Week AGUA-Hibiscus Ice Lollies

Whoever’s made ice lollies at home (almost everyone I suppose) will know it is not rocket science. What it is peculiar about these lollies is the main ingredient: Hibiscus flower, better known as flor de jamaica in Mexico although known by other names in other countries. And while it is widely available in some countries, here in London is not so well known yet available in Multi-ethnic shops.

You could use the flowers for a warm tea first thing in the morning but in these months is so much better to try the cool tanginess of these flowers in a refreshing drink, or why not straight out of the freezer.

You will need only:

  • Flores de jamaica secas= dried Hibiscus flowers
  • AGUA=water
  • Azucar = sugar
  • molde para paletas de hielo = ice lolly mould
  • Jarra y cuchara =Jug and spoon

While it is common to find big bags of dried flowers back in Mexico, I can only find 100g bags here in London. I usually take a third of flowers from my bag (around 30g) put them in a 1 litre plastic container, fill up with water and leave soaking in the fridge overnight. So easy!

Years back we used to make an infusion, which you can still do should you require the beverage hot as in tea. But with my mum’s advice, I now only let it sit in the fridge and that is how I make 1 litre of Hibiscus concentrate, good enough to give me 2 litres of hibiscus drink. Moreover, the left-over flowers will serve again to make another litre for you. So I can basically make around 10 litres of hibiscus “juice” with a 100g bag of dried flowers. At £2.50 per bag, I think it is a pretty good deal, taking into account that this is a home-made beverage full of natural minerals and vitamins, no additives and only with as much sugar as you want to put in it. It is said that it is great for dieting as it is a natural diuretic, but its medicinal attributes would be beyond the purpose of this post. I am digressing here…

… going back to lollies,

As in any of my home-made drinks, I will suggest you to add around 4 tablespoons of sugar per litre but being for lollies I added an extra one to this litre and had W mix it.

Then I had her pouring the drink out of her teapot :~)

Here she goes from hand-eye coordination to building vocabulary while narrating what we do with words like:

  • lleno = full
  • vacio = empty
  • medio lleno = half-full, when making 2 flavour lollies 🙂
  • despacio = sloooowly, as I kept saying over and over 🙂
  • basta! = stop!

As you can see, a toddler will always looooove pouring…

And more pouring, this time with her cheeky face and her made-at-playgroup Jubilee crown.

And 5 hours later…

So much for Hibiscus, enjoy!

Happy ice making!

Nancy

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Week-SEEDS- mixed seed bites

Inspired by a post from Happy Whimsical Hearts and with a twist on a previous recipe of mine, we came up with these delicious seed bites.

So well, using some of the seeds we have come across this week, we mixed:

  • 1/4 taza de linaza = 1/4 cup linseed
  • 3 cucharadas de ajonjoli = 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3 cucharadas de semillas de calabaza = 3tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 3 cucharadas de semillas de girasol = 3 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 cucharadas de algarrobo = 2 tbsp carob powder
  • 10 datiles = 10 dates
  • miel = honey
  • amaranto inflado=  puffed amaranth

You basically put everything in the food processor, mix and shape into balls, How easy can that be 🙂

It is a bit of a sticky job and you need to feel the consistency, if it is too dry you put a bit more honey, if too runny pour some amaranth. I kind of balanced dryness in between spoonfuls of honey and amaranth.

The good thing about this kind of recipes is that you can play with the ingredients and change some seeds for nuts or honey for syrup or peanut butter, carob for real cocoa powder or omit it at all. Just give it a try and be creative!

As for how we looked while making the actual ball shapes, I haven’t got a picture. My hands were sooo sticky, and yes, the kids’ were also sticky and not much was turning into balls as most of what they tried to shape ended up in their mouths 🙂

And this is what was left… At least we still have some for tomorrow’s lunchbox!

Happy no baking!

Nancy

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Week SEEDS – of stories and teas

This is a wonderful story about nature preservation. It could easily be described with the following quote I found here :Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.  ~William Ruckelshaus, Business Week, 18 June 1990

Having said that, you can probably imagine what the story is about, dandelions and preservation.

Christopher is a friendly little guinea pig who saves the day after his hungry greedy town goes through a dandelion total wipe out. Even though it is extremely unlikely that we run out of dandelions one day, it clearly gives children an idea of where plants (even weeds) come from. It especially gave us a lot to talk about; seeds, leaves, roots. It made A so curious about the way in which dandelions could be turned into soup, juice and tea. I had to google a lot of information for him and he got so excited with the idea of growing his very own dandelions that he is now waiting for his “future crop” to give him enough leaves to make soup. For the ones who haven’t read about it in earlier posts, A planted around 120 seeds that we counted on a single head of dandelion he picked on our way from school.

So far we have tried tea, but apparently there is a bunch of other uses for the leaves, flowers and roots. With medicinal and nutritional properties, no wonder Timmy (A’s hamster) looks so healthy. They are packed with vitamins and minerals. So now you know some of the culinary uses you could give to those sometimes unwelcome “weeds”.

And after talking about the different parts of plants and the so many uses for them, I explained to A that while  dandelion seeds are not used for tea, many other seeds are, like the ones I so often have in the morning:

Aniseed; great when waking up

I just need to put 1 teaspoon of seeds in a tea-strainer, pour boling water and wait 2-5 mins Couldn’t be more practical!

I have sometimes fennel tea with our lunch as it aids digestion

Even W knows where her herbal tea is coming from 🙂

As for the night-time tea, I like having lavender tea, but that’s talking flowers, so I will have to tell you all about pink lavender tea when we dedicate a week to our petaled friends.

Happy brewing!

Nancy 

Cucumber and Mint Drink

Thanks to a good friend’s visit in which she brought us a baked gift, we opted for a drink this week as opposed to our scheduled lovely carrot and pineapple cake; recipe that we will have to share with you next week.

As for the main ingredients for this refreshing green drink, you will need:

  • semillas de un melon = seeds of one melon
  • un pepino en trozos = one cucumber in chunks
  • 10 hojas de menta (machacadas) y una ramita para decorar = 10mint leaves (crushed)and a sprig to decorate
  • 4 cucharadas de azucar (mas o menos, al gusto) = 4 tablespoons of sugar (more or less, to taste)
  • agua =  water

  • Spoon out the seeds
  • Put them in a blender with the cucumber, mint leaves, sugar and  250-500ml of water at high speed until well blended

  • Pass through a strainer, add enough water to make around 1 litre of drink and mix

  •  Chill and serve garnished with the sprig of mint

  • Sit down and enjoy!

Happy drinking!

Nancy

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Saturday Pancakes on a Tuesday

Saturday Pancakes, as we call it, is the lovely cooking time we share in the kitchen and the announcement for my children that the weekend is beginning. As for last Saturday, unusually, we were busy from early morning so we couldn’t dedicate this time to cooking. We decided then that we would leave the pancakes for the middle of the week in exchange for our weekly baking session.

We love trying different ingredients and even spices sometimes. We chose this week one of our favorite pancake recipes. I guess it is the colour that makes them special for the kids. And it’s true, it’s kind of funny.

And for your weekly culinary vocabulary:

Crepas de betabel con amaranto / Beetroot and amaranth Pancakes

  • 300ml leche = 300ml milk
  • 150g harina = 150g flour
  • 1/2 taza de betabel rallado = 1/2 cup grated beetroot
  • 1 cucharadita de polvo de hornear = 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pizca de sal = a pinch of salt
  • 2 huevos = 2 eggs

Put everything in the blender

Pour around half ladle of batter on  your pre-heated pan/skillet on medium fire and wait for around 1 minute until you see the batter turning slightly pale (when it cooks through) then flip it over and wait another minute or so and serve on a plate and continue to do this with the rest of the batter.

We normally use 3 different pans

  • chico  = small
  • mediano = medium
  • grande = big

Then put whatever you like as filling. We like: honey, maple syrup, jam or marmalade, peanut butter and my son’s favourite: nutella

Over the nutella sprinkle some puffed amaranth or something else…

For variations, there is a thousand and one combinations, amongst my favorite ones : sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. They give a lovely crunchy texture.  You can also change the beetroot altogether and use the same amount of carrot or pumpkin, both delicious too!

You will like them so much that you will be begging for more  🙂

Happy cooking!

Nancy