Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Subversive tuna recipe

Subversive because, according to a certain person on American TV (see two posts below), I should be contributing more to society than a tuna recipe.

But I'm going to send it around anyway, because it's pretty easy and because it's not tuna casserole. The Squirrel family really does not like tuna casseroles. We've tried regular tuna casserole, Asian tuna casserole, a few other variations, and they all end up tasting like...tuna casserole.

So when we hit a really good sale on tuna a few weeks ago (I think it was 58 cents a can, so eat your heart out David Tsubouchi--does anyone remember his little tuna fiasco?), I wasn't sure what we were going to do with several cans of tuna besides make sandwiches.

Then I remembered Edna Staebler's recipe for Salmon or Tuna Wrap-Up in More Food That Really Schmecks. Edna recently turned 100 and celebrated with a big birthday party. This book came out when she was a young thing of about 75 and I was just learning to cook...Mom and Dad Squirrel gave me a copy for my birthday that year.

Oh yes...the recipe. Well, I'm not going to give you the whole thing because I think you can figure most of it out for yourself. This is what you do:

1. Make your favourite tuna salad with two cans of tuna (or salmon). Because we have some food aversions in the family to things like raw chopped onion, we make about the simplest possible tuna salad: tuna plus some generic white salad dressing (you know the stuff, it looks like mayonnaise) plus a spoonful of pickle relish. You can use any other kind of tuna salad you want, as healthy or as unhealthy as you prefer.

2. Make a biscuit dough with the following ingredients: 1/4 cup butter, margarine or oil; 2 cups flour (I used unbleached all-purpose); 3 tsp. baking powder; 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. salt; 3/4 cup milk or enough to make the dough hang together. This is just basic biscuit dough with an extra teaspoon of baking powder.

3. Roll the dough out into an oblong about 1/2 inch thick. Either spread the tuna salad over it and roll up like a jelly roll (what we did); or line a greased loaf pan with the dough, with the edges hanging out, plop the tuna salad on top, and bring the edges not quite together in the middle (leave a vent). If you roll it up like a jelly roll, put the whole thing into the greased loaf pan.

4. Bake at 400 degrees F for at least 15 minutes, maybe 20, until the biscuit dough is done. (I had it in at 425 degrees just to be sure.) If you rolled it up, you can remove it from the loaf pan, slice it into several rounds, and serve it on a platter. If you did the wrap-around version, you'll probably have to serve it from the pan.

5. Serve with a white sauce or gravy if you like, and a salad. (We have a vegetarian gravy recipe from the Goldbecks' book American Wholefoods Cuisine, that's simple to mix up. I'll post it if anybody wants it.)

6. Ta-da. Hot tuna sandwiches.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Crayons does it her own way

Since our last post three weeks ago about Crayons' reading progress, she's moved on from Arthur's Pen Pal to two Golly Sisters books, Little Bear, and a couple of other easy readers. Tonight she worked through Caps for Sale, even though she had to ask what a bunch of the words were. (If I'm sitting beside her, she just stops reading until I say the word she doesn't know--I can pretty much predict which ones are going to stump her anyway.) She reads the same books over and over, to herself, to her doll, or to anyone who will listen. [Side note for anyone who's just climbed up to the Treehouse: Crayons will be five this May.]

Part of what she's doing is memory of the story, especially on the hard words. Part of it is her good memory for sight words, and part of it is sounding things out. She already knows these stories so well that what she remembers can carry her over the things she can't sound out. Every few days I try to dig out something at her level that I remember her sisters reading at that stage, and help her read through it. Or if it's one of those four-stories-in-one books like Frog and Toad, I'll read a story and then she'll read a story. After that she just takes the book and reads it until we don't ever want to hear it again.

I read the curriculum catalogues and realize how much learn-to-read material we seem to be skipping over. It's not systematic, it's not sequential. We've been playing games for about a year to get her to this point [Side Note: We're only talking a few minutes of word games every couple of days, in case you think I pressured a four-year-old into learning to read], but it was her own sudden burst of confidence that moved her into this new "I can do it" stage. If I had a child who would just take things at the "normal" pace, I'd use the old Alphaphonics book and help her grow her reading vocabulary bit by bit. But Crayons (like her sisters) hasn't wanted lists of phonics words, or especially anything to do with "short vowels" or "consonants"...in a way, she's not even ready for them. What four-year-old is? What she wanted was to be able to read books, and now she's there. Buddy-reading time (when we're reading books written at about a grade 2 level) has changed from me reading most of the words and letting her fill in a line here and there, to her doing most of the words and me filling in the extras.

At this point it doesn't take a lot of teaching. It doesn't take follow-up activities (let's all pretend we have a pen pal like Arthur, and write a letter to him). It just takes a lot of listening.

Quote from Crayons: "I can read a zillion stories, and I know about numbers, so now I want to do math."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Thursday, February 23, 2006

John Ruskin on books

"What do we, as a nation, care about books? How much do you think we spend altogether on our libraries, public or private, as compared with what we spend on our horses? If a man spends lavishly on his library, you call him mad--a biblio-maniac. But you never call any one a horse-maniac, though men ruin themselves every day by their horses, and you do not hear of people ruining themselves by their books. Or, to go lower still, how much do you think the contents of the book-shelves of the United Kingdom, public and private, would fetch, as compared with the contents of its wine-cellars?....how long most people would look at the best book before they would give the price of a large turbot for it!" "Bread of flour is good, but there is bread, sweet as honey, if we would eat it, in a good book; and the family must be poor indeed which, once in their lives, cannot for such multipliable barley-loaves, pay their baker's bill." --John Ruskin, "Of Kings' Treasuries," in Sesame and Lilies

Ruskin on masked words

"There are masked words droning and skulking about us....which nobody understands, but which everybody uses, and most people will also fight for, live for, or even die for, fancying they mean this, or that, or the other, or things dear to them: for such words wear chameleon cloaks--"groundlion" cloaks, of the color of the ground of any man's fancy: on that ground they lie in wait, and rend him with a spring from it. There were never creatures of prey so mischievous, never diplomatists so cunning, never poisoners so deadly, as these masked words; they are the unjust stewards of all men's ideas; whatever fancy or favorite instinct a man most cherishes, he gives to his favorite masked word to take care of for him; the word at last comes to have an infinite power over him,--you cannot get at him but by its ministry."

--John Ruskin, "Of Kings' Treasuries," in Sesame and Lilies

An educated person

"....you might read all the books in the British Museum (if you could live long enough), and remain an utterly "illiterate," uneducated person; but....if you read ten pages of a good book, letter by letter,--that is to say, with real accuracy,--you are for evermore in some measure an educated person."

--John Ruskin, "Of Kings' Treasuries" in Sesame and Lilies

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

All around the kitchen

Re-posted in 2011, with updates

Our friend the DHM at The Common Room started a Meme for Monday. In other words, a quiz game to play and pass on, in this case about our kitchens and cooking habits.

1. How many meals does most of your family eat at home each week? How many are in your family?

Two adults, one teenager, two younger children. We eat most meals at home, maybe eat out once a month. Mr. Fixit sometimes stays at work over lunch and goes out for a burger.

2. How many cookbooks do you own?

I thought I had quite a few, but definitely not as many as the DHM's guess of 300. Maybe 40? I have some doubles for the girls (for when they're out on their own someday).

3. How often do you refer to a cookbook each week?

Including my binder of printouts and clippings? Probably several times a week.

4. Do you collect recipes from other sources?

The Internet is one of my favourite sources as well, particularly recipes from friends' blogs. I also think the recipes from Canadian Living turn out pretty well. As Mama Lion said in her responses, the Internet has definitely changed my cookbook-buying habits and also my clipping-and-saving habits. Reading the Hillbilly Housewife's site alone has been the equivalent of a new cookbook.

5. How do you store recipes?

The ones I like go into a binder. Clippings I'm just thinking about go in an accordion file.

6. Do you follow recipes pretty closely, or use them primarily to give you ideas?

Depends on what it is. I've read so many recipes for things like lentil soup that by now I just notice "oh, they put in oregano and carrots, maybe I'll try that." But some recipes work so well just the way they're written that I don't want to change them. I like recipes that give you variations and suggestions for substitutions, because I don't always have whatever-it-is on hand.

7. Is there a particular ethnic style or flavor that predominates in your cooking?

How about this: Post-vegetarian/tightwad/comfort food with a few shots of Mennonite and Schwabian. (Mr. Fixit's family cooked in an Eastern European style that combined German, Hungarian and Croatian cooking influences.)

8. What's your favourite kitchen task related to meal planning and preparation?

Taking something out of the oven that smells good. And maybe puttering around before supper time, getting everything on the table.

9. What's your least favourite part?

Peeling things.

10. Do you plan menus before you shop?

I usually have several meals in mind but I don't always know when we're going to have them.

11. What are your favourite kitchen tools or appliances?

Crockpot, toaster oven, timer. And Mr. Fixit's power grinder that sharpens knives, but that's in the garage.

12. If you could buy one new thing for your kitchen, money no object and space not an issue, what would you most like to have?

A gas stove and new curtains.

13. Since money and space probably are objects, what are you most likely to buy next?

A blender, if I can find one at a yard sale. (I want to make milkshakes.)

14. Do you have a separate freezer for storage?

Yes, we just got one.

15. Grocery shop alone or with others?

We all go together on Saturdays, and then Mr. Fixit goes to the butcher's when he's at that end of town.

16. How many meatless main dish meals do you fix in a week?

It depends on the week. Usually a couple of nights a week, and then I guess you could count "meatless leftovers" the next day!

17. If you have a decorating theme in your kitchen, what is it? Favourite kitchen colours? (And yes, I spell Canadian; doing it the other way is like walking backwards for me.)

A theme? "Homeschool Contemporary." Blue and yellow flowered wallpaper. I have a few vintage china things out that I like, roosters and funny-face jam jars.

18. What's the first thing you ever learned to cook, and how old were you?

My mother let me put bacon on the Kraft Pizza Mix when I was about three...

19. How did you learn to cook?

Brownie Cooking Badge when I was nine?

"1. Prepare a breakfast, set the table and serve the breakfast. It should include: juice, cooked cereal, boiled or poached egg, toast and milk. Tea or coffee for adults.

2. Prepare and pack the following in a lunch box:
a) A sandwich made with meat, poultry, fish, cheese, egg or peanut butter filling. [I guess tofu spread wasn't an option?]
b) A raw vegetable, washed and prepared, such as carrots, turnip or celery sticks.
c) A raw fruit or cooked or canned fruit in a leak-proof container.
d) Simple cookies you have made.
e) A hot drink in an insulated container.
Prepare and serve, at a table or on a tray, a lunch or supper to include:
a) Hot soup, either homemade or canned.
b) A sandwich made with meat, fish, poultry, cheese, egg or vegetable filling; with a raw vegetable served on the side.
c) Canned fruit.
d) Milk, tea or coffee for adults."

I also learned from making a lot of dinners during high school (my mom often got home from work right at supper time) and from working for a chef in a camp kitchen one summer. I did NOT learn from the one year of grade 7 home ec I took.

[Oh, I forgot to say that I took a Community Nutrition Worker course ten years ago. But that wasn't about learning to cook--it was more about budgeting and shopping, and getting people to try things like lentils.]

20. Who else would you like to participate?

Has to be somebody else with a blog, right? OK, I tag Marsha at the Abarbablog.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

Barbie goes to the mall

One day, Barbie went to the mall.

She saw a new store and decided to try on some clothes.

"I think I'm starting to see a pattern here!"

"Aaahh! Even the shoes are too skimpy!"

"Can I help you with something?"
"You can help me get pneumonia! I'm shopping somewhere else."

Barbie was walking to the pizza restaurant when she saw another new store.

So she went in.

She liked the clothes...

...and the hairstyles.

So she tried on an outfit.

She liked it so much that she bought it and another.

"Thanks so much for telling us about this awesome store, Barbie."
"Check out my cool threads, man."
"Yeah! This is, like, so totally retro!"

The End.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Treehouse milestones

1. Crayons read her first really real book out loud today: Arthur's Pen Pal, by Lillian Hoban. This isn't the aardvark Arthur from Marc Brown's TV series; this Arthur is a chimp. (Link on GoodReads)

2. The Apprentice made chocolate chip cookies all by herself. OK, she's baked other things, but this was her own idea and she did all the work. Except for cracking the eggs. The Apprentice will do anything to avoid getting gook on her fingers.

3. Ponytails can sing all the words to Kiki Dee's part of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." She's also got most of the Kings and Queens of England song down pat, even though Beethoven's Wig had to go back to the library.

4. French Fry had a little tour around the house in his plastic ball. (We're pretty sure that French Fry is a boy.)

Some days are just full of new things.

Don't strategize me

The most overused, most meaningless word I've heard lately is "strategy." Usually used in the plural.

Example: a radio commercial against drinking and driving offers some suggestions (take a taxi) and then asks, "Which of these strategies do you use?" (How about just not getting drunk in the first place?)

Educationalists love "strategies", usually reading strategies. What strategies will Junior use to figure out the next word? Will he guess? Will he use the picture as a clue? This pretty much ignores the real problem, which is that Junior doesn't know because nobody's taught him.

The Apprentice got it right on. When I mentioned my issue with "strategies" to her, she said, "Isn't that a Dilbert kind of word?" Exactly. Nothing accomplished but it sure sounds good.

Monday, February 06, 2006

How to Shovel Snow, by Ponytails

How to shovel snow.
First you will need a shovel. Than you need to have a place with some snow. Than when you have got to your snowie place you take your shovel and dig gently. When you have got some snow on your shovel you dump it some where else. Than keep doing that till your done. And that is how you shovel snow.


[Mama Squirrel's comment: Yep, that about sums it up.]

Sunday, February 05, 2006

More of the Hamster and the Hamster, by Ponytails.

Okay, coffeemamma and others who have been waiting to find out who won the race in, "The Hamster and the Hamster", here it is:

[Part One is here]

And now they're at the same speed! Now it looks a lot like Josanne is going to win! Do you see Josanne just one Meter ahead! It is Josanne no! Rosanne. It looks like Josanne a lot. And there is the finish just one Meter ahead! Well for Josanne it is. And JOSANNE wins! The Rabbits cheer and they can’t stop! After they went home and had some nice warm bath.(But there is going to be more).


Friday, February 03, 2006

The Hamster and the Hamster, by Ponytails

Hi, this is Ponytails. I am creating a story called The Hamster and The Hamster. Would you like to hear what I've done so far?

Dear Young Readers,

I will be happy to tell you the story of....................the Hamster and the Hamster.

Once upon a time there lived a Hamster named Rosanne and a Hamster named Josanne.
And they lived in a Castle the end. Just kidding! Ok now on with the story. And Rosanne And Josanne were cousins. One sunny day the Hamsters said they would like to Race. So they got some Rabbits to ready set go! And the Hamsters ran and ran! As fast as their little legs could take them! And then Josanne got in front and now Rosanne in the lead. And what is this? Why it is Josanne two Meters in front and now Rosanne in the lead it looks like Josanne maybe could it be Rosanne? The whistle blows time for a little BREAK! Ok now it is the end of the little BREAK.
Now it looks like Rosanne in the lead no! it’s Josanne now! No Rosanne I can’t keep track! Ok now what’s this? It’s Rosanne bumping in front! Now Josanne bumping in front could it be true?

What’s this? A wheel now Josanne in the wheel she can’t stop! Good she is off. Now Rosanne so fast on the wheel no could it be? the Rabbits are cheering for JOSANNE! Rosanne don’t bump. There’s the finish line ten Meters. Now Rosanne is making it nine Meters cause she went by one Meter. And on went Josanne and Rosanne five Meters till they finish. Five for Josanne and six Meters for Rosanne.(Remember their Hamsters).

Do you like it so far?


Thursday, February 02, 2006

The funniest Groundhog Day joke I know

Pardon me if you've heard this too many times.

The teacher told her class that today was Groundhog Day.

There was silence and then a boy in the back of the class piped up, "Boy, am I glad I brought my own lunch!"

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Introducing...French Fry

Some things we did today

Not necessarily in order.

1. Made a batch of Raisin Sesame Cookies (Mama Squirrel mixed and the Squirrelings plopped them on the pans).

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup milk or enough to get the dough to hold together

Sift flour, soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in raisins.

Beat together oil, sugar and egg. Add rolled oats, sesame seeds and milk. Combine with flour mixture until well blended.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets, allowing room for cookies to spread. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes (watch them at the end). Makes about 4 dozen medium-sized cookies.

(Source: The Harrowsmith Cookbook Volume One, contributed by Holly McNally of Fredericton, New Brunswick.)

2. Read about Henry Purcell and listened to the first track, "Welcome, welcome, glorious morn" on The Essential Purcell CD. You can hear a short sample of each track if you click on the link and scroll down. This piece was a birthday present for Queen Mary II (the one who reigned with her husband William). Purcell wrote her a birthday song every year that she reigned, which is only about seven birthdays (she died of smallpox when she was 32). We imagined we were at the Queen's birthday party listening to the music. At least with Purcell's songs you don't have to translate the words!

3. Read Chapter 5 of Children of the New Forest, about hunting deer and figuring out how to catch a wild cow. (Mama Squirrel read, The Apprentice and Ponytails listened, and Crayons played with her Dora Dominoes.)

4. Ponytails did a page in her new Purple Miquon Math workbook. She's up to the last book now! (You can download a few sample pages from the Purple book here.) We also played Arithmetic Four on the computer. (That's Connect Four but with math facts.)

5. Ponytails put some of our Magnetic Poetry words in alphabetical order.

6. The Apprentice read some of Homeschooling The Teen Years.

7. We watched the yard fill up with snow (apologies to Robert Frost). [Postscript: The snow fell but didn't amount to anything. We have a big brown-green muddy yard that doesn't know what's happening to it lately with all these thaws.]