ABC Cookies For All Seasons

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This is the 3rd post in Fun Ways to Play with ABC’s – Seasonal ABC’s – hosted by Something 2 Offer.

The following activity is very hands-on, easy and… Tasty! The children don’t only practice their language skills but also work on fine motor skills, hand – eye coordination, focus; develop their creativity and gain sensory experience (texture and taste).

You can find the recipe for Sugar Cookies here.

The idea is very simple: make the dough, roll it, let the children make letters out of the dough, bake them and eat them!

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Be prepared for the letters to be absolutely imperfect and more over when the cookies are baking, the expand all sorts of ways! But it is still fun!

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You can choose to decorate the cookies with simple icing for special occasions, like, Christmas, Ayyam-i-Ha and other holidays.

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Please stop by the Sensory ABC’s landing page for more ideas!

Special Guest Thursday: Macadamia Anzac Biscuits {threefootcooks}

As you can see, Special Guest Thursdays took a bit of a break. Well, it was really me who had a break from blogging as life with 3, plus ongoing vacation is what we’ve been busy around with here!
Today I am happy to introduce Maree from threefootcooks who shares a recipe of Anzac Biscuits  and also gives us a bit of sneak peaks into life over in Australia and the history of these cookies!
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cooked anzac biscuits
Over here in Australia we are currently in the middle of the winter season. However, since my family and I live in the Northern part of Australia it doesn’t really get cold in winter.  We have had a couple of nights where the minimum temperatures were around 6 degrees Celsius, and most days the maximum temperature is in the low 20 degrees Celsius.  So we have the best of both worlds at the moment.  We can enjoy soups and stews for dinner at night but still play outside and enjoy the sunshine during the day.  Summer, however, is a different story.  Nights are hot and humid and you try and keep out of the sun during the day. Typical Australian weather – lots of extremes all over our country.
The biscuits that my daughters Bear and Bee have made for this guest post are typically Australian too.  Anzac Biscuits are associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War 1.  There is much debate over the true origins of the Anzac Biscuit recipe and what it was originally like.  However, if you were to ask someone from Australia or New Zealand what was in an Anzac Biscuit they would agree on rolled oats, sugar, golden syrup, flour, coconut, butter, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water.  The biscuits are crunchy and don’t contain eggs; so they stayed fresh longer while being sent to soldiers in care packages during World War 1.
This recipe for Anzac Biscuits has only 2 additions to the original list of ingredients.  We added a small amount of ground ginger and chopped macadamia nuts for extra flavour. Macadamia Nuts are a native Australian nut from the North East coast of Australia (the area I grew up in). Macadamia nuts were responsible for lots of sore fingers in my family (and others like ours) when I was growing up.  The macadamia nut has an extremely tough shell which needs to be cracked open with a large rock or hammer.  Thankfully, there are many versions of nut crackers readily available now that can be used to crack the macadamia nut open.
To make a more authentic version of Anzac Biscuits just leave out the ground ginger and macadamia nuts.
Macadamia Anzac Biscuits
Makes 50 approximately
Ingredients
2 cups (250g) plain flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 and ½ cups (135g) desiccated coconut
2 cups (180g) rolled oats
1 cup (200g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (125g) macadamia nuts, chopped
200g butter, chopped
½ cup (175g) golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup (125ml) boiling water
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 180oC/160oC fan forced.
2. Line 3 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ginger, coconut, oats, sugar and nuts.
dry ingredients for anzac biscuits
4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.
5. Place the butter, golden syrup and water in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Don’t use a small saucepan even though it is only a small amount of ingredients.  Trust me; you will see why in step 7.
mixture for anzac biscuits
6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter has melted.
7. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in bicarbonate of soda.  The mixture will foam up as you stir it which is why it is important to use a slightly larger than needed saucepan.
foaming butter mix for anzac biscuits
8. Quickly pour the foamy butter mixture into the bowl containing the flour mixture and mix well until all ingredients are combined.
9. Roll 1 tablespoon of mixture into a ball and place on prepared tray.  Flatten slightly with your fingers.
anzac biscuits on tray
10. Repeat with remaining biscuit mixture.
11. Bake biscuits for 10-12 minutes or until golden and just firm to touch.
12. Remove trays from oven and allow biscuits to cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Please note.  I would recommend that only an adult completes steps 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the recipe.  The way the butter and syrup mixture foams up when the bi-carb soda is added is really cool to watch but it is also very hot. Once you have mixed all the ingredients together it should be cool enough for your child to help roll the mixture into balls.
I hope you enjoy making this little taste of Australia with your child.
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maree mortimer bio photo“My name is Maree Mortimer and I am a stay at home mum with twin 4 year old girls.  My blog threefootcooks is about the cooking adventures I have with my girls.  I hope to inspire more parents to cook with their children on a regular basis. “
You can follow Maree through her FB page, Pinterest, Twitter and G+

Cooking series: yeast dough baking

We love baking and playing with the dough. Different dough has different texture and resilience and while exploring it the child doesn’t only participates in a real life activity but is also engaged into a sensorial activity that promotes fine-motor skills. My daughter can kneed the real dough for a very long time, adding more flour or oil to it. When she was younger, I would put her in the high chair, hand her the piece of dough, some flour in the cup and a rolling pin and she would initiate herself into the whole creative process of exploring the dough.

In Russia we enjoy having all sorts of bread for tea. Buns, rolls, dinner rolls, croissants – you name it. Practically every household has a tradition of making yeast (sour) dough and then use it for making tea snacks. My grandma passed onto us a very simple recipe for the yeast dough. I still use other recipes, but this one is easiest of all.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of dry yeast

3 cups of warm boiled water

4 tablespoons of sugar

6 tablespoons of flour + 5-7 cups of flour

1 cup of oil

1/2 tablespoon of salt

Method:

Mix yeast with all the water, add sugar and 6 tablespoons of flour. Whisking the whole mixture is better to avoid having lumps. Cover and leave for 15 minutes. Then, add 1 cup of oil, salt and 5-7 cups of flour (depending on what flour you are using). Put it in a warm place and let it double. Make rolls, buns or whatever else you like. This dough is great for pizza and quiche.

This time we made dinner rolls on a regular baking sheet and using the muffin pans. The other time we just made them into naans and pricked them with forks.

It is truly amazing how something as simple as yeast dough can give us a room for creativity!