Monday, June 27, 2011

Potato Salad

Before I begin I want to make a statement.

This is the Pioneer Woman's recipe.  I love her food. She inspired me to blog in the first place.  I just tweaked the recipe to fit my personal tastes and ingredient availability.

Again, this is an easy recipe. Very few ingredients.  Please forget the measuring spoons and just eyeball your seasonings.  Let's all pretend we are chefs, shall we? Less dishes folks!

The one thing that IS really nice to have for this recipe is a potato ricer.  I have made the recipe without a ricer with good results so it's not an absolute must have.

Start with some red or white potatoes.  I don't like to use russets as much as the waxier types of potatoes.  Red or Yukon Gold potatoes taste much better in potato salad.

Boil the potatoes till fork tender. You can leave the skins on if you like.

Peel the potatoes if you haven't yet.

If you have a ricer, place the potatoes into the ricer in batches and press to rice.

I love the ricer because it gives you fluffy little bits of potato.

If you don't have a ricer just cube the potatoes or mash them if you like.

There is no wrong way to make this potato salad!

Next, make the dressing.  Mayo, seasonings (garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper), mustard, and pickles, and pickle juice.

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl.

Whisk till smooth.

Okay, let's talk pickles.

Cornichons are my favorite go-to pickle.  These are from Trader Joe's and are SO GOOD.

They don't have any sugar or sweetener in them. Did you ever read the ingredients in pickles? Just about all of them have high fructose corn syrup or some other bad stuff.  Unless you make them yourself, it's hard to find a good pickle around here.

It's essential that you use some of the pickle juice for the dressing.  It gives you the tangy flavor.

Chop them up nice and fine.

Pop them into the dressing.

Add the dressing to the riced potatoes.

Mix it all up.

Try not to eat it all.

I dare ya.

Sprinkle a bit of Paprika over the top.

Potato Salad
2.5 pounds red potatoes
3/4 cup good mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons organic yellow mustard
1/4 cup cornichon pickles, chopped and some juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Boil potatoes till fork tender. Drain.
Mash or run them through a ricer to make them fluffy.
Make dressing. Add pickle juice to make it a runny consistency.
Fold potatoes together with the dressing.


It's that picnic time of the year,
The Lunch Lady

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Banana Pancakes

If I may say so myself, these are AH-Mazing.

And Easy.

Crispy on the outside and warm and banana-y on the inside.

I'm not re-inventing the wheel here.  This recipe is the first thing that pops up on a Google search.  But of course, Lunch Lady style, we subsititute substitute substitute.

It's a nice simple recipe with very few ingredients.

First mix your wet ingredients: egg, milk, oil. Whisk together.

Mash up your ripe bananas.  I often buy an extra bunch just for baking with.

My little trick is to mash them with a fork on a paper plate.  Easy clean up.

Mix the dry ingredients: Flour, baking powder, salt, sugar (unless you use honey or agave, then put those with the wet, because they are...uh...wet!)

Mash Mash Mash

Mix the wet & dry ingredients with the mashed bananas.  Combine well.

Butter.  I think these pancakes crisp up very nicely with a bit o' butter.

I like to keep a stick of butter in its wrapper and just unwrap the end. Use it to grease up your griddle, your HOT griddle.  I heat my griddle on medium low and it let it get good and hot at that temperature.  Find what works for your pan.

Lumpy batter goodness.

Flip when they start to dry on the edges.

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup (the real stuff)

Easy Banana Pancakes
1 cup spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum free)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 Tablespoon sweetener
1 egg
2 Tablespoons oil (grapeseed)
2 ripe bananas

1. Combine dry ingredients.  In separate bowl, combine wet ingredients.
2. Mash bananas
3. Mix wet & dry ingredients and add bananas
4. Heat griddle on medium low heat till hot. Grease with butter and scoop 1/4 cup of batter. Flip when edges are dry and cook till golden brown.
Serve with butter and maple syrup.

*Try to use wholegrain, organic flour and organic sugar. The more organic foods you choose, the less GMO's you will eat (Genetically Modified Foods.)

For an egg-free pancake recipe click here.

Hannah Banana
I mean,
The Lunch Lady

Friday, June 24, 2011

Geography Unit Study

We focused a lot on Geography this homeschool year.  We did this in many different ways.  My favorite way was talking about "Current Events" every day and making the boys browse the main news on the internet daily for Top Stories.  They had to brief me on what's happening and where, who was involved, leaders, peoples, countries etc...  It was a great way for me to stay on top of the news happening all over the world. We got out the globe and our world map to find the countries involved.

I know and understand the argument of too much news and exposure to the bad stuff...but we are more and more, living in a global society with Smart Phones and the news at our finger tips.  We have to realize that we have to live in this world and must also be aware of what's happening in it.  I feel very strongly about training my boys to become leaders in whatever field that they go into as their vocation.  To be an effective leader you can't walk around with blinders to what's going on in the outside world.  We also have the added benefit of learning from other's mistakes.

I want my children to grow up knowing the the world is large and made up of all sorts of different people and ideas.  I want them to be grounded in their own solid faith and belief system but also be able to relate and engage folks from all different walks of life.  Studying Geography gives us a glimpse of that.  I know that when I start throwing people into the mix we are talking more about Anthropolgy than Geography but I want them to be able to locate the country before we get to the people.

And for the record, I own "Geography Songs" but can't get over the not so great music to really enjoy the lyrics. 

This year I had each of the boys do a Geography report on a country.

First they had to make their country flag out of card stock or construction paper. We laminated the flags with our handy dandy laminator.  I love that thing!  It's an addiction.

Then, using Ed Helper, I printed out pages of questions that they had to anwer about their country.  They had to "Google" and research them and write them out.  In the end, we studied Sweden, Austria, Bulgaria, and Portugal.  It was a fantastic way to explore a few countries.  If I had been a little more ambitious, I would have made foods from each country but that just didn't happen this school year.  Perhaps next year.

We also studied World War 1 the first half of the year and did a study on Germany.  I checked out a bunch of books on Germany from the Library for them to look through and we also made a flag and used Ed Helper's pages on Germany.

We did a Unit Study on Egypt and studied a bit of Japan when they were hit with the Tsunami. 

There are so many ways to incorporate Geography into the school year!

I'm a World Traveler (In My Mind)
The Lunch Lady

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Frozen Watermelon Slushies: Kid Approved

Do you ever wonder what to do with the other half of the giant watermelon you just bought?

Sometimes we get those huge melons and can't quite finish it up before it gets too ripe and mushy.  Here's my trick.

Slice it up like you would eat it and cut it into cubes.

Flip open a freezer bag and fill to the top with melon cubes.


We had frozen watermelon slushies for our morning fruit this week using leftover watermelon.

I let the bag sit on the counter for a few minutes.

I pried out about half of the watermelon and let it defrost a bit in my blender.

Add juice. I added apple and orange.

Give it a whirl till it's runny enough to pour. This was still too thick so I added orange juice.

I love my hand dandy dispensing blender. It's great for blended drinks.
Dispense into a cool glass.

Enjoy wholesome goodness that's sugar free and naturally good for you!

Refreshingly Yours,
The Lunch Lady

Friday, June 17, 2011

Living on the Wild Side...Black Raspberry Picking

I was wandering up my driveway on Wednesday and was shocked to see that my black raspberry bush already had ripened berries on it.  It was evening and about the worst possible time of day to be picking berries unless you had a big smoky bonfire nearby to ward off mosquitoes.  So, I put the picking off till today.

We dug out the rope from the garage and tied it to a tree across the driveway and down the steep slope upon which my berry bushes insist on growing.  It's not just berry picking you see, it's mountain climbing berry picking.

It's an adventure.

It's a workout.

Look at all those luscious berries.

This is just the beginning of berry season.

The red wine berries will ripen after these are almost done and I'll have about 6 weeks total of berry picking to do.

  I have weeks ahead of me of scratched up arms, mosquito bites, burrs, and stained fingers to look forward to.

But it's so worth it.

We already have plans for pies, muffins, and cakes.

These bad boys? They are going to become Nectarine Black Raspberry Muffins.

So Berry Good to be Back,
The Lunch Lady