Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mystery Dinner ~ Shopping Surprises

What's Cookin'?

My mom surprised me at Thanksgiving by 1) liking my cherry bread pudding (I didn't know she liked bread pudding!) and 2) asking for that for Christmas.  So, today I'll adjust my blueberry bread pudding recipe to make it cherry - and will probably make an extra for us!  I also plan on making her a pumpkin craisin bread as an extra surprise... and an extra for us if I have enough ingredients!  More on those later.

[Update:  bread pudding was a flop!  I really hate wasting ingredients but I actually had to trash it - ouch!!  We were able to pick some of it out for us and a 1/2 batch was edible but not pretty - sort of eggy in between the bread pieces - so we'll keep that one and I'll just take her the pumpkin craisin bread.  Obviously not the same recipe I used at Thanksgiving.  I'll toss it so I don't use it again and find my other recipe for another time.  Bummer - I spent so much time on it because I had to make some bread first so I could make the bread pudding.  Plus I made 2 batches so I wasted 1 C cherries for one and 1 C blueberries for the other.  So sad!  On the other hand:  the pumpkin craisin loaves look beautiful!  I can't wait to cut one open for a "taster" loaf.]

Here's a quiz photo:  see if you can guess what this is!

That's the before picture and I didn't get an after picture because we were busy eating it up :).  It was actually quite good, believe it or not from the above photo!  I put leftover roast and rice in the casserole dish and started digging through the freezer.  On top of the leftovers I put a handful of frozen tomatoes (that I flash froze during market season), about 1 cup + of frozen shredded zucchini, and 1 C of frozen white gravy.  After it was thawed in the oven I stirred the zukes into the rice, smooshed the tomatoes and took out the peels, and smeared the gravy over everything.  Then I let it continue in the oven until heated through.  Strange?  Maybe!  However, it was an easy, satisfying meal with whole food ingredients.  What's in your freezer? (said in my best Viking voice)

What's Schoolin'?

The thing about homeschooling is that schooling and life are sometimes hard to separate.  Case in point:  Is reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol school or just plain life?  We're counting it as school but want to make it an annual tradition in life - so it's both.  The language is definitely vocabulary building, the details are historical, the story is captivating, and the writing is such a wonderful model of exemplary writing that has withstood time and place.  I was reading from the free kindle download on my laptop but ended up checking out 2 copies from the library so the olders could read it on their own.  One went ahead and read it but the other is really enjoying my reading aloud so she would rather sit in on my read-alouds and then reread it herself.  They will jot down examples of his writing and do a short reflective essay in their literature response logs also.  I like the version we checked out because of the print size and the beautiful illustrations scattered throughout.

What's Shoppin'?

This was a surprise:  I saw a nice wooden Shut the Box game at Big Lots for $10!!  Then I saw another version from the same company at Target for $15.  I guess it's making a comeback because a few years ago when it was mentioned on the Montessori group it was impossible to find.   We ended up playing the game with just index cards with the numbers written on them and flipping them over. I'm posting links below so you can see what I mean.

Another fun surprise at Big Lots was Rumford Baking Powder.  Yes, I'm weird that way - I was very excited that I didn't have to stock up on it anymore from our old town nor order it online.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hummus ~ Broiler Chicks (Week 4)

What's Cookin'?

Hummus:  I adapted this recipe:

I didn't have any tahini nor sesame seeds to make any so I just omitted that ingredient from the above recipe.  Basically, I added the following into the food processor and whirred until it was smooth.

~ 16 oz drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas) [I soaked and cooked about a pound earlier in the week; used 1/2 for another recipe] *See directions below
~ Juice from 1 lemon (would be fine with just 1/2 lemon)
~ 2 Garlic cloves (next time I'll just use one)
~ 1/2 Teaspoon Real Salt
~ 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

I was going to make some pita bread 'real quick' and serve it for lunch but it was getting late.  Instead I served it with sea salt bagel chips.  I avoid msg, soy, and various other ingredients so we only get the sea salt flavor in most things.  Weirdly, the bagel chips I used don't show the same ingredients on the amazon link so I didn't post them since I can't recommend them if they have what's listed at amazon (L-cystine?  No way!).  I double checked the bag at home and they are different.

Everyone in the family seemed to like this dish.  Next time I'll try to serve it with flat bread.  I hope to get my sourdough started up again soon.

*To make your own garbanzo beans/chickpeas soak them overnight in plenty of filtered water with the juice of 1/2 lemon (make sure to strain the seeds!).  The next morning (or that night if you started soaking in the morning) drain, rinse, drain again.  I use the crock pot so... put into crock pot with at least 2 extra inches of filtered water.  My legumes take about 30 hours on low on the crock pot so don't get discouraged if it feels like they're taking forever.  Garbanzos are firm yet easily mushed with a fork.

This recipe adjustment is part of Kelly's RFW:

Apple Tarts:  Along with the hummus and bagel chips (and raisins that dc wanted) we ate a freshly made apple tart each.  Mmm.  So easy.  I used left-over pie crust from a cherry pie, rolled it into small circles and lined a paper cup-lined muffin tin with the dough.  I defrosted 2 C of frozen apples; tossed with rapadura and pumpkin spice; filled the uncooked tart shells with the apples; put a tiny bit of butter over each one.  I baked in a 350F oven for 30 minutes and then loosely covered the tin with foil for another 20 minutes.

Chicken Saga:

The 17 4-H broilers are finally out of the garage and in their little shed.  Dh got the shed set up inside and moved them when we were gone yesterday.  What a gift!  The olders surprised dh by cleaning out the garage this afternoon.  It'll take forever to get the "dust" out of everything but they really did a lot of cleaning.  As of this typing he hasn't discovered it yet :).

The problem I'm having with these broilers is that we plan on eating them after the fair in January but we're feeding them JUNKY regular feed that I'm sure has GE corn, soy etc in it.  Ugh.  I've been researching organic chicken feed and it is outrageously expensive (sigh).  I found a cheap one in VA but shipping is the same cost as the 50 lb bag.  My plan is to get at least one bag to feed them at the end.  We give them dried meal worms for treats and they love it.  I'm still trying to stay away from the chicks because... I think they're cute.

They are in a pen in a plastic shed the previous house owners left behind similar to the one below... only a bit more rickety.  Dh sealed up the gaps from the inside.  They seem happy although the lows this week are suppose to be in the 20s (F).  They are 4 weeks old and have a heat lamp.  4 more weeks or so 'till the show.

[Update:  The wind was so strong (and cold!) yesterday that it almost blew the door off and messed up dh's coverings of the cracks.  He had to fix it and now we need a new latch.  We had to put in a second heat lamp.  Just as I was thinking that the shed could make a good permanent hen house later for our layers... If it were in better shape it would be great - they even have 2 plexiglass skylights, plenty of air ventilation and the walls are doubled so it's insulated.  Otherwise they look good - I'm just cringing with the feed we're giving them.]

This post is part of Frugal Days Sustainable Ways blog hop at Frugally Sustainable:

50% off Leapster 2 and Mega Bloks

This Leapster system is currently 51% off!  We've never used a Leapster and are way beyond its age but I know many do and may find this useful:

Leap Frog Leapster 2

Here's another good deal. These Mega Bloks are 50% off.  My dc used these a lot when they were little.  My mom just got rid of her set last year.  Her grandkids used them for about 14 years!

Mega Bloks

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dog Biscuits ~ Division/Multiplication

What's Cookin'?

Youngest dd wanted to make some dog biscuits to take to a dog-themed Christmas Party.  They were taking the gifts (dog items) to a local dog shelter.  Isn't that a cool idea?  Anyway, we used this recipe and just made a half-batch.  That was enough dough for us to take some and make some more later.  She chose Christmas cookie cutter shapes.  Oh, and it's such an easy recipe that we were able to mix, roll out, and cut in less than 10 minutes!  This could definitely be a practical life  activity for youngers :).,174,150182-252204,00.html

Basically, it was 2 C wheat flour; 1/2 teaspoon baking powder; 1-1/2 tablespoon oil; and 1 C water.  Our dog taste-tested the first one and it was a hit.  I'd like to try it again with better fat instead of the oil and some garlic powder.  Maybe some DE also??

What's Schoolin'?

Youngest dd is on Presentation 3 from Lisia's long division presentations using the Stamp Game.  This is going to lead perfectly into the racks and tubes because for one of her problems she was tired of counting out 10s of whatever for her exchanges.  It got tedious when we had a divisor of 17 because of the higher remainders within the problem and more regrouping.  We skipped presentations 1 and 2 because she was already doing 3-digit divided by 1-digit numbers to abstraction.

Regarding the Multiplication Checkerboard, dd needed it for a problem the other day, but rather than pull out the materials she drew one on a laptop chalkboard that we had been using and placed the bead bars on her drawn checkerboard.  Interesting... and funny because our checkerboard is one of my best-made materials and is quilted - go figure!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lapbook Freebie: Island of the Blue Dolphins

I just noticed last night that the quarterly freebie right now from In the Hands of a Child is a complete lapbook (93 pages!) for The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.  My older dds didn't really enjoy the book but it's an excellent book.  I think they didn't enjoy it much because it's not light and happy and they read it years ago  ["It's creepy and she never gets back to her people."].  They may have liked it better if they had been older.  It's based on a true story.  You may want to preview it for your dc - I chose to wait a while when I previewed it for them.  Maybe I should've waited longer?  Click on "freebie" at this link:

Here is the book:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Density Blocks

There was mention of some density blocks from enesco on the Montessori group so out of curiosity I did an amazon search on them.  They have the regular one in which all are the same size but different weights and densities, and they also have this really cool one in which they are all the same weight but are different sizes (since they are different densities).  Too cool not to post!

Density Blocks 1: Constant Volume

Density Blocks 2: Constant Mass

Here are more options:

Density Cubes 10 Pack

Equal Mass Cylinder Set

Density Identification Set

You could get two sets for matching for Montessori Sensorial work. I was thinking about the visual clues and thought that maybe if they were in little cloth drawstring bags it might work. The one in which they are different sizes might just be for demonstration and interest because I can't see how you can match them with just one attribute - but they are so cool :).

Here are some velvet 5 inch drawstring bags, but I would probably check the dollar store first:

What's Cookin'?

We made truffles, brownies, and German spice cookies this week.  None are what you would call nutrient dense, lol, but at least they were all made from scratch with mostly organic ingredients.  After eating all of those sweets we had chili for dinner, which WAS nutrient dense with organic, soaked, home-cooked kidney beans, organic ketchup, homemade chili powder spice mix, and grass-fed ground beef.  We topped each bowl with Amish raw cheddar cheese and also garnished with organic corn chips (not sprouted but hopefully not GMO either).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Books

K. recommended these books and they sound delightful (and of course I totally forgot about using the original Charles Dickens! Note the free Kindle for that one):

"The Jesse Tree" by Geraldine McCaughrean

"The Thirteen Days of Christmas" by Jenny Overton

"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens

"Star of Wonder" by Pat Alexander

"The Christmas Angel" by Pirkko Vainio

What's Cookin'?

Cherry Pie:  This is a total "cheat" recipe but it's at least from scratch without any frankenfood ingredients.  It was a winner with the family.  I use a very simple dough recipe and used this recipe for the filling:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Melissa and Doug 50% off today!!

I just got an e-mail from Amazon that select Melissa and Doug products are the Deal of the Day today and are 50% off.  Wow... just in time for Christmas!  We're waaay beyond Melissa and Doug products (sniff, sniff) but I wanted to pass this along.  Here is the link:

Click here for the deal!

What's Cookin'?

Yesterday was one of those afternoons - late getting in, no meal planned, attention diverted by a few unpacking tasks, tired, etc.  At 5 PM I found myself digging through the freezer hoping for something to materialize.  Lo and behold, it did!  I found a bag of precooked spaghetti noodles, a bag of precooked chicken tenders, and a bag of frozen veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots).  I defrosted then in the pan as I heated them (in some palm oil and coconut oil), added about 2 cups of chicken broth I found pushed to the back of the refrigerator, 2 teaspoons of pesto, and about 1/4 cup of cream (Mexican cream from Cacique that has less additives than even the organic cream in our stores - my backup when I'm out of fresh farm cream).  I also found some freezer biscuits and tossed those in the oven.  Phew!

I guess because of last night's frantic dinner I decided to make banana pancakes for breakfast today.  If my spotted bananas could talk they would say, "Hurry, eat me, make muffins, pancakes, anything!"  I adjusted a traditional pancake recipe to soak it.

Last night I soaked:
2 Cups white wheat flour
1/4 Cup whey
1 Cup fresh milk

This morning I added:
4 Teaspoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Egg
4 Tablespoons butter (recipe called for 3, but hey )
1 mashed banana
Water to thin
[I also added a splash of sunflower oil so it wouldn't stick - no problem]

[These soaked banana pancakes are part of Real Food Wed ]

What's Green?

~ Article about nanotechnology.  Seriously, why would you need nanoparticles in clothing???

I've been avoiding titanium dioxide in sunscreen for dc unless it says "non nano" on it.  We use Loving Naturals and it literally took me 2 straight weeks of research to find a product so here's the link in case you're in the same boat this summer (or live in the Southern hemisphere right now!):

Has your dentist recommended MI paste for tooth remineralization?  Mine did a few years ago but after I got home and really looked at the ingredients I couldn't use it.  Then I discovered Tooth Swish and was so excited when I saw that in his office (next to the MI paste) on another visit.  We use the peppermint flavor but I may try another flavor next time.

Stieler Case:

Have you been keeping up with the case against the parents of Jacob Stieler?  Here is Kelly's post: