Saturday, 14 September 2013

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Chocolate Cookies

My daughter Pixie LOVES cookies. She's her Mama's daughter.

I was thrilled when I found that one of my favourite blogs, Here We Are Together, had started the most awesome children's cooking curriculum. I was even more thrilled when I found out that it was FREE!

Each week, a new recipe goes up, helping your children to learn basic, vital cooking skills; fantastic for creating a strong base on which to build their culinary skills. DaddyPixie and I feel that cooking is such a necessary skill for our children to acquire.

So, back to the cooking.

Each week teaches a new skill, so far mixing, stirring, chopping and melting.

The first one is an incredible recipe for chocolate cookies that is deceptively simple but oh-so-tasty! And it only has THREE ingredients.

I thought I'd share Pixie's latest foray into cookies with you.

3-Ingredient Chocolate Cookies Recipe

1. Preheat your oven to 200*C. Measure out 1 cup of chocolate spread into a microwavable bowl. We used Nutella because it is the Queen of Sweet-Sandwich-Spreads. No contest. (We have also made these with generic chocolate hazelnut spread, but don't tell the Nutella that.)

2. Heat the Nutella in 30-second bursts until it's much runnier. The original recipe does not include this next step, but Pixie found it far easier to stir everything together when the Nutella was liquid-y.

3. Whilst the Nutella is cooling, measure out 1 cup of plain flour and place in a large mixing bowl. Be careful as Small Children and flour are not the best match. My laptop still has flour in the keyboard.

4. Beat 1 egg, then pour into the flour.

5. Pour the melted Nutella into the mixing bowl, and mix everything together into a gloopy, chocolatey, mess.

6. Lick the spoon several times. As well as the fingers that will inevitably end up in the choccie mix. You're powerless to stop it, so don't even try.

7. Roll a tablespoon-sized amount into a ball using your hands, and then flatten the top with a fork. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

8. Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. We have a fan-assisted oven, so you may need to adjust temperature and length of time in the oven to suit you. Clean up your child who PROBABLY has a face covered in chocolate.

9. Once they've finished baking, distract your children with something, anything, and then come back and eat one of these whilst they're still hot. Divine.

10. Once they're cooled, I *suppose* you could let your children eat them, but don't feel obliged.


I presume these would keep for several days in an air-tight box, but frankly, our batches have never lasted that long. They do become crunchier as they cool, so do try and eat them whilst they're warm.

We've also added crunchy peanut butter to our mix on occasion, as well as walnuts, raisins and chopped glace cherries (a messy chopping experience for kids - use a small blunt knife and supervise them). Each one has been just as delicious, though Ru picks the cherries out of his!

So, enjoy the cookies and if you try them out, let me know in the comments what you thought!

Original Recipe can be found HERE on the Here We Are Together 'Cooking Curriculum'.

Monday, 9 September 2013

So I've been busy...

I really, truly have.

Not just with work and MamaPixie, but a lot of my time, our time as a family, has been taken up with my son Ru being ill.

The first week in August, Ru's sclera started turning yellow, rapidly worsening and being followed by his skin turning a similar shade. After a Saturday late afternoon trip to A&E (and sent home), we took him to the GP on the Monday to be told that he needed a blood test, and that they suspected he had Hepatitis A.

We had to spend the entire day in hospital, and have various blood tests done on the Boy. Turns out it wasn't Hep A... or Toxoplasmosis... or ANY of the liver infections they thought it was. We went home, with instructions that if Ru worsened, to bring him in.

Come Wednesday, he was vomiting, refusing to eat, barely sleeping, fractious, unhappy, miserable.

We took him back.

They admitted him. They started telling us they were looking at auto-immune diseases that would cause his body to attack his liver. Best case scenario: steroids for years. Worst case: liver transplant.

I was a wreck.

We stayed for several days, during which he ate a grand total of one sausage and half a packet of crisps. Barely any water or milk. Bloods every day. Blood sugar tested 4 times a day. Observations done 2 hourly, even through the night. Even less sleep for Poorly Boy and Worried Mama and Daddy.

He got worse.

We were transferred to a specialist peadiatric liver unit in Leeds. Stayed the rest of the week and into the next.

Horrid, overly-bright playroom with too many loud-noisy-flashing-look-at-me-play-with-me-give-me-your-attention toys. Ru gets overwhelmed and refuses to go in there. Pixie not allowed on the ward with us, which meant only one parent at a time could be with Ru. Poorly Ru. Poor Pixie. Sad Mama and Daddy.

Bloods taken twice a day. Lots of television. Ru naps a lot. Ru cries a lot. Ru is angry a lot. Ru is ANGRY a LOT.

Doctors don't listen to what he wants. He wants to watch his blood being taken; they ignore him. He doesn't want a play-worker trying to distract him: they ignore him. In fact, they continue to ignore him until he screams a crazed, metal, body-shaking scream that fills his whole body, the whole room, the whole ward.


And my heart breaks for him.

His anger is fierce and wonderful and terrible. A Thing to behold. This big strong loud voice from this tiny boy who is so scared and worried and angry and so filled up with all these world-shaking emotions.

I hold him whilst he cries and tells me he doesn't like this bed, he doesn't like it here, he wants to go home, why can't he go home?

He looks so tiny in his oversized bed. Need to be closer to him. Sit on his bed and stroke his sweat-soaked hair.

Stephen stays overnight with Ru. The Boy wakes a lot in the night, crawls into bed with him. Seeking warmth and comfort and love and reassurance and a whispered 'We'll be home soon'. A ward sister tells Stephen off for letting him do that. He Should Be In His Own Bed. Apparently. It's Not Allowed. Stephen ignores them. To me, he shines.

People come and visit. People text. People message on Facebook. Work is put on hold. Gifts come through the post. Books. Yarn to soothe anxious Mama-Hands. Miniature water-colour paint sets. Snacks. Planet Earth dvds.

Parents of other children on the ward approach us. Stories are shared. Worry and fear and stomach-churning emotions are acknowledged as being normal.

"We understand. We know what you're going through. You're not alone."

Ruby has cancer and looks like a miniature Sinead O'Connor because her chemotherapy treatment made her hair fall out.

Sophia's Mama cries a little whilst her daughter is in surgery. Sophia's Daddy paces a lot; small nervous, feeling useless steps.

Mohammad only just turned one, gets put on the liver transplant list during our stay. His mother speaks little English, stays very quiet, nods politely at me when I cry. I notice the damp patches on her sari from her own Mama tears. His father offers hourly to get me something, anything I need from the shop or the canteen. He asks more when Stephen is gone. I think he worries about me.

Doctors tell us it could still be a rarer liver infection. We cross our fingers. Don't think about The Worst Case Scenario.

Through all this, Pixie is joyful. Always joyful. She doesn't focus on the absence of Ru. She rejoices in the long hours with her godfather Stuart. She is always happy. Mama tries to be happy too. Mama does not do very well. Daddy holds it together for everyone. He shines some more.

Ru barely sleeps. Always noise, never quiet. Always busy, never calm. Always illness, never healing.

They tell us we're Not Allowed take him out of the hospital grounds. I get my MamaLion on. They let us take him out of the hospital grounds. We walk round Leeds; Mama, Daddy, Son and Daughter. A collective sigh of relief is breathed. The Boy who hasn't slept for longer than 20 minutes at a time for nigh on a fortnight sleeps solidly in his little sister's pushchair for four hours. He needed the space away, the time away, the fresh air to fill him up. We all did.

And suddenly, amongst the noise, and the lack of sleep, and the exhaustion, and the horrific screaming when blood is taken...

Does he look less yellow? Wishful thinking? Harsh hospital lights?

Ru's results get better. They're still bad. But better.

And the next day.

And the next.

No one knows what's wrong with him. But they give us five different medicines and let us go home because He's Getting Better.

Ru sleeps all the way home. I can see Pixie in my passenger side mirror. She keeps looking over at her brother and smiling. There is flapjack waiting on the doorstep. Flapjack is devoured. Felines are fussed.

We got to bed camped out in the living room in one giant bed of quilts and blankets and duvets and pillows. We don't want to be apart. Ru's cat, Yuli, won't leave his side. She has missed him. When he's away, she has no human to stand guard over in the night. She is glad to have her job back.

We're all glad.

I'm glad of family.
Of love.
Of my own bed.
Of homemade food.
Of strong Sons and joyful Daughters.
Of dear friends.
Of cats.
Of husbands that Shine and hold everything together.

Stephen looks at me. Everything will be OK.
    I love how much Ru and Pixie shine.
    They get it from their Father.