray with greaseproof paper.

Measure all ingredients into a bowl and beat well for  2 minutes until well blended.

Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin.

Finish with water icing or a dust of icing dust of icing sugar, whichever your preference.

5 year old expectations-mental exhaustion

This year it is planned that children will leave junior school with a statement that they either meet, or do not meet age related expectations. This means that seven years of primary education are summed up with an equivalent of pass or fail.

Raised Standards.

Unfortunately, this does not mean that the government have invested millions into our crumbling buildings or raised the pay of hardworking and dedicated teachers and support staff. It does not even mean that the children are being given a higher standard of education than previously. “Raising Standards” just means that you have increased the threshold for the equivalent of a “pass mark”.

Under the new system, the teachers have to teach 10 or 11 year old children work they would not have previously done until secondary. Teachers have to get their pupils to meet age related expectations which are significantly more challenging than they have previously been. We have the same children as last year: the same learning difficulties, the same social and emotional challenges and yet teachers are expected to magically up their game and increase what these children learn.

Teachers are committed and dedicated to getting the best possible results from every child in their class. They are already at breaking point. You cannot expect them to work harder than they already do.


The fact stands that no matter how hard some children work this year, it is very unlikely they will meet age related expectations.
Is this really fair? Can we really judge our children against a standardized norm? Do we want a generation who grow up to feel they are failures already at the age of 11? 


What matters is whether they love books and has got a love of language. It matters that they are creative and imaginative. These are not standards by which they are judged in the new SATs. Similarly, in today’s society it does not matter if you can’t do long division.We no longer teach our children to be inquisitive and love learning for its own sake. It is now just an exercise in exam technique.


It is not my child’s fault that he was born in the school year that all the goalposts change. It is not his fault that the new tests are judging him against standards that he will struggle to reach. In Government, you do not see the child who burst into tears tonight at the thought that he would not be able to “make the grade”… Do you want a generation of disaffected children? Do you want children to be reluctant to learn as no matter how hard they try they will always be found wanting? If the answer is no, I would ask you to reconsider this new change to the education system, and instead concentrate on “raising the standards” of education in its true sense: a love of learning and the joy of achievement.

Words taken from a letter to the Prime Minister, written by worried parent Lucy Hoggan.

tom sad.jpgRe written by Debbie Henson for this blog to hit home to every parent who is living this hellish education system.

Photo credit: my son who couldn’t finish his food through sheer exhaustion after a day at school. He is 5.

Who’s right?

Some days are just too much...
Some days are just too much…

Some days are just too much.

Some days are just too stressful.

Some days are just too hectic.

Some days are just too much.

For the past few weeks this has been my pattern. This is all I seem to be thinking or saying.

I guess Ive been spoilt, having time off work after Libby was born (maternity leave), having time to play with her, taking the boys to school, making home cooked lunches and dinners, bath times, story times, cosy bed times. Yes I’ve been very spoilt….or have I?

Isn’t this what parents should be doing?

Isn’t this the pattern of what home life should be? Or am I thinking more like a 1950s housewife?

I only work 3 days a week, and I still struggle with the onslaught of emotion I get when I get home at 6pm, my children are tired, emotional, stressed, angry, miserable, and after a busy day at work I feel the same, it’s a recipe for disaster. The hour between 6 and 7 is the most stressful of the week. Bath, story, milk, bed, sounds simple, but when faced with all 3 children with the above roller coaster emotions, its so hard.

so who is right?

So who is right?

Am I right working until 6pm ?

Is my childminder right for having them after school until I get them when they are already tired from being in school all day?

Is it right to think bugger the reading, I just want ten minutes talking to my child before they go to bed ?

Is it right that Daddy doesn’t see his children for days on end?

If you have the answer I’d love to know?

Maybe this is just how it is, maybe this is what parenting whilst working is like.

These are the things people neglect to tell you before you have babies, they don’t mention manic school runs, being late for work, never having a hot drink… ever, food or snot constantly on your clothes, never having time to just ….sit. Visiting friends, pah, you’ll spend every other minute taking Billy for a poo, or a wee, or a snack, or a time out, you might catch a snippet of one conversation and then you’ll have to leave to pick up Polly from pre school.

Some days are just too much.

Is Daddy coming home today?

It breaks my heart when the kids ask if they will see Daddy tonight, no sorry darlings, Daddy has to work late again, you will see him on Friday, maybe…

The deteriorating Daddy

Its so sad to see the deteriorating Daddy. The time spent at work lengthens, his tired eyes every night tell the tale, his heart breaks a little bit each day when he does see the children and he realises what he’s missed. So much pressure. To bring home the money, to be the man, I’d hate that job.

Some days are just too much.

Daddy and Libby
Daddy and Libby