Wednesday, August 26

WFMW - Winging It

Over time I have gotten lots more adventurous in the kitchen. With Froggy going dairy-free I have been forced to not only try new recipes but experiment with new ideas and become willing to tweak recipes to meet our family's needs.

So I have started to Wing It in the kitchen. We have lots of failures when I wing it but we have some great successes too. Here is one of the more recent. I added some pictures of it.

And out of desperation again I am now winging it in the craft room too. After hunting for the perfect pattern too often I have given up and started creating my own. Froggy's latest dress (pictures to follow) is a combination of this tutorial, a pattern we had and a great deal of improvisation. I think it turned out beautiful but I am just a little biased. It could not be too bad since I had trouble getting her out of it.

So winging it works for me. For other WFMW tips check out WEARETHATFAMILY

Monday, August 24

MPM - The Last of the Tomatoes

This week I am trying to put by the last of the summer tomatoes. Next week I start back at school and we enter the busy Fall schedule. So this week is the last chance I have to do any putting up food for the winter.

Before I get to this week's menu. Here is a review of last week.

I liked the Vegetable Tagine but no one else did. It made way more than expected. The recipe claims it makes 8 main dish servings. However after dinner for 2 adults and 1 lunch for me, I froze enough to easily serve 8 adults.

Our peaches were wonderful. The jam turned out delicious even though it did not jell up as well as I had hoped.

Breakfasts - my nephew (really my best friend's son but since he calls me Auntie I figure I can call him my nephew) will be joining us so I am cooking more
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles (need to remember to get our waffle iron back from Aunt Petal)
Scrambled eggs

Lunches - again with the nephew who is strictly vegetarian.
cold cut Sandwiches
Tagine on Couscous
Eggplant Croquettes
Red Beans and Rice

Dinner - with all the cooking I am doing during the day I get a break here. Two nights we are out with friends and I have a meeting for a third. Shabbat dinner is a Potluck at the shul.
Tofu Stir Fry
Ratatulli with With White Beans - another experiment from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen
Salmon Burgers.
Pasta and Sauce

Sunday, August 23

The Sweet of the Peach

Well we got a ton of peaches from a local farm. They came a bit earlier than expected.

I was going to wait until Shabbat to make Peach Crisp but I just could not hold out. Crisp is one of our favorite easy fruit desserts. It is so simple. We slice the fruit and top with an Oatmeal Crumb Topping. Bake and you are good to go. We made some lovely non-dairy peach icecream/frozen yogurt to go with it. I would share the ice cream recipe but I failed to write it down as I invented it. All this was a lovely treat during the middle of the week but left me scrambling for a dessert for Shabbat.

I still had more peaches to use but we also still had crisp sitting in the fridge.

What to do? Peach cake! No recipe? Well that is no problem any more. I remember a time not long ago when a lack of a recipe for exactly what I wanted would have scared me. No longer. Now I am free to experiment and invent in the kitchen.

The cake was simple and yummy. I used a boxed white cake mix. Instead of water I used fresh peach puree. I spread homemade peach jam and very thin fresh peach slices between the layers A nice light butter cream frosting and some more slices for decoration and dessert was ready. We served it with some of the ice cream from earlier in the week.

Tuesday, August 18

WFMW - Patience

Last Friday at our home school park day, I sought advice from the other moms regarding Froggy. She is almost four and still had not ever drawn any representational art at all. All her pictures were lines, random squiggles which even Froggy said had no other description than "a picture".

Well if I had been just a bit more patient I would not have needed to worry. Yesterday with out any prompting or cajoling Froggy drew me a person. We were coloring together as we often do. She drew a circle and then gave it features and the circle quickly became a "funny grandpa with earrings and silly hair" He even has fingers and toes.Patience is important. We started homeschooling so that she could go at her own pace without pressure. Moments like this help me find the patience again to allow her to do just that.

Monday, August 17

MPM - Peaches

We got a whole bushel of peaches from a local farm. We are going to try making some peach jam. Magpie Eats shared a lovely jam recipe that we are going to try using these lovely peaches rather than the apricots intended.

Last week's experiments had some wins and some loses. The biggest win was all the meals we got out of the Roast Chicken. Cooking once and eating several times is a huge hit with me. Movie night and the pizza never happened so are making a reappearance this week.

Monday - Shepards Pie using leftover pot roast.
Tuesday -Couscous with Vegetable Tagine from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen
Wednesday - Mock Coq a Vin - from The One-Armed Cook
Thursday - Movie Night and Pizza
Friday - Challah, Maple Glazed Salmon, Rice, Steamed Broccoli, Peach Crisp

Saturday, August 15

Making Shabbat Meaningful

This Shabbat we had the opportunity to return to the local Chabad house. Keeping Shabbat means something different to us than it does to most who attend there. Still we enjoy going. For me personally, there are two items that make Shabbat meaningful, being with family and Jewish study. At Chabad, both Froggy and I are able to engage in Jewish learning and fellowship. Unfortunately, Hiranu is not comfortable there at all.

For the time being (ie until we find a solution that provides meaningful study and fellowship and family time) we are having family time on Erev Shabbat and Shabbat afternoon while spending Shabbat mornings learning at Chabad. Not ideal but so far a justifiable compromise. Who am I justifying things to, I hear you ask? Myself, only myself. Maybe at some point I will need to explain them to Froggy but the real person is me. Why is not ideal? Ideal would be if everyone could be together learning at the same time in the same enviroment and enjoying Shabbat together.

Still we had a very pleasant Shabbat with a morning spent is joyful learning and prayer and a peaceful afternoon spent together in quiet pleasures.

Friday, August 14

Food Experiments in Review

I am easily bored so I constantly trying new things. We are also still learning how to modify some of our previous favorite foods to fit into our new (ok it has been a full year now) dairy free lifestyle.

Spinach Daal - from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. Not for us even though we enjoy it greatly out. The lentils took forever to cook. Easily twice as long as the recipe indicated. The texture and color was unappetizing. I am not sure what I did different but it was not what we were expecting.

Chicken Kebobs - For some reason kebobs make any food more fun for preschoolers. I used mango chutney to marinade some boneless chicken thighs added some red bell pepper slices and onion pieces and popped them on the grill. They were a huge hit with the whole family.

Baked Stuffed Tilapia - The stuffing was flavorful but the fish had no flavor and was dry and tough even though I cooked it for less time than specified.


One of the foods we miss terribly from before going dairy-free is ravioli. I have only found one brand ever that is totally dairy-free and it is too expensive to make a regular item. So at the urging of some friends, I tried making some from scratch using wonton wrappers in place of the pasta dough.

The filling, which really worried me more, turned out delicious. I used 1lb firm tofu instead of ricotta, 10 frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained, and 2 TBS vegan parmesan cheese (from a can).
The process of making the ravioli was interesting. Froggy had fun helping me. She even tried one of the wrappers raw. She ate the whole thing so I guess it was good. Once cooked however the wrappers were vile. They turned slimy with a texture similar to steamed dumplings. Right now ravioli are on hold here until I either find a source for premade pasta dough or am willing to try it on my own.

Monday, August 10

MPM - Home at last

After weeks of not being able to cook and eating out constantly, we are all very much looking forward to some real home cooking. The fridge is empty. The cupboards are bare. The slate is clean. We can go anywhere we want

We made a trip to the local farmers market yesterday and this week's menu will highlight some of our finds.

Monday - Baked Stuffed Tilapia, rice and green beans.
Tuesday - Chicken Kebobs, summer squash, corn on the cob
Wednesday - A new experiment from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. It is a spinach dal rendition which will be served with rice and naan.
Thursday - Pizza and a movie night. Homemade pizza (using leftover sauce) and salad. Froggy will get to pick the movie
Friday- A real Shabbat dinner at last. We will have Challah, steamed broccoli, Pot Roast, potatoes, and this lovely treat for dessert, ice cream cake. A friend gave me a cool recipe which I can use non-dairy icecream.

I am also trying to plan out breakfast/lunch/snacks better too.

Breakfasts will be
  • scrambled eggs x2
  • zucchini bread x2
  • oatmeal
  • fruit and yogurt
  • pancakes

Lunches will be

Thursday, August 6

Baruch dayan ha-emet

At 1:05 Sunday morning, my mother returned to G-d. After a long battle with breast cancer and two painful sick years, I know she is finally at peace.

She was a strong, independent woman. She raised four girls on her own in a time when being a single parent was even harder than it is today. She instilled in each of us the importance of independence and not relying on someone else for your livelihood. She taught us to think for ourselves and form our own opinions. She worried much in later life that she did not give us the best foundation but I know that she gave us a better foundation than her mother gave her and the best one that she possibly could.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ori moved to Florida when she was 6yrs old and never left. She built her dream home in Clermont in 2002, and became a full time resident in 2007.

Mrs. Cherin, as she was known by her students, graduated from the University of Miami and later received her Masters Degree from Nova University. She was an educator in the Florida Public School system for 17 years and was a member of the Florida Teacher’s Union. She was patient and kind and humorous as she guided people through learning. All her students loved her.

She enjoyed reading science fiction and was an avid “Trekkie”. Hard-core science fiction provided her an outlet for the dreamer part of her nature, as we ask what will the future be. She loved to poke at the "bad science" she saw in some of the shows or books. Each book was judged by the quality of the science they used in the design.

While she wasn’t always as successful as she liked , my mother raised us to be Jewish. One of the few routines our family had was lighting candles on Erev Shabbat. Saturday was Shabbat and that meant family time. We would go on adventures to local farms or neat parks. My mom was more observant than her mom and was thrilled that I knew more about the holidays and chose to be more observant than she.

Music abounded in my mother's house. She got to see the true result of her legacy a few weeks ago when 3 of her daughters and both her granddaughters were driving around town. The littlest one needed distracting so her aunt broke into Do Re Mi. Everyone else joined in. We say all the songs from Sound of Music and moved on to King And I and others. It was a bittersweet moment of family togetherness is a time of great sadness. I told my mom when we returned and she was able to smile.

I wish she was still with us, healthy as she is in my memories from childhood. It’s heartbreaking that she won’t be there to see her granddaughter graduate high school, or get married. And while I’m glad she has moved to a better place, it will be a long time before I stop going to call her to share the joys and pains of life.

Wednesday, August 5

WFMW - Paper Dolls

Try telling a healthy, active 3 yr old that they must play quietly by themselves every morning for 2 hours and you are bound to run into trouble. My husband is trying to work and I am trying to care for my dying mom and together that makes it hard to properly devote the time and attention we would like to Froggy.

Enter paper dolls. Exit Stress.

I purchased this paper doll book at Michaels. The thought had been, with the help of some posterboard, contact paper and washers, to turn them into magnetic dressable dolls. That was an utter failure.

Instead I laminated dolls and clothes and simply used the "reusable stickers" provided with the book to attach the clothes.

Froggy has gotten days of quiet enjoyment out of these dolls with more yet to come. I keep them engaging by presenting her with new dolls or clothes or both from the book each day. She has never seen the book itself so she does not feel like she is missing everything by not having it all at once. At her age, I think all of it at once would be too overwhelming. Right now she has a family of 5 with three adults and two babies. There will not be any more people for awhile but there are tons of clothes still to come.

Saturday, August 1

FIAR - How to make it work

I love the idea of learning through literature and FIAR seems like an ideal way to do that with a preschooler. Yet for some bizarre reason, it is not working for us.
Every time I try, I select a great book and find neat activities to go with it. The problem comes in that we never seem to do the activities. Why you ask? Well I am not really sure. Probably poor planning on my part.

To solve this unfortunate problem, we are going to try something new. We are currently on vacation so not doing any formal work at all. This break gives me some time to get my materials all organized.

I am making a tub to keep all our FIAR supplies. In this tub will be the book of the week, our vocabulary journal, our flag book, and all the supplies for the current week. To organize the activities for each book, I am planning to try to do a lapbook for each.

In this prepatory phase I am collecting all the printables and activities for our first 5 books and organizing what the lapbooks will look like.

Our first lapbook will be Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. This will be our first lapbook ever. I hope it works and is enjoyed. Heather over at Blog, She Wrote has a great example and links to some great resources.

Our second book is going to be How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. It will go nicely with our annual trip to the apple orchard and our Rosh Hashana activities. The lapbook activities I have found for it look like lots of fun. For once I am not struggling with the social studies activities.

I don't know what will come next sequentially but I am also planning lapbooks for Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening and Cranberry Thanksgiving which will obviously be done later in the year when they are appropriate. I am also thinking with all the coloring and writing that will be involved in the lapbooks that we may very well take two weeks per book.

Fall Planning

One of the reasons I chose to homeschool was to help my daughter feel "normal" rather than "different" for being Jewish. We try very hard to mark time "Jewishly". That being the case our school year runs according to the Jewish calendar and starts anew with Rosh Hashana.

This is very convenient since many activities start new in the Fall with the start of the traditional school year as well. I am trying to decide what activities Froggy will participate in during the upcoming year. She will certainly continue with swimming and gymnastics. She will also start Sunday School at shul. I feel there needs to be something on a musical front but the hubby wants to add in an organized sport and I feel that four activities is just too much.

We will also be starting a nature club with our local homeschooling group. This will probably take the place of any other science curriculum for this year. I will be leading the group if it actually comes to pass. It will be very laid back and mellow but I hope each family will be able to develop a useful nature journal as part of their participation. The group will be centered around our hikes and teaching the newer the Leave No Trace philosophy as well as introducing the younger children to skills of observation and classification.