Toby received a very special response today. Blue Peter is a children's programme, and Blue Peter badges are "badges of honour" given to children to contribute to the show, or who do something worthy of special recognition. About 50 letters into Toby's project, friends and family were starting to say things like "you ought to get a Blue Peter badge for this". Toby didn't want to ask for a badge until he had completed the full challenge and written to every country in the world...but he did write the letter to Blue Peter immediately after the one that completed his project. That was in October, and today, the postman brought a response - and a Blue Peter Badge, in recognition of his project and his fundraising! Toby is feeling very honoured, and is so happy! The badge arrived the day before his 6th birthday - normally, badges are only given to children 6 years or older, so he's especially happy to have got his badge while he is still five. A badge is not *just* for the honour, it actually comes with a "Blue Peter Card", and gives Toby free entry to lots of attractions, such as zoos, aquariums, castles, theme parks, etc. - so it will help us do more exploring, too. Thank you to Blue Peter, and to the world, for helping him achieve his goal, and helping us explore the world!
Several people suggested that we make Brigadeiro, and you were all absolutely correct, they are yummy! One 14oz can/tin of evaporated milk didn't look like much, but it made an absolute ton of Brigadeiro!
One 14oz tin of evaporated milk (about 400g)
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
Add all ingredients to a pan and reduce on a medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, until you can see the bottom of the pan when you drag a wooden spoon through it. Leave to cool until you can handle it, then roll into small balls between well-buttered hands and roll in chocolate sprinkles.
We didn't stray too far from home for today's recipe, but we had never made Welsh Cakes before, and boy, are they yummy! Thank you so much, Azrael, for sharing the recipe!
225g/8oz self-raising flour
handful of raisins
milk, if needed
85g/3oz caster sugar
extra butter, for greasing
1. Rub the fat into the sieved flour to make breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, dried fruit and then the egg. Mix to combine, then form a ball of dough, using a splash of milk if needed.
2. Roll out the pastry until it is a 5mm/¼in thick and cut into rounds with a 7.5-10cm/3-4in fluted cutter.
3. Take a heavy pan or griddle. Rub it with butter and wipe the excess away. Put it on to a direct heat and wait until it
heats up, place the Welsh cakes on the griddle, turning once. They need about 2-3 minutes each side. Each side needs to be caramel brown before turning although some people like them almost burnt.
4. Remove from the pan and dust with caster sugar while still warm.
This is my best book ever...this one and Ronia. I loved it! It was an early birthday present. I liked that Paddle-to-the-Sea made it to the sea, and that the boy who made him found out about it. I really liked all the paintings and finding Paddle-to-the-Sea in the pictures. I really want to see the Niagara Falls now!
This book was very evocative, and it touched on lots of things, some we talked about (Toby wondered why Paddle-to-the-Sea was called an "Indian", when we had been looking at "Native American" or "First People" for his letters, and we realised that our home - Sheffield - is not the only place in the world linked to steel). Because Toby is currently "writing his way" through the US and Canada, we got lots of "I wrote to X", and it was great seeing them all tied together in Paddle's journey.
Ronia the Robber's Daughter was written by Astrid Lindgren from Sweden.
Toby says: It was really good! Ronia lives in Matt's Fort, Matt is Ronia's Dad, and he is a robber chieftain. Birk Borkason is the son of Borka, and Matt and Borka are enemies. But Birk and Ronia are friends. Their Dads don't like that Ronia and Birk are friends, so Ronia and Birk secretly run away and live in a bear's cave. I liked it when Ronia and Birk made friends. I don't like that there are no more Ronia books, only one.
Mummy says: Ronia the Robber's Daughter was one of my favourite books as a child, and re-reading it with Toby has reminded me why I love it so much! Ronia is such a strong girl, and really, there are no "baddies" in this book (apart from wild harpies and other creatures of the forest) - it's full of essentially "good" people who just have to see each other's point of view a bit more.
Kung told us about Loy Krathong, a Thai festival that is celebrated in November. For Loy Krathong, people build a krathong - a floating flower display with a candle and joss sticks, which then gets to float away, taking all worries and bad luck with it.
Toby loves anything crafty, and with the nights getting longer, the idea of playing with light sounded lovely, too, so we decided to build our own krathong. Traditionally, the base is made from a slice of a banana tree or bread - we decided to use some flower "oasis" (squishy green stuff for flower arrangements), wrapped in cling film. The base gets covered in banana leaf, and then flowers get arranged on top. Ours is not as professional as those we found online, but we had great fun making it. Toby wanted to include some autumn leaves, so we had a whole row of them. Because it is very windy right now here where we live, we decided to put some giant sparklers on, rather than a candle, which would have lasted about half a second.
Claudia posted a link to a whole page of Maltese recipes - we had a look, and although we are a few days late, we wanted to try Torta 'ta San Martin, in honour of Saint Martin's Day, which is on the 11th of November. We adapted the recipe, so here's what we did:
1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mk 4 /180c
2. With an electric whisk beat the egg-whites until they are fluffy
3. Add the yolks, sugar, flour and milk
4. Combine them well and then fold in the dates, figs, nuts, and apricots
5. Pour the mixture into the greased tin and bake for 30 minutes.
6. Bring it out, leave it in the tin for ten minutes until it has steamed off and then turn it onto a wire rack to cool.
...this is definitely the most fruit and nuts we have ever put in a bread, and it tastes absolutely delicious!
We found a book in the library with recipes from ancient Egypt, and wanted to try these date balls. Apparently, the recipe was found on an ostraca, a shard of pottery used for writing by scribes, and dates back (no pun intended) to 1600BC.
200g pitted dates
100g ground walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tbsp honey
small bowl full of ground almonds
Warm the honey (don't boil it) and put to one side. Mash the dates and add a bit of water, until you have a thick paste (we think we added a bit too much water, it was hard to get to a "paste" stage). Add cinnamon and walnuts, then shape into small balls. Coat each ball in warm honey and then roll in ground almonds. Serve immediately.
We didn't think in advance to build a suitably "ancient Egyptian" background for the photo, sorry! But these are very yummy, and both Toby and Mummy love them.
Toby's responses from The Gambia - we were very grateful when the lovely people behind The Sunrise Centre (http://www.gets-sunrise.org/) agreed to facilitate a letter exchange for Toby. Toby's letter went out with Tony Nelson, the Charity Chairman. Here's how he explained to us how the whole place got involved in answering Toby's questions:
Hello Sabine and Toby,
I thought that I might send you an electronic copy of the work of the
Sunrise Nursery class 2. They all worked on a map of their country and other answers to Toby's questions.
They had a competition to find the best work and Margret Mendy (aged 6) won. It is her work that I'm sending with a few words to explain the map from Mrs Fatou Sanneh, her Teacher on the top of the paper to explain the map.
The Game of the Flag is a local game that many play and Mrs Sally Ceesay,
our Nursery 1 teacher has written out the rules. When I looked closely at
these I found it is very like the UK game of Noughts and Crosses but uses no
paper or pens to play. (These can be scarce.)
I also set the Skills Training youngsters Toby's question - How do you Tie
and Dye cloth and Nyimasata Janteh (aged 22) came up with an answer for
Toby. The Skills Training students are doing an NVQ type of course. More
details are on our web site.
I also featured Toby's challenge in my blog this week if you want to show it
to him, with a class picture, including Margret and the teachers.
I hope that these ecopies are ok for you. I can bring the originals back
when I come in December or ask a friend to carry and send them if you need
them sooner. Please let me know.
Good luck to Toby and best wishes,
Tony (from The Gambia)
We usually wait for "real paper" to come back, but knowing that these will come by "personal carrier" makes us confident, and Toby said maybe you want to play a game of Flag this week-end. You can read Tony's blog post about the exchange, and see the class that responded to Toby, here: http://www.gets-sunrise.org/Blog/2013-14-term1.htm (scroll down to Week ending 25th October, right-hand column) - thank you so much to everybody at GETS - and we are planing on trying some tie and dye soon!
Hot on the heels of the Guy Fawkes' Night post (see below), here a recipe for parking, a traditional ginger cake from the region we live in (Yorkshire):
250g self-raising flour
115g muscovado sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
115g golden syrup
200 ml milk
1 free-range egg
1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2. Grease and/or line a square 20cm/8in cake tin.
2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
3. Add butter and golden syrup to a small saucepan and heat until the butter
4. Pour the butter and syrup into the flour and mix, then add
milk and egg and mix until smooth. Pour into the greased and lined tin.
5. Bake in the oven for approximately one hour - check with a skewer to see if it is ready.
This blog is mainly a way to keep track of our recipes - for day to day updates, please check out Toby's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/writingtotheworld