Friday 27 October 2017

How to develop your child's imagination

How to develop your child's imagination
Growing up I had a vivid and wild imagination; I was always spinning some kind of yarn about a magical fairy world under the floorboards, pixies at the bottom of the garden or my ability to fly off on adventures. I had a magical imagination and I wasn’t afraid to use it.
I could often be found with my nose in a book, reading my favourite stories like 'The Magic Finger' (Roald Dahl), 'The Chronicles of Narnia' (C.S Lewis), 'The Secret Garden' (Frances Hodgeson) and many of the The Famous Five (Enid Blyton) books.

There are so many elements in life that are trying to expedite childhood, forcing children to drop their childish ways and morph them into mini adults. Well I’m not buying in. 
Children deserve the right to be children, to do childlike things and most importantly have their imagination fed.

When little Noah was born I wanted to really encourage and nurture his imagination to help it to grow.

Last year saw the opening of 
Discover the UK’s first Children’s Story Centre. 
children's museums
A museum dedicated to the sole purpose of expanding and feeding a child’s imagination and curiosity. Last month the little man and I set off on an adventure to the museum and we are really pleased with what we found. 

The story centre is divided into story world, storytelling and a story garden. 

Story World - designed with the help of the talented Jim Field (children's illustrator who illustrates one of Noah's favourite books 'How many legs' by Kes Gray)

Discover museum
Story World is spread over two floors and offers an exciting creative play space, to inspire a little ones imagination and curiosity. On the ground floor you are greeted by a magical woodland with a giant tree. 
How to develop your child's imagination
Little ones can climb inside the tree which houses dancing lights and humming beats, with a hill on the side, to climb or crawl your way to the top. 

The wood houses a castle; follow the river and you are greeted by a beach with marooned wooden boat.

The first floor houses Hootah, the resident space alien. 
Discover museum
Hootah has landed on planet squiggly Diggly and needs your help to create some new stories, as everyone on the planet has run out of imagination. 

Storytelling- Stuck for some ideas Discover has storytelling workshops that you can sit in to get some inspiration.

Story Garden - A safe and creative outdoor space with lots to see and do.  Play with the giant musical instruments, climb up the pirate ship, master the sails and set sail.Tackle the monster slide to find the buried treasure, but watch out for the alien spaceship ready to land and carry you away. 

Discover museum
We had a wonderful day out and we're really looking forward to adventuring there again. Next time we will take the short cut through our wardrobe.

Prices: Children under one free, children one £2, parents and children over one £6.50, family of four £22

Looking for ways to develop your child's imagination here are my top tips: 

Limit the amount of Television your toddler/child watches

Read lots of books to them with brightly coloured illustrations and imaginative characters. Make up stories and let your child do the same. Visit your local library for free drop in events

Create a dress up box or area so that they can role play

Get arty- Let them create their own art masterpieces and when finished explain what they have created in a story. Visiting art galleries is also a great way to develop their imagination

Build dens and let them play. You can use old delivery boxes to build space ships, rockets, cars, palaces etc

Still not sure where to start, don't worry there are lots and lots of books on developing your toddlers creativity and activities to help you out. 
Developing your child's imagination

What did you love doing as a child and what imaginative stories did you use to tell? 

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Friday 6 October 2017

Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies
I have been making chocolate brownies for as long as I can remember. I have a fond memory as a child standing on a chair making brownies using my mums favourite cookery book. I was so small I couldn't even reach the worktop or the cookery cupboard for that matter to collect ingredients, so I have no idea what age I was. Small!

I love brownies as there are so many variations that you can make both in what you put in them, but also additions you can add to them post cooking with toppings. Whether you like a fudge/gooey consistency or a drier more cake like mix I have learnt over time that brownies get better with age, the longer you leave them before eating them the better they get. Don't be tempted to go with the masses and have them hot out of the oven, the only thing that this is likely to give you is ragging heartburn.

Today I'm sharing my favourite brownie recipe that is gooey with the addition of chopped Hazelnuts and Maltesers.

200g Unsalted butter
200g 70% finest Dark Cocoa Chocolate
125g Plain Flour
50g finest Cocoa
3 Large Eggs
250g Golden Caster Sugar
100g Hazelnuts (optional)
37g Maltesers Bag (optional)

Chocolate Brownies
1.Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) conventional oven, 160C (325F) fan oven or Gas Mark 4.

2.Take 200g of unsalted butter, cut into cubes and place in heatproof bowl.

Chocolate Brownies
3.Break up 200g of dark chocolate into small pieces, add to heatproof bowl with the butter and melt gently over a pan of simmering water stirring occasionally. Make sure that the water does not come into contact with the chocolate.
Chocolate Brownies

4.Once fully melted set the chocolate mixture aside.
How to make brownies
5.In a separate bowl sieve 125g plain flour and 50g of Cocoa. Set the flour and Cocoa aside.
Chocolate Brownies
6.In a bowl break three large eggs. Add 250g of golden caster sugar to the eggs, with a mixer gently beat until light and fluffy.
How to make Brownies
Easy chocolate brownie recipe
7.Taking the chocolate mixture fold into the eggs and sugar mix. It’s important to fold the chocolate in so as to not beat the air out of the mixture.
8.There are many additions that you can add to the mixture, my personal favourite is hazelnuts and Maltesers.
Brownie Recipe
9.Spoon the mixture into a pre-lined tin and place in the oven for twenty five minutes. 
10.Check the brownies with a skewer when the time is complete. The skewer should have some mixture on removal but not raw cake mixture.

11.Set aside to cool for a few hours, remove from the tin. Cut into small squares and store in an air-tight container. Enjoy with a lovely cup of tea or coffee.

What’s your favourite type of brownie? What would you like to see cooked next on FoodieForce?

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