Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Making Books

In seeking out inspiration for how to make this year's haggadah, I stumbled on this blog, and got so many wonderful ideas! I finally settled on using this format. I have some great big 9" x 18" black construction paper that we haven't done much with this year. I measured it so I could divide it into seven sections (x 2) so I have enough sections for the 14 parts of the haggadah. We'll use silver pen for the headings, and then add all kinds of drawings, clip art, and text. Now I'm excited! I hadn't found a format that really did it for me, but now that we have that, we'll work on the rest!

One of my favorite "haggadahs" we did was when Amirah was 4. We made clay beads and strung them. In between the clay beads we put a tag with the next part of the haggadah on it. She could follow along with each section by rotating her necklace. That was a lot of fun! We're not big cut-and-paste learners, so what works best for us is to each contribute something to each section to make it special. It's a bit less labor intensive this way. We did Pirkei Avos this way last year and that was a huge hit. In fact, this year we'll be adding to our book rather than just making a new one. Adding new quotes, songs, and pictures, and reviewing all the things from last year.

Reading through the book-making blog also got me thinking about all kinds of other ideas. What a fun way to do book reports! Or any kind of report. Okay, this is all too much fun and keeps me up late thinking of new projects. OY. Time to sleep! :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ethiopian Feast

Here's our menu for Sunday's Ethiopian feast:

alecha (braised carrots, potatoes, and cabbage)
gomen wat (stew of mixed greens; I used mustard greens, collard greens, and spinach)
shiro wat (stew of chick peas)
yemiser wat (lentil stew)
farmers cheese
simple green salad (iceberg, tomato, lemon juice, salt; to offset the spicier, warmer dishes)

I made the injera batter a few days ago (it ferments like a sourdough). I made four of the stews tonight. It took about 90 minutes or so. Tomorrow I'll make the salad, alecha, and pan-fry the injera (it's like a giant pancake). YUM!

If you're interested... here are the recipes! Any one of them would make a really frugal, delicious meal with a side of injera. :)

2 T. oil
1 clove garlic, minced

1 yellow onion, diced

1-1/2 cups water

2 carrots, peeled and sliced in coins

4 potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 T. grated ginger

1/2 t. turmeric

1 t. salt

1/4 t. black pepper

1 T. butter

1/2 c. water

1/4 of a medium green cabbage (about 2 cups, cut into long thin slivers)

salt and black pepper to taste

Saute onions in oil until softened, then add 1-1/2 cups water, garlic, carrots, potatoes, freshly grated ginger, salt, pepper and turmeric. Cook until vegetables start to soften, adding liquid if needed. Add butter, cabbage, and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes until veggies are tender.

Gomen Wat
1½ lbs. greens (I used mustard greens, collard greens, and spinach)
¼ cup butter or oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cardamom

Boil greens until tender. Drain and squeeze out excess water, then chop. Saute onion, garlic, ginger and hot peppers in oil or butter for about 5 minutes. Add greens, broth, salt, pepper and cardamom. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Farmers Cheese
I just heated up a gallon of milk to near-boiling, then added 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. You can also use lemon juice. I let it sit while the curds separate, then scoop it out. After it cools a little I squeeze the excess liquid out, then mash up the cheese with a little salt.

Shiro Wat
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c. butter
3 T. tomato paste
2/3 c, water
2 c. pureed chick peas (I soaked them overnight then pureed them; it's more traditional to use a chick pea flour, but that we don't have here, and no grinder yet... pureed chick peas worked GREAT!)
minced ginger and garlic
salt, to taste

Cook the onions in the butter. When softened, add the tomato paste and mix well. Wait a few minutes, add 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Add the chickpea puree slowly and stir as you add it. Add more water if it gets to thick and is sticking to the pan. Add ginger, garlic, and salt to taste.

Yemiser Wat
1 c. dried brown lentils
1 c. chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c. butter
1 t. berbere
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. paprika
2 c. diced tomatoes
½ c. tomato paste
1 c. water
salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse and cook the lentils. Saute the onions and garlic in the butter until softened. Add the berbere, cumin, and paprika and saute while stirring. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for five minutes. Add 1 cup of water and continue simmering. When the lentils are cooked, drain them and mix them into the sauté. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

1/2 t. ground ginger
1/8 t. cinnamon
t. ground cardamom
t. allspice
t. ground coriander
1 T. salt
1/4 t. ground fenugreek
1/2 c. cayenne pepper
1/4 t. grated nutmeg
1/4 c. paprika
1/8 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. fresh ground black pepper

The recipes above don't use much, so if you're only doing the above recipes you really could substitute some cayenne pepper and paprika. It's a really great spice mixture, though!

And now, the BEST PART...



Use LARGE bowls. The batter can get very gassy and bubbly and expand quite a bit.

Large bowl #1:

5 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
1 T. yeast
enough water to make it the consistency of pancake batter

Large bowl #2:

5 cups teff flour + enough water to make a thick dough
pour enough water over the dough to completely cover it

Let both bowls sit for 48 hours.

After 48 hours, combine both bowls. Boil 2 cups of water, and whisk in 1 cup of the teff/flour mixture. Bring to a boil. After a few minutes it will get quite thick and hard to stir. Whisk it back into the big bowl of the teff/flour mixture. Let the batter sit on the counter for a couple of hours, then it's ready! If you're not ready to make the injera yet, just stick it in the refrigerator.

Heat up your griddle (if you have one) or your largest frying pan (that's me!) and heat it until it's pretty hot. Add oil or shortening before each pancake every time. Make a very, very large single pancake (or 2 on the griddle). Cover the pan with a lid. Let it cook for 3 minutes or until the edges start to curl up. Carefully lift it out (two spatulas?) and set it out to cool. Start the next injera. When the first one has cooled, roll it up and put it on a platter.

To serve, you can either roll an injera out on your plate, and place scoops of the various dishes onto it, or you can put out a large communal platter with various stews on it. To eat, tear off a piece of injera and use it to scoop up a morsel of stew. YUM. I am really drooling for this one, but I was really good and only took little sips to make sure it was seasoned correctly.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Menu

A simple one tonight...

chicken w/bbq sauce
roasted asparagus
roasted zucchini
mashed potatoes
coleslaw with vinaigrette dressing

And for lunch...

We're out!

The menu I'm really looking forward to is on Sunday. We're swapping an Ethiopian feast for a photography session with one of the SCAD photography professors. Dean worked to develop a course with him. The injera batter has been bubbling away for a few days and is now sitting in the fridge. I'm so tempted to make a sample (it's a new-to-me recipe), but I'll hold off so I can taste it for the first time on Sunday. The teff (I make injera that is 50% teff flour and 50% wheat flour) is the last of the teff I brought from Portland to here. I'll have to mail order the next batch! We got some really good, very fresh spices, and I made up a batch of berbere (berbere is for Ethiopian food what curry is for Indian food - lots of different spices!). I'll post the Ethiopian menu later. So much looking forward to the food. It's probably one of my favorite cuisines, so I'm not sure why it's been so long since I cooked it! Now with a quart-sized batch of berbere, I'll have to make it more regularly. :)

Good shabbos, all!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Keeps Me Up at Night

My night plate is a bit full right now. Hence, not much blogging. :) What's it full with??

•writing the piano accompaniments for our choir songs

•writing up materials for the recorder class

•planning pesach menus and cleaning schedule

•finding new songs to add to our holiday songbook (good to learn a few new ones every year!)

•composing some new halacha songs

•finding new (to us) tefillah melodies (as a musician we definitely can't just learn one or two or three!)

•gathering the paperwork (adoption and property tax) that we need for t-t-t-t-taxes.

•planning our learning time and making sure we'll have enough done before real pesach madness hits

•researching a little about Georgia fruits and vegetables as we hope to get in 4 beds in the next couple of weeks (one herbs, one greens, one cool veggies like broccoli etc., one warm veggies)

•grocery shopping and drawing class (my two evening outings)

•and the hour or so of housecleaning I do every night, including prepping doughs and anything else that needs to be done for our coming meals

So, like I said, a wee bit busy during those evening hours. But GOOD busy. REALLY good busy. It's been fun to sink my teeth into some fun music projects. Learning anything I need to learn to teach the next day is also really fun, especially for kodesh studies. Now, if only I could master the art of Going to Bed on Time. Some day... GOOD NIGHT!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Menu

For dinner...

steak (still using up the 50% off steak sale!)
green salad
rice pasta pilaf
mashed potatoes (for Amirah, for whom it's not shabbos without potatoes)
roasted zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic
roasted asparagus
lemon cake with lemon curd

And for lunch...

SUSHI! (in honor of the month of Adar whose symbol is the fish)
Japanese steak salad
cole slaw
cucumber salad
lemon cake and lemon curd

Good shabbos zachor to all! And a freilichen purim!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Narration of the Week

In astronomy, we've been drawing and studying Venus. Raizel's narration was unanimously declared the best! Here it is:

Venus is very, very hot.
It doesn't drop on the ground.
It starts with the same letter as "violin."

This has had us laughing hard for rather a long time... :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Menu

AKA, how to make shabbos meals in two hours! I got a later than usual start today, but at least I had already made the sorbet and tossed the challah dough in the fridge to rise over night! Phew! I'm still done early enough... Can't explain that one!

For dinner:

flounder with preserved lemon salsa
a light harira (Moroccan soup but w/o the meat or beans, just broth, eggs, tomato paste, veggies and spices)
apricot chicken tagine
roasted carrots
basmati rice
spinach salad
strawberry kiwi sorbet

And for lunch:

most of the same,
except curried chicken apple salad instead of the tagine

Good shabbos, all!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Learning Update

Amirah is on the second half of Saxon 2 now. It still isn't to where Singapore was when we left it, but I think she still needs the slower pace. I still don't think we've quite hit the nail on the head for math. I may switch again in the fall after we see where we're at after finishing Saxon 2.

Raizel finished Early Bird Kindergarten Singapore Math, and is now doing their other kindergarten series, which is only slightly harder. Eli finished 1A in Singapore, but has really enjoyed doing Saxon 1 so as long as he's happy learning along we'll stick with that.

Eli continues to love this series. He has learned so much reading just by doing this that we haven't been doing Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. He's learning everything he needs from Explode the Code for now. Raizel is doing the set of books leading up to ETC (Books A, B, C). Somewhat easy for her, but she LOVES doing it. I probably could have put her in Book 1 of ETC, but I'd rather not rush things or push her.

We have had so much fun with our astronomy studies. We can now identify the constellation Orion, and the stars Sirius, Aldeberan, Betelgeuse, and Regel. That's the chunk of sky that we can see easily right above the yard between the trees. :) The three oldest are keeping astronomy notebooks. So far we've added information about the sun and Mercury. We did watercolor paintings of Mercury, using white crayon to draw craters and pits all over the surface, then covering in gray paint. It looks a lot like the real thing! They each have an "In My Own Words" page where they put down as much as they can about each planet we're studying. I take dictation from Eli and Raizel, and Amirah writes down her own.

Most days we have had smooth sailing with chumash study. Today was not one of those days, but I'm hoping we return to our new normal tomorrow. I made a set of index cards, and each one has one word on it. I bundled them into one-pasuk sections. We go through the set of cards, and generally she has a 60% comprehension rate right off the bat. After we've gone through it once, we separate out the words she didn't recognize and she draws a picture clue on the back of the card to help her with the translation. Then we go through the deck again. She gets 3 points for reading and translating a word (including parsing out the prefixes and suffixes), 2 points if she can read it and translate it with the help of the clue card, and 1 point if she is only able to read it.

Other activities we have done:

•Putting all the cards out and having her put them in the correct order.

•Making a chart with the translation of the pasuk, then having her place the Hebrew word on top of the English equivalent and vice versa.

•Matching the shoresh to the word or words with that shoresh.

At first it was taking 2 days to really master it, but now we're down to 1 day. I'm hoping that June we'll be up to two pesukim per day and continue to progress through the summer. We're also back into Lashon Hatorah after a break of several months. The first book was really easy and we finished it in 1st grade. The second book gets a good bit harder!

Everything else is just humming along as usual. In history, we're studying England's 100 Years War and are about to get to the War of the Roses, and Spain in 1492... the Inquisition and Columbus. We're in the last 3 weeks of our spelling book; we'll just be rolling on into the next one. Writing With Ease and First Language Lessons continues to work well for us... I think my brain just got to the end of its usefulness this evening. Time for sleep! Good night, all!

Good News

The good news is, if your transmission goes out and its fancy-shmancy computer chip might also need to be replaced, at least you get a free car wash and a free fix for the car cd player that hasn't been listened to ever since we owned the car. I think cars were better machines before they got high-tech. Crank windows and doors that you have to actually push to close were just fine with me. Oh, well! In 9 or more days we should have a much-improved car to drive around. So glad we're not that car dependent! B"H!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Menu

For dinner:


And for lunch:


We're going out for both meals! B"H! Just when the house is really, really in need of a good cleaning, and just when we also need to do a bit of catchup in our chumash studies. So we had a great learning session this morning, and had fun delivering shabbos goodies to our hosts after lunch.

Now, for the cleaning, which is already in motion by the four kids. Hooray! We could get a lot done today. I had thought I might do some mishloach manos preparations this afternoon, but I think I'll put that off until Saturday night. Good shabbos!