Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun Fall Recipe!

Okay, so it was never really my intention to share "grown up" recipes on this site, but hey, I make the rules, right? Besides, this is a grown up recipe made fun. Your kids will love the novelty, even if they're too young to actually help make it, and if your husband has a sweet tooth like mine, he'll enjoy this twist on a classic fudge as well!

4 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
3 cups sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 1/4 cups milk
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup peanuts
1 cup candy corn
15-20 soft caramels
dash of heavy cream

Prepare either an 8x8 or a loaf pan by lining with foil and spraying (or buttering)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat, then pour into a large (at least 3 quart) saucepan and add the sugar, corn syrup and milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. STOP STIRRING and allow to continue boiling until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (238F on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat and add butter, but do not stir. Allow to cool to 120F degrees (I found this takes about 20 minutes). Add vanilla and beat with a wooden spoon until blended. I say beat, because it takes a little bit of oomph, and you want to incorporate a bit of air. Once the mixture begins to thicken, quickly add peanuts and candy corn and continue to beat until the fudge just begins to lose it's glossy look. Pour into your prepared pan and if you like, you can smooth it out with a buttered spatula. Allow to cool completely, then carefully remove fudge from the pan. In a double boiler over medium heat (or if you don't have a double boiler, a saucepan over LOW heat) melt the caramels with a small amount of cream until smooth. drizzle over fudge and place in fridge to cool and harden. Slice fudge any way you want (with a VERY sharp knife to get through the nuts and candy) and ENJOY!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Indoor Activities

The weather is changing and changing fast! Here in Southern Ontario, it seems almost as if we have gone straight from summer to winter without much of an in between. Nonetheless, who can help but feel giddy at the smells of apple cider, pumpkins and fallish spices, the sight of falling leaves, indian corn and all manner of beautiful squashes and gourds.
For me, the only downside to the season is the increased time we spend inside rather than out at the park or in the garden. Finding activities to keep the little one busy can be a challenge, especially when my own list of responsibilities seems endless and overwhelming, but here is something I'm learning to do: let Elysia take part in those responsibilities. Am I folding laundry? Give her the washcloths. Sure, they won't really be folded WELL, but you should see the look on her face when I tell her she did a good job... and who needs perfectly folded washcloths, anyway? (okay, so maybe I fix them as I put them in the linen closet. Call me OCD.) Am I making baked goods for friends or the freezer? Let her pour in the ingredients, or "stir" them together. Letting your little one get involved in your normal, every day activities may make those said activities take a bit longer, it might make them a little messier, but I have found that it also gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment. It also has seemed to give a little bit of understanding when I'm doing something like sorting laundry or preparing a meal... she either wants to help, or goes and does her own thing rather than trying to get my attention away from the task at hand.
Our favourite "fun" thing to do together lately is colour. Hmm... she's only 19 months. Some parents have told me that's too young to give a child crayons, that the coordination isn't there yet, that the risk of her eating them is too high, that she'll start colouring on EVERYTHING! Okay, so maybe that is true to some extent. I mean, she certainly isn't Picasso, but as I sit with her and watch her "draw", I notice that she uses a mixture of straight lines, "circles", dots, and when she gets really excited, incredibly dark scribbles. She talks to herself and to me as she colours, she makes sure she gets both sides of the paper and uses each of the colour I have given her. When she is tempted to colour on something else, I tell her "crayons are for the paper", and it hasn't taken long for her to loose interest in colouring on things like the fridge and my laundry baskets. She loves to show her papers to her daddy when he gets home and hear him ooh and aah over her creativity.
Stickers! Yup, even at 19 months, as long as I lift a corner, she can get a sticker off the sheet and place it on her paper. I notice she is quite specific about where she places them, not wanting them to overlap or hang off the edge. She then makes sure she colours on each one of them.
Strings! I bought her a skein of yarn when I was at the factory last week. Oh, the fun she has wrapping it around the coffee table, making "webs" and stringing her pegs on it. String at 19 months, you might ask.... c'mon, the principle here is supervision. Of course I don't just give her a ball of yarn and go down to load the washing machine for 15 minutes.
You never know what you little one is capable of until you allow them the chance to try. Do things together. Teach them the rules. encourage them to try new things. Praise them for a job well done. You'll enjoy seeing the ways your little one might surprise you!