Saturday, February 28, 2015
Make Your Own Eye Spy Game
This one was inspired by an episode of Curious George. George helps clean up the city streets, but finds more treasures than trash. When told a pile of junk is not in itself a collection, George turns his treasures into a color collection by arranging them by color. I laid a big piece of paper on the floor, divided it into columns, and wrote the names of the colors of the rainbow with markers. The kids and I then went through their junk drawer, sorting it by color. With older kids, you could probably sort light to dark as well.
Make Your Own Museum
A few weeks ago the kids and I made our own museum of science out of blocks. (Yes, we are that geeky here.) We then used stuff from the junk drawer (and from our Noah's Ark toy) to create museum exhibitions. This activity was really about sorting things by theme - animals, shapes, colors, etc.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
A post about language in two languages....
(Vedi sotto per l'italiano)
Yesterday we played a new alphabet game. I printed out the letters, but you could write them on small pieces of paper, and we used masking tape. I picked a letter and Alessia (with a little help from me) found things in the living room and dining room that start with that letter. She taped the letters directly to the objects, walls, and floors. We have alphabet books that we enjoy, but Alessia had a lot of fun finding real objects and running around taping the letters to them. We played the game twice, once in English and once in Italian. Some objects ended up with two letters. R for rocking chair and S for sedia a dondolo, for example. L for lamp and L for lampada. This is a game that we should be able to repeat now and then. We'll try it in other rooms like the kitchen or the kids' bedrooms.
Ieri abbiamo fatto un nuovo gioco del'alfabeto. Ho stampato le lettere, ma potete scrivere le lettere sulla carta, e abbiamo usato il nastro adesivo di carta. Ho scelto una lettera e Alessia (con un po' di aiuto della mamma) ha trovato una cosa nel salotto o nel sale da pranzo che inizia con la lettera. Ha fissato le lettere sugli oggetti, sul pavimento, e sullla parete. Abbiamo i libri del'alfabeto che ci piacciono, ma Alessia si è divertito tantissimo trovando gli oggetti e fissando le lettere. Abbiamo fatto questo gioco due volte, prima in inglese e poi in italiano. Alessia ha messo due lettere su alcune cose. R per rocking chair e S per sedia a dondolo, per esempio. L per lamp e L per lampada. Questo gioco si può fare ogni tanto, lo proviamo nella cucina o nelle camere delle bambine.
Friday, January 2, 2015
This morning Adam took the kids to the library and I tackled the fridge. Normally when my fridge needs tackling, it is because there are things that have gone bad in there. Inspired by The Frugal Girl's blog series "Food Waste Friday" I engaged in a preemptive fridge clean out today. This resulted in:
A pan of roasted cabbage for lunch
A fermentation-crockful of shredded and salted cabbage
There is still a whole cabbage in there, but cabbage lasts weeks in the fridge so I have time for that. There are some bits of cheese, but Adam is working his way through those. There are also some carrots in need of eating. I'll make pasta with carrots and onions in the next few days, and if that doesn't finish them up I'll have to think of something else. Roasted? Pickled? Fermented?
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Today I took out of the freezer two jars. One is labeled "mixed fruit 7/14.” Last July I had some peaches and berries that were about to go bad, and we were going away for the weekend. I cooked them with a little sugar into sauce and froze it. This week I'll eat it on oatmeal for breakfast. The other jar is labeled "green salsa 9/14." At the end of September we pulled our tomato plants and I made a pureed green tomato salsa with onions, cilantro, and aji dulce peppers. We'll have that tomorrow night on big bowls of beans.
I preserve food for a number of reasons. Sometimes, like with the fruit that was about to go bad or the green tomatoes or the over-abundance of beets in my farm share, I can save something from the trash or the compost bin to be enjoyed another day. It's thrifty, and an act of gratitude for all the hard work that went into growing those fruits and tomatoes and beets. Every summer I freeze some fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and kale, because I like the idea of eating locally grown foods all year-round. I make my own pickles and some fruit sauces, because the store-bought version tend to be very expensive and/or full of ingredients I'd rather not eat.
I'm reading Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. This is what she has to say about preserving food -
"What you preserve is the cheeriest memento mori. It is a way to say and mean: of everything that passes, this is what I choose to keep. It is a clear reminder, there for the tasting, of where and when and how you have lived."
Last March, when I began to feel that I really couldn't handle one more arctic blast, I found a bag of strawberries in the bottom of my chest freezer. I made strawberry sauce and shared it with my neighbors, explaining that last summer had come to remind us that the next summer was on its way.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
She loves books and drawing and is teaching herself to write. She spends all day telling stories with her sister using found stuff for props.
She's so determined to be independent and in control that she's still not fully potty-trained as she just can't accept that she needs help for number two. At the same time she still doesn't dress herself, because she doesn't want to give up that moment of undivided attention and physical connection.
She is very fidgety and distractable. At meals we are constantly reminding her not to chew on her utensils or turn them into drumsticks. If we ask her to go get something, chances are something else will catch her eye on the way and she'll start telling a story and drawing or putting a few legos together.
She loves dirt and fingerpaint and everything sticky and tactile. That combined with her fidgetiness results in interesting mealtime messes that become kinestetic explorations (a fancy way of saying she will play with her milk after accidentally knocking it over).
She is very loving, although she almost never says the words "I love you," a scar left over from her sister's birth.
She is my first. Sometimes she sits in my lap and I put her head on my chest and tell her how she napped as a tiny baby lying snuggled up against me. I tell her (and myself) that growing up means letting go of some things and getting to do other things that you couldn't before. Happy Birthday, big girl!
Thursday, September 4, 2014
We are in Maine. Every year we rent a cottage with my in-laws in the little town of Owl's Head where Adam did most of his growing up. Because of our food allergies we don't eat out in restaurants much anymore. This sounds tragic to many, but we've decided that is more fun to cook local foods at the cottage. Maine has to be the locavore's dream. We've eaten locally caught haddock with tomatoes and kale. We grilled pork chops with roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, and a tomato and cucumber salad. Last night we roasted a chicken and grilled eggplant. Tonight, to top it all off, we grilled lamb sausages, and served them with little french green beans and pasta with a fresh tomato and basil sauce. We've eaten goat cheese sandwhiches, and we're taking home in a cooler water buffalo steaks and goat stew meat.
Alessia and Olivia at the Weskeag Farm in Owl's Head where we bought most of our vegetables and the best tasting strawberries.
Grilling lamb sausages.
A breakfast fry up with leftover roasted potatoes, broccoli, and eggs from Weskeag Farm.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
There is a romance around picking little snippets of herbs from one's garden and carrying them directly into the kitchen for that evening's dinner or that special Sunday morning's omelet. We use some of the herbs in our garden this way, especially in early spring when the chives appear as the first edible in our yard, and in midsummer when basil and parsely are at their best. Most of the herbs in my garden though get picked and preserved for year-round use.
Right now I am harvesting the perennial herbs. Last year Adam took a large raised bed from our back yard and rebuilt it into two small beds for the side yard. The side yard of the house is south-facing and, unlike our back yard, is free of trees whose roots compete for water and nutrients. I put several small oregano, thyme, and sage plants in last fall. This spring I added chamomile, savory, and mint plants. When I put them in the ground each plant was tiny, the kind of plant that costs $4 at the garden center. The plants love the new location and are now bushes, jostling each other for space. I've decided to cut them back pretty severely. I really put too many plants into the beds, as most perennial herbs are what my mother-in-law refers to as "dreadful spreaders" and they like space to spread out. I am hoping that by harvesting the majority of the leaves from each plant I can leave the plants with enough to winter over, but not so much that they try to spread too far. I don't have a lot of planting space, but would like to grow a variety of herbs.
There are many different techniques for drying herbs. I prefer to dry the perennial herbs. I am much mroe likely to use them dried than frozen, and I don't feel that they suffer much loss in flavor. Today I washed all the herbs I picked, wrapped them in a linen tablecloth and squeezed the water out, and then laid them out on another table cloth in my air-conditioned dining room. Tomorrow I will tie them into bundles and hang them in a closet to dry completely. Some people don't call for washing herbs before drying, but we live in an urban area. So I feel it's important to wash off the dust and dirt.
Today I picked sage, oregano, and savory. Once these are tied up I'll pick the mint, thyme, and chamomile. A little later in the summer I'll pick my annual herbs, basil, parsley, and scallions, and I'll freeze them.