Monday, June 29

Menu Planning Monday - June 29

Monday -
Tuesday -
Wednesday -
Thursday -
Friday - Challah, Roast Chicken,

Sunday, June 28

A Pair of Red Clogs

Our Five In A Row book for this week is A Pair of Red Clogs. Given our family connections with Korea, I am not sure how I am going to address the cultural issues.

Social Studies will consist of at least Geography
Language Arts will consist of vocabulary and story-telling
Math will consist of counting and playing store
Science will consist of Weather and Weather Forecasting

Saturday, June 27

Daring Challenge June

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Bakewell Tart History and Lore

Flan-like desserts that combine either sweet egg custard over candied fruit or feature spiced ground almonds in a pastry shell have Mediaeval roots. The term “Bakewell pudding” was first penned in 1826 by Meg Dods; 20 years later Eliza Acton published a recipe that featured a baked rich egg custard overtop 2cm of jam and noted,

“This pudding is famous not only in Derbyshire, but in several of our northern counties where it is usually served on all holiday occasions.”

By the latter half of the 1800s, the egg custard evolved into a frangipane-like filling; since then the quantity of jam decreased while the almond filling increased.

This tart, like many of the world's great foods has its own mythic beginnings…or several mythic beginnings. Legend has it in 1820 (or was it in the 1860s?) Mrs. Greaves, landlady of The White Horse Inn in Bakewell, Derbyshire (England), asked her cook to produce a pudding for her guests. Either her instructions could have been clearer or he should have paid better attention to what she said because what he made was not what she asked for. The cook spread the jam on top of the frangipane mixture rather than the other way around. Or maybe instead of a sweet rich shortcrust pastry case to hold the jam for a strawberry tart, he made a regular pastry and mixed the eggs and sugar

separately and poured that over the jam—it depends upon which legend you follow.

My Attempt

This challenge was lots of fun. It was neat to try a totally new process. I also liked that it was essentially dairy-free already so required very little in the way of modification. The hardest part of it was that I really had no idea what to expect as far a finished product when I started.

The shortbread-like crust was much easier to work that a traditional pie crust, even the Froggy wanted to try her hand at it. The next layer was the jam. I chose apricot. I should have used much much more than I did.

The second attempt turned out much much better. What is the old saying about practice. I used a homemade strawberry sauce for the "filling". Some of it leaked out creating a bit of a mess in the oven but there was still much much more inside to balance out the frangipane.

The other change was backing off a bit on the almond extract in the frangipane itself. These changes together made for a more balanced flavor.

The frangipane layer was luscious with a distinct almond flavor. The texture was perfect not too creamy but smooth.
The Recipe - courtesy of Jasmine and Annemarie. My modifications are in italics

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability - I probably only used 1/2 cup tops. Mistake on my part.
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes


Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened - Again I used coconut oil instead.
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle.(Mine did not appear curdled at all). After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Wednesday, June 17

WFMW - Learning Through Literature

Some people call it story stretchers, unit studies, add-ons, tie-ins. What ever term you use, it rocks our socks. Basically it means using a story as a starting point for all your other studies. The key to principle is that the story is repeated multiple times. This works well for us since we read the weekly Torah portion every morning. For each Parsha/holiday, we try to a craft. We have done all of our phonics/reading and math practice around the Parshot.

This week we begin Five In A Row, which is a curriculum created around the concept of learning through literature. We chose to start with Madeline. Here are some of the activities we will do related to the story.

Monday Geography
Locate France on world map
Locate Paris on map of France
Show Seine river
Talk about river transport
Tuesday – LA – Vocabulary
Wednesday – Math
Grouping – use manipulatives - Madeline cutouts
Thursday – Art
Look at photos of Paris – try to match to the illustrations
Friday – Science
Healthy habits “Thank the Lord you are well”

So Learning through Literature really works for us. What works for you? To see what works for others check out We Are That Family

Tuesday, June 16

They have arrived

Cucumbers have arrived in our garden. I had been checking and checking but seeing essentially no progress is the development of the fruit. Yesterday we discovered some that were finally starting to develop some. While looking at these emerging fruit we found two beauties hidden deep under the vines that should have been picked at least a few days earlier. Now at least I know where and how to look for all my hidden gems.

For dinner last night we had a green salad with the last of our lettuce and the first of our cucumbers. We will not be buying any more cucumber from the store for the rest of the summer. As you can see, some one could not wait for dinner to sample the goodness.
We took out the remains of the lettuce and added in some additional tomato plants. We will see how they do. So far the count from the garden is

Lettuce ++
Spinach ++
Cucumbers ++
peas +
beans -
strawberries -
Potatoes ?

Monday, June 15

Menu Planning Monday - The In Laws are coming

My in laws will be here for Father' s Day and will be staying for about 10 days. I do not do any menu planning while they are here as my mother in law loves to cook for us. I will make Shabbat dinner since they are not Jewish and anything else would be awkward.

In preparation for their coming, we eat foods we know they won't enjoy sharing with us or we pretest things to share with them. Regardless we try to make sure we have no leftovers when they arrive.

So here is our menu this week

Monday - Pasta with Homemade Sauce
Tuesday - Dinner at the Amusement Park
Wednesday - Tofu Stir Fry
Thursday - Salmon Burgers
Erev Shabbat - Challah, Brown Sugar Salmon, Sugar Snap Peas, Rice, Keem. A neat parve cake

Monday, June 8

Menu Planning Monday - June 8

Most of the experimenting in my cooking right now is in my search for the perfect supper salad for my family which does not seem to like salads at all. This week it takes the form of pasta primavera salad.

Monday - Chicken Salad Primavera, basically this recipe for the dressing with our own mix of veggies.
Tuesday - Burgers, corn, green salad
Wednesday - Concernt in the park - Picnic Dinner - a wonderful selection of breads, spreads, meats,salads and fresh fruit with some small cookies and brownies for dessert.
Thursday - Pasta, homemade sauce, green salad
Friday - Pot Roast, acorn squash, green beans, ,melted ice cream cake

Sunday, June 7

Our PreK Year

I just ordered the last of our curriculum for the new school year. Since we run a year round program here we just started our new Judiaca studies, Jewish Values, having finished Alef Celebrations with sadness as it missed. We will continue with our current two parsha book, restarting My First Parsha at Simchat Torah. I am not sure whether or not we will restart My Weekly Siddur probably though.

We will be using Five In a Row (FIAR) as the focus for our secular studies. We are also giving Singapore Math and Story of the World a try. Since this is our preK year* I am only testing the waters with both of these. I have yet to figure out how to add them into our daily routine but at least I know what pieces I am working with.

The current plan is to keep the morning school routine focused mostly on Judaica and add in Math only. The FIAR story will be her bedtime book with the activities placed through out the day/week according to practicallity. I have no idea what we are going to do with Story of the World. We may just pick and choose segments in a hit or miss fashion this year and do more with it the following year.

*The state disagrees with me saying that our preK year is not for yet another year since Froggy will not even be 4 on September 30th

Wednesday, June 3

Garden Harvest

Our little garden is doing amazing things. The lettuce and spinach took off like gang-busters. We have plenty to eat. There is something about lettuce and spinach coming from HER garden that means Froggy will eat at least a few bites of it.

Today we harvested the very first of our peas. The peas have been a serious hassle as they do not seem to like my trellis material. Still they are growing. It was fun showing Froggy how to open the pods to get at the peas. She ate all the peas right there in the yard.

Our squash-family plants are growing phenomenally. Unfortunately the fruit is developing at a glacial pace. I am concerned that some how I planted a winter squash rather than the desired cucumbers.

Our tomato plants are growing but not producing anything yet. We just had the first flowers appear. We have a couple of spots vacant in the garden. I am going to add either tomatoes or cucumbers in these holes.

Tuesday, June 2

WFMW - PJ Library

Everyone likes to receive unexpected presents in the mail. Right? Well PJ Library sends my daughter a book every month. So not only does she get mail but she gets a new book. She gets a great book. As they say, "The PJ Library program sends Jewish-content books and music on a monthly basis to children from age six months to five, six, seven or eight years depending on the community." The selection process is rigorous. The only books we have not liked are because of our family's strange indosyncracies. PJ Library helps me finds books I would never even know exist.

This month's selection, First Gift, was so good and so sweet it made me cry as I read it. This is not the first time I have had that reaction to a PJ book. They touch a very special place in my heart. It is about our name, the first gift your parents give you. The text of the story is short and funny and sweet yet the end notes delve into Jewish naming customs and the reasons for these customs.

Last month's selection, And Shira Imagined, took us on a tour of Israel allowing us to see it through the imaginative eyes of a young girl.

The books are age appropriate with a different book list for every year.

Monday, June 1

Menu Planning Monday - A Summer Showdown

I am trying out some new recipes this week, new conceptual plans for family dinners that work better with our summer life style.

My plan for the summer is to cook as little in the house as possible and to turn the oven on only once a week for Shabbat.

Our general dinner plan will be
  1. A Supper Salad
  2. Something on the grill - kebobs, burgers, etc
  3. pasta or pizza or leftovers
  4. stir fry
  5. Shabbat
  6. leftovers
  7. surprise - ie whatever I feel like that week.
The trick will be finding supper salads and grill items the whole family is willing to eat. Here are the specifics for this week. I have the specific menus but since my evening plans are greatly in flux with several possible meetings, the order of the meals is not set yet.

Hamburgers, corn on the cob, green salad with lettuce and spinach from our garden
Black bean and rice salad using either this or this recipe, fresh fruit and crusty peasant bread (hopefully homemade)
Pasta, homemade sauce and a green salad
Tofu Stir Fry, Rice and Keem

Shabbat -
part of prepping for Shabbat in the summer is doing my once a week baking. In addition to making the Challah, I will make a batch of cookies and muffins. Our menu will also provide leftovers to use ins several meals next week.
Shabbat menu - Roast Chicken (leftovers will go into the supper salad for next week), Steamed broccoli, roasted potatoes (with extras for potato salad) individual berry parfaits with homemade coconut milk ice cream.