This Month's Featured Resources...

Revolutionary WarScrap Crafting Lego History Latin Calendar

Tuesday, August 30

Get Out of Denver (Bob Segar)

On a particularly long and hot driving day....think a 16 hour driving day...we decided to take some much-needed break time from the car.  We were driving through windy Rocky Mountain roads, and there wasn't any place to stop, but we were surrounded by Mother Nature's beauty...
We pulled off on the side of the road and slipped our shoes off to dip our feet in the rushing river.  The waters were moving so quickly...and they were SO cold!  Having never been to this area of the country before, it was all new and fascinating!
It was so difficult to fathom the water being that cold, when it was 100 degrees outside!  But as you looked at the peaks of the mountains, snow was clearly visible.  The rushing waters were the melting snow caps.  Just sitting, closing our eyes, and listening to the sounds of nature around us was a very soul-moving event.
If you live in, or travel through, this area of the country often, you probably take for granted the beauty.  How could you not?  We adore the ocean, but after a while, it becomes routine and we become complacent about this wonderful amenity nature has provided.  The Rocky Mountains were by and large the biggest mountains we've ever seen - and just a little bit scary to venture out on, when you have a gangly pre-teen!  

Sadly, our 'hour of nature' passed all too quickly, and it was time to get back in the car for some more twisty roads.  (Note : These ginger mints work super well for carsickness.  Even better than those bands.)  Had to keep on keepin' on!!

Colorado State Study



Monday, August 29

Summer Surprises

TOMATO PEACH COBBLER
Ingredients
Filling
  • 2 1/2 pounds very ripe peaches (about 8 cups)
  • 1 1/2 pounds very ripe tomatoes (about 4 cups)
  • Tomatoes Regular Grape
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Crust
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or avocado oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 Directions
  1. To prepare filling: Put a large pot of water on to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.  Cut an X on the bottom of each peach and tomato.  Drop them into the boiling water a few at a time and cook until the skin starts to split away from the X, 15 to 30 seconds.  Transfer to the ice bath. Peel and cut into 1/2-inch wedges.  Combine in a large bowl with 1/4 cup each granulated sugar and brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Let stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day, stirring when convenient.
  2. Strain the accumulated juice into a small saucepan.  Boil over medium-high heat until reduced by about half, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir the syrup back into the fruit to combine.
  3. To prepare crust: Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil in a separate bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla; beat until incorporated.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until just combined.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
  4. To assemble & bake cobbler: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Spoon the filling into the prepared dish.  Divide the crust into 12 roughly equal portions. Shape each into a 1/2-inch-thick disk.  Place on top of the fruit, without overlapping but with very little exposed filling in between.
  5. Bake the cobbler until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden, about 1 hour.

  
COLESLAW WITH A KICK
Ingredients
Pickled Raisins
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 whole cloves

Slaw
  • 10 cups thinly sliced cabbage (from 1 small head)
  • 3 medium carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups thinly sliced sugar snap peas (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Directions
  1. To prepare pickled raisins: Combine raisins, vinegar, water and cloves in a small pan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand until cool.
  2. To prepare slaw: Combine cabbage, carrots, and snap peas in a very large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt, and gently toss to combine.
  3. Whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, and poppy seeds in a small bowl.  Pour the dressing over the slaw and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day.
  4. Drain the raisins (discard the liquid); add to the slaw and toss.  Serve chilled.


STRAWBERRY BEET SMOOTHIE
Ingredients
  • ½ cup roasted beets
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 banana

Directions
  1. Trim the tops and tails off the beets, and cut in half.  Place on a large sheet of foil.
  2. Drizzle beets with olive oil, and cover with the remaining foil.
  3. Bake for one hour at 375.  Remove from the oven, and allow to cool.
  4. In a storage bag, combine beets and ½ cup orange juice.  Store marinated beets in the fridge for up to a week.
  5. Place all ingredients in a blender.
  6. Blend until smooth.  Chill and serve.

Monday, August 22

Pump It (Black Eyed Peas)

Imagine not having the energy to get out of bed - or to get through the day.  You try to move, but your legs feel like concrete bricks.  You try to breathe, but it doesn't feel like your body is getting the air it needs.  Your hair falls out.  Your heart begins to beat funny.  
It's scary, isn't it?  Yet, these are all common symptoms of anemia.  It's enough to make you think you're going crazy!
It's a disease I've been battling for decades now, thanks to some wicked genetics.  But thanks to our local food co-op, and a bushel of beets that no one wanted, I accidentally stumbled upon a lifesaver.  Literally.  Even if you don't have anemia, you should try some of these recipes....beets are a known detox veggie, and you'll feel like a new person!!
beetroot varieties infographic
Symptoms of mild to moderate anemia:
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
Symptoms of moderate to severe anemia:
  • rapid heartbeat
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • ringing in the ears
  • pale skin (especially the palms of your hands), pale or bluish fingernails
  • hair loss
  • restless leg syndrome
  • confusion
Cereal is my go-to breakfast staple.  I gave up boxed cereal years ago (see our basic recipe here) because there is so much junk in them!  Here is a sweet, spicy, and earthy cereal that includes lots of yummy goodness....and no, it doesn't taste like beets.  My taste testers approved!

Savory Cereal (made in bulk)
  • 1 bag organic red beet powder
  • 1 bag organic cacao powder
  • 5 Tbsp cinnamon powder
  • 6 c rolled oats
  • 1 c chopped pecans
  • 4 c water (more or less)
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together very well.  Start mixing in the water, one cup at a time.  You want a thick consistency, not runny.  You may need a little bit more water.
  2. Spread evenly across two pans.  Mixture shouldn't be more than 1/4 deep, unless you want to spend all day taking it out of the oven and turning it (consequently, making a mess....trust me).
  3. Bake at 250 for two to three hours.  Pull out of the oven every hour and chop the mixture to break it into crumbles.  This will help to dry out the insides, too.
  4. When mixture is thoroughly dried, pull out of oven and let cool.  Break into small crumbles and bag or jar.  This will last up to six weeks in a sealed container.
Juicing....
I've heard many great things about juicing and its health benefits!  Now, I have to be honest here and say that I've never juiced anything, but Vegging at the Shore has a good introductory post All About Juicing.  

Quick & easy beet juice recipe :

  • 1/2 beet (whole beet, if it's small)
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 kale leaves
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 peeled orange
  • 1 peeled banana
  • 1/4 cup water
Wash everything first.  Then pop it into the juicer.  It has a nice, sweet taste, and you can spread the pulp over a salad, or snack on it throughout the day.


Some other fantastic beet recipes!

Thursday, August 18

Summer Side of Life (Gordon Lightfoot)

One of the best things about summer is the natural sweets that are in abundance!  Blueberries, blackberries, peaches, cherries, plums, strawberries....my mouth waters just thinking of it!  Today, we're making these natural sweets even sweeter with a couple of 'summer cakes' straight from the garden.  Bon Apetit!

Blueberry Cornmeal Cake
  • 1/2 c butter (softened)
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 1/2 c yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 2 c blueberries
  1. Mix butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, cornmeal, salt, soda, and powder.
  3. In another bowl, mix the honey and yogurt.  Then add to flour mix.
  4. Pour the butter mixture into a pan.  Then pour the second mixture on top of it.
  5. Sprinkle blueberries all over the top of the pan.
  6. Bake 30 minute at 375.  Cover with tin foil and bake another 10-15 minutes more.
  7. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Molasses Cake
  • 1 c mashed sweet potato
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 c butter (softened)
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 c molasses
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Mix all ingredients together.  Spoon into cupcake liners.
  2. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350.
  3. Serve with cream cheese frosting!  (Sprinkle with cinnamon for extra oomph.)

Sunday, August 14

Freezer Cooking : Back-to-Home-School Lunch Basics


Love to freezer cook?  Check out our new book : Freezer Cooking Through the Year!!

Baked Chicken Nuggets
  • 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into even bit sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 6 tbsp. seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp. panko
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil spray

Directions :
  1. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil spray.
  2. Place olive oil in a bowl and combine the panko, breadcrumbs and parmesan in another bowl.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and then place it in the bowl of olive oil so that it coats the chicken pieces evenly.
  4. Coat the chicken with the breadcrumb mixture and place it in the baking sheet.
  5. Spray the top with an olive oil spray, and bake in an oven preheated to 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes.
  6. Flip the nuggets and bake for another 4-5 minutes.
  7. To freeze : Let cool, transfer to a cookie sheet, and flash freeze for 30 minutes to an hour. Place in freezer bags and freeze.
  8. To serve : Place on baking sheet and bake in 8-10 minutes on 425.


Be sure to check out our 2015 Back-To-School Recipes... 

Outside-In Cheeseburgers
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1'/z tsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions :
  1. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients just until everything is evenly dis­tributed. Don't overmix, as that will make your burgers tough.
  2. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions. Form each portion into a flat ham­burger patty.
  3. To freeze : Place the patties on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Remove the frozen pat­ties from the sheet and place them in a freezer bag.  (You may choose to separate rows of burgers with wax paper.)
  4. To serve : Remove the desired number of patties from the bag.  Place the frozen patties on a hot grill or in a skillet. When the tops of the burgers appear wet, flip them over. Continue cooking until the burgers are done. Serve on buns with veggies and condiments.


Wednesday, August 10

Save You (Pearl Jam)

We grow tons of fresh herbs in summer, but sometimes we find that we've ended up with far more than we can use!  Bartering for eggs or milk is our first choice, but when that's no longer an option, we aim for preserving the fresh herbs for later.

Storing Fresh Herbs
  • Rinse the dirt and and debris from the herbs after cutting
  • Wrap stems in a moist paper towel and put into a plastic bag with small holes in it
  • Keep in the refrigerator for no longer than a week

Four Preservation Methods
  • Freezing 
    • Y'all know we love our freezer to bits (check out all our freezer cooking recipes, if you're new here)...and did you know that you can freeze herbs, too?  Leafy herbs (think : basil, parsley, cilantro) are the best ones to freeze.  After washing, chop them up and pack them into an ice tray.  Cover each "cube" with broth or olive oil.  Once frozen, you can pop them out and store them all in a bag.  They'll keep for up to three months.
  • Oven Drying
    • This is the fastest drying method that we have tried (see below), and is perfect for humid environments.  After washing, spread herbs on a pan lined with parchment paper.  Put into an oven at 150° F with the door slightly ajar.  Check frequently and take them out when they get crunchy and crumbly - takes 1-4 hours.  Store in an airtight jar for up to a year.
  • Microwave Drying
    • So...this is supposed to be an even fresher option than oven drying, and we've heard good things about it, but have never actually tried this method.  Here is a great tutorial from Serious Eats about drying herbs in the microwave : Microwave Drying
  • Air Drying
    • After washing, dry thoroughly (prevents mildewing) and tie the stems together.  Hang upside-down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place out of the sunlight.  If dust or sunlight is a concern, cover with brown paper sack.  Make sure air is circulating - takes 1-4 weeks to dry.  Store in an airtight jar for up to a year.

Learn more about herbs...
Using Herbs Medicinally & Simple Kitchen Fixes

Sunday, August 7

Allstar (Smashmouth)

The US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is home to athletes and coaches as they train for the next Olympic Games.  It opened in 1978, and is able to provide housing, dining, recreational facilities and other services for up to 557 coaches and athletes at one time.  It also gives tours every half hour, for those who like to dream big!
The swimming pools are humongous; the weight rooms are tricked out with every possible weight-lifting technology, including some you've never even thought of in your wildest dreams!  They have some fantastic equipment here, and probably the best sports medicine facility around.  It was lunchtime, so the pool and weight room were fairly quiet during our tour.
The athletes stay in fully furnished dorms, and have access to an all-day-long all-you-can-eat buffet at the adjoining cafeteria.  It's the best of the best for the elite few who are lucky enough to be invited to train here...
We watched the boys' volleyball team in training games, and got to play around in one of the bobsleds...
One of the highlights of the day was springing along on the same floor that some of my favorite gymnasts have trained on!  Oh....to have one hour to play on that equipment!!!

Want to stage your own Olympics?  You'll want these resources!

Thursday, August 4

Shine On (Rascal Flatts)






Every summer, we come back around to the swashbuckling phase...donning pirate costumes and sword fighting for the glory (or chocolate!).  At our stopover on Roanoke Island, we took the opportunity to learn more about Blackbeard and the reasons why the area is called "the Graveyard of the Atlantic!"  We put together a pirate adventure just for you at the bottom of this post...

Graveyard of the Atlantic & Maritime Museum on Roanoke Island
More than 2,000 shipwrecks lie off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. A dangerous mix of storms, shoals, and strong currents earn the area the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”  Stroll along Manteo’s waterfront boardwalks, pass the Marshes Lighthouse, and spend some time at the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum. The museum, a free attraction, is a mistake to miss. Friendly staff and vintage boats at the museum educate visitors and locals alike about the craft and history of boat building on Roanoke Island.

Learn more about Blackbeard at Teach's Hole, with The Story of Blackbeard.


You may also be interested in a Marine Biology Unit or Lighthouses Unit.

It's a Pirate Adventure!!


We may have gotten a bit goofy with the pirate cut-outs.........