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Father's DayTravel - CookingLatin WW2

Tuesday, March 28

Colors (Amos Lee)

Each year, we use our own eggs for making dyed Easter eggs....and we also use natural products from our garden for dyeing them!   Why use all those chemical-laden dyes, when it's so simple to make your own?

You CAN use these natural dyes, not only for dyeing eggs, but for food coloring.  Since they are made from real food, they have the potential to change the flavor of what you are coloring.  However, it has never been noticeable enough that my kids turn down the cupcakes with naturally-colored icing.  Green is probably the least-popular flavor, of all the colors...

A few notes...
  • To use coloring for Easter eggs - mix powder with water and allow eggs to set in it overnight.  
  • To use for food coloring - mix powder with icing until is smoothly blended.  Ice cake.
  • If you just want to purchase natural food coloring, try one of these :
  • Food coloring will store for up to one year in an air-tight container.
Red / Pink
Peel and slice beets very thinly.  Place on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate until crispy.  Cool.  Pulse in a food processor.  Use more coloring for red; less for pink.

Peel and slice carrots very thinly.  Place on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate until crispy.  Cool.  Pulse in a food processor.

*Butternut Squash
Peel and slice squash very thinly.  Place on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate until crispy.  Cool.  Pulse in a food processor.

Wash and then dry a bunch of spinach.  Remove stems.  Spread out on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate until crispy.  Cool.  Pulse in a food processor.

Spread out well as you place on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate until crispy.  Cool.  Pulse in a food processor.

*Cocoa Powder
Mix cocoa powder with whatever you are dyeing.

Monday, March 27

National Boy Scout Musuem

Have you visited the National Boy Scout Museum yet?  If not, now is the time to go because it is FREE!   On our trip to Medieval Times, we also visited the scouting museum, and it was jam-packed with activities and information....definitely a history and life skills field trip!  

If you have a scout (girl or boy), scroll down to the bottom to find out how you can combine their homeschooling with their badge studies in what I like to call "Badge-Schooling."
There is an extensive historical section, tracing Boy Scouts from it's 19th century roots all the way up to today.  You can even have a conversation with Lord Baden Powell!

Top Shot is an annual scouting event where the boys learn about gun safety and archery skills.  But these skills aren't just for boys!  The kids would have stayed in the bb range all day, but we finally made them leave.

One of the first skills new scouts learn is knots and knot-tying.  There are many hands-on practice areas in the museum for learning and practicing those skills.

Uh-oh...someone's up a creek without a paddle!  Inside the museum, you can practice your boating skills and safety.  Clearly, the boys are being very safe...

Also inside the museum, you can go spelunking in a cave!  Here, we are seeing exactly why wearing a helmet and paying attention are so important.

We also stumbled upon some nice scout-themed artwork from Norman of our favorite artists!  Check out our favorite paintings over here...

The museum is closing in May 2017, but is free for anyone to visit until that time.  If you're in the area, definitely check it out!  And if you are a scout, but not in the area, fret not.  They are dividing up their exhibits among other scout museums across the nation, such as the one at Philmont.  


Less Work = Less Stress & Higher Quality 

As Cub Scouts, we had been incorporating activities for their pins and elective badges into their school work (weather badge = weather unit study).  It led to lots of great hands-on experiences and field trips, and we got to work together as a family!

We are fairly hands-on already in our homeschooling, but I like that the badges include ideas (and requirements) for aspects of a topic that I would not have considered.  Also, since there are so many different badges available, the boys have a chance to really delve deep into the things that interest them...or that they think might interest them.  It can be difficult at times, as the teacher, to facilitate these activities - especially if I'm completely unfamiliar with them - but that's where your merit badge counselor comes in handy!

The badges incorporate public speaking, research, tactile activities, outside references, and group learning.  Homeschoolers don't always have the chance to practice these skills (particularly the first and last), so it's nice to belong to such a great troop, where they can get these experiences.  (And we do have a wonderful group of boys!!)

If you’re looking into Boy Scouts for your own son, or if you’re already involved, why not consider incorporating the practical skills being taught into his school?

Monday, March 20

Slow Cook Breakfast

March : Spring Forward with Less Stress

Learn the Crockpot Basics!!

Banana French Toast

  • 2 bananas, cut into 1/4" slices
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 13 oz evaporated milk
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 c chopped nuts (optional)

  1. Mix bananas with lemon juice.
  2. Put half bread cubes into slow cooker.  Top with bananas.  Then layer the rest of the bread cubes.
  3. Mix together eggs, milk, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Pour evenly on bread cubes.
  4. Refrigerate bread 6-8 hours.
  5. Sprinkle bread with sugar (and nuts). Cover and cook on low 5-7 hours (or high 3-4 hours).

Spicy Breakfast Bake

  1. 2 lb ground italian (or hot) sausage
  2. 9 oz green chiles
  3. 4 corn tortilla, sliced in 1" strips
  4. 2 c shredded cheese
  5. 1/2 c milk
  6. 8 eggs
  7. 1/2 tsp cumin
  8. 1 sliced tomato
  9. salsa and sour cream, to taste

  • Brown sausage in skillet.  Drain.
  • Mix chiles, tortillas, sausage, and cheese in crockpot.
  • In bowl, mix eggs, milk, and cumin.  Pour over sausage mixture.  Refrigerate several hours.
  • Put sliced tomatoes over sausage mix.  Cover and cook 7-9 hours on low (or high 3-4 hours0.  
  • Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Crispy Granola

  • 2 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c wheat germ
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts
  • 1/2 c coconut flakes
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1/4 c cranberry juice
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c dried fruit
  • 1/2 c raisins

  1. Mix oats, wheat germ, nuts, and coconut in slow cooker.
  2. In separate bowl, mix honey, juice, butter, sugar, and vailla.  Pour over oats.
  3. Cook uncovered on high 2-3 hours - stirring every half hour.
  4. Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours - stir regularly to prevent burnt spots.
  5. Mix in fruit and raisins after cooled.
  6. Stir in airtight container.

Wednesday, March 15

Cultural Cooking : Ireland

Ireland has always been at the top of our ‘to visit’ list…for someday.  Until then, we will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with our favorite Irish meal.  Taitneamh a bhaint as  (Enjoy!)
corned beef
Crockpot Corned Beef Brisket
  • 1 onion
  • carrots (chopped)
  • potatoes (diced)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • garlic clove
  • bay leaf
  • cabbage (chopped)
  1. Place cut vegetables on bottom of crock pot. 
  2. Place corned beef brisket on the top. 
  3. In mixing bowl combine broth and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over top of brisket. 
  4. Add garlic clove and bay leaf. Cook on low 6-8 hours. 
  5. Add cabbage to top of pot half way through cooking time.

Irish Soda Bread
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ¾ cup raisins
  1. In mixing bowl combine flours, baking soda, salt and sugar. 
  2. In separate bowl combine eggs and buttermilk. 
  3. Pour into dry ingredients and blend slightly, you just want the dough moistened so don't beat to long. Stir in raisins. 
  4. On a floured surface knead dough several minutes. 
  5. Place in a round cake pan. With a knife slice an X on the top of the loaf. 
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden.

Crockpot Irish Stew
  • 2-4 lbs. cubed chicken or beef
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 qt broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • carrots (chopped)
  • potatoes (chopped)
  • onions (sliced)
  1. Add ingredients to crock pot or large soup pan making sure liquid covers all meat and vegetables. 
  2. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours.

Monday, March 13

Counting Stars (One Republic)

If you've followed us for any length of time, you know that when there are airplanes or rockets nearby, we are there!  Our special needs son is just airplane-crazy...and we like to encourage his dreams (as we encourage everyone to dream) as much as possible.  Recently, we were close to the location of an air of course, we had to visit!
His dream job is to be the pilot on an air ambulance (hey - it takes all types, right?), so our very first stop on the pad was at that particular helicopter, where he peppered the pilots with questions!
A few more helicopters on our tour of the various machines, and we were able to climb aboard the air ambulance, too!  The Highway Patrol chopper pilot even explained how they track folks from the air.  Now...wasn't that nice of him?  Good to know, too!  😉
One of the first planes we had to inspect was the old WWII 'Lady Liberty.'  Interestingly enough, one of the dad's at our Boy Scout troop is the one that helped to rebuild this plane!  Seeing a stellar piece of flight history like this is pretty inspiring.
I tried, unsuccessfully, to get the boys to go skydiving with me...and then we saw how much the skydiving cost and decided that we would all go later.  So...helicopter rides instead!!
The helicopter flight gave us a new, bird's eye view of the city.  Since it was such a gorgeous day, the pilot had taken the doors off the chopper, which was a bit unsettling to brother (in the front seat), but he adjusted quickly.  It was just bee-you-tee-ful up there!!
Mid-morning, we took a break from the excitement and claimed a little piece of grass to call our own for the next hour or so of aviation aerobatics!
The National Anthem was sung as our American flag was brought down to earth by one of the skydivers!!
While we waited for the stunt show itself to get revved up, he looked around at the glider for sale, and we watched the veteran pilots do some formation flying.
First up was Kate Kyer, one of my personal aviation heroes.  If you can't get to an air show to see her work, then look it up on YouTube.  When you think about how hard this type of flying is on the body, it makes her performance even more transfixing!  The pictures don't really do it justice...
Airplanes here, airplanes there, airplanes airplanes everywhere!!!  Seriously...these stunt pilots had some awesome moves!
One of the highlights of his day was getting to meet the stunt pilot we had just seen zipping around in the sky!  He had lots of questions, and the guy was incredibly patient and sweet.
We rounded out his 'special day' with a late lunch at his favorite restaurant and a long walk down a dirt road.  Life is beautiful.  😎

Aviation Unit

Vocabulary Words
wind tunnel
air flow
air pressure
flight simulation
paper airplane
airplane surfaces
test pilot
military aircraft
aircraft design
Bernoulli's Principle
air resistance
Air Traffic Control
Peregrine Falcon
Venturi Effect
experimental aircraft
home built
cargo plane

More Aviation Units (full unit studies at each)

Thursday, March 9

Slow Cooker Basics

This year, a regular blog feature will be our crockpot series.  We are offering up some seasonally-appropriate, and holiday-appropriate, ideas for simple, healthy, family dinners.  We hope you find something tasty!!

Today, we want to step back and focus on the basics of using a crockpot, or slow cooker.  You probably already know how to use your crockpot for some things, but these tips will help you maximize its efficiency!


  • Make ahead.  If you're putting the crockpot on first thing in the morning before heading out the door, there are a few things you can do to expedite the process.  Chop your veggies the night before, and keep them in the fridge.  Defrost frozen items overnight in the fridge.  Gather all your non-perishables and place them next to the pot so that you're ready to go in the morning.
  • Different.  Not all crockpots work the same way.  Try out a few dishes, paying close attention to how they 'behave,' before you walk off and leave one on all day.  Some cook hotter, some evaporate more liquid...get to know your own device.
  • Frozen no-nos.  If your meal includes meat, make sure that you've defrosted it before placing it in the pot.  It also helps to brown red meats ahead of time, as that will help kill off some of the potential pathogens.
  • Clear lids.  Removing the lid while cooking releases a lot of heat, and you want to have heat.  So get a clear lid that you can see through, and leave that lid on tight!
  • Quick clean up.  There are removable inserts that you can use in your crockpot for a quick and easy clean up.  Y'all know that we try to stay green around here, and a little elbow grease can go a long way, so we don't use them, but they are available.

  • Never again.  Reheating leftovers in the crockpot is a 'recipe' for disaster.  Since it cooks at a lower temperature, it will increase the risk of bacteria contaminating the food.
  • Fill height.  The pot should be half to three-quarters full - no more, no less.  This helps the food to cook evenly at a safe temperature.
  • Liquid.  There will be more liquid in the pot when it's done cooking because the lid generates steam.  Be sure not to add too much!  If you do accidentally add too much, you can take the lid off at the very end and cook it on high for half an hour to evaporate some of the liquid.  Or just use a slotted spoon.
  • Equal.  Cutting food into same-sized pieces helps them to cook more evenly.  
Useful Items