Tuesday, June 23, 2009


My nephew's birthday is coming up and today my daughter and I sat down to make cards. I've made cards off and on for years, mostly on the computer. Since my daughter likes to use watercolors, it's companionable for us to work together at the spare table which is set up for projects. I got out a book we both enjoy (since I never had anything that could be termed art education), I Love to Draw, and drew a dragon (my first ever) lighting the candles on a birthday cake (that I could manage by myself). She made a watercolor of a cat. This was far more enjoyable than reading the best offerings (which are never really quite right) and waiting in line at a store. We have a supply of cardstock in rainbow colors and 5x7 envelopes, which fit perfectly when the cardstock is folded once to create a card. I estimated that a card + envelope runs about $0.15, and we reap the benefits of learning and creating our own designs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Muerbe Teig

This is my German grandmother's recipe for an open fruit tart. It is simple, full of delicious fruit flavor. I especially like it with blueberries or blackberries. I'm thinking of baking this crust and then putting fresh strawberries on top. In Germany, it would never be served without a dollop of real whipped cream.

Mürbe Teig (I think this means something like "crumbly dough")

1 1/3 c flour
1/3 c butter, flaked
1/3 c sugar
pinch salt
pinch baking powder
1 tsp vanilla

Beat butter and sugar together. Add vanilla. Knead in dry ingredients. Cool in refrigerator 30 minutes. Press into pie plate and up the sides. Arrange sliced fruit or berries on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar blended to taste.

Bake at 375 about 25-30 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and crust is golden brown.

Works well with fresh plums, peaches, blueberries, raspberries...
Can also use canned, drained fruit or frozen, thawed, drained fruit.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


4 pounds picked today from our 8'x4' raised bed, with the total so far this season about 8 pounds of organic berries.

More strawberry popsicles.
Strawberry cake.
Just strawberries.

I'm thinking of planting strawberries all over my front yard so I never have to mow again.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Weather Studies

My daughter is keeping a weather log, tracking temperature, humidity, rainfall amount, and wind direction each day, as well as the time of observation. We made a remarkably easy weather vane from scrap materials: some non-recyclable plastic packaging material that would have otherwise been garbage, a used drinking straw, and old pencil, and a pin.

We used the plastic sheet instead of the manila file folder - it's weather-proof. We stuck the pencil into a clay pot full of soil so it can easily be moved for mowing the lawn. If the gusting midwestern winds blow it to pieces, we'll revise the design.

She loves being a scientist and going outside to the weather station with her clipboard! It's also good fraction practice, since the thermometer and humidity gauges have tenths and the rain gauge has eighths.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Empty-the-Fridge Muffins

Precision in the kitchen is over-rated.

1 c fruit puree, yogurt, or mixture of wet ingredients
1/4 c ground flaxseed mixed into wet ingredients, or 1 egg
a few tbsp of canola oil
2 c flours of your choice. Sub grain flakes at the ratio of 1c flakes = 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda if fruit is acidic, or if yogurt is used
about 1/4 c sugar, or 1/2 c if you like things sweet (or mix 2 tbsp (4 for sweet) honey into wet ingredients)
pinch salt, optional
spices as desired - cinnamon, cardamon, ginger - depending on fruit used
Nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, dried fruit if desired - about 1/2 cup

Mix wet ingredients, pour dry on top, gently mix together. If it seems too wet, add a bit more flour. Bake muffins about 18 minutes at 400F. Makes about 12 muffins.

This particular rendition obtained the approval of 5 children:
2 bananas, mashed thoroughly
about 1.5 c plain yogurt
3 tbsp canola oil
1/4 c flax meal
--- Mix above together, then pour on top:
about 2.5 c flour (mostly whole wheat)
about 1/4 c sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
Mix and bake as above. This made 16 standard muffins.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Strawberry Popsicles

"Mom, can I have another popsicle?"

about 1/2 pound of cleaned and sliced strawberries
about 1/2 cup milk of your choice (dairy, soy, almond, etc), or juice, or water

Blend until smooth. Fills 6 small popsicle molds (made by Tupperware in the 1970s, and passed on to me by my mom). Probably fills about 4 modern popsicle molds. Freeze. Enjoy.