Child's Play

Time for school holidays again in the northern hemisphere, not quite the long hot summer we in the UK had been hoping for but I, for one, am getting quite excited about having time with the kids.
As historic as having the Olympics in London may be, we will be avoiding London like the plague,I think it will be a bit of a nightmare getting anywhere and I'm sure we will manage to see the good bits on tv, no scary crowds, and eating bowls of rose petal and white chocolate popcorn.

My most memorable summers were spent in Cairns, in far north Queensland. We were five kids and basically got ushered out of the back door into the garden and left to our own devices until feeding time. It was wonderful.
Chickens, ducks, abundant fruit trees, rainforest, homemade slingshots, building dams, making go-carts all low tech and lovely but not everybody gets to live like that and a lot mightn't want to anyhoo.

So activities need to be organised these days but I factor in a bit of "boring" time, no screens, no phones, give 'em a compass, a leaky pen,a paperclip and an apple and send them off into the wilderness, even if that's only a tiny terrace or the local shopping centre.

Of course we'll do a lot of cooking but some other things will be in the mix.
I'm looking into a little bit of circus training, in Manchester there's Skylight and in London,Albert and Friends .
We'll be doing some flagrant guerrilla knitting,for Yarnbombing , watch for changes on a bridge near you, coming soon..
A website I use a lot is Lifehacker , they "curate ideas for life ", although not a kids site, there are some brilliant ideas using everyday things to make cool AND useful stuff.

Also loving these playing cards designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1952 ! If you wanted a project, you could make your own with your favourite family memories.

White Chocolate Rose Petal Vanilla Popcorn
serves 2-3
3 tablespoons dried rose petals ( available )
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1-2 tablespoons milk
200 grams high-quality white chocolate, melted
pink sugar for sprinkling
A few hours (or at least 30 minutes) before popping, pour oil in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of rose petals, allowing it to sit at least 30 minutes. Remove petals with a slotted spoon, then heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add oil. Once hot, add in a few kernels, and as soon as they pop, add in the rest, covering the pot. Slightly shake the pot and reduce heat to medium, shaking the pot every few seconds until all of the popcorn pops.
In a bowl, whisk together sugar, vanilla bean paste, 1 tablespoon of milk and 1/2 tablespoon rose petals. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk a few drops at a time. If it is too thin, add in more sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.
Drizzle popcorn with rose vanilla glaze, then melted white chocolate, and immediately sprinkle with remaining rose petals and pink sugar. Spread on a baking sheet in clusters and pieces, allowing to sit for 15 minutes or so until the chocolate and glaze firm to room temperature.

These vegetable dumplings are great for the kids to make, this is a "properish" recipe but it is also a great way to use leftovers from the Sunday roast, a kinda enrobed hash. Skip making the dough and buy some ready-made wonton wrappers from the store if you don't have the time. Serve with homemade tomato sauce and we usually listen to a story on the iPod, this summer I'm gonna force feed/ ear them To Kill a Mockingbird and maybe some Huckleberry Finn, always reminds me of summer,nostalgic sigh.....


Himalayan Mo-Mo's

The Wrappers 
4 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon oil
water, as required
1 pinch salt
The Filling
1 cup sweet potato, cooked and cubed
1 cup potato, cooked and cubed
1 cup red onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup spring onions, finely chopped
1 cup ripe tomatoes, finely chpped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder, or momo masala if available
2 fresh red chilies, minced ( or to taste, leave them out if your kids don't like them, but try adding a dollop of sweet chilli sauce to get them started on the spice route)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
salt and pepper
Dough: In a large bowl combine flour, oil, salt and water.
Mix well, knead until the dough becomes homogeneous in texture, about 8-10 minute.
Cover and let stand for at least 30 minute.
Knead well again before making wrappers
Filling: In a large bowl combine all filling ingredients. Mix well, adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow all ingredients to impart their unique flavours.
This also improves the consistency of the filling.
Give the dough a final knead.
Prepare 3 cm. dough balls.
Take a ball, roll between your palms to spherical shape.
Dust working board with dry flour.
On the board gently flatten the ball with your palm to about 6 cm circle.
Make a few semi-flattened circles, cover with a bowl.
Use a rolling pin to roll out each flattened circle into a wrapper.
For well executed MOMO's, it is essential that the middle portion of the wrapper be slightly thicker than the edges to ensure the structural integrity of dumplings during packing and steaming.
Hold the edges of the semi-flattened dough with one hand and with the other hand begin rolling the edges of the dough out, swirling a bit at a time.
Continue until the wrapper attains 8cm diameter circular shape.
Repeat with the remaining semi-flattened dough circles.
Cover with bowl to prevent from drying.
For packing hold wrapper on one palm, put one tablespoon of filling mixture and with the other hand bring all edges together to the center, making the pleats.
Pinch and twist the pleats to ensure the absolute closure of the stuffed dumpling.
This holds the key to good tasting, juicy dumplings.
Heat up a steamer, oil the steamer rack well.
This is critical because it will prevent dumplings from sticking.
Arrange uncooked dumplings in the steamer.
Close the lid, and allow steaming until the dumplings are cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Take dumplings off the steamer and serve immediately.
Alternatively, you can place uncooked dumplings directly in slightly salted boiling water and cook until done, approximately 10 minutes. Be careful not to over boil the dumplings.
You may also slightly sauté the cooked dumplings in butter or gee before serving.

Have a wonderful summer, plant something, sing something, start that novel, kiss a stranger. And cook!

Love Food, Love the children, everyone's children X