Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A screen free day

It's been good having a little sabbatical from feeling obliged to produce regular posts that are even slightly interesting and not too nauseatingly self indulgent, but I feel like posting tonight so here I am. Scott has ducked out to buy groceries after cooking us a thai chicken curry so I'm quickly grabbing five peaceful minutes on the computer before I tuck in.

We had a successful "no screen day" at our house today. I'm really proud of myself and the girls. I forgot to remind Scott of the plan last night (I'm intending to do it every Wednesday) so when I got up at 7am after a nice little sleep in, the girls were already playing the computer. It soon went off though with a minimum of fuss. My big girl got ready for school and then I set the girls up with watercolours, paper and brushes in the playroom. So far..... so good. I raced around doing morning chores in between admiring their artwork and telling my little girl " can't paint your hands this morning". Soon bored with painting, they decided to play with their "Strawberry Fayre" fairy toys. Multiple fights over who had which fairies soon broke out and I realised that this is why TV makes life easier for parents. The children sit in a peaceful state of zombiness in front of the TV for longish periods. Sigh. This was going to be harder than I thought. I promised the girls I would set up a "post office shop" in the lounge room to ease the pain of no TV/computer.

After dropping the big girl at school and doing a few errands, the little girl and I came home and
started playing shops. This was fun until after lunch when I hit my customary "wall" at 1pm and desperately wanted to lie on the couch and read "The Time Traveller's Wife". This is the time when I normally let my curlywhirl girl watch another batch of TV while she lies on me or at the other end of the couch. But playing shops with Mum was so much fun, there was no way she would let me skive off and read my book while she played in happy solitude. I had to do repeated deals of 5 minutes of shops and 5 minutes of me reading. I really really missed the TV.

After picking up my big girl and her friend who comes to us every Wednesday after school, the three girls happily played post offices for about an hour. Only a couple of mild squabbles over who had the kitchen scales for weighing parcels. Then, after the friend left, I let them have a quick dip in the new paddle pool despite the fact that it was cloudy and cool. Then we had to rush warm baths and dinner and homework and pick up the Dad from a strange railway station as his trains from the city were cancelled. Then came the best part. My big girl would normally be watching some last minute TV or wanting to finish an inane computer game and resisting bedtime but she asked if we could start reading bedtime stories early and would brush her teeth while we read. What a treat! A whole hour of snuggling up with my big girl while the other two ate crackers and cheese and read stories in the other room. It was the most peaceful bedtime we have had for ages. Even Scott, who takes all my obsessing over childhood with a grain of salt and a lot of laissez-faire attitude to parenting, was amazed at the peace.

I was going to take photos of our lovely day and the post-office but Scott took our camera to work, so it's just boring old words tonight.

The girls are extra precious to us at the moment for two reasons. Our little girl has started "big" daycare and truly hates it. Leaving her there two days a week is breaking our hearts but we are going to give her a couple more weeks and see if she settles in before looking at other options including me giving up work which we can't afford to do. So I'm very conscious of enjoying the time she is home with me as much as I can to try and make up for her sadness at going to "kindy". She tells me every night at bedtime that she doesn't want to go.

Also, a 12 year old boy was killed by another student in a tragic incident at a good boys high school just a few suburbs away from us earlier this week. When I heard today that he was an only child, I just wept for his parents. It's made me think so much about the importance of family and the need to love our children every moment we can. There was also an incident of bullying at our school this week in which one little boy was slightly injured and which E witnessed as both boys involved are friends of hers. So childhood and schools are really on my mind. Scott says times have changed so much that our children will never have the innocence and freedom that we had and that makes me sad. is my husband...home from hunting and gathering at the supermarket so I'd best be off and eat my dinner.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Favourite gluten free recipes

I promised a fellow blogger, Margaret, (Peg or Peggy too), some gluten free recipes so here they are. I usually just buy gluten free flour from the supermarket or health food shop and substitute it for normal flour. If you can't find any, there always pavlova! Here's my pavlova recipe as well.

Sorry I don't have any photos to go with them.


6 eggwhites
1 and a half cups of castor sugar
dessertspoon of white vinegar
tablespoon of cornflour (check it has only corn and no wheaten flour)

Heat oven to about 120 degrees celsius. (a cool/slow oven)
Draw around a dinner plate on a piece of oven baking paper/greaseproof paper and cut it out and put it on a pizza tray or baking tray.
Separate eggs being careful not to get even a smidge of yolk in the white. (Good idea to do each on in a separate cup then tip the white into your big bowl)
Beat eggs with an electric beater until stiff peaks form. (My husband sometimes does this bit by hand to prove his manhood!)
Add castor sugar about a third of a cup at a time beating for about 5 minutes or so to dissolve the sugar.
Add dessertspoon of vinegar and beat.
Add corn flour and gently fold through with a spoon.
Heap mixture in onto paper on tray in a round shape with a spoon and swirl the edges up a bit higher. (Sometimes I make a heartshaped one for Valentine's Day)
Cook for about an hour on 120 degrees or until outside feels crisp when you tap it with your fingernail. (check after 15-20 minutes and if going brown, turn the oven down a bit).
Turn oven off and leave in oven with door open until cool. Take out if looks too cooked, though.
Fold in cornflour gently until mixed through.

Fill with whipped cream and top with fruit - eg strawberries. Sometimes I used a tin of destoned cherries and put grated chocolate on top.

Chocolate Brownies

150 g butter
125 grams dark chocolate
3 eggs
a quarter cup of cocoa powder
1 and a half cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup plain GF flour (or you can use self raising GF flour)
icing sugar to dust

Heat oven to 180 degrees celsius
Line a cake/slice/lasagna tin with baking paper extending over the two sides so you can lift it out easily later.
Melt butter and chocolate (I do it in the microwave in the same bowl - 30 seconds at a time and stir in between goes). Let cool down a bit.
Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla with a whisk until well combined
Whisk in chocolate and butter mixture.
Stir in sifted flour and cocoa. Do not over beat.
Pour into prepared tin. Bake for 40 minutes
Slice will rise up and then sink back down again, leaving the surface a little bit cracked.
Dust with sifted icing sugar.

Carrot and Apricot Slice

1 cup Self Raising Gluten free flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Three quarters cup of caster sugar
Three quarters cup of grated carrot
Three quarters cup of chopped dried apricot/sultanas/chopped ginger or whatever you fancy
Third of a cup of dessicated coconut
Half a cup of chopped walnuts
2 eggs lightly beaten
90 grams of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
Line slice tin/lasagna dish with baking paper extending over two sides.
Sift flour and cinnamon into large bowl.
Add sugar, carrot, dried fuit, coconut and walnuts and stir until combined
Add eggs and butter.

Spread evenly into prepared tin and smooth surface.
Bake for 30 minutes until golden and firm to touch.
Cool in tin and then lift out.

Top with cream cheese frosting or make lemon icing with one cup of icing sugar (check is the gluten free kind not "icing mixture"), and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice. (Add gradually so you don't end up with running icing).

David Herbert's "Perfect baked cheesecake".

250 grams plain sweet gluten free biscuits (We use Arnott's rice cookies)
quarter teaspoon ground ginger
125 grams melted butter

500 grams cream cheese
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs separated
1/2 cup cream
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Crush biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Put in bowl and mix with ground ginger.
Mix with melted butter unti mixture comes together .
Press mixture with your fingertips into a spring form cake tin greased and lined with baking paper. Press mixture two thirds up the side of tin.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
With electric beater mix cream cheese and caster sugar until creamy.
Add egg yolks, cream, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and beat until light and fluffy
In clean bowl, beat eggwhites until firm peaks form.
Fold egg whites into cream cheese mixture
Spoon onto cheesecake base and smooth top
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until pale golden colour and just set in the centre.
Refrigerate for 6-12 hours. Dust with icing sugar before serving.