Thursday, November 29, 2012


"The superiority of the potato rests comfortably on its nutritional excellence. Much of its value lies in or near the skin so the most effective way of preserving that goodness is by cooking it unpeeled, especially when fresh.... Of the seven nutrients essential to sustain health, the potato provides six. And again, in considering this remarkable concentration of goodness, it is important to sustain in the cooking and eating the food-value of the jacket,"   page 84, Jack Forsyth's : Scrumptious Tucker. 
My husband LOVES potatoes, but I have never been so smitten. Now, having read the above, I need to reform my view.
The potato has been labelled as 'fattening', but the truth is potatoes are not fattening. The fattening comes from what is put on them and the quantity of these additions. 
If you are interested in what the seven nutrients essential to sustain life, are, click here- The nutrient potato is missing is fat.
BACON AND SPINACH SALAD WITH POTATOES. (60mins to prepare and cook) 
Serves 5 adults.
I cooked for 4 adults but it generously stretched to feed 5 adults when my daughter and baby arrived - I just added extra potato to cover her.
As I have mentioned before, the best nutrients in some fruit and veggies lie just under the skin - this is the case with potatoes so eat them in their skin, and avocado is the same, so scrape all of it out of the skin. Don't let the garbage bin eat better than you!
Nutritional benefits you gain in this meal, are, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and a great Vitamin K source. Great supply of Protein, Iron, Phosphorous, Selenium, Calcium and Carotenoids.
Health benefits from this combination of foods is amazing in number, from being a great brain builder, strengthener of the nervous system and myelin sheath around your nerve cells, to assisting in good heart health, lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and preventing stroke and heart attacks. There are great benefits to the immune system and protection from cancer particularly of the breast and prostate. But the overall huge health benefit is for the eyes with the prevention of cataracts, macular degeneration, conjunctivitis, and improvement to eyesight, along with assistance for skin problems such as acne and ageing wrinkles. 

Slurp of Olive oil
500g Bacon
1 Avocado
1 packet Spinach
1 Coriander plant
1 Large Red Onion
250g Mushrooms
1 bunch Asparagus
4 Large Potatoes
250g Sour Cream 
1. Turn on oven 180*C/350*F fan on. Wash 1 large Potato for each person and cook 1 hour in the oven.
2. Peel and thin slice Onion.
3. Wash and slice Mushroom, Asparagus, Spinach and Coriander

I snap a small section off the bottom of each stalk to get rid of the tough section at the end.

4. Using scissors, cut the rind off the Bacon. Cut Bacon into strips.
 5. Heat a large pan and add a slurp of Olive Oil.
6. Add Onion to the pan, lid on and cook 5 mins. 

Cut Avocado in halves, remove the stone, then cut fruit into chunks and leave in the skin until needed.
Spoon Sour Cream into serving dish. I only used 1/2 the amount I bought. 2Tablespoons per person is ample and there is no health risk with this quantity.
7. Shovel Onion onto one side of the pan and add enough Bacon strips to cover the pan, lightly browning strips and turning to brown on the second side. You will need to do this in loads as all the Bacon strips won't fit into the pan at once.

Meanwhile the Red Onion gently cooks away. Return all the Bacon to the pan when it all is cooked.
8. Add Mushrooms and stir through. Lid on to cook 5mins.
9. Add Asparagus and Coriander and stir.. Lid on to cook 3mins.
10. Add Spinach and Avocado, stir. Lid on for 2mins, then mix with tongs, turning until Spinach is lightly cooked. The Avocado will break down, partially into a type of sauce.
MINTED PINEAPPLE DESSERT (9mins to prepare and cook)
Serves 5+ adults.
This dessert is quick to prepare and prefect to finish a meal with for your digestive system's sake, and it's especially beautiful through the hot summer months.
Nutritional benefits from this dessert are, a huge source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Calcium.
Health benefits. Both mint and pineapple are strong fighters against colds, and as said above, help in digestion. Other benefits include, building strong bones, maintaining good gum and skin health, including combatting acne, a breath freshener, and headache and nausea reliever.
1 fresh Pineapple
2 - 3 stems Mint (these were from our garden)
1/8  cup Sugar
1. Cut skin off the pineapple.
2. Slice Pineapple as you prefer - thin or thick sliced.
3. Wash Mint and put into a mortar and pestle along with the Sugar. Carefully at first, then more purposefully, smash the Mint and Sugar in the mortar and pestle.

4. Cut Pineapple slices into 1/2s or 1/4ths so they are easy to pick up and eat. Arrange pieces on a plate.
5. Spoon the Mint Sugar onto the Pineapple pieces and refrigerate till needed.
Ingredients were bought at Pak'N Save Silverdale, Auckland New Zealand, Monday 26th November 2012.
I have not included the cost of a "slurp of Olive Oil", "1/8 cup Sugar", or "2 - 3 stems of Mint".
Here are the artsy photos I enjoyed taking.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ cook a salad together.

Friday, November 23, 2012


This is the final post in the series of "A CASE FOR READING...."
"A CASE FOR READING HISTORY" is written my me.
" My earliest memory of actually tuning in to history was at age 13, when I began my three-year study of Asian Social Studies. It was a new subject in the curriculum and it 'worked' for me because history was connected to art, to politics, to geography, to culture ..... It seemed real and it truly lived for me. 
1.  In the words of Charlotte Mason, "To us in particular who are living in one of the great epochs of history it is necessary to know something of what has gone before in order to think justly of what is occurring today." 'A Philosophy of Education': Charlotte Mason
This is so true. We regularly react to international news items on face value, totally or partially ignorant of background or events leading up to today. How can we "think justly" on today's happenings, when they are delivered to us by biased news media, unless we read history for ourselves. 
I have recently been reading about the Vietnam War with one of my sons and happened on the books "Witness to History The Vietnam War":Michael Burgan. It wonderfully gives a brief history of Vietnam from the beginning of time through to the 20th century. We felt informed, understanding the aggressions and choices especially as we read the many personal interviews with people of all positions from both sides. 
2.  A second reason to read history is that it provides vivid and substantial material for children  to bring into play. As children read about the lives of great people throughout history, they naturally want to try-it-out to get a sense of how it feels to be the one who brings freedom to the besiege city, or finally navigates the way home out of the perilous storm, like Odysseus in "The Wanderings of Odysseus", and it's previous book, "Black Ships Before Troy", both by Rosemary Sutcliff, and fantastically illustrated by Alan Lee. 
Even as adults we often continue to ponder over a crisis we read about in a book, trying to make sense of it for ourselves.
3.  Reading history gives growing children an appreciation and connection between themselves or their culture and people or cultures of the past. Charlotte Mason again says, "We can not live sanely unless we know that other people are as we are with a difference, that their history is as ours, with a difference, that they too have been represented by their poets and their artists, that they too have their literature and their natural life." 'A Philosophy of Education':Charlotte Mason. Historical fiction is great for this reason, putting the reader along side the characters of the book. Books that we love in this category, are, "Joseph Haydn The Merry Little Peasant":Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher and "Handel at the Court of Kings":Opal Wheeler, "The Usbourne First Book of History" and the "Usbourne Book of World History"
4.  Reading history enriches a child's mind and imagination, giving a great storehouse of ideas from which they can judge the behaviour of nations and govern their own conduct. A person's mind is built, Charlotte Mason says "feeds", on well written history, because it provides an assortment of important and trivial human experiences. Through reading this kind of history we get to see the consequences and results of behaviour and decisions. In time we weigh things up and form opinions and judgements which we apply to our own time in history and our own lives. "The Golden Goblet":E.J. McGraw and books by G.A. Henty - there are lots to choose from, some of our favourites are "Beric the Briton", "The Cat of the Bubastes", "Saint Bartholomew's Eve", are this style of book. 
This brings us back to where I started at the start of this series, with  Virginia Woolf's comments on reading - the collecting of thoughts, allowing time for them to sit in our mind and then "come to the surface" in the form of our own views, opinions and choices in life.
Many of the books I have mentioned are historical fiction which is an easy way for people of all ages to get into history.
Two other series in history I think worth mentioning are the "Horrible History" books which give bite-sized information often presented in humorous ways, and the "My Country" series of New Zealand history which are concise, perfect for someone to get a feel for NZ history.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ start thinking how you can introduce history into your soon-to-be-here summer holiday months (if you are here in the southern hemisphere), or into your months around the fire in the evening (if you are in the northern hemisphere). Could some history books be a good item to write on the Christmas list?

Thursday, November 15, 2012


This is the 7th post in the series 'A CASR FOR READING..." . 
"A CASE FOR READING SCIENCE" is written by Angela Robb.

"I have been raised by parents who both love books and I soon acquired my own love of reading a variety of different books. My natural curiosity 
about how things work, and my love of the natural world, both served to fuel my reading of science. I read science because I wanted to know 
more about how the created world worked.
Knowing how things work
I still have not forgotten the excitement I experienced when reading a basic book about how taps work. “So when we pull or turn the handle,
that’s what happens inside!” It was such a revelation for me to realise how an ordinary, every-day-life tool actually performed it's task. Have
you ever wondered how taps work? Do you know? How about knowing
how a car engine ignites, or why birds and airplanes both can fly? This interest in knowing how things worked is a major motivation in reading 
science books.
Naming nature - identification guides
From a young age, I have loved animals, plants, and most things in the natural world. This naturally encouraged learning more about the
natural world, not only through my own observations, but also through
much reading of science books - especially those with good pictures. When our family noticed a bird in the garden, or found a crawly-
creature on the patio (or in our bedroom!), we would often wonder what it was. Referring to a well-used book (Collins Field Guide to New Zealand 
Wildlife) helped us discover that the bird in our yard was a goldfinch, who 
naturally ate seeds, or that the little critter was a common skink (or maybe a copper skink) that would need live bugs if I wanted to keep it as 
a pet. Often we would flick through these nature guides in our own time 
and only later discover some animal was familiar because we could recall the photo and name from the book. We could then look it up by name to 
learn more about it. Having these reference guides proved valuable.
Practical information (for a personal interest, to learn from the expertise of others, to add interest to life...)
When I wanted a pet, my parents wisely made me learn about caring for pets first. This motivated me to explore the local library. There I found 
the aisle of pet care books and it soon became a familiar favourite of mine as I browsed books about rabbits, chickens, budgies, tropical fish, 
and Newfoundland dogs. After becoming the delighted owner of a pet 
rabbit, I would borrow every guide on rabbit care, soon deciding on a couple favourite books, and then refferring to them for ideas, 
suggestions, and help - especially when breeding my bunnies or dealing 
with sick pets. It wasn't long before I discovered the other side of the 
aisle, and enjoyed browsing all sorts of books – from dairy cows and small-farming, to square-food gardening and composting. In these books 
I found years of experience written to give me a head-start when 
them myself - and even though I still have not owned a dairy cow, 
knowing more about these animals and how they can be raised has added interest to my life. There is a wealth of knowledge found in 
practical books applying science to everyday life - like preparing food, cleaning techniques, and how to make the best paper airplane. We do 
well to find books about what we want to learn, and then learn from 
someone who knows more than us.
Enjoying nature from a new view - photo books and nature journals
Besides being practical, science books are also enjoyable. I was given a large book about baby animals for one birthday, and thought I have
yet to read any of the text (written at an adult level), I browsed the photos and often practiced drawing ducklings, bear cubs and foals
copied from the pages. There are some talented artists and 
photographers whose love for nature is shown in stunning glimpses of nature. These illustrated books are a pleasure to browse through and
observe the natural world in ways we may never have noticed or had the 
chance to experience on our own. Most of us will never travel to Antarctica, notice the detail in a butterfly’s wing, or get a close-up view 
of an owl’s nest, but through these books we can not only see them, but often read about the experience for ourselves. We might be inspired to 
start our own nature journal, or go exploring the world with a camera.  
These closer looks at nature give us a greater depth of understanding and appreciation for the wonders of creation.
Stories of scientists - biographies
Besides enjoying books about science, you can also read about scientists themselves. My Mum, who is not so interested in science, finds 
biographies of scientists a fascinating entryway into the scientific world. There are a wide range of these book, from children's picture books to 
those with more detailed chapters. Through them my family has enjoyed 
the intricate snowflakes photographed by George Bentley, discovered multiple uses for the peanut with George Washington Carver, 
experimented gliding with the Wright brothers, and started the stars with
Johannes Kepler. The stories of these curious scientists inspire us to a greaterinterest in the world around us and how it works.
This wide variety of science books has not even included the type of science books most common at school – scinece textbooks. Some of
these are well-written and can be a helpful way to get a more detailed
knowledge of science. There are also a host of other area-specific books available to facilitate an interest in science – whether a whole book dedicated to how spiders spin webs, why we see colours in a rainbow, what makes up a cell, how our body digests food, or a collection ideas for 
creative science experiments to try at home.
So what are you waiting for?
Look up some of the books recommended below, or search your library for books in an area of interest, and get inspired about science. Why 
don’t you get yourself (and your children) interested in exploring the
incredible world around us, and how it is designed to work?
Nature Journals
- Edith Holden, A Country diary of and Edwardian Lady
- Joyce Blake, New Zealand is a Garden (and other titles)
- Elaine Power, Elaine Power’s Living Garden: An illustrated nature diary, Countryside and garden birds of New Zealand (Look for her
other nature books, in particular those with a focus on birds)
- Leslie & Roth, Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a whole new way of seeing the world around you
- Chris Gaskin, A Walk to the Beach
Stories of Scientists
- Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Snowflake Bentley (George Bentley)
(also see - Kenneth Libbrecht, The Art of the Snowflake: a photographic album, for wonderful photography and story)
- John Hudson Tiner, Johannes Kepler: Giant of Faith and Science (Johannes Kepler) - look out for other titles both scientist biographies
and other science books by this author
- Sam Wellman, George Washington Carver: Inventor and Naturalist (George Washington Carver)
- Quentin Reynolds, The Wright Brothers: Pioneers of American Aviation (Orville and Wilbur Wright)
- You could also look up “Scholastic biographies” for books about scientists
Children’s Picture books
- Jenkins & Page, What do you do with a tail like this?
- Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science books (easy-read books that explore scientific ideas) Titles include: Volcanoes/by Franklyn M.
Branley ; illustrated by Megan Lloyd. Bugs are Insects/by Ann
Rockwell ; illustrated by Steve Jenkins. What makes day and night/
Franklyn M. Branley ; illustrated by Arthur Dorros. Clouds/by Anne
Rockwell ; illustrated by Frané Lessac.
- Leonora and Arthur Hornblow, Insects do the Strangest Things (see books with similar titles by these authors)
- Philip Dobson, How Taps work (this is the book that I loved as a child - strangely available at Auckland libraries only in Chinese/English
Bilingual version titled “Taps and Water”)
- Chris Gaskin, A Walk to the Beach
- Sandra Markle (a host of books on the natural world, some with all illustrated) titles include...Killer whales, Sneaky, spinning, baby
spiders, and, Insects : biggest! littlest!
Photos of the Nature
- Paul Sterry, Baby animals : a portrait of the animal world (the book I have enjoyed drawing pictures from)
- Geoff Moon, New Zealand Birds in focus: a photographer’s journey, New Zealand Forest Birds and Their world
- Thomas Marent, Titles include: Butterfly, Frog, and, Rainforest
Identification Guides
- Chris Gaskin, A Walk to the Beach
- Geoff Moon, The Reed field guide to New Zealand wildlife
- Barrie D. Heather & Hugh A. Robertson ; illustrated by Derek J. Onley, The field guide to the birds of New Zealand
- Terence Lindsey, Collins Field Guide to New Zealand Wildlife, (the guide our family owned and used)
- Andrew Crowe - this author has done fantastic work in all areas of New Zealand flora and fauna, keep an eye out for any titles by him,
such as... -Which New Zealand bird?, illustrated by Dave Gunson. -The life-size guide to insects & other land invertebrates of New Zealand
- The life-size guide to New Zealand wildflowers
Some of my favourites in areas of personal interest
Permaculture - Introduction to Permaculture, Bill Mollison
Composting - The compost book, David & Yvonne Taylor ; illustrated by Helen McCosker.
Digestion - Good Gut Health, Kathryn Marsden
Rabbit care - The Rabbit Handbook, Karen Gendron
Gardening - Square Food Gardening, Mel Bartholomew."
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ with all this wealth of ideas of where to start reading science, declare a science week at your house - there's something suggested here for ALL ages. You could all swap books after a day or two, which would be a great conversation starter.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


This is the 7th post in the series "A CASE FOR READING ...."
"A CASE FOR READING BIOGRAPHIES" is written by Stephen Turner.
 "I love reading. My earliest memories of truly enjoying a good read have to do with lying in bed at our little summer house in the morning as the sun streamed in through the mottled, opaque window. I would have been in my early teens.
I love reading generally for two big reasons - to give myself a break from all the demands of work and family, and then there is so much to learn.
One type of book I especially like to read is a biography. Biographies are about real people who generally have been successful in some area of life. I always want to know why - why were they successful? And often the answer to that question is complex. And I want to hear what they are saying to ordinary people like me who may not be remarkable for  anything. And I am always interested in the fact that like all human beings they are flawed and have to deal with some weak elements in self and in their relationships with others.
Three good biographies I have enjoyed are ~
1. "Robert E Lee" by D. S. Freeman 1961. ( A General in the American Civil War)
2. "Hans and Sophie Scholl" by T. Axelrod 2000. (German resistance within Germany to the Nazis)
3. "Abraham Kuyper" by J. E. McGoldrick 2000. (Prime Minister of Holland)
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ search your book shelves for a biography to read with the kids. Maybe a trip to the library and advice from a librarian can start you on your way reading biographies. Because you are reading about the life of a person, you can easily become completely immersed.


Thursday, November 1, 2012


"Consumers can feel good about loving beef because the protein in beef is a powerful nutrient that helps strengthen and sustain their bodies. High quality proteins, like beef, promote optimal health and provide consumers with a naturally nutrient-rich package. The nutrients in lean beef, such as protein, iron and zinc, help people feel satisfied longer and get more nutrition from the calories without sacrificing taste."
"Nutritional Benefits of Beef" Beef Training Camp. 
Each month I am cooking with a different protein, this month it is Beef. Beef is one of those foods that has been 'blamed' by some for being a contributor to health conditions, in this case, heart disease. If prepared and eaten in appropriate quantities, beef is an excellent and necessary food in our diet.
  MOROCCAN BEEF WITH AUBERGINE  ( 80-90mins preparation and cooking time)      Serves 5 adults.
 The nutritional benefits of the ingredients in this recipe are rich in vitamin C and protein, rich in iron, they give a good supply of calcium, manganese, vitamin B complex, D, E, K and zinc.
Health benefits from these ingredients include, reducing blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol production, building strong immune systems, decreasing heart disease and high blood pressure, providing good long lasting energy, building strong bones, teeth and muscles, improving blood circulation, assists in digestion and provides protection against some cancers.
Generous slurps Olive Oil
2 Onions
850g Chuck Steak
3 Garlic cloves
3 teaspoons Ground Coriander
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Cumin
1. Heat a large frypan on medium heat. Add a generous slurp Oil.
2. Peel and slice Onions and add to pan. Lid on and leave to cook.
 3. Slice up beef into cubes, discarding any fat. Move onion to the side then brown the meat in the pan. Keep stirring meat until browned.
4. Add crushed Garlic, Coriander, Cumin and Paprika. Stir through.
5. Add tinned Tomato + 1/2 a tin of water. Stir and cook with lid on 60 - 75mins. Turn heat down to medium low and stir a few times.
6. Wash and thick slice aubergine.
7. Heat a second frypan on medium heat add 2 generous slurps of Oil and move oil all around the pan surface, let oil heat a moment. Put slices in pan and cook each side till brown.
This will take a few loads to get all the aubergine browned. Keep re-oiling the pan.

8. Add Aubergine in with the meat and cook two minutes. Serve.
9. wash and cut Cauliflower and Broccoli into pieces.
  10. Boil a pot of water and add the cauliflower to the pot, cooking for 4 minutes, then add broccoli and cook a further 4 mins.
11. To cook Couscous, boil  2  1/2cups of water in a pot with a teaspoon of salt and slurp of oil. Add  2  1/2cups of couscous, turn off the heat, lid on and give a gentle shake then let sit 5 mins.
12. Use a fork and small piece of Butter to fluff up the couscous. 
 ALMOND HONEY PASTRY WITH SWEET YOGHURT CREAM (25mins preparation and cooking time)   Serves 5+ adults.
Nutritional benefits from this recipe are, a good supply of Vitamins A, B2, B5, B12, C, D, a great source of Vitamin E and K, Calcium, Magnesium and protein.
Benefits to Health found from eating these foods are, an excellent source of energy, immune system builders, has strong anti tumour and anticancer properties, develops strong teeth and bones, strong muscle function, encourages brain and nervous system development in young children, lowers cholesterol, beneficial to skin and fighting acne, and reduces risk of heart disease. 
Pastry is another food 'blamed' by some as being detrimental to good health. Again it can be enjoyed if it is kept as one of the many foods on your eating 'palette' - eat across all the food groups - across all the varied food that different cultures offers us. 
2 sheets ready rolled Puff Pastry
1 generous Tablespoon/80g Honey
30g Butter
100g Ground Almonds
50g Crunchy bar
1 generous dessertspoon per person Natural Creamy Yoghurt
2 Lemons
1. Butter the surface of 2 baking trays.
2. Cut the pastry sheets into 8 pieces each.
3. Melt Butter and Honey in a pot.
4. Using a spoon, spread about 1/2 Tablespoon of the mixture over each pastry piece.
5. Top with a heaped tablespoon of Ground Almonds.
6. Cook in a fan oven 200*C/400*F for 10mins.
7. Smash up Chocolate Crunchy bar.
8. Spoon yoghurt into serving bowl and add the smashed Crunchy bar. Gently mix through.
9. Cut Lemons into segments.
10. Serve hot pastries with a good dollop of yoghurt and generous squeeze of Lemon juice.
You could leave out the Chocolate Crunchy bar, which is what I will do next time. I love the simple taste of yoghurt with lemon.
TOTAL COST OF THIS MEAL TO FEED 5 ADULTS $28.36 nz. All ingredients were bought at Albany PakNSave, Tuesday October 24 2012.
I have not included the cost of the "generous slurps of Olive oil", 3 tsp Ground Coriander, 1 tsp Paprika, 1 tsp Cumin.
Here are the artsy photos I enjoyed as I cooked.
 THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ enjoy the flavours of these recipes.