Saturday, February 26, 2011

Good Food

I won't share recipes often here, because I don't really think of myself as a good cook, and probably most other people don't either.  But, I'm decent.  Some things I make are very good (people other then myself have said so) and other things well... (those who know me well have admitted as much).
But recently we've been enjoying some good food.

The first is a raw kale salad that is so easy anyone can make it, and even Rob (not typically a second helping of greens kinda guy) has been chowing it.  The kids will eat it with a bit of complaining.  The recipe was given to us by a friend, after we loved it at her house, and it came to her from Polly over at Village Farm.  I'm not sure who's it was originally (Polly,maybe you can let us know who deserves the credit.)

Here's the recipe, as I know it (as with everything I make, all measurements are approximate) :

2 bunches of raw kale, washed, stemmed and shredded
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup Braggs liquid amino acids
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 diced avocado
1 red onion sliced very thin (I left this out both times without missing it too much)
a hand full of toasted seeds (ie. sesame, pumpkin, sunflower)

Massage the dressing into the leaves, and (according to the directions given) giggle. A chuckle seems to work just fine.  Most food no doubt tastes better when you prepare it happily.
This salad is really good.

I have tried this with flat lacinato (also known as dinosaur kale), and the regular frilly kind.  Both worked well, but the frilly needed a bit more dressing.
*Recipe Update (3/6/12)  We still love this salad, but learned a tip from my sister that makes it even better.  Before dressing, massage the kale with sea salt, or kosher salt (regular table salt will not work).  This breaks down the kale and draws out the moisture really well.  Of course you should then remove the salt from your dressing--I cut out the Bragg's and just use an olive oil and lemon juice or cider vinegar to dress.  Yum.

After all that kale we needed some cookies:

As Rob will profess, cookies are not my strong suit (in baking measurements tend to matter a bit more).  I should mention here that all of my baking is gluten free (per allergies).  But my cookies need help even before going gluten free--in fact they've improved since then.

But these cookies were nearly perfect--perhaps a bit too crisp.   As standard form these cooks did not come from a recipe, but here's my best guess after the fact:

Cream together:
1 1/2 sticks butter
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together dry ingredients:
1 1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c ground almonds (I do mine in a cheap coffee grinder)
1/4 c tapioca flour (potato starch is almost the same thing)
1/4 c sorghum flour
1 tsp. xanthum gum
1 tsp. baking soda

Add dry to wet and mix thoroughly.  I added about 2 tbs. of maple syrup while mixing because it seemed a bit dry.
Add chocolate chips, or whatever you like.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool on the pan as they are crumbly when first out. Don't worry, you can eat these warm (always the best way) just not seconds from the oven.  They are also good the next day, though crispy.


Friday, February 25, 2011

The View from Here

This is a moment for sharing , inspired by SouleMama's "This Moment".
In her words,  "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Homeschool Tuesday (a little late) : Monopoly for Math

We've had a busy two weeks, without much going on here for formal lessons, but with plenty of fun.  It's school vacation week here in Maine, so there's Winter Camp to be attended, extra swim times at the YMCA, schooled friends who are available to play--etc.  So, even though we spent last week at Mimi's (with no school lessons) we've had another week without, and no one is complaining.

But, I love how learning just happens naturally throughout the day (our whole lives truly) when no is noticing.  Earlier this week Wylie and I had a game of Monopoly.  Actually, it's Anti-monopoly, found at a yard sale years ago and never played, until now.  And it is quite the lesson in capitalism/consumerism.  I found myself needing to look up some information in order to answer Wylie's questions, and we both learned a lot in the process.  And of course it ended up being great practice for math, with all that money counting and making change.  Not to mention rent, mortgages, and utilities.  We did not even near the end of the game (the directions had an option for the fast two hour game!) as opposed to what? I'm not sure.  We opted for the 40 min. game, which was just long enough for all of us.  Good fun and good learning.  Good times.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I wanted to post this for Valentine's Day, but we were away for a few days, and it didn't get done, until now.  The week before Valentine's Day we made some quick, no fail fudge, to give to friends, inspired by this post over at angry chicken .  We made three different flavors, vanilla cherry--made with white chocolate and dried cherries, chocolate cherry, and an extra dark chocolate made with raw cacao powder.  I didn't exactly follow a recipe (this is a habit I have with pretty much all directions).  
But I based all of the above loosely on the following:

1/2 pound confectioners sugar
one egg (I used our fresh eggs)
6 oz. of chocolate chocolate chips
1 stick of butter

Melt butter and stir in chips until melted.
Mix sugar and egg in mixer until blended.
Stir in chocolate butter mixture and blend until smooth.
Pour into pan and chill.

That's it!

There were also some small gifts for my littles.  Wylie got a cowl that I'm calling "the chessman" since it is made of alternating stockinette and garter stitch squares, with a chess piece felted on.   For Juniper I made this pink and red hat, with hearts.  This was my first intarsia project, and of course, like the fudge it was made sans pattern.  I think it came out great, except she says its a bit small for her.  She has declared it a gift for her cousin, my niece, in Washington state (its headed your way Audrey!) which surprised me since, really it fits her fine, and it is her favorite colors.  But, perhaps (I'm crossing my fingers here) she is outgrowing the "everything pink, and I only wear dresses" phase.  Actually, as you can see in the photo, she seems to have entered the pajama's only phase, and will not wear actual clothes unless I make her.  And really why not, they're cozy, warm enough, and she wears a snowsuit when she leaves the house anyway.

Poor Bittle (Kale) didn't get anything knit since we ended up traveling to NH unexpectedly.  My favorite place to knit is in the car (when someone else is driving) but alas I was the only adult, so I had to just look at the knitting beside me on the seat.  Such a waste of three long hours. (I would be lying if I said I didn't think about trying to knit and drive-- honestly, I only thought about it). Fortunately Bittle is still really a baby and didn't notice at all.  I did get him some dried cranberries and some strawberry flavored baby yogurt snacks.  I never buy those "baby snacks" marketed just for babies, but they were all natural and they were pink. I thought they might be a nice treat in place of the fudge.  He hated them.  Even the big kids won't eat them.  Oh well.  We were at Mimi's house so it didn't matter anyway.  Everyday at Mimi's is special.  And of course Mimi was up to her usual "mischief" (Juniper's word) and had gifts for each child to open.  No one was left out.  Including me, who made use of the three long hours home to eat most of the Mimi-made chocolates.  Yum.  Thanks mom.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why We Homeschool

Often when people (who aren't homeschoolers) talk with me about their child's school, it's with some reference to how nice their particular school is .  That's great.  I'm glad there are so many nice options around.  In fact, the public school our children would attend (if they did attend school) is only two miles away, small, and very sweet.  I'm sure the teachers and most of the students there are lovely.  What I hope people understand is that we don't keep our children home to protect them from the evils lurking at school. We don't keep them home* to avoid something they may get from school (except maybe boredom).  Really. We keep them home because of all the things they can get more of by not being at school.
Such as:

  • Time together.  I really value our family time together, and the time our children have with one another.  I can't  imagine them being in separate classes all day, every day.  I love that they are such good friends to one another and that they aren't separated by age all the time.

Juniper reading to Kale

  • Time to do what they love:  So much time at school is wasted time, spent waiting in line, waiting for all of the students to turn to page 28, waiting for everyone to clean up, etc.  At home there is plenty of time to get our lessons done, and still have time for bike riding, sledding, fort building, tea parties, whittling, and day dreaming.  And often our lessons can be combined with what they love (even better!)

Sledding with friends

  • Lessons planned for their particular learning styles.

Math "stations" 

Acting out a story for ancient history

  • Real socialization, in real social settings, with people of all ages, lifestyles and backgrounds.

Touring our local radio station

  • Freedom to explore topics of interest for as long (or as short) as necessary.  

Wylie's gourd banjo

  • Outside time, whenever we want, exploring and learning from nature. This is huge for me.  I cannot imagine my children staying indoors all day, each day, except for one short recess.  I can hardly believe I did it myself.   

tracking turkeys

 These are just some of the reasons we homeschool.   I realize every family is different, and many families have their own very different reasons.  Also not everyone wants to, or has the opportunity to homeschool. But, this is what works for us, and so far it's a good time.  

* By "at home"  I mean "not at school"--plenty of days we are not at home either!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Still Winter

  For a couple of days it looked like the groundhog may have been right.

Notice the melting snow on the porch.

Sunglasses and no hat, a sure sign of spring.

The pond, while almost certainly still safe (so they say) had a bit too much slush for this
Mama's taste, particularly with baby on the back.  Had to make it a short snowshoe.

But, just a few days later and there's no sign that winter is going anywhere soon. 

 And honestly, when winter is this pretty, how can you complain?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Homeschool Tuesday

In an attempt to bring some rhythm to this blog I am declaring Tuesday homeschool day.  A peak into the daily goings on around here most weekdays.

Saying we homeschool really tells so little about what goes on each day.  There are so many different approaches and philosophies to education (at school and home), and people tend to get quite passionate about which is the "right" way.  I typically try to avoid labeling us as one specific type of philosophy so as to avoid any prejudices.  But, for the sake of explanation, I would say we use a combination of Secular Charlotte Mason ,  and a project approach, with a tad of unschooling attitude thrown in for good measure.  (Right now I'm sure the Charlotte Mason advocates are tsking, and the unschooling purists are rolling their eyes).  But really that's the beauty of homeschooling--being able to choose what works for each family, each child, and even, truth be told each week or day.  This is not to say that we are scattered or inconsistent (maybe a little) just flexible.  And it works, for us.

 Mondays and Fridays are our Reading/Project days, when we do a lot of reading aloud and work on various ongoing and spontaneous projects.  Tuesday-Thursday we do some more traditional lessons (math, handwriting, and history) with a good amount of play thrown in.

So here are a few of the things we've been working on:

A tiny theater with working curtains and stage lights.  This began as a diorama for a project on turkeys that Wylie has been working on, but then ended up as this.  I love the Playmobile guys in the audience.  Its hard to tell in the picture, but they are actually sitting in little chairs!  The turkey diorama is forthcoming.

Juniper is learning to knit.  Both kids have tried off and on over the last year or two, but haven't quite figured out the coordination involved.  This time it seems like she may have it.  She working on a gift for Rob (aka Papa).  

This is a gift Wylie made for his good friend.  He made the entire thing himself (sewed the bag from an old pant leg) wrote and illustrated the book, and even made the button (with some assistance drilling).

I love that so many of their projects are gifts. (Its such a nice thing for me to keep in mind when they are squabbling about sharing with one another, or being otherwise less than pleasant.)

Some color mixing work

Carving a penny whistle

And plenty of "help" from Kale.

I could go on and on, (like any gloating mama)
but I'll spare you.

Until next week.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Frozen Eggs

This is not a post about infertility.  None of my own eggs have ever been frozen.
But, you can freeze hen's eggs.  Really!

I had read about freezing hen's eggs in a few different canning and preserving books, but was skeptical.  
Last winter however, we found ourselves feeding 8 hens and buying eggs weekly.  Bummer.  So, this past summer, when we were averaging 8-9 eggs a day I mixed up several in the mixer and poured them into ice cube trays to freeze.  All the books I read said either separate the eggs and freeze them, or beat them well before freezing.  I was hoping it would work out so one cube equaled one egg--not quite.  Next year I could probably fill the cubes a bit higher and make it workout more nicely.  For this year I'm working with approximately 3 cubes = 2 eggs.  I didn't do a ton because I wasn't sure how they'd be. 

But really, they're great.  I haven't tried using these for eating as eggs--only for baking.  But, people freeze quiche right?  I did freeze one solid block of 10 eggs to thaw and use for a frittata, I'm guessing that will work well too.  A friend of mine just shared that she freezes a whole container full, then thaws it and measures egg out by the tablespoon.  One whole egg is about 3 tablespoons.  Here's one link that may be helpful.  There are tons out there.  

Hooray! Fresh (almost) eggs in February!  

We are still getting about 2 eggs a day from our cold ladies, and, depending on when we trudge out to collect them, often those are frozen too!