Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Sandwich 29: Broodje Kroket

This week's sandwich is from The Netherlands and is basically a meat croquette in a bread bun. Sounds interesting at least :)

Here's a link to the recipe if you want to try it yourself --> Broodje Kroket

To start with I made some bechamel sauce.

 JD chopped up some roast beef, onion, mushrooms and some thyme.

 Chop it all up in the food processor to form a chunky paste.

 JD rolled the paste into log shapes and breaded them.

Then we fried them until browned.

 Serve in a bread bun with mustard.

This sandwich was very different from anything I've had before. The only croquettes I've had previously were potato ones. The flavours all seemed really British to me especially the pairing of roast beef and mustard. Thankfully the mushrooms didn't add much flavour but the thyme and onion together with the beef was a great combination. It was surprising how easy it was to fry such a soft thing since we've had difficulty frying before but they fried perfectly. The sandwich was odd to eat, a soft bread roll with a crunchy croquette filled with a soft pate like filling. If you make these then be careful when you bite into it as I burned my mouth! This sandwich was a bit too much effort to make but I'm glad I did as it's a unique taste that I'm glad to have tried.

Ratings: JD - 3/5, Emma - 4/5

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Family Game Review: Battleblock Theater

Battleblock Theater is a video game we got free through our XBox Live subscription.  It's a platform game where you have to collect gems to open the exit to each level. You can customise your character's face and also buy different weapons to use. The faces have many really funny expressions and the weapons include a dancing frog with a top hat and cane that explodes.

One of the best parts of the game is the narration while you play. The guy says things like "You're doing it wrong" or "Don't die there of all places". As you customise "You should choose cool things not dumb and stupid things". When you start a new level "I sure hope you find gems and not death" or "Don't lose hope, I know I did".

The two player game is fantastic. You have to work together to help each other past obstacles, reach down to help your partner up or stand on a button to create a bridge for them to cross. Leigh and Erin are horrible to each other when they play. Moving off the button so the other falls to their death or just punching them so they fall in the water and drown. It's funny to watch and since when you die you just reappear at the last checkpoint it's all good fun.

 The puzzle element of the game gets pretty tricky as you go through the levels. You have to work out what to do to get to some of the gems and there are secret levels to find. There's buttons to press, robots with torpedos, weird raccoon monsters, homicidal cats, lightening to avoid, acid, spikes to try not to get impaled on and many other fun features.

Even though we got this game free we've all said we would've bought it and been happy with our purchase!

JD said "It's a really good party game because you die often and come back instantly so it's easy to swap the controller between people and keep the fun going".

Erin said "I like the different weapons especially the exploding dancing frog".

Leigh said "It's funny because you have different faces to choose from and collect".

We've all got tons of fun from this game and I would recommend trying it. It's fun single or multi-player. There's plenty of levels too, each chapter has 10 levels plus 3 fiendishly tricky timed levels to try. With 8 chapters that's a lot of gameplay. We've enjoyed this game so much that at times we've cried laughing and it doesn't get better than that. :D


JD - 5, Emma - 5, Leigh - 5 and Erin - 4.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday Sandwich 28: Meatball Sub

I've been looking forward to this Saturday's sandwich all week. JD and I have tried meatball subs before but were quite willing to try them again for the benefit of this post :)

Ingredients: sub rolls, minced pork, onion, bread, milk, chili flakes, garlic granules, bell pepper, tinned tomatoes, sugar, parmesan, gruyere cheese, mixed herbs, salt and pepper. Maybe other things, I forget.

Soak the bread in some milk and mush up. In a bowl mix the pork, parmesan, bread and milk with your hand. Cut up the bell pepper and onion to roast in the oven.

Form the mixture into small balls and fry in a frying pan until browned.

Make the sauce from the tomatoes, sugar, herbs, garlic granules, chili flakes, salt and pepper. It says to put the meatballs in the sauce and simmer for 40 minutes. We were pushed for time so I just simmered it for a bit and then thickened the sauce with cornflour and water instead.

 Cut open the sub rolls. Layer cheese, meatballs, sauce, bell pepper and onion on the sandwiches.

Everyone enjoyed this sandwich which is a rare occurrence in the Jackson household! Hot sandwiches are great and this one is moist, meaty and really filling. The sauce in particular was delicious and just a bit hot from the chili flakes. I especially enjoy sandwiches with a soft bread roll too.

Ratings: JD - 5, Emma - 4, Leigh - 4, Erin - 5

Coming up next Saturday: Broodje Kroket

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Homework: A Failure of Society

(Artist: Pawel Kucyzynski)
I have some pretty non-traditional views of schooling. From the time I was 5 to the time I was 14, I went to a school where the pupils sat at desks attached to and facing the wall with large dividers between us. Quiet ruled the air, and distractions did not exist. Our work was largely self-directed - we chose what we wanted to work on each hour and each day as long as we kept a consistent pace among all subjects over time. If we finished a certain amount of work before the school day was finished, then the rest of the day was yours. We even checked and graded our own work day-to-day. That school closed down when I was 14, and I was homeschooled until 18. There was no formal curriculum in my homeschooling (some might know this as "unschooling"), and my learning was then entirely self-directed.

During the nine years I went to that formal school, I can recall having homework perhaps ten times, or just about once per year. Now my children get homework that many times in a fortnight. Some schools are giving their students as much as three hours of homework a day. Even my six year old nephew gets homework daily. Immediately as a child starts formal education, does the school intend to own that child's evenings forever?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Saturday Sandwich 27: Roti John

Yees, I know it's Sunday but we made and ate it yesterday so it still counts :D

This egg based sandwich is usually eaten for breakfast or a snack in Singapore and Malaysia.

Ingredients: 2 eggs, minced beef, 1 onion, 1 garlic clove, 2 tsp curry powder, bread rolls and oil for frying.

Saute the minced beef, onion and garlic first until it's properly cooked. Then mix with two eggs and the curry powder. Half the bread rolls and spread the mixture onto one side. Place face down in a frying pan and fry until the egg is cooked and caramelised. Add tomato sauce or hot sauce (both pictured) whichever you prefer.

These sandwiches were great! I've tried plenty of different meats in an omlette before but never minced meat. The curry powder gave it a lovely flavour and we both enjoyed the Roti John very much. We'll likely eat these again. JD has already lamented that we don't have any mince left to have them again for breakfast today :)

The flipping of the bread and mixture into the pan was tricky but if you just go for it it seems to work out. JD said he was surprised how easy it was to make because with sloppy mixtures in the frying pan they often break apart but this stuck to the bread and made a nicely solid omlette type filling.

Fondant Fancies are optional by the way!

Ratings: JD -  4/5 Emma - 4/5

Coming up next week: Meatball Sub 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I See Faces...Everywhere! O_O

But that's ok, apparently it's a common thing called Pareidolia. Which is taken from Greek words meaning 'faulty image'. It means seeing anything from animals in clouds to faces on toast etc.

It brings me a lot of simple pleasure to spot faces wherever I go. I'm often pointing out a face to JD or the kids and then waiting patiently until they either see it or look at me like I'm daft :)

I've collected a few photographic examples for your enjoyment:

This carrot was horrified at being peeled.

This flat pack shelf had the decency to feel embarrassed that it was broken.

This face was shocked to see me on the loo.

American plugs looking terrified I might plug something into them.

JD's parents' dryer seems happy with it's lot.

The plane seat controls looking coquettish.

I have no caption for this one, it's a plant pot >.>

These buttons all seem happy apart from that top right guy ruining the photo!

This tree looks exactly like Sid the Sloth from the Ice Age films.

So they you have it. Everywhere you go there's likely a face watching you. Creepy, right?

Do you see faces in things? Or is it just me? :D

Thursday, September 25, 2014

How to Help My Daughters Feel Beautiful?

Having self-confidence and feeling beautiful are things I feel I've struggled with my entire life. Now I have two daughters and like most parents I have the feeling of wanting better for my children. I want them to feel beautiful. I want them to look in the mirror every day and feel happy with what they see there.

I read an article yesterday saying that 4% of women think they are beautiful. 4%!!

It's difficult to feel beautiful when we're surrounded by such a high ideal of how we should look. We're taught from an early age that we should spend time, effort and money to look externally attractive. Often made to feel guilty or unworthy if we don't.

 Except you can't help but fail. The high standard of beauty is unattainable. Models are digitally altered to look slimmer, lines are removed and any blemishes are smoothed out. No one can look the way magazines would have us believe a beautiful woman should look. Not even the model posing for the picture looks like that. It's impossible to.

Adverts do more than sell a product, they sell an idea of how you should look, how you can be happy, how you can be sexy and what your life could be like if you buy their product.

Leigh and Erin are aware of this since JD and I have talked to them about it. It's hard to know how much they believe it though or if they really take it in. Erin is confident about herself and her body in a way that amazes me every day and I hope she continues to feel that way. Leigh is shy and always seems nervous about how she looks. I wish she could see how beautiful she is. They both are. So beautiful. ^_^

So, what can I do to help them feel beautiful? For a start I've decided to stop shying away from the camera. I'm usually the one taking pictures so I'm less often in the picture. When pictures are taken of me I'm quick to delete unsuitable ones that don't show me to my standard of acceptableness. Which seems ridiculous the more I think about it. I look the way I look. Taking a picture doesn't change how I look, anyone spending time with me will see me in various ways and expressions.

I'm going to stop censoring my pictures or saying out loud that I look bad in photos. It's a negative reinforcement that underlines the need to look attractive all the time. I'm not going to say negative things about my body but instead say out loud things I like about my body. I'm going to use the word beautiful to mean kind or thoughtful or use it when the kids show empathy. All those things make for a beautiful person. I'm going to show Leigh and Erin that I'm happy with my body/face AS IT IS RIGHT NOW and not be constantly striving to change myself into someone else's ideal of beauty.

Here is a picture of me I've always thought is awful but it's really just a picture of me, a Mum with her two daughters having fun taking a selfie (before that word existed)and feeling happy.

I want to be as beautiful as I can be to MYSELF first. THEN to whomever has the SENSE to see me. -Maya Angelou

Do you feel beautiful?