Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Rolls with the Kids

Turkeys Made From Your Favorite Dough Recipe

Everyone at the kids' table will gobble these up.
A couple of years ago we tried an idea I had seen briefly on cable TV (before I had ever heard of Pinterest!).  I'm glad I took photos, although I can't be 100% sure which dough recipe I used.  I'm fairly certain you can use your favorite dinner roll recipe (I like Betty Crocker's Dinner Rolls).

Before baking, roll out your dough in a large circle.  Take a pizza cutter to divide the circle into equal "pizza shaped" pieces.  Next, position each dough wedge in a muffin pan hole, with the "head" of the turkey (the small, pointy end) lifted up to the edge of the muffin hole and the "tail" (the wide end) also lifted up.  Use a toothpick to poke two holes for the turkey's eyes and use kitchen shears to snip the tail, so that it will look feathery.  The best photo I have this step is this one I found on Pinterest.

Bake according to directions, but watch carefully that the poor turkey's head and tail don't burn.

If you try this, please let me know which recipe you used, or if you used store-bought dough.  I would definitely try a "test run" before your holidays (you know everyone will help you eat them!).  Happy baking, and happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do-able Dinners: Salmon Salad the Kids Can Help to Make

Summer Salad with Cumin-Crusted Salmon
Food Preparation can be a big part of a Montessori classroom, at school or at home.  Here's one dish that our children can help with and that they enjoy eating.

Sorry--this is over 20 years old and I don't know the source!
We go meatless on Fridays, so our kids are used to eating fish all kinds of ways.

First heat a non-stick skillet, add the pine nuts and stir until toasty (about 5 minutes).  In a large bowl, place all salad ingredients (reserve half of the cilantro and half of the pine nuts for garnish). 

In a separate bowl, stir dressing ingredients together.  In a bowl, combine cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Cut salmon into 8 strips and coat with spices.  Grill (or sear in a non-stick skillet brushed with canola oil) until crusty. 

Toss salad and dressing; divide on plates. Top with salmon and reserved cilantro and pine nuts.

Our kids don't help yet with cooking the fish, but they can: 
  • wash the lettuce
  •  open and drain the cans of beans
  •  wash and slice up the scallions (either with a knife or kitchen scissors)
  •  peel and cut up the orange
  •  measure out and pour the feta
  • wash and chop the cilantro
  •  mince the garlic 
That's a lot to keep little hands busy!

It's full of protein and fiber, can be served hot or cold, and it's delicious!

Do you like the meatless recipes?  If so, I have a lot more :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Education of the Senses: Tasting Bottles

One of the most fun works to present to small children is the Tasting Bottles!  Like many of the other Sensorial works, this is a matching work.  First I explained that we have 5 senses, one of which is the sense of taste (for parents and teachers:  the gustatory sense).  To keep things simple I brought up the 4 basic tastes of salty, bitter, sweet and sour.  There's actually a fifth one called umami, which is a savory taste.  As with most of my presentations, I did this one by the seat of my pants. Here's a write-up in detail if you're interested in nitty-gritties of how to do this work the "real way."

Kept them on ice because there's chocolate milk in there.
I bought 6 small glass bottles at The Container Store recently and made small dots on the bottom with nail polish.  These served as the control of error:  if the bottles had the same color dots, they matched.  This morning I filled two bottles with pickle juice, two bottles with chocolate milk, and two bottles with black coffee.  If you want an example of all four types of tastes just buy yourself two more bottles (I think I was feeling cheap on the day I got these....).

Warning:  I tried this with my own children first and both the very salty and the very vinegar-y liquids can cause some children to gag.   That's why I kept things VERY simple this morning.

Once again, Sam's club supplies for ginormous family reunions come in handy:  only 599 plastic spoons to go.
I gave each child a plastic spoon and presented this to the group.  We started by giving each person a drop of the liquid from one tasting bottle, and then we asked them if the next bottle's taste matched.  Of course we checked to make sure that second and third bottles didn't match the first, so then it's more interesting when, on the 4th go around, the liquid matches the original.

Technically I should have given a taste of the original bottle in between rounds of taste testing (saying, "Remember, this is the taste that we want to match."), but I was keeping things brisk enough to maintain interest and they didn't need the reminding.  These samples were dramatically different from each other.

Later, "Alleluia" wanted to keep coming back for more samples of chocolate milk!
We checked the bottoms of the bottles to make sure the liquids truly matched.
You don't need to identify what liquids are in the jars, but it's normal for children to want to know or to want to tell you what they think it is.  

This is about the 4th time I've used these jars, and each time I've disinfected them thoroughly, boiling the eye dropper tops and cleaning the bottles well.  I'm not sure how long the rubber will last, but so far the bottles have been well worth the cost.

What liquids would you include?  What ideas do you have for umami?  Thanks for  your input!

Easy, Crude Barometer

Stretch a balloon over the open end of an empty glass jar, secure it with a rubber band, and tape a toothpick or popsicle stick to the top (with a little more than half of the stick stretching out over the edge of the jar).  As the air pressure changes the stick will move.

Yesterday 80 tornadoes hit the Midwest.  In the South we were, thankfully, spared.  We had a few frightful moments of high winds, rain and lightning, but nothing too bad at our house.  As luck would have it, our 4th grader, "Peel," has been studying weather and the atmosphere in science lately.  She's learned that atmospheric pressure changes signal a change in the weather, and in our case we noticed a difference in the pressure yesterday (during the storm) versus this morning (when it was clear).

We had just finished this crude barometer before the storms hit last night (we marked the location of our toothpick on the index card taped to the wall) when the pressure was low.

Can you see the tiny dot under the toothpick, to the right of the red line?

This morning the air pressure was higher, which often happens when a cold front has moved over an area.  The higher the air pressure, the higher the stick will reach.  Sure enough, we had oddly warm weather yesterday, and this morning the air was back to chilly.  If you are expecting a storm, wash out a jar and try this yourself!