Category Archives: Cooking/Baking

X on Toast

This is again a delayed post from summer.

What ingredient can begin with letter X? Honestly I could not come up with anything.

Since letter X was just a simple cross that Ilyaas (4) easily identifies, I was not overly concern. Letter X gave me an opportunity to try a type of painting I have been wanting to do with the children for a while now.

Painting with milk. This just involves mixing food coloring to milk to paint. The canvas in our case were slices of bread. We used a an X shaped cookie cutter as a stencil.

Painting letter X on bread

I then slightly toasted the bread to dry out the milk a little and to accentuate the colour.

X on toast - Enjoy!

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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in AlphaFood Venture, Art & Craft



W for Watermelon

This is again something we completed over summer that I just did not have the time to post.

W for watermelon seemed the most appropriate thing at the heat of summer. I purchased watermelons that had red and yellow flesh. I opted for the smaller variety as they have larger seeds in them.

We started off by examining the outer skin of the fruit. Obviously green. However Ilyaas (4) thought that the lines looked like snakes.

Then I cut open the fruit and we observed the inside. The red watermelon’s seed were sort of pale and was quite edible. However the yellow watermelon came with big black seeds which was really exciting for Ilyaas. I explained to him that the watermelon started off as seeds.

Then we used a melon baller to scoop out the flesh of the red watermelon. He was just not able to form any melon balls. Rather it was used as a sort of melon scoop. Ilyaas also observed how watery the whole fruit was. He did not like the mess.

Using a melon baller

Once we scooped all the flesh out, we ran it in the blender with some sugar and ice and made a watermelon drink.

Watermelon drink

As for the yellow watermelon, it was dignified by being sliced up and eaten as how a watermelon should be.

We also made a simple paper plate watermelon using glue painting technique. Ilyaas glued the seeds we had saved from the yellow watermelon here.

Paper plate watermelon

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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in AlphaFood Venture, Art & Craft



V for Vinegar

This is another hard letter. These were the times I wished my children knew what vendikkai (okra), valakkai (plantain) or even vellarikkai (cucumber) are. Ultimately the sound of letter V in a different language does not count for this project.

So I decided on vinegar. I know, vinegar! This time though we did something really neat with the V ingredient, and yes we did consume it as well.

These were the two types of vinegar I had on hand. We started of by comparing their colours of course. Then I poured a little into medicine cups. Before I could say boo, Ilyaas (4) and Zakariyya (2) reached out and yes, drank it! Subhanallah they had the most hilarious smirk on their faces.

It was some sensory activity for sure. Their taste buds were so heightened that they did not want to smell the vinegar, which was what they were suppose to do in the first place.

We did an activity that involved painting with vinegar that I found here. It is more relevant to science but I used it as an art activity in this case.

Materials needed for vinegar painting

I used food coloring in place of poster paint. Also I laid a water colour paper on the tray and sprinkled the baking soda on the paper.

The children were really fascinated with the foam that formed when the vinegar, dishsoap, food colouring concoction hit the baking soda. They squeezed the bottles empty in no time. Our seconday colours did not form very dark. I suspect it was because I used food coloring. So I could not talk to the children about that.

In the end it was really a fun activity. Alhamdulillah, the end result was a marble effect type painting.

Vinegar painting

Just a note of caution for those who cannot tolerate vinegar smell. The vinegar smell did linger for a long time after we completed the activity. Needless to say everyone in our home is now well acquainted with the smell of vinegar . . . and the letter V.

The other ingredient that is worth considering for letter V is vermicelli.

Rice with vermicelli

Since we did R for rice this was not an option for us. Also we have this dish so often that Ilyaas would have been disappointed.


Posted by on October 6, 2011 in AlphaFood Venture, Cooking/Baking


U for Upside Down Cake

U was a difficult letter to find an ingredient to work with. There was udon noodle, but we had already done noodles and udon are quite thick for children to eat.

After some research on the internet I decided on doing Upside Down Pineapple cake. This is a dessert we normally just buy. Even though there wasn’t a strong letter association to this recipe, I thought the whole experience of making a cake and then turning it upside down will be an interesting for the children.

For this recipe we followed the recipe from here. We used a regular yellow cake mix for the batter. We also used glazed cherries instead of maraschino. Both Ilyaas (4) and Zakariyya (2) were involved in making this cake.

Dumping brown sugar into cake pan

Arranging pineapple rings and glazed cherries in pan

Pouring cake batter into pan

Then it was the waiting part. Once the cake was baked, I gathered the two children . . . . then did all the sound effect, then I carefully flipped the hot cake onto a tray. They were excited to see all the pineapple rings showing on the top of the cake.

Alhamdullilah this was our Upside down pineapple cake (there wasn’t enough pineapple rings in one can to cover the entire pan!)


Posted by on September 19, 2011 in AlphaFood Venture, Cooking/Baking



T for Tofu

Tofu is quite a staple in our home. It is high in protein and comes in a variety of forms that is easy to incorporate into our meals.

Tofu dessert a.k.a Tau Foo Fah

Tofu dessert is the type of tofu that my children have most of the time. It is affectionately known as Foo-Fah in our home. These are the flavoured type tofu.

For our letter T AlphaFood Venture, we did two different recipes using two different tofus.

First we examined the two types of tofus.

Tofu puffs and firm tofu

I chose these two types not only for their usage in the recipes but also for the difference in colour and texture.

Tofu puffs (on the blue plate) are deep fried tofu that are hollow. The white block on the right is just a regular firm tofu.

Lets touch . . .

Immediately upon touching the puffs Ilyaas (4) was just amazed. They are basically like sponge balls. When he touched the firm tofu, it almost felt like a rubbery ball to him.

Also the puff tofu are oily to the touch as they are fried and the firm tofu was wet as they are usually packed in water just like feta cheese.

We also made an uppercase T with the tofu puffs (on the blue plate).

Lets smell . . .

Ilyaas was just reluctant to smell the tofus. Just for the record, they really do not have any distinct smell.

Lets see . . .

Ilyaas made an observation that both the tofus look like boxes. The first step to knowing cubes Insha-Allah I hope.

Recipes . . .

For the tofu puff recipe, I cut a hole on the top part of the puffs. I then helped Ilyaas scoop meat mixture into the hollow part of the tofu puff. We used baby feeding spoons for this. The meat mixture is just shrimp and some chicken with seasoning. Basically a wonton filling.

Filling tofu puffs with meat mixture

Once this was done, I deep fried the tofu puffs.

For the second recipe that uses the firm tofu, I had to fry the tofu block first.

Stuffing tofu with veggies

We talked about the shape of the fried tofu i.e. a triangle. Next, with a sharpe knife I made a slit along the longest side of the fried tofu. Ilyaas then  stuffed some shredded carrots and cucumbers into the slit tofu. In Malaysia this in known as tahu sumbat (stuffed tofu) and is usually a tea time treat.

Alhamdulillah our tofus were served with some chilli sauce for dipping along side a hot cup of tea! Unusual combination, but it works for us.

Stuffed tofus

For those of you who have been sceptical about tofus, I hope you will be encourage to try some after reading this post. You can find a whole array of tofus at your local oriental supermarkets. If you are in Canada, T&T Supermarkets are a good place to start. You can also read descriptions of different types of tofus here.


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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in AlphaFood Venture, Cooking/Baking



S for Strawberry Jam

Taking advantage of the summer season, S had to be for strawberries.

We started off by examining the actual fruit. Ilyaas(4) was just so cute when he grabbed his magnifying glass to examine the strawberry.

Observation: “It’s red!” . . . “It has leaves on the top!” . . . “It has seeds on the outside!”

I thought he is getting a good hang of these type of observations.

These were our jam making process . . .

Weighing strawberries

Removing leaves (hulling done by me!)








Chopping strawberries

Adding sugar








I do not own a hand chopper. Instead I gave Ilyaas a pastry knife to “chop” the strawberries. The recipe for this jam was from here. After adding all the ingredients, we just left the pot on low heat until the jam was at a consistency we wanted. Waiting was probably the hardest part of this recipe for Ilyaas!

Alhamdulillah it was nice to have homemade jam . . . for the very first time that is. As soon as the jam cooled down, Ilyaas wanted to have it with toast Masha-Allah.

Our homemade strawberry jam.

Every summer I try to plant a few strawberry plants in deck planter box for the children to get excited about. Alhamdulillah, this was our plants for this summer.

Our strawberry plants

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Posted by on September 8, 2011 in AlphaFood Venture, Cooking/Baking



R for Rice

I decided on rice for letter R. Rice is a staple in our home and Ilyaas(4) often measures the rice for me.

He started of by measuring the rice. He tried his hand at rinsing the rice as well. I used a strainer . . . I did not want the rice to end up in the drain!

Rinsing rice

Rice dumped into strainer








For this activity we added raisin (another R ingredient). I got golden raisin, sultanas and regular SunMaid raisins. We talked about mainly the different colours. I had some fresh grapes at home. When I  showed him the grapes and told him that they dry into raisins, Subhanallah he just could not believe it.

I was hoping to dry some grapes over summer to demonstrate this to him. Unfortunately that just did not happen.

Frying raisins in ghee

I did the frying part as Ilyaas watched the raisins balloon up. He was amused. After this step, he dumped the strained rice into the pot. He helped measure the water and poured it into the pot. We then just put it into a rice cooker. The end results . . .

Raisin rice

To be honest Ilyaas was a little disappointed. This is like what he has so often for dinner. I had to make it a little special for him. So I threw in a sensory activity.

I gave him a little cup of a clear liquid. He observed, dipped his finger. Then the smell caught his attention. Rose water! Another R ingredient. He absolutely loved it. He sprinkled the rose water over the rice and then asked more to rub on himself 🙂

Rose water. Available at Middle Eastern or East Indian grocery stores.

We found this book at the library. It is a non-fiction title. The pictures were really great to talk about how rice is grown and rice in different cultures.

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Posted by on September 8, 2011 in AlphaFood Venture, Cooking/Baking



Q isn’t quitting!

Our quail egg project was a smelly disaster, Innalillah. This made it even harder to make a recipe for letter Q. I would have bought another case of quail egg and retried the whole thing. However I was grossed out and I had a plea from my husband. In his words, “Can you please stop experimenting food on me.” Granted he is not as diverse in his palette as I am, but so far he has tugged along and I was compelled to show mercy.

So were we quitting on letter Q ???????

Alhamdulillah I figured out something with what I had on hand. We made cheesy letter Qs using crescent rolls.

Sprinkling cheese on crescent roll dough

Putting egg wash on letter Qs

Baked crescent roll letter Qs

Together with the cheese we did sprinkle some herbs into the dough. This turned out to be cheesy chewy recipe that could be used to form any shape Insha-Allah. My one idea did not realize, but Alhamdulillah I discovered a versatile use for crescent roll dough.


Posted by on September 8, 2011 in AlphaFood Venture, Cooking/Baking



Q for Quail Eggs

The next few post will be the continuation of our AlphaFood Venture that we had completed before Ramadhan. Just that I did not have the time to write the post.

Letter Q was a tough one to pick a child friendly recipe for. I decided on quail eggs as I have had them back home and they were cute that I knew the would be a hit.

We started of by viewing some pictures of quail online and doing a coloring page we found here.

Then I boiled the eggs. The idea was to create a nest using fried vermicelli noodles and then placing the tiny eggs on them.

As the were boiling, there was this strong eggy smell that filled the kitchen.

Quail eggs and chicken eggs

Once the were boiled we examined the colour and size of the quail egg in comparison to a regular chicken egg.

Peeling quail eggs

Then Ilyaas (4) and I peeled off the shells. By this point I was sure this was not how quail eggs were supposed to smell like even though it has been ages since I had one. Ilyaas and I were grossed out! (Check out his nose twitch in the picture LoL!). Thank goodness for the garburator.

That night a quick phone call to my dear sister-in-law Nor, hearing my description she chimed, “Dah rosak lah tu!” Translated, IT IS ROTTEN.

We plan and Allah plans better. So much for my quail egg nest 😦

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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in AlphaFood Venture, Cooking/Baking



P for Pineapple, papaya, pear . . .

Initially I just wanted to make a Pizza. However there is just such a variety of fruits and vegetable that starts with letter P that I had to use them, at least some of them. Take a peek at the list of fruits that begin with letter P here.

These were our letter P fruits.

Pineapple, papaya, pears, peaches, persimmons and plums

We started of by examining each fruit. We discussed the colour and shape, feel of the skin and of course the smell. I then cut the fruits (except the pineapple) to show DS2 the inside of each one.

Scooping out papaya seeds

The touch and feel activity using papaya seeds are really fun if your child does not mind a little mess. My son is not on of those, so he touched the seeds for a bit and that was it. I was having more fun! The seeds are slippery and mushy when you hold.

Since we had done some seed planting, I wanted to take the opportunity for us to examine the seed of each fruit as well.

Clockwise - plum seed, peach seed, pear seeds, papaya seeds and persimmon seeds

We talked about the size of each seed. DS2 arranged them from big to small. We also discussed about how all of these fruits grew from seeds with the will of Allah. And then came the question about the pineapple. Where are the pineapple seeds? To be honest I had no clue. I then removed the skin of the pineapple so that DS2 could at least see the pineapple eyes.

Pineapple eyes. DS2 did not enjoy looking or touching this

To incorporate all the different fruits, we made fruit kabob.

We skewered the fruit pieces. DS2 glazed them and Papa grilled them.

Letter P fruit kabob

The one letter P fruit that I just could not find was pomegranate. I wanted my son to know that this fruit is mentioned in the Qur’an. Insha-Allah I might make and activity just for Ar-Rum.


Posted by on July 31, 2011 in AlphaFood Venture