Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Potato, Leek And Spinach Soup

I'm kind of sad to see winter go, not because I want it to stay cold or because I like having to wear mittens when driving to work but because I will miss having yummy winter soups most nights of the week.

I thought I would share a new soup recipe I made tonight. Its really filling and hearty! my kind of soup.

serves 2-4

ingredients

1 leek, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic, diced
3 medium waxy potatoes, diced
2 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup of milk or cream.

1. Prep all in the ingredients. Cut off and discard the dark green part of the leek. Cut the leek in half and then thinly slice crosswise. Rinse the slices well in a large bowl of cold water. Drain them in a colander.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot stir in the leeks and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the potatoes and stock. Bring to a steady simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about another 10 minutes. Add the spinach and simmer the soup for 10 more minutes. Take the pot off the heat. Use a masher to mash the potatoes into the soup (for a smoother consistency) and stir in cream or milk.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some crumbled feta or parmesan shavings on top.




Now being bright green this soup isn't exactly the most appetising of soups, in fact James made a face when I served it up for tea. But after one sip he was convinced it was delicious. Try it you wont be disappointed.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Overseas candy goodness

When I went to the University of Auckland I would buy all these amazing 'in between classes' snacks. Their "Munchie Mart" is one of the few places in NZ that seems to stock foreign chocolate bars. On Saturday me and James had a mean as craving for some Jaffas cakes (which are a UK biscuits filled with jaffa in the middle and coated in choc). But after driving around Wellington and going to three different supermarkets I had to return home disappointed.

It seems that if you want a certain foreign something e.g a "skor bar"or a "jaffa cake" they are as precious as gold or as my mum would say "as scarce as hens teeth".

I have heard rumours about a diary in Porirua that sells awesome USA stuff but am also yet to find it.

I thought I'd share some of my favourite "Munchie mart" snacks with you and hopefully I will get a chance to stock up when I come home to Auckland next.

Skor bar:



This is similar to the butterscotch brittle that used to come in the Hershey " pot o gold".It also breaks up really easily so you can sprinkle it on top of cakes and cupcakes, yum!

Almond joy: This is like a bounty bar but with an almond on top. I think the filling is even nicer than bounty though.



Reeses peanut butter pieces:


Peanut butter covered in chocolate, what more could you want really?

Crunch bar:



We used to sell this in NZ aaaages ago but it seems to have disappeared off the shelves, without anyone asking me.I really like this one because its kind of like those rice bubble krispies/crackles that you'd make for birthday party when you were little. The supermarket next to our flat had big blocks of it for like a week, but now its gone again!

The last snack is something I constantly seem to be searching for.

CHERRY RIPES!!!

With their delicious cococnuty cherry goodness they are my favourite chocolate bar but the supermarket seems to only get them at Christmas time,its so random. Then last week I saw some double dipped ones and bought some thinking "hooray I found a shop that sells them" only to discover the next week when doing my shopping they have sold out. Grrrr I swear it is some kind of strange cherry ripe conspiracy I mean if their so popular why don't they have them all the time? We would buy them. After talking to some other people about this strange cherry ripe ordeal they too agreed they would buy them. Sometimes shops are such weridos.

The elusive cherry ripe:




Regular and double dipped cherry ripe.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Super cute cakes and cupcake things

Last night I went on a bit of a cupcake googling frenzy and found a bunch of reeeally cool things I thought I would share with you.



This is a seaside sandcastle cupcake its based on a cake design but I actually think it looks better as a cupcake. The "sand" isn't coloured sugar like you'd think its actually brown sugar and cinnamon, pretty clever! looks soo effective and realistic.
I think I'll try something like this in summertime.

My second discovery was this awesome hungry caterpillar!The detail is fantastic! I especially like the chocolate hail for the fuzzy caterpillar bits, too cool.



I've been looking at cake decorating things online too because I have some sweet cupcakes to bake for our party. I've found some beautiful jaw droopingly beautiful cakes. like this one!




I also liked these cakes:





What about this gorgeous ragdoll kitten and cupcake? awwwwwwww I want one!



Cats and cupcakes are two of my favourite things so when I saw this I naturally thought it was sensational! I wonder If mum and dads cat would like one for xmas? hehe its soo cute!




and then I found what is perhaps the ultimate epitome of cuteness.......

Thursday, 5 August 2010

What I love about Montessori

On Monday I started working as a long term reliever for a Montessori kindergarten. To say I was nervous was the understatement of the century. I'd never done any Montessori work before and only had one lecture about it at uni of which I remembered very little. But after my second day I realised this is a pretty cool place! I thought I'd share with you my first impressions and what I am really enjoying about it, because I know a lot of people don't know anything about it only that its a "alternative school".

Its a lot like a regular new entrant primary school class but with the exception that my students are only 4 years old not 5 and the classroom is filled with quite unique and different materials for learning. This info below is mostly a combo of things I found online and my own impressions.

A "regular classroom"


our classroom:


There is a big focus on students creating, making and experiencing learning through real life "work". So the classroom is in sections. Each child is taught to use a mat for their work, that means they can move it and this also create a physical barrier of "their space" which the other children then respect.

We focus on respect as an overarching philosophy, we teach our students about being considerate,kind and thoughtful members of the classroom and society. When they get older there is another strand that focus's on community involvement- things like volunteering and being active members of their community- how cool is that!

Practical life:


Practical life materials and exercises provide opportunities for self-help dressing activities, using various activities to practice buttoning, bow tying, and lacing. Other practical life materials include pouring, scooping and sorting activities, as well as washing a table and food preparation to develop hand-eye coordination.

Other practical life activities include lessons in polite manners, such as folding hands, sitting in a chair, walking in line.




We also do cool things like let the children bake muffins ( with our help) and talk about all the different things we are learning and doing as we make them e.g measuring,counting,stirring,baking etc.



Sensorial

The sensorial materials provide a range of activities and exercises for children to experience the natural order of the physical environment, including such attributes as size, color, shape and dimension. Examples of these materials are pink tower (series of ten sequential cubes, varying in volume); broad stairs (ten wooden blocks, sequentially varying in two dimensions); colour tablets (coloured objects for matching pairs or grading shapes of color).


Mathematics

In this area, materials are provided to show such basic concepts as numeration, place value, addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. For numeration, there is a set of ten rods, with segments coloured red and blue and “spindle boxes”, which consist of placing sets of objects in groups, 1–10, into separate compartments.



Language

In the first plane of development (0–6), the Montessori language materials provide experiences to develop use of a writing instrument and the basic skills of reading a written language. Things include sandpaper letters where the students trace the letters to get the concept of what an "a" is etc. They are also introduced to words in books and early stages of reading is developed using blocks to spell.


Cultural subjects:

The Montessori classroom may also include other materials and resources to learn cultural subjects, such as geography (map puzzles, globes, cultural suitcases containing country-specific materials), and science, such as biology in naming and organizing plants and animals. Music and art are also commonly involved with children in various ways. After the age of approximately six, learning resources include reading books and more abstract materials for learning a broad range of advanced subject matter.






We also do a lot of music, dance and singing- teaching the children to be creative and expressive. In fact music plays all day in our room except for at lunch time so the students can concentrate on talking to each other and holding conversations at meal times.



This is my favourite section ( kinda figures being a geography major) I cant believe how many cool things we have that I don't think I was exposed to until intermediate age!

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