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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Science Symposium

The Science Symposium - sounds imposing and important, huh? - was held this week at school. The kids had a good time preparing, they both developed their own ideas after several pointed suggestions from science teacher dad.
Rikard wanted to test what chocolate chip cookies would be like with and without baking soda. So, we whipped up a couple of batches. Rikard really has some *mad skills* in the kitchen, or so he tells me. He likes to make the cookie dough scoop work.
In total we made five batches of cookies and really only two were edible. The rest were like little toy boat anchors, or paper weights, or hockey pucks. He did a basic observation for his project, comparing texture, size, color, etc. Not bad for a 2nd grader.
These were some of his finest cookies. They didn't survive to make the trip to school - heck, they didn't even survive til morning.
Tatum's project was a bit more involved. She compared the evaporation rates between muddy and salty water. Downstairs in the mad scientist portion of the basement (Rick and Tatum's workroom) they developed these miniature environments under a heat lamp. Tatum ran her test a couple of times, always coming up with new questions.
They could only take a single display board to the symposium. Tatum used her new camera to document her test and did a pretty fair job of presenting her stuff for the event.
Keeli, the little queen of destruction, attended the symposium too. She went straight for the volcanoes.
Sadly for mom, the symposium was on a night she has class. So, dad rounded the evening out with dinner at the local pizza parlor. Isn't he the greatest?!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kiddo update

Friday morning Rikard complained that his throat was "hot." After school we got a phone call that he couldn't walk himself home and his temperature was 103°. Rick took him to the clinic and came home with the anticipated diagnosis of strep throat.

A few antibiotics and some Tylenol later and he was wanting scrammbled eggs. Of course he can cook them himself now.

We had a few friends over to dinner and Keeli had a great time entertaining. This was her minutes after our guests left.
Tatum has been hard to find in the late evenings. She is quietly working her way through the entire shelf of Nancy Drew mystery's at the library. Sometimes she turns off the light long enough for Keeli to fall asleep and then she is up reading for an hour or more into the night. Such a rebel! She's reading 5-7 of these books a week depending upon her available reading time.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Do these clothes make me look Spunky?

We have our own version of the famous-from-the-80s Punky Brewster (I don't really remember the show, but Rick does).

Keeli has taken a shine to choosing her own clothing and has, well, her own style. The shirts are layered deep, there are two underneath you can't see. The pants are from Valentine's Day last year and have tiny silver hearts on them. The orange sock is a fashion remnant from Halloween with little black bats flying all over it. And, don't be silly, socks DON'T have to match.

This is our typical weekend grocery shopping attire. Over the top were black mary janes on the wrong feet and a lime green parka, with a lime green fur trimmed hood.

And, it is all complimented by the red kool-aid mustache.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More baking, reading, cold trees

This weekend's baking experiment was a German Apple Pancake. This is the first time I've attempted a recipe for this dish.I was really pleased with it once I got it out of the cast iron skillet it was cooked/baked in. The edges of the pancake were nice and crisp. The apples were warm, soft and a perfect mixture of sweet and tart. See your pretty green plate Nancy?

When I first took it from the oven I wasn't overly impressed. It didn't look like the finished photos from any resource I could find. It was lumpy, pale and ugly. Thank goodness this top turns into the bottom when it hits the breakfast table.
There are numerous recipes out there and this was from my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Sorry, this recipe isn't availabe on the America's Test Kitchen website unless you subscribe. (Hint: the cookbook is available at Amazon.com and Costco, both for about $20.) I've had this prepared several different ways and prefer the more break-like pancake to the versions where the pancake is mostly eggs and the finished dish almost like quiche.

The kids really enjoyed it, especially the sprinkling of powdered sugar. Rick thought it was more dessert-ish than breakfast-y. Tatum, who rarely eats fruit, gobbled this one up completely.
After breakfast we took a quick trip to the library, where we all checked out some great reading. I'm going to re-read George Orwell's Animal Farm. Tatum once again loaded up on Nancy Drew mysteries. Keeli found a book about eating vegetables and Rikard decided to read Hank the Cowdog.
We then took a nice drive into the country to look at houses. We need to land somewhere sooner or later, we may as well look. We found these trees, south of the city where the snow still lays in thick blankets across the ground.
The fog had lifted a bit earlier inthe afternoon. The frost covered the trees, making the landscapes seem almost black and white. I'm sure there is some sort of field or crop under all that snow, but it is still deep enough in most places that aren't city streets to cover quite a bit.

Cinnamon bun recipe

Apparently it is not nice to post photos of freshly baked cinnamon rolls without sharing the quick and easiest recipe for them ever. I am sorry! This recipe is from Kim and is printed in the latest copy of the BBCC Staff and Faculty Cookbook.

1 ¾ cups warm water
6 Tbs. sugar
½ cup oil
3 Tbs. dry yeast
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 eggs
5 ½ cups flour
brown sugar

Mix water, sugar, oil and yeast. Let stand 15 minutes. Add eggs, salt and flour, mix well. Roll to ½" thickness. Spread with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins to taste. Roll up and cut in 1 ½" pieces. Place on greased cookie sheet. Let rise 10-15 minutes. Bake at 425° for 12-15 minutes. Cool and frost with vanilla or cream cheese frosting. Makes 24.

NOTES: I use my Kitchen Aid mixer and 6 cups of flour. I've used white and a mix of white and unbleached flour. I use confectioners icing, 2 cups of powdered sugar with enough milk whisked in to desired consistency. You must wait until they are nearly cooled to put this icing on.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Relaxing weekend

I have been practicing my baking skills on the weekends. A recipe from my friend Kim J. for quick cinnamon rolls captured my attention. These take less than 2 hours to make, rise, bake, eat and enjoy. They definitely had a better reception than the donuts last week.
Rikard has taken to reading books - books that interest him, that have pictures, that are about boys. His reading has come in spurts. He was an avid reader last year in 1st grade, but his interest has waned this year. We are searching for more good books that he will enjoy. Any suggestions?My nephew Bailey came for a visit and left worn out, tired even. He arrived Friday night and the kids played video games, watched movies, went sledding, had a snowball fight with a guy down the street and ate everything in sight. Once we hit the road taking him home Sunday afternoon, it was lights out for Bailey.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

When it's cold outside...

I go crazy and make donuts!

This was my first attempt ever at making donuts. The kids were quite pleased, they were gobbled up quickly and quietly. However, I was ill prepared to make donuts. These don't have holes as I don't have a proper cutter (or any items which would suffice to make nice small round holes in the center). And, my candy thermometer was a casualty by the end of this project. It was making sure the oil stayed at a steady temp and I dropped it. I'd love to make them more often, but three risings and hours of waiting???!!! The grocery store bakery is only two blocks away.

This week brought more snow, a couple warmer days for melting, and a couple frigid days to make a nice icy crust on everything.
Today we noticed some long cracks along our ceilings, down the walls and around the entrance doors. Ultimately the snow was removed from the roof and...
while Rick would like you to think he once again did all the work, the management company (sounds like the mob) did the work. That pile of snow is duplicated in the back yard and some had to be moved across the street!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Your favorite carnivore

Steak, steak and more steak. And then the bones.At 4 years old she will eat all the meat from the steak and then chew on the bone for the rest of the meal. Same with chicken, lamb, pork.

Potatoes? Vegetables? Who needs them!