Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gluten Free Apple Puff Pancake

This is one of our favorite treats to start the day with, and other than chopping up a few apples, takes about one minute to prepare. The girls love to help cook or bake everything, and meals that involve the blender are just that much more fun!
I usually use Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix for the flour, but it also works well with your favorite gluten free flour plus 3/4 tsp. of xanthan gum.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Place an 8 x 8 baking dish in the oven with:
 ~1/2 stick of butter.
Bake just until the butter begins to bubble.

Place in the butter:
~3 apples, any variety, peeled, cored and sliced.
Return to the oven until the butter once again bubbles.

Next, pour your batter evenly over top of the apples, sprinkle with some brown sugar or cane juice crystals and return to the oven for 20 minutes. Sift powdered sugar on top before serving.

Batter Mix:

3/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1t. vanilla
1/2 c. baking mix or flour mixture
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1T. sugar (I use organic evaporated cane juice)

Puree all ingredients together in a blender before pouring over your apples.

This doubles perfectly for a 9 x 13 baking dish should you have a larger crowd to feed.

Friday, July 29, 2011

All About Radar

My little scientist had so much fun learning how radar works! We took a box and filled it with blocks and toys of various sizes, and then covered the top with paper without letting her see inside. Then the paper got a grid of 80 squares on top, and I gave each square a little hole with a poke from a sewing needle. We took a skewer and colored rainbow stripes around the bottom, each color indicating a different depth inside the box. Miss Scientist then poked the skewer through each hole, one at a time, and recorded the lowest color to show on the stick in her science journal, which also had an 80 block grid. Due to the items hidden inside the box, there a number of varying depths, and everyone (by this time, her sisters were watching in anticipation) got excited every time there was a new color. Finally, she recorded her data again on a 3rd 80 square grid, this time using the layers of color to actually "map" the topography inside of the box. Who would have thought such a simple project would have been so much fun, and give such a great understanding of how we use radar to map things we cannot see. Look at that joyful sense of accomplishment on her face! From schoolwork! I love it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Outdoor Artwork

Sidewalk paint is such a simple Summer pleasure. Cheap, easy, and fun, it really is one of those activities that last for hours. Once the kiddos start painting, they don't stop until the paint runs out. And the best part? It dries pretty much like sidewalk chalk, and simply washes away with water.

Simply take equal parts cornstarch and water, and mix them well with a whisk or fork. On this particular day we only had a half an hour or so to paint, so I mixed 1/4 cup cornstarch to 1/4 cup water in four separate containers. (Old yogurt containers and the like are great for this, too.) Then simply add a few drops of either food coloring or tempera paint and whisk again until your color is even.
Add a paintbrush or two you don't mind being used on cement, and you're ready to go! 
(Keep in mind that on those really hot hot summer days, this activity is better for the morning before the pavement gets too hot. A driveway that could fry an egg will definitely bake your cornstarch mixture on making the painting a bit trickier.)
I love that after a session of painting outside, I find everything from stick figures to love notes to paintings that would make Jackson Pollock proud. You definitely have a greater variety to what you can accomplish than with sidewalk chalk.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your paintbrushes and go play outside! Enjoy!

Firework Frenzy

I love taking pictures of fireworks. You never know what you will get, and each picture is so unique. I have dozens of firework photos taken over the last few weeks, but I couldn't resist sharing a few from the Fourth with you. These are some of the fireworks that my friend's boyfriend set off at his house after we enjoyed a lovely all-afternoon-to-evening potluck at their property, and the kids delighted themselves with sparklers, pop-its, smoke bombs and fountains while eagerly waiting for darkness to fall.( The giggling as the kids ran through a field of 2 foot high Christmas trees while chasing after parachutes was positively contagious.) I like the last one in particular, the way it resembles a wildflower.
Fireworks are such a fun Independence Day tradition for our family. We love our traditions! Next is my birthday camping trip, which somehow always manages to distinguish itself from the 6 or 7 other camping trip each year, and then the pumpkin patches in the fall.  And so on. I don't remember too many family traditions as a child (Though I loved the few we had!) and neither does my husband, so we probably go overboard creating them for our little family. I don't think a single one of us, however, would have it any other way.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Simple Things

I get a surprising amount of pleasure from completing simple domestic acts. Sewing, cooking, cleaning, gardening, painting.... making jelly this morning while my daughters did their schoolwork at the table and the baby hung on to my legs and played with pots and pans. (I love the sense of satisfaction. It's even better than crossing things off of a list!) I can't help but laugh thinking about how much my life has changed in the last decade. There I was was, living in New York City, keeping Harry's Burritos and the diner around the corner in business I had them delivered so often. I worked long hours, went out late...I'm pretty sure my oven didn't even work, but I couldn't say for sure since we used it for storage.
My husband loves to laugh and say that he "domesticated" me. We both know, though, that that isn't quite the case. I fell in love. I had someone to care for, and I found out I liked it.  Soon I had a little someone to care for as well, and then another. And so on. Taking care of someone else made me step outside of myself. Outside of what I felt like, what I wanted, what mattered to me. These people I love matter more to me than I ever would have thought possible, and though they love to do things for me (“Mom, why don’t you go sit down with a book? I’ll bring you some tea. I can take care of everything for a little bit.”)I find that I love to find the things that make them happy. Most of the time that is simply being a wife and mama. Today it was making grape jelly and hanging out by the pool. Caring for them, even in the little things, is my way to show love. My little piece of happily ever after.