Teacher appreciation week

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A very quick post this week as I am meant to be writing a paper at the moment and I have so much to do! Teacher appreciation week was last week and it was just wonderful to feel so appreciated by the children. We enjoyed breakfast and lunch and each day there was a surprise organised by our caring parents. It really is such a treat!

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Here is our breakfast table looking so good with fresh fruit and quiche and all sorts of yummy goodness. The salads were just divine with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato.

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This is dry collage on a light table with beads from a beaded curtain that my co-teacher carefully cut out and the kids sorted by colour. Such an interesting way to create patterns.

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The kindergarteners made salads for the teachers from their pea plants in a little restaurant they created and here they are in a pretend play restaurant with the chef hats they made for the kitchen.

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My daughter’s school organised treats for her teachers too, we also had a last minute potluck on Thursday which made the week quite full. Here is their gratitude tree which makes music in the wind.

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Our weekend was jam-packed full of a yard sale, visiting friends and out to dinner plus finalising my first draft of assessment 2 – so time to get into gear so I can submit it on the weekend. This is a pic of an Alexanders Patisserie Matcha dessert which was just like a Swiss roll, with delicious meringue – I love the colour of this dessert and it was perfect with a peony tea.

NaBloPoMo – Day 28 – Thanksgiving and a day to eat lots of good food!

Today is a day to be thankful. I am thankful for many things though what stands out is the amazing friends I have made while living in this country for the last 7 years. Today we are visiting our close friends for Thanksgiving – our camping buddies in Oakland. We will be sharing a mostly vegetarian feast and the boys will be eating a Heritage Happy Turkey (fingers crossed!) I read Eating Animals recently and it is very shocking to read about the way these animals are treated and pumped with so much antibiotics and medications for this one day to feed the masses. I am happy that I have chosen the path not to eat animals and that is something that I will stick to now as I have seen many films and read many books about the mis-treatment of animals for food production. Watch the film Earthlings and that film had such an effect on me that I cannot eat animals again.

The Pear tart that we will be having for dessert today

Tofu Chocolate Mousse in Jars

The other night we went out to a friends place for dinner and we were to bring the dessert for the night – I wanted to try a chocolate mousse without cream, butter or gelatin. I looked through a vegan cookbook that I bought ages ago and found a recipe for Chocolate Dream Mousse – I messed with it a little as I had only half the tofu and I used real dark chocolate which was so decadent though still light. Of course this can be vegan by using nondairy chocolate chips. 
Tofu Chocolate Mousse in Mason Jars
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cups dark chocolate or your favourite chocolate
Two (12.3-ounce) packages firm silken tofu
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 tablespoons Maple syrup
6 tablespoons dutch cocoa (or to taste, depending on the richness of  the chocolate used) 

Fresh strawberries
Pomegranate seeds
Puree the cashews and water in a food processor until thick, white and absolutely smooth and creamy. Remove the mixture from the blender, and set it aside in a bowl. Place the chocolate in a dry metallic bowl, and place the bowl over low heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted completely. The chocolate should not be allowed to become too hot, or they can become grainy; they just need to warm to melt. Be sure not to get even a drop of water in the chocolate, as this will also make the melted chocolate grainy. 
Combine the tofu, melted chocolate, vanilla, maple syrup and cocoa to taste in the food processor (no need to wash it out after the cashews), and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Pour this chocolate mixture into the cashew puree, and fold with a whisk until combined thoroughly. Pour into mason jars, add strawberries and pomegranate seeds and chill for several hours before serving. 
Individual dessert treats ready for dinner
Delicious strawberries and pomegranate seeds on top of the chocolate mousse

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Milk Toffee

This post is super late as the first time I tried this I burnt the sugar and I felt somewhat perturbed about trying it again! Today with a bit of time and confidence I felt let’s go and did it as the week is flying by – yet again! I have had this as a treat throughout my life as we used to buy it from friends who made it. It is quite time consuming and you have to definitely keep watch over it as the sugar will burn and then your pan will be a great mess. Oh and when you finish this recipe and all the sticky residue is left behind in the pan just boil some water in it to clean it out – good as new. Certainly other internet advice was to put bleach in the pan – I don’t think so!

So here is the recipe with a little help from my daughters teaches mum in Sri Lanka, an Australian website and some videos I finally got it to come together and it tastes delicious too – especially with a cup of tea.

Milk Toffee

Mellow out with some Milk Toffee in the afternoon

300g / 10 oz brown sugar (to give the rich colour)
300ml / 10 oz or a small tin of condensed milk
3 tablespoons water
30g / 1 oz chopped – not to fine as you want a bite – cashew nuts (mine went missing as someone ate them all so I substituted with Pecans)
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Method

1. Combine the sugar with the water and place pan on medium heat until the sugar begins to dissolve. Do not stir once on the heat as the sugar will crystalise. Prepare a 20cm or smaller square baking tray with parchment paper and baking spray.

2. Once the sugar is melted, pour in the condensed milk and keep stirring till it becomes thick and gooey and takes on some colour. It takes usually around 20 minutes so set your timer once you start stirring. Let the mixture bubble away till it starts leaving the sides of the pan. I made sure that it did not burn by using my candy thermometer and making sure the temperature did not go over 118 degrees C or 245 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. About a minute before the mixture comes off the heat, add the chopped nuts and vanilla and mix well till combined.

4. Once the mixture is ready, pour into the baking tray and spread it so it is even, and set aside to cool for around 5 – 10 minutes. You don’t want the mixture to set completely as you will not be able to cut neat pieces of toffee. Slightly unset in the middle is a good indicator to start cutting the mixture.

In the baking tray with marks ready to cut