New Chemistry Curriculum Sneak Peek

It’s taken me a lot longer than usual to create the high school chemistry curriculum due to several unforeseen circumstances, but I’m almost finished now. 🙂 I have some printables to make, and then I’ll post everything in the online store! Here’s a sneak peek of the banner graphics:

Chemistry CurriculumThis curriculum doesn’t use a thick and boring chemistry textbook. Look at some of the “living” books your student will get to read instead:chem-books

I haven’t seen any high school chemistry curriculum like this before, and I feel it fills a real need for students who would be better served by a non-traditional chemistry course. Keep an eye out for updates, as I’ll be posting more about it soon!

Homemade Bread the Easy Way

February 2, 2010

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a DayI love homemade bread. I just don’t like the process of making it – all that kneading and punching and fussing. Then, after all that…WORK…my loaves of bread come out tasting like lumps of yeasty grossness with the texture of a boot.
We came across a bread machine for free. It’s great at making character-free loaves with a boring crust and an inside that is just somehow wrong. It’s as if the dough knew it was mixed by some machine and didn’t have all the love and work put into it by a human and so had it’s revenge in tasting like an over done 99 cent loaf from the grocery store. Only with a little better flavor…while it’s hot, anyway.
So, it was with some skepticism that I approached this book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. I read some of the pages in the Amazon preview. I looked it up online. I read reviews. Hmmmm…..could it really work? Can you make great tasting bread without all the WORK? Notice I have typed the word work numerous times now because you know how homeschooling moms just have loads of free time to do stuff like knead bread and add extra WORK to our days. *cough*
So yesterday was the big day. Oh, except I don’t have a pizza peel, a baking stone, dry measure measuring cups (you can tell how much baking I do by that simple fact) or kosher salt… but I was not going to let any of that stop me.

  • I mixed everything up, (3 minutes of WORK).
  • I let it sit for a couple of hours.
  • Threw it in the fridge for a few more hours (to make the dough easy to handle)…
  • Pulled off a chunk (yes, there is more to use later!!), shaped it, set it on an airbake cookie sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal (2 minutes of WORK) …
  • After letting it sit for 40 minutes, I popped it into the oven onto another air bake cookie sheet with a cup of hot water poured immediately onto the broiler pan below (30 seconds of WORK).
  • After 30 minutes of baking, I pulled it out and let it cool on a cookie rack (30 seconds of WORK).

Now, being the terrific homeschool mom that I am, I will do some math. My great expenditure of time (where I was slaving in a hot kitchen) was about 6 minutes. But here’s the best part….the bread was GOOD. No, really. It was. I’m saying “was”, because it’s now completely devoured.
I am SO happy. I can make bread! Real bread! Like the loaves of fancy artisan stuff you buy from the bread store! FRESH, tasty, HOMEMADE bread that tastes like you’ve been up to your elbows in flour all day, kneading and WORKING away like you live in a little house on the prairie.

So, if you like homemade bread, but don’t have the time or talent to make it, now you do, if you check out Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Frito Pie Recipe

For the first ten years (or so…) of my adult life, I could not cook. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say I just did. not. get. it. I could just about ruin a salad. My husband came up with a wonderfully descriptive name for one meal I put quite a bit of effort into: “glop”.
Thankfully, I finally figured things out for the most part. I mean, there is always something more to learn (as I’m sure my husband would agree wink), but hey, I don’t burn toast anymore.
I think because of my experience, I’ve always thought it important to have my kids be able to throw together some meals with some level of decency. In fact, Bear has become quite the chef. He started out on easy things like grilled cheese sandwiches when he was about 2 feet shorter and now I’m confident he would do a pretty good job with just about anything. He LIKES fussing around in the kitchen. All of my kids do, to some extent.
I think it’s important for kids to get some real life experience in running a home BEFORE they try to establish their own. They should be doing laundry and cleaning up and making dinner.
This not only saves a busy, homeschooling mom time, but it also helps kids to learn some really important skills.
With that thought in mind I would like to share some recipes I’ll call:

“Things that are easy enough for my kids to make”.

Before I go on, let me get the disclaimers out of the way. These things are easy enough for MY kids to make. Use your own discretion about your kids and of course observe kitchen safety rules and all that. I’m not recommending you turn your kids loose in your kitchen with this recipe. 😉 I’m just saying I did that with mine.

The first recipe is FRITO PIE. I love Frito Pie. I used to eat it as a kid and was delighted to rediscover it as an adult. It’s easy. It’s quick. It’s simple enough for my kids to make. What more needs to be said?
And no, Frito Pie is not…um…health food. We’re not a granola cruncher family (no offense to those who are). Hubby is a meat and potatoes kind of guy and while I like my family to eat healthy, we do allow ourselves to indulge in stuff like this every once and awhile. Don’t call the cholesterol police on me or anything. Look! There are tomatoes in the picture and sour cream is in the dairy group….

Frito Pie

Here are the ingredients:

1 bag of Fritos
2 cans of your favorite chili (or the equivalent amount of homemade chili)
A bunch of grated cheddar cheese (don’t you like my precise amount?)
1 or 2 cut up tomatoes or a container of cherry tomatoes cut into halves
Sour cream

First you put a layer of Fritos on the bottom of an oven proof dish. Then you put a layer of chili on top and then a layer of cheese. Repeat the layers. Put the dish into the oven and bake at 350 degrees or until everything is hot and the cheese is bubbly (10-20 minutes). Once you’ve dished out your plate, “sprinkle” a bit of tomato over the top and add a dollop of sour cream.

Emily made the batch below. If I had made it I think I would have spread the chili a bit more evenly and grated even more cheese, but that’s me. 😉

Frito Pie

You can also add all sorts of optional items when you are layering the dish: ground beef, corn, olives, etc. Some people also like to use some melted Velveeta or nacho sauce in addition to the grated cheese.

Here’s a close up of all the cheesy-Frito goodness:

Frito Pie up close


Another thing I should also mention is that Frito Pie makes a great camping food. You can make up individual servings by using lunch size Frito bags, cutting them open down the side and pouring the chili right on top to eat it straight from the bag.

So, that’ the first in a possible series of recipes I’d like to share. I hope you enjoyed it!