Sunday, December 30, 2018

What We Read in December 2018

"Woman Reading on Terrace"
by Vladislav Nagornov


December was a promising month for reading. I brought out our box of children's Christmas books and the boys read a lot of those throughout the day, cozied up on the couch or on the floor. My nine year old and I made a trip to the library to load up on other books.


My nine year old finished the last three books of the Sarah, Plain and Tall series: Caleb's Story, More Perfect then the Moon, and Grandfather's Dance. She was so sad for it to end, but I am glad that she found a book series she loved. She also read The Boxcar Children and wants to read more from that series as well.

        


I read all three of The Ballantyne Legacy series by Laura Frantz, one of my my favorite Christian historical fiction authors. 



I love a good generational book series. It's sometimes hard to follow along, especially if you don't read them one after the other, but it's also nice to revisit the characters and see what they've been up to. This series spans about 50-60 years, starting just after the American Revolution in York, Pennsylvania, and ending just before the American Civil War in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


I also read this western Christian fiction book by Mary Connealy. I've always found her older books to be light and humorous, though her newer books are more serious with just a touch of humor. This one was funny. I then wanted to read a couple of Christmas-time books this month, so I found 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep and An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti. The first was very intriguing. It took awhile to figure out what was going on, because some of the characters were just so out there. The second book was short and sweet. Totally not a normal family, but still a pleasant read. 


    
  


There are two more books I'm currently reading, but will not finish them before the end of the year, so I'll save those for January's post. I'm also looking forward to starting another read-aloud with the children. I lost my voice in mid-December and have had a cough ever since. 

We've already loaded up on library books for the month of January and are eager to start those. Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Cinnamon Rolls

Don't think for a minute that just because these are vegan 
that they are healthy for you. They're not. But they are a 
tasty sweet treat that we deserve to give ourselves 
every once in awhile.



Cinnamon Rolls



Cinnamon Roll Dough

Ingredients
1 cup soy milk
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
½  teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoon vegan butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup warm water, about 110 degrees
2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
4 ½ to 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling

Directions
1. In a small saucepan, heat soy milk, ½ cup sugar, salt, and margarine over low heat until the margarine is just melted.
2. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Let it cool down until warm to the touch.
3. While butter mixture is cooling, place the warm water, remaining tablespoon of sugar, and yeast in a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Stir for a second or two and set aside for about 10 minutes.
4. In a stand mixer, combine the butter mixture and the yeast mixture, and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute.
5. Reduce the speed to low, and add 2 ½ cups flour. Mix for about 2 minutes and add 2 more cups flour. Beat for 1 more minute.
6. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl. Place it on a floured surface and knead for about 2 minutes with your hands.
7. Place the dough in a large well-oiled bowl and rotate the ball of dough so it is completely covered with the oil.
8. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and place in a warm part of the kitchen. Let it sit until it has doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours.
9. Remove the kitchen towel and punch in the center so that the dough deflates. Take the dough out and put it on a floured surface, cover with the kitchen towel, and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.

Filling and Assembling the Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoon vegan butter, melted
1 cup raisins

Directions
1. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch pan.
2. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into roughly a 20-inch x 13-inch wide rectangle.
3. Combine brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
4. Brush or spread the melted butter over the entire surface of the sough.
5. Sprinkle raisins and the sugar mixture evenly over the surface.
6. With the long end towards you, roll the dough up evenly. With the seam side down, use a sharp knife to cut the log in half. Then cut each half into six equal pieces. (You will have 12 cinnamon rolls.)
7. Place the rolls, cut side up, into the prepared pan, in 4 rows, with 3 rolls in each row, leaving some space between them.
8. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place until they have risen and expanded, about an hour.
9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
10. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes.

Glaze

Ingredients
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. water

Directions
1. Combine powdered sugar and water, and whisk until smooth.
2. Drizzle the glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Portuguese Bean Soup

My "comfort food", sure to remind me of my Portuguese roots, 
and made healthy (and cholesterol-free) by omitting the ham hocks and linguiƧa. 
The flavor is still amazing!



Portuguese Bean Soup


Ingredients
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium potatoes, cut into cubes
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans
8 cups of water, divided
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
½ head medium cabbage
1 bunch watercress
1 cup macaroni (uncooked)
2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ black pepper

Directions
1. In a large pot, combine onion, celery, garlic, potatoes, tomato sauce, and kidney beans.
2. Add about 4 cups of water, enough to cover the potatoes, and simmer until potatoes start to become tender.
3. Add cabbage, watercress, macaroni, parsley, salt, pepper, and remaining 4 cups of water.
4. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until macaroni is tender.

Serve hot.


This recipe makes a lot of soup, and it freezes well!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts


A delicious fall-inspired way to enjoy Brussels sprouts! 




Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Ingredients
1 lb. Brussels sprouts
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut the ends and discard outer leaves of Brussels sprouts. Cut each Brussels sprout in half.
3. In a bowl, combine Brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss until the Brussels sprouts are well coated.
4. Pour the contents of the mixing bowl onto a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes.
5. Stir the Brussels sprouts and roast for 10 more minutes.
6. Then stir again and drizzle maple syrup over the Brussels sprouts. Roast for 10 more minutes, or until they are fork-tender.


We love to include these tasty Brussels sprouts with our holiday meals.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Fall-Inspired Maple Sandwich Cookies


Easy and delicious sandwich cookies, with more 
than just a hint of maple. Perfect for fall gatherings 
or to enjoy at home with the family. 




Maple Sandwich Cookies

Makes about twenty-one 2-inch sandwich cookies. 


Cookies

Ingredients
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup vegan butter
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons cold water

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor or stand up mixer, combine the flour, sugar, and baking soda. 
3. Add butter, maple syrup, and water. Pulse or mix until soft and doughy. 
4. On a floured surface, roll the dough out until it is ¼-inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out as many shapes as you can. Recombine the scraps to roll and cut out more cookies. 
5. Place the cut out cookies on the prepared baking sheets about ½-inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Let cool on the pan.


Filling
Ingredients
½ cup vegan butter
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Directions
1. In a stand mixer, beat the vegan butter until smooth. 
2. Slowly add the powdered sugar and maple syrup. 
3. Mix on high until light and fluffy.

Tip: If needed, refrigerate the cookies to help them set.


Assemble the cookies as pictured, and enjoy! 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Welcome to "A Faithful Homemaker"!

I've been blogging off and on now since 2007. I started off recording the daily goings-on of early married life. Then I entered into motherhood and the blog continued as a journal of major events. I eventually started a recipe blog, then later combined the recipe blog with the family blog and threw in a little bit of homeschooling, travel, and reviews. It honestly became too much, so I stopped. However, I missed the outlet blogging provided and am working on finding the perfect balance of who I am and what I do. I'm a devout Christian, a wife, a mother, and a homemaker. I'm even more than just those things, but they tend to fall under those general categories.



Please join me as I continue my journey 

through all things "homemaking"!



Friday, July 27, 2018

Geography Unit: Afghanistan

This year (and for the next few years), we'll be studying World Geography. Choosing to study them alphabetically rather than by continent, we're beginning with Afghanistan!

Afghanistan flag, colored by the 4-year-old

We began our week by adding the very first "stamp" (flag sticker) to our passports!


Then we located Afghanistan on the map and marked the capital city of Kabul with a star sticker.

Afghanistan map worksheet by the 6-year-old

Throughout the week, we listened to traditional Afghan music (I found a YouTube video here), read about the land, their history, the language, people, education, agriculture, and faith. I was also able to find a few books at the library that gave us more insight into the country and its people. 


Books We Read...



Bridget's (8) favorite was Nasreen's Secret School, while the boys liked The Wooden Sword best. There are many more children's books available on Amazon about Afghanistan, but this is what our local library had to offer:

Nasreen's Secret School by Jeanette Winter
The Wooden Sword by Ann Redisch Stampler
Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson


Food We Ate...

I have scheduled Thursdays (the last day of our school week) for us to prepare a dinner and/or dessert from the country we've learned about. My oldest and I had previously studied Afghanistan, and so we still had the recipes and prepared all of the same dishes, as they were all so yummy. The first thing we prepared were the cookies. First the children tried pistachios (a rare treat, as they are so expensive here!), and then we got busy baking.


When it was time to prepare dinner, I assigned each child to help with one dish, rather than having all three of them crowding the kitchen. Liam (4) helped make Kabuli Pulao, George (6) helped make the Tomato Chickpea Stew, and Bridget (8) helped make the spinach (this was her favorite dish when we made it before). This is what our final meal looked like:

My plate of food from Afghanistan!

I started the children off with much smaller servings, but a little bit of everything. Bridget enjoyed everything, just as she had before. George liked the flavored rice and chickpeas, but hated the spinach and plain basmati rice, even though he did finish eating his servings. Liam surprised me by his favorite dish being the spinach, and he also loved everything else. Everyone cleaned their plates, with the exception of Bridget whose eyes were bigger than her stomach when it came to the spinach. She tried so hard to finish it all!

Here are the recipes for each dish we prepared! Not every dish was originally vegan (our choice of diet in our household), so I made the necessary modifications which are reflected in the recipes below.



Kabuli Pulao 

Kabuli Pulao is Afghanistan's national dish. It is a rice dish, with spices, carrots, raisins, almonds or pistachios (optional) and meat. The meat is most often either chicken, lamb, or beef. We opted to skip the meat and just prepare the rice. This cut off about 30 minutes of prep time and the rice was still delicious. 

Ingredients

2 c. cooked basmati rice
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1/4 c. dark raisins
2 Tbsp. vegan butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 Tbsp. ground cardamom
1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
black pepper, to taste
Healthy pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 Tbsp. vegetable broth
1/2 c. vegetable broth
slivered almonds (optional)
chopped pistachios (optional)

Directions

1. Prepare basmati rice as package indicates.
2. Fry matchstick carrots in 1 Tbsp. butter. Once softened, add raisins, and cook for another minute. Drain and set aside.
3. Brown onions in remaining butter, then remove from heat.
4. Add cardamom, cumin, black pepper, and saffron liquid to the onions and mash until it forms a paste.
5. Return pan with onion and spice paste to the stove. Add vegetable broth to the paste and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Add basmati rice and stir until rice is coated.
7. Put the rice into a casserole dish, then top with carrots and raisins. Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
8. Remove foil, add almonds or pistachios if desired. Serve hot.



Sabzi (Afghan Spinach)

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. olive oil
2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach
2 Tbsp. dried dill
3 Tbsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
sea salt, to taste

Directions

1. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until golden brown.
2. Add spinach and cook until the spinach defrosts and water begins to boil.
3. Add dried dill, coriander, black pepper, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt.
4. Simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Serve hot with basmati rice or flatbread.



Khorisht Nukhut (Tomato Chickpea Stew)

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2-15 oz. cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. chili powder
1/2 c. water

Directions

1. Add all ingredients to a pot.
2. Cook at medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Serve hot.



Awb e Dundawn (Afghan Cookies or Biscuits)

Ingredients

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. vegan butter, melted
3/4 c. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. ground pistachios

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set out two large baking sheets.
2. In a stand-up mixer, combine flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.
3. With the mixer on low, add melted butter and oil to the flour mixture. Add water.
4. Mix the dough on medium speed for about 10 minutes.
5. Form the dough into smooth, round balls, about the size of a whole walnut, and place on baking sheet. (If the dough is too dry and not able to maintain form, return to the mixer and add a tsp. of water until dough can be easily handled. If the dough is too wet, add more flour.)
6. Using your thumb, press down on the center of each cookie, making a distinct imprint.
7.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned.
8. As the cookies are baking, ground pistachios using a mortar and pestle (or grind in a mini food processor, or chop them finely with a knife).
9. Remove cookies from oven and sprinkle the ground pistachios into the imprint in each cookie.
10. Let cookies cool on pan before serving. Store in airtight container.





Thursday, July 26, 2018

Our First Week: Thursday -- Cain & Abel, Savannas, and Rainforests | 2018-2019

We made it through our entire first week! We end our school week on Thursdays, leaving Friday open for field trips, long weekends, or makeup days. This Friday and Saturday, I'm cleaning house because we did almost nothing as far as that goes this week. We'll try better next week! 

This morning we read about Cain and Abel as found in Genesis 4. This story of course fascinated the boys the most, and they wanted to know all the details of how Cain killed Abel. The Belle instead wanted to know the reasons as to why Abel's lamb was accepted, but not Cain's harvest. There was a lot of back and forth discussion with this story. 


We finished up our science lessons for the week. We read about another type of grassland, the savanna, and about rainforests. I thought I'd share what the narration pages look like. I had the boys tell me what they learned from each habitat and I wrote it down.

Here are a few things the boys had me write:
The Rascal (4) (about deserts): "Cactus grow in the desert. The desert is very hot in the day and very cold at night."
The Gent (6) (about prairies/grasslands): "There are lots of fires in grasslands. They burn the trees and grass, but the grass is still alive because the fire does not burn the roots."

The Belle (8) didn't want me to share hers, but she said it was okay if I shared her rainforest coloring page.


We were never able to go on our nature walk for pre-k science due to a rainy week, so we may try to do that next week if we can fit it into our schedule.

We also finished our geography unit, and between that and science, we were not able to fit in our afternoon tea.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Our First Week: Wednesday -- The Garden of Eden, Dry Deserts, & Windy Prairies | 2018-2019

We're still off to a good start this week. Today we finished reading Genesis 2, and continued through Genesis 3, which is the story of Adam and Eve, The Garden of Eden, and when God sent them away, out of the Garden. The children had two coloring pages to keep them busy. 


The older two are not as eager to have me take their picture while they do their school work, so forgive me for always posting pictures of the 4-year-old. I promise he's not the only student. He sure is cute, though.

We all did our usual math and language arts lessons, and began learning about animal habitats in science. We read about deserts and prairies, the first type of grassland we're studying.


We had short narrations to complete with each habitat and they also had these coloring pages to work on as I read. The older two just kinda scribble them as fast as they can to get it done, but my youngest takes great care in his artwork, so his is the one I'm posting. Not bad for his age, if you ask me!

We continued with our third day of Afternoon Tea, by having Tangerine Orange Zinger flavored herbal tea with leftover blueberry scones and another batch of cucumber sandwiches. I'm thinking next week I'll mix things up with a new sandwich, though I am not sure what.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Our First Week: Tuesday -- The Story of Creation & Blueberry Scones | 2018-2019

The children were eager to get started with school on their second day. We began by reading the story of creation found in Genesis 1-2:7. 


As I read, the children colored the pages to their little Book of Creation that I found here. I thought the books turned out well, and I found my stapler just in time to staple them together when they were done!




The creation story was not only our scripture reading, but also our history lesson for the day. After this the older two did their math and language arts again, while my youngest continued to color. When he got done, he wanted to go ahead and do his math lesson too. We ended up doing seven of them, and I think I may need to consider getting him started on the kindergarten Math-U-See curriculum very soon.

Once all that was done, it was time for lunch. One of the most often asked questions I get from people who find out we're vegan is about what we eat, which results in a lot of food pictures being posted on social media. For today's lunch, we all had Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chik'n, brown rice, green beans, and mandarin oranges.


After lunch, we all worked on geography, which I've decided to include all in one post at the end of the week. Then it was time for Afternoon Tea! We were all really excited to do this again. I made scones while the children relaxed after lunch. I had never made them before but they turned out amazing! 


We had wild blueberry herbal tea to complement the scones. Along with the scones and tea, I also made more cucumber sandwiches. To make these, I used vegan cream cheese, mixed in some fresh chives and dried dill, and spread it on seeded rye bread, then added thinly sliced cucumbers.


I purposely did not make the youngest a peanut butter and banana sandwich in the hope that he'd give the cucumber sandwiches a try, which he did! He loved them and now all three children go crazy over them. They each also tried the scones which we poured a coconut flavored icing over. So delicious!


Monday, July 23, 2018

Our First Week: Monday -- Back to School! | 2018-2019

Happy "First Day Back at School"!!! With our 6 weeks on, 1 week off (with extra weeks off at Christmas) schedule, starting in July works best for our family. It's too hot to play outside, so why not do something productive? 


Everything is so different this year. The Rascal (4) is now old enough to join us and not be a distraction. He does well listening to stories, coloring, and participating in discussions. For our first day of school, we began with "Morning Time", then moved on to Scriptures/History. While I read all five chapters of 1 John, the children colored, briefly stopping to tell me their thoughts. 


When John tells us that we should not love the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17), we stopped to discussed what that meant, and the Belle (8) commented that sometimes she gets distracted and forgets God, but doesn't really forget him, but just isn't thinking about him at that time. 

After our scripture reading, she and the Gent (6) wanted to sing the hymn "Love One Another", then because the 4-year-old heard the word "eternal" at the end of chapter 5, he remembered yesterday's church lesson and wanted to sing "Families Can Be Together Forever", so we did. I'm glad that while listening to the scriptures, it can help trigger a thought or song in their minds. 

After our scripture reading, I moved on to history. I read "What is History?" out of our Story of the World book, then we read this sweet book titled Homeplace by Anne Shelby, in which a grandmother tells her grandchild her family history and of the house they live in that has been passed down for generations. 


After history, the older two jumped right into math. They picked up where they left off with no problems. The Gent (6) watched another math video to begin a new lesson and the Belle (8) completed worksheets that she hadn't finished from before.


I also worked on writing and grammar with them. The Rascal was given free time in which he asked to watch Little Einsteins. After this, we all had lunch, which was cheeseburger wraps, fries, and apples. 


After lunch, we got started on Geography. This year, and for the next few years, we are studying World Geography. I've chosen to do this alphabetically rather than by continent. It will take awhile, but the children are very excited about it. For our first day of school, we made "passports" to include "stamps" (flag stickers) for all of the countries we learn about. Before we began, I had them take awkward passport photos.


Then we glued our photos into the passports, and filled them out. 



After making our passports, it was time to think about what we may need to take with us as we travel the globe. The children came up with a variety of things to pack in their suitcases. The boys chose their Teddy Bears to bring along and the Belle wisely thought to pack a comfy pillow.


They're excited to be heading off on their first adventure!


After geography, we sat down to our very first "Afternoon Tea". I was not sure how this would go, but the children amazed me. We first learned tea etiquette (which they did their very best with), such as how to stir their tea in a back and forth motion rather than round and round and how to hold the tea cup (a difficult task for little hands and delicate teacups). As our family abstains from drinking traditional black tea, we instead enjoyed "wild berry zinger" herbal tea, along with cucumber sandwiches (which my 8 and 6-year-olds loved), peanut butter and banana sandwiches (made special for the 4-year-old), and sliced oranges.


All three children did so well minding their manners, nothing broke, and we sat at the table and enjoyed one another's company for about an hour. I did manage to read four poems that they listened quietly to.


We then moved on to science. This is our trickiest subject this year, as we are doing two different sciences. We are doing Elemental Science's "Exploring Science", a curriculum for pre-k, and we're also doing Biology for the Grammar Stage. I felt it important to give the Rascal (4) a foundation of science with the basics, and the older two didn't want to be left out of his fun experiments, and I knew the 4-year-old wasn't going to sit out of learning about animals and the human body. So we'll do two days of one science, and two days of the other. The older two have agreed to remain quiet and let him answer all the questions for his science lesson as long as they get to be involved in the activities and experiments. We started with the pre-k science and learned about observation. With it being rainy outside, we were not able to go on our backyard observation trek, so we simply stayed inside and colored our worksheet.


The children enjoyed their first day of school so much. Their favorite part was afternoon tea.