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Mother of two, living life in small-town South Africa

Mealie bread: a taste of childhood

Now that I live in Grahamstown, I am learning to cook. I have to. I bake biscuits (gasp!) when friends come for tea. I make things to take along to other people’s parties. The other day I even made mayonnaise. From scratch. These are the lengths that deprivation has led me to. If I still lived in Joburg I would have just stopped off at Koljander, the world’s best tuisnywerheid in Melville, or at Woolies. Sigh.

One of my kids’ party standards these days is mealie bread. Taken from Gabi Steenkamp’s Sustained Energy for Kids, I’m gobsmacked at how many times I get asked for this recipe. I think there’s something about mealie bread that reminds people of their childhood. Anyway, it’s dead easy and worth sharing (even though it’s made in the microwave, which I usually avoid). It’s also eaten and enjoyed by everyone else’s kids except mine. The trickiest part is finding a microwaveable ring dish.

Microwave mealie bread
From Sustained Energy for Kids

  • 2Tbsp (30ml) cake flour
  • ¼ cup (60ml) sugar – or even less
  • 150ml mealie meal
  • 100ml oat bran
  • 7ml (1½ tsp) baking powder
  • ½tsp (2.5ml) salt
  • 1Tbsp (15ml) canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup (125ml) skimmed or low-fat milk
  • 1 tin (410g) creamstyle sweetcorn
  • 1 tsp (5ml) chopped parsley (I usually skip the green bits if making it for children.)
  • Paprika for sprinkling microwave dish

Grease microwave ring baking mould with a paper towel dipped in oil. And sprinkle a little paprika into the mould (I have never bothered to do this).
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix the oil, eggs and milk together well and add to the dry ingredients.
Add the sweetcorn and the parsley, if used, and mix well.
Spoon into the microwave ring and microwave at 70% power for 12 minutes. Then at 100% for 2 minutes.
Allow to stand for 10 minutes (to finish cooking).
Turn out, slice into about 20 slices.

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Filed under: Food, Kids stuff, Motherhood, Personal, , , ,

Fizzy orangeade

I can pretend to be interested in things like newspapers, media, and other heavyweight issues but, really, all I care about is food. Since moving to Grahamstown three years ago, I have become seriously obsessed – especially as there is no Woolies food (gasp!), and a seriously inconsistent supply of even the most basic ingredients. Last week, there was not a single packet of frozen peas to be had. And I wasn’t even looking for petit pois.
Frozen peas. It has come to this.
Anyway, seeing as though I spend a large part of my day thinking of, reading about and preparing food, I thought I’d start including it on my blog. (Also, my deadline for my latest freelance job is looming large so I need some distraction.)
My children have been off from school since their teacher fell ill in June (yikes!), so we’ve been spending quite a lot of time playing with friends, eating and drinking. Today, Nina made some lemonade (her own recipe with a found “squishy” lemon from the garden) and then we all made fizzy orange using Tessa Kiross’s recipe. It was seriously delicious and the children – all five of them, age three to eight – loved it. We dubbed it orangeade.

Tessa Kiros’s Fizzy Orange
Makes 5 small cups

  • 4 Tablespoons castor sugar
  • One long strip of orange rind (peel of one orange)
  • 4 Tablespoons tap water
  • Juice of 4 oranges (just over a cup)
  • 2 cups ice-cold sparkling water

Put sugar, orange rind and water into a small pan. Bring to boil, stirring so that the sugar dissolves completely. Boil for a few minutes so that the rind flavours the syrup.
Add freshly squeezed orange juice and let that bubble for about 5 mins, or until it looks slightly denser. Pour into a jug and let it cool completely.
When you’re ready to serve, pour in sparkling water and mix well. Add ice if you like.
Tessa recommends that you add spices, such as a vanilla bean or a small stick of cinnamon, if making it for adults.
PS: By the way, stumbled across another great foodie blog today: David Leibovitz’s ‘Living the sweet life in Paris‘. His latest posting features Joanne Weir’s Cucumber and Feta Salad. Definitely on my “make next” list – depending, of course, if I can source feta/cucumber/fresh dill…

Filed under: Food, Kids stuff, Motherhood, Personal, , , , , ,

Creativity is as important as literacy

“If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will not come up with anything original,” says Ken Robinson, in this remarkable, inspiring TED talk, which we saw at a school meeting earlier this week.

He talks about how education systems across the world “ruthlessly” kill creativity in children and how it’s our responsibility to recognise that creativity is as important in education as literacy. Depressing to think that there are no education systems anywhere that recognise this. As Robinson points out, universally, all education hierarchies are the same: maths, science and language at the top; humanities in the middle and the arts below. As a parent of young, inspired and inspiring children, I worry about having to plug them into a system as rigid as a school.

It’s brilliant. Robinson is hilarious in a dry, English way but has some profound insights. It’s worth taking some time and checking it out.

Filed under: Kids stuff, Personal, , , ,

Why ignorance is bliss

My almost-six-year-old daughter has asked me for a Gameboy and an X Box. I shudder each time she does. Last year, I went looking around playschools for Sam, who was two years’ old at the time. One teacher proudly showed me the computer in the playroom, where each child was allowed to spend a limited time each week. I remember wondering what the benefit of that would be? (I have to admit that, at the same time, I wondered if I was putting my children at a disadvantage by not allowing them near a computer… Oh, the joys of parenting!)

I can’t stand how comatose my children become in front of the television (at times, of course, I love how comatose they become). But the thought of them spending endless hours throwing carrots at the Were Rabbit in Wallace & Gromit’s PSP game or – shudder, shudder, shudder – taking care of a virtual toy on Webkinz. Slate.com has a great piece on this by columnist Emily Bazelon, Death to Stuffed Animals!

…[T]here you are, fighting with your 8-year-old or even your 6-year-old about screen time. Or, worse, taking advantage of their preoccupation to make dinner, only to find that they’ve turned into bad-tempered, Web-addled mush.

Don’t try to console yourself with the mantra that they’re learning skills that will later serve them well in our technology-driven world. Using a mouse isn’t like learning to ski. If you ask me, there’s no need to do it from birth or even elementary school. I agree with Emily Yoffe: Watching kids go online for more than five minutes makes me want to shoo them outside. (Even if I admit Michael Agger is right that they’re just prepping for the real computer indulgences of the adult office.)

Look, Blazeon dallies with the idea of allowing her son online, but I’m not convinced she’s sold her soul (or his) to Internetting yet. As I see it, ignorance is always the best way of protecting your kids from stuff you don’t want them to nag you about. After all, they can’t ask you for something if they don’t even know about it…

Filed under: General, Kids stuff, Motherhood, , , ,

2007, according to Nina and Sam

I ignored tonight’s Survivor final (so over it!) to sort out my photographs of the past year. Talk about digital pollution… Anyway, I have posted a Picasa web album, using some of my favourite images of Carolina and Sam from the past year:

Kids 2007

Filed under: Kids stuff, Personal, , , ,

Peace, my brother

Pumpkin Feast wave

Carolina goes to a little Montessori school in Grahamstown. She’s so wonderfully, completely happy there. It makes me sad to think that she’s going to have to leave the Montessori environment in the next year or so. I’m always so moved by Maria Montessori’s approach and her beliefs, including that “establishing peace is the work of education”. (So inspired, in fact, that I imagine switching jobs – until I remember it involves children!) We had a parents’ meeting at the school earlier this week, and Antoinette, the directress, handed out a copy of Mahatma Gandhi’s Seven Blunders of the World. Gandhi gave this list to his grandson, Arun, on their final day together, shortly before his assassination.

The seven blunders are:

  • Wealth without work.
  • Pleasure without conscience.
  • Knowledge without character.
  • Commerce without morality.
  • Science without humanity.
  • Worship without sacrifice.
  • Politics without principle.

Arun later added an eighth one: Rights without responsibilities.

Apparently, Gandhi called these acts passive violence. Prevent these, he believed, and you could prevent yourself or your society from reaching a point of violence.

Filed under: Kids stuff, Personal

The world, by design

http://www.bugaboodaytrips.comI work in the African Media Matrix building, which is a pretty cool spot. One of the things I appreciate about this space – apart from the view from my office – are the maps on the walls – mainly of Africa, but also the world. Maybe I like the global view… Today, I stumbled across a really groovy site (about daytrips for parents with prams in major cities). It’s deliciously designed, and I love the Flash version of the world…

Filed under: General, Kids stuff

Layla turns three

The haul

We celebrated Layla’s birthday this weekend in perfectly pink style. A Barbie doll cake, pink party packs brimming with sugar and a warm, sunny morning… My children were delighted.

Filed under: Kids stuff, Personal

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