COUNTRY FUN

~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

May 25, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Some Rhubarb Recipes…….

Some Rhubarb Recipes…….

Rhubarb Quick Bread ~ (note I use my flour blend for any quick bread: equal parts reg. flour/whole wheat flour and wheat germ ~ I make up a large batch and keep stored in the freezer)

Beat:

  • 1 – 1/2 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 C salad oil

Add:

  • 1 C sour milk ( regular works – I add a good dash of white vinegar to sour it)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2-1/2 C flour

Mix well to combine. Add in:

  • 1 -1/2 C fresh rhubarb, 1/2″ dice (about 2 good stalks)
  • optional – 1/2 C nuts of choice or raw sunflower seeds

Mix to combine. Split between 2 grease loaf pans. BAke 325 oven for 60 minutes or until tests done.

Freezes well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rhubarb Muffins ~

Preheat oven to 400. Grease muffin tin.

  • 1 cup sour milk (I use 1% with 2 tsp reg. vinegar added)
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla (real, not extract)
  • 1 -1/2 C brown sugar
  • 2 -1/2 C flour (I use my baking mix – equal parts reg flour, whole wheat flour and wheat germ)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp each baking soda and baking powder
  • 3 (generous) cups chopped rhubarb (I like pieces at 1/2″ or less for baked goods. I find the flavor is more pleasant and children are not always fans of larger chunks.)

To save on pans and utensils for easier clean-up we mix everything in the order presented here in one pan. If you mix all the wet ingredients, then the brown sugar you will not be over mixing the flour which leads to a firmer baked good. By sprinkling the salt and baking soda and powder over the flour they will blend in well when mixed.

Mix until just blended/moistened. Now fold in the rhubarb.

We fill the muffin tins for smaller muffins, so no more than 2/3 full. Bake 10 – 15 minutes. Cool before eating as the rhubarb chunks hold the heat a bit.

This batter provides for a couple of dozen muffins this way or as we often do – make 1 dozen muffins and bake the remaining batter off as a quick bread – oven of 350. I start checking after 1/2 hour. The baking time will depend on how deep the batter is in the (greased) loaf pan.

May 24, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Rhubarb is Here!

Rhubarb is Here!

For many, when they hear “learning”, they think structured lessons. All the “learning” occurring in the everyday activities of our children is so often overlooked. For me, being able to combine gardening and baking together offers multiple opportunities to be taking advantage of “learning” from an everyday activity.

Here’s a quick look at some of the “Learning” I see happening when I’m in the kitchen with children:

  • Demonstrates increasing capacity to follow rules and routines
  • Develops and communicates a growing awareness of self as having certain abilities, characteristics, preferences, and rights
  • Interacts with one or more children
  • Expresses an eagerness to participate in and learn about a widening range of topics, ideas, and tasks
  • Applies prior experiences, senses, and knowledge to new learning situations
  • Uses basic personal hygiene practices and understands that those practices help to maintain good health
  • Matches a number of objects with written numeral
  • Counting
  • Understands that numbers have multiple uses
  • Identifies problems and proposes ways to solve them
  • Observes, describes and investigates changes in materials and cause and effect relationships
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills needed to perform particular jobs and tasks
  • Identifies tools and technology used at home, school and work
  • Knows and discusses where some products come from

To start any cooking together, we talk safety, cleanliness and then gather the supplies needed (includes tools, recipe and ingredients). We then discuss things like: how to sit/stand so all could be involved; how to count as we measure (not until pouring or adding to mix); and review the different tools for purpose of usage. The real engagement happens once we actually start baking.

As each item is added to the bowl/pan we: looked at it’s texture; smell and/or taste; talk about where or how it grows; color; shape; past experiences with; etc. As we continue we discuss the changes as each new item is added – why changed, how changed, etc.

Whenever possible the children pour, mix, et. as we work through the recipe. Turns are taken with awareness of the different abilities for participation.

All done prepping and into the oven, then everyone helps with clean-up putting everything back where it should be.

Every group I have had here loves time in the kitchen!

With the garden starting to provide a harvest we will be spending even more time in the kitchen. Right now a good bit will be working with the rhubarb harvest.

The bed is lush and producing way more than I can use this year, even with canning, so if anyone would like some for home use please let me know. I’m happy to share.

Rhubarb is an excellent source of many vitamins like C, K, A and B-complex. It is high in dietary fiber and is a good source of calcium.  Rhubarb is low in sodium and saturated fat. To get the best nutrition from rhubarb, it is suggested that it be baked or stewed for a long period of time.

Besides using Rhubarb for sauces and jams think quick breads and muffins. Also a healthy side dish when cooked with apples and oranges sprinkling with cinnamon and/or ginger. This is a nice change up with pancakes or waffles.

 

Tomorrow I’ll post a couple of separate posts of recipes we are baking up with the 2017 rhubarb harvest.

 

August 10, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Zucchini Jam?

Zucchini Jam?

Our zucchini seedlings germinated really well this year and I find it hard to throw seedlings on the compost pile. I gave some away to families to plant and the rest ended up in our garden. With the weather this year the zucchini plants are really producing. We’re baking, dehydrating, freezing and eating both raw and cooked. There is also only so much zucchini you can give away, so…… what else can we do besides the compost pile? Have fun with a zucchini recipe online search 🙂

I found a couple of interesting ideas and settled on Zucchini Jam. After watching YouTube videos and comparing recipes I combined with my other jam recipes and settled on the following:

  • 6 cups shredded zucchini – I left on peel, seeded completely and shredded with multiple grating plates to get a variety of sizes/textures.
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup bottled lemon juice – I always have this on hand vs fresh lemon
  • 1 – 20 oz can crushed pineapple (with natural juice) – do not drain
  • 6 oz regular jello, any flavor works – I tried strawberry first as I know it’s liked by everyone here. Does have food dye for those with allergies.

Placed everything, but jello, in a saucepan that would hold ingredients with an extra 4 inches to cover splatters as it boils. Boil for 20 minutes. Stir almost constantly to prevent sticking and browning. Also cuts down foaming. Zucchini goes transparent, but maintains texture.

While cooking zucchini mixture get canning jars and lids ready. (Loving my electric water bath canner. Heats quicker and maintains temperature really well. Also frees up much needed stove top space.)

After 20 minutes remove zucchini mixture from heat source and add in jello. Stir it in really well and get it into hot jars. (I used a mix of jelly jars that I had on hand.) Process in water bath for 5 minutes.

jam

Always seem to have a bit left over whenever I make jams, relishes, and pickles so we enjoyed this new jam this morning on homemade whole wheat toast. Texture was more like a marmalade and not too sweet. Will definitely make more of this zucchini jam. It was super easy, reasonable cost and pretty healthy for a jam – zucchini and pineapple.

May 16, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on It’s Rhubarb Time!

It’s Rhubarb Time!

We’re back in the garden! Harvesting from the rhubarb bed has started. That means lots of kitchen time with the children here. We’re using some of our favorite recipes which you can find in postings on Countryfun is Cooking. Just search “rhubarb”.

This morning we made the Rhubarb Muffins to have for our afternoon snack.  A quick, easy and tasty recipe that also freezes well.

I enjoy being in the kitchen with the children. So many learning opportunities and there is usually something unexpected. Let’s start with Reading – idea of written directions in a recipe, names on ingredient containers, alphabet identification

Team work – gathering of materials, positioning to watch and help, working with peers and adult

Language – ingredients, tools, techniques, questions raised and answers provided

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Math, science and social studies –  measuring ingredients and counting. We also compare measuring tools and talk fractions. Smell for vinegar and vanilla. Taste brown sugar.

Where do eggs come from? Love getting the store as an answer:) More discussion on eggs coming from chickens with the farmer bringing to the store. Even better answer of “Ducks!”

More science as oil and milk blend. Then brown sugar dissolving in liquid. Flour going from dry to wet as we mix ingredients together and finally the baking. More math when we set oven temp and time the baking.

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Did you notice we used 3 different sized spoons in today’s baking? One of the children did. Thankfully he commented on the difference size handles, so I could take advantage of the observation for more learning. So of course we had a closer comparison of the 3 spoons for bowl size, handle length and a discussion on why they worked better for the reasons used for today. Largest for mixing. Middle for scooping dough for muffins. Smallest for scraping dough off scooping spoon.

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Last counting for this morning equaled 24. The recipe made 2 dozen muffins loaded with rhubarb – one very healthy and underused early spring vegetable.

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April 12, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Enchilada Casserole… A New Experience…

Enchilada Casserole… A New Experience…

For me part of providing nutritious meals and healthy eating habits is to be continually exposing the children to both new foods and old foods in new ways. That means I’m always reviewing recipes and reading ideas for adapting to gain more nutrition. I especially like finding meatless meals. This is one place I find Pinterest to be extremely helpful. There is so much variety out there and individuals willing to share their knowledge.

Today’s recipe is from Julia’s Album – Black Bean and Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole.

  • I have never cooked enchiladas before in any form, so for me the sauce was a new experience.
  • IMG_0826This recipe used up the last of the butternut squash from last season’s garden. (A good nutritional add and reason to try the recipe. Wonder if pumpkin would work well or pureed butternut squash? Also think could have added spinach or kale.)
  • Still enjoying the onions that we grow, harvested, and braided up to cure. (Will definitely be seeing a good planting of them again this year.)
  • No extra salt or pepper, but did use a couple of the hot peppers from last year’s garden that we had frozen. (I never cook with black pepper and try to cut down salt whenever I can. With the chili powder, cumin and added hot pepper didn’t need the salt. I also rinse any canned beans and vegetables before using to cut down salt.)
  • Substituted homemade yogurt for the sour cream. (I strained my yogurt to get a thicker product that works for greek yogurt or sour cream in most recipes. The strained liquid I save and use for baked goods.)

What I found was this recipe was easy to follow, simple to make, budget friendly and tasty. Will definitely make again.

November 13, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Quick Fish Chowder or Soup

Quick Fish Chowder or Soup

The lunches here are planned to be enjoyed by the children while offering good nutrition. Throughout meal planning I do my best to provide multiple opportunities to explore new foods or old foods prepared in a new way. We eat family style and sometimes I need to make a meal thinking about my need for a comfort food. Dealing with a child shared cold this week, I knew I’d be wanting a favorite comfort food for a meal this week.

I believe in having a good supplied pantry, so I can pull together meals easily. It also means I do not need to plan the week out ahead, but can fit the meal to what is happening in the day, as well as take advantage of sales. I encourage families to really look at developing a food pantry to help with the food budget and overall nutrition.

Today’s lunch made good use of the pantry after finding the chowder mix at our local store was all haddock, on sale and just happens to be an all-time comfort food for me. Also know fish is not a steady part of many families evening meals, so good to offer here. Warning!!! This is not a traditional chowder, think creamy fish soup 🙂soup
Start with pantry supplies: chicken broth, evaporated milk, carrots, onions, potatoes, herbs

Purchased for meal: 1 lb chowder mix

Add from what’s on hand: red bell pepper, cauliflower
I sautèed  about 1 C onion, 4 med. carrots and 1 red bell pepper (all chopped) in olive oil and a bit of butter (about 1T of each). Once tender I added in 4 C broth, 1 C chopped cauliflower and 2 good size potatoes cut into 1/2″ cubes (child friendly size, as well as quicker cooking). Added in fresh herbs as they are still growing in the garden – today was thyme, oregano, parsley. Added a bay leaf. Brought this soup base to boil then simmered for 15 minutes. I then covered, took off heat and placed in refrig. while we headed out for a morning of play. Could have continued to make up, but being able to prep early morning and set aside to just finish for lunch makes it easier to pull good lunches together. This can also be done night before.

When ready for lunch I added in evaporated milk, dried seaweed and the fish (cut into 2″ chunks). Brought to low boil, lowered heat, covered and cooked 15 minutes until fish done.

All flavoring is done to taste and here that means low salt, no pepper and not much spicy heat.

This chowder is so adaptable and quick to make. Better yet is it reheats well.

Served with a slice of toasted homemade multi-grain bread and sliced fruit this lunch was well eaten by the children and I got to enjoy a comfort food at the end of a busy week.

October 18, 2013
by countryfun
Comments Off on Farm to Preschool Day

Farm to Preschool Day

Love seeing the current push in education to get kids involved in growing and harvesting some of the food they eat.

As a gardener I have always involved the children here in my gardens, whether flowers, herbs or vegetable. We compost, plan, plant, weed, harvest and enjoy! Through these experiences we learn about our environment, ourselves, math, science, language and patience. Over the years the experiences have changed depending on the direction of interest by the children in program, but all have involved experiencing a variety of vegetables as part of our daily lunch and snacks.

Our gardening experiences in 2010

Gardening begins in 2012

Gardening begins in 2013

Vegetable snacks ideas

Today we are Celebrating Farm to Preschool Day – October 18, 2013.

Even though we eat our harvested vegetables year round, discussing where they come from, and importance of eating a rainbow for nutritional variety, it’s fun to bring a special focus today. For that the goal is to eat a vegetable that comes from the different parts of a plant. Not only will we be enjoying a variety of vegetables we will be learning more about the parts of a plant. We are also talking about seasonal changes at this time and can include that in the vegetables we are finishing harvesting and still growing in the garden.

Today’s meal is a Garden Lasagna made with a sauce base of heirloom and plum tomatoes, rainbow swiss chard, colored sweet bell peppers, fresh shell beans and herbs. This sauce is layered with dumpling noodles, cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese.

We will have eaten leaves, seeds, fruit from blossoms, and stems. Only missing the roots – which will be covered with the carrots from snack.

garden lasagna

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