Here is a picture of dd's birthday cake... all from scratch and absolutely zero coloring. She chose lemon cake and we did a sheep because she's hoping to get a sheep for her next 4-H animal project. The vanilla icing is just softened butter (REAL butter), a dash of (REAL) vanilla, and (homemade) powdered sugar to taste (rapadura ground up in the blender). The contrast chocolate frosting is the same with added cacao powder.
Here is the recipe I started using about 3 years ago with some tweaking. I use rapadura instead of white sugar; lemon extract instead of the lemon peel (I don't usually have organic lemons on-hand, just regular ones); I use palm shortening instead of crisco although I'm wondering if I could use coconut oil instead; I use plain yogurt (homemade if I have it) since flavored yogurts usually have undesirable ingredients included. Sprouted flour would be best to use but I compromised and used regular unbleached all-purpose. It's not like it was a nutrient-dense meal before the flour compromise ;).
Peppermint Patties: Weeks ago she had casually mentioned wanting homemade peppermint patties for her birthday. The big surprise is that I actually remembered :). Basically, mix the following and let it chill. Then make flattened balls (nickel or quarter size) and rechill on parchment paper.
3/4 Tablespoon softened butter
1 C (homemade) powder sugar
1/2 Teaspoon (real) vanilla
1 Tablespoon milk
Peppermint: the recipe said 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract. I used 2 DROPS of my peppermint oil and the strength was just right]
The patties are then dipped in melted chocolate . Melt 1/2 bag, or 4.5 oz chocolate chips - I use Enjoy Life - and 1 Tablespoon shortening - I use Spectrum palm shortening - in a bowl setting in hot water. Then rechill them on the parchment paper. Last time I made these for her she kept them in the freezer or fridge.
Here is the original recipe. Tweaks: parchment paper instead of aluminum paper; milk instead of evaporated milk; homemade powdered sugar from rapadura; peppermint oil instead of peppermint extract ('cuz that's what I had and actually use it daily, topically, but this brand is also food-grade so be careful which you use).
*These birthday recipe tweaks are part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday:
Meatloaf: For her special birthday dinner (my gift to each of them each birthday) dd chose meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and applesauce. Boy, were we stuffed!! I quickly found this recipe and used 1 pound organic grass-fed ground beef (double the cost that I pay locally since I had to buy from the grocery store! Ouch!) and organic store-bought milk since I was out of local milk as well (also for more than our local dairy!). We had just 2 small slices left and a handful of potatoes left so I put them in egg rolls and fried them for lunch the next day. Mmmm.
What else is cookin'?
I have a couple of wild hog chops that a friend gave me and wasn't sure how I would use them (I've never had wild hog before). We're 5 so I knew I needed to stretch it. I will make a mixture of the marinating technique mentioned for pork at WAPF here with Laura's beef stew recipe here. I plan to marinate the 2 chops with 1/2 C apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon *fermented* soy sauce for about 24 hours; then drain the marinade, cut the chops into small pieces, and continue with the beef stew crock pot recipe [8 chunked potatoes, 2 C frozen green beans, spices - garlic, onion, oregano, parsley, pepper, thyme, Real Salt, celery (finely diced fresh leaves)]. Let's hope it works out. The chops are defrosting right now.
Youngest dd just got a puppy for her birthday (which was last December!) so she is doing a lot of journaling about that. Spring Break is this week so that will help.
The olders just finished DIVE/Apologia Biology. Now they are ready to study and take their first CLEP test. Yikes.
I did the sample lesson from Brave Writer's Help for High Schoolers with all 3 (yes, even my 4th grader likes to sit in on complex writing lessons - she just does things at her own level of understanding and ability). It wasn't any stretch for them but it was a good exercise. I see worth in it and would be fine using it for a structure and adding to it (since I really can't seem to use anything, curriculum or recipe, without adding to it, taking something out, or tweaking somehow).
Then I took out our Write Shop 2 materials and we went through it and compared each. We decided to continue with Write Shop 2 for now and possibly (most likely) continue with Write Shop 3 which will prep them for college essay writing. We'll do a lesson a week or possibly every other week with other writing on the off-weeks. We may even do more than one lesson a week depending on the week, the lesson, and (of course!) the children... The joys and uncertainty of "following the child" even with set curricula!
I really enjoy discussing choices with dc and seeing how their brains work, what they like/don't like, and getting their input for curricula choices and class decisions.
http://www.writeshop.com/ (weird but I don't see Write Shop 3 on their website. I talked to them extensively over a year ago and it was in-process. Surely it's ready by now?? I'll check at the bookfair)