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Back to School: A Time of Learning

Nina and Pinta started school last week, on Thursday. I questioned the wisdom of this strange and short schedule, until I realized that it must have been chosen not for the kids' benefit, but for that of the parents. Getting everyone out of the house in the morning feels only slightly less complicated than organizing the Berlin airlift, so it was very nice to have a break this weekend, after two days of packing lunches, making breakfasts, and getting shoes on (the girls, not myself).

There's a bit of a learning curve in reorganizing the family schedule for the fall, I'm still figuring out how to manage getting them to school, along with working, shopping, cooking, and blogging. The cooking is ongoing, of course, and I have recently made chicken fajitas and other dishes that I want to share.

Speaking of learning, I've been reading a thin paperback called "How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children," and though I've only started it, I would recommend it to all parents. I know there are scores of parenting books out there, but something about this one resonated with me; Maybe it was the subtitle, "Meeting the Five Critical needs of Children ... And Parents Too."

The book, which was written by a child advocate and father named Dr. Gerald Newmark, outlines five needs that children (and all people) have: to feel respected, included, important, accepted, and secure. The book goes into great detail about why this is so, and how families can cultivate these emotions in their children. One of the chapters lists family activities, and it mentions cooking.

Cooking with kids is a great way for them to feel a part of things, and to learn about food, nutrition, math, and science (what is cooking other than measuring and using intense heat to change the chemical composition of food?).

And it can be fun, too. On the first day of school last week, Santa Maria made her Divine Biscuits. The girls joined in, and four-year-old Pinta really got into the swing of things. "This is teamwork," she shouted enthusiastically as her mother measured the flour. Then she took the rolling pin and started to move it up and down her torso. "I'm the dough," she said with a wry smile.

 Divine Biscuits

  • 2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour (King Arthur Flour)
  • 2 ½ t. baking soda
  • ½ t. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • 4 ½ T butter
  • 1 – 1 ¼ c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 405 degrees.

Sift flour with baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl, cut in cold butter (you can use a knife, then finish with your fingers) into size of peas.  Quickly mix in buttermilk (depending on thickness of buttermilk – if it’s thin, you can likely get away with the smaller amount).

Turn batter onto a lightly floured counter, knead lightly (you want it to stick together, but lumpy is fine).  Roll dough, cut into circles (you can use a jar, about 1 ½” wide – and stack two rounds). 

For the kids, form little shapes, like Easter eggs and bunny ears from the remaining scraps of dough.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden on top.

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