Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Soaked Blueberry Oatmeal Coffe Cake

What's Cookin'?

Soaked Blueberry Oatmeal Coffee Cake:  We made this recipe from Catholic Cuisine for the Solemnity of the Annunciation last Friday.  However, I wanted to make it a soaked recipe to use whole wheat and reduce the phytates (anti-nutrients) in the oats and flour.

What I did differently: 
The night before - I mixed the flour (I used white whole wheat), the oats (I just used rolled oats, not quick oats), the sugar (I used rapadura), the milk, the oil (I think I used safflower, NOT canola), and kefir (instead of yogurt).  I left it on the counter overnight.  I also measured out the blueberries and moved them from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost.

The next morning I added the rest of the ingredients.  It took a bit of stirring to incorporate the egg but it ended up well-mixed.  For the topping I used regular white all-purpose unbleached flour and rapadura plus the other ingredients.

The results: It worked out well doing it this way.

Here is the original recipe: 

I actually took a picture but will have to upload it later.

This recipe adjustment is part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday:

and Debbi's What's on the Menu Wednesday:

What's Schoolin'?

I'm hoping to really spend more time for shelf work in the next week or so (just not *this* week - it's a crazy week).  Hopefully I'll have lots to report.

What's Green?

I finally found a soap at the health food store I feel okay about using for hand soap.  Castille soaps are usually too strong and everything else (even the natural ones) seem to have something questionable or are unclear regarding their ingredients.  Vermont Soap Organics Liquid Sunshine Multipurpose Cleaner works GREAT in those foamy dispensers (we have an old Dial one that you get for a dollar or so with soap in it (that's what dh likes).  It just takes about a centimeter of VSO Liquid Sunshine and it foams nicely. A little bit goes a long way (Unless your dc empties most of it into the foamy dispenser and you have to get a new one!  Of course, I was thrilled with her initiative and couldn't bring myself to correct her).

Vermont Soap Organics has castille soaps and their own foamy soaps, as well as lots of other products that I haven't even begun to explore yet,
Search Amazon.com Health/PersonalCare for vermont soap organics

Monday, March 28, 2011

Emergent Writing: Spelling

What's Schoolin'?

This is a fabulous writer's dictionary that I highly recommend.  I used it many years in public school and have since used it with my own children.  I tried a spelling dictionary from the teacher store and it just wasn't the same (shrug).  It has high frequency words for the child to find whenever needed but there are also lines for each letter to write in other words per the child's request.  Then, when they need that word again it's in there - no need to ask again :).

When a child asks, "How do I spell....?"  I just ask them to bring me their writing dictionary, I write it in for them, and don't make a big deal about it.  We check to see if it's in there first.  Before you know it they are checking for words themselves.

It is called Quick-Word: Handbook for Beginning WritersHere is the link on Amazon (and thanks for buying anything through my blog, by the way!).  Here is the Curriculum Associates' link to see the product.  The only thing is that you have to buy a set of 10 at their site or pay about $7.  That was fine for me years ago to buy sets but at Amazon you can just buy 1 for about $2.  I've used the Palabra Lista version for children learning to write in Spanish as well and it is equally good.

There is a more advance version called Handbook for Everyday Writers for grades 2+ and then there is an even more advanced version called Handbook for Practical Writing for grades 7+.  I need to look into that one!

What's Cookin'?

Here is a great free e-book by menuplanningcentral.com called Stress Free Cooking.  Here's my favorite tip to reduce movements:  Put a trash bowl on your counter and put it all in there as you go instead of walking back and forth to the trash can as you prep.  Now that the garden is starting up again we'll have our "fancy" daily compost container on the counter to empty out in the worm tower each evening during kitchen clean-up.

I haven't been through all of the recipes yet but I see I'll have to tweak some of them to more natural ingredients/homemade, etc (like maybe olive oil instead of 'nonstick cooking spray'-egh, or homemade pizza dough instead of from a can).  Overall they look really good and I can't wait to try some of them.


The girls have been busy making foods for a local competition.  Oldest dd has been making brownies (I just had one 'cuz I couldn't resist and my lymph glands are now swollen - but boy was it good!).  Middle dd has been making pound cake and it makes the house smell so good and cozy.  Youngest dd has been making truffles - huge ones!  Obviously none of these are healthy but they sure are enjoying themselves :).

Book Giveaway Winner...

The winner for the Robert Elmer Book Giveaway is:

Chris from Richmond, VA

Congratulations!  Please e-mail me asap at the following e-mail with no spaces:

lit mont learning resources @ g mail .com

Congratulations and I hope you enjoy the book and the series!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Baked German Pancake ~ Saving Strawberry Farm

What's Schoolin'?

There is something just so wonderful about seeing middle schoolers and high schoolers (and my 3rd grader) get engrossed and enthralled by a picture book.  To see their faces taking it in, their eyes attentive, and then their hands writing vigorously afterward is truly awesome.

During one of the mini-lessons for Writing Workshop this week I read aloud Saving Strawberry Farm by Deborah Hopkinson.  [Have I rambled yet about how much I love her books?? If not, I must do so soon!]  I gave each child a penny to hold while I read the book as a jackdaw - and yes, they got to keep the penny :).

It has some good examples of personification such as the opening sentence -  "The sun was so mean that summer, it seemed to chase all the clouds away."  It is set in the Great Depression and the town comes together to save Elsie's Strawberry Farm. 

It is also good at sparking childhood memories.  The students did a quick-write after the story and shared.  I wrote about stopping at the ice house as we drove to our week-long beach trips with my grandparents as a child.  By the time we reached that town (Usulutan) we were hot and sweaty from riding in the back of the Land Rover pick-up (with no seat belts, of course!  At least it had overhead bars to hang on to for the bumpy part of the trip when our feet would literally bump off the floor).  We could feel the cool blast from the huge door of the ice house and they would bring out a giant ice cube about 4x2x2 feet in a burlap sack.  We all wanted to sit on it to cool off a bit.  Once we arrived at the beach they would bury it straight down in the sand and get some each day for the coolers and ice box, then cover it back up to stay cool.  It would last the week that way.

You're never too old for a good picture book!

We also talked about theme.  (sigh)  Theme is the hardest thing for me.  Closure to the above book led straight into the theme talk.  I used the theme section of Using Picture Storybooks to Teach Literary Devices.  I had already selected some and read the summary/theme.  After a few they were getting it.  Then we brainstormed themes for the mystery stories we're writing.  Some nailed theirs right away; others (like me!) don't have one yet.  We brainstormed quite a list.  My favorite moment was when one student asked, "How would you say to make something right?"  Another student jumped in before I could answer with, "Redemption."  Cool.

We also read a few quick chapters from a Three Cousins Detective Club book.  They put the theme on the back cover so that also tied in with the theme lesson.  These books are probably gr1-3 reading level but perfect for something quick to read aloud for mystery story structure in a writing class.

What's Cookin'?

Potato Chips:  I have an issue with potato chips.  Really.  I use them as energy and it's NOT a good thing!  However, these chips (a once in a blue moon splurge) are awesome and are even in the WAPF shopping guide:  Good Health Natural Foods Potato Chips.  I find them at a local health food store.  The reason that I like them is that there are only 3 brands on the market that I can eat; and none are organic, by the way.  Of the 3 these taste the best.  The ingredients are potatoes, avocado oil, sea salt.  It says that all ingredients are non-gmo.  They have other flavors as well but I always get the Sea Salt: Search Amazon.com for avocado oil potato chips

[Update:  Kettle now has organic sea salt potato chips at our local markets for $3/bag]

Baked German Pancake: 
Here is the original recipe and what I did to make it soaked.  I doubled the original and baked it in a greased 9x12 glass dish at 450F for 20 minutes. [Thanks, M.J. for the recipe!!]


3 eggs
1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk (I used kefir)
2 Tbsp. melted butter

Whisk eggs; slowly whisk in flour; mix in milk and butter. Pour into buttered baking dish or skillet. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. We put fresh fruit, or cooked fruit, or maple syrup on our pieces.

What I did:  The night before I soaked the whole wheat flour with the kefir, melted butter, and salt.  The next morning I added the eggs and baked accordingly.

Results:  The dc really like it even though I thought it was a bit gritty with the whole wheat.

What I'll do differently:  Next time I'll start the soak in the morning; add the egg and put in a casserole dish that night; then just pop it in the oven the next morning so I have to think less :).  I'll also use white whole wheat and another time I'll try it with oats.

When I e-mailed M.J. for permission to post this she thoughtfully responded with the following toppings.  I look forward to trying these!  We just had it plain with some Amish butter this morning.  After Lent we'll try it with some sweetness.  Here are her toppings:

Almond filling:

1/4-1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
When pancake has baked 15 minutes, quickly sprinkle with almonds, drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle generously with sugar. Return to oven and bake remaining 5 minutes.

Pan-glazed Cinnamon Apple Slices
2 Tbsp. butter
2 apples, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Melt butter in frying pan. Add apples. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Slowly cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until slices are glazed and tender. Spoon into center of baked pancake. (We just served the apples on the side so everyone could take what they like.)

Swiss Honey Butter
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter with honey. Slowly add whipping cream. Beat constantly until mixture is fluffy. Add vanilla. (This is pretty rich, but really good. We just serve it on the side)

She also mentioned fresh blueberries or strawberries :).

This recipe is part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday
It's also part of What's on the Menu Wednesday (where I just found a great Lara Bar substitute From Piney in Texas):

Monday, March 21, 2011

And The Winner Is...

We randomly selected from the comments and the e-mails and the winner for the Robert Elmer book entitled Rescue at Boomerang Bend is (drum roll):

Jeannine from Weare, IL

Congratulations and thanks to all who entered!

Please send me an e-mail with your mailing info at the following e-mail address.  It's not my regular e-mail but I'll be checking it throughout the day:

lit mont learning resources @ g mail .com  [no spaces]

I hope you enjoy the book as much as we have!  You asked if it could stand alone since it is part of a series.  The dc said that it was actually the first one we read and it was okay alone but some of the others make more sense after you've read other books.  This was the only one we had for a while and it got us hooked.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lapbook Sale ~ Spanish Homeschooling Resource ~ Saint Joseph

**I just got this from A Journey through Learning:  25% off downloads $13 or less.  They are getting picked up by CBD (Christian Book Distributors) so this is a celebration of sorts:

"To share our excitement, we are offering a discount code through this week-end. Get 25% off instant downloads that are 13.00 or less. Use the code CBD25off at check out. If the instant download is more than 13.00, please do not use the code. You may purchase as many instant downloads that you would like as long as each is 13.00 or less."


**Here is a Spanish resource for those homeschooling in Spanish.  They have conferences, a magazine, and audio downloads:

**I've updated this post twice since I posted it!  Today is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph and Holy Heroes has a free coloring book download here:


We'll be doing some woodwork/wood burning, eating cream puffs (maybe!!), and candy canes for the staff symbol.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Soaked Lemon Polish Sugar Cookies

What's Cookin'?

I took the recipe from Catholic Cuisine here and adjusted it.  Below is the original and what I did:


1 C butter, softened
1-1/2 C sugar, plus extra for rolling
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (or vanilla)
2 C flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cream sugar and butter.  Add egg yolks and vanilla (or lemon extract).  Mix until well combined - dough will be stiff.  Pinch off dough and roll into 1-inch balls.  Roll in granulated sugar.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake until set, not brown, for 10-12 minutes.

What I did: 

Ingredient changes:  I used rapadura for the sugar and put a bit less than 1 cup; used farm fresh eggs; used white whole wheat flour; used aluminum-free baking soda.

Other changes:

The night before I melted the butter and let it cool.  Then I mixed the flour with the butter and sugar - and added 3 tablespoons whey.

The next day I worked in the rest.  I used the lemon extract version.  Then I added enough white flour to make the dough stiff.  I continued with the rest of the recipe.  I chose not to roll it in the sugar.  I may have added too much flour to stiffen the dough because mine didn't get as 'flat' as the ones in the original recipe's photo but they cooked fine.  I also held back about 1/3 of the batter and froze it.  That will make it easy to have fresh baked cookies when we need them.

This recipe adjustment is part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday

What Else Is Cookin'?

Here are the ferments I have on the counter right now:  Fermented Lemonade; Beet Kvass; Kefir

What's Gardenin'?

Here are some photos of the garden right now.  The big lettuce plants I put in several weeks ago but the smaller lettuce plants, etc overwintered and are now doing well.  The carrots in the middle bed overwintered as well.  The potato bed has just one little sprout so far.  Apparently I can grow kale without trying - unfortunately I don't really like kale, lol.  Mainly I add it to soups although I did make kale chips once.  The skinny bed on the far left has onion and garlic that grew through the winter.  The container garden is my herb garden with several kinds of mint (ginger, chocolate, spearmint, peppermint, and something else), thyme, oregano, rosemary, and lavender.  I think I'll put a basil plant in there that I thought would be a nice indoor plant (but it's dying!) - or I'll stick it in the flower bed where it grew so well last year.  The photo at the top of the blog shows our peach tree in bloom.  I hope we get them before the fire ants this year!

Herbs that overwintered well:  Sage, oregano, and parsley.

Good signs:  I saw a gazillion bees on our front bushes yesterday and today.  I saw hardly any bees the whole season last year so I'm really glad to see them back.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Giveaway!

Somehow we ended up with 2 copies of the following book by Robert Elmer (One of our favorite authors!!) so I'm giving one away:

Rescue at Boomerang Bend; Book 3 of the Adventures Down Under Series.  There is no age/grade level listed on the book but I would say upper elementary to maybe middle school (Gr.3/4 through 6/7).  You can read an old review I posted about Robert Elmer here (and make sure to see his comment!).  This would be of interest for both boys and girls.  The main character in the series is a boy but my girls thoroughly enjoy reading them.

For the giveaway:  Just put your first name (no last name necessary) and city in the comments.  This will stay open until Monday, March 21th, 6:30 am CST, so that I can mail the book out to the winner on Monday.  Please check back early Monday morning (March 21, 2011) if you enter because I probably won't be able to get to the post office again until the next Friday.  The winner will have 48 hours to send me their mailing address.  Sorry, but I'll have to limit it to the Continental US only because of postage costs.  This giveaway is very informal but they've worked out well in the past.  If you know me from a list or real life and want to send me your entry through e-mail instead, that's fine.  I'll include those with the comment entries since sometimes blog readers aren't signed in with blogger to be able to leave comments.

The books in this series are (in order): Escape to Murray River; Captive at Kangaroo Springs; Rescue at Boomerang Bend; Dingo Creek Challenge; Race to Wallaby Bay; Firestorm at Kookaburra Station; Koala Beach Outbreak; and Panic at Emu Flat.

More Canada Resources~Some Misc. Links~Griddles


I left out a few items in the last post (yes, there's more!):  Welcome to Canada and The Canada Goose.  We also watched an IMAX movie called The Great North.  There is a view on the computer version and the regular DVD/VHS and even Blu-ray:

This site has some great thematic online maps.  This is the link for the thematic Canada maps.  Click on the download button and a new window pops up where you can copy/paste:


Some recent links:

**This link is for the AMC Montessori Spring Hands-On Newsletter with lots of hands-on ideas:


**In the Hands of a Child's $5.00 e-book this week is a Dental Health e-book.  Click on Ebook of the Week.  It shows as $10 but when you select e-book (near the bottom) it changes to $5.00.


The current freebie is still The Big Snow:


**Grammar lessons/quizzes:  This came through Clickschooling.  I haven't tried it yet with dc but I did randomly look at a few lessons and quizzes.  Nothing "Wow," but I think it would be very good review.  I like the short practices and the quizzes.


**Albanesi sent this out:
U.S. HISTORY - From 1492 to 2008 == This Advanced Elementary U.S. History Program is designed for Montessori students of the 9-12 age level, specifically for grades 5-8. It consists of Picture Cards 5.5"x5x5" fully colored to match on a vinyl time line which can be purchased separately (See: T-101-USA). Learn more by clicking on the links below.

What's Cookin'?

Some Great E-Books: Kelly highlighted 3 great resources. I've read the Everything Bean book and just the front info alone is very good.

Griddles:  I'm ready to ditch my non-stick griddle.  Aside from teflon being unhealthy it's just plain gross and scratched.  Dd made pancakes in the stainless steel pan and it was really hard getting around the sides to flip them.  Stainless Steel may not be the absolute best and I'm afraid there may be some nickel leeching if it's not high quality.  On the other hand, it's gotta be better than my old griddle.  So, here is my baby-step.  I'm undecided between this one ($27.40)(*free shipping)(I doubt I'll use the lid but you never know) or this one ($29.57)(flat/square)(plus $8.99 shipping!!).  Both are a little out of my range but may be worth it.  I am leaning toward the first one because:  free shipping :), a (positive) review on the other one recommended using it with a heat diffuser and the first has even heating, the first seems heavier, and of course - free shipping (that gets twice the weight)!  There are also some cast iron griddles but I still haven't seasoned the pan I got months ago so that will wait.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


What's Schoolin'? (What's Cookin'? is below)

We're focusing on North America right now and today we snuggled up and skimmed through some Canada books I checked out from the library.  Some were easy readers and some much more detailed.  All of the ones shown below are now in ANOTHER book basket because the three library baskets under the coffee table are too full of other books we're using!

I'll start with the easy readers:  Rookie Reader Canada; True Book Canada; A to Z Canada; Countries in the News Canada; Globe Trotters Club Canada.

More detailed:  Vancouver (Cities of the World); Canada-Enchantment of the World; Countries of the World Canada; The Canada Goose.

Even more detailed (longer reads):  Steve Nash - Leader On and Off the Court; Lakes, Peaks, and Prairies

I saved my favorite overview books for last! 
Wow Canada! - Exploring This Land from Coast to Coast to Coast:  It goes through each province with more details and is written in scrapbook format from the point of view of a 12 yr-old boy going across Canada with his family.

The Kids Book of Canada:  This is sort of a picture atlas but with more info.  It also goes through each province.  It has info such as the flag, flower, etc for the province, a timeline, quick facts, animals, a map, and a section called people, places, and events.

What's Cookin'?

Peppermint Patties:  Wow, I guess you really CAN find just about anything on the internet!  I was thrilled to find a recipe for homemade PPatties that I thought I could handle.  Several weeks ago dd was drooling over a York PPatty at the checkout and I casually said that maybe we could make some.  Well, her birthday is tomorrow so I've made some as a surprise for her.  I picked up a York one also the other day - I took out the York patty and slipped in my own to give her as a gift with a note to look in the refrigerator :).

Here are the York PPatty ingredients (they don't separate the filling from the coating):  sugar; corn syrup; semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate, sugar, cocoa, milk fat, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, PGPR (petroleum?) as emulsifier, vanillin as artificial flavor); inverted sugar; egg whites; oil of peppermint; milk.

Here are the homemade peppermint patty ingredients:  Powdered sugar (I use homemade from rapadura); butter; peppermint oil (food grade only!)(I used 2 drops for the batch and then added 2 more drops to the last third for more kick); real vanilla; milk (instead of evaporated milk from the recipe and it worked fine); Enjoy Life chocolate chips (NO soy, dairy, etc); Palm shortening (NO trans fats like crisco).  Oh, and the ingredients for the Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips are: evaporated cane juice; chocolate liquor; non-dairy cocoa butter - that's it.

Except for the fact that it's still sugary junk food I feel good about her eating the homemade version, lol - no hidden msg, no trans fats, no petroleum, no gmo corn syrup, no possible gmo beet sugar, and I can't even remember why inverted sugar is bad but it is :).

Here is the recipe I used (and adjusted as noted above):