Friday, November 19, 2010

Celebrating the Harvest

I did mention we like celebrations, right? Well we are super happy about Thanksgiving being around the corner, followed by Christmas and all that entails. Wohoo! We will be celebrating until 2011 comes around. My favorite part of celebrating is the joy and the getting together. My second favorite part is the food. It's not even so much about the food (I lie.) It's about preparing the food. I love planning the menus, trying new recipes, tweaking the old ones and sometimes by pure accident, creating new ones. (I'll have to share the Moroccan Chicken story and recipe with you soon.) One thing I discovered this year is that I make pretty good pies. I like pies, but I had never ventured into actually making a pie because frankly it intimidated me. Then too, there are my kids. Whenever I venture into the kitchen, they follow to see what I'm up to and frankly, trying to make a pie with their help seemed daunting. We can do bread and cupcakes and cakes just fine, but pie! That just didn't seem like a one bowl kind of thing. The whole process seemed so much worse in my mind than it really ended up being. Last week, I ventured forth into this untamed horizon and made not one, mind you, but two (that's right) two pies! I found that they were easy and delicious, even with the kids helping me. I still want to try to change the apple pie recipe a bit before I post it. Luke and Isabela had the brilliant idea to do a gingersnap crust and I'll let you know how that worked out next month. In honor of Thanksgiving, I give you my ultra simple pumpkin pie recipe. Enjoy!

1 16 oz can of pumpkin (or of course you can use fresh, but that's not so simple.)
1 12 oz can of condensed milk
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ginger
1/4 0r 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves (this depends on your taste. My husband likes cloves.)
3 eggs

Mix all the ingredients and pour them into the pie crust (of course your crust will be in a pie plate.) Bake at 350 for 40 minutes to an hour. (depending on your oven.) Viola! I loved this recipe because it's not too sweet. Notice I didn't add any extra sugar, only what's already in the condensed milk.

I made my own crust too, but I'm looking for a new recipe. The one I made was as follows:

1 cup of butter (be still my heart.) diced into small pieces
2 cups of flour (sifted)
1/2 cup of cold water
1 teaspoon of salt

Cream the butter with your finger into the flour and slowly add water until it's firm enough to roll into a ball. With the rolling pin spread it out until it cover the bottom of your pie plate. I found this crust to be a bit too buttery for my taste, but I can't say it tasted bad.

For Thanksgiving the kids and I will be serving up pies in little individual servings. I'm buying those little Keebler pie crusts. Let me know how yours turns out.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prizes Galore

If your child attends Ivy League-West you may have noticed that they don't usually go home with stickers on their shirts. I'm not a sticker giver. I don't have anything against stickers per se, it's just that I prefer not to bribe children into good behaviour at school. Sometimes I do it at home, in the case of a dire emergency where I need the kids to be extra wonderfully patient and then I'll bribe them with an ice cream from 31 flavors or a stickers, whichever seems most feasible at the moment. There are moments when the kids will come across a sticker book and ask for one and I usually give it to them because there is no reason not too, since they are not a sacred reward for good behaviour. All that being said, we do love celebrations around here. We celebrate birthday's, holidays, haircuts, storms, sunshiney days in the fall...yep, pretty much anything we can think of.

A few months ago Ms. Jamie had the brilliant idea of keeping a chart of the number of books we read. I jumped all over it. We found a 100 number chart and have been diligently keeping track of the books we read. So far we've read 79 books! We decided that once we reach 100, or every time we reach 100 books read, we will have a pizza party. What I didn't tell the kids is that they will each receive a brand new book to take home. No doubt the kids love pizza, but really, the pizza is the prize for Ms. Jamie and I reading all those books.

So, we aren't giving away prizes in order to instill a love of reading. A love a reading is prevalent around here. There are books everywhere. They are a part of not just the curriculum, but of our lives. What we are doing is celebrating an accomplishment worth noting.

Friday, November 5, 2010


I don't participate in the USDA program. One reason is that there is an awful lot of paperwork involved. The way the program works is the USDA or some other government entity (I'm not really clear on that point) pays me about .45 cents per lunch served and about .20 cents per snack. Something like that. There are two tiers and I don't qualify for tier one because of my location, so I qualify for tier two which pays less. Anyway, in order to get this whopping .65 cents per day, I have to fill out of ton of paperwork. The truth is that I rather write in this blog or upload a video or have my teeth cleaned than fill out government forms. Secondly I've looked through the menu of items that I'm "allowed" to serve and frankly I was not the least bit impressed. Although I've had many assurances from the broker who handles the program that I am not obligated to serve hot dogs, it seemed to me that hot dogs were actually mentioned quite a bit during our conversation.

I understand the food pyramid, but I see no value in serving bread with macaroni and cheese. It just doesn't go together, but if I was part of the program, guess what? Yes, I would have to serve bread because there has to be two servings, blah, blah, blah. I serve plenty of bread. In fact on a weekly basis we make some sort of bread. It's either banana bread, pumpkin bread or a crusty french loaf. I never serve them with macaroni and cheese.

I also choose not to participate as a matter of principle. I find it interesting that the USDA is responsible for serving kids lunch at school. I find it interesting that state and federal governments cut funding on physical education classes or cut them in favor of adding more core classes and then parents are blamed for the rise in childhood obesity!

I've added a menu link to the blog. The food is not extraordinary, it's just wholesome stuff kids like. When I can I buy organic. I always buy the best I can afford. The USDA can keep it's .65 cents and maybe spend on improving public school lunches, but somehow I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.

Learning Something New Every Day

So I did a short video about discipline and tried to post it here. Blogger spent all night processing the 10 minute video and has yet to upload it. I think I'm doing something wrong.
So let's try to link it from the facebook page.

Try clicking here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jack of All Trades...

...master of none. There is always some truth to these age old sayings. I'm sorry I don't take infants. That's what I tell people on an almost daily basis. At Ivy League-West our students must be three years old on the first day of school. I will consider taking a two and a half year old if they have an older sibling enrolled in the program. I do this not because I'm not good with infants or toddlers, I do it for two very important reasons. First I feel that infants and toddlers need to be cared for by their parents or grandparents or other close friend or relative of the family. Children this age need the security of someone who will be a constant in their lives. I understand that there are circumstances where people need someone to care for their infant, but I'm just not that person. The second reason I don't accept infants is because I work very hard on the curriculum for preschool. I don't know how people teach a preschool curriculum with infants around who need constant care and attention.

I home school my children. We do school work in the early morning before the preschool kids arrive, then we work while the preschoolers rest or nap and we do school work on Saturdays. My children are also older so they can work on some of their school work on their own and I can correct it after 6:00 p.m. While there are preschool students at Ivy League-West, we do a preschool curriculum. It's fun and engaging enough that my school aged kids still participate. Sometimes I can incorporate some of the school aged curriculum into the preschool curriculum combining the best of both worlds.

Tomorrow I'll let you know why I've chosen to NOT participate in the USDA food program.