Christmas Jam

Enjoy family time with this sweet and tart Christmas tradition of making Christmas Jam. Simple Christmas Jam with Strawberries, Cranberries and Pomegranate ( Keeping the 3 theme of the 3 wise men!) Enjoy it with crumpets or your favorite bread Christmas morning. Quick to make for handmade gifts

It all started with crumpets.
Crumpets are a familiar breakfast/ quick snack in the UK served with lashings of butter. Something I took for granted now I can’t get them locally. Not to worry. Why not make them? Well if I go to the trouble of making them then why not include the kids and make it a family affair. Let’s make the butter and make the Jam too.

What better way to celebrate Christmas breakfast than to make crumpets, butter and Christmas Jam?

Since the whole process of making jam may mean the finished product isn’t good I had to practice. If the butter doesn’t make it I can use the one in the fridge. This maybe over ambitious so I figured let’s go with making some Christmas Jam, early.

I’m so excited I did. It’s so lovely. A blend of sweet and tart all in a spreadable jam. The tartness cuts the sweet so it’s not too much. Perfect!

If you’ve never made Jam before you have to try this recipe and save it for Christmas next time. I especially wanted to include fresh cranberries because they are everywhere at Christmas time. I also love POM and usually have it in a punch with the kids as a special treat so knew I’d have some of it about. The problem is combining all these quite tart flavors together and the jam being delish.

I found this wonderful recipe on Youtube How to make Strawberry Pomegranate Jam and followed it. I adapted the recipe to suit the Christmas theme.

Christmas Jam

1 package of strawberries blitzed or 16 oz
12oz fresh Cranberries blitzed
1 small bottle of POM pomegranate juice
2 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons Lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
Small package of Sure Jell Pectin (1.75oz)
1/4 orange pared ( not very much)

fresh cranberries ready for blitzing in the Christmas Jam fresh strawberries ready for blitzing in the Christmas Jam

1. Blitz the strawberries and the Cranberries so they are pureed. I’d recommend doing small parts at a time. Somehow our blender needed that maybe yours won’t.
2. Pour blitzed strawberries and Cranberries into a large pot. Turn on low heat.
3. Add all the Pomegranate juice from the small bottle, about a cups worth, into the pot. Stir to incorporate.
4. I got the Six 4oz wide mouth Bell jars hot and soapy, rinsed off and dried. I placed the jars in a roasting tin in the oven at 240F while I made the Jam. The last time I made jam it was a very long time ago so I just followed these instructions from the Food Programme’s website. I would have loved to make that Fig and Pomegranate Jam there. Maybe next time. I added the lids to a saucepan covered in water and kept at a low boil until I needed them.
5. Add in the lemon juice, salt, pectin, sugar and the orange parings. The heat is coming up slowly as you’re adding. Stir with each new addition.
6. Using a jam thermometer you need to get the liquid to temperature up to 220F. This takes a little time. I took time slowly increasing the temperature because I was nervous. Stir. Check temp. Wait. Stir, Check temp wait.
7. You’re aiming for a rolling boil. (In the video Trish mentioned taking the foam off. I didn’t have any and mine came to a rolling boil and to temperature.)

 Slowly bringing the Christmas Jam to a boil, stirring | Play-Activities.com

Prepare the Jars

Get your funnel. Take out the jars from the oven. Place the funnel in the first mason jar.
7. Once you reach the magic 220F ladle or pour the jam into the jar with a good gap left at the top.

We had some left over and that’s the big sample jar we’re loving right now in the picture.

Enjoying the Christmas Jam: Blend of Strawberries, Cranberries and Pomegranate. Sweet and Tart . Find the recipe | play-activities.com

8. Wipe the jar tops and sides of the sticky jam. Wipe everywhere too where the jam splatted. I was surprised where I found that pink blob later the night. While it’s warm and wet it is easier to wipe right off.

9. Take out the lid middle with tongs. Seat them well.

10. Add the rim on carefully. Tighten. The jars will be warm/hot so you may choose to use a towel to hold while you tighten the rims. Repeat the lid and rims for all 4 jars.

I used a deep pot with a tea towel at the bottom. Filled it with water so when the jars go in they are completely underwater.

11. Add in your jars with no space. Add other jars so that the jars stay upright.

12. Bring the water back to the boil for 10minutes. Check your jar size for the right timings.

13. After the right time, take out the jars with the tongs and leave to cool on the side.

14. Once cool label and enjoy year round Christmas Jam !

We had the Christmas Jam and the crumpets on Christmas day and enjoyed a whole year or Christmas Jam. It’s been lovely! You can just see the crumpets before they were gobbled up on Christmas morning.

Homemade crumpets for Christmas Jam| play-activities.com Making crumpets for Christmas Jam | play-activities.com

These make great homemade gifts for friends, family and neighbours. Tie with a lovely ribbon or raffia.Smells so good. Christmas Jam with three fruits. Great family tradition for everyone to do together and eat on Christmas day! | play-activities.com

What traditions do you have for Christmas day?

Time to cook

The first time I saw Gnocchi made was at a friend’s home in Italy.

We were all relaxing with wine, cheese and antipasti while our host prepared the Gnocchi right there in the kitchen. There was no go and sit in the other room while I do things in the kitchen. We were altogether watching, doing, talking and laughing about the crazy things our children did that week. It was pretty amazing being part of the food experience.

Kids are the same way. Introduce them and include them in cooking and they are enthusiastic and interested.

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Royal Wedding kebabs

Something simple and fun for the morning snack for the Royal wedding today

Using the traditional colours of the union jack with Red (strawberries), white ( melon) and blue ( blueberries).

Drizzled with toffee sauce.

 

Enjoy the wedding……………

Make special lemonade

Lemonade is good whatever the time of year in our house. It is especially a favourite when lemons are on special or in season. Whenever I buy lemons, the assumption is always ” Are you going to make lemonade?”

The BG has enjoyed more jobs in the kitchen recently and the MO feels he wants to be doing more than the fetching and sorting he was so good at. Considering he’s the one to ask the most for lemonade. I figured it was time he learnt how to make lemonade.

Have a look at our slide show below to see how we make our lemonade.

If you’re viewing this post in a feed reader to see this slide show you’ll need to visit the blog.

I added a little something that I  now love………………. vanilla.

He was thrilled to be doing it all himself. I think the dog only narrowly escaped some lemonade that day, though I can’t be sure. She was licking those chops a lot and hanging around the MO a lot.

It’s amazing how proud they are of their own work.

What drinks do you make with your children? or your children make for the family?

Cultivating gratitude in the Early years

Children love helping especially when it comes to food. If you listen to Raising Playful Tots show #35 Memetales, I share some recent experiences of fruit picking with the kids.

At this time of year there are a lot of fruit and vegetables in season. Traditionally, it’s the time to celebrate the Harvest.

Having lived and grown up in a farming area, this time of year is a busy one. The combine harvesters are out ploughing the oilseed rape, the onion, the sugar beet, the little midges, the manure fertilizer. But my biggest memories around school is the Harvest festival. Each child brought in some can gifts. They were all set out like a large supermarket during assembly. I loved to see all the different types of food, ones I didn’t usually see or ones I had never known. Someone would always bring in the bread made into a plait and one in a sheaf. It was amazing to me that bread could come like that.

If you were in the top classes, or the oldest children in the school you got to gather with the help of a senior teacher the cans and produce into baskets and boxes. There were always bunches of carrots with the stock, fresh garden produce from many gardens. It was a physical reminder of how blessed we were. I think as kids seeing so much food and knowing we all had a hand in it really made giving tangible to us.

Those baskets were taken to select people in need. Thinking about it, they had to be people who would accept enthusiastic 4-5 year olds bounding in their space. As no matter how we were told or knew how to behave seeing my 4-year-old I can imagine how much we took up their space!  The mere act of going to another person’s house or group home when you’re so young was too exciting. We’d then get thank you cards, usually handwritten that our teachers would read out and we’d feel warm inside about helping.

I still remember harvest festival time and the hymns we’d sing of thankfulness for the bountiful harvest.
I guess the feeling was gratitude.

When you work on the land or work for your food you feel a little different about it.
Whether it’s starting a vegetable garden or picking your own fruits this is the perfect time of year to plan to include the children. It’s an easy time to express gratitude for what the earth has given us.

The boys had an opportunity to shell peas. Something I had done on occasion when I was younger. I remember siting with my mother, talking and shelling. We had good conversation. When Grandma came in with fresh peas from the market they were really hesitant to join in. They didn’t know about peas, distrusted the process and frankly were more interested in their Lego creations at the time. But Grandma stayed and shelled peas. They wandered over and asked what she was doing and kept coming back with more questions. Soon they were sitting down and trying it themselves. Guess what they ate for dinner that night?

I was able to thank them, oh and Grandma, for the lovely peas. When that rogue pea fell of their plate, as they do, they scooped that little one back on. They didn’t want to lose it. This is in stark contrast with other mealtimes where food is left, abandoned or dropped without a moments thought.
They were grateful, perhaps. Curious? Their fingers ‘hurt’ from stripping and popping peas. In other words, manual work was hard.

How are you sharing opportunities for gratitude and sharing with your young children?

Are there special traditions or memories you have about this time of year?

Pizza fun with kids

We stumbled across this recipe from Our best bites. We often have a pizza night along with our family night where we often make pizza.

We decided to use the family night to make and eat the pizza. This was a great together activity. The boys cut, weighed, placed and worked on these pizzas.

We made two types of pizza balls; a cheese based one and a meat based one.

Our basic ingredients

  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pineapple and sweetcorn

( slices of precooked chicken- leftovers)

Plus refrigerated pizza dough.

  • Layout the dough according to package instructions.
  • Using a pizza cutter. Divide into large squares.
  • Add your filling

  • Pinch each closed so the filling is inside and the dough is outside.
  • Place seam side down in a greased dish.
  • Brush top with garlic butter/oil and sprinkle liberally with Parmesan cheese.

We poured seasoned sauce in a ramekin for dipping.

Cooking with kids is a lot of fun. They can get really creative and usually eat what they make 🙂

As a recipe we all loved it. It was labour intensive having to roll up each bite but the time together was totally worth it.

Thanks to 

6 boredom busters when waiting for food to arrive

When you go out to eat what do you do between ordering and food arriving?

Here are our top 6 boredom busters when waiting for food to arrive when we’re eating out.

  1. Stack the packet condiments
  2. Dump and fill the sugar/salt packets container ( Who can be the fastest?)
  3. Count the packets ( sort the colours/size/ shape etc)
  4. Kim’s game- hide things and guess what’s missing
  5. I spy ( aka People watching )
  6. Make a small pile of salt/sugar and draw letters shapes)

Things we have brought with us that has worked

  • book
  • paper
  • crayons
  • small toy

Photo credit: greenkozi

We’d love to extend this list. What do you do? We try not to bring too much and use what we see around us?

Baking with kids

Play Activities are about fun!

Today I’m combining the boys two true passions; food and play.

I have one who eats enormous meals and is very light on the snacks.

One who will feels snacks and milk are the better choice-always and OK if I have to eat a meal I will very slowly and whine all the way through.

One who is just happy to eat everything that is about if he can feed himself. He’s been known to climb to get what he wants and wrappers are no test when you can bite a hole in it and squeeze the little something out!

About once a week we bake a cake or cookies.

Everyone gets involved with the weighing ( Yes we use scales!) We use those lovely cup scoops to pour into the bowl. The older boys get to collaborate together. It’s funny how they learn to be a bit more understanding when they know the pay off!

The youngest gets to scoop and pour and the oldest gets to check the measure. Apart from that they swap out who does what.

What I love about cooking with the boys

  • They get so enthusiastic
  • They have so many fun ideas like can you add mint and raisins together in a cookie and if we make carrot cake can you have aubergine cake. ( Not tried any of those suggestions…..can’t see how they would work) But their willingness to try and experiment makes me smile. I know one day I won’t be able to distract them.
  • Most of the time they keep it together.
  • They do the cookie happy dance and peer into the oven to see if it is done yet.
  • They are learning about so many things without even realising it.
  • We have great conversations while we cook.

………….the clean up is amazing and huge but well worth it to me.

Cookies we’re eating this week

85g Crunchy Peanut Butter

175g Soft Butter

175g Soft Brown Sugar

300g Self Raising Flour

2 tbsps of milk

85g Roasted peanuts (2/3 roughly chopped or any combination of seeds/craisins

175g Plain chocolate, roughly chopped.

180C/360F/GM4

  1. Line 2 large baking sheets with non stick paper. Beat the PB.B and S until light and fluffy. ( use an electric whisk or processor)
  2. Add the dry ingredients, stir in the flour and milk then the chopped nuts and chocolate. Bring the mixture together to make a dough
  3. There’ll be approximately 18.
  4. Roughly shape into a ball by rolling the in palm of your hand. Space well apart to allow for spreading.
  5. Flatten each cookie with a fork and sprinkle the remaining nuts.
  6. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until cookies are pale and golden around the edges but still soft in the centre.
  7. Cool for about 5 minutes before packing away.

Ours were crunchy this time instead of chewy. We made small ones and big ones for little hands and little snacks times……well that’s the theory 🙂

What cookie recipes do you enjoy cooking with your kids from scratch?

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How to use under used toys

There is a program I loved to watch in the UK called Ready Steady Cook…..well I think it was this one. Contestants would bring in 3 things and the chefs had to cook a meal using those items. Some would choose foods they had never heard of and fancied trying, some would choose things they always wanted to cook but never knew how. I loved how the cooks would come up with easy meals in such a short time.

So what does play have to do with Ready Steady Cook?

Do you have toys and games you see languishing in the corner that the kids don’t use and haven’t for a while?

When you have just 5 ingredients you have to think creatively and use that old imagination. Same with toys. Bring out 3 groups of the toys that aren’t played with much and start playing with them yourself. Your child will probably come over and want to play with you. Gradually let them lead in the play until you are playing by their rules. This is your exit strategy. Adding the second set into the first set of play slowly and the third until you are interweaving all three things.

Grouping toys and showing how they interact is something you may need to demonstrate with some children. We label their toy areas with Manipulative, blocks, trains, cars, balls etc that they often tend to play with just one thing then another thing but forget they can mix and match. ..just like the  new meal. It takes a while to get the flavours right and the right toy combinations. There is a lot of trial and error but usually the marriage of toys leads to better play. It does take intervention from us in just 3 things

  1. to set up situations
  2. allow time for development of the ideas
  3. Be present to intervene, encourage, observe, participate or redirect

What two or three toys to you know that are at the back of the toy box? Go dig them out and have a think ‘Ready Steady Cook’ style- What recipe can you come  up with?

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Ok I know you’re hoping to see a Ready Steady Cook to be inspired for dinner tonight. 🙂

WW: Making together

Happy Wordless Wednesday!

Find out the story behind this Wordless Wednesday post tomorrow.
For more Wordless Wednesday posts go to WordlessWednesday.com and 5minutesformom.com

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