Science Fun

 

Alex says he wants to be a scientist when he grows up. When asked why he wants to be a scientist, he answers, “Because I’m curious every day!”

Since declaring this, he asks every morning if he can do his “daily experiment”.  Sometimes we have specific potions we plan to test out, and other times I just let him create and explore by himself.

This morning he asked me to type “biggest experiment in the world” into the computer, to see what we would find for inspiration.   Our exploration lead is to a YouTuber that goes by HelloMaphie.

HelloMaphie inspired us to hunt down a pack of M&Ms and a pack of Skittles, both not sold at the organic food co-op that we regularly shop at.

Once sourced, the decision was made that Ella would use the Skittles and Alex would use the M&Ms.  They each circled their plates with a ring of candy, and then slowly poured water into the center of the plate, until the water reached the rim, surrounding the candies.  Then we watched as the magic begun to happen. The color slowly bleeds off the candy and spreads outward, creating beautiful color patterns.

 

Pantry: Nourishing Bone Broth

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Bone broth is like the SUPERHERO of winter foods.   “What makes bone broth so special?” you ask.  “Isn’t stock, broth, bone broth all the same?”  NO!  Let me tell you why…  A TRUE bone broth can be simmered up to 48 hours.    During this time the bones and marrow are cooked down, releasing collagens (gelatin rich in amino acids),  minerals (calcium and phosphorus), electrolytes (magnesium, sodium and potassium),  and proteins.

Top reasons our household is addicted:

  • Improves Immune System:: All bone broth is nutritious, but broth made with marrow has even more benefits. Marrow is technically an organ meat, and organ meats tend to be extremely rich in nutrition. Marrow plays an important role in living creatures as a part of the immune system as its cells are necessary for immune function and bone growth.  Bone broth also contains a variety of valuable nutrients in a form your body can easily absorb and use.
  • Rich in Minerals:: Bone broth is extremely high in minerals. Cooking the bones for so long demineralizes the bones and releases the minerals into the broth. When using land animals, your broth will be rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
  • Fingernails, Joints, and Hair:: Bone broth contains glucosamine and chondroiton, known for helping maintain joint function, healthy hair, and strong fingernails.
  • Supports Digestion:: The amino acids (glycine, glutamine) found in bone broth improves digestion through increased production of stomach acid, and maintenance of intestinal walls.

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This soup will heal me all up. – 4 year old Wonderboy

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Quick tips on how we make our bone broth:: The quality of your bones makes ALL the difference in the quality of your broth, as does the type of bones you use.   Some bone broth connoisseurs feel that roasting the bones first imparts a deeper flavor, this busy mom rarely has time for this added step.  Instead, I throw the bones, chopped veggies, spices, and a few chugs of apple cider vinegar into my All-Clad Slow Cooker and let it go and go and go, for hours and hours.   Once done, I strain the broth into large glass jars for using in soups, and cooking legumes/grains/etc.  My favorite way to enjoy bone broth is warmed in a large mug, simply as is.

Montessori Muffin Madness

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If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. – Maria Montessori

Sometimes it is messy, but when I give my children (3 and 5) space to do things on their own, their confidence shines throughout the day.  They feel more independent and start doing other things by/for themselves, without being asked; putting their shoes away, cleaning up their plates after a meal, making their beds.   The beauty in this independence is that we start to feel more like a team!

Bread and Butter

IMG_7720Morning activity is always a fun way to start the day.  And who doesn’t like warm bread and homemade butter?  The kids helped measure, mix, and knead the bread.  Then Ella covered “her baby” with a tea towel and placed the bowl outside in a sunny spot to “sleep and grow”.  While the dough had a sleep, we made butter.  Shake. Shake. Roll. It became a game.  We sat on the living room rug (lid screwed on very tight) and took turns shaking the jar of cream and then rolling it to the next person.

It was like a morning of magic.  First the cream turned into butter, and then the small ball of dough, doubled in size.  Once the dough had grown, everyone received a piece and shaped their bread however they desired.  Bread got cooked on the BBQ.  The closest thing we had to a pioneer cook pit.   Then we played outside while the air began to smell of deliciousness.  Blanket in the shade.  Bread on the cutting board.  Their own knife to butter their own homemade bread.  Heaven.

Cottage Cheese Waffles

Cottage Cheese Waffles: Yummy Protein Breakfast:: ecopiggy.com

I’m always looking for new ways to provide my kiddos with a protein packed breakfast to start their day out right.  We often have some form of eggs.  But even I’ll admit that eggs get boring, no matter how many different ways you make them.    My mom makes a cottage cheese salad.  She has since I was a little girl.  And since I was a little girl, it’s the ONLY way I consume cottage cheese.   It’s just not an ingredient on my regular shopping radar.

Cottage Cheese Waffles: Yummy Protein Breakfast:: ecopiggy.com

Or so it wasn’t, until I discovered that just a half a cup of cottage cheese has 14g of protein.   Naturally upon learning this I went straight to Pinterest and typed in ‘cottage cheese breakfast’, discovering this recipe by weelicious for Cottage Cheese Pancakes.  My kids love pancakes, but they could detect the cottage cheese lumps, and weren’t too excited about it.  So, I pulled out the Waffle Maker….SUCCESS!

Cottage Cheese Waffles: Yummy Protein Breakfast:: ecopiggy.com We use spelt flour in our house. “The gluten in spelt is water soluble; it is degraded by heat and is easily broken down by mixing action. Wheat gluten, in contrast, does not break down in water and only relaxes when exposed to heat and seems to get stronger as it is mixed – bakers refer to it as ‘developing the gluten’.” See this link for more details on the nutritional benefits of spelt flour.

This recipe calls for 1 cup of Cottage Cheese and 3 eggs, which of course come from our happy backyard chickens.   We drop blueberries onto the batter in the waffle maker before closing it up.  Yummers!  Enjoy.

Life is Peachy.

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Summer is only complete when I’ve had sufficient quantities of corn on the cob, watermelon, berry crumble, and peaches. (This is only my edible list…and really, it has a few more items than listed, like endless amounts of blackberries freshly picked and directly consumed.)  Last summer went by and I realized I had missed farm-stand peaches.  Sure I could still purchase peaches at the local co-op, but the peaches you buy direct from the farmer at the side of the road, those are true summer peaches.  They include more than just peachy-flavor, they include experience and connection.

Last summer I mourned the missed peaches, and then vowed not to miss them again in 2014.   In my kitchen sits 20 lbs of peaches….I’m making up for last year.   On my peach to-do-list: Peach preserves, peach and berry crumbles, frozen peaches for smoothies, and I’m dreaming of canning half peaches like my grandma always did.

First on the list, peach preserves.  I was inspired by Marisa McClellan’s recipe for Lazy Peach Preserves, not because I’m lazy but because I have two small children and focused time on one activity is not something I’m granted these days.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly (I never do.  Grandma never followed a recipe.  She used her senses to measure and adjust.  She taught me, or passed on the cooking-gene, or both.)  Marisa’s original recipe calls for:

  • 4 pounds peaches (I used close to 10)
  • 1 1/4 cups honey (I didn’t increase this, farm-stand peaches are soooo sweet right from the tree)
  • zest of 1 lemon, thinly sliced (I added some lemon juice as well)

Added bonus of smelling the house of peaches:: Ella decided she wanted to help out.  I originally longed for a bit of solitude to prep the peaches, however I was happy to share something with her that I shared long ago with Grandma; processing healthy foods, to be enjoyed with family and friends for months to come.  Again, experience and connection..

I’m one of those parents who allows their two year old to use a real knife..and crack eggs…and stir food in a hot pan.  I say nourish their curiosity with trust and a safe environment, and you’ll be amazed at how helpful they can be by the age of four, which is how old Ella is.  I’d say she cut my peach prep time in half by helping chop the peaches.

Summer 2014, life is peachy.  Stay tuned for more peach-inspired fun.