Monday, July 29, 2013

Friendly Numbers Fortune Teller

Here's another idea for testing/learning friendly numbers: a fortune teller!  I took the template from Downloadable Cootie Catchers, where there are lots of options but I decided to use a powerpoint template to create one for friendly numbers.  Here's how the Downloadable Cootie Catchers' template looks when blank:

As you can see from the friendly numbers fortune teller (opens as a google doc) I created, I've left in the instructions and link to the site just in case anyone wants to make their own.

PS- If you choose to download, please let me know: I'd love to find out if anyone ever ends up here :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friendly Numbers!

So what are "Friendly Numbers"? They are the numbers that go together to make up 10.  Sounds easy enough doesn't it?  Unless you're just starting to learn maths...

Then it can apparently be quite difficult!  This is something that I want to help Ziggy learn/revise so she can increase her confidence when studying maths.  And, after spending *way* too much time putting together these sheets, I thought I might save someone some time and put up mine.

I think the idea is to print out each "frame" of 10 squares and laminate it.  And then they can be used as flash-cards or maybe as a memory type game or anything to which you set your mind.

So, as you can see from the images below, 9 and 1 are friendly; 8 and 2 are friendly; etc.  

Here's a blank board in case you want to use pebbles or shells or whatever you can imagine to play a different game.

Finally, I created a poster based on something I heard was on Pinterest (sorry to original poster, I tried searching for an original source using google images, but couldn't find it).
PS- If you choose to download, please let me know: I'd love to find out if anyone ever ends up here :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thermomix Sponge

BACKSTORY: After a few years of yearning (and thanks largely to an unexpected injection of funds into my bank account), I purchased a Thermomix!  It's early days yet, but I'm really enjoying having such a great tool in my (super tiny) kitchen.

I've cooked quite a few things so far (recipe tweaks will be added as I make time to write them) and today I find myself yearning for cake and somehow a sponge is tickling my fancy.  Now, some will say it's not possible to make a good sponge in the TM, but I have hope!  A basic sponge ratio is 1:1:1:1 plus vanilla (and some baking powder for extra lift... and maybe a heaped tablespoon of cocoa if you desire a chocolate sponge).  That is one "weight" of eggs, one weight of sugar, one weight of SR flour, and one weight of butter plus vanilla.  BTW: a basic pound cake recipe has the same ratio and ingredients, but the order in which ingredients are added differs: butter, sugar, egg then flour.

I've done a little research and, combining tips and recipes from Why is There Air? (so very apt for a sponge recipe!), The Bush Gourmand and the TM Forum, I've come up with the following recipe.


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • SR flour (egg weight*)
  • Caster sugar (egg weight*)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • Butter at room temperature (egg weight*)
  • Dusting of cornflour (for lining tins)


  1. Preheat oven to 180 C
  2. Line one 20cm deep sided tin with baking paper.  Grease sides lightly and sprinkle with a little cornflour
  3. Crack and weigh eggs on the TM lid: make note of weight (referred to as “egg weight”; see notes section below)
  4. Mix flour and baking powder for 30 seconds on speed 3; set aside
  5. Pulverise sugar until really fine; approx 60 seconds on speed 9
  6. Put butterfly over blades and beat sugar and whole eggs for 6 mins @ 37 degrees speed 4 with no MC on (incorporates more air)
  7. Turn off temperature and continue to beat for another 6 mins on speed 4 (cup off)
  8. Scrape down sides and lid with spatula
  9. Add vanilla paste to mix
  10. Incorporate flour and baking powder mix for 10 seconds on speed 3 
  11.   Scrape down sides with spatula
  12. Add butter and mix for 10 seconds on speed 3 (if insufficiently mixed, mix a little longer)
  13. Remove butterfly and scrape down sides with spatula 
  14. Pour mixture into deep 20 cm round cake tin (lined as per Step 2) 
  15. Place the TM bowl back on the machine and press turbo button a few times to send the rest of the cake mixture to the sides. Scrape out with the spatula and add to the tin
  16. Bake about 25-35 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean
  17. Cool 5 minutes (in the tin) then turn out on a rack to finish cooling
  18. Cut cooled sponge in half and spread cream, jam and fruit of choice in centre


* Egg weight - Weigh the eggs on the TM lid, note the weight, then crack them into the bowl.  One then uses exactly the same weight of sugar, flour and butter as the weight of the eggs, i.e., if the eggs weigh 200g, use 200g of sugar, flour and butter.
Cake may be frozen.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Counting Songs

My first admission of the morning: I'm addicted to Pinterest.  And this morning was little different from many a Saturday morning - lying in bed... contemplating the concept of getting up... reaching for my phone instead... and spending more time than I'm willing to admit on Pinterest.  If you care, you can find my pins here.

And, much as one thing leads to another, one link leads to another.  And I found myself on YouTube (yes, potentially another massive waste of time but its siren call, for me at least, has nothing on Pinterest's).  And it was on YouTube I found HaveFunTeaching's brilliant songs.  To be honest, I was just checking them out but both Ziggy and Gertie found their way to me in no time at all and, shortly thereafter were both grooving along.  I can highly recommend their walking song (not only for the joy of watching The Man inspiring Ziggy to do the robot).  Then we found the counting songs - mainly because Gertie wanted to see the penguin.  I love counting songs - they're such an easy way to kids to learn to skip count.  Obviously, I'm no expert on pedagogy, but as I know all the words to some of the more dubious pop of my youth I'm figuring learning though music has to be effective and much more fun than rote learning.

So, I thought I might investigate the website and download some of the songs.  I love instant downloads - let's face it, I put all CDs onto my pc and then my music player anyway, so why not just skip the CD altogether?  My only problem is that there's a volume discount if you buy all the CDs, but not for the downloads.  Why? I was ready to buy, but the fact that it'd cost more for the downloads the CDs gave me pause...

And then I saw that I could apply for the counting songs free of charge.  Certainly worth checking out.  So I guess I'll apply, listen and then review.  And then I'll probably be willing to purchase the other songs (can't wait to check out the fitness ones).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Menu Planning - Spinach & Lentil Lasagne

Monday: Spinach and Lentil Lasagne
I originally came across this recipe on Towards Sustainability.  So the original copyright for the lasagne lies with Julie (from Towards Sustainability).  As usual, I've played a bit with it and have added white sauce from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Recipes.

The white sauce is great for the creamed spinach but also for white sauce for cauliflower. I know the verdict is split on cauliflower and white sauce but I unashamedly love it!  My plan was to have cauliflower with the roast and to make extra white sauce for this recipe.  The plan also included roasting extra vegies to put in the lasagne and/or chopping extra vegies for use in the stir-fry for Tuesday.

[Of course, I've been insanely busy AND I hurt my neck, so there hasn't been too much following of the plan this week... but maybe I can use this for another week.]

Back to the lasagne: I like to make double-quantity of this as it freezes really well and is a delicious, vegetable-filled, dinner for another night.

500g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
375g low fat ricotta cheese
375g low fat cottage cheese
1 cup low fat cheddar cheese, grated
500g jar pasta sauce
2.5 cups water
300g instant wholemeal lasagne sheets
400g can lentils, drained
2 tbs fresh oregano OR 2 tsp dried
1 clove garlic, crushed
1. Preheat oven to 180'C. Drain spinach well and squeeze out any excess moisture.
2. Mix spinach with ricotta, cottage cheese, lentils, oregano and garlic in a large bowl.
3. Mix pasta sauce with the water in a separate bowl.
4. In a large lasagne dish, alternate layers of sauce, lasagne sheets and cheese mix, ending with sauce. Top with the grated cheese.
5. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes. Remove foil and bake a further 15 minutes until cheese is golden. Allow to stand for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Ultimate creamed spinach
Serves 4


500g fresh spinach
1 onion, peeled and cut into thick slices
250ml whole milk
1-2 bay leaves
50g unsalted butter
25g plain flour
sea salt
A couple of twists of black pepper
A few gratings of nutmeg

Trim the spinach, stripping out the coarse central stalks and wash well. Cook the spinach, covered, in a large saucepan – you don’t need to add any water, as the droplets clinging to leaves from when you washed them will be enough. When the leaves are wilted and cooked through, refresh them briefly cold water then squeeze them with your hands to extract as much water as you can before roughly chopping.
Put the onion and bay leaves in a pan with the milk. Bring almost to boiling point, remove from the heat then leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain into a warmed jug, discarding the onion and bay leaves.
Melt the butter in the same pan (you don’t need to wash it) and stir in the flour to get a loose roux. Cook this gently for a couple of minutes, then add half the warm, seasoned milk and stir in. When the sauce is thick and smooth, stir in the rest of the milk. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for just a minute. Season well with salt, pepper and a few grinds of nutmeg.
Next stir in the chopped spinach. Heat through until thoroughly hot, but don’t let it bubble for more than a minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a touch more nutmeg if you like. Serve at once, ladled generously into large warmed bowls.
This recipe has been adapted from The River Cottage Year.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Could This Be the Perfect Iced Coffee?

For some reason yesterday, I suffered from "link blink" (someone, I thought it was Linda - but now I cannot find her reference, referred to this as the act of getting caught going from one link to another until a ridiculous amount of time has passed).  But I did stumble upon a great site for Cold Brew Coffee (it also has fantastic photos, illustrating the process).  There are actually lots and lots of versions out there: feel free to google.
Cold brewing of coffee relies on time to flavour the water (instead of heat, which is applicable for standard hot coffee).  It apparently imparts more coffee flavour and less bitterness.  Essentially, you need to soak ground coffee for hours and then filter it.  You can do this in a plunger/french press (a common brand name rhymes with "snowdum") or just in a jar (in which case you need to use a coffee filter from a dripolator to filter out the ground coffee).  Actually, I've left out the third version: buy a specifically made cold-brew coffee maker!

As usual though, I cannot possibly follow a recipe straight up, so I've tweaked it a bit (original copyright Christy Jordan):
A plunger coffee maker OR
A jar, a sieve, two coffee filter papers (or some muslins) and a bowl
A spoon or chopstick
1/2 cup freshly ground coffee (not instant! never instant! never, ever, ever!*)
1 litre of tepid filtered water (my plunger actually only holds 750mls)
1 tbs chicory (optional)
1- Grind coffee (or just use ready ground coffee from a packet - it's not my preference but sometimes needs must).
2- Place 1/2 cup of freshly ground coffee into plunger or jar.
3- Add 750mls of tepid filtered water.
4- Stir the coffee grounds (a chopstick is ideal for this).
5 - Cover and let sit over night (12-15 hours is ideal).
6a- If you are using a plunger: plunge the coffee.
6b- If using a jar: place strainer over bowl and line strainer with coffee filter/muslin.  Pour over half the coffee and let it strain through; it may take some time.  Remove used filter (and coffee) and replace with a fresh filter.  Pour over remaining coffee and let it strain.  
7- Decant the coffee into the jar in which you will store it.  
8- Add the chicory (optional).
9- Store in fridge (make sure it's well sealed) and use within two weeks**.

Making Iced Coffee:
Mix 1:2 coffee concentrate to milk (adjust ratio to your preference), add ice and, if desired, sugar (or other sweetener) and maybe, if you're feeling decadent, some ice-cream.  Enjoy!

1- This concentrate can also be used to make a hot coffee.  Just use 1:2 concentrate to hot water (adjust to your pref.) and then add sugar, milk, etc. as you would normally.
2- For mocha, just add some chocolate! Either powered or syrup (or even real chocolate that you've melted). If you're going to use real chocolate, try to buy at least 70% cocoa chocolate (preferably fair trade and thus slave free).
3- Instead of chicory, you could substitute vanilla extract (or anything else that takes your fancy).
4- If you don't want ice-cubes making your iced coffee weaker, just freeze some of the concentrate as ice cubes!
5- The used filters and coffee grounds will go really nicely in your compost bin.
6- Some recipes suggest using milk instead of water - I'm a bit concerned about the potential for the concentrate going off, but feel free to try it if you want (let me know how it goes).

* If you're an instant coffee drinker, this is a waste of time, just make a paste and then add milk and ice - but I'd strongly suggest you leave the dark side and come and try some real coffee (I don't even use instant when cooking! Life's just too short).
** It's likely to to be used well before that, but the research I've read suggests this is the comfortable maximum for which you can leave the concentrate.  Other sites suggest it will keep for up to a month in a fridge.  Personally, as it's so little work, my preference would be to make a batch every few days; thus avoiding the potential for any nasty moulds to grow.


It is FANTASTIC with sweet potato! Try adding in some sage (chopped finely and mixed with the sweet potato).  You could also make it with half potato and half sweet potato (I tried this the first time I did it - personally, I wouldn't bother with this - it doesn't taste enough of the sweet potato).  The only thing is to make sure you don't add too much flower - keep a light touch and be parsimonious with flour... otherwise you end up with hard little gnocchi that are inedible (yes... I speak from experience!).
For a sauce you can try lots of things - but a burnt butter sauce is great (