Berries, WONDERFUL berries!

I have been talking quite a bit about kids needing to experience the outdoors, and projects like this one on Indiegogo immediately get my attention (http://www.indiegogo.com/childobesity).

As a child in Finland, at the end of each summer, my family would travel to visit grandmother and pick berries, walk the forests, swim in lakes, explore the fields, sleep in barns, bathe in sauna, cook sausages over a camp fire… I really wanted to share something similar with my children – but berry picking in Australia did not seem possible – until we discovered the pick your own Berry Farm.

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I am sure that other berry farms would offer something similar, but being the only one within reasonable distance for a day trip, Clyde River Berry Farm has become our favourite. (their website is www.clyderiverberryfarm.com.au)

It was raining that morning and the weather forecast did not seem promising. Despite the fact, we were determined to visit the farm. Geared with rain jackets and gumboots we headed south passed Ulladulla and Termeil.

Picking your own berries is a lovely experience. You get to be outdoors, spend time with your family, talk and reflect and pick these sweet and wonderful berries. The berries at Clyde River Farm are top quality, the owners super friendly and the ice cream not half bad either…

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I felt almost proud being able to show my children the correct way to pick berries to avoid them dropping down between your fingers. At the end of our picking, on our way back to the cars, my 4 year old was pointing at all the wasted berries that had been dropped to the ground and stated: “People just don’t know how to pick berries!”. You said it, son!

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That day we had my famous Berries and Roasted Oatmeal Desert with some whipped cream for first, second and third course. I know this sounds a little cliche, but it was ‘berrylicious’!

If you haven’t been to a berry farm with your family yet, do go! Take it easy, go with the flow, smell every smell and absorb every detail, answer every question and be there, JUST BE PRESENT. The reward cannot only be measured in the amount of berries, but in the number of smiles on your children’s faces…

Oh, and we never needed the rain jackets nor the gumboots :)

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How come it was more fun when you were a child?

‘Dad, how come it was more fun when you were a kid?’

I asked what he meant.

‘Well, you’re always talking about your woods and tree houses, and how you used to ride that horse down near the swamp.’

This is the beginning to the book “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv. I have only started to read this book, but already am in love with it. It is well written, warm, informative and most thought provoking.

Are our children really suffering from ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’? What can we as parents do to either prevent or correct the situation? If given the choice would our children rather sit in front of the TV or computer or head outdoors?

My family is blessed to live outside the big city in a beautiful part of the country. Still, it is not only children in the big cities that easily spend more time with technology and gadgets rather than playing and wondering the outdoors. Any parent, no matter where they live, would recognise how difficult it is at times to juggle the varied number of tasks and responsibilities. Especially tricky this can be if you work from home. Having the children sit in front of the TV can be a way too tempting way to create a few hours of peace and quite for an opportunity to think and work. But is it worth it?

Last year we started our little backyard garden with the children, but nothing seemed to grow or we eneded up feeding the local wild life (which is not so bad… I suppose…). We also have been doing composting now for about a year and come spring, we renewed our gardening enthusiasm.

Even if you dont’t have acres of land, having a small backyard garden is a great way to teach the children where the food comes but also gets the children active outdoors. Watering the garden bed becomes a daily delight. Watching and measuring the little seedlings a source of excitement.

As a child, for the first 7 years of my life, my family lived in a small appartment with no garden. My parents had rented a small garden plot a few kilometres away for our family to cultivate. We would grow carrots, onions, lettuce and peas. We would ride our bikes to the garden plot and spend time together looking after it. I can still remember the river that would run nearby, smell the communal sauna nearby, and taste the first sweet carrots of the season. I cherish these memories and I wish my children don’t have to ask “mum, how come it was more fun when you were a child”.

Making your own pasta with children is easy and fun

Making your own pasta is easy and loads of fun for children.

For a good pasta dough you need:

1 medium egg (room temperature) for every 100g of flour

Measure the flour, make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Mix with your hand. Once a ball has formed, take the dough out of the bowl and knead, knead and knead…

Use good quality (=STRONG) plain flour. Do not add baking powder or salt. Just the flour and eggs is enough. It is worth while to buy good quality flour, even if it would cost a few cents more, as using “home brand” or other soft flour makes the pasta limp and sticky. (Trust me… I’ve tested it!)

I gave each kid a portion of the dough to knead it even more. It was a great way to “get the sillies out” – pounding the pasta dough until very firm and tight to touch.

If the dough does not have enough flour, add some and knead it in. If the dough feels too dry, you can add a few drops of room temperature water.

Work the dough through the pasta machine – starting thick and gradually working towards the desired thickness. After this feed the pasta sheets through the machine one more time for desired pasta type – fettucine, linguine…

Turning the pasta machine handle is heaps of fun.

Fresh pasta cooks very, very quickly. Even 2-3 minutes may be enough. Keep testing, and drain as soon as ‘al dente’.
Serve with your favourite sauce.


In our case, kids did not even touch the sauces, but enjoyed the fresh, self made pasta served with freshly grated parmesan cheese, with such an appetite that I did not even have a chance to take a photo. “Slurp” – down in our tummies.

Try! And have fun!