Saturday, February 1, 2014
Picture me with eyes closed, hands over my ears, chanting, "La la la la la la la . . ."
Then one night as I clicked around the web, I came across references to child slave labor being used to process chocolate in Africa. I had finally reached my tipping point.
It's been over a year since I resolved to buy only fair trade chocolate. I admit it's a lot more expensive than my supermarket baking bars and warehouse-store bags of chips (and harder to find, too). I'm generally a price conscious shopper, but once I made up my mind that it was the moral choice, I didn't have to fight my frugality any more.
For one thing, it makes sense that it costs more to give the farmers a just income. But the clearest point for me is that--hello--CHOCOLATE IS A LUXURY!-- and I live quite comfortably in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
My family has not complained about Mom's new plan, but they did miss Nutella. I say DID because I finally followed through and made a batch from scratch.
another link to the recipe with more chatting and better pictures. Next time (oh, yes, there will definitely be a next time!) I'll try using 25-50% less sugar (1/2-3/4 cup instead of 1), but this Nutella is delightful.
Update: My Nutella is runnier than what I see online, so I'll try decreasing or omitting the extra oil too.
UPDATE #2: The first link (to the newspaper article) uses 8 times as much salt as the brown eyed baker's version! I didn't notice and my latest batch is much too salty. Use the lower amount (1/8 teaspoon) for starters.
BTW, we now buy only fair trade coffee, too. It's easy to find and tastes better than what I used to purchase--a simple way to start, perhaps?
Friday, January 24, 2014
Every year, our "at school" children have two weeks of Christmas vacation followed by Project Week, time spent working at home. The high schoolers write research papers, 7th graders report on an endangered animal, and 8th graders like Marianna construct a medieval town, castle, or cathedral.
The students are supposed to spend at least thirty hours on their projects, and our 8th graders always do! Usually the last few hours are late, late, late the night before returning to school. Marianna worked hard and Len assisted with management coaching, so the final Sunday was not too painful this year (our family's fifth medieval project).
Some materials decisions: plaster walls, paint mixed with sawdust for grass, dried grass for thatch, and glycerin soap to fill the well.
After searching the archives, I found Joe's castle from January 2012:
And Daniel's from January 2009:
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
My sister invited a new family to our Saranac Lake week this year, and they fit right in--a great match! When J mentioned a special family recipe for an upside down apple pie, I begged her for it. I'm not sure I'm at liberty to reveal the details, but here are some hints:
Butter and brown sugar in a deep dish pie pan
Pecans--this was supposed to look like a spiral.
Place a regular, two-crust apple pie on top. Bake.
Turn it out. Patch if necessary.
Even tastier with ice cream and salted butter caramel sauce . . .
Crazy About Pies. I softened shortening and unsalted butter, mixed them into a mostly homogeneous mass, then chilled the resulting glob. It made a great crust, not as flat and tough as the all-butter versions I've made. I'll be using this technique again.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Cheesy title? Maybe, but it fits the day and recalls a song from the all-time-BEST Christmas album ever.
I joke about our school system's wimpy response to inclement weather, but this truly was not a morning to have buses on the roads. Here's what "no school" looked like today:
In anticipation of the light snow, wintry mix, and freezing rain, I filled the bird feeder yesterday.
The crape myrtle
My coolest (ha ha) sighting today: a strand of spider webbing coated with ice!
Thursday, December 5, 2013
He has been a constant, quiet presence in our lives and the lives of our children. Our 7-12 graders traditionally stay over at Grammy and Granpop's house one school night each week, keeping them in contact.
Lately the colonel has had difficulty swallowing (leading to the placement of a feeding tube) and breathing (a special oxygen mask is at home now). We don't know how much time we have left, but your prayers for all of us are greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Len refashioned the compost bin this summer. Now, in addition to an earlier remodel that made it possible to dump produce directly from the deck, the bin has two sections with removable sides. Isn't it lovely?
Our garden did not do well this year. It could be due to too much rain or not enough tending (I'm a big-time gardening slacker); we may never know.
Our most successful crops are our "volunteers"--pumpkins and butternut squash that grew from the compost!
My science program this year is inspired by Barb McCoy's nature study blog. It's filled with an overwhelming number of lessons and outdoor challenges based on Anna Botsford Comstock's classic Handbook of Nature Study. (free download here) The book has a lesson on pumpkins, so we started our fall session in our own backyard.
The remaining comments will be from Rebecca (age 8).
The tendrils are searching for something to grab onto so they can help the plant climb.
Here are two pictures of male flowers which make the pollen and do not produce any pumpkins.
The leaves are big and usually have five lobes.
Here are two unripe pumpkins. They start out green but then turn orange.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Monday, August 26, 2013
Len, the girls, and I drove Daniel to the Josephinum last week. The house is emptying little by little. Sigh.
Some images of the latest departure:
Daniel decluttered and organized his room, resulting in so much spread out STUFF that he slept on the couch for several nights. :-)
On his second to last morning at home, Marianna and Rebecca were inspired to make him a special breakfast. Fortunately he's such a solid sleeper they were able to putter around the kitchen without disturbing him.
Highlights: The mini vase of crape myrtle and mint, the home-sewn napkin, and the drop scones. I coached the girls to use a bag of scone mix (homemade), increasing the milk just a little bit (to 3/4 cup) so that the dough was too sticky to knead and cut. They dropped it with a scoop, sprinkled with coarse sugar and baked. That small variation saved a lot of time!
Pontifical College Josephinum: a view from the entrance
Dan's room is small but private. He shares a half bath with an adjoining room; showers are down the hall.
The view from his window
After three college drop offs, this is now an official tradition: shopping for items left at home or that we didn't know were needed. This has included door organizers and hardware (Lauren), pillows (David), and goggles (Daniel). It's always something!
Pizza with pesto, shrimp, goat cheese, and roasted tomatoes--everyone wanted a taste!
Even though we know as parents that our children are never truly ours, it's easy to forget while they're under our roof. We can't help but remember now . . .