Monday, July 30, 2012

My Education in Homeschooling

I came across this article this morning and fell in love with it. It's the best article on homeschooling I've ever read.

My favorite part:

"But the biggest thing people want to talk about is socialization. Everyone is worried that I keep my child in a crate with three air holes punched in it and won't let her have friends until she gets her AARP card. There's a long answer, of course, but I'll sum it up this way: Homo sapiens have walked the Earth for at least 130,000 years and, in this time, they learned to be human from their elders, not from their peers. Mandatory education in the U.S. is less than 150 years old. Learning to be a productive adult human by spending a third of every day with other kids might be a good idea, but it's too soon to tell. I'm still unsure that the people best equipped to teach a 14-year-old boy how to be a man are other 14-year-old boys." 

That last sentence really got me.
Of course I want my daughter to have fun and meet friends, and enjoy being a child with her peers. But why does that have to include her education? I'd much rather my child be able to learn one-on-one from an adult who has the knowledge, life experience, and patience to take the time to help her if she gets confused or has a hard time, without twenty five other kids in the room causing least until she's a teenager. I'm still not sure I want her to miss out on the junior high ice cream socials or high school dances. But I do think I might be able to provide a different, more beneficial learning environment for my little girl while she is just that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sneaky Strawberry Smoothie

This morning I made my daughter a delicious strawberry smoothie that she loved. I've been trying to get her to drink them since I love how easy it is to sneak in nutritious veggies. This is what I used.

I started with Charlotte's favorite full-fat Greek yogurt from Trager Joe's. Then added frozen strawberries, ( I have found when preparing smoothies, I prefer using frozen berries versus fresh; they allow the smoothie to stay cold without having to add extra ice.) For a veggie I used kale, which I've just recently become a huge fan of. High in vitamins A and C, it's also a great source of fiber. Also added some coconut oil because it's my most favorite product in the world, honey to add a little sweetness, and the juice from a clementine orange. Blended it all up with my Cuisinart Smart stick, and handed it off to my daughter who happily sucked it down.

*I love this product because of the simplicity and lack of bulky pieces needing to be washed.

She was very excited to try it, and didn't even let me transfer it to a different glass!

And someone else was hoping to snag a fallen drop.....

Strawberry Kale Smoothie

1/2c. Greek Yogurt, preferably full-fat
6-8 frozen whole strawberries
A handful of Kale leaves, stems removed
2T. honey
1T. coconut oil
Juice from one clementine orange
Blend to your desired consistancy.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Homemade Cheddar Crackers (aka bunnies or goldfish)

After coming across this article by, I was crushed.
 I had no idea the vegetable oils used in most crackers turn rancid and require processing to make them taste edible. That really bothers me! Why can't they just use butter, or an oil like coconut, that can withstand high temperatures? I suppose it's because simple, pure butter-based crackers aren't meant to be packaged and put in a box to sit on shelves for months. The preservatives are there for a reason, I just hate having to injest them. And the yeast extract the bunnies contain? Another fancy word for Monosodium Glutamate, the flavor enhancer that tricks our brain into craving more of the there any boxed or canned product out there that doesn't contain a form of free glutamic acid?? So I concocted my own version of a cheddar bunny, without all the added junk.

1 lb. chunk of the sharpest cheddar cheese you can find, shredded or cut into small chunks. (I prefer to shred cheese myself, since learning the pre-shredded kind contains the anti-caking agent cellulose, a form of wood fiber! Eww.)
2c. whole wheat flour
1 stick + 2T. unsalted butter
2t. sea salt
2t. garlic powder
2t. onion powder
1/2t. fresh ground black pepper
4T. cold water

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put all ingredients besides the water into your food processor. Combine until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add each tablespoon of water seperately, pulsing between each to combine. I dumped the contents of my Cuisinart onto my wax paper-covered countertop, and smushed it all together to form a log. I then wrapped it up and chilled it for a half hour. After that, I placed it back on the wax paper and carefully rolled it out to about 1/4" thickness. I had a flower shaped cookie cutter from my daughter's first birthday party (it was a springtime garden theme) that I used to cut out the shapes for the crackers. NOTE: On some of them I sliced the petals apart so they almost looked like little fish. I recommend doing that to all of them; the ones I left as whole flowers turned out too big. The amount of baking time is accurate for doing so- 25 minutes on wax paper-covered cookie sheets. When they were done baking, I tranferred the crackers to a wire rack to cool before storing them in a paper bag. The crispier the cracker gets without burning it, the more flavorful it is. I like the way the smaller "petal" crackers bake up versus the whole flower cracker, the bigger ones could have used another five minutes or so in the oven.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Marinade Mania

I don't know about you, but during the summer 5 out of 7 of our dinner meals are prepared outside on the grill. My husband loves to grill, and it gives me time to concoct the sides. Before I became the label-reading nut that I am, I used powder marinades or the Lawry's brand of bottled marinades. After dicovering most of them contain high frutose corn syrup, msg, artificial flavorings, and a plethora of preservatives, I've been making my own. It's sooo much cheaper, and I usually have all the ingredients in my fridge and on my spice rack. A few of my favorites:

Steak Marinade

1T. dijon mustard
1/4c. balsamic vinegar
1/4c. Lea & Perrin's worchestershire sauce
1/4c. Kikkoman soy sauce
2 crushed garlic cloves
*1/4c. Extra virgin olive oil-This will be brushed on your steak right before grilling,
as to keep meat as tender as possible
 (the acid in the vinegar & sauces will tenderize the raw meat, but oil can toughen it).

Combine all ingredients in a glass container or plastic gallon bag, add your meat and marinade at least an hour.

Asian Marinade
Delicious on pork, beef, chicken, or seafood--

1/2c. Kikkoman soy sauce
1/2c. Rice vinegar
1/4c. chopped scallions
1T. seseme seeds
1/2t. grated fresh ginger
I crushed garlic clove
1T. seseme oil
1T. Sriracha hot pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients in glass bowl or plastic gallon bag, add meat and marinate at least an hour.

Seafood Marinade
I recommend this for tilapia or salmon--

1T. Extra virgin olive oil
Lime juice from 2 ripe limes
1 crushed garlic clove
2T. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2t. sea salt
1/4t. sugar
1.4t. cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in glass bowl or plastic gallon bag, add fish and marinate at least an hour.

Lemon Pepper Marinade
Great on chicken or fish--

Juice from 2 ripe lemons
1/2c. extra virgin olive oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2t. sea salt
1/2t. onion powder
Generous amount of fresh ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in glass bowl or plastic gallon bag, add meat and marinate at least an hour.

Bon Appetit!