Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Fall is in the air, and the kitchen!

Summer is the season of the young. I can recall the bliss of spending the entire day riding my bike around the neighborhood with my wild band of friends. A sun kissed glow across my cheeks and popsicles in my belly. As an adult, I've come to enjoy the arrival of fall. The cooler temperatures and beautiful colors fit this season of my life.

As much as I like the changes in weather and foliage, I think I'm more in love with the seasonal food and drinks. So on this very gloomy, wet, chilly day, I indulged in some of my Autumn favorites. (I will include the recipes for you)

As an afternoon treat for the kids (and maybe for me) I made a batch of no-bake oatmeal cookies. Ok, they are my favorite, but I did share with the kids. I also nearly cried when I was gathering ingredients and didn't have any vanilla extract. (Who doesn't have vanilla extract??) I hit up Google though, and found that I could substitute maple syrup for vanilla. Crisis averted!

*No Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Combine 2c sugar, 1/4c cocoa, and 1/2c milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and boil for one minute. Remove from heat.
Stir in 1/2c peanut butter, 1 stick of butter, 1tsp vanilla (or syrup), and 3c quick oats.
Drop with a spoon onto waxed paper and let stand until firm.

The cookies were so yummy, and such a hit with the kids that I got really ambitious and decided to make my absolute favorite cold-weather food...potato soup! I pulled out the old church cookbook (the cookie recipe was from the same book) and the first soup recipe was for a creamy potato soup and I had all the ingredients. That's a sign, right?

*Creamy Potato Soup with Chicken

Cut two chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and cook in frying pan. Set aside.
Wash and cut 6 medium potatoes into cubes. Dice an onion (or not, onion is optional) and add the potatoes and onion to a large can of chicken stock in a big stock pot. When potatoes are cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove 2/3 to a large bowl. Puree the other 1/3 with the liquid and set aside.
In the stock pot, melt 2tbsp butter and mix in 2tbsp flour. Combine to make a soft paste. Then add 1c milk. Stir continuously until it thickens and becomes creamy.
Add in puree, potatoes, and chicken. I also added some Alpine Touch (a Montana made seasoned salt) and some parmesan cheese.
Makes approximately 6 servings.

*this soup would also be great with corn, broccoli, or bacon!

The soup turned out creamy and delicious. Even though my kitchen is a MESS, I am in love with today. The air was crisp. The cookies were chocolatey. The potato soup was just like Grandpa used to make.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

1 .

Homeschool PE 101: No more training wheels

I love that we can choose from so many activities for homeschool PE. The kids express interest in something new every day, and we add it to our list of things to look into. However, we decided that our first PE activity should be learning to ride a two-wheeled bike.
Our oldest is ten and already knows how, but the next two, ages six and seven haven't learned yet. Our oldest son learned to ride in three days, so I just assumed the other kids would be equally as quick to pick it up.

I. Was. So. Wrong.

The first thing my daughter said to me was, "What if I fall down and scrape my knees?"
"Well, you will. It's going to happen. It might happen even AFTER you learn to ride. You just have to suck it up and keep trying."
"But I don't want to."
"I understand. No one WANTS to get hurt, but it happens. Sometimes that's the price you pay to have fun and learn new things."
"It doesn't sound like fun," she replied.
"Well, no. Getting hurt isn't the fun part. Being able to ride and the freedom is the fun part. If you just keep pedaling and steer, I will help you balance so you don't fall."

*insert look of skepticism here

So, she geared up, walked her bike out to the (very quiet and safe) street, and climbed on. I reassured her that I would be holding on. She put one foot up on the pedal and shot me a look that clearly implied that I would be held accountable for any skinned knees. Finally, she started to pedal.
I ran next to her on the down slope. I practically pushed all 75 pounds of her and her bike back up. She wobbled. She jumped off. We repeated this several times. It was hot, frustrating (for both of us), and took a lot of practice, but guess what...
Well, never mind. She didn't get it, and I'm pretty sure I had heat stroke by the time we were done. We both walked away annoyed, exhausted, and dehydrated. Two days later I was still thinking we should have started with something easier and less dangerous... Maybe archery or knife juggling.
On the other hand, maybe there is such a thing as over teaching on things like bike riding. She took it upon herself to go out and practice. She risked the safety of her knees, not to mention our neighbor's mailbox (which she only hit once) and was successful. She's still wobbly and uncertain, but the training wheels are gone for good.
While I'm still mad at myself for being so impatient and not knowing exactly what she needed from me in order to learn, I'm also wildly excited for her, and so proud of her determination!