A recipe for even the most inexperienced baker, Vanessa Greenwood’s chocolate chip cookies means you can get the kids involved in dough rolling.
100g butter, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
50g custard powder
75g good-quality chocolate (chips, buttons or chunks)
1 tbsp cold water
1 Pre-heat an oven to 190 degrees Celsius/gas mark 5.
2 Using an electric hand whisk, cream together the butter and sugar until it is pale.
3 Sieve together the self-raising flour and custard powder and slowly mix them into the creamed butter and sugar.
4 Using your hands, add the chocolate chips and the water. The heat of your hands will help to bring the dough together.
5 Roll the dough into ping pong-size balls.
6 Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes before baking.
7 To bake, arrange on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper (leave a good amount of space between the cookies, as they will spread during cooking).
8 Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until risen and golden.
9 Once cooked, leave them to cool slightly before transferring them to a wire rack.
The Million-Pound Cube airs at 9pm on Virgin Media One every night this week, and is a slightly jazzed up version of the ever-popular quiz show The Cube. With Philip Schofield back at the helm, contestants will now be put through their paces in a bid to win a one-million-pound jackpot. Will the higher stakes translate into higher drama as the contestants take on deceptively simple tasks like balancing on a beam or throwing a ball into a container, within the Cube’s four walls? There’s only one way to find out.
Dust off the bikes and head to your local green space for an impromptu nature lesson. Go looking for a squirrel’s nest. In a park or forest, make a mini animal mansion – a little shelter with twigs or leaves, for a mini creature. Find a sheet online listing the different insects you can find in a typical Irish woodland, and try to find them and tick them off the list. Likewise, there are several online resources about Irish trees. Do a mini-treasure hunt, or even go searching for something as simple as a spiky leaf or a ladybird. Best of all, it’s the sort of activity that needs next to no equipment. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, a wealth of foodstuffs is waiting to be discovered in the great wide open, from wild garlic and dandelions to berries (although be sure to reference online which of your finds might be considered poisonous). Buy Food For Free by Richard Mabey, which will give you several inspirational ideas for your own family foodie adventure.
A board-game afternoon is perfect for wintry weather conditions, not to mention for some old-fashioned family bonding. If you want to try something a bit timely, there’s always Pandemic (where teams work together to find a cure for diseases that have broken out in several regions). Balderdash is brilliant for wordy types (ages 12 and over), Cranium Junior is perfect for all-rounders who can sing as well as they can spell (ages 5 and over). Or, if you’d rather doff a cap to the classics, there is always Monopoly: Dublin Edition (for players aged 9 and over). The Guinness World Records Challenges game, meanwhile, allows players (aged 8 and over) to unleash their inner record-breaker. Who knows what talents might be unearthed.