Monday, April 15, 2013

10 Ways with Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is kinda a give-away around here.  I've been growing it for 4 years now. 3 of those years it was all from the same 3 plants.  It grew and grew and stopped in the summers, then grew and grew more.  I cut it back, it came back.  Finally last fall, I wanted it out.  My friend from Small Footprint Family, suggested we take it out and put in a crop just for the winter season.  So, she had seeds and she put some in.  Now, there are about 12 plants, and we're feeding everyone with it.  Lots and lots of beautiful rainbow chard.

Sadly, I will probably pull these out, cut up the leaves, blanch, and freeze for the winter.  I did put in a new row of seeds along my tomatoes so hopefully they will grow.  If not, we will start again in the fall.

We've tried some of these, and some are on our "to make" list.  If you have any recipes you make, please, leave a comment and share with us. 

  1. Sauteed  with onion and squeeze of lemon 
  2. Sauteed with fried or poached egg (for breakfast)
  3. Chard ravioli (use wanton wrappers for fast recipe), with ricotta and and pinch petter
  4. Saute with shallot, pinch of sugar (palm or brown), and belachan (shrimp paste)
  5. Cut into ribbons and added to dahl curry (yellow lentils with or without coconut milk)
  6. Substitute or mix with cabbage for colcannon recipe.
  7.  Cut into fine ribbons, stir fry on high heat with mix of turmeric, pinch salt, and handful of fresh grated coconut.  Mix till glossy and slightly wilted.
  8. Substitute for Kale in Caldo Verde recipe with andouille sausage
  9.  baby leaves in a salad with roasted beets and balsamic (with toasted walnuts or pecans)
  10. substitute for lettuce wraps and roll tight like and egg roll.

Bonus: cut into strips and use in spring rolls along with other items.

Hope you get to try some or share your recipes or tips with us!


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Monday, April 8, 2013

The Garden & Easter- In Photos.

I thought I'd try to do an update to my previous garden post.  We're about to pull out some of the winter items and put in the summer crops.  As we added new beds since my last post, we've started filling them in slowly.  Here are some pictures from the past few months and also from Easter when we used up some items from the garden.

Related post: The Garden April 2012
Everyone helped out at the 3rd Annual Gardening Event
 A pumpkin that had been composted whole in one of the new beds sprouted while we were out of town and resulted in this and then days later, below.

 Beans are srouting
Round black Spanish radish a variety of small carrots (came free from Baker Creek)
 A guest
Some Shyra grapes

 We used the nasturtiums in ice to decorate the water pitcher

 Almond Jam Patries from a Sunset recipe.  I used homemade apricot jam and almond meal instead of whole almonds. 

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kid's Tea Party- Kids help Host.

We had a few friends over on Friday for a tea party.  My 4 year old has been wanting to have some friends from school over to play and have tea with.  So, we did.  I learned that it was a great opportunity for her to learn how to host, and how to prepare for guests.  She cleaned up the house and got lots of things ready for them.  I allowed her the to opportunity to decide how to prepare, and organize things.  Giving this opportunity to make decisions and do things her way gave her the chance to feel in charge and happy to do things for her friends.  This is not in preparation for being little miss hostess, but I do hope that it will give her the confidence to make decisions and to feel valid in being able to contribute to the family and more importantly, herself.  I didn't set out for this to be the outcome, but in the process it did.

She washed and set up all the cups for tea.

She decided how to cut and set up all the tomatoes and cucumbers. 

The little one also wanted to contribute by helping, but we didn't server these. We saved them for our home snack.
I attempted strawberry goat cheese spread (chevre) with honey.  Unfortunately, I used too many strawberries so had to add in some cream cheese. 

We had a spread of apricot scones, almond jam toasts, cut strawberries (which she cut up), veggies, quiche lorraine, and apple strudel muffins which her friend and her brother made. 
She also loves pouring tea for her sister. 

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Writing (in cursive) Before Reading.

In a Montessori classroom we say that after a child learns his/her sounds they are introduced to writing before reading.  It is usually the opposite from traditional schools.  After they have learned their sounds with the sandpaper letters they practice on a chalkboard.  Then they are introduced to the moveable alphabet.  This is a box that contains cut outs of each letter with consonants in pink and the vowels in blue.  AMI training these days encourages cursive handwriting due to the natural circular motion.  There are many exercises prior to language that prepares the child and helps them develop their gross and fine motor skills so they are ready.

There is also a lightness in touch where children learn not to press too hard when they write in cursive.  Observe a child who writes in print and you will notice that there is a force in which letters are written.

I had purchased a moveable alphabet years ago when I had thought I would be doing a different project.  It ended up not working out and so I had it at home.  Once my daughter started using it at school and noticed the one I had at home, she wanted to practice at home.  I do not make her practice any of her lessons from school at home.  The beauty of Montessori is that a child learns at his/her own pace and the classroom provides enough time for them to work at school.  This is also why Montessori children never have homework- oh goodness, what a blessing!  So, when we did the moveable alphabet at home, she chose to write her own words and write them as she hears them.  This is where the "writing before reading" idea comes in.  When a child writes, they write what is in their head.  They write as they hear the word.  We do not discourage them by correcting their spelling.  The key is to develop the love and interest for learning and the desire to repeat.  Once they practice, then as a gentle guidance, we can help them recognize sounds they miss, or we introduce additional sounds that are created with multiple letters such as "sh, ch, ar, oo, " so and and so forth.  Then much later, do you help them with "spelling."  This step in learning to write before reading allows them to master the language so that when reading, it is smooth and they already know to recognize the sounds to "put together".
 These were taken back in January.  I did help her with the "ou" in house.
The last one is steller's jay, a local bird she loves.

The entire process is just beautiful.  I miss seeing it in the classroom and I miss seeing the small steps in which my child must be blossoming in the classroom.  It was a total surprise when last week I saw her writing her name in cursive on a piece of paper.  It all happened so quickly.  She still has trouble recognizing and remembering some letters, but I know that it will click as she continues to repeat and practice writing.  In the past 6 months she has been recognizing letters here and there and points them out trying to read.  Gradually, we have noticed that she is trying to read whenever she can.  Sometimes when we read at home, she wants to read a page or a sentence.  I allow her to as much as she can and to the best of her ability.  These are times when I also explain that two O's make the sound "oo", or something like that.

It's hard not to be excited and happy for your child when they reach these milestones.  There is so much joy in them that it fills your heart with joy and in many ways, pride.  I'm not sure why we are proud, but that is the word we often use, and it's silly.  What right do we have to be proud of their abilities, but it is the way it is, and it is true.  I guess that's part of being a parent vs being a teacher.  In my home, I'm my child's parent and not her teacher.  This I had to accept early on.  I burdened and guilt-ed myself for almost 9 months trying to think of the right way to be when I realized I had to let go of being a "teacher" to my child and just be her mother.  This freedom was the best thing as I allowed myself to make mistakes and learn from them.  It allowed me to enjoy her and enjoy the process of being a parent.  The pressure to be "on top" and be prepared before her is impossible when you are a new parent and a first time parent.  In many ways, we are learning as we go.  There are lots of things we can be prepared for and we should, but when it comes to our own children and how we respond to them, we learn our threshold and our abilities at the given moment.  It's ok to recognize and embrace it.  We are human, just as our children are.  We too are still learning.  Life is far too short for perfection, so enjoying the journey is far more satisfying.

 These are from yesterday.  As you see in the corner, this is a sandpaper letter from my mother tongue.  Montessori comes in all languages :)
 Notice, how in the previous photos she spelled frog with the "r" and here she did not.  Also, this time, we used objects to bring a new interest to the activity.  This also allows children to work independently.  The last one is supposed to be "okapi," but as we all know there are two letters in the for the "K" sound.  Again, a point in how you don't need to correct and it will come naturally later on.  Best part, is it has the little one saying "okeeepee" around the house! 

 I'm trying to keep some anonymity to my children, but let's pretend you don't know her name and just recognize her handwriting instead :) 

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