Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ideas for Halloween fun!

If you are new to Phnom Penh don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll miss Halloween this year. My daughter is still haunted by the image of four giant eyeballs passing silently down St 57 in a Tuk Tuk at sunset.

This year, given the recent bloodthirst for Stephenie Meyer’s series of Twilight novels, I expect to see a lot of romantic, well-intentioned vampires lurking in the shadows of Phnom Penh. Should they come knocking at your door, don’t be alarmed. Meyer’s vampires are mostly vegetarian. You might want to hang a crucifix and a string of garlic round your neck to be sure, but they will probably be pacified with a spider web chocolate fudge muffin or a basket of bleeding eye balls. Read on for more haunting Halloween party ideas and ask at your local school for details of organised Trick or Treat Tuk Tuk tours. Happy Halloween!

Repulsive recipes

Spooky spider web chocolate fudge muffins
Preheat oven to 190°C/Gas 5.
Heat 50g dark chocolate, 85g butter, 1 tbsp milk until melted. Stir. Cool.
Mix 200g SR flour, ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda, 85g brown sugar, 50g castor sugar.
Add 1 beaten egg, 142ml sour cream. Mix well.
Stir into chocolate don’t over mix.
Bake in greased muffin tin or cases for 20 min.
Spread cooled muffins with melted dark chocolate. Pipe 4 circles of white chocolate on top. Drag a skewer from centre to the edge to create a cobweb effect. Alternate dark on white.

Sugared eye balls
Fill a basket of blood-shot, blood curdling starey eyeballs and offer them to hungry vamps at your door. Dip marzipan or cookie dough balls into melted white chocolate, add a smartie for the pupil and drip red colouring for veins. Black grapes in icing sugar or lychees are an easier option!

Who can make the creepiest cookie? Let your kids loose to decorate their favourite cookies – you could turn it into a party game.

Pumpkin pie
A traditional Halloween party would not be complete without pumpkin
Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Bake a pumpkin. Scoop out the flesh. Use 1 cup mashed for the pie, freeze the rest or mash with butter, salt and pepper for comfort food.

Grind a packet of Ginger Nuts / Digestives with a pinch of ground ginger / Cinnamon Grahams. Mix with ¼ cup of melted butter. Stir and cook for 2 mins. Press mix into bottom of greased tart dish. Bake 10 mins.

Turn the oven up to 220°C/Gas 7

Mix pumpkin with 100g sugar, ½ tsp salt, 1½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ginger, ½ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp allspice, ½ tsp cloves and 1 tin evaporated milk. Pour into cooled biscuit base. Bake at 220°C for 15 mins. Turn the oven down to 180°C. Bake for another 35 mins. Serve warm with double cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy cold, set leftovers the next day.

Freaky fashion
Olympic market (upstairs) and Orussey Market (outside) has great fabrics and sequins for costumes, including a range of printed fake fur for animal costumes. BKK market is worth searching for princess costumes and black and red velvet dresses for your little witches and devils. Pick up a pumpkin while you are there for your lantern carving.
Cheeky Monkey at Le Jardin, St 360 also sells good costumes. Why not support Friends’ face painting team at their shop on St 13? They have a good creative repertoire or take along your own ghoulish design.

Ghastly, ghostly games
Apple bobbing is the perfect Halloween game for the tropics. Hot and sticky Trick or Treaters can cool off whilst trying to pick up floating apples from a bowl of water… with their teeth! Warning – face paints may run.

Pin the tail on the devil, wart on the witch’s nose, fangs on the vampire... let your kids decide!

Wrap the Mummy – use loo roll or old sheets torn into long strips. Who can wrap up their friend the fastest?

Sleeping witches, vampires, ghosts… again let your kids decide! The kids lie very still on the floor and when you move you are out. Perfect for calming down sugar fuelled zombies.

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Think your child will never eat spinach? Think again...

Asia life article July! For many parents, feeding our children is the most stressful aspect of parenting. We tend to associate meal times with battles over control, bribes we later regret, left over food and a lot of mess. Georgie Treasure-Evans offers a few ideas and some child-friendly vegetarian recipes to bring the fun back into family meals, as well as a balanced healthy diet.

It is a common misperception in many countries that children like their food plain and easily distinguishable. Here it is rice porridge. Where I come from, fish fingers, alphabet chips and tiny frozen veg spring to mind. You may find it hard to imagine your kids eating the necessary pulses and leafy vegetables that replace the iron, protein and vitamins that we get from meat and fish.

Luckily the reality is that most young children love strong flavours and will happily eat whatever their parents do, allowing for personal preferences, of course. Resistance at meal times usually has more to do with how they are feeling than with the food itself. When a child is ill, tired, upset or over excited his appetite is often the first thing to go, followed shortly by his ability to behave as we might wish them to.

The best advice I received for dealing with meal times is to relax, let go and trust that your children will eat what they need when they need it. Offer everything in small helpings and allow them to create a little mess as well. Give them some of the much sought after control that they so rarely experience in their young lives. And make it fun.

The tried and tested recipes below are just a start, to get your own creative juices flowing. Enjoy the process as much as the result. Remember that small kids love to cook and are more likely to eat what they have helped to make! Let them help you or your cook chop soft vegetables, grate cheese, crush the garlic, and lick the bowl. If you are in a hurry give them some pots and their own ingredients and let them make messy mixtures on the floor.

Lentil Bolognaise (vegan)
This can be a sauce for pasta or baked potatoes, with cheese on top if not vegan, or topped with mashed potato (sweet and normal) and baked as shepherd’s pie. Make lots and freeze half, or blend into soup. Soak green lentils or mung beans over night, cook red and yellow split peas from dried. Tinned lentils are a quick alternative.

Fry 2 chopped onions and 1 garlic clove in a large pan with olive oil until soft.
Add chopped carrot/courgette/pepper/aubergine/mushrooms (any or all as desired) and two cups of lentils. Fry for another minute. Stir in vegetable stock and simmer for about 40 minutes, adding stock until the lentils are soft. Add two cans of chopped tomatoes, season to taste, fresh thyme and oregano go nicely with this.

Ten minute green spaghetti
Puree steamed fresh or frozen spinach – either on its own or with a bit of cream / cream cheese / splash of milk, and grated nutmeg. Pour over pasta and pile grated cheese on top.

Spinach quiche
Find a short crust pastry recipe and follow, or buy ready-made from Veggies, on St 240. Line a quiche dish and bake blind for 10 minutes (score the pastry with a knife first). Fill with steamed spinach and cubes of feta. Pour over mix of 3 beaten eggs, half a pint of milk, and a teaspoon of English mustard. Grate black pepper on one side for adults. Bake
for 30 mins approx. Spinach is a great source of iron but you can replace with any veg you like.

Courgette pasta
Get the kids to cut or grate courgettes. Steam and toss into favourite pasta shapes with a little sour cream, crushed garlic and grate cheese on top. Add pine nuts or cashews for protein.

Peruvian bean stew with feta
Cut 1lb potato and1lb pumpkin into cubes and cook until nearly soft. Fry 1 onion and garlic, 1 optional chilli, 1tsp cumin and add 1 tin of tomatoes. When the onion is soft stir in potato and pumpkin and a little water and cook until soft. Stir in 1 cup white beans (cannelini/lima/butter), 1 cup corn and 1 cup peas. Crumble feta cheese on top and lots of fresh thyme, parsley or coriander. Eat with brown bread, rice or quinoa for really high protein meal.

Hot “chocolate’ ice cream sauce
Soak prunes and dried apricots in boiling water until soft. Blend with bananas and pour while hot over vanilla ice cream or plain yoghurt. Tastes like chocolate caramel but full of iron. Enjoy

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