Thursday, 24 April 2014

Jam Sandwich Biscuits

Jam Sandwich Biscuits

These delicious biscuits are a slight alternative to Jammie Dodgers. The biscuit is more of a shortbread with the addition of ground almonds. I got the recipe from this book 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies and Tempting Treats - Love Food which I've had for years and I dip into every now and again to satisfy my sweet tooth. I sandwiched them together with raspberry jam but you could use the jam of your choice. The first time I attempted these biscuits they went down a storm so I shall definitely be making them again soon! 





Ingredients

225 g/ 8 oz butter
100 g/3 1/2 oz castor sugar
200 g/7 oz plain flour
pinch of salt
100 g/3 1/2 oz ground almonds
Jam
icing sugar for dusting, optional

Method

1) Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl.
2) Add flour, salt and almonds and combine to form a dough.
3) Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refridgerate for an hour or two.
4) Preheat oven to 150 degrees (300 degrees or gas mark 2).
5) Roll the dough to 5mm think and cut circles using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass.
6) Cut a smaller circle in the middle of half the biscuits.
7) Bake for 25-30 minutes.
8) Leave to cool.
9) Sandwich together with the jam and dust icing sugar over the top. 


Link up your recipe of the week


Casa Costello

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Turkish pancake recipe

Turkish Pancakes

Turkish pancakes are pancakes with vegetables added into the batter before they're cooked. They are a great toddler food and way to get fussy children to eat vegetables without even realising! They're also good to take on a picnic as they taste wonderful eaten hot or cold. I've had them with spinach only and also with other mixtures of vegetables. The key is to slice your vegetables as thinly as possible. The great thing about this recipe is you can vary it according to your own tastes or what you have in the fridge.







Ingredients

For the batter:

125 g plain flour
300 ml milk
1 egg
pinch of salt

Vegetables:

1 tomato halved and thinly sliced
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
white cabbage, thinly sliced


Method

Whisk ingredients for batter together.


Add thinly sliced vegetables and mix.

                

Shallow fry in oil.



Enjoy!





The very hungry caterpillar felt board

Storytelling 

The very hungry caterpillar felt board






Today I made a felt board for the children to play with to practice their storytelling skills. Storytelling is important for so many reasons. Firstly, it is a way children can learn about the world and relationships. Stories are a way of talking about your own experiences as well as the experiences of others. Well-told stories, with the help of eye-catching pictures, are particularly engaging for younger children and if they are interesting children will no doubt learn from them. Therefore, stories are an excellent way of introducing children to new ideas and concepts.

Secondly, the act of storytelling provides great opportunities for social interaction. Nowadays, with the development of new technology such as computers, opportunities for social interaction are, unfortunately, becoming rarer. People are spending more time in front of a screen and less time interacting with one another. Not only does storytelling provide an opportunity for children to interact with each other and adults, children can also learn about social relationships through hearing and understanding about the relationships the characters of the story have with each other.

Thirdly, it can teach them many skills. When they listen to a story being told they become aware of what a narrative is and learn the skills they will need to tell a story. Also, listening and attention skills are being practiced and developed when a child listens to a story being told. Literacy skills are another area of development if they are looking at a story in a book. Another advantage of storytelling is that it teaches organisation skills. Through listening to a story, children are not only learning about the structure of a narrative, but also about how to sequence events in order to produce a story themselves.

Finally, storytelling, quite simply, encourages creativity and imagination!

                              


The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a wonderful story about the life cycle of a caterpillar. It teaches children how the caterpillar comes from an egg and, after eating lots of food, eventually builds a cocoon and stays there until finally emerging as a butterfly. It also teaches the days of the week, counting and vocabulary. My children love to look through the book, poking their fingers into the little holes the caterpillar makes in all the pieces of food. So, I thought this story would be perfect for a felt board.

I had a pack of felt in the cupboard which I bought from a local supermarket and cut it up to make the pieces for the caterpillar and all the goodies he eats by using the pictures in the book for inspiration. The children were so eager to play with it that they couldn't wait for me to finish before starting to arrange the pieces of felt onto the board.

They played with the board for some time and it was wonderful to hear D retelling the story to R who listened attentively. The board serves as a wonderful prop that encourages the development of storytelling and narrative skills.









Friday, 11 April 2014

Mother hen

For the last year or so I have been thinking a lot about working towards becoming more self-sufficient by growing and producing our own food, among other things. It started off when I read the fabulous book Low-Cost Living: Live better, spend less  which explains the ways in which you can save money by producing your own food as well as other good money saving tips. I found the book so inspiring and it, along with other things, has made me yearn for a more simple, self-sustained way of life. I believe this way of living provides many benefits, not just to the bank balance but also to the body and soul. After all, there are many health benefits to eating organic food. There are also many moral issues which question the acceptability of eating mass-produced, genetically enhanced fruit and vegetables and also the eggs produced by caged hens. Therefore, there are advantages to knowing where your food comes from.

The welfare of hens living in battery farm conditions is a grave concern, particularly because this is where many people get their eggs from. Hens bred into these conditions live their whole, short, sorry life in a cage with sometimes space limited to the size of an A4 piece of paper! They have little space to move and some cannot even sit down. Due to cramped conditions they are often subject to injuries from other hens caused by feather pecking and this has led to many of the hens in these conditions have their beaks trimmed as a way of reducing this risk. Restricted movement, on top of the fact that chickens in these conditions have been produced to be egg-making machines which leads to a depleted store of calcium in their bodies, leads to a high incidence of bone fractures caused by osteoparosis. These somber facts are heartbreaking and after researching I feel I can never eat an egg from a caged hen again. This brings me onto the main topic of this post; to introduce my new pet chickens!

I often had chickens in the garden as a child. My parents enjoyed keeping them and we all enjoyed the fresh eggs and baby chicks, which we acquired occasionally, as well as the joy of seeing chickens wandering around the garden. My mother would feed them leftover food from the kitchen so food rarely went to waste. I had been thinking of getting some chickens for the last few months, mainly for the eggs but also for the children as a way of teaching them about these wonderful creatures, where our eggs come from and the responsibility animal care.

Finally last weekend we took the plunge. We visited a local, small chicken breeder and picked up four chicks. I went for chicks for two reason;, firstly because I wanted to give the children the experience of watching them grow up to be fully grown chickens and, secondly, because we could keep them indoors for a while until we had a chicken coop and run sorted for them in the garden!

The children were so excited to bring them home. They watched the chicks for hours in their cardboard box which would be their home for the next few days. They fed them, gave them water, touched them and talked to them with wild excitement in their eyes. It is a joy to watch.

Having a toddler does mean I have to keep an eye on the chicks as he gets very eager to give them food, drinks and even toys! I've had to rescue a few small toys from the box as well as a carton of apple juice! Also, he tips in food (such as his leftover breakfast cereal) and drink occasionally meaning I have to completely clean out the box and put fresh bedding in. However, it is a learning curve for us all and I'm sure he will learn eventually!

So, without further ado let me introduce to you my new chicks! There are two Welsummer and Bluebelle crosses, one Welsummer and Light Sussex cross and one Black Jersey Giant and Buff Sussex cross.







Friday, 4 April 2014

Nurturing Multilingualism

Bringing up my children as multilingual is something I am passionate about. Coming from a Polish family where only  English was spoken at home I, unfortunately, have experienced first hand the feeling of such a lost opportunity. Growing up I could not get away from the fact I came from a Polish background. Just one look at my name and it was obvious to anyone that I have eastern European roots. Once, the penny dropped and people realised it was, in fact, a Polish name the questions started;
'Are your parents Polish?' Yes.
'Do they speak Polish?'  Yes, it was their first language.
'So, you can speak Polish then.' Umm, no.
It was more of a matter of fact statement than a question but, nevertheless, I was met with a look of disbelief when I gave my response. 

No, I do not speak Polish. I mean, I can say a few basic words and phrases, afterall, I went to Saturday Polish school for a few months when I was five years old, but it was far away from our house so I soon had to give it up. Being the eldest of six children, my parents wanted our first language to be English and by the time the youngest arrived I was already nine years old and by the time my youngest brother learned to speak I would have been 11 or 12 and it was too late for me to become bilingual then, wasn't it?

Well, not necessarily. Recent research has, in fact, shown that there might not be a critical period for second language learning. Dr Grosjean's excellent article sums up the recent research findings,(http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-bilingual/201309/how-early-second-language) which have shown that teenagers can be better language learner's than young children. The only thing which might distinguish a highly proficient later second language learner from an early second language learner might be difficulties acquiring native-like accent.

I do, however, have an interest in foreign languages and language learning, unlike my siblings. At school I studied French, German, Italian and Latin and I later took French and Italian at A level. I've had a go at learning Polish here and there when I've had the time (which is not too often lately!). More recently, after meeting my husband, I began to learn Turkish and have also picked up a few words and phrases in Kurmanji and Zazaki, both Kurdish languages.

Now I am doing a PhD in bilingualism (bilingual children with autism to be more precise). I know of the benefits of being bilingual and these have made me strive to make sure my children have the opportunity I have missed. My husband and I would like our children to be able to speak at least English and Turkish (I hope they will have some understanding of Zazaki in the future but this is not a priority for the time being) but, living in England, the Turkish is not so easy to acquire. We are surrounded by English everywhere and it seems such a struggle to get the children in an environment where Turkish is spoken even a few times a week. Wherever we go, evidently English still prevails! Therefore, I am constantly trying to think of ways to help nurture my children's Turkish language learning.


Today, while at university, I stumbled across a fantastic blog called biligualmonkeys.com and found a great article about helping your child to become bilingual: 
http://bilingualmonkeys.com/96-things-you-can-do-today-to-boost-your-childs-bilingual-ability/

Do take a look as there are some brilliant tips and strategies there which I will definitely be attempting to apply to my own life!

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