War Memorial Interactive

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Pupil free day! I hadn’t taken any leave over the last school holidays, so I took the day off to hang out with Jude and Sebastian. We had thought of doing our day trip out to Tidbinbilla as we have done before, but it was raining even more than last year so we abandoned that idea. Out of a number of choices, the boys decided that we would go to the War Memorial – always a favourite.

We try with our visits to the War Memorial to make it more than just a fetishisation of war machinery – the boys are always particularly interested in the planes – and to include a discussion of what war means and what the reality of it was. This time the boys were particularly interested in the VC section, so we looked at the medals and read the stories of how people had received them. We also had the compulsory visit

The worst thing about the War Memorial is that I always spend the whole time trying not to cry. War makes me sad.

The boys are also very keen on the Discovery Centre where there are the opportunities for interactivity. There was much dressing up as all the sections actually had dress up things there.

It is interesting how this section manages to walk the line between making war “fun” and giving small people an opportunity to understand it. The World War I part, with a trench and the hideous trenchfoot display, does demonstrate some of the unpleasantness of it. Not so sure about the helicopter and Vietnam display. And the peace keeping section does rather perpetuate the idea that our armed forces nowadays are part of a humanitarian organisation. I guess what is important is maintaining a discourse with your children about these things, and looking at it in the context of the whole memorial, which don’t think does make war seem awesome.

Iron Chef Chocolate

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This was a much discussed and anticipated Iron Chef – except by James who is no major fan of chocolate. Did it disappoint? Not at all.

We started with Nick and Catherine’s entrees – blue cheese and chocolate truffles (with a centre of quince paste) and devils on horseback with chocolate stuffed prunes. Both dishes did a fine job of mixing the chocolate flavours with more savoury ones. Dark chocolate and blue cheese makes a fine combination, and bacon and chocolate? Was there ever any doubt?

It was then time for the main course which had four main components. The first, prepared by Jasmin, was a Cuban dish – coffee encrusted pork with a white chocolate sauce served with fried plantains, mango chutney and rice. The balance of flavours was wonderful and the sauce much less sweet than one might have imagined.

We also had Andrew’s chicken mole, served with burrito wrappers. This was completely delicious – the chilli and the chocolate blended in a fabulous way to create something extremely tasty, which was enjoyed a lot by both Sebastian and James (the chocolate doubter).

Rachel splashed out on venison and provided us with a venison stew, where the chocolate added to the richness that naturally comes with a gamey meat like venison. Completely appropriate for a cold winter night.

Steve and Shell opted for roast pork injected with ground cocoa beans and rubbed with fennel. Pork and chocolate flavours definitely work together and this was meltingly delicious.

Of course, no chocolate themed meal would be complete without dessert, and this too was multi-pronged affair. Jasmin’s chocolate pavlova with raspberries is an old favourite.

I went for the bitter chocolate tart with meringue topping I have made before – sadly I think it didn’t turn out quite as well as the last time, but still delicious.

Finally Sebastian whipped up his white chocolate and raspberry pudding – one he has made before. Very delicious and a break from the dark chocolate.

Shell’s delicious chocolate and pistachio biscotti was served up with hot chocolates, coffee and chocolate port and chocolate liqueur. And more chocolate. All very delicious, but the kind of rich meal you wouldn’t want to be eating every night!

Home made clone wars

The boys are completely obsessed with Star Wars and The Clone Wars in particular. So they turned their creative minds to the creation of their own Star Wars related game. Just don’t tell George Lucas, or he might sue for copyright violations.

A Proud Little Ladybird

Citation reads: …For starting Term 3 focussed. I can see you are really trying your best during whole class time and indvidual work time.

Yay for Jude!

Zac and his solo lego work

Zac loves puzzles and is quite good at them. He has taken to putting together lego with the same aplomb and serious methodology. He painstakingly worked his way through the instructions to construct the pink car, and then moved onto the next set of instructions. He is really rather good at it too, requiring much less help than I initially expected.

Another convert to the Lego Way.

Sebastian and his chocolate obsession

Sebastian has now graduated from his Pudding-based Initiation and is spreading his culinary wings into other desserts. The consistent theme – chocolate.

For a dessert which was mostly paleo-compliant for a visit from Rachel, Sebastian decided on chocolate mousse with raspberries, using 85 and 70% Lindt chocolate.

Cream was whipped and Sebastian showed his usual enthusiasm for photography.

I did assist a little with the melting of the chocolate – still a little bit of a challenge for the less experienced cook. But Sebastian mixed and cracked eggs and crushed raspberries and the rest.

I also helped a little with the spooning into glasses, in the interests of time and neatness, but overall, it was Sebastian’s dish. Chocolate mousse is rather more straightforward than I remembered it.

And not only relatively simple, but completely delicious. It was all devoured with delight. Now we just have to wait for Sebastian to decide to cook a non chocolate based dish!

Atlas: Tunisia

So, after a long hiatus, it was time for Atlas Tunisia. We gathered at Brownen’s house for a range of Northern African treats, without the political instability.

First up was the garlic and celery soup pictured above. It was absolutely delicious, despite our various trepidation, particularly around the inclusion of celery. But second helpings were consumed by many.

It was then on to the tagines.

These may not be the kinds of pictures you expected to see when thinking “tagine”. In Tunisia, tagines are more like frittatas then stews – it turns out that tagine is actually the name of the fry-pan like dish that both stews and frittatas can be cooked in. Anyway, these tagines were delicious, and even the small people were enthusiastic consumers of them. The second one pictured is called Bey’s tagine and includes lamb, spinach, ricotta and a lot of Rachel’s freshly laid eggs.

Kellie also whipped up some Tunisian style prawns.

The slightly less cayenne’d version were a hit with the small folk, while the full Tunisian version were popular with the grown ups. Delicious.

Next was the complex Lahmet Slata I whipped up. It didn’t turn out quite as beautiful as the one in the book, but I did my best.

This featured beef cooked in tomatoes and the genuine Tunisian harissa I managed to locate at the Belconnen markets, then baked in layers of mashed potato and Swiss cheese which has capsicum and tomato blended in. With capers to finish off. I resisted the instruction that one could choose to flavour the mashed potato with tinned tuna (tinned tuna seems to feature heavily in Tunsian cooking, oddly enough).

It was quite nice, served with the leftover tomato and harissa sauce – could possibly have done with more harissa actually. And interesting take on meat and three vegetables really…

It was then onto dessert. I was intending to make a Tunisian parfait (revealing some French influences) but trouble tracking down some halva meant when I had whipped my cream I suddenly realised it was supposed to set for 24 hours. Oh well, I might have to try cooking it next weekend.

Bronwen however whipped up some wonderful deep fried pastry things called debla which were coated in a honey syrup which hardened on the plate into delicious delicious toffee as it cooled. These were fabulous, and we completely failed to alert the small children to their existence. Cruel gorwn ups.

So delcious all round. Tunisian food seems to display French and Spanish influences, as well as containing some Egyptian and middle eastern flavours. Not a bad cuisine at all.

And while the grown ups ate and drank, the small children watched some DVDs, and everyone was happy.