Wednesday, November 30, 2011


"This 'fruit' of the vegetable clan originated in Northern Tibet and was first marketed in England in the 16th century - although not coming into vogue as a food until much later. It is a wholesome food with its uniquely tart flavour but discourage the children from nibbling on the leaves. They are toxic."
"Scrumptious Tucker": John Forsyth.

The quote is referring to RHUBARB, a much forgotton fruit.

Rhubarb is a good source of Vitamin C and fibre. It has some B group vitamins. It is extremely low in fat, salt, calories and is cholesterol free.
You need ~
5 stalks of Rhubarb
3 Granny Smith Apples
2 large Oranges
1 cup Water
Wash everything. Grate apples into a pot. Add the grated rind of 2 oranges and their juice and chopped rhubarb. Slow low cook for 30 - 40 minutes. Best served hot with Natural yoghurt, fresh pouring cream or ice cream. You can add sugar if you wish, but I love the zingy, tart, fresh taste.

Strawberries are high in sugar - but don't let that put you off. They contain phosphorus, potassium, Vitamin C and A, ascorbic acid and are rich in minerals. 
There are various tips on how to prepare the perfect strawberry
 ~ some say wash them just before you eat them
 ~ some say sprinkle icing sugar over them before serving
 ~ some say sprinkle icing sugar and a generous slurp of brandy before before serving
 ~ some say put a good shake of pepper on as this brings out the flavour!!
 ~ some just open the lid and get eating.
Ideal for a special summer breakfast or dessert.
Sift into a bowl  ~  1 1/2 cups Flour
                                 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
                                 1/4 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
                                 a pinch of salt
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add   ~   2 Eggs
                                                                                         3/4 cup Milk
Beat well into a smooth batter. I love the colour change explosion when I break the egg yokes. Don't hesitate to add a little extra milk so that the batter is sloppy enough to flow from the spoon onto the pan surface. Drop tablespoonfuls / teaspoonfuls of mixture into the pan depending on the size pikelets you want. I made teaspoon sized ones - perfect size for entertaining with savoury or sweet treats. Cook until bubbles rise to the surface, turn and cook the other side until golden brown. Pikelets freeze wonderfully in a plastic bag for 2 months.
I served these 3 small pikelets with 2 dessertspoons of Natural Yoghurt, 2 large Strawberries sliced, juice of 1/4 lemon and a generous drizzle of Maple Syrup - and they WERE delicious!!!
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ get cooking and eating together with our world famous New Zealand strawberries or Rhubarb.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


A few posts back I wrote a few comments about spending time in wild nature. At the time I was thinking about my niece and her husband who live in Central Australia and enjoy the ruggedness of their part of the world. This post is by Jannah.

                                    Walking across the spinifex plain on Day 1.

In the last decade I have started hiking/camping and travel adventures with my husband Tim and some other friends in some remote areas of Australia. I initially found these adventures daunting and scary, but at the same time also found a great sense of enjoyment and achievement. 
Because of a really wet summer, we planned to make use of the extra surface water around to walk in some areas which would normally be fairly dry and inhospitable to bushwalkers. One of these hikes which had been on our list for years, was to climb Mt Zeil (the highest peak west of the Great Dividing Range). We decided to approach this climb from the south, a different route to the usual more worn track from the northwest. This involved navigating our way through undulating spinifex (a very spikey type of grass) country and winding creeks which would lead us to the base of Mt Zeil. We planned to do this with another friend over the space of about 4 days.
                      Looking towards Mt Zeil from the south (Looking for potential creeks)

Off we set with our packs, map and compass into the remote West Macdonnell Ranges. To start with the creeks we walked up were quite full and we even had a swim in a beautiful waterhole surrounded by River Red Gums at our first lunch spot. This filled us with confidence that water would be plentiful, so we didn't carry much to keep our pack weights down. By the first afternoon we crossed over a small saddle in a ridge and the landscape changed slightly, we didn't take too much notice until we started to run low on water and each creek bed we came across was dry. We needed to find a spot to camp for the night and to collect water to cook with and re-hydrate. The three of us began searching for water as the sun was setting. I began to feel a bit nervous but knew we could always walk back for a couple of hours to the last waterhole we'd passed. I also realised it was pointless getting worried as I didn't have time to waste, it was getting dark and we needed water and to set up camp. It was funny how quickly some adrenaline kicked in, the search became an adventure. We eventually found a small seepage of water coming out of a rock face just on dark. We each set to work syphoning each drip of water into our containers, eventually collecting about 7 litres. Once we thought we had enough to get us through the night and next morning we set off to find somewhere to set up camp in the dark.
                                   Climbing the southern face of Mt Zeil

Watching the water we had carefully collected boil on the flames, made me feel more grateful for water than I probably ever have previously. We set off the next morning, checking every gully along the way in the hope of finding a flowing creek. Unfortunately it seemed like the geology had changed from large rock slabs that water banked up on to form pools, to a more weathered cracked rock in which the water quickly soaked through leaving only dry creek beds.
By now, I did start to get worried as we were walking further and further from the last water point - albeit only a small seepage in a rock. The only thing that kept me from beginning to panic was the fact that I was hiking with two experienced bushwalkers and they didn't seem to panic yet! I voiced my concerns about walking further from the only known water, given that we hadn't found any new water by mid morning, and so we all decided to give it another hour of searching and then if we still hadn't come across water we would have to turn back.
We split up and each went looking along different creeks. Having made a plan together, helped me feel more hopeful and eased some of my anxiety. After a 10 minutes walk up a small rocky creek bed we noticed a small puddle of clear water, Tim and I began chasing the puddle up stream and found a lovely clear creek. The excitement grew as we saw the water growing eventually into some swimmable water holes.
                                         Camping by the water hole

In the end we climbed Mt Zeil and the view stretching for hundreds of kilometres was incredible. I was amazed at how I became much more in tune with and observant of the landscape. I took notice of what plants & birds were near water and the type of rock, so that I could use them for future reference. That hike ended up being one of the most memorable this year and so rewarding as I had to overcome obstacles, and control my mind and emotions from going into an unhelpful state of panic.
                                                Sunrise at the water hole

As I've often said, experiences that challenge and press us give rich rewards.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ spend some time googling an out-of-the-way location you would like to take your children to. It doesn't have to be a great distance away, or involve huge costs. Nor does the trip need to be a long length of time. You as a parent just need to be motivated to excite your kids curiosity, and bring them in on the planning. It probably will prove to be everyone's most memorable holiday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


"The metaphoric way in which we experience our children has a great deal to do with the difficulty or ease with which we can let them go.
If you regard your child as appliances that came with a warranty and must perform as expected, you may want to discard them when they start costing a bit more to support and don't function the way you thought they should. And if you see children as cars you have carefully maintained for years and assume that their performance will reflect on how you maintain them, you may feel especially responsible if they don't work in top condition when you sell them to someone else 18 years later.
On the other hand, do you share the view of Emma Bombeck who sees children as kites?
Throughout their childhood you keep trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you're both breathless and still they crash. You patch once more, adjusting for their growing size, and caution them about the perils of unseen wind. When they are ready to try their final flight, you let out the string with joy and sadness because you know the kite will snap the line that bound you together. But you also know the kite will fly as it was meant to fly, alone and free. .......
It is difficult to let go of a kite or balloon that is our child if we doubt our child's ability to steer a course away from electric wires and other obstacles waiting to snatch the unwary. But unless we keep our children tied down and imprisoned, we don't have any other choice than to let go."
A few weeks ago our daughter got engaged and so we are thinking "weddings" - in the day and at times in the middle of the night! This is our third family wedding so one would think it gets easier the more you have 'had'. Not so. Each of our kids have their own ideas and of course the person they are marrying has theirs too, which is totally healthy.
Some people think that the wedding or moving out of home is the moment when parents must let go. But I don't think letting go is a moment, but rather a process that slowly starts when childhood finishes and a child's independence begins to develop.
Each family process, in fact every child in each family, has a unique sequence of events that lead to letting go. One element of letting go is the child's want or desire to go. A child can be let go while still in their teens, maturely and comfortably moving out to live well from here on. While there can be no desire to be let go from another, even though they are well into their thirties. Every child contributes to being let go. On finishing high school at 18 years some of our children have chosen to go overseas - to study, travel or work, while others have not been ready to contemplate such things at that stage. Choosing to be let go involves their character, independence, drive and curiosity. 
Parents play the other part in letting go. If parents help equip their children for the future, they give them skills in independence and self confidence. If these skills are not taught by parents and encouraged to be exercised by the children right through childhood and teenage years, then their future is affected detrimentally. 
Thus equipped, when a parent then lets go in a part of their child's life, the child learns the feeling of responsibility and being trusted. This leads to maturing and gaining of self-confidence. The whole experience has successes and failures, but in these at home years, there is still room and time to 'try it again' and practice aiming for improvement. It's not only the child who gains confidence, the parent too increases in their confidence in their child, trusting them to handle life well when they do leave.
(For some readers I realize you could be thinking, but it hasn't worked like that for me!!!! Possibly because the will of that child has not been won over to see the need to stop behaving irresponsibly, or to see a real reason to stop selfish habits. This is something I have written about previously and intend to write more specifically on in the future. [See the end section of "What Daughters Need from their Mothers" Part 2 or "The Habit if Self-Pity at the end.])
Here are some suggestions of where parents can let go of their children~
By the end of pre-school years - take total ownership for feeding themselves, toiletting, showering, dressing, putting clothes and toys away, setting a meal table and becoming a contributor to meal preparations and clean ups.
Childhood 5 - 7 years - all the above. Total responsibility to pack their own school bag after being taught, increasing responsibility as a contributor to meal preparations and clean ups.
Childhood 8 - 12 years - all the above. Total ownership in getting ready for school and remembering to hand over notes...from school, doing dishes after meals, baking and cooking simple meals after being taught, responsible to be up on time in the morning, responsible for daily or weekly household jobs to be fulfilled.
Teenagers 13 - 15 - all the above. Total ownership to get school work finished on time, being in bed on time, keeping to computer usage as agreed, music practice completed, finishing homework independently- asking for assistance at school or from others if required.
Teenagers 16 --- - all the above. Total responsibility for care of their own clothes - laundry, choice of what to wear, preparation for exams and interviews........
REMEMBER doing this involves failure - the bag taken to school by the 6 year old may be missing food to eat, the music practice by the 14 year old may be substandard and you may not like what is worn clothing wise by the 17 year old, but by letting go over time, you give everyone space to keep talking and reworking things. If you don't let go gradually, you remain holding on, moving from guiding to directing to controlling to dictating as time goes on. The experience of being trusted and trusting won't be experienced by anyone by this method. There is a difference in letting go so they have the responsibility and can choose to ask our advice, and our not letting go and giving them no choice. 
Here are two short articles by Alan W. Carson, a coach for parents and author~ "The Art of Letting Go" and "Children's Wants Versus Needs", which you will find practically helpful.
Why do parents find it hard to let go?
Karen Levin Coburn, assistant Vice Chancellor for students at Washington University and author of the book "Letting Go: A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years", says parents have a 'do it right' approach to their kids futures and are therefore fully part of every stage to ensure the best results eventuate.(sounds like the car in the quote at the beginning of this post.)
GotQuestions?.org, says, "at the heart of the difficulty of letting go of our children is a certain amount of fear." Continuing on they said that when our children were young we could monitor their lives, but parents loose this control as children grow up.
Arlene Harder, author of the quote at the beginning of this post, says, "Letting go involves the process of transferring responsibility for our child's life from us to them." Later she says " ideal adult-to-adult relationship with our children can be modeled on the ideals of friendship." She says just as we can enjoy friends who are different in many ways to ourselves, so letting go means we view our own children with this same respect." "We can have equally satisfying relationships with adult children who are also out of sync with us in some way." She suggests we focus on the here and now, NOT the past or the future. This way "we allow both ourselves and our child to evolve into the people we want to be tomorrow, rather than constricting our perceptions by how we viewed one another in the past."
5 of Arlene's check points or guides on how to respond to adult children, which I think are extremely helpful ~
1. Recognize adult children's rights to decide what they will do with their time, money and energy - letting them think for themselves and live with the consequences of their choice.
2. Respect children's privacy - for example, asking if it is ok to drop in for a visit, not asking what they earn or how much they paid for an item.
3. Accepting our children for who they are. "We only need to be willing to view each other with compassion, without illusions or expectations. Once we're willing to accept each other just as we are, we (both) can stop being defensive."
4. Respect that our children may not wish to discuss topics where their views differ to ours. Parents tend to bring up these issues to steer their child away from danger or poor choices..... The purpose is to get the child to change their mind and take on the parents' view. But there's no respect of individual views with this sort of behaviour.
5. Not looking to our child as our only source of connection and love. Parents need rich lives outside their parenting role. Also parents must accept that sources outside the home can have beneficial input into their child's life.
So adult children can still be living with us, but we can have  already let go of them, because as parents we are no longer taking responsibility for their lives - How do you do this? Again Arlene Harder gives six ideas.
1. If adult children live at home, state they are to pull their own weight and be a fully functioning member of the family.
2. Give the same conditions to adult children as  would be theirs if they lived away from home, for example if they have no money, they are to do jobs in lieu of rent.
3. An agreement should be agreed on by both parents and child, of how everyone will function together and that there is a limit to how long they may stay.
4. When adult children have jobs, they should pay rent on a gradually increasing scale.
5. As a parent you have the right to refuse children to live at home when they are addicted to drugs, alcohol or are abusive to family members.
6. Don't allow adult children to live at home when there is not enough money or space to cope.
Arlene Harder's entire book is available for you to read and print off free for personal use. Follow the link after the original quote at the beginning of this post.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ check over how you usually respond to your children in normal daily living and see if you are working towards letting them go. If changes should be made, do it. As Arlene said "...we don't have any other choice than to let go", so work at it over time by equipping your kids, no matter how young, and give them great experiences which will give you and them confidence in their future.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


"Eating a 'varied diet' means you should eat lots of different kinds of things. Often families get stuck in a rut and eat the same things over and over again. However, a varied diet of healthy foods ensures that you get the vitamins and minerals you need. Whole foods are the best for your body. ...... It's often easier and more convenient to take vitamin and mineral supplements instead of eating a healthy diet. But many scientists believe that the vitamins found in foods are more effectively used by your body than the vitamins you may take in pills. ....... Many families encourage their children to take vitamin and mineral supplements as an 'insurance policy' to make sure they are getting enough of what they need. However, remember that taking supplements ...... won't 'fix' the problems that come with an unhealthy diet."
"Young Explorers series: Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology" by Jeannie Fulbright and Brooke Ryan M.D.

With this in mind the 'subjects' for the two October recipes are the vegetables Asparagus and Leeks. Asparagus like leeks are members of the lily family. If you have never eaten either I highly recommend you read on and have your first taste-experience this week.


This authentic Spanish tapas recipe is fantastically crisp, zingy and luminous green in colour. It's a compulsory dish on our Christmas dinner table.
Being very low in salt and calories, fat and cholesterol-free, means it is a great vegetable for people with heart difficulties. Asparagus is rich in vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, fibre, thiamine and an excellent source of follic acid. This is good for pregnant mums as well as those trying to conceive. Asparagus is one of the richest sources of the antioxidant rutin, which strengthens capillary walls. 

It is best to buy asparagus with tips that are compact or closed and stalks which are fresh in appearance.

1 generous bunch of asparagus
juice of 2 lemons
1 dessert spoon rock salt
olive oil
Wash asparagus and snap off the grey section at the base of each stalk. I cut the stalks in half - to fit into the pot. Put a generous splash of olive oil into a heavy pot, heat on high till the surface of the oil seems to shimmer or slightly move. Throw in the asparagus, put on the lid and shake around roughly for a few seconds, then return to the heat with the lid off for a couple more minutes so the stalks get seared. Again put on lid and give another rough shake, return to heat again, with lid off. Cook in this way no more than 5 minutes. Add rock salt and lemon juice, put lid on and shake, return to heat for no more than 2 minutes. Serve and eat alone (as in it's so delicious you could find you eat the lot yourself, but what I really meant was you can eat it as a tapa or appetiser on its own, or with a meal.)  We cook a number of bunches and my family stand around in the kitchen eating pieces straight from the pot - they say I never cook enough.


Thank Sophie Grey for this recipe "Destitute Gourmet, Everyday Smart Food for the Family".
Leeks are a great source of fibre, vitamin A, B, C, iron, potassium and calcium. They are cholesterol free and low in fat, salt and calories.

The ancient Romans believed leek was beneficial for the vocal chords. But the leek is associated today with the Welsh. Leeks are said to help sufferers with bronchitis, influenza, insomnia and even low blood pressure.
Only buy leeks that have generous white stalks with smooth skin and fresh looking green tops.

3 leeks
1 - 2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2  cups chicken stock
several knobs of butter 
Peel off the outer skin layer of each leek and trim ragged ends. Wash leeks thoroughly, cut into approximately 10cm pieces. Bring a pot of water to the boil and put in the leeks for 10 minutes. Drain and place in one layer into an ovenproof dish with knobs of butter and and sprinkled brown sugar on top. Pour chicken stock over the top to the level that the leeks are nearly covered. Bake at 180*C for about 40 minutes or till the stock level is reduced by half.

It seems crazy with the incredible health goodness along with the great tastes of these two dishes, that asparagus and leeks have remained unpopular vegetable choices!
THIS WEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ get your kids helping in preparing these two recipes.