Saturday, 12 April 2014

Ciabatta


I love making different breads and rolls but for some reason it took me a long time to attempt Ciabatta bread. This recipe is so easy, and has never failed me.

3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 1/2tsp active dry Yeast
1/4 cup Milk - warm
1 1/2 cups Water - warm
3/4 tsp sugar
Olive oil - for lining the bowl and clingfilm

In a large bowl mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Make a well in the middle and gradually mix in the water/milk mixture until well combined.
Lightly flour your worktop, tip out your dough and knead for 5 minutes, trying to put as many air bubbles into the dough as possible.
Oil the inside of a large bowl and place your dough inside. Oil a piece of clingfilm and cover the bowl with it. (Oiled side on the inside) Cover with a dish towel and leave to rise for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and lightly sprinkle with flour.
Place dough onto lightly floured surface and gently shape into a rectangular shape (approx 12in long x 4in wide). This should only take a couple of movements, you don't want to knock the air out of the dough.
Place the shaped dough onto the floured baking tray and bake for 35-40 minutes, until it is golden and when you tap the top it sounds hollow.
Leave to cool down on a wire tray.
Enjoy.



Thursday, 3 April 2014

Being a Big Brother


We have two boys, 6 and 3, and although we would love to say that we have treated them as equal it would be a lie.
What we can honestly say is that we have treated them as individuals.
It is impossible to expect a toddler to act, and understand, the same as a 4 year old. As well as this they have completely different personalities and natures. (hence their blog names Chalk and Cheese)

Chalk was a month off turning 3 when he became a big brother and I can truthfully say he has been absolutely fantastic so far. He has a sensitive and considerate soul which has helped him understand why he sometimes had to wait until I changed Cheese's nappy before I helped him build towers and why his tower would be constantly and repeatedly knocked down by little hands.
Of course we have tried to ensure that Chalk has never felt overlooked and gets to do 'big boy' things that his brother isn't able to i.e. going to the cinema with Daddy.

But now that Cheese is 3 they are both more than capable and there is no longer an age/understanding issue. Yet Cheese is still getting away with things, not by us though but by Chalk!
With Chalk spending half his life making allowances for his brother Cheese has now taken advantage of this knowledge and is definitely the dominant one.  Chalk will fetch things for his little brother, give up his seat, back down in an argument and give him his toys. Does not matter how much we tell Chalk that he doesn't have to it is now imprinted in his daily functions.
Don't get me wrong, I would much prefer this sibling relationship to them hating and resenting each other. Maybe Chalk will wake up one day and say enough is enough, but I doubt it.
For now Cheese has a loving big brother (and personal skivvy) and Chalk has developed the strong caring bond with his sibling that he should be proud of.



Sunday, 30 March 2014

Tuna Lasagne - slow cooker recipe


I love using my slow cooker, but find that a lot of the meals I make in it are 'wintery' meals. So with the weather getting better (and the family sick of stews!) I started to make this tuna lasagne again. It's a great way to get the boys eating fish (and the sneaky mushrooms)

Serves 6
2 1/2oz / 5 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4oz mushrooms, finely chopped
40g / 1 1/2oz plain flour
150ml / 1/4pint double cream
600ml / 1pint milk
2 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
2 x 200g cans tuna
115g / 4oz mozzarella cheese, grated
8 - 12 sheets lasagne
25g / 1oz grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to season

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of your ceramic cooker with butter.
In a large pan melt 1oz butter on a medium heat and add the onion, garlic and mushrooms, cook gently for 5 mins until onions are soft. Tip veg into a bowl and leave to the side.
Melt the rest of the butter, 1 1/2oz, in the pan and then stir in the flour for a minute. Take off the heat and gradually blend in the milk and cream. Put back on the heat and stir until the mix bubbles and thickens. Stir in the parsley and season.
Put 1/2pint of the sauce into a jug or small bowl then stir in the mushroom mix to the pan with the remaining sauce.
Drain tuna and place in a medium sized bowl. Flake the tuna up with a fork, then gently stir in the mozzarella and season.
Spoon a thin layer of the mushroom sauce onto the bottom of your slow cooker. Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets (should be 2 -3 sheets broken to fit). Sprinkle half the tuna mix followed with half the mushroom mix and then another layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat, finishing with a layer of lasagne sheets. Pour over the reserved white sauce and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
Put the lid on the slow cooker, set it to low, and leave for 2 hours (or until the sheets are tender).
Enjoy.





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Friday, 21 March 2014

Word of the Week - Academic


Although most weeks revolve around school/nursery (either going to, picking up from, homework, uniform and packed lunches) this week has mainly been dominated by school events and has taken up most nightly conversations.
To start the week Chalks class went to their school hall and met a real life Astronaut and was very impressed by the photos he had brought to show them. On Monday Cheese also left the classroom as his nursery visited the towns library.
This is also Science Festival week so on Tuesday and Wednesday Chalk had a bus ride to another local school to listen to two different science based lessons. One was on oxygen and the other was the science of the circus. Wednesday night was also Chalks after school club.
Yesterday Cheese had his enrolment form for pre-school nursery sent home. This term his class is learning about growth so the pea plant that he planted at nursery was sent home (hopefully we wont kill it now!) along with a letter requesting a baby and current photo are to be taken into class.

So we are on the Friday of a long week and Chalk still has to do a project over the weekend and Cheese was put to nursery with two freshly printed photos and a completed enrolment form with birth certificate.

Yes I am counting down - only two weeks till Easter holidays!

And after Chalks science based week the one fact that he has learnt and thinks is most awesome is - "did you know we have hairs in our nose?!".


The Reading Residence

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Tissue Napkin Flowers



You will need:
Tissue napkins (minimum 2 ply)
Rubber bands
Scissors
Felt tip pens
Wooden skewers

Open out 3 napkins and place them out flat, one on top the other. (If you want more layers add more napkins).
Fold the napkin pile into a fan.
Place a rubber band on each end and one in middle.
Cut half way between the left and middle rubber band, and on the right of the middle band.
Get the kids to colour the open ends using the felt tip pens. (try to get them to colour in the folds too so all the flower has a coloured edge)
Leave for five minutes then gently pull back every individual layer.
To keep a flower shape pull the rubber band up to just under the back of the flower head.
With the rubber band pulled up there is now a stem. Push a skewer through the bottom of the stem. The stem also allows you to tilt the flower head when arranging them.

Here is our end result:


overtheretohere.com

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Key Lime Pie

Over the last couple of years this has become the dessert I have been asked to make for all the family get-togethers.

So simple to make too.

Makes 10 portions

Ingredients:
8 limes - juice and grated zest
1 pint double cream
1 tin condensed milk (397g)
375g digestives - crushed
150g unsalted butter

9 inch loose-bottomed cake tin.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Take off the heat and mix in the digestive crumbs until they are completely covered.
Spoon the mix into the cake tin and press down with a metal spoon until all the bottom is covered and flat. Put tin in the fridge to set while you make the topping.
In a large bowl add the lime juice, double cream and condensed milk. Whisk for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the lime zest and gently stir it through the mix.
Get the cake tin out the fridge and spoon the mix on top of the biscuit base. Level the top and place the tin back into the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Cut into portions and serve (really nice with squirty cream too). Enjoy :-)

Monday, 3 March 2014

This was our month - February



When I have done round-up posts before I have tried to add as many photos as possible to visualise our time. This month I don't have that many photos, mainly because there isn't much to look at from the couch! This month was also a month of two halves for me.

School - The first two weeks of the month saw Cheese continue to revel in nursery delight.  They made shakers out of old bottles, rice etc and spent the days painting them and practising for a show that was arranged for all the parents to go and see.
Chalk started joint up writing, being left handed and not the neatest of writers to begin with this has not helped his penmanship! He also, for the first time this academic year, lost 5 minutes golden time. What for? Talking. We are more surprised that it has taken this long!

Kid free time - For the second time in six months ( and six years ) Daddy LittleHands and I spent a night away and went to a gig. This time we went with another three couples that he knew and it was  a really good night.
The following day we headed home via the scenic route, and unfortunately ended up involved in a car crash. Thankfully the only severe damage was done to the two cars.
I ended up in the hospital for two days with pulled pelvis ligaments and Daddy LittleHands came away with bruises and a burn on his hand from the airbag deploying. The other driver also managed to walk away with bruises.

The second half of the month started with the boys half term and me coming home to recoup.
I have to admit that during the half term, as I was laid up on the couch, the boys did not get up to much. Although Daddy LittleHands did take them to the cinema on his day off to watch The Lego Movie. They all really enjoyed it and this was the first time that Cheese had gone with his Daddy and brother to the cinema too.

School (after half term) - Cheese had his show which his Grandma went to watch. There are around 40 kids in nursery and over 100 parents/relatives turned up to watch them so that was really great for the kids to see. He has now got his shaker at home and I have had a few performances from him. ( he didn't want me to feel like I missed out!)

As for me, I'm not 100% but I am a whole lot better than I was. I can move around without too much pain now, go up and down stairs with only one foot on each step and the bruising is a lovely mild shade of yellow now. I went out on Friday for the first time to take Cheese to nursery. It was only five minutes away but the next morning when I got up I felt that I had gone back a week with the stiffness I was feeling at the bottom of my back and hips.

And that was our month. It was definitely the most unexpected of months, and most memorable. Can't wait to see what March brings :-)