Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp baking powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
175g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp white vinegar
Friday, September 25, 2009
On weeknights the boys eat dinner before B and I, so they were the first to sample the crop- I pulled out the smallest (pea-sized) beans for them and steamed them with their other vegies. There were no complaints, which for Big Bro is a seal of approval when faced with a non-pea green vegetable (or maybe he thought they were mutant peas?)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Broad beans, rainbow chard, last year's capsicum, a brassica- I would love to know who planted this and how long it has gone on for!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Little Bro decided to crawl on Saturday. There were three knee-shuffling steps, so we declared him a crawler. It took until Monday for him to realise that crawling is a good way to get to objects of interest, especially when noone appears ready to bring them to you. He is gradually extending his range, and will crawl to objects a metre or two away, but no further. It’s interesting to watch- to me it’s so clear that if you can crawl two metres, then to reach an object four metres away requires two sets of two metre crawls, yet for Little Bro it appears (as far as I can tell, which isn't far) that things are either “Within Reach”-less than two metres away- or “Out Of Reach”- more than two metre away- and if it’s Out Of Reach then there is no point in wasting energy trying to reach them.
Pondering this apparent mindset reminded me of a story a colleague told me a few years back, of an important discovery about how DNA (genetic material) is copied in cells.
In the 1960s, many researchers around the world were racing against each other to find the answer to a particular question on the mechanics of how DNA is copied. This achievement was so important that it would bring the successful researcher fame, fortune and scientific immortality. They all realised that, using the technology of the day, the breakthrough would come from an experiment conducted not on the scale of a single test tube, but on the scale of thousands of test tubes.
Most of the research groups set about trying to conduct one huge experiment, thousands of times bigger than they had ever done before, in order to reach the answer. However, Reiji and Tsuneko Okazaki, a husband and wife team in Japan, took a different approach. They conducted the same small experiment thousands of times, eventually obtaining enough material with which they could reveal the question’s answer (and for their efforts there is a molecule called the “Okazaki Fragment”). *
Watching Little Bro crawl, I waiting for him to make the crawling breakthrough equivalent to the Okazakis’ experimental strategy: that a journey can be taken as a series of small stages, the sum of which can be large, but each of which is achievable.
And I guess it’s a mindset that can be applied to so many aspects of life (or science): a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Or a few knee shuffles when you’re only 9 months old.
*Unfortunately I can’t find anything on the internet to corroborate or refute this story: most of the information about the discovery is purely method-based or has a very limited biography of the Okazakis. Either way, it's a good story to illustrate the benefits of lateral thinking.
For those with an interest in scientific history there is, however, a wonderful quote about the announcement of the discovery at a Cold Spring Harbor Lab Symposium:
"Okazaki was able to sit back and allow others to toss flowers into his lap through the succeeding days, for there were several confirmations [of his ideas]."
Don’t we all want our presentations to be received this way?
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
... and perhaps the whole recipe could be sped up if the glasses were just mixed with everything else?
Once the chocolate-marshmallow-butter mix was melted, I set it aside to cool and we got back to the toddler-accessible tasks.
The cream was whipped (mixer operated by Big Bro), and then I decided to see whether a toddler was up to the task of folding the cream into the melted ingredients. This proved to be a bit much, and we were faced with a thick, rich chocolate custard. So I crossed my fingers, and we re-whipped it in the mixer...
.... and like magic, we were back to fluffy mousse. Real chocolate mousse would never have given us this lifeline!
This was divided between 8 glasses, garnished with leftover marshmallows, and refrigerated. An hour later the mousse was set to a pleasant consistency; the next day it was probably a bit harder than we would have liked.
The verdict? Not "real" chocolate mousse, but still yummy. And toddlerproof!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
The best our local garden centre has offered is "caterpillars" and a box of Dipel (anti-caterpillar bacteria) which I may yet crack open.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
So I am very pleased about his interest in Puff the Magic Dragon, or Puff the Vegie Lion as he insists on calling it. Ignore all the speculation about underlying meanings and whatnot: it's a great song!! (Is it just me, or do other parents find a few tears welling up at the verse "Dragons live forever, but not so little boys..."?)
We've been listening to the Patsy Biscoe version which has a bit of pace and drama, so I was curious to see how Big Bro would go with this Peter, Paul and Mary version on YouTube:
It's certainly not the Wiggles, and the audience are...umm... not a Wiggles audience, yet Big Bro sat through the whole thing and requested a replay. Interestingly, I was expecting some comment about the lack of colour, but that didn't seem to be an issue. I think Big Bro just likes the song for what it is!
And the best bit is that whilst for most songs I am instructed "Mama, don't sing", for Puff's chorus I am asked "Mama, please sing!"
And yes, this could have waited till Friday to be a true Friday flashback, but Big Bro's shouted rendition over dinnertime was the impetus to get my thoughts out now!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Everything I can find online suggests that ladybirds cannot resist a huge open air buffet of succulent aphids such as that which we are providing. Even more alluringly, once they come, their party can last all summer. So I have decided to sit tight and wait for red-winged brigade rather than spray.