Friday, September 27, 2013

Buffalo Calzone

What's Cookin'?

Buffalo Calzone:  Doesn't that sound exotic?  Buffalo Calzone?  Quite international with the All-American Bison and Italian Calzone!  I had never tried buffalo before but went ahead and splurged while I was getting some organic grass-fed beef that Sprouts had on sale.  I was pleasantly surprised with the mild flavor and happy that I can get at least 2 meals out of my less than 1 pound of buffalo.  I was so happy with this healthy, easy meal price tag that I'm itemizing it below.


1/2 pound (or less!) of browned ground buffalo meat
1/4 (or 1/3 if you like it saucier) organic spaghetti sauce
1 medium onion (sliced)
1 medium zucchini (sliced or diced to your preference)
1 pizza crust (homemade sourdough would be best; I used a store-bought one with only flour, salt, and yeast for the ingredients)
4 oz cheese (mozzarella would have been our first choice but it was too frozen to grate so I used Salvadoran Capitas cheese slices)(add more cheese if you like it cheesy - I was stretching out our cheese so I just covered the filling with it)


1. Brown the meat and remove from the skillet.  My buffalo meat was so lean that I had to add cooking oil to keep it from sticking.
2. Cook the onion and zucchini together until softened.
3. Put the meat back in and stir in the sauce.
4. Roll out the pizza dough into a circle (roughly the size of a pizza)
5. Pile the stuffing on one half of the dough and put the cheese on top.  Fold over the top of the crust.
6. Bake at 400F for approx. 30 minutes until light brown or golden on top.

This was just enough for our family.  I served it with lettuce on the side.

Price tag:

Buffalo Meat: $2.00
Zucchini: free from garden
Cheese: $1.00 (technically my Salvadoran cheese was a gift but I put this in for what it would cost)
Pizza Dough: $2.00 (it was less but I rounded up)
Pizza Sauce: $1.00 (also was less but rounded up)
Onion: $0.35

Total:  $6.35!! ($5.35 for me)

So... that buffalo meat that seems so expensive and out of reach can be incorporated into a meal for little cost.  With its nutritional density, less goes further in health benefits as well.


This recipe is part of Real Food Wednesday .

Friday, September 20, 2013

Don Quijote/Quixote ~ Miguel de Cervantes

What's Schoolin'?

My olders and I have touched on Don Quixote.  However, as we are studying the Middle Ages and World Literature it's time to delve a little deeper into Miguel de Cervantes' famous and beloved tale of the ultimate confused hero.  I know it wasn't actually written in the Middle Ages... but since he is delusional about being a knight, I thought it would fit (plus we actually have time right now!).

Before delving into Don Quixote I want to expose them to the original picaresque novel.  The 3 major literary genres affecting Cervantes' creation were the chivalric romance, pastoral, and picaresque.  Lazarillo de Tormes was the first picaresque novel.  I couldn't find an English version at the library but I did find this great summary/outline of the book/genre (although it has some grammatical errors).  It is a very biting social commentary as the main character goes from archecharacter to archecharacter [okay, I made up that word - it is actually archetypes for each social class].  Cervantes actually rejects the picaresque technique within Don Quixote but they won't catch that unless they know what it is that he's rejecting ;).

Free English translation (Please make sure to preview!  It has some rough language sometimes.  Think of it as the precursor to Huck Finn.):

Here are my loose lesson plans for Don Quixote:

My main resources are:
Twayne's Masterwork Studies: Don Quixote The Quest for Modern Fiction by C. Johnson
Cliff Notes on Cervantes' Don Quixote (I got a bunch of different titles for $.25 each at the library!)
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra [We are using a nice copy illustrated by Magda      Bogin from the library.  It is oversized and has nice illustrations.  Unfortunately, it only has Part 1 so  we are probably going to use the Kindle for Part 2 (I don't like the library copy we found for Part 2  mainly because of the creepy illustrations!)]

Read the following together before reading the text:
~ Historical Context [Twayne's p. 8-11]
~ The Importance of the Work [Twayne's p. 19-21]
~ Biographical Sketch [Cliff Notes p. 5-8]
~ Purpose [Cliff Notes p. 73]
~ Technique and Style [Cliff Notes p. 74; 1st and 2nd paragraphs only]
~ Skim over the Themes (will read more carefully after the text)[Cliff Notes p. 82-86]

Read Part I

Read the following together:
~ Introduction of the Protagonists [Twayne's p. 39-44]
~ A Book about Books [Twayne's p. 71-80 (up through 1st paragraph on p. 80)]

Read Part 2 (probably from Kindle or through interlibrary loan)

Read the following together:
~ Themes [Cliff Notes p. 82-86]
~ Read over Questions for Discussion (briefly) [Cliff Notes p.86-88]

Choose a topic from the Questions for Discussion or a theme for an essay.  We chose #8: In your own words, discuss the nature of quixotism.  They needed to include the following in their essay:
- Short synopsis of the story in the intro paragraph
- Description/definition of quixotism
- Examples from the book
- Real life examples of people demonstrating quixotism
- Conclusion

Resources Around the Web:

We will image google Don Quijote/Don Quixote and do a variety of art work based on the book/art ideas.

Here are some links in no particular order...

This has short questions (with key), vocabulary, and activity ideas for each chapter.  It is geared toward 5th but can be used with high schoolers to enrich their reading:

Very interesting approach of studying the musical Man of La Mancha.  [Note 1.9]  [Note to self: print this before watching the movie - I have 2 on hold at the library; with Orson Wells and with Peter O'Toole]

These last 2 came from this blog post:

Here is a great Spanish grammar interactive site where students can practice putting tildes.  It doesn't really have much to do with Don Quijote except for the watermark background, but still great:

This site has recipes mentioned in the book that are still eaten today. It will give us a jumping start to look for recipes/instructions:

Man of La Mancha :  I just previewed this movie with Peter O'Toole and Sophia Loren.  We will be skipping the 2 scenes with the violence toward her character at the inn, just FYI in case you need to preview for your children.


Here is a great explanation of the 2 genetic mutations.  Not even remotely related to Don Quixote, lol, but a succinct explanation of something I need to deal with in life and need to remember where to find :) :

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Thursday, September 19, 2013


What's Cookin'?

Fruit Salad with Cream Cheese Topping:
I tried this grape salad recipe from Kelly's blog.  The organic grapes I got on clearance (that looked good when I got them) were moldy by the time we got home.  Plus, I didn't have sour cream.  But I was really craving it, even though I had never tasted it before!  So.....

I used:
1/2 package cream cheese
2 Tablespoons (+/-) of rapadura
Fresh homemade buttermilk to thin to taste
3 large plums; chopped

This was outstanding!  Go see her original post for the real recipe :).

Individual Quick Pan Bread:
Another unfollowed recipe.  This quick almond pan bread was just what we needed at breakfast today.  Of course, I couldn't just follow the recipe.  Apparently I wouldn't make a great scientist!

What I did:
4 Tablespoons unbleached/unbromated flour
2 Tablespoons creamy Jersey milk
1 egg

I was using a tiny pan and wanted to share my experiment so I made 3 small flat breads instead of 1 big one.  For the original recipe go here.

What's Schoolin'?

Youngest is:
~finishing up her Grasslands lapbook (summer caught us mid-way through it so now we're finishing that up at a steady pace). 
~I can't order her Math yet so she has been doing some Math practice from last year's curriculum and we'll do Kahn Academy until I can order next month. 
~She has also been doing shelf work and I've been trying to really pay attention to what she chooses and what needs to be weeded out. 
~ She likes me to photocopy a page from a book she is reading for pleasure.  Then she draws the symbols for parts of speech over the words.  This is great practice.
~Every day she finds a new grasshopper in the garden for her pet for the day.  She has made cages out of Legos and sets up a proper environment with fresh grass, etc.  They actually just sit on her finger as if they are tamed. :) 
~ She has been volunteering in a 1-yr-old classroom.  It is so heartwarming to see her in the hall or playground with the little ones.

Olders are:
~finishing up their Chemistry lapbooks/notebooks to finally give Chem the stamp of 'complete' in life; except for middle dd who wants to CLEP it.  She'll do CLEP Professor from DIVE before moving into Physics. 
~They are studying hard for an upcoming contest which counts for Science.  The details of anatomy that they need to learn is mind boggling! 
~They are done with El Cid and are reading Lazarillo de Tormes today and tomorrow so we'll be ready to delve into Don Quixote on Monday.  [I almost have that post ready!]
~Oldest is going through some of the resources for personal finance I mentioned at this post
~Middle dd is about to start prepping for the PSAT.

4-H is in full swing already and keeping us busy!
The olders have their first jobs.
We have also been doing several community service projects and some leadership activities. 
We were finally able to get the Vet Assistance Prep curriculum from 4-H so they can start on that.  I only wish we had gotten it a year ago!!

Phew!  I should really do a post of our classes for this year.  It really helps me when I see others post their annual plans. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Poem of the Cid ~ El Poema del Mio Cid

What's Schoolin'?

The olders and I are currently reading the Blackburn translation of Poema de Mio Cid (or Canto de Mio Cid or Poema del Cid): Poem of the Cid.  You could roughly think of it as the Spanish Lit equivalent of Song of Roland.

We were doing it as a read-aloud and noting things on a chart such as characters, etc.  Somehow that wasn't quite going as smoothly as I anticipated due to the fact that once school started we seemed to not be at home at lunchtime as much!  Therefore, it has transitioned to independent reading with them completing the charts we started together.  That is actually a great approach - I just wish I had actually planned it that way!

Anyway... I thought it would be nice to look at what others are doing to teach that classic, classic, classic piece of world lit.  There is not very much out there for this study.  Here are a few resources I found online:

A short essay that could be used as an example.  There are other resources on the side bar and the themes looked especially promising but you have to be a subscriber for the entire content.

This is a longer essay (and complete) from enotes that we will read after they have explored and discussed themes and before writing their essays.

Here are a few essay topics:

After El Cid we will quickly explore the first picaresque novel Lazarillo de Tormes as we move into Don Quixote.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sugar and the Liver

What's Cookin'?

Here is a post about recent research concerning Fatty Liver Disease in *children*:

Here is an outstanding talk about sugar and the liver.  It is soooo worth the time to watch!
Sugar:  The Bitter Truth

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

High School: Personal Finance ~ Economics

What's Schoolin'?

I've been scouting around online for resources to teach personal finance to my olders.  My oldest will be doing a Topics in Mathematics/Independent Study for her fourth Math and I foresee the same for my next dd.  Most of the course will be Mathematical Applications in Agriculture; however, the other main topic will be personal finance.  She's also taking Economics this year but I already have a book for that that I picked up a few years ago [Economics: Learning About Our United States].

Here is my brainstorm list and I'll post later about the library books I liked and if I got any of the others (mainly the Larry Burkett one below).  If you've used one that you just loved, let me know!

My first thought was to look into Dave Ramsey's high school course but wow, it's expensive!  That wouldn't be prudent for us.  Here are some things I can consider:

Online Resources:

This is a free online course that uses modules with simple quizzes.  There is a sample unit on the left tool bar.  You have to register and it asks for your name, address, etc so I haven't registered yet.  The sample module is plain and dry with the text read aloud.  It may actually be a good fit for one dd who is sensitive to computer screens.  She can just listen and then answer the questions.

Practical Money Skills for Life has lesson plans for all ages.  It appears to be free but requires registration so I haven't tried it yet.  It's from the VISA website:

Free printable economics/personal finance study cards ("2-part" cards - the answer/control can be written on the back of each definition card):

There are some kid-friendly aps here.  I don't have an iPad so can't preview them:

Free financial literature curriculum. [Note to self: get/print these!] You can print the pdf or request the materials.

Free high school financial planning program (NEFE: USDA, CUNA sponsored).  You have to register and can use online or order print materials.

Money Smart for Youth from the FDIC.  It is a free CD. I already ordered it and will know later if I like it or not...

For my youngest:
Money Games here at this VISA website:

Book and Video Resources:

I was able to check out these out from the library:

Video by Standard Deviants - Learn Personal Finance:

Rich Dad Poor Dad for Teens:

Investment Guide for Teens:

Money Smarts by Lucy O'Neill.

Here are some I bookmarked on Amazon that I'm considering but I'll see if any of the library ones will work first. However, one I will probably buy if I'm able is the Money Matters Workbook for Teens by Larry Burkett.

Why Didn't They Teach Us That in School?

Financial Literacy for Teens:

Success 101 for Teens:

High School Money Book:

Teen's Guide to Personal Finance:

I really, really would rather try this one.
Money Matters Workbook for Teens:

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What's Cookin'?

Please see below for yet another reason to avoid conventional store beef if you can help it (sigh).

This blog has some good recipes.  I have not tried their planner but it looks interesting:

Baked Oatmeal Cups (bird nests).  We just made these for breakfast.  The batter seems a little runny but they turn out great.  Adustments:  We mixed all (plus a handful of raisins) except the baking powder and eggs and left it soaking overnight.  The next morning I added the rest in and baked.  It has more sugar than I would normally use so I served it with buttermilk for all of us.  Youngest can have fermented dairy (just not fresh milk) so she had some too.

Grape Salad with cream cheese topping (note to self: 1 package of cream cheese; 1 C sour cream):
[Update:  I posted about my substitutions here.]

These crustless cheesecakes cups look delicious and easy:

Gummies (gelatin gummy candies with just juice and gelatin!):

Portable Egg Muffins [would be good with pre-cooked sausage and some zucchini]:

Cottage pancakes:

Crock pot beanie weenies (uses Great Northern Beans):

Pizza Poppers (similar to egg muffins?)

Rasberry Yogurt Fruit Leathers (could sub fruit).  The yogurt good guys die at 110F so I would try it lower to keep it probiotic:

Creamsicle Gummy Snacks (has cream along with the fruit juice and gelatin):

Marshmallow cream and cream cheese with mixed fruit:

Breakfast Cookies [with bananas, jam, nuts, oats, and raisins]:

Chicken-zucchini meatballs

Zucchini Lasagna (I need some more ideas to eat up our garden bounty!):

Peanut butter dip (nut butter and yogurt):

Garlic cheese popcorn:

Freezer pickles?

Squash leaves recipes:

GF Oat scones
to use them... I even have rice soaking and ready to cook.]

Crock Pot lasagna:

Blueberry Fritters:

What's Green?

Homemade hairspray!

Reusable snack bag tutorial.  I'm even starting to see these types of sandwich bags (different styles, though) at local boutiques and Wal-Mart.  I've been wanting to make some for years.  I get hung up on what type of liner I would use.  Why not just use cotton for the liner and rinse it out when we get home??? [Well, because I usually come home exhausted and 'dump' all of my stuff until... later...]
This is a really nice tutorial.  I wonder if my middle school boys in my DIY class would be interested in making these:

Easy Elastic Skirt (not really 'green' unless you repurpose fabric but a nice tutorial!):

One more reason to know your farmer or buy organic beef:

~ Another UNlabeled drug in our beef supply.  Really? Yet one company mentioned in the article is taking ractopamine out of half their stock... for the Chinese market demands (not for our sake)!  Please see the link.  I posted a few excerpts below the link that stood out to me at the end of the article.

"The debate over Zilmax follows a similar dispute over ractopamine. China and Russia have banned the import of meat from ractopamine-fed animals, and the U.S.-based pork giant Smithfield Foods in May announced it will stop feeding ractopamine to half its pig herd, a move seen as an effort to recapture the lucrative China market. Weeks later, China's Shuanghui International announced plans to buy Smithfield.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed beta-agonists safe both for farm animals and for human health. "No animal safety concerns were described in any of the studies performed" before the agency approved Zilmax in 2006, according to a statement from the agency."

**"The U.S. Department of Agriculture allows beef produced with beta-agonists to be labeled hormone-free, antibiotic-free and "natural," as the drugs do not fall into the same class as either growth hormones or antibiotics."**

Here is a site that discusses them regarding asthma/breathing issues in people.  And yes, I have actually given albuterol to my olders when they were tiny with RSV... but it was a *prescription* drug and carefully monitored.

Possible side-effects:  anxiety, nervousness, muscle tremors, and heart palpitations

I guess that for me, personally, the issue is experimentation with our food supply, not labeling drugs that the animal has been given, and eating unhealthy animals... oh, and the ubiquitous lack of studies along with the general nothing-has-been-shown-to-be-wrong-with-this-drug (due to lack of thorough or long-term studies). 

Sorry for the rant but this hit a sore spot with me.  It just shouldn't be soooo complicated to feed our children healthy food...