Monday, March 21, 2011

We Interrupt This Program

One of the most fabulous things about homeschooling is being able to tailor the program to exactly what each individual child needs. Some days that means we need to stop what we are doing and work on something totally different.

For example, with my 12yo, we actually use a combination of two different curricula for math. He LOVES Life of Fred, and actually doesn't fight me to do math as much. He doesn't love the math, but the story and the way the book is written. There are also limited problems each day. However, sometimes we get to a topic where he just needs a little more practice. That is when we pull out the Saxon Math and practice for a few days, or sometimes longer. Saxon Math is a great curriculum, he just does not love ALL the repetitiveness and many, many problems. Therefore, the combination of the two seems to work the best for him.

This brings me to the challenge of the day. My 8yo is still at a tender age where he is not ready to handle all the information in current events. I do not watch the news in my house, and only discuss with them what I think they are ready to handle. I read my news from multiple sources, so as to try to get the full story and find out what all sides think on an issue. I had not discussed with them the tsunami or the situation in Japan at all. However, my parents were over for lunch yesterday. My dad brought up the tsunami as a topic of conversation. The 12yo was very curious and wanted more information. That's great. We discussed this with him and answered all his questions. After lunch, the 8yo went to his room and was crying. I had no idea what was wrong. It took me quite some time to get him calmed down enough for him to tell me what the problem was. He was scared that a tsunami was going to destroy America. It took me about half an hour to explain thing to him. I thought he understood and was fine after that. Around 8:30pm, he came into my room and said, "I will not be able to sleep. I think a tsunami will destroy America at night." Sometimes it is a very good thing to be obsessed with science. I just happen to have "Our Planet Earth" and "Our Weather and Waters" that I picked up from the Creation Museum when we were there a couple years ago. I knew I wanted to do them someday with the boys, but we hadn't got to them yet. Well, today's the day. We have been studying Swimming Creatures. We interrupt our regularly scheduled swimming creatures lesson to break into studying geology and weather. I'm thinking a trip to the beach may be required to fully study the waves too.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Green Eggs and Ham"burger

I am not Irish. Well, at least I don't think so. Not that that really matters. St. Patrick's day is really more of an American celebration of a non-Irishman who happened to go to Ireland. Of course, if St. Patrick saw how he was being remembered by most, he would probably be very broken hearted. That is not really my point. My point is that I don't like corned beef. I'm not all that crazy about cooked cabbage either. The kids, however, like to do a little celebrating of the greenness of St. Patrick's day. Therefore, I decided to give St. Patrick's day a little Dr. Seuss flair, since we missed his birthday a little more than a week ago.

"Green Eggs and Ham". I'm sure you can already guess the multitude of problems I have with that. First, ham is a severely processed meat that is not part of my balanced diet. Second, I am trying to avoid any kind of artificial food coloring. The first problem was an easy one, I just turned ham into hamburger. The second problem was pretty easy too. I just added some lovely green vegetables. The eggs were not really green. They were still very yellow, but the dish as a whole was a lovely green color. I probably could've baked it and turned it into a quiche, but I didn't think about that until just now. Oh well, it was a very delicious meal anyway, and my 12yo actually ate his green vegetables. That hardly ever happens, unless I mix them into a smoothie. The 8yo did not eat it, but that doesn't surprise me. He is still in that phase of not eating anything. He had an apple, some grapes, and some baby carrots for dinner.

How I made the green eggs and hamburger:
  1. brown 1 lb of ground beef, remove from pan
  2. saute about 1/2 an onion and 1/2 a green pepper both finely chopped (the smaller the better in my opinion)
  3. add in a bunch of kale, cook until wilted which only takes about 30-60 seconds (I prefer to just use the leaves for cooking. I hear the stems are good for juicing, but I just fed them to the rabbit. He's got to eat too. I have been blessed with an overflowing of kale lately, from a friend's garden. I have been looking for creative new ways to use it. This was perfect.)
  4. In a bowl, whip up about 6 eggs with whatever liquid you would normally add to make scrambled eggs. I also added a bit of sea salt and black pepper. Add this once the kale is wilted. Cook until eggs are well scrambled.
  5. Add beef back into pan, and mix well, just making sure everything is warm.

After it was done, I thought it would be good on a tortilla. Of course, I didn't have any. I wrapped mine in lettuce instead. The 12yo just ate it with a fork, covered in ketchup. The important thing is that he actually ate it. DH at it in a very large bowl, adding a dash of cayenne pepper. His sense of smell and taste are not very good. Therefore, he prefers to eat things that are on fire.

I had a difficult time coming up with a green dessert that didn't involve artificial color of some kind. I finally found some directions online for natural food coloring, so I decided on chocolate cupcakes with a mint frosting.

Chocolate Cake/Cupcake Recipe:

  1. Mix together 1 3/4 cup fresh milled flour (use soft white wheat for cakes, or if you are buying the flour you can look for whole wheat pastry flour, or if you prefer all-purpose flour will work too), 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together 2 eggs, 1 cup milk (I used almond milk), 1/2 cup grapeseed oil, 1 cup honey. Add to dry ingredients.
  3. Mix for about 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add in 1 cup of boiling water. This will make the batter really runny. It's ok, it's supposed to look like that.
  5. Bake at 350*F for about 25 minutes for cupcakes, 30-35 minutes for cake

For the frosting, I read that you can mix in about 1/2 of an avocado to get a nice green color. Start with 1 stick of butter, beat until fluffy. Mash the avocado and mix in with the butter. At this point, I added about 1/2 tsp of mint extract. Add powdered sugar about 1/2 a cup at a time. You can add in a little milk in between, if necessary. Keep adding until you get the desired consistency. I think I ended up using about 2 1/2 or 3 cups of powdered sugar. It came out a lovely off white color. It was so not green. Not even close. So, I caved and added a dash of green food coloring. Oh well, I will try again with something else next time. On the bright side, it did get my kids to eat avocado. I may continue mixing it into the frosting just for that purpose.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chicken Coleslaw Wraps

This one started as a crazy post online. I said, "What can I make for dinner with a head of cabbage and two leftover pieces of chicken?" Here is the surprisingly tasty result.

What you need:
2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups diced (cooked) chicken
1 cup diced apple
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 diced jalapeno pepper
1/2 cup organic yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I made that from scratch too, but you probably don't want that recipe. It wasn't too good on its own)
1 Tbsp lime juice

Combine cabbage, chicken, apple, grapes and jalapeno in a large bowl. Stir in yogurt, mayo, and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I don't think it needed any, but hubby had to add some.

We had this on fresh ground wheat tortillas. It would also be great wrapped in butter lettuce. One day, I would love to figure out how to make a spinach tortilla or something like that.

For dessert, we had tortillas. Brush tortillas with melted butter. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10-12 minutes.