• 120 g sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 250 g ground almonds
  • 0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 egg whites
  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons of kirsch

Break up chocolate into squares, put in blender and reduce to very small pieces.  Add in almond meal, sugar, salt, spices, coco powder and kirsch; blend.  Beat egg whites to form stiff peaks, fold in.

Roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper, to about 1.5 cm thick.  Cut out shapes with cutters.  Roll up remaining dough, re-cut shapes; repeat till dough is used.

Bake for around 4 mins.  Longer makes them too crunchy and brittle.

Plum pudding

Based on a family recipe from my aunt and waaaaay too good to have only at Christmas time!  🙂  Modified slightly to be dairy free, a bit more spicy and extra-moist.

Approx. 500 g sultanas, raisins and currents (or any mix thereof), with added dates (cca. 200 g) and preserved ginger if desired

Put dried fruit into large saucepan with:

0.5 cups water

0.5 cups brown sugar

2 oz. / 55 g coconut fat (was butter)

0.5 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp mixed spice

pinch ground cloves

Cool well then add 0.5 tsp bicarb soda and mix.  Add:

0.5 cup spirits (rum, brandy …) [or vanilla or lemon essence]

1 beaten egg

0.5 cups plain flour (wholemeal works fine)

0.5 cups self-raising flour

1 large or 2 small grated apples

Pour into greased basin and steam for 3 hours, being careful not to let it boil dry.


Basic Banana Loaf – AMAZING!

Easily the most excellent banana loaf I’ve ever had.  From …. magazine.

1.5 cups buckwheat flour (I usually use a combo of <50% rye, wholewheat, etc.)

0.5 cup (110 g) rapadura or coconut sugar (original recipe calls for 1 cup (220g) which is insanely sweet)

1 teaspoon baking powder

0.5 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)

1 egg

0.5 cups (140g) plain natural yoghurt

0.25 cups (60 ml) grapeseed oil

0.5 (80 ml) maple syrup, & more for brushing

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or essence, in a pinch)

Preheat oven to 160ºC (325ºF).  Place flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb & cinnamon in a large bowl and combine.  Add banana, yoghurt, oil, maple syrup and vanilla and mix.

Pour into a lightly greased 21cm x 10; 1.75 L capacity) load tin lined if necessary.

Bake for 1 hour or more.  Test with skewer.  Brush with maple syrup.  Cool.  Tastes even better the next day!

Carrot and Cranberry Loaf

Replace the banana with 2 cups grated carrot (approx. 3 carrots) and 0/5 cups (65 g) dried cranberries

Zucchini and Date Loaf

Replace the banana with 2 cups coarsely grated zucchini and add 0.5 cups (75 g) chopped fresh dates

Banana, Chia and Blueberry Loaf

Add 0.25 cup (45 g) chia seeds and add 1 cup (150 g) blueberries

Breakfast bars …

The reality of early morning departures with 2 kids in 2 schools is starting to bite.  I’ve resorted to breakfast bars in an attempt to create something nutritious that can be picked up to consume en route.  The winning contender so far is a Blueberry Breakfast Slice from Natural New Age Mum, though I’m still working on the adaptations.

3 cups of organic oats

2 organic eggs

2 organic green apples

2 large ripe organic bananas

1 cup organic blueberries (I use frozen ones)

3 tablespoons virgin, organic coconut oil

2 tablespoons organic chia seeds (or use any other seeds or chopped nuts)

1 tablespoon organic cinnamon


I can’t believe these little marvels had escaped my attention for so long! The are nothing short of miraculous – made in the same amount of time as it would take me to walk (with 2 wee nippers in tow) to the local ‘faux-boulanger’, as I’ve come to think of them, with the added bonus that I know exactly what’s in them (nothing tooooooooo bad) and the whole family likes them.
After quite a lot of research, I settled on Ina Garten’s recipe and modified it slightly for our circumstances.
Our oven is pretty lame (to put it mildly), and we only have silicon muffin pans. After I few (thankfully still edible!) experiments I discovered:

  • you can compensate for not having pre-heated metal tins by ‘over-heating’ the oven to start with – I heated ours to over 250 deg. C and left it there for the first 10 mins or so of cooking, which worked remarkably well
  • soy milk works fine
  • lots of other recipes recommended a teensy little bit of baking powder, which I added to Ina’s recipe. Like I said – crap oven.
  • the eggs and milk are supposed to be at room temperature, which is a bit tricky to arrange first thing in the morning as I stumble out of bed and into the kitchen. I compensated for this by using the heat from the bowl placed in the oven with melting butter – adding the fridge-cold milk to the bowl brings the temperature right down! 😉


1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder plus a pinch of salt
3 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk


  1. Crank the oven up to 250 degrees C
  2. Grease the muffin pans if necessary. With metal ones this would *definitely* be necessary.
  3. Place the butter in an oven-proof bowl in the oven; make sure the bowl is big enough to accommodate the milk and eggs later on.
  4. In a mixing bowl, use a whisk to mix the flour, baking powder and sprinkle of salt
  5. Remove the butter from the oven and pour in the milk; add the eggs and mix it all a bit.
  6. Pour the liquids into the mixing bowl with the flour. Mix a bit with the whisk till there are no big lumps; a few small ones are fine.
  7. Half fill the muffin pans – no more! This recipe makes a bit more than 2 trays of 12 mini-muffins that cook in half an hour in our less-than-stellar oven; proper-sized muffin pans were nowhere near cooked in that time.
  8. Place them in the oven. Cook for 10 mins or so at 250, then drop the temperature down to 180 for the remaining 20 mins. Do not open the oven door during cooking!

I reckon these could have at least 1/2 cup of that flour as wholemeal, but haven’t crossed that bridge yet.

Value added, value lost

What gives your online learning value?

If you make a unit of a course accessible, free of charge, are people more likely to sign up to do the whole course?

If people can access the content of your online learning materials, without interaction with a moderator or other course participants, do they perceive it as having the same value as the moderated course?

I’ve found myself pondering these questions of late when faced with a simple request: “Give trainees access to the whole online course for a short workshop where they’ll use roughly 1/10th of the materials.  We hope they’ll sign up later to do the whole course.”  On the surface of it, it is difficult to establish a business case for this scenario.  I mean, if someone has had access to the whole course, albeit for a limited time, why would they then hand over good money to complete the course?

But as the discussion continued, there was one (and only one, interestingly) dissenting voice that pointed out what we hear over and over again, at the completion of almost every course – the best feature of our courses is the interaction and guidance from the moderator.  It is, if you like, how we differentiate ourselves – our courses are based on constructivist, collaborative principles. The content, while good to excellent in quality, is actually not what we pride ourselves on.  So … why am I still so reluctant to see us ‘give it away’ to people who are doing a workshop with us?

The hard work first

Just reading point 4 below makes me feel a little better about how much hard work it is setting up a new project following an Agile project management methodology!

Effective design principles from the UK government:

  1. Start with needs*
  2. Do less
  3. Design with data
  4. Do the hard work to make it simple
  5. Iterate. Then iterate again.
  6. Build for inclusion
  7. Understand context
  8. Build digital services, not websites
  9. Be consistent, not uniform
  10. Make things open: it makes things better

Education past and present

A simple, yet wonderful, quote from Piaget:

The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.

Piaget, J. (1953) The Origins of Intelligence in Children. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.