12 August 2012

Daniel's 4th Birthday and cake recipes

On Wednesday, the first of August, we celebrated little Daniel’s 4th birthday!  Daniel is Smiley. He just has a smile that reaches his eyes and warms your heart!

We planned his birthday party for following Saturday and decided to just have fun on the day of his birthday, allowing the little ones to decorate cupcakes and play with bubbles on the beautiful sunny day!  

Heidi-Mari used a Lindt chocolate cake recipe for the cupcakes.  

1 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon (120 g) butter, softened
1/3 cup (40 g) castor sugar
Pinch of salt
6 eggs, separated
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (180 g) castor sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (130 g) flour, sifted (170g spelt flour)
Preheat oven of 180°C. Grease baking pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate (in a double boiler or over boiling water, off the heat - we don’t use a microwave) and set aside.
Cream butter, castor sugar, and salt.
Add the egg yolks one at a time to the butter mixture.
Add the melted chocolate.
Whip the egg whites, gradually adding the sugar and beating until shiny and just starting to make stiff picks - be careful not to over beat, then it will be to dry.
Carefully fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
Fold in the remaining egg whites and sifted flour.
Pour the batter into the baking pans (if baking a cake) and bake approximately 40 minutes. Baking time will decrease if using 2 cake pans. Check at 30 minutes. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. 
Or pour the batter into muffin pans lined with paper cups and bake for approximately 12 minutes. 
You may have noticed, this isn’t a healthy birthday cake. Its not diary, wheat AND sugar free, only wheat free. We tried numerous times to bake a cake with honey, with no success.  The enzymes in the honey just don’t allow the cake to set.  So we still use sugar in this recipe, the ‘cleanest’ chocolate we can lay our hands on - Lindt, and spelt flour, an ancient flour, not genetically modified like wheat and grown organically with no pesticides. 
Since Danika and Andrew’s birthday party, we’re not using icing sugar anymore to decorate cakes and cupcakes.  We use the chocolate ganaches from the Lindt workshops we attended for chocolate truffles and fillings for hollow chocolates

It works perfectly to decorate cakes and cupcakes.

Amarula/Vanilla Ganache filling
This ganache was originally for our filling and moldings of chocolate and contains Amarula. But we successfully replaced the Amarula with vanilla for the birthday cake icing.  
500g condensed milk
350 g milk courverture 37% (brown milk chocolate - Lindt)
75 g amarula or 15ml vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate over boiling water (take the boiling water off the heat, let the chocolate gently melt over the water, only stir occasionally and make sure no steam reach the chocolate)
Add the condensed milk
Slowly add the Amarula or vanilla. Mix until well combined.
Vanilla ganache filling
Using vanilla pods or a good vanilla extract will serve to enhance and give depth to the white chocolate base.
450 g white courverture 36% (white milk chocolate - Lindt)
200 g glucose syrup
200 g cream 35% fat
Vanilla extract
Simmer the, cream, glucose and the vanilla extract.
Pour the cream over the white milk chocolate and allow to stand for 1 min, then mix from the core to form a smooth shinny ganache.
You might ask, why using these ganaches, instead of icing sugar to decorate the cakes, while it still contains sugar.  We noticed the icing sugar used to decorate the cakes has a worse effect on the energy levels (hyperactivity) and side effects on children than the high quality chocolate. Years ago when CJ turned two years old, I tried a ‘Healthy party’. No sweets, only sandwiches with coloured fillings, coloured boiled eggs, etc.  The effect due to the coloring was even worse than the effect of the sugar. Not to mention, half of the children was disgusted with the menu - “where were the party stuff?”.  A party will always need the sweet stuff, and we just have to work with that.
When you plan a party you have to make peace that your children is going to take in sugar.  You need to boost their immune system before hand, supplement them with enzymes to digest the wrong stuff at the time of the party and will need to give them antioxidants after the party.  Then you need to try and get the best quality of cake and decorating ingredients where possible. For this reason we replace low quality icing sugar with all the bleaching, refining and accompanying colorants, with an excellent quality of sugar like Lindt chocolate.  
We also restrict colourings to the minimum. 

On Wednesday I made the huge mistake to buy thousand and thousands and all kinds of interesting decorating stars and circles from the decorating section of our local grocery store to decorate the cupcakes. 

The next 48 hours was a total disaster! We usually use normal sweets like smarties, astros and jelly tots to decorate cakes, this was the first time I bought these special decorating stuff.  It must have been the colorants (which clearly have of a much higher concentration of colorants than in normal sweets) which caused my children to go totally wild for 48 hours.  Their emotions were totally out of control.  They would cry for everything, got angry for nothing, and not be able to focus for any length of time! Never before did I experience this.  
This just confirmed to me, that when you need to use sugar make sure you use the best quality available. Stay away from the local baking supply store!  I noticed the other day, the products available in the baking section, very seldom have an ingredient lists. And the boxes with ready bake cake mixes, contains more preservatives, flavorings and colorants than actual flour.  
Bake from scratch and choose your ingredients carefully! 

For Saturday’s birthday cake I was blessed with Heidi-Mari and CJ taking full responsibility to bake and decorate the cake.  Danika and Daniel chose the theme.  Heidi-Mari used our traditional Basic French Sponge Cake for the cake, using spelt flour and NO baking soda and they used the ganaches to decorate the cake.  Since most of the cake was decorated with the brown ganache (chocolate which contains no colorants), we minimized the use of colorants.
For the first time ever I could go to bed at 10pm the evening before a child’s birthday party.  CJ and Heidi-Mari were still decorating the cake, but I knew they would create a show piece after observing and assisting me in decorating at least 50 cakes over the past 18 years. And they did!

Thank you CJ and Heidi-Mari for making Daniel’s 4th birthday a memory making event!

With love

06 August 2012

On which Chair do you sit? Does that Influence your Children? And a Hello Mornings Link-Up

In April 1999 Christo and I recommitted our lives to God after hearing a teaching about the Three Chairs.

The teaching was based on the scripture in Josua 24:14-15 
“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
In this passage and the passages that follow a picture is given of Josua who knew the Lord and the works he has done for Israel; the Elders after Josua who knew the Lord and knew about the works the Lord has done for Israel in the previous generation; and the Next Generation who knew not the Lord, nor His works. Judges 2:7-10
A comparison was made how each person sit on one of three chairs. 

The first chair will be a person who is sold out to God. A person who choose God as his personal Savior and made a personal commitment to God at some stage in his life. He is committed to God in every area of his life. This person has a personal relationship with God 

The second chair will be a person who is somewhat committed to God.  He most probably grew up in a home committed to God, accepted the Lord as his personal Savior at one stage, but never made a personal choice to be sold out to God and are just to busy in his life to do so. This person has at most, a responsibility towards God.

The third chair is a person in constant conflict about God and religion and have not yet chosen Jesus as his personal Savior. 
It is beautifully illustrated by the life of Abraham and his offspring:
Abraham (in the first chair) was in a God-first-me-second relationship with God. For Abraham God was personal and real.
Isaac (in the second chair) was in a Me-first-God-second relationship. He compromised in his relationship with God and his family.
The consequences of Isaac's compromising life, is Jacob (in the third chair), who started of a life of me, and me alone.  He took everything away from his brother, manipulated his father, wrestled with God, always trying to be number 1.
Another beautiful illustration is in the life of David and his offspring:
David (in the first chair), is whole hearted for God, he never wrestled with himself, because he was constantly dying to self. He focused on people and served God;
Solomon (in the second chair), started out whole hearted to God choosing wisdom above anything else, but as he grow older he became half hearted, compromising with many wives and their gods.  His life ends living for self, satisfying self and focusing on possessions. He build the Temple of God for 7 years, but spent 13 years on his own palace.
The result of Solomon’s life is Rehoboam (in the third chair), who has no heart for God. He cannot find himself, his life is purposeless and he seeked peace, which he found nowhere.
Interesting how Jesus is also illustrating these three chairs in Revelation:
People who are hot (first chair), people who are cold (third chair) and then people in the second chair who are lukewarm.  Every person in life needs a goal to live for, something they really get excited about, fulfill their life.
The reason why this teaching had Christo and myself recommit our lives to God, was because the chair I’m sitting on while raising my children will very strongly determine and influence their choice of which chair they will sit on when they grow up.
As in the illustration of Joshua, if we as parents are sold out to God; getting excited about God and our life with God; making decisions based on Scripture and our personal relationship with God; have works of miracles in our every day life, they will be attracted to a life with God.  It will be so much easier for such a child to at some stage in their life, make a choice for God.
But if parents are like the elders in Joshua’s illustration who only have works they remember from their parent’s lives, no works and miracles in their own life right now. Living a life of compromising, more sold out to themselves, their jobs and possessions. Modeling a lukewarm religion and no personal relationship, making decisions based on what the saints do, such a child will push away from God. It will not be very attractive, not real. How do you illustrate to a child a God capable of working miracles in their lives, if they themselves have no miracles to show? This child will observe his/her parents chasing a career and possessions which do not fulfill, leaving them with conflict and a purposeless life, not able to find themselves, making decisions based on what society dictates.  
Even Paul in 1 Cor 2:14 - 3:23 describes the different lives as spiritual, carnal (know God, but commit to self) and natural (don’t know God).  
Over the past year I again recommitted my life to God through the Hello Mornings Challenge.  I noticed the number one thing that influenced my children the most, and I didn’t even think it important, is for them to wake up in the morning and find me in God’s Word, studying God’s Word and His will for our life and on my knees earnestly praying for guidance in our lives. For the Lord’s hand of blessing, for difficult decisions in our lives and the calling on our/their lives.
The routine of waking up early every morning to spend time with God in His Word and prayer, also re-motivated my husband and older children to spend time with God, only because actions is more powerful than words.

For me to be able to wake up early, I’m forced to plan my whole day so I can go to bed earlier at night. The model to my children is that my whole life is now structured around my time with God, giving the Lord my best! They also experience how my days started with the Lord differ from days not rising early and spent in the presence of the Lord, which illustrate to them the beautiful fragrance of the Lord.
Without the Hello Mornings challenge and accountability of fellow Christian Women, the change in my life would not have happened.  Looking back at my life, I was giving God my left overs and it left me only partly satisfied, living a compromising, second chair life.  There is so much more in a whole hearted, sold out relationship with God.  The good news is that at any stage of your life, it is possible to move from the second to the first chair - again.  God is always the same and He is waiting.
The next Hello Morning Challenge starts on the 20th of August.  If you feel the Lord pushing on your heart to recommit your life, why not join the Fall (No Spring) Hello Morning Challenge? Thirty seven ladies of South Africa is registered already and over 2,500 ladies around the World! There is still space available in this group if you want to join me, alternatively plenty of Facebook and Twitter groups around the World to choose from.  

In August 2011 I learned about the Hello Mornings Challenge through a link up party, so please forgive me but I'm linking this posting to as many Link-up Parties as possible, just maybe someone need the Hello Mornings Challenge as much as I did:

Maximize Your Mornings Link-Up.

The Better Mom Monday Link-Up


Raising Arrows Link up

Titus 2sdays

Hearts 4 Home Thursday

Encourage one Another Link-up

Living Well Wednesdays

Much love

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