Thursday, 14 April 2011

Easter Baking

We made our own hot cross buns! The smell that filled our house was amazing, and shop bought ones are now definitely second rate. It was a bit of a hassle, but worth doing - if only once!

Here's the recipe we used:

450g / 1lb plain flour
50g / 2 oz caster sugar
25g / 1 oz fresh yeast or 1 level tablespoon dried yeast
150ml / 1/4 pint lukewarm milk
4 tablespoons lukewarm water
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
00g / 4 oz currants
50g / 2oz chopped mixed peel
50g / 2 oz butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten

50g / 2oz granulated sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Sift 100g flour into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon sugar.
Blend yeast with milk and water. Add to sifted flour and sugar.
Mix well and leave for 20 to 30 mins.
Meanwhile sift remaining flour, salt and spices into another bowl. Add rest of sugar, currants and peel. Toss lightly together.
Add to yeast mixture with butter and beaten egg. Mix to fairly soft dough that leaves sides of bowl clean.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 5 mins or until dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
Cover and leave to rise until double in size.
Turn out onto floured board. Knead lightly and divide into 12 equal sized pieces.
Shape each into round bun. Stand well apart on lightly buttered and floured tray.
Cover and leave to rise 30 mins (or until dough feels springy when pressed lightly with floured finger)
Cut a cross on top of each with a sharp knife.
Bake just above centre of hot oven (220C / 425F / Gas mark 7) 20-25 mins.
Transfer to wire rack. Brush twice with glaze, made by dissolving sugar in milk and boiling for 2 mins.

Makes 12 hot cross buns. Recipe from The Dairy Book of Home Cookery)

We also enjoyed making these springtime sausage roll rabbits:

Wonderful Wool

When my eldest son (now 9) was 2-3 years old, he was fascinated by wool. When we lived in Turkey, we would walk through the market, and he would often want to by a ball of coloured wool from the wool stall, and was happier with that than with a toy. He used to create huge webs around rooms, winding the wool around chair and table legs, drawer and door handles, scooting underneath his creation as he expanded it. When we were still in England, I was fortunate enough to find a nursery near our house which followed the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education which is very child centred. They allowed him to create these webs whilst in their care using masking tape, sellotape or string, and I would arrive to collect him and be shown his latest designs around the nursery.

Today we went to a gallery to see an exhibition in Drawing with Thread. The artist had used metal pins around which she had wound thread to create a picture. It was so cleverly done. There was a woman showing the children how to spin wool into yarn, and my eldest son was fascinated by this, and sat for a long time peddling the wheel and feeding in the wool until he had learnt how to do it. He remains very interested in wool, and in textiles and sculpture Perhaps we'll have a go at our own Drawing with Thread designs.

Artwork by Debbie Smyth, The Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

First Aid

A long time ago, my eldest son expressed an interest in learning some First Aid. He was delighted, therefore, when another member of our Home Education Group talked about organising a couple of sessions with a volunteer from St John's Ambulance, the first of which happened yesterday. Around a dozen children - aged 5-13 - had a lot of fun with a lot of bandages, and along the way were taught CPR with a dummy, responding to bleeding, breaks and faints, and reporting an emergency. A follow-up class will happen in the summer.

Theatre of Widdershins - Puppetry and Storytelling

We had a trip to Birmingham recently for a wonderful treat in storytelling and puppetry courtesy of The Theatre of Widdershins. 'The Three Billy Goats Gruff' aimed at a younger audience than last year's "Arabian Nights" still delighted our boys because of the superb art of storytelling and the enchanting latex puppets. After the show came the chance for the children to admire the puppets at closer range, and in talking to the puppeteer and his wife, we discovered they are fellow home-educators!

Field Trips

In my eldest son's history readings, we kept encountering 'The Tower' into which people were shut, seldom to escape! Of course, this raised my son's interest ... "Why didn't people get out of the Tower? Is that where the Crown Jewels are kept?" In response to his questions, we arranged a visit to London so that he could tour the Tower and envisage what he is reading about. He went on the train with his Dad and Grandpa, and had a lovely day whilst learning a lot!