Saturday, 10 November 2012

Jellybean's finest comedy moment

We had a wonderful day today. Not only did we finish our Christmas shopping (which is a miracle and a joy in itself) but we met up with some friends, had some lovely food and coffee at our favourite place, and played happily in the park before making the journey home.

We'd never been to this particular park before, though we've driven past a lot of times, so when we were wandering around with the smalls and the footballs we weren't overly concerned when Jellybean ran off ahead.

I was ambling along enjoying the slower paced company of Midget Gem watching happiness like this...Midget Gem does love footballs, and was happy to have bought a new one today, and played with some bigger boys in the park. It was his greatest day ever!
Daddytwo had gone ahead, following Jellybean who was just around the corner out of sight. Then I heard a yell - and saw him running - oh no, what's happened?!?!?! was this - of course! 

He had thrown his ball into the fountain (the fountain we didn't know was there - lesson learned, hazards EVERYWHERE!) and had stripped off his boots, trousers and pants (all in about five seconds of being out of view) and had one leg hooked over the side to follow it in! 

At least he'd thought to take his trousers off so they didn't get wet! 

Thankfully Daddytwo caught him before he actually climbed in - fountain paddling in November wouldn't be great for his body temperature! 

Still - it's a very pretty fountain!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A very proud Mummy

I do a lot of posts about being proud of my boys - but I can't help it - they do an awful lot that MAKES me proud! 

Today we had a taster session at Jellybean's new pre-school and I was thrilled to find that it's a small, friendly place and well staffed, and run by someone who used to be a primary teacher. 

This means that, like me, she is interested in encouraging reading and writing from a young age, and asking the children lots of questions, and answering lots of questions of theirs, to develop their busy little minds. 

She was open with us that she does a lot of early school activities alongside the play and craft and splashing in puddles activities he'd been doing at his old pre-school. 

Though OFSTED don't look for this at pre-school, and she doesn't push the children who aren't ready to do it, but if a child is like Jellybean and keen on reading, writing, learning and letters, she and the other staff are very encouraging indeed. 

I was shown some of the work other children there had been doing, and watched them doing some mixed in with all the other play, and this kind of learning is very much treated as another game that the children love.

As a small place there's a lot of one to one focus on each child, and it felt very friendly and happy. There are four staff full time and two part time for the days when it's busiest, and at most 30 children in the whole place. 

As a gift when we left after our taster session (which Midget Gem had been welcomed along to as well, though he's too young to go) Jellybean was given one of their pre-writing skills workbooks to play with - and he was desperate to start right away and took some convincing to let us drive home before he started! 

As it's only a five minute drive (fifteen minute bike ride, hurrah!) it wasn't long before we had him sitting at the kitchen table (still in coat and wellies) with a pen and his work book, practicing his writing skills and making up stories about all the pictures.

Here are some of his work book pages from today.

There is one other page I haven't photographed, but shall do and add to a later post about him being cheeky! There's a page where you practice n shapes which is train tunnels all in a row. On the line underneath you don't have lines to follow, but are meant to copy the shapes from above and make a row of tunnels. 

Jellybean drew a straight line - then his Daddy said "you're supposed to make it look like the line above with the tunnels" - so he drew a straight line right through all the tunnels too, and said "it matches now" !!!

Too smart for his own good sometimes! 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Pumpkin pie recipe

It might already be a little late for some of you, with Halloween over and done with - and for some it might just feel a little American and odd - but our supermarkets are filled with pumpkins and seasonal squash (any of which can be used, really) and this is a lovely spiced dessert that can be served warm or cold, and well worth trying. 

I looked around the Internet for a recipe I could use that didn't rely on tinned pumpkin (which is squash and not pumpkin as we would recognise it) as many American recipes use tinned produce and ready made pie bases. 

Finding instructions on how to prepare the pumpkin/squash myself took time and then the recipe still called for a ready made pie base! 

Eventually I took the best aspects from a number of sources and this is what I made.

First I prepared the pumpkin. I scooped out the stringy bits and seeds, and put them aside in a colander for later (to toast the seeds) cut it into chunks, sliced off the skin and stuck the flesh into the steamer. 

I steamed it until it was nice and soft then dropped it into a second colander to squish the excess water from the flesh. You want a purée but not a soggy one. I found that getting my hands right in and squeezing the flesh through my fists worked best then I patted the flesh flat to the colander and left it sitting in the sink whilst I make my pastry.

If I had some in the house I would have cheated and used ready rolled - but I didn't so I used this recipe for Sweet shortcrust pastry and made it fresh, then popped it in the fridge whilst I made my pie filling.

500g pumpkin purée
3 large eggs, lightly whisked
100g dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice 
1 tsp ground ginger 
300ml double cream

Pre heat oven to 180c
In large pan on a medium temperature, warm the cream with the sugar and spices and whisk a little so it thickens slightly. 
Turn the heat off under your pan.
Add the lightly whisked eggs and keep whisking so they don't cook and go lumpy in your mix, 
Add your pumpkin purée and keep whisking until it's smooth. 

Roll out your pastry and line a non stick flan dish and pour in your pumpkin mixture. I planned to use a flat, 12" flan dish - but Midget Gem got a little too helpful (and smashed it getting it out of the cupboard) so instead I used a deep 9" dish which wasn't quite the finished result I wanted - but you work with what you have! 

I baked it for 40 minutes - check it at half an hour and see what it looks like if yours is more shallow - mine was just browning on top. 

Next time I will sprinkle liberally with brown sugar and grill for a crunchier top. 

I think I'd also use a blender to really get a smooth mixture before pouring into my pie base.
Ta daa - my Somerset pumpkin pie! Enjoy warm with vanilla ice cream in front of a roaring fire by candlelight for a really autumnal treat.