Tamari Roasted Nuts & Seeds

I love a salty snack, give me savoury over sweet anyday. This is the perfect ‘throw in your mouth and munch’ snack for any time of the day to keep the hanger at bay (translation – hunger+anger)tamari roasted nuts and seeds

Tasty, healthy, quick and easy and also gluten free. I am a bit slack with measurements, so these are approximate!

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pistachios
  • 1/2 cup pumkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons gluten free tamari soy sauce
  • (optional) a pinch of dried herbs, I used rosemary but experiment with your favourite such as a pinch of cayene for a kick!

Preheat oven to 170 (150 fan) celcius.

Stir all nuts/seeds together in a mixing bowl with the tamari, then spread in a single layer on a baking tray. Bake for 10-12 minuits until golden in colour then leave to cool. They will become crispy as they cool so don’t panic if they seem soggy! Once cool, trasfer to an airtight container, or serve straight away.

In a beautiful vintage teacup, if possible 😉 x

Toasted Muesli recipe

toasted muesli

I loooooove homemade, toasted muesli. I have been making it for over 7 years, always variations of the same adapted recipe, and I still love it. Which for me is rare as I am nothing if not a fairweather friend when it comes to food (and well, most things…) but my love affair with this crunchy stuff has stood the test of time. It’s not only yum-tastic, but also fills me up and keeps me going much longer then any other breakfast. I used to hate breakfast (toast, meh, cornflakes, ugh,) but not since this bad boy came into my life. Ok, so you get it, I love toasted muesli.

So here is my recipe!

This makes a big batch (about 1.5kgs) which lasts only about a week in our house…

  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/2 cup of oil. I use rice bran, but any veg oil will do (olive works fine)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar (depends on your sweet tooth) or stevia or omit this altogether
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 3 cups quick porriage oats
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup LSA (optional)
  • 1 cup pumkin seeds/pepitas
  • 1 cup cashews (raw)
  • 1 cup descicated coconut
  • 1 cup bran
  • tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • dried fruit of your choice e.g. sultanas, cranberries, apricots etc (add after cooking)

The best thing about this recipe is it is very forgiving if you are not exact with your measurements. I just make it by eye now and it always turns out fine. Also feel free to substitute any of the nuts/seeds for ones you prefer or have handy, again, it doesn’t really matter as long as your base of wet ingredients and oats is the same(ish).

Method:

Pretty simple, turn your oven on to 180 C and measure out the first 3 ingredients into a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar has melted and it starts to boil (it sort of looks like ‘foam’) stiring all the time, for about 2 minutes, no longer. It was hard to photograph this stage as you need to keep stiring otherwise you will end up with toffee!oil, sugar and honey

Place all your other dry ingredients (except for the dried friut!) into a large deep baking dish. DSCF9097Mix them together (I use my hands) then pour over the oil mixture. Stir it thoroughly so all the dry ingredients are coated, making sure you have got into the corners of the pan (or bowl – of course you can do it in a mixing bowl fist – I don’t simply to save dishes).

Now pop the baking tray in the oven, and set a timer for 10 mins. You will need to stir the muesli every ten mins or so, otherwise the edges will catch and burn. It takes anywhere between 30 mins and 1 hour to cook, so just keep setting the timer and stiring untill it is a lovely, toasted, golden colour. It is a bit of a faff the first time but once you get to know how long your oven takes it is less so. I tend to turn off the oven when it’s done, give it a final stir and leave it in the oven until it’s cooled. Then once its cool you can add any dried fruit that you like (if any) and trasfer it to an airtight container until breakfast. Of if you are like me, pop some in a bowl to enjoy straight away! x Toasted muesli with homemade yoghurt breakfast of champions

Underwater ‘Fireworks’

Not really fireworks at all. Just a simple experiment ulitising the properties of oil and water, and the beautiful result of food colouring unfurling and spreading wonderful patterns and colour in front of your astonished child (and your own) eyes.DSCF9188

Note – before you start, explain carefully to your child that there will be no real fireworks invloved, just an underwater display similar to firewrks. That way you won’t have a sulking toddler on your hands. Just saying…

You will need:

  • Glass jar,vase or similar (Taller and slim is better that a bowl)
  • water
  • 2 tablespoons oil – any veg oil will do
  • Red, yellow, blue food colouring – no more them 3 drops of each colour
  • small measuring jug
  • measuring spoon
  • teaspoon

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Directions:

Fill you jar/vase 3/4 full with water

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Pour your oil into a small, easy pour jug. Add 2-3 drops of each food colouring no more then this, LESS IS MORE! (*note, we first did this with 3 colours, the second time with just two. I actually preferred only 2 colours as they mixed to form a secondary colour i.e. yellow and blue made green, the 3 colours together ended up a brown shade which wasn’t so exciting. Too much food colouring won’t give you good ‘fireworks’) Let your child to stir the oil and food colouring into the jug to break the droplets apart, they won’t mix.

DSCF9158Give it a good stir!

Tell small person to carefully, slowly (s.l.o.w.l.y….gahh we had one big mess when it all overflowed) pour the oil mixture into the water. Now wait…it takes a little bit of time…but sit back and watch with fascination as the oil and water separate, and ‘ta-daaaah!’ there you have it, underwater fireworks!

DSCF9186 DSCF9172 DSCF9177We repeated this a few times till they got bored, (which usually takes S about 5 minuts) It was really was interesting seeing the different colour combinations and wacthing the colours slowly unfurl in the water, just a little bit magical. I’m not sure if ‘fireworks’ is the best term for this underwater display, but it kind of adds to the drama so I’m going to stick with it!

Oh S wanted me to stir the water too and it created a whilrpool, which was fun to watch and another learning moment! DSCF9163 A quick and easy indoor activity. x

Space-dough – Playdough for Matariki

S0221067So this month in New Zealand it’s the Maori celebration of Matariki to mark the start of the Maori New Year. S loves space. Actually he’s pretty much just obsessd with it. We talked about the stars, the constilation of Matariki (also known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters) and the Solar System. Learning whist playing is by far the best way to learn! So to tie the two together what better then a good old bit of playdough.  Any excuse to get glitter invoved as far as I’m concerned, yay!

This is by far the easiest (and I think best) playdough recipe I have tried (and I have tried a LOT of recipes…) simply because it uses minimum ingreadients, is a no cook recipe i.e. less washing up (fist pumps), and makes the perfect amount.

Best ever, basic NO COOK playdough recipe:

  • 1/2 cup of table salt
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon Cream of Tatar (find in baking section)
  • 1 tablespoon any veg oil
  • 2/3 – 1 cup on boiling hot water
  • food colouring

SPACE-DOUGH

  • foil confetti, glitter, small glitter stars, small balls etc

Method – Place first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Boil kettle and fill cup almost full and add as much food colouring as required For a strong colour about 2 dessert spoons. Add most of the water to bowl and stir thouroughly. If mixtures seems dry add rest of water. If too wet, add about a tablespoon of flour. Take care as mixture will be hot, but kneed until dough forms a ball. Allow to cool. Store in airtight container when not in use. Keeps for 1-2 months.

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For SPACE-DOUGH you will need black food colouring (duh) and I used foil confetti (from $ shop) plus regular glitter, and some larger glitter stars, the type you get in the craft section. Add the glittery stuff just before you kneed it. Save the balls to give to the little peeps, I gave the boys small bouncy balls for planets (again, from $ shop) and marbles too. In the photo you can see beads but I actually decided against using these in the end. 
S0021034 (1)S0031036S0041038 (1)S0081045S0101049S0111050S0141055S0161059It was so much fun to play with, yes I totally got involved, and S even chose different marbles and balls to represent the ‘solar-system’ – see top photo (Only about 1 million questions asked) I happen to randomly know the order of the planets off by heart…phew. But if you don’t after the Sun it’s:

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Satrun
  • Uranus
  • Neptune
  • Pluto – Yeah no longer classed as a planet but, anyway.

Happy Matariki! x

 

10 Tips for Photographing Children

I’ve done my fair share of photographing children and babies, not only as a professional but of my own (poor over-papped) children. And, as most parents know, its easier said then done to get a decent picture. Still, practice makes perfect and I have learnt quite a few tricks on the way, some of which I thought I’d share so others can maybe take a more ‘frame worthy’ photo of their kids.

They say a poor workman always blames his tools, but with photography it really does help to have a half decent camera, and a basic understanding of how it works… that said, you dont have to spend thousands on the latest SLR, most digital cameras nowadays have settings such as ‘macro’, ‘sport’ and surpressing flash. My best peice of advice is whatever camera you have READ the manual! I know, its dull. No one wants to read the manual. Ok so you probably won’t, but it will save you frustraion in the long run and you WILL get better photos if you know how to properly use the functions on your camera, but to save you time…

Here are my top 10 tips for the novice!

  • use the sport mode…

 Most cameras have ‘sport’ mode, usuallly a speedy looking person (or perhaps zumba-esque?!) like this:sport modeIt will enable you to capture them in at a fast shutter speed, therefore in action. Cos lets face it, kids move, a lot. Better still, some cameras allow for ‘continous shooting’ where by pressing your finger down on the button it will fire off a succession of photographs very quickly so that later you can just scroll though and pick the ‘winners’. Kids don’t stay still so the sport mode is in my opinion, your best friend when it comes to photographing them to maximise your chance of getting a decent photo – especially if you are trying to snap more then one child!! sportmode

  • use a zoom lens…

You will get get a much better photo if a child is (almost) unaware you are taking their photo.. which seems slightly impossible, unless you factor in a zoom lens. Here’s the usual story – you see your kid doing something that would make a great photo, you run and get your camera, but as soon as you darling child spots the camera its game over. Or, you start trying to get your child to ‘perform’ for the camera, they seem to have a uncanny knack of suddenly acting like a celebrity in a scandal – all coy and running away from the mum-arazzi, totally impossible to photograph… So if you have a zoom lens or decent zoom setting back off, be quiet, patient and let them do there thing, and voila, the photo opportunities present themselves.IMG_1851

  • Use ‘macro’…

OK so its a complete contradiction of my previous tip, but if you have a complient child (usually the under twos, or ok, babies) ‘macro’ or ‘close up’ mode is your answer: macroThe little ‘tulip’ icon means macro, basically alowing you to get closer to your subject and still stay in focus. Make sure you have it set and you will kiss those fuzzy close -up shots goodbye. Sooo many people don’t realise what this simple function can achieve.IMG_1111

  • Change photos to black & white/edit/crop…col:bwSometimes, a photo you didn’t think worth keeping can be saved by a bit of basic editing. You don’t need to have the latest photoshop software, you can easily download Picasa for free, or even edit the photo in your local photo printing shop, as most machines have all the basic functionssuch as cropping, B&W etc.
  • Use a different point of view.

Literally, just get down on their level, squat, lie down, and see what they are interested in, or get up high and look down on them, try different things other then just standing at your own hight and snapping away mindlessly!

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  • Think about framing

Guess what, you don’t have to have your subject slap bang in the middle of the photo! In fact, the most interesting pictures are more likely to be ones where the viewer’s eye is ‘led’ into the photo, as in the ‘rule of thirds’. And don’t always thing that kids have to be looking straight at the lens to give you a good picture.IMG_1687IMG_1504

  • Be silly – wear a wig/mask/ears etc –

IMG_0740 (2)Yes, I meant you. Although you can get the kids to do this too, but if they see you being silly and having fun, they are more likely to want to play along. You can ask them “where’s the bunny?” whilst wearing silly ears, or act like a clown in a funnny wig to get them laughing and looking at the camera. Cringe worthy, but you who cares if everybody’s having fun?!

  • Props or activities

Use bubbles, ride on or pull along toys, fairy wands, suggest they climb a tree, give them a pile of leaves etc etc… Get them doing something, and you will get a better photo. Here’s where ‘sport’ mode really comes in handy!DSCF8125 - Version 2

  • Turn off your flash.

Find the surpress flash button and use it. Flash kills emotion in a photo, often you can use the natural light available, and if indoor photos are turing out blurry, its more then enough of a reason to get outside! IMG_7556IMG_0761

  • Dont say ‘cheese’… say ‘cheesy feet’…

Kids are pretty easy to make laugh. And if that fails, tell them to scream. Enough said. DSCF5530

I hope this post may have given others some new ideas to try, I will follow it up with tips on photographing babies soon!  If you still don’t think you can take a decent photo, check out and like my facebook page Phoebe Gander Creative and you can get me to come and do the hard work for you!!! x