Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mystery Story Unit ~ Homemade Sour Cream

What's Schoolin'?

Yesterday was our last class day for both the Spanish and the Writing Workshop classes I taught middle schoolers this year (plus 2 highschoolers plus my 3rd grader!) at a local homeschool enrichment program.  We did a Read Around during Wtg Wkshp in which each student read their mystery story aloud to finish up the Mystery Story Unit we've been doing. 

We really could've used just one more week (or two, or three) because we didn't have time for teacher conferences this time around.  Even so, the young writers did an outstanding job and showed great growth throughout the year.  It was a very laid back class with virtually zero homework (to fit the needs of the children/families) which makes their progress even more glowing.  I had to cram a warm-up; writer's craft; mystery story structure; and technical wtg wkshp mini-lessons; oh yeah, and writing time (!) into 1-1/2 hours per week.  The students were awesome and very encouraging with their efforts and outward enthusiasm.

I posted about this Mystery Unit here and here which includes a link to my unit for your personal use.  If I weren't in the middle of a move I would probably offer the Mystery Unit as a class this summer at my house.  Last summer I did a Middle School Reluctant Writers class but wanted something different this time.

I had my doubts about their ability to sit still and really listen to everyone's stories after having had a pinata in Spanish class, lol.  However, I made it a point to get dye-free candy for the pinata with no HFCS, etc - although I gave in with the mini-Snickers and made myself not look at their ingredients!  They were very respectful and encouraging to others.  I also had some cookies set out for the Read Around to make it more special.  They had less goodies in the pinata and Read Around 'cuz I just couldn't make myself get the regular candy and cookies but I felt better about what they were eating (mini-Snickers excluded!) and I think it was plenty for just snacks.

Writing for the next few weeks at home will be writing up their 4-H Record Books and Memory Book.  Talk about overwhelming!!  I have a love/hate relationship with Record Books :).  Sandwich that between moving, catching up with Math, First Communion, a joint birthday party, other school studies we want to finish (like Canada), and moving (it gets double mention) and every second is taken up.  I need to make a point to relax and have fun with the kids and give them outside/free time daily and play dates whenever we can.

What's Cookin'?

Chicken Pot Pie:  I can't believe it's already been a week since I last posted.  Last night I made 2 chicken pot pies but I couldn't even start to tell you how I did it, lol.  I bought an organic package of cream of celery soup because I knew I wouldn't have time in the kitchen and was out of homemade in the freezer.  I mixed that with some pre-cooked chicken, some frozen corn, some frozen broccoli, some spices, and some flour ('cuz I put too much water when I mixed in the soup).  I would've preferred peas instead of broccoli but my hand landed on the broccoli bag first :).  I used a very non-NT white flour pie crust and today I plan on getting some yogurt dough soaking for times such as this.  I got the recipe a long time ago from and basically (in the pie plate) you mix 1/2 C oil; 1/4 C milk; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1-1/2 C flour.  Mix well, then smoosh it up around to cover the plate.  I baked the chicken pot pie at 375F for about 40 minutes.

Last night I also baked 2 bricks masquerading as bread.  Although they were fine imitations at a glance, their brickness was quite apparent upon closer examination.

Sour Cream:  I am sooo excited about my newest discovery.  It is so good I can hardly believe it!  Someone mentioned using milk kefir grains to make sour cream in a kefir forum [thanks, R!].  I experimented with the following and so far it has made 2 excellent batches:  1 cup fresh cream and 1 teaspoon kefir grains.  I fermented it for about 12 hours until it just started to thicken somewhat.  You may want to taste at this point.  Then I put it in the refrigerator where it continued to thicken.  I was either too lazy or in a hurry each time and stuck it in the fridge with the grains still in it.  So, I have to dig around them to scoop out the sour cream.  Next time I really need to spend the whole 1 minute it would take and scoop them out before storing the cream.  If you try it, let me know how it goes!

This sour cream how-to is part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday at:


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