Friday, November 16, 2012

The Importance of Practical Life.

I was talking to my daughter this morning as she was grumbling and having a fit about being too tired to put on her clothes by herself for school. In somewhat of a rant and lecture, I went off on her about how she has to stop saying "it's too hard" and "I can't do it". I kept telling her that she can, and she has to and that no one will help her if she can't help herself.  It was something that I thought important enough to write down.

I said, "You can do anything you want, you can build a plane, you can fix a house, you can do anything you want if you just tell yourself "I can".  But first, you need to learn how to dress yourself and get yourself ready for the day.  If you can do this by yourself, then you will learn to do anything on your own."

After thinking about it for a short time I realized, ah, yes, this is why Practical Life is so important in the Montessori environment.  This is where we give them the tools to do it on their own, the ability to be confident in themselves and their work, to move forward from caring for yourself, to caring for others and the environment.  Being able to care for yourself has more implications in the greater realm of life than we can put down into words.

I have so much more to write about this as I have been documenting in photos all that we do at home and how our home is set up to help them become more independent.  Of course, then we have days like today, where I want to pull out my hair and wonder what is going on that she can't do it on her own when she's been doing it all by herself since she was 18 months.  Well, the answer to that came when I thought, I've been working with 4 year olds for years, but this is my first time parenting one.  This, is completely a different process.  My friend reminded me how at 4 they come to realize they can do so much, ask the most amazing and profound questions, and realize the world is so much bigger than they knew before, and this, this very thing is what makes them come back to you and want to be held and comforted.  In some ways, they are unsure and not quite ready to face it, and rather than pushing them, I need to be encouraging and loving, and go back to the way I am with my little one.  Slow, and small steps. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dinner Menu

Over the last month I decided that I was going to try going to the store only once a week and trying to finish up what was in our pantry.  I wanted to figure out a way in which we can use up all the food I have stored in there replenishing only produce and dairy.  The experiment went well for about 2 weeks and then I got really tired of figuring out new things to cook all the time, kids got sick, soup had to be made, meals were eaten out or picked up, I grew tired of figuring it out.

But, it was a good experiment, and I'm still trying to keep it up as much as I can, but maybe not being so hard on myself to do it for every meal, everyday. So, here are some of the things we came up with.  Hope you enjoy, hope it inspires you, and I hope to hear what you are doing for meals as well.

Our Facebook page gets updated often with current meals and quick photos.  Come see what's cooking tonight! 
 Growing mushrooms from Back to Roots
 Pasta with oyster mushrooms (above), shallots, anchovies, olives, with olive oil
 Pan seared Salmon with pomegranate and balsamic. Steamed cauliflower and asparagus
 Roasting squash for soup.

 Gluten free pumpkin and pear pancakes.
 Purple cauliflower, beets, and sweet potatoes.
 Beet cream cheese with cucumbers and olive oil drizzle.
 Salad with radishes, Parmesan cheese, sprouts and warm anchovy dressing.

 Grilled chicken tacos with black bean and corn.
Korean short rip BBQ and Kimchee (purchased), with rice, two types of seaweed, and cucumbers.

Shared in: gnowfglins,  Nature's NurtureFresh Bites Friday, Wednesday Fresh Food, More the Merrier Mondays, Eco-Kids Tuesday, Tuesdays with a Twist,  wildcrafting wednesday, Farm Girl Blog Fest,  Food Renegade, Eat Make Grow, Saturday Show and Tell, Kids in the Kitchen, Learning for Life, Mums Make Lists, Back to Basics, Family Meal Ideas,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Under the weather foods

As much as I love the cooler weather and the longer nights (mostly because the kids go to bed earlier), I don't like all the viruses that tend to make it's way into our home.  I'm still figuring out lots of the "preventative" remedies and how to boost our immunity, but when anyone in this house gets sick there are 2 things that get made.  1. Soup 2. Tea.  Both these vary each time, but there is something so comforting in soups and teas when you're not feeling well.


We tend to make either a chicken soup or an ox tail soup.  This time we made a chicken soup with lots of stuff to increase immunity and give us some comfort food.  Once again, the pressure cooker came in handy for this one.  The little one eve tried to chop up carrots and celery.  I like to brown my chicken in some olive oil and garlic before I add the onion, celery and water. I use lots of garlic (about 8-10 cloves, or more).  I also add peppercorns and salt before closing it up for about 30 min.  After the pressure is released, I add the carrots and potatoes.  This time we did a mix of Asian sweet potatoes and Yukon.  I also added a pinch of saffron this time.  After a second round for 15 min, I added zucchini and corn.  I wish I had a can of white beans to have added but since we've switched to dried beans, I wasn't ready for it at the last min.

Other wonderful things to add/ substitute are:
Rosemary (or any herb)
Squash (winter or summer)

 I added a few tortilla chips to my bowl of soup


Tea is a staple in this house.  We drink mostly black tea with milk and sugar.  When we get sick we make "herbal" teas with lots and LOTS of honey.  We get our honey in bulk from the farmer's market.  Honey is really used for everything here from waffles and pancakes to oatmeal and just a spoonful (as medicine).

Each time I make a "sick" tea it's different, but in general it consists of either honey and lemon, or honey and ginger; sometimes it's all 3.  This time, I added a few extras to boost immunity and circulation.  This morning's tea consisted of: fresh ginger pressed through a garlic press, orange peel and some orange pieces, cinnamon, clove, and honey.  I pour hot water and let it steep for 5 min at least before drinking.  I think it's best sitting and steeping all day and I top off with hot water as it goes down.  When I run out of fresh ginger we also use candied ginger.  I let the kids have a piece of it now and then also even when we're all healthy

Other things to add/ substitute are:
Candied ginger
Lemon peel/juice
Coriander seed or leaf
Chamomile flowers (fresh or tea bag)

If you're daring you can try a pinch of chili powder or a slice or two of jalapenos.

Please feel free to share your "sick" foods and teas.  It's always nice to hear other home remedies for feeling better.

shared on Small Footprint family, Fresh Eggs Daily,  gnowfglins

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ox tail soup

One of my favorite soups my mom makes is Ox tail soup.  When I started to make this 10 years ago.  It was a 2 day soup.  It took forever to cook the meat down till it was soft, then I would cool it, skim the fat, then heat it up and add the veggies.

Now, it all takes me under 2 hours.  Why?  Pressure cooking.  My mom has been insisting I use one for years, but this past summer she bought me one for $15 at an estate sale.  It truly is an old fashioned one.  I am learning to love it.  We fixed it up, got a new gasket and, voila, soup, beans, etc, cooked in no time.

Well, my fears of pressure cooking are slowly going away, but in the meantime, I'm able to whip up some of our favorite soup fast even while the meat is bought from the frozen isle.

How to:

Put Ox tail in pressure cooker with water 3/4 way.
Add onion chopped up
large tomato chopped up

Cook for about an hour reducing the fire after the steam comes out.  Turn off fire and wait till pressure has escaped.  (PLEASE, follow the instructions for your pressure cooker).

Add potatoes, carrots, and anything else you might like, and taste for salt.

Cook another 30 min till meat is tender.  Once the steam is released open and add cabbage.  cover and let sit in hot soup for 10-15 min.  No need to cook it.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate and skim off fat. 

My kids love the soup over rice or with buttery toast.  I like small teaspoon of Vegemite or Marmite with my soup.

MMmmmm.. delicious!

shared on Small Footprint Family, Farm Girl Blog Fest
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