Saturday, September 29, 2012

Biblical Feasts

This second post before we head out of town again is all things Biblical.  In one of our recent posts, we made "The Matriarch Sarah's Cheese for Children" out of our Food at the Time of the Bible: From Adam's Apple to the Last Supper by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh.  We made it in honor of the story in Genesis, Chapter 18, when Sarah was preparing food for Abraham's three special visitors.  On that day, you may remember we also made the sourdough starter, which was left to sit for four days, so that the same could absorb yeast from the air, as in Biblical times.  Here, we continue with that recipe and more.
After we let our starter sit for four days (I must say, it looked better for this next part on day three versus day four), we added to it 6 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 cups of hot water, and 2 teaspoons of salt.  We mixed it well to form a dough.
 Then, we kneaded it "on a floured surface with floured hands for at least 10 minutes."  Then, you "place in a bowl and brush all over with olive oil" (about 2 tablespoons).  "Cover and leave to rise for 3-4 hours."  (Unfortunately, ours never rose, so I knew we were doomed.  Again, this is where I thought our starter looked more yeasty on day 3 versus 4, as the recipe suggests.)
 Finally, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then knead your dough again before shaping into two small loaves.  Here are ours, not looking too promising.  "Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour."  (Ours came out hard as bricks.  Oh well.)  The next recipe was a winner ...
For our next recipe, we made the "Jacob's Lentil Soup" in replication of the stew given to Esau by Jacob in Genesis 25:34.  For the same, you need 1 1/2 cups split red lentils (I couldn't find the red, so I used regular, which worked out fine), 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, 1 medium onion, cubed, 2 stalks chopped celery, 1 chopped leek, 1 cubed carrot, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, salt and freshly-ground black pepper, 1 medium onion, sliced, olive oil, and croutons.  For the first step, "put the lentils in a pot with the stock and vegetables and bring to a boil" (as you see here).  "Simmer for 30 minutes, until the lentils have disintegrated.  If too thick, add water" (I didn't need to).  "Add cumin and wine vinegar and season to taste.  Fry the sliced onion in the olive oil until almost caramelized and add to the soup.  Serve hot with croutons."
 It was actually quite good!
And also, I wanted to post about our Home Scholars (our homeschooling co-op) meeting last week, when Hannah taught us about Biblical feasts.  Here is her table setup!
 First, she read to us from A Jewish Holiday ABC by Malka Drucker, reminding us that as Christians, we always remember Jesus as a part of the Biblical feasts.
Here are Mags and Olivia (all gussied up), listening to the stories.
 Then, after some more reading and discussion of feast food, she showed us a real shofar.
Here, Hannah is demonstrating for us how they use a Jewish prayer shawl.
After the presentation, we made little paper shofars and banners.
Here are Mags and Olivia, working on theirs!
 Then, we sang some songs and "blew" our new paper shofars to the music!
Here is Maggie's shofar!  :)
 And here is Liam's ...
 ... and Olivia's!  :)
 Thank you for letting me share and please be patient until the next post when we can get back into town.  May God be with you!  :)

Squirrel Munch

Unfortunately, I am way behind on posting because of a family emergency we had to tend to out of town.  My dear father-in-law has been given just weeks to live and so, of course, family comes first.  This post (and one more today) will be the last ones you'll see for probably about two weeks, as we are leaving again soon to go be with him.  My plan is to homeschool from there, so I will post project ideas when I get back, but until then, we will be absent from the blog.  I know you all understand and I appreciate your patience.

This post is about the first meeting of our Book Club.  We started this club with two of my favorite homeschooling moms, Hannah and Anna (yes, I ALWAYS accidentally call them each other's name!), and their wonderful children, to give us another way to co-op learn and share some of our families' favorite reads!  Hannah hosted first, with this great reading of A Squirrel's Tale ... by Richard Fowler, a great interactive book you can get through Usborne Books, which you can purchase on Hannah's site at
The book is so fun!  As you read it, you move the little squirrel in and out of the slots on each page so he travels along with you as you read!
After the book, the kids gathered around Hannah's decorated Fall table for a snack and some crafting!
Here are Mags and Olivia, enjoying some warm apple cider!  :)
And here is Leah, trying some, too!  :)
On the Fall snack mix Hannah put together, she wrote this little sign ... "Squirrel Munch!"  Cute!
Squirrel Munch!
It was full of yummy things, including Auntie Anne's little organic chocolate bunnies!  :)
It was Lucy-approved!
After our snack, we put together this cute foam squirrel craft that Hannah picked up from Oriental Trading Company.
He looks great!  We glued a magnet on the back and he now lives on our fridge!  
Our first Book Club meeting was a success and we're looking forward to the next one, which I'll be hosting in late October to honor World Pasta Day!  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, "Happy Fall, Ya'll!"  :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Post Full of Books and Caterpillars!

There are a lot of book recommendations in this post, and not as many crafts, which is so unlike me, but when I find some gems, I want to share and show how I apply them to our curriculum and what we are learning.  No worries, though, as there will be plenty of crafts coming this week with the start of Fall projects and our study of planets and stars in Science!  After this coming week, though, we will take our first week off.  (Remember, we will work 3 on, then have 1 week off, typically, instead of taking the entire summer off.)      It will give us time to refresh and get ready for three more weeks of learning!  But, there still may be a post or two during those break weeks if we do something particularly neat in our book club or at a homeschooling meeting.  Anyway, enough jabber for now ... on to the good stuff!

Al called me this morning from the park to inform me that he and Mags were coming home with caterpillars! (Oh, boy!  We've done this before!)  I try not to miss out on opportunities for Mags to learn, though, so I set up the ol' aquarium.  And here is what they came home with ... creepy looking critters (in Maggie's little bug playground, a find from Lowe's)!  
They set to work adding some foliage to our tank.
 And then they spritzed the leaves so the caterpillars would have a bit of moisture.
 Then, they introduced them to their new home!
 Checking out their new digs ... :)
Mags is tickled to have the aquarium back in business!  :)
Then, we went to the computer to identify them.  We found out we had Gulf Fritillary Butterflies (Agraulis vanillae), or Passion Butterflies (so called because they feed only on passion flower leaves), which look like the picture below!  Beautiful!  Click on this link for more info:  
Then, we watched this great You Tube video about the life cycle of the Gulf Fritillary.  We can't to see them emerge, in about two weeks!  (We'll keep you posted!)
All year in our Bible studies, we will be trying to replicate some of the food from the Bible thanks to this great Biblical cookbook I bought this past year, Food at the Time of the Bible: From Adam’s Apple to the Last Supper by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh.  (If you are a Bible lover like we are, you will want to pick up this book!)  This weekend, we made two of the recipes, "The Matriarch Sarah's Cheese for Children" and "Sarah's Biblical Bread," after we read about the special visitors that Abraham received in Genesis 18.  (For instructions on the same, see below.)
For "Sarah's Biblical Bread" (which is a sourdough starter), you will need 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, and 3/4 cup warm water to start the process.  (In four days' time, which will be Wednesday, we will be completing the process and will give you further instructions.)  Here, Maggie is mixing the flour and water which we will then leave uncovered in a warm place for four days, stirring occasionally.  (To quote the book, "In Bible times, packaged yeast did not exist, so people used sourdough starter which absorbed yeast from the air.")
After we set up our Biblical bread starter, we then went on to make "The Matriarch Sarah's Cheese for Children" using 2 pints of milk, lemon juice, salt, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of dried hyssop.  (Hyssop was translated from the Hebrew "ezeb," which means "a holy herb."  It was used in ancient times to cleanse holy places.  It smells wonderful!  Unfortunately, it is not an easy find in the grocery store, so we actually hit the natural foods store to pick up this hyssop tea (basically, dried hyssop like the recipe calls for, in tea bags).)  If you cannot locate hyssop, the character of it "can best be described as a combination of the aromatic herbs thyme, rosemary, and savory ..." (per the tea box), so perhaps an equal combination of those three herbs in 1/2 teaspoon will give you the same effect.
First, you want to heat your milk.  Then, add your lemon juice and stir, like Mags is doing here.  (For the lemon juice, the book calls for a few drops, but my milk didn't separate until I added much more.  My suggestion would be to add a teaspoon at a time every couple of minutes, while the mixture heats, until your curds separate from the liquid.)  (The recipe replaces fig sap (which would have been more accurate for those times) with the lemon juice, and says, "The branch of a fig tree is what the biblical matriarch probably used to stir," but we will have to settle for a wooden spoon.)  :)
Bring the mixture slowly to a boil.  "When curds have separated from the liquid, take a clean cloth with a wide weave ("cheesecloth") and pour the contents of the pot into the cloth."  
 I had read that you can use coffee filters as a substitute for cheesecloth (since we had none), so we tried it by lining our colander with coffee filters.  They worked great!
"Wring out the cloth to get rid of as much liquid as possible, leaving the cheese curds behind.  Place the cheese in another container.  Add salt, butter, and hyssop to taste."
 Here's Mags, adding some salt ...
 ... and the hyssop!
 Our cheese is done ... just like Sarah would have made it for the three visitors to Abraham!  :)
 And it tasted quite good!
We are reviewing the short and long vowel sounds, and in our study of the short i sound, we read Phonics Tales! The Little Pink Pig by Liza Charlesworth.  (I love these books!)  The back page has the "Short-i Cheer" which goes like this:
"Hooray for short i, the best sound around!
Let's holler short-i words all over town!
There's pig and trip and wish and miss.
There's lip and fish and drink and dish.
There's skip and milk and six and big.
There's pink and chimp and dish and wig.
Short i, short i, give a great cheer,
For the most interesting sound you ever will hear!"
Before we get into our at-home country studies (versus the ones we focus on in our homeschooling group), we are doing some review of map-reading and directions.  (You can look under the 'Maps' tab in our index to see some projects we put together last year, including a compass rose.)  But, to review our directions, we started with the reading of this great little book, We Need Directions! by Sarah De Capua.
Then, we read the "Compass" poem by Maria Fleming out of this Got Geography! poetry book compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  (See below the picture of the book for the poem.)
by Maria Fleming

Compass, compass,
Point the way
To wild places
Where few stray.
Across deep seas
To distant lands, 
Toward arctic ice
And desert sands,
To jungles gleaming
To mountaintop
And deep ravine.
Guide me around
The globe and then,

Point me home again.

After that, we talked about map keys and legends using this great book, Map Keys by Rebecca Aberg, as a resource.
(Next week, in our Geography/Social Studies curriculum, we will be covering countries and cities on maps, as well as borders and islands.)  

We also have been learning about Stranger Danger this week.  The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers by Stan & Jan Berenstain is, in my opinion, one of the best books out there on this subject.  (I grew up reading The Berenstain Bears and I can see that Maggie has the same fondness for these books as I did.)
We also read I Know Where I Live by Dianne H. Pappas & Richard D. Covey, which talks about how important it is for a child to know his/her personal information in case he/she loses Mom or Dad.  It's not the best read, but it is a good book for introducing a "Know Your Information" activity or project, which we will complete tomorrow.  (Check back in with us.)
And finally, tonight, we had a service project with our American Heritage Girls troop, where we made a banner for the church that helped fund the costs for the start-up of our group.  Here, Mags is getting help with her part of the banner from her leader, Ms. Ann!
 And here she's watching her buddy, Olivia, take her turn!  :)
See you soon!