Friday, September 25, 2015

Self-Directed Science Study

...and family support and supervision. While researching targets for knife-throwing, Charles came across a recipe for making a cork explosive. Between just these two activities, I believe that our lives would be more complicated in a less understanding, less compassionate neighborhood. So, here is the family, out to watch as, after a whole day of reading, diagramming and assembling, my son:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Latin, Stars, Sailing, Car Washes and Dance

What a vast richness fill our lives. My oldest, Cate, is sailing in Madison today with the U of I sailing club. The next oldest, Duncan, is busy writing music when he is not in his two high school classes or at work, washing cars. He's rediscovered his skate board and is even biking more. Nothing like not having a driver's license yet to motivate one to new levels of locomotion.

Latin is back in our school days, to my great pleasure. Charles expressed an interest in learning Latin and I, super-casually, exercising great restraint, armed with only 3 of my 4 Latin courses, jumped right on that. He is surprised to see that because of his knowledge of Spanish and French, many Latin words make sense right away to him.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Lesson Plans: Grade 3, 5 and 8

I love this first week of school when everything is fresh and new, as well as the level of enthusiasm; it all seems possible. We will all speak fluent Spanish and read in Latin by the end of THIS school year. They will be performing at a 12th grade level in math and writing stories and reports that put a college freshman to shame. No, I guess I never was ambitious in that way...or not to that extent. I periodically rewrite

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Leek and Potato Soup: The Base of French Cuisine

Leek and Potato Soup, the Base of French Cuisine

This is a recipe that all of my children over five know how to make, easy and delicious.
3 leeks
3 potatoes
1 large or 2 small bouillon cubes or 1T "Better than Bouillon" any flavor
salt, pepper

Fill a 3-4 quart pot with water, add salt, heat to boil
Cut leeks lengthwise and chop into 1/2 inch slices, soak, wash, rinse, repeat until all sand and dirt is gone (2-3 times).
Wash and peel potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
Put both into pot, add bouillon, bring to boil then lower flame to simmer for 30 minutes.

Once soup is finished, you may add pepper, if desired. It can be served as is, or pureed in a blender. Some kids prefer it pureed and served with a straw, it goes down faster when it's new.

Variations: add any other vegetables, a hamhock for non-vegetarians. Pierre's grandmother adds beans (Great Northern), carrots and angel hair pasta (the short variety).

If you are planning to eat a chicken that week, plan the soup for the next day. Chicken soup recipe for tomorrow.

Serve with a loaf of bread. And it would be a shame to forget the red wine.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Millionth Vegetarian Clam Chowder

Once upon a time, I had a fantastic recipe for a soup that the whole family loved. Everywhere this soup was brought, it made taste buds happy. And I could bring it anywhere; it was vegetarian! Then, the cooking website I always found it on no longer had it there; just like that. I searched through every single option offered on every food and recipe network/website and blog available; nowhere. So I had to re-make it up, and it took me this long. Tonight, after months of it turning out "OK," I tasted it; success? I think so...I had my mate and taste-tester with no compunctions about telling me; "eh, so-so," try it too. His verdict: "Success!" So I will share it, below. It's more or less my millionth attempt to get it right.
Do everything exactly as I say and it will turn out to be a treat, I promise. But tell me you substituted skim milk for the cream or celery salt or chili powder for the real things and all bets are off.  Bon appetit!

Millionth Vegetarian Clam Chowder

Oyster mushrooms (10 oz. fresh) (1.5 oz. dried)
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup chopped celery stick
1T Better than Bouillon (vegetable flavor) (or for a non-vegetarian, delicious version: beef)
2-3 red potatoes
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 of a dried chipotle pepper
1 1/2 c whole whipping cream
1/2-1 sheet of dried seaweed, ripped to tiny shreds 

For fresh mushrooms: chop and saute in olive oil with chopped celery and minced garlic until tender; 5 minutes. (For dried, see below.) Continue to simmer for 20 minutes or so to reduce. Boil a quart of water.

Add bouillon to boiling water. Add potatoes and mushroom mix. Cook 10 minutes. Add corn and chipotle pepper. Adjust salt to taste. When corn is hot (5 minutes or so), add the whipping cream and seaweed. Warm through and serve hot. 

For dried mushrooms: soak for 20-30 minutes (you can use the broth you've made with the bouillon.) Remove from water with a slotted spoon and add to the pan with the olive oil. 

Serve with a chilled Chardonnay or a dry Riesling. Homemade bread or a nice, crisp baguette goes well with it too. Now I'm making myself cry. If you find that baguette, drop one off here on your way home, will you? Enjoy!