Posted in Craft, Kids, tagged activities, Children, Craft, easy, frugal, Fun, homemade, Kids, Messy Church, playdough, recipe, simple, toddlers on 29 June, 2011 |
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Last night we had a great time at Messy Church – the next one in our series on the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus. This time we were looking at ‘I am the True Vine’ and the craft team decided that they’d like one activity to be making playdough grapes to place on a vine drawn on a paper plate. The Vicar then volunteered me to make the playdough, knowing that I had a recipe up my sleeve.
Every playgroup leader has a recipe for playdough – that ubiquitous soft dough which mums hate to find in carpets. But many folk I’ve spoken to have found their homemade dough to be too sticky or oily. This recipe always seems to come out well, though, as long as you don’t mind your fingers getting a bit stained with food colouring. It lasts a few weeks if kept in an airtight box in the fridge.
- 1 cup (250ml) plain flour
- 1 cup (250ml) water
- 1/2 cup (125ml) salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- Few drops food colouring
All you do is pop all the ingredients together in a pan (preferably non-stick) and heat it up, stirring, until the dough magically forms. You can also do it by heating it in a covered dish in the microwave for 1-2 minutes but it’s so fast on the stove top I use that method. Also, the food colouring can make the inside of a microwave dish look rather interesting.
I know these were meant to be grape coloured, but the local shop only sells colouring for pilau rice and Indian sweets, so the colours are a little lurid and approximate. For Messy Church I made a quadruple batch, which was ample. It’s great fun to hold and knead – we gave a couple of handfuls away to some of the teenage tearaways who were lurking in the church yard. One came in especially as he reckoned it would help him to deal with stress.
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Posted in Inner city, tagged Alcohol, Brook, change, delicatessan, high street, Immigration, Inner city, Lidl, off licence, Polish, Sandwell, sexual health, spitting on 28 June, 2011 |
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I drove into tow-un yesterday morning to get some messages (as the Scots like to say). As I was driving I noticed a few new shops that have opened recently that should give you the flavour of the boom industries in our neighbourhood. They were:
- A Polish delicatessan. I think we must now have half a dozen of these shops in town now, along with a good few Polish hairdressers and beauticians. A sign of the changing face of immigration in the area – many Eastern Europeans have joined the mix that brings a buzz alongside many challenges and gives us 22 languages spoken in the homes of the children in our church primary school.
- A new ‘wine’ shop. There are very many off licences in our high street, and all the grocers sell cheap booze along with the chapatti flour. I saw a chap who must have patronised one of the local off licences in the carpark of Lidl at 11am, rolling as he walked and clutching a bottle of Frosty Jack cider.
- A Brook ‘Young People’s Health Shop’. A sad indicator of the ubiquity of the sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility that is the norm here and that contributes to the brokenness of so many lives around us.
Talking of my trip to Lidl, as I went into the shop a chap charmingly spat generously on the floor by his car, which his wife and child were sitting in. He looked shocked when I mentioned to him that his behaviour was both disgusting and a health hazard.
I didn’t wait to discuss it with him any further though, chicken that I am, and dashed into the shop to stock up on cheap sliced ham and fresh peaches.
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Posted in Food, Garden, tagged cooking, edible, Food, fungi, hunting, mushrooms, Vicarage, wild food on 27 June, 2011 |
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I found an impressive mushroom on our lawn yesterday and was wondering about eating it. I was under the misapprehension that there were only a few types of poisonous ones and it was likely to be fine.
Then I went googling and searching around the internet and it’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. So we’ve not eaten it – it’s sitting in my kitchen but I think it will just be going in the compost. I think I’m best to stick to the radishes and salad leaves I planted myself.
Bit of a pity, but best not to poison the family, eh?
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Posted in Church, tagged 2 Chronicles, Calvary Church Children, Children, Christian, Church, colouring pages, crafts, Deaf Missions, Jehoshaphat, Junior Church, Kids, kings, lectionary, On The Way, online, puzzles, Sunday school, Teachers Direct, teaching, TNT, wide age range, wordsearch on 21 June, 2011 |
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I have recently started leading regularly at our Junior Church. When I began, we were using materials which were tailored to a narrow age range and which were tied to the lectionary and sometimes seemed to miss the point of the passage.
Since our group has an age range of 3-14 and we don’t follow the lectionary in church, we have now switched to using On The Way for 3-9s. Although this still misses the top age range we have, it caters for a greater number of the children, and also enables us to design our own programme of teaching.
On The Way has excellent craft resources and helps you to get into the passage you’re teaching yourself. It doesn’t, however, always help you to prepare the teaching of the passage very easily. At the moment we are doing a little series on some of the kings of Judah, which has been great for me as some of the passages were unfamiliar to me, let alone to the kids!
So to help me to tell the stories of some of the passages (and to source some good colouring pages for less well-known stories) I now turn to Deaf Missions – their daily reading notes are available online and give some excellent short summaries of bible passages together with clear black and white illustrations which blow up very well for colouring in. Check out their page on Jehoshaphat and Ahab to see what I mean.
I always like to have a colouring page and a wordsearch for the children – sometimes I like to get them to colour in a picture as I explain the bible passage, as it can help with concentration. And it’s always useful to have something up your sleeve in case the Vicar preaches too long and you’re in Junior Church for an unplanned extra ten minutes.
DLTK have a good selection of colouring pages. For wordsearches I tend to go to Calvary Church‘s site first – they also have colouring pages on many passages and other word puzzles, although the bible version they use (possibly the American Standard?) doesn’t usually mesh with the readings we use, so I don’t use the more complex puzzles. If the passage isn’t in the Calvary Church curriculum, I go to Teachers Direct, where you can make your own wordsearches – cool, eh? Unsurprisingly I used this when teaching about Jehoshaphat.
Do you have any favourite online places for Sunday School resources? Do share!
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Posted in Food, tagged baking, Cake, crumble, dessert, Food, gooseberries, pudding, recipe, rhubarb, Vicarage kitchen on 20 June, 2011 |
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Last week I had to bake for Cake & Chat and wanted something a little different. I also had a packet of rhubarb that I’d picked up on the reduced section at our local Morrison’s. And so here is a recipe for rhubarb pudding cake (I found the original online at a National Trust historic cakes site).
It went wonderfully with creme fraiche on Thursday and with cream on Sunday. I had to bake a second one this weekend as the first one had disappeared before lunch on Thursday. The leftovers are in the fridge tempting me now.
The recipe involves three separate sections – a cake batter, chopped and sugared rhubarb and a crumble topping. Althought it’s slightly faffier than a bog standard sponge, it’s worth the extra trouble for a delicious dessert cake. The one in the pictures has some gooseberries in it aswell as I didn’t have quite enough rhubarb second time round – they worked very well.
- 1lb rhubarb (or gooseberries, or mix of both), chopped into 1″ pieces and sprinkled with 1-2tbspns brown sugar
- 2oz butter
- 3oz plain flour
- 1oz caster sugar
- 3oz soft marg or butter
- 3oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3oz self raising flour
- 1 tbspn milk
Firstly, prepare the rhubarb, chopping it into chunks, or top and tail your gooseberries. Place it in a bowl and sprinkle the brown sugar over the fruit and set aside. Then make the crumble topping, chopping the butter into the flour and rubbing it into small crumbs with your fingers. Then stir in the sugar and set aside. Finally, in another bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar, beat in the eggs and fold in the flour. I do this using an electric hand mixer – there’s not enough mix for my freestanding mixer. Add enough milk to give a dropping consistency – if you’re using large eggs you might not even need the milk.
You’ll need an 8″ cake tin, lined with baking paper (or a reusable liner). Then you layer the cake up – first the batter, then the fruit (with another sprinkling of brown sugar) and finally the crumble topping mix. Bake at 190ºC (Gas 5, Fan 180ºC) for 40-45 minutes until the cake feels firm on top.
This cake is delicious hot or cold and best served with some sort of cream. It would be good with custard too.
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Well, a small one, anyway. Last year we bought some very cheap strawberry plants and stuck them in a flower bed where they failed to produce anything edible. This year, however, they have given us some sweet strawberries – a whole (small) bowlful. And we’ve been able to pick them at peak ripeness. Delicious. Please excuse the shocking lack of focus in the picture. The one I took using the flash made the strawberries look purple.
We also have some small and very sour cherries, about five radishes, a handful of gooseberries, some spindly rhubarb and some snail-chewed bok choi. And there will definitely be potatoes. It’s better than last year, and if our gardening continues to improve at this rate I reckon that we might have a good harvest by the time the Engineer leaves home (he’s six btw).
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Posted in Fun, tagged broken windows, Children, community, formula, Fun, humour, Inner city, maths, silliness, trouble on 16 June, 2011 |
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As we nibbled our rhubarb crumble cake and gingerbread loaf at Cake and Chat this morning, we were discussing (as usual) the state of the neighbourhood. Our local PCSO was visiting to
eat cake catch up on intelligence and he and I were talking about the broken Vicarage windows and the local children who play together most evenings. Often there are more than a dozen of them, and they can often be playing out for four hours until the dark drives them home.
We decided that there is likely to be a mathematical formula for the likelihood of trouble eg broken windows that could be developed, using the number of children (C), the number of hours they spend unsupervised (H) and the amount of trouble (T). Something like this I would guess:
CxH = T
So if there are fewer children, or they are driven inside by rain after only an hour, or parents come and supervise, the amount of trouble is much less. The broken Vicarage windows didn’t happen first thing in the evening, but towards the end of things, and there were always a good few kids playing together.
Of course, the formula is really more complex than that, and should include such factors as emptiness of tummies, sugar recently consumed, time since the last big telling off and air temperature. Perhaps if I work on it I can develop the definitive predictor of Trouble and head it off before it comes. Or maybe I should stick to prayer and building relationships.
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Posted in Books, Church, Faith, Teenagers, tagged 11-14, activity, Books, Books for camp, bookstall, camp, Catherine House, Children, Christian, Christian Focus, CPAS, faith, friendship, Pathfinders, reading, School Survival, Teenagers, venture, young people, youth group on 13 June, 2011 |
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In my quest for suitable books for the young people on our Pathfinder venture this summer, I picked up School Survival by Catherine and Louise House. Louise is Catherine’s school age daughter and some of this book is based on the experiences she had when she moved school. And although it’s called School Survival, it’s particularly about friendship and working that through, with a single chapter about starting in a new school. It is very suitable for the Pathfinder age group (11-14) as it covers many issues faced as young people move on to secondary school.
The book is a combination of stories, quizzes, activities and bible study and is split into 14 chapters, including ones on making friends, bullying, gossip, prayer and church. It might be suitable for a Year Six primary school leaver to study over the summer holidays, or for family devotions or even as an outline for a church Pathfinder group to study over a few weeks (the chapters are uneven in size, so some could be combined). I’ll be ordering a few copies for our camp bookstall.
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Posted in Food, tagged baking, Church, cook book, easy baking, egg free, Food, fundraising, low-fat, malt, malt loaf, milk, recipe, Round Church, Soreen, treacle, Vegan, Vegetarian on 9 June, 2011 |
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The Vicar and I were married at St Andrew the Great in Cambridge. I’d been a member of the church for about eight years when we wed. The year before that the congregation had moved from the Round Church, a beautiful Norman building which had become far too small for the church to meet in. The move cost the church (as I recall) £1.8 million, as the new (to us) building needed extensive refurbishment, having been redundant for 25 years. The congregation gave generously, but there were a few more traditional fundraising efforts. One of these was a Round Church cookbook.
A recipe from the cookbook that I still use regularly is Rosemary Sennit’s malt loaf. It’s great for batch baking – I normally make three loaves at once and quick to put together. It’s egg free and therefore suitable for Asian Vegetarians & Vegans. It’s low fat aswell and I now prefer it to the Soreen option – it’s less strong and squidgy, but still delicious with butter. All brilliant reasons to use this simple and tasty recipe.
- 12oz self raising flour (1lb 8oz for double batch – you can double all the other ingredients easily yourself!)
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 2oz sugar
- 4oz raisins/sultanas or mix of them
- 2 tbspn malt extract (buy it in a health food shop eg Holland and Barrett)
- 1 tbspn black treacle
- 1/2 pt milk
Put the flour and salt in a bowl, adding the sugar and dried fruit and mixing together. Put the malt, treacle and milk into microwave jug. I heat it for 1-2 minutes on maximum heat and then mix it together. You can also do this in a pan over a low heat on the stove. Then pour the liquid into the dry ingredients & mix thoroughly. Pour everything into a well buttered 3lb loaf tin, or one lined with a reusable liner. Or if you double the batch you can make three smaller loaves in 2lb tins – this is what I normally do. Don’t use a paper liner as these will stick (I speak from traumatic experience).
Bake at 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC) for 40-45mins or so until firm to touch, and a skewer comes out clean. I’ve found that the cooking time is about the same for both sizes of loaf. The original recipe said to cook a single quantity in a 2lb loaf tin in 75mins, so if you only have that tin size your deeper loaf will take longer – you might want to cover up towards the end of cooking to prevent the dried fruit from burning, though. Turn out and cool on a rack, or you can leave to cool in the tin. Slice and eat with butter (or low fat marg for the health conscious).
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